Sunday, 18 May 2014

Hack Schooling.

The topic of schooling is currently a large one in the World of my ex husband and I.

I've always been fascinated with the idea of homeschooling and discovering different ways to teach and learn. But now that the impending Primary Education of my eldest, Master 4 is looming - everything has spiralled into one big stand-off disagreement.
I bought up the idea of "Hack Schooling", a practise spoken about in the YouTube video I will link below.
The main ideas of cultivating happiness and LIFE, instead of burning yourself out and making a LIVING, being a leading point.

I like the idea of utilising passions and ideas already prominent within a child's mind to facilitate education.
I like to the idea of teaching them about things that will actually benefit them in life, instead of following a set curriculum that is targeted at the general population, instead of at the individual.

Firstly, since its fair to be honest, I hated school. I should also mention however, that I was very GOOD at school. I was almost always an A student, and although I was incredibly tardy (preferring to work from bed, or at 1am in the morning sprawled out in the lounge room) I did incredibly well.
Aside from the bullying, the lack of subjects that interested me, and the manner in which we had to follow a strict curriculum, I would like to point out that most of what I learnt (and retained) over my school years was not actually taught in school.

I do not remember Pythagorastheorem. I couldn't sing you a scale in C Mixolydian if you payed me (now, for those playing at home, I just targeted a math and a music subject. I'm not playing favourites with "oh, all art subjects are good, and all sciencey ones are bad", so you may cease your inner dialogue.)

I learnt a lot about history. History that interested me. Spiralling from a Studio Arts project, where I was doing slap together pieces (on the old practice of blood letting), I researched Vlad the Impaler ad Elizabeth Bathory. I did a small history assignment on them, not so I would be getting higher marks (I didn't), just because I was captivated. I still remember everything I learnt. Learnt, if I remember correctly, whilst smoking in the park around the corner from school, cause I just couldn't deal with the class room environment.

The things I learnt in the classroom are more or less entirely lost on me now. I don't know Math Methods anymore, and anyone who has seen me bake knows that Home Ec was a total waste of time.
The stress put onto children in school repulses me. What should my career be?
Good God, I don't even know what I want for lunch. That said, if you really do know what you want to pursue, should you not be allowed to throw yourself into it utterly? Why learn Native American History if you really want to be an engineer?

I don't actually believe school taught me any real "life" skills. I was totally inexperienced for the World and the thing is, I really believe there are some simple 'classes' that should absolutely be taught in every school that would help prepare our youth far better than geography or German.

* Tax Returns - seriously, I've only just started to wrap my head around them, and I'm 26.
* Loans - whether for the home, a car, to get by, or a holiday. Wouldn't it be nice to be so educated on all the pit falls that we don't make catastrophic mistakes that so many or our peers, if not we ourselves, made straight out of school?
* Basic car care - I still don't know how to change the oil, or even check the coolant levels.
* Communication. We live in an age of technology, and as such, focus should be placed on learning how to communicate effectively with other people. Everyone commuicates differently. We should understand and respect all those different ways in order to function at our up most within society.
* Politics. I understood sweet F/A when it first came time for me to vote. So I did what every idiot does, I threw my vote away with a Donkey Vote. Stupid, stupid, Tara.
* Basic cooking. Learn how to use pantry staples. Learn how to make 8 different meals from scratch.
* BUDGETING. This, just this. Budget, budget, budget. Learn how to do it. You cant live off Mi Goreng and Fruity Lexia all your life (although, it can be fun trying). You need to pay bills, rent, and eat. You don't need the new iPhone.

*World religions, the share market, economics, bank accounts, identifying and protecting yourself from scammers, the importance of charity, animal and social welfare - these and so much more would improve the calibre of people coming into the world far more than the current system .

Also, how cool would it be to have a class dedicated to Life Hacks? You know, like anything here..

I had something similar to the Life Hack idea when I was in school.
My boyfriend and I could create a bong out of a neighbourhood garden hose, a coke bottle, a coke can, a lighter, and Hubba Bubba. Little MacGyvers, right? What if we had have been encouraged to make something constructive?

I believe in a loose routine. Not the kind of regimented structure modern school imposes.
My kids know they will always get breakfast, do they know exactly what or exactly what time? No. And you know what. They're just fine.
Why wake up at dawn, to yell and scream, and rush and get ready, just to venture out in the cold, to arrive at a place stressed out, and over it already by 9am.
I don't know about you, but I would be far more receptive if my first 'class' was held in pajamas, in the warmth, with a side of bacon and eggs.

And yes, I can already hear you, "But, Tara! You're not preparing them for the real World! How will they hold down a job if they believe everything should always be so flexible?"
I have an answer for that actually; to prepare for the workforce, they get a casual job in the workforce just like every other kid does at 14 and 9 months.

Work is work. Work is meant to be fixed and slightly abhorrent (unless you're very lucky).
School is not work, at least it shouldn't be.

Do we really want the youth of our kids' spent with them spending 6 hours a day, if not more,  in a "work" environment.

