Monday, 14 December 2009

Being on a strict diet during the festive season.

My low salt diet is a tricky one during this festive season.  I went to a second birthday party on Saturday and the only thing I could eat there was fruit.  Of course there was plenty of food available - chips, sausages, bread, cakes, biscuits, salads with dressings - all too high in salt.  I now have to prepare my own food to take with me to parties or eat before I go.  It is tough seeing all that yummy looking food and knowing that I can't have a single bite.  However, I can't ask people to cater just for me and I'd much rather do without any of those foods than have a vertigo attack. 

But it is annoying having to prepare my own food for every occasion.

First Words.

I caught our cat in Maya's room, where she is not allowed to go, and yelled "Out Out" at her. Now whenever Maya sees the cat she chases her yelling "Oot Oot". Poor cat.

I've been teaching Maya the names of body parts. I taught her the word eye recently by pointing to my own eye. Now Maya will poke me in the eye saying "aye aye". :-|

I'm amazed at just how much Maya can understand now. Her vocabulary is still very small, but she can definitely understand what people are saying to her.  If I say "It's dinner time Maya" she will go to her high chair. I say "milk" and she heads to the fridge. I love this new understanding between us, although we do both still get frustrated when we don't always understand each other.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The stages of walking.

Maya has been 'walking' for a long
time now.  She cruises the furniture.
There was a short time when she walked holding on to a walker, but she kept getting frustrated whenever she bumped into something and then totally refused to use it any more.

Instead she walks holding on to someone's hands and last week my mother in law managed to get Maya
to walk holding on with only one
hand.  (Thanks Trish :)

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The lasting effects of Meniere's Disease.

Due to Meniere's Disease both my hearing and balance are permanently damaged in my affected ear.  I am lucky so far to only have this disease in one ear (there is a 50% chance I will one day develop it in my other ear).  My 'good' ear has taken over my hearing now and in most normal day to day activities I am able to participate in conversations and hear sounds around me, so you wouldn't notice that I am quite deaf in my left ear.  However, in some noisy environments I will struggle to hear someone talking to me if they are facing my 'bad' ear.  For instance walking down a busy street with someone on my left makes it almost impossible for me to hear what they are saying with traffic noise steadily on my right side.

This year with my many repeated attacks my hearing has worsened in my left ear.  The attacks have also made the balance damage on my left side a lot worse.  To be upright and walk my right side must have taken over.  (It's amazing how the brain can relearn and then compensate for damage.)  However, the balance damage leaves me feeling like I am moving sometimes, when in fact I am completely still (like getting off a boat and maintaining your sea legs).  It can be very unpleasant and often I am assessing whether I am actually moving or not by scanning my surroundings.

There was a period of a couple of weeks where I felt like I was moving almost non-stop (after going through some very awful balance tests, which I do not recommend at all - unnecessary and unneeded).  I was scared that I was going to remain in motion for the rest of my life.  Some Meniere's Disease suffers (usually those with MD in both ears) remain in constant motion.  Can you imagine that?  Feeling like you are constantly swaying nearly every minute of the day, whether you are moving or not.  A couple of weeks of it was enough for me.  And I felt motion sick with the constant movement.  I am so glad it resettled again and now I am back to occasionally feeling like I am in motion.  This happened to me when I was first diagnosed too and it did eventually cease altogether.  So I am hoping if the vertigo attacks continue to stay away maybe I will once again regain control of my balance.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Maya understands words.

Maya says 'Mum'.

Finally at 13 months Maya can say "Mum". :)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Maya stands up.

I choose to rejoice in my child's achievements.

When I announced recently that Maya had finally said 'Mum' for the very first time (something I have been waiting for since other babies seem to have mastered this word a very long time ago) a friend and fellow parent said "You will start to regret she can say Mum, when she gets old enough to whinge."

When I told someone that I cannot wait for Maya to start talking so that she can actually tell me what's wrong or what she wants, a friend and fellow parent said "You will regret when she starts talking because she will then talk back to you."

And a few people I've mentioned to that I am looking forward to Maya learning to walk have told me "Oh but then you'll have to run after her all day". I also got this same comment when Maya learnt to crawl for this first time.

Seriously what's up with the negative replies? And I can't believe that some of these comments are from parents.

First of all, every stage is going to have positives and negatives. Every stage! I know that but I would like to focus on the positives.

Yeah sure when Maya was a newborn she lay still and I didn't have to run after her, she slept longer hours and she didn't talk back to me. But I don't miss the newborn stage AT ALL. I don't miss the utter lack of sleep, being woken several times at night, all the crying that newborns do and constantly trying to guess what was wrong. I was happy when Maya started sleeping more at night and when she was able to sit and then crawl. She was then able to occupy herself more and was much happier.

I also love that Maya can express herself a bit more through pointing and grunting. I don't always understand what she wants but sometimes I do get it right. Which is why I do actually want my little girl to talk one day so she can tell me when her tummy is sore or say "Mum I want some milk", rather than me guessing all the time. Sure I probably won't enjoy hearing "Mum you're a poopy head" but I reckon it's better than the tears or screams of frustration as she desperately tries to communicate her wants and needs. And how about the heart-warming words of "I love you Mum". I reckon they'll be pretty special words to hear.

I also want to see her walking. At the moment Maya loves walking and it's all she wants to do all day. However, she cannot walk on her own. She needs someone to hold her hands. And who's the person who spends most of their time with Maya. Yes me. So I spend a lot of time bent over helping her to walk, which leads to a sore back. I can't wait for her to walk on her own so that I can save my back.

Secondly, I am a parent who actually wants to see her child succeed and develop. Yes sure, as I already said, each stage brings negative things but she needs to go through each stage in order to progress and develop. She needs to learn to talk. She needs to learn to walk. And I choose to rejoice in her achievements and deal with the new challenges they bring.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

My new diet.

