Monday, 12 August 2019

A short story

A progress report.

In the final minutes before the weekly progress meeting, Elizabeth James felt a calm come over her. She had been working overtime for weeks now to ‘help’ prepare the report her colleague Jarrod was supposed to be presenting. The only problem was the male lawyers had gone out for lunch three hours ago and were yet to be seen. Well, she’d done the work. Why should he get the credit? She’d present it herself.

Heading into the meeting room, there were a lot of empty chairs. The other female lawyers were standing against the wall, as they usually did. Not Elizabeth. Not today. Looking deliberately at several of her girlfriends, she sat down. She kept looking at them, until, one by one, they also took up the empty seats.

‘There are a lot of girls here today’. The comment came from the meeting chair and senior partner, Mr Thomas Harris.
‘Sir, the women here today are in this meeting every week. I think it may be the lack of boys you’re noticing. I believe they’re still at lunch’.
‘I see’.
‘Of course, since they’re away, some of the women have taken a seat at the table, instead of standing at the back of the room’.
‘Yes. Well. Shall we begin?
'Jarrod Smith? Can you please give us your report into the Black Hills Case’.
‘I believe Jarrod is still at lunch Sir. Shall I deliver the report instead’?
‘Are you up to date on it’?
‘I wrote it’.
‘Oh. Yes, please do then’.

It was a great meeting. Elizabeth presented her case flawlessly and every woman in the room had had something useful to contribute. Several others delivered the presentations they’d also prepared for male colleagues. And in spite of the old ‘women talk too much’ myth, they finished half an hour early.

A week later, Elizabeth felt herself deflate as she headed into the meeting room. Every seat at the table was taken up by a man who’d been too busy lunching to bother turning up the week before. The women were once again standing against the back wall. Then, as quickly as she’d felt her spirits drop, she felt her temper rise. She was about to open her mouth when Mr Harris walked in. He looked at Elizabeth, giving her a slight nod, and sat down.

‘Right, those of you who missed last weeks meeting due to your lunch engagement, please get up from the table and stand against the back wall’.
There was a murmur in the room as the men at the table looked at each other. Slowly, the began to get up, until only 2 men remained seated.
‘The women who were here last week, please talk your seats at the table’.
The murmur this time was more of a rumble. Elizabeth rather enjoyed it as she took her seat.
‘Let’s begin. Ms James, where are you at with the Black Hills case?

Saturday, 18 May 2019

This mum's post election debrief.

I realise that ‘para’parenting’ doesn’t exactly scream politics, but politics is about the rules and systems that govern our societies, and as a parent, our current political climate in Australia really worries me.

I am feeling angry, that people not only voted to keep the Morrison government, but that they actually gave them more seats. That Labour fucked up so badly. They had ‘an unlosable election’, and yet, here we are. And what happened to ‘this is the climate change election?’  

I’m glad that Shorten has stepped down. For the love of God, can we please give Penny Wong a go?? Ok, I realise she’s a senator, not an MP, but that just a technicality. How amazing would it be to have a gay woman in the top spot? Or just anyone who had some direction and leadership ability, really.
Off the top of my head, there are a few things I think Labour did that were really, really dumb. Like a 40% tax on inherences. I have to think they meant it to stop the rich just passing stuff onto their richer kids, because otherwise they’re not just stupid but incompetent if they didn’t realise the effect it would have on the lower end of the food chain. They’d lost that battle when it was broken down by the coalition as ‘Grandma will give you a $40,000 car and the ATO will give you a $16,000 bill’. I wonder why younger people receiving inherences weren’t keen on that idea? Or older people keen to know that their kids would be billed for the gifts they gave them?

Their plan for 50% electric cars, in a country the size of Australia was never going to fly. There are smarter ways to get our emissions down. Yes, most of our population is in urban areas, but how about the invested in cheap, reliable public transport in those areas, then people wouldn’t need to use cars.
Their tax on family trusts, again, stupid. So many small businesses, including our own, are set up using a family trust. This is because it protects the family assets (like the house you live in), in case of someone suing the business for something the business is responsible for (like because someone gets hurt working for you, or on your property). For many small family businesses, this is the money they live off, their only income. Especially, say, a mum working full time raising the children that will later inherit the property and go on to work on it (oh, look, they got hit twice). Labour are just so out of touch! Aren’t these the people they say they are trying to protect? Ordinary working people? What happened to taxing the rich end of town? Or you know, just making those big companies/mines pay any tax would be a good start!

