Reflections on motherhood...


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Co-sleeping - NOT!

Co-sleeping, rather like breastfeeding, is another one of those controversial, damned if you do, damned if you don't-type topics.  There are a number of perspectives:
  • The government "lowest common denominator" advice says no co-sleeping. Fullstop.
  • Attachment parenting advocates say it's a great idea.
  • Some experts say it's ok as long as you're not fat, drunk or on drugs, or a heavy sleeper, you only cover yourself with a sheet and your mattress is firm (ie, no roll-together!)
  • Dr Sears says "yes, no, sometimes?". 
I've got a tendency to follow the rules.  With a fair degree of rigidity.  My Myers-Briggs profile says so.  So in the time Before Child, I thought there would be no question about where Milkbaby would sleep.  In his cot of course!  I know you're all smiling smugly at my naivety.  The very night he was born, he woke up after only an hour or two and a nurse came into my room and popped him into bed with me.  You can imagine my consternation at this blatant breach of government and probably hospital policy.  But I couldn't sleep anyway so it didn't really matter.

Once home I quickly discovered that Milkbaby slept much better when I was nearby.  And when I say "nearby", I mean right next to him, and he would say ideally with a nipple stuck in his little gob.  Nearly 18 months on, he's still the same.  I don't hesitate to bring him into our bed if I think it means we might all get some sleep.  And it usually does result in a couple of people getting some quality sleep - namely the DH and Milkbaby.

But me?  I'm the sucker stuck on the last 10cms of bed, with my arm stuck in a weird position and without a sheet, let alone a duvet, to cover me.  If I do get some sleep, it's certainly not quality, and I'm almost guaranteed to wake up with a krick in my neck or a dead arm.

So instead of running ad campaigns that are designed to fill you with fear - like this one from Milwaukee...
Milwaukee Runs Provocative Ads to Wake Parents Up to Dangers of Co-Sleeping

The government should just run a few public service ads which warn people of the most likely outcomes of co-sleeping (pah! what a misnomer).  Like this...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't let me put you off

Not so long ago, a childless friend remarked to me "you know, if I didn't know better, your blog would really put me off having kids".  "Yeah, I know" I responded quickly.  "But there's nothing interesting or funny about blathering on about how moonily in love you are with your newborn, or his latest achievements.  And plus there's like a tonne of those blogs on the internet already."

So, just to even things up a bit, this blog post is me blathering on about how moonily in love I am with my toddler.  In small doses.  Like just evenings and weekends.  But whatever, that suits us both.

If you asked me to name the best thing about having a child, I would say it's the ability to experience your baby-days and childhood all over again, with the wisdom and knowledge that you've gained from having been there, done that.  Something as simple as the texture of the leather on the couch has a whole new fascination when you're a baby, nothing is more delightful than the feel of running your hand through a hedge as you walk past it, and water... now that's a whole other cup of tea.

At the moment we're all about language development.  We're working on two word sentences, the best one of which has been "yellow bus".  Milkbaby knows what a bus is, but the concept of 'yellow' is proving tricky. I had a the following conversation with him tonight:

"Okay, hold onto your car" (I'm changing his nappy)
"That's right, car. What colour is your car?"
"Yellow bus"
"Well, it's more of a red car really"
"Yellow bus"
"Red car?"
"Yellow bus."
"Okay, sure, whatever."
[There's a pause]
"That's right, red car" (I'm like, wahoo, he's getting it!)
"Yellow bus."
"mm hmm" (I give up.)
Picture of Yellow School Bus - Free Pictures -
Yellow bus? Red car? Who cares?

What's your favourite thing about parenthood?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I hate weekends

As I walk through the Creche gate on Friday afternoons, my mind turns to the 48 hours looming ahead of me. Usually I'm looking forward to some quality time with Milkbaby.  Though often that pleasant thought is accompanied by a small ironic voice that says "Ha, 48 hours straight with your kid... how will you cope?  Will you even remember what to do?".

I'm usually a bit of a planner.  I keep numerous To Do lists.  In the time Before Child (BC), I saw weekends as potential time for getting stuff done.  I mean real stuff.  Like entire house renovations.  And having a bit of a sleep in.  Only till 8.30am at the latest though - any later and that would interfere with getting stuff done.