To help combat Meniere's Disease I am now on a strict no caffeine, no alcohol and low salt diet. The no caffeine includes no chocolate but I just cannot stick to that one. As for the low salt I am sure it probably doesn't sound that bad does it? Just gotta avoid chips and don't add salt to your food. I wish. No I now have to read every label of everything very carefully to make sure it meets the low salt standard of 120mg or less per 100g. So what does that rule out:
  • Bread and bread products like rolls, buns, muffins, crumpets, piklets, apple scrolls, etc (Bread is actually very high in salt. Lucky for me there are a couple of companies that do make a low salt bread alternative, however only one of them is edible and for a while they stopped making it altogether because not enough people wanted low salt bread. That still rules out being able to have rolls, buns, apple scrolls, etc);

  • Breakfast cereals (Most breakfast cereals are high in salt. There are a couple of low salt alternatives.);

  • Cheese!! (Cheese is extremely high in salt. Yes, all cheese.);

  • Asian cooking sauces like soya sauce, oyster sauce, etc;

  • Cakes (Self raising flour is very high in salt - so anything with self raising flour is out);

  • Convenient cooking sauces like pasta sauce (Everything now has to be made from scratch); and

  • What I miss most of all... take away & restaurant food! (I have thought of ONE take away possible - fish and chips because it is cooked from scratch and you can ask for no salt to be added. However, I cannot think of a single other possibility. I really miss having take away food as an option. It means no time out from cooking. If anyone can think of any other take away or restaurant options I'd love to hear them.)
Plus of course many other manufactured foods are high in salt while fresh foods like fruit and vegetables are low in salt. So my diet is much healthier than it even has been - eating plenty of fresh fruit and veges and making food from scratch with fresh, natural ingredients. Plus best of all.. it doesn't rule out one of my favourite foods - ice cream!

The truth is most people's diets are way too high in salt. High salt can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and other health related problems. Sticking to a low salt diet seems to prevent the vertigo from Meniere's Disease from occurring for the majority of suffers. Doctors believe the reason is that Meniere's Disease is caused by fluid retention in the inner ear and high salt in a diet leads to fluid retention.

I don't really care why sticking to my diet stops the vertigo. If it works it's worth sticking with in my opinion. It's just a tricky diet to get used to. Salt is in nearly everything we eat. Even low salt alternatives are generally too high in salt. The low salt diet isn't catered to by manufacturers. So until they do I guess I'll be cooking from scratch - but health wise that's not a bad thing.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Basic needs.

The other thing about being chronically ill is that you realise not only just how important good health is but also how unimportant a lot of things in life are. Suddenly things I used to worry and stress about seem like such a waste of time.

As long as you have your health plus some basic needs like food, water, shelter, family and friends met, then what else matters. What does it matter if you are bigger than you'd like to be, smaller than you'd like to be, have a giant pimple on your nose, had a bad day at work, didn't get the job you wanted, scratched the car, can't afford the TV you want, etc etc.

Of course it's easier said than done and once basic needs are met people create new needs and wants and then feel bad when they are not met. Again I'm sure once time has passed after a long run of good health I may forget to appreciate the simple things in life and once again create new needs and wants. But I'd like to think maybe this disease has changed my perspective on life and that all that really matters is that me, my family and friends are all healthy and that we can afford our food, water and shelter.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Thanks for the well.

One thing about being so chronically ill is that I really notice and appreciate the periods I feel well. Health is something people (including me normally) take for granted but in reality it is such a gift. We never know when poor health will strike. Did you appreciate or notice the fact that you felt well today?

Of course as soon as I have a good run of good health I will probably go back to not noticing that I am well, but I really hope it is something I continue to notice and appreciate.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Please donate to the Meniere's Research Fund.

Meniere's Disease has no known cause and no known cure. It is a debilitating, cruel disease consisting of:
  • Periodic episodes of vertigo (that are severe, incapacitating, and unpredictable)
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus (constant ringing in the ear/s)
  • A sensation of fullness or pressure in the ear
Meniere's Disease also permanently damages the balance mechanism of the inner ear, making people feel like they are moving even when they are completely still.

There is no treatment that works for everyone with Meniere's Disease. People are either able to manage it or they are not.

There is research currently taking place via The Medical Foundation at the University of Sydney (called the Meniere's Research Fund) to finally find the cause and then hopefully find the cure.

Please consider a donation to this cause. Any amount helps and donations over $2 are tax deductible.

To Donate

(PLEASE NOTE: you need to specify that the donation is for the Meniere's Research Fund to ensure that the money goes to this cause):
  1. ONLINE - Go to: https://www.alumniandfriends. asp Then in the Donation Information section under Purpose select "The Medical Foundation" and then add "Meniere's Research Fund" in the "Other details" box below and this will ensure it gets to the Meniere's Research Fund.

  2. PHONE - (02) 9351 7315 Please note that you need to specify that the donation is for the Meniere's Research Fund to ensure it gets to that fund.

  3. MAIL - Print out this form http://www. nswmsg/donation.htm , fill it in and post it in.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Ménière's Disease - Get me off this ride!

Seven years ago my left ear 'blocked' and I couldn't hear anything out of it. It drove me crazy. I went from GP to GP to GP and kept getting told that it was a virus and would go away. I was prescribed medications to relieve mucous congestion in my nasal and ear passages. Nothing worked.

Then one night, three months after my ear had blocked, I suddenly felt very 'odd'. Something was wrong. I felt like any slight movements made by me were magnified. I made it to the couch and then it happened - my world started spinning out of control. Like being on a fast roller-coaster ride stuck on a downwards path. I couldn't get off. I couldn't stop it. I couldn't speak. I couldn't move - any tiny movement, like moving my head 1cm, felt much, much bigger as though my head were actually doing a 360 degree spin on it's axis. Then the relentless vomiting started. No breaks. Vomit. Vomit. Vomit. I was in hell. How do I stop this ride?? Get me off!

Hours later a doctor arrived. An injection given to stop the spinning and vomiting and after half an hour I fell into a very deep sleep. I was wrecked for days afterwards.

Doctors then told me that I must have labryithtitis (virus in my ear). Seriously?? For three months!! Finally I saw a specialist and after some tests I was finally diagnosed with something that fit - Ménière's Disease. I was told - nothing you can do about that, no cure, no solution, no help. "Good luck with that".

