A week…

A week ago I became the mother to four children. Four boys. People have always said to me that going from two to three children is the breaker and that going from three to four is ‘nothing!’. I’m here to dispel that old chestnut. Four is a.lot. My head is spinning but that may just be my iron deficiency.

A week and one night ago my waters finally broke conveniently when I was on the toilet and so began Grover’s journey into the world.

I had thought it was starting the night before when I had strong low abdominal pains and loose bowels (sorry, that caught you all off guard didn’t it). But no. I went to bed and it all went away. We went to Felix’s Auskick gala day on the Sunday morning and as we left home I said to Chef, “I’m not sitting down at this thing, I’m going to stand and walk for hours. I’m having this baby today because I am done.”

A week and one night ago I cooked the family a dinner of the marinated and roasted chicken pieces that I did a few weeks back with sausages, but this time no sausages. I did the potato gratin and we had peas and broccoli. And you know what? I know I would have made a dessert, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember what it was. OMG – that’s right – I made Eton Mess. Which let’s just say presented itself as another type of mess later on in the wee small hours of the morning. Mum joined us for dinner and at one point I even said, “maybe this is the last supper as it were”.

A few hours later I was hanging out on the lounge. I made a boiled fruit cake and managed to scorch it as I got taken up in Big Love. The pains returned, similar to the night before but I didn’t pay that much attention to them, except for acknowledging they were there. Then at about 10.45pm I went to the toilet.

The adrenalin kicked in instantly. My breathing went from normal to shallow and racy. I was already shaking. I went down the back room and stood staring at Chef, who was on the computer, who was all “what?” until he saw me leaking on the floor. I literally couldn’t get my head to formulate the words or my mouth to say them. There wasn’t very much fluid at all, compared to the flood with Oscar and Jasper. Chef told mum, I rang the midwives, Chef got me towels and lots of them, he got Felix up and dressed, and suddenly, we were on our way.

The anxiety I had been feeling about labour had not vanished with my waters breaking and in fact seemed to be intensifying. The fact there were t.h.r.e.e. different lots of road works we had to negotiate on the way to hospital only probably added to it.

When we got to labour floor at around 11.30pm and I saw K, my midwife, I almost burst into tears in relief. This is a woman I have a mild infatuation with and am feeling quite bereft that she may now just drift from our lives. Is it bad I want to be friends with my midwife? Anyway, she was on a rostered weekend off, but had come in to deliver our baby all the same. After being one of my midwives on every pregnancy, but never having delivered one of them, she was as determined as I was desperate for her to deliver this one.

But then the waiting game began. The TENS machine was hooked up to my back and we waited. We walked the halls, I paced the room, Mum turned up w/ Oscar despite us telling her we’d call when labour kicked in, and we waited. Surprisingly, three hours passed quite quickly. I’m sure no one else in the room felt like that, but I did.

At 2am I said to A, who had been buddying K through my pregnancy, that the baby would be here by 3am. At 2.15 the contractions shifted gear. I didn’t want to talk through them, I couldn’t lean forward a milimetre as it just hurt my stomach too much, so I stood in the middle of the room and stamped my feet through each one. I just shut my eyes, stamped my feet, focused on let the baby come and kept a very firm grip on my little TENS machine boost button. At around 2.20, I declared I had to take my nightie off. I apologised to all present for exposing my massive form to all and sundry (I had always wanted to strip off in every other labour but was too embarrassed) but felt so.much.better. It was pretty soon after that I think that the vomiting started. I only recall two small vomits but Chef said I vomited. A lot. Nice. I got to 2.30, told K I couldn’t do it anymore, that I wasn’t happy about it at all and that was enough. Chef said cheerfully, “But that means you’ve only got half an hour to go”. And I knew he was right. So I just shut my eyes (again, I think I basically had my eyes shut from about 2.15 until he was almost out) and kept on stamping. Somewhere in there I said to K “I really want to push but I’m not sure if I really need to or if I just want to so it’s all over”. In her calm infinite wisdom she told me to just listen to my body. But this time, this final time, was so very different from all the others. This time I was actually apprehensive. Frightened even. And I was nude. And I was standing up. The urge to push was much more of a drawing down sensation if that makes sense. It was far more gradual, creeping up on me compared to the other three where some primal urge came from deep within. I do know that my breathing and the sounds I was making changed. From deep breaths to some deep gutteral groans. From stamping to just sort of leaning into the floor through my knees. I still couldn’t lean on anything, couldn’t touch anything or have anything touching me. I think it was a way for me to keep this labour, this birth to myself. To not have any part of it diluted, as if in touching someone or something an element of it might be drained away, taken from my grasp. I heard K and A rustling, getting their gear on and all the collateral to the fore. I thought, oh here we go. And suddenly we were there, K instructed Chef to get infront of me, I still couldn’t lean so just sort of hung on to his shoulders (I knew I loved his height for a reason), a pillow went between my legs and for a minute I thought, “this kid is going to land on a pillow!” Then, for what felt like an hour but was probably more like 3 minutes I pushed the biggest noggin out in.my.life. And at 3am on the dot, he was with us.

