What my Mum taught me without even realising May 06 2015 5 Comments

With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday (yay!) I have been reflecting on my own Mum and all of the things she has taught me. With four children of her own, Judi has seen it all before and living proof that you can thrive amongst the chaos

Our childhood was free and relaxed and sunny. I am so grateful to her and my amazing Dad for giving us that. I know now, more than ever, how hard it must have been at times. As the Mum, she was the hub of the wheel and she has helped achieve a relatively normal family of well adjusted adults and siblings who are now very close. As a Mum, that is all I want for the future of my own boys, but I do know it takes a lot to get there. 

Of course there are the obvious things that she taught us day in and day out. Relentless, I know for sure. But when I think of her and her “mothering style” I think some of the best things she has taught us have not been intentional. It reminds me as I go about my day that there are four little pair’s of eyes watching me and how I react to what life throws at me. We are always teaching, sometimes most effectively when we don't realise it at all. 

I clearly remember my Mum learning to use a computer with her cursing sounds and the annoying noise of the ‘delete” button constantly coming from the front room. Trying to “dial up” the internet and persevering to keep up with technology. I remember being made to eat carob and drink “bran water” and driving for miles to see the only suitable Naturopath in Perth in the early 80’s. She was so ahead of her time about natural and holistic health. 

I remember her going back to study the Greek language when we were all in High School. My parents loved Greece and she had decided that their frequent trips there would be much more satisfying if she could better understand what the locals were saying. She couldn’t even start to learn to read or speak Greek without learning their alphabet first. So without a Greek relative in sight, she persisted with Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta….and she got there. Through the mockery of four teenagers wetting themselves laughing as well as keeping up with the daily grind, she got there. What an effort.

I watched her volunteer her “spare” time to a crisis phone line and come home depleted after a Saturday night shift. I watched her put on so many birthday parties at home making all of the food herself and inviting all of our friends, their siblings and the neighbours to join us in our back garden. I watched her embrace people from all walks of life and always look for the best in people. 

I watched her and her tribe of friends pick up the pieces after each other, sharing their spare nights around in their little “Babysitting Club”. I snuck out of bed and watched their rowdy dinner parties and waited in the hope that there was a forgotten piece of Sara Lee Chocolate Bavarian. I watched her pull on her leotard and head off to Jazzercise after dropping us all at school. I watched her paint walls, clean bricks, climb ladders and cook off a camping stove while we lived through another renovation. 

I watched her cope with losing my Dad when she was only 49. Her childhood sweetheart, her heart and soul. How she must have cried at night alone in her bed after soldiering through another day making sure that each one of her four kids were OK. That’s when her tribe of women really came to the fore. What she taught me about life and about being a strong woman through that dark time is very hard for me to articulate. Her infectious laugh and constant positivity taught me that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. What a woman. 

She is resilient, positive and full of energy. She is open minded and forward thinking. She is strong and resourceful. She is my Mum and what a woman she is. Thank you Judi x 

My angry uterus :) April 29 2015 7 Comments

Well it’s official. I yell too much. Clinically diagnosed by a specialist ENT Doctor. You know, the type that you need a referral for and you spend five minutes in their office and pay hundreds of dollars for the honour of having a tube stuck right down your nose to your throat? Well that was my morning yesterday. Luckily of course it is just a couple of ‘nodule’s’ on my vocal cords and nothing more sinister, but to be told that nodules are caused by “vocal abuse” is quite eye opening. I didn't think I yelled that much.

The doctor must have taken the look of horror on my face and my constant interruptions explaining that I had four young boys as a hint to be quite casual in his explanations. Apparently it is common and yes, he agreed that I might not yell THAT much and yes, he was sure that “I was quite a calm mother”. However, the constant chatter to children repetitively explaining the way of the world, interjected with just a couple of sentences with “an elevated pitch” would be enough to create these nodules over time. He gave me an example of the tone of voice I should try to use most of the time and I felt like Rod Stewart warming up for his ten thousandth show. I didn’t bother explaining that a serene and soothing noise such as the one he was suggesting wouldn’t quite cut it at 6pm in my house. So off I trotted feeling better that nothing untoward was growing in my throat and went home for a cup of honey lemon herbal tea and to “rest” my voice for a few hours. 

As I sipped that tea I was content in knowing, after three months or various medical tests and one bout of day surgery, that I had a clean bill of health. You see, 2015 has marked the “year of Olivia”. The twins are finally at kindergarten so I have a few days to pursue my career goals and some extra time to go to the types of appointments that you tend to put off when you’re a Mum. Of course, if your child has something more than a sniffle, you will bundle them into the car to see a doctor. But for yourself, you can wait. 

So the purpose of this post is to remind you not to wait any more. As Mums we know how the wheels fall off the cart so quickly when we are sick or away or even just preoccupied for a few days. We need to be stealth like warrior princesses 24/7 and we need to be like this for a long time to come. 

So back in February I went to see my GP and asked for a “once over”. I had every blood/urine/saliva test available as well as an internal ultrasound. The tests were easy. Once you've had a child, you are used to being poked and prodded but I must say, waiting for the results was not fun. I was so used to being tired that I didn’t know if my level of tiredness was ‘normal’ anymore. I had felt all sorts of movements and pains coming from my uterus in the past eight years and had experienced so many different types of feelings at that time of the month, that I wanted to be 100% sure I was ok. The husky voice that I got for my 40th, was still following me around 18 months later...I needed some attention. 

As I suspected I was not 100%. Surprisingly I was reassured to know that most parts of my body are back to normal. Better than normal, I am shocked to say. For at least 12 months after the twins were born I felt so physically and mentally depleted but I have again been amazed at the human body and its capacity to restore itself.

However, I found out that my uterus is angry. Not just in the hypothetical way, but in a way that is now proven by medical science. I’d be angry too if I had carried seven babies, had three C-sections and housed twins all in the space of 6 years. Yes you read correctly, seven babies. My journey to motherhood has not been as straight forward as it may seem. I have had three devastating miscarriages along the way. More on that another day. 

So back to the angry uterus…..I had a condition called Adenomyosis (a form of endometriosis). It is fairly common in women my age and the symptoms are things that most of us can unfortunately experience each month. In a very intense way. So after a little attention via day surgery, my once angry uterus is now as good as new. Well almost, I don’t think it will ever quite forgive me, but it has served its purpose very well. I will forgive the anger in exchange for the four beautiful children that it helped me grow. 

So I urge everyone, especially mothers to access all of the health checks that we have available to us in our great country. With bulk billing and medicare rebates available it really should not be out of any mothers reach to take care of themselves too. Plus amazing offers like free mammograms to women aged 40+ and thousands of clinics appearing around Australia that examine the skin for potential skin cancer, there really is no excuse.

I also booked in for a mammogram and another skin check. Why? Because I can.

I have always preferred to sit in the sun than the shade and while I am blessed with olive skin, it is an examination I will continue to do for the rest of my life. I happily paid for my first mammogram before I was 40 for no other reason except that through Shane’s association with BCNA (Breast Cancer Network Australia) and all of the amazing “pink ladies” I have met over the years. I am well aware of how unexpectantly that horrible disease can appear in anyone. Man or woman. 

So for Mother’s Day this year please give yourself a gift too. Go and have a "once over". Best case scenario - peace of mind…worse case scenario - early detection. And while you’re at it, try to drag along your significant other, for they are worse than us :(