I started a drug that does help some people, changed my diet and saw an osteopath and my ear finally drained after being blocked for 7 months. I could hear again!! I kept my diet for a long time, kept with the medication and my ear was fine. I was fine. Maybe I could beat this after all? I lived a full life again. Travel, work, slowly went off my diet and enjoyed a full life thinking I was fine.

Then towards the end of pregnancy last year my ear blocked again! A couple of times I woke spinning and had to call Greg home. I was scared about being on my own with our child in my belly - unable to eat, get up, do anything. Thankfully they weren't too bad and didn't last long. After Maya was born I had another couple of vertigo attacks. Again thankfully they weren't too bad and didn't last too long. Mostly I was OK. I felt fine - except for being unable to hear properly! I saw a specialist again and was told I couldn't take any drugs while breast feeding. Breast feeding Maya was so important to me. I was fine. I could manage. I would feed until she was 12 months and then start my medications again.

When Maya was 10 1/2 months old I drove home from mother's group, parked the car, got out, started walking around to get Maya out and realised something was very wrong. I couldn't walk. I was spinning. I collapsed. My phone was in the car. My BABY was in the car. My BABY was now crying in the car. I couldn't get up. I couldn't comfort her. Not only was I stuck back on that horrible roller-coaster ride from hell but my heart bled for my baby girl for whom I could do nothing for. Luckily my neighbours heard my cries for help and called Greg and the paramedics.

Since then I have my vertigo attacks pretty much weekly. Sometimes twice in the same day. Sometimes two to three times a week. That last for an hour or so each. That leave me exhausted and sick for the rest of that day and sometimes feeling unwell for another day or two. And that come without any warning. One minute I feel OK. The next I am collapsed on the ground in a world of spin.

I can no longer look after Maya with the same confidence I once had. I can no longer go outside the house on my own. How can I when I have no idea when an attack will strike? What happens if I have an attack while holding her? What happens if we are out on a walk together? I certainly cannot drive anywhere for fear of having an attack in the car and crashing. And some days I am too ill to look after her.

My mother comes over practically every day now. Some days to look after Maya. Some days because I am scared of being on my own with Maya now. Greg also takes days off to look after me and Maya and to drive me to all kinds of appointments. So far nothing is working and I have no idea if/when it ever will get better. I am doing all the same things as I did 7 years ago, that worked back then, but right now there is no change in my condition. So how do I beat this disease this time? I have no idea. My disease has progressed now and it is much worse than it was before. It is a disease I realise that will be with me for life - sometimes in remission, sometimes in action.

Vertigo is such a debilitating, humiliating, vulnerable, uncontrollable, awful position to be in - unable to walk, talk, move and stuck on a ride I cannot get off of for an hour or more. And I cannot stop the attacks from happening. I have no idea what life now has in store for me. Can I go back to work next year as planned? Will I ever be able to have another child? Will I be able to have a normal life again? Will I ever get better? Will my life keep coming back here over and over again?

I have to hope that things will get better and hopefully they will get better soon. But understandly this is an extremely difficult time for me frought with worries, suffering and feeling like I am less than I was. I want to be the active person I was before. I want to be able to leave the house without freaking out that I might start spinning. I want to be able to go to work again. I want to be active in Maya's life - walks, outings, play. I don't want to be a burden on people. I want my life back.

Get me off this ride!

Influences - Part Deux

Further to my thoughts on influences (previous post) - I've been wondering how much does ones own upbringing influence ones own parenting? And if a same sex parent has a greater influence on their same sex child/ren then ones own relationship with their same sex parent may have a greater influence on their parenting?

What I mean is has my upbringing and relationship with my mother had a greater impact on my mothering relationship with my child than my relationship with my father?

Of course people will see both "good" and "bad" parts of any relationships and try to emulate the "good" and change the "bad".

I'm sure there is a whole part of psychology I could go and read about all of this. If only I had the time.

Saturday, 31 October 2009


I was having a discussion with a friend yesterday, which got me wondering if parents of same sex babies worry more for that child/ren due to the fact that they can identify more with that particular sex. Obviously being the parent of only one child (girl) I cannot say whether it is true or not but I realised that being a woman I do know for instance that many women worry (unrealistically) about their weight. I really hope that Maya will be happy in her own skin no matter what size or shape she is. All that matters is that she is healthy. So if she's overweight then that is a problem, but if she is healthily shaped and sized and thinks she's overweight then that is also a problem.

As a woman I have been worried about my weight at times. I have days where I think I am fat and after having Maya my body has changed in a way I am not all that happy with at the moment. I am so conscious of the fact that I don't want to pass these bad habits on to Maya. Realistically I can see that I am of normal weight for my height and though I have some extra bulges that weren't there pre-pregnancy I am a healthy weight.

How do I go about raising a daughter to be comfortable with who she is? I think it starts with me being comfortable with who I am and it does feel like I could be more of an influence in some ways on Maya than her father can. At the same time I am very aware that a father is extremely important to a daughter and also influences how she feels about herself. But is a mother a bigger influence on female mannerisms than a father? In the same way a father might be a bigger influence on male mannerisms than a mother?

So as the mother of a daughter do I have to be more mindful of how I behave, talk and act around my daughter in terms of my femininity than I would if I had a son?

Just something I'm currently thinking about.

Returning to work after maternity/paternity leave.

I didn't realise until recently that it is the exception, not the norm, for businesses to offer returning mothers part time work. I know that there is no requirement for businesses to offer part time work but I thought in this day and age it would be common place. Instead a couple of the mothers from my mothers group have quit their jobs because they were told that they had to return to full time work. So instead of the business valuing their employee and the expertise they hold they would rather invest money into employing (and training) someone full time.

I never realised just how lucky I am to a) receive any paid maternity leave at all and b) have the option to return part time (with as many or as little hours of my choosing). Really I believe that there should be paid maternity leave for at least 13 months (means tested and available to either parent) and an option for that parent to return on a part time basis. Why 13 months paid leave? Because that gives the mother time one month prior to birth and the ability for either parent to stay home until a child is one year old. Yes, either parent should have the opportunity to stay home with their child in his/her first year. I have known dads who have chosen to be the primary caregiver. One who was much older and had had his career already while his wife was just starting out. Another whose wife earned a lot more than he and valued her career more highly than he valued his. These are parents who value a parent staying home to raise their child and have planned and organised accordingly.

