CBF

So like anything parenting, there’s a lot of methods of toilet training out there. The 3 day potty training method, timed potty stops, the follow their lead method. Most of the books assure us it’s all about timing. If they’re ready, it will be easy, if they’re not, it will be an epic waterfall of bodily fluids at completely inappropriate times / locations, possibly involving walls being painted with poo*.

I’d like to propose a new method. The CBF’d method. The CBF, or Can’t Be F()$*^d method, starts whenever your nearest mum pal has their same age child reliably toilet trained. At this point, you think, we can do this, and commit to toilet training wholesale, going out and buying copious quantities of cute appealing underwear, a nice comfy potty, a seat and steps to go on the big toilet, and a lot of washing powder. You’ve got this, you think.

You declare it “pants off Friday”. Fridays will forever be known as pants off Friday in your house. You carefully select a day when both parents are on leave from work, and the schedule and reliability of bowel movements are both delightfully open ended.

The first day, he wears the potty as a hat. You encourage, and make the potty fun. You get spectator shy dad to demonstrate how it’s done, allowing him to share in the joy that is the accompanied visit to the loo.

The second day, a wee on the potty. There is great rejoicing and the giving of marshmallows. everyone shouts ” hooray!”. Your toddler takes to weeing off the corner of the first floor verandah, onto the driveway below, thankfully missing unsuspecting passers by. “We’re Just watering the plants,” you smile and wave to them. ” hooray, I did a wee on the verandah” your toddler announces. Hooray! You say, as you move the potty onto the verandah to avoid embarrassing incidents with the neighbours. There is more giving of marshmallows.

The third day, pants off Sunday, you’ve carefully discussed poos in the potty. You’ve smiled and been very positive through minor accidents. You go out and buy a thomas the tank engine potty book, complete with stickers. This is the big day, you’re thinking.

And sure enough, without warning, he runs gracefully to the potty and whips out a giant turd. I say whips out, because, just like a soft serve ice cream, he does it standing up, with perfect aim. It’s amazing . You gently coax him into sitting next time. Everyone stands around to inspect the poo. The presence of blueberries is noted. It is tipped and flushed with great ceremony and applause. And duly hand out marshmallows.

To your surprise, he never misses, has perfect aim, and only once or twice wees in a non designated toileting location.

The next day, radiant with confidence, you bring in the underwear.

The underwear does not go well. The underwear, wet or not, feels like a nappy. So it is wee’d upon. You smile, nod, and say “hey, accidents happen! Help me clean it up!” Feeling a little like a dog trainer rubbing his nose in it. And we all smile, and clean it up.

Then we get changed.

Then we all smile, and clean it up.

Then we get changed.

Then we all grit our teeth so it looks like a smile.

Then we get changed.

Then your knees are red from kneeling and scrubbing carpet. And you’ve run out of rag towels and start using the good ones. But tomorrow! Tomorrow it will click!

“Nappy ONNNNN!!!!!” He declares in the morning. Apparently he is fearing type 2 diabetes due to marshmallow intake. He can’t take the cleaning. A truce is declared.

CBF’d, you think, reading the thomas potty book again, thinking gordon looks like a raving homosexual. Not that there’s anything worn with that, just sayin. You pack the potty everywhere you go, but your heart’s not in it.

Two days later, you’re back at work.
“Underpants! I want racing car underpants! No no the RED ONES!!! The red ones!!!! I want to sit on the potttttyyyyyy!!!!!!!”

The split second morning schedule is screwed. Because, seriously, he is one step away from a prune eating old bloke with a giant newspaper on the dunny. It takes HOURS.” We have to go now!” “I’m sitting on the potty!”

It’s time for an upgrade. You ditch the marshmallows. Roll out the lolly snakes. In an ornamental jar. And stand, eating them late at night, as you stuff clothes into the washing machine.
“What do you want for breakfast?”
“SNAKES!”
“Snakes are not a breakfast food. Snakes are for when you go on the potty. For poos on the potty.”
“Snakes!”

You leave then house. He’s wearing a nappy and eating snakes.

And you? You CBF’d. Just like weaning, it will probably happen before his 18th birthday.

“Don’t send mixed messages!” The books say. “Never look back!” The books say, like somehow nappies are a biblical Lot’s wife and you’ll all turn into a pillar of salt if you venture back into this now forbidden territory.

“Screw that” you say. I finished work at 1am and I don’t fancy a turdburger before work, strapping him in to the snuggest most spill proof nappy possible.

“We’ve reassessed, and the timing is not right” you declare, you well read bastion of bowel research.

But, really, the thought of going out like your elderly mother, aware of every toilet within 10 nanoseconds in an already insanely busy life just fills you with dread and makes you look for a paper bag to breathe into. And honestly? Toilet training?

You just CBF’d.

* yes. This actually happened. To our Friday nanny. Yes. It was jman.

Oh, the places you’ll go.

Today would have been the second birthday of a precious little man called Sullivan Darcy Kippax. He was born to two lovely friends of mine in 2011. We had very similar periods of bedrest in pregnancy, for different reasons, with different outcomes. Sully only lived for a few short days.

Today, Sully would have been a big brother to Darcy, born in 2012,, and a little brother to Kev, and nothing can ever replace him, or heal that over. Time, and new family additions, just makes it more familiar to sit beside, but not easier.

His mums ask in his memory today that you read Oh! The places you’ll go! By Dr Seuss to someone you love. Many are sending them their photos, sharing this story with their partner, kids, dogs, cats…. Or you can watch the YouTube clip from burning man festival here.

If you email the photos of you sharing this book, clip or app to ozifrog1@hotmail.com, I’d be honoured to pass them on to Sully’s mums in his memory.

