Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fun in the Sun

My bigger little ones (the wild, wild ones) spent the last few days up North with Beloved while I had a blissful holiday down South with the littles. I am slowly beginning to feel almost human and am most grateful to my parents for all the spoiling and my in-laws for taking on the bigger ones.

Just before the babies and I flew south, the pool was blown up and there was an afternoon of fun (while I did frantic last minute packing. I thought it would be half an hour and three hours later I was still trying to jam things in!)

I think the older ones had a great time playing in the pool Up North. And I've been all nostalgic in my childhood home and really enjoying the little ones and time with my folks.

But my big ones have flown down now, they're in the taxi, on the way. And I've missed them sooo much. (Although I admit, it took a couple of days rest to realise it!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Berry-Picking with Cousins

Down in Melbourne, we visited my Nana and her garden full of flowers and fruits and (while I squelched my jealousy for an established garden - soon, soon *) the kids ran around and then picked the loganberries along the side fence.

 In my ignorance, I believed the berries to be raspberries, but my six year old niece disillusioned me. They are quite, quite different. Whatever the name, they were very delicious and the children loved picking them. 

It has been a long time since the cousins met up, and though it wasn't quite the reunion it will be when the two older girls meet up, it was so sweet to see how similar the pre-schoolers are in looks - both little blonde ones! The little ones thought berry-picking (and eating) was a very serious business. 

Fruit picking seems such an iconic childhood activity - heart-melt is watching the wee-ones eating straight from the vine! 

*I have planted many fruit plants - I have mangos, apples, lemons, mandarines, mulberries, strawberries as well as cinnamon, tea, coffee and vanilla plants... but none of them are yet producing. So far only my basil, tomatoes and lemongrass have been at all successful. On my list to plant are pineapples, bananas, macadamias and avocados... I have plans but it will be awhile yet till I have the lush, fecund and overgrown garden I dream (and pinterest) about. 

*Giggle Bear is rocking a cap belonging to her big sister and a dress I found at a kids and babies market. I went to my first one since I was pregnant with Adventure Boy recently and it was amazing. I found if a mum (or dad) was selling one thing I liked they were generally selling lots of things O liked and I swooped on so many very reasonably priced - under five dollars - treasures... The markets are going on my calendar for next year! 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Storm-Light and (not quite) Newborn

A very welcome tropical storm swept through a few days ago. After a sweltering day lightning broke through dark and bulging clouds as we drove home from school. Thunder rumbled. The temperature dropped sharply and a welcome wind pulled at the trees.

In the evening the storm-light slanted through our front windows and reminded me of the storm that came through when I was still heavy with our little one. Now she has been here five weeks and it's impossible to imagine life without her.

We are still learning her - so much of her is familiar - the milk-drunk expression, the way she has of pouting out her lower lip when she's replete and stretching into curves, is so much her brother, the markings on her face and the delicate shape of it is so much her oldest sister, and yet she is so much herself. I'm still learning her humorous expressions, the way she scrunches up her nose before she lunges for the milk, the funny old-man look as she lifts up her pale eyebrows and her forehead wrinkles. The swirls of fine pale hair on her arms, and the way she pumps one foot as if it will make the milk come faster as she's feeding.

Another storm came through today - spectacular with its lightning and thunder (which I am convinced my in-laws' dog thought was the Great Dog in the Sky growling). I also made the acquaintance of another snake today - this one at close quarters as I helped my father-in-law get it out of his pigeon coop.  Beloved informed me again that this will be a Proper Queensland Summer - full of storms and snakes. My last Queensland baby also brought with her a lot of rain, although not so many snakes. While I love the storms and rains I am hoping this summer is not quite as rain-heavy as that one of 2010-11.

The lightning has stopped now, thirty-thousand homes are without power and the rain has paused, but moisture still hangs heavy in the air. My little ones sleep. I savour the cool. The quiet after the storm.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Before the Dawn

"Hon, wake up. Wake up. She's coming tonight."

Beloved stirred, murmured and went back to sleep. Sick for the last week, he'd fallen asleep beside Adventure Boy, trying to get him to bed. Another contraction took me up and I went back to my breathing, then tried to work out how long since the last one.

Everyone was sleeping, except the Wolf-en-Pup who was following me around looking worried.

"Are you sure?" The words were indistinct. For the last week Beloved hadn't been able to breath without ventolin and he was exhausted. I'd been giving him death-stares for daring to be sick when the baby was due, when I'd been warning him all year 'don't be sick when the baby's due.'

"Yes! I'm sure. She'll be here before dawn."

