Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A few baubles for you

So.... its nearly Xmas. Had you noticed?
I'm getting in the mood now. The tree is decorated.
The pressies are chosen, wrapped and under the tree
The MRI is all clear. The dizzies are mostly gone. The medication is working.
I am wearing Xmas earrings and a tinsel halo to work most days. Its fun. Work has been lovely. Interesting and brave Mums. Sweet babies. I've even had two thankyou cards and chocolates this week! That never happens! One was from the family I met before my holidays. The other twin is doing well.
Why do funeral companies have cookie cutter services with patronising overstated sentiment? Am I a bitch for asking? I attended the funeral of our colleague who died. It was about as wretched as expected, there were so many people there. Naturally there was a very notable turnout from work, nearly all the ward were there, and half the rest of the hospital. Her Dad spoke, heartbreakingly, followed by her sister, stoic and loving. They were a markedly smaller group as a family of 3, compared to the family of 5 they had been only 13 months ago. There is no easy or un-trite way to say goodbye in these circumstances. It all just sucks.
Is there such a thing as turning up to heaven uninvited? I'm sure she would be welcomed anyway, she was a kind girl who earned her wings in many ways. Her death, and the circumstances of her death have been very confronting. Once again we are starkly reminded, depression is a serious illness. How desperately 'not-thinking-straight' must she have been to make that choice. Such a waste.
I haven't been so active around this blog of late, but it doesn't mean I'm not thinking of you. Swings and roundabouts. Most bloggers I read report slow patches, and I am fascinated to realise that I have been blogging, and blog-reading, for more than 2 years now.
In case I don't get to post again pre-Big Day may I wish you all a very happy Christmas season.
A toast: To old friends who have weathered the years, and to new friends who were strangers but yesterday. Merry Christmas.
I just know that 2010 will bring good things.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday activities

Spend four nights with favourite husband in a cosy and private beach-side getaway. Tick.

Spend a day of getaway baking beloved Christmas cakes. Best. Batch. Ever. Tick.

Play Bingo with hubby. Tick. I still don't win.

Tackle Xmas pressie shopping with a relaxed hubby by my side. Tick.

Get bathroom door and dining room wall painted 6 months after bathroom renovation. Tick.

Attend Xmas parties in blistering heat. Tick.

Host Xmas party in blistering heat, wondering why people say they are coming but don't. Tick.

Eat leftovers. Tick.

Read on FB that a young depressed work colleague has died tragically. At work, with colleagues finding her. Reel in shock. Make many phonecalls to distraught colleagues. Grieve the loss of a lovely young midwife. Sadly, tick.

Value life even more preciously and vows to love and support even more. You betcha.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What do I know?

How many times does a human heart beat in a lifetime?

Today I found myself in the position to count them. Almost literally.

One little sweetheart lived his brief life in my care today.

I know Miracles exist. I thought he had slipped away, after twenty incredible minutes. But his little heart beat on feebly and slowly, for another hour or so of bonus life. Cradled by his brave Mum and Dad, skin to skin with his mother in life, with his father later, in death.

It was one of the most beautiful, incredible days of my life as a midwife. From taking the phonecall, to receiving the couple. From listening in and finding two heartbeats, to seeing one falter. From phonecall to the ward they were in my care, as well as the care of superb specialists . Together, the work we did today was a work of art. An oasis of beauty in a forecast that was never going to be good.

Today, for one day only, I was their midwife.

What a privilege.

Once again, I know, I love being a midwife.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not drowning, waving (again)

Did I say not drowning? Well.... its probably accurate.

I have been watching too much TV, playing way too much Bejewelled on FB, attending work back on the postnatal/antenatal ward and had a random night shift thrown in to the middle of a dayshift fortnight (I know) which has completely thrown my body clock for a loop and I lost close to 2 days in sleep disturbance. Sigh. I'm back on days this weekend for 4 days but then I have a week of rostered days off, before working for 4 days then having 15 days on hols before Xmas. Woot! I love to be back on the ward with all the darling staff members I was mentored by when I was a student. I am also working with my own mentee, which is a lovely change as our rotations have not coincided frequently at all and it is good to see her functioning clinically, even though our relationship flourishes mostly outside the workplace. She is so bright and buzzy, a real individual.

The workload is as full-on as usual, challenging physically and emotionally as well as an organisational challenge. To top it off the ward has been renovated since I was last there, so nothing is where I expect it to be. I am being a big girl and sucking it up. I'm just very lucky, I repeat to myself. But it does make me think of how different things might be in a year's time, in a different style of care. I am scared. But I am determined. Why does it matter to me what people think? I have good reasons for taking the path less travelled, and everyone I have mentioned it to seems to think it is an excellent move, but I suppose I must suck it and see. It may not be for me. I will be quite happy being a plain midwife out there, but how big will my envelope be? How far will I push it? There will be stuff I can only learn out there. I am not fearless, but nor am I fearful. I have a very healthy respect for the process, and the risks. I must keep my clinical judgement about me and distinguish between space for evolution and recklessness. There's a lot going on in my brain. But in the end - Megan says it well here.

