Thursday, January 29, 2009

Welcome to Holland

I wonder if you have read or heard of this piece before?

It has been in my mind lately for many reasons.

byEmily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you are going to have a baby, it is like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I am supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

Nevertheless, there's been a change in the flight plan. They have landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they have not taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. You must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

Its just a different place. Its slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. Moreover, for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Its true. Some families only ever get to speak Italian. They never think twice about it.

Some commute back and forth from Italy (that can be very confusing). An Italian kid and a Dutch kid in the same family. Some of us have Dutch uncles :)

We become bilingual. Its a talent. An art. Not one we aspired to from an early age, but still...

For those who find themselves in Holland - welcome to the club.

And congratulations to my little Dutchie, my little spekulaas, for landing a job. Woo-hoo!

I wouldn't change you for all the pasta in the world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good news

I just picked up my camera!!!! Yay!

Bad news - hubby is away and I miss him already.

He's my favourite squeeze AND he cooks, cleans, shops, vacuums and gardens. In addition to working really, really, ridiculously hard as an academic.

I should be a better wife.

We really do need more time together. Alone.

Did I tell you we're going to Italy in June? and maybe Amsterdam?

(screams quietly in excitement). Can't wait.

Friday, January 23, 2009

From chocolates to boiled lollies

We are encouraged to ask women about their intentions re contraception prior to discharge from hospital.

One of the consultants stood at the desk and urged us all, loudly, to keep it up because we see some pretty sick women (well, we do) who are not doing their bodies any favours by imposing a pregnancy upon it. Parturient autonomy anyone?

On that topic, I had one such woman in my care on the postnatal ward the day after my dreamy day on LBS. She was 30 and had just had a premie baby, her first. She had a number of underlying conditions and I was having the talk with her about her contraception plans.

I won't be needing any.

Are you sure? Unplanned randomness can happen you know.

I'm seeing a woman, so it won't be a problem.

Oh, I see. Fair enough. Were you seeing a fella for a while to get your baby or did you make other arrangments to conceive?

Whaddya mean? (frowning)

Well, women with female partners sometimes arrange for a friend to be a semen donor and they turkey baste to get a baby, or they will have a short term arrangement in order to conceive. You did say you were seeing a woman didn't you? That you have a female partner?

I said I'm a single woman. A S-I-N-G-L-E woman. That's why I won't be needing anything. And I don't like no oysters! Geez!


She saw the funny side of it.

I'm very inclusive. So sensitive. And a bit deaf it seems.

My bad.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Number forty six

All good things come to those who wait. (Yes bold Em, I'm talking to you).

Today I was unexpectedly sent to LBS.

I arrived 4 minutes after the birth of a little one, to a primip who had laboured beautifully and quickly, a few stitches (not by me), done and dusted. I had a student midwife with me who was just terrific, really efficient with obs etc. The couple were pretty pleased with themselves, baby fed promptly, gave him his top to toe check on Mum's tummy, he was really relaxed. All was good.

Mum was in the shower and almost ready to go to the ward when I was called to another room.

It was another labouring primip, already 7cm dilated. I took handover and she stayed standing up at the windowsill. She was attended by husband and mother who were doing really well with massage, and she was rocking, not making much sound.

After a while she informed me there was 'something there'. I peeped and there was a pouting bottom, that went away with the contraction's end. But I knew there was a baby not far behind!

I kept peeking up her dress with contractions, seeing a bit of poop here, a bulge there. She was trying not to push, just let the contractions do the work.

It worked. What a genius, what a natural she was.

On the fifth look, there was definite perineal bulging and .....a head on view! I got the hubby to push the bell to call another midwife for the imminent birth, and asked her if she wanted to stay standing up for the birth. No, I want to get on the bed. Then you'd better be quick! I replied.

The second midwife turned up, I got my gloves on and the head was there, then slipped back after the contraction. Just enough time for the student midwife to come skidding in the door and scramble into a pair of gloves. We caught the baby together after a slow and gentle crowning, then a quick restitution and baby slithered out in a hurry, with a hand under the chin.

What is it? Mum asked - I don't know - you tell me! Its a girl! she cried Yes! I prayed for this!

There were sobs of delight, repeated thankyous and much joy in the room. Baby A blinked and looked around at all the grinning adults, pink and perfect and alert. She was calm and observant and very pretty. Her parents were just delighted, and so they should be. We midwives were most fulsome in our praise for them too. Such a clever woman, such a fantastic labourer, she made it look easy. We were stoked.

Unfortunately there were quite a few stitches needed here and there, nothing catastrophic but a bit ouchy initially. She was really great again, and turned to me for support during the stitching, which doesn't often happen, but I was really pleased to be 'with woman' in this way. She slipped her hand in mine, our heads were close and she asked softly that I tell her a I began.

