Wednesday, December 26, 2007

News from the night shift

I confess to being a bit surprised but relieved that Xmas is over already. Here in Perth it was 41C, and today (Boxing Day) it was over 44C. Yikes!!!

The lead up to Xmas was all a bit truncated by three night shifts on 21-23rd ending at breakfast on Xmas eve. I had a baby or babies every shift, or at least saw them born, including breech + breech twins born vaginally. Yahoo! Normal birth IS possible. It was a fabulous birth, spontaneous labour. The woman had had 3 previous vaginal births with no trouble and although a CS had been booked the obstetrician on duty when she came in labouring said "Go for it". So a delighted registrar got a chance to do TWO breech births at once, a flexed breech (butt first) and a footling breech (one foot first). I saw it all from very close-up and it was so wonderful and interesting and the Mum was so pleased and the babies were so cute! Girl and boy twins with only 5g difference between them (2.45kg) , same length and head size. Born at 7 mins and 1 min to midnight! Too cute for words. A month early, but in great condition and each hopped on for a feed in the first hour. Everyone was very pleased with themselves.

Today I have supervised my first student midwife birth (easy-peasy, it was her tenth) and then gone to theatre for a CS for a small baby, a month early, who went to the nursery for respiratory distress. Mum will get to see him this evening (probably by the time I write this). She had a big cuddle on the table for ten minutes before he went. He is only 2kg, a tiny scrap of a fella, not helped by Mum having an IV drug problem and brain damage from a drug psychosis. Sad. I also got a big spray of his blood on me from his cord :( An hour or two later, back on LBS I answered a bell and entered to find a midwife holding a 5 second old baby who had shot out of his shocked but exultant Mum. There was a lot of love in that room I tell ya, sobbing with happiness the pair of them.

As a rule I don't cry at births. Not because I'm not a sook - I am extremely open about tears and cry at the drop of a hat. I honestly expected that I would be a secret sniveller at births, but I am so busy that I rarely even mist up. I do well up when I see a man cry though. And this Dad in the sudden birth room was sobbing with pride and delight, and I confess to feeling a bit moist (it passed very quickly).

Anyway, I'm off to bed as I am on shift again in 9 hours time, and I need my beauty sleep! In a hot bedroom. With a fan. Its expected to be 22C overnight. Sheesh. Wish me luck for sleeping!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Evidence of love

I am loved.

The evidence is here.
Somehow, lately, I have got myself in a complete tizz about being unloved and unloveable. The therapist described it as a core belief. Its quite an obsessive thought deep, deep down. I didn't realise how deep it went but I now know it has been there all my life. Long story.

While feeling very wobbly over the last months I decided to try NOT cheering myself up when I was wobbly, just as a test to see how much of my natural bubbly personality was a result of me gee-ing myself up and how much came from outside sources. BAD IDEA FOLKS - DON'T try this at home. Not even if you are a trained professional.

Such a dumb idea. So dumb. IQ the size of a small planet and I thought it was a good idea (because I am depressed and not making good choices). I thought that I had obviously been duping myself into being a happy little soul for years when no-one actually loved me because I was unloveable. But if I was cheerful and witty and kind and clever people would keep me around and I would feel like I belonged because I was at least useful, which was almost as good as being loved for myself.

So I turned her off. The self-nurturer. The cheerer-uperer. And she has been surprisingly difficult to turn back on. I discovered this last weekend.

I had had a reasonable week at work last week, caught a few babies, and had a day off on Friday. My husband and I had a bit of time to oursleves and were spending some quality time and sharing some stuff together. And it pushed some buttons for me (my buttons are HUGE at the moment. And invisible to all, including me.) So I then spent the next 24 hours feeling immensely and increasingly unloved and unloveable and abandoned. Sigh. And the thing that really undid me was getting up on Saturday and feeling very wobbly and anxious, and then I saw these.

DH had got them for me while out shopping for groceries. He does things like that sometimes. So how could I not know I am loved? I fled back to bed (after sobbing in the loo) and had an anxiety attack. Not fun. Not in the least. Was I going mad? Or is it just that my vulnerability buttons are huge at the moment? DH was great. Applied lots of TLC. Kept me safe. Got me down off the ceiling. Helped me pick up the apples from the applecart that were rolling all over the floor. Got me to work that afternoon. Where I was fine if a bit shaken.

We went to the therapist on Monday and told her about my weekend. And she explained about the core beliefs thing. And I told her about the self-nurturer thing. And she told me to turn her back on cos we need to balance self-nurturing with outside nurturing and its too hard to expect it ALL to come from outside. Which I'd realised many years ago and was partly how I got so good at doing it for myself, and why I (felt) I was so happy. I felt I was so happy and fulfilled that I was filled with light. I was so filled with light that it radiated out of every pore, I couldn't turn it off if I tried.

My son had loved lighthouses as a small child and I always had a soft spot for them. He grew out of them and then I realised that my sentimentality was more than nostalgia, it was related to this inspiring light filled image and then at a workshop 2 years ago I realised I WAS the lighthouse, a beacon, radiant. What an experience.
I came to understand that it has all sorts of spiritual connotations, religious significance, new age connections and that it was a huge symbolic object. And I was OK with all of it. I was grown up, mature, insightful, confident and self-assured. I had it all together and was comfortable in my own skin. (And I was happy to have a new thing to collect :) ) I didn't talk about the light thing much to anyone, just me and my journal really, and maybe a few friends. It felt really private. But I include images of lighthouses in many of my creations (see necklace below)
And then this period of depression happened. The slide was gradual at first, and I thought I had enough insight and had done plenty of inner growth work in the past to have had it sorted out. I thought I was over all my self esteem issues, but clearly I wasn't. And I lost the sense of myself as a light filled being. A friend who knows about the lighthouses sends me pictures of them with light and energy pushed into them, but I still felt only flickering. I thought of a pool light to lend me some light as I felt I was underwater! Even that image only lifted me briefly. And then this arrived yesterday.
Oh Lesley thankyou so much. I had opened it (my Xmas present) early as I thought it would be one of her darling little wonky funky Christmas birds and I hadn't even got any decorations up yet, so I opened it to get at least something Christmassy underway. And then this beauty emerged. I was misty with pleasure and delight, and it was just what I needed. It will never be far from me, ever, for the rest of my life. Even if it was Christmassy I would keep it out 365 days per year.