I also saw New Moon on Thursday morning bright and early - its not bad, I found it very absorbing and the performances were much better this time, with less of the trembly, changing half-formed mouth movements from Kirsten Stewart that gave me the pip the first time around. She really is much better this time around, more natural. Its certainly one for the fans, but it ends a bit suddenly! There is almost the case for editing books two and three together to shift the action along, but it was still satisfying and beautifully done. The three leads were less wooden +/- overacting. The Jacob character was good and well performed. There were funny bits. The Edward character was much better made up although for a perpetual 17 y.o. someone carved from marble-like perfection he somehow looks haggard and older and a lot more manly, which was very appealing. Am I an Edward or a Jacob girl? Hmm, I think I prefer manly, but a bit of exuberant animal buff is good. The rest of the Cullen clan could have done their shots in less than a week, apart from Alice. Thinking back, they are mostly only shown in asembled set shots, with little dialogue. All in all 8/10.

Today I have a lunch with fellow midwives before the long awaited head MRI to see if there is any sinister reason for the dizzies - we suspect not, but lets rule it out. The medication is really helping and they are 90-95% gone. Edited to add - I'd forgotten how LOUD those MRIs are! Even with earphones it was like having my head trapped inside the DJ desk at a really bad alien robot techno rave, with error messages going off. Geez! 20 minutes of it!

The Big Picture tour by a Canberra ACM staff member, Abby, is going really well. She is such a dynamic presenter, and has been really flexible and super-organised and great fun as well. It is half over now, and this time next week will be all over, but it was well worth the effort. We had lunch yesterday, and she is tired but happy so far, and on days off now down south with her family. I look forward to next week.

So, I wish I had some new craft to show you, but I don't. I c.b.a. (can't be arsed) getting the camera from the other room to even show you a pic of the gorgeous Abby from Canberra. I have no excuses, I just know that if I left the computer now something bright and shiny and completely unecessarily random would catch my eye and it would be 3 o'clock before I remembered the unpublished post on the computer....so, really, we'd better play it safe and hit publish now. Yes, really.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bag lady

Well, the Stuff continues to loom, but I had a rare weekend+ off so it felt right to do some craft.

On Friday I took myself over to Lesley's place and sat companionably with her as she pottered and planned another papercut, and I got stuck in to assembling a bag I had cut out last week. It is from a pattern by Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio, called the Mail Sack.
The base is a wool/silk mix that I got in an op shop somewhere for about $1, and the top part is a vibrant purple linen from a recycled skirt. It is designed to sit scross the body. Whaddya think? I tried to get photos of it on me, but sigh, no. Trust me, I'm sparing you. I haven't decided yet where it will go. It may go in 'the shop'. Or it may be a pressie. I had so many buttons to choose from for the flower, but Steff liked this quirky cow button, so we went with that.

On Saturday hubby and I headed to the city for an impromptu grown-up getaway. I feel like I haven't seen him for a month! It was lovely, away from the phones and the emails and the Stuff.
We went out for dinner (Globe, at the Hilton, mostly wonderful, and the good bits were Incredibly Good) and breakfast (King St Cafe, really good) and had a wander around this developing part of the city and just enjoyed ourselves in general. Comfy room, soft sheets. Exactly what we needed.

On Sunday when we returned I felt like tackling a smallish craft project, that I asked Les about on Friday. She had re-lined a bag that was shabby, or yukky, and I had a lovely bag that had frayed lining. See? It is as an Olga Berg that I bought about 3 years ago, but the original lining was shabby. So I gutted it. The pink bit here is the external zipped pocketliner that was not frayed.

Then, using the old lining as a guide I cut a new liner with a pocket, and reused the zipper for a new pocket, and reused the darted pocket opposite.
Then I hand stitched the new lining in place.
Et voila! One refurbished bag!
I have one more day off now, which is filling up quick, so I'd better fly!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


HI!! Can you see me waving? I am.

Hello November! Where did you come from? I blinked and you arrived, while I was working and organising and conferencing and feeling crappy and stressed and finishing night shift. And getting bad feelings about anonymous comments. Sigh.

Sometimes a blog just feels like another thing to feel guilty about. So I put the blog in the too hard basket. Just for a couple of weeks.

To make myself feel better I am crafting (or half-assed-crafting). I am cutting out. I have sewn some stuff. Half-finished things. Frogdancer and Victoria your pressies are nearly ready to go. I have a pretty fab red giant tote half assembled.

Blogs are being read. Otherwise they would Pile Up and add to my load of Stuff Un-done.

I have folded an enormous pile of clean washing. Six baskets full.

I have cleaned off my desk. Gasp. Its true, Lesley has seen it!

I have Made Plans. Midwifery plans. Hah! I am both inspired and a bit terrified by this. Therefore it must be good.

I am working (what seems like) a lot. Probably seems like it because I have so much to do on the days 'off'. Like conferences. Like organising a two week statewide tour for a lovely and important guest, although I am getting lots more help with that now, phew.

I have favourite people coming to WA (ooh, they've just landed), and a favourite niece having a party tonight for her birthday and I am working :( but I will have the next two weekends off and see them all then.

On the upside- a friend has started an unexpected new romance that is thrilling and wonderful and that she thoroughly deserves. And my daughter has found a JOB! It is 95% fabulous, with small forecasts of glass-half-empty, depending on your point of view. We're pretty delighted, but it also involves the doing of Stuff. Which I add to my Do In My Spare Time list. You know the one.

I am feeling about 50% better in the swoon department, although I have to go back on a medication I hoped to not take. It seems this is a new manifestation of migraine. Cos two sorts are barely enough. Bummer. On the upside it means I am sleeping better / heavily. Take THAT night shift diurnal rythm messer uperer.

