Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Poor me (not)

Feeling time-poor lately. I wish there were two of me to accomplish all the things I want to get done!

I have so many projects and interests running through my head. Am I mad? Or just constantly creatively stimulated?

Work is absorbing. I work 7 shifts in a 14 day cycle. Currently I am working all day shifts, so that means I have no time at home during the day. Days in which to daydream ... not enough.

I see that in print and it looks wussy and whiny. I don't have 5 children to bring up, I have a comfortable home and resources to spare. I don't live in a famine or war torn country. I have a supportive husband who loves me, and whom I value more each day.

I like being absorbed by work. I love practising and thinking about midwifery, and plan to do a LOT more of it, for the next 20 years! Midwifery is a meeting of my heart, intellect, experience and soul. It enriches me immensely and I feel like my inside matches my outside. Its all good.

Yet what I put on hold to study and become this fulfilled midwife was my stay-at-home, free to create-while-kids-were-at-school self. What I mean is that my artistic, creative life is feeling cramped.

Since I finished studying and started working I feel like I never have any time to 'myself' any more. I suppose it has coincided with my children finishing high school and not being out of the house at regular times daily. If I think about it, it is probably the kind of stress that working people, especially Dads, have felt forever. Sigh. Welcome to the real world Laura.

I have kidded myself that the good thing about fabric is that it is non-perishable. I can build my stash and pick it (craft/sewing) up again at any time. But I never seem to have a time when I can get a good run at it without feeling like a. someone else needing my attention, b. someone else needing the room I am using, c. selfish for ignoring all other demands and just doing what I want, d. guilty for having all that stuff and not using it thoroughly enough, e. overwhelmed about which project to start / finish first! So I don't do as much as I would like to do in the time available, which leaves me feeling guilty and frustrated, and almost panicky for some reason.

Do I feel like this because of some inner sense of impending mortality? I know some people who have died young lately, and I just have a sense that I may not make old bones (for lots of reasons). Sounds morbid and/or strange I suppose, but I feel that I have so many things left to finish. Remember that old joke "My to-do list is so long that I can never die!"

I am also daunted/getting hassled (and wouldn't know where to begin to sort it) about the clutter caused by my stash. I am a pack rat. I hate people moving my stuff. HATE IT. Feel very threatened by it. But if I died tomorrow - boy would it be a pain in the ass to clear up my stuff! And as much as my husband would cheer if I (meaning me, myself and I) were to clear it up tomorrow, it would be a dreadfully painful task for him to do it without me, plus he wouldn't know what it was, where, or to whom, I wanted half the stuff to be distributed.

However I am quite capable of ignoring the mess and creating within it. Quite lovely things really. That bring me joy to plan, select materials for, cut out, make and finish to a high standard.

I feel time-poor because I want time to play, create and just DO some craft stuff. When I'm not tired, so I can see well. When I'm not tempted to just snuggle up with my favourite squeeze. Without having to set the task aside. Without eating if I don't feel like stopping for it. Without stopping to answer the phone, or even pee! Without being obliged to anyone. I like it to work out. I hate leaving a project abandoned in the middle cos I get stuck. I will adapt and think my way through a project wherever possible. But I need the time.

I am working for the next few weekends, including Mother's Day. Then I somehow have a week where I am rostered off. Just all my shifts smooshed up at the beginning and end of the cycle, including a 6-day straight stretch. I may be a blithering idiot by the end of it! But at least I will have time to recuperate. Hmmm......

What will I make first? A drop-dead list with instructions for my stash distribution? Or another bag.....?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Have I seen the duster?

How's that for a question? My husband just asked it of me.

"NO...but then, you are asking the wrong person." Husband grunts ruefully in reply. (I feel a bit naughty for being so truthful). Have I seen the duster? Puh-leese!

If you are reading this you have discovered my FIFTIETH post! 50. Five zero. Wow! Thanks for popping by! If you are new - welcome! If we've been cyber-acquainted for a while, then its good to have you back! Thanks for all your interest, encouragement and support through all the ups and downs. I love to read your comments, and see your blogs, and get to know you, wherever you are.