I read somewhere that in 2011 there will be a paid maternity leave scheme introduced in Australia but for a total of 18 weeks only. This is still behind some other countries which offer at least 12 months paid leave. I realise that the money will have to come from tax payers but at the moment the government supports a paid child care scheme to help parents return to work, which parents can access when their baby is just 6 weeks old. Why not instead put this money into supporting parents to stay at home for the first year of their child's life?

I'm not saying that the primary caregiver needs to stay home forever or until a child is in school - just for the first (most important) year of the child's life. In fact I think at some point a parent needs to return to the work force to keep a toe in their previous career (especially when looking at my mother's generation who stayed home till children were well into school and then couldn't return to their previous careers because of too many advances in the work force). A return to the work force can also give the care taker time out and more time with adults.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Maya's First Birthday Party.

I decided to have a first birthday party for Maya.. well for me really because she has no idea about birthdays or parties. I wanted to celebrate Maya's first year of life and the fact that we'd survived it. Not that I didn't think we'd survive it.. well mostly. :)

My little girl.

As mentioned in a previous post Maya is small for her age. At birth she was a big baby at the top of the percentile chart for height, weight and length. However, from there she has never really grown much and at the age of 12 months she is the size of an average 6 month old. This has caused me anguish at times wondering if I am starving her or if there is something wrong with her. Developmentally she is where she should be, she is happy and she is rarely ill. Looking at her, without charts or other babies to compare to, I know she is OK. But there has always been a doubt in my mind - what if there is something wrong?

Last week I took Maya to a paediatrician who said he was worried about her and ran many tests. While I hated the idea of putting Maya through tests, I had to know finally. I had to know if she was OK.

The results came back - she is a perfectly healthy girl. She is getting the right amount of food, the right nutritional balance and doesn't have any obvious medical conditions. She is just small. Maybe she's meant to be small? Maybe she'll have a growth spurt later in life? Maybe I should just stop comparing her to other babies and charts.

What a relief though to know that she is OK. :)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Happy First Birthday Maya.

A year ago today I got up after barely sleeping - anxious and excited about what lay ahead. Your dad and I went to the hospital and took this last photo of pregnant me.

Then it was off to the theatre. I got a glimpse of you before they whisked you away to wrap you up warmly. Was that my baby I wondered? Then they brought you back and placed you on my chest. I stared at you. A stranger to me. Your dad whispered "Maya". Yes she was Maya.

They took you away with your father and I went to recovery. Every part of my being wanted to rush to your side. It was then that I knew that I loved you more than anything in the world.

It has certainly been a roller coaster ride my dear Maya. Those sleepless nights and seemingly endless crying. At times I thought they would never end and I would forever be a walking zombie. But all the time I loved you no matter what you did.

There was a huge learning curve for both you and I. I had to learn how to take care of you. You had to learn how to exist in the world. Before my eyes you started to grow and develop and you learnt more and more things all the time. Your personality developed too. A smiling, happy girl eager to explore her surroundings. I have loved watching you grow, learn and develop, while at the same time I have wished that I could hang on to this time for a little longer. The time really does go too quickly.

I love your hugs. I love your wet, sloppy kisses. I love your laugh. I love your smile.

I love you my darling daughter forever and always.

My life is better with you in it.

Happy FIRST Birthday from your Mum. xx

Wishing you a long, happy, fulfilling, healthy life. xx

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Suddenly it seems like Maya is learning at a rapid pace and she is able to pick up new concepts very quickly. Then I realised that it's actually one very important skill that she has mastered - the skill of copying. I'm not exactly sure at what point she mastered this skill but she is able to watch someone do something and then repeat it (as long as it's not too complicated). This makes it feel like she's learning many new concepts at once, when in fact she is using one very important skill over and over again. Of course she is still learning by copying, but what a huge leap that particular skill gives her.

Over the last couple of weeks she has learnt to pick up things and look under them, to put things inside other things, to stand, to take steps, to empty things, to pass an object to someone and ask for it back, to dance to music, to place items on her head, to create her own shakers, to empty containers and my favourite to 'talk' on a toy telephone. Plus lots more.

With the toy phone she turns the dial, picks up the receiver, puts it near her ear and talks. How cute is that! And even funnier that a) she has no idea what a telephone actually is and b) her toy telephone is nothing like modern phones and she will never see a real phone that looks like her toy one.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Preparation for parenthood.

I have quite a few pregnant friends and friends with babies and I am extremely surprised by the lack of planning done by the majority of them before pregnancy and baby. I do think that no amount of preparation could have actually prepared me for the reality (and I did say something to that effect here). However, months before even trying for a baby I went to the doctor for a check up and chat. She gave me information and a full check up so that I knew my body was in peak condition for pregnancy. I then went and bought a book on pregnancy, birth and newborns and read it. I also talked to people with babies, read parenthood blogs and observed parents - friends and general public. I made sure our health care was up to date. I researched hospitals. I asked questions. I looked at my maternity leave scheme at work. And most of all Greg and I talked and talked about what it would be like and how we would organise things. And then we started trying for a baby.

I remember being heavily pregnant and doing the hospital course on how to take care of a newborn. We were given a worst case scenario (which is by all means possible) where baby is waking every two hours to feed and feeds for an hour. That would mean the baby is feeding for twelve hours a day, leaving twelve hours of 'free' time. We had to discuss with our partner how we would mange this situation. Greg and I immediately discussed how I would just try and sleep every single hour I had. I knew it would be exhausting and getting all that unbroken sleep would be hell. Then we had to discuss our plans with another couple. The other couple had come up with a daily plan - at this time the mother would do the grocery shopping, at this time she would do the washing and hang it at this time and here is where she would prepare and cook dinner. Seriously, WTF were they thinking? When was the mother supposed to sleep? Greg and I were both surprised that they seemed to have no concept ofwhat it would be actually like.

As I've said parenthood was actually much, much harder than I could have possibly imagined and nothing really could have prepared me for what it was like. Thinking about surviving on lack of sleep is different to actually trying to survive on not enough sleep.