Once upon a time...there was a lovely young woman who was having her first baby, and when it was time to labour she was really brave and strong and beautiful and stayed home for a long time while her contractions came thick and fast. And when she got to hospital she was already near the end. And so she kept labouring beautifully, talking to her midwife when she needed to and telling her when the baby's head was there. And then she pushed out her baby easily and calmly, and everyone was very proud of her, and she was proud of herself, because she had done an amazing job bringing her baby to the world. What a miraculous thing is the female body, and the process of birth. God is very good.

It was such a special thing. I have never had a woman ask me for that before, and I was surprised that I slipped so automatically into storytelling mode, as if she was a child. She wasn't of course, but it seemed right. And she responded shyly but with delight to hear her tale already the stuff of legend. I told her that she should think about having her next baby at home, or in a birth centre as she had done so well she was an ideal candidate.

The baby remained calm and alert, and fed well and easily. It was really special. Her prayers were answered...and so were mine.

How delightful to spend the day with two new mothers who birthed with such power and ease. With two sweet, calm babies who didn't fuss but just responded well to their natural instincts. And to work with a student midwife who was so competent and thoughtful. We had a chat at tea, about how moved we frequently are at seeing women birthing so strongly, trusting their bodies to follow the physiological process, and how it all can go so smoothly. It is a privilege like no other, to be a witness to these births.

To top off our lovely day, on the board where the women's names are logged room by room, and they are noted as 6cm, delivered, or whatever, next to our room the coordinator had written:

"Delivered, beautifully"

I love being a midwife

Monday, January 19, 2009

I am here.

Just busy....being good.

Typing minutes while at the computer instead of blogging.

Seeing High School Musical 3 with the girls (finally) - OMG it was sooooo great, I really loved it. Ahem. No... was good clean fun, with much UST (unresolved sexual tension). You could just tell that they were dying to get it on. And the music makes so much more sense in context, and it was much funnier than I thought it would be, and slightly less cheesy. And we went with A, who was squealing with delight. She is pretty well, if scarred. Its been good to see her twice this week, for two sleepovers and much cuddling. Concerns continue, but cuddling is reassuring.

Watching Northern Exposure on DVD - a real blast from the past, and still quirky and funny.

Op-shopping a bit. De-stashing in my head (sorry Vic, you're the ONLY recipient, it will be an awaited pleasure -soon).

Nursing a very tender ingrown and infected big toe that I can barely reach due to the stiffness of my back (since long ago surgery). I am trying to be a tough wuss, but my son thinks the faces I pull when hubby drips alcohol on it to dry it out (while gripping it tighter than he knows) are hysterical. I am trying not to vomit in pain, and he's snickering. He's very lucky he didn't have to push out (himself) as a 10lb baby. Adorable swine.

Going to work a lot.

No playing of bingo. Not much reading. NO crafting (hmmph).

Lots of Bloglining.

Trying to sleep in dodgy heat of 22 - 25C overnight. Sigh.

Looking forward to holidays.

Not getting the camera fixed yet. Tomorrow.

Growing my hair. Down one day, up the next. With flowers, clips, pretties etc. Very girlie.

Checking out pizza ovens. We are likely to build one ourselves from a kit. What fun! I've always wanted to try mosaics! I know if I uncover/de-stash enough piles of books I will find the book I bought about how-to-mosaic (stop laughing Widget. You too Lesley). The oven will also be green (the colour) - to match the newly rendered wall that has finally been completed. We are scrounging tiles and china and materials.

Getting quotes for a bathroom renovation.

And so it goes. Keep in touch.

Monday, January 12, 2009

And the winner is...

Me! (cos no-one has asked me to interview them - not one - phew, I was worried there for a bit). This was meant to be me as an avatar. I made it ages ago, I've lost the link...sorry, thats a bit lame too.

But seriously...Victoria of Dear Meagan has won the random de-stash draw for my 100th post!

I'm pretty tickled about this, because last year I was lucky enough to receive two prints of Vic's lovely collages, which are on display and constantly catch my eye. As a result of this, and my fan-dom for her site, I have a pretty good idea of the kind of thing that she would like. I will try and take usable photos of the loot and show you when it has arrived in Victoria's place in Victoria.

Let the de-stashing begin while I search for Vic's email and snail mail address. Woo-hoo! Its a whisker cooler here after a heatwave of 14 days above 32C, with more to come later this week.

