Not a magician.

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The world is on fire.

It’s torture reading about those poor people who were living, breathing, laughing, stressed, bored, biding their time, occupying their children and looking forward to getting safely to their destination. Torture. They are just ordinary people. Like you and me and everyone else we know. There was vision from Gaza today - people fleeing their homes after their neighbours were attacked. Children running through the streets.

This morning I held on to Genevieve. I wondered why anyone would ever want to hurt her.

I don’t pretend to understand the complexities of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. I understand how and why Israel was created and I am very clear on the history of the Jewish people. I know less about Palestine. I’m ashamed of that, but that’s just the way it is. I’m keen to learn but where do I start? Once, years ago on ABC there was a special on about Gaza and how people there live. I remember that I wasn’t paying much attention and then I noticed that in their shops they had chupa chups and cornflakes and that their corner stores looked just like ours. One of the stories mentioned was about a boy who had been sent to get some milk and had been caught up in a rocket attack. He never got home again but I bet his Dad didn’t stop hoping. I’d gone to get milk myself earlier. Nothing even remotely threatened me. Nor did I for a moment consider that anything would threaten me. Now, I look on twitter and there’s children writing “with love from Israel” on rockets and people watching and cheering as those same rockets explode on the houses of the Palestinians and there’s stories of children playing on the beach and one of them being killed by a rocket and as the others ran, the rest of them being targeted before they could escape. Israelis are dying too. Israel agreed to a ceasefire the other day but Hamas refused - why? I do not understand.

There seems to be little doubt that separatist rebels that are controlled by, backed by and supplied by Russia aimed a missile at that plane flying on a domestic flight path at 33,000 feet. I (absolutely foolishly) looked at a photo essay of the crash site. Someone whose mother once looked at them and wondered how anyone could ever want to hurt them had fallen through the roof of an eastern Ukrainian local’s bedroom and was lying on their floor. Another man was still strapped into his seat but had no clothes on. A child was covered in plastic. Pieces of fuselage were intact and bore the emblem of the airline.

Every single person on that plane had died. And fallen from the sky.

What I think is that it doesn’t matter what your history is. Stop firing rockets at children. Stop firing rockets at innocent people. If you train, put on a uniform and know what you’re getting into, that’s your business and those career soldiers are bieng killed all the time and I’m not downplaying their families’ grief, but they knew the risks. Fighting and killing and maybe dying is their job. It’s not the job of people who get on a plane in Amsterdam to come to an Aids conference or head home from a holiday and it’s not the job of some young boys who, tired of being cooped up in their house steal away to play on the beachfront of their home town.

The world is on fire.

I feel awful. I know I’ve felt worse but right now, I really do feel awful. It’s torture reading about those people but they deserve to be read about and they deserve to be talked about and that is why I am going to keep on keeping on. It doesn’t matter how I feel.

Filed under mh17

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'Labour' is an understatement.

My baby was five days late. Over that five days (of which four were over 40 degrees), I walked multiple ks every day, got acupuncture three times, went swimming twice and ate curry every night. Nothing worked. I was pretty frustrated over those five days - I know I must have been acting weird because people stopped calling me. Nobody asked “baby born yet?” after day two so my responses in the beginning must have been pretty blistering. When people on the street would ask when I was due I’d say “last Thursday” in such a tone that they would often they would simply go “oh” and walk away.

When it all finally began, I felt very calm. I knew it was going to be a long one. It was Sunday evening and I got so uncomfortable a few times that I had to keep getting up off the couch. The hospital told me not to come in because I was only in pre-labour. When I googled pre-labour, I found out it could last for days. And mine did last two days.

I didn’t sleep that Sunday night. I was contracting twice an hour on average and just lay awake waiting for the next one to come.

On Monday morning it all went away and I just about resigned myself to being pregnant for eternity. It was spectacularly frustrating. Mum and I walked that afternoon and things sped up again. Every few minutes I would have to stop and lean against shop fronts or fences. People in the street gave me a wide berth (get it?). I told my husband to come home at 5pm and we sat together, pretty much silently, til 11 when I called the hospital and said I needed to come in. I hadn’t slept in 36 hours.

At the hospital they doped me up but nothing would get me to sleep. I watched the clock and waited for the next twinge. They broke my waters at 7am on the Tuesday morning and I was 4cm dilated at that point.