And yet, even with these three policies that I did not agree with, I still wanted them to win. Because at the end of the day, if we don’t do something to stop the earth burning to a crisp, it won’t matter what tax anyone does or doesn’t pay!!  

I saw a video by Charlie Pickering this week, talking about Australia’s ‘share’ of global emissions. He talks about how we do only produce 1.3% of global emissions. However, our 1.3%, combined with England at around 2% and many other countries with small emissions, total 41% of fossil fuel emissions. The UK have declared a climate emergency. Our Politian’s, instead of trying to clean up our share, just say we are too small to matter. We only around 2% of allied forces in WW2, but we didn’t let that stop us doing our bit. Why should this be any different? As Pickering said, we have always punched above our weight.

There is very little, if anything, we can do about the 27% of emissions produced by China. We might be able to put political pressure on them, or stop selling them cheap coal, but really, that would need to be a global approach. We can however take care of our corner of the world. How about not letting a coal mine be built basically on top of the Great Barrier Reef? Our greatest living wonder is already being cooked, now they’re going to throw a mines worth of pollution at it too?

We are experiencing massive, catastrophic weather events, with increased regularity. Once in a century is rapidly approaching once a decade. What will it be like by the time our babies are having babies of their own? I come from a farming background and I see the pain our farmers are in; if they’re not fighting drought, it’s flood or fire. This past summer Tasmania had horrific fires that burnt areas that won’t ever recover, destroyed trees hundreds of years older than the Australian government that doesn’t seem to think their loss matters, that because there was no loss of human life that it wasn’t really that bad.  

I was not at all enthusiastic about a Labour win, but I am feeling gutted that they lost. I went into the polling booth with a heavy heart, knowing there was no one running I felt I could enthusiastically get behind. I felt Labour had stupid policies and were not really very different from the Liberal party in anything I considered important. The Greens have strong environmental policies, but I find some of their policies really detrimental to the farming community. I also haven’t forgotten they were behind campaigns to get rodeos and horse racing banned, both sports I have long been involved in (some bad people, mostly good people who love their animals). Liberals I find utterly inhumane and their policies cruel. Their views on immigration and refugees are awful. I also believe that a woman should have the right to choose if and when she has a baby, so find the lack of reproductive health services woefully inadequate. Men should not be legislating women's bodies. My local Liberal candidate was dis-endorsed over a Facebook post she apparently wrote saying feminists should have their clitorises removed and be sold to the Arabs for fucks sake. As an out and proud feminist, I find that terrifying, horrific, abhorrent, disgusting and all those other adjectives!! (Don’t even get me started on the fact that feminism is the reason she’s even allowed to stand for parliament). And all the other minor parties seem to be one or more of the ‘ists’ or ‘phobes,’ racists, bigots, homophobes, islamophobe’s, sexists, ableist… the list goes on! Clive Palmer just bought himself a government that will let his mining businesses continue to operate, without forcing him to actually pay his staff. I guess he feels his $70m was well spent! Urgh!  

I don’t feel confused or surprised, just utterly disappointed and frustrated. I feel sad. I know that I did the right thing, but I can’t help but feel I’ve not done enough, I’m not doing enough. I know I need to do more, but I don’t know how or what. I only have a finite amount of time and energy to spare, so I want to use it well. But I know not doing anything, is no longer an option. I’ve been thinking about running for office for a while now. I don’t think I’m ready yet. I don’t feel I have enough knowledge or life experience. Then again Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is my age and look what she’s doing with her life! I don’t want to run for a federal seat, because I don’t want to be away from my home and family that much, but I feel like that’s where the real changes are made. I guess I have a few years to decide about that now anyway.

So, people, what are you doing? How are you feeling after this election? Maybe you don’t see this as a bad thing? Have you found this uplifting, or do you want to move to New Zealand? What are you doing to help make Australia a better place for everyone? What can I do?