Are you bored with the no-photo thing? I am, sadly no repair yet, but I have the address.
I've been busy with work and meetings. I really do have lots of projects on the go, this is going to be an interesting year from the midwifery perspective. I have been gallivanting on a little secondment for a few weeks and getting a change of scene. Its fun, and I'm gaining experience in a whole new arena, but I confess I miss LBS. I miss birthing.
Come on number 46!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Interview me

My turn. (gulp) I volunteered via Rhubarb Whine. I've also seen it recently on Chapter III, Frogdancer, and others.

Bloggers volunteer to be subjects, and then you send them five probing questions by email. So here are my answers to the five questions Rhubarb asked me. In return, I invite any of you to email me or leave a comment saying ‘interview me’, and I’ll ask you five searing questions (I'll try not to embarass anybody).

1. You make references to op shopping fairly regularly. Laura, what is it about op shops that have you hooked, and what is your best ever find?
They are retail therapy at their most affordable. They involve recycling. Someone once loved that stuff, I might too, although there is frequently some very unloveable stuff. Mostly I love the thought of being able to get great quality fabrics, that are different from current fabric full-price, that makes interesting bags, quilts, etc. Its my own version of limited edition!

Some of it is nostalgia. My depression glass collection is a case in point. I only collect the clear heavier stuff, although I do have a soft spot for the glasses with a coloured bottom half with etched top bands from the fifties (my Nanna had them). I also inherited a gorgeous glass bowl of that era from my late mother-in-law (whom I never met) which was squarish, yet a folded up circle with curved semicircular top edges. It was broken by someone (18 yrs ago) while they were doing my washing up (bless them) and I miss it to this day. I s'pose I hope I'll find another one.

Best bargains? A Zegna tweed coat (made in Italy from Australian wool) for my son a few weeks ago for $8. Another Zegna suit spotted for $25 - not bought, my husband doesn't wear double breasted suits. Fabric galore, many designer business/casual shirts for a song, ostensibly for cutting up for quilts/bags but many snaffled for hubby. Op-shops are the place to buy your knitting needles (does their experience rub off?) and classic sewing patterns for next to nothing. And of course the recent Xmas tree banditry!

Yesterday I found another pretty glass bowl just right for jelly, in a pattern I hadn't seen before. And a small fabric bag with a lighthouse on it!

2. You are so very passionate in your writing, about your career and work in midwifery. If Government powers enabled huge funding additions to your speciality nursing, what would you like to see it spent on? Why?

First, can I pickily point out that midwifery is a separate profession to nursing and that one doesn't need to be a nurse in order to be a midwife. That said, I have no regrets about my dual qualifications.

I would love to see women better educated about the role of the midwife in the provision of care to child-bearing women. In Australia if a woman wants to see the same carer throughout her pregnancy - because these things do and should matter - then she will mostly attend a private obstetrician, because the medical and health insurance system is weighted that way in this country. There are very few private health insurance providers that offer coverage for the engagement of a private midwife to provide antenatal care, intrapartum care (labour and birth) and postnatal care. Yet a midwife is able to do all this for a well woman experiencing a normal pregnancy. Where there are conditions that fall outside the scope of 'normal' a midwife will refer for another opinion from a obstetrician colleague, who may be able to treat/advise/manage the arising condition and return her to the care of the midwife for the remainder of the pregnancy or who will take over the care for longer standing/more complex problems.

When it comes to labour and birth, women are also at the mercy of the funding models. Medicare provider numbers, i.e. the ability to raise a fee for consulting or service provided in the health system are currently restricted to doctors. Unfortunately most of the services that a midwife is qualified to offer a woman, so is a doctor - who can charge a fee for which the woman receives a rebate from the government. This is a Federal funding issue. And the rights to practice in a public hospital are also (in the vast majority) restricted to doctors. So there is an overlap of practise where the woman does not receive a rebate for services from midwife A, but gets one from doctor B. Who gets the market share do you think?

The largesse you have created for the purposes of this interview could be spent on Medicare provider numbers for midwives, opening more birthing centres; where well, low-med risk women can give birth with good medical back-up is available in case of need to transfer (for meconium, excessive pain, obstructed labour) and encourage women to use water immersion for labour and birth. Of course the government will find it saves them money in the long run, with a much lower CS rate. (ooh, is that the sound of a hobby horse galloping off into the distance?)

Of course, two to three generations ago, around half of babies were born at home. There was less dependence on doctors as saviours and more just getting on with it. No epidurals, no restrictions on labour and birth due to CTG monitoring. CS was used pretty judiciously as an emergency. Breech babies were just born. Women had more children then, compared to now, where our hopes per se are tied to fewer eggs in our baskets. Food for thought, but the intervention and CS rate is unacceptably high. I blame the insurance companies and the American obsession with suing people, which has been contagious worldwide and leads to excessive risk management in practice. Then again, its not usually my ass being sued.

