family

Keeping up

It used to be that you could keep abreast with the news by reading the Sunday morning newspapers, or at least that’s how it seemed. Now I find that I scan several hundred RSS feeds to track all the news I care about. The birth of the Blogosphere is a mixed blessing to anyone with a life. You have to fit your surfing and professional development in around everything else. According to Google’s analysis of my reading patterns, I seem to be doing most of that after dark:

It’s an unhealthy pattern, which I picked up in university – I feel guilty if I’m not doing something useful. After I left university I tried to shed the habit, but I never seem to have done it successfully for very long. I have to force myself to sit in front of the box. Last century anthropologists remarked about how driven we all seem in comparison to the leisurely lifestyle of indigenous peoples. We’ll, I wonder what they would make of a pattern like this? People feel that in order to keep up they must give up on sleep. There doesn’t seem to be much room for plain old fun in this pattern eh? In Readify, they classify people in this category as night-programmers – and they regard them a more recruitable for obvious reasons. I can’t help think it’s a euphemism for hopeless workaholics. Not that I mind that much – I get more of a sense of achievement from an evening programming than I do from a night in front of the TV, but I still wonder.

I gotta do something about this. Something’s gotta give – but what?

Linguistic development

Child Linguistic Development is a document that I wrote when I was at university on the stages of language development. Since Emily and Thomas are now a week short of 18 months it is time for Kerry and I to start learning about learning. I’d forgotten most of this stuff, so it will make interesting reading for me too! I’ve put a link in to kerry’s gorgeous new blog/journal, where she describes her day-to-day experiences of raising twins. Hair raising more than twin raising, if you want my opinion…

Emily Took her First Steps Yesterday

I am so proud of my little angel. She walked a full circuit around her room without any help. It freaked her out a little bit. Especially after she fell over and gave her head a nasty thump. As predicted, she has leapfrogged over the walking stage altogether: She went straight to robotics dancing.

Traumatizing the Kids

I knew I’d have to watch my tongue when the kids were old enough to be warped by my cynicism. What I didn’t realize was that I’d have to watch my nose as well. I think I may have traumatized Thomas’ the other day – I’ve convinced him that Daddy’s head may explode without warning.

It was during bath-time. I covered my face in bubbles which they both thought was hilarious, if a bit strange. The hilarity turned to horror when I blew the bubbles off my face with a big puff. Bubbles went everywhere, which I thought would also yield giggles. Instead Thomas gave out a blood-curdling scream and was inconsolable till I wiped the rest of the bubbles off my face and showed him that I hadn’t self-combusted.

Poor Sod. Now he thinks that faces are explosive, and probably thinks it will happen to him as well.

I am a father – of two.

It's been five days already, and the urge has come upon me to write a blog entry to say what's been going on.

Friday afternoon I got a call from Kerry saying that she'd had a 'show'. Naturally I wondered whether it was a cabaret or the normal sort. It turned out to be a whole lot more biological than that, involving mucus plugs and contractions and Emily's feet slipping down into the birth canal. We thought that it might be another false alarm – we'd already had one so we tried not to get too excited, but the pains continued to grow so Kerry gave the labour ward another call and this time they summoned us in for observations.

It quickly became clear that these contractions were the real thing, not the brackston-hicks variety that had been going on for months. They mounted and the hours passed, and eventually the doctors decided that they might as well go ahead and whip them out, since we were here anyway.

At midnight they wheeled Kerry into the operating theatre and started to prep her for the caesarian. That meant inserting a needle the length of my index finger, and the width of a bic biro into the gap between two of her vertebrae. At that point the reality of the situation slammed into me at full force, and I sat there in a cold sweat going green, while Kerry was ushered into an operating theatre with about 20 doctors and nurses standing about. At this point I remembered all the advice about deep breathing – funny, I always thought it was meant for the mothers… Kerry was unfazed by the anaesthetists work but I'm sure it would have been another story if she had seen the size of that needle. Christ! Gives me the willies just thinking about it now. I'm not a squeamish sort, but I was so worried about Kerry and the twins that I got all emotional. Ahem. Anyway.

When I was admitted to the inner sanctum, they had laid Kerry out on the operating table with a large screen between her head and her belly – to hide from her the grizzly mechanics of the procedure – another good idea, she didn't wanna see that either! I stayed with her, despite having claimed I was going to photograph everything. She was on a table with arms that came out of the side for her to rest her arms on, for easy access to the aneasthetist. It looked to me like one of those humane execution tables for administering lethal injections. Kerry looked so lost and scared, so we stared into each others eyes and whispered daft nonsense to each other. Almost immediately the aneasthetist said, "oh, they've made the incision already, they're just making their way down to the womb". Within seconds of that Emily made her appearance:


From that point onwards the pace picked up, and I took a peek around the drape to see them tugging Thomas out by his ankles (his head was a little too big for the gigantic slash in Kerry's stomach!) He seemed to have been wading head deep in Shea butter, but I was later told it was Vernix – another brand of snot that mothers dispense free to all children.

