Friday, September 11, 2009

Only 20 years later...

Aproximately 20 years ago I started wearing glasses. Initially it was just for reading the blackboard, but my vision degraded over a year or so until I needed to wear them permanently. I always hated it, but I hated contacts more (couldn't stand poking my finger in my eye - odd, I know). As of Thursday 10/9/2009, it is no longer an issue!

Here is a pic of me on Tuesday (Beth had declared it Pirate Day):

and now this morning:

hmmm, not the most flattering photo, but I direct your attention to the fact that I am NOT gazing vaguely into the distance... It may not seem like much, but it is significant to me!

I have been eagerly waiting for my prescription to stabilise so that I could look into getting lasered. I had my eyes checked last week, and it had now been 3.5 years since my prescription changed (and then not by much). I had not intended to have the lasering done quite so soon, but I lined up a couple of consultations and went to the first Thursday morning. 2 uncomfortable hours later, I was advised I was a suitable candidate for bladeless LASIK. They asked "How soon would you like to have the surgery?", I responded "As soon as possible", they said "How is 2.30pm?"

A few harried phone calls later to check in with my boss and arrange a lift home with my sister and I confirmed the operation. Whipped home, had a bite to eat, looked at my family just in case it was the last time (!) and caught the train back to Parramatta.

I would describe the procedure as "uncomfortable" - as mentioned I hate putting in contacts, and this was significantly worse :) They start by giving you some valium and pre-emptive panadol, give you a few minutes to have the drugs kick in, then take you in to the theatre. I lay down on the rotating bed, and the nurse handed me a couple of stress balls - these came in handy! First my right eye. My eyelids were taped open, and the speculum was inserted to keep my eyelids apart. I had asked earlier what happens if I blink, the response was "well, you can try!" This first part was probably the most uncomfortable. They cut a flap on the surface of the eye in order to expose the cornea. In my case this cut was performed with a laser as well. They attach the cutting head to your eyeball via suction, and the flap takes 30 seconds to cut. The nurse was sounding off every 5 seconds, and it seemed like an enternity. I was supposed to keep both eyes open, and keep looking straight ahead. I found this very difficult and kept closing my other eye, and it would wander a bit - I suspect this was the cause of my discomfort. During this phase, I could not see anything out of the eye being worked on as the device was sitting right on top of my eyeball.

Anyhow, the flap was cut and the device detached from my eye. Next bit was kind of nice in comparisson. A small tool that I have been describing as somewhat like a shepherds crook for a Lego man was used to lift the flap on my eye. This was accompanied by beautiful, cool, flowing water (? - presumably saline or somesuch). Quite weird though - blurry vision... stick thing moving about... flap rolls back... clear-ish yet obviously not quite right vision as my cornea is exposed. The LASIK part of the procedure then commenced. After working for a few years around fibre optics, this just seemed crazy! The laser was very pretty though :) This phase of the procedure was super quick - something like 5 seconds all up, with 3 bursts of the laser. They say it is a "cold laser" and does not cook you, but I swear I could smell something...

Lasering complete, the Lego shepherds crook + cool, cool water is used to replace the flap. The stick comes over your eye again an carefully places the flap back down. Kinda like if you were really anal and applying your rego sticker to your car windscreen... After the shepherds crook, a little thing that looks like a squeegy is used to smooth over the surface of the flap, presumably to remove any bubbles, again, just like your rego sticker. This bit was all kind of nice - no pressure on the eye, no one saying "look at the red light", nice and cool water flowing.

End of procedure for that eye, remove the speculum, remove the tape, tentitavely blink a few times... is that it? They moved on to the left eye, and I think I was slightly more anxious by now. I had been squeezing away at the stress balls like a man possessed. Even trying to come up with funky squeeze patterns to keep myself distracted, but I think I really could have done with a bit more valium ;) Anyway, they kinda had to jam the cutting tool onto my face, squishing my nose. Not really a problem because once it has hold of your eyeball, you ain't going anywhere!

One thing that certainly doesn't make the procedure any more comfortable is the blinding theatre lights that are shining straight in to your eyes. How inconsiderate! I guess the surgen needs some good lighting to see properly, but I thought it was all computer guided these days - maybe some nice candle lighting (and soft music) would be more appropriate!

Anyway, they finished the left eye and I was guided to the chair to have the doctor examine the results. Another bright light shined in your eye - this time through a magnifying glass so the Doc can have a good look. My eyes were feeling quite abused by this stage, so I spent as much time as possible with them shut. The nurse put some protective perspex shells over my eyes, and then some VERY attractive sun shields:

(note this photo was taken just now. I was not in any fit state to consider documenting what had happened at the time, plus if you had tried to use a flash anywhere near my I would have flailed ineffectually, and then sobbed in the corner)

The whole thing from popping the pills to being sat back down in the waiting room took maybe 40 minutes. I rang Tara to check where she was. As luck would have it, she was armed with a disabled sticker due to Millies broken leg, and was able to park immediately out the front. She came up and escorted me down stairs. My eyes were watering like crazy, and I still just wanted to keep my eyes shut. The trip home passed in a blur. We sent the kids out the back to run around, Tara poured me a glass of wine (that's ok with Valium, right?). Very nice wine I might add - I instructed her on where the boxes of wine were kept, and expected her to come back with a Cab Sav. She happened to find my stash of good stuff, and we had an extremely nice limited release Tulloch Hector - an event certainly worth the celebration! Mind you, I only discovered this the next morning when I was able to read the label.