Work is the place for uniform, not school. "But Tara! Stop trying to turn your kids into little versions of you!"
I'm not. If they want to wear Demonia boots, pierce their face and colour their hair - hooray!
If they want to wear comfortable tracksuits for the majority of the time - hooray! If they want to study in their bathers on hot days so they can jump into the pool or the waves when they take a break - hooray!
If they want to learn wrapped in a doona because it gives them comfort - hooray!
I really don't care.
The way you dress should not effect the way you learn. And yet, although I went to a public school, I remember spending more time discussing the hole in my face (where I would put my labret piercing in after school hours) and my shoes, then anything about what I was apparently being 'taught'.
Does that sound right to you?
I actually got send home because I had the wrong shoes. That's right kids, you just cant learn in sneakers - its impossible.

And the fear of not having soicially adjusted children? I'm not planning on keeping them in the house all day (you weirdos) I want them to learn within the community. I want them in sport clubs, music groups, whatever their interests are. I want them to be knowledgeable about all aspects of society, not just about who Amanda shagged at Marks party.

I'm not saying we should totally boycott the current school system, I'm simply saying there is no reason why an alternative system wont turn out young adults just as adjusted, if not more so, than the current one.

Most readers with still think I'm crazy I guess, and that's OK. I have no problem with my peers sending their children to normal schools, it just amuses me that so many have an issue with the concept of my children being taught in an alternative manner.

Happiness is key. I want my three beautiful children to experience life, not read it from a text book.

So, in the words of the very delicious, and very talented Chris Cornell - "Show me how to live"

To see the video that made up my mind.....

Hack Schooling

Saturday, 14 December 2013

I was NOT a slut...I was just horizontally accessible.

Hello, hello!

I haven't blogged in quite a while, mainly due to the stereotypical basking of glory you have when you bring a baby home; our Little Love <3 He is just perfect, and apart from an overly obsessive love of hugs (clearly passed down from his mother) we have all settled in greatly.
Also, I have been healing. My hips and pelvis are finally doing what they're meant to, and I can move around without too much difficulty.
This brings me to my next point - Painkillers; and the vast amount of them I have been consuming since the birth of Little Love.

I have been following doctors orders, and knew that as of two days ago, I was to lower my dose of oxy, and begin weaning off these medications.

I, (because I am a large idiot) decided that I would be fine to go without pain meds for just one day, and that I would be just fine to make it to the doctors on the following day.

What I received in return for my careless attitude, was an incredibly nasty bout of withdrawals - oddly, something I used to be quite familiar with...

Lets not fuss about too much with pleasantries, I used to take a lot of drugs. A lot.
Put it it a pipe, wrap it in a baggie, roll in on your tongue, pour it in a cup, draw it in your lungs, pack it in a joint, or rack it into sweet white lines with a Medicare Card - I loved all that was bad for me.
Actually, the more I reminisce, the more I realise that almost everything I did was bad for me. I still loved it though, and I'm not ashamed to say I have some brilliant memories.
Some bad ones, too.

I was 18 fresh out of high school, I had an over-inflated ego, no money or car, and a mini-skirt - I was ready for the world!
What I got, after 8 weeks of trying to force myself to like the course I had enrolled in, was a night job as a waitress, and my first look at that whole underground scene all the 'good' goth movies aspire to show you.
This whole nocturnal lifestyle enveloped me so much so, that suddenly it was not just work, and the hours that followed my shift that provided me with chances to indulge. Now it was all the other social circles that popped up all around me, offering places to go on other nights, reasons to stay up another 24 hours, shouting me (cause most of the time I was flat broke) new and tantalizing experiences, almost all of which would somehow land me sleeping with someone who I either worked with, who I had been with before and promised myself never again, or, majority of the time, both.
Ah, yes. I was a train wreck.

Toward the end of my relationship with all things narcotic, I started to experience my first real punch-in-the-face bouts of withdrawal.
I'm talking hot flushes, cold sweats, grinding my teeth, extreme anxiety, and the urge to kill anyone who dared look at me.
Bet you can guess my answer to these horrible symptoms? You guessed it - More drugs! Hurrah!
Whether to perk me back up, or to lull me into nightmare-filled-sweaty-writhing sleep; more was always my answer.

Always, until 2 days ago.
I was left feeling utterly stupid, because I knew this would happen.
Because of the SPD, I had been taking highly addictive opiates for over 6 months now.
I do not feel a 'high' when I take them, I feel normal. I feel able to cope with movement and any pain.
It was this illusion of feeling 'normal' that messed me up, I think. I assumed that I could easily go a day without them. Silly rabbit.

10am sore me sweating, gnawing the inside of my mouth, repulsed by food, and wanting to rip the skin from my bones (it felt like there were ants under it).
However, while I endured this self-inflicted torture, so many memories came flooding back to me.
Memories it seems, from another life time all together.

I started to remember 'that' girl.
The girl who could keep her 2 jobs, while; simultaneously shagging half the staff, spending her last $10 just to see a local band play and dance wildly in chunky rock boots, having a highly expensive drug habit that she hardly ever had to pay for, living out of a backpack covered in band buttons, wore her hair too tall, and her skirt too short, and who would crash on whoever's couch she could find.

The, dare I say it 'lady' that I am now is a far cry from the little party girl I used to be.
I love my life now, every part of it.

But sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to encounter something that makes us remember who we used to be.

If not to reminisce about a totally different life, then just to marvel at how far we have come.


 Little Trashy Fiend. 
Note the 'gothness', the fame hawk fins, skinny skinny spine, and skanky pigtails.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Helplessness and Children

If there is one feeling about parenthood that I absolutely abhor, it's the feeling of helplessness when your child is in pain, and you can't do anything to help them.

