Friday 30 September 2011

Flogging a dead horse

Years ago, when I was but a wee lass I went to Hyde Park Barracks. I had a small amount of money and desperately wanted to purchase something from the gift shop. I bought a small badge that said 'Pie and dead horse'. I think it was the only thing I could afford, not sure why I bought it other wise as I had no idea what the badge was on about. My mum explained something about rhyming slang and tomato sauce and I took that tommy sauce was made from dead horses. As you do.

I kept away from tomato sauce for a few years after until a sausage sizzle reignited the love.

My kids love tommy sauce as most kids do. Lil-lil has been known to request sauce sangas. I have been known to put sauce on certain food just so they'll eat it..

Yesterday, Fountain sauce invited the girls and I to a cooking class to launch their salt and sugar reduced tomato and BBQ sauces. I saw it as a good way for the kids to be entertained while I sat at the back in a sleep deprived haze and be served drinks by lovely PR ladies. Thankfully for me, It worked and this is exactly how it panned out.

The kids had a ball dressing up in chef's outfits and rolling up Wagyu burgers and slow-cooked lamb pies. They have not stopped talking about it. While there, Lil-lil got a new audience to talk to. The girl has not. stopped. talking. all. week. I heard her voice lift above the crowd with these gems: "I'm four and my mum's 25." (well, close enough). "My aunty Hol can't eat wheat. She ate pasta once and she was so sick." "We made burgers with my dad but they're a little but different" The lovely PR girls listened and gave her the interest she was looking for.

We then got to gobble up the burgers and pies, which were bloody tasty. I bit into my pie, when I was reminded I might like some sauce with it. Derrr Corinne, that's why we're here after all.

I have to say the sauce was good. Even without the salt and sugar (and apparently there's very little of it). Most salt-reduced stuff tastes pretty nasty, but I wouldn't have known if I wasn't told.

Maybe I could start feeding Lil-lil tomato sauce sangas after all....

Thursday 29 September 2011

Motherhood crazies

I'm lucky to have a couple of close friends who are mums and who are honest. When they've had to watch hours of Dora just to get through the day, they admit it. When they've fed their kids plain pasta for a week straight cause that's all they'd eat, they don't pretend they've been whipping up organic gourmet meals. When they've been hit by the motherhood crazies, they don't pretend they're perfect and loving every minute of their life.

From my experience and those of my friends, there's a time (of at least a few months) in the first year of their child's life when we go a little loco. Whether it's the sleep deprivation, the loss of independence, being completely 'touched out', or it's the hours of feeding or crying or settling or a combination of all of that. Maybe it's just forgetting who you are or missing the life you used to have. It doesn't mean they're not coping or don't love their kid, it's just, well, it can all be a little much and you lose your mind for a while.

It happened with my (and their) first and second babies. I fully expect it to happen with the third, I just hope it doesn't last as long and that I deal with it better. It helps that I have friends around who understand the crazies period and know I'll come out the other end.

One of my friends said to me once: "Someone told me I was really crazy there for a while, they've now got their second baby and acting a little crazed themselves. We all go through it."

Another when I enquired how she was doing said: "I'm good now, I think I'm over that crazy time."

Motherhood can be hard at any time (or all the time). There are times when we struggle. When we're not the best we can be. When we  wish we could run away or when we do run away mentally. There's no shame in admitting it or turning to someone and saying: "Wow, I'm not doing this very well at the moment." Most importantly, listen to someone when they're going through their moment and share a moment of their own.  

Those moments pass. Hell, I've gone back a third time. Those friends I mention are going back a third time too. Maybe because we could share and deal with crazies together.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Becoming his mum

When D was born, there was no post delivery cuddles, no cot next to the bed, no feeds. He was whisked off and I got to see a photo. It was quite a surreal experience.

When I did see him, I had to get permission to touch him through a hole in his cot,

I felt like he hadn't been born, more like the end of the pregnancy had been outsourced as my body couldn't finish the job.

I received a stream of congratulations messages and people saying they couldn't wait to meet him. I couldn't wait to meet him either.

As I got better and got to spend more time in the nursery, it still didn't feel quite real. The nurses were kind and encouraged me to care for him, but in the end they decided the way things went. Goosey said to me each time she visited: "He thinks you're his big sister and the nurses are his mum." While that cut a little, it only did so cause I had thought the same thing.

