Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bad Santa versus Thunderpants

Last time I took a child to see Santa the old bastard tried to hit on me.   

And as we left, my disillusioned little niece announced; " That Santa was creepy."

That experience, gave me a serious dose of the bah humbugs. I was with my sister at the time, taking her adorable little girl to see a department store Father Christmas and within seconds, Santa was all over me like a cheap suit. I swear it was like a scene out of "Bad Santa", but I couldn't imagine this guy looked anything like Billy Bob Thornton under his red suit and fake whiskers.

Shamelessly, in front of my little niece, he suggestively asked me to sit on his knee showing zero interest in the cute little girl who'd stood in line to meet him.  The poor little pet was gutted.

And puleeease, what did that idiot expect? A breathless response of "Oh my gosh Santa, you're so hot, let me get rid of these people and well go play pin-the-tail-on-the-reindeer in your grotto"?  What a lunatic.
So we rejected the photo all agreeing, that couldn't be the real Santa cos that one was a sleaze bag.

He was actually not that old a bastard underneath the beard and white brows, and that decided it, with my little girl I'm not visiting any Santa under 70 years old - the older the better. Old gentlemen Santa's know how to behave.

A week ago we were driving past a movie theatre with a costumed cartoon Santa out front.  Lucie bounced up and down in her booster seat gesturing madly; "go cuddle Christmas?"  "cuddle Santa?" but this Santa was on the other side of six lanes of one of the busiest roads on the lower north shore. So we did what all parents do in these situations: we made hasty rash promises. In fact it would be have been a much easier Santa introduction in front of a movie theatre, even with the problematic traffic logistics, than in a department store toy department geared up for Christmas shopping.

This year we're looking forward to a very special Christmas - the first one where Lucie halfway understands what the hell is going on.  Not surprising considering her preschool class has been flat out all November making decorations. Just like the retail stores; as soon as the pumpkins & witches come down, the tinsel & reindeers go up to replace them. We'll still be nursing new year hangovers when the first easter eggs roll onto supermarket shelves.

But I did find an upside to all this hype. Since we lost our latest and greatest goldfish, Piggy, feeling I couldn't cope with another funeral-by-flush (not to mention the work involved in keeping a healthy tank - yes you'd be surprised), I negotiated with Lucie that we could replace the fish tank a little Christmas Tree for her bedroom (and a plush Santa and Reindeer).  Ok I threw those in, 'cos (a) they were seriously cute and (b) it didn't seem like a fair trade to me  - a live pet and a pretty 5 litre aquarium exchanged  for a $6 tree. My conscience was bothering me. 

Did I mention that motherhood seems to inject your conscience with steroids?

Well the tree's gone down a treat ( I don't  have to clean it every week or change and condition it's water- I'm not feeding it twice a day) and Santa and Rudolf have now been on as many social outings as Dora which is saying something.

If fact Santa, Rudolf and Dora the Explorer all went to visit Santa today.
The promise was to visit David Jones, hit Santa's cave then swing by the puppet windows. But, still feeling the emotional scars of my last visit albeit about 15 years ago we put the kibosh on the department store Santa idea. Also, as my husband pointed out, how many tantrums would it cost me trying to escape the toy department after some cuddly old guy's been asking Lucie what she would like?

So I was feeling pretty clever finally deciding on a local shopping mall where Santa's sleigh was set up amongst harmless pharmacies, phone retailers and book shops.

Lucie was excited, and I was hopeful, there was only one child ahead of us and Santa was nicely aged and very polite with not an ounce of sleaze.

But as she climbed into the sleigh next to the man in red, Lucie let one rip like I've never heard before. Honestly, it was like a trumpet blast, it was epic, like she had a microphone tucked into the waist of her knickers. I think they heard it up in the food court.  So loud for such a small bum, I thought for just a second "oh god, Santa's incontinent".. until Lucie giggled and said "Mummy I did a poot!"

Fortunately childbirth has seriously impaired my ability to achieve deep levels of embarrassment so moments like this one just crack me up. Within seconds my mascara had become two black creeks trickling down my face and the photographer was hyperventilating right along with me.

When I was semi-composed again and trying to behave like a serious mummy again, I stupidly asked Lucie if she was going to sit on Santa's knee like the last little girl. Santa's mouth curled up in a worried smile; "Not sure Santa thinks that's such a good idea.." he said. 

Children with noisy bums sit next to Santa
It's a shame my little niece couldn't have called up some of her own thunder- down-under; it would have given Sleazy Santa just what he deserved.   

