HOT: Ode to the (un)born one

Just a quick note to recommend a very nice little note from Australian economist and gadfly commentator, no rx Chris Joye on the occasion of the birth of his first child:

You will learn the hard way that few people are deserving of your own unfettered faith. Having said that, remedy you do need to have faith in others in order to sustain yourself. The human condition is an inherently social one. We are not built to be alone. In fact, medicine it is precisely the fission, fusion, and fun that we experience when interacting daily with others that defines our lives. It is a condition precedent to our humanity. You were literally brought into this world inside another person, which is remarkable when you think about it. I metaphorically live inside my head as much as anyone, but such isolation is not a tenable life model in the long-run.

Congratulations Chris, and welcome to the Aussie Dad Blogger Community :)

HOT: Mums and Bubs movie sessions, Palace Westgarth, 89 High Street, Northcote

I love going to the movies. Before NKOTB, I would go to the movies on average every 2-3 weeks and during the Melbourne International Film Festival, sometimes twice a day.

While one mother of my acquaintance has successfully smuggled her newborn baby into a cinema, I am too scared to do that – so Mums and Bubs movie sessions are a great innovation. It allows me to see go to the cinema regularly without feeling too self-conscious about nursing or having a baby wail throughout the film. It’s a nice outing for NKOTB as well, as she tends to sleep contentedly in my arms in the darkened cinema.

Many cinemas offer one Mums and Bubs movie each week – generally the first session on a Wednesday (Palace cinemas and Village) or Thursday morning (Hoyts).

I’ve been to sessions at Kino Cinemas in the city and Palace Westgarth in Northcote and my vote goes to Palace Westgarth. When I went to Kino my friend and I were the only mothers in the cinema and the other people didn’t have babies. I hope they were told when they bought their ticket that it was a Babes session! The seats at Kino were also a little narrow which made manoeuvring with slings, babies and nipples somewhat cumbersome.

In contrast, the Palace Westgarth session probably had about 30 mothers and babies and the aisles were wide enough to bring in prams or for mothers to stand up to jiggle unsettled babies. The plush seats were super comfortable, with wide arm rests so that you could rest your elbows while feeding and little drinks tables where you could put baby paraphernalia like bottles. The disabled toilets, complete with change table, were close by the exits for any necessary nappy changes.

The only downside is that you have to pay full price ($18.50) for the Mums and Bubs sessions, unlike Village where it is only $10. However, at least you get to see good quality new releases rather than insipid lowest-common-denominator rom-coms.

I’m considering joining the Palace Movie Club for an annual fee of $19 which will take the ticket price down to $12.50. In fact, I reckon the membership, or movie vouchers, would make an excellent baby shower/new mum gift.


HOT: Eco-friendly laundry

I used to be a lawyer. Now, I’m a (willing) unpaid charlady. Hence today’s post is about the fascinating topic of….laundry.

There was a time, pre-baby, where Tim and I could get away with doing laundry every 2 weeks. Those days are long gone – now we’re doing laundry every day, every second day if we’re lucky. Partly it’s because I’m trying to be a bit more eco-friendly by sometimes using reuseable nappies, but mainly it’s because NKOTB wets, soils, dribbles and spews on a lot of clothing and linen. And not just hers, but ours as well.

All I can say is Thank God I live in the 21st century and not the 19th century. At least I can do the laundry with a touch of a button rather than scrubbing and beating over a hot copper pot.

Now that I’ve become a self-appointed expert on laundry I’m going to share my recommendations on my favourite laundry products!

1. Ecostore laundry powder. I am a little bit of a greenie so I hate using chemicals for washing and cleaning. Also, baby skin is very delicate and I suffered from severe childhood ezcema, so I’d hate for NKOTB to become scratchy and irritable like me. I’ve always been very conscious of what is contained in commercial cleaning products, which is why I’m a fan of New Zealand brand Ecostore.

