Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Finding trust a misguided thing

I have barely slept at all. I tossed and turned most of the night. That it was quite warm wasn't helping things, but more importantly, because of the news that my daughters teachers aid was implicated in a story you'd never hope to hear.

At this point in time it's pure here say, but in a town of under 1000 people gossip is usually right to some degree.

While Jessica is not directly affected I still feel so bewildered. I have little choice but to trust those in charge of her care while she is at school, and that's a really really hard thing to do. To add news stories of this calibre to it just blows my mind.

I also wasn't notified by the school that Jessica didn't have an aid yesterday. Something they've been good about in the past and I have bought her home on days where I just felt too unsettled by the idea. Probably an over reaction, agreed, but her aid is her primary carer in the classroom/playground. Not the teacher. Her teacher doesn't even know the child she sits next to threatened to punch her in the face yesterday. I will be going to the office this morning to voice my concerns on both topics.

I'm also a little annoyed that of all the people gossiping about it, who know the close contact this woman has with my daughter, no one told me. It was only when I approached a friend and gave her the pieces I was slowly building the jigsaw with that she told me.

Jessica relies on other people to keep her safe. She's too little to do it all herself right now. How do I trust those people? Do I just blindly give it to them and hope for the best? Let's just say, that's what I had been doing to date and it hasn't always worked out.


I've been spending a bit of time in the garden, but it's getting really hot already. I am getting really tired. I am so unfit that a few swings of the pick has my head spinning and I spend more time trying to regain my equilibrium. Some of my tubestock natives shrivelled up  :(  They over water them in the nursery's! Or they keep them in she shade when they're a full sun kinda plant (and over water them). So anyways, a couple have already succumbed to the not-quite-summer heat. Not looking forward to summer! I thought I was all clever using some plastic gutter-guard around my little plants, until I had to buy a new roll. Oh, lookee there! It says on the packet you can use it for that purpose. Talk about pricking a balloon and rejoicing in its deflation.

I actually had to turn my air-conditioner on this afternoon because Jessica wasn't coping with the heat. I guess it was more the humidity. She finally has her trampoline mat repaired and back on the tramp, and her cubby house complete. Wow. Christmas 2009 gift is finally usable. So sad. No pics cos the backyard is 4ft high with dead weeds.

I saw a local lady yesterday who will have some canaries I can buy off her for Jessica for Christmas this year. Yay! Only $10 each, the pet shop in Esperance wanted $25. There is another local lady I will see about buying so budgerigars off.

I am really, really annoyed that drug companies removed pseudoephedrine from hay fever medication. Well, it was probably some stupid law which said they had to do it. All they're basically doing is punishing people who get hay fever! Yes, it can be used in illicit drug making (hence its removal) but the way I figure it, they're going to keep making/selling illicit drugs one way or the other. You're just making people who could really benefit from it miss out. Jessica's been suffering badly this spring. Definitely her worst to date.

It's barely 9pm and I am struggling to keep my eyes open.

I'll leave you with a pic of my girl trying to turn herself inside out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gotta Love It

'Gotta love it' - the sarcastic name of the photo album on my Facebook page containing all the photos of Jessica's allergies, hospital stays etc. Well, not quite all, MRSA got two albums all of its own! There is one other too, 'The Not So Pretty'. I was only prompted to share those kinds of photos with my Facebook friends when a dear friend from Anaphalaxis Talk was having MRSA trouble with her own child.

Is it wrong to tell you how fed up I am with our lot in life? Of course. You're supposed to be all smiley and when someone asks how you are the polite answer is "well thanks, and you?". If you told them you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and the kid is sick and you just want to go to bed and never get out they'd probably have you committed!

I feel like that a lot. Completely overwhelmed and unimpressed with everything. Sometimes I have to remind myself that something that just happened was good, be happy, be grateful. I had a long phone call with my sister yesterday which put me in a real funk and I couldn't even concentrate on a DVD last night. She's getting married in 2011 and was asking me if I could replicate some invites she'd seen. Well, I haven't seen them so who knows? (I'm actually thinking the "gift card holder" my Cricut can make, pictured with a tulip printed paper a few posts ago would be nice, but in her colour scheme of course.), she actually asked me to do the bridesmaids and flower girls hair (you guessed it, I am not a bridesmaid!). Hair. Me? No. Spend close-knit-lovey-dovey time with her friends? Hell no! She went on to say they're going to try borrow some $18,000 to pay for this whole affair. Really? That's more than my annual income. Yet they're only going to have 40 or so guests? What the hell do they need $18,000 for??? Ok, so when she found a dress in a Salvation Army store she just loved her fiancĂ© told her she had to spend $2,500 minimum on her dress or "not to bother". Say WHAT? These two live well beyond their means at the best of times. I think I've heard all I want to about this wedding, and right at this moment I am glad it's not until the end of 2011 because I feel so.. ? I'm not sure. Hurt. Jealous. Angry (try explaining 'proof book' to my sister, you will understand the frustration.).

Then this afternoon my baby comes home sick (from nanna's house). Again. She's all teary and miserable because she has conjunctivitis (pink eye to my American friends) as well as hay fever. It got me to thinking about all the things she's had to deal with in her short life. She isn't yet 8, after all. I also began to acknowledge how little I document of her ordeals. I have photos gallore, but I really need to talk more about it all, and the struggles that go along with. I am not the only mum out there with a 'sickly' child. I am fed-the-hell-up of having people think I am over reactive and that "at least she doesn't have Downs [Syndrome]". Right.. like the trials I have with Jessica mean nothing because you can't physically see all the suffering she endures? She is set to miss another 3 days of school with this conjunctivitis, likely bought on by her hay fever. Too much crap in her eyes over too long. I tell the nurse on arrival at the Emergency that she has latex allergy. When she went to inspect the eye she went to put on gloves and I had to ask "are they latex free?". Nope.

I have nearly lost my daughter to death, twice. By that age of 7! Don't be telling me I have nothing to be so fussy about. One was to MRSA, the 2nd to an anaphylaxis allergic reaction to chocolate. Thank goodness for the Epipen and a paediatrician who believed there really was something wrong.

