Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Sweetness of Five-Year-Old's

One of the unexpected benefits of starting school life is being given entry into the lovely world of the kindy classroom. Ivy's teacher is just beautiful, and my little mud-chicken is loving school. (Phew!) Getting to hang out in the classroom and watch the action is so fun. These little people are JUST SO DAMN CUTE.

I try and help with reading every Wednesday, while George squirrels around at my feet (she crawls! she's on the move!) and Teddy does classroom puzzles and listens to the teacher explain the world and wipe tears and praise good sitting. More than once the purity and promise of the kindy classroom has broght a lump to my throat. It seem like an everyday miracle to me.

This morning Ivy had news (which she calls 'niars', and your guess why is as good as mine). Every week her Niars is a fascinating insight  into what she finds special and important. Today she took in a photo of me taken when I was twenty. While I was in hospital having Georgette, Nanna and Pop looked after the big two. Ivy found this little photo in a frame and asked if she could have it. She carried it everywhere while I was gone, and now she keeps it wrapped in a cloth and tucked inside a box as part of her 'collections.'

Ivy and I clash sometimes, like mothers and daughters everywhere. Our schedule can get very hectic and I find myself bringing out the voice we call 'the fishwife' more often than I would like to. I cherish moments like this, amidst the chaos and fatigue. Moments like this remind me that I might stuff up every day on the small things, but in the big picture, it's all  OK. Watching this daughter of mine grow up is a pleasure and a joy.

And it's pretty funny, too.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sorry, Other Rachael. That Was Rude.

I'd like to use this forum to apologise to the neighbourhood mum who came into the hairdresser as I watched Teddy get his 'big boy' haircut. Her name is Rachael too, and she has three kids that match mine. Haven't seen her around for a while though. But this morning I watched her walk in, preceded by a massive pregnant belly. 'ARE YOU KIDDING ME?' I shouted across the salon.

Now I'm no psychomogologist but I'm pretty sure it was a case of what the old Freudmeister called 'projection.'

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Georgie: Still Here.

This morning I wondered how many times I day I say 'I'm still here, George!' to this baby who is always happy perched on my hip,  but complains hotly every time I move a metre away. 'I'm still here, George!' I say, over and over, as I try to wash up or move a pile of laundry uselessly to another pile and she squawks angrily. 'I haven't gone anywhere!'

Today I took her to the Childrens Hospital for a neurosurgery check-up. Sudden, painful  flashes of memory pop up for me every once in a while, but generally,  Keith and I don't think much about George's accident any more. She seems so well to us; so bright, so normal. According to the Brain Injuries Unit, a baby with a head injury like she sustained can start to show problems later, when language is appearing, so she remains under their care, and will be seeing them again for a full assessment at eighteen months. Problems aren't likely, but they are possible. Also, her chance of developing epilepsy has increased to about one in twenty - significant - but still a highly unlikely event. We can't change any of these murky possible futures, so we choose to dismiss them.

Today's appointment was about making sure that her fracture was not what they call a 'growing fracture', or one that is healing wrong. Full marks for Georgie today, I'm delighted to say. Absolutely no problems. The doctor said that George was very cute, and I told her that I had suspected as much, but was happy to have it clinically verified. So she wrote on George's hospital notes:  'remains exceptionally cute.' She was great, this doctor. The flip side, however, of this vivacious neurosurgeon came when she applied her enthusiasm to talking the medical student sitting in next to her through Georgette's brain scans.

Bear with my dodgy neuro translation here, but it went something like this: 'See here, ' she said,  ' You can see the fracture spreads across the dura (?)but if it had split the whole dura there, it would have been blood everywhere, bad news! See you later! Also, the fracture here misses the (another brain bit...) but if she'd cracked that, the brain could have squeezed out right through there.'

I sat, with my warm fat baby squirming in my lap, speechlessly looking on as the doctor clicked around different perspectives of her little skull, cracked across the top like an eggshell. We said our goodbyes, and we left, walking past the toddler with the misshapen skull, and the siblings playing in toy cars, and sets of parents quiet and tense. We walked past the little boy I had winked and made faces at as we waited at the admin desk. He was impassive, and his grandmother gently told me he was blind.

It's a mixed bag, visiting the Children's Hospital. A great walloping serve of gratitude and fear and relief and nerves and horror and compassion.'There but for the grace of God go I, ' my mother drummed into us all as children, and every time I visit this place I remember those words, with a sort of queasy,  'Sliding Doors'  feeling of how things could have been. We absolutely dodged a bullet with this accident, I think.

Still here, George.  Still here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good Problems To Have.

Quick! An update while the planets are aligned in such a way as to give me the peace and energy to note down our current goings-on before somebody needs a dummy or dreams they have been eaten by monster jellyfish.

Right now, keeping this show on the road is using up all the minutes I have. I'm realising that being mum to three means that the kids sort of take it in turns to push to the front of the attention queue. 'Look at me,' Child A says. 'I can't get enough breath to complete a sentence!' So Child B elbows their sibling out of the way and cuts half a finger off. Then Child C ups the ante with a tick up their bum, prompting Child B to spill a cup of Milo into my handbag, and Child A to vomit on my shoe...Oh, I exaggerate.  But barely. Barely. 