I was feeling kinda drowsy, and was very sensitive to light, so I had a lay down while dinner was sourced from the local fish and chip shop. I thought I had only been in the bedroom for a minute, but it must have been about half an hour and Loz said she had to shake me awake. Ate some food and another glass of very nice wine, and I was cactus. I gave my apologies, and toddled off to bed. I took some pain killers and a sleeping tablet (not affected by alcohol, I am sure!) and passed out. I woke a few times through the night, but was not feeling terribly uncomfortable and was able to drift off again.

As this was all arranged last minute, I had not actually organised time off work. I had to go back out to Parramatta for an 8am checkup, and it was just going to be too difficult to public-transport out there... so I drove. The eyes were still feeling a bit "grainy", and I was still sensitive to light, but it wasn't too bad. I barely had enough time to make use of the coffee facilities in the time it took to have my checkup, and I even made it to work just after 9am!

A slightly eye-weary day at work, but felt no worse than times I have worn contacts (noting my ham-fisted method of insertion). The "eye lubricant" drops are the bomb, and I can't recommend them enough!

So that's about it for the eye story. They feel better day by day. Still a slight blurryness, still a bit sensitive to light, and still a bit of "starbursting", but becoming less and less, and it has only been 2 days after all!

To mix it up a little, here a few pics of the munchkin:

(at Muchos de Mexican with the family. Tara went to town on Beth's hair)

(Beth thought the hair was worthy of a cheesy grin - check out those chompers! Only the eye teeth to go)
(Beth is quite enamoured of Little Puss, and Little Puss no longer seems quite so distressed by Beth!)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The romance

It's 10.30 at night. Since I got home from work, I've bathed and fed Beth, done three loads of laundry, done the washing up, washed and re-lanolinised some wool nappy covers, and now I'm back checking my work email. Working motherhood is every bit as romantic as it's cracked up to be - and I am one of the lucky ones, since Grant actually does his share!

I have a playdate with a new mum friend tomorrow, which is exciting. We are going to play with bubbles in the park and eat cake, if I have anything to say about the matter.

Beth's new (or recent) words: cheers (and clinks glasses), apple, hippo, but her favourite and most useful word is MORE! she just doesn't ever specify OF WHAT.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fountain of happiness

This morning we took advantage of reason to live in Concord 654123465.12 and went to the Armory at Newington for breakfast. It's on the Parramatta River (as is pretty much else hereabouts) and is away from the road, so chiclets can run wild to their heart's content, subject of course to the aforementioned river and the two metre drop into same off the wharf.

Beth had a run around before we ate, and did some very nice artwork at the table, including a still life called Lizard with Red Scribbles. Well, OK, the lizard part was a dot to dot I did, but the red scribbles were all Beth. After breakfast they had turned the fountain on, so she had a play in that - video to follow. I will note that after our last experience with the fountain, we had packed a change of clothes, because once bitten twice shy, etc. She did get thoroughly soaked, but unlike last time she didn't end up with gumboots full of water, so I am calling it progress.

I drew a B for her in chalk the other day, and she freaked the hell out of me by saying "buh." She repeated this three times, and also when she picked up her wooden letter B. Fortunately if you write A she also says "buh," so I am not quite as scared.

Grant has visited a childcare near where he works which did not simply blow us off re: potential placements for next year, and in fact seemed very positive we might get a place. Grant says the playground is so cool he wants to go there. It's funny to think of Beth in preschool/childcare, but she enjoys structured activities like gymbaroo and artwork so much that I think she's almost ready. We have been very very lucky to have not needed it before now, especially as we haven't been able to get a place anywhere anyway!

Two molars through, two just cutting. No fun.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Maybe gymbaroo wasn't such a great idea...

Beth can now climb up on the dining chairs, and last night when I was making dinner she stood on one of her small chairs to see up on the kitchen bench.

Maybe all that climbing practice at gymbaroo wasn't such a great idea.

Also, for the last two days she has been saying "na" when she needs changing, and patting her nappy on the change table to warn me if it's a poo. Such warnings are always appreciated, especially when one is dealing with teething poo and especially when one has been lured into false confidence by already having changed two pooey nappies in a single day (but wait, there's more...).

In further exciting evacuation related news, yesterday she was having nappy off time on the back verandah while I put washing out. She came over to me and pointed to her crotch, then off to the side of the verandah, where it transpired she had done a massive poo on the floor. Again, good heads up!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sunset on the shores of the Parramatta, etc

You know what is really something? Playing with your baby with shells on a beach on the shores of the Cabarita bay of the Parramatta river, while the sun drops down over the water. It was dark on our side, but the light hit full on the far side of the bay. There were black pumice stones around our feet. We had just jogged for 20 mins (my first jog in months and months and months) to get there. Reason #34235467234 to live in Concord: embarrassing amounts of natural beauty are but a short sweaty uncoordinated jog away. Also: good coffee.

Unrelenting rain is making it rather a drag to get the washing dry, esp. cloth nappies, which are after all designed to absorb moisture and will happily suck it right out of the air if need be. While I'd like to say I'll go for a jog again this afternoon, I am going to be realistic about that NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

Beth has a fairly stubborn cough right now. Being my daughter, she has decided to multitask and is also suffering from cutting 4 molars and 2 canines. Poor bugger. She's an upbeat little soul though, so it really only screws up her sleep, not her attitude.

