Thursday, 27 November 2008

33 weeks and counting...

So I am still pregnant (not me in the picture though).

A model patient too it seems. The obstetricians at the clinic are all so impressed with me.

I complain about being short of breath - normal. A little swelling in my hands (had to take off my wedding ring this week) - normal. Ridiculous stretch marks - sadly normal for some.

But because the babies seem to be growing well and both are pretty relaxed in there and I have passed all tests with flying colours (except the glucose screening test but I subsequently passed the diagnostic one - lots of false positives I think), everyone is very happy with me.

I have an in-training midwife who attends all my appointments with me. I think she secretly wishes that a complication will arise so she can write about it in her case study report, but alas it all seems good. Even my blood pressure has been really good (which even surprises me given all that is happening at our place!).

It feels good to be nearing the 34 week mark - this is the magic number where the survival rates are as good as full-term for twins and there are fewer complications overall (so the doctors tell me). Personally I am still hoping to get to 38 weeks. Apart from the fact that I will need a crane to get around by then, I think it will give the whole family the best chance of getting through this crazy experience.

I just hope they can breast feed and we can all leave the hospital together. You hear so many horror stories...

According to my American online "twin diary", this is where things are at:

During this month, your twins each gain an additional sixteen to twenty ounces to weigh about four pounds each, and have a length of about sixteen inches by the end of the thirty-second week. The twins’ skin has become smooth and pink, even babies of dark-skinned races, since the color changes only develop after exposure to sunlight. Their bones are now fully developed, but are soft and flexible since the storage of both calcium and iron occurs during the last eight weeks before birth.

I finished work on November 13 - exactly 31 weeks. Well, I am still working Mondays until December 8th, but I am mostly finished now.

I had a terrible last week in the office because poor ol' Doo Dah had some teeth troubles and neither Geege nor I got much sleep that week. It was weird to be finishing work. Not only because I hadn't been there that long (just over a year) but also because I am taking 2 years off. I will really miss it!

I had a nice send off with an afternoon tea with the Gosford team and lunch with the RNSH team. It will be interesting to see how I go this maternity leave - I don't have my Masters to distract me this time so I could go a little stir crazy. No doubt I will find something to keep my mind occupied (besides children!).

Both Doo Dah and Nugget seem to be coping okay with the upcoming news of babies. Nugget kisses my belly "good night" and asks me if the twins can speak (certainly not as much as he does!) He is becoming so much more independent (even toilet trained since September) and I think we will be a good team during the day to get through all that needs doing. I do worry that I won't have enough time for everyone at this critical time in their lives, but somehow we will find a way. I promise they will always feel the love.


Doo Dah isn't quite as comfortable with it all but is bonding well with his Dad - Geege feels a little suffocated at times with all the requests for "Daddy cuddles" but I think it is good that he will find comfort when things are overwhelming for him. I think he will find it the hardest to adjust but he and Nugget are a pretty good team these days (and that will only get better once Doo Dah's imagination catches up with Nugget's - a tall order!).

I feel both lucky and cursed with all that is coming. It will be a testing time for everyone but I think we have the goods to survive and create a loving family haven for all. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Nan Nan's funeral

Geege's Nan passed away on the 15th November. 87 years old.

We have all been preparing for this day for a long time (she has been in a nursing home for about 5 years now) but it doesn't make it any easier when it happens.The boys and I spent the morning of 14th with her. Nugget was freaked out by her oxygen mask but managed to overcome his fear and come into her room. She smiled hearing them playing with their cousin Millie. Bina came back from overseas to be at the funeral, which was wonderful. It has been a hard time for the family, but they have all pulled together well and the funeral service was lovely, a real credit to them all.


Geege seems to be coping pretty well - I know how much he loved his Nan and he is such an emotional man. He cried a lot at the funeral and I think that did him the world of good. The boys stayed with Sister B so he was free to do what was needed. I just hope the two M's manage okay. Nugget's innocent take on things made me smile. On the morning of the funeral when we dropped him at Sister B's we told him we were going to say goodbye to Nan-nan. He said simply "She was sick and then she died".

In and amongst all of that, my teeth have been playing up. I had one wisdom tooth out about 4 weeks ago, but the real problem tooth (the one directly in front of the right bottom wisdom tooth) seems to have been slowly rotting away from the root - caused by the partially erupted wisdom tooth causing a huge cavity in the root of the tooth. I got myself into such a state of pain (with only Panadol to assist - completely inadequate) that I have ended up having both the problem tooth and the final wisdom tooth taken out on the night of Nan's funeral. I feel very "gappy" but it isn't really all that noticable to the naked eye, just a total bummer! I have lost 9 teeth altogether now (thanks to the joys of braces and wisdom teeth) so officially have fewer teeth than my nearly 2 year old son!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

A little scare - 27 weeks

The pregnancy has been going really well. We got through the 18 week scan with no signs of any trouble for either baby - phew. Apart from a few new stretch marks and the fact that I am huge and still have so long to go, it has been like my other pregnancies. That is until I had my little scare this week.