During pregnancy I had placenta previa and had all kinds of warnings like not to chop firewood, hang laundry, lift anything heavy. I also had 22.5weeks of all day every day sickness (who named it morning sickness?!). When my waters broke they were almost fluro green. After she was born and they stitched me up they had to take me back in and drain my bladder to control the bleeding.

My mum left the hospital the morning after she was born because of Jessi's dad's abusive and controlling behaviour. My mum wouldn't even look at me, or say goodbye to Jess. We left the hospital on day 2, even though I could barely stand up I was so dizzy all the time all because he wanted to. The doctor put the worst fear in me that she might get jaundice if we left so soon. I walked around for 2 days seeing my baby as bright yellow!

My daughter is fully immunised.

About 2 weeks old she got conjunctivitis.
7 weeks, my 21st birthday
At roughly 3mths old the eczema began. It was on her cheeks and was so nasty. I, no word of a lie, had a complete stranger ask me outside the supermarket if I poured boiling water on her? I have so few photos of her as a baby. Subconsciously I couldn't see past the eczema and it resulted in not so many photos. People kept telling me eczema was stress related. Didn't I feel grand!

Roughly 6mths
7 or eight months
A 'well meaning' child health nurse suggested we relax on solids to help her eczema. She started having a lot of rice cereal and I had problems feeding her from then on.

She stopped breast feeding around 6mths old, by choice. I guess the stress really did get to her then. Also saw a dermatologist who visited the country in regards to eczema. Walked into his office and he asked what he could do for us. We said "we believe our daughter has eczema.." and his response almost floored me. "what do you want me to do about it?" he asked. Wow. He spent so much time trying to take photos of her cheeks for his website that all he did was write a prescription for steroid cream. Same as our family dr.
Roughly 6mths

About 26mths of age they finally diagnosed asthma. Treated asthma and the vomiting eased.

At some point along the way she had an admission to Kalgoorlie hospital for "investigation". They did a barium swallow and an ultra sound to see that all was ok and working properly in the swallowing and vomiting processes. They ushered us out of there pretty quick because they were busy with flu season.

She'd often vomit massive amounts, until her stomach was empty and she'd still be retching. Sometimes it was like power-chuck! I'd call nanna crying because I needed a shower, Jess needed a bath. There'd be spew everywhere. I saw our family doctor so many times. They said she had reflux and prescribed medication to suit. I never, ever gave it to her. I didn't think that was the cause at all. I also kept telling the dr about this vomiting and she'd just listen and say it was normal for babies to spew. I'd babysat since I was 12, I knew babies. This wasn't normal. About 10mths down the track she weighed her and realised she'd be losing ground in her growth charts, actually going backward! We were rushed off to PMH. Jessica was diagnosed as having 'Failure to thrive'. BEST mother moment. EVER. Not. She was started on supplementary milk drinks and polyjoule. They listened to the vomiting issues and gave her the very first lot of RAST tests for allergies. She was positive to egg and potato, tree nuts among environmentals. I queried sesame which they had no result for. Was told to remove egg and potato from her diet to see how her eczema went.

About 26mths of age the finally diagnosed asthma. Treated asthma and the vomiting eased. She had chronic constipation until about 4yrs old and took daily laxatives. It was painful to watch and no one seemed to care. Just take the laxatives.

I don't recall how many admissions she had to PMH in those first few years. It was at least 4. No one ever said anything much about her skin, they queried asthma a couple of times. They were focused on trying to get her to eat. They did start us on wet wraps for eczema. That was grueling and she hated it. I had to walk the halls with her in a stroller the whole time she was in one.

Early age 5 they diagnosed latex allergy via skin prick testing after she had a massive lip swelling reaction to a balloon at age 4. I had to push our family doctor before he finally referred us to an Allergist who reconfirmed tree nut allergy and confirmed sesame for the first time. Latex, tree nut and sesame are all anaphylaxis/life threatening allergies. We already knew about egg and potato, and environmental things like grass, animals, dust. She petted a friend's dog once and her entire face swelled like a balloon. Her eyes swelling completely closed. Treated allergies and the vomiting made a whole lot more sense! .

Age 5 was the MRSA. I had to buy her a stroller because her skin was so bad she could barely walk. I kept telling or family dr something wasn't right, this isn't her normal eczema. He didn't believe me.

Then she got burnt with her antibacterial bath oil. It was so horrible!!!!!!!

Finally got MRSA diagnosed, 2 weeks in Perth at PMH. Back for an 8 week check up and readmitted. Started huge doses of oral antibiotics, which lasted some years. Every time we stopped she break out in infection again. MRSA saw us make contact with our dermatologist, who we now see regularly. This dermatologist started her on immunosuppression therapy, using the drug Cyclosporin, to help control her eczema. Immunosuppression is used for people who are having transplants so their body is less likely to reject the new organ. Has some wicked side effects like kidney failure. Spent weeks super stressed and badly worried every time she had a cough or snotty nose. All I could think was pneumonia.

Cyclosporin didn't work too well so they switched to Azathiprine (Imuran) and she's doing much better. It has other side effects, like the warts on her hands and face, the ring worm. The fact she missed a month of grade 1 when whooping cough was going around and she was too susceptible with a weakened immune system to be near people who had it/contact with it. Her immunisation had to cease as live cultures are used and injecting something live into her with a weakened immune was more likely to give her the disease than prevent it. She isn't allowed to get sunburnt because the drugs can cause her to be more likely to develop melanoma.

She's been under general anesthetic twice. First for an endoscopy and the second for dental surgery. Our school dentist wouldn't touch her in case he had latex in his van (they visit in a kitted out caravan, school is too small for on site dentist). He diagnosed her and she was sent away for crowns, fillings and removals. All on baby teeth. She was six.