The only thing I want for Christmas this year is love.

And I have it. From many sources. Here's to re-shaping crappy core beliefs with the evidence to the contrary.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A new game

BTW does anyone else waste time / express their curiosity in blogland by

a) updating their blog and going back mega-quickly to the dashboard page and seeing if THEIR blog is one of the recently updated ones to flash across the top of the page? OR

b) when visiting favourite blogs on blogspot use the 'Next Blog' key at the top out of curiosity? Just keep clicking on the key. Its fascinating to see how many other blogstyles there are and in so many other languages...until you hit the porn sites or a site with the 'next blog' key disabled. Rats...

But its a fun game while it lasts. How many clicks this time? Anybody else play these games? NO? ...just me then (sigh) - although I could give the game a name and then I would be some consecutive-blog-link-game-queen! Me and my delusions of grandeur. You can share my game. I, the blog-link-queen, give you permission to try it out.

Just findin' ways to waste time in blogland (oh but its fascinating)

The Ultimate Purple Bag

In the beginning there was a woman (me) who loved the colour purple. She wore a lot of purple, and fancied a handbag that featured the shades of purple she liked. She searched the bagstores high and low, markets here and there, to no avail. She remained unrequited.

One day the thought occured to her that she had a rather enormous stash of fabric. So she should MAKE a bag for herself (shock horror). She sketched a design to feature a range of gorgeous textiles including some luscious suede-y /velvetish fabric in two shades of purple some burgundy velveteen and taffeta lining and small feature trims of stuff from her sister bags (OMG I hope that works I've never tried to hyperlink before) and to include some comfy handles, and roomy enough to hold stuff but not STUFF, and maybe a button-up pocket at the back to hold documents and other things like thumbdrives etc.
She was heading overseas for a Big Trip real soon, and as her wardrobe was geared around purple or black it would be good to have it done to take OS with her.

So she pulled her finger out and made it. And it was good. She packed it to take away and it was in regular rotation for her long round the world trip with her dear husband and it even made it into photos in various places including Paris (featured here on shoulder while eating French Fries at the Eiffel Tower)and San Diego - where it was spotted in a restaurant by a woman named Melissa who admired its Ulimate Purpleness and commisioned one for herself!
The one pictured in the making is, in fact, Melissa's near copy of the original prototype, and by the time she gets it will be nearly as well travelled- having been posted all the way to her from Perth in Western Australia to Colorado, USA.
Photos were taken, records were made, blogs were created - and now she is looking for more of the gorgeous purple suede-y stuff, cos it makes great bags, but keeps op-shopping in case she finds another purple remnant (I found some luscious purple corduroy that will be useful for another purple bag).
And one day- when she has the time- she will make more lovely Ultimate Purple bags and sell them on her (currently empty) Etsy shop. But until then her head teems with images of yummy purple (and other colour) bags yet unmade.
And she lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In at the deep end - paddling like mad.

Hmm, well it seems I can swim!

My second day on LBS I was to be oriented/refreshed again with the plan to leave me be with someone to back me up at page or a push of the bell. I started at 0700 and entered the room to a young woman having her second baby, who was entering transition and restless. Spontaneous labour, all good, intermittent listening to bub, gone off the boil a bit?. Encouraging her to move to apply gravity and to help cope with contractions.

By 0735 there was strong involuntary pushing so I pushed the bell anticipating an imminent birth, a different midwife arrived and it was clear there was a babe on the way, with head on view. 0745 birth of a lovely floppy-ish baby boy. My preceptor took him over for a bit of resus (I was still a bit slow with clamping) but he was fine. Gave the oxytocic (just remembered) and all was good. Placenta came out followed by a gush, hmm. Fundus firm, trickle stopped? Perineum is intact - another gush, where from? Higher up? Can see the cervix and push it back - but does it have a tear? Gush, not happy, fundus firm again - or did it twitch beneath my hand? The room was filling up - thank God.

The short version was that she lost a little over 1500mls of blood, but the drama was over in 25 mins. By 0822 she had her baby in her arms (for the first time) and he got to work on her breast straight away, where he essentially remained, with only short breaks, for 2 hours. All 3650g of him (8lbs 1oz). She was so full of oxytocics that the intermittent uterine atony was under control, and she made it up to the ward OK, didn't have to go to Adult Special Care.

Before she left LBS I was assigned care of a another woman having number 3, her second planned vaginal birth after a CS. She had had a small bleed, and had maybe ruptured her membranes, but was contracting a bit. Her spontaneous labour built up over the morning to having 3 contraction in each 10 mins by 1230. Getting really painful, thinking about an epidural. Went to the loo, opened her bowels and came back to bed at 1300 draining meconium stained liquor and proceeded to a spontaneous vaginal birth (with no epidural, we sent the anaesthetist away at 1310 when we realised she had involuntary pushing and was fully dilated - she cried!) at 1322 of a 3960g boy (8lbs 12oz). Unfortunately she pushed quite vigorously and blasted his head out quite suddenly, thereby sustaining a partial 3rd degree tear (torn a little into her anal sphincter :( ). She had to go up to theatre for it to be repaired very thoroughly, as this type of birth injury is a nasty one, and frequently has long-term consequences for the woman with continence, and sexual comfort. Rats. The woman was very happy with her quick spontaneous birth in the end though, and wanted the tear fixed as best as humanly possible. Midwives always feel bad when 3rd degree tears happen, and she had had an episiotomy and forceps for her previous vaginal birth. I felt it go, but it often tears from the inside first, and this was in a different place from her previous epis. You have little control over these injuries sometimes. I had another midwife with me and she was very kind and practical, and fairly philosophical about the tear. She also finished the paperwork for me as it was time to go home! I had done a very full day's work!

A big day all around. So much for orientation! See if I can have a drama free day tomorrow. I swam OK - in fact it was quite exhilarating and I remembered more than I thought I would! Thank heavens I had had a chance to check a room yesterday and knew where things were in an emergency (for both births)

Welcome to the world little Shane and Felix. You are in my birth journal as babies number 28 and 29 of my midwifery career, with hopefully many more to follow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Relative update

Thought you'd like to see this.

