Friday, April 30, 2010


I am a clever marketer's dream - have a cute logo or even a smart ad campaign and you've got my attention (actually, save time and just put your product in shiny packaging and you've got me) and brand loyalty. But I am also a poor marketer's nightmare – if I think you're trying to pull the wool over my eyes or being condescending then no matter how fantastic your product is, I won't buy it on principle.

I've been inundated with free magazines and brochures on all sorts of baby products recently and they all have the standard “when you want the best for your baby” type slogans and feature a good looking, upper middle class, white mum in her early 30s. Apart from being a massive stereotype they've done their job well, since their target market is in fact, good looking, upper middle class, white mums in their early 30s. I'm not so daft that I believe everything I'm told though, and just because a company tells me their product is “closer to nature” than the next doesn't mean it is, so I'm going to look at the ingredients list and decide for myself (I knew my units on cosmetic chemistry would come in handy one day - I know what all those big words are!). And I know that just because the baby in your ad is cute and smiling when you use “Super Fantastic Nappies” doesn't mean mine isn't going to scream down the house sometimes when I use them – but that's OK, you can gloss over some of those minor details, make it look pretty - thats advertising after all.

There is one ad though, that whenever I see it I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It's for the Steelcraft Strider Plus pram and whilst I'm sure it is a fantastic contraption, the ad features a tall, leggy model dressed in crisp white trousers, black high heels, funky necklaces and not looking a day over 25. I have a few problems believing this is an accurate depiction of a mother;
  • those blindingly white pants should have some baby spew or at least a bit of smooshed banana on them
  • accessories and high heels are not the first things I think of when I hear the word mother – I'm more likely to think (and wear) jeans and ballet flats. If those flats happen to match my shirt then all the better. The necklace should have some crusted up baby slobber on it too
  • this pram is $700 before you even buy the infant carrier section – if you can afford such an expensive pram and your under 25 I want to know what line of work you are in, and can you get me an interview?
  • but the absolute kicker? THERE IS NO BABY IN THE PRAM!

Are you sure that's not the friend of the mum just minding the pram while she puts bub in the car? Yes I know, I'm stereotyping too. I'm sure a mother can be glamorous and look like a model – I've seen the pictures of Heidi Klum strutting her stuff down the Victoria's Secret catwalk mere weeks after popping out her fourth – so I know it is possible. Do people really think if they buy this pram they will look like this highly starched goddess?

I'd much prefer the ad campaign to show a normal looking mum (you can still make her good looking, upper middle class woman in her early 30s if you must – I'll let you keep that for now), taking a real child on a shopping trip. Show me how useful this contraption is going to be - how much of my shopping can fit underneath? Can I fold it down and put it in the boot one handed because I'm busy holding a screaming toddler in the other arm? That goes for the harness too - can I do it up with one hand whilst stopping the trolley rolling away and causing car-mageddon? And most importantly, how effectively will it push people out of the way at the January sales?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My bump, my bump, my bump, my lovely baby bump

I was warned this would happen... when I was first told I just laughed, thinking that surely it was a one-off scenario that a friend had encountered and of course it wouldn't happen to me. But today, it did. I went to get in the car and the car next to me was so close (though still in its correct bay) that I couldn't fit in. Oh the humanity!

I've reached a size now where my bump is not just evident, its the first thing people notice about me. It became apparent a about a week ago when walking through a shopping centre - people were no longer looking at my face when they passed me. All eyes on the tummy. They look slightly worried too, as if they think I'm going to pop any minute “thar she blows” style.

People are fascinated by it. They all want to touch it – its seems like it is public property now. I don't mind my friends touching my belly, even without asking – it makes me feel special that they are drawn to it. But strangers on the other hand, now that is a different story. Luckily I have had only one stranger grope me – but then she made it worse by encouraging her children to do the same. I wasn't too sure what to do, she was trying to be nice... so I just put my hands protectively over my bump so that there was no space left for anyone else, stepped back slightly and changed the topic. I'm not a touchy-feely person at the best of times, I don't generally hug hello and goodbye unless I'm really close to the person and have been so for years. But with the belly it feels different somehow. Maybe because deep inside I'm an exhibitionist and know this is the last time I'll ever be the centre of attention? Because as soon as Tricky arrives I'll be relegated to the back-burner and everyone will want to see him, not me – not that I blame them. I'd prefer to see a cute little infant over a hormonal woman any day.

Hubby now can't keep his hands off the little Trickster, and is always giving my belly a rub, seeing if he can feel him move. It is still quite unusual for anyone to be able to feel Tricky move as I have an anterior placenta (meaning its on the front wall, right where you'd put your hand) and its acting like a massive shock absorber, so all the kicks and punches that feel huge to me, can barely be felt by anyone else (this is also why I failed the Malteaser challenge). Part of me feels disappointed that I can't readily share the experience with others while the other part relishes the fact that this is all mine, my little secret bonding time. Because only Hubby can keep his hands there long enough to be able to discern what is my breathing and what is Tricky... no one else is that patient or that interested.