Here's our current soundtrack: 'It was just an accident!' Mostly from Ted. We keep explaining the difference between a genuine accident and a wilful act of mischief, but to no avail. 'It was just an accident!' Ted shouts, surrounded by glittering debris from the jewellery box I have just watched him drop-kick across the room. 'It was just an accident!' he says, looking up guiltily from the entire roll of toilet paper he has unravelled and is stuffing down the loo.

Teddy, Teddy, Teddy. He's having a bit of a three-year-old crisis. It's taking a number of forms, and it is worrying me. Apart from everything else, his sleep has gone nutty. He's on an asthma preventor and an iron supplement, so they could be affecting his sleep, but who knows what is really going on in a sweet, fluffy three-year-old head?

On Friday night Ted just could not wind down. It was nearly midnight when he fell asleep. Keith and I eventually gave up, and went to bed with Georgie. We lay there, listening to Teddy read cookbooks by lamplight and talk to himself. 'You can't have a tea party without a teapot' he sang at length for a while, but mostly he discussed cakes at the top of his voice. Luckily Ivy snored on.


Little darling Courgette is so delicious, so chubby, so adorable. But she needs a lot of carting around, and my back won't handle the sling at the minute, so it's a matter of changing up her sight-line every ten minutes to keep her occupied, and also, scattering sultanas and frozen peas. I may be planting the seeds of an eating disorder. But needs must. 

My back pain is improving, and I have a new fitness plan unfolding, which may possibly be the best thing I've ever done for my health. It's still taking chunks out of my good humour between 4 and 6pm every day though.

It's getting colder, and the washing piles are growing taller and woollier. Games of Uno and dolls-house furniture and baby toys carpet the floor.  I'm trying to fit in extra attention for the boy, and reading for the schoolgirl, and transferring the baby to her own room, and time for Keith, and getting to yoga, and catching up on Masterchef... What with all the cooking, and the cuddling and the tear-drying, and the washing, and the accidents, it is all action around this joint. 

And yet. Around us, this last week, family and friends have been  dealing with sadness and sickness and worry; and giving me moving examples of grace and courage. It's busy, I have been thinking today, in this house. Non-stop, in fact. And how lucky, how blessed I am to have this busy, full, rambunctious life. 

How lucky I am to have such problems. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Breastfeeding: The Endgame.

Check it out: My little baby bird is nine months old. Yep. She's been out as long as she was in.

George is is robust and thriving. Her mother, not so much. I'm still trying to get my back under control. My friend Jen (also back-troubled and freshly-babied)  and I are concocting plans to share a personal trainer and I'm back at yoga, but the pain, she is grinding at the heart of me.

My osteo told me last week that he thinks that when I finish breastfeeding, ligament-softening hormones won't play a role in the instability of my spine anymore. George, my darling; my little friend, I decided, the tits-out section of this party is over.

I bought a big old tub of formula and made her up a bottle, and she threw it back like a pro. It was great. I decided that I would wean her slowly, like I had her siblings, but at the next feed, George gave my nipple a sudden sharp bite with her two little fangs. Hi-ya!

I might have jumped a little. Maybe even invoked the name of (as my five-year-old niece would have it) Jesus Price. But this mama's been bit before, so I didn't take too much notice. My friend Michelle would call it 'niplash'. You just grit your teeth and hope they don't make a habit of it.

Except that she did it at the start of the next feed too, and the next, and the next. Bit, screamed, wailed, refused to feed.

I think she's doing that thing where you're getting fired and so you shout 'You can't fire me! I QUIT!'

It's all over. I wept a few tears as I fed her a bottle, put the call out to my beloved Neighbourhood Ladies for a breast pump to sort out the mechanics of the change-over, and resigned myself to a sudden, shocking, kind of horrible end to what has been an absolutely trouble-free and lovely breastfeeding relationship.

Still. Here's hoping that  it heralds the start of a new era of health and strength for me.

(And for you too, my friends of the interweb.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

You Know Who You Are and You Know What You Did.

Ivy Scout. Theodore Fox. Mum is using your full names because she is Angry.

I have tried to teach the basics of life to you children. Say 'thanks', I have drilled. Put your undercrackers on when cartwheeling in front of anybody other than immediate family. Ask if anybody is hungry before you take the last croissant.

But I have neglected to teach you a critical point of etiquette, it seems. I am talking to you here Ivy. When you are busting to go to the toilet, and the toilet is occupied,  you must hang on. It's not acceptable to go in and physically push the person already on the toilet off their perch. 

They will get mad, shouting will ensue, and somebody will piss on the floor. I am probably looking at you here Theodore. 

Next, then your  mother will come along; middle-aged, frazzled, and thinking about forty things at once, and she will slip on the wet floor, and she will break her toe. 

And she will show it to the GP the next day, when she is discussing your asthma, Ted, and the doctor will say that it might not just be the toe that is broken, but the top of Mum's foot, and if this is true Mum must wear a massively unsexy and cumbersome boot. 

Not cool kids. 

Not cool at all. 

Pick up your socks please.* 

*And by thus I mean actually, literally, truly, pick up your socks, for the love of Jehovah, and put them in the laundry basket.