This is a photo of the nephew (LP, 15) and niece (T, 16) recently injured in late November. They were photographed late last week as they attended the Airforce Cadets Ball.

Thanks be to God.

A first

Today I signed my first birth registration papers as a registered midwife. Somewhere in the universe a little boy will be registered with ME as the certifying midwife. Yay! A small but significant milestone (skipping).

Today was my first day back on labour and birth suite (LBS). I saw 4 babies born today, the first at 7.45am answering an assist bell with a mild shoulder dystocia for which I called a paediatric code blue (he was ok, just stunned for a minute or so), the second at 10.54am by CS, the third at 11.55am by CS and the fourth at 1.07pm also by CS (it was my day to be oriented as the Section Queen). All sweet fat healthy babies (3.4-4.48 kg) and lovingly welcomed by their parents. Tomorrow I hope to see some babies birthing from women I know better! -through hopefully having cared for them for a couple of hours in labour.

I also stocked a room (thereby reminding myself of what goes/can be found where) and spent the remainder of the shift doing paperwork and weighing placentas etc. We were busy, but not as busy as the staff on the wards who were under pressure to get the women out the door to make way for the next one! One ward refused to take a baby from us due to lack of midwives (uh-oh) holding up the list, which made an anaesthetist speak rudely to us about the delay (sigh) which gave us all a pain in the proverbial, but we smiled sweetly and our day still finished on time.

I made a bit of a mess with clamping and cord cutting. I was surprised to find my hands shaking as I went to clamp the first one in theatre. Slippery, bleedy, spurty little suckers those cords but all of a nice fat size and easy to take cord gas samples from (phew). I remembered how to do all the data entry stuff, and what samples to send where and with which stickers for the Rhesus negative Mums. Birth is certainly a messy business. Midwives would recognise the smell of blood ANYWHERE.

It was good to be back. There was even a slowly labouring term-ish breech planning to birth vaginally. Hope she goes OK. I'll find out tomorrow.

My feet are sore but I still feel like skipping! AND I'm smiling. Yay for me! I like this job!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A pair of journals in the garden

A pair of journals in the garden
Originally uploaded by
Laura 61 via my new Flickr account

This is what I did for the One Hour Craft Journal Swap, but I didn't hear from my partner until a few days ago and we've decided between ourselves to delay our exchange until January (due to mutual family crises). However I have uploaded the photos to Mia's Flickr site to take part anyway. And then I found out that I could upload a photo from my Flickr account to my blog...OMG, I feel like a complete genius!

It was so nice to hear from her (Marybeth) and she was really excited to have an Aussie partner, however I have been looking at her blogsite and I think I will make her a different journal/altered book, as she (like me) is keen on altered books - that also function as journals.

I have been cleaning for the last two days (yes, its true). I called a friend who has been down (as well) lately and is turning the corner too. We were mutually confessing to the appalling state of the clutter in our houses, and how overwhelmed we (and our husbands) felt by it. Where to start - and using WHAT source of energy?

So ... being the daring soul that I am, I suggested we photograph the clutter as 'Before' and see if we couldn't make a dent in it, and then shoot 'After' shots. Anything for motivation. Sigh. My name is Laura and I am a hoarder. It runs in my family (thats my excuse). I did send the bedroom shots to her, but I am too embarassed to post them to y'all. (Should I do a post entitled "I'll show you mine if you show me yours"?)

However seeing that I am quite keen to be getting on with some craft projects, and that there is not a surface left in the back 2 rooms on which to DO anything, I decided to bite the bullet. I found some 'too-hard' boxes that I shoved on a wardrobe in 1996 - well, clearly that is no longer important enough to keep - OUT it goes. I have ditched all sorts of bits and pieces. Lycra from 1994 - Goodbye! Old PTA stuff from the nineties? Hospital committee stuff from a similar period? Hmm. Decoupage papers - keep - they can be part of my scrapbooking / book altering. New uses for old stuff. Out go the old lampshades that I might have re-covered. Out goes the hideous sounding echo tube toy that I had hidden from a child - it sounded extremely weird disappearing into the goodwill bin across from my house. Boxes of crap that I am exceptionally unlikely to miss.

The floors throughout were swept and vacuumed. Vacuuming - now there's another pleasure when you can really see where you've been. I'll (maybe) wash them tomorrow morning. I have made new smaller piles of stuff, and haven't yet tackled the accumulated stack of 6 years of university study work. Do I really need to keep EVERY note I took? Probably not, but I might save that for another day.

I can't wait for my SIL to re-claim (i.e. remove) the twin foam mattresses that have been looming in my vision for months. As I no longer have housefuls of drunken band members/mates of my son crashing for the night I can do without them. Yay! For now, however, they are forming a makeshift settee in the second TV room, but they ARE going! They are next to a new pile of op-shopping from last week's efforts to keep myself calm, but that will be tackled (i.e. cut out for bags/pouches/ dolls/purses) very shortly.

Tomorrow I have a friend coming for lunch with her hubby and two of her three children. She is about to move across the country (sniff) and I birthed her baby Thomas in February. He is just THE most adorable little guy and I will miss them both like crazy. My heart leaps with utter joy whenever I see them both. They've been cleaning out too - but EVERYTHING - and putting it into a container (including the Barbie house and Ferrari from my cleanout) and are literally camping on the carpet until they leave on Saturday.

And Don is away at the moment, way on the other side of Oz. Its his birthday tomorrow, and he will be home late that evening, and I would like the house to look more respectable when he arrives than when he left. Judging by the 'before' photos that wouldn't be hard. It will be (like) his birthday present. I am missing him, and look forward to his return. I just want to be joined at hip with him lately, its probably good for me.

Anyway, this post has been interrupted by TWO phonecalls so I had better be off and let the (relatively) patient daughter onto the computer. She was a big help with the tossing out today!

See ya

Monday, November 26, 2007

Giving Thanks

A quick note to thank you all for the supportive comments and emails.

A tiny bit of valium (and reducing) helped with the panics! And T is improving, LP has heaps of stitches but is OK and I have had a gentle day yesterday with many hugs. I even managed to take my Mum and a niece out for lunch fairly successfully for Mum's birthday.