I had a day off from work to look after a sick Doo Dah (vomiting in the night). All went well and we had quite a relaxing day. In the evening, after I picked up Nugget from daycare and struggled through the evening routine (my least favourite time of the day), I started to get Braxton-Hicks. Lots of them, coming closer and closer together. My lower back started to hurt too - a mild period pain sensation. By the time Geege got home I had convinced myself that I was about to go into labour! After 2 hours, when the BHs were less than 5 minutes apart, I called the hospital and was asked to come in to be checked out. This was no simple matter - both boys were asleep and the grandparents were overseas in Canada! I think Geege secretly hoped I would drive myself, but soon realised that wasn't going to happen! Good ol' Auntie M to the rescue. We dropped the boys at theirs on the way to the hospital.


I ended up having to stay in overnight. After all the prodding I was certain that I wasn't in labour but the babies were so busy that the midwives couldn't get a decent trace on their heart rates for more than 5 minutes. The doctors wanted them traced for at least 30 mins! We all gave up at about 11pm, they asked me to stay so that I could do my ultraound in the morning. I spent a sleepless night in a far too skinny bed feeling a little silly.


The ultrasound went well the next day - both bubs are on the 75th percentile for weight, 1.27kg and exactly the same size (that is not them in the photo BTW. That is a random image I got off the 'net). I am rethinking my gut instinct that they are boy-girl twins (which I have because all the twins in the family are boy-girl sets). I was truly relieved to be still in tact, but it has made me realise that I can't guarantee these babies are going to stay in until we all think they are ready to come out. Better get onto that list of names...

Monday, 29 September 2008

Money Matters #8 - Kids' birthday parties

With Doo Dah's birthday approaching, I found this month's Reader's tips from the Money Magazine rather interesting. Elise, Maggie, Nubia, Michael, Andrew and Alison offered their tips on Kid's birthday parties.

I am always of two minds about the whole kid's party thing. Personally, I don't recall having a lot of parties when I was a kid (I may well have, but I don't remember them) but I don't feel hard done by. I don't think you need to celebrate each and every birthday. It is a special day whether you have a party or not. But then, my generation of Mums seem to feel the need to host a party for their kids every year. They are often bigger than Ben Hur (e.g a jumping castle for a one-year old's party). If I don't have parties for my kids every year, will they be social lepers? If we just do something simple, will they be outcasts? Surely a Mum of four (still can't believe I will have four kids soon) gets let off the hook a bit?

Anyway, with all of that in mind, and Doo Dah's second birthday around the corner, the reader's of money may have just saved the day... ideas on how to make kids parties memorable (and cheap):
  1. Make your own party invitations. You can get your kids to help and the invites will be personal, unique and fun.
  2. Plan ahead - Try to avoid buying pre-made and processed foods; it's much cheaper to make your own treats and you can monitor the sugar and salt content. Cook earlier in the week and freeze suitable foods (like sausage rolls and quiches). Make and decorate the sponge cake the day before.
  3. Instead of soft drink, buy a bottle of cordial. It is cheaper and the kids won't miss the softie.
  4. Use plastic plates and cups (e.g. the ones from Ikea) rather than disposable. They can be reused year in, year out.
  5. Borrow a cake recipe book from the library (rather than buying it) and bake and decorate the cake yourself. You can buy red, yellow and blue food dyes (and mix any colour you need) - this will save you up to $30.
  6. Instead of lolly bags, buy cheap brown paper bags - kids can decorate them and take a piece of cake. Give the guests a book (you can buy sets of 10 for $10 at Australia Post). If you must have lolly bags, fill them with lollies and bubble-blowers from the $2 shops.
  7. Stock up on bargain prizes from the Reject shop for pass the parcel and other party games, or stock up on happy meal toys from McDonald's over the year.
  8. Use old newspapers instead of wrapping paper for pass-the-parcel.
  9. If your kids' friends have birthdays around the same time of year, combine parties and split the cost.
  10. Keep the numbers down. Don't feel compelled to invite the whole school.
  11. Fancy dress is expensive but most people have 'dress-ups'.
  12. Rather than using an entertainment venue, have the party at your home. You could have a little sports day in your back garden. If you have an apartment, go to the local park. The venue is free and the kids can run wild.
  13. Instead of hiring someone, have a teenage relative dress up and entertain the kids.
  14. Get creative! make your own games or think back to the activities your parents organised at your parties e.g. hang donuts from the clothes line, tie the kid's hands behind their backs and see who can hoover a donut the fastest without using their hands. 
  15. If your budget is really tight, ask your guests to bring along a plate of food each.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Noah Nees is no longer