Now, not only is it nigh-on impossible to get anything but a few small jobs done, but any kind of sleep-in is a far-distant memory.  And since it's been a week since I last tried to get my little monkey down for a nap, today I seemed to have lost the knack.  I gave up, leaving him yelling angrily in his cot, shut his door, and got back into bed, quickly pulling the covers over my head to drown out the screaming.

Luckily, the DH, wondering what all the noise was, came to investigate.  After getting Milkbaby off to la-la land, he came into our room.

"what's up?" he said
"I hate weekends" I mumbled from under the duvet
"really?  you'd prefer to be at work?"
"yes... I wish creche was open on the weekend...  I feel like I've forgotten what to do... And I've got so much to do I don't know where to start..."
"you're obviously a bit tired.  Just try and get some sleep while Milkbaby is sleeping."
"mmm nhmm... [snoring]

24 hours down, 24 hours to go.  Maybe I'll remember how to get him to sleep tomorrow.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Number 1 cause of parental insanity

Earworm (n.): (a loan translation of the German Ohrwurm) a portion of a song or other music that repeats compulsively within ones' mind.  Synonyms include "music meme", "humsickness", "repetunitis", "headsong", and my personal favourite, "tune wedgy".

No it's not another gross childhood illness.

You thought I was going to say sleep deprivation.  That comes a close second.  And is probably a contributory factor to the degree to which you will suffer from, or be extremely irritated by, the latest children's song stuck in your head.

Children's music has a lot to answer for.  Not only am I required to keep an entire repertoire of children's music in my head, ready to be sung at any lip-quivering moment, my payback for doing so is having to go through entire working days humming The Wonky Donkey or Puff the Magic Bloody Dragon.  And don't get me started on The Wiggles.

Catchy isn't it?  This is what's known as "Smurfing" - the practice of intentionally attempting to transfer an earworm to another.  Caught it yet?

According to research, 98% of individuals experience earworms.  In addition to being sleep deprived (and therefore, in my opinion, more likely to be afflicted by earworm), being female is also a factor in how you'll be affected by earworm.  Females are more likely to suffer earworm for longer, and be more irritated by it.

Obviously, the best way to get rid of earworm is to sing something else.  That's where having a good repertoire of children's songs comes in handy.  The trick is to choose a song that doesn't have the sticking power of the one in your head, but is still memorable enough to unstick the first one.  Try not to pick the nonsensical but equally catchy "Galoop"...

And we all know frogs go ... la di da di da
la di da di da, la di da di da ...

Friday, September 23, 2011

The cult of "motherhood fundamentalism"

While on my sickbed, I took to reflecting on my approach to motherhood.  Mostly, I wondered if my 'die hard' attitude to breastfeeding had somehow left me disadvantaged.  Before I go on, I should say that this situation I found myself in (ie, with a baby who refuses to take a bottle or formula, and who showed, until recently, very little interest in solid food) was not something I really gave much thought to - it just happened that way, before I really had time to convince Milkbaby that the boob was not the be all, end all, breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and midnight snack.

Certainly more than one person [read: almost everyone] who heard my mastitis misery tale asked whether I'd thought about giving up breastfeeding.  Even the specialist, during one of my mama-exposes-boobs-to-all consultations, asked me sternly:

How old is he now?
And how much longer do you plan on breastfeeding him for? [picture his stern but bemused sort of face]
Ummm.  Err.  I don't know?  Until he doesn't want milk any more?  [I'm thinking, hang on mate, you're a breast surgeon, and you're asking me to put some kind of time limit on this thing? We both know the World Health Organisation says "two years and beyond"]

As if it was somehow my decision anyway.  The truth is, I probably would stop if I could.  Or I would if Milkbaby had showed any disinterest in the boob whatsoever.  I know he'll stop wanting milk sooner or later... surely.  But at this stage I can't bear the screaming when I refuse him.

