Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Letter To A Thirteen Month Old Footwear Gourmand

Darling Tricky

You are now thirteen months old. Lordy. How time flies.

Milestones keep zipping past like G-Strings at a New York strip club when Kevin Rudd is in town. They’re not, I hasten to add, the milestones that get all the publicity in the Babylove book or the annoying emails I keep getting from (not its real name) that regularly inform me of all the things my baby is failing to do, like pointing, or controlled waving. Or cross stitching.

What about the more subtle milestones? Applauding Your Mother, for instance.

This milestone was successfully reached during the last two weeks. I was singing Incy Wincy Spider and when I finished you smiled and then you STARTED CLAPPING. And you did the same thing after Twinkle Twinkle and also after Five Little Ducks.

Applauding Your Mother is a sadly underrated milestone that needs way more publicity because we all know it completely disappears by the age of five and soon after is replaced by the far less delightful Milestone: Scowling At The Extreme Dagginess Of your Mother.

This will last for the next nineteen years.
Here’s another underrated Milestone that you have successfully achieved at quite an early age: Chewing On Shoes.

I assure myself that this milestone helpfully boosts your immune system. This means you should have the resistance of an elephant (the very healthy kind) because you really do like to chow down on those soles and some of our boots have seen a lot of action.

Rarely do I put on my grey fluffy slippers without noting the fetching little half moon of saliva above the toes and I smile and think: my baby is growing up.

Other milestones?

Scoffing. As babies go you seem to eat a lot, to the point where people remark upon your levels of consumption. This could be because of the delicious and wholesome food my loving hands prepare for you but in truth I think it’s because your father and I have the food distraction technique down pat and most of the time you wouldn’t have a clue what goes down your throat because you’re so gobsmacked by the incredible SHOW!! that goes on at every dinnertime.
Roll up, roll up for the Great Big Dinner Show! We got Songs! We got Funny Faces! We got Silly Noises!

When Dadda does the cooking he also creates pleasing to the eye patterns upon the surfaces of your food and thus is his Inner Barista briefly liberated.

Of course the whole concept of Dinner And A Show is hardwired into your parents' makeup because you can’t work as an actor in this country without at some point “doing” dinner theatre. It wasn’t Dirty Dicks but it left its scars and also that annoying boom tish noise and a tendency to puns.

Still, as long as we can sing it, or chant it, or make our fingers do the dancing across the dinner table, you will eat it. And often, if there is singing is involved, you will applaud it.

We’re not complaining. We just fret a little because it’s not strictly art.

You talk more now; the old faves still apply “up!”, “mama”, “dadda”, “nahnah”, “get me another beer, wench”, but we are aware that one day more words shall be forthcoming.

Words and then phrases and then conversations and then soliloquies and then great ranting diatribes to journalists from current affairs shows about parents who blog about their children.

Ah yes, it’s all ahead.

You saved the biggest Milestone so far for the day that you turned thirteen months. On that day it was as if a little switch went off in your brain, and lo the little switch was marked: “Walking Is Not Half Bad”.

For the past few weeks you have teased us, us, your Doting Parents, with the hint, the promise, the prospect of walking, more than that; you have laughed at us, scoffed at us, taunted us a second time and insisted our mothers smelt of elderberries.

Crawling, you seemed to say, is what all the cool kids were doing, not that loathsome walking, or if not crawling, then simply being carried from point A to B (and then C, D, E and F) by your Willing Slaves.

True, sometimes you would rise from your sitting position, as if to say, Behold Me! I Am Risen (From The Sitting Position) and then you might take a few steps, sometimes as many as ten, while the Willing Slaves gathered and cheered from the sidelines and smiled as they massaged their aching backs.

But then, it was if you suddenly tired of the adulation and the fancy footwork and everyone knows crawling is so much quicker anyway and hey you, slave, pick me up I say. Jiggle me on the spot. Now sing. Sing I tell you! Sing Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car! Again! Quickly! Make a Funny Face while you do it…no wait, you bore me…give me to someone else.

Having got used to you being at ankle height for so long, it is almost shocking to see you amble past at above knee level.