I used to sit in the nursery and look at him and wonder what impact this whole experience would have on him. Being ripped out of the womb before he was ready, he was angry and red those first few days, not wanting to be out in the world. He gradually settled into life and I wondered how the lights and noises and poking and prodding would affect him or shape him. I recently read his discharge letter which detailed all that had been done to him - intubation, feed line, IV drip, etc. While I knew all of it, seeing it together in black and white made me sad. So much for such a tiny being.

At home, I've fed him, changed him and cuddled him. I've looked at him and thought of the strange start we've had together. Disjointed. Surreal.

Yesterday, his big sisters were desperately trying to touch him and cuddle him and just love him and be a part of him. Their noise and attention was too much and he screamed his little lungs out. I rescued him from their over-enthusiastic clutches and he snuggled his head into my chest and quietened immediately. Like he knew this was where he was safe. Like he knew I was his mum.

Monday 26 September 2011

The midnight hour and my girl

This was the weekend the sleepy baby decided to wake up a little (well a lot ). In fact, on Saturday night he decided to stay awake from 11.30pm until 5.30am. The joy! He went to sleep just in time for the girls to wake up.

Poor Skip, who was unwell and unslept, took the girls out so I could grab a kip. Bless him.

Newborns love playing that trick where they sleep for the first three to four weeks, lulling their parents into a false sense of security. The parents think: "I've got a great baby who just sleeps at all the right times." Then BAM. They wake up, they cry. The parents are left wondering what went wrong.

This was also the weekend that Goosey had her very first dance concert. It was ridiculously cute. She and two others danced to 'My Girl' in their pale pink tutus. Goosey focused more on singing the words than doing the moves, but she did really well. She looked so grown up on the stage. I think it was our first outing to the outside world as a family of five. It also made me realise how entrenched in the local community we are. There were so many neighbours and friends at the show, all coming up for a glimpse of little D.

It's holiday from preschool this week. Lil-lil was asking when we were going to catch the plane (spoilt, much?) and I had to break the news we were staying at home. So I'm faced with two weeks of three kids, all day, every day. The eldest two getting bored and then fighting. I'm a little over it and it's only 9.30am on the first day! I'm sure they don't enjoy watching me feed a baby either. I reckon if we can survive the next two weeks, well then we'll be able to get through anything.

I have to run as it's Winnie the Pooh's 36500th birthday and I've been invited to his party. I think it's going to be a long day...

Friday 23 September 2011

Newborn haze

I'm currently in that newborn haze. Broken sleep, changing multiple nappies, tied to the lounge feeding. It's all coming back to me. Walking around with a head that feels like it's stuffed with cotton wool. I'm used to sleep deprivation, but the newborn daze is unique. You can't hiss at them to go back to sleep in the wee hours, they can't tell you what's wrong. The outside world gets shut out for a while. You start to wonder if life will ever be the same again.

It's definitely easier third time round. Not so much time to focus or worry or obsess. You know this phase won't last, that a new phase will pop up before you know it. An easier phase, a harder phase.

I'm definitely not a good baby mum. I adore him and he's gorgeous, but I'm looking forward to the running around, talking phase. That's when I do better. Babies make me nervous. I'm making sure I do enjoy it more this time and soak it in, as I'm sure it will be the last time I do it. So excuse me while I go back to those milk drunk cuddles.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Dazed and reviews: 1

Weeks ago before all the dramas, I decided that I wanted to do a regular reviews post. I get sent a lot of stuff, some fab, some not-so-fab, but I'd like to share with you some of the better stuff that I get sent. Especially kids books and movies. So here is the first 'Dazed and reviews'. With my 100% honest opinion on what's out there.

Zoe and Beans and the Magic Hoop by Mick Inkpen and Chloe Inkpen, Pan Macmillan, RRP: $14.99

I was excited to receive this gorgeous looking picture book as Mick Inkpen's Wibbly Pig books are a favourite in this house. His latest picture book doesn't disappoint. It's a cute tale about a girl and her dog and a magic hoop that changes her pet into an array of different animals. The illustrations are divine. My girls have put this book in high rotation and it's been read most nights recently. It would make a wonderful gift. In fact, I'll probably be giving at the many parties Lil-lil has on her upcoming social calendar.

Dora's Ballet Adventure, DVD RRP$22.50
I have to say that I'm not a Dora fan. In fact, I spent many years trying to prevent Dora from infiltrating our house. It's her shouting voice that drives me mad. I was unsuccessful though and the girls are tried and true fans. Goosey especially. When this disk arrived they were over-the-top, jump-up-and-down excited. Dora and ballet together in one disk, nothing better in their eyes. A few weeks ago, when I wasn't feeling well, the disk gave me some much needed feet-up time. The girls loved it, so I was able to forgive the Spanish- speaking diva. They watched the ballet episode over and over and over again. So if you don't mind Dora's screechy voice or if you need some quiet time from some Dora-loving kids, this DVD is just the thing.

