Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The making of Isabella Rose's christening gown

Isabella's christening was last week, Faye organised it for March and has asked me to make the dress. Which was not unexpected as I did make Dylan's outfit and his was a challenge because you want it to be special but boyish. Me I like grandiose, lace pretty etc, but for a boy well you have to curtail the pretty and lace, so I made a Satin suit, bow tie and a satin blue embosted waist coat. However for a girl, well, I could just go mad. But my daughter added a special challenge for me, that was to incorporate some family lace on her husbands side for me to use - some beautifully handmade lace which was around some pillow cases. The lace was handmade by Isabella's great grandmother it was quite heavy looked croqueted but it wasn't it was very nice but not what I had in mind, so I had to re think the whole outfit. I looked for a pattern that would enhance both my ideas of what I wanted and also bring out the best in the lace. I spent several weeks looking for material that would match this lace. If you know anything about material it fades or looses it's original colour, for whites they go yellowish or off white. I eventually found some beautiful off white satinish material, imprinted with a rose through out, it matched the lace perfectly. Faye and I both went to this fantastic store called 'Fabulous Fabrics' in Balcatta, what a store, lace galore from all prices we looked at some that were $175.00 per meter, I could not justify that, we settled for one that was $45.00 per meter and it was fabulous.

Now the hard bit was done, finding the pattern, lace and material. I set aside a whole weekend for the job of making the outfit, nobody was invited to the house for dinner and no looking after grandchildren or socialising with friends. A small problem occurred I had not used my sewing machine for at least a year an had forgotten how to use the roll hem feature - so had to call on my Shaz to help, we used to do lots of crafts together, those were the days, making teddy bears, where have they gone! just not enough time. Thankfully between us both we worked out how to roll hem the lace. I spent the whole weekend sewing - Bella had a fitting on the Saturday night, Faye cooked us a lovely dinner then it was home to burn the midnight oil, which is not unusual for me at the best of times.
You might well ask how do you fit it all in, well you know there is an old saying 'the more you have to do in a day the more you do' 'the less you have to do, the less you do' how true that is for me, however very rarely do I have less to do.
I thoroughly enjoyed challenge of making the outfit, where I added the lace was trial and error, it looked perfect on the bottom and around the sleeves of the dress, however the hat really showed off the lace and Bella, I am sure great grandmother would be smiling from heaven, both Nanni's and mum were delighted and Bella is truly blessed.

I get such joy out of making things for the children, I feel the days of hand making are over, it is so expensive now to make your own clothes. Material is not cheap any more and then off course there is your own time and labour. When my children were small it was cheaper to make there clothes, now it is not, apart from the personal pleasure there is no benefit from it at all.
My consolation is that in generations to come I will be the great grandmother smiling from heaven and I will be remembered for making this gown and a tradition continues.

I am so happy & grateful for having a wonderful family.

Dylan's Christening 16 October 2006 & Jessica

Friday, March 27, 2009

Teaching in Singapore:

It is always good to go away, but to experience teaching overseas is an exceptional experience. I am happy and grateful to have this experience and share the cultural diversity in which we live. I love my job and am passionate about teaching and doing my part to ensure that women are given informed information to make informed choices.

Life works in strange ways, let me give you an example: anyone who knows me knows I love books, I enjoy walking around bookshops and will visit bookshops where ever I am. I don’t always have a book in mind, however if a cover jumps off the shelf at me, I have to have it. Let me rephrase that, I will read the back cover and then make a decision, 90% of the time I pick the book. Now airports are a great place to walk around the bookshops or newsagents, for some reason they seem to have a different selection of books and I always find one that I like, what a surprise that is! Last trip it was Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, & David O. Relin, it was an exceptional story, if you get the chance read the story.

This trip it was The Hospital by the River by Dr Catherine Hamlin & John Little. It is a story about an incredible couple; both Dr’s in Obstetrics & Gynaecology who worked in Ethiopia dedicating their lives to women suffering the catastrophic effects of obstructed labour and the awful injuries as a result, that is, fistulas. These women are often from the age of 14 upwards. I have not finished reading the book, but it is both heart wrenching and compassionate. It has opened my eyes in many ways and I am grateful there are people in the world like the ‘Hamlin’s. The story is based in Ethiopia in the early 50’s. It was interesting to read that Sylvia Pankhurst the daughter of the famous Emmeline Pankhurst (the English suffragette) and she set up the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital which is now world renowned for its incredible life saving work. It is a small world, it makes you think are you born to do great things?

As a child I always remember my father saying he left Italy after the war and went to live Ethiopia & when he was ‘kicked’ out of Ethiopia he moved down to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)where he met my mother and I eventually came along. I didn’t realise that Mussolini invaded & occupied ETHIOPIA (and thats why my father was there) in 1935 until 1941. I don't like to admit it but my father was one of those fascist, unfortuntaley he was a Mussolini man, well, each to their own. You live and learn.