Today I am off to work in a few minutes (for a late, early, early) and I have posted the Ultimate Purple Bag to Melissa (photos soon). And the apricots are ripening on the tree and my sister from Melbourne will be here in 18 sleeps. I have more crafting to look forward to - I plan to make an inner child healing doll, as well as a bunch more bags and purses. I went to the Japanese vintage kimono/yukata shop on Friday (yum)

It could be worse.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I had a good day today

I saw the therapist again last night and we did more hard stuff, after reviewing the week that was. I know there is no way out but through, and I know I will feel pretty destabilised for a while.

Its like I have swept stuff under the carpet all my life and now there's no flat areas left to walk on. It is so full of lumps and bumps that stumbling is UNAVOIDABLE. Sigh. So I am biting the bullet and having a sweep out (I KNEW I hated cleaning for a reason). Inner child stuff, self-esteem issues, eldest child stuff, boyfriend stuff, parenting stuff, useless mother guilt stuff, pointless beating up on yourself stuff. All being taken out and looked at. Sigh. Brave maybe, but hard, and I'm not going back to walking around ALL the lumpy bits again. Some may stay, in smaller piles perhaps for another day, or mostly unfixable. But maybe...just maybe... I could let a lot of it go...there's certainly stuff that it would be painful to keep any longer.

I went to work today, and I have come home sane, not too stressed, and will be optimistic about going back tomorrow. When Don comes home tonight we will all go to the hospital together to see T, who has a second small bleed on the brain, but is not too much worse.

Thanks for listening (and commenting). The acceptance and comfort of friends really does help.

Day by day, keep breathing, stay vertical.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Gods know my address

Today's question is - why do the Gods know my address?

You know the cliches.
'Some people have one of those days, I have one of those lives!' Or
'I try to take one day at a time but lately several days have hit me at once'

I seem to be in one of those phases at the moment, which if I think about it is the first time in months (if not years) that I have been so. Hmm, that's an improvement I suppose. And only one of the current crises actually involves ME personally, but the others are very closely related.

Its a little tricky to explain all the ins and outs, but I am in a period of therapy currently and feeling pretty destabilised, bleak, depressed and very anxious. Not my usual sparkly self at all. And I am really falling back on my 'in sickness and in health, for better or worse' guy. This is hard. But I really want to trust him with this and so far he is doing ok with it. A bit freaked out by it, but hanging in, and being a bit of a rock really. Phew. (Thanks hon) I am really NOT used to being needy and clingy, but I am completely wanting to be joined at the hip with him at the moment and needing lots of hugs and reassurance. Its hard. Capital H. And I want it to be better NOW, and it can't come fast enough or reassuring enough, so I am sub-panic alot of the time. Pretty yukky feeling. So not me. But clearly me inside (long story). Anyway...during this last month I have been stickin pretty close to home what with feeling so wobbly and all, and then I got a nasty virus that laid me low too. Cue violins. I am back at work now but still taking medications to help with the panic (its working).

SO late Tuesday night my youngest sisterH rings me and tells me that she is in hospital with her eldest (T=16) as she has fallen from the back of a slow moving car (driven by sis) and got a fractured skull, a subdural haematoma and bruising to the brain. Clunk. Oh crap. Poor sis. T is transferred overnight to the major tertiary hospital for neurology care and assessment. She is conscious and able to move her limbs and speak, but .... oh God, it is sickening. So we rally around and bring food and clothes and practical stuff, and take turns with her as she has a 14 y.o. and 11 y.o. twins as well and an iffy husband. T is improving. And then she calls me in late afternoon (24hrs post accident) and says the police have just been on the phone and it is her 14 y.o. son - he has been involved in a bike vs car accident and is being taken to the children's hospital. Husband had just left the adult hospital after seeing daughter, and was then diverted to meet the eldest son (LP). Holy crap. LP has sustained deep cuts to one knee and various scrapes and bruises but was able to go home that night after a few hours. The twins were with him at the time of the accident, and were taken home to a neighbour while parents were in two different hospitals.

Poor family, poor kids, poor parents, poor twins who witnessed both accidents. How much is enough. My sister is being pulled in all directions. Our Mum stayed overnight with the 16y.o. in hospital while sis went home for a sleep (/fight with husband) I took the morning shift while she dealt with school crap for twins and took LP to Mum's for the day, then to hospital and now Mum is hassling for H to sleep at home tonight because the other kids need her. Mum is calling me to 'talk H into staying home' . H is refusing because the only place she feels she can stay sane is by the bed of the one with a head injury and getting the news directly (and i can see where she is coming from), the other kids need to see T to reassure themselves she is OK (she should be) and their Dad needs to suck it up and get it together.

In the meantime, I can help with very little of this because I am fairly depleted at the moment, and most of it is long-standing dysfunction involving many 'adults' who make their own choices about how to behave towards each other.

So you see what I mean? The depression bit is mine, but the timing of all the other crap that I am also very concerned about is a strain. And will be resolved with time. By (mostly) others. But it is a pretty crap period to be in the middle of. My family don't know about my current depressed state, and I don't plan to tell them because it would be construed as copping out or as one-upmanship, but it is very hard to maintain boundaries for self-preservation when events like this intervene.

By the way... I have 2 other sisters, one in another state who would be very helpful and is distressed at not being here, and another one here who has divorced Mum and has little to do with the other two. She has been informed of the double H/T/LP crisis, but not mine, as she too has partner hassles at the moment and is feeling underloved as well.

Sigh, is this the modern disease? There seems to be alot of it around. Anyway - I wish the Gods would lose my address and stop visiting troubles upon us, but then I s'pose the good things couldn't be delivered either if that were the case. . . .

C'mon good things...c'mon good things...Yesterday my husband came home with flowers and choccies and hugs cos he picked up that I was feeling wobbly. Is he doing good or what?

On a good, comforting note I have made and am about to post the Ultimate Purple Bag to its new owner, Melissa, in Colorado. Bless your heart Melissa, it has been a great pleasure to make a bag for you through all this hassle. My first customer. I have also received many expressions of interest in my midwifery pouches and plan to make a pile of them for sale at work. Even my clients have commented on us wearing them (3 of us in a row have cared for the same women who noted the bags).

