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Archive for November 2012

I am writing this at 2:54am. I am sitting curled up on a hard plastic chair, with a sheet over me for warmth and my feet wedged uncomfortably into a metal safety bar to keep me upright. I’m tired.

Molly is at last peacefully asleep in an emergency bed at the hospital. She has croup, which suddenly got worse a few hours ago and she was struggling to breathe. This happens several times a year, and usually we are able to manage it at home with steroids, steam, and close observation until she calms down.

However, lately Molly has been refusing to take her steroid medication because of the taste, and the distress it causes trying to force it into her often makes her breathing situation worse.

Usually, after sitting in steam in the bathroom for ten minutes and trying to relax, Molly feels better and is able to go back to bed (in our bed, so we can listen to her breathing during the night and make sure it doesn’t worsen). Sometimes we have to repeat the steam routine once or twice throughout the night, but she is generally ok.

However, tonight was a bit different and when she didn’t settle after we tried all of our usual tricks, I got a bit worried and called the hospital. They put me through to the on-call nurse, and then she put me through to the ambulance.

From there it got a bit messy. Because we didn’t really want an ambulance. We’ve done the ambulance thing once before with Molly, the first time she had croup at eleven months if age. It was scary and we didn’t know what else to do. So we called, they came, they helped us and took us to the hospital. And then we got a $700 bill.

Obviously, $700 is worth it to save our child’s life, and in a truly life-threatening situation I would not think twice about it. But in a fairly urgent but non life-threatening situation? It’s probably best to save the ambulance for someone who needs it more and keep the $700 for, oh I don’t know, bills and food and stuff. Molly needed to get to the hospital but I could have driven her myself, she wasn’t in immediate danger. The ambulance officers did tell us that at the time, but being pretty scared and flustered by the night’s events, the better option seemed to be the open ambulance door and the safe, all-equipment-on-hand-if-necessary comfort it provided.

So you can see why we weren’t keen for a repeat tonight. Trying to learn our lessons the hard way here, people!

I hesitated as the nurse was putting me through to the ambulance and asked her whether it was better to just hang up and take her to the hospital myself. She advised me that based on Molly’s symptoms it was better for an ambulance to come to us. So I agreed, still thinking that we would just get their opinion and then take her to the hospital ourselves if necessary.

For the next fifteen minutes we were on the line with the ambulance officer, who talked to us while the ambulance made its way to us, and asked regularly how Molly was going. She wasn’t improving much and I was a little concerned at how sleepy she seemed and how hard she was finding it to talk and breathe. She actually seemed to be getting a little worse.

But then, right as the ambulance arrived, she perked up just slightly. The ambulance officer’s assessment was that if Molly was still refusing to take her medicine, then she’d best go to hospital.

Again we hesitated. I asked if she was okay enough for me to take her and the ambulance guy said probably, but if anything happened in the way there wouldn’t be anyone to help. That scared me and I started to think the ambulance was looking more attractive after all.

Tom and I looked at each other and made up our minds. $700 for the peace of mind that if Molly became distressed again, I wouldn’t end up on the side if the road trying to call another ambulance for her. The ambulance officer was quite sympathetic of our dilemma – he’d obviously come across it a few times before.

So, we bundled Molly into the ambulance, and Molly proceeded to entertain the ambulance guy with many, many stories about our personal lives. They were all told in a rather breathy, raspy way but at least she was well enough to tell them. I spent the entire trip feeling very proud of my funny, articulate girl and her ability to make friends in the back of an ambulance, and also feeling slightly annoyed that once again we had fallen for the ‘quick, get her to hospital’ trick.
Because some situations are emergencies, and others are, just not quite emergencies. But to poor old, emotionally-drained and sleep-deprived parents, it can be pretty damn hard to tell the difference.

Here at the hospital, Molly was seen fairly quickly by nurses and doctors. She has been given a dose of a slightly different medicine, which, according to Molly was “Not so bad.”
Two hours later, her breathing has settled, her cough is gone and she is snoring happily on the bed. We can go home in a couple more hours if everything continues to be fine. I am very much relieved, very grateful for the assistance and treatment we have received here, and very much looking forward to climbing into my bed.

So what’s the moral to this story?

Just pay the damn $100 for ambulance cover every year – we’d still be $900 ahead if we’d done this after the first incident… oh well.