I'll stop whining now. I'm sick of myself.

Back with REAL blogging soon, I promise. But that was a small catchup of why I've been offline.

You'll never get those minutes of your life back, so no asking for a refund, alright?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Night shift news

Hello world. Phew. Night shift and labrynthitis are a bad combination.

It was getting better until sleep disturbance and nausea kicked in, or they kicked each other in....or, oh heck who knows? Anyway I'm on the second of 3 days off, before I lose 5 days of my life with 4 nightshifts over the weekend. Sigh.

I did three shifts with two nights early this week. Good shifts, if slightly mad. Really busy on Monday night. Dementedly so, poor coordinator was tearing her hair out. I happened to be in the rooms in her eyeline so every time I walked past I would get another little job to do. "quick - 29 weeker coming in, wants to push, you're it!" The woman arrives, screeches to a halt in a room with a big resus unit hastily assembled in a just cleaned room, not very distressed or labouring particularly, a little pain arrives, doesn't palp too strongly, yes waters have broken...or have they? The story is convincing with a witness. Ooh, baby's coming! she wails. Can I check? May I begin? Cervix long and closed and tucked away behind baby's head, just where it belongs. Excellent. Good news! You're not going to have your baby in the next hour. Lets take you back around to the assessment unit, where you can get sorted and admitted. Its too late for a fetal fibronectin test (which will indicate if she's likely to labour in the next week) as I have examined her, but it turns out she is known to staff as a 'frequent flyer' with every little thing and vague twinge. Ambulance guys have to take things on face value and bring em in, and if things were as presented we were ready to deal with it. As it was the floor of that room could now continue to dry undisturbed.

I had been sent to theatre on arrival for a breech CS. Lovely couple, sweet baby, wet and steaming to her chest, alert and responsive. Great photos, happy relatives. I was happily present when the grandparents learned the sex of their newborn first grandchild and saw him, travelling with us to the ward. Joy all around. Told her about a clinic at our hospital for women experiencing second birth after CS, so she could start planning her next birth. Back to LBS and had a cuppa.

Technically had 2 women at this point, being induced. Gave antibiotics to one of them. The other one was snoring. Got given another woman, a multip in early labour at 4cm, contracting irregularly...but who knows, sometimes multiparous women only need half an hour of good contractions before they produce the goods. Settled her into a room on my corridor (yeah, I had a whole one to myself by this time) and went in search of a listening lead for my CTG. Bloody hell, none to be found. Grabbed a handheld Doptone and made use of that instead. Major language barrier, my Mandarin is not that hot, but we established a pleasant simple rapport as I listened in and then made tea for her and her mother. I left her to it and popped in each half hour. She went off the boil, well....was never really simmering in my time with her anyway. She went on to birth at 11-ish in the morning.

In the meantime I was still dogsbodying my way through the night, attending an imminent birth of a 7th child, there was thick meconium so I called a paed for the birth and prepared the cot in case he didn't make it in time. The fetal heartrate dropped dramatically, and the baby was not coming despite vigorous pushing from the experienced mum. Sunny-side up, we all said, but the heartrate was getting really low. We'd called a few docs when the FH dropped and they quickly attached a simple suction device and helped baby out, covered in mec. He was floppy and flat as a tack, but we didn't stimulate him immediately, as the paed needed to suck out his airway so he didn't breathe mec into his lungs. HR was 40 while we poised ourselves ready to commence chest compressions, right, GO! A minute of compressions and oxygen saw his heartrate improve but he was still completely non-responsive and floppy, I ducked out to grab an oximeter from the room next door (where the 29 weeker didn't deliver) and when I came back baby was squawking and starfishing and protesting at his awakening. Poor little mite, it was all a bit sudden, but he was down and on the way out, and as much as I promote gentle birth, I was quite glad to see him yelling. I stayed there for another half hour, to get him settled and cuddled up and fed, and documenting the resus, then returned to my odd jobs. I was most grateful to get a dinner break, then I received another semi-labouring second-timer who had a quick birth last time. She too was not quite ready to labour, but I made her comfortable, hubby re-parked the car (during which time she didn't have a single contraction) and she went on to birth at 5.30 later that day. I handed over 3 women to 3 different midwives and staggered home, literally walking home half asleep.

The next night I was allocated to first-timer who had been stuck at 2 cm, on stacks of synto. Everyone assumed she was for the chop, but my student and I breezed in with positive attitudes and explained about cervical effacement and assured her that the cervix was ready to get on with it now and start dilating. And it came true! Her epidural had been working really well, and continued to do so. The trace had been really good, and was mostly good still, it just had a pattern of decelerations one sees with head compression, followed by a period of sleep where the trace looks quiet. We worked our butts off in that room, keeping the trace well monitored, adjusting the receivers, keeping the epidural well topped up, fending off doctors who kept showing up and scaring the woman, talking about 'heart rate dips, can only do it for so long, then they get tired' wanting to do fetal scalp samples, but every time that dear little baby showed a fabulous acceleration when it was needed and warded off intervention. In the end she was born easily and quite beautifully, despite the doctors inviting themselves into the room and standing at the end of the bed and itching to get their hands in there, and asking if we had episiotomy scissors. We held them off, almost literally, and the little one emerged via the student and I to her stunned and thrilled Mum and grandma, after a mammoth effort. The doctors disappeared like magic, and the student and I dealt with a snapped cord and got the placenta out without them, whole and intact, although we did invite the doctors back to do some straightforward suturing and assist with management of a slow PPH, which had been anticipated after that much synto. There was no CS. There was no transfer to theatre for placenta removal, there was a beautiful healthy 3.7kg baby and her Mum staying in the same room, where they had stoically borne their labour together. It was a great result really.

