Cracker

Quick update: gumby doing well at the ob visit today. He’s cracked 5lb 5oz (2.3kg)… A big boy for 32 weeks but growing evenly & steadily. He’s still head down in my pelvis and booting me mainly on the right side, hips and ribs. Apparently the madly rapid fluttering is probably hiccups. Weird kid. He’s been busy in there. I still think he’s building something.

All ok with me too…blood pressure ok, the repeated braxton hicks contractions are nothing to worry about (just fatigue, dehydration and stage of pregnancy related), and he expects it’s just been the low iron whooping my tired ass. Since I’ve upped the iron tablets on the midwife’s suggestion on friday, I feel much better. Wed to friday were such hard yards… The weekend we continued the mad decluttering and luckily my energy came back to help. A car boot FULL of books and other gear to Vinnies.

My walk today was ok, just getting a bit slower.

It was the first visit I’ve been to on my own, and the doc was actually very nice. It was a quiet day in the practice, and he spent a bit longer with me. He said at any stage there is no problem with heading to the hospital if the contractions get me worried, but now that I understand what they are they don’t make me as nervous.

Had a fun wander in the shops after the doc, and it was the best kind of shopping: that with other people’s money!! I had gift vouchers from my birthday in October to use, and got new comfy pj’s x 2 and a fossil watch! Even hub-in-boots scored, with some Peter Alexander robot pj pants. Now he has the appropriate outfit for dancing to 80’s music on Rage. ūüôā

The mental nesting continues as I washed everything on the bed today before heading to the doc, including the blankets & mattress protector. Thank goodness my nesting has corresponded with good washing weather!

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Comedy dressing for kids? Discuss.

I have had my head in John Donne’s poetry all afternoon, helping a friend’s daughter with high school English. You have to love 17th century sleazy pick up lines, and a bloke that picks a fight with the sun for rising when he’s trying to ‘get his end away’. Gumby seemed to prefer the Holy Sonnets, and really got going with the kicks during our discussion on Death be not Proud.

Hub-in-boots eventually arrived home, and conversation inevitably returned to the lower brow. Not because it was hub-in-boots , but because there’s been a storm brewing, an argument, possibly our first parenting related relationship rift:

Is it ok to comedy dress your child?

Now my position on this was immediately clear on the day where, shopping on Next uk online, I picked out the newborn outfits with teddy bear ears on the beanies.

I have others firmly in my camp: my sister Cath and my niece Bec were wildly enthusiastic for the socks with doggy rattles on the toes for the boy who has everything including a fascination with his feet.

I’ve bought a red stripey hat with top knots to rival an English backpacker on a ski field

Looks funnier when ON a baby

,

 I am only inches away from the stegosaurus hat at Mothercare.

 In the past, I have purchased this t shirt for friends kids:

I have seriously pondered knitting this hat (though I think it may transgress even my limits of decency):

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “Toddlers in Tiaras” type thing; the sight of a five year old doing a bum slap dance dressed as Daisy Duke makes we want to puke. But I do have the elf outfit already picked out for Christmas day. There will be a rabbit costume next Easter. I have sympathies with big gay Cameron’s photo shoots of Lily in costume on Modern Family.

Then there’s hub-in-boots. Now I want you to remember, we’re talking about a man, who, despite having a large collection of Jeffrey Smart art books and being well read in String Theory, can snort-laugh himself off the couch during an episode of Wipeout USA, possible farting at the same time. Now this man objects to comedy dressing children! Can you believe it? Where did this conservative streak come from? What possible grounds could he have for this sudden seriousness?

How do YOU feel about comedy dressing children/babies? Have you seen any good examples? (ie anywhere I should be doing online shopping?!!). If one parent objects, can you still do it? Is it he who dresses Gumby for the day wins? I’m interested to know what you think.

As a quiet aside, Hub-in-boots may be coming over to the dark side. Yesterday, he emailed me this.

Though I think, for him, this is not comedy dressing. In the maniverse, all matters involving Batman or Spiderman are deadly serious.

See saw

I haven’t posted this week, haven’t read blogs, haven’t read a book (head too full for more words). I have tuned out of blog land. I’ve been knitting, though.