Of course, I'd thought that the night before as well, but this time I was really sure. These weren't just little Braxtons, these were Stamp-My-Way-Through-It, O-My-God-I'd-Forgotten-How-Much-They-Really-Hurt contractions. They were still irregular, in length and how far apart they were, but they were bloody strong.  I texted the student midwife to say I was fairly sure our little one was imminent, and opened my computer to start writing in times. Lighting a candle I'd saved since before Giggle-Bear was born, it's flickering comforted me. One of my favourite authors had a new release and between contractions I read on the ipad, in the dark room, by candlelight, with my present baby, the two year old, curled sleeping and perfect beside me.

I put my hand to my tummy, feeling the little one undulating within for the last time and felt like crying, but also laughing. Soon, soon, I'd be holding our newest little one. Soon, we'd finally meet her.

Already I was sure before the sun woke she'd be in my arms. I pictured the moment she slid out, that first miraculous meeting, when slippy and warm she'd be skin to my skin and we would get to meet the little one we already loved so much.

I let Beloved return to sleep, and read on. One-two-three-four-five-breath-in-through-the-nose, One-two-three-four-five-breath-out-through-the-mouth. O my freaking goodness this hurts. Of course, by number four I should have worked that out, but... Long breaths, steady breaths.

I waddled through to Adventure Boy's room again. "You need to get up, hon. I need you to time the contractions." Beloved stumbled through to our room and took over the stopwatch on the phone. Instead of fumbling with it myself as soon as the contraction started I said now, and he started timing. It was impossible to sit or talk through them. I jammed myself into a corner with the door, the bed and the cupboard, pressed down and stamped through them. Fast.Fast.Fast. Stamp.Stamp.Stamp. I worked out slower and harder worked better, bearing down worked better. I sank into a squat. Stamp. Stamp. Stamp. Soon. Soon. Soon.

"Over now," I said. My uterus was still like a ball of cement, but the pain had stopped.

"That was two minutes. You may be right. She may be coming." There was surprise in his voice. I'd told him the night before I was sure the little one was coming - my show had started and Braxtons were a regular ten minutes apart, but they hadn't been like this, and they'd died off with the rising sun. You know, just strong enough to keep me awake since midnight the night before.

"Do you think it's time to phone the hospital?" I asked. I was wary of going in too early and having everything slow down. But nor did I want to have my baby in the hospital corridor. It was a fine line.

Time passed. I couldn't stay in bed with the contractions, but needed to leap up (in my own ungainly, out-of-balance way) to return to my corner to jam a hand against each wall, sink into a squat and prepare to stamp and breath through them.

"Should I phone the hospital now?" I asked.

"Mums always phone in too early."

"But won't they want to prepare?" I queried.

"I suppose. You're sure she's coming?"

"She'll definitely be here be morning." I stopped talking as the next contraction hit and I started stamping and breathing deeply.

"You may be right."

I phoned the hospital and warned the midwife on duty that we'd be heading into the hospital in the next few hours and then texted the student the same. Returning to my book I continued the pattern of jumping (or my approximate thereof) up every ten or so minutes as the pain gripped. This was not talk-through-it-pain. Toilet trips disclosed gunks of red and I looked for a pad. Excitement swelled. This was it. This night. Our little one was arriving. I dragged my suitcases through to the living room. Packed a few extras, gathered up computers, ipads, chargers, headphones and shoved them in.

In the next contraction it occurred to me I needed to be in the hospital now. There would be no more waiting. Besides, I'd finished my book. I informed Beloved of this as soon as I could talk, then texted and phoned to pass it on to the midwife and student while Beloved bundled stuff into the car.

My mama awoke and I told her that tonight was the night and while I hoped Beloved would be home for the school run, he might not be. (Yay! No school run! The world was good!)

We headed off into the night. I worried when I made it the five minute drive to the hospital without a contraction, then doubled over, pressing hard against the car bonnet and breathing low and heavy and as slowly as I could in the car park, while Beloved unloaded. I repeated my complaint about the pain.

There was a heavily pregnant mum in the dark carpark and we exchanged remarks about due dates and wished each other good luck. She still had a few weeks to go.

We waddled through the near empty hospital and through the different doors up to the birth suite. Our midwife hadn't arrived so the charge nurse led us in and we sat and put our bags down. Another few contractions hit while we waited for the midwife. The bed was a bit official looking and hard to get off during contractions so I perched on a chair and sent Beloved searching the room for water. We realised we'd left our digital camera somewhere (the unlocked car? the carpark?) but I didn't offer to release Beloved to look for it. What if the baby came? I resign myself to an undocumented birth, though I'd lament the loss later.