I was sad that the docs felt they had a right to come in uninvited and stand at the end of the bed, scolding her at her to 'push into your bottom' (as if any of them had ever done it themselves). If we hadn't been there they would have held her vagina open so they could see the descent and crowning better! I feel sad that they so rarely see the way a midwife conducts a birth, with gentle encouragement and positive language. We see their way of work frequently, and frankly it can be pretty brutal sometimes. It is noteworthy when its not. Sometimes it seems that they know no other way but fear and mistrust of birth, and litigation, and invading the privacy of the moment in their relentless quest for accountability. We will call them in if we need them. We do, honestly. Just like we did for the little one with thick mec and the really declining heart rate. I like having docs there to expand the skill level if need be. They are our back-up. We work together. I don't mean to doctor-bash. This is more a doctor-whinge maybe. But when they come in uninvited I can sometimes hear myself sounding a bit terse as I respond to their appearance, at which time I politely and pointedly introduce them to the woman and her family as if they had entered the woman's home, which in effect, the birthing space is, or should be. I try to believe that they KNOW this is the case, but somehow they don't behave that way. I'm sure they think I'm a grumpy cow towards them some days. Thats to the ones that aren't arrogant. When they are being mentored by the insufferably arrogant, they are just asking for terseness.

But I can guarantee them this. If, and when, any of them are in my care when they are labouring and birthing I will protect their rights to privacy and advocate just as strongly on their behalf as I do for any woman I care for. And I will use my clinical judgement to call for back-up when the situation warrants it.

Because I love being a midwife.

Friday, October 9, 2009

In a spin

Thankyou for all your best wishes on the blogiversary and the MIPP thing.

I am putting some plans in place to gain some experience in a different style of midwifery. I have some role models, some contacts. Approaches have been made.

I have been a bit flat out: with work, illness, resting (snort), planning and organising for a major event on November, overseeing my daughter in a work experience placement and the transport training for that. I've been reading a bit (Russell Brand - My booky-wook- fascinating 8/10, and the new Dan Brown ' The Lost Symbol' - formulaic 6/10). Trying to stay relaxed. Taking the tablets. Can I just say that labrynthitis sucks. Big time. I like having my head and my world steady. Without drugs. Its most weird. But at least I know that I don't have a brain tumour, or was not having a stroke at that time. Despite very raised blood pressure for a short time (its absolutely fine now). That's a good thing. Phew. Sigh. Did you notice some of the mutually exclusive things on the above list?

And don't talk to me about mobile phones that go all independent of thought. Mine keeps turning itself off. Just without warning. Its most inconvenient, when there is so much to do.

Its been a strange week.

Finally, Frogdancer and Victoria - there are presents on the way to you both by the end of the month. That's as good a deadline as I can deal with at the moment.

Right, work have called, they are short of an idiot / midwife, and my number came up. So much for extended days off.

See ya.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy October

Its the first day of October. How did that happen?

I have two announcements.

First - I missed my blogiversary on September 28th. Gasp! Very few of you would remember this, my first post, two years ago. But looking back at the posts from the end of 2007 they are not too appalling, probably better then the whiny dross I have dished up lately, but with less Wild Women.
This (above) is Marina, she lives with Kelly now. Below is Jaune, who lives with my sister Helen. In response to a question....Jaune is legless, as is Marina if one looks carefully. Thanks Kelly for looking carefully.

If I were better organised I would have a draw or something, with a prize. But as I haven't yet sent the de-stash prize won by Victoria in February- because I never actually DID the de-stash and therefore never identified the said goods- I feel bad, because you couldn't be said to be at the head of the queue. Yes that's right, it means I am still sitting in the same craft room mess (the very same) as I was in February. Was that TMI? Deal with it.

Anyway, I'm sure I could be persuaded to have fun with a creation of a random small gift for a commenter, and whatever it is I will send an identical-ish item to you, Victoria. One that won't clutter up your 'packing to move house' dilemma. Making small items is a pleasure, and is the only way I get to craft much these days.

So, it seems this IS now a giveaway situation (can you see this evolving before your eyes? Yeah, me too) with the leaving of a comment as the entry point.

In other news, as of today I am registered as a midwife in private practice.

I have no clients, have not advertised, and no particular plans, but have assembled some equipment so I can do antenatal and postnatal visits only at this stage, and I'll take it from there. It was out of a sense of solidarity with private midwives that the govt was threatening to outlaw homebirths and claiming it only affects about 200 midwives. Dammit! How dare they remove women's choices like that and ignore the wishes of women to choose homebirth with a known midwife, I thought, I'll make it 201 and stand with them........and besides, it never hurts to ruffle a few feathers. I know the Australian College of Midwives is working very hard behind the scenes to turn this situation around. I truly believe this battle will be won in the medium term. The evidence is just too strong. So . . . I filled in a form to notify the WA Health Department of my intention to practise as a midwife in private practice as of this date. and. sent. it. off. Many others have done similarly with less experience. I have people to guide me. I have trust in my knowledge and women's bodies. Antenatal and postnatal I can do. Its a start.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Hello? Anyone still there? (sounds of crickets chirping)

I have had some more plane related mishaps and hiccups. As a consequence I have had only one day at home in the last 9 days...yeah, yeah, excuses excuses, and a to-do list a mile long. .. in the next 2 days before I work for 5 further days. I really do have a lot to tell you. But typing time. . .. . is short. I met Kelly and her family and had a delicious dinner (see her account of it here). I attended 4 full days of information about national registration, MidPLUS, Midwifery Practice Review, MBS and PBS, and other practical midwifery stuff. I talked, I schmoozed, I ATE, I shopped, I danced, I laughed and cried. It was really super. Photos WILL follow, I promise.