My son's recent stay in the NICU made me feel like I was being violently beaten around the head by a giant hammer, with 'helplessness' written across it in big, angry letters.

The very same day he was born was the day he was taken to the NICU.
I knew he had to go, I wanted him to go. He was wheezing and grunting constantly, and when the paediatrician explained that those noises were a strong indication of a respiratory infection, I knew I had made the right call in alerting the nurses. He was wheeled away in his little plastic capsule, and I was left in my hard, uncomfortable hospital bed, in my little curtained-off cubicle, feeling overwhelmingly, and unequivocally helpless. I had been in that much agony (as the Pain Team had not yet visited me to update my medication), that I hadn't even been able to pick him up when the noises started. My tiny few-hours-old baby was right beside my bed in his plastic capsule, and I couldn't even sit up to reach in and comfort him. All I could do was push the button beside my bed, and hope that someone would come quickly to help me.
I cried well into in night after he was taken away.

The following day when Luke arrived, he helped me into my wheelchair and wheeled me down to the NICU. We passed so many capsules; some open, some closed in with the UV lights shining down, but all containing tiny little babies. Babies that were so small, you would think they were dolls, babies who seemed not to show signs of life at all, and babies who, despite their minuscule size, were screaming the house down - even though they were donned with little goggles to protect their eyes from the UV, and so covered with tubes, drips, and medi-tape, that you could barely view their translucent skin at all.

I was overcome with a feeling of great empathy - so many tiny little humans that were unwell, meant that there were equally that many parents who were racked with fear, exhaustion, and sorrow.
My heart immediately went out to them.

And then I saw my son.
I could barely move from the wheelchair - I just stared.
He was so small, and was being made to look even more so by the over sized clothes the nurses had dressed him in. There were tubes feeding him, a drip in his minuscule hand hydrating him, monitors on his feet and chest, and the reminace of the C-PAP that had been helping him to breathe the night before.
My tiny baby. He was meant to be in my arms, not hooked up to a bunch of beeping machines.
And I couldn't do anything to help. Yes, I could do cuddles with skin-to-skin contact to help him feel loved, but I wanted to help him get better in the same way all these pediatricians and NICU Midwives knew how.
I just felt so utterly useless. I felt overwhelmed and helpless - not one part of me had been prepared for this.

But as the days went by, we grew to accept that loving our son was the best thing we could do, as that was something we could give him that all the nurses and doctors just couldn't.
So even though we still felt awful that he was unwell enough to require such intensive care, we had found our own way to help him get better - and we were the only ones who could give it to him.

Now that our little man is safe and sound at home, I have been thinking about other instances when I really felt helpless as I watched one of my children in pain.

I will bypass all the 'child is sick', 'child falls and hurts self' instances, as every parent goes through these, and even those without children can imagine how horrible it must feel to 'kiss the owchie' and still have the child squeal "It's still hurting!", or to sit rocking your child in your arms and trying to kiss the tears away, because they're sick with a fever, and the pain relief you've given them just doesn't seem to be working.

When I think of the absolute worst time I felt helpless to aid my child, one story immediately comes to mind.

This takes me way back, to when Master 4 was Master 2.
He had a stye under his eye on his lower lid, and it had been growing and getting bigger over the past few months, not shrinking as the GP had advised us it would.
After scheduling another appointment with the GP, we were advised to consult an optical specialist/surgeon, as there seemed no other option other than to drain the stye, so that my son would be able to see properly, and wouldn't be in discomfort anymore. While the stye itself wasn't painful, it had grown so large that it pushed the lower lid of his eye so far up that it interfered with his vision, and the stretching of the lid skin was hurting him more every day.
So grossly over-sized was the stye by this stage, that the GP called the specialist straight away, and managed to get us an appointment that afternoon. She did not want us on a waiting list while the stye kept growing.

And so that afternoon I took my son to the specialist.
The specialist seemed nice enough, he did all the routine checks - including poking and prodding the stye (which by this stage was rock hard) and judging what type of procedure was necessary to give my son some relief.
He told me that even though the stye seemed rock-hard, he felt the best course of action would be to drain it, then let it recede on its own.
It was at this point that things started to get odd. Things happened that in hindsight should have been warning signs for me. Such as;  instead of asking me to lift my son onto the exam table, he asked me to lay my son down on the floor, then to hold him down. I did as he said, I had put my trust in this man, he was the professional.
He told me he was going to make a tiny cut in the stye then let it drain out. He said my son would feel a very quick sting as he made the cut, but after that he would feel relief as it drained out. I imagined it would be like popping a blister - a tiny pin-prick, then it all drains away painlessly, and then you put a band aid on.
I enquired, since my son was only 2, as to weather there was to be any pain relief - numbing cream, happy gas, a local anaesthetic? But I was assured that the procedure was to be so quick that pain relief was totally unnecessary. I ignored my better judgement, and agreed.
The specialist produced a scalpel and a tonne of gauze, he nodded to me to start holding my son down.
He made a quick slit in the stye. I felt my son twitch, and he made a small squeal as expected. But the stye did not start to drain, nor did it even start to bleed.
This made the specialist do something so totally barbaric, that to this day I have not forgiven myself for letting one of my children go through such an ordeal.
What this monster did, was ball some gauze up in his hand, and start to roughly push, squeeze and manipulate the stye, exercising such force that his knuckles were white, and my son started to scream.
I remember being frozen with shock. This was not what I had been lead to believe would happen. Was this even a real procedure? Should I say something? All the while my son's free eye bore into me, staring at me as he screamed - seemingly in disbelief that I was letting this happen to him, let along helping this pain be inflicted upon him. Even though it sounds cheesy, I can still hear him wailing "Muuuuummmmmyyyyy!" at the top of his lungs, and staring at me with his tear-filled free eye.
This horrendous scenario lasted for a good few minutes.
By the time I had broken out of my state of shock, and was about to rip my child away from this butcher, the 'specialist' had decided he was finished.
He said, quite matter-of-factly, that there was nothing he could do, and to just take my son to the Children's Hospital. He then charged me $270.
I returned home with a still-crying child who couldn't quite look me in the face. I had betrayed his trust.
I had seen him in such pain, pain that I was helping to inflict upon him, and I had felt utterly helpless during the whole process.

