Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baby, no more

Baby, no more

Tonight while I was cooking dinner I realised that I am done. With babies that is. No more for me. I have always said I would like another; however as I stood there at the stove, with my husband driving my two kids home from their swimming lessons, I realised that my life is pretty good just the way it is. Of course if there was an accident, I am sure I would welcome a baby. But right now, I can live without ever having to breastfeed for 6 – 24mths, change nappies, clean poo/wee of EVERYTHING, wake throughout the night constantly (other than every 2 – 3 hours for my type 1 daughter), and generally have a screaming baby be MY responsibility.

I have never been fond of babies. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mum. And I have always wanted to be a mum. I loved my own babies and thought they were beautiful. But for the most part, other people’s babies are pretty ugly and boring. My sisters haven’t had kids yet, so maybe that will be different. I am fairly maternal in my behaviour, so people seem to insist on handing me their babies, which I generally try to resist. Once they are over 12 months I am great; but before that, not so much.

People always ask if you have finished having babies. I don’t think you can answer that question without getting the opposite response from the asker.  Of my two closest friends, one is done and one wants another. And yet when someone asks “Are you going to have another?” The friend who replies, “Oh, no I have 4, I am done”, seems to always get, “You should never rule it out” and the friend who says, “Yes, I would like another at some stage”, hears “You are so lucky to have 3 wonderful kids”. Okay then.

Of course the most interesting responses I have had when discussing the possibility of a new baby have come from my two kids. My 6 year old son and 4 year old daughter love the idea of a baby. But it is when we get down to logistics that things become interesting. Both of my kids co-sleep (still) from time to time (the “time” being almost every night from around midnight, plus when my husband is away for work). So when we discussed where the baby would sleep this caused great concern and agreement that is was probably best that we stayed at just two kids, as mummy only had two armpits for cuddles!

I am not sure what I will say when asked if I am having any more kids. It is still too new for me. I only shared my newfound knowledge with my husband over dinner. He looked quite amused really, as he was already in the “done” camp.

All of that said, I do reserve the right to change my mind.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Respecting allergies

Sometimes your kids are so much smarter than you give them credit for.

In my job, I am lucky enough to receive hundreds of books (mainly kids’ books) to review. This means that I am fairly picky when it comes to children’s books and I thought I could have a pretty good guess at which ones my kids would like, love and which they would want to read over and over again. 

Recently I have been stumped by my daughter’s choice of regular reader. She has chosen a nicely illustrated book about food allergies. The story is simple and the message is clear. It is the story of a 2 year old boy with severe food allergies who goes to a party. For those of you who read my posts regularly you will know my daughter has type 1 diabetes, but this does not stop her from being able to eat any foods. After reading the book for about the 25th time, I asked her why she liked it. She explained to me that she loves how Thai (the boy in the book) doesn’t have to miss out on anything at the party (his mum has pre-prepared everything that is needed) and that because everyone looks out for him he can be normal too. My daughter is only 3 years old. 

This had me reflecting on how poor I can be about respecting food allergies. On a recent visit to our hospital for my daughter’s quarterly review I asked her if she wanted a peanut butter sandwich that day (as I always take a complete day of meals to save any issues with carb counting or lack of healthy choices at the hospital). She didn’t want peanut butter, but it didn’t occur to me until I got home that night and was on the internet that I could have put children’s lives at risk. Another mother who had been at the hospital that day complained on Facebook about the types of foods parents had with their kids, and only then did I realise that I could have been endangering any number of kids.

Since then I have been making more of an effort to try and understand more about intolerances and allergies, but boy it is confusing and there is so much conflicting (and frankly, in some cases patronising for those with allergies) information.

So for those parents out there with kids with food allergies, I would love to hear your story. How can I and other parents help to make the lives of your kids easier? What would you like us to do or not do? And what would you like us not to say to you or your kids?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

There is no shame: know the symptoms

Tonight I am sitting at my computer waiting for news about the life of a little 7 year old Australian girl I have never met. This little girl was diagnosed yesterday with type 1 diabetes. What makes this story so heartbreaking is that she was not diagnosed until it was possibly too late. It appears that she visited her doctor four times over the past few weeks and her mother was told she had a virus and a UTI. All that needed to be done was for her GP to give her a blood glucose test. Whilst this is not a conclusive diagnosis, it would have shown her levels were high and she could have been treated before her blood essentially turned to acid and her body started to shut down. 

The diabetes community is always rocked when we hear stories like this. We now know what to look out for and know how easy the symptoms are to miss. We also know how little money is available to promote the symptoms of this chronic illness and how much confusion there is in the community between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Tonight I am asking you to please try and remember the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Because of the common confusion between type 1 and type 2, I believe that parents may be loath to push with the doctor.  There is a degree of shame which is rained down on parents post diagnosis by those that do not understand that there is nothing – NOTHING that can be done to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes. No diet, no exercise, no God (and certainly no herbs). Nothing will change the diagnosis.

