Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sixteen Weeks!

Sixteen weeks. Six. Teen. Weeks. It's hard to believe that we have made it this far.

Today you lucky lovelies get to read yet another thrilling appointment post.

I made my appointment for first thing in the morning to ensure that I wouldn't be left in the waiting room for over an hour again.


At least this time I brought a book with me. Unfortunately, unlike last time, the Little was awake the entire time. Bouncing on the chairs, climbing under the chairs, playing peekaboo with each other child that came in (why were their parents constantly called back straight away while I sat still waiting??).

Eventually I was called back, and by my own Doctor (wonders will never cease!) I had decided last night that if a Registrar called me back this time, I was going to refuse, and ask to book another appointment where I could actually see my Doctor. I had a whole speech prepared, it was almost a shame not to use it ;)

This time he had a Registrar with him, to do the teaching. Much prefer it that way. I have no problem with being a teaching case but I only feel comfortable being around my Doctor - for very good reasons. He introduced me to his Registrar and looked through my notes. He looked up surprised and said "have I notLink seen you yet this pregnancy?"

Quick answer? No.

He started explaining my case to the Registrar, and went over the nuchal results again. Then, as he does, he went off on a tangent and we ended up talking about same sex rights to access infertility treatments.
He started off by asking "Now, am I right in remembering you are in a same sex relationship?"
As soon as I said "Yes" his whole face lit up and he eagerly asked "So what do you think of the whole Penny Wong situation?"
"Well, I have my own issues with Penny Wong" I answered.
This of course led to an interesting discussion about accessing fertility treatments in SA. Pleased to say I did a bit of educating there, as he was under the impression that it was a simple case of having to be infertile to access IVF. He didn't realise it was a statewide ban on lesbians and single women accessing any type of reproductive services.

He is a very amusing old fella to talk to. I can't decide whether my favourite part of the appointment was him talking about "boy germs" or when he noted my name change (again - it's amazing. He can remember every detail of my medical history dating back 4 years, but cannot remember conversations he had with me three weeks ago!) and asked me whether I got married. I laughed at him and asked him what country he thought we lived in?

I laughed a lot today.

I was so anxious going into the appointment, but just being in the same room as him puts me completely at ease. I don't know what it is about him, he is a strange old fella, but he calms my every nerve and I end up laughing the whole time.

I got to have a little peek at the wee 'un too which was nice. He (or she) was laying back and chilling in there, it was such a hoot. All curled up with legs crossed having a kick. This one is just adorable in utero!

I can't get over it.

16 weeks.

^^ Not my baby. But this is just what he (she) looked like all curled up :)
Image from so+gi

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How to: Bake Rainbow Cakes and Cupcakes

The first time I saw a rainbow layer cake online, I was in love.

I decided I simply had to try it out for myself, and I was thrilled with the results. They are really quite easy. You can also adapt the recipe to suit cupcakes (see additional notes at the end).

First, make a basic buttercake mixture.
My favourite is the 2-4-6-8-Buttercake that my wonderful Nanna Betty taught me.

2 eggs
4oz butter
6oz white sugar
8oz self raising flour
and a healthy dash of vanilla extract
(to convert ounces to grams, multiply by 28. I generalise and multiply by 30 - e.g 4oz = 120g, 6oz = 180g)

To make the Buttercake mixture, cream together the butter and sugar, and slowly add the eggs and flour. Beat until smooth.

(1) To make the tall layer cake, I make a double mixture, and divide into 6 small bowls. Add enough food colouring to each bowl to get a strong colour. I start with a teaspoon of colour and add a drop at a time until I reach the brightness I like {I use the affordable "Queen" food colours readily available in the supermarket}

(2) Make 6 layers by baking each colour individually in an 8" pan. Each cake will be quite thin, don't panic! Bake at 180C for 10-15 minutes {check regularly with a skewer and take out as soon as cooked}.

(3) Sandwich the layers together - either with a basic buttercream, or simply by layering them while hot out of the oven so that they stick together:

(4) Frost the outside with buttercream and decorate as you wish! In the past I have surrounded it with white chocolate shards or rolled out fondant icing to cover.

To make buttercream simply beat together margarine, a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract and icing sugar until it is a lovely pale colour and tastes fantastic :)

Et Voila!


I make my Rainbow "Drop" cake for smaller crowds. Using a single batch of buttercake, mixed up with the same colours as in Step (1) above, I drop spoonfuls of batter into an 8" pan in concentric circles. Bake at 180C for 25-30mins.

Or you can make lovely little CUPCAKES like these:

Image from Baking Bites - unfortunately I don't have a photo of my own cupcakes to share.

