Four places


Tonight we read oh! The places you’ll go! In honour of Sully’s fourth birthday. Sullivan only lived a few short days, and every year, everyone that knew his family ,and many that didn’t, join in to remember his life and his journey.

I had a complicated pregnancy. It was long. It was harrowing. It was true trauma. It ended well. And it took a lot to get through, and a lot to get over.

I know how hard it was for me, for us, for our families, all of that hanging on. For about seven bloody months (literally). Bloody. How every little milestone counted. How at first, I didn’t understand that the relief of making it, the giant breathing out that came with a real baby and a very happy ending, it didn’t quite erase the trauma that had come before. That trauma which required it’s own time, it’s own grieving, it’s own healing. How hanging on with everything you’ve got, yep, that takes some serious refuelling time.

So I imagine, then, having gone through that, without the happy ending. And that is the end of what I can imagine. That is what my friend S must face, every year, every birth, every pregnancy, every newborn, every similarly aged child.

After my short struggle, my breath catches when someone says “so will you go for number two?”. It’d be like saying to someone who just climbed Everest “fancy a jog?”. And still, over 2.5 years later, a memory of it will stop me in my tracks.

So for S, yep. That’d be four years of climbing everests. To be walking around, and breathing in and out, you’re doing great. I understand less than 1% of it, i suspect. And while I can’t truly get it, I, we, can remember. We can do small acts to remember great heroism and impossibly wrong outcomes.

If you get a chance, folks, read “oh! The places you’ll go!” To a loved one today. Stick a photo or a comment here, on Sully’s memorial fund page. It means a lot to his family.

In memory of Sully. Happy birthday. The places you’ll go.

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, 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.

Calm and birth? Yeah give me 11 weeks and we’ll talk.

Well, I’ve had a mental weekend. Two outings . Wtf?  Totally breaking curfew here.

Yesterday, we did day 1 of a “calmbirth” course with 7 other couples . It was down near my mum’s place. It was a pretty interesting idea about approaching childbirth, using meditation on the breath, quiet voices in the birthing suite, dim lights and a lot of “going inwards” for contractions. Really, a lot of it seems to be going back to nature, to a less medicalised birth, and putting the mother and baby very much at the centre of the experience, even where medical intervention is needed. It isn’t anti medical, which I think is important & sensible. I mean, it’s all very well to go on about ‘back in the good old days when we birthed at home’, but there’s the whole infant mortality thing to throw into that particular mix. There has to be a balance between natural and risky, between do what the medicos say and trust your own body.

My sceptical side has a nasty idea of a child coming out to pan pipes, whale music and scented candles, when maybe Rage Against the Machine “fuck you i won’t do what you tell me” may be a little more our style. I don’t think moshing or slam dancing is strictly in line w hospital policy …and if I need a mantra to go with my breathing it may well have a swear word in it .

So, so far I’m not sure if calmbirth is our style. The course was a little content light, on the first day, and as someone who teaches for a living, I struggle a bit with sitting through other people’s teaching when it is not well planned. Hopefully day 2 next weekend will convince me, and have more actual tools rather than what i see as directionless chatter. I found it frustrating that the facilitator kept speaking of the calmbirth method and calmbirth people, but at the end of day 1, I still struggled to define what the method was. And i have no intention of being a calmbirth person. I will be ME, using calmbirth tools, if we actually get any! It’s not that the day was useless, there was interesting stuff about the research into benefits to suckling with drug free births, the importance of immediate skin to skin contact, delayed cord clamping , and good ideas of what hub-in-boots might do, and when, during labour. We even know when we’re supposed to leave for the hospital now. Not that we haven’t already been there. Part of me thinks after what we’ve been through, I’ll be so bloody relieved to make it to a third trimester labour of any kind that it will be a doddle by comparison.

It was nice, however, to get to speak with other expectant couples, and be out in the world for a change. Real live other people. Geez I find it tiring though, all that input and interaction. After 10 weeks of isolation it is hard to not feel separated from the world, even when you’re out amongst it. I think there’s a nap on the cards.

Today we went to a fun run and picnic in memory of Sully (see Thursday’s updated post), and hub-in-boots did my kilometre as well as his.

Double-up Stew running for two

This earned him a bacon & egg roll and a lolly bag, and the money went to ‘ mums like me’, a group of mums with losses that make baskets that are distributed to hospitals free, with handmade booties and clothes, teddies etc, given to parents that welcome stillborn and late miscarriage babies into the world. Michael our trainer organised a lot of it…what a dude. Click on the link and you’ll see his sporting type people blog, if you’re that way inclined. And Nanna Parra (a mad Parramatta Rugby League Supporter), walked a kilometre after at least one hip replacement at 82ish? Good on ya, Nan. Shame they lost on Friday.

Sully's run


Next to our picnic was a group on the basketball court playing, incredibly, unicycle hockey. And here I was thinking that I was doing well walking 50m from the car to the picnic and then sitting in a chair! It was so cool to watch. I was so excited to be out I had a coffee in celebration. Ever since we got home, hub-in-boots has been looking up their website, and unicycles on Ebay. So much for googling prams. We’ll need to make friends with a plastic surgeon if he does take it up.

Unicycle hockey

It was nice to catch up with the boxing crew and see how everyone was doing, and the kids running around and growing up. It’s weird when you normally see a group of people twice a week, and then you go missing in action for almost three months! A few of them not so in the loop had that “is she or isn’t she?” look on their faces, unsure whether to ask whether gumby was still in there. Yes he is, people, yes he is.