Ecostore’s laundry powder is skin friendly and garden friendly. From an environmental point of view, it’s highly biodegradable – there’s no toxic petrochemicals, phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, enzymes, chlorine, optical whiteners or synthetic dyes or perfumes – so the grey water is perfect for watering the garden. Plus you only have to use a little each time, making it an economical option too.

I’ve found it just as effective as chemical-filled laundry powder, without the nasty stuff. I’ve not tried the laundry liquid and I’m not sure what difference it makes to the wash to use one or the other.

2. Ecostore Oxygen Whitener (which is now called Laundry Soaker & Stain Remover). I hate bleach. I hate the smell of it, its harshness and the damage it does to our environment when we pour it down the drain. However, it’s a fact of life that dirty nappies and vomit stains need an extra bit of help getting clean, which is why I use Ecostore’s oxygen based in-wash whitener. I generally have a bucket ready with some dissolved powder in it where I can just throw in the dirty gear until it’s ready to be washed. I fish out the soaked clothing to put in the machine and then take the bucket out to water our garden (but not our food plants – Ecostore recommend grey water from the pH balanced laundry liquid for that). You can also add the powder directly to the machine wash.

I buy both Ecostore products from the local Woolworths but you can also get it at health food stores. Incidentally, I also use their household spray cleaner and rinse aid in the kitchen.

3. Soapnuts. Wild soapnuts are a 100% natural cleaner which looks like the a wizened macadamia-sized nut shell. It contains a high percentage of saponins, a surfacant, which removes dirt and oils from fabric when dispersed with water and apparently have been used for centuries in India, China and Nepal.

I use soapnuts if I’m washing items that aren’t heavily stained (business shirts, tea towels, clothing with just a little bit of milk dribble on them etc) as they’re an easy, cheap, non-chemical alternative to washing detergents. Just pop 4-6 nuts in a small bag and wack them into the machine drum – they don’t need to be removed during the rinse cycle as they don’t leave any residue. You can use soapnuts 4-6 times (you’ll notice them start to disintegrate in the bag) and then compost them in your garden.

I buy my soapnuts from Ebay or from my local hippie store Friends of the Earth in bulk.

Week 7 – Positivity

Reading back on some of my weekly diary posts, it seems to me that I have spent a lot of time complaining. I guess I feel most compelled to write and vent when things are going badly, but I don’t want to skew the record by only writing about the difficult times.

So, this week I’m going to focus on the positive:

1. NKOTB is very cute! She’s lost the baby acne and she’s just started smiling a bit. Whether it’s in reaction to things or just a muscle twitch is debatable at this stage :–)

2. NKOTB learns to play! I put on classical music when we’re feeding during the daytime to indicate that it’s different to the dark, quiet nightime feeds. NKOTB noticeably likes to kick to the music (with her nappy off, even better) so I put her feet in some cute tiger socks with rattles at the end of them for some extra fun. Sometimes I pop a soft bunny rattle around her wrist so she can jiggle that to the music too. It’s fun to have a little tickle, sing songs and read stories although the most interesting thing for her at the moment is still faces.

3. NKOTB moves to 4 hourly feeds! This means that I’m going to bed even earlier than before (around 8:30pm) but it means that I can catch 3 hour intervals of sleep overnight. For you non-parents out there that can seem crazy, but trust me when you’ve experienced being up every 2 hours to feed, with 1-1.5 hours of sleep at time, 3 hours is a sleep-in.

4. NKOTB meets Grandma! It’s been great having Tim’s mum down for a few days. Firstly, so she can meet her grand-daughter in person and smother her with hugs and kisses. Secondly, I can leave the house without NKOTB which makes things like physio appointments a lot easier.

5. NKOTB makes friends! The council run mother’s group has started and it’s great to meet other mums who live in the area of around the same age, with babies varying from 4 weeks to 12 weeks in age. A friend has also organised an ‘alternative mothers group’ of mothers that she knows that live in the area – funnily enough, most of us are lawyers who have married other lawyers! So the social calendar is pretty full with two groups to attend and hopefully NKOTB and I will make some lifelong friends from these connections.