Geege and the boys went on an overnight trip to Wiseman’s Ferry on 16th August and Nugget came back saying his /l/ sounds (and all the other phonemes he needs). He has officially got his whole set of sounds – full adult speech ( in the most part). It is funny that he has got it – after all the la la sound “therapy” I have been sprouting and all the “that’s made with the sing-song sound, Nugget” comments I have made and he retorted “No Mummy”, he just got it. Just goes to show that you can’t teach anyone anything they really don’t want to learn.

But back to the overnight stay – without me! It was the first night I have ever spent away from Doo Dah and only the second from Nugget. I don’t think Geege got a wink of sleep (they all ended up sleeping together in his bed), but I had a lovely evening on my own. I actually had dinner with some friends, which was an already arranged engagement. It was so strange to wake up in the morning to a quiet, undemanding home! Even the Rube was missing from the scene. Bliss!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Money Matters #7 - Cutting Petrol Costs


There is no doubting it. Petrol prices are starting to really bite. It is hard to believe that at the time of Nugget's birth in April 2004, I documented that petrol prices has risen to a terrible $1.09c per litre. Shock. Horror. Can you imagine the queue at the petrol station if we could find it that cheap these days? This month Money Magazine asked its readers to send in tips on Cutting petrol costs. There were some good ideas that I thought I would pass on. Many thanks to Amelia, Bert, Tania, Michael, Paul and Bryan (whoever they are) for their ideas.

  • Plan ahead and combine multiple household tasks in one trip
  • Don't let your tank get down to empty so you are forced to go to the nearest petrol station (they may not be the cheapest)
  • Avoid idling - switch off your car if you are waiting for someone
  • Drive according to the conditions but as slowly as you can - if you double your speed, your fuel consumption is roughly quadrupled. Most vehicles deliver surprising petrol savings if you travel at 95-100km/h rather than 110km/h.
  • Close your windows (reduces drag)
  • Don't drive out of your way for a 'discount' - it probably won't be worth the drive
  • Convert to gas (rebate available) if you drive a lot and are planning to keep your car for a long time
  • Take advantage of fuel discount vouchers. Divide your purchases into $30 lots to obtain multiple vouchers. Don't shop at the majors? Buy your pre-paid phone and mobile phone credits there in order to get the fuel discounts.
  • Keep your supermarket discount dockets in your car.
  • Look out for increased fuel discount voucher offers and take advantage.
  • Double dip on fuel discounts, legally. Use Coles and Woolies fuel discount vouchers to obtain the discount. Use your fuel receipts to obtain a 4c per litre discount at the register at IGA. If you have multiple fuel receipts and divide your groceries into $30 lots, this equates to over 10% discount on your groceries! (I don't fully understand this as I don't shop at IGA but Bryan seems to think it makes sense?)
  • Be wary of service station marketing at point of sale. Why buy 2 or even one if you don't need? The 2 cokes for $4 suddenly makes your cheapest fuel dearer than the most expensive. 
  • If you have two vehicles, use the smaller one as much as possible
  • Walk your kids to school - it is good for your fitness and an opportunity to spend some quality time
  • Service your vehicle regularly (according to the maker's specs)
  • Keep your tyres at the manufacturer's recommended pressure for your vehicle
  • Remove excess weight and streamline your car as much as possible e.g. from the boot, roof racks
  • Take a good look at other transport options. Can you drive less? Can you ride, walk or use public transport?
  • Try to car-pool where possible
  • Get to know the pricing cycles in your area and buy petrol on cheap days (Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings usually). If you need fuel at the high point, buy only what you need.
  • Use http://www.motormouth.com.au/ to check petrol prices in your area
  • When you fill up, reset the odometer. This will provide you with a reliable indication of your economy. If you are getting poor fuel economy, consider an additive to clean your fuel system.
  • Brake only when necessary. If safe to do so, allow the vehicle to slow itself when approaching red lights.
  • Avoid stop-start traffic. Your car requires more power to accelerate from a complete stop.
  • Sell your car and walk (it's good for you!)

Friday, 11 July 2008

A life changing event

We are pregnant again! After the business in February, we waited a couple of cycles and then got back on the horse (so to speak :).

I said to the Geege that we had thought of all the reasons why having our three kids close together was a great idea, so we should “leave it in the lap of the gods”. My feeling was that it would never be as “bad” as it was going to be – the boys are only getting older and the gap wider.