But for the sake of this year's lovely Father Christmas I'm just grateful it wasn't a stinker.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Food Glorious Food

Confessions of a culinarily challenged mum...

I’ve never been any great shakes in the kitchen. And, being severely culinarily challenged, spending 30 minutes with my nose in a cook-book preparing a special, nourishing and fancy looking child’s meal, to have it arbitrarily sent back to the kitchen without having been tasted is seriously un-fun. 
Is it any wonder Lucie ended up with vacuum packed organic toddler meals for so long?

As I saw it, that was 30 minutes stolen from my life twice a day each day that I wanted back.  30 minutes that could have been put to better use, like clearing up the debris after the detonation of yet another toy-bomb.  (This is how we describe what she does to the living room each night)

Now she's crazy about chops and sausages (thanks in no small part to Day Care) and…guilty confession number one - I sometimes give her warmed up chips from KFC or McDonalds to go with them.  Is that bad? 

Do I care at this point, mores the question? 
Anyway, now there’s this other problem; I don’t know if it’s the successful speech therapy, but somewhere along the line my little daughter learned the phrase "too much mummy, I'll choke!"?   
So even with her favourite foods, she takes teeny tiny mouse-sized bites of everything, while I tear my hair out by the roots. 

One night I seriously considered entering her into the Guiness Book of Records for the slowest consumption of a mini hot-dog - 50 minutes.  I thought that was the limit until she ‘chewed’ her yogurt so thoroughly a mere 80grams took another 20 minutes to disappear.

It used to be bed-time where I was held hostage, now its meal time and I use every trick in the book to get her to eat.  Guilty confession number two; TV was the most successful; (I hear gasping in the back rows).

But the old “Ok TV goes off if you don’t eat your food” worked very well – she sat at the table and ate.  I know what you’re saying; meals are family time, no entertainment, no toys, yahdah yahdah, but weekdays she’s on her own at the table, it’s boring for a little kid.  So where’s the harm if she gets the job done, uses her utensils and is still happy to sit down with family sans TV on the weekend?

I may not have convinced you but you can be smug now, because that get-out-of-jail-free-card seems to have expired.  DVD’s have music and she likes dancing very much.   

So now we have musical interludes that stretch meal-times to what seems like weeks; every few minutes she’s up and off, skipping around the room with a big grin on her face, arms flailing like a mad gypsy.

Meanwhile I shout, I plead, I threaten (sometimes I laugh- hysteria?) and as she flits back to the table and throws a fork full of food into her mouth with a meaningful nod in my direction, I glance longingly at the refrigerator where a chilled bottle waits for wine-o-clock.

On feeding fussy’s:

A wee note on cutting corners on dessert:

I have mentioned previously my trick of serving puréed veggies and fruit as a dessert.  I don’t make my own – hell no!
I use Rafferty’s Garden Organic superheros. So look for these in your supermarket, there are loads of flavours, they’re healthy, naturally sweet AND you’re getting veggies in without a fight so it ticks all the boxes.

Our biggest saviour on the food front has been her attending a really good (as opposed to the first one we sent her to) Long Day Care centre.

Sally’s Place has it’s own chef and the kids eat an enormous variety of foods including Mexican, Indian, Japanese and as a result Lucie’s so more chilled even, dare I say it, ‘experimental’ about what she eats.
Even if she is horribly, atrociously slow about it. At least we’ve moved on from the “yuck, its disgusting” phase.

So on the really tough days I don’t feel ‘so’ guilty about the Birds Eye chicken fingers (could constitute guilty confession three) or the quick-fix Super-Cheesy-Corn-Omelette for dinner (see the new fast food section), knowing she’s had good organic snacks and balanced meals cooked for her throughout the day.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

But seriously if you’re in the market for child care, after you’ve ticked all the other boxes, pay attention to the meal service, it can save you a lot of time and grief.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I need a new Birth Plan… HELLP!

A new mother once described her birth experience using the words ‘wonderful’ and ‘euphoric’ but since then I’ve often heard even gushier adjectives. 

Never has it been described as ‘I felt like a big tote bag in which several people were simultaneously rummaging for their lost car keys at the bottom’.  Or was that just mine?

Welcome to the emergency C section.

As reproductively challenged as one could be for no good reason, I was miraculously having what my obstetrician described as “a dream pregnancy”.  He made that comment on the Tuesday of my 37th week.  By Sunday I was having tubes threaded into my veins (STAT) and destined to be in hospital for the next nine days, almost half that time served in intensive care.

