Thursday, February 25, 2010

Indecent Exposure

In my ideal world, after having a painless yet drug free birth, I will breastfeed Tricky immediately with no hassles, no 'attachment' issues and definitely no cracked nipples, for about twelve months... So it may be a rather unrealistic vision but I did say it was in my ideal world, and I definitely don't expect it to happen this way.

Breastfeeding for as long as a I can is really important to me for a number of reasons:

  • it's been shown to protect babies from all sorts of nasties because of the huge amounts of antibodies breastmilk contains

  • breastfed babies on average, have higher IQ's and if Tricky is to survive in a commercially driven world then brains matter (let's face it, he won't have the ability to wear a low cut top to get what he wants like his mother does)

  • it protects against allergies and asthma

  • it's a complete nutrition package that can change daily if required, to meet bub's varying needs

  • it's definitely a lot cheaper than bottle feeding, no special equipment to buy, no sterilising of bottles

  • and since my breasts are of the non-detachable variety, it's completely portable

Due to my sister's ill health when I was born, I wasn't breastfed - I was a soy baby. Whether its because of this or a thousand other variables, I have had asthma since I was two and multiple allergies so bad that I had six months worth of weekly injections to reduce their severity. Add in to the mix that I sometimes wear glasses and I'm your stereotypical geek type from American television with my allergy meds in one hand and my azzzzma inhaler in the other. I'm not resentful towards my mum for bottle feeding me, she had the proverbial bigger fish to fry at the time and did what was necessary, but it has made me more determined to try my hardest to breastfeed Tricky as long as I can.

Which brings me (finally) to my point. Western Australia is the only state without legislation recognising the right for women to breastfeed their baby in public without discrimination. So if I'm down the shops and face the choice between a screaming Tricky or discreetly breastfeeding I know which one I'm going to choose. But I may be asked to 'move along' or to go somewhere 'more appropriate' like a germ filled public toilet that hasn't seen a bottle of White King since Christmas. Legally, I would have no right to politely tell them to go away (I would also not have the right to tell them to go shove it, which is the more likely response).

As it stands you cannot be discriminated against based on your family responsibilities, but there is no specific clause that covers breastfeeding as one of those responsibilities - Instead it covers things like being penalised for taking a day off to care for a sick child.

In April last year when questioned about the possibility of new legislation the premier, the Honourable Colin Barnett said that “common sense and common courtesy” were the answer and therefore would not be introducing laws on breast feeding, yet in the same interview he was quoted as saying “the operators of establishments need to recognise and respect the right of a mother to feed her baby". Maybe its just me but is that a blatant contradiction? People need to respect a right that is not actually legally enforceable? Riiight, I can see that happening. If speed limits were a courtesy and not enforceable – would you speed?

In response to Barnett's comments the Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Yvonne Henderson, released a statement in November 2009 urging the Legislative Council to pass the legislation (the Legislative Assembly had already passed it) citing the social and health benefits to both mother and baby. But nothing was done and the upper house has still not budged.

Its a pretty sad state of affairs that legislation is even needed so that women can do what is completely natural and feed their children. Especially when you consider that you can easily see more flesh at the beach and far more on a Saturday night in Northbridge.

Honestly I really don't know what I'd do if someone were to approach me whilst breastfeeding and ask me to 'move along'. I'd like to think I could come up with some witty response whilst holding a screaming, starving Tricky right up to their ear, where hopefully he would also puke a little bit. Mmm warm baby sick right in the ear and down the collar. I wonder if babies can be trained to puke on command?

If this issue makes you hot under the collar (due to the presence of baby sick or not), you can put your name on the petition currently being hosted at Go Petition.

If you have been discriminated against for breastfeeding in public or for any reason at all, you can contact the Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pregnancy has turned me in to an old man

If I was standing next to an old man its quite possible you would have trouble telling us apart. The belly could be mistaken for a beer gut, so if it wasn't for the enormous pregnancy-enhanced breasts I'd be offered a senior's discount wherever I went. I've morphed from being a normal 20-something in to a geriatric within a few short months.