Thursday, 2 May 2019

A baby is born

We had booked in a c-section for baby 2. There were a few reasons for this, including the fact that I was really struggling with all the extra weight I was carrying, baby was measuring big and Will had had a massive head. Because I'd had a c section already, my induction methods were very limited. While I wasn't scared of a big baby, or even a big head, I did know it wold make a vaginal delivery more difficult, and the likelihood of another emergency c section was much higher.
That said, Dr D, Tim and I were in agreement that if I went into labour spontaneously, then I could have a try at a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I really wasn't holding out any hope for this, since Will had had no interest in going anywhere at full term and we were booked in early this time. However....

Three days before surgery was scheduled, Will and I were at home, baking a cake. The cake was in the oven, Will had gone down for a nap and... yeah that's not just Braxton Hicks anymore. Shit. Ok. Tim had been trying to get a final couple of days of work in before baby arrived, so I called him home to take me to the hospital. My mother-in-law was already coming out to watch Will while I had a nap, so she had to put her foot down too.

As we left home, I was having contractions about 4 minutes apart. I can feel them come on- it's just like someone hugging me tightly around my belly, though it's hard for me to tell the duration of them as they fade off again. Basically I was feeling nervous, like maybe I needed to go to the toilet (tried that, I didn't). We live about 30 minutes from the hospital and by the time we were half way there, I was not good. Within a few minutes, I'd gone from basically fine, to feeling really sick, heart racing, feverish, nasty headache. The effort of getting out of the car actually did make me sick.

When we arrived on the ward, I was admitted, but there was no expectation from anyone (except me) that this was show time. It took a while for a canula to be successfully inserted. My veins aren't great at the best of times. (Even getting iron infusions while I was pregnant often took multiple attempts). That allowed them to start anti nausea medication (so I could take panadole) and fluids. Once that all happened, I started feeling much better.

For those of you who haven't had much exposure to spinal cord injuries, the thing to watch out for here is AD, autonomic dysreflexia. Because I can't feel pain or discomfort below my injury level, my body has a different warning system to tell me something is wrong. The first symptom is a headache as my blood pressure rises. Other symptoms include all the ones I'd been experiencing, though it changes from person to person. Now you might expect that labour would fit the 'pain or discomfort' bill, but my response had come on very hard and fast.

By the time I'd been in a few hours I'd progressed from 2cm dilated to 4cm.  Baby's heart rate was a little higher than we wanted, though it had come down as I'd begun to feel better. Then my waters broke, full of merconium. So we decided it was time to go to theater. Now, not only were we dealing with a baby a few days earlier than we'd expected (I'd literally only packed my hospital bag 3 hours before we left home), but Dr D wasn't working that day, so I was dealing with obstetricians I'd never met before. Don't get me wrong, they were lovely, did a good job and listened to me but it was still very off putting to be going through all this without her.

Unfortunately, I cannot be so complementary of the anesthetist I had. Now I want to preface this saying that I understand her primary job is to get both Mum and Baby through the surgery safely, but that is not her only job. She did not listen to me when I told her that my fever was a result of my AD, rather she said it must be the result of an infection, despite my blood tests having come back clear and the fact my symptoms came on so quickly, and were fixed by panadole.
Because I'd had a fever, she would only do a GA (general anesthetic). Her reasoning for this was that if I had an infection and it got into my spinal column from the spinal tap, it would be a horrific infection to try and get rid of. Treatment included multiple surgeries over years. So if I'd had an infection, that would be very sensible, except that my fever was from AD. This decision was devastating to me. It meant that I would be asleep for the delivery, but it also meant no one else, including Tim, is allowed in the delivery room.

When we got to the theater door, she berated me like a child, speaking about me as if I wasn't there. She said if I didn't want a GA, that I needed to get another anesthetist, as if that was a viable option when we were at the theater door and everyone was telling me my baby was in distress and needed to be born now. Then when I said I was 'fucking furious' (in reply to 'how are you feeling?'), she told me she wouldn't give me a GA if I wasn't happy. Well. I saw red. I am not someone who is confrontational, especially people in positions of authority, like doctors! But she poked the wrong Mama Bear! I told her she had no right to ask that of me. That I consented, we needed to get this baby out and now, but she did not get to tell me I had to be happy about it!!