My midwife arrived and my blood pressure was checked, my blood sugar, the length of the contractions. Little one was monitored. Eventually, after what seemed like far too long, they started filling the bath in the adjoining bathroom.

Because of previous haemorrhages with my first two kids (a large one with the first, a small one with the second) they needed to put a cannula into my arm. They started putting the needle in and a contraction hit and it was beyond hard to keep my arm still while lying down and pain was everything. Blood smeared across my arm.

As soon as the bath was ready I waddled to the dark bathroom, the only light that coming through the door, stripping off and sinking into the large corner tub without thought for anything but the warmth and the fluid. I was an old hand at this - it didn't take me long to find the position that worked for me, kneeling in the corner of the tub, facing out. Between contractions Beloved sprayed my face, put my birth mix music on his ridiculously expensive headphones.

Time went into a strange place. Shoulder deep in the warm water I listened to the gaelic words of the songs - the Scottish bands Capercaillie and Manran playing on spotify, lolled in the water in the lulls and breathed hard and concentrated on not tensing, on keeping my hands, my mouth, lax in the pains. One-two-three-unclench-my-fists-four-five-breathing- in, one-two-three-steady-breathing-slight-hitch-four-five-breathing-out.

The breathing came from a deeper place, a slow, steady 'aaaah' from the very back of my throat, that could easily ease into a scream. (Of course, I had headphones on, so I could have been howling and not realising...)

I visualised a gardenia bud, white and richly scented, it's petals folded, and concentrated on imagining the petals opening. Open. Open. Soon.

Soon. soon my little one would be with us.

It occurred to me it was time to break my waters. Now. None of my other babies had been born before my waters were broken, and I was sure this one wouldn't be either. Although a caul birth had a certain appeal, I wasn't about to spend an extra minute in pain hoping for one.

I asked the midwife if she could break my waters and she informed me the doctor was in theatre. So I asked if she could break my waters and she went away to check. So I asked Beloved if the midwife could break my waters, or if he could break my waters but basically, I wanted them done. That minute. Beloved informed me I was yelling and not, (as I thought) whispering, because of the headphones. Oops.

The midwife returned and I demanded asked again if she could break my waters and she said yes, I'd just need to come through to the delivery room. Beloved later informed me I used my 'demon woman' voice, which was odd as I didn't even know I had one, and she would have given me anything I wanted, including  a caesarean.

Anyway, I lumbered through, blinking at the bright light of the delivery room after the dim of the bathroom, and had all my vital stats checked and how far along I was and it turned out I was only six centimetres dilated.  This was a shame as I hadn't even intended to get into the bath until I was six centimetres, let alone get my waters broken, but I decided on a change of plan - my waters would be broken at 6 centimetres as I knew damn well she wasn't going to come till they were broken and sooner was better than later,.

Turns out I'd forgotten that it hurts. It hurts a lot. The midwife's whole hand goes up, and then a hook, and it's not a place for hands or hooks. Deep breath. And another deep breath. and another slooooow deep breath.

There was a gush of fluid and I was already hopping off the bed and heading back to the bath before the gushing stopped.

Soon. I knew she'd be coming soon.

With each contraction I concentrated on bearing down, pressing all the pain out towards my bottom - it seemed to hurt less, become bearable if I pushed out. One Two Three Four Soon. I imagined I could feel the passage opening, a hollow forming for my babe to slip through. Deep breathing, bearing down, onetwothreefourfive, steady, steadysteady, open. Time was lost again, amidst the dim and the pain.

I couldn't continue this till morning. I just couldn't. But there were four centimetres to go. Onetwothreefourfivebeardown,onetwothreefourfiveexhale. Whatever it took. I reminded myself, I'd do whatever it took. But morning was so far away. It was only just past midnight.

"I need to poo." I stood up, readying to clamber out of the bath and waddle to the loo. Something felt wrong though, and I reached down and felt - slipperyness and strange, bulging shapes. A foreignness.

"I can feel something."

The midwife hurried forward and reached out her hand.

"That's her head. I'm just helping her through." She looked at Beloved, who was clearly startled, not expecting anything to happen for hours.  "Are you ready to catch her?"

He stepped forward, still looking shocked, and our little one slipped out, an odd, satisfying feeling of slippery fullness and then she was in the world, all long legs and arms, and he was lifting her up to me.

And I was holding her. Our little one. Clasped to my chest, finally, after nine moons growing beneath my heart, here she was. Red, slippery, plump from her long sojourn immersed. Tiny wrinkled, fisted hands, frogged up legs.