Behold, a grapefruit:

Grover’s head:

I know. I know. But you don’t need to know how long I spent trying to find to scale images of his head and grapefruits. 37.5cm people.

A week ago a new life that my body had nurtured, had protected, had grown came into the world. I wonder who this little person with big wide hands, long fingers and massive feet will be.

A week ago I began to bid farewell to the physical battle wounds I had sustained from pregnancy – sciatica, heartburn, swelling and carpal tunnel. The swelling has still not completely gone, which I’m quite miffed about, neither has the carpal tunnel, particularly in my left hand, but the fact when I feel the need to do a wee I really do need to do one is still quite a trip and tying me over in the meantime.

A week ago I was bleeding clots the size of my hand onto the floor in a labour ward, but over on the tiny little pastel checked couch sat my hulking frame of a husband of 10 years and partner of 16 with our newest creation.

A week ago I was working on a post I never loaded about how I felt I’d been such a substandard mother during this pregnancy and that I was going to try so much harder once the little person was on the outside. That this feeling applied in particular to Oscar, with who I have been very ‘short’ and impatient. Who has driven me nuts with the incessant questioning of what’s happening next, which car we’re going in, if soccer is on today and when we’re going to see Nana and Grandpa. I know I’ve been slack with him because I can be. He can’t – really – answer back and I have taken advantage of that too many times. And that makes me feel very very unworthy of this bounty I have in my life.

A week ago my heart created space for another little person without me even trying. When Oscar was born and it all went even more pear-shaped than the pregnancy I remembered when I’d said to the obstetrics registrar – who was trying to allay my fears of something being wrong with the baby by the fact I was young, didn’t smoke and wasn’t an alcoholic or drug addict – that someone had to be the statistic. And then we were. And how hard I rallied against the reality that had been dealt us. I didn’t want to be the mother of a disabled child. I didn’t want to be one of those manic mothers taking their child to this class and that specialist. I didn’t want to have to explain my child to anyone, let alone the world. I didn’t want to have to fight for what people call equal rights for my child but what I call ‘what is right’ for any child. I didn’t want to have this grief lace my heart, label me, define me. I didn’t want to be the mother who when asked about how her child was held herself in check so friends and family wouldn’t tire of the never-ending quest for reaching any elusive developmental milestone. How I wished to be a mother who when someone asked how my child was, could simply say ‘fine’. I felt guilty for imagining if he died, that it seemed so much more romantic, so much more tolerable a tag than the albatross of ‘disabled’ around my neck for what? the rest of my life? for thinking that pain would ease over time as opposed to this load which would only increase the older he got. I felt guilty for my anger, for wishing it would all just leave me alone even for just for a few hours. For wondering if that vice like grip it had on me would ever lessen. For so desperately hoping every night when I went to bed that the next morning I would wake to Oscar saying “Mum I’m hungry” rather than “Ma u[p] [s]un u[p]”. I wanted to kick the people who said Oscar had chosen us. I wanted to spit in the eyes of those who would say, ‘I don’t know how you do it’ , as if parenting your child – irrespective of whether they have special needs or not – is a matter of choice. I want to scream at everyone who asks if Oscar will ever be able to talk “I DON’T FUCKING KNOW” and so it goes on and on. But time is a marvellous thing. It gives you perspective, it gives you oxygen, it gives you hindsight. And so my life as a mother and as a parent to a child with special needs took hold. And here we are, with our Little Guy Number Four and I’m struggling to remember my world without him in it. And it made me realise something, with every child comes an extra layer to who I am. And that while the love is instantaneous it takes a little time to get comfortable in the new garb. The coat feels a little heavier, some label at the back is scratching on my neck, the pants ride up a bit and the shoes seem to be pinching my toes. I’m not sure about the colour and I certainly wouldn’t have picked the outfit for myself, so bear with me as I pull on this collar over here, the hem over there and just seem a little itchy for a while.