The other thing an anterior placenta brings is the inability to distinguish Tricky's body parts. When a baby moves insides it's mother''s belly you can sometimes see a foot, an elbow etc and can confirm it with your hands, having a feel around. But for me not being able to tell is a good thing. I've seen the videos (if you want to see click here) and it kinda freaks me out! I've always referred to pregnancy as being 'in the John Hurt way' but this stuff makes it look just like the movie! For the uninitiated, the John Hurt scene from Alien is on YouTube, too – don't watch it if you don't like blood, aliens or late '70s hairstyles.

Did people rub your belly like you were a lucky Buddha statue? Did you mind?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Words of wisdom

The past few weeks I've been given lots of advice from friends who are mothers. Advice on birth, pain relief, breastfeeding, you name it. And whilst it has been mostly unsolicited (because I think if I ask too many questions they'll realise I have NO IDEA and call the authorities), it has all been welcome and genuinely helpful. Like one mother who told me if Tricky doesn't latch on properly, even though you're insanely tired and just want the feed over and done with, take him off and try again because your body will thank you for it the next day – awesome advice (thanks, Melissa).

So far the only unwanted advice has been from my own dad, who thinks he knows all there is to know about babies today because he had a hand in raising my sisters and I NEARLY THIRTY YEARS AGO, and because he watches a lot of TV. That's right, its my old nemesis Today Tonight coming to get me again! To start with I was very nice when he offered suggestions I would inform him that a lot has changed since he did this last - for instance, putting a baby to sleep on their tummy was still in vogue until the early 1990s (and even championed by the renowned Dr Benjamin Spock) because it was thought if the baby vomited it would get caught and they'd choke, whereas now there is a wealth of evidence to suggest a baby sleeping on their abdomen is at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But shooting out statistics at him is like talking to a brick wall because “the people on Today Tonight said...”

So last week I changed tactics - it was time to play hard ball. Instead of bombarding him with facts and information from the latest antenatal class I sat there and listened intently until he finished... then laughed so hard I nearly cried! He was more than a little taken aback and asked was I OK? I put it to him simply that the people he had watched had been paid for their opinion and that I'm sure I could find another, equally qualified person willing to spout their opposite opinion to camera for some dollars too. I think it did the job - so far, no new advice has been forthcoming.

At the moment I'm still all ears when it comes to advice, which is good because I'm told it going to be coming in thick and fast as soon as Tricky arrives on the scene. Even the midwives at the hospital have differing opinions to each other so how am I meant to work out what to do? And what will I do on that day when a complete stranger comes up and starts telling me I'm doing it all wrong? I've been reading a new blog called “That baby looks cold” and even though it makes me laugh, I'm frightened! If the moodiness of pregnancy lingers I'm likely to assault someone. "Tricky do you know what happened during your first Christmas?", "Yes, Mummy went to jail!"

Did you get any strangers offering unwanted advice? Or maybe you have a concerned (read: meddling) family member that watches your every move, telling you you're doing it wrong? Leave a comment below (go on, its like therapy but cheaper).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cute as a... um... monkey?

At a party the other night a friend was telling me about the ugliest baby he'd ever seen. So ugly was this baby that a mere description was not enough, he grabbed his phone and logged on to Facebook to share the horror. A few pictures later and we agreed that yes, this baby was not going to be in an Anne Geddes calendar any time soon... not that the parents know that. Oh no, they're blissfully unaware of the quiet whisperings of “looks like an old man” and “are you sure its human?” So naturally my next thought was “What if Tricky is ugly? Will I even know?”

I've been told the trick to know if your baby isn't calendar-cute is by the response of those seeing him for the first time. If they coo and mention his dimples, his eyes and general cuteness, then its likely they think your spawn is acceptable. If however, they instead focus on other features, chances are they think your kid is ugly: “He's so big!”, “Look how much hair”, “Such small hands” and the like are almost guaranteed to mean you've scored a fuggo. But that in itself isn't a great predictor because I know when I see a baby for the first time the first thing I think is always “Its sooo tiny! How can this be out of the womb yet?”

I know I'm getting way ahead of myself, seeing that Tricky isn't even born yet, but I'm pretty sure even if people do skirt around the cuteness factor and try to make lame comments to cover their awkwardness it won't matter – I'm unlikely to notice, it will just go over my head and I'll continue to be smitten... at least I hope so.

Research published in June last year on the PloS ONE website (an open access scientific journal – hey I never said I wasn't a nerd) suggests that whilst its been known for a long time that attractive adults are often more advantaged in life (from getting better jobs, higher pay and generally more opportunities), it apparently all starts in the cot. Pretty babies are loved more. This was only based on the results of 27 volunteers so its not exactly written in stone, but the results indicated that babies who were considered 'more attractive' were looked at more and from this they determined they were therefore loved more. What this research didn't consider was that the people looking at these babies were not their parents – I cannot imagine loving Tricky any less if he happens to come out with a cleft lip or birth marks all over him. He'll still be my little baby and therefore perfect in my eyes.