I can't count the number of hospitalisations she's had for asthma and eczema. We see our dermatologists in Perth every 8 weeks. It's some 16hr return trip. She's currently taking 4 tablets, 2 inhalers, 1 nasal spray, various creams daily, and you can often add antihistamine to that list. She has bleach baths twice a week and a bloody test once a month. Her clothes can only be washed in 1 brand of laundry powder. She still can't interact with most animals. Her linen needs washing a lot. All our linen has blood stains. She is still extremely uncomfortable in some kinds of clothing. She is still prone to infection. She is limited by shoes, clothes, toys and various other things due to latex allergy. She can't even wear a bandaid. She has a lot of broken sleep. She often gets a fat lip just from eating white bread. Cross contamination of sesame seed. She's seen doctors, pediatricians, ENTs, dietitians, dermatologists, allergists, immunologists, pediatric dentists, psychologists. She still hardly eats. She's spent far too much time resembling a mummy (of the bandaged variety). She puts bandages on all her dolls. Her hospital files at PMH and our local hospital is over 2inches thick. She sits on a 'sitting mat' at school to keep her off the carpet/grass. She has a teachers aid. She is still missing massive amounts of school, and starting to really notice how 'different' she is.
She cries "I don't want to do this anymore".
"The only thing I am good at is itching".
"I wish I didn't have allergies".
"How come other people don't have eczema?". (remembering we live in a really small town)
"It's all my fault. Everything is my fault".

I want a little girl who could live pain free. Who can pet a dog and eat whatever she wants. Who can grow into a young lady without fear of condoms, shampoo, make up. I want my daughter to be 'normal', and it's selfish of me. She is who she is and I can't change it. Oh how I know I can't change it. I'd have a thousand times over if I could. Besides all the regular childhood illness like colds n flus, chicken pox. I don't think it's fair any child should need so many needles poked into them. I've had to hold Jessi down for blood tests. Once, with 2 nurses and myself holding her down the doctor was still unable to draw any blood. She was only 3!

You tell me if you think it's fair for ANY child to suffer. You tell me if you still think my concern for my daughter is all in my head? You still don't know the half of it. Go on, tell me "it will all get better" just one. more. time. I dare you.

You tell me if this looks like anything you've seen a child endure (but of course you haven't, because they're at home or in hospital when this bad, so you think eczema, asthma and allergies are a piece of cake!)....





I lost all the photos I had saved on a thumbdrive, there were hundreds more like these, including those of her struggling to breath with oxygen masks on.

Yes, I realise my tone throughout this past was angry. It makes me angry that my little girl has to endure all this. That I can't help her. That people are so heartless about it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Payday: not a good day to go out of town!

Mum and dad had been in Bathurst, NSW. They went to watch Australia's biggest car race, the Bathurst 1000. Mum's dream! It's a street track and over 3 days the teams do 1000 laps around "the mountain". Mum's idol, Peter Brock, was a Bathurst champion many times over, though sadly he died in a car rally accident a few years back. He was known as "Brocky" or "The King of the Mountain". The race is really just Holden vs Ford, so Australia vs USA in a sense. Holden took out 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th this year! Mum was stoked. We're big Holden fans! Personally, I don't understand why there are no other makes driving in the V8 Supercars?

Not many people know my mum used to race speedway, as did my sisters dad. I spent many a day (and night) on speedway tracks when I was little. I will always remember my sister cowering under her bed when her dad started his hotrod in the back yard as they did maintenance to it. I still love to go to speedway, though I haven't been in many years. They admission is expensive and the nearest track is 200km away. Jessica's never been and I don't think she'd like it much, she hates noise. I used to love when you'd be sitting with your car reversed up to the fence, in the open back of a station wagon, huddled under blankets and being pelted by mud as the sprintcars screamed past.

So while mum was enjoying all this, I was in Esperance with her dog in the vet. Poor dog. In recent months she's lost both her eyes. She's completely blind. But she's still very happy and able, she gets around the house, takes herself outside down the back steps. It hasn't really bothered her. As I was feeding her I noticed she was walking with her head held on the side. Worried she had some kind of problem with the eye as we only removed the stitches last Friday, I got her to Esperance as soon as I could. Pay day! Mum and dad will reimburse me, but to actually get there I had to wait until I had money. Poor little thing has an ear infection and is back on antibiotics. Looks like I might have to drive her back down next week as she's due for a check up at day 10, but mum will be back at work by then.

While she was in the vet I needed to do something, right? I started with a small grocery shop for all those things you just can't buy here. Lots of snacks for Jessica's lunchbox, some fruit because it's cheaper etc. I went into a Thingz gift shop and actually found something for both mum and dad for Christmas. Phew! One less thing to worry about. Then I hit the Red Cross thrift shop, but the little Anglican one wasn't open until after lunch. I took the opportunity to go buy Jessica a ball like Tian's as she doesn't seem to react, and to the 2 craft shops looking for pirate fabric. Between them, they had 1 bolt. I only bought 30cm as it's only for my little cousin's library bag. I decided I didn't like the sealife print I bought for him. I met up with June and Tian who were there for Tian's swimming lessons, then went back to the Anglican op shop. Then on to a pet shop to price birds for Jessica for Christmas, then Bunnings, then got the dog and headed home.

Here's what you can buy for $18. If you're anything like me, technically it was $20; I told them to keep the change :) (from the Anglican church opportunity shop)
  • 5 Handmade magazines, from 1984 through to 1991
  • A huge array of sewing patterns which I select individually. Trust me, there's still heaps there!
  • An unusual embroidery book: Needle on the Wing by Mary Krishna (ISBN: not listed Published: Hutchinson & Co LTD, 1961)
  • Mode Made magazine Summer 87-88 which I had never seen/heard of before
  • Simplicity's Pillow Ideas (ISBN: 0-918178-19-3, 1980)
  • Australian Women's Weekly Decorative Crafts-Stylish crafts from around the world (ISBN: 0 949892 93 9, 1988)
  • 3 fabric pieces, the blue baby print there is 2m, little soccer playing bears is about 1m, and a remnant of pink t-shirt material (stretch, jersey)

By comparison, this one copy of SEW magazine (a UK mag) costs $14.95

At the Red Cross shop the choices were more limited, I think I paid $7 for all this even though the clothes were marked at $2 or more each, but they were having a sale.

  • 4 00000 and 0000 baby clothes for Jessica to use for her dolls
  • a couple of sewing patterns
  • 1 Handmade and 1 Australian Patchwork and Stitching magazine
  • over 2m of this unusual dinosaur printed fabric
  • 1 outfit for Jessica
I had a $50 voucher for Bunnings hardware store burning an absolute hole in my pocket, it was a gift from a friend for helping out. I knew I wanted plants, but I also grabbed a few small things I needed like some plastic feet (my sewing machine has lost one and it wobbles!) and some rubber grips for under furniture. I was really pleased to find tubestock Australian natives for $2.50 each! Yes, they're small. But they will naturalise well and made it much more accessible for me to get some variety.

