Archive for August, 2010

Eight years ago, I turned up at a hospital in London to be induced, armed with whale song CDs, aromatherapy massage oils and my birth plan.

“Here is my birth plan!” I said, handing a copy to the midwife on duty, as if I were Moses handing down the Ten Commandments.

The midwife smiled slightly and stuffed the plan away in my file without even looking at it. She probably already knew what I was yet to discover: the baby didn’t give a flying proverbial if I wanted to have drug-free birth on all fours like a cow. The baby had plans of his own and, it turned out, those plans mostly involved staying exactly where he was, thank you very much.

Indeed, twenty-eight agonising hours later – two hours of which were spent with the Oxytocin dial turned up to eleven – the baby had yet to make an appearance.

This is the point where the doctors revealed their own birth plan for me and my baby. A team of medical professionals began waving legal documents under my nose for me to sign while another team shaved my nether regions. Before I knew it I was being wheeled away from my birthing suite and all dreams of a drug-free cow birth, my aromatherapy oils unopened and my whale song CD cast aside. Turns out obstetric surgeons don’t like to listen to whale song while they operate. 

In the operating theatre, the failed epidural I’d been given during my labour was upgraded to a failed spinal block and the operating surgeon kindly requested that I stop moving my legs while he operated. This, in turn, forced my anaesthetist to upgrade her assessment of me from “Whinging Bitch With A Low Pain Threshold” to “Possible Medical Malpracdtice Suit” and she offered to put me under general anaesthetic whenever I gave the word.

Must… See…Baby...” I said, through the pain.

And then suddenly, there he was. My Mr Justice, held aloft and bathed in golden light. (My husband to this day denies that there was any golden light but he obviously wasn’t on the right drugs).

“Quick! Someone help me deliver the uterus,” I heard the surgeon say.

Doesn’t he mean the placenta? I thought vaguely to myself, as the pulling and tugging behind the curtain became so intense I became convinced the surgeon was pulling out my lower intestine like scarves out of a hat. Turns out that my uterus had gone ‘boggy’ – which is another way of saying it had started ‘haemorrhaging like a bastard’ – and needed to be  ‘massaged’, although, sadly, not with my aromatherapy massage oils.

Since I didn’t really want to see my uterus held aloft and bathed in golden light, I turned to the anaesthetist.

Put… Me… Under,” I hissed and then everything went black. Four hours later, I awoke, alone in the recovery area, seemingly intact.

“Where’s my baby?” I panicked and, with as much authority as a woman sporting compression stockings and a pubic mullet could muster, I demanded to be taken to him.

I needn’t have panicked. Back in the ward, my husband was in control of the situation. Braving the nervous giggles and strange looks of onlooking medical staff, he had taken his shirt off to give our baby the skin-to-skin contact I had taken such care to include in my birth plan.

At least someone paid attention to the fucking plan, I thought, somewhat despondently.

But listen. While the birth wasn’t what I had planned or wanted, the baby and I were both alive. And that, in my opinion, is what’s called a result.

And a lesson for me, too. The journey we’ve shared together as mother and son hasn’t always gone the way I planned or wanted – from controlled crying, to buying Wiggles albums, to fast food, to shoot-’em-up computer games. But as a parent, you can’t always stick to The Plan and there’s not much point beating yourself up when you don’t.

Today, my first born, with his shining eyes and his ready laugh – and who, incidentally, is still bathed in golden light – is turning eight years old.

Happy birthday, Mr Justice.

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I’ll make no secret of it: I love voting. It makes me feel unspeakably happy to be in the bosom of my local community at the local school with the smell of burnt sausages wafting gently on the breeze. This is democracy at work, I think to myself, as I gaze affectionately at the long queue of locals exercising their democratic right – albeit under threat of heavy fines and possible jail sentences if they don’t.

Each time, I walk home, as if on air – “high on democracy”, if you will. And then a few hours later, the polling booths shut and the count begins and I begin to feel anxious. It’s like the nation has gone into labour and I’m waiting to hear news of the birth.  And it’s at this point, I start to drink.

I started last Saturday’s Election Night by mixing myself a cocktail. It was one part vodka, two parts champagne, two parts cloudy apple juice with a sprinkling of fresh mint. I called it ‘Cloudy Outcome’ – you know, on account of all the ‘too close to call’ predictions and the inclusion of cloudy apple juice and that. And not, as my husband later suggested, because it had resembled a ‘cloudy discharge’. My husband, ladies and gentlemen. My husband.