Week 6 – Confusion reigns

I am dubbing this week the Week of Confusion.

Many people had told me that the first 6 weeks were the hardest with a newborn baby. Six weeks marked a milestone where the baby slept longer, cried less and was generally more engaging and interesting.

After a relatively predictable week with NKOTB in Week 5, I thought we’d turned a corner.

Turns out we lost the map and took a wrong turn. The beginning of Week 6 had NKOTB reverting back to two-hour feeds, this time with additional fussing at the breast, super-short feeds of 10 minutes of less, red-faced leg-kicking crying and general frustration experienced by all. Two hourly feeds at night meant that I only got a maximum of an hour and a half of sleep at a time – a couple of days of that and I felt the most zombie-like than I could remember feeling since she was born.

Fortunately my friend C came over one afternoon and watched NKOTB while I took a nap. Of course, she was a perfect angel during that time and slept for a good 3 hours. That nap gave me a bit of a second wind to face more sleep deprivation, plus C brought over food for the next few days which was a godsend. THANK YOU and I’ll remember to pay forward the favour to other new mums in the future.

In addition, with NKOTB’s agitation with attaching to the breast, lack of interest in taking the second side and sluggish weight gain, I’ve started experiencing mother guilt. I’d read conflicting advice about the best time to introduce the bottle. Some people advised introducing a bottle no earlier than 6 weeks as otherwise you could confuse the baby as to how it should suck a nipple vs an artificial teat. Others advised that it was better to start the bottle between 3-6 weeks as after 6 weeks there was a higher likelihood of the baby rejecting the artificial teat.

I’ve been expressing milk into a bottle since Week 3 to enable me to leave her with Tim. Did my early introduction of the bottle mean that NKOTB had nipple confusion??? After some time searching the internet, I had no real answers as to whether the fussiness was just a phase. Then my friend Kat told me that that recent research indicated that there was no such thing as nipple confusion. Confused, much?

Week 6 culminated in the worst night so far. NKOTB fed and instead of settling down easily as usual, she cried and cried and cried in seeming pain and agitation. Nothing I could do could soothe her. For 3 hours in the wee hours I shooshed, patted, cuddled, burped to no avail.

It was the first time I cracked it since she was born. I ran downstairs in a cloud of tears and sobbed at Tim that I needed a break.  I then spent about 5 minutes crying my heart out until I calmed down to resume duty.

Ah, motherhood.



Week 5 – The Socialite

This week has been a week of firsts.

NKOTB attended her first gallery opening along with a room full of hipsters. She slept angelically in her Mini Monkey the whole time.

NKOTB went out with her parents and adult friends for Vietnamese in Victoria Street and slept angelically in her Maxi Cosi capsule the whole time. She started stirring on our way home on the tram, sometimes breaking out in an agitated guttural cry, which made me feel very self-conscious. Tim was nonplussed and said ‘it’s public transport, you’d expect a bit of noise’.

NKOTB slept through her first fashion parade in the city, despite being a little too close to the music speakers for my comfort. Clearly she thought the clothes were a bit snooze-worthy (as did I).

NKOTB attended a quasi-business meeting at her local cafe and slept angelically in her Mini Monkey again.

NKTOB was given active tummy time on her pretty play mat (brought all the way from Vietnam thanks to our friends M and S) and delighted her parents by being able to switch her head from side to side. VERY CLEVER BABY!

NKOTB was left with Tim’s uncle for two evenings while her parents went to a wedding and dinner, their first baby-less outing together. She behaved impeccably, fed on the bottle, was generally restless but not squalling. It was a great relief to me that she was nice enough to her babysitter to be asked back again.

Her sleeping and sleeping patterns are still patchy but overnight she’s been stretching out to feeds every 2.5 to 3 hours or so, with one amazing night where she slept for a solid 5 hours. Mini celebration ensued!



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