Moving on.

3. On the subject of careers, you often refer to your 'late' entry into the field. Inquiring minds want to know other jobs you have over the years - from the sublime to the ridiculous. Anything noteworthy or 'out there' to confess to?

Was hired as an elephant rider in the circus once - is that what you mean? Never got to do it cos I couldn't travel for the next two months, I had to go back to uni. I did work at the same circus as an usherette though, and had a great two weeks in the Big Top amid the sawdust!

Other jobs include: phlebotomist, bakery assistant icing the Jubilee Twists, babysitter, silver-service waitress in the 80's hey-dey restaurant the Mediterranean, Barmaid, projection assistant at the drive-ins, (I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind 23 times), professional dancer in the 'white slave circuit' in Asia (I had my head screwed on, I had a ball though)...umm...lab technician in a USDA agricultural biochemistry lab in Wisconsin isolating and analysing the proteins from the endosperm of barley with applications for brewing (yes I did understand that sentence), Dressing up as a giant novelty character for a shopping centre promotion for icecream, chemistry tutor, belly dancer, proof reader, acting patient advocate for a large public children's long have you got? I have never been out of work when I wanted it.

4. You are a textile junkie and love crafts and fabrics. Your passion for crafts is often referred to. Laura - is there anything you cannot do or wish you could do?

I am NOT the most original painter, or drawer either. I really am quite bad at knitting, but DID knit 3 things for myself in my teens, and a jumper each for my children, all of which were not laughable. I haven't given up yet. I've never tried lace-making but I'm not holding my breath. I am capable of most tasks I set my mind to. Can't quite be assed to get into scrapbooking, its a bit formulaic and often a bit twee for my taste, but I'm willing to incorporate elements as multi-media creations (she says pretentiously). I do now own quite a large collection of said elements (thanks to my sis for an awesome Xmas present) that are waiting to be fallen upon in a quiet creative moment as yet unscheduled. They're non-perishable right?

5. OK, left field time. In closing, I want you to share something a little deeper. Laura - what humbles you?

The ability of the human body. Function and form, baby. Birth, breathing, orgasm, dance, touch, creativity. God was one hell of a physiologist eh? All witnessed in my working life. Its bloody incredible, I wouldn't miss it for the world. Who'd be dead eh?

Also...feeling loved, and loveable. This time last year I was on very shaky ground. I am glad to have arisen again, more aware of my humility and fragility. Feeling raised up with the help of others. Very humbling, feeling loved. I (now think that I) am worthy of love.

'Nuff said

If you’d like to join the fun, it’s simple.
Send me an email or a comment saying ‘interview me’.
I will then email you with five questions that I choose.
You can then answer them on your blog.
You should also post these rules along with an offer to interview anyone else who emails you or comments that they want to be interviewed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Did I tell you I found another Xmas tree?

EXACTLY the same as the old one. Same box. Same plastic-cast Cypress foliage.

In an op-shop. For $4. (Ah, good old St Vinnie's, always a find or two.)

Brought it home, thinking even if its completely crap, its only $4.

It was bigger. Taller than me! Squee! A secret desire fulfilled!

Except it had one rather important row of branches missing.

Which just happened to be the same size as the largest branches from the old, shorter tree.

Cannibalise....Hey Presto! A new improved tree! We were doing the happy dance!

I also hung ornaments all over the new ornamental screen outside - they look purty!

I'm off to take it down right now. Happy 12th night everyone.

(sorry no photos, due to bad screen-ness of my camera - on my to-do list for the next two days off)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year and 100th post!!!

Well, that says it all really.

Somehow I have now typed 100 messages to the universe, known as the internet.

Some of these message threads have floated out into space and connected with some of you. Like gossamer into the world wide web.

We are anchored at each end. Alerting the other to our presence through a gentle tug at the line now and then, occasionally catching another cross-thread between us and each sensing it, following it to a new friend.

This is the way that we share our daily/weekly/whenever communications.

I can assure you I had no idea how addictive I would find Blogland to be. Especially now I use Bloglines as a reader. 100+ feeds, sigh, yet I care about each of the lives I peer into.

I thirst for the latest news, creation, baby, musings, and updates on loved ones.

And don't get me started on the photography I have seen.

My life feels richer for 'knowing' new people through this medium. Most of us have never met, nor ever will.

But there you are. And here I am.

Thanks. For listening. For commenting. For writing and sharing. But most of all...for being there.

Does anyone fancy a random de-stash draw? You'd be helpin me out. Honest. Most of you have NO IDEA of the chaos I am sitting in.

(Continue to) Save me from myself.

You know the drill. Leave a comment.

You've got a week (until midnight next Friday night).

See ya, keep in touch!