I mentioned to a friend, in a passing comment sort of way, that maybe I shouldn't have been so committed to breastfeeding.  Or that I should have at least introduced (and persisted with) a bottle and formula.  Just for the odd occasion.  Just so that I could have the odd night out.  Or so that I could have had a whole night on my own in hospital.  Or perhaps, so that I wouldn't have gotten the damn mastitis in the first place.  (Notice how these reasons are all about me and my freedom?)

Elisabeth Badinter
So this friend sent me an article about Elisabeth Badinter, contrary feminist and apparently France's most influential intellectual.  Here's a picture of her, cigarette in hand.  Tres French, non?

In her latest book, "Le Conflit: La Femme et la Mere", she rails against what she regards as a cult of "motherhood fundamentalism" that is spreading in the West.

Since "fundamentalism" has become synonymous with "terrorism", the phrase "motherhood fundamentalist" has me picturing a motherhood suicide bomber.

"If he doesn't go to sleep within the next ten minutes,
I swear I'll explode."

I digress.  "Motherhood fundamentalism" is apparently a spreading cult which advocates a more natural, green style of parenting.  Cloth nappies, breastfeeding, and homemade baby food are the main targets of Badinter's criticism.  She argues that women are burdened with intolerable guilt unless they stay home and breastfeed for as long as possible.  And shame on you if you try and give your kid baby food from a jar.  Cloth nappies are a life sentence of washing (which, apparently, men do not help with).

Elisabeth Badinter (or at least what I understand of her argument - most of it is in French), gives voice to the extreme version of the thoughts that had been niggling at me.  Whereas I wonder, (in a vague, sleep-deprived sort of way) "have I taken this breastfeeding thing too far?", Badinter shouts, "almost certainly!".

I don't agree with her.  Some of our differences might be cultural.  France has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the Western World.  So low, in fact, that the country is not even included in World Health Organisation breastfeeding statistics for babies older than three months.  And in France, unlike in my household, women still do 80% of the household chores - which goes some way to explaining her aversion to cloth nappies.

I wouldn't call myself a "Motherhood fundamentalist" or even a "Crunchy mama".  But I don't think much harm can come from a little effort to reduce my impact on the world (and cloth nappies are more reliable than disposables anyway), and for most people, little harm comes from a healthy commitment to breastfeeding.

Would I do it the same way again?  If you're asking me that question in a hypothetical, abstract sort of way, then yes, absolutely.

Motherhood lesson #3

How to take your toddler to get a passport photo, and leave the shop with your nerves in tact.

Sorry, I'm afraid it's not possible. Either get his passport photos done when he's a few weeks old, or forget about international travel until after age five. The latter approach probably involves less stress for everyone anyway.

If you want to know how "the third way" might go for you, read on...

I took Milkbaby to get a passport photo last week.  Naively thinking that it would only take a few minutes, I popped in to the photo shop on our way home.  The rest of the afternoon went something like this:

I sit him on the seat.  He stares, open-mouthed, at the girl taking his picture.

"He'll need his mouth closed." she says.

He grins at her, displaying his pearly-whites.  I encourage him to close his mouth, by making closed-mouth faces at him.  He laughs at me, then stares with his mouth open some more.

He gets bored and starts investigating the chair he's sitting on.  He tries getting down from the chair.  I sit him back on the chair.  He grins at the girl some more.  He points and waves at her.  By now, he figures, they're becoming friends.

We turn the chair around, so he's kneeling on it. The girl tries to get his attention again.  I try holding his gaping mouth shut, and then taking my hand away at the moment of the photo.  It doesn't work.

We try lying him down on a white sheet.  Before the girl lifts the camera to her face, he rolls over and crawls away.

Apples: useful for enticing Snow Whites
and small children.
I'm starting to feel flustered and embarrassed.  The girl asks if I can think of anything that we can give him to eat so that his mouth will stay shut.  I remember an apple in my handbag.

We sit Milkbaby back on the stool, and I give him some apple.  He chews it, while grinning and waving at the two other shop assistants who've come to watch the spectacle.

He spits the apple out on the floor.  I try to look composed while picking bits of apple off the carpet and making sure Milkbaby stays sitting on the stool.  He points at the apple, wanting more.  I give him some more.