Personally, I love a themed cocktail night almost as much as I love voting. One of my favourite birthdays ever was spent with my husband and just three friends making 9/11-themed cocktails. My dear friend Mr B ended the night with a blue curacao-based concoction so vile that we had to name it ‘An Attack On Civilisation’.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I didn’t quite get to the ‘Attack on Civilisation’ point on Election Night. This was partly because I was alone, save the company of my seven year old son who was looking at the ABC predictions like they were football scores. (“Aw, Mum! The Liberal party scored another goal and are now only nine points behind!”). But the main reason was there are only so many different cocktails you can make with a rather limited liquor cabinet before you start experimenting with “Port’n’Lemonade Spritzers”. Also, the fresh mint may or may not have been infused with cat piss and tasted fucking rank. Fact.

Here’s how my Election Night drinking went: After the rather desperately named ‘Electini’ (pineapple juice, vodka, champagne), I moved onto drinking straight champagne with the occasional vodka chaser. I called it ‘Election Night Anxiety Disorder’. And then, when I ran out of vodka, it was just plain champagne. I called that ‘The Demise Of Champagne Socialism’. And then I just drank water. I called that ‘Hung(over) Government Avoidance Strategy Drink Thingy’. You have to understand that I was quite drunk by this stage.

All the while, I was thinking of my friend AnnieG, who, according to her Facebook status, was planning to either make a ‘Big-Eared Bastard’ (“with strategically placed lime slices”) or a ‘Ginger Kick’, depending on the outcome. Since neither party managed to form a government, my guess is she had to settle for a ‘Well-Hung Ginger Bastard’ in the end.

Which I might have settled for myself if my (red-headed) husband hadn’t been at work. So instead, I took two Panadeine and went to bed in the hope that when I woke in the morning everything would be allllllllll righhhhhhhht.

For the record, it wasn’t.

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My husband and I spent our honeymoon treading water outside a swim-up bar in a resort. Fact.

We’d never had a holiday like it and we’ve never had one since. It was pure R&R – we ambled lazily between bed, buffet, beach, bar and back to bed and were left wanting for nothing. It was the perfect way to de-stress after our wedding – at least for me, that is. My husband had himself a bad case of scabies and spent all day and night itching like fuck, but that’s neither here or there. *I* had a great time and, as we all know, it’s All About Me.

At the time, I remember thinking the resort would be the perfect place to come for a family holiday. But now that I’ve been initiated into the Parent Hood, I’m not so sure.

For one thing, while I haven’t seen anything formally in writing, I expect Social Services frowns upon tying your children’s swimming rings in a row behind you (like so many ducklings) at the swim-up bar, while you knock back absinthe-based cocktails with names like ‘Monkey Gland’ and ‘Sweaty Bollocks’.

For another thing, something like the ‘Kids Club’ might seem an ideal way of claiming some ‘Me Time’, but the cost of sending three kids for the day? You might as well be sending them to a Swiss Finishing School. Although I have to say that I’ve long-since been planning to sew a special suit for my kids so that they look like conjoined triplets and get in for the cost of one child. The age differences would take some explaining but I could probably say I was in labour for over six years and squeezed them out in two year intervals… which, now that I really think about it, might garner me some sympathy over at the Sunset Bar in the form of a complimentary cocktail served in an ice bucket with an extra long swirly straw and half a pineapple stuck on the side. Yes, I’m an Ideas Person.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “A family holiday isn’t about the selfish pursuit of relaxation (i.e. drinking) but about creating special family ‘together time’ away from the stresses and strains of everyday living.”

Sure, I love spending time with my family without living in the shadow of the undone dishes, dirty washing and cooking. But as a notorious tight-arse who smuggles her own home-made popcorn into the cinema, I balk at the idea of buying three meals out a day as you invariably do on holiday. When you’re an adult, you can always substitute real food with more alcohol,  but kids need feeding – especially when you have a teenage boy-in-training  like Mr Justice who can work a buffet better than his mother can work a free bar. Of course, if we only paid for one meal a day at the resort buffet, I could get turn all Fagen-esque and train the kids to stuff bread, cold meats and salads into their Conjoined Triplet Suit… Ideas. Always with the ideas…

In any case, the bottom line is this: almost every family holiday we have ever taken has ended with severe car failure, acute vomiting and/or friction burns from swiping our credit card too much. It hardly seems worth it.

Which is why my holiday of choice is getting all three kids asleep in their beds before 9PM and beating a clear path to my arm chair with a large box of Cadbury’s Roses tucked under my arm.

Of course, I’m happy to be proved wrong…

This post is my submission to the Kidspot’s Top 50 Blog Your Way To Dunk Island competition (which you might have guessed by its title). You can vote for me here and help me win a family holiday where I’ll get to jump up and down on a beach in a crocheted bikini, punching the air and alarming innocent onlookers.

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