I've only had one friend tell me she didn't think her baby was cute. She was certain that when her daughter was born she must have had some genetic abnormality because she didn't look “quite right”. But what is right? Depending on how they come out they can look pretty alien! Squished heads, covered in cheesy vernix and blood, squinty eyes, even bruising from a traumatic birth mean they're not the most attractive things in the world - for the record my friend's daughter is now seven and looks like she should be in a catalogue she's that gorgeous! Babies need a few days (if not weeks) to get a bit cute in my opinion – but come and ask me on the day Tricky is born and I'll probably tell you he was instantly gorgeous.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bonus, baby!

Hubby and I are down to living on one wage (like a lot of people I don't qualify to get maternity pay) and right now is when all the bills are coming in. We chose to go to a private obstetrician because we have health insurance and the idea of continuity of care really appealed to me. But down the business end of pregnancy that gets mighty expensive! Having to see the obstetrician fortnightly and then weekly adds up very quickly I can tell you - and this is for a complication-free pregnancy I might add, who knows how much it would skyrocket if something was going in an other than textbook fashion.

I could rush in here and say “I'm not complaining...” but we all know that would be a lie. I am complaining. I know there is nothing I can do about it, I chose to go privately – but having a little whine will make me feel a whole lot better. At least we don't live in the United States (although universal health care did just get signed in, its not up and running yet). I read the blog of a Texan woman (awesomely titled 'His boys can swim!') who did not qualify for health insurance and subsequently had to pay all her medical costs up front out of her own pocket. She kept track of every pregnancy medical bill and the grand total was over $10,000! This is before she's bought any clothes or a cot, making the $1000 challenge look almost pathetic in comparison. We get to sign a little piece of paper for most of our blood tests and get partial refunds from Medicare for every doctor's visit - until you stop to think about it, its easy to forget just how lucky we are. We don't have a perfect health care system by any measure, but right now I'm very grateful for it.

Then of course, we can add to that the Baby Bonus. According to the Family Assistance Office, the Baby Bonus is to paid to families following the birth (or adoption) of a child in recognition of the extra costs incurred by the new addition. Its means tested so the amount of money you receive depends on your income (and some other criteria), but if you were to receive the full amount it is currently a whopping $5185 paid in thirteen equal fortnightly instalments. Not bad. Not bad at all. Definitely better than a poke in the eye with wet fish, or however that saying goes. Plus there are all sorts of other payments like Family Tax Benefit A and B, the immunisation allowance – and as soon as I figure out what those things are I'm sure I'll like them too.

However if I was able to change the system in any way it would be to have those lovely fortnightly payments starting about now. Finish off the nursery, pay those bills and be a little less worried about making the mortgage payment on time... and of course the new plasma TV - practically a right of passage for new parents since the Baby Bonus was introduced.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A baby shower to remember

This weekend I experienced one of the rights of passage of new motherhood – a baby shower. It consisted of ten women, cupcakes, some wine and a LOT of laughs!

Because I'm a massive control freak I'd already gotten all the games and activities ready weeks ago, much to the disappointment of my best friend who was itching to do it all. But what else is a gal supposed to do when she's finished work and has long days to herself? There is only so many times you can clean the bathroom well enough to eat off every surface (so far I'm up to three times a week). But it made me happy that she could actually participate in the games and have a fun time too. Aunty Penny was the hostess with the most-ess and had everyone introducing each other, getting in to teams, making up team names and ready for action!

We had six rounds that ranged from guessing the nursery rhyme from cryptic clues, naming the animal baby, old wives' tales, a general pregnancy quiz (including the best question ever - what is the name of my blog?) and of course the classic 'Guess the contents of the nappy' game. The looks on some of the women's faces as others actually tasted the contents was priceless! The overall winners of the day were my Mum and a friend from my work who called themselves Team Pub (maybe because that's where they'd rather be than in my lounge room sniffing nappies) and like all good parties the prizes were lolly bags.

Then it was present opening time! I was so amazed at the generosity of my friends - I am so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people. From cute little jumpsuits, a nappy cake to books and toys galore! Tricky is going to be the best dressed, most entertained bub around.
Some lovely presents waiting to be unwrapped
The beautiful 'Barnaby Bear' in the awesome alien walker
What a fantastic haul - Tricky is a very lucky bub
Some of the fantastic decorations supplied by Jen at Party In A Box
a fab little party supply business launching this month 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

As a little girl I remember my Uncle Russell coming over from Queensland one Christmas. Because we didn't get to see him often I hung around and just wanted to be near him, this exotic person from the other side of the country. I noticed that his fingernail on his right pinky finger was long and asked him why. Without a moment of hesitation he explained to me (with helpful gestures) that it helped him clean his ears. Excellent. Question answered. Move along, nothing to see here. I did wonder why he only had it on his right hand – surely it would be easier to clean his left ear with his left hand? But nevertheless I believed him, why wouldn't I? It was only in my adult life that I learnt that it is much more likely his lone long fingernail was actually a 'cocaine scoop', but who tells a primary school student that? “Well honey, that's so I can get high on crack.”

