Saturday, August 25, 2007

The last night of not knowing you.

Today is the last day of my maternity leave. In January this seemed to stretch on forever, but all things must come to an end. This six-ish months of leave has been the longest time in my life that I haven't been either employed or studying- but that doesn't mean I've been idle- as all you mummies out there know, this is a tough job. Before Patrick was born I had grand plans for the time, and I feel it's now time to tally up my achievements.

Live infants born- Expected: 0 Actual: 1
Number of times said infant has drifted off to sleep- Expected: 910 Actual: 3
Number of times have been able to put infant into bassinette next to desk and get on with work on desk whilst infant slept- Expected: 182 Actual: 0
Episodes where breastfeeding felt like razor blades being applied to nipples and wiggled up and down - Expected: 0 Actual: many, many, many
Episodes of maternal frustration resulting in screaming at infant to "shut the Feck up"- Expected: 0 Actual: several
Perineums intact- Expected: 0 Actual: 1
Bedrooms painted:-Expected: 3 Actual: 0
Bedrooms re-carpeted-Expected: 3 Actual: 0
Dishwashers bought- Expected: 0 Actual: 1 (I am evil)
Sections of the Great North Walk walked- Expected: all Actual: 0
Cello lessons- Expected:20 Actual: 0
Life drawing classes-Expected: 10 Actual:5
Anaesthetic training modules completed- Expected: 1 Actual:1
Formal projects undertaken -Expected: 1 Actual: 0
Gardens maintained- Expected: 2 (front and back) Actual: 0
Grey water tanks installed-Expected: 1 Actual: 0
Solar hot water systems installed:-Expected: 1 Actual: 1
Kilos lost- Expected: 20 Actual: 10
Veggie patches planted- Expected :1 Actual: 0
iPods crashed - Expected: 0 Actual: 1
Family holidays- Expected: 0 Actual: 1
1 in 100 year storms survived- Expected: 0 Actual: 1
Episodes of depression required to be treated- Expected: 0 Actual: 1
Crappy plastic toys bought- Expected: 0 Actual: 5
Kayak paddling on harbour- Expected: 26 Actual: 1
Motorcycle rides- Expected: ~20 Actual: 1(to get rego done)
Funky hair cuts- Expected: 0 Actual: 2
Movies seen- Expected: maybe 8 Actual: 2
Works of great literature read- Expected: 26 Actual: 1
Credit cards maxed out- Expected: 0 Actual: 1
Mobile phones stolen- Expected: 0 Actual: 1
Departmental education meetings- Expected: 20 Actual: 2
Packets of disposable nappies used- Expecte: 2 Actual: umm, errr
Hours of sleep lost- Expected: maybe 12 Actual: 1000s
Number of times thought about selling baby on ebay- Expected: 0 Actual: too many

Friday, August 24, 2007


I was leafing through the TV guide and came across an ad for a "collectible" plate dedicated to Shane Warne "The King of Spin". Yours for just $280 plus 19.95 p&h. I've Googled it but can't find a pic to link to (I don't think the target market understands the interwebs. There wasn't even an online ordering option on the ad- who'da thunk it?).

That led me to Google the makers of said plate- The Bradford Exchange. Their merchandise is the last word in truly awful. I invite you to spend a memorable and fulfilling hour perusing their wares (when you can tear yourselves away from your infants). Time well spent.

I'd love to do an installation piece of a home furnished entirely with crap from Magnamail. I love that shit. Just don't expect me to buy any.

One of my favourite places in the universe was Fred and Myrtle Flutey's Paua Shell House in Bluff New Zealand. Unfortunately Fred and Myrtle have gone to the big Shell house in the sky and the house is no more, but I am reliably informed that the collection has been moved to Christchurch for preservation. But it's not the same- a six hour detour to the far south of the south island just to see this house was one of my 'must do' New Zealand things ('thungs'). [I don't think I have mentioned before that I am a complete Kiwiphile. If I was offered NZ citizenship over Australian I'd probably take it. It's not just the female PM, it's that NZ still doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. And is beautiful and 'big' enough to stand up to the USA. Plus Mountain Buggies and the Jolly Jumper are NZ made, too.]