He sits and chews, seemingly offering a few closed-mouth photo opportunities.  But he's not looking at the camera, and the girl points out that his fringe is covering his eyebrows, something which is not allowed.

I do a very mumsy thing and lick my fingers to wet his hair, clumsily attempting to tame his fringe away from his eyebrows.  By now I'm very flustered.  I wonder aloud why it's so important to have your eyebrows showing in a passport photo.  It's like customs officials are playing some sick joke to ensure that everyone, including babies, look hideous in their passports.

The girl gives up and hands the camera to a colleague.  It's the end of her shift.  Her colleague goes and gets a bigger, better camera.  He's pulling out the big guns.

Milkbaby points at the apple.  I give the whole thing to him, figuring things can't get much worse.  I'm considering giving up on the possibility of overseas travel.  Who'd want to travel with a toddler anyway?

All of a sudden, Milkbaby seems to get it.  He gives up on the gap-toothed grinning and gormless staring, and puts on his best Blue Steel pout.

The guy casually snaps a couple shots, then says, "yep, I think we got one".  I breathe a sigh of relief, and leave the shop before they can tell me they need to do them again.  Fingers crossed the mugshot is good enough for the authorities...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The cry it out equation

I've decided that whether or not you get to the cry-it-out point depends on a number of factors.  These factors can be expressed in an equation, as follows:

NN + TLD X MF + (10/NA) > 5000 = CIO

Or in words:

Where (Number of consecutive nights without unbroken sleep plus total number of times you've said 'lie down please, it's time to sleep' multiplied by minutes of fussing you've already put up with plus (10 divided by the number of adults in the house at bedtime)) all divided by Length of tether (where short = 2; medium = 5; long = 10) is greater than or equal to 5000, it's more likely than not that you will resort to crying it out to get your baby to sleep.

For me, last Wednesday, that equation looked like this:

425 + ~826 X 120 + (10/1) = 30026

In other words, I was pretty much off the charts in terms of likelihood of resorting to crying it out.

Which is what I did.

The cry-it-out theory has its origins in a book
published in 1894 by the guy in the  middle, Dr Luther Holt.
I am hesitant to claim that it "worked", but for that night, I think we ended up on the positive side of the equation in terms of the ratio of total baby sleep (TBS) to total mama sleep (TMS), even with a little Reading Time (RT), a random OMG-he's-still-sleeping wakeup, and a sleepwalking interruption from the DH (DHS) - and once I actually went to sleep - after counting the Minutes Crying (MC).

That equation is represented as:



420 - (40 + 15 + 15 + 20) = 330 (5.5 hours)

That's right folks, read it and weep. I'm rejoicing over a single stint of five and a half hours sleep. And it was still interrupted. But hey, if we follow the equation above, there's hope for even longer, uninterrupted stints.

So... I know you're wondering... Has she, overnight, become a cry-it-out convert?

The answer? Not really, no. BUT... having tried it once, and a few times since last Wednesday, I'll admit to having added 'cry-it-out' to my list of parenting theories that I may or may not put to the test... if I'm tested enough. Just consult the equation above to determine the likelihood of it being employed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reflections on being a working mama

Last Friday I officially completed 10 weeks back at work.  Even though I've actually only worked about 6 out of those ten weeks, I thought, being a nice round number and all, that today I'd bring you ten thoughts on being a working mama:

1. Work* is the easy part.  It's the three hours either side that are diabolical.

2.  If I get to work without snot, food or some other unidentified substance on my clothing, the day's off to a good start.

3.  Ditto if I actually get to work at all.

4.  Being "high functioning" at work is pretty much impossible.  The best I hope for is to stay awake while at my desk, and to be able to speak in full sentences while trying to say something erudite during a meeting.

5.  My colleagues don't care (and some think it's kind of funny) that I only got three hours sleep last night.  And the night before that.

6.  I can go to the toilet BY MYSELF.  No interruptions.

7.  I can actually make, and drink, a hot cup of tea.

8.  If I have to stay home from work, I pine for work and find any excuse to join in workplace shenanigans.  I had to teleconference into my team meeting the other day.  I've taken to bringing work home with me, just in case I ever have a spare moment.