I’d wanted drugs on a Sunday and the only place you should ask for serious pain killing drugs on a Sunday, when you're heavily preggers, is at your maternity hospital of choice.

The nurse knocking off her shift, on hearing my complaints about the tightness and pain around my rib cage, shoved her handbag and coat away again and took me to the loos with a little jar.  She didn’t look pleased that my wee looked like Guinness, as it had for a couple of days. She took my blood pressure and looked even less pleased.

But she kept smiling as she told me I looked a bit dehydrated and I should have some fluids while I waited for the doctor, and in went those tubes before you could say “s’ok I can still drink.”

She was prepping me for theatre and loath to excite or frighten me with that news, considering my blood pressure was apparently 180 over 100, she kept the whole thing very low key.  Ducking out of the room to call my obstetrician and anaesthetist, who arrived with the speed of the armed forces at DEFCON 3, everyone was keeping it nice.

Within 45 minutes I was in OR with my scrubbed up, bewildered and not-a-little-suspicious husband, about to have my baby girl rapidly pulled out of her packaging.

Ouch much? After being zapped in the nether regions by what felt like 240 volts, twice, I was told that was just the epidural finding its way home. Let me tell you being zapped in your nether regions is seriously un-fun at any voltage, but without time to ponder that state I quickly became a big numb carry-all.

That is to say there was no feeling apart from the lingering memory of the recent genital torture (one which stays with you a surprisingly long time), and a not so gentle pushing, shoving and general rummaging below the belt.  Very strange indeed.
Fortunately when my baby was put into my arms I hardly noticed all the vulgar slurping- hoovering and espresso machine sounds coming from down there, that unseen place on the other side of the curtain. Hardly.

I did however notice my baby, unlike babies born in the movies, was all gooey like a channel swimmer covered in copious amounts of lard. I was told she needed to wear this for a day to keep warm.  And what pray tell is wrong with a nice clean bunny rug?

Anyway, we were over the moon as new parents are, little Lucie had a good sticky-beak at all the surgical staff; the way they were buzzing around and her undivided attention to them, I thought she’d get her first whiplash.

But we were only in the Maternity ward overnight when Dr Ric called and said something about moving me to the ‘special care’ unit, “nothing to worry about, just there are more nurses on staff to keep an eye on my blood pressure” because it was still ‘a bit’ high. I bought the story, my husband did not. Dr Ric said another doctor would come to see me and explain the details.

The details where this: I had a life threatening complication of pre-eclampsia – OK he didn’t tell me that in so many words (we wikipedia’d it after), what he did tell me was that I had HELLP syndrome; that my blood wasn’t clotting well, and with very high blood pressure that wasn’t a good thing considering I’d just been sliced and diced. (I’m paraphrasing here of course – no self respecting doctor would EVER say sliced and diced –not to your face anyway).

The pain that I’d come in with and had been trying to alleviate with ‘Deep Heat” was actually my liver swelling, a problem solved by the removal of my little lodger. Apparently the placenta and the rest of my body just weren’t getting along very well.

Christmas day in the Intensive Care Unit was less than festive but a vast improvement on my first couple of days, and Christmas lunch was surprisingly good. Tiny Lucie was doing fine and behaving herself so well she was allowed to stay with me and enjoy many hours of staring at the twinkling Christmas lights decorating the walls in between the scary looking equipment.

When I first got to ICU they performed a procedure called a Magnesium Protocol, which made the Epidural seem like a relaxing Thai massage. It felt like I was being cooked in a microwave oven from the inside-out with my blood boiling in my veins.

To add humiliation to injury; my first trip to the bathroom in my blood spattered backless gown was assisted by a Calvin Klein model in his twenties – they dredged up another young cutie for my second trip and after that I just tried to hold on till the nurse would let me shower.

I got my own back on them when I removed the pulse thingy from my finger to eat lunch – of course the monitor told them my heart had stopped and the SWAT team arrived before I could pick up my fork.
Eventually we were back in the maternity ward and cruising along and even having visitors. The nurses called me the “Deep Heat” girl since I’d come to hospital asking if I could use it safely and been given an epidural and baby instead.

Dr Ric marched in during one visit to tell me; “Now the panic is over I can tell you, you had me very worried for a while there,” and my visitors, a couple we know from the dog park, nearly fell out of their plastic chairs. Famous last words Doc…

As it happened the night before my intended release, having knocked over a bottle of water and leapt out of bed to catch it, (as you do) minutes later I had a blood geyser. I’d burst some stitching or an artery somewhere and the damned water bottle had landed on the floor right side up anyway.