Firstly, because you’re not actually that good at it and when I use words like stroll, meander and amble, what I really mean is
Stumble Like A Dwarf Extra on “Shaun Of The Dead”.

And secondly because it looks so…well, so not like a baby. More like a…little boy. A little zombie boy maybe, but a little boy none the less. In very dirty socks, because you don't have any shoes.

Yesterday we decided it was time, now that your feet were making regular committed contact with the ground, for you to finally have shoes and so we took you to a shoe shop.

God I wish we had a camera with us, not just to photograph you in your new sandals but also to document the embarrassingly drippy way your father and I behaved.

How we smiled and simpered, how we hugged ourselves with big beaming grins, how we dabbed at our moist eyes and made awww! noises, as you tottered your way around the shoe shop.

Look, I wanted to say to the other customers, That Is My Son! He Is Walking! In His New Sandals! Make way o lowly shoe patrons, because He Has Risen and Now He Walks Amongst You!

How we triumphantly sang as we began to drive home, songs of ducks and big red cars and twinkly stars, and how you clapped and laughed and kicked your newly shod feet.

He’s falling asleep, your father said later. We were still driving and it was now dark. We had stopped by the river earlier for fish and chips and that led to a drink at the pub and now we were rushing slightly. You had gone ominously quiet and there was still supper and bathtime to go. I turned on the light and leaned over the back seat, preparing myself for another loud round of Toot Toot Chugga Chugga.

But you weren’t asleep, I saw, far from it. One newly sandaled foot was wedged into your mouth and you were chewing contemplatively as you stared up out the window at the stars.

That’s two milestones at once, I noted. My baby is growing up.

All my love

Your Very Own

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Holiday Statistics

Days spent at Beach Shack so far: 8

Mornings Mama has spent Sleeping In while Dadda takes baby to beach: 8

Oysters consumed so far: 60

Bottles of wine consumed: 5

Dolphin Sightings: 1 (but was in fact pod of about 20 spotted from loungeroom window leading to hurried rush down to beach, allowing exciting and quite close range viewing)

Kangaroo Sightings: 2 (one during bush walk, the other was FIVE KANGAROOS SUDDENLY APPEARING IN OUR BACK YARD)

Minutes of Fascination for baby provided by Kangaroos In Back Yard Incident: 2

Minutes of Fascination for parents provided by Kangaroos In Back Yard Incident: 15

Minutes of DVD filming of KIBYI before realising that Kangaroos eating grass, while exciting in real life and happening 2 metres away from you, is actually extremely dull footage: 15

Number of Digital photographs taken during KIBYI: Too Embarrassed To Say

Number of Individual Kangaroo Turds discharged during KIBYI: 80 to 100

Number of Individual Kangaroo Turds picked up by baby in attempt to eat: 1

Number of Individual Kangaroo turds picked up by Mama with plastic bag and unpleasant look on her face: 80 to 100

Number of Loud Shouting Incidents between Parents: 3

Number of Near Poisoning of Baby Incidents, via previously unnoticed cockroach bait (and leading directly to one of the Shouting Incidents above): 1

Number Of Loud Shouting Incidents Averted By Sudden Viewing Of Pictures Of Baby on Computer Screen Saver: 3

Level of Satisfaction with Special Magical Grownup Time while on Holidays: Very High (but have decided to not share this statistic with Other Parent so as to guard against complacency)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

What OvaGirl Did Next...

Sleazy hypnotists and dancing chickens, pagan weddings and costumed sheep, oversexed guinea pigs and the smell of boiled wet dog. IVF, infertility and family…
It’s a love story...

I started blogging in January 2005. The year before that my partner C and I had discovered, via a series of unpleasant and embarrassing tests, that we were infertile.

The discovery came after a very long period of “casually” trying to conceive– since if we admitted we were actively trying then we would also have to admit that we were actively failing. And so the years rolled on by in a great flurry of work and travel and generally doing all the things one does when one is not with child.

“No no,” we would say jovially, “we haven’t quite got the knack of making a baby yet, but we’re having a lot of fun practicing.” And that was funny for about, oh, six months.

