Reflections on motherhood...


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...
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