"O you're here! My little one, my little one you're here!" Love and joy was overwhelming.

The wonder was overwhelming. She was small, red, with a shock of black hair. I clasped her to me, murmuring, afraid of dropping her. "Little one, o my baby, you're here!"

The moment reshaped the world. Changed everything. A new life was in the world. Our family was changed wonderfully for ever.

She was all newness, all promise.

I was dizzy, weak feeling, I didn't dare carry her and, still attached with the pulsing cord, handed her over, then reached for help to clamber out of the bath and to the bed. When my baby was given back I felt complete again. She was so very perfect. She smelt like newborn - sweetly divine. The newborn smell is so fleeting - a few days no more - I tried to savour it. She was still curled up, warm, wet and slippy against me, as if she was still within me.

"She's here love, she's really here," I murmured, dropping kisses on her wet black hair, plastered to her scull, with white stuff over it.

No one was in a rush to cut the cord connecting us, and I just held her, delighted in her. "O little one, we're so happy to meet you. This is the world, darling. This is the world. Welcome."

And then I felt a familiar, warm, gush. And then another. Uh. Oh. I'd been there before.

But none of that mattered, a story for another day, because our little had arrived, and there was still a long time till dawn.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tiny Toes

The words are still not coming together in any sort of order. Except - aww, my baby. Hello my darling one. I will make a start on NaNo... soon. At present my list of Things I Need To Do is getting longer and longer and jumbling together (emails to write, bills to pay) but it's all going in a pleasant blur of 'o baby.'

She is, of course, unusually alert and aware and gorgeous.

'Real Life' will hit soon when my parents leave and I will find myself blinking at the loads of washing that have presently been magically disappearing.

But for now here are some photos of my little one's completely perfect tiny toes. I adore the way babies stretch and curl their toes.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

By the shore (Firsts)

Words are escaping me at the moment (and let's not talk about numbers - two and two equals five and three quarters, maybe?) so I'm just posting these - my little one's first trip to the shore. It was a very impromptu trip when I needed to drop something at the kids' school and thought while I was there we could go for a walk on the beach nearby. I loaded my mama and papa and the toddler and the baby and the oversized Wolf-en-Pup (who had to sit on my papa's knee as our car is small) into the car and we headed off.

And it was so lovely to walk barefoot on sand, to take deep breaths just because, and not to deal with pain, to smell the sea. The Wolf-en-Pup bounded, Giggle-Bear said 'wow!' a lot and built sandcastles with my mama and my baby slept pretty much the entire walk, with a few times she blinked her eyes open and looked around in awe - as if to say 'this is the world?'

While she was deeply asleep I decided to use the scarf I'd swiped up as a sunshade as I headed out the door as a photo prop and took some photos in the shade of a lean-to made of driftwood. The breeze swept through and the ripples hushed and my baby smiled.

Tiny sandy feet = heart-melt.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Considering Choices (to veg or not to veg)

So I don't know if it's because with the baby due the thought of any wee creature in pain has me tearing up, or if it's because with my gestational diabetes diet I'm being forced to consider (very carefully) every mouthful I take... but...

Beloved and I were watching netflix recently, on one of those rare occasions when the kids were all asleep and we were both still awake, and we ended up watching one of the many food shows they have.

And this one was about the perils of eating too many animal products on our health.

Now, I've long been sold on how inhumane our treatment of the animals we eat is, but since I started having dreams about steak when seven months pregnant with my firstborn  and gave up twelve years of vegetarianism (with the odd stint of veganism thrown in) I've been a ravaging omnivore.

 I've put vegetarianism in the too-hard basket and told myself I'm eating meat and drinking milk - 'for the children.'

And it's true - four kids in eight years, and extended breastfeeding and I'm feeling somewhat... depleted. But... the show reminded me that actually, a balanced vegan diet can be healthier and less depleting than a meat and dairy rich one.

In a moment of weary weakness, my Beloved, succumbing to the shows comprehensive studies and case studies showing the benefits on heart disease, cholesterol and diabetes, said he'd try a plant based diet with me. Win. ((Beloved's addit: The ecological studies showed association and not causation, thus should be interpreted with caution.  I mean really -- if you did a double-blinded randomised controlled trial I'd be more convinced.... but.... meat... is.... good))

Now, I'm not saying this is going to be a super healthy food choice - my previous vegan attempts taught me a lot of the not so super-healthy options (fried bread with baked beans anyone? walnut and cinnamon scrolls, deep fried vegetarian spring rolls, honeyed macadamias, pineapple fritters...) but I do think it will be a lot healthier. (To be honest, healthier than Beloved's present diet of crisps, instant coffee and energy drinks wouldn't be precisely hard - physician heal thyself...twelve hour shifts without a meal break mean bad choices when work finishes...)

