Mother Fluker

A Migrant Mother's Musings

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Twelve weeks

Had an appointment a few days ago with Dr T, surely Perth's busiest and most charismatic obstetrician. My mother insists he reminds her of King George V (in looks, presumably; as far as I know my mother was not on intimate medical terms with King G, but then, she is a woman full of surprises). Dr T is a large and bearded man with a dynamic approach to patient processing. His rooms are a virtual blur as dozens of pregnant Perth-ites are whizzed in and out. Lying on the couch, I asked him how many babies he had delivered over the course of his career. Answer: around 12,000. Unbelievable.

Dr T was the man who delivered baby H 18 months ago, pretty much saving his life in the process. This event, so routine for him, is such an emotional milestone for me that I now feel tear-pricking devotion and complete trust in Dr T's every utterance. It is a huge relief to know that he will be at the helm again this time around. Knowing this has removed a big chunk of the stress and anxiety that I felt through most of my last pregnancy.

However, it is rather unfashionable to be in thrall to one's obstetrician's skills. I know a lot gets said about the over-medicalisation of births and the need to reclaim birth as some kind of mystical feminine experience, but it's not that way for me. In most areas of my life I prefer to be in control and making decisions. But when it came to giving birth last time, no amount of reading or research could have prepared me to make correct and informed decisions. (H went into acute fetal distress at a point where I had no idea that anything was wrong.) It's self-evident that Dr T and his hugely experienced team did and do know best. I know other people want positive low-intervention births at home and that those choices are very important to them. But the outcome had I chosen to go down that route last time would have been disastrous.

So how grateful am I to be in first-world Australia, to be booked into a safe, clean hospital, and to know that the best possible expertise and care will be directed to me and my new baby? I am among the luckiest women in the world.

Monday, November 21, 2005

"...and then he said, you're gonna tear, so I'm gonna cut ya..."

At a book party last week, the assembled ten or so women had all had at least one baby in the last 18 months, and at least several of us were pregnant again. The conversation was free-flowing, and in the way that would have totally alarmed the hell out of me in my child-free days, was quite horrifically intimate and graphic in a completely casual way. In the course of an hour or so and over some rather delicious chocolate cake we covered epidurals, episiotomies, uterine rupture statistics post C-section and various other gruesome things.

I used to think, wincing inwardly and outwardly, that when women gratuitously started retelling tales of stitches and worse that it was all part of some conspiracy by those who had children to scare the shit out of those who had not. But now I know better. It seems that any group of mothers - at least of toddlers or below - can't resist the conversational slide into the more visceral elements of motherhood. For my part I try hard not to do it, but sometimes I give in and find myself extolling the virtues of pethidine to virtual strangers. Why? Is there some sort of primal urge to deal with the dramatic side of mammalian existence by talking about it non-stop for years afterwards?

The only thing worse than hearing about somebody's gruesome birth tales is hearing about how staggeringly brilliant and advanced the fruit of their loins has turned out to be. Total strangers, even if they have kids themselves - in fact, especially if they have kids themselves, really couldn't give a toss whether little Tarquin or Ariadne can sort shapes, converse in Russian or tap-dance. The only possible responses are 1) polite amazement masking yawning boredom, or 2) maternal one-upwomanship of the "Ah well, little Angelina started doing that at only ten months!" kind. There is a lot of this kind of thing among women who previously reserved their competitive instincts for their careers. It's very tiresome.

I am going to move that all playgroup discussions from now on focus on simple, peaceable topics, like politics and religion.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembrance Day

I was in Garden City* this morning when a warbling version of the Last Post started up. I looked at my watch and realised - eleven o'clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month... Almost all the shoppers around me stood stock still, averting their eyes from the shelves, and the background shop music was hastily switched off as everyone did a bit of private pondering. Except for a handful of people who could blithely be seen zooming around hunting out their purchases as if completely oblivious to the fact that everything else around them had gone into a state of suspended animation. Very weird. How could you not notice a giant pause button going on in such a public place? Or assuming you DID notice, what would your motivation be to choose not to join in, no matter what your beliefs on war? Just too much stuff-buying to be done to care?

After this I walked out to the Medicare office, stopping on my way to buy a poppy from a veteran's stand, the first opportunity I have had to do so this year. The gentleman looked up at me and beamed.

"Do you play netball?" he enquired.


"You would be a great netball player. I can put you in touch with my daughter. She has a netball team. They're always looking for players."

It was an unlikely sort of invitation, and one which I had to decline gracefully, though I omitted to mention the real reason, ie, that within a few months I will be looking rather more like the ball itself than a capable player. I have no idea why he singled me out, other than my above-average height. But after that I got to thinking about the days when I did play netball, about a quarter of a century ago. It was the only sport I was ever any good at, and that was just due to my dastardly left-handedness. The best thing about netball was my team position - Goal Attack. Goal Attack! Attack, attack! So much better than my oh-too-appropriate "Left Back" mark in the hockey team.

* Perth's biggest and best shopping mall, thus a veritable temple of consumerism in WA.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Not twins, thank God. According to the scan, I'm incubating a single broad bean. Another three weeks to go, and then in theory I will start to feel less like I've spent the previous evening downing 8 pints of snakebite with tequila chasers. Then there will be a couple of months of feeling energetic before the full Sigourney-Weaver-in-Alien, (only lots, lots, fatter) stage takes over.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Haven't posted for ages due to that disgusting design fault of the human female body, morning sickness. Would be totally manageable were it only to be in the morning, but am enduring all-day every-day nausea and frequent eyeball-busting bouts of retching at inopportune moments, interpersed with starving hunger and consequent binge eating. All totally out of control. Am having a scan on Weds to check I am not having twins, the thought of which truly terrifies me. More then.