In 2004, finally, we had to face the fact that there was something amiss with the plumbing – either mine or C’s or both, and a trip to my GP saw me coming away with a referral to the fertility clinic at a nearby hospital.

This was us on the official first stage of The Great Big Fertility Ride. That day we came home from the hospital when the specialist told us we needed to go straight to IVF was a particularly special one and I rate it up there with the day my mother died and the day I was diagnosed with MS.

Everyone has different ways of coping and mine was to get onto the internet and randomly google terms like “barren”, “my uterus sux” and “dried up girly bits”.

And so it was that I discovered a hitherto unknown world of blogging. Not just a world of blogging but a very special corner of that world where People Who Can’t Seem To Have A Baby write about the way they feel.
I think I’d heard of blogs but I had no idea what one was and suddenly I was reading stuff by women who felt as angry, as hurt, as totally fucking ripped off as me, and it was like coming home. At the same time my husband, also hurt and bewildered, but also seeing the devastating effect this news had on me, had dug out the number of an alternative practitioner whom we would eventually come to know and love as the Chinese Fertility Goddess.

And then I started to write.

Years ago I had a friend, Simone, who used to refer to acts carnal as ‘legs up and laughing’. This seemed a cheerful descriptor of what was generally a funny activity (at least where C and I were concerned) and so I mangled it to give me “L’Eggs Up and Laughing”. At first I wrote about the hideous tests, the unhappy news, the weird smelly herbs we had to boil up for the Chinese Fertility Goddess, but quite quickly it became more than that.

In my efforts to make a family I had begun to examine my relationship with my own family, my childhood, my small nephews who had come from London to live nearby, and, my relationship with this man, my husband C, who sat beside me in the carriage of The Great Big Fertility Ride and indeed all the carriages of all the rollercoasters of our life together.

One day, looking back through some of the things I had written on this blog, I decided to send a few posts to my agent. She in turn sent these onto a publisher.

And they said…yes.

Well, actually what they said was that they wanted me to write a book. And it would be the blog, but also more again.

And so I said… yes.

And this September, two years after our first IVF cycle began, My Book is being released.

This means some things will change.

For instance, it may surprise you to discover that OvaGirl is a Made Up, Secret Squirrel, Clark Kentish sort of name. I know! Shock!

And also, this blog may seem to have slimmed up, since last you saw it.

That’s because I have deleted most of the early entries, ie those leading up to Tricky’s birth. (And let me tell you that caused me no end of heartache because of the beautiful comments people left for me.) I did this because the book contains nearly all these entries anyway, but polished up and with incriminating names and patently stupid bits removed.

But I have left some posts, including the start and the end, intact, because I wanted people (who don't read the book) to see that there can be a happy ending to the Great Big Fertility Ride, even though its carriages might get a bit skanky and scratched and pong of chucked up steak sandwich.

I’m having a wee little holiday now.

I’m also doing Book Stuff, launches and publicity guff. If you’re in Sydney and you want to come to a book launch on September 5th, let me know on the comments or contact me through my profile. There will also be one in Newcastle and hopefully Melbourne and other places at some stage.

Legs Up And Laughing will be available in the UK in October. And in the US?... well, I don't know. Ask your bookshop! It's published by Murdoch Books and it's a Pier 9 imprint.
And it has a pretty cover!

And finally, if you are from that Corner Of The Blogging World I talked about before, (and further afield too, the theatre people and the political people and the writerly people) then I want to let you know that at the end of my book, on the acknowledgements page is this:


To all those who read and commented and supported me on my blog “L’Eggs Up And Laughing”, throughout the events of this book. You shared my grief as well as my joy. You made me feel part of a community who knew exactly how I felt. You kept me writing.

Back Soon (honest)

Your Very Own OvaGirl...

Vanessa xxx

Friday, August 03, 2007

Speak My Language

I’m glad I don’t understand One Yr Old Speak because as I write this my ears would be scorching, nay, scalding, nay, dripping red hot molten flaps of ear flesh.

According to the Screaming Tomato, Mama is variously a pppptttaka! and a bubababagh! And also, I am ashamed to say, a mmmmmmemmmmgh.

It seems that “sleepytime” at 11am is a completely rubbish idea.