Booties version 1.0

Booties version  2.0                                                                                                                                                                 

We are in that place just short of a “viable” gumby. What a horrible expression. A gumby that would have a chance of living outside of my body, let’s say. And viability, anyway, is a spectrum, a place that tips, at 24 weeks from low odds and big disabilities and delayed developmental milestones, to 30 something weeks with great chances and lots of treatment options.

It feels like balancing on top of a see¬†saw. Or living in a trench in the middle of no man’s land in an old school war. I’ve left the bunkers of miscarriage behind , we don’t live there now, we are interacting with our baby, our real baby, several times a day (he just booted me one as I typed that… Oh and again!). We talk to him, we sing to him, he suffers through bad television, has been to an arthouse film ( the brilliant ‘This Must be the Place’, with a gothic Sean Penn and a David Byrne soundtrack) and listens to music and conversation. But we haven’t yet arrived at the side of reliable parenthood. I feel I have to hunker down and wait, to distract myself endlessly, to wait, without thinking, for time to pass.

I was conscious, this week, of reaching Mo’s milestone , the point at which she and her husband lost their son, Nadav, at 22 weeks and 5 days¬†. On our timeline this was¬†yesterday or today,¬† depending on which due date you listen to. I also saw the effects of¬†Sully’s short life at full term, through my friend’s eyes, last year. It makes the possibility of loss very real.

If I tip the see saw one way, I am thinking again about a real baby in this house, about the experience of cesarean , and still trying to get my head around our gumby arriving in this way. About being a mum. About welcoming a new little person between these walls. About a new reality. If I tip the see saw in my head the other way, ah, it doesn’t bear thinking about. There’s no words for it.

Mostly I’m good at distractions. Sometimes, with a twinge of pain in my side, or just going to the loo, my mind is already racing ahead to the start of disaster. It is an interesting way to be approaching our parenthood of this little guy. Some would say “just think positive”… But I find that doesn’t help me. If¬†I bury those very real feelings, they just sit and fester. They come back with more power, more presence. So many days I let the darker scenarios sit on the couch beside me and gumby, and I look at their horrible unfaceable emotional content, and then I look back to gumby and our life as a new family. I try to hold both in my head. I’d like to think that at 24 weeks, next weekend, I could move their dark faces to an uncomfortable seat in the corner, that by 27 weeks they could perhaps wait in the stairwell outside, and by 30 weeks they could just be a shadow we only see in certain light, robbed of a physical presence, without power.

But the fact is, for now, these other darker scenarios live here, just as gumby does, just as hub-in-boots does. This is just our reality, alongside our laughter and joy at the power and personality of our growing and now very real little boy. I don’t think their presence makes me acutely anxious, just not quite able to breathe out, just yet. It isn’t hard, exactly, but it does take a steely determination, a stubborn resolve, a certain amount of energy.

The PAIL ( parenting after infertility and loss) blogs have a topic on parenting styles this month. Some days I know how I feel about this. Other days it seems too remote to ponder. I believe in parenting to the individual, that each child in this world needs different things and different routines, and as a parent you are there to strengthen personal strengths and encourage developments where there are gaps or weaknesses. To allow the child to become the best possible version of them self. I do not believe a child’s needs should dominate a household , that everything should be led by them and their wants, because eventually , they will need to function without your help in a world of others’ rules. There are times when parents come first, where kiddie fits into the adult world, and times where you drop everything just to get by or muddle through. I think kids need boundaries, but they shouldn’t be built out of concrete. I think there’s a risk of following a particular labelled ‘parenting style’… because the rigid constructs may distract you from individual needs. No style manual can anticipate everything . You’re not out to get a trophy in ‘attachment parenting’ or ‘the x method’, that’s about your own ego and a need to control the uncontrollable. You are there to parent, and to try and¬†also be a person. Full stop. And you’ll need lots of different tools to do that well. Call it just-¬†in- time parenting, if you like. Learning on the job.