Ok, deep breathes. Can you tell I am still a little frustrated about this, almost three months later? (For those of you wondering, I did put in a complaint, about 6 weeks after. I wanted to take time to process what had happened, to make sure I wasn't being irrational).

Tim was kicked out (unfortunately no one had actually told him anything about where he was meant to go, so he was a bit lost for a while), and they took me into the theater. As I counted down, I had tears running down my face. My only memory between then and recovery, was a dark haired boy being offered for a kiss and being asked if he had a name. Harrison Trevor. You've never seen a newborn with so much hair!

Harry was taken off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, NICU, and I was taken to recovery, where I slowly woke up and got snippets of news about him. His Apgar score was 2, so very low at birth. He had needed some help to breath, most likely because he'd also got some GA, and weighted 8lb, 3.5oz, so a pound lighter than Will, but the same sized head, almost 2 weeks earlier!

When he needed his first feed, I was still in recovery. Tim insisted they come see me to try express some milk before they gave him formula. I was so proud of him for this. He knew exactly what I wanted and made sure it happened. Sure enough, the midwife for 15ml in 5 minutes, off one boob. For those of you who haven't had babies, 15ml of colostrum is really good!!

Once I was discharged from recovery, I was taken up to the nursery to meet Harry properly. Poor baby was hooked up to a drip, but he was well and truly alive, which is the main thing.

I'm going to leave it there for today.     

Sunday, 31 March 2019

A new direction...

I've thrown myself off the deep end! Over the past three plus years, this blog has been entirely about babies. Well over this time my life has been largely about babies. Now however, I'm branching out.

There are many women out there who devote themselves wholly to their children. If you're one of them, good for you. I need something else though. Last year I went back to uni and I loved it, but with a newborn at home, it's just not sustainable for me.

So this is going to be my 'place'. I like to write about what I know. At the moment this is largely parenting and children, but I'm more than just a mum. So I'm going to try something new. In between my Paraparenting experiences, I'm going to share some other pieces I've been working on, both non-fiction and the occasional fiction piece. 

I'm also going to try and learn how to use Instagram, so you can find me there at

I have lots to catch up on after a very slow writing, busy living year, including a birth story.

So, let's see how this goes shall we?

Monday, 3 December 2018

Welcome back!

Well, it has certainly been a while and what a lot I have to tell you about! 

After having a very dark period over winter last year, I decided I needed something to wake my brain up. So this year, I began a Bachelor of Arts, in gender studies and politics. We are very lucky to have both Will's sets of grandparents close by, so he spends one day a week at each house. I'm not sure who is happier about this arrangement, Will or his grandparents... Actually, it could be me! 

The first half of the year, this worked beautifully! 

You know how they say that every baby is different? Well, after a relatively easy pregnancy with Will, his little brother/sister felt the need to remind me of the reason that saying was invented. Yep, we have number two on the way! What was meant to be a nice few week off between semesters, a chance to do some fun stuff with Will and just catch my breath, was spent feeling like absolute shit. I was just hanging out for the 12-14 week mark, waiting for that feeling I had with Will. That didn't happen, not by a long shot. 

It was always my intention to start blogging again, but I've had so little left to give anything or one, that it has not been possible until now, at 29 weeks. 
I'm someone who knows I am capable of good grades, so I don't like to settle for anything less than that. This pregnancy has meant I've had to reassess my expectations of myself. I've had to lower my cooking and housekeeping standards. I haven't been able to see my girlfriends as much as I want or even need. I am someone who gets so much from my female relationships and I've really felt the lack of those catch-ups over the past 6 months. So if you're one of the few who have managed to keep seeing me over this period; thank you! You have helped me keep my head above water. 

I have the most delightful little boy here. Will is two and half now and everyday makes me laugh at some crazy thing he does. He's an outdoor adventurer who loves nothing more than to wrestle his dog to the ground and go off on adventures around the yard, something he's been doing since he was crawling and worked out how to open the screen door. But he also loves to sit reading on his puppy mat, to help his mum bake kiss biscuits, to play dress ups with his friends, running round in a tutu. This morning he baked me some 'biscuits' (curtain rings), using his socks as oven mitts to make sure he didn't burn his hands. He amazes me with the things he's observed. 