But onto more tasty matters: the introduction of solids is now in earnest (instead of just an amusing diversion) and we have branched out from rice cereal, rice cereal and mashed banana, rice cereal mashed tofu and tomato paste to mashed potatoes and mushy peas. And guess what's coming out the other end? Mashed potato and mushy peas. Mmmmm. This has meant an increase in the number of baths we're taking- first to clean out the under chin creases (to prevent growth of 'cheese') and then to clean up the 'poonami' that results.

These are some photos from the bath an hour ago...

Very tasty. Edible.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

There's a wind in my sails

Patrick is six months old today.

It seems both such a short time and a long time. My wee man is growing up! I have also managed six months of pretty much exclusive breastfeeding, which, considering the hell I went through to begin with, is a miracle in itself.

So happy half birthday little guy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I know deep down it's been photoshopped, but I love it. Every time I look there's something I hadn't noticed before.

The other child

In the last 48 hours I have spent nearly $1000, but none of it fun.

Firstly, deposit and several weeks upfront of daycare fees for Patrick.

Secondly, grocery shopping.

Thirdly parking fine (at the pool- the first time in 6 months the parking meters have been working- grrrr).

And finally, on our 'other child'. If you look at my archives, you'll see our beautiful Burmese cat Meg featuring highly. She was our child substitute as we battled our many miscarriages. Poor Meg now has very much taken a back seat to Patrick. To add insult to injury, our new house was 'owned' by an aggressive blue Siamese who isn't about to give up her territory to Meg, so Meg often is attacked as she goes about her- eh-hem- business.

Two months ago she was in a fight that ended up in three large abscesses on her flank and back. She needed operative drainage.
Since then, the abscess on her back has recurred twice, so yesterday she underwent an extensive exploration and debridement of the area. She's in quite a bit of pain, poor lamb.
This is the ugliest $570 I've ever spent.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Laydee of leisure

I'm being a laydee of leisure.

Patrick is at daycare and I'm not at work.

I'm trying to remember what I did with my life before mummyhood...

Bloody hell, this is easy even with having to pump every two hours! I've been for a swim, checked my email, booked myself in for a lucrative locum shift (let's just say it's over $100 an hour for a 10 hour shift...) had lunch and am now... officially... b.o.r.e.d.

I might just have to do some housework to fill in the time.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nothing to do with babies-ish

One of my fav bloggers'- Julie- dad died a few days ago. He was riding his Harley and came unstuck around a corner. For someone I don't know apart from her amazing writing on the interweb, I was incredibly upset. I just checked her blog and she has had something over 800 comments: the most I've ever seen on a blog. I'm sure it's because she writes with such honesty and humour about her adventures in the land of infertility that those of us who read her blog feel so attatched to her and her family. It's a site well worth reading: spend an evening reading her archives and it's like an amazing book that you want a good ending for.

Anyway, her dad's sudden death got me thinking - and I'm sorry, but this will probably be some random stream of consciousness burble- and of all the sudden deaths I have ever known, there are only a few that stick in my mind and manage to invade my thoughts regularly. The first would have to be a toddler- whose name I still remember, and whose curly blonde hair I can still see- who was run over by his mum in their driveway. She was backing the car out and his dad was watching over him, but he turned away for a split second and the poor wee man ran into the path of the car. I was on for Paed trauma (this was when I was a surgical trainee) and had just done the EMST trauma course, so I was all fired up. I remember being so pleased that we had got this kid stabilised and CT scanned within 20 minutes of his arriving in ED- I'd done a cut-down, even- and we were giving him absolutely his best shot at survival. I remember buzzing with energy at having done so well at this trauma, and starting to push his bed up to OT so that the neurosurgeons could operate when the ED Nurse manager asked if his parents could see him. I told her it would have to be quick, because we didn't want to delay his theatre at all... and then the parents walking in, numb with grief and disbelief and timidly reaching out to touch their son... and that's when I lost it. (One of the theatre nurses once told me I was too soft to be a Paediatric surgeon. She was right). He made it through his operation but died about 6 hours later. I remember ringing up the GP to tell him to expect the worst for mum and dad and the GP being absolutely aghast. That trauma will stick with me forever.