Apparently there are around 7 or 8 of you per day, with a peak of 20 visitors one day in February. I have no aspirations to take over the cyberworld, or sell anything, or advertise anything, so I am delighted I get to have a chat with my friends in such an efficient way each day. I can say whatever is on my mind, toss ideas around, and share the latest from my world. From the stats (and comments) it appears readers like to hear tales from my world of midwifery - that's lucky - cos I love to talk about it too! I hope I am doing it in a general, non-identifying way, as I wouldn't want to dis' anyone, or intrude, but these stories are part of my life as well.

I was home by 5pm today, the earliest I have been home from work all week. All my babies were little puddings today, getting fatter, and so I was able to discharge most of them, including the nervous first time parents I mentioned in my last post. Yesterday they were still quite nervy and unsure, the Mum a bit dependent about small things, asking me if I would help them with a bath etc. Mum was engorged. The baby had lost weight too. As I was already nearly 90 mins into overtime, and they had a house full of family I declined to help with the bath, with a gentle reminder that these initial discomforts are part of the journey to parenthood, that help to bond you to your baby. You wouldn't suffer all this for just any old baby would you? Its a bit unpleasant but it will pass, and you've told me how you are so lucky to have a nice house and family so close. Have faith! Yes, your breasts are a bit engorged, but you can get a pump from here, or here, just make the phonecall. Your milk is nicely in, I think tomorow you'll be a new woman. . . . And she was! Breasts not full of rocks today, just full of milk, with a very content baby, more sleep last night as baby was fuller with each feed and had gained weight well since yesterday. They looked more confident, and this time I felt just fine about gently saying their time was up, off I go and leave you to be a little family all independent! You'll be great! And they will be, and today they believed me.

The expat family was also discharged today, with a little fattie baby gaining weight nicely, Mum's breasts settled down. How nice to meet them, and they appreciated the home-visits too, and being in a more familiar Western culture for a while. I told them some of the local kid-friendly, fun and educational places in town as they are home-schooling and have little opportunity for field trips in the city they live in. Hope they enjoy their stay.

Another new Mum home with her first baby, a well-loved little one in a busy household, with sisters who have older kids on hand to offer advice and an experienced shoulder. She'll be fine.

A family with baby number three, looks well content but was a bit cold, sleepy and vomiting quite a bit. Grew a bug that can be dangerous to babies, hmm, low-threshold for concern here, better get him checked out. The doctors tried to give me the runaround, but agreed he needed to be reviewed. Hope that works OK for them all, I'll be interested to hear the results of his review.
This is the end of a three day stint, and I feel like I'm finally getting into the swing of it. Gaining confidence, phew. I really like to see all the little families out there, starting out on their own, learning to fly, or at least survive take-off! It really is a leap of faith.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Living the dream

Hi again, sorry I've been preoccupied with this, that and the other.

This being dealing with bureaucracy for daughter. Sigh. It never gets any easier.

That being constantly tempted away by textile fetishes of one type or another. Its a constant struggle. Bright and shiny, or tactile and colourful, all just begging to come home with me. They don't have to cost (much) money, I can give them a home. The pouches are on their way to completion, and looking quite good, although I've only done the brown ones so far (brown thread on machine).

No news on the sock front - I hurt my thumb and my adjacent forefinger got strained on the weekend, so zero socks were cast on (i can tell you're all dying to know about it ;P). Sigh. Its a surprise - he'll never know anyway.

The other is starting work in the community as a home visiting midwife. If you had asked me 5 years ago what I would kill to be doing - it would be working in the community as a midwife. Don't look now Laura - your dream has come true!

Its kinda lump-in-the-throat making to see that in print, and realise that I have spent my last 2 working days doing it. All by myself. Gulp. Just me and a car, and a mobile phone. And my common sense. And my experience. And my knowledge base. And my enthusiasm. Sigh. No wonder I'm running late.

But its both nice and (only slightly) exasperating to see new families settle into the reality of life at home with their newborn. Nice in a heartwarming way to see them discover the wonder of watching their baby sleep, and marvelling at the little dreamy REM-sleep faces and panting that babies do. The miracle of life. How did that baby fit in there? And get out of there?

And exasperating to see other families place such pressure on themselves to be perfect and have all the answers, and the perfect house, the perfect toys, the latest equipment etc.