However, my point is that we did try and prepare as much as we possibly could. We did try and put ourselves into the shoes of parents of newborns and imagine the hardships. We did plan for me to sleep any chance I got and for me to leave the housework. We planned for Greg to take over a lot of housework and discusssed what roles Greg would take with the baby - like he would change all nappies and settle baby to sleep when he was home and he would take the baby out for walks to give me a break. My point is we actually talked about these things BEFORE I was even pregnant.

Other things in life require preparation and planning before hand (going on a holiday, studying, starting a new career). So why is there a lack of planning before parenthood? Perhaps an attitude of so many people have done it before? Or maybe a fear? Or a belief that you cannot plan? It just surprises me that with something so important as bringing a whole new life into this world there isn't enough forethought and often very unrealistic expectations by the parents-to-be.

Maternity Leave.

In Australia workplaces must offer twelve months of maternity leave. However, there is no requirement to pay their employees during this time nor is there a paid maternity leave scheme set up by the government. I was extremely lucky to receive fourteen weeks of full pay from my employer when entering maternity leave. Most employers offer nothing.

The thing is, providing the fourteen weeks of paid leave (six weeks before birth and eight weeks after birth) sets women up for the expectation that they should (and should be able to) return to work within eight weeks after birth. Child care centres take babies from six weeks of age and according to a friend who works in a child care centre the number of six week olds in her centre is increasing each year. More and more young babies are being put into child care. I am unsure of the reasons. If it's a financial reason then I think the answer is to save before having a baby (these savings can then be a woman's salary) and giving up things that don't matter (like keeping up with the latest fashions and pay TV). If it's because the woman values her job and career over her child I really don't know why she would have a child.

Of course there are unplanned pregnancies and single mothers and I am not talking about those tough circumstances. I am talking about circumstances where there is a supportive partner, who has a stable steady job. Also it doesn't have to be the mother who stays home. There are many stay at home dads whose wives are the breadwinner.

In some countries it is a different story where employees are offered twelve months paid maternity leave. There are also some countries with more than twelve months paid leave. These countries obviously value having mothers stay home with their babies for at least the first year of their life.

I must admit before I left on my maternity leave I did worry about becoming financially dependent on Greg. After being financially self-sufficient for years it seemed like a vulnerable position to put myself in. I was lucky that I was eased into it with my fourteen weeks paid leave but Greg and I decided that we would live off his salary alone from the moment I started my leave and I managed to put the fourteen weeks pay away in savings. This helped twofold. Firstly I realised we could survive on his salary alone and secondly it got me used to being financially dependent on Greg.

Still I did spend the first couple of months feeling like I wasn't contributing to our household like Greg was. I guess what I was doing wasn't tangible enough. It took Greg pointing out (a few times) that I was doing a much more important job than he was - raising our child - for me to eventually see what I was doing as a valuable contribution.

I am so glad I am able to spend this precious time with my daughter. The first few months were very tough and there's no way I would have been able to combine work and being a mother anyway. Even now I still have so much work to do. Plus I wouldn't want to miss out on her first smile, first crawl, first steps... Her first year is a huge year in her life and I want to be there every step of the way. She will learn more and grow more in this year than any other year of her life. I also wanted to breast feed her and combining work and being a mother would have led to me giving up the breast feeding.

Being with my daughter, teaching her things, learning with her are much more important and valuable than money. Life is so short and time with Maya really is going so fast. I wouldn't want to look back and realise I missed out on this important, precious time with her because I valued money or work more highly.

Friday, 18 September 2009


And emptying out her toy box. One of her favourite things to do at the moment.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

First tooth and standing.

Maya finally has a TOOTH! Usually a first tooth arrives around 6 months, but her first tooth arrived at about 10 1/2 months. You can just see it in the picture below.

She has also started standing.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The end of my breast feeding journey.

Three weeks ago an old illness resurfaced in a very horrible way. I've had symptoms since the end of pregnancy but I could not take medication whilst breast feeding and breast feeding Maya was extremely important to me.

However, after the horrible experience that left me collapsed on the ground I had to make the necessary but difficult decision to cease breast feeding and commence the medication. Stopping breast feeding was a heart breaking decision for me, even though I think my health right now is more important.

People keep telling me that I have done so well to make it to 10 1/2 months. That most people stop feeding their babies by 6 months. And yes I do agree that I have done a very good job to make it to 10 1/2 months but reminding me of those things just dismisses the very real grief I have experienced.

I did not only feed my daughter breast milk because it is the best nutrition I could possibly give her. Breast feeding my daughter was a relationship. A close relationship. One which she could not have with anyone else. My body nourishing her. The closeness. The cuddles. It is the end of a type of relationship that I had with my daughter and for that I do mourn the loss.

On top of that I am still ill and hoping the medication will work. I have made life style changes (such as eating healthier, exercising, relaxation and giving up time on the computer) but I am still waiting for an improvement to my health.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ways to help parents with babies.

The other day a friend said that she'd like to help with Maya but doesn't know how. I remember before having Maya I felt the same way. I had no idea how to help people with babies. So I thought I'd write a post on things that have helped me.
  1. People bringing meals! That was a huge help. Before Maya was born I did make and freeze quite a few meals, but you can NEVER have too many meals. I am so grateful to my mother in law who filled our freezer with meals after Maya was born. With the meals I had made plus her meals plus a few meals from others plus buying take away and occasionally cooking we made it to about 3 months before having to cook dinners regularly. After a long, hard day with a baby the last thing you want to do is cook. I didn't even want Greg cooking. I wanted his help with Maya in the evenings when she was at her most unsettled. So those meals were of such a big help to us. And if you can't cook bringing take away is equally of help. A friend of mine came to visit around lunch time and brought pizzas. The extra benefit of that was - no washing up. :)

  2. Offering to do dishes, hang washing, vacuum, etc. When Maya was a newborn I didn't have the time or energy to do much housework. It was a great help when someone came round to visit and offered to help with something or asked if there was anything they could do.