Day 5…

Also known as
– “Oh, did they re-float the Pasha Bulka
– “is it Thursday today?”
– “What do you mean you’re doing a double shift”

Day 2, 4 July: My little jaundice boy…

Day 4, 5 July: First bath for new boys…

and for first time big brothers.

There are two quite different posts I could write today.

The first is in the vein of a “things I never want to forget about this time” post with all things about snuffly, snuggly babies, protective, gentle big brothers and that unsaid strengthening of the bond between you and your partner when you look at this new life you have made.

The other is more typical of my “holy bat crap this is hard” posting penchant in which I discuss
– how Chef went back to work on a double shift today (so it’s just me at the coal face from 10am-11pm),
– how Mum went to lunch w/ friends (at Chef’s) today
– how Chef’s parents have gone away for the weekend
– how I had in my head Chef was only doing dinner so had organised a visit to the GP for Grover for his (standard) heart check-up.
– how just as I was bracing myself to leave the house with four children on my own for the first time (who do I put in first – Jasper or Grover?, how do I get the out at the other end? Do I put Jasper or Grover in the stroller? Would the boys be able to help me w/ Jasper at crossing roads etc if he’s not in the stroller? Maybe I should put the baby in the Baby Bjorn and Jasper in the stroller? What am I going to wear? What fits? Oscar doesn’t have shoes on, oh well, his Ugh boots will do. Fuck, now Jasper’s asleep, so I’m going to wake him. Right, so he’ll have to go in the stroller so I’ll need to Baby Bjorn… who’s that coughing?) Jasper did an almighty vomit in his cot.
– how it actually takes some form of cognitive function to decide what to do when you’re half changing a child covered in spew and running a bath for them and the newborn on the lounge starts to cry.
– how a seven year old child is THE BEST when it comes to negotiating the management of two babies.
– how I’m actually doing OK considering every.single.member (except the baby, which is worrying me because this kind of respiratory illness in a newborn is not good. I’ve been there before w/ Felix) of this family is sick. Oscar and Jasper are the worst affected, Oscar is still pretty out of it, Chef sounds like he’s coughing up a lung but has done nothing to make himself better so its just shitting me w/ him, Felix has been coughing the longest and I feel incredibly negligent in how I’ve just left him to weather it and I developed it on Sunday but am doing so many salt water throat gargles it seems to have plateaued.
– how we had ‘The Unsettled Night’ on Wednesday night but hey! I’m here, I got through it! On only about 2 hours of total sleep scattered across the whole night! I can now realise it’s just one night out of many and so on and so forth. Last night was heading in the same direction but was not as sleep-depriving and I haven’t got cranky, cried or yelled at anyone! (written at around 2pm)
– how tonight I was doing so well, dinner was prepared when Grover was sleeping and boys were playing, kitchen was cleaned, dining table cleared, living area vacuumed. And then Jasper, who is basically (barely) tolerating Grover’s presence, threw Clarabel** at Grover’s head. After kinda thumping him with Hippo. After a few pokes prods thwacks. Which was enough, so I sauntered ran flew across the room, boomed a “no, not acceptable, nice hands, move away, insert other core phrases on high rotation with toddler”, swept grabbed him in my arms, took him to his room, put him in his cot and turned off the light. He didn’t even cry he was so shocked bewildered pissed. I felt so awful, knowing I was handling it all wrong, assuring myself I was establishing all manner of sibling issues and so on, that eventually I went into Jasper, scooped him up and just sat on the bed with him and sobbed. God it felt good. It felt even better when I felt his little hand patting my back as I was patting his. Anyway, I made myself fell better by having a little conversation with him about being gentle with Baby Grover and only cuddles and kisses for the baby. Jasper made himself feel better by holding my face and saying oh so calmly, “No”. Hmmm, what an interesting ride this is going to be.