I love watching these two play together.

They are playing Dr and Patient. I’m not sure why the Dr has climbed into bed with the patient though. Hmm.


NOTE: Some people may classify this post as ‘over sharing’. The content touches a little on contraception and an appointment I recently had with a nurse to remove a contraceptive device. No gory details included. You may be wondering why I would choose to write about such personal things, even though they are a bit embarrassing, and yeah, pretty dull? My answer is because I think this stuff is important. It’s real, and it’s messy and it’s… whatever the opposite of glamorous is. And that is what I am most interested in writing and reading about. If you don’t agree, that’s cool – skip this post.

As I have mentioned before, here, I am experiencing some unpleasant symptoms that I hope are due to the Mirena contraceptive device I’ve been using for the last two years. These symptoms include fluctuating moods, bouts of depression (or what feels like depression but probably isn’t really clinical depression), acne, and (slight) weight gain. I felt the same way using the oral contraceptive pill many years ago, and I have now reached the point where I just want to be rid of the thing. I’m saying ‘NO’ to extra hormones!

Despite coming to this conclusion a few months ago, it has been extremely tricky and vexing to pull it off. Not many GPs are trained in inserting and removing the device. My normal GP doesn’t do it, so I made an appointment with the same doctor who put it in for me two years ago. This appointment had to be booked weeks in advance because the doctor only works certain days and is busy. To further complicate matters, I had to arrange for my Mum to come and babysit for me, (because these are not the sorts of appointments to take kids to: I’m sure you can imagine the kinds of questions that would be asked afterwards!) My Mum lives two and a half hours away and does shift work, so this was no mean feat to coordinate. Much to my annoyance, the appointment was then cancelled by the doctor with only a days’ notice, because her mother was ill and she was only seeing her regular patients so she could leave early that day. I mean, fair enough… but did it have to be my appointment that got ditched, after I’d worked so hard to get it?

I tried another GP a few weeks later, during the school holidays when the kids were in care but I wasn’t teaching. These days are rare, people! During this appointment I discovered that this GP also didn’t deal in Mirenas, even though the receptionist had assured me she did when I made the appointment. Gah!

It was then that my Mum suggested trying the local Women’s Health Centre. The idea had never crossed my mind. I’m not sure I even realised that such a place existed. But, I looked up the number and gave them a call. I was happy to learn that the centre is Medicare funded, so basic services such as GP and nurse practitioner appointments are bulk billed, and other services come with only a relatively small fee. The receptionist helped me to make an appointment with the nurse practitioner, who was qualified to remove the Mirena for me and advise me on alternative contraception methods. However, as she is only there two days a week, I had to wait two weeks to get in. I also had to ask Mum to come and hold the fort at home for me, again, as I had no other childcare available to me on the day of the appointment.

The day of the appointment came and I was feeling very nervous. I’m not really a prude, but the idea of stripping off in front of others, even for medical reasons, does tend to freak me out. At the same time, I was looking forward to finally feeling a bit better once the device was removed. Fingers crossed, anyway.

I have to say, when I entered the clinic I immediately felt more comfortable and calm. It had a homely feel to it, with soft couches, lots of cushions, bookcases full of books and information brochures, and lots of other nice touches like artworks on the walls. It felt safe and welcoming. Some people may not notice these things, or not feel they are important, but I always do. If I am about to go into a room with a stranger, tell her all about my sex life and ask her to get up close and personal with my privates, then I need a few creature comforts to help me relax!

The appointment went well. I won’t bore you with the details, and I’ll spare myself some dignity. But I found the nurse very approachable, considerate, empathetic and professional. During the appointment I was handed a brochure to tell me about the centre’s other services. The first paragraph of the brochure states that the centre is a feminist service, which is fairly obvious, being a women’s centre, but I think it’s really important that they actually identify themselves as such. The brochure then goes on to explain the other services they offer women, which include naturopathy, massage, legal services, counselling, special services for migrant women, counselling and support for women who have experienced child sexual assault, and child care!!! ($2 per child per session, and by appointment only). And that was the moment I fell in love with Penrith Women’s Health Centre.