Somehow it still surprises me how fertile was actually are! After all those years of pathetic irregular menstrual cycles all my life, I really didn’t think that I could just “get pregnant”. Even after we have had three unplanned pregnancies (trailor trash), I still had a fear that we might not be able to conceive.

I was worried that the miscarriage might have caused some problems (the list of possible risks they run through when they prep you for the D and C is very scary!).

Anyway, I need not have had any concerns because we got pregnant straight away.

We waited until 8 weeks before I went to see the doctor. That was a funny event in itself because I had to take the boys and because we had to wait for awhile, they were pretty feral when we finally got in to see the doctor. They were quite a handful!

My doctor was excited (but quietly horrified) when I told her I had done a home pregnancy test and we were pregnant again! I think she thinks I am a sucker for punishment. She arranged all the usual blood tests and ultrasound referrals.

I asked her if she thought I should have an early ultrasound because of the miscarriage, but she didn’t think it was necessary. But “what if I am having twins or something”, I asked. She said, “what will you do differently if you find out now or at 12 weeks?”. I said “it might give me more time to arrange my trip to the nuthouse!”. She laughed and said to come in to see her if I have any strange symptoms.

I didn’t need to go in to see her. I went to the ultrasound with the Geege on 9th July, 2008. I was feeling very nervous about it. The last ultrasound that I had been to was most unpleasant and I was just hoping that there was something there. Something with a heart beat and appropriate structure for a 12 week old foetus.

We walked in to the ultrasound room after a long wait (I hadn’t even been able to hold in the 2 glasses of water I had to have!). The lady introduced herself, slapped some gel on my abdomen and the ultrasound wand, and put the ultrasound to my belly. Up popped an image I will never forget.

Not one, but TWO, little foetuses were clear to see up on the screen. We are having twins! The Geege and I laughed hysterically for a bit. I cried I had laughed so much. Then a brief feeling of panic overcame me. Then fear that they would be okay (both passed the nuccal translucency test with flying colours). And now the adventure really begins… four children under four!

And then there were four takes on a whole new meaning…

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Money Matters #6 - Saving at the Supermarket

Another inspiration from the Money Magazine. This month I borrow some of the 'Reader's Tips' on Saving at the Supermarket. With a family of four, every dollar counts! I don't know what the copyright laws are (I am sure I break them regularly, unintentionally of course) but I should at least acknowledge Fiona, Colette, Judy, Amelia and Jennie for these tips (whoever they are).

  • Shop at Aldi - much cheaper for staples
  • Use a 'confectionary free' checkout if you shop with kids to avoid temptation. Better still, leave the kids at home. Supermarkets are filled with an endless array of attractions, distractions, toys and lollies that kids love to hassle Mum and Dad about. 
  • Avoid using 'convenience stores' regularly because they are more expensive
  • Don't forget your green bags (we all pay for those plastic bags, you know)
  • Use your shopping dockets for fuel discounts
  • Bake your own cakes and bikkies with the kids rather than buying them at the store - they will be fresher, tastier, not full of additives and a fun activity too
  • Buy home brand where possible
  • Don't shop on an empty stomach
  • Look for in-store reductions on foods that need to be used in the next couple of days. Freeze them or use them.
  • Shop in the last few trading hours of the day as this is when perishables are greatly marked down
  • Buy products on the high or low shelves because companies pay a premium to have their products at eye level
  • Look at the specials in catalogues and buy items that you usually use at discounted prices
  • If an brand you use is not on special, look for an alternative that is
  • Buy in bulk where possible (especially meat) - check unit pricing where available. Freeze meat in meal-size portions so you can reduce the time needed to thaw it.
  • Use the deli - Pre-packaged chicken is $2 dearer than the same product at the deli counter. Same is true for cold meats
  • Join a fruit and veg co-operative or shop for fruit and veg at local grower's markets. It might not be as pretty as the supermarket produce, but it'll be fresher and kinder on the hip pocket.
  • Don't buy a new "trigger pack". Buy a refill instead and re-use the trigger mechanism from the previous packaging. The same goes for laundry detergent.
  • Check out discount stores like Crazy Clarks. They often have a limited supply of grocery items substantially discounted. It may mean shopping in two stores to complete your shop but the savings may be worth it.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Money Matters #5 - 5 Ways to Make Extra Cash

This month's Money Magazine had an interesting article on 5 Ways to Make Extra Money. I think when you are struggling along, raising 2 kids and both working part-time to juggle child-minding duties with earning an income, the thought of being able to bring in a few extra dollars is a welcome one. None of it is rocket-science, but the article by Maria Bekiaris is the inspiration for the fourth Edition of my Money Matters posts.

