The Birthday Party


Inigo’s little party went really well. It was just grandparents, godparents, and aunts, uncles and cousins – 17 people, but it still seemed like a lovely intimate gathering.


We met at Putney Park (Inigo’s favourite park), and silly me forgot to factor in all the other people who would be having parties at the same time, so we couldn’t get a picnic table. Thanks to Bev amp; Ted, and Mum and Dad, who brought tables, we were able to set up in a lovely shady spot, and Inigo had the time of his life.


As well as being surrounded by his favourite people and being allowed to eat cake (and icing for the first time ever!), he got presents!


Bev and Ted got him some lovely clothes, and Ted made the best play kitchen! Inigo has been loving helping me in the kitchen, so the play kitchen is going to get a lot of use in the next few years – and it’s so much nicer than the horrible plastic ones that you pay hundreds of dollars for.



He also got a treasury of Winnie the Pooh stories from Aunty Jane, a book that he will be able to treasure for a lifetime, and a couple of fabulous shirts. And accessories for his new kitchen – a proper Italian pasta cooking set, and a beautiful tea set. A very lucky boy indeed.






And a lovely time was had by all.

The cake is in the oven

The Rainbow Cake. I got off the plane last night at 9pm, came home and passed out. Then this morning we went to Lara’s Graden for the first working bee. Inigo was a bit out of sorts, so we didn’t make it to the CAAH rally for relationship equality. We came home and Inigo was ratty for a few hours, then started projectile vomiting for nearly an hour, not keeping anything down.

An hour later, he had a breastfeed, and is now sleeping peacefully. Maybe he’ll be ok for his little party tomorrow, maybe not.

But the cake will be gorgeous 🙂

Happy Birthday Oscar!

We were privileged to be invited to Miriam’s parents farm on Sunday to celebrate Oscar’s birthday. Miriam’s lovely mother, Malle, also made a cake for Inigo, just like his mother he got to celebrate his birthday a week early, and I think the celebrations will go on for a while 🙂

Pictures here. Sorry, I am too lazy to link them properly, might get around to it later.

The guts man

Yesterday Bev & Ted took Inigo while I went to see the gastroenterologist (henceforth to be referred to as The Guts Man, or Dr Guts, because gastroenterologist makes me tired, and guts is a marvellous word).

Apparently, apart from;
a) Giving 2 litres of blood in a year
b) intestinal parasites
c) coeliac disease
e) bowel polyps or cancer
f) gastric ulcers

it could be esophageal cancer.

So I am going in for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy on the 1st of December. I’ll get the results on the 5th of December.

And now for a lie down.

Lara’s Garden

Anna has given me permission to post the contents of an email she sent me today. If Lara’s story has touched you, please consider contributing some time or some money to help commemorate this special child, and make a lovely park for kids to enjoy for years to come.

Mark Inigo and I will be helping out on both working bees, but probably not for the whole day. Please let me know if you’d like to come along and help, everyone is welcome. Personally, I am relishing the idea of being able to do something practical and useful, and I can imagine this park being a place I will want to visit frequently.


Dear family and friends,

As most of you know, our little girl Lara died unexpectedly sometime during the night of June 30 this year, leaving us heartbroken and bewildered.

As we struggle to come to terms with the “new normal” of life without her, our friends from Forsyth Park Playgroup have been working behind the scenes with North Sydney Council to secure a little space in our neighbourhood where we can build a garden in Lara’s memory.

That space is on the southernmost point of Forsyth Park in Neutral Bay, below the second oval. While the finer points of garden’s design are still under discussion with the Council, we have been permitted to begin clearing some of the site of weeds. I have attached a copy of the garden’s design to this email, so you can see what we have in mind.

And this is where you come in. Many of you asked if there was anything you could do for us in the aftermath of Lara’s death. You have brought us food, phoned us, visited us, written to us, shared your memories of Lara with us, and made donations to her kindy and SIDS & Kids. We didn’t know what to ask for then – but we are so very grateful that you did these things because each gesture has been a lifeline in some pretty desperate days.

Now we have something specific to ask of you: would you help us begin building Lara’s Garden? All we need is your time, muscle and goodwill to rip out weeds and mulch.

We will be holding a working bee on two upcoming weekends – Saturday, November 28, and Saturday December 5, from 9am until 4pm.

The Council has sprayed the site with Roundup during the week of Nov 9-15, so we won’t be touching the site until around two weeks later. I am informed by the Council that Roundup breaks down fairly quickly after contact with plants and will not pose a threat to anyone by the time of the first working bee, and it will make weeding considerably easier (especially the mountains of asthma weed).
We would love it if you could help us build Lara’s Garden, and as a start help out at one or both o these working bees. Children are most welcome – the site is fairly secure – road access is quite oblique and there are lots of weedy places to explore, which should keep the little ones busy.