The feeling of helplessness, when associated with our children is always going to be one of the hardest feelings to cope with.
We only want the best for our babies, and we tend to feel like failures if we cant be the magical SuperMum or SuperDad that they see us as. In my experience, there is only one real way to console yourself when this feeling presents - and that is to remember that you give them love that no one else can.
They may still feel the hurt, but you can hug them and fill them up with such love that the pain seems bearable. They may still cry, but you can kiss away those tears. You can tell a funny story or make a funny face that makes them giggle for just a moment, so although they're still crying, they are also smiling - even for only a second.

(Note: We did end up taking our son to the Children's Hospital. We also enquired with the doctors at the Children's Hospital, if the 'proceedure' the butcher had performed was even legal. If it wasn't, we had fully intended to sue. It turned out it was legal -  although all doctors did agree that it was very outdated, would normally only be used on an adult, and certainly never without pain relief.)

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Mothers of Ward 31

Shortly after the birth of my son, we were both wheeled from Birth Suite to the Maternity Ward.
Like most Public Hospitals, my ward had four cubicles, and Little Love and I filled the last available.
I never really saw my fellow Mummys, but throughout my stay I inevitably learnt a lot about them, as you cannot help but hear what goes on mere meters away from you.

And so, in my effort to create some sort of generic-hospital-voyeuristic-sit-com in my head, may I present,

The Mothers of Ward 31

Bed 1 - It's all in the Family

This bed was occupied by a relatively young Mummy, and this was her first baby.
Her partner would come in to see her and baby every day, for hours at a time, and would delight in making phone calls detailing how incredibly proud he was of his lady for going through a 27 hour labour, and how brave she was for accepting the fact that after all of those hours, it resulted in a c-section.

This young lady had a lot of support. In fact every time it was visiting hours (partners do not have to abide by these, they can visit anytime) she would have masses of people come to say hello and meet baby.
Even though she and I were separated by a drawn curtain, I could still see hints of the masses of flowers, balloons, teddies, and other congratulatory gifts that were seemingly crowding her cubical.
I heard her greet friends, uncles and aunts, brothers, sisters, little nieces, nephews and cousins (who spent the majority of their time running up and down the corridor between the cubicles, or opening the curtain and peering curiously in at me), mother, father, in-laws - it seemed like everyone she knew!
I was shocked by how many people would pay her visits, but mostly by the numbers they would come in. Instead of a few people visiting at a time, and the 2 hour block of visiting hours being divided up for various friends and family, huge groups would all cram into her cubical. Most days these groups could not all fit, and so they would open the curtain, and spill out into the corridor, almost filling it entirely.
The noise was so loud during these times, that I couldn't be heard over the phone when I tried to make a call!

It was no surprise that I would overhear her telling her partner at night how tired she was of all the company, and how she was finding it impossible to comfortably breastfeed her baby in front of so many people; all of whom it seemed knew the 'right' way to get the baby to latch.

All that being said, she was discharged with her baby the day before I was, and she seemed very happy.

Bed 2 - Tricks and Giggles

I fell in love with this couple. Just listening to their banter made me smile. This lady was also a first time Mummy, and she and her husband were absolutely over the moon.
They had been blessed with a baby boy, and were constantly debating the name that should be chosen.
Every morning the husband would arrive with a list of new name possibilities, and they would spend the day going through the list, whittling it down to one.
They were loud, giggly and a pleasure to listen to, as you could hear the love they had for each other, and for the baby.
Every evening Mrs. Giggle would tell the Midwife on duty what their sons name was, only to get a phone call from Mr. Giggle mere minutes later challenging the name they had picked, "What? No, we already agreed! Why don't you like that name anymore? But I...I just told the midwife! Fine, bring in a new list tomorrow!"
Roughly an hour later, every night without fail, the phone would ring again, and it would be her mother.
Evidently Mr. Giggle would call her mum every evening and tell her that they'd picked an old, bizarre sounding name for the baby. This would send the mother into hysterics as she hated the name, and she would swiftly call her daughter to demand an explanation. It quickly became clear that this was a prank Mr. Giggle enjoyed playing, and I'm fairly certain that all other patients in the ward, and any Midwives on duty at the time enjoyed listening too.
During my stay, Englebert, Archibald and Augustus were all names that left Mrs. Giggle defending herself, "Mum, no! No that's not what we are calling him. It's not! Don't listen to him, he's just trying to rile you up. No, I don't like the name either. Mum. Mum! I'm not lying!..I don't know why he would joke about that. He's trying to be funny. Yes, I know its not working..."
The next morning, Mr Giggle would arrive to playful hits and mock anger from Mrs. Giggle.
They would both laugh at how much mother had gotten herself worked up, then begin searching for a name all over again.

