Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I'm officially on a day off today, but I had to go into work to prepare a talk on "Analgesia and Breastfeeding".

Guess what I forgot to bring? My breast pump. Duh.

Friday, October 26, 2007

One for the gasfolks

What do anaesthetists do all day? Well, here's what...
anaesthetist song
too funny, because it's all true.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


In addition to helping me unload some of my hard-earned and keeping the world's postal services in action, etsy has stirred my creative juices markedly.

One of the first projects I did was to make this "Taggie". I'd seen a few 'taggies' on etsy and thought that it looked super easy. It is. For those of you who don't know, it's a ...thing... with lots of little tags hanging off for the baby to feel. Now Patrick loves the tags on some of his toys better than the toys themselves, so I thought this would be worthwhile.

It's a macrophage (a bacteria and debris-eating white blood cell); I tried hard to think of something that naturally has things hanging off and came up with a cell with receptors. And macrophages have lots of pseudopodia (reachy-outy bits) so it would make an interesting shape. I also put an empty cereal packet bag in between the layers of fabric for 'crackliness'. I embroidered on some organelles- there's a nucleus with clumped nuclear chromatin, some endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondriae, golgi bodies, lysosomes, ribosomes and a gram-positive coccus (let's just call it a Streptococcus) being ingested in a phagosome.
And Patrick loves it. Yay!

This is the fabulous polished cotton I just bought off etsy to turn into a fab summer frock. I'm now going through the vintage paper patterns to find a suitable style...
This was the mess that confronted me the other day: my first day off in a while. We had been re-painting our bedroom, so we had been sleeping in my study, and hence all my papers, letters and work stuff just got piled on my desk without sorting. It took me an hour just to get all the crap into sorted piles before i could even think about what to do with it all. (Don't worry, MMG, that urine speci pot has Milton's in it for my breast pump @work.)

This doesn't really relate to the rest of the post, but this is Patrick out 'riding high' in our Macpac baby pack. Note how my hair is at handy 'grabbing distance'. Yay.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


these little suckers rock as baby finger food.

trouble is i just ate half the box... and then looked at the 'nutrition information' panel.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

laughing boy

I can't be doing too bad. This video stars Patrick laughing in his dorky way ("Ah-herk-ah-herk-ah-herk"), my untidy house (ironing board in the hallway, random scraps of fabric on the floor) and a large cockroach. But mostly Patrick laughing.

Thank you, MMG

Thank you, so much. (Sincerely- god it's hard to write this how it should sound).

I did need a little perspective, I suppose.

Yes, I suppose my lack of bonding feeling is that whole "I wonder when his real parents will come and pick him up" thing. And, yes, you look at mothers with babies younger than yours and think, wow, she looks like a real mother- and then think they probably think exactly the same thing of you. I am a mother. Total wig out.

My supervisor of training says it's a very female thing to have this little niggly voice in the back of your mind saying "If only they knew how stupid I am they wouldn't let me be doing this" and that despite being an excellent neuroanaesthetist, she still thinks this of herself, as do many of our eminently well-qualified and experienced colleagues. She made the comment that I didn't seem to suffer this malady. Once I got off the floor from rolling with laughter, I said that maybe I just hid it better. My point is, this probably extends to parenting as well. That we all think maybe we're doing a really crap job and shouldn't be allowed alone with a baby, when in fact we are all competent, loving mothers.

Now if I could just believe this....

Thank you for your kind words. And no-one over-uses exclamation marks like I do! (Or hyphens, apparently). My complaint is that MrT doesn't drink- well, not much anyway, so when I want to have a glass of wine, I know that whatever I open will prolly only be drunk by me. There's a bottle of Tamar Ridge Pinot Noir 1999 on our coffee table with a whole two glasses drunk out of it and the Vac-U-Vin stuck hopefully in the top, but I know that by the next time I want a swig, it will only be good for cooking. *sigh* [Maybe I shouldn't be so upset about that pulp mill after all if I never get to drink the wines...]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I don't deserve him

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while now, and what crystallised it was MMG's post about her mother.

