Monday, April 30, 2007

hysteria really does come from the womb

What Will We Do With a Grumpy Baby?

(To the tune of What Will We Do With a Drunken Sailor)


What will we do with a grumpy baby
What will we do with a grumpy baby
What will we do with a grumpy baby
Er-lye in the mornin’?

Hoo-ray and up he rises
Hoo-ray and up he rises
Hoo-ray and up he rises
Earl-ie in the mornin’.


1. Give him the boob until he’s happy
Give him the boob until he’s happy
Give him the boob until he’s happy
Ear-lye in the mornin’

2. Change his nappy- ooh it’s poo-ey
Change his nappy- ooh it’s poo-ey
Change his nappy- ooh it’s poo-ey
Earl-ie in the mornin’

3. Put him in a sling and rock him all over (you get the idea)

4. Give him to your partner, hey it’s your turn

5. Get in the shower- you can’t hear him

6. Put him in the pram and walk around some

7. Get in the car and go for a long drive

8. Sell him to the gypsies or try E-bay

9. Won-der why in the hell you did this

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More secrets of motherhood

I’m no expert, but I have collated these thoughts over the last few weeks, jotting them down when and where I could. These are things I have either figured out for myself, or others have told me and I have found invaluable. I hope they can be of some use to other new or soon-to-be mums. It has taken me about two weeks to put this together because you never have more than half an hour to yourself, but there it is. Another long post, but hopefully useful.

  1. I bought a 1.5 litre pump pack sorbolene and glycerine. It is a great all-rounder for cleaning bottoms and as baby bath. You can use an old face washer or squares of flannelette and a squirt of s&g instead of expensive disposable baby wipes. Just soak the cloths in napisan and wash with the other baby clothes.
  1. When I was pregnant my feet swelled terribly. I went into a shoe store to find a pair of sandals that fitted. The helpful sales lady chirpily informed me “many women find their feet never go back to the same size again”. “You’re shittin’ me” I said (or words to that effect). “No, it’s really common, you’ll have to buy a whole new lot of shoes” she said, smiling “now, what size of these sandals am I getting for you?” “Ten. Maybe ten and a half”.She wasn’t wrong. My feet, now no longer oedematous, are a whole size larger.

My old shoes look like my shoes, they feel like my shoes, but it’s like trying to wear someone else’s. An evil shoe fairy has come ans swapped all my shoes for ones that don’t fit.

This wouldn’t be so bad if I’d gone from, say, a seven to an eight, but try finding funky heels when you find yourself a very flat size eleven.