Now back to teaching – Singapore is a beautiful city however the humidity is more than I can bear at times – I often feel like I am constantly in a sauna, but there is no plunge pool to cool off in. I spend an intensive 12 hour teaching over 3 days. This is usually split into formal lectures, workshops and group interaction. The group are multi - ethnic made of Singaporeans, Chinese, Malay, Indian and others. The religious make up is Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Taoist, Confucianism and apologies for the ones I have left out.

The students are always respectful and courteous, family is very important and there is great respect for the elderly in the community. Most people are softly spoken and calm, at times it is very difficult for me to get the students to engage in open discussion, and therefore it is important for me to observe body language before nominating students to answer questions. Sometimes we have long periods of silence whilst I am waiting for the discussion to begin – my next trip I think I will introduce a prize a token gift for those who engage in discussions, and see if this makes a difference. Everyone likes a gift.

I have to ask the question whether it is a good idea to have the Nurses Board in the Ministry of Health, Medical Profession Building under the umbrella of the Medical Profession as in doctors. The building is OK but maybe in a separate office to acknowledge the profession of nursing as a separate entity.
On entering this building the security is evident, you need to show ID and have a pass to enter. In Singapore the Nurses Board, Dentist Council and Medical Council are all in the same building in fact it looks as if it is all in the same office. Under the Nurses and Midwives Act Singapore The Nurses Board consists of two Doctors and 14 other people (nurses). When it comes to disciplinary matters for nurses the doctors assess the fitness of the nurse to work. I wonder if the medical board has nurses on it, and if the nurses have a say as to whether the doctors are fit for work. I think not.
The other difference I saw was that there are midwives in Singapore however the Board or the Act does not reflect the 'term midwife' in it. It is not surprising to hear that the nursing union is not strong in Singapore and that the nurses feel underpaid and would like to be more political, however the cultural differences are noticeable when it comes to being political. I have heard the term 'controlled' Democracy when people have been discussing the politics of Singapore, I now know what that means.

I took some time out to visit the Botanical Gardens, and it was time well spent relaxing, walking soaking up the beautiful scenery and flowers. Shopping is always wonderful in Singapore so much to choose from and the sales were at there peak and the credit card took a bit of a hit – I came home with four pairs of new shoes – shhhh I didn’t tell my husband, I just hope he doesn’t notice –but they were such a bargain I did buy him, a golfing book. The diet also took a pounding as the food is so good it was hard to say no. But I’m home now and back on track with the diet and exercise and the shoes look great. Until the next time, Ciao.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Starting another course! I must be mad or is this all part of life long learning?

The year is well and truly entrenched now and first assignments will be due very soon. I have started my graduate certificate in Tertiary Education – you might ask why? The answer is simple, I want to be the best at what I do, therefore I feel I need to extend myself and make sure I utilise all possible avenues to be a great lecturer. Teaching formally is very different from teaching in the clinical area, which is what I am use to. However I must say that it is very disappointing to know that we teach the ideal and the reality is that in the clinical area/setting they are not practicing the ideal. Why is this?
I suspect this is largely due to being overworked and under staffed.

Some questions to ponder on! Does this mean there really is a theory practice gap?? No nurses and midwives always remember to be professional when they are working to the limit? Are they tempted to cut corners because they are so busy? How do they decide which corner to cut? Are they supported by management to maintain standards under these conditions? Is the paper work completed? Do they fill out forms when they feel under pressure, when they don’t have enough staff? Or do health professionals become blasé when they are always asked to work in these conditions? What answers do you have? One thing I have learned over the years is that unless the i’s are dotted nothing gets done. In other words, if all nurses and midwives were to fill out an aims form or incident form each time they felt unsafe or there was not enough staff to cover the work to the required standard something would soon be done. Why is it we don’t?

Now back to my course, it is all on line. This is good for me, as I have a couple of units I coordinate that are all on line, so I too can experience what it feels like to be student & how important it is to have the relevant information online. This is an interesting way of learning, interacting with the computer, meeting fellow students through blackboard profiling and emailing your tutor. I do find that I have enormous amounts of reading to do. One thing for sure is that you have to be committed to your study, enjoy the course you are doing and have clear study plans and deadlines for your assessments, otherwise you are doomed to fail. We are now in a technological age where communication is so different from when I went to school; in fact the way we all communicate now is so different. The geographical boundaries are reduced, I am currently studying with people all over Australia and I have students as far as New Guinea that is really amazing – what is next?

Enjoy your life long learning!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Making a decision about our dog ‘Muffin’

Decision making is often difficult, when you really care about something or someone. As we know people have many different characteristics, me I am a person of ‘principle’ and I am also a ‘dog’ lover. Other people may be lovers of cats, birds, fish or may not even like pets, me I love dogs, I have always had one sometimes even two. When I spent 5 1/2 years travelling, apart from missing my children, I really missed having our dog ‘Trudy’. I learned a lot from Trudy and so did my children, particularly my son Scott. I consider my pets to be part of my family and am often accused of treating them (dogs) better than the children. I wonder why? The pet never answers back, and loves you unconditionally.