The thing is, I don't think I'm a very good mother at all.

It sounds stupid- ok, it sounds awfully stupid, but Patrick's arrival took me by surprise. If you've read any of my old posts, you would have realised what a long time it took for us to get to the actual live birth stage. As long ago as August 2005 it hit me that there was never going to be a 'right time' to have a baby, and that then was as good as any other time. I was ready. I remember sitting in the on-call room in my old hospital on a night shift, full of readiness to bring a baby into the world, a little child spirit who was waiting to be born. I felt swelled with love and anticipation. I remember what absolute certainty I had that it was now, that I was ready, that we were to become a family. I remember seeing the faint pink positive line on the test and knowing, just knowing that it was the right thing. I started knitting. I did all the belly rubbing and nurturing thinking I could. I ate the most healthy diet I could, making sure there was the right amount of protein, down to the gram.

And then, it ended. I miscarried.

I felt betrayed. By my own body, by the universe. I hoped that the little baby spirit would find another chance to be born. (I was very into this whole 'spirit' thing at the time).

So we tried again. We miscarried again. We tried again. We miscarried again.

By now it was May 2006. I had become so focused on becoming pregnant it consumed me. Every day was another day of anticipation of either a positive or negative test. And once we had a positive, it was anticipation of the dread spotting heralding the end of that pregnancy. I was obsessed with pregnancy.

So when my test again showed up positive in June, I was pretty sure nothing would come of it. But the days came and went, and then weeks, then months. In September we were pretty sure it had ended again. It hadn't. My pregnancy continued.

But by then, the rot had set in. I was so consumed with the pregnancy and it's frailty, that I wouldn't let myself think about the baby that would come. I was trying to protect myself against loss. Even in the later stages, I knew what could happen with premature labour. I saw three women have deliveries of term babies who were dead for no accountable reason in one day. By 34 weeks, I realised it was a distinct possibility that I would have this baby, but I still wouldn't let myself believe it. I wrote

"...I am sincerely worried that I won't be able to love this child as much as it surely deserves, simply because of my own selfish denial in order to protect myself from the potential of loss. So despite having now been blessed with actually being pregnant, and making it to a major milestone (34 weeks), I am so scared that I will not be the mother that this child deserves. Does that make sense? I had a dream last night that I had had the baby (I had a GA LSCS in the dream) and then when they brought around the baby (which was already smiling and walking) that I didn't feel like it was mine at all; the baby seemed like a present someone gives you that obviously was very expensive and difficult to source, but completely not your taste, but you still feel obligated to put it on the mantelpiece and ooh and aah at it all the time. It was disturbing."

I feel like that premonition has actually been right. I don't feel like I am the mother that Patrick deserves. I still don't feel I was ready for him, and to be honest I found the early days extremely trying as this little person intruded upon my life, and constantly demanded attention and rubbed my nipples razor-blade sore. Like MMG's mum, I felt like running away. I actually devised a plan where I would express enough every day to make two day's worth of milk (I was super-lactator at this stage) and then by twelve weeks he would have enough to make 6 months and then I could just... dissappear. (I"m not sure exactly to where- I wasn't really hot on the details).

Things improved with Pharmacology and attendance at 'mad mummies'. But I'd be lying if I said that life is just peachy. I really look forward to the occasional day that I'm not working and Patrick is at (already paid for) day care.

Sleep is still a major issue- not sleeping through the night, which, mercifully he does with generally only one or two feeds overnight)- but getting him off to sleep. This poor little guy can be overtired and absolutely inconsolable, but it doesn't matter how long you rock, pat, swing or sling him, it's still a major fight to get him to close his eyes! I have admit it's these times that I find the most trying: I'd love to be able to wave a magic wand and have him zonk out. What bugs me is - is this because it's an inconvenience to me, or because I want him to be happy and consoled? I really think it's more the latter, but there is still a little niggly voice that says "Are you sure? You are quite a selfish person, why shouldn't it be the former?" . I'd like to think this is the remnants of my PND, and is not actully true, but how do you know?