Today I went to 5 houses. One was in a less well-off suburb on the outskirts of the metro area. The house looked OK from the street, but behind the rollerdoor...past the barking large dog being restrained... The squalor was quite confronting, tiny cockroaches crawling across the unswept concrete floors, cats burrowing into all the clutter that looked like every object that couple had ever owned or received in their own lives, stacked up on every surface. Their third child looking content enough in a washing basket with a pillow in it as a makeshift crib (I always tell parents it doesn't matter if your baby sleeps in a fruit box!). And a slightly grumpy but talkative young woman apologizing for not having cleaned up as she had been in hospital for 4 days. There were handprints all over the walls, and years worth of clutter, but I assured her I spoke fluent Mess, and was happy to come and take her stitches out and do a postnatal check and weigh the baby. I also made phone calls to the local baby nurse to make sure followups got done, and although she was a big girl her wound looked the best healed CS wound I have seen in weeks. I was delighted! You never can tell where you are going to have a good result. That child will be well enough parented, for all the gunna-do-one-day home decor aspirations of his parents, and I finally got out of there with very dirty knees after an hour and a half! I stopped at a Golden Arches for a wee and a handwash - I didn't fancy trying my luck asking for a bathroom! Thank God for Aqium gel (an alcohol gel - for my hands, people!).

The next place (running late) called the office as I was 5 minutes from them - a 25 minute drive from the first house. I was too late - they had to meet folks at the airport and couldn't wait any more for me. Sigh. I get to meet them tomorrow.

Another 25 minute drive to stop 3. An overseas family living expat in Asia, stopped into Australia to have baby 4 in conditions with reasonable medical back-up after a difficult pregnancy. Nice family, confident friendly older children, baby barely 2 days old, but they were all doing OK. Her breast were very hard and lumpy - which was unusual in a woman so close to delivery, but we did all the things we are meant to do, and tried to express them to softness, with minimal result. I left her with a breast pump and a plan, and will review her tomorrow hopefully her milk will be properly 'in' by then and the baby (or the pump) can shift the rocks - or its the hospital for her.

Stop number 4 - a new family with a first baby. A sweet little girl, lots of questions, lots of reassurance, lots of show and tell, lots of 'education', giving them the confidence to follow some instincts of their own and helping them to understand the baby's reflexes and instinctive responses. Can we spoil her? What about a dummy? Oooh I haven't touched my breasts much, I don't know if they have lumps! Encouraging her to get in touch (literally) with her feminine side! And mine! I helped her to feel all around her breast (no lumps) but filling with milk, then allowed her to compare to my breasts - lighter and softer although they look larger than hers -can she feel the difference? The sense of fluid within? Oh yes her nipples look in great shape, well done, I saw good attachment earlier and she should should have no problems, her baby shows good instincts and shows clear signs when she wants a feed - see - you two already understand her signals, great work! Lots of encouragement. How about skin-to-skin contact? its a great idea for when she is fed thoroughly but still seems a bit fussy, Mum or Dad can do it, babies just love to be up close and personal with their favourite grown-ups. Very soothing for both of you, lovely opportunity for bonding, especially for Dad. Yes, actual skin to actual skin, heart to heart. Aren't you doing well? 90 mins later ... I''ll leave you to it and see you tomorrow!

One more added to the list, 9 days postpartum with bleeding nipples. OOOOwww. Only one solution - REST!!! Copious supply, and she already has a breast pump - Thank the Lord! Now has that baby got a tongue tie? Yep, looks like it! Call the breastfeeding centre, make an appointment with the GP, them (the lactation consultants), and a surgeon to get the tiny snip done to free the tongue to stop the damage. Phew! And the baby health nurse for a followup. Write a plan and a list of further phonecalls for the Mum to make, hand over a bit more equipment and move on again!

Across town, near to home, to pick up a breast pump that had been outstanding for 2 months! At least the woman and baby were still happily breastfeeding at 4 months of age. Yay!

By this stage it was after 5pm. I had arrived at the office to get the car and the referrals at 8am. Go, go, go all day. Talk, talk, talk all day. Smile, encourage, reassure all day. A few crackers and nuts in the car, and a coffee from Maccas. I was starving! And a bit stiff from essentially being on my knees or on the floor all day talking to Mums on couches, and looking at boobs and babies!