Let’s take little Sully lots and lots of places today. Share this if you can.

Mother of invention #3: the tiny tyrant turn taker

New to the baby shopping channel this week: the Tiny Tyrant Turn Taker.

There are moments in every new parents’ life where you are both laying in bed, just on that lovely edge of sleep, and the baby starts to cry. Can you feign sleep and get the other person to get up? Can you stubbornly refuse? The question remains: whose turn is it?

As kids, we learn all about fair play, about sharing, sticking to rules, and turn taking. It is part of socialisation, so we don’t become the one with the “does NOT play well with others” t shirt. But something about parenthood turns you into a social cannibal…it is acquire sleep at all costs, all turn taking and fairness out the window. Survival of the fittest.

This is where the Tiny Tyrant Turn Taker (tttt) comes in. Using a complex logarithm, it analyses parenting behaviour, inputting all the known variables into its calculations to solve for the unknown x, where x = which parent is on duty. Batter up. No longer do turn taking decisions need to be the creator of the great relationship rift, no no. The decision is out of your hands. A buzzer sounds and the tiny tyrant turn machine lights up: HIS or HERS.

The model in this amazing calculator takes into account such factors as:

* bonus points for breastfeeding, extra if the feed was recent. Sadly this means dad is always behind
* level of relative partner fatigue
* general health of each partner
* sobriety, with personal preference settings either for the sober partner or for the inebriated one
* recent tasks. Bonus points for dirty nappy change with outfit change, bonus points for getting up between 1-5am, bonus points for getting peed on or chucked on, bonus points for an attempt at settling extending beyond 20 minutes or interrupting a fave tv show
* points can be counted for cooking tea, washing up, hanging out washing or taking out the garbage, all with the flick of a switch on the unit
* the receiver of a projectile vomit can declare all other points null and void

The circuit breakers override the standard logarithm. These are a safety feature, taking into account stress levels.

If one partner appears close to weeping or is standing too close to an open window with the baby, the default setting turn goes to the other partner.

In addition, if dad arrives home and mum has not managed to get out of her pyjamas or have a shower all day, it is dad’s turn for quite some time.

If she appears to have aged 10 years since he left for work, it is again dad’s turn.

If dad has had micro sleeps at red traffic lights all the way home from work, it’s mums turn.

If dad fell asleep at work at his desk and drooled whilst on the phone to a customer, it’s mums turn.

If its a school night and after 1am, it’s mums turn so dad keeps bringing home the bacon…

…unless mum is close to having a nervie.

Other personal settings and preferences are possible, and it comes in three great colours to match your decor. In case of parental tantrums, the unit is coated in Unbreakable Titanium.

For only three easy payments of $99.95, the Tiny Tyrant Turn Taker can be yours today. Order yours now.

Story of my life

The j-man… My story so far

Day 1

Came out a hollering . Had big puffy eyes with no whites showing, so I looked a bit like a creepy alien and freaked the folks out at times. My head wasn’t too pointy. I was little and pretty cute!!! Aunty cathy was impressed by my enormous balls. I was totally over the baby cave so I took the express exit strategy and was out in three and a half hours.

Later on in day 1, i had a bit of a blood sugar crash (1.7) and had to go to special care. Dad went along too, in case there were monkey babies to spot. There were. They gave me two lots of formula (gross, I didn’t want to drink it and the midwife smelt funny) to get things rolling again. Then we went back to mum.

We got a few visitors on day 1, i got my first teddy from cousin Bec, balloons, and mum got flowers, and grandma Judith came too. Mum looked totally wigged out about what just happened, but improved when i gave her a cuddle. Grandma elva couldn’t come and visit as she had a bad flu, so there were tears on the phone, she was very upset.

About midnight on day 1, i was a bit blue. That made people take notice. Dad and I went on a road trip again to the nursery, and they whacked me under a BBQ and checked my oxygen levels. I was fine. These people really make a fuss, and if they pricked my heel once again I was gonna kick a nurse. Finally Dad got to go home and have a quiet beer in front of the Olympics at about 2am. He has new grey hairs in his eyebrow. I did that.

Day 2

mum looked like hell. Well I thought so. Probably because of dr north korea visiting at 7am and poking around in her unmentionables. Ouch. She also didn’t get that much sleep. She took AGES in the bathroom. There was a hair dryer and ice packs involved, but let’s not go there. She walked funny. She was happy when the hospital brought us a fluffy white robe, bath products, a teddy bear and a hat for me.

She did sleep quite a lot in the breastfeeding class though, best sleep she’d had in days. I think she may have snored, and dribbled on dad’s shoulder. Dad took notes, so I was assuming I’d still get fed. Later on they kept waking me to feed because my blood sugar was too low, and I pretty much slept through my feeds while they tickled my feet and jiggled my arms. It took three people to get me through a feed.

Stupid nurse pricked my heel again, and after i scored three good readings in a row and one more trip to special care I got the all clear.

We went up for high tea in the afternoon. I didn’t know a person could eat that many scones and brownies. Mum really outdid herself. We had a few more visitors in the arvo, but I’m pretty sure they were just there for the cakes.

Then the sneaky buggers went from the nice cuddles at high tea to BATHING CLASS. Now I was quite willing to watch and learn, but oh no, DAD went and volunteered ME to be the demo kid. Bloody hell. Mum spent her whole time filming my bits, she was too tired for baths after all the cake eating, and then they told dad to use a football hold. WHAT THE?? Didn’t they know he’s a boundary umpire? The first thing those guys do with a football is throw it over their shoulder. I tried to tell them it was a bad idea. Dad said my screaming sounded like a pterodactyl. I pretty much didn’t stop, even though he made a really nice fist of the bathing caper. Mum was laughing at me, and the midwife running the class was trying to explain how soothing baths are, but no one could hear her over my screaming. I went berko.