  3. In the early days it helped when someone offered to buy anything we needed from the shops before popping round.

  4. Offering to play with Maya. This was a little hard at times with Maya's fear of strangers, but if Maya is OK being left with someone to play I can get other things around the house done (and this is probably more fun for the visitor than doing my housework. :)

  5. Taking Maya for a walk. I actually think this is a great way to help. Maya likes going for a walk and it doesn't matter who takes her. Then I can have some time on my own! :) And you don't need to know anything about looking after babies. No nappy changing, feeding, etc required. You just need to know how to walk and how to push a stroller while walking.

  6. Babysitting. Though you would have to feel comfortable with minding someone else's child for an extended period of time and know how to change nappies, feed, etc.
If you are a parent I'd love to know what has helped or does help you.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Maya's laugh.

It's so hard to capture Maya's laugh on video because as soon as she sees the camera she either starts posing or tries to grab the camera off me. I was finally able to capture her laugh by hiding and jumping out at her - hence the bad, jerky footage. But don't you just love her giggle. :)

Friday, 14 August 2009

Mummy hugs.

I love that a hug from me is all that is required to fix any of Maya's problems. I know that one day she will have problems that can't be fixed by a simple mummy hug. For now I enjoy the moments I can bring great comfort and relief to Maya with the warmth of my body and the comfort of my arms.

Friday, 7 August 2009

What is normal?

As someone who has worked with children I know that each child has an individual personality and unique abilities. Why is it then that children are expected to achieve and learn the same things as other children when their abilities clearly differ?

Of course there are some common things that need to be learnt in order to function in society. Like using money, understanding turn taking in conversation, dressing oneself...... But there is still a problem with this. Not all children are capable of learning these "simple" things. Some children have disabilities which prevent them from either being able to understand these concepts or they are physically unable to undertake these tasks.

Parents want their children to be "normal", but what is "normal"?? Shouldn't we be looking at each child's abilities and supporting them to achieve what they can achieve?

In spite of their abilities and disabilities I hope any children I have and may have will be encouraged by me and others to achieve realistic goals and encouraged to pursue their interests. I hope that they will not be compared to others or compared to the "norm".

I hope my children are their own unique normal - whatever that may be.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Maya sits up on her own.

Finally caught it on tape:

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Maya commando crawling...

.. with a quick taste of the floor.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Mother's guilt.

As a mother I am constantly making decisions for my baby. Of course I want the best for her and I always make decisions that I think are right for her and I. My dilemma is.. I don't know that they are right for her and so I feel guilty about some of the decisions I make.

In today's society breastfeeding is really encouraged. However, there are some mothers who cannot breast feed and I know these mothers end up feeling tremendously guilty, unsupported and failures. Even though they might have tried their absolute hardest to breast feed and it just didn't work. Even though their baby might be a lot happier on formula. These mothers still feel pangs of guilt.

Maya is nearly 9 months old and I am still breast feeding her. I am lucky that things worked well from the start and I have been able to continue this relationship going. But on the flip side I keep getting told that I should stop breast feeding and put Maya on formula. Why? Because Maya has barely put on any weight since she was born. While I watch other babies turn into big, cuddly babies, Maya is a skinny, little thing.

Despite the push from some health professionals to put her on formula I decided to stand my ground and continue breast feeding her. If I thought that breast feeding her was detrimental to her health I would stop immediately. However, I believe since it is working for us I would rather she gets the nourishment that is designed for her.

But the problem is.. I think I am doing the right thing.. only I feel guilty.. what if I'm not? What if I am putting Maya's health at risk? What if my decision to keep breast feeding her means she will be really tiny and under-nourished? The answer is .. I don't know what the answer is? I could move to formula and she may just stay tiny. Maybe that's her build. I could move to formula and she might become a big, cuddly baby. But is that just fat? And do I want her to be fat?

If I never saw other babies her age I would see her as a healthy sized baby. It's the comparison to other babies, to charts, that causes health professionals to tell me I need to 'fatten her up' and for me to feel guilty that she isn't 'thriving' like the other babies.

For now I am going to continue with breast feeding, because it is what I know and I know it is better for her. But is it better for her?

That is a mother's guilt.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

My little hawk.

I don't know how she does it but I swear Maya could find a black speck on a black rug in the pitch black. Then she'd pick it up and eat it. I am constantly pulling things out of that little girls mouth. Even when I've just finished vacuuming and the floor looks utterly clean and I cannot see a speck of anything.. she'll somehow find some tiny bit of fluff to pop in her mouth.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Maya moves forward.

Not being able to move forward has been a source of frustration for Maya. She would see something just out of her reach and not be able to grab it. For weeks now I have watched her flap her legs and then groan or even cry in frustration.

I decided to see if there was a way I could help her to learn to crawl. I was either told that there is nothing I could do or that it's much better if she doesn't crawl.

Well I knew that before babies crawl they often start by getting up on their knees and rocking. So I held Maya up on her knees, rocked her and said "weeeeeeeeeeeee". She laughed and smiled. I had created a fun game. :) We did this a couple of times a day over a few days. Then I noticed she would get up on her knees without me. Only briefly - but it was a start. Next I noticed that if I said "weeeeeeeeeee" she would automatically get up on her knees and rock. I realised that I had in fact taught her how to get up on her knees and she associated a word with an action. Then yesterday as she was playing she realised she could inch forwards if she got up on her knees. I managed to capture this on the video below.

Not only am I extremely proud of my darling daughter of picking up this new skill so quickly but I am proud of myself for teaching and guiding her towards this new achievement.

Plus as a bonus she is now less frustrated.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Maya's first word.

For about a month now Maya has been saying "Dada" and I finally caught it on video.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Cause and effect.

Maya is discovering that she can make things happen. Yesterday she kept picking up the rug and dropping it - If I pick this up and let go, it will fall. I've also noticed that Maya now gets upset when something is taken off her. Before I would take something she was playing with and she wouldn't react at all. Now she gets annoyed and upset. I guess I would too if someone took something off me while I was using it!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Turning in circles.

Maya is adept at moving about now, using a combination of rolling and turning. Recently she also discovered that she can move backwards by pushing with her hands. However, she is yet to discover how to move forwards and at the moment this is a source of frustration for her.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Ten years ago.

A long chat over coffees. A night out with drinks. Conversation flowed. Our first kiss. These are my fond memories of ten years ago. Happy 10 year anniversary Greg!