The second is the death of my good friend A. He was killed by an avalanche whilst climbing Mt Tasman in New Zealand 3 and a half years ago. I had been in love with this guy for almost all med school and a good few years after that, but it was never reciprocated. Totally unrequited. When he died we were all so stunned; he was so fit and so alive he was the last person we expected to die. I never really got over never having told him all the things I should have told him, all the letters I never wrote, all the phone calls never made. I do not expect I will ever get over him- his death (and life) will pass into what makes me me. But it still haunts me, and just last night I had a dream about him. Not anything spectacular- we were christmas shopping at the same store- but it made me miss his sense of humour and unique outlook on life. There are still songs that remind me of him- especially Coldplay's "Clocks"- it was playing on the radio when I heard he had died- and "nothing else compares" seemed so apt a line for the relationship we (never) had.

There have been loads of other deaths I have been involved with: I'm around death and dying all the time at work, but these are the two that stick the most.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New photo

I'm adding a new photo to my profile. It's me (with my new haircut) with Patrick and my bookshelf full of textbooks and notes in the background (yes, that pink one is is Nunn).

Friday, August 10, 2007


I'm one of those rare individuals who likes winter. I like to dress up warm, I love hats, scarves, boots and coats. I love coming home to a warm cosy house and tucking up inside a warm cosy bed. And let's face it, its a lot easier to wear black in winter than summer.

So, WTF? It's August, fer fecks sake, and it's 24 degrees here, and I'm in shorts and t-shirt on my back deck. It was 27 the other day.

I want my winter back!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about motherhood, and what it means to me for quite some time now, and trying to best work out how I feel and then to put it into words. It's been a post in the making for a long long time, now, but over the last three days something has become abundantly clear to me how far I've come.

We've all (Me, Mr T and Patrick) got a particularly nasty cold- I'm tempted to call it 'flu because I have arthralgia and haven't felt this crappy since I last had mastitis. It did occur to me over the course of my pregnancy how people said things about 'this is the end of your independance' and things to that effect. It wasn't really until we all got this cold that I realised just how far that goes. Mr T came down with it first, then me, and now, poor little Patrick (although
it has to be said, he's still bouncing in the Jolly Jumper ok- I think Patrick would have to be bloody sick before he would stop bouncing, God love him). When Mr T was sick I looked after Patrick all day - even took him down to Sydney for a day (to Birkenhead Point) so that he could rest. Now I'm unwell, and Mr T is working night shifts- so despite the fact that I only got a few hours' sleep last night (five feeds plus a hacking cough and pan-allodynia- 'everything hurts') I am still number three in the ranking order of needing to get some rest. I've put myself last. Also, before Patrick was born, when we loafed on the couch in the evenings, I would huddle up to MrT or put my feet on him, and the cat would sit on his lap. Now everyone sits on top of 'mummy'; I'm literally the bottom of the heap.

I'm sure I've said before how this whole process has changed how I see my mother. Most especially, that I must admit I never really saw my mum as making choices before: she grew up in the fifties and sixties, became a nurse (because that's a 'naice' job for a 'naice' catholic lass) and married my dad- a 'naice' catholic lawyer. She had 4 children in reasonably quick time. We followed dad's job around the country, mum working because we had a large mortgage. All of those things I used to think were, to some degree, pre-ordained: nice girls do nice jobs and marry nice boys and have nice families. But at some stage she must have chosen to do all of those things (except maybe for my sister who was born 12 months after my brother- one of those 'breastfeeding accidents'). She could have done teaching- another 'nice girls' job like her sisters, she could have married 'the boyfriend who drove the MG', she could have decided to stop at one or three children (oh, yes, my mum will burn in hell for taking the pill), she could have given up her job. But, growing up, you (well, I) didn't ever really think that mum would ever do anything that she wasn't meant to. Well, she just wouldn't. It's like there was a script to our lives and mum played the leading role. She just did the things she was 'supposed' to do, it seemed to me, and all our lives seemed as inalienably 'right' as they were.