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Our mate Pete was visiting the class too, and he was making fun of my wussy cry and said his William’s one was WAY bigger. Eventually they gave up on getting me to relax. I stopped crying once or twice so mum got some good photies. I don’t think the midwife liked me. Dad had really big hands and my wrinkly bum looked hilarious when he held it.

I’ve since reassessed and I quite like baths.

Back in the room there were a few more visitors, including Uncle Pete. I think mum got jealous of the attention because that night she bunked me off to the nursery so she could sleep. Stupid midwives and their stupid suggestions. I got parked between two of the hairiest babies you’ve ever seen. Man those kids were uuuuugly.

Day 3 was Saturday. No classes to dribble through. Mum was looking better. I had a hearing test apparently, but I slept though it. I guess I passed.

Saturday, it was a chick cousin fest, and I was the centrepiece in pass the parcel.

Uncle Paul came too. Totally scored on the present front, bears were big. Cousin Bec brought mum’s banoffee pie as requested in her pregnancy blog, and mum pretty much caked up in the corner (again) and left me to entertain the guests.

I started to look less puffy. Some footy guys brought mum and dad wine instead of baby stuff.

Day 4, Sunday. Mum and dad planned to go out to tea tonight. We had a settling techniques class. Mum felt like crud. Mum did not do well in classes! When they talked about how hard we are to settle, mum just wigged out.

Sunday got a bit annoying because mum started to get these enormous bazungas that looked like rockmelons. Then she had ice packs EVERYWHERE. Six ice packs in her bra and extras in other places. Then they moved our rooms in the middle of nap time & visiting hours, so it was chaos. We got loads of visitors in the new room. Antonia, Greg and the kids, Janine & Beth, Penny, Jonno & the boys, Kim& steve, Uncle Jus. I scored more pressies.

I timed my feeds so there was no way mum and dad could get out to dinner. Dad packed up loads of stuff into the car because it was our last night.

Sunday night mum completely lost it. She had weird all over shaking and fevers, and they had to wrap her in hot blankets to stop the shaking , & bunk me off to the nursery with a bottle of expressed milk. I was still being a total bugger to feed, lazy and sleepy, and the midwife could not get me to drink. Mum had issues because of combined baby blues, freaking out about taking me home, and a fever as her milk was coming in. Cue the ice packs.

Monday, day 5, we went home, eventually, after the lactation chick checked us out feeding. Dr north Korea did his thing, the pediatrician visited, the discharge lady, you name it. Mum did a Physio class wearing a towelling robe and six ice packs in her bra. She looked awesome, especially during the mat work and crunches. Mum said she felt better, like her body was still there somewhere. Under 6 foot of ice packs, I reckon.

I screamed blue murder during the pre departure wardrobe change, but slept through the loading into the car, the car trip, the deli trip, and then another few hours. Mum and dad drank champagne.

Since then, dad’s had three weeks off work. They have found it a bit of a sleepless blur. I’ve changed a lot. At first, I was a bit of a lightweight and didn’t put on much weight (80g) in my second week, and everyone was worried. Weeks three and four I drove mum mad with feeding, often two hourly, and put on 350g each week. Total fatty.

I’m not quite as sleepy as I was, and a bit more interesting. Mum and Dad will tell you all about the cool stuff I can do soon.

Chapter 5: Gumby becomes the J-man: Jensen Angus is born

Chapter  5: Gumby becomes the J-man.

Chapter 4: we’ve contracted, we’ve gone from ACDC to classical, we’ve moaned, we’ve seen a head. I was reaching down to deliver our boy and…..

And as I went to lift him up to my stomach, STOP! He wouldn’t come! The umbilical cord was too short for him to reach! It was like he had a handbrake on! And he stayed there, in mid air, held by the midwife. My first thought, as he was waiting for his cord to be cut, was “He’s not big at all! He’s REALLY little!”.After a bit of open mouthed pausing, Stew was able, through his shock, to get down there and cut the cord, and they put Gumby-Jensen, finally wailing onto my chest. He was lovely, and I could see him reacting to my voice almost straight away. Not as mucky as I’d expected. They put a bunny rug over his back as he nestled in close, and I laugh-cried sobbing-laughing for what seemed like ages, til his crying stopped and his eyes opened slowly, eventually. We cuddled for a long time. It seemed as real as a marching band parading through the ward, delivering this baby.

I was a bit out of it on the gas, and finally being able to let go of the tight tight control I’d had of my breathing and focus for the past however long. Everything we’d fought for, for so bloody long came down to this moment.

And, just as I’d visualised, right then the song playing was a Peter Gabriel cover of “The Book of Love”. Please listen to this song. It is glorious. It is beautiful. (Have tissues at the ready). And just as I had pictured in my head, this was the song playing as our son hit the decks and made us into a family. It felt as though I’d painted this moment into reality. And everything about it sums up everything that brought us to right here and right now. With my boy in the corner of our apartment lounge room, quietly rustling awake, ready for his next feed.

I don’t know how something as simple as words can describe that day. The day that we had all hung on so bloody hard for. The day that arrived like a pre scripted affair, that lived up to everything it promised. The day I had thought about thousands and thousands of times, lying in bed, sitting in emergency, hearing “your baby still has a heartbeat” said to me so many times. The day that came and went quietly, without fuss, like walking to the top of a gentle hill and seeing what lay beyond it, and coasting down the other side. Words cannot do it justice. Music cannot do it justice. Photographs cannot do it justice.