Personally, I think the best thing anyone can do to prepare for parenting, is to know themselves, and be able to be happy in their own person. To develop patience. Hallelujah to infertility and shitty pregnancy for teaching us both that lesson loud and clear. To be reasonable in your expectations, to be emotionally intelligent and able to separate the self from the other. To reflect on interactions and create space for this. This process can take a long time for some, and I think knowing yourself is one huge advantage of being, at 40,  an older mother.

The second important step in preparing for parenthood is to be secure in your relationship with each other. Not an easy thing when your express train to mummydom became an all stops one via infertility and complication centrale. But I think we’re in a pretty good place. My counsellor has helped, how we are together facing crisis, has at times challenged the “us” but ultimately what we have faced thus far has made our relationship rock solid.

I think the third important step approaching parenthood is securing your support networks, and adjusting your expectations of life. The series of crises we’ve already been through in pregnancy have reconnected us with certain people, allowed us to learn to at times rely on others, to lean more on each other but still remember to create personal space, and to be satisfied with small , small things. In the past week, I feel I have had full, enjoyable, fulfilling days. Sometimes the highlight was going out for an hour 1km away for coffee. Sometimes I went to a single shop for an hour or two. One day I made fresh pesto and dinner, and felt like I’d swum the English channel. One day I knitted half a bootie.¬†I live smaller, slower, cheaper, quieter. And I enjoy it. Mostly. Crises aside.

I don’t know how we will parent. I don’t know how we will deal with a screaming baby who refuses to sleep. With feeding difficulties. Or reflux. But I reckon we’ll figure it out. I think despite challenging times, sometimes we will hold a screaming gumby and laugh that we actually wanted this. And then we will think back to the days of bleeding and hoping and panicking and praying and just hanging on for dear life, and understand just exactly how lucky we are to be with him.

Perhaps parenting is a bit like teaching. I like teaching because it is not a job; it is a whole-of-person vocation. It requires everything I have, and everything I am. But I am an individual person as well as a teacher. I think parenting can have the same challenges and rewards. When something involves all of you, it can be all consuming, you can get too caught up in it, it can eat you alive. But if you tread that fine line well, ¬†it can also be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done: making a difference to another person. Hub-in-boots and I share a great love of this making a difference. I like to think this means our parenting philosophy will be a shared one.

We’re both reading Brain Rules for Baby, written by a neuroscientist about helping your child build emotional resilience and what is appropriate when. We will read other books. I’m a bit “granola”¬† to use a term from some other parenting posts, a bit leaning towards the organic, I’d prefer cloth nappies but I’m sure I’ll cave on that, I’d prefer less baby¬†‘stuff’ and more¬†quality time, I hope desperately to breast feed, I believe in routine within reason and allowing¬†room for the child’s personality within this, in working with them not against them, I hate processed foods, but I know you balance this with convenience and time. I’ve learnt from my sister the importance of being a little bit unpredictable as a parent, able to let fly and be a bit scary¬†in the face of a serious issue. But¬†we don’t want a hitting house, or a shouting house. We’ll have a time out corner. We’ll read lots¬†and lots of stories over and over again, though I might keep Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach for the teenage years. Here it is read by Samuel L¬†Jackson here, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure.

It’s a timely thing, this post, as tomorrow we go to finish off our whale music induced calm birth course with a day on “transition to parenthood”. Perhaps we’ll learn more, or gain more tools for the trip we have ahead of us. Hub-in-boots and I have talked a lot, over the years, about what we believe parenting should look like, about our philosophies, our expectations, our fears, and our hopes and dreams. Big picture stuff which perhaps won’t have a lot of meaning when there’s baby shit up the wall and a screaming Gumby on a change table and a wife that hasn’t showered for three days because Gumby wouldn’t settle. But we won’t be living on the edge of a cliff, or under the blade of a guillotine, like we are now, and I like to think the foundations we’ve built together over the past few years¬†will help. That and the fact we’re busting to meet him. But Gumby, if you don’t mind,¬†kick all you want (it feels like he’s building a cubby house in there), but hang off¬†on¬†your great escape for another 7-15 weeks.¬†That’d be awesome.

Bump photos to follow, I promise. Still below my pre pregnancy weight,¬†but¬†I’m getting kind of impressive at the front end. 23 weeks tomorrow.