Afew years ago, when my (maternal) grandmother died, my aunts (there were only girls in my mum's family, only boys in dad's) were cleaning out the flat they came across a box of my granfather's old super8 movies (my grandfather died when I was 3 days old) including reels of three girls' weddings (there were actually 4 girls in mum's family- the eldest, who I never met or even heard about until I was in my twenties, had Downs Syndrome, and my grandmother was advised to 'put her in a home'- it was the 1930's after all) plus a few of the cousins. My Aunt P had the films made into a video. It was interesting viewing, (not least for Aunty J's bridesmaids' wearing purple and green flared pant suits), especially for me, a moment when mum realises she's on camera, and pulls a silly face. Exactly the sort of face I'd pull.

For as long as I could remember, I've been compared to my mum- we both look very similar (except she has brown eyes, mine are blue), we speak very similarly, we both have a similar sense of humour, and similar interests. But, there watching this film, I first became aware of my mum as a young woman- a woman with her future ahead of her, a woman with choices, a woman like me.

Now I wonder what Patrick will make of me. What he already makes of me. He's obviously very fond of me- as much as babies can be- when he fell out of bed in Fiji, he wasn't consolable until he was in my arms. Now, nice as that seems, I'm somewhat suspicious that this is more that I'm the only mummy he's ever known, and it's not me so much as any woman with boobs and open arms. A bit like Harry Harlow's experiment with baby monkeys- the surrogate mother experiment. I'm sure to a certain extent it is: after all, Patrick can't even get it together with rice cereal let alone think about what his mamma means to him. But when he's older, will he look at my eyes and marvel that they are the same colour as mine, as I do every time he looks at me? Will he wonder why Mamma left it 'til she was 35 before he was born? Will he see me as a real person, a person who made choices, and not 'just mum'?

I expect he will, but it may take his own experience of parenthood for him to do that. Or maybe he'll see my wedding video and watch me pull a face at the camera and it will dawn on him.

Is this just a 'mother' thing? Or is it parenting in general? I never really saw my dad as not making choices- he seemed to decide what car we bought, what colour the house would be painted, all that sort of thing. Not that my mum was at all brow-beaten or 'kept' in any way: my mum was (and still is) a very intelligent woman who is not afraid to speak up to anyone, least of all my dad, but it always seemed to be dad who made the choices. I'm sure this was just my perception, because as I've come to know mum as an adult, I know she's just as in control of the house as dad is. If not more. But that's my point: was mum that way, or was it just my perception? Is this unique to me? Is it how all children see their mums? Is it a female thing to let yourself become the person who is always there, who always knows, who 'always gets the burnt chop' (or vege sausage)?

And if it is, what about rainbow families? What about single parents? What about parents with a disability? What about transgender mums?

Maybe it is just me, and the drugs I'm taking to fight this cold and stay awake. So I can put out the washing, bring it in, clean the house, organise childcare, look after the baby, breastfeed, amuse the cat, do the shopping, edge the lawn and empty the dishwasher.

[and yes, I've discovered the 'link' tool and I'm-a gunna use it. I can't believe I overlooked it all that while. Like right now. Handbag heaven]

Monday, August 06, 2007


I'm supposed to be going back to work in three weeks. That sucks majorly, but I've told them I can only do the days I have child care, which was nil.

Today I did the old ring-around of the places where Patrick's name is on the waiting list and low and behold, one out of seven could do Mondays for me.