9.  Velcro shoes and nylon stockings are not a good combination.

10.  A cleaner is a good idea.  But a cleaner who understands that 'clean the bathroom' means clean the bath, toilet, shower, sink etc - not just the 'bath' and the 'room'... now that's a brilliant idea.

Today's blog post is brought to you by the number 10 and the letter W.

*Disclaimer: I use the term "work" here to denote "paid employment outside the home".  I know all you mamas do at home is sit around drinking cups of tea and having playdates.  Don't try and tell me there's any "work" involved in that. (just kidding)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Strange conversation #2: What school will he go to? and other silly questions

A conversation with an acquaintance last week:

"So what school will he go to?"
"Not sure.  He's only one so we've got plenty of time to think about it."
"Not really.  You should get onto it."
"Hmm"   [I'm wondering how deciding on, and enrolling in, a primary school will take 4 years]
"Are you Catholic?"
"Oh that's too bad... the Catholic school in this suburb is really good.  I've sent all my children there."
"Really?" [Feigning interest]
"Are you sure you're not Catholic?  I really thought you were Catholic for some reason."
"No definitely not.  Well, probably not Catholic enough to enroll in that school anyway." [I'm trying to help her out here...]
"But aren't you Greek?"
"Huh, I thought you were Greek, and you know, Catholic." [Greek? Catholic?  Whuck?]
"Nope, I can't claim any Greek heritage."
"Well anyway, you'll need to start thinking about what school to send him to." [Phew! Back on safe ground.]
"Yes definitely." [I thought about mentioning Montessori, but bit my tongue thinking that would really confuse things.]

I think I'll just concentrate on surviving creche for now...

We've got the pox

It had to happen sooner or later: chicken pox.
It's not caused by chickens.

Though they kind of snuck up on us.  Or rather, snuck up on Milkbaby.  No fever, no irritability, no general feelings of malaise.

Day 1: it began with just one pox.  (or is that pock?) Thinking it was an insect bite, I sent Milkbaby to creche.

Day 2: another pox.  I began to get suspicious.

Enter Dr Google.  It is safe to say that there is very little that will make you feel queasier than looking at images of other people's pox-covered children.  Don't try it at home.

Day 3: about 100 tiny spots come up, all over Milkbaby's trunk.  I call Healthline, confirm Dr Google's diagnosis, and resign myself to another week off work.

Only this week, the Darling Husband took a couple days off too.  And what a revelation.  Now I don't claim to be any kind of whiz-bang supermom housewife, but his efforts put me to shame.

I leave for work on Tuesday morning, feeling a mixture of glee and guilt.  All day I'm texting the DH with handy hints and tips ("Don't forget to give him lots of snacks!" and "If you can't get him down for a nap in the cot then maybe try getting him to lie down on the floor with you.").  The DH finally replied: "Quit worrying.  The boys are fine.  We're having Egg Foo Yong for lunch.").

I arrive home that afternoon.  The house is spotless, classical music whines from the radio, dinner ingredients are on the bench and the oven is prewarming.  I climb the stairs with anticipation.  Milkbaby is quietly playing at the top of the stairs while the DH mucks around on the computer.

"How did it go?" I ask, wanting all the details.
"Yeah, fine.  We had a good day", says the DH.
"Did he sleep?"
"Yep.  I just popped him in his cot and told him to lie down and go to sleep, and he did.  He slept for about an hour and I got a couple of loads of laundry done, and cleaned the chook house out. "

I am rendered speechless with a mixture of shock, awe, surprise and just a little envy.  Can it be that the DH is a better House-spouse than yours truly?

Better believe it sister.  He not only cleaned your house, he cleaned ours too.  
I might have put it down to beginners luck, but he repeated the performance today.  I bags going to work tomorrow.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It could've been worse

That's pretty much my motto for life: "it could've been worse".  My Poppa used to say it all the time, usually when we'd hurt ourselves or something hadn't gone our way.  He'd say "it could've been worse - it could have been Poppa".  It helped put things in perspective.