Hope is like a giant beacon that flashes from a lighthouse in the darkest night. And though once I wrote in a previous non pregnant post that hope is like a monkey trap, sometimes hope is all we have. And sometimes it is all we need to keep us going. That and bloody minded stubbornness. That’s where I come in. And I guess, the J-man too. He must be stubborn. Tell me I can’t do something and you’ll motivate me for life. Tell me this pregnancy won’t last, and baby, I’ll show you something completely different.  I’ll show you our son. For many days, our hope, and the hope of those around us, was all we had to hang onto. And I am so glad we hung onto it, that we weathered it. That we made it.

But all good things must come to an end, and Dr North Korea did indeed arrive. My sister immediately asked him if we got a discount, seeing as he hadn’t made it. He gave her a death stare I reckon, after his mock good natured chuckle. According to the labour report it was 18 minutes of pushing. Not quite enough for him to make it to North Sydney from the city! His midwife told me he TORE out of the offices when he got the call, but still wasn’t quite there in time. And I was glad. I had the delivery I wanted.

And then the fun started. I saw a flicker of concern pass his face after he got me to push (again? Are you serious?) and deliver the placenta. I never even felt the injection go into my thigh to speed up the third stage. My sister later said there was a lot of blood. The obstetrician had a fleeting look of concern, a moment of indecision, I felt. This was one of those possible nasty turns, and I recognised it. Cathy leaned over and quietly said “are we ok here?” to the midwife. They were looking to him. And after a split second of indecision, of weighing up that I saw pass across his features, gauging me and my tolerance versus the situation, he decided to stitch me up under gas with just a local anaesthetic. I had a feeling he was considering whether to send me for surgery. And I decided I didn’t need to know what was happening and I blocked my ears to their replies, and looked at Gumby/Jensen.

Dr North Korea explained they would do it then and there, the internal stitches, but that I’d need to use the gas. More bloody gas. The next 30 minutes were harrowing. So so hard. He SWORE I would not feel the pain, just the pressure. I SWORE I felt the pain. And the knots. And the thread pulling through my skin. OH HORRID. And in my head, I was so so concerned that I was squeezing the baby as I sucked on the gas, and no one would notice and I’d kill him. I was SO convinced this was going to happen, but I couldn’t vocalise it because there was no way I could let go of that gas. Eventually I got out the words to tell my sister to watch me with him, and she assured me they were, that he was fine. I swear Cathy and Stew did more coaching in that half hour than in the whole labour. It seemed to go on and on and on. It seemed harder than the labour, perhaps because this was not part of my visualisation. At the end of it I felt very shaken up. The stitches were all internal, but god it took a long time, and EVERYTHING I had left. I was so relieved when they took the baby off me so I could just regroup.

They weighed Jensen/Gumby and finally hub-in-boots held him. Stew looked close to tears but despite me thinking it was odds on, he did not cry. I think everything happened so fast, and he was so worried about me, that he had no time to get that emotional. And for me, God it felt good just to sink back and stop being in control, stop with the focus already.

Sometime later, the midwife led me off for a pee (terrifying) and a shower (glorious), with Cathy poking her head in to scrub off the random bits of WHATEVER stuck to my skin. I remember being fascinated by the fact that my right foot was ENTIRELY caked in blood. I had no idea how that had got there. Apparently nightmare on elm street in the labour ward had passed by without me so much as noticing.  Just how I like it. Oblivious!  My sister said there was a LOT of blood. I found it hard to believe that was my blood. The shower was incredible.

Later on, they asked would I like to see the placenta. The bastard organ that almost gave us all that trouble. You bet. Everyone was surprised that I agreed, but I’d read accounts of women’s birth stories who said it was important to see it, and although I did think it kind of gross, anything that helps your head catch up to what your body  has just done has to be a good thing. The midwife showed us the sac, the placenta, where the umbilical cord was attached. It was amazing. It was HUGE, stashed in this giant silver kidney dish which she lifted up with both hands.

I did not say the word “curry” to hub-in-boots, though I thought it. Every time anyone said placenta in an antenatal class I would tell hub-in-boots stories of people cooking and eating the placenta, or planting trees in it, or drying it out and turning it into capsules they took like vitamins. Just to gross him out. I always said “we could make a nice curry out of it”. So I’m sure he heard my head saying the word “Curry”, even if my lips weren’t moving. It was cool to see, anyway, and helped make the connection between baby in there and baby out here, which is, basically, sorry to be crass, a complete “mind fuck.”

From that point on, I was focused on me for a while. I ate like I’d never seen food before, when they brought toasted sandwiches all round I ate everyones. The cup of tea was just amazing. I proceeded on to eat museli bars, le snaks, you name it I ate it. I didn’t hold the baby for this bit. I think I was in shock. I felt like I was in shock for another two hours, and it was only when I held the little man again in the ward that I started to understand what had really happened, who this little guy was, and what we had accomplished that day. I think for a while there, I just had to come back into myself, to be me for a bit, before I was able to be mum. They had brought him for a feed in the labour room, and I fed him before my shower after he was weighed and towelled off.  I can’t remember much about that first feed. We have a nice photo of it though.

Dr North Korea did a good job at the stitching up I think, and really, that’s where you need an expert like him. We didn’t need him for what, amazingly, incredibly, turned out to be an uncomplicated delivery. A  calm, lights low, music playing, perfect delivery. We got our happy (natural) ending.

The printed labour report says I was in labour for 3 hrs 38 minutes. THREE HOURS! Are you serious? Helped along by all the pre labour I did at home, helped on by the calmbirth breathing, and focus, I think it was incredible for a first child. I pushed for 18 minutes. And stage three went for 5 minutes.