I always forget the words she can say now, so to add to the list: MORE (mah!), new this week. She asked for more sandwich this morning after playgroup. Astonishing, as she never ever wants more food.

She can also make a few more animal noises, including miao, roar, click her tongue for a horsie ride or a kangaroo, etc. She can make slurping and "yum yum yum" noises to indicate drinking and eating, and pointed at her Spot book (he gets his dinner at the end) the other day and said "yum yum yum." she also tells Mum's dogs to eat the same way. Kind of adorable. She can follow two-step instructions (put that away then come back to Mummy) sometimes. She likes the rain and this morning raced out into it in her PJs and socks, not so great as we are experiencing a sock shortage here.

Work has been busier, which is nice. I have not only met but exceeded budget for most days this month, woohoo! And the only other news is that I can't think of what to cook for dinner.

[EDIT: - some dodgy photos from Grant's phone below]

The mighty Parramatta. Well, Hen and Chicken bay at any rate. Although where we were may be France Bay... not entirely clear.

Definitely Hen and Chicken Bay on the other side:

Smiles - the munchkin loves the outdoors:

She especially loves the outdoors when she gets to wear her raincoat and gumboots:

Beth still loves bike stuff, even though we haven't taken her for a ride since it have been cold:

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Oh right, I remember this thing!

It ain't fun if you don't get soaked

Hey kids. How've you been?

Beth is now nearly 17 months old. And SUPER CUTE, if I do say so myself:

New raincoat. I want one.

Beth finally outgrew these fabulous cords, and Grant is still in mourning

The Fairy Poopsmith

Lookin' fab

Language has been a two steps forward, one step backward thing. It's interesting to watch. She will master a word and then stop using it completely, viz BUMP, which entered her lexicon 2 months ago, then vanished without a trace, then has been slowly creeping back in over the last few days. So from memory, she can say mum, dad, dog, duck, what's that? (these last four sound the same to the uninitated), bump, cheese, keys (last two sound pretty much the same), Jake (guess the favourite cousin), and sometimes nana, and can make noises for monsters, tigers, elephants, snakes and donkeys.

She's now physically very dextrous, and can now run, sort-of stand on one leg, go up and down shallow steps without holding on to anything, throw a ball quite directionally, kick up to three times in a row for a dribble (already surpassing her mum!). She has been having a lovely time stomping around in puddles in her new raincoat and gumboots, which we got just in the nick of time because it has been freaking rainy in Sydney lately.

Grant takes her to swimming at Olympic Park on Tuesdays which she reportedly loves, Wednesday is her grandma hangout day (which she definitely loves, because she has the loveliest grandmothers in all the land), Thursdays we have finally found the local playgroup where she has a great time, and Friday is gymbaroo day, which she enjoys and which I think she is really getting quite a lot out of, even though we hardly ever do the homework, because we are rebels, y'all.

Otherwise it has been life as usual. Two words of advice: if you are fully breastfeeding your baby, you can eat whatever the hell you want and it will never touch your girlish thighs. Once you start to cut back on the feeds: not so much. Angie warned me but I didn't listen. More exercise or less cake are in my future, and possibly a pedometer revival. Grant is nagging me to do a 7km run in a few months but since I have not to date even run 2km I am not so sure. Speaking of which, Grant and his sister and possibly brother as well as our friend Ro are doing the City2Surf again per Grant's entry, so nag them to train if you happen to run into them.

We are heading back to Newcastle for the long weekend, and I hope everyone else has a similarly relaxing break planned!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How about that then...

City 2 Surf is on August 9th. That's about 11 weeks away. Last year I used the training planner from their website to prepare. The planner started 10 weeks out, but I only picked it up 8 weeks out, and went from there. However, I had been using my recently acquired Wii Fit since my birthday, so about 5 or 6 weeks...

This year I intend on doing the full 10 week programme, and had intended to get back into the Wii Fit, but that hasn't happened yet. City 2 Surf training is supposed to start in about a week, so figured I should dust off the Wii Fit and see how I'm going.

It turns out that I have actually lost weight since I last used it months and months and months ago, and I am currently sitting on a nice even 110kg! An easy benchmark to start from, so we'll see how it goes this year. I am actually considering modifying my diet this time (OMG!) but I'm not about to make any rash decisions.

I've also managed to convince my sister to join me, and my brother HAD said he would do it, but he has been strangely silent on the matter of late.

[EDIT] I just read my blog entry from 1st January. What a laugh! I went for a jog that day, broke myself, and haven't been jogging or used the Wii Fit since! I really need a financial/event commitment to get motivated.

Friday, April 24, 2009


My hobbies include cycling, boozing, and public nudity

Ah, so moving house, a toddler refusing to sleep, and an apparent sudden economic upturn swamping me with work apparently stop me updating this thing. Or actually I forgot it existed. You can see I have many excuses.

I have changed the name of our new place from Temporary Accommodation to Max. Because it is No. 86. Max has a garden plot which is growing self-seeded tomatoes and zucchini at an astonishing rate. I am claiming credit even though all I do is weed it now and then (especially once I worked out that my lovingly tended beans were morning glory. whoops). Max also has me totally addicted to the delights of Concord. If London taught me nothing else, it taught me that in the civilised world one should never be more than 8 minutes walk to a supermarket, after all, and we have TWO within that distance, and two parks even closer. This addiction is unfortunate however, as the only suburb more expensive than Concord West is the mighty Concord. Curse you refined tastes!