Check out this you-tube clip for an upcoming video....it looks really interesting. I saw it on Public Health Doula, a little blog I have just started subscribing to. Its about how the media shapes one's view of birth, but this film shows the real deal. The real site it's from is here. It seems you can order a DVD.


See if you can guess my favourite birth moment in the clip. I'd love to hear which snippet strikes you. (ooh, you commenters are good! You have picked two of my three faves, go for gold now and complete the trifecta)

And....Tomorrow is a special day. That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gotta fly!

HI gang

Sorry for the absence....Its been a madhouse in my house!

I am quickly checking in to say 'see ya!' I'm off to Adelaide for a conference, and I get to meet Kelly of Taurus Rising, who has kindly offered to pick me up and feed me dinner. Bless her heart. I don't know anyone else in Adelaide so it will be lovely to be met and oriented somewhat by a local.

Thereafter, from early Tuesday morning I will be bombarded with Stuff About Midwifery. I can't wait (no, honestly, I AM looking forward to it). There'll be a big bunch of us, so we'll have a bit of a laugh as well, but I will be boggled in the mind department by the time I leave.

Somehow I have got a few days off from work, but I've worked all this weekend, with the same woman, and the same student midwife. Its been really great. This woman had so many special needs with her complex medical care, and had been so brave despite panicky patches that we just had to see her through, so at 3.24pm this afternoon we witnessed her baby girl FINALLY emerge into the world via the surgeons. It was such a slog for her, and the baby was so sweet, and pink and pretty. The family waiting outside theatre were thrilled to bits. It almost made me cry. Almost.

I am in a mad state, haven't started packing yet, but washing is done (phew), presents to get ready, a few things at the shops, hubby wants to see a movie this evening, so I had better get off the computer and pull my finger out and get. it. all. done.

See you in a week.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A week in dot points

  • If you're looking for something midwife-y and moving today...sorry...I don't have much However.....I've seen some yummy babies born.
  • Father's day was really lovely at both ends, with young Dads greeting their first-borns, along with both Grandads in the labour room until it got intense i.e. time for pushing...then I cheerfully turfed them out to the waiting room with a hearty "Its time to go guys, next time I see you it will be with congratulations!" They were quite happy to go, while the young Dad jigged with excitement by the woman's side. He was soooooo happy to be meeting his son, and his 19y.o. partner did a lovely job of pushing the baby out. Both so accepting of the role ahead, breastfeeding promptly, then taking the baby out to meet his two grandfathers on Father's Day. Really sweet.
  • Night shift. The work is good, the staff are great, the workload ridiculous at times, with barely a lull in proceedings, (trying not to) rush from room to room, turning on the charm again and again to butter up a new room of folk, just waiting, waiting, trying not to make any promises one can't keep. Coping with emergencies. Hooley dooley, we had one really big one last weekend, there were just two midwives present and my colleague saved a woman's life, literally, with bimanual compression. She kept it up while I called in for help again after the initial stuff had seemed to work, then I lifted her onto the bed so it sould continue all the way to theatre. It was mind-boggling, but she survived. Its never dull in our place, but a bit more peace would be very welcome.
  • At home, my daughter has now spent her second week home alone since her workplace closed unexpectedly. BUGGER! She had made such a lovely start and was really gaining confidence, now she is job-hunting again, back to filling in heaps of forms and getting to know a new bunch, and they her. Sigh. And she needs company alot so I am unable to get any time alone to craft etc. Sigh. It gives me cabin fever, but she suffers it too, especially when I am sleeping on night shift. Double sigh.
  • My hubby has been unwell with a bad elbow joint, septic bursitis they are calling it. He was admitted to hospital for IV antibiotics yesterday and is now home, although the area of redness and swelling is re-growing (i think) since he came home. He still feels quite unwell, but as he hates hospitals with a passion he was very keen to be discharged. He unfortunately won't let me fuss over him too much, much as I want to. I hope he doesn't have to be re-admitted, cos that might mean surgery.
  • While he was in hospital I got to visit a friend who has been in for a fortnight and I have barely been able to see her due to nightshift. She needs a bit of TLC, and I feel bad not being available to provide it except by text.
  • While Don was being ferried back and forth and admitted etc, I took Steff to swimming, and then attended a fundraiser I had committed to helping with a month or more ago. My mind was not quite with it, I must confess.
  • And then we (Steff and I) went out to my sister's for dinner. We had a roast which was very yummy, and Steff had made a dessert while Don was being diagnosed. My brother-in-law was disappointed to be missing his drinking buddy. I came home just after 9.30 and couldn't settle and went to bed way too late, sleeping heavily in the end alone in the bed.
  • Don is home now, and still not terrific, but on oral antibiotics, and sleeping currently. We have made cake to feed to visitors who will NOT find him in hospital and will drop in at home. He most determinedly spent the day prowling around his garden, revelling in the sunshine, and now he is knackered. I'm off to take his temperature and be his nurse and give him drugs.
  • Its been a strange weekend, after a lost week on nightshift.