As kids we live in a fantasy land of lovely illusions - we're protected from all the nasty stuff (and sometimes the important stuff) by our parents. Whether or not we follow in their footsteps and tell the same little fibs to our own children is very much dependant on our own experiences of those lies. Some families will have the same stories passed down for generations about how the police can actually tell if you have brushed your teeth or just ran the toothbrush under the tap, because the lie doesn't hurt anyone and helps life run a little bit smoother.

I cried when I found out that Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny weren't real. I remember the day so vividly (though I'm not sure how old I was); it was Easter and along with a chocolate egg I got a little card saying “Enjoy your chocolate. I like carrots. Love the Easter Bunny”... in my mother's handwriting. I was devastated and looked up at my mum as big fat tears started to well in my eyes and asked despairingly, “Does this mean Father Christmas isn't real too?” I'm sure I got over it quick enough (there was chocolate there to distract me, after all) and enjoyed the rest of the day, but its got me thinking about the lies we tell our kids, and more importantly which ones I'll be able to get away with when the time comes for me to explain the unexplainable to Tricky.

Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny are more than likely going to be fixtures in my home, I would rather lie to Tricky about their existence than rob him of the joys of those few years. Although when he is five and screaming to sit on yet another Santa's lap at a shopping centre I may regret this decision. But what about the other things we lie to our kids about? Big things that they're not ready to understand yet. Is it OK to lie about the death of a beloved pet to one of your children but tell the truth to the other, based on their ages and level of understanding? And what about the awful things in life that they just don't need to know about yet? I'm not advocating hushing up everything and letting the poor suckers learn about sex from television and YouTube, but the harsher realities of life where there is no explanation for what happened other than sometimes bad things happen to good people. Where do I draw the line? I don't want Tricky to grow up full of fear but at the same time I don't want him to be naïve.

Luckily I won't have to worry about this for quite a few years yet, and other than trying to make sure Tricky doesn't learn the truth about Christmas or Easter on the actual day, I'm not sure which fibs I'll tell. But to help me when the time comes, what lies have you told your kids?

Friday, April 16, 2010

On your marks, get set...

After ten hours spread over five weeks I'm now ready to be a parent... or so they say, now that Hubby and I have completed antenatal classes. You would think a fabulously decorative framed certificate would be on its way to us, but alas, it is not. I would settle for a 'how to' book though.

On Wednesday night at the final class we viewed the delivery suites (we were meant to look the first night but they were all full) which looked nice and comfy with lots of room to move around in. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting but I it definitely hadn't thought there would be a mini fridge stocked with lemonade and juice, with tea & coffee making facilities (aka a kettle and a bunch of tea bags, but it sounds so much nicer to say it the other way), a little sink, a TV, phone and mood lighting. It felt more like a hotel room for a romantic getaway – the only giveaway being that the bed had stirrups hiding at the sides – although maybe some people take them on their holidays? Each to their own, I say.

At this point we learned that one of the couples in our group had already been in this room a few days before as the woman had gone in to early labour! She'd spent about twelve hours there, having regular contractions and a hell of a lot of drugs to try to stop them (it worked, she's still pregnant and all is well). On the upside, she got to watch 'Saving Private Ryan' on TV, which she'd always wanted to see.

We also got to try the Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) that is used by some women to help ease the pain of contractions. The reason they let you try it first is that some people get very nauseous from it and it makes the whole experience much worse. A friend who tried it for the first time on the day of her labour (who now has a gorgeous 6 month old) said she felt drunk and out of control. Not a good thing when you're trying to concentrate to push out a baby. So because I've decided to go down the drug-free for as long as possible path, I figured I'd try it out because if I have to have anything, I'll go for the gas. Of course I was first chosen to try it...

In front of the group of about twenty, I stood with the midwife and got told how I should just hold the mask to my face and breathe in deeply. So I did. It was a very bizarre feeling and the gas hadn't even hit me yet. I felt like I was doing something naughty, something illegal... basically I felt like I was at a party from my uni days until I looked up and saw a room full of heavily pregnant women waiting for me to do something... anything. Three breaths and I was told to sit down. I wanted to giggle but only through embarrassment as all eyes were on me, waiting. I wasn't sure if it was working or not. I felt light headed like I'd had about three glasses of wine... or as I like to call it good tipsy (tipsy enough to relax a bit and have fun, but no hangover in the morning). And then it was gone. Only three other women in the class tried it and we all had the same reaction, none of us feeling sick. Then the men got to have a go... the women had tentatively held the mask and taken small, shallow breathes, but the men? Well they followed the instructions properly and sucked it back as hard as they could – they were here for a good time! Much laughing ensued as helium jokes started being thrown around and the men sat there waiting for a high that was just not going to come. As a bonus, no one threw up. Yay.