Type 1 diabetes symptoms can include: extreme thirst;  constant hunger; sudden weight loss; frequent urination; blurred vision; nausea; vomiting; extreme tiredness; infections. If you think you or someone you know has these type 1 diabetes symptoms, call a doctor immediately, and drink fluids WITHOUT SUGAR to prevent dehydration and DO NOT be afraid to ask for a blood glucose test. It will only take a few seconds and could save a life.

I was very lucky with my daughter. She was diagnosed at 11 months of age. As she was still being breastfed and was so young, it took three emergency doctors to diagnose her, and while her life was in the balance for a few hours, she pulled through and is now a happy and healthy 3 (almost 4 as she will tell you) year old. With type 1 diabetes you never truly know the road ahead. Any night could be an all-nighter, with blood tests every hour. But at least you know. 

For more information about type 1 diabetes visit www.jdrf.org.au  or about type 1 and type 2 diabetes visit www.diabetesaustralia.com.au
For more information on our diagnosis click here or here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Working (on) holidays

We have just come home from a short family holiday. I am not sure if driving to a holiday destination makes it less holiday-like – or if it is a new media thing. My job as a parenting magazine editor means that ideally I need to check in regularly, keep things ticking over, but I don’t need to be in an office or work set hours. During our family holiday I updated news on the website almost daily, edited down a few articles and proofed the final draft of the Gold Coast magazine. Being able to do my job from almost anywhere means I can do my job when we are on holidays.

I didn’t completely relax into holiday mode, but still had a wonderful time. 

I used to leave everything behind when we went on holidays, including my health. I would drink too much, laze around too much and certainly try hard to not think about work. Of course at that time of my life I didn’t have children, worked for a very large multi-national and didn’t have a particularly good exercise regime (read: worked very long hours, drank copious amounts of coffee and very occasionally went to the gym). Now our holidays are very active. I usually try and run or swim before the kids get up, we spend the day hiking, swimming, climbing (and possibly a little sleeping in the afternoon if we can wear the kids out enough!). But I always have my phone with me and I regularly check my emails and do any work needed in between activities or in the evening when the kids have gone to bed. By having a job that gives me great flexibility when I am at home, I feel I need to be able to continue to offer that flexibility when I am away. For me, it is give and take.

But not actually taking a complete break from my work made me wonder what others do. Are we taking holidays differently now that we are able to “log in” in so many different ways? Even if we leave our laptop behind, we have smart phones and tablets (I proofed half of the magazine from my phone with my husband driving). Does this mean that we are not actually getting the break we need? Or are we actually finding ways to reduce our stress when we get back from holidays? And what does this mean for our relationships?

I have so many questions and no answers. What do you think?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Is it okay to interfere?

Today as I stood on top of Mt Coolum, I was extremely proud of both my kids, my 3 year old daughter had just walked all the way to the top on her own and my 6 year had been wonderfully encouraging. As we always do, we wondered over to the far side of the top of the mountain to find a little shade and enjoy the view, a snack and water. 

As we sat there my son pointed to a girl and asked “Why is she drawing on the rock?” I looked over and a young girl of 10 or 11 years was carving her name into a large rock with a pocket knife. Mt Coolum is a National Park. Obviously graffiti almost anywhere is illegal; however, this is a National Park! And here was a young girl, with a knife, carving her name into a rock… in front of her father and sister. And in front of my 3 year old and 6 year old and every other child and teenager that was on top of the mountain today – and it was a beautiful Sunday and there were lots of people.

I looked at my husband, and said “Sorry, I am going to have to say something.” I have been known to do this with smokers in restaurants; however this was my first “wildlife warrior” moment. I politely asked the girl if she would mind stopping carving into the rock as it was graffiti and was not permitted in a national park. She looked at her dad who told her, “It’s okay; there are lot’s names already up here”. I explained that it wasn’t okay, and it was ruining the environment for everyone. The father was extremely unimpressed with my interfering (which I had expected) and stopped his daughter, telling her that it looked good already. He huffed and puffed many things under his breath and moved away with his kids. 

Our family packed up our rubbish and got ready to head back down. We started across the top of the mountain to begin our decent when I decided to run back and take a photo of the graffiti. To my shock, the dad was standing beside his daughter as she finished her name and date in the rock. This time I didn’t say anything – what could I say without really crossing the line. I went and took some photos of other carved names on top of the mountain, and there are a lot of them.

On the drive home we had a discussion with our kids about graffiti and the impact on the environment. We talked about why some graffiti is art and other is not. I was a little bit upset with father’s reaction; however my husband reminded me that I had basically disciplined his child in front of him. 

Sitting here writing this, I am still not sure what I would have done differently. Where do our kids learn about acceptable behaviour? I know I would be furious if a stranger corrected my parenting; however I felt that when we move into breaking the law and damaging the environment that it is time to say something. How do children learn about appropriate boundaries without parental direction?

What would you have done?