Now to the soft and snuggly post.
On Thursday, as Chef and I just focused on getting through the day after virtually no sleep, we looked outside to see the three bigger boys playing together outside. Jasper was sitting on the edge of the trampoline garbling away to the other two, who were building tunnels and lands in the sandpit. “Look at that dynamic,” I said. “Yeah, brothers,” said Chef.

Oscar finally asked for a cuddle w/ Grover yesterday.
This means he is recovering from the trauma of seeing Grover on Monday morning when Mum brought him into the room literally less than a minute after he’d been born, despite specific requests not to do so until all the blood, guts and grease on the rod so to speak had been cleared away. The result? Oscar having diarrhea, vomiting and just ‘checking out’* of the whole process.

You know that newborn snuffle? and the little sighs they give? the cross-eyed drunken contentedness? How they just ‘fit’ in that crook of your neck? Yeah…

Grover grunts when he poos, just like Felix used to as a newborn. He also does farts that make your eyes bleed.

The sleep I sleep at the moment is a bizarre blend of intensity that actually makes me wake from sleeping. Seriously. I fall so deeply asleep so quickly I make myself wake up because something internally says “this can’t be good”.

That’s not very snuggly is it? But there you have it.

In other news, the early discharge midwife program has been fantastic. A midwife has visited me at home these past three days and they have been wondrously lovely. Today, I discovered that Grover has inherited my gene for a remarkable ability to gain weight in record time. While not quite back at birthweight, he’s gained something like 250g in the two days. That’s my boy.

In a desperate bid to restore some semblance of health in this household…
the first lemons – ever – off our tree, planted s.e.v.e.n. years ago.

Warmed lemon and honey to ease sore throats
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of boiling water, slightly cooled
1 tsp of honey or more to taste

– mix together and sip to soothe sore throats and ease harsh coughs.

And because the weight loss program to end all weight loss programs begins next week.

Chocolate sauce
300g chocolate
300ml pouring cream
3 tblsp butter
a dash of brandy

– combine everything in a double boiler
– stir as it all melts into chocolaty goodness
– let it cool slightly
– pour over vanilla ice cream***

and just because

* there is not a doubt in my mind that part of Oscar’s malaise has been related purely to shock in terms of his complete inability to handle hospitals/blood etc as well as the respiratory virus.
** As in Thomas’ carriage.
*** Or, if your mother comes back from shopping with a punnet of glorious raspberries and tells you to eat them all before the boys get back, do so, but dip them into this uncious divineness first.


where to begin.
Firstly, is it OK to give a blanket thank you to all of you for your well wishes and congratulations? It seems so slack, particularly the bolstering role it is playing for me at the mo.
I had thought this post and those around it would be all earth-mother-ish, organic, peaceful, ecstatic and so on and so forth.
But here we are.
Do I do the labour story? Do I do the post-delivery story? Do I try and encapsulate this brave new world? Do I…
I dunno.
This little guy is here, he is just an absolute joy.
Gorgeous and just a little monkey.
He looks exactly like Felix did at birth except he’s got my body shape rather than that of Chef.
He’s a bit jaundice which is making him sleepy and because of how washed out I am and the fact the kid has some reserves, I haven’t really been on top of the feeding and getting it regular so the jaundice is being watched etc.
But my milk is in – first squirt into his eye has been achieved – and he has basically fed on and off tonight from 4.50 to 8.30 so I’m kinda relaxing on the jaundice-watch.
The labour was exactly the same as Jasper’s, in that my waters broke, three hours later labour kicked in and 45 minutes later Grover was in the world.
I was naked and standing up.
No drugs.
No tearing.
I felt invincible.
Then my uterus went on holidays or what is called a ‘relaxed uterus’ state. This is something that can happen when you have a fast, intense labour – that it just decides it’s had enough and doesn’t keep contracting down, so then you bleed a lot. Which I did. About a litre, which I didn’t think sounded like that much, but every medical person who reads my notes goes, “gee, you did lose a lot didn’t you.”
Then there was lots of drugs.
So now I feel completely washed out and hit by a tank and seem to have lost my mojo.
I’m nothing if not dramatic.
If I even dabble in the thought of how I’m going to do this when Chef is at work five nights a week the sense of overwhelming-ness swallows me whole.
There’s so much to tell and so little time and energy to do so.
I really am OK, really. I need to get my iron levels back up and sleep as often as possible, so they are my current goals.
Oscar is a lot better today. He basically slept for 36 hours, was unresponsive, listless and they thought had pneumonia. He doesn’t. It’s a severe upper respiratory virus which all of us have to varying degrees. Chef, Felix and Jasper have had it for weeks, Oscar and I developed it on Sunday and by Tuesday he was in hospital. Anyway, we’re all home, I’m pumping all of us full of vitamins and every other applicable medicine under the sun. I’m very nervy the new little guy will get it.
This all sounds so flat doesn’t it. It’s not meant to.
So here are some pics to let you all know that it really is all good and the arrival of our new little guy has just been spectacular.
And as everyone exclaims… four boys!
And some classic quotes:

Felix (who was at the birth and cut Grover’s umbilical cord): “I almost cried when he came out because it was so exciting.”

Me: “What’s this in my hair, blood and guts? (on closer inspection) It is blood and guts!”

Me: “Wow, that’s a lot of blood. (on closer inspection) What’s that, it looks like a liver.”

Doctor (about to do an internal – WITH HER ENTIRE HAND – to determine blood clotting situation): “Now, this is going to hurt and it’s going to hurt a lot. I suggest you suck on the gas at the strongest dose and don’t stop.”

Doctor (about to give me a suppository up the arse to help post-labour contractions): “This isn’t going to be pleasant either.”

And now we are six

Here is… Grover George

Born: 3am, 2 July 2007
Weight: 4.545kg (10pd 1oun)
Length: 58cm
Head circumference: 37.5cm

So much to tell. Am home (clearly) but have one new son and one very sick one (Oscar) who’s been at hospital with suspected pneumonia (it isn’t, just a severe upper respiratory infection) so must away.

Will update in due course.

Pregnancy enigmatic moments and Nigella Lawson’s Mushy Peas

When the smell of bananas makes me gag (not helped by finally locating the smell in Oscar’s bag – a R.O.T.T.E.N banana) but I eat two banana toasted sandwiches for dinner.
How chocolate no longer holds any sway over me whatsoever. At all.
That – for the first time since Oscar’s pregnancy (there are two in between) – I can’t bend down or get on an angle to do up shoes.
Similar to Oscar’s pregnancy, if I stand for too long or “do too much” (read stand a lot, run around a lot, pick up Jasper a lot) I get early labour pains and have pinkish-brown mucus.
Sorry, I know that last point caught many of you off guard.
I have had three of these “shows” since Sunday week ago.
It give the tail end of pregnancy an interesting ‘edge’.
I am absolutely craving red wine.
This hit the spot last week – Nigella’s mushy peas

  • 300g frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tbl creme fraiche
  • 3 tbl parmesan, finely grated
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring a saucepan of water to boil with the garlic clove in it.
  2. cook peas, drain and discard garlic
  3. puree peas w/ the creme fraiche and parmesan
  4. season to taste
  5. I added more creme fraiche and parmesan on the top at the end because I’m pregnant and I can.

Name updates:
I am (still) loving Grover (although now I’m leaning to Grosvenor as – believe it or not – I am conscious of the child being cranky about being named after a blue muppet, even though no-one EVER makes the Oscar the Grouch connection w/ Oscar or the Felix the Cat w/Felix) Sebastian, Theodore, Oliver, Baxter and Banjo.

Chef is adamant on George, in fact, last week announced “It doesn’t matter what we call him, I’m going to call him George.”

I finish work on Friday.
This fills me with so much excitement.
I feel like I will finally be able to be pregnant.
If that makes any sense at all.
Here’s hoping I don’t go into labour on Friday night as I finally relax.