But my diet pre-meat was a lot healthier, with a much bigger veggie and pulse intake. Lentil soups were a staple and dhal, felafel and hommus were all regulars. Did I mention I weighed 20 kilos less back then? (Although that could just be the four kids - as the change was simultaneous it's probably fair to take some from column a. and some from column b. for causes.)

I'm still going to call myself a vegetarian, not a vegan because I'm not going to go ultra strict - the occasional free range egg? Not a problem. Honey? in moderation, and a lot of it if I get a cold. If I'm sharing a veggie pizza I'm not going to worry about a bit of cheese and if there's a particularly nice cheese (or chocolate) on offer I'll probably try a bit. If Beloved catches a fish, you bet I'm going to eat it. It's even possible Christmas and Easter will see me with a bit of lamb or (free range) roast.

But... I am going to try for a mostly plant based diet. This is particularly hard because I am the Dairy Queen. I've never met a meal I didn't think improved by a dash of cream or sour cream and custard is one of my big loves. (After the kids of course, but possibly not by as much as it should be.) And don't get me started on cheeses. Haloumi, goats cheese, brie... Sigh.

However. With my odds of long term diabetes markedly increased, wanting to set a healthier model for the kids (whose diet is frankly appalling) looking back to how much healthier I was pre-meat (and ignoring the fact I used to walk 5k a day then as opposed to just toddler wrangling) I think I'm ready to make the change.

At least, the dissonance of being totally appalled and heartbroken by how we treat our animals and the cost to the planet and not doing anything about it, is getting too much.

Here's looking forward to lots of bowls of crisp, refreshing salad, bursting with colour, avocado and salad sandwiches on fresh-from-the-oven-bread, and really savouring the delight of a fragrant mango fresh from the tree.

Any tips from those who've managed vegan long term? 

Monday, October 17, 2016


There was a storm today, little one. Just briefly - a hard flurry of rain, a cast of light, strong wind, just on dusk. For a moment there though it was cool enough to wear slippers and a robe, so it was very exciting.

In a few hours you'll be thirty-nine weeks and very ready to come out. All day I have been rearranging, cleaning, nesting, preparing. Of course, what I do in one room is promptly balanced by what your sister does in another room. While I enjoyed stacking your little onesies in the drawers beside my bed, storing blankets in a nearby chest, preparing the room for your Nana and Grandpa, your sister found a roll of toilet paper under the bathroom sink and trailed it all through the house. And I don't want to get started on what she did with the dog shampoo...

Anticipation is strong. Soon little one, soon you will be here. Soon we will meet you.

Your eldest sister was telling your younger sister about how once you come she will lose all the attention. This weighs heavily on your oldest sister. It is not so long ago that she was my whole world while her big brother was at school. It is clear she remembers it vividly - the golden age. You, my darling, must be ready to share. As a fourth child, I am afraid you may need to grab all the attention you can get with both hands - your sisters definitely both enjoy the limelight and are good at acquiring it. However, I can promise you that after initial hiccups they will love you, and you will be a team - my bold and creative pirate-princess-super-spies.

As your sisters had their bath tonight I sat beside them with my swollen feet in the hot lavender-tea-tree infused water and read them Billy and Belle and Touched by the Moon. Billy and Belle is about a family who have a new baby and I love how real and down to earth it is - that the little toddler has to go to school with her big brother when her mum heads into hospital, walked to and from by the neighbour, and in the eyes of the kids the bring-your-pet-day is almost as big a deal as the new sibling.

I think pre-labor has arrived - strong, vice-like Braxton-Hicks are gripping me every 10-15 minutes, bringing stabbing pains, and in between you're punching away with your own stabbing pains.

I don't know if things will continue like this for hours, days or even weeks, or die down entirely, but it does seem like soon, soon you will say your welcome to the world, and I won't feel you rolling around within, your little kicks and head-butts. I won't be able to watch my tummy form odd mountains, first on one side and then undulating to the other. Instead I'll get to cradle you in my arms and look upon your face, but this time, this magic time will be over for ever. You really, truly will be our last little one.

In the dark room, listening to your daddy snoring, your sister sleeping beside me, your brother (who snuck in after lights out) beside her, the fan whirring on my other side, my mind whirrs on all the things yet to do, all the things to remember.