If communal drug taking wasn't a good enough high to end on (pun intended), the grand finale of the 'birth video' was about to begin. Hubby asked if he could possibly keep the gas next to him for this bit. I've seen birth videos before and they can range from Hollywood type soft focus to in your face gruesome reality. The video we saw was smack, bang in the middle and quite easy to watch – only a few 'money shots' that made you squirm. At one point I looked around at the faces in the room – the men had expressions “oh... um... ew” while most of the women were very blank! Maybe we were all in shock? Or trying to hide our fear? “That's gonna happen to me?! You've got to be kidding!”

The video ended and then that was it... it was all over. Time to go off an be parents. By ourselves! There were parting words of wisdom from the midwife and the reassurance that we could call at any time to ask for advice. I'm wondering if its hard to set up a permanent connection from my home phone to the midwifery desk? Just in case.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I need Mary Poppins' carpet bag

I've hit week 34 of the pregnancy now and I'm starting to get really excited to meet Tricky. What will he look like? Will he be cute? Of course he'll be cute to me, but I will be ever so slightly biased since he is my spawn.

According to all the books (yes I've read ALL of them – the staff at my local library know me by name now) now is the time to get your hospital bag ready to go! Many people have been caught out with bub arriving earlier than expected so the general consensus is to be mostly packed around now. So the all-knowing books and websites have lists of what to take with you – and apparently they all think I'm going to be thousands of kilometres away from home for a few months because the amount of CRAP they want me to pack is ridiculous!

Apart from some real gems like differentiating between 'day clothes' and a special 'going home outfit' for yourself (who says I will get out my PJ's anyway?) they also recommend water spritzers to keep you cool, a hair-dryer (uh, slightly busy with an infant), thank you cards (again, slightly busy), and the entire back catalogue of Celine Dion (you want me to be suicidal?).

I've always been a fantastic packer for holidays; one overnight bag can last me a week simply because I don't like waiting at luggage carousels for a bag that may very well be on its way to Greenland. So I thought packing for these few days would be easy too. Wrong.

For starters my dressing gown (which I'll be wearing a lot since that bit about not getting out of my PJ's is pretty close to the truth) whilst so soft, fluffy and lovely is HUGE and takes up half the space already! Is it bad form to turn up at the delivery suite wearing it just because I can't fit it in the bag? I don't want to be one of those women who take eight pieces of matching luggage and then only open two things, but I am NOT going without my dressing gown. The standard underwear and toiletries don't take up too much room so the next big hurdle is the breast and maternity pads – those things are massive and take up much more space than I had imagined - valuable dressing gown space I might add. I know I can unpack the bag as soon as we get there but I might be slightly busy swearing my head off and announcing loudly that this is all Hubby's fault.

Luckily the hospital I'm going to provides everything for Tricky so all I need to take for him is a 'going home outfit' so that I don't steal their precious singlets. For him I've chosen a cute little polka dot number (given to me in February as a very early baby shower present from a friend going overseas) for two reasons; firstly that it is super cute and says “I'm new here” and secondly because it is size 0000 and Tricky is expected to be a bit of heifer and might only fit in to it for a few days.

So the bag is mostly packed except for the few things we'll have to grab on the way out the door (like the camera - for photos AFTER the main event, not during) and sits pride of place in the bedroom near the door. I'm sure in the coming weeks it will be packed and unpacked numerous times and the nesting urge increases (I've already cleaned the bath twice this week), and that just makes me think I'll leave something out in one of the re-packs and will have to check it all again when in labour! With severe mumnesia I'm sure to forget something too!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Letter to Tricky - 34 weeks pregnant

Hi Tricky!

Let me introduce myself, I'm your Mum. At the moment you only know me as the funny gurgley digestion noises and heartbeat with a muffled '20,000 leagues under the sea' voice. And I only know you as a funny squirmy feeling in my tummy, just like when you go on a rollercoaster (you'll learn about them when you're older) – but even though that's all I know about you, I love you already.

I'm amazed every day at how much joy you bring to our lives without even being born yet. Your Daddy is getting very anxious to meet you and already talks to you sometimes – he lays his head gently on my belly to listen to you, then tells you how excited he is that you'll be here soon. You'd think after all this time we'd be quite used to you moving around but we both still get excited and giggle when you kick so hard that my shirt moves.

You seem to already have a bit of a routine going on where you are most active at about 8am after I've had breakfast (I think you like Weetbix) and then whilst you do move around all day a bit, you get a second wind at about 11pm and seem to be doing some sort of crazy dance that I can't wait to see when you're out – limbs flailing every which way. Sometimes you kick so hard that it takes my breath away a bit, but I don't mind at all, I like knowing you're getting stronger and stronger every day, preparing for your entrance in to this world.

