Thursday, May 23, 2013

It Starts With Me on My Hands and Knees

I am on my hands and knees in bed, panting. The pain is still titillating. My husband is lying next to me, eyes half closed against the dim light from the table lamp.

‘I think this is it,’ I moaned.

‘I’m sure it isn’t,’ he responded.


Depending on what life stage you are at, you are reading this very differently. Put frankly, you are either thinking about how babies are made, or how babies come into the world. Let me assure you, that this particularly post is about how babies come into the world. (How many people just clicked away in disappointment?)

I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant with the Bombshell. I didn’t know she was the Bombshell, I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. I was obviously in labour but still in denial. As was my husband, who at 10pm really just wanted to go to sleep, and not think about the fact that I was on my hands and knees asking him to strap a TENS machine on.

I was timing the contractions, and they were about seven minutes apart. I decided I had better call the hospital to see what they thought. ‘You had better come in,’ they told me.

The drive to the maternity hospital was blessedly quick at that time of night. I remember that Ben Lee was playing in the car. Gamble Everything for Love still reminds me of that night. We parked in the 5 minute bays out the front. It would be 12 hours before my husband was able to shift the car.

Typical for a first pregnancy I had packed everything the books suggested and more. I even brought my own CD player (I hadn’t joined the MP3 crowd yet in 2007). It was enormous.

I had packed food for my husband. Snacks for visitors. A diary. Two books. Enough baby clothes for triplets. I even had been to the bank and got a bag of gold coins for visitors who didn’t have change for parking.

The midwives showed us to a room and left us. In hindsight, we looked like one of the couples on ‘One Born Every Minute’, wandering, lost, playing with the equipment, pretending to suck the gas. Scared out of our minds at what comes next.

The physical exam at 10.30pm that night was a revelation. Considering how (surprisingly) un-physical pre-natal care is, the physicality of birth is a rude shock.  I knew an entire baby was about to come out of that particular hole, still it felt quite unbelievable that an entire hand up to the wrist could go in it. I was 4cm and fully effaced.

I didn’t want to ask what effaced meant. I was probably meant to know.

We were left alone with our TENS machine for the next six hours. At 4am, another hand up to the wrist, and this time the expression on the midwife’s face was concern. I was still 4cm. They wanted to call the obstetrician, I wanted a second chance. They agreed to give me another two hours.

It is still dark at 6am in late May in Perth. But in a maternity hospital the lights are dazzling day and night. We hadn’t slept and the baby apparently had changed its mind. The Obstetrician was called and he wanted to break my waters. Another hand, this time with a claw. Suddenly I realised what real pain felt like, and those lolly-water contractions I had been having since midday were replaced with moonshine.

Skipping ahead through the cries for an epidural and the tears when an emergency caesarean was declared, you now find me shivering on a metal table, a blue screen shielding our eyes from what a nurse’s camera would capture anyway. A pause. A baby’s cries. More tears, this time of happiness.


This morning as I watched my now six year old get ready for school I began to tell her that last night, at 10pm I had looked at the clock and all these memories had flooded back. I had been lying in my bed, reliving the night I became a mother. I started to cry as I told her how the past six years had – literally – changed me as a person, and how being her mother was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

I wiped my eyes on a towel and apologised for crying. I was afraid she would think I was sad.

‘That’s okay Mum. I know that some people cry when they’re happy,’ she told me. ‘It’s a grown-up thing.’ She shrugged.

It was a very grown-up thing to say. And it made me cry some more.


Happy 6th Birthday Bombshell. Thank you for changing my life.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

One of Those Moments

I got stung by a bee yesterday, but that’s not the story I want to tell.

The girls were finishing up in the shower and the Bombshell was complaining. About something. Moaning that it hurt. I think the Mop looked at her strangely. That hurts apparently.

So I mentioned that I got stung by a bee, right in the middle of my back and I hadn’t felt the need to complain and cry (though I DID rush to school, pulling my clothes off asking friends to pull out the stinger).

The Bombshell said ‘I remember I got stung by a bee once. It really hurt.’

‘That’s right,’ I said. ‘It was at the zoo, and the bee got caught in your hair.’

With my hand I made a little bee and buzzed it into her neck, where I playfully ‘stung’ her.

She slapped my hand away and looked me in the eye.

‘That is my private place and you shouldn’t touch me,’ she told me sternly.

I was taken aback. She’s almost six and I have been teaching her about private parts of our body. Anything that is covered by a swim suit, I have taught her, is her private body. Ditto for boys.

I didn’t realise though that she was wearing one of these.

Gently I said, ‘that’s not really a private place though, is it? Your neck...’

She paused. ‘Maybe not, but it is sensitive skin and I don’t think you should touch it without asking.’

A little part of me was mortified (she’s not even six!), but the predominant emotion was admiration that she was so clear on what she wanted. I was proud that she was protective of her body and prayed silently she was still as protective, say, at the age of sixteen.