I'd also be lying if I said that the return to work has been painless and rewarding. I think this in part has exacerbated my feelings of inadequacy and lackof time to myself. The night Patrick got sick I came home at 10pm from a 14.5 -hour shift during which I had been able to pump a whole two times, and had no break at all from 1600 hrs. I was so looking forward to sleep- and didn't get more than an hour's worth for another 36 hours. It's not Patrick's fault he was so very sick, but when you are deprived of sleep- which, despite what the US government thinks, is a form of torture- you are going to feel less than 100%.

The other major issue is that I still don't really feel bonded to him. Shameful, but true. Despite the massive evidence to the contrary, my brain still doesn't really accept this is my baby. Every time I kiss or cuddle him, or stroke his beautiful cornsilk hair as I feed him, or watch him silently slumbering and my heart swells, I wonder, hope and wait for a feeling that will be bonding. It hasn't come yet. Maybe next time, I think. But it doesn't come. I know that it takes years for some women, and I hope it won't be for me. I wonder if it's something to do with the happy pills-
like Jill Sobule says so well:

I used to sit under a gloomy cloud of gray
And now the sun is out and my
whole world is beige
I used to go up
I used to go down
Now I'm just even here in happy town
I don't get excited
But nor do I frown
The lawn is always neat in happy town

Sure I don't cry any more, but I also find it hard to get really excited or delighted. I know that this is not really living, but I won't go back to the pit of despair. That wouldn't help things one jot.

-pause for some really good baby snuggling-

I know that it's there, it's just waiting to pop out. Maybe it's closer than I know.

And you know what? I feel better already.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mr sSneaky

It's fairly common for babies to have quirky little rituals they go through as they're breastfeeding. One of the least pleasant I read was a baby who pulled his mum's armpit hair as he drank. Thankfully Patrick isn't quite that adventurous, but he does have a habit, especially when tired, of trying to wiggle his fingers into his mouth as he's sucking. He starts off stroking either my boob or his own cheek before the fingers, whistling innocently, walk their wiggly way down his cheek and then try to sneak into his mouth. It's cute but frustrating, especially when he detatches himself and then gets cranky at me when the milk stops. I call it 'sneaky fingers'. So I'm quite used to little sneaky hands walking all over my boobies.

Then he moved into a face exploration stage. He has always been interested in my mouth, and one of our games is that he puts his fingers in my mouth and I suck while he tries to remove them. So when he started exploring my eyes I wasn't really suprised.

What did scare the bejesus out of me was the other morning he was feeding in bed and I was kinda dozing when ka-zoinggg! A sneaky little index finger inserted itself up to the knuckle into my right nostril! A perfect fit, it was a good thing he didn't try it a day earlier when it was absolutely chock-full of gluggy green snot.

He just wanted to do some exploring. Either that or I'm really going to have to start watching my bad habits. Next thing you know he'll be yelling 'cockhead' at someone who cuts him off in stroller traffic.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Patrick recovered at absolute warp speed. He is now easily the healthiest person in the house with both me and MrT still suffering from a heavy cold. (Mine got so bad my ears clogged up and I got an inner ear infection- first since childhood! And for the record, it hurts like hell).

My stuff has started arriving from all around the world off etsy... every day brings a new package. It's great!

Winter has ended with a bang- it was 36 degrees here yesterday. Thankfully it was only 18% humidity so it wasn't too awful, but it reminded me of last summer, heavily pregnant and laid up on the couch for days on end, unable to move or even breathe.

And finally, I do not approve of Christmas decorations in October. It's still 3 months away... that's like a quarter of the year