In total I purchased 12 natives in tubestock, multiples of some of the plants. I got 4 varieties of grevillea, a banksia, isopogon formosus and sholtzia involucrata. There's a lot of pink.. I couldn't resist the gorgeous purple eremophila even if it was $15 for the one plant, and a lovely yellow "Yellow Imp" or genista. I have had many yellow imps in the last 8yrs (ok, so maybe 3) and none have survived. The tag says low maintenance, yet I keep killing them? Hope this one has more luck. They're such a pretty little plant. Many more plants I would have loved to get, but as it was I breached the $50 gift card and had to supplement with my own money. By this time next year the garden should be looking a whole lot nicer :D I should be making use of the cooler weather today to go out and plant these, but I still need to deal with the pesky cat situation first. 

My mum bought me this gorgeous silver bracelet while she was away (Jessica got a pretty party dress and a Holden Racing Team (HRT) polo shirt, my sister got a HRT jacket, and my brother in law a Ford Racing Team jacket). It's gum leaves and a gum nut (gum tree being a eucalyptus). I really like it, but I don't wear silver and the leaves point out leaving them prime candidates to catch on something. The rings between aren't soldered closed, so if it did catch it might open a ring and fall off, getting lost. I will save it for special occasions. She made this big fuss about how hard I am to buy for. Really? It hurt my feelings and she's probably already telling people how ungrateful I am. Her usual story after giving me a gift. I think she feels that because she simply can't buy me sporting memorabilia, and I don't collect some kind of animal like everyone else that I am "impossible". I love the bracelet, but am I expected to jump for joy when I open the velvet bag just so she knows how excited I am? I told her I love it and how unusual and pretty it is. I hope she believed me this time. The bracelet was bought in a silver mining town called Broken Hill in New South Wales. 

The Australian dollar reached all time highs on Thursday this week, reaching $0.9994 US, there was speculation that it may breach the US$ and that by mid next year the "Aussie" would be trading higher than the US! WOW! Back in 2001 we were trading at $0.47 US.. huge differences. It really does seem to me that Australia is holding its own during this "global financial crisis". I keep hearing that term yet the Australian Reserve Bank keeps increasing our interest rates and we're trading close to all time highs.. Certainly a good time to be buying online from overseas. Shame I am back on a single parent allowance and broke. Bugger!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Creativity necessities

I'd like to think I NEED the items I buy to the same extent that I want them, but we all know this isn't true. When I got a rather nice tax return this year I really wanted to splurge it. Then I was contemplating resignation and ended up doing just that. I kept telling myself I needed to be sensible with my money as living off Single Parent Pension isn't easy.

What it came down to was a conversation with myself that ended with "who knows when you will have any money again? When is the last time you really bought yourself something, not just thrifted craft items or clothes (which are quite frankly, necessities)?". So I asked my friend Toni her opinion on where to buy the item I was after. It's something I had wanted for such a long time, and it seemed I was finally going to own my own Cricut Expression!!!!

I googled for hours, using metashopping tools like to see price comparisons. Everything in Australia was so expensive! I tried US stores, and it seemed the store Toni had recommended, Custom Crops, was really well priced. I went through the whole process of trying to work out what I might want, how much that would total, going to check out and seeing postage, converting it back to $AUD, rechecking Aussie stores.. it took me a long, laborious time to decide if this really was for me. In the end I placed my order with Custom Crops for the Cricut Expression, spare mats and blades, deep cut blade housing and blades, Cricut Design Studio and cartridges. Most of which I would have had to forgo if shopping within the limits of my own nation. Truth be told, I probably went over board. I got "2 free" cartridges with the machine and from all those they had to choose from, I wasn't very impressed. Turns out I really like Doodlecharms, but I think Fabulous Finds is crap. 

My order arrived while I was away in Perth and I itched to get home and play! When I did arrive home and collect my gigantic box from the Post Office I was so disappointed to open it and find my machine and some other items were on back order. Even more annoying was that their invoice said "expected date of arrival 12/31/1965". Yes, December 31st... 1965? I emailed them to ask after the actual date they'd get new stock and they informed me they had them. They then proceeded to ask if I got the 2 free cartridges. No, I did not. I quoted them the invoice number and pointed out what was on back order, as it also included a couple of other items. I was really starting to doubt them by this point. How did they not know what I had back ordered?

Finally my machine and everything owing arrived and I was happy little chappy! I would still use CustomCrops again, mistakes happen and they fixed it up very fast and with little fuss. 

The day the machine arrived, I realised I hadn't bought a power adapter to make the US plug work in Aus. Turns out I only needed to swap the lead from the power pack to the wall, and happened to have a matching cord from my video camera or something laying about. I was really apprehensive to turn the machine on after this little wave of genius, Aus and USA have different voltages and I didn't want it to go kaboom! I pay contents insurance for something, right? Thankfully there were no issues. The trouble started when Jessica realised what I was up to. It was school holidays and she wanted in on the action. I spent ALL afternoon that day using the Once Upon A Princess cartridge, making Jessica paper dolls!!!!! It was a great way to use up random bits of paper. You should see some of the colour/pattern combos. Actually, I revoke that invite. No one should see them! It's been some weeks since, and Jess is still playing with them. Bonus! I don't own inks and chalks, so have no real idea the right way to add texture etc so for now, everything is very simple. I'll get there :)

PS. My Cricut 'wish list' is getting bigger and bigger. Uh oh!


I hadn't really planned to post today. Yesterday, yes. Before the unexpected trip to Esperance to take my mum's dog to the vet as she's away. I walked in the door some 13hrs later, which included a 4hr round trip completely exhausted and sore. Today that sore feeling remains but it's intermingled with stiff too and to top it off I got sunburnt this afternoon which makes me grumpy. I'll tell you about Esperance another day.

Tonight I have read 2 different topics which have really gotten to me. One is the father of one of my friends anaphylactic/allergic daughters being so irresponsible and showing a complete disregard for his child's well being. That pissed me off and I feel so for the little girl. The other is about that topic. You know that one, which people think they must hide and be ashamed of, that's still used in association with the word taboo? Tonight, I read a horrific story of domestic violence. It was so well written, and not at all a "woe is me" tale. My heart aches for the family involved while at the same time breaking all over again. Reading that story reopened some wounds in me which never full heal.

