Friday, July 30, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
This is my August column for Practical Parenting Magazine. I might not be able to post these columns after next week because of a new copyright agreement, but will still post my Early Years Magazine columns. Regular readers may remember the jolly bout of gastro described here. It was less than thrilling at the time, but luckily, I was able to turn my pain into Art. Take that, bacteria!
Mothers-to-be, you should have received your government Mama Manuals by now. They cover all the usual business – sleeping, eating, and poo management; but there is a hidden section I’d like to draw your attention to. The exact wording I’m unsure of (my manual is a little stained with spinach puree and half-drunk cups of tea) but it goes something like this: Mum Cannot Get Sick.
To be clear, you can, of course, get sick. In fact, you’ll be amazed at how many little bugs and bacteria will take up residence in your system once little people start sharing your home. The actual wording, in fact – let me just wipe that spaghetti off- oh yes. It reads - subtle, but crucial: Mum Cannot Act Sick.
Recently a bout of gastro swept through the Mogantosh family. One, by one, we all went down with what I believe, in Royal households, is called ‘the squitters’. The positive spin is that a family bout of gastro can bring to mind the old saying about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer: it's almost worth it, because it feels so good when it's over. At the time, of course, it’s a big box of horrible.
Keith was working in
Poor Nanna and Pop. Not only were they treated to the searing logic of three-year-old Ivy: ‘So you are seventy, Pop? Will you be dead soon?’ but they also welcomed gastro (the gift that keeps on giving) into their home.
Ted went under first, then Ivy, and then me. I’ll spare you the details, but at one point I was on the bathroom floor, clutching that old porcelain telephone, waiting miserably for my rising nausea to turn into violent heaving. It could be worse, I thought to myself. At least I’m not starting into the pit of our composting dunny. Then my glasses fell in the toilet.
Dear readers, if you own a tiny violin, now is the time to produce it, and to play a mournful tune as I tell you how I tossed and turned all night in the four inches left to me by my spreadeagled, sleeping children. My back was killing. I’d been a hospital-donkey all day to the little ones. By - violin crescendo, now! - I felt like I could hold down enough food to make a pill cushion for the painkillers I needed to get through the morning.
Take my advice, ladies, if while reading this; you are pregnant with your first. Make the most of your flu while you can. Commandeer the remote control. Call for toast with the crusts cut off in your weakest voice. Sleep, ladies. Sleep. Do it for every flu-ridden Mama out there who lost that option when she lost her mucous plug.
Once the kids arrive, all we have left is the ability to complain, and while I am able to publish my self-pitying whines in a nationally distributed magazine, not all mothers have this option open to them. Check your manual.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Keith and I have been off in the big city celebrating our birthdays.(He's my toy boy for another two weeks.) It was a top night out, and more than a little fancy-of-the-pants. I wore red lipstick and dangly earrings, and my handbag contained no sultanas.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Pregnant with my first child, I lived in the city, with an osteopath, an aqua-aerobics teacher, a yoga instructor and an office full of supportive women always up for a coffee or four. When the irrepressible Ivy Scout arrived, we packed her up with the toilet paper and the lentils and moved down the coast to a sleepy town on the beach. Now we live up a dirt road with tank water, a composting dunny, a derelict vege garden and neighbourhood sheep. Instead of glamorous gay men and boutique carrots, we have boys on dirt bikes and neighbours who leave lemons at the letterbox.
When I got knocked up again, my small-town pregnancy was a different experience. Mainly because first time around I was free to spend all my time languishing on the couch, arranging tiny clothes in baby-shapes, eating Chocolate Montes and watching Love My Way. Second-go, I had a toddler who begged at my feet like a dog, hitting herself in the head dramatically until the Montes went back in the fridge. We were in a West Wing phase by then anyway. Life was a little more intense.
In the early weeks of pregnancy with the foetus we named Banana, my dilemmas were several. First, I had three months between finishing breastfeeding and getting knocked up again. Why didn’t I spend the whole time with a bottle of champagne in one hand and a plateful of Brie, sushi, ham and salami in the other? Secondly, how could I get anything done when I had to sleep for two hours in the middle of the day? Thirdly, did my stomach really pop out twelve minutes after the blue line appeared, or was I just joyfully releasing the belly leftover from last time?
The major dilemma, though, was this: to tell, or not to tell?
The generally held wisdom is that you should wait until the magic twelve week moment before releasing the news of your pregnancy to the world at large. It’s all about the prospect of miscarriage. It happens a lot. It happened to us before the adorable Ivy came along.
My partner got on the phone. He told a few friends and family, who passed on the news. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, but the cards, flowers and messages started arriving and when I returned to work, women sensitively found moments to share their stories with me. I had become part of a community, where the members understood my loss, and shared and grieved with me.
Miscarriage is an experience shared by, on average, one in six women, although many don’t talk about it, and in the joyful, hopeful world of pregnancy and motherhood, talk of losing babies can seem inappropriate, even distasteful. It can just feel like bad juju. In a subsequent pregnancy, 80-85% of women will go on to produce a healthy baby. I was lucky enough to be among the majority, and in good time Banana became Theodore Fox, known to us as Teddy the Beautiful, Foxy the Ox and (surprisingly tall, with sky-blue eyes and golden hair) Sven Olafson the Watchmaker, secret son-of-milkman.
I’ve never regretted the telling. When you give the people who love you the opportunity, they will support you with kindness and sensitivity, as well as Chocolate Montes. Losing a baby was a sad and traumatic experience, but for us, grieving alone would have been worse. And in my new coast-community, I’m sure I would have found the same community of women, the shared sadness, and the support.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Cindy is asking for help. She says:
I believe that the thoughts and words we choose to focus on or put energy into have a powerful effect on our lives. Studies have proven that collective meditation, prayer, positive thoughts or affirmations can make a real difference in the circumstances of our lives. The more specific you are with your thoughts, words, prayers, and desires - the more you are likely to manifest the specific outcomes you are desiring.
Tomorrow we will be getting the results of Oscar's bone marrow biopsy and current research shows that children who go into remission in the first 4-6 weeks have a better prognosis.So, whatever your belief system, could you please all take time out at 7pm Monday 12th and either think a positive thought for us, prayer for us, or send some positive energy our way.
It has been shown that if you all do it at the same time the collective power of your consciousness is more effective. Insert your own belief system - I have no prejudice for any particular religion, philosophy or approach - they all lead to the same positivity as far as I am concerned. Please try to be specific in your thought/prayer/meditation, for example:
"Oscar's bone marrow is clear and he is in remission."
7pm, my friends! Pray, think, wish, meditate and send little Oscar your best.
Also, if you have any experience of helping a child through cancer, please comment on Cindy's blog. I know she'd appreciate your support and advice.