Things started to get real. I was coping though and walking around, joking with the midwife and using the tens machine for relief. After a few hours I realised I was allowed to use the gas and by god, did I use the gas! This is where it gets a bit hazy. The following are snippets of the hallucinations that ensued:
- I was one of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band members and I wore a pink suit.
- The meaning of life was revealed to me from going back in time and watching myself as a 14 year old, getting ready for netball and watching Rage. I can’t remember what the meaning was now which is annoying.
- I went back in time a lot. I began to believe I was going to die that day and that my last action would be to give birth to myself. The logic was like a Groundhog Day thing where I hadn’t lived my life well enough and was now going to be given the chance again. Needless to say, coming out of that one and looking into the eyes of my husband and saying “I’m going to die today” did not go down well.
- I revisited moments of my life going progressively further back and came out of these hallucinations either crying or laughing hysterically. I asked my husband about that afterwards and he said that he and the midwife were just watching me with their mouths open with no idea how to respond.
- I was in a Monty Python sketch. This one actually came true later.
- The music that was playing started vibrating in my vision and the sound became colours like some psychedelic acid trip.

Every time I woke up, new people were in the room. Nurses, midwives, doctors, etc. I came to as a drip was being inserted into my arm. At one stage, a plumber traipsed through to fix the broken toilet.

I’ve never taken drugs, so maybe the gas affected me really strongly but I’m not sure. My big brother, who is a psychologist, told me that it’s really common and when I googled it later found a whole lot of people who it’d happened to also.

Around midday, so five hours later, my body was involuntarily pushing and the obstetrician was paged. The room was prepped for delivery and was suddenly a hive of excited activity. The obstetrician checked and I’d only dilated a further one centimetre. Balloons deflated, brass bands stopped playing and the brakes were well and truly applied.

Syntocinon (a drug that mimics oxytocin and therefore makes you contract harder and faster, speeding up the labour process) was prescribed and the decision not to have an epidural was taken out of my hands. I was still blacking out at this stage and when I came to again a man in a tie was telling me the dangers of epidurals. He was the anaesthetist and I remember thinking that he probably shouldn’t be wearing a tie cause it might get in the way. I’d been quite keen to go through the birth with as little intervention as possible and I was a bit flat that my body wasn’t cooperating. I also started to get quite scared that I wouldn’t be able to get through it. As the epidural was injected I held very tightly onto M’s hand.

You know that scene at the beginning of The Sound of Music and the music soars and Julie Andrews comes over the hill and begins to sing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”, well, that’s how the epidural made me feel. I wanted to leap out of bed (ironic since i couldn’t feel my legs) and have bluebirds land on my shoulders and sing sing sing. Amazing.

The next three hours were boring. I couldn’t go anywhere and literally just lay there waiting. I was fascinated at this stage to see the relief on my husbands face. As a man of action, he had found not being able to help me in any way really confronting. Since then, a number of fathers I know have confessed that they felt completely helpless and guilty during labour. It must be a tough thing to watch.

Finally, the drugs had done their job and it was time to push. Suddenly it was all systems go again. As I was encouraged to keep pushing, the babies heart rate was dropping which is normal but wasn’t speeding up fast enough again so they decided to intervene. The midwife literally ran from the room to get the doctor so I got very nervous and demanded some information. When the obstetrician arrived he reassured me that all would be well but they needed to speed up the process. his calm demeanour was such a help. The bed was pulled apart, the stirrups were brought in and three extra people entered the room. Nobody could work out how to attach the stirrups and I felt as though I was floating above my body and just watching it all happen. It seemed so ridiculous. Once everything was set up it genuinely was like the scene in The Meaning of Life with the machine that goes bing.

Five minutes later my baby was born. “Look what you’ve got!!” I couldn’t see what I had because they handed it (her!) to me bum first and then immediately covered her up. My husband cut the cord. The baby was placed onto my chest, skin to skin, and my husband and I couldn’t talk for a while. It was like our world had stopped but it was all happening around us. People were in and out, preparing clothes and towels, cleaning up and making notes. She had my nose and was very little. Noisy though.

When they took my little love to clean her up, my husband went with her and I was left with the obstetrician to be fixed up. He asked me about my job and I answered him quite casually despite the colossal experience we’d just gone through together. It struck me as being completely absurd that we were having this conversation but I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

Eventually they all left and our family and friends began to arrive. Someone handed me a champagne and I couldn’t stop smiling despite how wobbly my legs were.

All up it took about 42 hours from first contraction to birth.

No other 42 hours of my life has been spent in a more worthwhile way.

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Nappy Collective - donations welcome.

This wonderful group collects donated nappies to redistribute to mother’s in need, including women who have been forced to flee their homes due to domestic violence and escape with just the clothes on their and their babies’ backs.
I’ll be acting as a collection point when the time comes.
Let’s get involved.

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Last night. 2:55am.

I woke up to a noise in the house and I genuinely hoped that it was a burglar. Then I could just call the police. They could deal with it. Maybe I could even stay in bed?

No dice.

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10pm looms.

The last ten minutes before the dream feed are the longest.

Do I change the nappy or not?

This question genuinely stresses me out every night.

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The five people you meet as a new parent.

On this new planet I’m living on, I’ve met so many new people. Some have been particularly wonderful and others have been shithouse. Totally, totally, shithouse.