Work is reminding me of the days before the GFC (or BFG as my officemate calls it) where I was routinely working on my days off. Still, I MUCH prefer my job when I am run off my feet than when I have time to contemplate my destiny. And anyway, it's a small price to pay for an eight our day - otherwise I would not really see Beth at all on my workdays and that would suck. Well, it might be refreshing for a short period of time but after that it would definitely suck.

Beth is now walking beautifully and has big girl shoes of which she is justifiably proud. She can say mum, dad, bump (favourite word), hello, bye, mmm (for milk), and make elephant, cockatoo, monster and tiger sounds, but her language development seems to have stalled a bit while she works out the walking business.

Beth in her newborn socks. AWWWWWWWWW.

Grant has a new shed which he and his dad are building tomorrow, and hopefully soon the bikes will be (a) more securely stored and (b) further away from little fingers that go unerringly for greasy things.

And other than that I can't think of much more. Beth is down to two or three feeds a day and it seems to be unleashing some long-dormant creative capacity in me, as I am thinking about things the way I did when I actually wrote for fun. Something may yet come out of it, although as I didn't finish my first novel in 10 years there's arguably no hurry at this point. It is also however making me have nightmares about leaving her behind, so maybe my brain and hormones need to have a conference about that.

In short: life is sleepy but good, and several times today I have even thought about opening new empty wordprocessor windows. Not today, but soon!

Oh yeah, and Auckland looks like this:

Albert Park, because Kensington is not the only place in the world where everything is named after Big Al

(Wo)Men in Black on Mt Eden, Rangitoto in back (sob! next time)

Beth can tell you the time

Sunday, March 22, 2009

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all, right?

So quick update. More to follow when we have time, as to which: see below.

  1. We went to New Zealand and had a lovely time. Beth was an absolute champ, and being on Sydney time in Auckland meant we could have her up until 10pm local time and GO OUT FOR DINNER, WOOHOO! We managed far more than I would have thought possible - Art Gallery, Albert Park, Museum, The Domain (a bit), Mount Eden, Mission Bay/beach (BEST DAY EVER!), Zoo (recommended), Devonport (pissing down raining and not at its best, but nice Hunza Pie), Victoria Park (excellent play equipment) and Victoria Park Markets (LAME) and some drives here and there (visit Clevedon and buy pies from the deli, you will not be sorry) as well as Regan and Jace's wedding and surrounding events (congratulations Regan and Jace! it was a privilege to be there!). We stayed on the main drag into town, which in hindsight was not the world's greatest idea, but it was very convenient to everything.
  2. Beth started walking on the second day we were there, and has now got it down pat, and is very pleased with herself.
  3. Three days after we arrived home, we got a fabulous letter from our real estate agent saying that our landlord was not renewing the lease and we had to be out in three weeks. There are never more than 2 properties available for lease in the area, and if we move Beth drops off the childcare waiting lists we are on. Also, we have moved 6 TIMES IN 2.5 YEARS ALREADY. So, you know, not happy.
  4. We found a new place within a week (nicer than this one but smaller, and still no dishwasher, and alas further from the train station) and the big part of the move is tomorrow. Fortunately it looks like we can get away with only 4 days lease overlap. I am steeling myself for jolly arguments with the current real estate agent about the condition of the property, given that it was absolutely filthy when we moved in and there is no way I am paying for it to be professionally cleaned in view of same. Of course, real estate agent for the new place annouced it would be cleaned and the lawns mowed before we moved in, and when we got the keys it was also filthy (although unlike this one - no rat or mouse poo, so there's that) and the lawns are knee high - all this for a paltry $500/week. Must remember that these people are SCUM. Except Claire, our Newcastle real estate agent, who was lovely.
  5. We've now had so many places that we are running out of acronyms. However, the plan is now to avoid similar horrific events in the future by buying a place, so perhaps we can call the current one Temporary Accommodation.
So that's us, and that's the most recent excuse for not updating. Bye bye, Narnia. We hardly knew ye.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oh, and...

13-months-and-change addendum:

Beth can say "Daddy" (her first word, at 10 months), "Mum" (although usually in the form "mum mum mum mum" and usually when she wants something, eg. boob), "Ta" (when giving something away or asking for it back) and "Bob" (thanks to Nanna!).

I THINK she's also trying to say "Dougie" - Mum's dog's name - as she sort of says "da" repeatedly when she sees him. She also sort-of said "up" the other day, but she hasn't repeated that one so it might have been a fluke.

She can sign "finished" (hands straight up in the air) and "milkies" (one hand opening and closing). She has also used the milkies sign a couple of times when she wants a drink of water, so it might be of more general application! This week she used this sign a few times when we were reading her book about eating, which has a picture of a baby breastfeeding, and we thought she was terribly clever.

Did I mention a tree fell over in our back yard and took most of the clothesline with it? Grand. Landlord is going to cut it up next weekend, or so I am told.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Catalogue of 13 months

Beth is now nearly 14 months old. Amazing!