Because it is totally great to have all of these services available to women, but, for many, the child care is the absolute clincher. That is the thing I have struggled with the most over the last few months, the feeling of really, really needing to do something important for my health and wellbeing, but of having to constantly put everyone else’s needs first because it is too expensive to book extra childcare days, and because asking family members to cover for me is not always practical. And this is me, who is lucky enough to have a good support network and a husband who also takes his share of time out from work to look after the kids, and me, when necessary. If I found it so difficult, I can only imagine how hard it must be for women who do not have the same privileges I do.

So, a few days after the Mirena’s removal, I can’t say whether there is any improvement yet. Actually, I’ve been feeling pretty grumpy the last few days, but I hope this is part of ‘coming down’ off the hormones, if such a thing exists. But I am relieved that it’s all over for now. I’m also happy to have discovered such a great service that is so close to home, that ‘gets’ women and what they need. I will definitely think of them first, rather than as a last resort, in future.

As I mentioned recently, Neave is kinda sorta learning to use the toilet.

Some days she wears ‘unnies’, some days she wears nappies. We leave it entirely up to her.

Some days she actually goes to the toilet or potty, some days she doesn’t bother.

And on some, extra special days, when Neave realises that she needs to do a wee or poo, she removes her ‘unnies’, or her nappy. But, she doesn’t take herself to the toilet.

No, instead she takes herself to the toy room and does what she needs to do on the elephant. This is the elephant:

It is one of the many animals featured on our toy car mat thing.

Five times this has happened. It seems to be personal.

One time I caught Neave about to do the act and told her she needed to go to the toilet. She refused to go, so I brought the potty to her.

She placed it on top of the elephant and proceeded.

Poor elephant.

A day out in the city with your Daddy

The loves:

1. Every night you go to sleep with at least six books and DVDs. That’s six books AND six DVDs, and that means not much room for Neave to sleep in, since you insist on being tucked into your flip-out couch every night rather than your bed. We move you once you’re asleep. It’s all actually rather annoying because you’re very particular about which books and DVDs may be your snuggle buddies for the night (because they’re just so soft, right?), and if any of those items are missing, there is hell to pay. But the whole thing is so random that I can’t help loving it. You cute little weirdo. Your favourite DVD to take to bed with you is ‘Tangled’, the Disney version of the Rapunzel story. Only, you call it ‘Punnelz’!

2. You are talking so well now. You repeat everything you hear, whether you understand it or not. If the others are doing one of their daily protests (“What do we want? MORE FOOD, When do we want it? NOW!”), your voice is right in there, adding weight to the argument. I’m sure your siblings appreciate your support, even when you turn the argument on its head, or lose interest and walk away singing to yourself. You’re good at that, too. One of my favourite things you say is, “What’s this one, Mummy?” when you are curious about something new or different. So cute.

3. You still give the world’s biggest cuddles, although they are becoming a little harder to come by – you’re so busy playing. You give these gigantic squeezes right around our necks and cling on tight. You’ve also been known to stop what you’re doing, come over to your dad or I, give us a big hug and say, “I love you!” Pure bliss.

4. You say, “Yes, Mummy!” to everything I say. “Put on your shoes, please.” “Yes, Mummy!” “Let’s go now.” “Yes, Mummy.” I haven’t prompted you to, but I think you picked it up from my wanting acknowledgement every now and then from your brother and sister that they have heard and understood what I’ve asked them to do. Sometimes you say “Yes, Mummy”, and then realise what you’ve agreed to and then very quickly correct your mistake; “Shower time Neave.” “Yes, Mummy. Nooooooo, Mummy!”

5. You absolutely adore your brother and sister. For a while you were calling them both Tiernan (Your version is ‘Tee-ern’), then you switched to calling Molly ‘Mummy’, which was confusing for everyone. But now you’ve finally got it: ‘Mowy’. You love to hold their hands when we go out, and on the occasional days that you are home with me while they are in day care, you ask after them a lot; “Pick up Tee-ern now?” “Where is Mowy?”

6. You like to dress yourself! Sandals, nappy (pull-up), pants, shirt, the lot. Never mind if half of it goes on upside down and back to front, you are determined to do it all yourself. Which can actually be very frustrating, because it takes quite a long time to put a shirt on when it is upside down… however, if we let you try it yourself for long enough, you often give in and accept some help in at least getting everything on the way it is supposed to go. Little Miss Independence.