  1. Sleeping after the baby is born is definitely a change. Yes, you will sleep more soundly when you are asleep, because you no longer have to wake up every time you want to turn over. However, the times that you are awake, you have to be much more awake, and this can be as frequent as every hour and a half. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really have to be that awake to stumble to the loo for a pee, but changing a nappy is a whole new deal. Also you will be awake for longer; even on really good nights, it still takes at least half an hour to feed, change and re-settle P. A wee never took that long.
  1. I thought having 6 months off work with maternity leave would be the most wonderful, welcome thing I could do. However, P’s now 9 weeks old and I’m secretly wishing I could go back to work -one day a week. One day a week when I could use my brain. One day a week where I wasn’t constantly tied by my nipples to a small screaming infant. One day a week where I could have intelligent conversation. One day a week when I had more than going to the shops for a loaf of bread to look forward to. One day a week of not being at home. Six months ago I would not have thought it possible to think this way, but now it’s boring me shitless.
  1. Here is the honest truth. I have post natal depression. I’ve been trying to put it off; I’ve been trying to ‘not get it’. I feel so bad that I have, I feel like I have failed in some way, as if there were some way I could possibly avoid getting it, but I know that’s about as useless as trying to avoid seasonal asthma by wishing really hard. But I can’t avoid it- it’s now inescapable, it’s not something I’ve done wrong; it’s just there. I was warned pre-natally I have loads of risk actors: older, well-educated first-time mum with a past history of depression and some difficulty (!) staying pregnant. Now here’s the really sucky thing: I have sought help, but would you believe, in this, the 6th largest city in the country, I can’t get an appointment with a counsellor for 3 weeks! 3 weeks!!! What’s the frigging point of asking for help if you can’t get any! I’d love to know exactly what I am supposed to do in the meantime? (What I am doing is keeping busy, excercising and reading everything I can on CBT. Oh, and my friends who are GPs are trying to pull some strings). It’s all very well to tell women that they need to not tough it out and ask for help, but, seriously, this is ridiculous. I’m lucky that my depression really isn’t that bad (my Edinburgh is about a 9); imagine if it was! I know mental health in this country is undersourced, but, really, there has to be something better. I’m lucky in that I can play the “I’m a doctor” card and queue jump, so I don’t know what other women do.
  1. Get yourself a really expensive, beautiful indulgent bottle of shower gel or soap. (I recommend Jurlique Rose Shower Gel; smells gorgeous, leaves your skin soft, and is actually reasonably cheap at $20 a bottle). Do not discount the restorative power of a hot shower. There is no baby problem too urgent that you can’t have a shower (ok, discounting actual medical emergencies). No baby ever died from crying (well, no baby without some sort of congenital defect), and once he or she is fed, changed, dressed and in a safe place and still won’t stop crying, you close the door, turn on the shower and use that shower gel. If you put your head under, you can’t hear anything else. This is ten minutes (ok, less if you have strict water restrictions!) of time for you. Good for your body and your soul. Likely your baby will still be crying when you finish, but at least you will be clean, in new knickers, and smelling good.
  1. Cravings don’t go away when you stop being pregnant. I still have a $5 a day chocolate milkshake habit that is proving very difficult to, eh-hem, shake, and is threatening to undo all the good weight loss from breastfeeding and is putting a dent in my savings.
  1. Another thing that people won’t tell you is that this job can be horrible. There are days when you don’t like your baby. There are days when you regret becoming pregnant, days when you hate being a mother. The funny thing is that it is ok to feel this way, because most women do. You just won’t hear them say it. That’s the honest truth. There are some moments when I get so frustrated with my baby, when I just want him to shut up and leave me alone. But then you look at this tiny helpless thing and immediately feel guilty, which invariably makes you feel worse. Such is the burden of motherhood. It’s not pretty, but there it is.
  1. Bonding isn’t an instant thing for every woman. I am still having difficulty believing that P came out of me. I love every bit of him from his soft, downy hair to his tiny, perfect toenails, but he still doesn’t feel like mine. Other women have told me they didn’t feel bonded for at least 3 months, so I’m not alone. It’s another one of those things that many women won’t admit to, because it sounds so wrong. It isn’t; it’s perfectly normal.
  1. I’d like to recommend The Tao of Poo by Vivien Elizabeth Glyck. Ok, she does crap on about auras and goddesses a bit in chapter 4, but, hey, whatever rubs your Buddha. It was she who said it was ok and normal to not like your baby every minute of every day, and that feeling out of control is normal.


  1. How does a baby get dirt under his fingernails? It’s not like he’s been working on my motorbike in his spare time. Bizzare!

8-9 weeks is proving to be a really good age. P is far more interactive: if I was clever with things like that I could put a recording on here of our little “Conversation Game” where he says “Goo” and I say “Goo” and we volley little babbly noises at each other with big smiles for 15 minutes or so. He also is less unsettled when he is put down and will look intently at things like his mobile for quite some time, without needing to be cuddled or picked up. He is also doing that thing which may not be spoken aloud for fear it will go away: he is sleeping through. Not every night, but many nights he goes to bed at 2200 and does not wake again until 6 o’clock in the morning. This would be wonderful if it were matched by an ability on my part to sleep for eight hours uninterrupted, but my body has other ideas. Its either wanting to pee (out of sheer habit, now) or boobs that are used to two-hourly feeds during the day bursting with ‘milky goodness’. [Oh, btw, I’ve found if you put a big blob of lanolin on your nipples, the breast pads will stick to them and that way you can roll around in bed without the pad moving away from the boob and you waking up in a puddle of sticky milk].

It’s torture- the one thing that I crave is a big, long, uninterrupted sleep, but my body is so conditioned to waking that I don’t imagine this will happen for quite some time.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

photos of my current life

In the mornings after the first feed, we all lie in bed together until daddy comes home from night shift. Meg is getting braver and braver. I'm pretty sure she is jealous of P and a little wary, too. But the other night we were all on the couch, P was crying and she turned around and licked his head a few times as if to say "There there..."
Here's me being at the healthiest point in my life: Cephalexin 1g (for mastitis), Paracetamol/Acetominophen 1g, Iron, B12, Pregnancy/BF supplement, Flaxseed oil caps, Lactobacillus cap (to offset the gram of cephalexin). Who needs breakfast?!
Here is my new favourite outfit. I love the 'skin tight jeans' look. They're tights.
Here's P at the beach, slipped, slopped and slapped. And fast asleep.
Here is what I would buy P if I was as rich as a Packer. It's on sale at DJs, $350. Pedal operated.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Maternal Magnifier

Today I took P to get his first vaccinations.