With that she stormed off to her bedroom, where I found her ten minutes later, completely naked, legs splayed everywhere as she sprawled on the couch reading a book.

Clearly, I still have some lessons to teach. Luckily, I also still have time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Would You Do?

For the past few nights there has been a man sleeping in his car across the road.

The first day I noticed because the car was parked immediately outside the house and towels or sheets were hung up in the windows. At first I thought it was just full of crap like my car, but then I realised that the towels were makeshift curtains, and there was someone asleep in the passenger seat.

As I was packing bags into my car, I saw a large man get out of the car, do up the button of his jeans (I don't think he was doing anything dodgy, he was just more comfortable sleeping with them undone). He walked around to the drivers side of the car and removed the curtains.

After he started the car, he reached behind him and then carefully put an akubra hat on, adjusted it, and drove away.

That night the car was back again, towels and sheets wedged in the windows.  He did not cause any fuss, made no noise, left no rubbish and drove away the next morning.

The last two nights he has been back, but parked around the corner, still in full view of the house. In front of many houses.

I have had so many mixed emotions about this.

My first fleeting reaction was 'that's strange. Don't often see that around here' quickly followed by 'I wonder if he wants a coffee.'

But I haven't offered him a coffee. I have been reluctant to approach him at all. I haven't done anything - for him or against him.

I have one half of my brain telling me that he is homeless or friendless, possibly from the country, maybe he lost his job, a relationship broke down and he has been booted out of the house, maybe his rent was increased too much, maybe he is just waiting for something.

Then the other part of my brain kicks in with the 'don't get involoved', 'you're home alone during the day with small children', there may be a very good reason why he has been kicked out of his house, he may be sick, he may be dangerous, oh my god Not In My Backyard (or front yard, as the case may be).

Get a grip Shannon.

I am concerned that I am actively participating in a world where we can watch people suffer and die and not get involved.

I am not prepared to offer a strange man my spare room. But I do not wish to call the police.
Should I call a local Samaritan agency and tell them where he is. Do I wait for a few more days?

Where does he go during the day? What are all my neighbours thinking?

Am I being reckless if I approach him? Am I being callous if I don't.  Do I just mind my own business?

What would you do?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Welcome to Fairesy Land

Sometimes I need to remind myself to see the world through my children's eyes.

The Bombshell has inherited my skill for spelling

They haven't yet learned that adults sometimes say things that aren't true. There may be suspicions that things don't sound quite right (such as the fact that mums grow 'invisible' eyes in the back of their heads when they are pregnant) but on the whole, if Mum says something, then it must be true.

The Bombshell believes there are fairies in the garden. I haven't discouraged this, and truth be told, once I realised how much time it was going to occupy the girls during the school holidays, I have been actively encouraging it.

It started with a fairy ring.

In the kids' eyes it was a beautiful, magical circle of rose petals, where the fairies could come and dance.

In my eyes, they were systematically removing the petals from half my roses and littering them across the front yard.

I ignored it at first, despite my history with the fairies. I had uni assignments to complete: I didn't have time to stuff around writing messages from Fairy Princess Loolybell or whatever her name is.

But then the Bombshell discovered a message. A broken plant stake, that (in the eyes of a six year old) looked a bit like an arrow pointing at something. It was clearly a message from the fairies. Clearly.

'But what do you think it means, Mum?' the Bombshell asked turning it over in her hands.

I sighed. 'I'm not sure, sweetie. Why don't you ask them?'

That should buy me another day or two, I thought uncharitably.

So the Bombshell took the stake and wrote 'What do you meen?' on it, and then tied it from a branch in the tree. She then removed the remaining petals from my rose bushes and made a 'bed' in a hanging pot. For the fairies. Naturally.

I let it hang there for a day. Finally, faced with another morning of disappointment streaking the girls' faces, I felt an enormous rush of mother-guilt. That night, I hung sparkly angelina threads from the tree, and tied special ribbons adorned with flowers and butterflies from the tree.

When the Bombshell saw the glinting through the window the next morning, and she rushed outside in her nightee, I had my best surprised face on as she banged on the window.

'I told you so, Mum. It was a message from the fairies. They stayed here last night and had a party.'

For the next two days, the Bombshell and the Mop have been turning a corner of the garden into a house for the fairies.

It has a fairy ring for them to dance in.

Above the 'ball' we have even installed a disco ball (Christmas bauble) for the fairies

It has a place for them to eat.

It has a bedroom, in case they need to stay the night.

Can't imagine it will be too pleasant when the petals begin to rot

There is even a supply of snacks hidden in a mushroom.

The sign says 'choclate' but it actually has two banana lollies inside

There is even a bathroom, complete with traditional upright Japanese bath.

The Bombshell has artfully created a shower with flowing water, all stuck on the wall with blu-tack

I can see the Fairesy Land from where I sit and write. It's pretty magical.

It's enough to make me believe.
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