Sunday, March 30, 2008

One bright morning

Last week the unthinkable happened.

Fifteen minutes before it was time to take Tricky to homecare he insisted on me picking him up so he could rest his head upon my shoulder. Three seconds later he threw up his porridge and milk all over my back.

I turned him around and he continued to vomit in great Exorcist like streams over both of us. We were far enough away from the couch and the desks and it seemed pointless to move anywhere until he was finished so I just watched as he sprayed the floor, my jeans and Spot Goes To The Park with fragrant white chunks.

That left me with ten minutes to completely change both of us, brush his teeth and sponge the vomit off the floor. I felt slightly nostalgic as I swapped away with the paper towels. Tricky's not a big spewer as a toddler so I couldn't help but think back to those early breastfeeding days of "possetting" and too much jiggling in the air.

Sadly, Spot was stuffed.

Tricky seemed quite cheerful and even complained of being hungry once he was finished, which was a relief because my big fear was that he would otherwise be deemed too sick for homecare. I didn’t feel brave enough to lie to his carer and anyway there was a slight acrid smell hanging around his little body, probably because when I took off his tee shirt I inadvertently rubbed vomit through his hair. I tried to comb it out as best I could and then I put his hat over the top. By the time she took it off, I reasoned, I would be long gone.

As we prepared to rush out the door I realised I could still smell vomit, was it in my hair too? After all, he had been resting his head on my shoulder when he started.

No, my hair seemed fine. Not washed or in any way groomed of course but adequate for dropping off baby and also Naughty Nephews at school opposite. I know not what possessed me but some sixth sense made me feel the back of my neck which is when I discovered the semi hardened oat and sour milk crust. Thus I was able to happily walk the nephews through their school, secure in the knowledge that other parents wouldn't think I had misplaced my facepack.

As it turned out, Tricky was fine, the carer was unphased and even gave him food throughout the day which all stayed down.

And because I suspected the place would stink of spew when I got home and put me off having breakfast, I took myself to a cafe instead and had some very nice mushrooms and spinach on toast. For some reason though, I couldn't bring myself to eat the parmesan cheese.

Quite a good morning really.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Letter To A 20 Month Old Adventurer

My darling Tricky

This month’s Big Event is the entrance of childcare.

It happened on the day you turned 20 months. This coincided with the entrance of the new job and the exit of my last vestiges of sanity. Prior to this moment I had become the archetypal feminist cartoon cliché: trying to conduct phone calls to script producers with you hanging like a dead weight from my trouser legs. Or sitting down to type only to have your chubby hands creeping over the laptop keys and attempting to activate Hooray For Fish or Wigglemania.
Sitting on the couch to research, say, the advent of terrorism in South East Asia or the firing range of the crossbow (again with the crossbow) became an exercise in negotiation: one chapter on Jema*h Islamiah for a spirited rendition of Green Eggs And H*m, three news articles on various arrow related homicides for every Mr Man book we own.

(That’s Mr Bump, Mr Happy, Mr Sneeze, Mr Tickle, Mr Grumpy and Mr Ask Your Sodding Father. )

But then, like a feather on the breath of God, an ad for a vacancy in a home childcare place came up, via your Aunty N and her multitude of child related contacts, and so we called, we visited, we loved the mature, maternal calming energy of the carer, AND THEN WE LEFT YOU.

It wasn’t intentional, we hadn’t planned to start the childcare thing right then and there. But you were playing so happily with the spiral ball tower and climbing on the moulded plastic slide with the rounded edges and the soft faux-grass landing pad and then the carer, R , casually mentioned that we could start that very day if we wanted to and I started to say no no, we’ll start tomorrow but the words disappeared from my mouth and I just gulped and said ok.

Your father and I kissed you goodbye and you seemed almost annoyed that we disturbed your intense posting of balls into spiral towers. You didn’t even look at us, just presented your face to be kissed and got back to it. Bye bye we said. See you soon. Then we walked out of the gate and I took two steps and dissolved into tears (but silent tears because I didn’t want you to hear me cry). And I wept all the way to the car and all the way to the cafĂ© where C took me (who was also sad but, you know, not in a waterfall of snot and tears kind of way) and then I saw that the chocolate croissants were very fine looking indeed and so I stopped crying and just felt sad inside.