I am a survivor of domestic violence.

At 19 I met a man who seemed so wonderful. He was kind, educated, he liked me??? I could hardly believe it. After leaving school the butt of every joke the boys in my class made and never having been on a date let alone kissed a boy, it was somewhat awe inspiring to me that someone liked me. This man and I met when he tagged along with one of his friends to the home of my dear friend Kristy. One night he called Kristy's house and wanted to talk to me. I didn't believe her, I was lazing about on her bed with her baby when he called and I honestly thought she was pulling my leg. She came in and gave me the phone and he asked me to come to his place. Again, I thought it was some elaborate joke. His friend was at Kristy's that night and she was urging the whole thing on, and Kristy was grinning from ear to ear. In the end I accepted a visit to his house, on the proviso his friend came with.

It was all so awkward. The friend jumped onto his (Sega) Dreamcast and started chatting online while he and I sat on the other side of the L-shaped couch. He did that whole "movie sequence" where is arm slowly stretched over my shoulders and he somehow ended up practically laying in my lap. I felt so uncomfy and so embarrassed. I don't really remember much more of what happened. Until writing this post I had forgotten the phone call to Kristy's house! I do remember when his friend and I left, him begging me to come back. I remember declining, yet I can't remember if I did go back alone. I don't *think* I did, but I could very well be wrong.

He lived in a small house with a flat mate whom I never met. From the time we met he was always running the bloke down and saying how bad it was living there. It all looked very neat and tidy so I gave little thought to his complaints. It was a few nights later I somehow ended up in the position of having a sleep over at his house. A really odd one it seems because he slept on a single bed mattress on the floor, and to enable a sleep over we had to put the mattress off my futon into the back of my Magna station wagon and take it to his place. It was all new and exciting and I was so happy to have someone to share it with.

The night I lost my virginity I was raped.

Yes, I was in a relationship. Yes, I did agree to sleep over. Yes, I was VERY naive. We went to bed fine. From what I recall we lay there talking for quite some time. I am sure (though I don't remember) there must have been some intimacy going on and I kept saying "No, I am not ready". He kept trying to persuade me and wouldn't give up. I really wanted to get out of there I was feeling so icky and wished I had never agreed to the sleep over. He wouldn't let up, I didn't want to ..  you know what? Writing this now I don't think it had anything to do with what I wanted, anymore than the fact I wanted to sleep. We had sex. It was awful and I cried and it hurt like hell. There was blood and I lay there afterward feeling so miserable. This wasn't at all what I had envisaged. It wasn't even about that romantic "candles and rose petals" ideals. It just felt so wrong. I didn't want to give something that was taken from me. Tears streamed down my face for hours after that. He didn't notice, he went to sleep.

This should have been a HUGE wake up call. I should probably have gone to the police then and there. Or at least had the guts to walk of that dingy little dwelling after I said no and he harassed me. But I didn't. Somehow within the first 2 weeks he'd moved himself out of that "hell hole" into my rental. He wasn't invited, he didn't ask. It just sort of was. He was a service station attendant who pumped fuel and checked oil. Within a month he'd quit the job. Well, he told me he quit. Truth is he was probably fired.

I don't remember how it started, what triggered it or when. The first memory I really have of it was me persuading him to put the garbage out for collection and locking the back door behind him, racing through the house to lock the front door and then into the side room to lock the last one (there were 4 external doors!). He met me at that side door, and he fought me from the other side of it. I pushed, he pushed. He was livid! Almost frothing at the mouth. And he was such a bear of a man, solid even at 19. Eventually he gave in and let me close the door and I went and huddled in a corner where he couldn't see me as all the blinds were open. He was screaming at me. I haven't the faintest idea now what he said, but I was scared and shaking and didn't know what to do. After a while he calmed down and he cried, begged, pleaded for me to forgive him. I couldn't take it, my heart was so torn and being the person I am, I let him back in. I remember sitting on a kitchen chair with him sitting at my feet, head in my lap, sobbing and sulking and repeating over and over again how sorry he was and how he'd never do it again.

Skip ahead and by 6mths into the relationship I was pregnant. We decided to move back to my home town to be closer to my family just prior to me finding out I was expecting. It's funny, I was only 2 weeks along when I found out. I don't track my cycle or anything, I hadn't skipped a monthly visitor. I just said I felt sick and "I need to do a pregnancy test". How odd, not see the doctor, but do a urine test. I did. He and I sat on the living room floor huddled over my mobile phone while the timer counted up ever so slowly. It said 5-8mins (I think) so after 6mins I went back to the bathroom. He waited at the door to the kitchen and I walked back sort of laughing, very breathless and crying. It was positive. He was happy. I felt like jelly. I was terrified of telling my mum. We went and told my ever loving, ever supportive nanna and she ignored me. I was mortified. My nanna is my rock, that one person I could count on always, and she wouldn't look at me. Sat stone cold in her armchair while I tried to get close and hug her. That about broke my spirit and only made the thought of telling mum so much worse! Mum didn't like my boyfriend, they didn't get on, and she was barely talking to me because of it. In the end I worked up the courage to tell mum and she was actually supportive and looking forward to being a grandmother for the first time.

Turns out he wasn't so happy. He didn't like the attention I was getting, he didn't like that I was so sick. Many of my friends had moved away from the town and others I simply never saw. He used to yell and scream a lot! One day we were about to go out and I managed to get outside the front door before I started being sick. He was screaming at me how dirty I was, and to go do that in the toilet. As someone who'd barely vomited in my entire life, I was feeling too miserable to do anything much and I certainly didn't want to be standing their spewing my guts up. But he didn't let up. He didn't care. He was working as a console attendant at a petrol station by then and they sell greasy, deep friend foods and burgers in the country roadhouse versions like he was at. He'd come home smelling of dim sim and cheese sausage and I'd be hanging my head out of the car window the entire time trying not to be sick. He didn't have a license.