It's useful to keep some sort of perspective on this motherhood gig.  For example:
  • poop all over baby?  Could be worse - there could be poop on you, the floor and walls.
  • baby vomits on the floor of Noel Leemings?  Could be worse - at least you got a new dishwasher out of the transaction.
  • sleep deprived?  Could be worse - you could have got up 5 times in the night instead of just 3.
  • housework gone to the dogs?  Could be worse - at least you have a house to whinge about.
Lying in hospital, feeling not so great after three doses of morphine and a general anaesthetic, I'm thinking "yep this could be worse, at least I'm not a Somali mother right now, having to walk 30 days with no food to get to a refugee camp".  Now that's something to whinge about.  I bet those mothers never complained.  I saw one in a clip on the news who, despite already having four of her own children to look after, adopted another whose mother died on their 30-day walk to the refugee camp.

Now it's one thing for me to sanely keep my perspective, but it's another for someone else - nearly a stranger - to try and provide it.  Last weekend we had a visit from some of the DH's elderly relatives.  It happened to come up in conversation that I'd been in hospital.  And when I say "came up in conversation", it truly was mentioned in passing, rather than "hey, guess what, I was in hospital last week, poor me blah blah".  Anyway, of course they asked why and so I told a very short version of the whole sordid story ("oh I got mastitis").

The first thing they said?  "Well, it could have been worse -- at least it wasn't cancer."  They went on to tell a story about someone they knew with cancer.  It was a sad story, I felt for the cancer victim, and I was definitely glad it wasn't cancer.  But I couldn't help but feel a bit taken aback by the conversational one-upmanship that had just taken place.

But hey, it could have been worse - they could have been my relatives!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Going under the knife

I realise that this blog is starting to stray from "motherhood and apple pie" territory into "medical misadventure" territory.  But bear with me.  I'm hoping that this interruption in service will be over soon, and I can return to ranting about baby poop, sleep deprivation, and square carrots.

So there I am, back in hospital.  I've been given the medical third degree and my boob has been prodded and drawn on, and the Doctor says the large lump inside it is "indurated".  I think he says "injurated".  'What's that?' I ask, feeling a bit stupid.  He explains that it means that the tissue is inflamed and hard.  "Why use a fancy word when you can use a simple one?", I want to ask.  But then he's still prodding my breast so I keep my thoughts to myself.

I tell him I've already had some fluid extracted from it and that it should have been sent to the lab.  He goes out.  Then he comes back and excitedly delivers the news that the bug causing my mastitis is 'atypical' and that I've been on the wrong antibiotics.  I allow him just a moment of glory, thinking that he must feel like House.  "I thought so", I said.  I was conscious at this point of sounding a bit jaded, but jebus I'd been telling everyone who listened since I walked through the doors that morning to find those bloody lab results.  As the surgeon said to me as I was lying on the operating table (after another sensible suggestion), "you should work here".

He sends me for another ultrasound.  And lo and behold, there's another collection of fluid in there.  An abscess.  Before I know it, there's a surgeon standing over my bed, explaining that they're going to have to do surgery to drain the abscess, probably that night.  I sign the consent forms.  "Nice pen", I comment blithely, as if I sign consents to have my boobs cut open every day.

I get sent to a ward this time, a private room, complete with cage for Milkbaby and Lazy Boy lounger in the corner for the DH, who is being allowed to stay over to look after Milkbaby while I'm in surgery.  Milkbaby goes straight off to sleep, the DH curls up on the lounger in a romantic embrace with his iphone, and I try not to think about food.

Toast: not to be eaten quietly.
At about 12.30am a nurse comes in and tells me I'm not going for surgery that night and I can eat now.  "Awesome", I whisper, thinking that even a hospital meal would go down a treat.  "I'm afraid all I can offer you is some toast" she says.  She brings in three bits of dry toast, along with a knife and a selection of spreads.  I make a hash of spreading the toast in the dark, and then proceed to try and eat it as quietly as possible, so as not to wake Milkbaby.