There are so many things I want to teach you. So many wonders I want you to experience. More than anything though I'm just looking forward to meeting you - we can worry about whether you'll follow in my footsteps and support Holden (yay), or Daddy's and support Ford (boo!), when you're bigger.

Daddy and I have been preparing lots of things for your arrival – going to classes to learn about what to do with you when we bring you home, decorating your room (I hope you like Winnie-the-Pooh) and painting a cot for you to sleep in.

Other people are getting excited to meet you too. Your Aunty Penny is counting down the days until she gets to play with you – you'll be her first nephew so you're already kinda special. You will be the first grandchild in the family too, so your grandparents are over the moon and I just know they're going to spoil you rotten! Even when they have more nephews/nieces and grandchildren, you will hold a special place in these people's hearts because you were the first (just don't tell your siblings/cousins that OK?).

My doctor says you are due on the 1st of June, but I think he calculated it wrong and in fact you're due to arrive on the 25th of May. If you're anything like me you'll be early, because I hate being late! One of our friends is even starting a sweeps where people can bet money on your arrival date and time! I'm trying not to wish away these last few weeks of pregnancy (which is hard because you're getting heavy to carry around) and just enjoy the whole experience. Daddy and I can't wait to see you, but you need to cook a little longer, so until we meet, keep growing... just not too big please.

Love Mummy xxx

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bad blood

I have learned a few things from the antenatal classes Hubby and I have been attending these last few weeks and right up the top of the list is that if you have an opinion that differs ever so slightly from the midwife who runs our group, you are looked down upon like an unfit parent.

This week in class we were learning about cord blood banking – where the blood in the umbilical cord is harvested after birth and the stem cells within it are kept in a cryogenic bank for your own use later down the track (should your child or their siblings have a disease needing stem cell therapy) or donated to the public cord bank for whomever needs it (although WA doesn't have a public cord blood bank yet). So I put up my hand to ask if you could get enough cord blood if you were planning on delaying cord clamping after the birth (not clamping until the cord had stopped pulsating). Well, I was not Miss-Popular, I can tell you! I was met with a self important chuckle and the response “In short, yes you can still do it. But do you really want to make your baby so sick? Have him put under lights? And you can't breastfeed him you know!?”

Woah! What just happened there? Did the midwife who earlier had told us her job was to help and encourage you to make informed decisions just tell me off for being informed? I could feel my face flush with embarrassment and guilt. A young bloke in the class asked at this point what delayed cord clamping was and rather than explain to him the possible benefits and risks (see I'm not delusional, I know there are risks to everything), her answer to him was “Delayed cord clamping is when you delay clamping the cord”. Thanks, Captain Obvious, pretty sure he could have worked that out by himself. With a smirk she added “It causes jaundice which is very dangerous” and apparently that was the end of the discussion.

I'll point out here that delayed cord clamping has been associated with jaundice due to the extra red blood cells the baby's immature liver has to try to break down. According to the World Health Organisation the benefits of delayed cord clamping (increase in blood volume, lower mortality rates in cases of infant haemorrhage, increase in iron stores protecting from childhood anaemia) far outweigh the risks, especially in developed countries where jaundice (which most babies get to some extent anyway) is easily treatable. One of the main reasons immediate cord clamping was introduced in the first place was because of the injection of drugs given to speed up the delivery of the placenta, which can't be allowed to get to the baby – that's right, speed it all up so the doctors and nurses can go home early and not have to wait around for Mother Nature to do her stuff – she is such a bore you know.

So back to the class where I'd just been told off: The couple sitting next to Hubby and I leant over and said excitedly “We'll speak to you after OK?” So I spent the rest of the night half listening to the midwife telling me horror stories of how my body just won't cope and half wondering what the other couple were going to say.

At the end of the evening, we turned to the couple and found our birth soulmates! These people were not falling for the scaremongering and had conducted their own research too! We sat there chatting about what interventions we did and didn't want and why, which journal articles we had referenced and so on. These were two well educated, reasonable people and together we were being frowned upon as 'the hippies' bucking the medical system and endangering our children's lives. At the point where we were discussing birth plans the midwife walked over and interrupted us saying that it was stupid to have a plan, that you can't plan for these things because “it goes wrong all the time” Yep, her exact words. Gee thanks for the pep talk. What's so wrong about having a birth plan? I know that writing it down doesn't mean its going to happen, but it will help me and Hubby concentrate on our goal and lets the midwifery team assisting the obstetrician (who had told me to write one and has already signed off on mine saying he supports our wishes) know how they can best help us on the big day.