Friday, 15 May 2009

A new skill.

The cheeky girl has found a new way to amuse herself and make more mess. Blowing raspberries while eating food!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Maya feeding herself.

Maya now doesn't like to be spoon-fed. So I either need to load a spoon up with food for her to place into her own mouth or I cut up pieces of food that she can grab with her hands. Both ways are messy and food ends up all over her, the high chair and the floor! It also limits me on what I can feed her at the moment because she still can't chew properly and not everything sits nicely on a spoon. But I have seen a lot of progress in her ability to feed herself and hopefully it won't be too long till she can eat a variety of foods on her own.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Monday, 27 April 2009

Stranger Danger.

According to books I've read some babies become afraid of strangers at around 6 months of age. Well this happened for Maya at around 2 1/2 months (strangers being anyone other than her parents). It became impossible for anyone other than Greg or I to hold or mind her and I know this was hard on family who would have loved to cuddle her.

Happily, over the last couple of weeks Maya has become more comfortable with strangers and people are now able to hold her for short periods of time. I am hoping this will continue to improve and other people will be able to hold or mind her for extended periods of time.

Especially the mind her *hint hint*

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Beginning solids.

The messy, fun, new world of solids.
(The pictures say it all really :)

Thursday, 16 April 2009


I didn't realise how restricted I was in our old place until we moved in to our new home. Our old place was so small that when we moved in we had to play Tetris with our furniture to fit it all in. Our lounge room had no space left except for walking through it.

I had to move the coffee table right up against the couches so that I could create a tiny play space of about one square metre for Maya to play in. Maya and I would then squeeze into that small space, with furniture crowded around us and above us.

In our new home we have room! Our furniture fits with room to spare and we have storage space and a yard for Maya to play in. But what I am enjoying the most at the moment is the play area I created for Maya. It is spacious, has room for all her toys and isn't crowded over by things. I don't have to squeeze in next to her anymore and hopefully as she gets used to having more space she'll start to move around more.

Monday, 13 April 2009


Tomorrow we are moving closer to my family and friends. I am both sad and happy about the move. I am sad because I love the area I live in. I have been here for nearly ten years now. I love the late night gelati, cafes and book stores, the many different restaurants and shops and the closeness to the city and to my work. But now my life is very different and I am not able to make good use of the many great features of this area - like having a coffee and cake at 11pm on a weeknight. What I need most now is company and help during the weekdays. So I am also very excited about the move and am looking forward to having friends and family near by. :)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The toughest part.

For me the toughest part of motherhood so far has been the loneliness and lack of support. Not only do I have no one to talk to but more importantly there's no one around to help. Of course Greg helps heaps and I couldn't do this without him, but for the majority of the week he's either at work or sleeping.

I do attend play group and mums and bubs yoga and try to see people whenever I can. However most people work or have plenty of friends and family to see or who are there to help.

The really frustrating thing is that I do in fact have some family members who are free during the week but they are not prepared to travel the one hour to see me. They act as though I live on the other side of the world. Instead I try to visit my family but Maya hates being in the car and on one particular trip spent the whole hour screaming all the way back, which kind of put me off making the trip. And hey even without the screaming it's tough travelling with a baby - all the things to pack and organise! It would be a whole lot easier for them to come to me. Plus the things I need help with are at my place.

I know there are plenty of mothers out there who have moved very far away from friends and family or are single mothers. And to be honest I have no idea how they manage being on their own. Though I guess I am managing, I just don't want to do this on my own.

Maya's first food.

I gave Maya a piece of apple to taste, expecting her to make a face and throw it away. Instead she sucked whole-heartedly on that piece of apple for ages.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Regularly medicating babies.

I am surprised by how many people regularly medicate their babies. I don't mean doctor prescribed medication for illnesses. I mean things like paracetamol, ibuprofen, colic remedies, teething gels, etc.

Since Maya was born I have given her paracetamol ONCE and I debated over the decision before giving it to her. She did have a slight fever and wasn't happy. Eventually I came to the decision that for all I knew she was in pain from a vaccination she had just received and couldn't tell me. So I gave her the smallest dose of paracetamol possible (most of which she spat out or brought up) and a while afterwards she seemed to be doing better. Was it the paracetamol or would she have gotten better anyway? I don't know. My point is that so many mothers seem to just automatically give their babies these drugs without a seconds thought. Their babies are unsettled but with no fever. Is the problem really pain? Or are their babies just being normal, healthy babies who have needs they cannot express verbally?

I was shocked to hear one mother reveal that for a couple of weeks now she has given her baby paracetamol morning, noon and night because she thinks her baby is teething. Surely giving your baby medication on a regular basis can't be good for them.

Don't get me wrong, I am not against using medication for babies. There are times when it is definitely needed. However, it seems like a lot of mothers are automatically jumping to the conclusion that their babies are in pain or sick rather than checking if their baby is hungry, needs a change or needs a cuddle, etc. Surely trying other methods to settle a baby first would be more beneficial than to automatically reach for the medication?

Or maybe I am just very lucky and Maya is an easy going baby who is rarely unsettled without an obvious reason like tiredness or hunger.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

My thoughts on motherhood.

I think motherhood is the hardest, toughest thing I have ever done and that nothing could have ever prepared me for how tough it would be. Neither talking to anyone nor minding other kids could have prepared me for motherhood because at the same time as it is tough, I love Maya so much! I would not get up in the middle of the night or change nappies for anyone else.

Some days or moments are extremely tough and at times I feel like I am doing a horrible job. Other days or moments are good and I really love being a mum. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster ride but I am blind folded and I have no idea what's coming up next or where I am going! Things change all the time from day to day and from moment to moment. But the one thing that is constant throughout it all is that I love Maya so much and want the very best for her.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Rolling, rolling, rolling.