The Lion King 3D, starts today at selected cinemas in Qld, September 29 in all other states.
Last school holidays the girls and I were invited to a preview of The Lion King in 3D. We had a terrible time with public transport getting there, but it was worth it. I'd never seen the movie before so was super keen to check it out and the kids were enthralled, though Goosey was a little scared at times. I think they're a little bit young for 3D and they wouldn't keep their glasses on, which I understand as I'm not a 3D fan either. It would be great for older kids though, especially as a school holiday treat. The music, the story and animation are all classic Disney, something that all ages will enjoy. It's only showing at the cinema for a limited time and will then be released on DVD in October 12. Don't miss it!

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Life with 3

Home sweet home. We're all home together at last. The past three weeks have felt like an eternity! We're lucky, though, that our little boy blue is home sooner than we expected. He's done exceptionally well and is so far being the perfect baby. Sleeping and eating, sleeping and eating. Being the third time, I know that this won't last so I'm enjoying it at the moment.

The girls are super excited to have a baby brother and are bursting to do things with him. I think it's a little disappointing that he just sleeps and eats at the moment. Goosey told me to put him on the ground so he can crawl around and then said I should just give him milk as he'll get a tummy ache. I think the novelty may wear off soon.

Life juggling three has been interesting. The car is packed and there are some logistical things to overcome when going out with them all on my own, but so far I'm managing better than I expected. Ask me again in a few weeks when little D decides to wake up and scream, though.

D has been put on a strict four-hourly routine at the hospital so it's feed, express and put to bed and then start again. He pretty much wakes on the dot of four hours or else I have to wake him. This is a new experience for me as the girls were quite the opposite as newborns. Especially Lil-lil who decided that sleep was evil from day one.

Expressing is a whole new ball game too, I've never really expressed before but being in the nursery it's become part of the daily routine. I have to say there are many moments when I feel like little more than a dairy cow, but I know it's helping out the little man. Also, with all the meds I've been on I've needed to express to boost my supply. I was very lucky to receive an electric AVENT breast pump from Philips to help me. It's been the bomb and saved my sanity, so I must give a big thank you to Philips for their generosity, it's totally helped me through this time.

It's weird to think that D should still be inside for another month. I do feel a little short-changed. It's like watching a movie that suddenly ends and you think, is that it? Mentally I wasn't prepared, I never reached that moment when you think 'Yep, I'm ready for this baby and ready for this pregnancy to be over.' Coming out of hospital I felt a little fragile. It's taken me a week and a bit to feel back to normal. The thought of going out, even just doing the pick-up from preschool made me apprehensive. I'm not sure why. Skip and I went out for dinner before D came home and it did me the world of good. Spending time just the two of us, talking over everything and just having a bit of fun. We also caught up with some good friends and had a good laugh, I think that made all the difference. It's amazing what friends and laughter can do for your soul.

Skip has been fantastic. He has been so supportive and helpful, despite being busy with work. He has been a lifesaver. I wouldn't have been able to do this without him. I'm very lucky.

All in all, I feel good now. Moving onwards and upwards. Glad this whole hospital business is now behind us. Glad that D is healthy. Glad that I'm on the road to being healthy. We've been incredibly lucky. It's time to move forward!

Saturday 17 September 2011

Baby D's birth

Having a premature baby is something you never expect or plan for. Having baby D at 33 weeks is something I think I'm only just coming to terms with. I think I've been in a state of shock for the past few weeks, doing what needs to be done without really processing it.

One ordinary Tuesday morning, I went for a check-up with the blood pressure clinic at my hospital. The week before I'd been admitted for 24 hours with high blood pressure, I was put on medication everything was under control but I needed weekly monitoring. I thought I'd chug along to the end of pregnancy pretty comfortably. I went for my first appointment at the clinic, very swollen and thinking they might need to up the meds slightly as I was on a very low dose. Skip decided at the last minute to come with me 'just in case'. We had little Goosey with us. I saw the midwife and my BP was slightly elevated but not too bad, my urine however had 4+ of protein which is high. I knew at that moment that things weren't good. I met up with Skip outside and fought to hold back tears.

