Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Now What? Confessions of a Wee Obsessed Mum

'That's a very pretty dress,' Hayley the sonographer said to the Mop. 'Let's tuck it up a bit so we don't get anything on it.'

The Mop lay on the adult-sized table, looking small and vulnerable, yards of pink taffeta tucked up under her chin.  She looked at Hayley with her enormous grey eyes.

'Are you the doctor?' the Mop asked her. 'You are, because you're a girl.'

I'm glad that at the tender age of three the Mop knows that girls can do anything and she doesn't assume that doctors have to be men.

The sonographer just smiled. 'I am going to take some pictures of your tummy. I will start by putting some of this jelly on it.'

The Mop sat up a bit to watch the goo being squeezed onto her tummy. A towel had been tucked into her Beauty and the Beast knickers. Knickers I only put on her because I knew that she wouldn't wee.

We were in the bowels of the hospital. So far from daylight that the air was thick with the silent hum of recycled air. We were getting an ultrasound for the Mop's bladder and kidneys, checking if there was a medical reason for her extraordinary inability to wee.

When toilet training, most mums put knickers on their kids and pray that they won't wee. I have gotten to the stage that I hope she will wee. I am aching for an accident, begging for a puddle on the floor.  The Mop sometimes won't wee for 12 hours. Daycare is concerned. The family is concerned. It raised a red flag with my GP.

I am concerned, because if there is no medical reason, that only leaves psychological reasons. You have to love it when the doctor uses the word 'neurosis' about your three year old.

I couldn't stop yawning though. 'Mummy needs a coffee,' I said offhandedly to the Mop.

Mop turned to the sonographer. 'Do you have a coffee for my Mummy?' she asked politely.

We both laughed. 'That's very thoughtful of you,' Hayley told her. I didn't get a coffee though.

'Is that a TV?' the Mop asked pointing to a blank screen on the wall.

'It is. Would you like to see the pictures of your tummy?' The sonographer  pulled out a remote control, turning the screen on. 'That's your wee,' Hayley told her pointing a large black section.

The Mop regarded the spotty black and white images for a few minutes before lying back and closing her eyes. 'I like Dora better,' she announced.

After a very thorough examination the sonographer went to discuss the results with the paediatric radiologist. The wait felt excruciatingly long as the Mop had been fasting for hours and was desperate to go home.

It was all clear. No observable obstructions. Just a bladder like a steel trap apparently.

I wonder if that showed up on the scans.

'Is my tummy okay?' asked the Mop.

'Your tummy is fine,' I reassured her.

Now I just have to figure out what to do next.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Brutal Truth from the Mouths of Babes

3 year old Mop: I have a cute bottom, don't I?

Me: You do, but it's not really the most important thing is it? What's the best thing about you?

Mop (pause): I love my toys?

Me: Yes... what else?

Mop : I love my Mummy. That's good.

Me: Yes, that's very good. Is there anything else that is good about you?

Mop (thinks): I love my bed.

Me (weary): uh ha.

Mop (excitedly): I love my nappies. Soooo much.

Me: That's good, darling. Do you love anything else apart from me, your toys, your bed and your nappies?

Mop (solemnly): I love everything.

Me: Even the Bombshell?

Mop: I didn't say her. I don't love the Bombshell.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Did You Want Kids?

The thing about babies, is that eventually, they all grow up.

I don’t think many people, before kids think to themselves ‘I can’t wait until I am up to my armpits in toddler poo because they missed the potty. Again’ or ‘I can’t wait until I am fighting with a nine year old about doing their homework’ or ‘I am really looking forward to teaching my over-anxious sixteen year old daughter to drive’.

No one actually sets out to have kids. Not with any real clarity.

When I thought about having kids, it was always still images. A family portrait of shiny happy people. Kids sitting around a Christmas tree unwrapping presents. Watching one of my children at a graduation ceremony. A wedding. Those emotions were easy to summon and understand.

No, like many people, what I really wanted was a baby. I knew that inevitably the baby would grow up but I certainly had no concept of what my life would be like when the babies became children. This is because all the glossy magazines tend to print lovely pictures of cherubic babies, gummy smiles, round bottoms and chubby thighs. Crawling babies, sleeping babies.

Did you know that before I had children of my own, I actually thought that babies crawled for about two years. Embarrassing, but true. Look at the TV, at the magazines.  All the babies seem to get stuck at the crawling stage. So you can imagine my shock when my babies crawled for a grand total of four months. That was it. I felt quite ripped off.
One of the few photos I have of a crawling baby... this one is the Bombshell at 11 months

So there we are, wanting to have the babies we all see in the magazines. But magazines are silent. They don’t give you a real idea of what life with a baby is really like.  They don’t explain that there are a whole bunch of hours in the middle of the night that you will become intimately acquainted with. They forget to mention the debilitating effect on your body, your memory, your dignity.