She weighed in at 11.2kg at our nurse visit last week, putting her at the 90th or 95th percentile depending on which charts you use. However, she's had a lot of pain from her teeth over the last week and has been off her tucker and hitting up the mummy buffet something fierce day and night, which has also seemed to add to the sack of potatoes factor as breastmilk is basically a high-carb protein shake (BEEFCAKE! BEEFCAKE!), and we weighed her at 11.5kg a few days after that. Don't know if the extra grams will stick though. She's 78cm, which is 95th or 97th percentile depending on the charts.

Beth has quite the sense of humour these days. Favourite jokes include hiding, stealing daddy's glasses and putting them on mummy, play-biting my chin and Grant's elbow, and any form of peekaboo, especially around the couch. Grant is excellent at ducking down behind it, around the side, and popping up where she least expects it.

She is an excellent climber. She can climb the climbing wall up to the play equipment in the park across the road most but not all times, and can now go down the slippery dip by herself (on her tummy, feet-first). She reliably turns around and goes down steps backwards, and can also do that off our bed, although she has had two mighty tumbles from failing to turn all the way around!

She finds flights of stairs great fun, so it's a lucky thing we don't have any :)

She adores the great outdoors. She can amuse herself for hours in the backyard, poking at dirt and clambering around, with the odd attempt to eat toxic oleander. We have been to various beaches on the Parramatta River lately and seems to get a real kick out of the mud.

And just like Daddy, she LOVES the rain.

The great thing is that our back verandah is so holey that one can experience the rain indoors!

She can't walk by herself yet. However, she can go quite a distance with us just holding one of her hands. She can squat and stand very well with her Donnelly calves, and Auntie Tara taught her a game of down (squat) - up that has really helped with her standing and that she thinks is hilarious.

Grant has been taking her to swimming lessons once a week, and I am told she has a great time, and is also twice the height of the other babies.

She's been having a lovely time with her grandmothers on Wednesdays. She is always very excited to see them. She has been a little sooky and clingy on the first days I have at home with her each week (Thursdays), and usually wants to nurse a lot on that day. However, I am choosing to think of this as a nice thing - as GrandEm says, there is no harm in having a favourite!

And other than that, the only thing I can think of about our lovely big girl is that she never met a peg she didn't like, but she prefers the red ones (and will rip them off the clothesline if it is in reach).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Raspberry proof

(a) the awesome raspberry technique and
(b) the giant white floppy belly, proving that while I am size 12 now and was size 12 before I was pregnant with Beth, those? Are not the same size 12s! On the plus side, I think the floppiness improves the raspberry results.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I know mothers are supposed to say this kind of thing, but...

My daughter can blow the best raspberries (aka zerberts) on PLANET EARTH. Seriously, her technique is immaculate. My tummy is her preferred canvas, which is more flattering than one might think, especially as she generally refuses to raspberry her dad :)


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Where's Spot?

Beth is OBSESSED with her "Where's Spot?" book. As in wanting it to be read to her three times tonight and still trying to get it back into her hot little clutches after the third go-through obsessed. She is generally a huge fan of reading, and several times a day gets a book out and flips through it herself. Kudos to Grant for this, as he diligently reads to her every night, but I think we both supplied the DNA for the bookworm tendency!

Apparently babies are supposed to have trouble choosing between multiple toys, but Beth is all in favour of dragging toy after toy out of her drawers and playing with them, and was multitasking two musical toys and a trolley today. That would be my DNA, I guess :)

I went grocery shopping twice this weekend, and we had a box delivery of organic veg, but we STILL don't have enough ingredients to assemble an actual meal. That kind of lack of coordination requires real effort to achieve.

Stinking hot all weekend, but we have been getting good use out of the clamshell wading pools, and the cool change has hit just in time for me to ride into work tomorrow. Woohoo!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

For the sake of posting

It's kind of warm here, and we have gone from playing in a bucket of water in the backyard to keep cool, to filling the shell wading pool to keep cool, to filling one half shell in the morning and the other in the evening, because the morning one is too hot by then. And also full of yoghurt, but that's another story. The afternoon one got full of tuna/potato/cheese ball (recipe below) detritus and an apple, which is another story again.

We have been invaded by an invisible biting bug, possibly as a result of tree lopping across the road. It/they have bitten the crap out of Grant and I and are very very itchy, but Beth seems immune, thank God. I have done 8 loads of washing in 2 days and as much vacuuming as possible (limited, as Beth is mortally afraid of the Dyson). I THINK we are making headway, but it is fairly hard to fight an enemy you can neither see nor identify. Perhaps there are analogies in the middle east. Never get involved in a land war in Asia, or a pest eradication effort against a mystery pest!

Grant and Beth have been going to swim classes on Tuesdays, and I am told she loves it. Grant thought all the other babies were much younger than her, but it turns out that she's just still hulkingly tall. Grant has been riding her over in the WeeRide, which since we are so close to Olympic Park is faster than driving.

Beth has really been working on the walking problem of late. She still can't do walk, but she can stand unassisted for short periods of time, really kicks her legs around a lot, is cruising beautifully, and can "walk" if you hold onto only one of her hands quite well. She's putting less and less weight on things when she leans on them for support. She's not going to win any early mobility awards but we are very impressed with her anyway.

She also religiously goes off any elevated surface backwards, but sometimes sideways and backwards, which doesn't work out so well.

Her new trick is fake sneezing (HILARIOUS), and putting things on her head, including blueberries.

And did I mention she is so beautiful and smart and funny, and we are the luckiest people around?