  • Sorry about that. You can fill in the blanks....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Correspondent's report

Hi Laura,

Time is flying past. Tom-Tom now 2.5yo. Still cute, fun and full of energy. He's talking very well now.

I hope these don't take too long to download for you.

love Jo



Thankyou so much, I actually ACHED with longing when I saw that child in the photos and now I'm in tears cos I miss him (and you, my darling) so much.
I want to get on a plane right now and bring you all HERE!!!!!

Why don't you live next door? Why has my sister moved back to Perth so I don't go through Melbourne or nearby lately!!!!!! Dammit!
I am heading to Adelaide on Sept 21st for the conference, and wish you were coming too. Rats.

We truly need to live closer together so I can smooch your lovely children. (throbs with longing for those gorgeous kids....) Tom is unbearably beautiful, I bet he is such fun chattering away and dragging cats around. The photos of him with Darwin are gorgeous, and Georgie is looking like a mini-you. I'm sure Andy was just moving too fast to be captured on film! I just can barely believe how much I love that Tom-Tom, and am especially thrilled to be the first to have seen his sweet face. This midwifery deal is a pretty special gig.

I have just surfaced today after a stint of night shift so will rejoin the land of the living...the work on LBS at night is very absorbing but can be torrid at times, last night was one of those, just pulled from room to room with IOL left right and centre, and the previous night's ones still lingering and only just producing the goods 24 hrs later, or failing and having CS. I had a nice baby at 5.53am by vacuum, compound presentation which meant the Mum's epidural wasn't as effective while she was pushing - you know how they really hurt that extra bit with a hand as well. OUCH. The Mum was so loving and gorgeous to her baby as soon as she was out, it was beautiful to see. Three minutes later, at 0600 was a birth (with another midwife) to a multip who I had cared for initially that night before being moved, and as I left at 7.40am I stopped by theatre to see another primip who had not gone into labour after a tough 24 hours of trying, and was about to meet her babe by CS. I had been caring for her as well last night, and she headed off to OT just as I was in the thick of things for the vacuum, so another midwife took her up. Its all go I tell ya!

Has it really been 9 months since you moved in? Time flies! Any further midwifery work for you? What else you been up to?- as if those gorgeous monkeys aren't enough to keep you fully occupied.

Anyway...I will call you soon,

Thanks again so much for sending those pics (get Georgie to take one of you too!)

Much love, dear friend, I really miss you

Laura x x x x x

Friday, September 4, 2009

Recycled homes

This is a fabulous article and slideshow.

I saw it and pinched it from Rixa.


The homes he builds are just stunning! They would make me consider moving.

Laying low

I am here, alive, just on night shift, and quite absorbed in the other doings of life.

Thankyou all so much for your kind words about my memories of my Dad. He was quite a man. I have enjoyed seeing that photo on my blog.

I am reading everyone else's blogs, dropping comments here and there, I just haven't had much chance to post as I am sharing the computer with the boy wonder currently as well. There's fierce competition.

What else have I been up to?

I have had a sister turn 40.

We have lost a dear cousin to lung cancer after a brief illness. As this branch of the family are Tassie there have been many phonecalls, and flowers sent, and notices lodged. It is not fair to lose such a lively witty man, who had such depths that he hid so readily. He follows his late son, his only child who died in a car crash about 15 years ago. He was loved by many.

Stephanie has finished work for now, as her site closed unexpectedly with short notice. She is now going to pursue open employment (gulp) as the alternative supported placements are probably not for her, sadly. We're all putting a brave face on it but it is disappointing after she was settling in so well and experiencing some success. The new phase involves MANY appointments, not always easy to fit in with shift work, or her Dad's work commitments.

I have worked 20 hours, and been flat tack with some very messy and tricky cases. Had a birth just in the nick of time 7 minutes before knock off yesterday morning, that kept me busy for a further hour or more. This was after a pretty torrid night, but we were grateful to see this baby and end his Mum's suffering ... she really suffered, quite unusually given the numbers of measures in place for her comfort, but it happens sometimes. Her little one really needed to be out for complicated reasons and finally he emerged in a fragile state, into the arms of paeds who resuscitated him very well and he is doing OK in the nursery where he can finish growing without relying on an abrupting placenta!

And today a new baby was born into the Tassie family, another grandchild to dear cousin Susan and her husband Richard, after the loss of her elder brother last week. They will welcome two more grandchildren by Xmas, one from each of their surviving 3 children. They too lost an adult daughter in a separate motorbike accident over a decade ago. They are stoic and brave, but I know they all miss seeing her become a parent along with her siblings.

Welcome to the world Abel Craig, named after your Mum's cousin. Babies are such a treasure.

And finally in the midst of it all I have been quite obsessed with playing Bejewelled Blitz on Facebook. It is VERY BAD. And VERY ADDICTIVE. The chink-chinking sound of the jewels clicking into place sends me into a trance and I spend waaaaay too much time developing RSI in my tapping-the-mousepad finger..... I am fairly disciplined with it, and set myself a time limit but I have been known to exceed it. I'm doing fairly well though....