Now my husband says he loves dogs, but he is not a ‘dog’ person, if you can understand that, they are just an animal to him.
Now you have the picture of the couple who have to make the decision about our family pet ‘Muffin’.

Muffin is one of our family dogs she has been with us since a puppy and is now 8 1/2 years old, she is a gorgeous Maltese X. She is as fit as a fiddle, healthy, eating, playing, affectionate, bossy and looks after Monty who is a Rhodesian Ridgeback X. Muffin did have a sister Misty who unfortunately died suddenly last year, she was found dead in the back yard, ?snake bite or heart attack. You might well ask, so what is your problem?
Last June I noticed a small lump on one of Muffin’s nipples, as we had planned a long overseas trip and Muffin was well we ignored the lump and foolishly I was hoping it would go away. Also my husband was not keen on taking the dog to the vet as the outcome would mean having to spend money on the pet and that may not be worth it, or you have to make a decision about spending money. So his attitude is “leave well alone”. We have since then had several discussions about taking Muffin to the vet.
Last month I noticed that the lump has considerably grown, my feeling is that is it some type of cancerous growth. So despite my husband not wanting me to take the dog to the vet, as the dog is not sick, it just has a lump that is growing otherwise the dog is well. Like every good wife I did not listen to him and took Muffin to the vet yesterday.

There is some merit in how my husband thinks, but that’s what makes us both so different, I can’t just bury my head in the sand, so I have to accept the consequences of this and that now means we have to make some decisions:


Muffin is part of our family and an old dog –Yes she does have a big growth on her nipple line, 50% are cancerous – that means she has a 50/50 chance: she also needs a hysterectomy as well as cutting out the lump. The lump does not appear to go deeper than skin level; you can pick the lump up and move it around. The surgery is possible, but extensive for my little Muffin – however she is fit and healthy – she has a strong heart and otherwise the vet says she is in good health. Yes you might ask how much does this cost – I thought quite cheap at $800.00 – all inclusive. It will take about 5 days for Muffin to recover and 14 days for the sutures. She will need me home to care for her, and we will have to keep Monty away from her while she is recovering.

Options for Muffin:

• We leave the growth – and not know whether it is cancerous or not. It will just continue to grow and her quality of life stays the same and she will just hopefully go peacefully or
• The growth if cancerous will start to ulcerate and Muffin will begin to get unwell – she will have to be put down at this stage. (no time frames given)
• Operate – no guarantee that Muffin will survive the surgery, she may die
o She may make a full recovery and go on to live a few more years
o We just do not know her life expectancy with or without the lump

• Do we put Muffin through this surgery or just let her live out the rest of her days as she is? Currently very happy.
• I am going to take her to anther vet for a second opinion

My husband wants the status quo to remain as is, so do nothing. I am going to Singapore next week and will have to make the decision when I get back – so will give this issue some serious thought.

My main concerns are: do I do nothing and watch the growth continue to grow and it is growing rapidly.
Am I selfish for wanting Muffin to have the operation done, and is it in the best interest for Muffin to have the surgery? Will she live longer and be happy?
I really am not sure which way to go, if my husband was more of a dog person I would be guided by his choice, but he is not, therefore I do not agree with his choice.

What would you do?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

great show on SBS - insight 'birth'

It was fascinating watching insight last night - it was a great forum - pregnant women, more women, midwives, GP's, obstetricians and politicians.
So what real choices do women have, from elective Cesareans to
homebirth? What are the risks? And with the rising cost of health care, what can we really afford? A recent government review of maternity services found that women should have access to more choices as to how their babies are delivered.

The rate of cesareans is up 50% over the last decade. But why? Are women themselves opting for cesareans over a natural birth? are women truly informed?
What a great debate that is!I was excited to see such an open debate, I was so proud to be a midwife - the midwives representing midwifery were articulate, knew the research to quote, held their ground and put the hard questions out there to be answered by both the obstetricians and politicians.

Please click on the link and watch the show and comment: SBS Insight

I was disappointed with the opening of the show, in my opinion it does not truly reflect the attitudes of Australian women. I think often in a show like this extremes in both camps are provided to create discussion and sensationalism. I also felt that the presenter 'Jenny' was trying to insight rather than collaborate between the health professionals, by trying to insist that 'there was a turf war' - this is by no means the case, it is about working collaboratively together and recognising each professionals ability and place in the scheme of childbirth and woman centered care. After all it is all about informed choice and the woman's choice not 'paternalism'.
I was truly impressed with our midwifery leaders Jenny Gamble and Hannah Dahlen, they were always professional and inclusive wanting a collaborative approach in providing women centered care, choice and continuity of care.

It is also disappointing to hear that the Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon is putting on hold the option of 'Homebirth' and National insurance for independent midwives. It is not a closed option just one to be considered later, this is something that we have to keep addressing and maintain pressure on the Minister so that is an option for women.

The SBS show will be repeated several times, go to the website and have a look. It is also interesting reading the comments from women - although sad that this is a forum for asking questions relating to childbirth.
Enjoy the show let me know what you think?

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