Don’t let it rain on my parade

Well it’s mardi gras in Sydney this weekend . In honour of the event i’d like to wear some nipple tassles whilst on bed rest, but i’m sorry to say i won’t be, they’re too bloody sore. (My body seems to be confused , because the book says nipple cripple is supposed to END with 1st trimester, not start now). I’m going to have to wear padded something whilst knitting, if I bump my boob with the knitting needle one more time. And why oh why is it always the left one, huh?

Here’s to all the gay couples hoping to marry out there. Let’s hope at next year’s mardi gras it IS legal, and there’s some weddings with more style & trashy dancing, and a shitload of gay tourists flying out here to marry in a progressive country. I think it would revitalise the institution of marriage, not to mention give the bridal industry a bit of shake up.

Yet again someone has organised for rain on their parade tonight (half of Sydney is in flood as we speak), but I’ve always found sequins look better when they’re wet. And there’s nothing like the mascara on a bedraggled drag queen. Just don’t slip over, girls. At least not til the after party.

BASTARD the clot has chosen to ignore his deadline and is a little worse for yesterday’s few hours out of the house. Nothing major. I’ll give him til Thursday’s ob visit, then he needs to fuck off. Please. Nicely. You would think he’d realise punctuality is important.

Progress update on the knit one, shit one scarf. Three colours, week 16 and counting.

The Knit one shit one scarf is progressing well. We’re into our third colour, and I’m not sure whether it’s going to be a scarf or a nanna blankie now. It may depend on when I run out of wool / attention span . Per episode of gossip girl, I average about half a dropped stitch, so I seem to be on the improve .

I’m ripping through the twilight books as well. Bella is currently still human at the end of book three, she hasn’t bonked anyone, and the vampires and werewolves finally figured out they needed to cooperate, as I’d been telling them since book 2. Jacob needs to wax if he’s ever gonna get the girl. Just ask those attending mardi gras. (A back sack and crack would do him wonders).

Happy Mardi Gras, peeps. Have a margharita for me.

Knit one, shit one (K1 S1)

Ah knitting.¬† It’s all very well to learn it, but you also need to learn how to fix up your fuck ups. And I’m getting quite good at those. Something funny happened on the tele the other night, I laughed and dropped my needles, and in the process about 10 stitches. I thought I’d picked them up ok and pressed on, only to find a holy (holey)¬†mess 20 minutes later. After several hours of half watching tele and half trying to unpick it, and it hitting about 1am, a concerned hub-in-boots dragged me to bed monday night, right in the middle of South Park.¬† I didn’t touch it yesterday, in frustration, and had a Gossip Girl marathon instead (loving it). Today was fix it day.

Well today, I’ve learnt Frogging. Frogging is a knitter’s¬†take on a dad joke. When you need to undo a lot of rows at once, you rip it. Ribbit. Frogging. Get it? Yeah, whatever, nan. Luckily this nice lady on youtube showed me what to do, and it worked first time. What a legend.

Apparently the other skill I need is tinking. Tink is knit spelt backwards. Another knitting joke. Geez¬†these knitters¬†know how to party. I can’t face knitting, frogging, and tinking¬†on the one day, so I’ll get¬†to tinking later.

I’ve had some good success with online pattern googling too. I have a bootee book from my Granny’s old knitting drawer, but it was missing the crucial first page that was used as a basis for every other pattern in the book. And this lovely lady, on an old discontinued vintage knitting¬†blog, had posted the missing page! Not that I’m good enough to follow a pattern yet, but finding the missing piece was pretty cool.

Some favourites I am thinking of for hub-¬†in- boots’ second anniversary present in March (or possibly third anniversary given my knitting skills) are as follows:

For the contemporary follicularly challenged man, with a cold face
Annie’s attic Pattern and photo¬†has a lovely built in beard and ‘tache.¬†Nice.
Or for that retro flair, from Granny’s pattern book, we have a lovely knitted tie.
Some have suggested a two tone pastel for this knitted tie. I'd prefer brown.
Hub-in-boots has suggested this crocheted bikini:
from Etsy Crochet but I can’t see it on him myself.