let's start at the very beginning

Sunday, 26 August 2012


We love him madly, our little boy who was born in June.

The last eight weeks have been a beautiful blur.

I'm not sure if or when I'll blog again.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

What part of you is that?

At night in bed he used to reach over and pat whatever part of me was closest to him, and ask, 

What part of you is that?

It was usually my hip, sometimes my rump.

Now it's always my belly, enormous and taut between us like a drum, he doesn't need to ask.

He touches my belly, the baby wriggles in response, he says to it:

What part of you is that?

I answer for it:

My spine, my bottom, my knee, my hand. 


I know some things about the baby:

1. It's nocturnal.
2. It suffers terribly from the hiccoughs. I tell it to stop gulping, take small sips instead. My tummy wiggles like an animated jelly for an hour at a time.  
3. It loves its dad. I talk to it all day but the minute the dad gets home and starts speaking, it's like a jumping bean.
4. It is social and will manoeuvre its entire self to the side of my belly closest to whoever I'm talking to. I sit lopsided and try to concentrate.
5. It prefers female vocalists.
6. Strong predilection for food the dad likes - things I've never eaten vast quantities of previously - apples galore, peanut butter, litres of milk. 


At the obstetrician's office, the midwife hooks us up to the CTG. She puts the monitor on my belly, locates baby's heart beat, and asks me to firmly hold the monitor in place. In my other hand she places a small wand with a black buzzer on the end. She instructs me to press the buzzer if the baby moves. I feel like I'm in a quiz show...and the answer is: the baby will move the whole time! She leaves the room. The baby tries to kick the monitor off. I wonder if I should just hold the buzzer down. I press the buzzer. Repeatedly.


I'm big. Even my ear lobes. I think about changing my name to 'Rotunda'.


I have the words to this song in my head: "Oh the days are long, til the baby comes."


Can't wait to meet our little bunyip, on the outside.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Advanced propagation techniques

We moved house just over two years ago and set about trying to create a garden. For the amount of effort we've put in, it doesn't look that flash...yet. But we're trying. Learning as we go. My health had been improving in tiny bits here and there, my world expanded a little and I could do small helpful things some weekends.

My main gardening role has been propagation. Also: bickering with my co-gardener about plant-placement (he who wields the trowel wins). Propagating is the perfect task for me. My husband brings me a pile of prunings, I rest on the cadillac couch with them on my lap and trim them down with secateurs, then pot them up. I must have propagated hundreds of plants in the last couple of years.

I've loved lavishing nurturing energy on the garden. Sometimes, in the garden, I'd think about one day getting a dog. Then I could nurture the trifecta of garden, dog and my dear sweet love.

That common focal point for nurturing, a bambino, wasn't realistically on the cards - so I'd been told for many years and by many experts. Mind you, even without access to my test results, you didn't need to be Einstein or Sherlock to deduce that.

I'd had time to come to terms with this, and there have been so many losses in the face of chronic illness, that this seemed to be just one more. I wistfully accepted it. The thing I couldn't accept, even after time, was that this loss directly affected my husband. Other losses that affect both of us I can minimise, mitigate, try to make up for - but not this one.

Years ago I'd watched him toting a baby niece on his hip, and knew what a kind and gentle parent he'd be. Years ago I had no idea this illness was going to be the grim reaper of so many of our shared dreams. Once the 'years later' had elapsed and the medical reality emerged, I was sad that my Judas of a body most likely wouldn't let him become a dad.

At our wedding, during the speeches, there was no mention of children. I've noticed at other weddings that children feature in the speeches, often quite prominently. I was grateful for the tact of my loved ones, though to be frank, they probably didn't even think about it, it was probably only me that noticed the absence of our non-existent future whippersnappers.


A few months ago we discovered that a little miracle had sprouted. In me. A little baby, who we've met at several scans, jumping around in my belly like a loon.

Discovering I was pregnant was the most profound shock I've ever experienced. It felt like the galaxy had split in two, like fireworks went off in every cell, like a tornado whirled through my brain and reassembled it.  

Pregnancy hasn't been easy on me but we are incredulous, thrilled and grateful that I am capable of going through it at all. My husband says he just can't believe my body is doing something right. I know exactly what he means. Turns out maybe propagation really is my secret talent...but who knew it would apply to a little human being and dear new family member?! 

It is too amazing. We are so, so lucky.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Great podcast episode: The Blue Yarn, by 99% Invisible

I was so intrigued by this episode of a lovely little design podcast I've been listening to. The episode was about how economic difficulties forced a redesign of a hospital and the outcome was wonderbunk for the patients.

You can listen to the 10-min ep here: http://soundcloud.com/roman-mars/99-invisible-30-the-blue-yarn
"In 1998 Dr. Gary Kaplan, the CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle received some bad news about his hospital. It was losing money. So Dr. Kaplan started studying how other hospitals were being run to see if there was a better way to manage his hospital. He scoured the country, looking for a hospital with a management system worth adopting, but he never found one. Instead he ended up in Japan. At a Toyota factory.
When Dr. Kaplan told his staff they would be changing everything about the way they operate and the changes were based on a car company and that doctors and nurses should refer to their new teachers as “sensei,” the response was less than ideal.
This entire, multiyear overhaul started with a ball of blue yarn. The staff met with a Toyota Production System sensei and he took out the ball of blue yarn and a map of the hospital and told the staff to trace the path a cancer patient would take on a typical visit for chemotherapy treatment. When they were finished, it was an immensely powerful visual experience for everyone in the room. They all stared at this map with blue yarn snaking all over the place, doubling back on itself and making complicated twists and turns from one end of the building to the other. They understood for the first time that they were taking their sickest patients, for whom time was their most precious resource, and they were wasting huge amounts of it."
(Bold emphasis mine.) 