Tomorrow should be a bit easier as they were all new clients today, and all only came home yesterday, with new babies, settling in, etc. Tomorrow the groundwork should be done, but there is always the potential for engorgement, weight loss, constipation, tears, jaundice and more.

Last week I had similar clients, with domestic violence, contraceptive failure and a fifth baby, social isolation, perinatal loss, massive engorgement, an uncertain and plucky young woman with 3 dogs and a huge house out in the sticks alone with a baby after managing a team of adults in the workplace! No experience of babies at all! Migrant families doing it tough, and migrant families revelling in their peaceful and socially supportive new country where women with mean, violent husbands have somewhere to turn for financial support. And a visiting midwife to praise them for their efforts and hug them goodbye as they bravely embark on their lonely journey. I was moved when the mother cried as I hugged her - I had cared for her on the ward, and again for 3 days at home, and she was really brave. I kissed her baby and told her(the baby) to be good to her parents, but only just good and respectful enough to her dad! I wish I could go and hug and encourage that woman every day.

I'm still feeling my way...but its stuff I know. Parenting, breastfeeding, driving! But its all part of the scope of practice of being a midwife, and it's all expanding my confidence in my own practice. I have a lot of students with me from next week onwards - so I'd better iron my bugs out before I start with them! Its a big responsibility!

I look old and sensible but I still feel like a complete beginner, 'faking it til I make it'!!! Putting it all together gradually, and working as a community based midwife would give me the chance to work in all areas - I can't imagine not working in the labour and birth area (I still dream about catching babies) but all this antenatal and postnatal part is equally important. And I do feel very committed to midwifing women in all areas, not just low-risk women qualifying for 'midwifery' care, and the rest making do with less touchy-feely stuff. Its important. There's got to be a way.

But for now this, that and the other are the best I can do! Gradually, the dream is coming true.

How lucky am I?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Could I?

What possessed me?

I bought some sock yarn. GULP.

And DPNs.

And a pattern.

And I knitted a sample square (well, rectangle really and extrapolated). It was kinda OK. And the yarn, all stripey and yummy, knitted on those teeny needles. Uh-oh.

Holy crap. I'm a bit concerned. I may be in danger of knitting a sock (attempting to). If Don is lucky it will get a partner. And then he could have a pair of handknitted socks from his wife. It may take a while. Lets be honest, years.

He'd better not hold his breath.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pouch madness

Does this look like a pile of 59 pouches waiting to be sewn?
Remarkably compact really, considering it took me at least 3 hours to cut them all out.

I am not brave enough to show you the pile of fabric/debris from whence they came! Suffice to say that would be an overshare into my world of mess.

However, here is the first of the completed ones - it is earmarked for a colleague. I'm pleased with the colour combo.
I wonder when/if I'll ever get to using the trims from this stash? I especially love the wide watered taffeta piece.Some of these I bought in Florence last year. I really must photograph the Japanese stuff, vintage obis and yukatas, that Lesley and I indulged in last month.

As a final insight into my sewing den (of iniquity) I include a photo of my trusty Pinnock sewing machine, which I have had for 18 years and I love to bits. It was misbehaving as I was sewing up the green pouch (and its successor), so I felt it probably was very overdue for clean/ service / oil up. Oh my, it was. Poor little machine. It ran much better when I tested it afterwards.

This last is a photo of some flowers I had last year. They were photographed in my laundry, which was refitted completely in October 2006. I love the clean benches and am quite thingy about keeping this small area of my home pretty tidy. I can manage ONE room!

Friday, April 11, 2008

7 Random things meme

OK, so I've been tagged a bit.

This is an amalgamation of replies for tags from Natalie, Alice and ...I'm sure there was another person too...hmm.. Lets see

7 former jobs.
I used to work
1. in a circus
2. in a bakery
3. as a phlebotomist (a person/vampire who takes blood for tests)
4. as a swimming teacher
5. as a professional dancer (I'm a qualified teacher too)
6. as proof reader for a local newspaper and
7. as a silver service waitress, and later as a barmaid.