(1) To make cupcakes, I thin down the buttercake mixture slightly by adding some milk (about half a cup, but I add it slowly and stop if the batter starts becoming too runny).

(2) Mix up the colours in the same way as for a full cake.

(3) Add one teaspoonful of the purple mixture into each cupcake case/patty pan. Tap the tray on the bench to distribute the batter evenly.
Add one teaspoonful of the blue mixture to each pan, and gently tap the tray (do not try to spread the mixture out as it will mix with the colour underneath).

(4) Continue with each colour. Depending on the size of your cupcake cases, you may need to use less colours so as to not overfill each case.

(5) Bake at 180C. Allow to cool, and frost with a generous serve of frosting :)


You could make these in any colours you like. Pastels, blue & pink for a baby shower, company colours, favourite football team colours - the sky's the limit!

I'd love to see your variations - please do email them to me at nosuzyhomemaker at gmail dot com if you give it a go!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cancer Sucks

I have been trying to write this all week. It seems fitting that I finally managed today, on Daffodil Day. If you think 1 in 2 who gets cancer is one too many - please donate.

Some of my regular readers might remember that my Mother-out-of-law fought, and won the battle against lymphoma a couple of years ago. And that a few months ago, she told us that the cancer was back, and had spread. She has been going through chemo for the past few months, and did her usual job of staying cheerful and pretending everything is fine.

Until a few days ago when her acupuncturist had to call an ambulance to send her straight to hospital. Turns out she has an infection and needs to be monitored. Nothing too life threatening, but she got very, very sick for awhile there.

Lou came home from the hospital that night shocked by her condition. Vulnerable was the word she used. We are used to seeing her strong, and cheerful. ALL THE TIME (I used to think no one could be that cheerful all the time but she really is). She couldn't speak, couldn't move, it took ten minutes to transfer her from one bed to another.

And once again I felt entirely helpless. But I had to do something, so the next morning I gathered up some Better Homes and Gardens magazines (she loves them - bought me a subscription for my birthday and comes around to read them!), a box of her peppermint tea, and a bunch of lavender from our garden (there is nothing worse than the smell of a hospital room).

I rushed to get there before work, carrying my sleeping Little in over one shoulder (as I get bigger and he gets bigger this is getting increasingly difficult) and my bounty under my other arm. I walked in those doors and it just hits you.

There was a man, no older than forty, standing facing the doors, in his hospital gown, just staring. Waiting.
Every room I passed contained another person's love, lying in a bed, staring at nothing.
Utter desolation. I tell you Eden, this ward could use some of your Guerilla Art Attacks.
I found my Mother in Law's room, looked in, and kept walking. Until she called me back.

I could not believe that the old woman in the recliner was the woman I was looking for. And I understood why Lou came home so quiet. She looked sick. Old. And sick. It was the only time I have seen her without her wig. The first time she went through chemo, I was the one who cut off all her long curly hair and Lou shaved it down to fuzz. She still looked like her, only a funky Sinead O'Connor version of herself. This time, she let her hair fall out, so she just looks like a chemo patient, mostly bald, with a few long wispy bits. It makes her look old. And sick.

She smiled at me and called me in, and then I knew it was her. The smile was still her.

She lost her train of thought a few times as she spoke to me, but she could talk normally without gasping. Improvement. She had a bit of colour in her cheeks, and I knew she would be okay. You cannot keep this strong woman down for long. She has things to do.

It was only as I left and got back in the car that I remembered it was Book Week and my Big Kid wanted to dress up today. Poor kid was rushed out the door and dropped at the school gates in such a hurry I didn't even remember. We were so focussed on what was going on with MIL the night before that he barely got to speak to us. I was so focussed on getting her what I felt she needed that morning that I barely spoke to him. And bless his heart, he knew that what we were talking about was more important than his costume. I wish he didnt know of Cancer. I wish he hadn't seen death so close up that he understands it. I feel I failed him.

It turns out that I can be great at many things. At being a good mother, a good daughter, a good wife, or a good daughter in law. But only ever one at a time.

Daffodil Image from Daily Gloss - http://www.dailygloss.com/2011/08/designers-for-daffodil-day/

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sleeping babies are the sweetest - why won't mine sleep?

This morning started out relatively well, after dropping the Big Kid off at school, the Little and I came home and had a nap together. The only problem was he was awake and ready to play after an hour and I could have slept for another 2 hours easily!

We have finally had a turn around in the weather lately, with some beautiful warm days - but mostly they've been days I had to work. Luckily today we were blessed with a whole heap of sunshine and warm breezes so it was off across the road to the beach for us after lunch.