7. I love listening to you read books to yourself. You remember just enough of the words to make some kind of sense out of it. But you also like to embellish and add little extra waffle-y bits that I don’t understand. Pretty cute, all the same. Like your sister, you also love singing into Molly’s toy microphone, and your songs are full of passion and are sometimes very, very high. I think you will be a soprano in the choir when you are older.

8. Also like Molly, you love to get dressed up in the morning (in a pretty, pretty dress) and dance. Your favourite move is to stand with your hands on your hips and sway wiggle them from side to side. Spinning is good, too. I’m looking forward to seeing you start dancing classes with Molly next year.

9. You recently had to spend a few extra days at preschool and daycare, and you coped better than I expected. I had been dreading leaving you, especially at preschool, which is totally new to you, but after some initial tears I think you rather enjoyed yourself. Next year you will be going two days per week for real, so I guess it was good practice. At least you will have Molly with you on those days, too.

10. You are starting to get the hang of knowing when you need to go to the potty… You’re not actually doing it yet, much, but at least you sort of know what’s going on. As I have said before, you are completely in the driving seat when it comes to toilet training, kiddo, because I’m not pushing anything. I’m happy to follow your lead, but after the last two experiences of this, I’m going to back right off and leave it up to you. I’m pretty sure you’ll be out of nappies by the time you are, say, six. I’m confident of that, but let’s not push our luck any further.

All ready for Pyjama Day at day care

Okay, not so great:

1. Bed times are a nightmare with you at the moment. You come out at least ten times each night, with all sorts of different excuses like wanting a drink, wanting a kiss and hug, wanting another story, and, most recently, wanting to sit on the potty… for half an hour!!! Tiernan and Molly went through the same stage, too. With persistence on our part, and a lot of time (like, months), they eventually gave up coming out at all. But man, that doesn’t make it suck any less!

2. Lately when you want something, you want it right now. You used to be all mellow and patient, which I put down to you being the third and pretty much having no choice. But that’s all gone now. You’re more feisty and surly now. I blame toddlerhood. Maybe one day we will see the mellow Neave again? But maybe not: I think I got a glimpse of teenage Neave yesterday when we had to take Tiernan for a blood test and you were cranky and wouldn’t talk to anyone. You just had your bottom lip jutting out the entire time we were at the clinic, grunting and turning away from anyone who spoke to you. Scary!

3. You have this really annoying habit of trying to put my zipper all the way up whenever I wear a hoodie. You climb onto me and just zip away until my neck skin gets caught at the very top. OUCH! Thankfully it’s getting warmer and I don’t have to wear them much any more.

4. Like every toddler ever, you have discovered biting, pinching, scratching and hitting as a form of protest when you don’t get what you want. And – great timing – ‘time out’ just became really lame in your opinion, so you no longer sit there like an angel for the two minutes. Instead, you get up and run away for at least ten minutes, before finally submitting for the two. This makes ‘time out’ extremely time consuming. But, we will endure!

5. You used to eat properly. You know, chew and then swallow your food, before putting more in. Now you just shove it all in and attempt to chew, but more often than not you just end up choking and spitting the semi-chewed food onto your plate. Or the floor. Then you say, “I finished now”, and walk away. Not cool.

6. You are obsessed with your manky, old Dora t-shirt that was a hand-me-down from friends with an older daughter.  You have worn it so many times that it is now all stretched and stained, but you love it. If the Dora shirt is washed and ready, then getting you dressed is no problem at all. However, since there is a laundry turn around of at least three days in this house, then more often than not, the shirt will not be available to you. When this is the case, there is always a twenty minute battle to convince you to wear something different. Not fun at all.

But despite all that, you remain my little ray of sunshine, Neave. Love you lots!

Molly’s vocabulary is expanding rapidly, but she doesn’t always get the new words quite right. Here are some of her funny sayings before I forget them:

Umbrella = ‘Underbrella’

Meant (as in, “I meant to do that”) = ‘Cement’ or even ‘Dement’. Very funny in context!

Material = ‘Bacterial’

Ignoring / Annoying = ‘Annoring’. Or sometimes just ‘Noring’

Distract = ‘Just whack’. As in, “Mum, I’m not just whacking her!”

More = ‘Morla’. What the??

Contact lenses = ‘Contact lessons’. When she asks me, “Mum, why do you need contact lessons?”, it makes me feel like I am about to embark on a top-secret mission to another planet to make contact with other life forms, and I am having contact lessons to prepare me for my task. Exciting.