Your waking hours are coming unstuck and I think this is as a direct result of the change in your life, regular 6.30 starts have become horrifying 5.30 ones, but as my friend H with her poor sleep addled two and a half year old said grimly to me: Welcome to my world.

Can I tell you, without a hint of exaggeration, that you are becoming a million times more adorable as each day goes by. Your little grins, your chitter chat in the back of the car, your grave attempts to sing along with the Wiggles, your current deep love for bellybuttons. Anybody’s. Any time.

Your father has taken you to the beach several afternoons and brings you home wrapped in a hooded towel looking like some sort of druid, albeit a tiny one who worships dolphins and also rockpools but abhors clumps of seaweed as the mark of evil.

And your cuddles are real cuddles, and your kisses are wet slops on our cheeks with the accompanying mah! sound and your smiles, especially when you run towards us crying Mummy or Daddy with your arms open wide, make our hearts nearly burst with joy.

That first day at your new childcare went beautifully and when we picked you up in the afternoon you were so happy to see us.

And then the next morning your father took you back to R’s and you were happy once again to play with the spiral ball tower but only if you could see your father out of the corner of your eye. And when he’d finished chatting to R and all the other parents and said “alright Tricky, it’s time for me to go,” you dropped the ball and grabbed his hand and said brightly to R: “Bye bye.”

“Oh dear,” said your father. “No, I’m saying bye bye and you’re staying here.”

Bye bye Daddy. Hello Screaming Tomato.

C could hear you scream almost back to the car. I am very glad that at that moment I was at home tippy tapping on the computer and I suspect that right then and there may have been C’s snot and tear moment.

When he got home he rang R to see how you were and lo, you were fine. R gave you half a banana and the tears stopped at once. She noted that you “respond well to food.” Just like your mother.

And the third day shone bright and fair and your father took you to R’s again and your screams followed him back down the street and again half a banana did the trick and so begins this new phase of life.

It’s scary and confronting and exhilarating and that’s just for your parents. For you, there is a whole new world, away from us, one that can only be described or reported to us, one that we won’t share.

And as time goes on, that world will get bigger, with kindy and school and friends. And puberty and adulthood.

And the world that was once all our world, you, me, your father; our solid little world of three, of milk and sleep and songs and stories, will shrink and become smaller and smaller and eventually be gone. And while I'm excited about everything else, that realisation makes me sad inside.

And no pastries or half bananas can change that.

love love love

Your very own

Thursday, March 13, 2008

all this and more

Sydney is particularly beautiful at the change of season and, despite climate change and still cheering government change and not forgetting the spare change I gave to the man with no fingers playing a harmonica in the middle of the footpath, this morning was no exception.

I am in a strange place right now; Tricky getting older and more independent and, well, tricky (but in a good way) and last week the getting of a new job (or jobette as I think of them because being a feckless artiste one rarely gets a proper long term job) and somewhere floating in the back of my mind a wee frozen speck of life waiting for C and I to give the word for the Great Defrosting.

Dr Lovely Accent said that when I was ready I should just call the House Of Groovy IVF Love and activate my cycle. In my mind I envisage a posse of sleeper fertility sisters, syringes poised, reclining in a semi darkened room waiting for the red light to flash. But the truth is, I could have activated them on that day. Instead I told Dr Lovely Accent that it was too soon, that I’d have to wait and check my diary etc and then we could decide. I expect he thought I was a dickhead but he said that was fine and to let him know.

Check my diary? For god’s sake. Why not order hair colour and shoe size while I was at it.

The thing is, it’s not the diary that’s ill prepared for this, it’s me. I want to have another baby and I want that frozen embryo to be it but at the same time I’m only now starting to feel like my body has come back to me, my mind is firming up again. We sleep more. Tricky wakes anytime from 6am (and, very rarely, earlier) and it’s all go from then but he’s usually asleep from 7.30 pm. It’s working. There’s a system. And now I’m about to go and fuck with the system. But this year I turn 40. And if frozen embryo turns up its frozen cells that will be toes and we go for another egg retrieval then… well...time’s ticking. Is all's I'm saying.