It’s only then that you start thinking about kids. How it will be ‘easier’ when they are older. They will sleep better. Eat better. Wipe their own bums. If you’re lucky.

And so today, on the first birthday of my youngest daughter, I feel that I am at that precarious and precious place where I still have a baby (who I love and adore, and I can laugh at her wobbly crawling, her inability to back-chat, her awesome appetite, who still has a gummy smile and chubby thighs) yet I also have the almost six-year old (who is becoming so independent and reliable, who I walk out the door with without needing to pack a bag of ‘stuff’, who can help out around the house, who loves to learn and to teach) and of course my gorgeous, complicated, conflicted three year old in the middle (who doesn’t know what the hell she wants to be).

This time is fleeting and the days of the baby are coming to an end. I know one day she will start walking and talking and I will then introduce them as my ‘three girls’ and not ‘my two girls and a baby’.

Do I miss the night time breastfeeds. Not really. Do I miss the swollen belly and little kicks from within. Sometimes. Will I go back and do it a fourth time. Na uh.

But did I ever imagine myself being a mother of three, pleading at the top of my lungs with them to stop fighting, knowing full well that half the neighbourhood can hear?
Did I dream about stacking the dishwasher with eighty thousand drink bottles all decorated with Dora or Disney?
Did I see myself bum up, on my hands and knees as I poke under the couch for the baby’s dummy?
Did I plan on being in my nightee at 7 o’clock in the morning, tipping a box of pungent nappy bags into the bin as the neighbours walk past?
Was it a dream to eat breakfast at 5am, lunch at 11am and dinner at 4.30pm and passed out on the couch in front of MKR at 8pm?
Did I have a clue about covering books with contact, remembering which day is library day and which day is sports day, or what the hell a sight word is?

No. I admit that none of these things even occurred to me almost seven years ago when I decided I wanted to have a baby.

Would knowing any of it have changed my decision, prevented it, delayed it?

Not in the slightest.

Because the good thing about babies, is that even though they inevitably grow up and become kids, they only do it one day at a time.

Mostly the changes as so small they are unnoticeable, especially to mums, up to their eyebrows in it every day. And it is only when there is a major milestone – or a birthday – that you stop and exhale and wonder on earth what happened to last year, and where did that little baby go?
Happy First Birthday Baldy

Kids Don't Have a Clue

'It's no fun being a kid,' wailed The Bombshell. 'It's better being an adult cos then you get to do what you want.'

She stormed off to the playroom (yes, you read that correctly) and started to do some drawings. Probably something like Mummy getting run over by a cement mixer, or sat on by a very large troll.

I stared after her, then looked around the room.

In front of me, her lunchbox which I was filling with healthy and tasty treats.

There was a pair of (size 3) undies on the floor, the final showdown by the Curly Mop and her declaration she would "never EVER wear knickers EVERRRRRRRR".

There was a pile of toast crusts and crumbs under the table, and the little brush and pan which I had abandoned halfway through sweeping when Baldy fell out the back door onto the paving and needed to be rescued.

A pile of bills and official letters from official places stacked up to be paid, including a couple which would inevitably mean at least 30 minutes on hold to Centrelink.

There were so many dirty dishes in the sink, I could no longer see out the (dirty) window. I had started using plastic baby spoons to make the coffee because I still hadn't unloaded the dishwasher from two days before.

By the front door, a stack of nappy bags waiting to be tossed out.  Baskets of washing to be put away. Books from school to be covered in contact. The shopping list which needed to be attended to, as did the dead cockroach under the couch.

You get the point. I know you get the point because (mostly) you're Mums like me.

Bombshell wouldn't get the point, so I didn't even bother trying.

The sad thing is, by the time she is old enough to truly understand that being a grown-up isn't all chosing what to watch on TV, bossing other people around, and eating as much chocolate as you want (which, admittedly is one of the best things about being an adult), she will be too old to appreciate how cool it is being a kid.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fickle, Thy Name is a Five Year Old

'You're NOT cute!' Door slams.

'La la la la'

'Mop, stop it or else I'm not playing with you for the rest of my life.'

'La la la la'

The Mop knows exactly what she is doing. It's cute (or was the first time), it's repetitive, it's tuneless and it's annoying.

'Be QUIET!' Door slams again. Sort of anyway. Thank heavens for those rubber stoppers that prevent the doors being fully closed no matter how much it would help in an argument such as this.

'La la la la'

The Mop is rather cleverly sitting just inside her room, technically on her own turf and therefore untouchable for her increasingly irate older sister. However the fact that their rooms face each other across a small hall means that they can't really escape each other. Especially since mean old mum put stoppers on the doors so they can't close them in each other's face.