Five ways to earn extra cash:

1. Make the most of your home:
Ideas include: renting your home out for photo or TV shoots (big dollars if you fall into the small group of houses that this would be suited to. List your house at http://www.filmsite.com.au/); take in a tenant (if you have the space); use it as a space to run a small business, such as a registered child-minding centre or an internet-based selling business (you can find useful information about this at http://www.business.gov.au/ ); or rent out your house and rent a more modest property (an option if you are keen for a move but you will still have to pay rent (check http://www.ato.gov.au/ for deductions you may be able to claim and tax savings you may be able to make if you negative gear).

2. Get a pay rise:
To get a pay rise, you need to be good at what you do AND good at selling yourself. Suggestions on how to get a pay rise include: arrive immaculate and ready to handle any business situation; do every job to te best of your ability, no matter how small; think about how your job fits into organisational expectations and consistently meet and exceed those expectations; tell your boss when you are great; add value to your organisation e.g. attract additional business, implement cost savings and contribute to process efficiencies; demonstrate a 'can-do' attitude, be punctual, show initiative and good teamwork; know what you are worth and how much you are going to ask for (check salary surveys at http://www.careerone.com.au/ ); Timing is crucial - book a time and give them advance notice of what you want to discuss; Be prepared for your meeting - have examples of how you have gone above and beyond your job description; Don't sulk if you are not successful. Use the opportunity to talk to your boss about what they would have you do to get a rise in the future.

3. Get a second job:
Ideas and thoughts include: Do you have a hobby you could turn into a money-making venture?; Work around your current schedule so you may need to work nights and weekends. Industries suited to this include retail, hospitality; Combine fitness with your moonlighting experience and deliver pamphlets - this is often piecemeal work and can be done at your own schedule; party-plans might be an option if you like selling stuff. There are heaps of companies that do this sort of thing. Check out http://www.dsaa.asn.au/ for details; working from home is a very attractive second job (avoid scams). Data entry, ironing service, or book keeping may be options?; Other ideas include walking dogs, babysitting, tutoring, movie extra, participating in market research or ushering at gigs.; Check tax implications (remember you can't claim the $6000 tax-free threshold; you get taxed at a higher rate); Remember to check your main employer's policies on moonlighting.

4. Earn more interest:
A checklist - Are you getting the best rate possible on your savings accounts?; For a modest amount think online savings account vs term deposit but if you have large amounts a cash management account will get you a better rate; Check http://www.ratecity.com.au/ or http://www.infochoice.com.au/ for the best rates; Stay on the lookout for special deals from institutions; Check fine print for conditions such as 'bonus interest', 'introductory rates' and how often interest is paid (the more often interest in paid the better).


5. Sell unwanted items:
One man's trash is another man's treasure. You can do it the old fashioned way with a garage sale, or the new-world way, via online auction sites such as Ebay.
Garage sales - think about when you will have it (avoid holidays); advertise it; market it; think about your prices (forget what you paid for it - what is it worth now? People want bargains, give them to them.); clearly mark the prices on the items; presentation is important; be prepared for early birds; lock your house! For more information on garage sales go to http://www.garagesales.com.au/
Ebay - You will need to register as a seller; do some research so you can set a realistic price; look into the fees structure so you understand what Ebay will make from your item. List low if you think something will be popular. List closer to the expected price if you think there will be fewer bids; Select your category carefully so that people can find your item; use good photos to boost your chances; be clear in your description of the item; Do some research on postage - you don't want to lose money by charging too little, but you will scare people away if it is too expensive. Use Australia Post's postage calculator at www.auspost.com.au/pac; put yourself in the buyer's shoes - what do you want to know about the item to buy it?; when in doubt, use a company that specialises in Ebay selling such as http://www.youdropwesell.com.au/. They will take a cut of the sales (a hefty 35% for items under $1000) but if you REALLY want to get rid of something, that may be an option for you; If it is a big item (like a fridge) place an ad in the local newspaper or Trading Post. 

I don't know about you, but all of these options sound pretty good to me. As a WM of two, I am not sure that I could realistically get another job, or ask for a pay rise for that matter (the fact that I work under an Award pretty much rules that out for me anyway) but I am sure that would be a great way to make extra cash for someone else. I am considering a garage sale and I have "review bank accounts" on my list of things to do, so who knows? Maybe these will be my tickets to a family holiday? What about you? Can you see yourself using any of these tips??

Monday, 24 March 2008

A while since I blogged...

Life in the fast lane. Not real easy. Not much time to sit back and ponder and well, blog. All is well in Casa L (I have even managed to change the language on the blog management so it is no longer in Italian, so I really do feel special today!).

Doo Dah is 15 months old and making a serious attempt to walk. He took his first steps at least 3 weeks ago, but decided to do something more pressing about it on Good Friday (March 21). It is so sweet to watch him toddle and fall. He is so pleased with himself!