About a month ago Maya worked out that she could get off her tummy if she rolled over onto her back. Maya always hated being on her tummy and it was no surprise to me that she learnt this roll first. As for rolling from back to front she would roll from her back onto her side and then quickly turn herself back. I think it was to prevent herself from ending up on her dreaded tummy! Then a couple of days ago she just suddenly flipped from back to tummy while desperately trying to reach a toy. She got the toy and flipped over again. Yesterday she kept flipping over and over - back to front then front to back. Not only is it something new to do but she's worked out that she can move a bit more around by doing this and reach things like toys or anything else on ground level.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Maya has now moved to her cot in her own room. We had to make the move because Maya won't fit into her bassinet much longer. On the one hand I am enjoying the freedom to enter my bedroom at any time of the day, the ability to read in bed again and being able to chat with Greg before going to sleep. On the other hand I really miss her. I loved having her close by, hearing her little sighs, being able to easily get up to her during the night and feeding her in bed while dozing.

For me being a mother brings such paradoxical feelings. When she has been awake for a while I often start to crave some time to myself. Then when she's asleep I really miss her and wish I could hug her (which of course I don't dare do because she would wake and I'd have to settle her back down to sleep again!). I both miss my me time and miss time with her.

Taken 02/03/09 - 4 months 3 weeks old - No room left!

Taken 10/03/09 - 5 months - Room for growth and to move!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Baby brain is...

... coming home after a couple of hours out to find your keys sitting in the front door for the whole world to see and use.

Friday, 6 February 2009


I used to know when Maya was hungry because she would suck ferociously on her hands. Then about a month ago sucking on her hands became more about comfort and exploration.

I have watched her fervently try to put both hands in her mouth at the same time and get frustrated because she ends up with none in her mouth as a result. She also keeps putting a hand so far down her throat that she ends up dry reaching (after the first couple of goes I thought she would have learnt to stop doing that but alas no). And in the last couple of weeks she has opened up a whole new world to herself - she has started reaching for things and grasping them and putting them in her mouth too!

Friday, 30 January 2009

Feeling hot hot hot.

43, 45, 45 - They are the top temperatures over the previous three days - remaining in the 30s for most of the night. Other days have been in the high 30s.

A cool change is supposed to arrive tomorrow and it'll be a cool - 35 degrees! Actually that does sound cool - it's about 10 degrees cooler! After that it'll be in the 30s every day and 20s at night.

I really hate hot weather. I do not cope well at all. I get headaches - even when I drink water constantly. I get very irritable. Normally I also can't eat - but this time round I have kept a healthy appetite (I assume because I am breast feeding Maya).

We bought a portable air conditioner and it's currently 30 degrees in the room, which still feels terrible to me! But when I go in to other rooms I realise 30 is pleasant in comparison.

I can't even stand in the shower for a second to cool off! Our pipes are outside, facing where the sun is at its hottest. So turning on the cold water tap brings boiling water. I am not kidding! Steam comes off the water. It is hotter than the hot water tap!! And you'd think running it for a long time would eventually bring cooler water. Nope. It stays extremely hot! So I have a choice of hot water or hotter water. Great!

Cool change - where art thou?!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Grow up but don't grow up too fast.

I rejoice in Maya's achievements and growth. Seeing her able to do new things, like a first smile or holding a rattle for the first time, gives me pleasure. I also enjoy seeing her go up a size in clothes - it means she's growing and healthy.

But then I have moments where I am sad that she is growing so fast. The other day I put some clothes away, which included an outfit I loved seeing her in and now will never fit her again. And I can see that she won't fit in her bassinet much longer and will have to move to her cot soon.

I know my baby girl won't stay a baby forever and that is both exciting and sad.

5 days old - lots of room for growth
12 weeks old - running out of room

Monday, 19 January 2009

It's pronounced.. MY-YAH

When I named Maya it didn't even occur to me that most people would pronounce her name MAY-YAH. Yes I can see how people get the MAY-YAH pronunciation but I am surprised that so many people haven't heard of the Mayans. Doing a quick web search now I found out that the name is commonly mispronounced.

I'm not sure how else you would spell Maya in order for it to be pronounced MY-YAH. Myyah? Myya? Myyuh? Myye? None of those spellings look any good to me. Besides Maya is pronounced MY-YAH!

So now I am constantly correcting people on how to pronounce her name. I also have to correct the same people over and over again because they don't remember. I'm wondering if it's something to do with the English language and our need to read things literally? - Maya obviously has the word May in it with an A on the end.

I still love the name Maya but I wish I'd thought of this before. Poor Maya is going to have to constantly correct people on the pronounciation of her name. And just to top it off she'll also have to constantly correct spelling of her middle and last names!

I can hear her now: "My name is MY-YAH not MAY-YAH. It's Katherine with a K not a C. And my surname has two E's not one."

Sorry darling daughter I didn't think this through before hand!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Greg and Tanti's Wedding.

Yesterday (10/01/09) was Greg and Tanti's wedding. What can I say except it was a beautiful wedding, beautiful reception and beautiful dress. :) It was great to see these two friends exchange their vows. :)

Unfortunately it was hard for me to take pictures with a 3 month old in tow and I also missed some moments (like their first dance which I heard was fantastic!).

Maya was unsettled at first and unfortunately she's going through a phase where she's afraid of strangers so any time someone looked at or touched her she started crying. And being the cutie she is everyone wanted to hold/touch/look at her so I had to keep explaining that she's scared of strangers at the moment. But apart from those crying moments she actually did very well. When she needed to sleep I put her in a sling and she fell asleep next to me. When she wanted to be awake I had her sitting on my lap so she could look around at the lights and things on the table. She was very content to just sit there and look around (as long as no one came within eye shot LOL). Lots of people commented on how well she was doing and how good she was (which a proud mum loves to hear). And I agree - I think she coped very well, though by the end she was exhausted and needed a good long nap! Then again didn't we all?

Monday, 5 January 2009

A reflection on 2008.

2008 was a huge year for me and definitely better than 2007. This time last year I was looking for a new place to live and I had no idea I was about to fall pregnant and have a baby.

In January Greg and I said goodbye to our home of six years (our first real home together) and moved to a new abode (one we weren't totally happy with but after a short period of time we settled into our new home). In February I discovered I was pregnant and then was hit by the most awful morning sickness (which lasted till the end of April)! In August I lost my grandfather (who thankfully knew about the pregnancy and knew I was having a girl but sadly didn't get to meet her). Then in October Maya was born and my whole life as I knew it totally changed.