I didn’t want to commit to a name straight away, because I felt so out of it. But sometime the next day we finalised what was, really, already final, and Jensen Angus Eckermann was named. At 3.125kg or 6 lb 14oz, he’s not a big guy, not for my family at least. He was puffy, with puffed up eyes and a pointy head, and a funny lamb like cry. He changed immensely in those first 48 hours.

I am amazed that the birth went exactly as I had visualised, though I expected about another 15 hours of it. I am amazed that I could do this, though I always believed I could. No epidurals, no c-sections, no crazy post partum haemorrhages, just a bright pink boy who was attempting his first cry before he was quite out.

And just like that, with the long hoped for arrival of Jensen Angus, we were a family.

I’ll write for you very soon about our hospital stay, three trips to special care, our time settling into being home, melon boobs, cabbage leaves, the mind numbing killer sleep deprivation, and most of all the wonders of our little J-man as we get to know each other. There’s so much to say about him already.

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Gumby’s birth story Chapter 4: This is Serious Mum

Chapter 4: This Is Serious Mum

So far, chapter 1 covered pre labour, and chapter 2 & 3 the dramatic waterfall from my nether regions. The serious action continues in chapter 4.

Of course, on arrival at the hospital, the car park was full. Hub-in-boots decided to drop me at the entrance and send me in solo. It was a bit nerve wracking. I’d sent out a few messages on the car trip, and the contractions were sitting at about 8 minutes.

People in the foyer looked at me, but didn’t do anything, and I didn’t ask for help. I limped in to the lifts and waited. I probably should have sat down right then and there and hollered, but it’s just not my style.

In the elevator, a contraction started and continued as the doors opened. I leaned on the door, not quite making it out of the lift.

“Hello! You certainly LOOK like you’re in the right place?” A lovely older lady with a clipboard, obviously having just left a meeting, (clearly some kind of nursing unit manager) came and grabbed my arm. Shall I take you around to delivery?”

“Yes please. My husband is coming but, no car spots.”

“Okay. Just around here.”

She walked me around, chatted, got my name and details out of me, and shouted out to the midwives and I was taken through. I started to get really nervous being in the delivery room alone. I checked, and sure enough it was the ONE room without a bath. Bugger. Then no one came. And no one came. It felt like ages. Finally, hub-in-boots arrived with bags, a bit stressed. I emphasised we would be moving to a room with a bath, if I had to cross my legs for two hours it would happen.

Finally the midwife came in. They took details. I nearly forgot the printed birth plan and medical history.

“Are you guys in medicine? These are very thorough.”

“No no. Just control freak first timers.”

She read through the birth plan and I started to feel better.  .

Then nothing for ages again. My sister arrived, armed with freshly made rice paper rolls she snaffled from their morning tea at work. I hoed into them like I’d never seen food before. I had changed into a hospital robe (I think).

I was hooked up to a monitor to monitor Gumby’s heart rate and my contractions. At first, his heart rate dropped a little each contraction, and I stared at those graphs just waiting and waiting whilst they monitored things. My head wasn’t in hospital yet, my head was still at home in bed getting ready to kill time for another day. I couldn’t quite catch up.

Louise came in, the midwife that was to take us through to birth. She asked could she do an examination, waiting til a contraction had passed. I was 2-3 cm dilated, and my cervix was “paper thin”, which I guess is the effacement part. This was brilliant news.

“You’re doing REALLY well” she said, weirdly exactly the same phrase that was used in visualising this on the calm birth meditation about the day of the birth.  At this stage I was joking around a bit, and hub-in-boots put on the ipod. Eric Idle from Monty Python “Always look on the bright side of life” was playing as I had the first examination. Ironic. What a shit disturber.

Louise assured us we’d get a room move, and sure enough we did. It didn’t take too long. I think it was about 11am when we arrived at the hospital, and maybe 11:30 when we moved rooms. According to the printed report, this is when active labour started.

At this point, it didn’t seem to take long for things to ramp up pretty quickly. I suddenly, after my batch of vague, remembered the Labour TENS machine I’d hired, to give electrical impulses to my back, with a booster button for contractions. That $5 extra to get it express post was a good thing…it arrived Monday, and here we were on Thursday hooking it up. Hub-in-boots got the electrodes on and yeah, now I’d call it pain.

I donned my big white towelling dressing gown, popped the TENS machine in the pocket, and wandered around in a figure eight around the room. Hub-in-boots followed me, massaging my upper back in contractions. My sister followed me trying to get my patient ID to log on to the hospital wireless network. That almost got her a broken arm. She was captain communications & catering though, so it was probably a good thing. The TENS machine was good, and gave me something to focus on, though I often forgot to turn off the booster as the contraction ended. It allowed me to get my focus back, which I’d completely lost, and come back to the breathing, and it was good to be free of monitors so I could move and move and pace and pace. So much had happened in the last hour, it was hard to maintain focus.

The pressure element ramped up, and the pain moved more into my back than it had been. I still managed to upload the blog post I’d typed at 5am and answer some texts in the break between (what a dag), but i knew I was quickly running out of time for anything except labour.

I wasn’t hooked up for monitoring anymore….but on my contraction timer I realised they were now coming every two minutes. As they lasted about 45 seconds, it was basically a minute on, a minute off.

There came a point where the TENS machine became more of a nuisance, as one contraction seemed to run into the next, and Louise suggested I hit the bath. It was a good call. She made all the right suggestions with the right amount of emphasis at the right time. The hot water, as I slipped in to the deep bath, was amazing. I believe this was the last time I saw clothes during the labour! I didn’t realise it was true, but you REALLY DON’T GIVE A SHIT about modesty when you feel like a disposable extra in the cast of Alien. I always wondered whether you’d feel your baby kick at all during labour, how he’d be doing. And to tell you the truth, I have no idea. The contractions become so all encompassing, so demanding of your attention, that anything else is just screened out. Kind of like having an itchy foot when you’ve just broken your arm. The itch just doesn’t cut it in the brain’s attention ranking.