Work 3 days a week is going pretty well. We have a bit more work on now. The alternating grandmother arrangement is going BRILLIANTLY. Beth has a lovely time on her nanna/Grandem days and is happy as a clam to see them.

Other news: I am riding to work 1 or 2 days per week, which is a 30km round trip. Aren't you impressed with me? It nearly killed me the first two times but I am gradually getting in better shape. I love the new bike, but it's fairly high geared and will be a while until I am strong enough to push its capabilities, I think.

1 cup leftover mashed spud
1 small tin drained tuna, flaked
1 grated carrot
About 1/3 cup grated cheese
1 egg
Pinch salt

Mix together and fry in balls, sausages or patties. For grownups add about 1-2 teaspoons curry powder. Not bad.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How many words?

So, if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much for a video? How much for THREE videos? (ok, two of them are from the same event, but meh...)

Here is one of Beth dancining. She turns the stereo on and off, and plays with the volume. Sometimes to startling effect:

The next two are from dinner last night. She was digging her blueberries. The first one is just general super-cuteness:

But in the second one, she does a few of her party tricks, including "Brrrrrr", "Pretend Sneeze", "Clapping", and the infamous "Wear a Blueberry as a Hat". We are very proud:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This is what a fabulous first birthday looks like. We had a great time, Beth charmed the socks off all and sundry, and made out like a bandit in the present stakes (birthday right after Christmas has its downsides, yes, but then there is the fact that your presents come from the SALES and are roughly TWICE AS GOOD as usual). There was also chocolate cake: see cherub face above.

Beth has had a very busy few weeks, mastering cruising, walking with her trolley for amazing distances, the world's fastest proper crawl, going down steps backwards (including a whole flight of steps - heavens!), putting everything on her head, being so helpful when dressing that she's about five seconds off doing it herself, dipping foods in sauces, advanced cockatoo dancing, giving things away when you say "ta" and according to her grandmother, saying "ta" herself (dubious). If anyone doubts that developmental spurts cause sleep regressions, they can come visit at 3am.

She has also been for a number of rides on Daddy's bike, and loves it:

Hello, freedom!

Wurk has picked up again, and I almost had a normal workload the last couple of days, which has been a very welcome change and which I am choosing to regard as an excellent sign, GFC be damned.

I haven't made any exciting New Years' Resolutions because if I did I would break them, but I have signed up to an organic veg delivery service and vowed for Beth's sake to whoah back on the processed foods and the bread with every meal, and I AM GOING TO RIDE TO WORK DAMMIT (just as soon as I've fitted a pannier rack, and lights, and...NO I AM JUST GOING TO DO IT), I WANT to get more writing done, and generally to live life in a more thoughtful, less bare-survival way, and hopefully reduce the faffing about on the Internet. Oh wait.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Birthday girl

And Grant managed to bend space and time to get her her birthday presents in time, so now she's the proud owner of a Tonka truck.

We had a nice play in the back yard with it today. I was trying to teach her the "lean on it like a walker" trick, but no dice. She does like pushing it around though.

Also today we passed a pleasant hour or so with a bucket and some bath toys on the lawn. Beth seems to splash a lot more if she's not in the water herself, or it seems like that, anyway. She managed to stand up by herself for a few seconds, too, but hasn't tried it again since. It was a nice day.

Then and now



Thursday, January 08, 2009

How all this all began

Beth is one today. One! And we forgot to get her birthday present in time. And she and I have spent most of the morning doing housework. Don't tell her any of this on her 21st, please.

How all this began is ...well, it was in England, but that's the grown-up part of the story. Otherwise, this all began with Beth's birth, and that began on 6 January 2008.

About two hours after this photo was taken, in fact.

Beth had been due on the first or the fourth, depending on calculations (in our hospital in the UK, the ultrasound and prenatal wards were at war on the subject), and I was frankly fairly huge and puffed up. It was a really hot day. I had spent it out, including a long walk on the foreshore with Mum and Nanna (Mum kept asking me to check if Nanna's feet were in her wheelchair, but she wouldn't slow down when she asked, and I couldn't move fast enough to get in front to check), and later a milkshake with some old schoolfriends. Melissa insisted that Beth had dropped, and I launched into a tirade about how NOONE WAS TO TELL ME THE BABY WAS IMMINENTLY TO BE BORN BECAUSE CLEARLY SHE WAS NEVER, EVER COMING OUT.