Today I have been a housefrau staying in to see the refrigerator repair man...who informs me that I need a new fridge. When I think about it the old one is 21 years old! Its done very well, but I'm sure there are much more energy efficient ones available. We kind of chose one this evening, with a 5.5 star rating, but then came home to rearrange the kitchen a bit to accommodate it, so I'll go back and buy it for real tomorrow. Isn't my life scintillating?

Well, I'm off to bed, very late but I'm between night shifts and its barely worth retraining my body clock after 2 shifts on with 3 off before 4 more nights, so I've been staying up late. Sigh.

Thanks for feeding the fishies!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dennis' daughter

Eighty years ago today my father was born in a little place called Wylkatchem, Western Australia.

From what I know of it he had a tough early life.

He was a young boy in the Depression. The second of three children, much later there was a fourth. Life was hard. I don't know when it was that Grandma became a single parent after the breakdown of the marriage, but I know times were tough.

Dad talked of living (as a child) on the banks of the river in a tent. This was in Perth. He talked of being in a reform school in his teens in Sydney.

He was a man's man. Largely self-taught. He valued education but was wary of the arrogance of class privilege that often came with an educated person's lifestyle.

He was very intelligent, with an easy grasp of most subjects - especially in the science engineering and physics field. He could do fantastic technical drawings. He could make anything structural of steel to any specifications. He could weld.

He drove taxis. He rode motorbikes with sidecars at the Speedway. He drove trucks, including big prime movers. He could repair any engine, on any machine.

He was a Mason. He valued service and integrity. He valued family. He could hold a grudge.

He preferred plain cooking, but appreciated good slow Italian cooking, a bit of Chinese and a good Singaporean chilli crab.

In his later years he worked as a mechanic, an engineering estimator, and a security guard.

He respected guns, and taught me to shoot. He took me out driving in every vehicle my license would allow me to drive, so I could be confident to drive anything I got behind, except somehow he never taught me to back a trailer. Oops. Still, I've driven tractors, trucks, stick shifts, column shifts, automatics, vintages and you-name-its.

He loved lollies, and had quite a sweet tooth. He was fiercely independent and very private. We didn't have a lot, but we had enough and I felt rich, and secure. He played Lotto. He had his chair, a recliner rocker that was hotly contested as long as he was not in it. This is how I remember him very clearly. I'm delighted I have such a 'like' photo of him, and although there are others of him around, this is a beauty. Cropped out is the cat at his feet.

He loved to fish, and I wish I could lay my hands on a wonderful photo of him holding two enormous deep sea dhufish, after a great day of fishing, the cats at his feet. He loved his cats. He loved dogs too, and used to breed dachshunds when I was a small child, but my Mum didn't like dogs, so they had to go.

He was a hoarder, a pack rat. Remind you of anyone? You should have seen his shed when he died. I still have some of his stuff, including his diary from the year I was born, noting my birth. I treasure his handwriting.

He loved his four daughters, and always vowed that he was more than happy to be the father of four girls, with no sons. I was born when he was 32, the last of us a few days after his 40th birthday. I remember making him a card for his 40th. This week I will make a 40th card for that sister.

He was allegedly domestically capable, but this was rarely demonstrated. Instead he was waited on hand and foot, his cuppa quickly fetched within minutes of his return after a hard day's work.

He was a sparse drinker who enjoyed a tipple but rarely over-indulged. Gift bottles of whisky would last for years, eked out in his occasional Irish coffee. He always smoked however, for a few years it was a pipe, later rollies.

I have a treasured memory of him in the last days of his life, in a palliative care unit at the time, sitting outside on a patio, offering me his ancient woollen dressing gown against the evening cold, while he rolled a smoke. We sat together peaceably for a time and then he was tired and I tucked him back in bed. It was the last conversation we ever shared.

The next morning he slipped into unconsciousness, and was taken home where we spent the next 48 hours preparing to let him go. He was barely rousable. The only words he spoke that weekend were of love. "Th'nk you" "Love you" as we turned him, or cleaned him, or stroked him. It was pretty special, and a great privilege to nurse him at the end of his life. He died peacefully on a Sunday at lunchtime, hours after seeing an old friend from Speedway days. We laid him out in his full Masonic regalia, as a Past Master, with family photos in his pocket, his XXXX strong peppermints, money for the paper. The months of his illness had finally seen the grease stains fade from his fingertips, and the undertakers somehow buffed out the welding sparks from his glasses. We were so astonished that we each commented on it at the viewing.

He was a man of dignity and few words, but occasionally he would rabbit on about an unlikely topic. He spoke to all men. He loved children, and called them all Charlie. Five of his grandchildren were born in his lifetime, luckily mine, as the eldest, knew him. The working windmill and swing he built for my kids are still in my yard.

He died one month after he turned 65, from pancreatic cancer, a fast and aggressive cancer that took no prisoners. It is on both sides of the family, and I feel a little daunted at the thought that I may have seen my future end. I hope I have the courage and dignity he showed.

I miss him, and yet I don't. Everything he was to me, he still is. A guide, a mentor, a role model. Steadfast, old-fashioned but interested in innovation. I have his lessons, and he is within me. I often sense his presence. Sometimes I hear myself laughing his throaty deep chuckle. Of course I do miss him, and love him, his acceptance and insights. Even now, fifteen years after his passing, I still have the instinct to tell him something. He was a thinker. I wish he could visit, but maybe he does. I know he would be proud of me, of the Laura I am today. Except he called me Jane. Its a long story. I'm not sure what he'd make of us all now. Things have really changed a lot for our family, not all for the better.