Your daddy is sick with man-flu, and accidentally stayed up most of last night (I found him in his study at 4am practicing one handed knots for surgery and reminded him of your imminent arrival and that staying up all night playing computer games, writing assignments or practicing for surgery is Not On until you're safely on the outside. He needs to be ready and fresh as nobody knows what birth will bring or how long it will go for. He stayed up all night playing WOW the night before your brother was born and then it was nearly forty hours until he could sleep. I could do without a repeat - the terror when he was kicked out of the hospital and had to drive after nearly sixty hours without sleep...

When he woke up this morning with the man-flu I gave him the death stare and reminded him he is Not Allowed To Be Sick. For one, he doesn't have any sick leave left, for another, he needs to be alert for your journey into the world. No excuses.

So he's coughed and wheezed and gone to bed early and hopefully he will wake up refreshed tomorrow. Maybe. Even his eyes are swollen.

We sat together chopping herbs and spices for our manflu-is-not-allowed soup - lemongrass, basil, ginger, garlic, kaffir lime, mostly fresh picked from our garden, with the door open to let the rain-laden air rush inside, and I tried not to pay attention to the increasingly common Braxton-Hicks.

We are sort of, almost, ready for you. But there are still so many things undone, and really, if you could wait for Saturday when your Nana and Grandpa arrive it would be much, much handier...

Sweetheart, you've suddenly decided it's time to tango, an elbow to the left, a sudden bulging (maybe your back?) to the right. Something else down below. I wish I could work out which part of you is which, but the truth is I'm totally clueless. Head? Feet? Back? Knee? A couple of jabs here, a pulsing there. Something is moving out this way.

I rub gently where I can feel you close to the surface, wondering how you interpret it. Wondering if you have any conception of what the circular touch is. I know you like music - you'll start moving to certain songs - but beyond that? It's so hard to tell how you see the world - the shades of half-light, the pulsings of blood, the heart-beat, swishings of stomach, your world entire. Our squabbles and laughter must come to you as distant echoes. It will be such a shock for you when you come out and suddenly noise and light are so immediate and intense.

As the rain descended, the light went and my Braxton's continued, I grabbed the camera and ordered Beloved to grab some photos as this could be one of the last chances before you're on the outside to capture what you look like on the inside.

Too wet to go outside, even on the verandah the rain bounced up - and we checked the photos to discover that I had my robe on inside out anyway. Oops. Second try was our bedroom, and the last light slanting through the window over the bassinet you'll sleep in for your first few months.

Within the week you'll be here, little one. Our last, our third girl, our marine adventurous one. Soon. Very soon.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


So we're halfway through October, which means we're halfway to November which means a.
in two weeks (Inter)National Novel Writing Month (NANoWriMo) begins, and b. sometime within the next fourteen days our baby arrives.

No matter how I look at it, these two facts conflict.

All year I've looked at NaNoWriMo posts and felt a little stab of envy? covetousness? greed? I love the rush and challenge of NaNo. It's the closest I get, or want to get, to a team sport. Gazillions of writers from all around the world supporting each other to get 50,000 words down in a month. Mmm.

The thought of all those stories being created is incredibly amazing, and I love being part of it. Guys (or girls, I'm not sexist) mucking around with balls when they're not even exercising a dog?Incomprehensible. A world wide outpouring of creativity and novels? So inspiring.

But newborn.

My previous three babies have been great sleepers and great little milk guzzlers. But that still means they woke every two hours for feeds, burps and nappy changes for the first eight weeks. This left me somewhat sleep deprived. And while it's easy to read while nursing, it's not so easy to type.

And it was fine with the firstborn, as I did just sleep when he slept, or read or lounged. But became increasingly less fine with each additional kid when this was not an option. I have also noticed that with each child I get less help. Which makes sense. I know the ropes. It's just that each child does actually increase the work load. With baby no. 1. Beloved would bring me food to deal with the Great Hunger every morning and a cup of coffee, would bath and do nappy changes. And then the house help would arrive to make everything sparkled while I popped baby in a carrier and wandered down to the beach or the market. Baby Three? The coffee would still be left, but there was no time for nappy changes or anything else baby related with a long commute and longer, stressful hours.

Baby four? Beloved's recently decided after ten years of making me coffee in the morning it's his turn for morning coffees- and will be for the next ten years. To be fair. (I am blaming the nurses at his hospital. Some of whom seem stuck in the 1940s and he recounts gleefully comments such as 'if your wife loved you she would iron your clothes'*, 'your wife should spend every hour you're at work cleaning the house.' We hates them.) Mornings do not begin with coffee brought to the bed, but instead with 'where are my keys?' 'I can't find my cards', 'have you seen my boxers?'  So yes.  Workload doubles with each child. Help decreases. Good thing they're cute.