He had an absolute ball, trying to catch butterflies, chasing magpies and looking for sheep (don't ask, I don't get it either). It reminded me again why I chose to do this mostly-stay-at-home-parenting-thing.

Unfortunately though, as the day wore on...it became not quite as lovely. We are in the middle of trying to turn around the wee Beastie's sleep patterns, and I tell you what...it ain't easy.

For the last few months, we've been woken by the delicate kicking and bashing of the boys' bedroom door at about midnight-1am, followed by a small but very wiggly 2 year old joining us in bed. Which wouldn't be so much of a problem if he went to sleep and/or lay still.

But noooo, little guy likes to kick off the covers (from all of us), turn himself upside down, sideways, any which way really. He wiggles and squirms, and then demands cereal at about 4am. Enough was enough.

The only thing we could think of was to drop from two naps a day (or one loooong nap) to one nap lasting no more than 90 minutes.

Fun and games....until the evening. By about 6pm he is vile. The high pitched squeals over nothing, the tantrums, the tears...it's all just too much for this mama. I was beside myself, he was beside himself, we were all cranky and we decided we just couldn't do it.

Until...that first trial night...he slept through. Until SEVEN FIFTEEN AM. Which has never happened. Ever. He is a 5:30am boy (as is my big boy - lord knows where they got that charming trait - certainly not from me, I am so not a morning person).

Which of course means the whole house had a good night's sleep and we had to at least trial it another day to see whether it was a fluke or not. Unfortunately (or fortunately, whichever way you want to look at it) he slept through. Again.

So now we just have to ride it out as he progressively becomes the devil as the day wears on...and hope like mad that he eventually transitions away from needing those two naps, to being totally ok with just the one (oh please oh please oh please)...

Monday, August 22, 2011

honey, I won a CAR!

Today was simply unbelievable.

My last week or so has seen a lot of sadness mixed with a lot of happiness. I am joyful every day that I wake up still pregnant (heart rate 167bpm as of this morning!), but it has also brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings of my little man. I have written and discarded a dozen posts over the past few days in particular, but nothing seemed right to post.

Until today, because this has to be documented...I would never have believed it could happen to me.

I spent the morning working on my financial spreadsheets. I realised how far we are from being able to finish the renovations and manage the mortgage for the months until the house sells. I applied for yet another credit card and sent an urgent message to Lou at work to cease using our other credit card immediately!

I realised that we would have to borrow money from our parents to meet the mortgage repayments for the next few months.

I hoped knew it would work out, it usually does.

But I was slightly concerned.

And then, my phone rang.

And I was informed that the caller was from a promotional company. And she was calling to talk to me about some competition or other. (sidenote: I had just last night entered my phone number on a website that I became suspicious of, and was convinced this was the result - a scammer).

I was half listening to her when she informed me that I had won the competition I entered. "What competition?" I asked. She told me, but I wasn't really listening, until she mentioned the prize.
"...so we drew the second chance draw for the car and you won."
"Won what?"
(yeah I was not exactly on the ball this morning)
"The car. A 2011 model Suzuki Swift"
(definitely not believing her now)
It was probably not the reaction she was expecting, I'm sure she was expecting screaming or something! She went on to talk about sending me an email, and picking the car up from the dealership, at which point I started to wonder whether perhaps she was for real (especially when there was no mention of giving her any bank details!)

An hour, some investigations and a lot of "holy effing crap I won a CAR" conversations later, I realised it was for real. For REALZ I won a car, yo.

Even better than that? We don't need another car. What we need is money. My mother on the other hand, has the money and needs to buy a new car. And she loves the Swift. She gets the car, I get the money.

I still can't believe it, and I don't think I will for awhile...probably not until I drive it off the lot (I think I'm still skeptical that it really happened!).

I feel like the LUCKIEST girl on the planet right now. I just can't even believe it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

thinking and wallowing

I have been thinking a lot lately. By thinking I mean just diving into my deepest thoughts and wallowing there for hours at a time. I've been staying up stupidly late to avoid those moments when I get into bed and lie there for hours just thinking. Wallowing. Crying. All the sadness inside me thrives on the silence and the darkness, and just bursts out of me as soon as I lie down for the night.

My thoughts of G, of the awful way his life ended, have been haunting me lately. Obviously judging from other mutual friends on FB, the feeling is going around. That suicide is ever the option just breaks my heart, and we lost two of our small community of friends within four months of each other. I can't even fathom the depths of despair they each found themselves in. I thought I had been to those depths, but I don't think I truly have, and that thought scares the absolute shit out of me. Because where I have been? Is pretty fucking dark. I dread to think of how their final days must have been. And I know it isn't healthy to think about such things, especially for someone with a somewhat precarious mental health stability myself. And yet...I do.

