Sunday, 28 February 2010

Protecting our children.

It's now just over a year since Dana McCaffery died. Dana was just 4 weeks old and died of Whooping Cough (Pertussis), which is preventable through vaccinations.  However, babies cannot receive their first vaccination for Whooping Cough until they are at least two months old.  So in the time between birth and 2 months of age they rely on the immunity passed from mother to child prior to birth and on the mother's anti-bodies in their milk. They also rely on those around them, who also have a lot of contact with them, to be immunised against this disease (father, grandparents, health nurses, etc).  However, the vaccination wanes after 10 to 12 years and the vast majority of adults do not receive their booster injections, so 90% of adults or more are no longer immunised.  Vaccination is only effective if the majority of the community does it (called herd immunity), so with the vast majority of people no longer being immunised, outbreaks of Whooping Cough are much more likely to occur. 

I was horrified when a friend told me that she visited her doctor prior to pregnancy and asked if there were any preparations she should make before having a baby.  He dismissed her saying that she was young and healthy.

On the other hand, when I went in for a check up prior to pregnancy I was told to get a Whooping Cough vaccination at least three months prior to conceiving in order to protect myself and my unborn baby, but also to protect my newborn once she arrived.  Maya would have received my Whooping Cough anti-bodies prior to birth as well as in my breast milk.  As well, I was told that Greg needed to get the booster prior to the birth of our baby girl in order to further protect her from this horrible disease.

As Maya's parents we are the ones most in contact with our little girl and it makes obvious sense for us to be vaccinated properly in order to protect our child.  Really everyone who will be in regular contact with your child should be fully immunised and that is the recommendation from the Australian government: "It is also recommended that new parents or women planning on becoming pregnant (and members of their household or family) receive a booster dose of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine to protect the new baby from whooping cough in the first months of life." (cited from

So if it's been ten years or more since you had a booster dose of the pertussis vaccine then please consider having it in order to protect not only our young and helpless but also those who cannot be vaccinated and yourself. Please also vaccinate your children.

My sincere heartfelt condolences go out to Toni and David McCaffery.  I cannot begin to imagine their suffering.  But at a time when most people would fall in a heap and never get up again, they are fighting for a world where newborns do not die from a disease we can protect them from.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Child care.

As I said in my previous post, I'd always planned to go back to work in January, for two days per week, and my intention was for my mother to care for Maya on those two days.  However, seeing just how much my mother smokes each day - practically one every hour - I realised that she would have to take constant smoke breaks and they wouldn't all fall during Maya's nap times.  My mother would never smoke inside my house, but even outside I hate the thought of my mother smoking around my daughter.  Smoke can still get into Maya's lungs outdoors and I don't want Maya to see my mother smoking so much.  I realised I cannot leave Maya with my mother for two whole days each week.

My only option then was to look into child care centres, but I thought leaving such a young child with strangers in a bigger child to adult ratio couldn't be good for Maya.  She wouldn't receive the same attention as she does at home. 

Then I did some research and discovered that thirty hours or less a week in child care can be beneficial for toddlers.  They expand their vocabulary quicker and learn to socialise with other children.  I went to look at child care centres and while I came across a couple I would never send my daughter to, I found some that had such a lovely, homely, happy feel about them and of course I chose my favourite one of those.

I know that Maya doesn't receive the same attention there from her carers as she does at home, but the kids are so friendly there and play with each other.  And of course the carers do spend as much time as they can with each child.  She is eating very well there and enjoys playing with the other children.  She does painting and drawing, which is something I have never gotten around to doing with Maya (because of lack of thought on my part).  I know at child care she will experience things that I am either unable to do or don't think of doing myself and I think that's a good thing.

The problem is that she isn't sleeping enough while there and arrives home tired and miserable.  She isn't always happy there and she feels abandoned by us.  Maya has always had strong separation anxiety and now it's been made worse by attending child care.  She clings to me when she gets home and unfortunately she is upset with her own father who is the one who takes her there.  I feel guilty right now for putting her in there and for not being able to explain to her that we are not abandoning her.

The child care staff tell me that Maya is doing well compared to other children who start child care, but it doesn't seem that way to me, and I'm not sure if they are just saying that to make me feel better or is it really true?  Either way I know I need to commit to it for some time and see if Maya can adjust before I make any changes.  But it's hard in the interim while Maya and I struggle with this new routine in our life.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

My return to work.

While I am so glad that I have been able to stay at home with Maya full time for the first 16 months of her life, I have also found myself very much missing adult conversation and company during that time.  I thrive on interactions with other adults and being at home with an infant just hasn't been enough to fulfil me.  I really wish it was enough and I very much admire stay at home mothers because I do believe that having a primary, full time, stay at home caregiver is best for the child.  However, for a while now I have found myself being eager to return to work for the adult company, conversation and me time.

My plan was to return to work in January 2010, but when my illness flared up I began to fret that I wouldn't be well enough to.  I even had some vertigo attacks at the end of December and thought my opportunity to return to work was lost.  Luckily throughout January I remained attack free and at the end of January I made the transition back to work.

I am only working two days a week, which honestly is actually more than enough for me right now.  In fact I'd rather work just one day a week, but I don't think that would be possible at my current job.  One day is just enough to refresh me with some me time and time with other adults. 

I still very much want to be with Maya as much as possible and that's why I decided on only two days a week.  I would hate to be away from her more than that.  I know that this time will go very quickly and she will grow faster than I can imagine and being with her is still very important to me.  I also think children of this age do still need a primary caregiver for the majority of time.  I just need a bit of time out each week for myself.

So far I am enjoying working again and it feels like I haven't been away as long as I actually have.  Although I am fearful of having a vertigo attack on the way to, from or at work.  And I am not enjoying the hour long train journey there and back (I used to live five minutes away!).  But overall I am happy to be back.  I just hope I remain well.

The hardest part has been missing Maya, which seems funny given the fact that I wanted the time away.  But I have spent almost every minute of the last 16 months with Maya and being apart from her now is hard.  The fact that I have been with her almost every minute of the last 16 months is also the reason why I need some time out.

Maya is now in child care for the two days, which I will write about in more detail in another post.  So far she is struggling with being apart from me, which is making me feel very guilty for putting myself first.  But I really need to give this a go and if it doesn't work out for me or her then I can always return to being a stay at home mother, which I do enjoy.  I just need some more regular time to myself and time with other adults, which is what work gives me.

Monday, 15 February 2010


When my illness flared up in August last year I was no longer able to make plans.  Suddenly I had no idea if I would be well one day to the next, minute to minute even.

I realised my life was built a lot around plans.  I am always planning what I can do next and when I can do it.  I am aware of the idea of living in the moment and while I think being in the moment and appreciating what you have now is a great philosophy, right now I can't see how that is always possible.  There are just some things that need to be planned for.

I know that in life nothing is for certain and plans can always be changed by unexpected events.  But people do make plans and hope those plans eventuate.  However, when you don't know what your life will be like from one minute to the next it makes it extremely hard to plan anything.