I don't know how much he understands about this baby, but when he says goodnight to Mummy and Daddy, he also pulls up my top and gives my bump a kiss, a cuddle and several raspberries! So we will see how he goes! I think he'll be ok.

So far as the pregnancy, baby is going really well. We have chosen not to find out the gender again, since it doesn't make any real difference to us. Our nursery was painted gender neutral and hasn't changed. We will be using Wills clothes again. My doctor is obviously not worried about us, since I am also seeing the midwife. I think they call it combined care. I've only had a couple of scans this time, (like most people). Baby is growing well and was measuring about 8 days ahead at our last scan. I'm feeling lots of movement now too, which is nice and reassuring. 

Baby has been doing much better than me. I've had two iron infusions now, which has helped, but a month ago, finishing off uni, I was totally wiped out. Pregnancy is exhausting, as is having a toddler, but I was sleeping ten hours and still needing to nap. I was having to rest on the way to the clothes line, which is maybe 10 metres from the house. I wasn't ok. 
I have also had constipation a LOT earlier this time round. I'm mostly on top of it now, but at about 22 weeks it was a bit of an issue. Coloxyl with Senna and Normacol have helped. I've also been horribly bloated from about 10 weeks. I'm on Zantac again twice daily and that's helped, as well as eating little and often. And I'm on Clexane (anticoagulant) injections again, since I've been swollen (like I'd been attacked by bees) since about 18 weeks. I'm guessing. I've barely written anything about anything this time round! 

The good news is that while I'm tired still, and really noticing the extra weight, I am actually starting to get to that nice bit in the middle, where I mostly feel alright. 
I am going to have to change chairs soon. I got a new chair 18 months ago and this one, while a little wider, is taller than my last chair. I went into this pregnancy carrying a few more kilos than last time, so that extra inch or so makes a big difference! I've had a bit of niggly discomfort in my left shoulder this year, so I'm really conscious of not putting too much pressure on it. Or rather, as little as possible. 

I think bub has Will's nose...

So, where to from here? I have my next check up just before Christmas, then scan and visit with Dr D in January. She told me after Will that if I had an uncomplicated pregnancy and a small baby, a natural delivery would be possible. Induction options are limited, as the drugs they use weaken the cesarean scar, but if I went into labour spontaneously, then it would all be possible. 
This baby does not seem to be complying with the order of a 'small baby' though. It is certainly good that it's healthy and growing well, but I have a feeling Dr D will be recommending scheduling a C-section. 
So while I am coming into this a lot more mentally prepared (as opposed to last time where I decided I was going to have a natural delivery, so I just didn't think about a C-section, or what that would mean/involve) I'm still a bit disappointed. I really wanted to have that experience, and I know that if I have a second cesarean, that's it. Even if/when we go back for number three, a natural delivery won't be an option after two C-sections. I know at the end of the day we just want a healthy mum and bub, but I'm not quite ready to accept that I might need to give up my natural delivery to get that. Good thing I still have a couple of months to get used to the idea! 

I'm going to stop now, before this gets too long, but I will try to keep updating over Christmas. 
Thanks for coming back. Until next time! 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Almost 2 years in...

I know we all say this about our lives all the time, but I can't believe how fast the time is going! Will is 2 in just over a month. So much is going on, with Will, but also with me and our family in general.

Will is absolutely in full on toddler mode now. He's not just walking but running. And not just that little cute half waddle run, actually running. For the most part, he's still very good. He will often run away from me at home, but if we are out, I can count on him to be pretty good. I bought one of those kiddy leashes, but we don't have to use it very often. He was on my lap in the supermarket last week and climbed off, went over to another families trolley, held on to that and turned around and grinned at me as if to say 'look mum, I've found a new family!' That's about as naughty as he gets.

He is very inquisitive and adventurous though. I have found I have to be very careful with what I give him access to. We have a fire screen and he knows 'hot', but he also managed to open the fire screen, and the fire door, to put on a piece of wood he very helpfully brought inside for me. I smelt smoke from the other end of the house. I've never moved so fast in my life!! So our fire screen now has an additional child lock on it...
He is also a monkey. If there is a ladder around, he WILL climb it! It doesn't matter if it's 5 meters high and only has one leg on the ground...