Didn’t want water all over the hospital carpet-what an idiot! So back into the OR for this little OCBer. With my seriously impaired clotting ability and turbo charged blood pressure, it was like a scene straight out of M.A.S.H by the time I was wheeled back into the theatre. In all, I’d spilled a litre of blood. But not one drop of water – good girl!

The best thing about this little episode was the pethidine, also known as laughing gas, and did I laugh! Amongst all the blood and gore of being stitched back up again, apparently I tried to do stand up comedy (laying down) until Dr Ric told the anaesthetist he'd better shut it off, the kill-joy.

But as they say; all’s well that ends well. Not only have we all recovered with no ill effects and we have a delightful little girl in our lives. We are very blessed, and in no small way will forever be in the debt of the following people:

Dr Ric Porter (obstetrician extraordinaire and very fine stand up comedian himself) and Dr Ian Love (best bedside manner on the planet),

The lovely Nurses and staff at Mater Hospital Maternity and ICU Units,

And of course the wonderful, Lily Liu without whose needles and magical herbs I wouldn’t have taken this journey in the first place.
And finally for anyone reading this who is up the duff: If at any stage you feel pain around your torso like you’re wearing an incredibly tight bra – especially if you’re not wearing one at all; if your wee looks like Guinness; and your legs are so swollen they look like they’ve been put on upside down and your thighs are bulging out of the tops of your shoes: 

- Call your obstetrician or your maternity hospital STAT.

For more reading on Pre-Eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome try these links:

"Honey? have you seen my ankles? I cant find them anywhere..?"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When the poop hits the fan...and other embarrassing moments

There is apparently scientific evidence that getting 'knocked-up' shrinks your brain  - if that's the case then raising your offspring only makes you realise you didn't know sh*t in the first place.

I find 3-4-year-olds to be random little people with moments of cognitive brilliance peppered with episodes of psychotic, simian behaviour.

We'd had a sh*t week, quite literally, since we had a broken sewer pipe shared by all 4 Victorian terraces in our row. I found myself on Wednesday juggling a crazy child and a plumber who was dealing with a river of sewerage running down our newly paved side passage.

And while getting stuck into my new job as ‘involuntary strata manager’ led me to getting stuck into the Xanax, I had some lovely moments with my little girl as we replaced our afternoon bike ride to the park with a new stay-at-home game: 'chemical clean-up'. You know she's quite a dab-hand with a mop my girl.

So long as lots of bubbly detergent was involved she was overjoyed at the idea of swabbing the deck, which fortunately was only desecrated by the plumber's boots, while I tossed litre after litre of disinfectant, then bag after bag of top soil around the lower garden.

"What's that smell? It's disgusting!"; one of her new favourite phrases, had a lot of air-play until the disinfectant finally overpowered the previous stench.

Her speech has come along nicely, since she started with a speech pathologist; albeit sometimes embarrassingly so.  Like the time she pointed an accusing finger at an unfortunate looking elderly man in our doctors waiting room, crying “That man scares me mummy!”  I don’t know who was more mortified, me or the poor old man with the great-face-for-radio. 

And then there’s the joyful and loud descriptions of all her bodily functions: - During a speech pathology session: “I’ve got an itchy bum, Tiffany!” Both Tiffany and mum had to take a minute before being able to respond to that one, but it was quite good as far as sentences go.

And then again supervising bath time: -  on hold to one of the utilities, just as the operator finally answered, Lucie shouted in excitement “the pooh is coming mummy!”
I asked the operator if I could put her on hold while I perched my wet girl on the loo and Lucie qualified her statement, making an exaggerated grunting sound; “uuuurgh – it’s a really BIG POOH mummy!”

Someone somehow had turned up her volume. The operator was still laughing when I picked up the phone again.

And then the evening she turned political commentator: catching the early news on TV she took one look at our Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and shouted 'Go away cow!'.  

We didn’t know that Lucie needed help with talking; being in a bilingual family we expected her speech to be delayed that’s what ‘they’ say isn’t it? 

But after having her tested it turned out she did have delayed speech despite randomly using some very extravagant sentences.  (‘Go away cow’ not being one of those)

If you are in any doubt about your little wrangler I suggest you take a look at Speech Pathology Australia. You can read fact sheets online, download resources and look for practitioners in your area.  It will either give you peace of mind or set things straight before it impacts their schooling and social skills. 

We’ve made huge progress in a few short months and not just with Lucie’s communication skills but her personal confidence and interaction with other children. :0)

linking with melbourne mum