I thought I’d break them down for my own entertainment.

1. The humourless obstetrician.
My bloke (who I had paid a gratuitous amount of dosh to) went on holidays the week I was expecting. Astonishingly, he didn’t tell me himself that he was going away - rather, I heard it from his receptionist. As a side note, I was bloody furious about this and made it known to everyone except my obstetrician because I am a coward. People kept saying to me, “It shouldn’t be about the money”. Seriously, of course it’s about the money. We had so little and then we paid him and had even less and he went on holidays! Butthead.
Anyway, cutting to the chase, it meant I was going to have an OB that I’d never met before. We were scheduled to meet on the Wednesday but I went into labour on the Monday. We first met exactly three minutes before he broke my waters. No details (seriously, no details) but birth is a seriously hands-on physical process for all people involved.
As the kindly gent walked into the room and we were introduced, he explained what he would be doing. I joked, “well, this is an intimate way to get to know each other”. He looked at me. “I consider this medical care. It isn’t intimate for me.”
Well, I was shot in the arse. Where do you go from there?

Just as an aside - he loosened right up and when my baby was finally born he told me that he was proud to have been involved. My heart just about burst with love for the bloke.

2. Other parents who will try to impress you with their parenting prowess.
People lie. They bloody lie through their bloody teeth.
They say they’re going well, that they’re sooo happy and sooo lucky and sooo thrilled to freaking bits about their baby. I’m shattered, exhausted (emotionally and physically), sometimes wondering if I even like my baby, frustrated, head over heels and besotted - but most of the time, I’m just looking for someone to listen to me without prejudice. I’ve never cried more on the phone to friends than in the last three months. People would call and ask how I was and I’d remember the conversations I’d had with other parents and I’d start to lie, then realise I don’t do it well, and I’d cry. Oops.
So, let it be known - if you want to shoot your mouth off about how your baby not sleeping makes you want to shut every door between you and them and just let them bloody cry, give me a shout. And to those of your who have listened and gone - you’re right, it’s hard - I love you.

3. The “as long as it’s healthy” crowd.
No shit mate.

4. Maternal Health Nurses.
It’s spectacularly hit and miss with these people. Mine have left me cold with sentences like:
- “You don’t need formalised play at this stage. The baby should just go straight to sleep without needing any settling.”
Um, bullcrap.
- “She’s cute when she’s not crying isn’t she?”
Aren’t you a professional who works with babies EVERY DAY? Shouldn’t you be able to cope with a bit of crying?
- “Lets go around the group and say one thing we miss about your life before having a child.”
Seriously? Everything. I miss everything. The new life we have is rad but it has altered every aspect of me. Social life, relationships, money, work, sleep, what I drink, what I eat, how much time I have alone, how much exercise I can get, how I interact with my family, how I respond to the news, how I watch TV shows, going out, seeing a movie, going to the supermarket, sex. Everything. Life without babies is easier. That doesn’t mean life with them is bad, but it’s definitely different.
I know people who have brilliant maternal health nurses and those people would be invaluable. Shame.

5. The unhelpful advice givers.
In the early days, the baby would lose her mind for an hour or more at night. Often we would walk her up and down the street. People walking past would sometimes interact with us in a really positive way. Obviously people of a certain age are often parents themselves and they would empathise. On occasion though, despite how distressed the baby (and we!) clearly were, they would laugh or make a spectacularly unhelpful comment like, “her head will be getting cold” or “wow, you can’t calm her down hey?” or, “haha, we’ve seen this baby out here before”. I wouldn’t give these people much time really. Occasionally they would make my blood boil and I wouldn’t respond at all. The last time the baby went bananas, my husband took her outside and someone suggested the baby should be wearing a hat. He told them to “fuck off”. Eventually the baby fell asleep and he came back inside. He told me what happened and I said “you can’t possibly expect me to support that kind of behaviour”, and I regret saying that so much. I should have high-fived him. Maybe that stupid interfering woman will think again before she gives some ‘advice’ to someone, man or woman, when they have a screaming baby and are walking, shushing, stressing and trying to reassure the tiny baby that they are loved and safe and reassuring them that their parents will take on all the hurt in the world if it means they doesn’t have to feel it. I am proud of my husband for standing up for and believing that what he was doing was right. Plus, it was still 22 degrees.

At risk of ruining my Mitch Albom reference, there are so many more wonderful people to talk about: like the lady with six children who owns the toy store down the road and asks how you’re going and then actually listens to your responses and pats you on the back, the people on forums who reassure you that you’re doing a terrific job when you desperately post in the middle of the night and the other new mums who you make shy eye-contact with on the street. Not to mention the friends and family you have with children that you can text for a bit of solidarity (I’ll write about these gems later). They are the ones you should focus on.

The rest are damn good for a laugh at in retrospect though.