I think we had a roast dinner for tea at Mum's. We went to bed quite late; after 11pm. And I lay down and felt a tiny pop, and immediately started having contractions almost exactly four minutes apart. When we came back to Australia, we had planned to have Beth at the low-intervention Belmont Birthing Centre with Grant's aunt, who is a midwife there, as I wanted someone we knew with us and wanted noone buggering around with my innards. Unfortunately that plan went awry with that tiny pop, as when I went to check in the bathroom, my waters had broken and they were stained swampy green with meconium. This ruled us out of Belmont's policy. Aunt was kind enough to ask us to come out to check if Beth was OK (she was hoping I would against all the odds have a super fast birth before anyone noticed I wasn't supposed to be there), but that meant we had to be admitted to hospital in early labour rather than wait until things were well and truly going as we had intended. That and the meconium also scared the hell out of me, which led to an adrenaline burst, which stalled things. So overnight my contractions grew further and further apart for the next 7 hours and then stopped (while having been close enough together all night to stop me sleeping), and then the real fun started when we were transferred to John Hunter, to a labour ward room that looked like an operating theatre, and
a nice fat drip full of syntocin to "augment" (ie restart) my labour was jammed in my arm and a permanent foetal monitoring belt attached. Thereafter I had contractions about every 2-2.5 minutes, of a lovely nasty back labour kind, as Beth was posterior. I was also chained to the bed with the monitoring equipment and the drip so could do nothing more than stand and shuffle and vocalise and bang my stress balls for pain management. Thankfully my friend the masseuse was with us, and she did very little other than massage my back for the next twenty hours or so. Between Grant coaching me with vocalisation and focus and Deirdre's massage I think we did remarkably well for a syntocin/posterior combination torture treatment. Humorously, after getting me to the maximum syntocin dose, the hospital kept wanting to ramp it up. Because if the maximum dose isn't working, obviously what you need is MORE.

On syntocin, one is supposed to have cervical dilation of 1cm every hour. Because of Beth's posterior presentation, I managed a cm about every 3-4 hours, and I had already been awake since 7ish the day before. Because I was dilating so slowly, I was still technically in pre-labour after having had contractions for 18 hours, which meant that the only pain relief option the hospital would offer was morphine. I remember I was cold and my legs were shaking in a way that felt like shock before I eventually gave in at about 6pm on the 7th, and had a dose of morphine. It brought immediate relief. My legs stopped shaking and I felt much warmer. After that I managed to lie down and dose for an hour or so, but then the contractions were unmanageable again and I had to move around. The midwife showed us a Belmont trick of turning a baby by propping your leg on a chair and pushing your belly against it with a contraction, which was excruciating, but may or may not have helped. A few hours later I had another dose of morphine, which frankly made me off my face without really helping with the pain. This was about 11pm, I think, although I don't remember the passage of time very well. At that point I had finally managed to get to 5cm dilation, which entitled me to get the epidural I had never ever wanted but could not manage without, as I really needed a rest.

The epidural was slightly ballsed up in that it only really worked down my back. They kept topping it up and all it did was give me a numb bum and back of legs while I could still feel the contractions through the front, but as most of the pain was in my back anyway it did help. I had another lie down, and when they came to check me half an hour or so later I was almost fully dilated. I frankly did not believe the doctor when he said this. At this point, everyone was still arguing about whether Beth had fully turned or was still posterior; the consensus was that she had turned kind of sideways. I remember a really weird feeling of quiet expectation, and I asked the midwife what a pushing urge felt like the minute before I had an enormous one. She told me not to push, as they didn't think I was fully dilated, but then she checked again and gave me the go-ahead.

I wanted to turn over rather than push up-hill from sitting, and Grant and Deirdre helped me turn over, even though my legs were quite numb. But pretty soon after that the syntocin drip ran out, and my contractions stalled again. This is not supposed to happen in second stage labour, but my body really, really did not want to be in labour, possibly because I was so alarmed by the hospital environment and because I really had very little to eat (discouraged more than once by midwives but I suppose I wasn't that hungry anyway) and was so tired.

They got the drip and the contractions restarted and rolled me back over to pushing uphill position, citing the epidural as the reason I had to do it that way (in hindsight this really ticks me off, as Grant can lift me over his freaking head, and could have held me in whatever position would have twisted Beth out the best). I think I had a few more pushing urges, but after that they stopped. The midwife asked me when I had last eaten, and I remember thinking "well, now we're f___ed." After that I pushed for about another 2 hours with nothing to help but worn-out contractions and engine fumes. It got to a point where pushing was agonising, like my pelvic bones were jammed somehow; pushing hurt both front and back. I think I was getting nowhere because Beth had failed to turn completely from posterior to anterior (only got halfway) and therefore I was having a lot of trouble pushing her head around the "U bend" at the last minute. Then the midwife basically called it, as I had been pushing for 2.5 hours by then and apparently there is some sort of benchmark for the permitted time for such things. I suppose I was sort of relieved because I didn't have anything left to put into the birth, but it also seemed like permission to quit trying which probably didn't help matters.

Beth's skull was mashed up from enduring such frequent contractions for so long, although the miswife preferred to blame us for this because I had had the temerity to stand for pain relief rather than lying down (!). This meant ventouse was not an option, so forceps were planned. Unfortunately the hospital won't do forceps these days outside an OR, so we had to consent to a C-section before they could try forceps. It took them a while to arrange this, I think, as in the end my second stage went for 4.5 hours before Beth was delivered, and I remember the contractions while that was happening were doozys as the epidural had largely worn off by then. They shaved me (undignified) and gave me something to drink to neutralise my stomach acids in case they had to do the surgery, which made me throw up - nice of them not to warn me about that, I thought. Then they wheeled me into surgery and did a full spinal block anaesthetic which hey, actually worked. They hoiked my legs up into stirrups like in all the tv shows and slung up a sheet so we couldn't see my belly, only the faces of the doctors. It was completely surreal.

They will only do a forceps delivery in fairly perfect conditions due to the risk to the baby. I was pretty sure I was going to end up cut, and after all that time trying! But then the obstetrician and consultant looked down behind the sheet, and they had huge smiles on their faces. "The baby's so low!" on of them said. I had gotten her to +2 station, apparently (which makes me think maybe someone should have given me a lolly and a huge pep talk and got me to have another crack at it, but anyway). Forceps went in; I couldn't really see. Then they asked me to push. For the first time the whole labour, a medical professional complimented my pushing efforts, and a few seconds later she was out. It was 5.50am on Tuesday, 8 January 2008, about thirty hours after the first contraction.