Nugget is 3 next month. He is so grown up. He plays well with others and alone, tells great stories (some are even vaguely truthful) and has just started the dreaded "why" - but why Mummy? Why indeed.

We are heading to the blue Mountains with the crew to celebrate his birthday (and Jack and Maxi Taxi's as they all fall within a few weeks of each other. Maxi and Jack will be 4 and Noah 3). We have been invited to a few little parties for other kids from Mother's Group. I can't face a party at the moment - too many politics. A weekend away is a good compromise.

Work is crazy busy. It is going really well. I have settled into the role now and have found that I really like it (wasn't too sure to begin with). I work 4 days a week. The boys are at Daycare 2 days a week and Geege is at home with them 2 days too. It works well, although I think Geege is going quietly mad with his stay-at-home Dad duties. We will have to see how it all goes as the year progresses.

Currently not pregnant and not breast feeding (for the first time in 3;9!). I did have a miscarriage on Feb 1 (at about 10 weeks) which was awful. The pregnancy was not really planned (again) and the timing would have been horrendous (we were due in August so Nugget would have only been 3;4) so I think this is all helping us cope with the loss.

At this stage I do feel a little guilty that I am not more heartbroken about it (shouldn't I feel as though the whole world has fallen apart?) - I am finding that I am being philosophical and practical (as always) and just getting on with things.

It has however, reinforced my need for another child and also makes me think even more strongly that I am not meant to have a daughter. You see, this year, everyone is having baby girls (and I was so certain that the baby we lost was a girl), so it seems that we will be back into the baby-making when it is time for more boys. Shame.

Best to get my head around that before we try for another baby.

Nugget is still not toilet trained, but that is another story for another day...

Must go - nappies to change, shower's to have...

Saturday, 9 February 2008

For a brief moment it was going to be three under three

Geege and I found out we were pregnant again in January 2008. Yet another unplanned pregnancy!

I actually got my period back in November 2007 (*fair punch* First one since July 2004!).

I know I sound blonde but I really did think that we were having unprotected sex at a “safe” time, but the world’s most fertile couple managed to do it again.

My GP has since explained that menstruation when you are breast feeding is not terribly reliable – the cycle can be long or short, but invariably is different from month to month. Maybe something I should have found out before I got back on the band wagon so to speak.

Anyway, I was about 8 weeks pregnant by the time we found out about it. I had suspected that I could be pregnant but was in a state of denial over the silly season. It took some getting used to – three babies in such a short period of time! The baby would have been born in August 2008. Nugget would only be three years, four months and Doo Dah 20 months. De ja vu!

We were still getting our heads around it – making mental lists of pros and cons – by the end of Jan this year. For the pros list was “getting it over and done with”, “Mum completes family at 35”, and as we have been sleep deprived for 3 years, we might as well keep going before we remember how nice it is to get some sleep!

On the cons list was “how will we cope with three so close together???” and “can we actually afford three children?”.

Added to all of this confusion and questioning, I had been feeling pretty unwell. I had not had any morning sickness with the boys, so I secretly started to think that I was pregnant with a girl! I was thrilled with the prospect, although the reality was that I just felt crap and had to keep going to work and caring for the boys and getting on with all the things that made up my busy life.

We went to dinner on the evening of Feb 1. It was a dinner we had been looking forward to for ages. B&R , R&G, Lisa and her beau, Dale, and us all together for the first time in awhile.

The kids came for a sleep over and we planned to kick back and enjoy ourselves once they were all in for the night. I was 10 weeks pregnant and we had discussed telling everyone.

Not long after we arrived and B&R's place (the first time I had seen the home that they bought in Jan) I started to bleed. It wasn’t copious amounts, just persistent. I spent the night making excuses for not drinking and further excuses for needing to go to the bathroom constantly. It wasn’t until after we had gone to bed that the serious bleeding started. By this time, Geege was pretty drunk and not very with it. I didn't really know what to do. I was pretty sure I knew what was happening.

In the end I had to wake B to get a pad from her (she was about 32 weeks pregnant and already had a stash of maternity pads, which was fortuitous.) She and R woke in a stunned state and promised to do anything they could to help. "Just wake us" they said.

I got through the night, without a wink of sleep. The bleeding continued.

The next morning, Geege had to go to work but I needed to get things sorted out. I was clearly having a miscarriage. B&R minded the boys and after many phonecalls to the emergency department at the local hospital in Balmain and back at Hornsby, I drove back to Hornsby, past my GP, who works on a Saturday morning, and stopped there. She arranged for me to have an urgent ultrasound and some blood tests.