I am also wearing a heart related brooch or badge daily to remind myself I am loved and loveable, and trying very hard to keep a even keel. But it is difficult. Even blogging seems risky in opening the door to tears, but I am inspired by the women whose blogs I read and who use blogging to connect and de-isolate themselves, and so i, too, hope to be. Ups and downs are a common experience and ANY tool to externalise it and stop it eating us up has got to help. This is our community, and community shares. I don't want to LOAD anyone, just get some of it off my chest. Besides I only have a couple of readers (I think).

So I have set up the blank etsy shop too (in my spare time) and although it is currently empty I plan to make a small selection of luscious goodies for some fun on the side.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The 8th already?

How did it get to be November 8th already? I just blinked and the weeks flew by.I've been away for the weekend and at work for three days after that so I guess that accounts for 6 days.

My weekend away was for the twice-annual Kalparrin Mother's respite weekend camp. This is a group of women who are linked by all being mothers of children with special needs, and we go away together twice a year to have a kidless, husbandless weekend to rediscover ourselves in the midst of our busy, often chaotic, lives. I have attended 32 of these events since November 1989 and they have genuinely shaped my life (and continue to do so).

We arrive on Friday early evening and settle in to our accomodation, usually a large house or dormitory style setting. We hold an introductions session, where old friends and new gather and set the scene for the weekend, sometimes with a theme. We are then released to socialise and catch up with our colleagues (this is a peer conference, remember) and often have a late night chatting. It takes a lot of effort to get mothers away for a weekend alone, so we make our time count. There are workshops over the weekend for fun, or more serious stuff like journalling, and a dinner event and dancing on Saturday night. There's pampering too - reflexology, Reiki, massages, manicures and counselling if required. Its really great.

When I first attended camp my daughter's paediatrician arranged to have her admitted to hospital and be specialled for the weekend, so I could feel secure enough to go without burdening my husband with sole care of her and our 3 year old. At the time she was naso-gastric tube fed and had massive reflux with violent retching, gagging and cyanosing followed by projectile vomiting. She often threw up her tube which had to be reinserted before the next feed on a 3 hourly round the clock cycle. The worst day for replacement was 6 tubes in one day, but it was usually (only) 2 per day. Every tube replacement meant she had to be restrained and she naturally fought and gagged the insertion. All this to keep her alive, because she had almost no instincts to be hungry and only cried with hunger and swallowed milk (my expressed breast milk) in a coordinated fashion about 5 times in her first two years of life. Those few minutes are precious memories that still make us misty eyed.

Anyway...this nasogastric torture /feeding hassle continued for a year at which point a gastrostomy tube was inserted directly into her stomach. She continued to be a non-oral feeder (and massive vomiter) until the age of 2 when, after an intensive behaviour modification therapy program, she learned that her mouth was not just an exit point, but that she could learn to be an 'eating girl' and put (smooth) food into her mouth and swallow without gagging. Triumph!! We had an 'Eating Girl' party! We invited all our family and friends and supporters and therapists and celebrated Stephanie's oral eating triumphs. It was pretty cool. We weren't completely out of the special needs woods but it was a massive improvement. And I continued to cope by meeting with my colleagues at regular camps and supporting others (and sometimes being supported by them).

This weekend was the 50th camp to be held so the theme was "All that glitters is gold". We had a special ceremony to honour the early organisers of the mother's camps and those who have continued to be involved, including the first-timers who are the future of the organisation. We scattered rose petals, held hands, laughed and cried, looked at photos, journalled, gasped to see long-lost friends, caught up on news, ate and drank heartily, and gave thanks for the gold in our lives - in all its forms. Whether found in the dirt at our feet like alluvial gold nuggets, or panned for with careful examination in the light of day, or blasted out of deep deposits with dangerous dynamite and extracted by acid and cyanide digest - these are the ways to get gold. We, as a group, have used all methods and understand the value of the flecks or nuggets we hold. We were offered these images, and challenged to refashion our gold if it didn't suit us in the current form. At the end we all took home small packets of gold hearts, with some glitter to add other sparkle to our lives, to remind us of the gold we had shared that weekend and to keep.

I didn't feel up to too much gold and glitter this weekend, but dressed all in white to glow a little, with a sparkly heart brooch instead to remind myself that I am loved. The weekend did however remind me of how lucky I am to have such a group of thoughtful, insightful women to belong to, and how much they have sustained me on my journey as a mother and a woman. We would be very happy to never have another mother qualify for the group, but we have been privileged to share many life experiences - before, during and, sadly, after disability - and we are all the richer for it. We laugh and laugh, and may not see each other between camps but we share a very intimate life in so many ways.

So this is some of the background that I bring to my craft as a midwife. People ask did I become a midwife because I like babies? Or because I was inspired by the nurses and midwives who cared for us in our contacts with disability? Well, yes and no. I like babies immensely, but I am more interested in the containers they come in - in women, and families. To see a baby in the context of its parents, and family - THAT is the complete picture. Otherwise I might as well be a paediatric nurse , which is not my calling.

I understand the big picture, that a baby, per se, is not the be all and end all to family life. I know that when a child is born with a disability that the important thing is that a child is born. And that the important thing when a couple become parents of a child with special needs is that they have become parents. Four months in utero, four minutes of life, four years or four score years, that connection between parent and child is immutable. As a midwife I work in this field of transformation, and I love to see that understanding dawn in the families I work with. It gives you hope.

So, where was I? ...having a lovely camp took up a few days. Then I went back to work where I am beginning to find my feet and feel competent. My brain is now finishing the shift with me, and no longer waking me up at night with things it has just remembered from the late shift!

Hmm long post, kids hovering, got a cold and feel like crap (how do tracheas hurt anyway?). Lots to do, including finishing the new Ultimate Purple Bag (2/3rds done). To the shower!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

November craft swap


One Hour Craft is having a November craft swap of JOURNALS.

Make or cover one and send it to your assigned random buddy. I've never been in the country / not studying / the mood for taking part in a swap, but I'm feeling ready now! I'm doing so much journalling lately its just the thing for me!

Go see Mia at the One Hour Craft link on the right to register.