'Be quiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeet,' pleads the Bombshell.

'La la la la.' 

Begging is not working, so she tries a new tack.

'I hate you and I love the baby,' the Bombshell says.

There is a brief pause as this sinks in.

'La la la la'

No deal.

'Right. I'm not playing with you for the rest of my life,' she declares.

Door slams. Sort of.

Meanwhile, Baldy Baby and I are at the other end of the house listening to the drama unfold over the baby monitor that I left in the Mop's room for occasions such as this. I try and only intervene when it looks like blood will be spilt.

But Baldy thinks it's all too fascinating, and now she has finally figured out how to crawl, she decides she wants a front row seat at the Colosseum.

I hear her as she makes her rhythmically thumping progress over the old floorboards, down the hall, round the corner where she would come to a stop right between her two older sister's rooms.

There is silence. Has one been smothered with a flower pillow?

One minutes later I head down to see what happened.

Naturally, the blood sports have been forgotten and all three are playing together in front of the dolls house.

Until The Bombshell grabs at a toy the Mop was playing with.

'La la la la...'

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Brutal Truth About The Brutal Truth...

Today marks the first anniversary of 'The Brutal Truth About the Third Child'.

In a small way, writing that post changed my life.

Prior to the Brutal Truth this blog was not exactly setting the world on fire. Shocking, I know. I had a small, loyal following of readers, mainly family and friends (hi Mum!). Every time I got a comment or a new 'like' from a stranger I would jump up and down and clap my hands.

Actually, there probably wasn't much jumping because I was ridiculously pregnant with Baby Number Three. But I'm sure I clapped my hands.

Then, on what happened to be my 12th wedding anniversary, I sat down to write a tongue-in-cheek comparison of my three different pregnancies. Being a Monday, both the Bombshell and Curly Mop were in pre-primary/daycare, so apart from Baldy jumping up and down on my bladder, I had the house to myself. I remember it took half the day to write because I kept needing to go to the loo.

I hit publish and thought nothing more of it.

The next day I noticed that there had been a hundred or so hits on The Brutal Truth. That was enormous for me. My most popular post to date had been hit about 120 times over a matter of months, so this was incredible.

Over the next few days I watched as the hits mounted. The following Monday morning the tally was at 3,900. By lunchtime it was over 4,500. I checked again after dinner and it was over 5,700. I could literally sit and watch the counter click over. I became completely (and probably unhealthily) preoccupied.

See that big pointy bit? That's The Brutal Truth...

While the hits were mounting, so were the comments. Amazing comments, supportive comments: Mums who said 'Yes! So true'. Mums who said 'Thank God I stopped at two'. Mums who berated me for making them laugh out loud at work and pee a little.

There were a few negative comments, people who didn't detect my tongue firmly wedged in my cheek. People who didn't read all the way to the bottom. Well, it was a very long post.

Then something else happened to change my life.

Baldy Baby arrived, and the brutal truth about the third child became a thrilling and welcome reality.

I admit, I felt pressure to replicate the success of The Brutal Truth. All of a sudden I had this wonderful new virtual community, people who could relate to my story and possibly wanted more.

But with the new baby came the fog, and although some of my subsequent posts were relatively popular I was disappointed when the tens of thousands of people who read it, did not stick around to read any more.

It was an important lesson for me. 'Don't they like me anymore' I wailed. But then I asked myself: after I read a post that had been recommended or shared by a friend, do I click around on the blog to find more? Not usually.

It was like a literary one night stand. Luckily it felt good and there were zero regrets.

One year on, that single post is responsible for almost half of my entire hits. It's small change by the standards of the uber-bloggers but more than I ever expected for a blog with a dumb name, and it still gets hundreds of hits each and every day.

I have seen The Brutal Truth shared across the world. Someone emailed it to me once with a message 'read this, it's really funny' and I had to say 'I wrote that!'. It's even been pinned on Pinterest.
You've made it now, Shannon. Give up and die happy.

The twelve months since Baldy Baby was born have been productive for me, especially given the whole three kids thing. I had a couple of articles published in national magazines including My Child, I have been working hard at WeekendNotes, even earning a small paycheck each month.  I started dabbling in a novel and wrote two pictures books which were beautifully illustrated by The Bombshell.

Hey publishers, let me know if you want to make me an offer

I have even bigger plans for the next twelve months.

Uni starts in a couple of weeks and I am looking forward to being the daggy mature aged student in the corner again.

I have an article being published next month that mentions - amongst other things - pubic hair and bottoms. Click here if you want to read more about pubic hair.

I am also hoping to publish a kids book later this year (no pubic hair but there will be bottoms).

So thank you for sticking around with me over the past year. Thank you for making comments on my blog and on my Facebook page.
I recognise your names and it feels like family.