The podcast is called 99% Invisible, by Roman Mars, who describes it as: "A tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world." I highly recommend.

To subscribe: http://99percentinvisible.org/

For other poddies I've recommended in the past, see a previous post here.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Doctors and iPhones

I've consulted two different cardiologists this year and I can tell you the riveting news that iPhones are the must-have accessory for the dashing doctor about town.

Cardiologist 1: 

Used an iPhone to take constant calls from the receptionists. Constant! While skilled at answering the phone, it bears mentioning that C1 was unable to take my blood pressure manually. I was tempted to joke there is probably an app for that - instead I assuaged his ego by telling him everyone has trouble with it - a lie.

C1 told me that although my TTT results were dreadful and he was very sorry about my quality of life, there was nothing further he could do for me and maybe one day I'd be strong enough to find a job where I could lie down a lot - like a librarian. I've never seen a librarian lying down, have you? What. Is. He. ON?!

I can think of a job where people lie down, amongst other things, but the oldest profession is not for moi. Nobody could afford this hot bod. 

Cardiologist 2: 

C2 is proactive and knowledgeable and keen to proceed with treatment. I'm learning lots from him. Refreshing.

Used his iPhone (is there a MIMS app?) to read out the list of side-effects of a medication I will try sometime next year. When he got to the side-effect of 'hair standing on end', he mimed what this may look like in real life by waggling his fingers vigorously.

I like C2, even if the bureaucratic burden of obtaining the new med is onerous. In March he suggested I try it, my application to the TGA didn't go through until July, and I'm still waiting for approval! Then it has to be imported from America. Not holding my breath. 

Specialist 3 (field of medicine withheld to protect the goose): 

Ran very late. I joked to my husband that he was probably looking up POTS and NMH on the internet. I was tickled to be right! He had printed the info and highlighted the important bits in yellow. Things like: do not get overheated, stay hydrated, avoid heavy meals, eat a high salt diet, wear compression garments, don't stand still on the spot, be careful bending - the standard lifestyle tips for that cluster of conditions. After living with both diagnoses a goodly while and already deploying those tips to little avail, those expensive bits of paper were underwhelming.

He's also a hypocrite: he told me at the previous appointment not to look anything up on the internet (he's ancient, his net-savvy patients must drive him wild). Then he based his whole appointment on the internet. The same internet I have at home. He may suspect me of cyberchondria, but I don't have enough time for that malarkey, I'm too busy pillorying him on my blog!

I prescribe him an iPhone. Then he could forbid his patients from using theirs. And play Solitaire! As a person newly emerged into the world of smart phones, it's amazing how nifty they are. I see what the rest of the world is on about.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Better late than never...

I'm in the process of switching computers and keep finding unpublished drafts, which I'm popping up on their correct date as I come across them. They're tagged 'better late than never' - so if you get some random updates over the next little while, that's why.

Here's an orange poppy from the weekend, my friend gave me a punnet of seedlings in the middle of winter. They were planted outside my bedroom window and I've been watching the buds. The weather's been a bit wild as they start to unfurl, which provides a great excuse to cut each one for inside, to be gazed upon tenderly. I'd love a snooze on those petals. Oh, to be Thumbelina.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

an orange and black wasp

We had a long, hot summer of incessant rain. La Niña after a decade of El Niño. Someone told me we'd had only 14 days with no rain between October and April. Whether that is precisely accurate I don't know, but it sure felt like it.

Autumn is finally here, the cooler days are blissful. The last few days the sun's been shining. I hope it stays. I have been spending some time on my favourite piece of furniture, the Cadillac Couch, bought for me by my dear friend at her local St Vinnies. I think it's possibly what you call a klik klak couch, circa 1950s. It's bluey-green vinyl with white arms like resplendent wings. You can fold the back down to make a bed, but we have set it up as a long couch on the back patio.

I use it for drinking tea, staring at our 18-month-old garden and feeling vexed at not being able to just move that plant to the left and wondering when the fundamentals of garden design will coalesce in my brain, watching ants scurry about, feeling annoyed at healthy people (my new hobby), enjoying Mr and Mrs Magpie and their two grey babies strolling and pecking at the ground, and assessing the solitary orange and black wasp persistently hovering close by.

At first I was alarmed, the wasp looks dangerous: an inch long, stridently coloured, magnificently pointy bottom. It hangs about close to the ground and I worry I'll step on it. I looked it up and it's harmless, doesn't sting, and the reason it's close to the ground is because it's gathering mud to daub into a home. Several such homes have been attempted underneath the cushions on the Cadillac Couch. I always check them before settling in.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy new year!

new year's eve sparkler green words growing

May your sparklers be long-lasting and your resolutions frivolous. Sending intergalactic good wishes for 2011. Onwards and upwards!


Sunday, 7 November 2010


“When I went back to see mum last time, she'd finally got rid of her fur coat. It was Russian black bear. She's had it ever since they came to Australia.”

Saturday, 30 October 2010


We’ve decided to leave all our instructional labels on everything (to help she with minimal memory) here for the next tenants. LOUNGE LIGHT SWITCH, KITCHEN LIGHT SWITCH, BATHROOM LIGHT SWITCH, TO OPEN BALCONY DOOR MOVE LATCH TO RIGHT. Surely they’ll love it?