He'd pick arguments about anything and everything. Most of them were about sex. I'd go to bed, having not eaten for a week (or having thrown it all up) and he'd start on me. "You need to eat, Michelle!" or whatever measly excuse he had to whine about. He slide the bedroom door open (I will never have a house with sliding doors EVER again) and start flicking the bedroom light on and off over and over and over. He'd come over and start grabbing my shoulders shaking me (especially if I pretended to be asleep) or get on the bed beside me and try to roll me over to face him. I'd swear at him and tell him to get lost, he'd only be getting angrier and angrier and switch reasons for being angry. It could last for hours. Once I went and sat behind the toilet door with my feet up on the wall opposite to help keep the door closed (there were no locks) and he kicked it so hard, and I was pregnant, that I got up in fear of him really hurting me or the baby.

By some point his routine was to take my keys, phone and purse from me and trap me in the house. He never hit me. I wouldn't have believed you if you said I was living in a domestic violence situation, that's when you get bashed. Isn't it? Once Jessica came along things only got worse. He didn't like having to share me with the baby. He'd make me wake her up to take him to and from work each day. Sometimes our yelling got so bad the neighbours 2doors down would come and get me out of there. Sometimes I'd end up in the park across the road. I recall sitting there one time, on a BMX jump that he couldn't see from the house, in the drizzling rain with a baby Jessi in my arms. My neighbour found me that day and took me back to her house. Another time I crept onto her verandah late at night (9 or 10pm) and sat there ever so quietly in the dark. She must have heard Jessi and came out and sat with me. She and her husband we so kind to me, beyond what any neighbour should be (they were in their 60s?). We sat there in the dark silently, and we watched him get in my car and drive around, we can only assume, looking for me. Another time I was walking barefoot down the centre of the road, stumbling along for I couldn't see though the tears. I got half way to nannas house with no nappybag, just me and Jess in my arms, when nanna drove up. She'd felt a need to check on me and there we were.. on our way to find her.

One time I was sitting in the window in the side room yelling out the name of my neighbour. He didn't hear me. Jessi's dad was taunting me that I could yell. Go on, yell. I had Jessi in my arms and there was little I could do. I'd often make it as far as the car. He'd come out and rock the car! Stand beside it and shake the living shit out of it. Or I'd just get the car to start and he'd come hurtling out of the house and I'd have to stop because I didn't want to run him over, so then he'd start shaking the car. Once I got as far as the side gate, was struggling with the latch because of carrying Jessica and he caught up to us. He clapped his hands over my ears. To this day I don't know how I didn't fall over let alone keep hold of that baby. Some of these events may even have occured on the same day. I really don't remember. Sometimes someone will say something about their own situation and it triggers something and I remember an incident I'd long since forgotten. I hate when those moments hit. He used to try take Jessi off me. Once he had me well and truly broken he'd say over and over "give me the baby Michelle. this is bad for the baby, you're crying to much. give her to me". By this point he's back to his calm self and I'd be the once hysterical telling him he wasn't getting her. No WAY! He'd pour water over us (yes, Jessi too) when we were sleeping, he launched himself at me one day and put his hands through the sheetrock on the living room wall, he'd throw things at me, he'd call me all sorts of names and tell me I was a hippo and no one would ever love me, he'd threaten to hurt Jessi. He'd abused all my friends and family to the point I saw no one.

People in the street, in my home town, used to tell me what a wonderful couple we were. How good we were together. Jessica was 6mths old when the neighbours 2 doors down called the police. They also called my mum. Mum found him sitting in the old Torana he'd bought and was "restoring". She was fuming, he refused to get out of the car. She  picked up a shovel that was in the shed and told him to get out of the car, or she'd get him out. He didn't budge. He'd met his match. My mum swung that shovel and stopped just shy of the window. He soon got out. To this day he tells people "Michelle's mum tried to kill me". Trust me, she wasn't trying. Had she been, he'd have died. I don't really remember what happened. I think this was the day he jumped on the hood of my car as I was reversing out the drive, when earlier he'd lifted both the windscreen wipers. As he jumped I stopped the car and he slid up the bonnet into the wipers. He had a massive bruise on his shoulder from it. Later, he had no idea where the bruise came from. Anyways, he told the police I tried to run him over. I don't know what story they got from elsewhere but the lady officer told me I needed to get a restraining order, or she would. The police in WA had been granted the power to apply for restraining orders only a few months before.

I went with the violence restraining order. I didn't want to. How does Jessi see her dad when I have an VRO? But an VRO will get him out of the house, a house my mum owned that we were living in. I'd told him to go many times but he never left. Finally he had to leave. I was worried about where he'd go. This was my home town, not his. I was an absolute wreck. It's just dawned on me all that stuff about my mum must have been from an earlier incident because my mum was away when he and I finally separated. I went to court and got the interim VRO and the Justice's of the Peace made me feel so small. The questions they asked, the fear they wouldn't grant approve the order.. it was almost worse than what I had just been through. But they did and mum was on her long service leave and away in Perth and she wanted to come home there and then. I wouldn't have that, she deserve a holiday. The only way I could placate her was to assure her my sister and I would go to Perth. We couldn't get on the train the following day and she was ready to come home, but my nanna assured her we'd be on the train the very next day. We met mum in Perth, stayed all over the place with relatives and mums friends. I was grieving and felt so isolated. If mum saw my crying she was so brusk in asking me what was wrong. She needed to ask? I wrote him letters (they weren't actually sent) where I said I missed him and I WAS SORRY etc etc. Did I have something to be sorry for?

When the restraining order finally went to court I didn't attend. I didn't want it. He'd moved out, that was all I needed. Right? Wrong. I thought if I got the VRO Jessi couldn't see her dad and that's not fair on her and blah blah blah. I tried not to be alone with him, but inevitably it happened from time to time and things were hell when they did. Just before her 1st birthday he left town. I had taken her to visit with him for an hour or so on xmas day. He was showing me photos of some half naked, skinny model type thing whom he'd met on Yahoo! Personals. He was sure to have her on his computer desktop and screen saver while I was there. He was moving to be with her. I was so hurt, how come he gets to move on? And with a chic like that? He left town, things didn't really improve. He'd phone me 100 times a day. Sometimes, that wasn't an exaggeration. He'd call and call until I answered, switching from house phone to mobile and back again. He'd abuse the crap out of me over the phone. Even when I met my partner Andrew he'd always be calling but then he had something else to bitch about. "I don't want Andrew near my daughter. I don't know him". He had people in town feeding him information.. "I don't want Jessica in the car with Andrew when he drives like that". He wouldn't pay child support, he changed both his middle name and surname "so you can't find me" he says.