So next Monday, at 0900, Patrick and me will troop off to the childcare place with some bottles of expressed milk and a heavy heart. I can't shake the feeling that I'm abandoning him. I'm also so sad that the little 'holiday' I've had to get to know my baby is coming to an end. This precious, special time when it's just him and me, all day, every day, is drawing to a close. He's growing up and oh, it's a cliche, but it's happening all too fast: just yeaterday I had to buy some size 0 wondersuits because he's too big for the 00s. I looked at the 0000 ones in the shop and try and try to remember what he looked like as a newborn, when even those 0000s were too big. My baby never was that small- oh yes, he was.

He's sitting up mostly unsupported. If he gets too bent over examining his toes he can pull himself up to upright again instead of nosing into the couch and crying. He's discovered syllables ("babba, dadda, yaya" instead of "ooh, aaaah"). He's chewing rusks. He reaches out with a palmar grip. He's gone up a size in nappies. Unmistakeable evidence he's getting bigger.

If you'd told me 5 months ago I would be sad to stop breastfeeding, I would have probably slapped you. But as we stood in the supermarket contemplating the different brands of rice cereal (organic? large box? small box?) the tears just started rolling down my face. My little boy needs more than I can provide. Soon it will be all banana, avocado and yogurt with occasional boobie time. I hated breastfeeding to start with, now I realise how much I will miss the little eyes staring into mine, and his fingers softly stroking my skin. I now comprehend just a little of the pleasure and pain of seeing your baby do things for the first time; why my mum cried when I (finally) left home and hugged me saying "my little baby!".

Patrick will always be my firstborn, my joy and pain. As I look around the loungeroom here at the paraphenalia of his life (the jolly jumper in its stand, the burp cloths, toys and books) I realise just how much my life and even my perception of who I am and what I can do has changed. I can't believe that just 5 months ago we didn't know if he was a boy or a girl. We hadn't decided on his name until I was in second stage. I can't remember not knowing what his dear little face with its whorl of hair looked like. It's been the best of times and occasionally the worst of times. An amazing and painful journey, with rewards beyond measure.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I'm shocked

I'm shocked at how grouse my photos have turned out!

A few years ago we went to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef (I'd been around the world but never to Cairns) and we went snorkelling, like you do... They had two types of cheap underwater cameras for sale on the boat- the disposable kind and one that was re-ueseable but just as basic. We got the re-useable one and it normally travels strapped to my kayak (ie rarely anymore).

I took it out snorkelling with us and was snapping away merrily and it wasn't until we got back onto the beach I realised the lens was all fogged. The next day I took it out with me again and stopped once it fogged up.

When I came to pack my bag, I then found the camera casing had about a centimetre of water inside it. I thought there was no way the film would have survived, but when I got home and took it out I was suprised to see that there were no drips inside the canister, so I took it in to get processed.

To say I'm happy with the way the photos turned out is a bit of an understatement. I'm thrilled! Even the foggy ones look great!!

Lake Macquarie from my kayak. I was about 9 weeks pregnant at that time.

A school of
Blue starfish, orange coral. Nice contrast.

I think I was actually trying to wind the film on and pressed the shutter by mistake, but I love this photo. Mr T.

Believe it or not, this is where I took the fish and coral photos from: just 20 metres or so from the shore, just in front of our room. If this is what the snorkelling was like just at some random bits of coral near the resort I'd love to see it at one of the 'good' places.
It's my toes, btw. In the beautiful Pacific.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Patrick just did a Teflon Poo.

He was sitting on my leg and I felt the rumblings of a 7.5 on the Richter scale effort. I lifted him up so it wouldn't get on my pants and then took him to his change station.

It was all in the nappy. None on his precious little buttocks. None. Nil. Zippo. Zilch. Nix. Nada.

I wiped him with a wipie, and there was the faintest hint of yellow, the kind of faint hint that's there all the time (except for immediately after a bath when he is kissable all over... 'til he wees in your face...)

Teflon, I tell ya.

(In case you are wondering it was a Fiji-issue Snugglers. That's right, the one that looks identical to the Australian version except for the brown lady and bubba on the front where a pink one normally is)