Our next challenge is going to be nappy training, which I want to tackle in the next few months. It's one of those things that everyone has an opinion on and everyone knows how to do, but no one wants to do it for me, strangely enough. So that's going to be fun. I'm currently reading Oh crap! Poppy Training by Jamie Glowacki. So I guess I'll finish that and do what I usually do- take what I want, throw out the rest!

Will is currently mad on books. He loves story time and will sit and read with Tim or I for as long as we will keep reading. We are still getting an afternoon nap from him (I'm so happy bout that) and we have a lovely story time routine before his nap. Even if he does have 3 favourite books I have to read 4 times a day. He's quite well read on books with strong female characters.

Will was a bit slow on his words, but over the past few weeks he's coming out with a new word almost every day. It's just clicked, obviously.

If you read my last post, you might be able to guess I wasn't in a great place last winter. I have found out I have depression and was in the middle of a bad bout/spell/whatever you want to call it. I've since found myself a good psychologist and worked out that winter is my 'danger' period, so we have been working to prepare me for this winter. I've joined a gym and am going boxing a couple of times a week, which I really enjoy. I've also quit Facebook, which I was spending hours on a day, which has helped immensely; I log on maybe every 2 months now.

I've also started uni. Just part time, so I only do 2 days a week. Will spends one day with each set of grandparents, which both Will and grandparents love. Those 2 days give me time to start learning who I am again. After 2 years at home, I had lost track of who I was. I felt bored all the time and even worse, I felt boring. I couldn't hold down a conversation about anything except m child. Which is fine if you're someone who want's to talk about my kid, but most people don't care beyond the 'how are they'. And to be honest, I want to talk about something other than him sometimes. I love him, but he's only 2. There is only so much to say about him. And I certainly used to be able to hold an interesting conversation before!

So I'm doing much better. I'm studying politics and gender studies which I'm loving, especially the gender studies. My brain is beginning to fell less like overcooked oatmeal. I overdo it sometimes and just crash, but I feel like I'm setting myself up to get through the cold dark months. 

We got a puppy towards the end of last year, a red kelpie called Pia. She drives me mad some days, but she and Will love each other. I often find them out on the lawn wrestling each other. I never know who has who pinned down.

Will and Pia

Will has continued to be a massive farm kid. He loves nothing more than going out on the motorbike to check the cows, or in the tractor to help Daddy. Agfest was his favourite thing ever- two days with Daddy looking at tractors and cows... Heaven!

Tim and I took Will and Tim's mum away for a long weekend to Victoria in March. We went over on the boat and took Will to the Melbourne zoo (he wanted to take a lemur home, as in a live one. He settled for a toy one) and a drive down the great ocean road. It was a great couple of days away. It was a bit more relaxed that our speedy road trip to Byron Bay last year to see my cousin get married, though that was good too, in it's own way.

The Big Merino at Goulburn

On the whole, Will is growing way too fast, but he's a great kid and we can't complain. I've missed writing though, so I will try to be a better person. Thanks for sticking with me!!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Today, I'm a Shit Mum

This week, I'm a shit mum. Don't get me wrong, for the most part I'm killing this, but this week, I'm not. I'm so bloody tired and angry. I have no patience. Will has perfected his mum's frown and growl in a way no little kid should. I feel like every second word out of my mouth is 'no,' or 'don't,' or 'stop,' or 'down.' And the others all seem to be swear words. I have this wonderful sweet, smart,  inquisitive little boy, but I keep shutting him down cause I can't keep my shit together.

My house is a wreak. As I'm writing this, the table is covered with card making stuff because a, I like making my own cards and b, I own hundreds of dollars worth of card making stuff, so it feels stupid buying them. The floors are filthy. The sink is covered in dishes, as well as leftovers from both lunch and breakfast. I have managed to turn on the washing machine, but not to hang anything out yet.

Anyway, I know we all have days when we feel like everyone else is doing a better job than us. This week, I'm having a couple of those days. So next week, I'm making some time for me. Because like this, I'm not a good mum. I don't like me today.