He came to visit when Jessi was about 3.5yrs old. His biological father wanted to come meet his granddaughter and on his way here he collected the father and they came together. The night before, the father was on the phone cursing and saying he didn't want to come. "Good", I said. "I don't want you here!". He came. Day one was ok, we met in a park and they gave gifts to Jessi and they played. I tried not to follow them around, but just watch, as it was his time with her. Day 2 he arrived to collect her when I wasn't ready and on the phone. She'd been begging to go on the swing so I ushered her out the front door to him and told him she wanted a push on the swing, I'd just get the rest of her things and be out in a minute. When I got out there I was still on the phone and he and his dad were playing with her at her swingset so I sat on the step and went on with my phone call. That afternoon they were coming back to see her so we went out the front to wait. She was playing on the swing and I was sitting on the lawn talking on the phone when they arrived. I said hi and left them to it. As far as I was concerned they were there to see Jessica, not me. When my call finally ended, he was really annoyed. He started growling about how I was on the phone and how I pushed her out the door that morning etc. I repeated my sentiment that he was there for Jessi and I didn't need to hang up for him. So he switched to "and you wont even go inside, you're just sitting there to spy on us". All this while he was pushing Jess on the swing. He was started to snarl and spit in his anger, and had the swing raised ready to let her go. He didn't even notice her fall off. As soon as he did (you know, when she cried!) he picked her up and tried to cuddle her but she put her arms out to me. That pissed him off further. I tried to reassure her with words and he put her back on the swing. It was when she almost fell the second time that I had enough! She'd learnt from her first fall and was hanging by her little hands gripping the rope. I was so upset for her. I asked her to kiss her daddy and her grandpop goodbye because we were going inside. This sent him into a a tirade and he started slinging abuse something cruel. He was screaming and waving his arms and saying all kinds of nasty things. His dad was dragging him to the car while I was trying to comfort a VERY distraught little girl as I carried her inside.

I went and got a VRO. I asked them to make sure Jessica was covered, they fudged up the paper work and it didn't happen. Actually, at first the lady in the courthouse told me I didn't need one, as he didn't live here! I was furious, I'd called Legal Aid before going down there to see if a VRO was appropriate, how this affected Jessica etc. So I went back later when the other lady was on and filled out the paper work. They granted the interim order. Within DAYS he moved back to this town! He fought the VRO and I had to attend court before a magistrate and prove I needed it. That was horrible. Yet again i found myself feeling like the bad guy and I was sure they'd believe his sweet talking and decline it. They didn't and it was valid for 2hrs. He made steps towards court for custody and they made us go to mediation to work out an access agreement. That was HELL ON EARTH! They didn't care that I had a very current, rather new VRO against the guy. They actually wanted me to go into HIS home and TEACH him how to care for his daughter (asthma and eczema at that stage). I couldn't understand, nor feel at ease with the whole process. Once more I felt like I was being punished for his bad behaviour. It was a hard fight and something like 6hrs in the lawyers office on a teleconference with him and his lawyer, and a court appointed mediator, before we agreed he'd get access once every 2 weeks for 2hrs, supervised by my mum.

At some point he came to my place of work and started asking me what Jessica might like for Christmas and other useless stuff. I reminded him he wasn't supposed to be there and that I couldn't talk to him. More happened but it was hearing my mum's V8 come around the corner that had him hightail it out of there. I called the police and asked what would happen if I charged him from breaching the VRO, and their reply all seemed very extreme. In the ended I said to myself "He's terrorized you for 4yrs, and you have NOTHING to prove it". I had him charged. He was driven to the nearest regional lock up (gaol) and had to spend the night before his court appearance the following day. He was found guilty of breaching the VRO, was fined, and had to pay expenses. I must admit, from that moment onward his behaviour altered.

He's still not a good person. He still blames everybody and everything around him for the drama in his life. When Jessi was about 4.5yrs he moved away, 2000kms away! It's been so nice. He's never spent a birthday with Jessica, she's 8 in 2011. He's only ever had that one Christmas with her. After fighting for mediation he really only spent 4 or 5 weekends (every 2 weeks) with her before he started having to rush off early for "work" etc. He met a new girl and she moved out here to the sticks to be with him. It lasted about 3 weeks before my mum, on an access visit, ended up having to help her find somewhere to live and then continued to help by moving her furniture. Funnily enough, this was the very first day I met her (when mum's car wasnt at his house for access and I needed to give her a jacket for Jessi). I offered to take her 9yr old with me to mum's to watch dvds with Jessi. I could see how upset the poor girl was. Her mum drove past us a few hours later and informed me how I had split them up. Funny! He started the same shit with her, abusive, never ending phonecalls etc. She and I are actually good friends to this day, and we don't talk about him unless it's in relation to Jessica. Jessi hasn't seen him since he moved the last time, we haven't heard from him in about 5mths. He came to WA in May and had told Jessica well in advance he was coming to see her, then didn't. His dad and I are on great terms. I could/would never hold against Jessica's grandpop the actions of her dad. Her grandpop called the other night for a chat and slipped up that the father will be in WA again on Nov 4. Guess he isn't even planning on seeing her this time.

While I am still nervous around him I am more willing to stand my ground. My daughters safety comes first and foremost and I'd never leave him alone with her or let him take her even if he had company. His dad backs me up in this. When I saw him last my VRO was still current, so I'd not really like to have to see him. Jessica's started asking a lot of questions this last year and her crying because "I miss daddy" is sending me loopy. She doesn't know her "daddy", just a mental image of a generalisation of a daddy. He's still a complete arsehole and he still tries to pick fights, though I must admit he's been pretty good. He learnt a long time I ago I will simply put the phone down and walk away. He's paying to listen to his own ranting. The very last time we spoke, I hung up on him. He didn't call me right back like he once would have. He has no concept of his daughters needs or health and I always let him know if she gets admitted to hospital. When she needed her epipen last year, I called him. No matter what I do, he will always be her dad.