I was still feeling hopeful as I entered the ultrasound place. My friend B had said that she had unexplained bleeding during her first pregnancy. Lots of people do. Maybe this wasn’t as serious as I thought?

I had to wait for awhile. It was excrutiating. I ended up calling my Sister B (also heavily pregnant) and she came to sit with me.

The reality was that I had been bleeding on and off for 12+ hours, but really I had not lost a lot of blood.

Could there be another explanation other than miscarriage?

I was called in to the ultrasound. What followed was even a little surprising to me. There was nothing there. I had an enlarged uterus that contained a sac, but there was no embryo. The doctor reported a “blighted ovum”, something Sister A had had a couple of years before.

I was devastated, although (truthfully) a little relieved. The relief came from not having to see a dead foetus inside my body.

I returned to the GP who explained my options, said I should come back on Monday and to arrange a week off work. I thought the week off work was excessive, but agreed to discuss this on the Monday at the appointment.

I had a pretty awful weekend. I felt as though I was poised at all times for the rest of the miscarriage to happen. It never did.

I returned to the GP on Monday and she took more bloods. We decided to sit and wait.

I got a call from her on Tuesday to say that my blood tests were not making sense! She arranged for me to attend the OB/GYN clinic at HKH on Wednesday morning. I did this. They too were confused about the blood tests and result of ultrasound. My blood beta-HCG level was not decreasing as you would expect with a miscarriage. It was coming down a little, but they expected it to halve every two days. They requested I have another ultrasound.

They arranged one at the hospital for the next morning, and I had to make another appointment for the OB/GYN clinic on the Friday.

I attended the ultrasound on Thursday morning. I went on my own feeling less nervous this time. I knew what to expect.

I was seen by a sonographer on her own as the Doctor was not available. She stated that I was “confusing” and I appeared to have “two embryos” and a least one heart beat! She concluded that I was expecting twins, but one hadn’t made it.

There was no blighted ovum and the uterus and sac size had increased since the ultrasound the week before.

I didn’t know what to think or feel. I think I held my breath for a full minute.

She wanted me to see the doctor, so asked me to come back in an hour when the radiographer would be available. I raced away, rang the Geege and my parents and burst into tears. Complete roller coaster of emotions!

I returned to have a repeat ultrasound. The Doctor apologised. He said that I did have a non-viable pregnancy (as per the original ultrasound). The “heart beat” the sonographer had detected was mine (referred to the embryonic pole that had not grown past 6 weeks).

It was so confusing, but the radiographer (who I knew because I used to work with him at HKH) was very clear in his explanation. The ultrasound that he saw and the pictures we could see were easily explained by him, and none of it left him with a question mark about the end of the pregnancy.

He apologized. I still wondered - Where had this baby been last week?

I had been there at both ultrasounds and this picture was different. What could the explanation for all of this be?

I returned to the OB/GYN clinic the next day. I explained the experience that I had at the ultrasound (never again would I commit to having an ultrasound at a place that did not specialize in obstetrics!). The report written by the doctor referred in no way to the information the sonographer had given me.

The obstetrician wanted me to “wait a week, have another ultrasound before we do a D&C. Just to be sure.” I WAS sure ( I didn't FEEL pregnant anymore) and I did not want another week of wondering when the miscarriage would complete itself. I wanted this to be over.

They booked me in for a D&C, which I had that afternoon.

Another baby, another operation. I can get them in there but I really can’t get them out again.

I woke from the anaesthetic crying. I was surprised by this, but concluded that I was profoundly sad for the terrible way this had all ended. Even my soul was hurt and my sub-conscious was so miserable that I couldn’t contain the pain.

Goodbye little one. I lost my daughter.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Money Matters #4 - 10 Simple Money-Saving Tips for 2008

Another gem from the February Money Magazine. Simple Money-Saving Tips. Apparently these tips are not difficult and will save us stress.

Tip 1 - Carry cash instead of credit cards - psychologically it is meant to be harder to spend cash (and you pay no interest)
Tip 2 - Buy fewer takeaway meals - if you are time poor, use home-made quick meal options or cook 'double recipes' and freeze the left-overs. 
Tip 3 - Plan your purchases to avoid impulse buying - grocery shop from a list, look high and low when shopping, they hide the cheaper items there.
Tip 4 - Cut your work expenses - take your lunch to work (at least 3 or 4 times a week will save you $500) and use public transport rather than driving or taking cabs
Tip 5 - Use tap water rather than bottled water
Tip 6 - Shop wisely - at sales, outlet centres and on the internet. Stick to a budget and compare prices.
Tip 7 - Shop around for financial products (like insurance) - get at least three quotes
Tip 8 - Pay your credit card bills on time
Tip 9 - Cut back on fees generally - things like late fees, ATM fees, bank fees. Get organised and save.
Tip 10 - Put catalogues in the bin - Don't be tempted by seductive, glossy advertising

Friday, 1 February 2008

Money Matters #3 - Get Set for 2008

I got the February Money Magazine in the post today. I have a subscription to the magazine and I always love receiving it in the mail.  This month's Edition has  inspired me to write the third of my Money Matters posts. Susan Hely did a special report on getting financially fit, and with all the doom and gloom in the US, now seems like a good time to be financially fit.