I went and saw the renal specialist shortly after and by that time my BP was starting to spike at 160/90. He sent me off to day stay to be monitored for a couple of hours as he was confused why my BP was so different from earlier in the day. Within an hour or so of being at day stay, the midwife had called the doctors in as my BP was going up and up and up. It was decided then I needed to be admitted straight away and they told me I needed to have steroid injections in case they needed to deliver the baby. I never really thought that they'd need to, but agreed to the shots. Soon I was whisked off to a room, little did I know I'd stay in that room for 11 days.

They laid me out on the bed, put two canulas in my arms. By that time my BP was 210/100. They started a drip of magnesium sulfate, a catheter and started IV anti-hypertensive drugs. To be honest, I don't know how long the doctors stayed round my bed. I just remember lying there with a doctor on one side, a midwife on the other and a stream of other doctors coming in and out. The renal specialist coming in and putting his hand on his chin and shaking his head. The obstetrician coming in and introducing himself. A lot of whispering between them.

A doctor from the neonatal unit came in and talked to me about expected outcomes of having a baby at 33 weeks and explaining the NICU. I don't think any of it sank in at all.

A little while later I remember Skip coming back in and being slightly taken aback at me splayed on the bed with drips and catheter.

The talk about doing a C-section that day ceased and I was left alone for a little while. Skip stayed with me until I went to sleep that night.

The next morning, all seemed calm until the renal specialist and his registrar came in and said he wanted to get the baby out soon as my blood tests had shown my kidneys and liver were deteriorating at a fairly rapid rate.

Then the obstetrician came in and went through our options. Before I knew it people were all around me wheeling my bed out and talking about getting Skip into scrubs.

The C-section was quick and quiet and strange. The nurse quickly pushed baby D into my view and then whisked him off before I knew it. Skip followed baby D and I was left on the table to be stitched up by a doctor and her assistant as they chatted about their weekend. All I could think about was D. Was he OK? When could I see him? When could I hold him?

I was wheeled into recovery where I was left lying alone. I have never felt so empty and alone in my entire life as I did then. I asked if I could be wheeled to the nursery but was told no. I was taken back to my room and my temperature was low so I was covered in warm blankets and left alone again. Alone without my baby.

Eventually Skip came back with some photos of little D. It didn't feel real. Six hours after his birth, they finally agreed to wheel me down to the nursery to see my son. I was wheeled into the intensive care unit where a kind nurse explained the ventilator he was on, the drugs they needed to give him, etc. I couldn't touch him and I just looked at this tiny being covered in wires, etc, lying in his humidicrib. The whole experience, the drugs I was on and the warmth of the unit started to make my head swirl and my stomach churn. They took me back to my room and I promptly threw up in a bowl that Skip held.

The next day, I stayed in bed. It wasn't until that evening that I was put in a wheelchair and wheeled down to the nursery. Finally they let me hold him for a couple of minutes. 30 hours after he was born.

The next days were a blur. Each night my BP spiked and I was put on the drip and catheter again. I barely saw my son. By the following Monday, I was off the drips and I started to be able to go down to nursery more and more. I got to feed him with a syringe through his feeding tube and change his nappy through the holes in his humidicrib. Occasionally they let me hold him.

Soon D got well enough to be taken out of the humidicrib. Then he got upgraded again to the next level in the nursery. The next step was to attempt a sucking feed on the breast and bottle. Now, he's taking all he's feed from boob or bottle. This means we'll get to bring him home soon and the whole hospital experience will be over.

Life in the NICU is a lot of hand washing. Mum and dads staring at their babies with a glazed look of love and shock and bewilderment. When a new baby comes in soon after being born, the dad follows with a look on his face like he's been slapped with a cold fish. He looks around, scared at what he's seeing, trying to absorb it all, disbelief that he's there. Within a few days, this foreign place starts to feel normal and you can see them relax into the routine of hand-washing and sitting and watching. Then it's the glimmer of hope that they may take their bub home, one day soon.

The nurses are wonderful and kind. I've been lucky enough to get to know one quiet well. She's sweet and she adores looking after D. She makes me feel welcome each time I walk in. It's the saving grace of this place.

This whole experience has been a wild ride. Not one I'd ever want to repeat. So, so, so different from the girls' births. So different from what I ever imagined it would be like.

Thursday 15 September 2011


Well, I'm home again. It's wonderful to be back with my girls and Skip. It's busy though - running back and forth to the hospital a few times a day, taking the 22 tablets a day for my blood pressure, being there for the girls, pumping milk every few hours and all the other day-to-day stuff.

Skip has done a stirling job. He did 11 days of solo parenting, plus worry about DD and me. I couldn't have survived without his support. So, I'd like to publically thank him, it hasn't been easy for him.