Transition sucks. There's no easy way to do it really. You know that shaky, panicky, nauseous, I can't do this kinda feeling? When it all just seems too hard and you want to pack up your bat and ball (and uterus) and go home. It doesn't just happen in labour. You can come across it in all areas of life.

This week our youngest child finished school, Year 12 (after 13 years of school). We have now said goodbye to the whole school experience. Next year, for the first time since 1991, there will be no school run to make. We only had two children, so for us it was a relatively streamlined event. I have friends with 5 or 6 children (I do know how many children they individually have, five friends have 5 children each, one has 6 children), and just imagine how long it will take them to get over the school stage!!!

We decided to stop at two when I had a revelation about crossing the road. One day I had a 6y.o. and a 3 y.o. in a pram, and my blind 85 y.o. grandmother and we had to cross a busy road ... and I didn't have enough hands to hold them all. It seemed to me that was a sign from the universe. I had always thought I would want maybe 3 kids (I am the eldest of 4), and pictured I would have another one in my late thirties, but after that revelation I suddenly re-examined it. I had LOVED playgroup, being pregnant and breastfeeding but when I thought about it I wasn't sure I had the energy to do it again. Getting a little one in and out of the car seat, struggling with a pram, having a kid with colic, having another one with diabolical reflux and special needs - these things I was pretty sure I didn't want to do again. And I have never regretted the decision.

I am passionate about the importance of parenting, and I adore our children, who are now 21 and 18. Being their mother is the best, most rewarding thing I have ever done and I can't imagine my life without them. Even on the tough days, I am who I am because of them. I have also been lucky that their Dad has been equally committed to being a parent, and has dug holes on the beach, made campfires, cooked and cleaned, scored at basketball and tee-ball, made breakfast for years and been a great provider too.

So it is interesting, happy and nostalgic to find ourselves at the stage of being the parents of two adult children. They are each individuals, marching to the beat of their own drummer in very differing ways, both fairly non-conformist, not especially close, but supportive of each other when it counts. This is my new favourite photo by the way.
This week the older one, Patrick, sat in the audience (jiggling admittedly) as he watched his sister Stephanie graduate from High School, and he made all the right noises, and wrote a lovely positive message on her card. It was a nice completion of the education circle, including my two graduations in the last 2 years. His university graduation is a ways off, but it will come one day, and we'll be there again, supporting him and bursting with pride I'm sure. Steff has a work trial this week starting tomorrow which will hopefully lead to her first job, and we will ALL be employed. Hallelujah.

Our parenting experiences have been quite wide ranging, so that was part of my decision to become a midwife. I knew that parenting mattered, and that parenting really mattered with a child with special needs, and I had experienced such rewards from every aspect of being a parent to each of our two. I wanted to share that joy, love and reward with others, even through the tough times with disability and bereavement, because I know that each life has meaning whether for 4 minutes, 4 months, or 4 decades. It is so worth investing in that relationship with your kids. Every day I understand it better and better, as I help new parents discover their newborns, or as I see the damage done by fractured parenting and multigenerational dysfunction and disconnectedness. Its very sad to move from one room to another and see the contrasts in attitude. Every day, as midwives, we see the value of love in supporting families through transitional states of labour, newborn parenting, lactation and acts of faith in each other as human beings.

What a transition our own little family has made. We've come a long way, and we seem to be heading for/ ready for the next bit.

Did anyone say empty nest?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Catch up

Where has the week gone? I suspect a deal of it slipped by while I was a) at work on the postnatal / antenatal ward for 3 days, b) procrastinating/avoiding cleaning up my pigsty of a craft room c) watching romance movies (Love Actually, and The Holiday) d) Super-poking work people on Facebook (very low-brow I know) as well as e) spending the weekend just hanging out with my hubby and daughter.

This working for only 7 shifts a fortnight feels really slack! Having said that I was pretty pooped after the third shift and I don't think my brain actually completed the shift - it seemed to throw in the towel with about 2 hours to go and I was a bit vague after that. Thank God for afternoon staff with fresh brains.

I seemed to remember all the stuff about talking to women, and I'm fairly sure I did all my obs and meds satisfactorily, and I did a refresher session in neonatal resus. But by the end of a day caring for 5 women (3 primips incl. 2 x 24 hours post CS) 4 newborns (the other woman had triplets in SCN) I was mentally exhausted. I had forgotten half of what I had to do to get women discharged, and with the birth surge in this city getting women out the door is critical.

So...I've now done 3 (count them 1, 2, 3, that didn't take long) shifts as a registered midwife! Hope I start to feel effective soon! I hear from all my friends who qualified with me (but who didn't have a 3 month break after finishing) and they all sound so competent and self-assured, and they're working in Labour and Birth Suite (LBS) and I'm jealous. But ward work is a good place for me to be as I ease my way back in, some days very civilized, some days completely crazy. I'm sure I'll get into the swing again soon. And I move to LBS for 10 weeks in mid-Dec.

I did have one cute thing happen to me this week! While we were away in San Diego and out for dinner with El Zed and Dave, a woman approached me and confessed her lust for my bag - a little sweetie I like to call "The Ultimate Purple Bag" (see below) ...

made because I couldn't find a purple bag that made me go weak at the knees (this one did). Anyway, I wasn't keen to part with it there and then, but when I told her I had made it and planned to start making and selling more, she gave me her email address and asked me to contact her when I got home. I was dead chuffed. So I did contact her and she has now got back to me and wants me to make her an identical bag! And send it to her in Colorado!

Woo-hoo! A paid commission. And I haven't even started my etsy shop yet! Could I combine craft/bag designing and making/ AND midwifery - could I BE that lucky? (only if I pull my finger out and MAKE the bag).

Anyhoo, off to bed (dreaming of bags, bellies and babies)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Make-do, make, and do to connect

Well it is October 15th in my part of the world already and although I didn't formally register for Blog Action Day, where one should blog on something environmental, I will have a bit of a go anyway.

My theme is making do, a theme I attempt to subscribe to frequently. I am guilty of stash building but lately i have been trying to do it in a new way i.e. by shopping at op-shops and recycling fabrics, materials, haberdashery etc.