Thomas has been a frisky little fella since he came out – not surprising really considering he got his nuts squished by the surgeon on his first outing!

Anyway I'm getting a little ahead of myself. As soon as both babies were safely out, along with their life support systems. The surgeons went to work sewing Kerry up, while I was taken over to see T&E as they were assessed to see whether they needed anything immediately. They were weighed, measured, their breathing checked (and a little O2 administered) before I was given each in turn to take over to Kerry, who was kinda indisposed at the time due the fact that a surgeon was buried up to his elbows (I'm not exaggerating at this point at all!) in her abdomen. Kerry was cool as a cucumber, and just looked so full of joy as first Emily and then Thomas were brought over.

She only got a minute or two with them before they were snatched back and put into portable intensive care pods to be wheeled up to the neonatal intensive care ward (where we have lived on and off for the last week). The babies were fussed over when they arrived in the "newborn services" department. For the record I shall call this department the neonatal intensive care ward. I hate it when people upscale a name to lend it more dignity than it deserves. I have discovered that I also hate it when they downscale a name to not scare the natives. I mean. Newborn services sounds more like a motorway service station than a place that monitors newborn babies intensively. Anyway, I think the nurses there do a wonderful job and deserve more recognition. Rant Over.

As soon as the babies were ensconced, I dived back down to Kerry who, being all sewn up now, was lying around in recovery. I've found myself doing that ever since – I am now torn three ways. I find myself on a strict rotation system between T,E, & K. Eventually guilt drives me from the one I'm with the the one of been with least. I can't wait for them to come home, so I've got them all under the same roof!

It's been a week since Kerry went into labour, and she and the twins are doing fine. So fine in fact that they may be released before two weeks are up. Not bad for babies that are 5 weeks premature! T&E are out of the isolette incubators, away from the UV lamps, sans needles and heart and respiration monitors and (in Thomas's case) without a feeding tube as well. Emily is still too tired to feed very much so she is still wearing the feeding tube, but she's getting more lively with each passing day.

There are some really sick children in the neighboring cots, so we are counting our blessings and are glad that jaundice is all that we have to contend with!

I thought it was worth preserving the original message as well, while I was at it:


Hi Everyone,At 12.31AM and 12.32AM on the 1st of October 2005 we welcomed Emily and Thomas into the world in Monash Medical Centre (Clayton Campus). Everything went perfectly and mother and twins are thriving. Emily was born first. She weighed 2.59Kg and was 46cm tall. Thomas who was born a minute later weighed 2.422Kg and was 47cm tall. They are both in incubators at the moment since they are about 4 1/2 weeks premature, but they seem to be in perfect health, and will probably be transferred out of the incubators into cots sometime this afternoon – i.e. before they are a day old. They both inherited their good looks from their mother and their placid nature from their father (no, really).

Kerry was incredible, as usual, and bravely withstood having a surgeon's arms up to his elbows inside her belly with stoic good humour. I have to admit I was not as brave, and started to freak out at the anaesthetist's first needle. (mind you – I saw the length of the needle, she didn't!) Anyway, she's already looking bright and cheerful, and happy, and totally, totally blissed out. I'm the same – we have been blessed with two gorgeous little angels. I can't wait to get to know them better.

For those of you able to get to the hospital, visiting hours are between 2 and 4pm and about 7-8pm. Sunday or after would be a good time to come in, when Kerry has had a chance to rest properly – I don't think she's had a proper nights sleep for about a month, but a day or two might help her to recover a little.

For those of you who're too far away, I've put up a slide show with the latest pictures. With more to follow.

We'd both like to thank Nicole again, who after a frantic day, with god knows how many deliveries already, decided to stay with us till after 4am, and was there with us for the birth. She was amazing, and helped transform what could have been an agonising and stressful time into the most profound and life changing experience either of us have ever had. Not only that, she made it fun! Thanks Nicole.

Please give us a call on +61 *** ****** so that we can ramble on at length to you about how beautiful our babies are. ;-)

See you,

Andrew

PS. If I missed anyone, it's cos I didn't have all of the contacts in gmail – could you pass this on to them with my apologies. Also, sorry if you get this more than once, I haven't slept for two days and a little dumb right now.
PPS. To calculate the time difference between the UK and Australia just subtract 3 from the time there, and then change from AM to PM or PM to AM. i.e. midday in UK would be 9pm in Australia, and 9am in UK would be 6pm in Australia. (I think.)

Kerry at 24 weeks


kerry at 24 weeks
Originally uploaded by Andrew Matthews.

I took this photo a few weeks ago. Kerry still keeps on growing. She's already bigger than some of her friends when they were at full term. It's getting a bit uncomfortable for her now. I'm spending a lot of time giving her foot rubs now! Not that I mind – she has perfect feet, or at least that's what she keeps telling me. ;^}