They also left a day before me. They left laughing, along with their son, Mason.
 (He finally got his name! I know this because all the Midwives cheered loudly along with Mr. and Mrs. Giggle when they announced it just before they left).

Bed 3 - Pills and Pokemon.

This was my bed.
It was free of baby cries, as my son was transferred to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) within a few hours of entering the ward. I have a lot to write about my experience with having a baby in NICU, but I will save all of that for a separate entry.
My cubical was fairly quiet. Luke would visit me every day for as long as he could, I had a couple of visits from my housemate (she works next door to the hospital), and my Mum and Daddy came to see me too.
I spent my time reading Sookie Stackhouse novels, playing Pokemon on my 3DS, and going to see Little Love (I would be pushed in a wheelchair by my gorgeous man).

While Bed 1 had a never-ending line of people coming and going during visiting hours, I had never-ending visits from specialists, and hospital employees almost every hour of the day; Physiotherapist, Social Worker (checking how I was emotionally handling baby's stay in NICU), Pain Team Doctors, Anesthesiologist and of course OBGYN's and Midwives.
I know that I pushed the 'Call Midwife' button next to my bed so much during the first two days and nights, that they must have been sick of me.

My pain medication was increased during my stay, after one of the Pain Team Doctor's noticed how regularly I was taking Endone. I had (on top of Panadol and 10mg Oxycodone) been prescribed 2 Endone tablets every 2 hours if nessicary. Let me tell you, after pushing a baby through a separated pelvis, I felt that  it was 100% necessary!
Doc changed the dose of Oxycodone to 20mg twice daily, added 75mg of Lyrica* twice a day, 50mg of Diclofenac (Volarin tablet) 3 times daily, and 2 Panadol every 4 hours. This regime allows me to only use the Endone to act as a 'top-up' to the Oxy when I am extra sore, like after completing my physio exercises. Instead of upwards of 10 Endone tablets a day, I now take 4.  

Basically, the other patients in my ward were clearly aware that I was on a lot of medication, as OBGYN's and Midwives constantly kept coming into my cubical with more pills in little plastic cups.
That, coupled with the occasional Pokemon battle sounds from the 3DS, the conversations I kept having with the lunch lady about vampirism (thanks to the Stackhouse novels), and the muffled sounds of me crying to myself, the other Mummys must have thought me quite the fruitcake.

*Lyrica is an anticonvulsant traditionally used to treat epileptics. However, one of its other effects, is to act as a blocker for the pain receptors responsible for nerve pain.
It has all but stopped those sharp 'electric shock' type pains commonly associated with my injury.

Bed 4 - Vietnamese Please!

The lady in Bed 4 did not speak a word of English. Her husband was fluent in both Vietnamese and English though, and so would spend every available minute with her (this means 8am - 8pm, although the Midwives often allowed him to stay a little later, as he was so quiet you didn't even know he was there).
He would translate for both his Wife and the Midwives, clarifying feed times, and asking questions.
Thank goodness it was their 2nd baby - I cant imagine having to translate all the information you need when it's your first!.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly, their baby didn't cry very much, and having the husband there to translate made communication incredibly easy.

...Until her last day. For whatever reason hubby couldn't make it in, and this left Vietnamese Mummy on her own. It was also decreed by the comedy Gods, that the Midwife on duty for her last day was one of those fantastic people who think if they just speak louder and slower, everyone will understand.
On her last day it became common knowledge in our ward that she was express-feeding her baby.
She had been using a hospital breast pump up until now, and the Midwife was trying to explain to her where she could hire one of the same model from a different hospital (apparently only the other hospital hired out this particular model).
Now, whilst I couldn't physically see the conversation taking place, I could hear it clearly (as could the entire ward - guests and all), and since I had recently had my blood pressure checked by this Midwife, I knew how expressive she was, and how much she loved to use her hands and body when she talked.
Listening to this conversation was only made funnier by the little chuckles and snorts coming from all the other cubicles.
"You go to hospital. No-no to this hospital. Go far away. Go other far away hospital. Ask for pump. Yes. Yes want to hire like this pump for boob. Pump hire for boob. You go get hire pump from far away hospital for your boob."
The poor Vietnamese Mum stayed silent. She clearly had no idea what was going on, and a large white woman, using over the top body language (probably complete with squeezing her breasts to demonstrate pumping) and a patronizing booming voice was not helping.
Everyone listening could tell the Midwife meant well, but was A) not going to get anywhere, and B) was being more than a little condescending.
Just then, we all heard a miracle! A voice from the crowded Bed 1 cubical called out, "I can speak Vietnamese! Would you like my help?"
And so, the friend of Bed 1 Mummy went and translated all the information about breast pumps for Vietnamese Mummy. He must have felt a little awkward discussing breast pumps with a total stranger, but it was lovely to hear Vietnamese Mummy speak even though I couldn't understand her.
The conversation was a sandwich-like affair; 1 female and 1 male speaking fluent Vietnamese acting as bread, and a still-talking-like-you're-talking-to-a-toddler over zealous Midwife as the filling.

They must have worked everything out though, because she went home a day before me too.