Rob and I will be cooking up a sausage or two for lunch, and will provide some refreshments. There is a public toilet within walking distance.

For those of you who cannot make it, there are heaps of other ways in which you can help. We need building materials (stone, steel, wood) for edging the paths, as well as lots and lots of plants. If you know anyone who is renovating and throwing out stone, please let us know and we’ll come and get it. Likewise, if you or anyone you know has a bursting pot plant that needs a good home, we would love it. The embankment that needs weeding will need to be replanted with something and the more we can get for free the better we can make it.

We will be working on Lara’s Garden for a long time – if you can’t do anything now but would like to get involved later, we’d love it.

Details of the working bees are as follows:

What: Lara’s Garden working bees
Where: Southern end of Forsyth Park – access via Bent St, or on foot from Eaton St, or park on Montpelier St and walk across the oval to the Bent St side.
See map:,151.214726&spn=0.004113,0.00508&t=h&z=18
When: Saturday, 28 November, and Saturday, 5 December
Time: 9am – 4pm
RSVP: By Thursday, November 26 (so I know how many sausages to buy) by email
Bring: Hat, sunscreen, long sleeved shirt/long pants, gardening gloves, and a trowel/weeding fork if you have one.
Web: (soon to be replaced by

We will provide a case or so of water, and some juice for the kids, as well as a basic bbq. Clark Rd shops are about 5 mins drive down the hill, for those who need or want more.

North Sydney Council will provide bags for weed disposal, mulch, tools and expertise (one of the Streets Alive officers will be there to help).

With all our love,

Anna, Rob and Ursula

Poor baby

At our visit to the pediatrician on Monday, she suggested an iron test for Inigo. And though I hate putting him through unnecessary medical procedures, iron is vital for brain development in little ones, and if they miss out, that development just doesn’t happen. So on this one, I decided to err on the side of caution.

And I was so brave and organised. I put off the test until today, when he would have a lovely morning at playgroup (Julie read his favourite book, Fancy Nancy as a special treat), he ate three bowls of fruit, and rocked the Hokey Pokey. He had a sandwich on the way to the hospital, and popped in to the lovely women at the audiology department to book his follow on test in three months time. Then it was off to Pathology. Just follow the screams…

We waited our turn, and Squish was pretty good, if a little tired and cranky. One mum was in the waiting room listening to her child get his procedure done. The nurse came out to ask if she was going to come in and she refused. It blew my tiny mind that any mother could choose to let her baby go through something like that without his mama there. Heartbreaking.

Inigo was next. It was awful. We’ve done this heaps of times before, but this time he is older, more aware, more frightened.

The guy was quick, very sweet with Inigo, and it was over very quickly. Inigo was hysterical, but that was what I was expecting, and I had some watermelon in my bag ready for distracting him when we got back to the waiting room. But then he called us back. The test called for three vials of blood, but he had only drawn two. He had to puncture the other arm.

As you can imagine, it was torture. And I just couldn’t fall apart, I had to be present for him. He was absolutely inconsolable, the terrible sobbing continued for at least five minutes, it was ages before he could even look at the watermelon. For a kid as stomach driven as this one, that is pretty severe. And then he’d eat a bit of watermelon, and look down at his arms, see the band aids (wiggles), and start crying and sobbing again. Eventually, I took off the band aids, and he’s had a long nap, and a lovely visit with friends.

Hopefully, his iron will be fine, and we won’t ever need to test him again.

Oh, and today Inigo started singing. He’s been mubling along to songs (in tune) for quite a while now, but today he started using actual words in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It sounds like he’s going to inherit his fathers gorgeous singing voice.

And one more thing. We have official confirmation that he can sleep through the smoke alarm.

There is some good news

I crashed the car. Our new car, that we love beyond the fact that it gets us from A-B, that has air conditioning, and is much safer for the Squish than our old car. Bernard (our car) isn’t too badly off, but the parked car that I attacked will need surgery 😦 And the worst part? It belongs to Bev & Ted’s lovely neighbours, who are in the midst of a huge house renovation, and have had to move out while their house is taken apart and put back together. Who knows how much it will cost, but I am guessing around $1000, because that is what everything seems to cost….

So, the good news. The expensive GP has found me another gastroenterologist that can see me this week! So on Thursday I am off to speak to the guts man, and arrange for a nasty procedure. That will probably cost $1000. And the rest.