I only realised the other day, that this baby is due on the first anniversary of the death of our G. Life is such a funny beast.

If you are in this dark place, or need help, please reach out. For immediate help call LifeLine on 13 11 14 or the Suicide CallBack Service on 1300 659 467.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

did you reach your potential today?

This is a question I find myself asking of my son a lot lately.
"Is that the best you can do?"
"Is that reaching your full potential?"
"Can you do better?"

And like so many other times, asking him these questions leads me to question myself.

Did I reach my potential today? Did I achieve what I should have in the fullness of an entire day?

Sadly the answer is normally no. Today I did NOT fulfil my potential. I did tidy the house. I did have dinner at least partially started when my partner came home from work. I did have the television off and Rocket at the table doing his homework.


I had a full day at home today, and aside from the two hours I was pinned under a teething sleeping 2 year old (in fear that if I moved he would wake and commence screaming again) I had a full day that I could have used to actually get some of the things on my "to do" list done!

I have all these grand plans but don't seem to have the motivation to carry them out...I definitely need one of these

Friday, August 12, 2011

..and the not so pancake days...

Remember my lovely "pancake day"? Full of tasty treats and lovely moments with my lovely children?

...on the other end of the Mama/Housewife spectrum, you have the days where nothing goes right and the pancakes are more likely to bite your face off.

Today was one of those days. One of those days where you drive all the way to the shopping mall to buy your father in law's birthday present, accidentally shoplift candles from Go-Lo because you have completely lost the ability to remember anything for more than 35 seconds, deny the whining kids the yogurt they want, the buns they want, the cookies they want etc etc...finally locate the CD your father in law wants, and then realise you have left your purse at home, in your son's basketball bag.

So you return home, and proceed to sulk on the couch eating chocolate while your two adorable children beat each other and pull each others hair.

In other words, it was an average Friday in our house.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nuchal Screening Results...

...and a very long winded description of yet another appointment with yet another dr who is not my OB...

The results are in:
1:6000ish for Trisomy 21
1:1200ish for Trisomy 18

Nuchal fold 1.5mm
Beta-HCG 1.56 MoM
PAPP-A 1.04 MoM

I went in for my appointment believing that I would see the OB I was booked in to see - how naive of me! I was actually rather mean to the very nice resident who had to deal with me for the first part of the appointment - she kept asking why I felt that I had to see Dr P, and went a little quieter when I said quite bluntly that he was the only one I trusted after all the other Drs at this hospital treated me like an idiot when I thought there was something wrong with my Starbaby, right up until he died. Then of course they were all very very sorry for the tragic "incident" as the resident called it.

She asked whether I had done the Nuchal yet. I stared her down and said "yes, that would be why I am here". So she looked them up on her computer and says "Oh yes it looks like everything's good".

And looks at me. I stared at her "yes well I will need the actual results please. Print me a copy". She looks at me again "Is there something worrying you?"


Yes dear, there is something worrying me. The fact that I might have another terminally ill baby. The fact that I was told on the Nuchal with my full Trisomy 18 baby that the odds of him having Trisomy 18 were "very low". Had I known what to look for back then, he was classic T18. Had ANY Dr bothered to double check the results, they would have seen that he was classic T18.

For the record, for anyone who is interested:
  • A recent retrospective study revealed reduced levels of pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A) and free beta–human chorionic gonadotropin (beta-hCG) at 8-13 weeks' gestation
  • The multiples of the mean (MoM) in affected pregnancies was 0.25 for PAPP-A and 0.34 for free beta-hCG.
  • Screening for trisomy 18 using a combination of maternal age, PAPP-A, and beta-hCG has a detection rate of 76.6% with a false-positive rate of 0.5%.
Interestingly, our readings with our Star who died from full T18 were PAPP-A of 0.27 and 0.33 free beta hcg. Which is pretty much spot on with their average in affected T18 pregnancies. I think it was the fact the nuchal reading was good that threw it off - I think if they took that out then the biochemical reading alone would have told them it was T18.

As the appointment wore on and I let my guard down a little, she was very nice and didn't mind all my questions, where a lot of other doctors sort of roll their eyes at me now or brush me off. I informed her of the above information and taught her how to interpret the results "Don't ever rely on their little summary at the bottom of the page that just says "low risk" or "high risk".