I saw firsthand what domestic violence can do when at 16 I was taken to the hospital where I saw my mum a bloodied, smashed up woman. I had to go into the house and find her glasses, see the holes in the walls and the blood all over her bedroom. I had to hear how he'd tried to break her neck and kicked her in the head with his steel-capped boots. I live with the memories of running to my nannas house in the middle of the night when I was 13 or 14. She didn't live a few doors down the street, it was blocks away. I remember when sleeping over nanns flying out of bed everytime the phone rang after 8pm in case it was mum in need. I will always remember the stories my mum has told me of how granddad treated her and my aunt, and worst of all, nanna. And I will maintain that I was not "seeking" that kind of relationship when I met him. I wasn't continuing the abusive cycle.  I will never put myself, or my daughter, in a situation like that again. I had a baby who I didn't want to grow up in a broken home like mine. I had no idea the home I was creating for her was broken beyond repair.

My mum is still with my step father. He's never laid a hand on her before or since that day although he's an alcoholic who doesn't succumb to the grog like he used to. My granddad died when I was 12. 

My story pales by comparison of that which I read this afternoon, but it's my story. As shattered and ill-remembered as it is. I don't mind the not remembering. It's when I read stories like that I did today and the feelings and some memories start to haunt me that I don't like. 

Domestic Violence isn't taboo! It's against the law. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So much to do, so little time

Who am I kidding, I don't work anymore so to most of you why should I complain about time? 
The fact remains, I have a "to do" list bigger than my Santa list and it only grows every time I see a wonderful blog, or a new magazine arrives, or I've been op shopping and have a bunch of vintage to drool over. There is so much I want to make, so much I want to achieve. 

Trying to remind myself of something I read on a blog once (was it Ali Edwards?) where she had used a quote that went something like "no body has any more time in the day than I do". Well, that's a really poor representation of the quote, but that was the meaning of it. Each day, we all have 24hrs. What we squish into those hours is entirely up to us. Some of us feel overwhelmed with work, kids, hubby, kids activities etc so much so we never have a hobby or read a book or even get a hair cut. Others amongst us leisurely stroll through life with no goals of time, achieving only what comes before them and happily accepting this life with a smile. Some of us just want to do it all. Now. I think I am one of the latter.. (as if you hadn't worked that out!). The trouble with wanting to be the over-achiever (wow that sounds modest?) is that it usually ends up in achieving nothing as it all gets so overwhelming and it's easier to go watch a dvd. Then the guilt kicks in, you can see where this is going. No where.  

For a long time I have considered making items to sell. Yes, just considered it. I am multi-talented when it comes to crafting which is a real pleasure, but it also means I never focus on one thing for very long. I haven't picked up a tatting shuttle in a long time (ok, so I bought 2 at a garage sale in Perth last time and they had tatting needles too, my first. Does that count?) and my interest in crochet has waned. The last scrapbook page I shared here is still sitting on my desk incomplete and I've got so many sewing patterns I can't remember which ones I like most. 

I think what scares me the most is that moving from hobby to income will kill the pleasure. I know how badly I procrastinated on the 2 bridesmaids and 1 flower girl dress I made in Nov last year for my besties wedding. I know how when I got to her house on the eve of the wedding I hadn't hemmed the 2 bridesmaids dresses. I also know I have no originality. I can mimic things, I can work from patterns, but I don't see ideas in my own mind. Not like I do with crochet anyways. I can crochet up almost anything on a complete whim. Even with crochet I was constantly being encouraged to write patterns and it all just sounded like too much hard work. Perhaps that's what it is, I am just lazy? I want to sew all day long, and yet I haven't been near my sewing machine in months. I like things to be "perfect" (yes, my own image of it, not yours, not his, just mine) and then I spend 6hrs sewing one dolls outfit that should have taken 30mins. I also know there is so little money to be made from homemade items. People do love them, but they seem to expect them to be cheap. I can't afford any lovely fabrics and practically all those I do buy are reduced to $4/m or less. How does anyone make something with those gorgeous quilt fabrics that cost $24/m, then sell them? They have to be losing $$ in a big way! I also don't know what people like. I know what I like, I know what Jessica likes, but beyond that I haven't a clue. 

There is an entrepreneur in town who is opening a monthly market (just like a jumble sale I guess, once a month) but he is also advertising permanent weekend booths. I could do that. I know I could. But how come I can say it then not do it?

McCalls 8784
Above is a pattern I have cut "just because" and maybe with a small inkling of.. will I participate in the market? Even just the jumble sale one? I cut view (D-size 1), the little girl sitting down. The pink floral is a quilting fabric I absolutely adored and I cut the front of the shirt in 1 piece to avoid the center front seams. The little shorts were cut in a dark pink poplin.

Simplicity 9495

I have also cut Jessica a nightie from Simplicity 9495, view C, size 7 (girl holding the teddy bear) in a lightwight cotton. Nighties you buy are usually satin or jersey and with Jessica's skin, neither is comfortable. She loved the fairy fabric (as did I when I bought it!) and "can't wait for you to make it mummy". Yet here is mummy dragging her feet.

Butterick 4286 - McCalls 5439
My last trip to Perth I got a lot of preloved sewing patterns and quite a few were costume. McCalls 5439 is girls size 3,4,5 and Butterick 4286 is misses 6, 8-10, 12-14, 16-18 and I've been using them as a reference for Jessica's 2010 Halloween costume. The owner of many of these patterns must have been a seamstress, all her patterns were cut around the outlines and not specific sizes so I have full use of the size ranges. Yay!

My new issue of Australian Homespun arrived in the post today, already i want to make a few things from it and order back issues (see, this is why they print letters and photos of items people made from past issues!). I'd love to make the girly quilt but I don't have the fabrics or the patience.

My psychologist wants me to enroll in a course at Uni or Tafe, I want him to back off. Maybe I should enroll in drafting, or seamstress or something? *lol* He'd not appreciate that. Apparently I am "too smart to stay here" and he's always asking me "why don't you move? you're wasting yourself by staying here". I keep thinking "shouldn't I be grateful for what I have?". I'm the first to admit I don't feel like I have a lot but when I view it from outside eyes I really do. I have my gorgeous daughter, a loving and supportive local family, I own my home (something I achieved all by myself), I had a good job that I threw in, I have friends, and if I really set my mind to it I also have the ability to make positive changes/influences to my local community. Ugh, life. I just want to pack up and go to the USA for a few weeks. Oh wait, no income. Just got to keep reminding myself to be grateful.