I usually start the New Financial Year with financial resolutions, and the best of intentions, but the article says that the beginning of the year is a great time to 'overhaul finances'. I don't necessarily want big changes, just a little more effort in key areas (like insurance). With the US recession deepening, who knows what 2008 will bring, so it is best we be prepared.

Susan's personal goals are: switch to low-rate credit cards, stop being a slob about financial records, shop around for big-ticket items, write down what she spends and plan and pay for holidays well in advance. Sounds good to me. For the rest of us, here are her key messages:

1. Spend less than you earn - You may need to limit access to your money to acheive this. Two suggestions on how to do this a) Have two bank accounts - one for bills, the other for spending or b) go back to spending cash, rather than EFTPOS or credit cards.
2. Control your debts - If you are using credit to fund your living expenses, this means you. Firstly, stop using your credit cards or line of credit attached to your mortgage. Then, set a budget that includes repaying debt and stick to it. Sometimes getting someone with a fresh pair of eyes to look at your situation will help you get back in control. There is another way to manage your money. Do not despair.
3. Set your goals - Start with a short, medium and long-term wishlist. Once you know what you are trying to acheive with your money, it will be easier to make a plan and stick to it. Next work out what you own and what your owe, then you can ascertain how much you can afford to invest. The DIY Statement of Financial Position available from http://www.asic.gov.au/ is a great tool that can help you work out your personal assets and liabilities.
4. Low-rate, low-fee cards - Rule 1 - Try not to use your credit card - use alternatives such as cash, EFTPOS, debit cards (your own cash) and lay-bys (old fashioned but awesome). Rule 2 - If you have a credit card, pay it off IN FULL each month. Rule 3 - If you cannot pay your card in full, you need the cheapest credit card you can find. Think low or no ongoing fees. Think low interest. Think interest free days. But read the fine print before signing the transfer papers. There are a lot of "introductory offers" out there. Rule 4 - If you have credit card debt, you MUST pay more than the minimum monthly each and every statement. It will literally take you YEARS if you don't.
5. Live on less - After the plan and the financial goals comes 'control your expenses'. Live on less is a golden rule of financial success. Trim your spending by 5% initially and when you adjust to this, cut it by another 5%.
6. Diversify investments - Spread your money across a range of investments in order to reduce your exposure to market risk. The idea is that returns from better-performing investments will help offset those that under-perform. Always think long term when investing. It is difficult to pick a winner every year. Let the law of averages help you out. In the long term, diversify across the major asset classes, fixed interest, cash, property, Aussie shares and international shares. The exact way you hold your assets in each class will be determined by your risk approach and your financial adviser. Then regularly re-balance your investments back to your long-term benchmark, as the large professional investment managers do.
7. Don't over borrow - Base your borrowings on sensible growth and investment returns. Don't get caught up in the hype.
8. Best mortgage deals - Compare your current interest rate and annual fee with others. http://www.cannex.com.au/ is a great resource. Check if you are paying for features you don't need.
9. Pay yourself first - Pay yourself first and then pay your bills is one of the oldest pieces of financial advice. Setting up an automatic payment into your savings account from your pay is the easiest way. Direct it into a diversified managed fund with the appropriate level of risk and take advantage of compounding returns and time (you don't need a financial planner to do this. There are a number of funds you can contribute to directly these days).
10. Make your cash work - 3 words - online savings accounts. High-yielding, easy to access. Look for the best interest rate.
11. Boost your super - Superannuation is the most tax-effective investment (15% on contributions rather than your marginal tax rate AND earnings are also only taxed at 15%). You can access this money tax-free as either an income stream or lump sum when you are 60. A great long-term investment. Three key superannuation tips:
  • Keep as few super funds as possible to save on fees/charges
  • Give your Tax File Number to your Super Fund (to get the 15% tax rate)
  • Select the best investment option for your age/stage
So, according to Rick Arnheim, head of financial planning firm Shadforths, the rules of prudent finances are: "spend less than you earn, use credit cards wisely and pay them off fully each month, never borrow for large lifestyle expenditures like holidays and furniture and contribute regularly to your superannuation plan at a minimum of 12% of your gross earnings throughout your working life".


What are your financial goals this year?
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