One of the outcomes of this jobette is that some sort of consistent childcare for Tricky has become imperative. At the moment we get by with a sort of half and half approach, both C and I are working from home at the moment (but C will be back working in the country after Easter) and we’ve been able to juggle meetings, reports, scripts and budgets around Tricky’s needs. But it’s not going to be enough. And apparently quality childcare isn’t sitting your toddler in front of the spare laptop to watch endless reruns of Hairy McClary on dvd. Who then, and where and how much?

So, all this and more swirling through my mind when we took Tricky out this morning, both of us because C’s just rooted his back and can’t pick Tricky up at the moment. We grabbed a couple of coffees (yes, even me, evil temptation that is caffeine) and pastries and strolled to an inner-city park so that Tricky could expend some energy on the swings and slides.

We had to make do with the swings, at least for a while, because a couple of junkies-in-love were entwined below the slippery dip, shooting up and scratching at each other’s back. This made me cross at first but then I thought, well, if I wanted to shoot up smack maybe I’d sit there too. It was a very pleasant spot with the trees gently swaying and the traffic humming past. Even the pigeons were an attractive white or speckly colour, not the usual rat grey. As I pushed Tricky I watched them, junkies not pigeons, hoping they would go soon. Both guy and girl were wearing neat white socks and tennis shoes, I noticed.

The script producer rang at this moment so I swapped with C and he took over swing pushing and junkie watching and I discussed crossbow homicides and Final Draft. Another toddler, and mother, appeared while I was talking. They had no problem climbing onto the slide above the junkies.

They must be from around here, I thought.

As I finished the call, both toddlers were now stomping and laughing on the slides and ramps. Quite calmly the junkies-in-love gathered together their bits and bobs in a bit of newspaper and meandered out from under the slide.

We should just check they haven’t left a needle under there, the other mother said quietly and I bent and looked under – all clean.

I straightened up and watched the junkies drifting down the lane, the guy stopping to drop his newspaper and contents neatly in a bin.

And Tricky laughed and C held his back and groaned a little and I wondered how long it would take to install Final Draft and the Other Mother talked about her local childcare centre and time ticked on.

And somewhere in the city a speck of frozen life lay waiting.

And it was still a beautiful morning.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

But I love him

What is this?
C is staring at something in his hand.
It’s the box the baby Panadol comes in, I say.
On the front of the box is a picture of a small child, a toddler in fact, dressed in an echidna costume, curled up asleep. This is just one of a number of products they make featuring pictures of children dressed as native Australian animals. Cute? You could roast them on an Aussie bbq with a couple of prawns and have them all on toast.

C looks carefully at the box again, deeply concerned.

Why I say, what do you think it is?

It’s…well it’s obviously a child
, he says. But it looks like it’s been… wrapped in the body of some sort of dead animal.

Does it now? I ask, fascinated, as ever, at the inner workings of my husband's mind. What sort of animal?
Well, he says… it could be… an echidna.
I say.
But, also, I think it could be the body of a pig.

It’s ok, I say. It is an echidna.
We have a little laugh and then I say: I can’t believe you thought it was a pig.
Yeah, right, he says. And then, seriously: But why is a child wrapped in the body of an echidna?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Three Little Pricks

Tricky had his final two vaccinations the other day.

I'd like to say it all went smoothly and calmly, but then I'd also like to say there's peace all over the world and global warming has been reversed.


Hell with extra screaming. Screaming like I have never heard before. I am talking way beyond Screaming Tomato. Screaming Tomato only applied when he couldn't actually thrash his Ridiculously Heavy Body from side to side or fling himself backwards out of my arms and certainly not when he could stiffen himself into a concrete garden gnome making it impossible to strap him into his straitjacket, I mean stroller.


We weren't even in Dr Jab's room yet. But with those high decibel shrieks and that alarming convulsive thrashing over the carpet we were hustled in very quickly. And not surprisingly the actual injections made no difference to the quality of the screaming. They continued. As did the thrashing and garden gnome impressions.

And of course the reception staff couldn't wait to throw us out onto the street.

So now there's me lugging an enormous baby bag, my handbag, a completely useless stroller and an insanely screaming toddler who's almost frothing at the mouth by this stage. I couldn't even put him down to load all the bags into the stroller.