I was starting to feel ok about not seeing Dr P but then I heard his voice in the hallway outside the room and she rushed out to get him. I'm assuming it went something like this "There is this very pushy crazy lady in there DEMANDING to see you. Help me? Help me help me"

He came in and looked at me "Ohh yes I remember you very well. You have more names than you used to" (true I did hyphenate it with Lou's when Manny was born). He turns to the resident and proceeds to tell her about my "complicated case" and basically rehash everything I have said, verbatim, which pleased me because it showed her that I wasn't being a drama queen, the Drs I saw in the past really were incompetent, and my case really is that dramatic.

He turns to me and starts telling me how I won't be able to see him at every appointment, and that sometimes I will see a resident or another Dr, so that "everyone can learn".

It was at this point that I realised I have become the teaching case.

"What not to do with your patients."

Now most of the time, I have no issue educating people. Especially people who think they know more than me*, but honestly? It is damn tiring having to constantly rehash my entire history. Go through in detail how my son died and why the Drs should have seen it. To talk about how I was humiliated by the OB I saw at 36 weeks, days before he died, and then was born. To hear them refer to him as a "tragic incident" a "terrible thing that happened" a "sad time". To have to go through all of that, every time I have an appointment with this pregnancy, is just fucking inconsiderate.

And I think I shan't do it any more.

*(most doctors I have encountered have fit this description when it comes to my actual situation, I'm sure they have more general medical knowlege than me!!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

pancake days

We started the morning with pancakes.

Then a bit of spinning "watch me, mum...watch me!"

Then some giraffe hunting "here g'ruff...heeeeeeere g'ruff!"

Sometimes this stay-at-home-parenting gig feels pretty damn awesome.

It gets better.

He grabs his plate and marches into the kitchen.
"Where are you going?"
He looks at me like I am daft and says "sink".
And yet his almost 10 year old brother simply cannot master the act of taking his plates to the sink!

I think my Bunny might well be a genius...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

short and sweet

Meet my little thumbsucker <3

Actual Gestational Age = 12+0

CRL = (12+2) (12+4)
BPD = (12+0)
Head Circ = (12+1)
Heart rate 169 bpm

The most emotional ultrasound experience of my life. When I went in, I was almost hyperventilating. Lying on the table, I felt like my heart might beat straight out of my chest. The whole way there I was thinking about what we would do if there was bad news. The past few days have been awful. I was convinced that there would be no heartbeat.

I lay on the table. Terrified. Then I see a little person. Then I see a heartbeat, and all of a sudden, I can breathe.

I nearly cried. I was on the verge of some serious tears. I have never even come close to crying at an ultrasound before today.

Then he started jumping around. Rolling and waving and flipping like a crazy thing. It was beautiful. The most amazing ultrasound I have ever seen! Such an active little thing.

The best news was the measurements. Above average on all counts, nuchal fold within normal range. Our little T18 boy was already nearly a week small at this stage. The measurements, and the activity...was the most reassuring thing you can imagine.

I finally feel like I can breathe again.

12 weeks. Wow.

Monday, August 1, 2011


The panic has set in, well and truly, over the past weekend.

My nuchal screening scan is tomorrow at 2pm. It dawned on me over the weekend that there was a chance that we would go into this scan thinking we are 12 weeks pregnant, just looking for signs of another Trisomy, but we may leave brokenhearted and empty once again. Just because I feel like crap does not mean I am still growing a little bun.

With each hour that passes I find myself doubting things more and more.

My stomach seems smaller today. It is, isn't it.

I don't feel sick today yet. Not at all. That's bad, isn't it.

I went 4 hours without eating. That means my previously ravenous appetite is gone. I'm not pregnant any more.

Does it seem a little over the top to you? Most people are just counting down the hours until they get another peek at their baby. I wish so badly I could go back to being one of those people.

We both started to worry a little on Saturday, and got the doppler out. No surprise when we could not find a heartbeat. I know (logically) that it was too early. But hearing that sound would have eased so many fears.

But just because I have historically only miscarried at 7 weeks, I can list off (too) many friends who have had losses and missed miscarriages at 12, 13, 16 weeks and so on and so on. I should be excited. But I find myself terrified. I have almost convinced myself that we are going to get bad news tomorrow.

Friday was Lou's birthday. Saturday night at the family dinner, we announced our news. We were scared and wanted to wait but knew they had all guessed anyway. It all seems awfully premature now, and I think I am catching Lou's superstition. I feel like we have gone and jinxed it now.

I think I am slowly losing my mind.

I thought this one would be less panic inducing than my last pregnancy, given we are not 3 months out from the death of our child as we were last time.

How is it worse this time around?


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