But... NaNo. Story. Writing. World Wide Buzz. Cafe meet ups for intensive writing...

Beloved is firmly of the opinion I should do it. Sleep Deprived, Milk-Fuzzed or not. I am a nicer person (although the house is a lot messier) when I am immersed in story.

So... I'm considering. Possibly not the whole 50,000 words. (1666 words a day) but maybe 25,000 words in the month? That's only 800 odd words a day. That seems do-able.

Sooo... the main decision seems to be... which novel.

Having decided to go with crazy, (always go with crazy) I've now got to narrow the direction of crazy.

There are three possibilities - a retelling of the frog prince set in Scotland in 1801-4 with a half Indian heiress. I've already written 50,000 words in a previous NaNo so 25,000 would nearly finish her. The second book in my Mithiana series - Overly Caffeinated Were-Wolves. Again, the bulk of the story was done in a previous NaNo so 25,000 words would get her fairly complete... or Fosterling. A cross-worlds retelling of the Irish myth of the god Lugh. I've written about 100,000 words in Fosterling, so 25,000 would go over-words. But I'm missing a lot of key parts, and other bits could do with curtailing and... and... well Fosterling has ended up a very birth and baby focused book. (Beginning as it does with the birth of triplets and ending with the birth of twins... (The story of Lugh's son Cuchulainn is, after all, the one in which Macha curses the men of Ulster to suffer the 'pangs' of birth when they're about to attack. Death and birth are very much centre stage.)

So... 25,000 words, with a newborn, who happens to be a fourth child. Piece of cake. (And cup - or dozen or three - of coffee.) Why simplify when you can intensify?

Wish me luck. (And coffee. Lots of coffee.)

*my retort being if you're not old enough to dress yourself you're not old enough to get married. I have four, soon to be five other people to dress. An extra one is not on the agenda. (Except, of course, it is. Sigh.) 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Sunshine


I'm savouring these last days together while it's just the two of us, before the (gorgeous) craziness of life with a newborn and (gulp) three other kids hits.

You are, as you have been since you were born, my delight and my joy.

You make me laugh and smile a dozen times a day - more- and it is impossible to resist giving you big hugs and a plentitude of kisses.

You are also incredibly cheeky, and stubborn, and you have very clear ideas about just about everything. Shoes should be on. As should hats. Doors should be shut. Playgrounds are the best thing ever and should never be passed without stopping. Baths are infinitely superior to showers. But a shower beats no water at all.

You still spend a lot of your day in water - you start the day with a shower with your daddy (after we go through the shower vs bath conversation) then a shower with me (again, after the shower vs bath convo) sometime during the day you generally cover yourself in something so you have a bath, and then you have a bath in the evening with your big sister. Despite all this, you are generally covered in pen as you have an uncanny knack for finding them and covering yourself in 'art.' Since you started dragging chairs around nothing is safe.

You still aren't talking a lot - your sentences tend to lack the joining words. "No, Mama! Stay! Bath. Swim. Shoo!" Is you telling me you don't want to get out of the bath, you want to stay in the bath and swim. Begone, evil removalist from glorious water.

You loll and float and giggle in the bath with delight and no trace of fear. You also love making big splashes by standing up and then throwing yourself down again. You would stay in the bath most of the day if I let you.

Your sister taught you your first 'proper sentence' this week. "I did it."

And it's true, if we're talking about smearing the window with sunscreen, covering the wall/ones person with nutella, tipping shampoo over your sister's bed, you did do it. However, I suspect your sister of nefarious designs to get you to admit to wrongdoings that are not your own... Much as you adore your big sister now, I have worries about your future relationship...

And it is a delight to see how much you love your big sister and how much she loves you. Your face lights up with sheer joy when I tell you that it's time to go get May-May - which is your name for her - and you run to the front door. You greet each other with a big hug and throughout the day you swap hugs and kisses. You look mournfully out the window, calling for her plaintively, when she leaves to play with the other kids in the street.

Your joy, in general is enchanting. You are enthusiastic about so much. Yesterday I gave you some celery and the way you said "Oh! Wow!" as if it were a magic wand made me smile so much.
Seriously, celery? I like it, but I've never thought of it as 'o, wow!' material.

But you show the same delight about putting on your shoes, or a hat, or finding a leaf or a rock or the perfect stick.

You aren't clingy with your daddy or I, but if you see that we're going out you always come over with your arms outstretched demanding a hug, and then you wave and say 'bye', and go back to what you were doing. When you see us again you always come running, yelling 'mummy, mummy' or 'daddy, daddy' with extravagant joy, again with outstretched arms, knowing you'll be swept up for another big hug.