Another funny music moment came in the bath as the pressure ramped up, and ACDC’s “A Long Way to the Top” was playing…and in contraction land, it sure is “A Long way to the top if you want to rock n roll”.  I’m not sure if this was in trip to the bath number one, or number two. Outside, I had started to vocalise with the contractions, a freaky primal sound that wasn’t exactly voluntary. It wasn’t moaining, it wasn’t screaming, it was just this noise I felt like a bit of an idiot really, and quite surprised at myself. Inside, I was mucking around as I breathed, singing the joke lyrics :” It’s a long way to the shop if you want a chiko roll”. So whilst it sounded like game on, inside I was doing pretty well.

After goodness knows how long in the bath (maybe 20 minutes according to Hub-in-boots), Louise decided that despite the inconvenience she needed another look. It really hadn’t been long. The aim of the bath was to get the contractions lengthening out, as they were kind of short at 45 seconds and needed to be around the minute mark to get my body doing what it needed to do. We waited out a contraction leaning on the bed, now most certainly long enough,(and hollering) then she hooked me up to monitors, and on examination found I was 7cm dilated. What the hell? I was so surprised. This was going rather quickly, and the change in sensations was a real roller coaster…just grab the “Jesus!” handle and HANG ON FOR THE RIDE. I started to stress out a bit about how much worse this was going to get, and Louise yelled out from the other room that they don’t get any closer together. A minute long and two minutes apart is IT. Okay. I never knew that. Okay. I can do this. No closer together? I can do this.

Then it was back in the bath with Hub-in-boots by my side, and Louise explained I would start to feel more pressure but I needed to breathe through it and not go with any urge to push, but instead to buzz her back straight away once that occurred. It sounded like I was on hold to a call centre, this phase would take a while, judging by her tone of voice.

I reckon she was out of the room 30 seconds when it hit, and MAN did it hit. Through clenched teeth (sorry Calmbirth) I said to Stew “BUZZ HER. MUST PUSH. BUZZ HER.” She was back in in a flash, and kind of surprised. “Sorry Jo but I’m going to have to get you out again. I think we need another look. Is that okay”

“Bloody oath it’s okay, I think you need to check it out. Its moving fast.”

“We’re going to wait out the next contraction…..”

“Aaaaaaaaaaagh”

“…hang on to the basin here”

“Aaaaaaaaagh…..okay. Fucking Calm birth. Riding fucking waves of freakin pressure to meet your fucking baby my ASS! This HURTS. LIKE. HELL!” She cracked up laughing. Apparently, this was the only time I swore during the whole labour, and this time it was deliberate, and, for those that know me, incredibly unlike me. The Calmbirth description was apparently shared in the corridor and cracked the other midwives up. For those that know me, not swearing is pretty unusual.

We literally limped back to the bed, and I believe, from memory , that was the last time I was on my feet until we had a baby and it was time for an antenatal shower.

I was 9.5cm dilated, so I couldn’t quite push. The baby had moved to a transverse (sideways) position. She went to get another midwife to reassess. Louise asked softly I know you want a natural birth but would you consider using gas to help you breathe through and not push.

 Inside, I was saying “Hell yeah. Are you insane? Give me the gas. Give me the FUCKING gas.”. Outside, I was totally focused on my Calm breathing. Not pushing was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I was helped onto the bed, completely inward at this point. I could no longer drink water, and was being fed pieces of ice by my sister and the midwife in between contractions. The crunching eased the tension in my jaw, and the cooling effect was so welcome. I felt like I had a raging inferno inside, burning up my face. It was weird.

Then something in my head said “It’s ok. This is all ok. This is supposed to happen. This is transition. 9.5 cm. This is transition. You get HOT in transition.” Somehow this eased my worries and from this point on I was in complete control…complete moaning vocalising shouting control, but control nonetheless.

Around this point, Cathy dashed out to move both cars and avoid parking tickets, as things began to ramp up pretty damn quick. I began to worry she would not make it back. Time had slowed down and sped up all at once. It had no meaning. I was on internal time, which ran fast between contractions and slow during one. I had to dive deep deep deep within myself to get through them now, and somehow I managed to shut down all my senses. I could not hear properly, I could not see, even with my eyes open. I could hear Stewart’s, Cathy’s and occasionally the midwife’s voice, and I could hear the balls rattle in the happy gas pipe and the music. I could feel the ice crunch between my teeth. The only thing that stressed me out a bit was that they would be doing an internal when the contraction hit, but they managed to time it well with my rather vocal encouragement to get out of the way as the waves rose again.

The calm birth meditation had said “you will find your partner’s voice very reassuring at this time”, and although I expected him to annoy me, I did find it incredibly reassuring, even if sometimes the meaning of the words passed me by. He had to repeat every instruction from the midwives, as it was really only his voice I could hear with any clarity. That and the music.

I could no longer joke around, or even talk between contractions. I did, however, manage to test my own blood sugar (the midwife was astounded) just before a contraction rolled around, as her test kit had gone missing in another room, so I whipped out the kit, pricked my finger, inserted the test strip, and tested away. And I could manage to dictate exactly which track I wanted playing on the ipod! Repeat! Repeat track 1 I said.

I struggled to use the gas at first, as the Calm breathing was through your nose, and the gas was through a mouthpiece. Cathy, who had finally made it back (blessed relief), kept saying listen to the balls rattle, and this helped me understand what I was supposed to do. I felt thick and foggy outside, and sharp and powerful inside. It was a strange contradiction.