There is so much gorgeous stuff out there being (essentially) discarded and I am very keen on connecting with women of the past who were forced to make do before there was a Spotlight /Jo-Anne's store on every corner - and they created fabulous things that I am delighted to see, and using skills I long to have and would hate to see disappear from use.

So I love to recycle garments for quilts, dolls, costumes and bags especially. Nothing is more satisfying than re-launching a garment or other treasure in a new guise. Every piece has a story and I love to trace my connections and knowledge of the pieces. Fr'instance:

I made a set of bags (above, hers blue, mine burgundy) for my sister (in Melbourne) and I after seeing a pattern for a beautiful old-style gypsy carpet bag in a shop. I did buy new fabric for it at the time, but it evolved to become a set of bags using old and new fabrics, and haberdashery from the collection from a late friend of mine, dear Genevieve.

I wanted a pouch to use at work that was connected to all the women who had supported my dream to become a midwife. So it started with fabric from my 'sisters' bag, with appliqued hearts, and stitched while naming all my friends who had helped me along the way. Buttons for the sides came from Genevieve's stash along with a cord from her things to sling it across my shoulders.

It may not be visible that so much love and thought went into it, but I know. It looks a bit rustic, with deliberately frayed fringey bits on it, but that was to honour the warm fuzzies that went into it too. My sis gave me a midwife keyring that I kept in there too, along with a Buddha and a few amethysts I like, just for the good loving feeling they all give me. My bag, as befits a prototype is pretty shabby with not enough pockets etc, but I can't bring myself to change a stitch in it.

I was always getting comments about my beautiful pouch, so I made a series of them for the other student midwives who trained in our hospital. Bit by bit they came together, with some new fabrics and fabrics from recycled clothes - baby corduroy to jeans, to silk suits, some with fabric from my sister bags. Frequently what they needed to set them off came from the bottom of a box or pile long teetering and near forgotten, but holding the exact thing I was looking for, including another cord from Genevieve's stash in the LAST of her tins, just the right length and colour. I mentally blessed her and know she would be tickled to have contributed to such a collection. On the night of our final exam I gave them all out to my 15 friends, where each was received with gasps or tears as I recounted the stories behind each one.

I LOVED making them (I made 20 in all).

It was really great to see that these new midwives understood the connection between the women who had supported my journey, the women who had created things with their own hands over generations, and the midwives we were from that very day and all we had shared, and the women we attended as midwives...but then I knew that they would understand.

I still get a kick out of seeing them in daily use around the hospital. Some of them have gone with their owners to live in other countries, but I still feel connected to them.

I wish I had photographed the luscious shabby chic baby pink one I made last for one of the midwifery friends who is VERY pink and pretty (it was gingham and roses and baby pink corduroy). It was gorgeous, and so her. I also really like this green silk one, made from a full suit I bought in a little op shop on the island of Waiheke in NZ in 1999. I shipped it home for the stash and voila! Its gone to a really special, fabulous young midwife Kate.

So, is this post really about op-shopping, or recycling, or the greater environment? Or is it just about our own micro-environment, thinking globally and acting locally? And for me the thing to be saved is to preserve / save/ keep the connections within our own communities - whether down the street, in the workplace, between the hearts of like-minded people across the corridor or throughout cyberspace. Blogging connects us, through trivia and trauma, in potentially all aspects of our lives.

Lately I have been having a few blue days, deep blue really, and although I promised a craft post I wasn't quite in the mood. But today I went back to work after 3 months off, feeling quite fragile and unsure about my ability to tap my previously unending supply of compassion and enthusiasm. But the moment I walked in I felt myself responding to a (blessed) wellspring of love for my work,and suddenly i felt all bouncy and tiggerish and re-energised. Phew (just in time!). Nothing like the cuddle of a brand new baby to set you straight (along with the support at home from a concerned husband).

And now I have come home, I have the house to myself briefly and thought I should pretend to do a Blog Action day post....and it turned into this! Hmm, will it pass? Oh well its MY blog, and it is a bit about craft. More on my stash another day.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Spring in the Air

Dear reader

Please don't think I am going to make a habit of this but I have done it again. For the second time this year I have initiated...I suggested ... to my husband.. ummmm...voluntarily ... that we go for a walk together. I can hear your aghast cries of "Noooooooo, what were you thinking?" But once again it wasn't too bad. Sigh.

The first time was when we were in the Lakes District in England in August, and it wasn't too hot or crowded where we were and there were some Roman ruins I was hoping to see that he wasn't too keen on looking for ... but when I was holding the map and saw they were in the direction of a bit of wetland area as well, one thing led to another and I took a deep breath and said..."You may never hear this from my lips again, but shall we go for a ramble around the top of the lake and the wetlands?". Do take note that I expect fireworks and a public holiday to commemorate the event next year - August 15th.

Anyway, we went and we saw ruins - in a field with cows wandering about and cow-pats to avoid! Low-key but still quite thrilling for us colonials to see, you never forget your first time!! Followed by walking across some wetlands in a drizzle, through some lush fields and saw some gorgeous stonewalls and ducks and stuff. You know, very typical English and charming. All in all a great success and much enjoyed by my poor walk-starved husband. He was quite chuffed.

So, fast forward to this recent weekend when, looking for something nice to do together, I read that the Kalamunda Shire Council had organised a Zig-Zag walk (for the 8th year - clearly I had ignored all previous invitations). Said walk-starved husband jumped at the chance to get out in the spring air and see some Aussie scenery and wildflowers, and I felt that I could cope with being driven to the top of a hill and walking down for 3km. This is the view from the bottom of the walk. was delightful. We took our 18 year old daughter and my sister in law as well and had a lovely time. Not too physically demanding at all (my major baulk factor), beautiful views of the Swan coastal plain, lovely flora and fauna too. This is a leschenaultia flower - a rare example of blue colouring in nature.

The flowers and grass trees were gorgeous - see? The top one is a burnt out stump from a bushfire that went through the area last year. The lower one is a flowering spike about 2m tall and oozing sap to attract insects.
There were little displays set up periodically to break the walking so we had bluegrass bands, free Milo and massages, local plant displays, riding on camels, animal displays where I handled a carpet python (lovely), patted two joey kangaroos, saw a bettong, a black cockatoo, a masked owl and a barn owl, and also touched an echidna for the first time.