But that was only really the start of the bad part.

They passed her over my chest as if to put her on my chest, but she was pretty grey and not breathing, so they rushed her to the side of the room. It took a long time for her to cry, and it wasn't really the lusty cry you hope to hear. They put her in my arms and she was staring at me, but every time she tried to breathe her lungs were deflating and she was making a horrible squeaking noise.
I was fairly disconnected right then. There was no instant bond. I was really worried for her, but I didn't love her yet. It didn't seem like she was mine, I suppose; for ages, I thought they had just yanked her out of me - "taken birth" - which didn't help the connection, I guess. It wasn't until Grant showed me the photos with the forceps removed that I realised that they had certainly helped, but I had pushed her out.

Beth was taken to the NICU with respiratory distress after only a few minutes with me. I sent Grant with her (and later she had visits from Mum, Deirdre and I think Sue while I was still in recovery), while I was wheeled into the recovery ward and basically left to my own devices for an hour or so (helping my recovery how I wonder?) while everyone rushed around the woman in the screened off bed next door, who I think may have been dying. Mum came in to see me, and Grant brought pictures of the baby, as he had sent Deirdre to sit with her while he came to see me. Beth looked in such bad shape. It felt like my fault. It still does, even though in hindsight and with further reading I know that two major causes of respiratory distress are syntocin and early clamping of the umbilicus, both of which of course were done. And that even though morphine is also a cause of respiratory distress, I had been put in a situation which was not really survivable without it.

Apparently as a special favour, rather than take me straight to the maternity ward, a maternity ward midwife met me in the NICU in my giant hospital bed with my paralysed legs, and I got to see Beth for the first time properly. I couldn't hold her, as she was covered in tubes. She knew my voice though. She turned her head towards me when she heard me, even with all the tubes.

That made me feel a bit better.

Then it was back down to a ward of 5 women who all had their babies with them, while mine was in NICU. Mum made me a cheese sandwich. I still wasn't very hungry, but it was the first thing I'd eaten in days. Aunt Sue helped me express some colostrum, so she could take it up for Beth. I think I slept for about an hour, my first sleep in three days, and then I went back up to the NICU in a wheelchair, as the anesthetic still hadn't properly worn off. I got to feed Beth for the very first time of thousands.

She was a natural, which is just as well, as there was noone there to help us get started.

But after this we had to leave her behind, as once a baby gets into the steely jaws of NICU they will find a reason to hang onto her. In fact, the way I knew I had finally bonded to my beautiful girl was when she was a month or so old and I started bawling my eyes out, because it was suddenly intolerable to me that we had had to leave her, with strangers, a brand new baby who knew nothing of the world except my voice and my smell, stuck in a freaking hospital ward by herself, without the slightest thing to give her comfort.

Beth had had a high lactate reading at birth from the long labour, so was at risk of hypoglaecemia, so even though her blood sugar readings which were all 2.8 or above were considered normal by the maternity ward (above 2.5), they weren't by the NICU (2.9 or above), so she had to stay while I dragged my wounded self up three floors rom the maternity ward to the NICU to feed her every three hours and at one stage every two hours (all while trying to recover from a 30 hour labour on top of a 16 hour day awake), even though it seems to me that the best way to elevate a baby's blood sugar would be to, I don't know, MAKE IT EASY FOR THE MOTHER TO BREASTFEED THE BABY. If I weren't such a stubborn bugger, she would have been on formula; the miracle is that anyone leaves the NICU breastfeeding.

After that, she had borderline bilirubin levels and therefore ended up in a light bed for a day. But finally, finally we were allowed to have her in our room, and a day after that we were the hell out of there, and home at Mum's.

And after that we didn't leave her anywhere by herself, ever, and anyone who has a problem with that can put themselves through all of this before they pass judgement.

Some months later the hospital finally sent me my discharge papers. They look like a train wreck. Meconium staining, augmentation, hypertension (apparently my blood pressure started skyrocketing during labour, so of course they decided to make the situation even more comfortable by adding a blood pressure cuff to the mix), forceps, respiratory distress, hypoglaecemia, jaundice, the whole shebang. And it made me cry, because that "maternal exhaustion" seemed such a glib way of passing off what I had made it through. But I'd do it all again tomorrow, for Beth. And I'll keep cuddling her to make up for it as long as I live.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Damn hot...

Seemingly summer has decided to finally make an appearance... and with gusto.

I took Beth to SOPAC for a paddle and to sign up for lessons, but as the security guard so eloquently put it "it's hot, so the queue is 1 1/2 hours long". I went home.

But fortunately I have a bucket and a hose:

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Christmas pix

A first Christmas* looks roughly like this, I believe:

Christmas morning at Nanna Em's

Christmas afternoon at Nanna Jan's and Poppy's, with rocking cow

With Dougie, looking at Little Puss

The Poopsmith!

Second trip to the beach; world's roughest surf at Bar Beach

And a Mummy's first Christmas looks like this:

Isn't it beautiful? Isn't Grant the best husband ever?

* Christmas = Christmas + ensuing days