But, today I celebrate the anniversary of his birth. The roast dinner is on. I will raise a glass. Writing this has led to more than a tear or two (where're the tissues when you need them?). This is my favourite photo of my Dad and I together on my wedding day in 1985.And I am proud to be Dennis' daughter.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Learning curves

Just when you think you've got a handle on things...some toughies come your way.

Its been a rough week.

Can't really talk about it.

Some of it is up to God. It was another one that would NOT have been good at home.

But it was topped off by a little boy born 'sunny side up' this morning. Yep, I guess that really was an anterior fontanelle at 2 o'clock on VE. Little devil.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


A bit of fun I discovered while playing blog follow-on. I got to 24!

The fishies follow the cursor :)

Sigh. Back to the real world.

Friday, August 7, 2009

If it quacks like a duck...

THIS is the attention seeking duck. It quacked, and whined, and waddled up and down, and carried on until I took its photo and then it stopped. I'm not kidding. Go figure.
This the annoying, attention seeking duck's friend, who swam quietly without fuss. I took two photos of this one, to reward good behaviour.
This is what my husband insisted was a greater crested grebe.He vowed that it was really rare and we should take a photo of it. So I did. For posterity, in case it became extinct overnight. Funnily enough this 'grebe' had a lot of cousins in Stresa, and on the Borromeo islands.
This is a tree stump on Isola Bella. You can see the attraction, no?
And more of the gardens. You really musn't encourage me.
OK, I'll stop now. Genuine Paris photos next time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Italy pics (image heavy)

Ooh, I have forgotten to post any photos from Italy or Paris. Italy first, starting in Milan. Here is the Duomo, that we so loved. Isn't it pretty? It looks like a piece of starched lace, it has such a lightness about it. Sadly the interior is quite gloomy and one can't take photos...ooops...how did those get there?
This is the Victor Emmanuel Galleria (with the McDs inside). It had the usual beautiful floors. Don despairs of me taking photos of ceilings and floors, but I am a slave to beauty.
We were in Milan for Fashion week. There were lots of Beautiful Young Things sloping about. Purple is very big at the moment, and even the men's shops were full of purple pants and shirts (and of course the usual Italian obsession with red pants, or mustard pants for men...shudder). You would have loved it, Stomper. We found supermarkets and ate al fresco and had a lovely dinner in a little restaurant. The clothing stores were many and varied, and they even had a big girls shop, but sadly we didn't have time, or room in the case. I survived.
Then off by train to Stresa. We skirted the mountains we had flown over the previous day and arrived at our little hotel, with a second floor walk-up room. It was really nice. This is the view from my pillow. It was Italy folks. Lago Maggiore was quite, quite lovely. There was a small chain of islands, the Borromeo islands near the shore at Stresa and we went over to them by water taxi on our last day. Just looking at them was really nice, especially in the dusk light. This is the restaurant cafe where I accessed the internet during my stay, and we had dinner there on the first night. It was delicious.

On my rambles around the town(s) I saw gorgeous stone walls and buildings. I saw really sweet lizards (Note, no lizards were licked to back this statement). I even found a junkyard that I itched to fossick in, but restrained myself, more from lack of sufficient Italian to explain myself as a junk obsessed Aussie whose Dad had a great shed, and how it makes me nostalgic for him ..... oh, and the suitcase thing. Sigh.
I had to amuse myself while hubby was away at his conference somehow! I took a cable car up a mountain. I saw enormous tadpoles in an alpine pond. I saw cows and goats in a forest from the air. I rested in a lakeside pirate cove with pretty stones.
The conference dinner was held in a lovely ballroom. See? I am in the pic somewhere. We came home to the news of Michael Jackson's death. Funny heh? The associations that we will always make with that night. I met some interesting people, ate from silver plates and had great food. The floorshow was an interesting piece of cabaret - a shadow maker who depicted famous people - so simple, so ... weird ... but very effective. Almost every photo from that night has a silver line across people's faces from flash bounceback off the silver plates. One of the unexpected drawbacks of wealth (cough) and privilege.

The next day we went to the islands. They were gorgeous. Of course. Interesting little winding streets, old, old buildings. One island, Isola Pescatori, had a cat sanctuary for homeless cats. We found this motheaten old moggy who looks like an older, sleeker version of our cat at home, Phoenix. Puss was nobly ignoring the taunts of these cheeky swallows. When you used the public loos the contributions went to support the cats.

The largest island, Isola Bella, had long been a playground for the rich and powerful. The Duke of Borromeo (or was he a bishop.... anyway), he had a palace on this island which was open to the public along with the very famous terraced gardens. The palace contained one level that was all 'underground' and stone covered, a grotto, for use in the summer. It still contained amazing pieces of sculpture. Napoleon slept in this bed. There was an enormous tapestry gallery. The amount of money to build this place must have been staggering. Mussolini has dined in the restaurants, along with many famous actors and even a Pope. The views from the gardens looked back towards the mainland and the village of Stresa. It was really pretty gorgeous, if a bit OTT Italian style. We were impressed, but cool about it.
Are you getting sick of photos yet? Sorry. It is very hard to whittle it all down. There were interesting things in many place: gardens, tree stumps, views, angles, attention-seeking ducks, inebriated husbands....I'll spare you that one, but I do have lots of photos of him hooting like a monkey.
Next time, Paris!