I actually like building up an image of someone in my head, having not seen them.
This activity was vital in my hospital stay, as when I don't actively use my brain, I go a little crazy.

You should try it next time you're somewhere where you will have to wait a while; be it a doctors waiting room, a long train ride, or a hospital ward of your own.
What can you find out about your fellow patients/travellers just from listening to them?
What more can you add if you have the option to observe them- their body language, appearance etc?

What stories can you tell, when you give yourself a chance....

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Meeting Baby

I had been waiting for the 19th of November with baited breath. I had known for just over a week that I would be induced at 37 weeks (due to SPD) and I was super excited.
To know the date I would meet my son was a totally new experience.
My eldest son had come along when he felt like it (which was after weeks of pre-labour, followed by three days of early labour, with me only dilating to 2 cm).
My daughter was induced, but I didn’t know that was going to happen.
I had been uneasy for 3 days, thinking I was leaking a type of fluid, but as I was in no pain I ignored it.
After those 3 days, I finally went to the hospital to have it checked. It was amniotic fluid. My waters had been broken for three days, and my daughter had no intention of going anywhere. Since after 72 hours the risk of infection is very high, they induced me right away.
But to have a date to circle in the calendar? To know for a fact that I would be holding my son by that day? It was incredible. And nerve racking.
I barely slept the night before. I was a bundle of nerves. Soon I would be a Mummy again! And Luke would be a Daddy for the first time!

So the morning arrived. I was up at 5am, awkwardly showering, eating breakfast, and stressing that I had forgotten to pack something, even though I had gone over the list a million times.

 We arrived at Birth Suite at 7am. After chats with the Midwife, Doctor and Anaesthetist, we had a plan of action. They would break my waters now, and start me on a saline drip. Then, at 9am the anaesthetist would insert the epidural, and begin the Syntocinon (the artificial hormone that causes contractions). Seeing as with my daughter’s induction I had gone from 4cm-10cm in 25 minutes, the docs decided it would be best to get me numb before they started the Syntocinon.
I was absolutely beside myself about the epidural. I had never had one before.
I like to move when I’m in pain, and I had birthed both my kids standing up, so the idea of having to stay lying down and bed ridden scared me. I kept reminding myself that I wouldn’t need to move around, as I wouldn’t be in pain. Plus, the pain in my pelvis and back was now so severe that the very thought of having to push a baby through there made me feel light headed and sick.

9am came. The epidural experience was weird. I leant forward, cuddling a pillow and holding Luke’s hand. The anaesthetist was really lovely, and even though she had already explained everything to me, she continued to explain everything again as she was doing it so I wouldn’t be as nervous.
She washed my back with the antiseptic, and placed the sterile plastic over me. She then used a tiny needle to insert the local anaesthetic. It stung just a little, but I felt it working almost right away.
Then came the big epidural needle. Wow. What a bizarre feeling. It did not hurt going in, but felt very uncomfortable and irksome. I made sooky noises and squeezed Luke’s hand tight. I could feel everything, but there was no pain. That is a very difficult message for your brain to process. All I knew was that I didn’t like it. But very quickly the needle was out and just the tube was left. She started to insert the numbing drugs. My feet felt weird. Then I felt really hot. And then I felt dizzy and sick. Urgh.
Everything was quickly finalised at my back, and then they lay me back down on the bed. Within 10 minutes I felt much better. No fever, no nausea, no pain.
From my chest down I felt no pain! I could still move (albeit with a little difficulty, as my legs felt heavy) and I could still feel everything, but absolutely no pain.
You must understand, I had been in horrific pain (even 'at rest’ - laying still) for the past 20 weeks. And now, all of a sudden, nothing! I was in bliss!

I was so comfortable, that I napped, played Pokemon on my 3DS, and snacked on chips and dim sims.

 But my body was being stubborn. It wasn’t responding well to the Syntocinon. The contractions I was having (that I couldn’t feel – what a new experience!) were not strong enough to be doing their job, and were far too short.
After many hours of increasingly larger does, my Syntocinon drip was set to max. This worked.

 At 1.30pm I was declared ‘In Labour’. 
I napped a little more, and chatted with the midwife about our favourite show One Born Every Minute (both of us agreeing we like the UK version best).

Suddenly I was struck with intense pain in the left side of my belly. I knew this pain. This was a knock-you-off-your-feet contraction. It was so strange to be numb on the right side of my belly (at this stage I couldn’t even feel or move my right leg), but feel everything on the left side. I reverted to my previous birth experiences and breathed through the pain while the midwife called in backup, and discussed calling the anaesthetist back so she could fix the epidural (the theory being it was favouring one side too much as it was on an angle).
Then she paused. Remembering how quickly I had dilated with my daughter, she decided to check my progress.
Gloves were applied, lamp set in place, modesty sheet draped across me, and she placed my legs in a position so she could check (they could not use stirrups as it would strain my pelvic muscles too much).
”Wow…Luke, would you like to see your baby’s head?”
He was right there. That’s why I was suddenly hurting.
Luke had a peek, while I shrieked “Nooo! You can’t un-see that!” and the midwives laughed.
They told me with the next contraction I was to push.
The next one came, and I pushed. I was told to stop – his head was already out!
Then, without any help from me, the midwives eased him out. Apparently I had a 7 second delivery time.