Another mummy-to-be and I were discussing this phenomenon at yoga the other day. The old man symptoms have crept up on us but are now full blown:

Walking pharmacy
I take so many different tablets now that my local pharmacy has increased it's profit margin by at least 200% on my sales alone. Whilst I'm not your standard old geezer meds like panadol osteo or warfarin, I too, rattle when I walk
Heart burn & indigestion
On top of all those pills inside me that sound like someone playing the maracas in the distance, I always have a stash of Quick Eze or Rennie's on hand for when Tricky starts playing with matches again. At yoga a few of us even have them sitting next to our mats ready for an attack during 'downward dog'
Slow and steady
Walking pace is a subjective concept – for me its more of a 'hobbling pace' and then only when supported by a handrail. I'm considering investing in a walking frame mainly so that I can have a seat with me at all times for when I get tired
Complain, whinge, moan
I'm generally a patient person... not any more. I catch a bus and train to and from work and the number of bloody teenagers that stare at me through their long emo fringes from the comfort of their seat while I stand, glaring back at them, is astounding! The little buggers on their 50c fares... As you can see, I get a little worked up about it. If it's not 'kid's these days' then its the weather.
Dither dother
As I explained earlier, the mumnesia has hit me hard. I liken it to early stage dementia
Strange obsessions
Like most preggos suffering baby-brain when it comes to baby related things I'm sharp as a tack. Old men may prattle on about trains and the war, my talents lie in being able to tell you the fibre content of that muffin you're eating, the names of all the pain relief drugs available in birth (by both their manufacture name and brand name) and can also reel off a list of statistics on birth interventions. Yes, I'm that boring.

I'm prepared to acknowledge that I've just listed the qualities of a stereotype, but hey, stereotypes are based in fact a lot of the time. Just look at the pregnant woman stereotype – fits like a glove!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hear ye, hear ye... shhhh!

According to an article by Laura Wattenberg on US site The Baby Name Wizard, as an expectant parent I have two big naming decisions to make. The first one is pretty obvious; choosing a name. The second decision is whether or not to reveal the name before the birth. Apparently people will fall in to either of two categories; broadcasters or keepers.

I've known people from both camps, those who announce the name as soon as they know the sex (or have a girl's name and boy's name ready), and those who keep it a closely guarded secret. I fall somewhere in the middle.

I've told a few select people our 'top names' just to get some feedback because once its on the birth certificate its a lot harder to change. My own fears prevent me from being a keeper: I have visions of Granny wrinkling up her nose saying that was the name of the old pervert down the street and will then forever only say the name virtually dripping with disdain. Or what if my friend names her child, due a few weeks earlier, the same thing? Do I have to find a new name then? If I tell her my name ideas now do I get first dibs even though she'll give birth first? Is there a legal precedent for these things?

There was even a few noses upturned when mentioning possible 'in-utero' names. Originally it was going to be 'Cletus' (as in Cletus the Foetus) but that was quickly shot down as it reminded my sister too much of the irritating Simpson's character. When a friend mentioned Tricky (a combination of the letters in mine and Hubby's names) it seemed to fit and didn't have any negative connotations. So Tricky it is. Plus its much cuter than Cletus, too.

I've been told that babies are born with a name and I'll know Tricky's name the moment I see him. Now I'm assuming it doesn't come stamped on his head, so how will I know? If I choose to have a drug-free birth will I be so delirious with pain that I don't recognise his name? Or alternatively I might be so drugged up that I want to immediately name him after the lovely anaesthetist. Similarly I could name him after my first impressions of him, and accordingly he shall forever be known as 'Slightly-Squished-And-Covered-In-Crap' which will be awfully hard to fit on forms and even harder to find on a personalised toothbrush or pen. I have a terrible feeling that for months he will be simply known as “Baby Glow-less” and I'll end up choosing by pulling a name out of a hat, just so I can register the birth and get my baby bonus.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bump Envy

There is something strange going on around here. And I'm not referring to the hot one day, raining the next weather. What I am talking about is my disappearing reappearing bump. Here one minute, gone the next.