"Honey, you won't feel like lunch once
we're finished with you."
I am finally wheeled off for surgery at 1pm the next day.  I have eaten three pieces of toast in the previous 36 hours.  Three.  "Save me lunch?" I say hopefully to the nurse as she hands me over to the theatre team.  The operating theatre looks just like the ones on TV: lots of people all wearing masks and scrubs, and bright overhead lights.  Last thing I remember is the anaesthetist saying she's going to give me something that's going to make me feel drunk.  I come round in the PACU (the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit).  Two nurses are hovering over me, one of them with short hair and tattoos, the other a trainee.
"Sure, why not?"

They ask if I'd like some pain relief, and when I say yes, proceed to give me three doses of morphine.  Three hours and three types of anti-nausea medication later, I'm seriously regretting the morphine, not to mention the surgery.  Lunch has long been taken away, and dinner is rapidly cooling on my side-table.  An officious nurse comes in and opens the curtains, and makes me get out of bed to pee, saying I'll feel better if I get up.  I don't want to admit it, but she was right.  She brings me dry toast, which I eat slowly and carefully, followed by dinner.

I bring myself to look down my gown.  The boob's still there.  Only there's a massive bandage covering it.  I'm wondering how I'm going to breastfeed with that thing there.  Then I realise the giant bandage is probably the least of my worries...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

This cannot be happening

I thought I was done with this mastitis thing.  Turns out the mastitis had other ideas.

Let me just run through the course of events thus far.  After getting needles stuck in my boob, I seemed to be on the road to recovery.  The doc even confirmed this on Tuesday morning when I saw him for one last check up and ultrasound.  On Thursday evening, I took the last of my antibiotics.  On Friday morning, at around 4am, I woke with a familiar pain in my boob, and that familiar vomity, feverish feeling.  I took a couple of panadols and tried to go back to sleep, hoping against hope that when I woke up I would be fine and it would just be a bad dream.

It wasn't just a bad dream.  It was the beginning of a nightmare.  I thought I'd skip all the bullshit and go straight to A&E, so by about 9.30am (after dropping Milkbaby at creche) I was (once again) a shivering, teary wreck in the Emergency Department of Wellington Hospital.

Time for a science lesson.

This is the bacteria that usually causes mastitis:

Staphylococcus aureus
You treat that kind of mastitis with an antibiotic called Flucloxacillin.

The type of mastitis I had was caused by this:
Streptococcus pneumoniae
Unfortunately, Flucloxacillin is not really very effective against Streptococcus pneumoniae.  It's what they pumped into me during my last hospital visit and what I'd been taking for the two weeks since getting out of hospital.

As I've already said, Streptococcus pneumoniae is not your usual mastitis-causing bacteria.  You're more likely to find it causing pneumonia (in case you hadn't guessed), meningitis and ear infections.  It needs to be treated with a different antibiotic: Ceftriaxone.

Now I bet you're wondering how the crack doctors worked this out.  Well, the stuff they extracted from my boob when they stuck it with needles was sent to the lab.  And the results were right there, on file.  And I suggested to the Emergency Doctor that he dig the results out.  He came back looking like he'd made the discovery of the week.  

So the results had been there all along.  Only no one checked that the antibiotic was the right one for the bacteria.  Or the lab didn't send my results back to the specialist.  Or the specialist never looked at the results.  Or I never asked the specialist whatever happened to those tests they did.  

What happened to me over the weekend is a good demonstration of how one little systems error can have very serious consequences.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Overheard at creche

When I pick Milkbaby up from creche, I breastfeed him before we go.  I don't bother to find the quiet breastfeeding chair in the babies' sleep room and instead perch on the seat by the lockers, in the main thoroughfare to the bathrooms.  This means that all of the children in the over twos area can see us as we sit there.

Most of them ignore us, but I've had a few interesting conversations with the more curious among them:

Little girl:  Hahahaha [maniacal laughter and pointing], he's eating you!
Me: Yes I guess so, sort of.  He's having some milk.

Little boy: [staring from about 5 feet away] What's that baby doing? 
Me: He's having some milk.
Little boy: [coming a little closer] Why is it coming out of your tummy?
Me: Erm, well it's not my tummy, it's my breast.
Little boy: [getting even closer for a good look] How does the milk get made?
Me: [I'm starting to sweat now.  I start thinking about the pictures of milk ducts we saw in breastfeeding classes and realise I actually don't know how the milk gets made.] Um, ah well your body just is able to make milk for your baby.  I guess it's a secret recipe that only your body knows. [Little boy looks unconvinced, and after staring for a while longer, trails off.]