It was absolutely incredible to be able to feel him coming out without the pain. With the pain in my previous births, I was just trying to push through it. This time I could really focus on every aspect.
I will always remember the way it felt as I birthed him. It was amazing.
”Tara, look down!” there he was, my tiny Little Love.

 He was put straight on my skin while the midwife rubbed him with a towel then covered him in a blanket. Luke and I kissed, and stared in wonder at our tiny man. He didn’t cry, he just looked around, checked out his surroundings, then snuggled into my chest, using his tiny arms like a pillow (like I do!) and went back to sleep!

 He was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
Pink and purple, with vernix all over. He was like berries and cream.

 Because of the chronic depression in my past, I didn’t have those amazing feelings at the births of my other children. I’d always regretted that, that I never felt that burst of love and awe. I feel it for them now of course (cause I don’t live in crazy town anymore), but the fact that my subconscious has suppressed most of my memories of their first few months has always saddened me.

 But here I was, with my wonderful Luke by my side, and my incredible Little Love snoozing on my chest.
I felt like my heart could explode!
Luke cut the cord, and the midwives delivered the placenta and began to clean me up. No stitches – hooray! 

 I was surprisingly exhausted, and I was overwhelmed with joyful emotions.
I fell asleep while the midwives kept cleaning, and Luke started making phone calls, telling everyone the good news.
Little Love and I napped together, in our own little World, in the eye of the storm.
I have never felt more at Peace then I did at that moment.

I have had three very different birth experiences, all amazing in their own right, but this time had to be the most beautiful. It wasn't because I couldn’t feel pain (even though that was interesting), but because for the first time, I was present in the moment.
I was a part of the experience - physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Laying there, with my baby of berries and cream, him clinging to my necklace, and me with my arms wrapped around his tiny body (all 2.8 kilos of it), both of us so comfortable and in love with each other that we could sleep while the noise and lights surrounded us – it really was the most perfect moment I could ever imagine. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Chemist Bullies.

A few days ago, I was at one of my weekly hospital visits - checking on baby, managing pain relief, checking my vitals ect.
Severe SPD poses a serious dilemma for the OBGYN's and other doctors that deal with me. They have to navigate the difficult path of feeding me with the strongest pain killers they can, whilst making sure bubs has as little risk to addiction as possible. At this last visit, it was decided we cut the codeine out of my daily pill regime, and swap the Endone for Oxycodone - the 12 hour slow release pain killer.
This was not a choice that was entered into lightly. I sat in the assessment unit, Luke holding my hand, strapped to the foetal monitor. It was showing our son in distress. The shocking pain (at a level now, if I'm to be perfectly honest, where my mental health is beginning to suffer) was making my body not a nice place to be - making bubs very agitated.
The doctors do not want to induce before 37 weeks unless 100% necessary (understandable, especially as bubs is on the very small side of normal), and so the OBGYN who was dealing with me, paged two others to get second and third opinions. That's three specialists assessing the best thing to do. And so the Oxycodone was prescribed, bubs was monitored until the pain relief had kicked in and he started to relax, and then we left to go and cash our script in at the hospital pharmacy.

I should point out, I loathe this pharmacy.
It is constantly understaffed, the wait times are excessively ridiculous, and I have had endless issues getting my medication from these people. Every single time I have put in a script for painkillers I get messed around.
Up until this time, the most memorable incident being when my Daddy took me to my appointment. I was in my wheelchair, and we had handed in the script, been given our numbered ticket, and gone to wait in the waiting area. After 20 minutes we were called up, seemingly to collect my medication, only to be told that we couldn't be issued with the drugs as the script was not 'filled out properly'. I was shocked, thinking in her rush the doctor must have forgotten to sign it or something like that, but no. What this clerk meant, was that in the column where the number of pills was to be written, the doctor had only written '20'. Only using numerals. Apparently she was meant to write '20 twenty', and write it in letters too.
Now, seeing as the doctor's personal number was written on the script, you would think that the pharmacy could've just called upstairs to confirm, but no. Instead, they sent the wheelchair lady and her Dad back up another 3 levels to track down the doctor ourselves. We were to get them to stop whatever they were doing,  just to write 'twenty' on the script. Of course, as Murphy's Law predicts, she was in theatre, so one of the nurses just wrote it in for us. We should have just done it ourselves to save the messing about.
But there you have it - that's how incompetent this chemist is.