And that brings us to tomorrow. 19 week scan. Not that I’m shitting myself, or anything. How is gumby? Is he moving much? Has he grown? Is everything in the right place? How is BASTARD, the clot ? Really truly gone? How is the placenta, after all that bleeding? We find out tomorrow. I’d like to be one of the people that walk in for a scan, and walk out smiling. That would be nice.

Oh! Sully! The Places You’ll Go!

Today is a really special day.

Today, one year ago, a friend of mine (captain complicated pregnancy in this blog), had a baby, Sullivan (Sully). This is not my story to tell. I don’t have all the details, so sorry girls if I get anything wrong, and perhaps it’s not my place. But I’d still like to write a post to mark this day.

Sully had been a long time becoming the little brother he was meant to be. There was a lot of loss and difficulty before he was conceived, so he was very very wanted. And at the 19 week scan, there they were, in a wheelchair, out of the scan place, running down Missenden Road to the hospital with a dilated / shortened cervix, straight into surgery for cerclage (a stitch in the cervix to prevent miscarriage). 

This has a whole other resonance now, my being 18.5 weeks with that very scan next Monday.

Anyway, Sully’s mum, Captain Complicated Pregnancy (which is fairly reductionist of me, she’s an all round cool chick, not just an incubator!), was put onto immediate bedrest, and this was in and out of hospital. It was strict, and it was not easy, as she had a toddler tearing up the house at the same time. As a couple, they had lots of support, but some burdens somehow fall to us alone, and despite everything and everyone around us, make us feel isolated. She was in hopeful spirits, craving mexican, and the breakfast bruschetta we always ate after Saturday boxercise. She was watching series of Dexter, amongst other things. Unlike me, she didn’t knit. And along with her lovely partner, she was counting down the weeks, trying to live out the weeks, trying to grow this boy until he was a viable baby. Every week was important. Every week was vital. We all counted the weeks with her. It feels bloody to me familiar now. 30 weeks was a point of great celebration.

And, beyond all expectations, Sully made it to full term. At some point they took out the stitch, and there she was, Mum /Mum to be, at the hairdresser, madly texting us all when the contractions began. She tossed up about going in for waxing on the way to the hospital. Mad woman. But did the sensible thing and went directly to the labour ward.

Sully was born by Caesarean section. And then everything went quiet. No news from her, none from her family. Silent. No emails. No texts. Til we finally found out, what seemed like ages later (and was probably, in reality, a few hours after labour should have finished), but I knew the silence had a dark quality.

I went to boxing on Wednesday night, and her aunty wasn’t there. And there were people standing around in shock, in tears, almost in tears. And I realised something was wrong. The daily emails started. And we all prayed

Sully had difficulties during birth, and to this day, I don’t think they know what happened. Beautiful perfect Sully, born on the 22nd, and on the 25th after many who loved him had met him and held him, they turned off his respirator. He opened his eyes for the first time, and looked at his mums with big clear eyes. Sully, at least in body, didn’t make it through that day.

So today is Sully’s birthday. And my friend, who has been a source of enormous support, and empathy, and dark jokes, and laughs during my present”internment”,  who along with her partner and family suffered an immeasurable loss last year, has asked that everyone do one simple thing tonight, in his honour. .

To read Dr Suess’ Oh! The Places You’ll  Go! Sully’s other mum, his Beb, read this book at his memorial service last year, and it was beautiful. We drank a lot that night. His mum stole a salt shaker from the club to “pay” me for the taxi ride home with hub-in-boots at the wheel. I think i still have it around here somewhere….

I’d  like to ask you, as my blog readers, to sit down tonight, and read the Dr Suess book, as a birthday present to him.

  • And if you can’t read it, then click here and watch this lovely mad version at The Burning Man festival on youtube. (get tissues. It makes me cry every single time…)
  • Read it to your loved one, your child, your unborn in your belly, your dog, your cat, your friend over the phone.
  • Pop out at lunch and buy the book,
  • Read it here where the full text is posted on the bottom of ‘Don’t Stuff’s’ blog post: Oh! The Places You’ll Go! 
  • get an iphone / ipad app of the book, and sit down and enjoy storytime
  • Feeling creative? Post a vid of you reading it on youtube, or anywhere, and include Sully’s name
  • send it out in the blogosphere via your blog
  • email it
  • Tell Sully’s family, via the comments section below, the places he has been today, where and how he’s been remembered.
  • Post a link and ask your friends on Facebook to read it

Sullivan Darcy Kippax, Sully. Celebrate his wonderful little life. Sully’s mums and his family will see your comments. They will appreciate your gesture, this precious 7 minutes of your life, to remember his.

Happy birthday Sully. I know you would have been a real tear away. A mad little fella. A heart breaker. I wish today we were cleaning cake off your face and helping you to blow out your candles.

Oh! Sully, with everyone remembering you today, the places you’ll go!

UPDATE: So far today, Sully has been to Australia, the UK, Poland, the US, Germany, Malaysia, Canada, and Egypt. And Mauritius and New Zealand. Today (23rd) also to Peru!

And here’s some pics of wishes being granted…

Lachie and Bella at bedtime on the Ipad in Sydney
Juliet, Soph and Tom in Melbourne Australia. You can tell it's colder there!

and hub-in-boots and I read it too. This is a prop book (Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates) because we really read it off the iphone app….

Jo, Stew (Hub in boots), Gumby and Grover


Here's Molly reading it with Aunty Trace in Sydney. She waited patiently, paying attention until the story was over before going outside to bed. awwwww.