7 places I have lived
1. Melbourne (1986-87)
2. Waiheke Island in New Zealand (1999)
3. Madison, Wisconsin, USA (1991-92)
4. Minakami, Japan (1981)
5. Singapore (1981, 1982)
6. Bangkok (1981)
7. Perth, Western Australia (most of the rest of my life)

7 favourite foods
1. Dhufish chowder
2. Roast pork
3. Combination Chop Suey (not very authentic, but always yummy)
4. Chocolate, pref Cabdury's or Lindt balls, but rarely turn any down!
5. Hearty soups
6. Curries in general
7. Grapes (seedless)

7 things I say frequently
1. I'm not dead yet
2. Can you empty the dishwasher please?
3. Yes of course darling
4. You say that* (*insert topical reference here) like its a bad thing! ;P
5. well done / good work / I love the way you...
6. I need to get on the computer please
7. Ah bugger

7 movies I have loved
1. Four Weddings and a Funeral
2. Love Actually
3. City of Angels
4. Chicago
5. Hairspray
6. A Fish called Wanda
7. Strictly Ballroom

7 things I did today
1. Cut out 60 pouches (yes, 60, I am very tired, but I have had a very big textile fix now)
2. Made a bit of a mess achieving the above.
3. Hung out two loads of washing, and put on the dishwasher.
4. Showered and cleaned my teeth
5. Stayed home (what a luxury)
6. Read emails and blogs
7. Cuddled my family

7 things I can see from my current location
1. My computer (well, duh)
2. my stash (hello my pretties)
3. my wedding photo (so young, so thin)
4. a spare mattress
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
6. a poster of Tutankhamun
7. A big mess (see above)

7 People I'd like to have dinner with
1. Dalai Lama
2. Tim Winton (an Australian Author)
3. Natalie of Chicken Blog
4. Hilary Clinton (5. Bill can come too)
6. Peg Geisler (7. Dan can come too)

I have never
1. been arrested
2. smoked a cigar (yuk)
3. been to Ayer's Rock / Uluru
4. Read a Shakespeare play
5. Seen the film 'Alien'
6. ...umm, running out of steam, its hard to answer in the negative.

7 things on my to-do list
1. Make (gradually) the 60 pouches I have cut out and sell them.
2. Design and make a QS quilt for our bed for our 25th wedding anniversary (2010)
3. Catch more babies
4. Write more about what it means to catch babies. Teach/tour/workshop with these ideas
5. Complete my current Bingo project - its a work in progress.
6. Spend more quality time with my husband, maybe travelling.
7. De-clutter (a bit). I can't live in too sterile a place (snort, how would I know?)

In theory one is meant to tag others to do this kind of thing. Meh. Please yourself. I'm feeling slack.

Nighty night!

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'm baaaack

Home again at last!

What a trip, so much to tell you, I have thousands of posts swirling in my head, but most of all it is great to be home!
The (third) wedding was gorgeous. Our niece Shaku, along with her husband Martin, looked so elegant, and the location was fantastic again - in the Yarra Valley outside of Melbourne, on a vineyard overlooking the valley and peaks. Cocktails before, a fabulous dinner afterwards where, to save decision making, a platter of each choice on the menu was brought to the tables for sharing, great local food, beautifully cooked. Lovely wine. Lots of photos. Here's the red dress in all its glory! (I'm sure I felt much taller and thinner then I look here).

The best wedding speeches you have ever heard, funny, warm, inclusive, well balanced. Friends and family from all over the world. The bridal party was scattered among all the tables, and we happened to be at the table with the bride and groom. Just a beautiful night.

This is the ring-bearer (age 3) comparing his foot size with my son. Little Xavier's foot was as long as Patty's was wide. They both thought it was pretty funny! It was hard to get them in the same shot!
Shaku wore a simple white satin gown, no beading, just a shaped bodice and a fitted, curvaceous sheath with a mermaid-y tail. Drop-dead earrings. A large bunch of dazzling yellow roses and a diamante clip in her rolled up hair. Divine.
We stayed on a property outside of Healesville with a mountain view, where stunning parrots abounded, and so did the kangaroos! They were hopping all over the place at night.There was another two days of eating and drinking with family in 2 large well appointed houses, sitting around the fire, laughing like drains at all manner of inappropriate things and loving it! Stephanie had a birthday (19th) while we were there, so it was great for her to be with these cousins (the two young women front centre) for her birthday, as she hardly ever gets to see them as they live in Melbourne now. They were in on the iPod secret (her present) so gave her an iPod tunes voucher. She was pretty happy!