Now, I deal with a lot of needles. LOTS. Big and small; tuohey's, cannulas, Sprottes, Quinckes, Whittakers, Swan-Ganz cathethers, CVLs, PICCs of every gauge and description. Apart from accupuncturists, I don't think there is any other medical specialty who deals with more needles than anaesthetists.

But today, as they swiftly and carefully immunised my son, I couldn't look. I had to literally turn my back and put my hands over my eyes.

I had the Maternal Magnifier on.

The Maternal Magnifier starts in pregnancy. Any threat to the belly becomes a threat to your entire existence and wellbeing. The accidental bump or knock becomes "Oh shit my baby will be damaged".

After delivery, the Maternal Magnifier is most active in hearing. Babies cry loudly, but you won't hear other babies' cries as loud as your own. Baby poo smell? Smelliest when it's your own offspring.

The most dramatic example of the Maternal Magnifier is its action on sight when any threat to the child is seen. Dogs, cars, hot or sharp objects become leviathan in their proportions.

Sharp objects- including needles. I looked at the needle- and thought "Oh my God, it's HUGE!" but then the next thought was- "hey, that's an orange hub, it's only a 23g." But then "No, they must be using a different brand of needle, it's too big to be a 23".

I honestly saw this needle as being as big as the ones they use to microchip animals. It's that old divide between what you know intellectually (This is an appropriately sized tiny 23g needle) versus what you actually feel (Get that horse needle away from my son!).

I knew that the needle was tiny. I just couldn't KNOW it.

I still am having trouble with really understanding that P was the lump in my belly. But today just proved to me just how protective I have grown. The Maternal Magnifier is well and truly 'on'.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I have been meaning to write for some time now about breastfeeding. It’s a subject close to my heart (and my right middle lobe, ha ha ha). And when you Google ‘breastfeeding blog’ you get nothing useful (ie people who have been there, done that). My apologies for the long post, but there are a lot of things that you think of in the wee small hours.

During pregnancy, I had noted in my journal (ok, to be honest, the notes section of Kaz Cooke’s “Up the Duff”) that I felt ‘ambivalent’ about breastfeeding. Meaning, I know all the benefits for both me and the bub, but I just wasn’t 100% comfortable about whacking a newborn on my boobs and letting it all go.

The little pamphlet helpfully given to me by the midwives at the hospital assured me “Breastfeeding is 100% comfortable”. Meaning if it isn’t, you must be doing something wrong. Here’s a little secret, ladies (and wymmin). It isn’t. Even if you are doing it right. If this is a ploy by the boob Nazis to get you to persist with bf (ie one day it will be 100% comfortable), I’m sure it backfires. They would be better to say “Breastfeeding often involves some discomfort through to outright pain at the start, and then settles down to being mostly comfortable”.

I have yet to meet any mother who claims she got bf established right from delivery with absolutely no pain and no problems. It, like having it all, is a myth (IMHO). In my case, it HURT. And now, seven weeks on, it still sometimes HURTS but is mostly just Annoying.

Having said all this I’m not about to chuck it all in and start up with formula. Our experience with breast pumps and bottles of expressed milk only confirmed to me what a right royal pain in the arse it would be; all that boiling and sterilising (or at least decontamination) would kind of spoil the moment, and kill any sort of left over spontaneity (and there’s precious little of that, let me tell you) in your life.

The secret to breastfeeding I don’t know, but here are my 2 cents’ worth about things that make it easier.

