You know you’re a parent when …

Baby Duck is home, hallelujah! It’s so good to have him back to his usual cheeky self. His wound is still a little tender and his appetite’s not great, but otherwise he’s back to normal.

He actually came home a week ago, but it’s taken this long to get ourselves back to some kind of normality. We did a great deal of sleeping and not much else for the first few days. It’s surprising how exhausting just sitting around in hospital is – I suppose it’s the stress. They kept him in for a full two weeks. I guess they wanted to be sure he really was fixed this time before sending him home again!

So here we are, reunited at last. “I love my family,” he said to me once in hospital. “I wouldn’t swap them for anything … except maybe [Demon Duck].” Obviously he was feeling well enough to crack jokes by that stage.

But we are enjoying being home together. It’s school holidays and very cold, so we’re spending a lot of time cuddled up together chatting or watching DVDs. Nice to have some down time before Real Life with all its activities and deadlines sweeps us away again.

But of course, this is Real Life too – the best part, in fact! The jokes and cuddles and tickles, the little things like reading books together, or having a chat while you shoot hoops in the backyard, these are the small moments that make me happy.

Like the one at four o’clock in the morning on my birthday, when Baby Duck rolled over in his hospital bed.


“What’s wrong?” I asked, coming instantly awake. Did he need pain relief? A trip to the toilet? Was he going to be sick?

He gave me a beatific smile. “Happy birthday!” Then he shut his eyes and went straight back to sleep.

I lay awake, thinking Big Thoughts about life and change and happiness. Particularly about parenthood, and how it affects all three.

So here’s the fruit of my musings for your edification:

You know you’re a parent when … your idea of a great night isn’t dinner and a show but eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

You know you’re a parent when … the movie release you’re most looking forward to this year is Kung Fu Panda 2.

You know you’re a parent when … your favourite birthday present is the poo your son finally does a week after his bowel operation.

You know you’re a parent when … you gleefully text your relatives about said poo.

Yes, we’re not in Kansas any more, Dorothy. Parenthood is a whole ‘nother country – the natives are friendly but a little strange.

Nice place to live, though.

The saga continues

Just dropping in to say I haven’t run away to join the circus, in case you’re wondering why things are so quiet around here. Baby Duck is back in hospital. His “recovery” was plagued by setbacks, till he was clearly in such pain another trip to emergency was necessary. He was operated on last Friday for a bowel obstruction and is now finally starting to come good again. He even had some ice cream and jelly yesterday, his first food in over a week. The poor thing was down to 18kg on the weekend – he looks like a stick figure – but is slowly putting weight back on due to intravenous nutrition.

And in the midst of all this drama and pain, you know what he keeps worrying about? That he’ll be in hospital for my birthday.

That child is just so gorgeous I could eat him up.

Baby Duck and the very bad horrible no-good appendix

One Sunday morning about 4 o’clock, a little boy woke up and chundered all over the floor. Oh goody, thought his parents, a vomiting bug! But on Monday night it occurred to his mother that, for a vomiting bug, there was very little vomiting going on, and rather a lot of complaining about stomach pain.

“Where does it hurt?” the boy’s mother asked.

“Right here,” he said, pointing at his belly button.

Uh oh, thought his mother who, in a weird coincidence, had just been discussing this very symptom with a friend whose son had appendicitis. So on Tuesday morning she made a doctor’s appointment.

“My son has been vomiting and complaining of stomach pain,” she said, “and I just want to check it isn’t his appendix.”

Ha! Famous last words, as they say in the classics. The doctor sent the boy straight to the emergency department, where they waited. And waited. And waited, as one does in emergency departments everywhere. About one o’clock in the morning the boy was admitted to hospital, and by 9:30 the operation was underway.

Poor Baby Duck! The surgeon made a last-minute decision to x-ray, given the odd location of the pain, and discovered a twisted bowel as well. So he ended up with more than one cut. The tip of his appendix was gangrenous, he had an abcess and adhesions, whatever they are. I don’t know – they tell you things and you nod and look like you’re functioning normally, but the words just go whooshing past without sticking properly when you’re worrying about your precious baby. I heard “infection” and “almost perforated” – or was it “perforated”? – “long hospital stay” and not a lot else really.

Thursday we started getting him to take little sips of water, which all came back with added green yuck on Thursday night. “Bowel obstruction” was mentioned and I spent the night panicking. Fortunately things started to improve slowly after that, and Tuesday morning he came home after a week in hospital.

For a little while, anyway. Tuesday night he was vomiting again, so it was back for another day in emergency yesterday. What fun! Now, touch wood, he’s home for good, and feeling much better.

“Are you going to write about me being in hospital on your blog?” he asked.

I think he wants me to tell you how brave he’s been. I couldn’t exactly put my hand on my heart and swear to that one, but I guess it depends on whose definition of bravery you’re using. By eight-year-old standards he did pretty well. I can tell you he was very well-behaved. All the nurses commented on his lovely manners, and how easy he was to deal with.

It’s so good to have him home again. It was a hard week for all of us – very disruptive for the girls, and the Carnivore and I are both short on sleep. One of us was with him 24 hours a day. Nothing got done beyond the most basic necessities. It must be so hard for families who have someone in hospital for a long time.

We were lucky too, that we have an excellent children’s hospital only half an hour from home. It’s times like these I’m grateful we live in Sydney, rather than out in the country somewhere. Country life seems idyllic until you consider the whole airlift-to-hospital-in-a-strange-city aspect.

So, not a great week. Ironically, I was on a roll with Verity on the Tuesday morning, busy congratulating myself that I only had two scenes to write to finish the first draft. I’ll do some more when we get back from the doctor’s, I promised myself. Needless to say, I haven’t written a word since.

Life with kids is often unpredictable like that. At least it’s never dull.

Attack of the tae kwon dodos

I’ve been running around the house all week yelling “tae kwon dodo!!” and pulling ridiculous martial arts poses.

“You’re so embarrassing, Mum,” Drama Duck says. The other two just ignore me.

The scene in Ice Age where the dodos do taekwondo is one of my favourite parts. I love it when one executes a flying kick off a cliff and the others peer mournfully over the edge and say “That was our last female”. But my taekwondodoism this week has had an ulterior motive: trying to get the ducklings revved up about starting taekwondo.

They had their first lesson on Tuesday night. Halfway through Baby Duck burst into hysterical sobs and watched the rest of the lesson from the safety of my lap. Not sure why, but apparently the yelling was scary and it was hard and boring. Most things are, according to him. The only thing that isn’t boring is watching TV.

Undeterred, I decided to try the Thursday night class instead. Same taekwondo school, but a different location and a few younger students. To make it more appealing, I said I’d do the class too so I could help him.

Thus I have just had my first taekwondo lesson. The combination of me and martial arts is such an unlikely one, anyone who knows me will now be rolling around the floor laughing. But I made quite a good taekwondodo. I’m going to be sore tomorrow, but I had fun.

The teacher was a lovely man who I now feel very sorry for, as not one but two ducklings burst into tears before the end of the class. Baby Duck again for his own inscrutable reasons, and Demon Duck who lost it when asked to do something she didn’t know how to do and spent the rest of the class sobbing in the toilets. I’m sure the poor man thought it was his fault, but it was just her painful perfectionism coming out. He was a gentle and patient teacher, and seemed quite stunned that he’d managed to make two of them cry. I told him to go for the hat trick next week.

On the way home Demon Duck asked when we would be getting our uniforms.

“Maybe when we get through a lesson without anyone crying.”