As they say, there is strength in numbers, and together the four of us managed to tell her we would still be having birth plans and yes we knew that birth was unpredictable. More remarkably was that the four of us also managed to restrain ourselves enough not to punch her in the jaw. We excused ourselves from the after class supper and carried on a clandestine conversation in the carpark where we learned that while we agreed on almost everything there were still a few points where we had very different opinions – but that was OK too, and it was nice hearing a different, strong opinion voiced by someone who knew what they were talking about, as opposed to those in the group who get all their information from cranky midwives and Today Tonight and are therefore understandably shit-scared.

When we parted to go home (after promising to swap phone numbers next week) I couldn't stop smiling – we weren't alone! Meeting them gave me new resolve to stick to my guns and assert my rights when I needed it most, because if you're around such negative 'you can't do it' attitudes you begin to believe them. I plan on trusting my body to do what it was made to do - what women have done since time began. I know things can and do go wrong, thats why I'm under the care of an obstetrician and will be giving birth in a hospital setting - not quite ready to go full-hippy home birth just yet.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baby Teresa

Want to change the world? How 'bout changing a baby? Well not in the dirty nappy sense, more of a change the baby's world kinda way. Sammie Appleyard and Kirsty Dunphey figured they could do just that sort of thing by creating Baby Teresa. A company that rates right up there on the 'Where's My Glow list of super cute logos'.

The company was launched in late 2009 and sold gorgeous little baby onesies. Nothing special there you say? Well each time you purchase a little outfit for someone you know, a second outfit is given to someone you don't – a baby in need. Originally the second outfits were given to benevolent organisations in Tasmania that assisted women with newborns in need. As the company expanded more and more people got on board and volunteered to take the gifted outfits overseas to babies in need in Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, the Philippines and Vietnam, with the goal to clothe a needy baby in every country in the world.

Whilst the name might suggest a religious affiliation, there isn't one. The company founders were inspired by the Mother Teresa quote “If you can't feed 1000 people, then feed one”. Their website is full with inspiring quotes from people who managed to change the world for the better.

The adorable striped suits come in both long and short versions and are available in two styles; a funky orange/pink/brown/white stripe combo called 'Lan' and a cool aqua blue/yellow/white stripe delight called 'Hieu'. Lan and Hieu are two Vietnamese orphans helped by the work of organisations such as Foundation Lotus Child and Baby Teresa.

If you know someone having a baby and would like to buy them a gift that gives twice, visit Baby Teresa , it's sure to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A pain in the ...

For the last couple of weeks my right hip has been really sore to the point where I limp when I walk. After a quick consult with a physiotherapist at the antenatal classes I decided to go and have it checked out properly since it didn't appear to be going away on its own accord. So today I toddled off to a physiotherapist that specialises in antenatal and postnatal issues, partly because the woman I spoke to at the antenatal class worked there and partly because these hips have a lot of work to do soon and I don't want anyone screwing them up any further!

My pain started in my sit bones... that's right people, its basically my bum. Typical. I would be the one to get bum pain. I'm reminded of Sharon Osborne who, after being diagnosed with colon cancer said “Why'd they have to find it in my bum, of all places? It's embarrassing. I mean, why couldn't I have a cute little heart shaped polyp on my vagina?” Not that I'm comparing hip pain to colon cancer, but you get my point – why there?!

The pain has been getting worse and has now moved around the front too, and instead of a dull ache its more of a sharp shooting pain that makes it look like I've just stepped on a piece of glass. On the upside, the limp disguises the waddle marvellously. It is also starting to aggravate my previously broken coccyx – broken, I might add, by Hubby's knee one night about two and a half years ago while he was having a particularly violent dream. To make it worse, he didn't even wake up when he did it!

The diagnosis?
Pelvic instability and more specifically a rotated Sacroiliac joint in turn causing Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (whomever named that really liked the letter Y, I think). Which basically means my hips are moving in directions they shouldn't be.

The cause?
Well I have always had really lax ligaments (meaning that if they gave them out, I'd get a gold star at every yoga class for most resembling a pretzel) and if you combine that with the Relaxin hormone getting me ready for birth you have a pretty good chance of sore hips.

The treatment?
About half an hour of excruciating “massage” of my hip followed by the application of strapping tape. Yes, dear readers, my ass is taped up. It looks highly amusing, like I've accidentally sat down on someone's discarded ankle strapping. I'm tempted to drop my dacks just to show people how silly it looks. “Excuse me? Hi, you don't know me, but check out my butt, isn't it hilarious?!”
I go back in a few days time to have the whole thing done again, but until then I have some exercises to do and the instruction to not put my legs at a right angle to my body. This is simple to fix, I just sit on cushion to elevate my hips above my knees – but cushion sitting does make look like I've got haemorrhoids. I guess its the price I'll have to pay.

The prognosis?
A few sessions and taping is apparently all I'll need to get my hip in working order... funnily enough the lax ligaments that have caused the pain in the first place mean it will be quicker and easier to fix! Hooray for me.