You and our dog spend a large part of the day together, and he is incredibly patient. You fall off the couch on to him and he looks vaguely puzzled. You curl up together. You run around the garden together. I entice you home to see 'Woo-Woo' and you worry about him if we're away from home too long. If we're in the supermarket you remind me to get 'Woo-woo' his food. You're not so happy when he runs off with all your teddies and dolls and takes them to his domain in the back garden, but you've learnt to cleverly entice him out and then slide the back door shut if you want to play with your toys in the living room without him pilfering them.

You love the idea of 'helping' and I can't try to sweep without you firmly taking the broom from me saying  'Help'. Nor can I cook, without you dragging a chair over to 'help.' It takes four times as long, but... it's still nice to have you close.

You're still nursing (and not at all keen on the idea of sharing the milk with your soon-to-be-born-sister) but you keep forgetting how sharp your teeth are and I keep ending up with teeth marks. I am hoping your little sister will feed less painfully. You are not quite as bad about trying to turn summersaults while feeding as your brother and sister were...

You adore the weed veggie patch and could sit in it for hours, transferring dirt from one container to the other. You also like to sneak containers of dirt into the house - because dirt, what could be more fun?

You seem to have been designed in every way to be adorable. (Possibly to distract from your inventive destructiveness...) From the enthusiasm in your voice, the intonation as you say 'O yeah',  to the way you put your arms around our neck, press your cheek to ours, want to swap kiss after kiss.

I might be a little distracted in the coming weeks, but you will always be my joy and my delight. May you always be so joyful, so enthusiastic, so loving, so bold and brave and determined. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Your due date is getting closer and closer, little one, and as of today you're officially ready to welcome the world. (Although we could do with another few weeks to prepare and you would be better off laying down a bit more fat.)

Thirty-Seven weeks. I remember way back when you were only twelve weeks grown and this seemed like a forever away. And now it's arrived and you're finally nearly here.

We had your 36 week scan last week and you shocked us all by being a small baby! You're only in the 42nd percentile, and even given an error margin of 20% you're still hardly past the 60th percentile. As your brother and sister were four kilo whoppers (9.3 pounds the three of them) this was unexpected to say the least, particularly with my gestational diabetes. I've gathered up all the 0000 clothes and have some hopes that this time I'll have a baby who stays in them for more than two minutes!

Having a small baby was never in my calculations - I assumed you'd be big and I'd consider having you induced to ensure you weren't massive and dislocate your shoulder on the way out. But a small baby? I have no idea about when you'll chose to come or what your birth will be like. I'd previously thought a water-birth impossible... but now I've got hankerings...

Your sisters and brother are getting increasingly excited about your arrival (or about the toys we've promised you'll bring with you...) Giggle-Bear pats my tummy and says 'baby' and sometimes your name. Or sometimes she'll pat her tummy and say 'baby.' She's still not very keen on the idea of sharing the milk but she's coming around to it.

We had a beautiful stormy grey day yesterday - I took Wolfie for a walk just as night fell and the rain pattered down and the wind moved all the trees - a spindly eucalypt creaked over just feet from us and I actually felt slightly chilled - it was wonderful! Of course, I was just wearing a summer dress, which quickly became sodden, so it wasn't really all that cold - but it was so lovely to feel the wind and rain and the slight bite, and all the scents of the mock orange and wet grass intensifying as I waddled along. Your daddy assures me this Summer will be one of rain and toads, snakes and lizards, so I am hoping for many storms. Tropical storms almost, almost make up for the seven months of swelter that follow your birth.

We are almost, nearly ready for you. Your bassinet is up and made, the hospital bags are pretty much packed, your grandparents have booked their tickets up from the south. Of course your daddy still hasn't applied for paternity leave, and he's discovered he's got two major assignments due around when you're born, but that's par for the course.

You are kicking and punching, head-butting and rolling like crazy. While I'm not so fond of the five minutes it takes me to lever out of bed (and that's after we swapped our futon for a proper bed) I do love feeling the sweeps your tiny hands made and the kickings of your feet. It seems so strange that you're a full grown baby in there, with your own little fingernails and tiny toes. You're hearing, tasting, seeing shifts of light and dark, taking in the world as you swim gently in your little fluid-globe.

Tonight we have prenatal yoga. I love the time just to be aware of your movements, to consider your being - and to talk with other mums who creak and waddle and impatiently wait!

Soon, bebe, soon. We're so overjoyed that soon you'll be with us in the world and soon we'll get to meet you.