As I stood there helplessly on the footpath, cursing C for having brought Tricky home late from the beach therefore he went down late for his nap therefore he was wrenched from his sleep early to make the doctor's appointment therefore he had transformed into evil monster baby and I had lost at least ten years off my life expectancy, a vision suddenly appeared before me.

She was thin. She was beautiful. She too had known the horrors of trying to manhandle an unwieldy toddler. Elizabeth Hurley gazed at me with her sympathetic come-hither eyes and brandished her Magnum.

Yes, I thought to myself. What else will shut him up and cool him down at the same time?

I pushed past the Liz cutout and into the seven 11, snatched up a little tub of vanilla icecream and paid with shaking hands.

Do you have a spoon? I asked the man behind the counter. He frowned a little but eventually managed to come up with a paddlepop stick.

Through all this Tricky kept screaming and thrashing and finally it was all I could do to sink to the linoleum in front of the ready made ham sandwiches and start shovelling the ice cream in. And miraculously it worked but only while the icecream was in his mouth. If I dared to stop and say, gather my bags together, or move the stroller out of the way of the English backpackers humming and ha-ing over which ham sandwich they should buy, then the screaming would start again.

At one point I thought to myself that the only other person I knew who had spent as much time on the floor as this was my friend George who went down to his local seven 11 to get some milk and ended up in an armed robbery.

The other prick of the week was yesterday when I went in to have a blood test for... well for all that shit you have to have when you're going to start IVF again.

Yes...we've got the fairy floss, we bought the Cheese On A Stick, we're clutching our tickets in our hot little hands. Back on the Great Big Fertility Ride we go.

It's not the same of course, different doctors for starters. We're going with Dr Lovely Accent who did the successful transfer that led to Tricky. And, at this point anyway, it looks like we won't be using the Chinese Fertility Goddess with her myriad of ghastly teas, because well basically we can't afford her. But I am off the coffee. And the wine. Almost.

We're starting with a frozen cycle, the last of our Famous Five who's been in the deep freeze for over two years. No drugs for this cycle just the usual dates with the dildocam and blood tests akimbo.

And if that fails, well we'll see.

Back on the floor of the seven 11, finally, the tub was empty, Tricky had gone for several minutes without shrieking and the red shine to his face had begun to subside.

Now was the part I feared, the sliding him back into the stroller. The English backpackers had stopped to watch, the man behind the counter had stopped to watch, and Tricky was sucking the last vestiges of icecream from his stick. Quickly I picked him up and threw him into the stroller, strapping him in even as he opened his mouth to roar.

Too late buddy, I said grimly as I loaded the bags on behind, you're in.

And off we strolled home, him shouting and kicking the whole way.

Number two? Bring it on.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Exciting parent/child tug of war now with recognisable word!

Domestic incident reported at House of OvaGirl, 1400 hours. Perpetrator is a small brown toddler with extremely cute nose. Incident took the form of an argument between SBT and mother. Mother’s statement follows:

"We had such a good morning, he ate biscuits, toast and avocado and he picked up handfuls of pebbles and threw them onto the courtyard where other customers were eating. And then he played with Claudia on the swings and with George on the slippery dip. And then we came home and he had a sleep and when he woke up the trouble started.

I asked if he wanted his lunch and he seemed agreeable to the idea and then I suggested he might like a sandwich and he said Beans.

I said no, not beans, we had baked beans yesterday and I think it would be best to have a sandwich, or if not possibly some scrambled eggs.

He said Beans, again, immediately, and I felt, well to be honest, threatened. It wasn’t what he said, it was the tone he used. So I just said Sandwich, you know, to call his bluff, and he said straightaway Beans! and this time there was definitely a threatening tone and I got annoyed and I said Sandwich! just that bit louder and he yelled BEANS!

And now he sort of stamped his feet and I said Sandwich!

And he shouted BEANS about three times, BEANS BEANS BEANS and then he rolled about on the floor and screamed and his face turned red and I said calmly that he better watch out because if the wind changes his face would stay like that and he just screamed BEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAANS! BEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAANNS!

No I didn’t respond to this, I don’t think it’s helpful. I mean, I'm the adult here, not him, I'm the one with the control in this situation. I just let him scream away and very calmly and firmly got his lunch ready.

And I think all that rolling and shouting really worked up an appetite because he sat properly in his chair and ate quite nicely and obviously enjoyed his baked beans very much."