But back to the story...
Luke was helping me hobble to the 'scripts in' end of the pharmacy (we had stupidly left the wheelchair in our housemate's car) and with much whimpering, we approached the counter. The script was collected, our numbered ticket given out, and we took a seat in the waiting area.
About 30 minutes later we were called up. Everything seemed to be going well, and I had just handed over the cash to pay, when the pharmacy girl asked;
"Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?"
"Yes, I'm pregnant."
"Does your doctor know about this?!"
"....Well, I would assume so. It's a little hard to hide!" I patted my basketball-sized belly, and smiled.
"This is a very strong drug. It could be very harmful. I'm just not comfortable giving it to you. I will have to check with my superior."
I rolled my eyes, calmed the very frustrated Luke, and we waited. A few minutes later she returned,
"Look, I know that two OB's have signed off on this script, but I'm just not comfortable. This drug poses serious risks!"
I went on to explain my condition, and the fact that baby and I were being monitored closely. I explained I knew the risks - it was the same for both of us - withdrawal. And plans for an extended stay for bubs and I to detox had been discussed, if it was deemed necessary.
But this woman wouldn't budge. She was actually greasing me now, making me feel like a monster for exposing my baby to these medications. She wouldn't give in. She took the script, left the pharmacy and walked straight past us, greasing as she went, on her way to the maternity clinic, clearly trying to find proof that I shouldn't be given these drugs.
Now, I'm no genius, but, A) What is the point of getting a doctor (let alone a specialist, and let alone two specialists) to sign off, giving consent on a script if the sales clerk at the pharmacy is going to question it, and B) Who the fuck was this woman to question the knowledge of these trained professionals in the first place?
She came back, and would you believe it, got on the phone, obviously  unhappy with the answer she had received in clinic. By this point I was in agony, unable to sit as we had been told to wait at the window, and I was leaning at the counter while Luke rubbed my back and whispered all the things he would like to say to this woman, if he thought for a second he could get away with it.
Finally she returns to the window, "Hmm, it seems your OBGYN's (note that, you rat-faced-axe-wound. OBGYN'S. Plural. Two doctors) have agreed this is the best drug for your 'condition' *she looks me up and down, not believing there is anything wrong with me*. And evidently the midwives have assured me you know the risks, and have a plan in place should they occur."
I stood there blinking, and said nothing as she gave over my meds. I had said all of this at the start!
I did not have to spend half an hour on my feet with a separated pelvis that was buckling under the weight of bubs, for this snail trail to run around and pretend to be a doctor. She had actively gone through every avenue possible to deny me the medication. That was not her job.
I mean, with no script, if was asking for something over the counter that could pose a risk, that's fine. You have the right to deny me. But with a script? Not just signed by a GP, but by two specialists? You have no right to make me beg for drugs. Because that's effectively what I heard myself doing. Begging for drugs. Drugs that should have been handed over, without all the nasty looks from Axe-Wound-Sue and the other pharmacy girls who she was talking to. It made me feel horrible - like a bad Mum.
But then I remember how many professionals are working with me, and that they all agree (especially seeing what our son does when my body is in so much pain) that this medication is the best choice, and I feel better.

I'm not entirely sure what I meant to achieve with this post. I think I just needed to vent.
Except that if you do work at a pharmacy, I will say this; Don't question a doctor's script (unless you think it's a fake of course). It is your job to correctly dispense the drugs, not prescribe them.

And don't make heavily pregnant, shaking-with-pain ladies cry in public, it's a real dick move.

Monday, 4 November 2013

One thing about Motherhood that nobody warned me about.

A while ago, I posted a question on my FaceBook, asking my friends what they would like to read a blog entry about. There were a lot of good answers, but I particularly fancied the question; What are some things about being a Mummy that you wished you'd have known sooner....

I could make this a very long list. I could fill it with simple things that every new parent (particularly Mum's) discover, or things even more basic, that I probably could have figured out if I'd have given them any thought at all. But this piece is about more than just the never ending laundry and dishes, the mass amounts of puke and poop, the discovery that toddlers really are some kind of Holmes/Houdini hybrid (able to locate anything, and escape from anywhere),  and it's even about more than the discovery that you can equally feel both heart-may-explode-in-love, and hair-tearing-out-whilst-you-threaten-to-sell-them-on-the-Black-Market-furious, when dealing with your little treasure.
Here is just one of these 'things', from a list that will continue in other entries, about one thing nobody warned me about.

Standard of Beauty

Before I became a Mother, I took a great deal of pride in how I looked.
I would never leave the house without a full face of makeup, I would always wear heels no matter where I was going (even grocery shopping required at least a small heel), and I constantly put thought into how to dress 'hot' for the opposite sex.
My, my, my. How things have changed.
When I was at home with my newborn daughter and one year old son, I would feel accomplished if I managed to shower that day. If I was seen wearing something that wasn't covered in baby vomit, then I felt I'd done something incredible. And if I managed to wash my hair, or wear a bra - good God! - I was having a superwoman-style day! Although at this time, I was also deeply in the grasp of Post Natal Depression, so perhaps it's not the fairest judgement.

So lets look at a far more current version of myself...
I honestly consider it a massive win if Luke gets home and I have; smooth legs, lip gloss, a spray of perfume, and am wearing clean clothes.  
Seriously. If I have managed that whilst also managing to keep the kids happy and fed all day - then I feel like a Goddess.
Even now with my bed-ridden self, I consider it a great accomplishment when Luke gets into bed to cuddle me, and comments on how nice my hair smells :)
That's basically it - don't be a smelly Yettie. Beauty regime over.
Unless it's an occasion of course, (where I do the full works of tight dress, stiletto heels, hair extensions, dark eyes and red lips) but short of that, nobody told me how very different my standard of beauty would be once I had children. It's no longer a win if I've spent 3 hours getting ready for a night out, it's a win if I have the kids fed, bathed, and in bed, and have managed to squeeze in a shower before my Man gets home.

Lingerie, porn star hair and makeup, $200 stripper heels and long fake nails are not longer my idea of what it means to be sexy in the boudoir.
Smooth legs, clean clothes that aren't pyjamas, freshly washed hair, and a smile, are now all it takes for me to feel like I've accomplished some high standard of beauty.

It may not sound glamorous (probably because its not), but there are so many other rewarding things for me to put my time into, and dressing like a baby hooker is no longer one of them....Unless it's a costume party...You can always dress shamelessly like a whore at costume parties :P