We had lunch in a small but very busy French cafe in Kalamunda and returned home with yummy patisserie for dessert that night. The organisation of the event was terrific. Top marks to the KSC for their efforts.

We had also been to the beach on Saturday for a wander and some lunch, and of course Don threw the body in at Cottesloe beach. We really do live in a gorgeous part of the world.

Stephanie and I sat on the grassy slopes and I read Harry Potter 7 to her (we're up to Chapter 9).

So....thats what happening in OUR part of the world. I hope to get some craft on the way this week and will post about that next time.

Update on the nails

Let the record show that Laura painted her nails with Rare Ruby - and they were FABULOUS!!!!! (and even the colour has lasted much longer than ever before - what a breakthrough).

These photos don't do them justice!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In praise of fingernails

In praise of what?

Nails, fingernails - you know those things that (theoretically) grow at the end of your fingers.

I'm temporarily fascinated with them at the moment because for the first time in my adult life I have them...well...long strong ones anyway. I am enjoying a brief foray into the world of (relative) talons!! See?

Mine usually break and split and peel and flake, but I have recently returned from a very long trip away from work, housework, dishes etc as well as day to day stress and lo and behold I have nails!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been back for 3 weeks now and my nails are still long and strong. Its as if some switch has been reset. You see I have a theory about my nails.

You know the saying "hanging on by one's fingernails"?. I believe it to be true, and for a long period in my life I could almost gauge my stress levels by the length/state of my nails. If I was down to a millimetre or so, or if they all broke off in a day I had a sense that I didn't have much left to hang on with or by. I was literally losing my grip. Looking back on this period I may have not been eating well due to chronic stress, or I could have been engaging in way too much self-defeating talk, but it is interesting that it has come and gone periodically since.

I do look after them (although not to the point of wearing rubber gloves for washing up) and I have an emery board in every handbag, in the car, by my bed, stashed at work, by the phone. I hate having a catch. Maybe its because I used to bite my nails until I was 12, really badly, into the quick and all, so i know I can't trust myself to worry at a stray splinter of nail. I have also bought at some time or other every peel/flake/split/strengthener on the market. However in recent years I just kept them short and the flaking took care of the rest to keep them that way. They certainly never strayed over the tips of my fingers. I have been at uni for half a decade, pounding keyboards, and working in the clinical area where I wash my hands many, many times per day and have to keep nails very short to handle women and newborns.

As I go back to work in 10 days time this state clearly won't last, but I am just noticing the unaccustomed pros and cons of having long nails. They click when I type, I can drum tunes on the desk, I can accidentally scratch people (including myself) and I am finding they impact on my ability to dress quickly!

Incidentally I am extremely intolerant of long toenails (shudder, skin crawling). I can't bear to have long toenails, but I know plenty of people who do, and even have them French polished!

Maybe that's what I should do before I cut them off for work. I should have a last indulge and get a manicure and French polish. I chose not to use any nail polish while travelling to be low maintenance (I rarely wear it anyway), but have been tempted by the idea of painting them for fun before 'off with their heads'.

One more shot of my very average looking hand with these nails.

Anyway...apologies for the randomness of the things that amuse me (sigh). I clearly need to go back to work. I have way too much time on my hands!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tinkering around the edges

Well I'm back at the keyboard again having made a few changes to behind the scenes things, and changing my photo at El Zed's request - she said I looked cross - and we can't have that!

This is the photo she requested; and it only took 11 goes to crop it and upload it, check it out and reject it, crop again so it didn't stretch and make my face look m-u-u-ch wider than it normally does .... you get the picture.

I am realising how hard it is to get online time in my house! I have two young adults and a husband competing with me, and I kinda haven't told them that I have a new blog as I feel a bit shy about it all. I also haven't worked out if they would be cool with their names being used and anecdotes involving them being told to the www so that will involve a discussion or two.

I have received a few encouraging comments already (thanks girls - I did get them after all) with ideas for posts and photos that could be fun. Topics may include my stash (is the world ready?), my UFOs / WIPs (how long have you got?) my reading lists (it could be very surprising!) and exhortations to bite the bullet and DO a second post.

So - in response to the latter request - see above text!

As for the rest - stay tuned!

(in response to hovering children "Alright, alright, you can have the computer now")

Friday, September 28, 2007

Welcome and Hi

Hello bloglanders

Welcome to my blog called 'Loving the question'. I have no idea how I'm going to be at doing this as a regular part of life, but I enjoyed having a travel blog on our recent trip and missed blogging!

Today I formally graduated as a midwife (cheers and tears of joy) after 11 consecutive semesters of study, the first 7 semesters fulltime to become a registered nurse, then working full time as I studied one unit at a time for two semesters, then a further 2 semesters working 0.8 time as a student midwife and studying 2 units per semester. Phew, I am pleased to be finished with studying for now.

As I write this I have just returned from partying after my graduation ceremony. This afternoon there was a formal ceremony at the university for the School of Nursing and Midwifery where we all wore formal academic dress and given our class badges that identify us as graduates of Curtin University of Technology. There were prizes given and speeches made. Then this evening there was the University wide, multi faculty formalities where we were given our actual degrees and diplomas and shook the vice chancellor's hand. As the culmination of nearly 6 years of work it was a pretty big deal, and I am proud beyond measure to be able to call myself a midwife.

I look forward to doing it now, doing the day to day work of being with women, sharing and expanding my knowledge and discovering the range of my field. It is an enormous privilege and responsibility and I can't wait to go back to work.

When I'm not being a midwife I love crafts of all sorts, especially bagmaking, patchwork and quilting, embroidery, designing stuff, beadwork and sculpture, a tiny bit of knitting (don't mention the clapotis).

In fact I will now confess in black and white - My name is Laura and I am a fabricaholic (I say that like its a bad thing!). It is a complete textile fetish. I'm not sure if I died tomorrow that I would win the 'she who dies with the most fabric wins' thing, but I am definitely working on it. I've got a lot of stuff - but the good thing about fabric is that it is non-perishable, and besides - I'm not dead yet!

I also love doing heaps of other things other than housework, but we'll get to know each other gradually I'm sure.

Hi to all my friends, especially El Zed in San Diego

Ciao for now