We also went to Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary on the Saturday, which was really worthwhile. These are the dingoes (Australian Native dogs)They had a fantastic "Flight of the Parrots" show and a Raptor display with close-up views of beautiful and magnificent birds from the local areas, including a wedge-tail eagle as big as a dog - it looked much more impressive when flying! Plus a platypus breeding environment. Wow. There was also a working animal rescue hospital with well thought out displays and close-circuit TV of the examination table so you could see the action!

On Sunday, after a lavish breakfast for 16 (so. much. food) we drove into Melbourne and joined my sister Rynny for the afternoon. Patty had gone in to see his mate Dougal the day before, and we met him too. After an early dinner Don, Patty and Steff took off in the hire car for the airport, and left me in Melbourne for a week with my sister!!!

Girls on the town....look out!! Well, girls in their forties, with bad backs, and round tummies...but you get the picture! Aren't street silhouettes kind?

We shopped, and walked, and shopped, and went to see "Priscilla - Queen of the Desert" and ate, and shopped, and went to the movies, including Gold Class (The Other Boleyn Girl), ate and then we went up to see a midwife friend of mine, Jo, living in the country outside of Ballarat.

We set off as a big storm approached Melbourne and drove into it. It was pretty wild and we were going a very long way - over 200kms. It took us just under 3 hours, and then we were there! In a blackout with no power and no water (no power to run the pumps). Just a warm welcome from Jo and her three adorable kids (nr 6, nr 4 and 1). Lucky we'd stopped and brought a couple of cooked chooks with us! Wish we'd thought to buy candles!

Still, there was very little distraction from the joy of just hanging out with friends and their two new kittens, and seven new hatched chickens, and 363 sheep! We adjourned to our (adjacent spare) farmhouse for dinner on the gas stove before returning to Jo's house post-dinner in the dark with a few birthday candles and telling of tales. It was the first time Jo and Rynny had met and they got on really well. Rynny loved the whole family, and she is great with kids and kittens. She was always terrific with my kids when they were small. I think Jo liked the company too, she has a lot of family close by, but it was really special to see her. It will be a long time til we meet again I suspect.

Her youngest child Thomas was caught by me, and he is the most beautiful child, just such a rewarding baby to have. Nearly always smiling, engaging, active, walking! Such a privilege to be a midwife to a friend. An unexpected joy to share such a close bond between us. Jo and I worked together for around 4 months, and I was touched that she stated very early on with Thomas's pregnancy that she wanted me to deliver him. I was a student midwife, only half-way through, but catch number 16 was really special for me. You've seen them before here (at the end of the link).

I made Jo a bag (natch) which she was delighted with. See? The flower is her (just right) finishing touch. The internal pockets fitted her stuff in perfectly, including Thom Kitten's bottle!
After a night spent in a very dark farmhouse (the power came on at 2am) with a pesky mouse (that met its maker in the night) we woke to load sheep for a new owner - wow - how interesting to see a working farm and woolshed and sheepdog! The kids were great and all helped shoo the sheep from pen to pen, while Thom slept. We had a walk and maintained the fences as we went to close and open various gates for the next lot of sheep. It rained and the wind was pretty cold too, but there was the most AMAZING rainbow!
Anyway, I'd better get this photo'd up and posted, or you'll think I've run away and left you all. I've figured out a way to get my camera to take smaller photos (AFTER the wedding) - so it shouldn't take so long, but I think Blogger has just stopped uploading the first lot when i chose the second lot...oh, woe is me...

I promise to write more about midwifery next time...I've been thinking a lot, and had some interesting women in my care on the ward while on night shift, and today I was sent to labour ward as a fill-in midwife. I looked after a couple who had lost their daughter to a congenital malformation a few days was a tough day in many respects, but they were in reasonable spirits when they left.... it was a nice surprise to be on LBS after a month or so away, one of the benefits of working as a rotational midwife. I start on the visiting midwife service next week. I'm looking forward to working in the community again. I've had an offer of more work today in the perinatal loss area...I'll give it some thought.

Thanks for visiting, I'll try and visit y'all too, if you let me know you dropped by! Til next time.