The first few non pushing contractions were horrible. It was so so hard to do what they said. I had Stewart keep hitting replay on this track O Magnum Mysterium. This track I had sung in a several hundred voice choir on Bondi beach a few years ago, called Dawn Chorus. You can see it on Youtube by clicking on the name above…it makes a nice accompaniment to reading the blog :-).  This was the piece we sang as the sun came up over the beach, as about a thousand people watched for the Sydney Festival. It was written by an American composer in the 70’s, about the birth of Christ. I loved it, and having rehearsed it a gazillion times I knew every little piece of phrasing inside out. I was INSIDE the music. I could visualise it moving around the stave. I could see the sand between my toes as we stood, dressed all in formal black, on the beach and sang it, I could see the first rays of the sun coming up and the gentle swaying of the conductor, Brett Weymark’s arms, as he swept us along to the sunrise. I breathed to the music, and I was through two or three non pushing contractions, sucking back on the gas like my life depended on it. My focus was like a laser, as it had to be.

Then they let me have a “trial push.”

Oh my god.

It was a relief, but it was also hard to let go of what I’d been holding back so hard. It took just as much concentration to remove the barrier I’d put up in myself. YOU CAN’T PUSH. The midwife had to say “try pushing” quite a few times before I really understood. I mentally took down the barrier. I once again listened to my body’s screaming for release.

And I pushed. It felt like the baby, and I could feel him, was a million miles from where he needed to be, like my body only had the most tenuous grip on him. He was at the end of a long long road. I could just feel him, but I thought it would take such a long time. He was such a long way away.

There was a hurried conversation between the two midwives about when to call Dr North Korea. I clearly remember the phrase “No we need to. I just trialled, she’s a CHAMPION pusher. It’s not too early.”

My head went back to the TV show One Born Every minute, the US version having been on in the past week. I remembered women on there who couldn’t seem to get the hang of pushing, and at the time, I wondered would I be one of them. Apparently not! I also reminded myself of what they said about a “burning ring of fire”. Oh ouch. But if you felt this, it was the baby’s head, and in a few pushes it would soon be over and you would have your baby, if you could just get through it. I reminded myself of this, and I hung on to it, to motivate myself to go on. I knew it was coming.

Finally I let hub-in-boots move the music off track 1 in my “Big day out” playlist. I had never even played this playlist to him, having come up with it one night at about 34 weeks when I couldn’t sleep. He’d only loaded it onto his ipod the night before.

I could feel the baby had moved, and moved significantly closer.

I continued to breathe through the music, and I had one or two contractions without any urge to push at all, even though Louise said that I could. I also remembered this from what I’d read. Some women get this, but by no means all, and it’s called the PAUSE. My head gave me the information, just as I needed it. Louise explained it to Cathy and Stew. I already knew. My body was resting and gathering up its resources for the last hell bent charge for the finish line. I loved the pause. It was only two or three contractions, but it was such a huge relief to be able to relax without the demand by my body to push, even as the contractions arced over my head.

“You can push! You can push!” they were saying, but I went with what my body wanted. I breathed, and I regrouped.

Then I was ready to rumble.  Some women get a pause for an hour. Geez that would have been nice!

Then it was on. And the “burning ring of fire” arrived. A little part of my head started singing Johnny Cash’s “I fell into a burning ring of fire” then I told myself to shut up and focus, and I went back to the Chopin piece that was playing (Etude # 3 in E) , following the complex piano line up and over and through with my mind and my breathing.

The pushing at this stage was bloody horrible. It wasn’t pain, it was burning. Just burning. (Which may have been the feeling of me tearing myself a new one!).  But i told myself to just suck it up and get through it. Teaspoon of concrete and harden the F#$% up, girlie. I was egged on by the “we can see his head” comments. And thankfully, no one offered to get me a mirror. NO MIRRORS, said my birth plan. Later, I kind of wish we had video of this, but my visuals of what was happening were pretty clear. Who needs technology? None of us had time for photography.

Apparently hub-in-boots at this time was away from the business end, as I wanted, and was sponging my forehead with cold wash cloths. My sister called to him, “Come and see your son Stew!” and he moved to the end of the bed, to see the dark hair of Gumby / Jensen about a third of the way out.

“Oh my god! His head’s not out and he’s trying to cry!’ said one of the midwives.

Gross! Said my internal voice. I needed to focus on what I needed to do, not deal with him as a little person just yet. So I let that comment slide through to the keeper and went back inside, deep down. Back to my breath.

As Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks Menuet began to play, the midwives started with the “just one more push and you’ll have your baby” calls. Hub-in-boots repeated their instructions. The midwife said “put your hands down Jo. Here comes your baby. Deliver your baby.”

Musical aside: The menuet is a bit less showy than the main part of the fireworks suite, and rolled out by orchestras a bit less often than the main movements. It spoke to me of a quiet but grand entrance into the world. Unbeknownst to me when planning our accompaniment, it is one of hub-in-boots’ favourite pieces of music. Poetry.

Not a doctor in sight. No Dr North Korea. No Dr South Korea. No doctor at all. Just two nice midwives and my sister and my husband. Afternoon sunlight streaming in the white plantation shutters, the overhead lights dim, Handel playing, and I reached down to hold our boy.

Gumby’s birth story chapter 2: Keeping it real and chapter 3: Laughing my ass off

Well chapter 1 covered day 1 of pre labour, olympic watching, and horsie birthdays. Here, in chapter 2 and 3, things heat up a bit.

Chapter 1 covered pre labour, with semi regular contractions and a slight “show”. Here, we’re laying in bed, we’re a bit bored with it, and the adventures continue.

Chapter 2: Keeping it real

“What are we going to do?” said hub-in-boots. “There’s no way I’m going to work.”