I was so excited to be getting a bump because as I've mentioned previously I've been looking like I just piled on a few kilos and when affectionately rubbing my own belly I'd look like I was deciding on what to devour next for lunch. Other than not looking like I was about to pounce on whichever small animal may walk past next, getting bigger has meant all the pregnancy perks have started coming in – people actually stood up and offered their seats to me on the train, opened doors and gave me right of way in narrow spaces immediately bringing to an end the dreaded 'dance of the hallway'.

But then... gone. At first glance you would be excused for thinking Tricky had migrated from my belly to my butt, judging by its increasing girth, and I'm still not entirely convinced this isn't true. I go from looking like a proper preggo one day and then the next I look like one of those girls who buy their pants in the size they want to be, rather than the size they actually are. I actually have one of those T-shirts that says “Hands off the bump” and am tempted to wear it daily as a form of insurance against looking like a blob.

Where is Tricky going? He is fast running out of room and I'm not one of those tall willowy types that are so long in the torso they look flat as a pancake right up until they pop. Or is that his normal position meaning that when I look nice and round he is actually just sticking out his tiny little butt? Taking after his father already, no doubt.

I'd heard that subsequent pregnancies 'show' a lot sooner than first timers due to the abdominal muscles being stretched and relaxed already – and a friend one week ahead of me is already, in her own words, the size of a house. I wouldn't have gone that far – more like a small cottage or granny flat. But whether or not she looks like a housing establishment, the point is she looks lovely and I'm a little bit jealous. Admittedly I have even stuck out my belly further, just to look how I think I should look, in the same way I used to suck it in if I was going to a club.

Friends laugh at me for sticking it out and those with children already assure me that in a few weeks, when the waddle starts to kick in, I'll be wishing that I wasn't so big. But until then I reserve the right to continue to stick out my belly and ignore the fact that it makes my bum look even bigger due to the massively concave back.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Disco Inferno

I'm at the end of the second trimester of my pregnancy and other than there still being no sign of the Glow, so far everything is going great. Ignoring the first trimester sickness and lethargy hurdles, I've been very lucky not to be affected by lots of the other complaints that can come for someone in my 'delicate condition'. You know the ones, rapid weight gain, stretch marks, constipation and haemorrhoids – which coincidentally happen to be all the ones you really don't want to hear about. But I've still got three long months to go, so I'm not quite counting my chickens just yet.

I've only got one annoying symptom and that is the dreaded heartburn! Pregnancy hormones relax all the ligaments and valves in your body to prepare for birth, but unfortunately the result of that is stomach acids seeping up in to the oesophagus causing a burning sensation from the breast bone up to the back of the throat. Its worse when you don't have gravity on your side, like when you'd like to lay down and go to sleep – so now I sleep propped up on three pillows, practically towering over Hubby. Whenever it strikes though, I try to be mindful (read: Hippie new age accepting of all things) and remember that its all part of the journey. But that tends to last about five minutes max before I reach for the Gaviscon or QuickEze. At this point I try to be mindful again but always fail and end up with a mental image of Tricky playing with matches. Or possibly a blow torch... burn, baby, burn.

Then there are the exciting things that make the agony all worth while (I'm told the birthing process relies heavily on this concept too). Tricky is moving more and more every day and has even started settling in to the standard pattern of being rocked to sleep while I'm moving around and then waking up to try out for the gymnastics team as I lay down at night. In the last few weeks Hubby has been placing his hands on my belly and then looking a little dejected when he couldn't feel anything... until last night! Tricky had the hiccups and it allowed me to position Hubby's hands right where the movement was centred. The grin that spread across his face instantly was one of the most awesome sights I've ever seen. Next up I'll have to get a box of Maltesers to train Tricky to kick on cue.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


New research published this week by Professor Christensen at the Centre for Mental Health Research in Canberra has concluded that neither pregnancy nor motherhood had a “detrimental effect on cognitive capacity”. In layman's terms: Baby Brain does NOT exist! Instead the study states that any 'mumnesia' effects felt by pregnant women are caused because we expect to get it.

What about me? I thought I'd get the Glow and that turned out to definitely not be a self fulfilling prophesy. I also thought that Baby Brain was just an excuse that pregnant women used to excuse themselves when they did something silly. In general, preggos have a lot on their plate what with impending doom, oops I mean birth, so it seems natural that a few things would slip their mind. Surely this could be kept under check with a good diary though? Well that's what I thought, and my diary has all my appointments listed and, I'm slightly ashamed to admit, colour coded. Turns out that pink highlighter wasn't worth the $1.50 I spent on it...