Did you or your partner have any pregnancy ailments? Did you have to have your bum strapped too?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

From here to paternity (leave)

Working as a casual has it's advantages – for example, I can have time off (without giving much notice at all) when I get a freelance client. It does have its disadvantages too though, and at the moment they're being felt in the lack of maternity leave way.

Whilst casual employees are entitled to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave (It's called parental leave since either mother or father can take it if they are to be the primary care giver) its only if they have “completed 12 months continuous service” with their employer – and that, unfortunately, is not me. I was feeling like a bit of a change in direction so handed in my resume to be the 'Makeup Consultant' at a pharmacy. I was interviewed on the spot (glad I wore a nice outfit!) and offered the job right then, pending a police clearance. Excellent! So I gave three weeks notice at the place I was working in and thought everything was perfect. The day before I was due to start at the pharmacy, I found out I was pregnant.

Legally I had no obligation to tell my new employer I was pregnant, especially since it was before the 12 week “She'll be right” stage. But I decided to tell them anyway, basically out of a sense of overwhelming guilt. They were shocked to say the least and suggested we all just play it by ear and see what happened. Phew.

So after six months in the job I've now left. Although they have asked me to come back after Tricky is born, I don't have a legal leg to stand on if they change their mind. I've even trained up my replacement, and there isn't enough work for two of us. But I suppose I'll waddle over that bridge when I come to it. For now I'm enjoying the extra time to nest and put my (swollen) feet up.

But what about Hubby? And all the other partners out there? What are they entitled to? Bugger all is what. It is up to the individual company to decide what leave entitlements the non-primary care giver is eligible for. It was a topic of hot debate at antenatal classes the other day with all the couples comparing. It was awful to hear the stories of the men in the group (our class consists of all heterosexual couples with the woman being the primary care giver) having to fight for time off.

Hubby works for the government and gets two weeks paternity leave straight off, no questions asked. Luckily for us his boss (whose wife is expecting her third at the same time as we are expecting Tricky) is very flexible and encouraging him to do what he has done each time (and will do again this time). That is, to combine his paternity leave with carer's leave and a little bit of annual leave, which all up is a grand total of six weeks off work! Hooray!

This not only means that I will get some help in those difficult first few weeks, but it will also allow Tricky to bond with his dad, an opportunity not every bub gets. Especially, it turns out, for teachers. One of the men in our class is a teacher and is allowed a whole three days off. Three days?! THREE DAYS?! That is disgusting! Worse when you consider his wife has to have a scheduled caesarian section for health reasons – she will need three days just to get out of bed – then what?! She'll get a kiss goodbye while her husband goes off to work no doubt feeling guilty for leaving, and she can struggle through. They had tried to get the caesarian scheduled in for the beginning of the school holidays, but turns out you can't pick and choose quite that easily.

Did your partner have time off?  Did he/she have to fight for it?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cry me a river... or an entire flood plain

I've spoken about pregnancy hormones on Where's My Glow a few times already (here and here) and how they've been playing havoc with me. Whilst I'm still experiencing this phenomenon (which Hubby refers to as the “Psycho Bitch from Hell” phase) a new symptom has decided to rear its ugly head. The tears.

Everything, and I really mean that, no exaggerations here at all, everything makes me cry.

I have always been a bit of a crier and see it as a disability of sorts. If I get angry or frustrated, hot tears start to prickle at my eyes and WHAM I'm crying. This is fine if you're mid argument with someone, but in a work situation it makes me look like a silly little girl who can't control her emotions. Well you should see me now! I don't even need to get anywhere near anger or frustration because I start crying at “oh how unfortunate” and even “that's so adorable”.

The other morning I was getting my Weetbix ready and managed to spill the milk (can you see where this is going?). My interior monologue went something like this: “Oops. That was stupid. You're so stupid. You can't do ANYTHING right EVER AGAIN! You're going to be a TERRIBLE MOTHER.” I cannot say what happened in the nanosecond between oops and terrible mother – a strange force had taken over me. So the tears started. Just really small, almost cute tears until Hubby thought he would try to cheer me up by saying with a giggle “Haven't you heard the saying about crying over spilt milk?” Then the real tears started. Big, fat, slide down your face and plop on to the table tears. I swear I could hear a little splash as a giant pool started forming. At this point a rather shocked Hubby suggested very gently (quite possibly while protecting his manhood with a chopping board) that maybe I should go back to bed for a few minutes and try again soon while he cleaned up the 2ml of milk from the bench. So I plodded off down the hallway, wailing like a banshee to bury myself under the doona.

I think I could handle the crying if there was some sort of pattern I could prepare for. But it is totally unpredictable and so frustrating that it brings me to, well, tears actually. I'm not sure which is better, being a psycho who you don't want to mess with for fear of losing valuable body parts, or “that pregnant woman who cries all the time”. Either way I've started counting down to Tricky's birth not just because I'm looking forward to meeting him, but because hopefully it means the rollercoaster of hormones will be coming to an end.


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