One small bit of further good news. EGP is reducing my asthma meds in the hope that my symptoms can be controlled with less drugs, namely, less steroids. Inhaled steroids apparently aren’t supposed to make you fat, but I don’t think it’s a massive coincidence that I started to get fat just after my asthma got worse and I was put on long term steroid medication. I’ll probably still be fat, but if I can be a little less fat and keep breathing, that would be good. I have bills to pay.

Government Breastfeeding Strategy – My response

There has been quite a bit of negative feedback in the media about the new breastfeeding strategy in the past few days. Many “opinion pieces” have attacked the strategy for “making mums feel guilty” for not breastfeeding.

This is a complete crock of shit.

Ask the mother of a child that was killed in a car accident before seatbelt laws if she feels guilty for not knowing about seat belts. Or a man dying of lung cancer if he feels guilty for smoking. The melanoma patient that loved the beach.

We make our decisions based on the evidence that is available at the time. Sometimes new informations has an impact on us, and we change our behavior. Sometimes we get the health message and decide to ignore it, like I did with soft cheese while I was pregnant – I did some research and found that there had been one case of listeria in pregnancy in Australia in the past two decades, and I decided to take the risk.

I would never tell another woman what to do, but I think it is fair to give them the information so that she can make up her own mind. It is my opinion that most mothers think a lot about what is best for their babies, and most mothers make conservative choices. And yet many women choose to artificially feed their babies. If I was doing a PHD in anthropology I think I would choose study this question. Since I’m not, I have to guess that most women don’t know how risky it is not to breastfeed their babies.

Of course, there are some women who can’t breastfeed. Some women have to have treatment that is incompatible with breastfeeding, or surgery, or there are other, valid reasons for not breastfeeding. Or they simply choose not to, and that is ok.

What is not OK with me is hiding the facts about the risks of artificial feeding in order to spare the feelings of a non-breastfeeding woman.

Below is what I wrote as a comment to a newspaper article that I read today – a new mum that “couldn’t” breastfeed because of poor advice, attacking the ABA, the one organisation that could have helped her if she had chosen to reach out.


The new strategy is about supporting new mums, so they don’t get this stupid advice. If Rebecca had good advice and support when she was trying to get breastfeeding established (or even before the baby was born), her story might have been a lot different.

I too struggled to get breastfeeding established, and suffered for nearly three months. Before my baby was born, I attended a Breastfeeding Education Class run by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, and when things got hard, I turned to them for support and advice. My baby is just about to turn two, and he is still breastfeeding. It is my intention to follow World Health Organisation guidelines, and feed him at least until his second birthday.

This new strategy has looked at the “hard evidence”, and has come to the conclusion that formula use places an unnecessary strain on health services. Artificially fed babies do have worse health outcomes (and so do their mothers) – so of course the government wants to encourage and support women to breastfeed.

And if you’re after scientific evidence that formula feeding carries risks, read this article – The information is easy to read, but each point is referenced with the research papers so you can look up the results for yourself.

As for the ABA using emotive language, that is a no brainer. In my opinion, saying that breastmilk is a gift that a mother can give her baby is much nicer than saying giving formula to your baby increases his risk of diabetes, obesity, asthma, SIDS, hospitalisation for upper respiratory illness, childhood cancer, reduced cognitive development, allergies, infection from contaminated formula, altered occlusion, nutrient deficiency, etc, etc.

It is interesting to note that Cuba, which has strong government support for breastfeeding, has a lower infant mortality rate than the USA, where breastfeeding rates are even lower than they are in Australia. Breastfeeding saves lives, and I think that it is time we stopped pretending that artificial feeding is “just as good”. Hiding these facts from women who are making a choice to artificially feed their babies is patronising, and dangerous.

Something happened last night

Which I am still processing, still trying to make sense of in my iron depleted brain. But it seems pretty important.

Nearly six years ago, I said something stupid to a dear friend. It was thoughtless, and it hurt her. And she stopped speaking to me.

And for nearly six years, I didn’t know why. And I was so angry. Hurt and devastated that someone I loved so much could be so cruel to me.

And last night she was at a party I went to. She lives miles away, so I didn’t expect her to be there, I hadn’t seen her in years. It was a shock.

But we talked, and I understood, why she did what she did. I still hate what she did, but I understand, and I have forgiven her. And she’s forgiven me.

Are we friends again? I don’t know, I think it will take a while. But I’ve missed her, and I couldn’t believe that I was having a baby without her in my life. I couldn’t believe that she was missing out on knowing Inigo.

So last night she met him for the very first time. And I cried buckets.