They're a tough crowd, these under fives.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mastitis: how it all ends

After two nights in hospital and a week off work, I thought I was on the mend.  Until I saw the specialist on Tuesday morning, and the specialist saw the inner workings of the red-hot-poker-boob with the ultrasound machine.  And in her words:
We have a saying around here: never let the sun go down on undrained pus.
Out came the needles.  Three of them to be precise.  I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Despite my best protests, she ordered me to take another week off work, even signing one of those certificates saying that I was "unfit for work".  

I showed it to Milkbaby but he tried to eat it.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Attack of the red-hot-poker-boob continued

So continues the saga of the red-hot-poker-boob.

On the "would you rather" scale, mastitis pretty much tops the charts.  As in, I'd rather simultaneously give birth, go to the dentist and have a Brazilian bikini wax than have mastitis.  It's honestly that bad.  Not only do you feel like you've got the worst flu going (worse than man-flu even), but your boob is like a place where a civil war and a famine is taking place all at once.  Just touching it is painful; the pain of breastfeeding from it defies description.

By Saturday afternoon, red-hot-poker-boob was still, well, bloody sore and kind of looking more like a red-hot-rugby-ball-boob.  So I took myself to A&E, joining two sports injuries, an amputee and a guy with the terrible shakes in the waiting area.  I was seen within about half an hour of arriving, and by the time I was seen I had a fever and a resting heart rate of 115bpm.  And before I could say "Boob's my uncle", they had a drip in my arm, pumping me full of some strong antibiotics.  "We're starving you" said the nurse.  "Just until you see the surgical registrar."  Then I saw him, and for about the fourth time that day, got to show my boob to a complete stranger. [Note to self: best not to wear frumpy granny bra out of the house]

So I was admitted to the Short Stay Unit, which is kind of like being admitted to the hospital but not, since the Short Stay Unit is like the Shortbus of the Hospital - a mixed bag of all sorts of loonies and lonelies and sickies.  You're sick enough to be in hospital, but not sick enough or staying long enough to be in a "proper" ward.

The Shortbus.

So I sent the Darling Husband home for some supplies for the night. [Note to self: if you take yourself to A&E you should accept the possibility that you'll be admitted to hospital so go prepared.  Otherwise you'll still be wearing that frumpy granny bra on Day 3 of your stay because your DH still hasn't picked the right black bra from your drawer.]

The Registrar came back, and after showing him my boobs, he said I could eat.  The nurse came back and said, conspiritorially, "I saved you some dinner."  Now I am very appreciative of modern medicine and all that goes on in hospitals and I know they have hundreds of people to feed, but what they were calling "dinner" was what I'd call a "light snack".

After sharing my light snack with Milkbaby, we settled in for the night.  Because he was with me, we were lucky enough to get a private room, complete with its own cage I mean cot... for Milkbaby.  This cot was like something out of the 1930s - waist high, full steel construction.  The drop-side alone weighed probably 20kgs, and needed two hands and superhuman strength to get it up and down.

Suitable for small lions and babies.

We (that's Milkbaby and I) spent two nights in the Shortbus.  Every six hours (including throughout the night), someone would come and hook me up to a drip and pump me full of more antibiotics.  Milkbaby never really got used to that cot, and needless to say, I never got much sleep.

On Monday morning, the consultant walked in, followed by the surgical registrar and a team of clipboard-carrying young doctors.  Just like on TV!  Once again I got to show my boobs (and the frumpy pink granny bra) to a whole lot of strangers.  You'd think, being a breastfeeding mama, that I'd be used to showing my boobs to strangers, but there's something different about getting your boob out for the specific purpose of having it medically inspected.  

The consultant and his crack team of young doctors deemed that my breast was on the mend and that I could go home, provided that I continued on a double dose of antibiotics and came back for an appointment at the breast clinic (!) in a week's time.  I took the rest of the week off work and have been mooching around the house ever since.  I sincerely hope never NEVER to have to stay in the Shortbus again.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...