It's been such a whirl of emotions for all of us. Unsettling for the girls. A struggle at times for Skip and me as it's not something you expect or plan for. But all in all we're doing good and getting through it all.

DD is being a star in the nursery and will hopefully be home soon.

Thank you to all the readers who've sent me messages, I've really appreciated them. Xxx

We'll be back to normal programming soon.

Thursday 8 September 2011

It's often absurd

The past 9 days have been a whirlwind. I have been really ill and only just realising that now I'm feeling better. Having a baby in NICU is more complicated than I ever imagined.
There's been 850 emotions.

There will be a few blog posts on all these experiences once I process it all.

For now, it's the absurd moments that are sticking with me.

Each night my blood pressure has been spiking, which means that a doctor and midwife have to sit next to my bed and give me IV meds to bring it down. And then they measure it until it does. So this usually begins just as I'm ready to go to sleep.

The first night it happened it was scary, everyone rushed around in a panic. As it happened night after night, the same doctors came and everyone was a bit more relaxed, except for the midwives experiencing it for the first time with me.

We now have casual talks, watch TV, gossip about what's happening in the hospital.

The staff have come out with some ridiculous comments in the boredom of the night, that have me shaking my head.

"your c-section scar is really pretty"

"I like movies with black people in it, they are always good"

"you need a little dog to walk, that will help your blood pressure. Just don't take it to Cafe Bones"

"8am is just too early for a glass of wine"

I just lie in my bed and say "Ok".

They keep asking why I haven't gone mad from sleep deprivation as they wake me every hour to measure my blood pressure, but having two kids who don't sleep has prepared me.

Though I'm sure my blood pressure jumps each time a strange person walks in and grabs my arm when I'm deep asleep.

It's a weird little bubble to be living in.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Take the pressure down

Sorry for the silence here. I'm still in hospital and the urge to write has just not been there.

Little DD is doing really well. He's still in special care nursery and will be for a while, but he's doing well and progressing each day. He's getting cuter each day too.

It's amazing to look at his fragile teeny tiny little self, not quite 2kg, and think that one day he'll be a great big man. He's just divine and makes all of this worth it.

My blood pressure has still been high and the remaints of the pre-eclampsia giving me grief. My nights have been sleepless as a doctor and nurse sit by my bed measuring my blood pressure and giving me injections to bring it down. To say I'm over it is an understatement. My arms are covered in bruises from numerous needles. And the top if my arm is black and blue from have my blood pressure taken so often.

I know all of the doctors, midwives, med students who work in maternity by first name. As I stroll the corridor to the nursery I'm greeted with calls of:
"Hi Corinne! You're still here!"

I'm looking forward to going home, sleeping in my own bed, hugging my girls when they wake in the morning, even Skip jabbing me in the ribs when I snore. It's funny how the things I miss the most are just the mundane things which drive me crazy normally.

Really it's all pretty boring.

Though, the support and kindness and generosity we've had has been wonderful. Skip and girls have had meals made for them, gifts, flowers, time offered. It's quite lovely.

So that's where I'm at. I'm sure blogging will resume to normal soon. X

Saturday 3 September 2011

Beep, beep, beep

Beep, beep, beep, beep. That's the sound that's keeping me company this Saturday afternoon.
Magnesium sulfate being pumped into my veins. Stopping my blood pressure from causing a stroke. Everything is quiet, except for the odd door thudding closed now and again.

My little man is in his nursery on another floor; getting a little stronger every day. It's going to take a while though, weeks really. I haven't been able to see him today and have only got to hold him twice so far which is so strange and awful. Stupid cords on me, stupid cords on him. Getting us better but making this hard.

A week ago, I whinged about how tough it was going to be to have a newborn - feeds, vomit, sleep. How I would love that now.

Instead my little guy lies in his special crib and I can't do any of the normal things to help him.

On another floor in the building my blood pressure spikes yet again and I lie surrounded by doctors and needles and suddenly feel scared that I won't be there for my girls either. It suddenly all seems terrifying again. I thought this part was supposed to be over. Being unable to move from my bed makes it that little bit worse.

Having a baby was supposed to be simple. I never imagined it to be this.

I just hope in a few weeks this will all just be an awful memory and we can move on. The five of us, healthily and happily.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Beautiful boy

My little boy D arrived yesterday. Six and a half weeks early.

He's absolutely damn gorgeous.

It took 6 or more hours between his birth and when I got to meet him. So,so hard.

My heart soared with love and pride when I met him. Then broke in a million pieces as I wished I could have done better by him and kept him in longer.

I just can't wait to give him a cuddle and be his mum for real. C
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