  1. Ignore what your mother or mother in law tell you. Things have changed markedly in the last 30 odd years. Especially when they say “I have had 4 children and breastfed them all, you know” (I have never, even in my gothic teens, felt closer to matricide than when she offered that smug little gem).
  2. Find a lactation consultant. Most hospitals will have them. A good one is worth gold gold gold for Australia. Mine is brilliant- professional and supportive, like a good sports bra. Find one that makes house calls, because the one thing you won’t want to do with sore boobs and a squally baby is get in the car and travel. The days after we left hospital were terrible. P wanted to feed every two hours and because my bf was underskilled, it took, oh, two hours to do a feed. My nipples (mostly the left) were so sore, it was like P had a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth (I had a dream whilst pregnant that I was breastfeeding my cat. That’s about what it felt like: Stephanie Calman in “Confessions of a Bad Mother” - “How many breastfeeding women does it take to change a light bulb? Just smash the bulb over my head, it has to feel better than this.”). On day three I rang her up, in tears, and she advised me to call a halt to the boobs, and express for a week. She gave me the name of a hire company for a (brilliant, lifesaving) electric breast pump, and told my husband to come up to the hospital and she would slip him some bottles and teats. After a week, my nipples were much improved, and she came to our home to coach me on attachment again. We gradually re-introduced the boob. However, by about week four, my nipples were just as sore again. I rang her up and she came around again. The attachment was perfect, he had a good action and no tongue-tie. She then looked at me squarely and asked “Do you have sensitive skin? Do you get dermatitis easily?” Do I ever! “You probably have nipple dermatitis then. Get yourself some 0.5% cortisone cream from the chemist and whack it on after feeds three times a day for 3 days”. Miracle woman. Miracle cream. My boobs still do get like this occasionally, and I know all I need to do is to pop on the cream for a day or two to settle it down. No-one- not my doctors, my mum (ha!), or the (millions of) books on the subject had suggested this. Absolutely brilliant. [The only time her goddess crown slipped was whilst still in hospital, she told me to come around to her office- there was a couple already there, being taught the skills. When they left, she said to me, sotto voce, “They had a terrible time with the birth. They had to have a Cesarean and the anaesthetist couldn’t get the epidural in, and she had to have a GA”. In tones of ‘that anaesthetist must be soooo incompetent’. Well, honey, that same Anaesthetist is the supervisor of training at my hospital, a brilliant and very capable woman. If she couldn’t get the epidural (actually it was a spinal) in, then no-one could. It. Happens.]
  3. Mastitis. I’ve had it once, and I’m having it again right now. The symptomatology you will read about in the books only goes so far. Yes, you will have a hard, sore (sore!sore!!) lump in the boob with maybe some overlying redness. Yes, you will feel tired like you are getting a ‘flu. You may feel hot and cold. But what they won’t tell you (and what my mummy friends have told me, and it’s so true) is that you may also feel depressed. You will be coasting along fine, and then one day, you will find yourself in tears again. For no discernable reason. Check your boobs at that point.
  4. It will get easier. Like everything with a new infant, it takes time and patience.

Breastfeeding in public is another hurdle you have to overcome. Many of the women I know say that after a few weeks, they didn’t care anymore who saw their boobs. Not me. I’d still rather do it at home. All the women I have known personally who have breastfed have had nice, rounded boobs that disappear to flat or no bigger than a B when they aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding. My default position is a 16DD. Now? The largest that DJs had on their racks was a 20F, and even that isn’t big enough. So I have no idea. Just freaking huge. Contrary to popular belief, bigger boobs make it harder to breastfeed. Even now, I have to still feed P two handed to support my boob and keep it off his nostrils. So I get very wary about ‘hanging out’ in public. It’s not like I can do it discreetly, like those smaller-breasted women. When my boob is out, you need to clear an aisle in Woolies. One day I will be comfortable with it, just not now.

So, after all this, I’m still ambivalent. I want to do it, I want to do it for at least six months, but I am still hating doing it. But there just is no other way that would be easier. And babies need milk. They can’t just start on TVP and veggies. It doesn’t work that way. And my milk is the best for my baby. And for the first time in my life I am losing weight without running 10km a day (all those skinny B cups aren’t. Ha ha ha!!) And the closest I have ever felt to bonded is laying in bed, stroking his hair, and watching him gulp in mouthfuls of me. (You mean I haven’t bonded yet? No. I still can’t equate this beautiful little man to the lump in my tummy. But that’s a whole other post.).

Saturday, April 07, 2007

6 week update

The best developmental milestone so far? Lifts head momentarily when held in ventral suspension? Nope. Watches examiner intently when speaking? Nope. Soft guttural noises when content? Close but no see-gar.

Smiles. Gummy, cute, smiley smiles. 100% beautiful.

PS I just saw this on the page. Look at my chin. Now look at his chin. God help him!

Monday, April 02, 2007

shake, rattle and roll

I live about ten minutes' walk (15 when pregnant!) from this beach. A very flat walk, too. In fact, from the small rise immediately above the beach, it would almost be a downhill walk. Lucky me, you say, big deal, so what.

Well, yesterday, it appears for a time that the entire east coast of Australia (right down to dear old Tassie) was subject to a tsunami warning, following the earthquake off the Solomon Islands. What exactly constitutes a warning? I spent the most part of the day (except for an hour's swim) at home, pottering about, with absolutely no idea such a warning had been issued. At sea level. With a neonate. And an electric car.

Now as it turns out, the tsunami has unfortunately ravaged many parts of the Solomons, and evidently some people have died, but missed my part of the world. I feel happy that it did miss us, but somewhat aggrieved that a warning doesn't appear to take any form apart from ethereal.

Goodness me.

PS- I took these photos 6 days ago. Yes, those are people sunbaking. Yes, it's April. Yes, that's right, the temperature is still in the high 20s. Arrrgh.