Why don’t we get dressed and head up the deli for bacon n egg rolls? It’d be hilarious if my waters broke there!”

Famous. Last. Words.

“Brilliant. I am busting for bacon and eggs. Yep. I’ll get in the shower.”

“Ok. I’ll just go to the loo.”

Chapter 3: Laughing my ass off. If you’re squeamish, don’t go there. TMI warning.

Oh. My. God.

“STEW! Get the phone. You know how I said I had a show? That wasn’t a show. THIS IS A SHOW. Oh my god. Ring L. I think we need to go to the hospital. Oh god!”

“What!? What’s happening?” he stood outside the bathroom door. “ Will I come in?”

I couldn’t stop laughing. “Oh my god! NO! No don’t come in! It’s gross!.” I was SCREAMING with laughter.

“What’s gross? What What?”

“Oh my god! This thing! There’s this mucous thing! Should I pull it out? It’s a weird colour.” I could not stop laughing, Tears were rolling down my cheeks and it just seemed so ridiculously Hollywood.

“What? What? Oh! I’m coming in!”

“You are NOT COMING IN! It’s too gross!” I was screaming with laughter.” Just ring L! Oh my god! There’s so MUCH OF IT! You’ll have to tell her the colour. Oh my god”.

“What what what?” He was laughing too. “I’m coming in!”

“No!”

He opened the door. “Oh my GOD!”. He took one look at the (TMI WARNING) foot long mucous stringy thingy and small dark plug and nearly passed out. Breathe hub-in-boots, breathe.

I wrapped it up and stuffed it in an empty panty liner box in case they wanted a look at the hospital. Talk to me about gross.

“I’m ringing L”.

“Oh my!” I screamed with laughter as I went to stand up from the loo. He had left the room.

“What?”

“I just felt something GIVE!”

“what?”

“I think my waters just broke!” I was laughing so hard I could barely talk. There was a small fluid leak. Very small. The minute I stood up, whatever had been happening stopped. “I think. There wasn’t very much. I’m not sure”.

“what? WHAT? WHAT??????”

“Just ring L babe. Tell her. Ask what we do”

He left the room and there was quiet conversation. “The colour’s fine babe. Totally fine. But Lexi said it’s go time. It’s GO TIME. We have to go to the hospital right away.

Hub in boots then rang the hospital. He got the midwife, and she asked to speak to me. I can’t remember much of this call, except to say yeah look I think they broke but I’m not sure, there was a huge show, HUGE!  I’m still having irregular contractions, they are still mild, and we only live ten minutes away.

This was when I started to get stupid. “but I want a bacon and egg roll. Could we stop? And we can drop off the shirts at the dry cleaners.”

“No babe. No stopping.”

“Can I just have a shower? I can’t go in like this.”

“Yeah ok, a quick one.”

I had a shower.

I messaged my sister. Her stand by continued, but we were headed in. Note that”game on mole” is a 70’s expression used in “The Shire” around surfies and books like Puberty Blues. It’s also pretty popular with the boxercise crew. I love that I’m having a moment, and she thinks it’s incontinence. Just what you want in a birth partner. hurrumph.

And later the conversation turned one sided:

My mobile tingled with a message. “Ok to facetime?” says my Melbourne cousin, after yesterday’s “Maybe I’m in pre labour” message. Hell yeah, why not. Hub-in-boots jumped in the shower. I had pants on, but not much else. And I took the call.

“Babe! How exciting! Pre labour!?”

“Yeah I know. There’s been developments. I just had a show. We’re heading in.”

“Oh! Are you serious? I never had one of those?”

“Hang on, I’ll just walk out here and grab my jeans.” As I stood up, it was like a waterfall. I could see my face blanch in the corner of the Facetime screen on the phone. And my cousin’s face looking just as shocked as mine.

“Jules? Have to go. Waters. Just. Broke.” She opened her mouth to say something, and I hit end call. I don’t think she’ll forget the first ever facetime call on her new ipad in a hurry.

“STEW! STEW!”

“What? What?”

“My WATERS BROKE! Towels!?”

“WHAT??????????”

“Towels!!!! Can’t MOVE!!!!!!”

“Oh my god!” We were both laughing again. As I went to take a step, more water. I changed again. More water. Changed again. More water. Stew had laid out a towel trail all over the apartment, everywhere I tried to move.

I sms’d my sister. Waters really really really broke. My phone was going crazy with messages. I did not touch it again til we were in the car.

“What the HELL am I going to wear?”

“are you serious? Your waters just broke and….”

“Well I was going to wear jeans?”

“Not. A .Good. Idea. Skirt? Maybe easier”

“Yep skirt! God! There they go again.”

“Ok, I’ll  start packing the car, you get ready. List. What else do we need?” As I tried to dress (repeatedly), I shouted out instructions. The list of last minute items was sitting ready by the tele, and Stew went through them and started running stuff to the car. Including the remaining crate of old towels we use as cleaning rags. ALL OF THEM.

It felt like it took me hours to get it together. I changed three or four times. I had absolutely no focus. I stopped and put make up on, and did my hair, and picked out earrings and a necklace. What the hell? You idiot! Your waters just broke and you are applying lipstick? Are you for real!? WHAT WAS I DOING??????

When the last round of waters broke and I said I was going to change again, hub-in-boots put his foot down.

“Babe. I really think we need to go.”

“ok”. I limped to the car and hoiked my skirt up to my hips. “MORE TOWELS babe. THREE MORE TOWELS.”

He towelled up the passenger seat, and we were off. He drove calmly, as I timed contractions, that were mostly at 8 minutes but still slightly irregular. The winding road to the hospital was strange, every bump and bend was funny. I sent a few messages to people that needed to know.

Stay tuned for active labour in Chapter 3.