And that's the truth.

Update: as of December, 2013 there have been almost 150,000 hits to The Brutal Truth About the First Child. It is read by thousands of people every month, and since I don't ever plan on having a fourth child, I guess it will remain my most popular post.

Easy and innovative new fundraising ideas at

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Two Week Wait Diary

Around the time I began thinking about having Baby Number Three I read about the Two Week Wait Diary: a diary you keep for that excruciating period of time between having baby-making sex and either the arrival of your period or two blue lines.

This is my Two Week Wait Diary in one of the months prior to falling pregnant with Franken-baby.

Warning: contains mentions of - OMG - sex. Don't read on if you feel faint or plan on getting cranky with me for mentioning it.

I’m ashamed to admit I have resorted to ovulation tests already.  Two months of negative pregnancy tests are enough. I have so much admiration and pain for women who take months or even years to fall pregnant. But I am very impatient, now I have decided I want a third baby, I want it now.

Quickly, before I change my mind.

Finally, a positive ovulation test.  I was surprised how awkward I felt telling my husband that "tonight, tomorrow… might be good."  He clearly had no idea what I was talking about. 

Was I going to have to draw him a picture? Thank god for the male libido, he didn’t need much encouragement once he figured out what I meant.

I think he is really enjoying this baby-making gig, and is probably praying secretly that it takes months and months for me to fall pregnant. We had a house-guest tonight, so I was waiting long after my normal bedtime for hubby to come upstairs and attend to business. 

Afterwards I couldn’t help sticking my legs up in the air for a bit, but not for long: my stomach muscles aren’t as strong as they once were.

Had a girls lunch today and while everyone ordered wine, I stuck with water.  There were a few raised eyebrows.  I swear they were kicking each other under the table. Feeling a little nauseous but it could just be wishful thinking. 

How ridiculous that I want to be nauseous.

It’s hard not to let myself get carried away with the wishing and worrying.  I spent a few hours in the garden lugging heavy pots around and all the while I was wondering whether it was wise or not.  Every time I bent over to pull up a weed and my tummy felt big I got excited that it is my uterus growing already. 

In reality, it’s just 4 years of playgroup and mothers’ group morning teas and too much chocolate after dinner.

Hubby popped home in the middle of the day and took me upstairs.  Obviously he is taking the baby-making very seriously and I didn’t have the heart to tell him the window of opportunity is probably over this month. 

Caught up with a friend for a toddler play-date, she was also at lunch on Saturday.  She admitted she was excited when she saw I didn’t order wine but says I look too well to be pregnant.  She’s right.  I don’t feel at all ill today, and I am pretty disappointed.

I have made myself promise that I won’t do a pregnancy test until at least Friday.  It’s pretty difficult not to, even though I know I would get a negative result even if I was pregnant.  However there are 27 pregnancy tests in the bathroom cupboard calling out to me, and it is all I can do not to go and just wee on the stick just in case…

I think I am normally quite a rational, intelligent woman, but I seem to have gone slightly stupid in my preoccupation with getting pregnant.

No testing until Friday.

I have done three pregnancy tests, one last night and two today.  It’s a good thing I buy these things in bulk because I knew they would be negative.  Maybe tomorrow: Friday is 7 days past conception and according to the packet, I could show a positive result.


Last night we went for dinner at a friend’s house.  I think she was trying to test me.  She offered me beer, wine, and soft cheeses including one imported from France.  Unpasteurised naturally.  I had them all. I don’t feel very pregnant.

I actually didn’t want to do the test this morning. A negative today would spell failure for this month.  I tried putting it off but I really, really needed to pee. It was negative.

I feel sad and disappointed, a little bit anxious, a bit like a failure, resigned and quite frustrated. I want it to be next month already. How do women do this for months on end? How does it not become all encompassing?

It’s all I can think about, and I know that I fall pregnant relatively easily.

I found myself talking with different female friends today about how I felt – one childless by choice, one 35 weeks pregnant with her second child. 
I didn’t discuss it at all with my husband.  Is that weird?

Still negative. I need to stop doing this to myself. It’s like I am trying to punish myself at the same time as deluding myself. Give it a rest, Shannon.

Three days later…

I am gobsmacked.. Yesterday I sat with my sister telling her that I wasn’t pregnant. Then I’m not sure why, but I did another test this morning. Very slowly, a very faint line has appeared.
There are definitely two lines.  I am pregnant. I don’t feel pregnant.  I haven’t been behaving like I am pregnant – wine, anti-inflammatories, lots of ‘illegal’ foods. 
And last night I began to doubt whether I should have another.  Really began to doubt.  Yet this morning, there are two lines. 
Why did it take so long?
Oh my god, I’m having another baby!
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