My brain has turned to mush. If you could peer inside my head I'm sure it would look like a slightly grey-er version of mushy peas. Though I'm not entirely sure they'd taste great next to fish and chips or on top of a pie.

I've always taken a bit of pride in being known as a smart one. Even around my closest circle of friends where I'm the only one that didn't finish a university degree (my friends are engineers, cartographers, geophysicists and pharmacists etc.– any profession that you need a degree to be able to spell the name of is impressive to me), I can still 'talk the talk and walk the walk' with them, never feeling out of place. But since Tricky came along I have found myself not being able to spell or even do simple maths. For example; working 10am – 4pm recently I complained that I wouldn't get a lunch break because I was only working five hours, not the necessary five and half that warrants a meal break, and how was I to survive? It was then pointed out that it was six hours and I was therefore at little risk of fainting through lack of food. Lack of intelligence, maybe.

So if I'm acting this way and didn't expect to be, do my actions prove Professor Christensen wrong?

I started doing my own research (well I didn't go out and interview people, I just Googled it) because if there is one thing you can count on with science, its that the opposite conclusion has been reached by someone else.

A 2002 study from Hammersmith Hospital in London used brain scanning of women before and during pregnancy to discover an average brain size decrease of 4%. Our brain cells are shrivelling up!

A study of the brains of rats in 2008 by the University of Richmond, Virginia, discovered some things that mothers have known for centuries. Mother rats became braver (don't mess with my kid), five times faster at finding food (can anyone say Chocolate Magnum?), and better spatial awareness (the eyes in the back of the head phenomenon) than the non-mummy rats.

So what do you believe? Did you suffer from 'mumnesia'? Do you not have to turn around before saying “Put that down”? And more importantly will my ability to sniff out an unopened pack of Mint Slices at 50 paces deteriorate after Tricky is born?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Apparently birthing a baby (as opposed to delivering one, because that just sounds like I could stick Tricky in an express post bag and drop him in to the nearest post office) is a rather physical job that can require hours of strange positions leading to physical exhaustion. So what's a gal with no Glow and even less muscle tone to do? Prenatal Yoga, that's what!

I wasn't sure what to expect as I attended my very first yoga session ever with YogaSpace. Would there be incense and candles? Chanting and singing the praises of the glorious womb? Would all the other women be really experienced, getting their ankles behind their heads? And just how unattractive would I look in leggings?

The first of my fears were allayed when the instructor Janelle explained a few of the basic rules of the class:
  1. if it hurts, stop
  2. if you think its about to start hurting, stop
  3. if you feel dizzy, stop
  4. if you need to go to the toilet, go
  5. if you need to keep some snacks beside you, do it
  6. if you want some help, ask
  7. if you need to throw up, see point 4

By a show of hands it was determined that only two participants had done any yoga before, so that meant that me and the fifteen other women in the class were in the same boat, namely, the S.S. Nofreakinclue. So we all felt as stupid and uncoordinated as each other and heaved a sigh of relief that we weren't 'the only one'.

The class focussed on lots of pelvic floor exercises combined with breath control. It was easier for those of us in the class that were in the first and second trimesters and therefore still had room in our chest cavities for lungs. The positions, whilst strange to a newbie like me weren't painful (even after standing up all day at work) or the least bit contortionist-like and I found myself actually enjoying it! I even rather liked being in a room full of pregnant bellies, all beautiful and round.


After an hour and a half of saluting the sun and doing the downward dog (is it just me or do they sound a bit sexy?) it was time to finish, and what better way than a cup of camomile tea and TIM TAMS! Sure beats gluten-free, wheat-free, caffeine-free (read taste-free) lumps of crud that I was half expecting from a place that has a strict policy of no classes on a full or new moon.

I'm really glad I enjoyed it, not just because I paid upfront and have nine more sessions to go, but because its going to help me give birth. If it happens to tone up my massive bum a bit, then even better.


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