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Birth 

My baby came early and in a way I did not expect nor was I prepared for. It was not the birth I wanted. It was the furthest thing from it! Six weeks on, I guess that gave me an idea of what the truly unique and fluid experience of motherhood would be like.

I wanted a home birth. My pregnancy was uncomplicated and went as smoothly as these things can. I was hardly sick; just lamented the swollen ankles and feet that hampered mobility in the last couple of months. We had gone to the pre-natal classes and those quelled my fears and questions around what I wanted from the birth. I wanted zero drugs so moving towards giving birth at home seemed to both of us as the most natural and logical step. I was in the middle of writing a post about my relationship with pain, inspired by Rhea Dempsey, to help myself come to terms with labour. My choice to give birth at home, although it took into account, was not for any noble purpose. It wasn’t inspired by wanting to give up my hospital bed to a mother who actually had a medical condition that would result in a complicated birth. The main reason was simply because I have anxiety and being at home would enable me to be uninhibited to let my labour flow. I didn’t want to be watched and monitored. I wanted a water birth.

On that fateful night, six weeks ago, I went into labour. There wasn’t the level of pain I was expecting nor was it that regular. But there was a lot of blood. I had to go to hospital.

While waiting in the examination room, I was overcome with despair. It was around three in the morning and she was going to be born soon as I came to accept the pains I was feeling to be contractions. Everything was out of my control. They couldn’t even turn the fucking TV off! I thought I was going to have to give birth while the fucking Thunderbirds played on the fucking thing while lying in the dreariest hospital room. Extreme melancholy.

During my education about what I can expect to happen, I was told any examination done to ‘see’ how dilated you are would not be done with a speculum. But it was. Twice. Because there was too much blood and they couldn’t see (why and how can you tell by seeing anyway??). Eventually, a doctor decided to do it the tried and true way of using one’s goddamn fingers. I was four centimetres already. That took all of two seconds to verify as opposed to forcing an instrument of cruel punishment up my vagina. I resent them for putting me through such an ordeal, but I hate myself more for not having spoken up at the time. I had already resigned myself to passivity.

They moved me to the birth suite. It was a much nicer room. My original midwife had the day off so I had to get acquainted and friendly with the substitute real quick. I mentioned that I had wanted a home birth and this lovely, bright woman gleaned everything she needed to know about my needs through this birth purely from that. She sympathised with me when my waters had to be broken manually because the doctors were worried about possible bleeding within the uterus. My placenta was abrupting. It was calling it a day and baby had to exit the womb. Much to mine and hers too, I’m sure, dismay. After this point, my baby was born in two hours.

The midwife had strapped a ‘mobile’, ‘untethered’ heartbeat monitor to me. She said I could walk around, take a shower etc. She meant well. It was getting increasingly painful with baby’s head in direct contact with my cervix. Honestly, I didn’t feel like walking around. I just wanted to lay there and grit my teeth through the pain. The midwives, who were also pregnant, hoped they will have an easy labour like mine. It just looked that way because I have such a knack for hiding pain.

My partner had gone home (in hindsight, quite a risky move! He could’ve missed the whole thing) to pack a hospital bag, that I had ignored to do, and make sure the dogs were taken care of. He got back just after they had broken my waters which was good because I suddenly felt I needed to take a massive dump and needed help getting out of bed as both hands had cannulas in. But the monitor cut out. Wireless my arse! The midwife started to worry because they had to get it working, that was priority. The only way it would continue to work was if my partner physically held it in place, pressed to my contracting belly. The annoyance I felt from that plus the contractions coming one after the other, over and over again started to become almost unbearable.

It felt like a long acid trip. My face and jaw felt slack and then tight. Like I had done multiple lines of coke and a gram of meth. Then shot up some heroin to bring me down. All that while being completely out of control and wanting it to end and feeling like the end was way out of sight. It was a fucking trip! I wanted off…

I caved. I remember being angry at being put through so many things that I had been so against having done to me that I thought, “fuck it! Where are the painkillers??” In the seconds between contractions I asked the midwife for pain relief. She heard me, but that darling woman chose not to answer. She knew that was my ‘transition’. A second later, I was ready to start pushing. Thanks to her, I was able to at least have that go my way.

I’m not sure now exactly why the midwife had to push ‘the button’. More complications I suppose. But one moment it was just the three of us and the next the room was full of doctors and nurses that seemed to come from nowhere; like they were waiting just outside the door for the moment that button was pushed.

I was hurried onto the bed, on my back and my feet up. Some lady gave me her shoulder to bear down on and kept yelling at me to push. The midwife was telling me to focus on her. My partner held my hand. The doctor was saying some worrying things! I pushed as hard as I could. He said, “Can I cut you?” I had no choice really, but thanks for asking. They had the vacuum out to extract the baby. Apparently they hardly needed it because I had pretty much done all that was needed to get baby out in a hurry. All of that? Lasted less than ten minutes. And then I was holding a baby! In-fucking-tense. “It’s my first time holding a baby,” was the first thing I said to the midwife when she handed her to me. I was clearly in shock and a tad under the influence of that crazy mix of hormones. And I had to learn how to breastfeed.

Welcome to motherhood, Dil!

Refugees

My family and I came to this country over 20 years ago. There was terrorism in our country, but I can’t remember personally being affected by that violence. My parents, however, would have made the move specifically, dropping their entire lives, to make a better one for their two children. I do remember, as soon as we arrived after that one direct flight from Sri Lanka (when they did that kind of crazy thing!), my parents went straight to work. We had the help of relatives who had already made the move and were settled. But my parents, being immigrants from a third world country I think, brought with them a strong work ethic. 

I cannot speak for all migrants and especially refugees, but it is a truth that these people, coming from nothing, have that drive to succeed if given even the smallest chance. Why? Because they have an appreciation borne from their situation and the will to make a life for themselves.

I remember, back then, my parents had access to services where they could utilise their existing skills; my father’s car mechanic skills and my mother’s banking and ability to cook anything, to get work without prejudice. Or in my mother’s case, access to TAFE courses to improve her computer skills as well as qualifying her chef/catering skills. 

Refugees are people who, if their country was not in pieces, would not leave their home. They are fleeing certain death. This, to me, is not a choice. They are in need of a country that will accept them and a place where they can eventually come to accept as their home. The love and loyalty they had for their broken home will then transfer naturally to the country that has given them the same back. 

Our politicians are busy arguing about nothing. So that puts the onus on us to make the difference in the lives of refugees that have been allowed in. Out here in the western suburbs, where the majority of refugees are settled, people have taken it upon themselves to welcome and show compassion to our new neighbours. Initiatives like these (i.e The Welcome Wagon) are what is making a difference to the lives of refugees.

So rather than arguing along with the leaders of this country, I would much rather put my time into supporting start ups by people who truly want action over the current stale rhetoric. 

“First World Problem”

OK, whoever coined this phrase first needs to get their own head out of their arse. Yes, I am guilty of having bandied that phrase around. So, shame, shame on me. Chastisement done, moving on.

This seemingly harmless and satirical phrase is part of the poison that trivialises people’s legitimate problems. If someone can’t fix a ‘petty’ problem, and instead sweeps it under the rug because that guy said it was a, “first world problem, mate”, imagine all that pettiness build up! How can you fix larger problems when you have lost the ability to identify and solve small problems.

I am starting to believe this phrase causes problems. It gives us an excuse not to deal with the small shit. And then leaves us high and dry when the shit storm hits.

So, the next time someone says that to you, take pity on the poor sod who will flounder under the weight of his neglected “first world” problems. And then flip him the bird.

Plato’s ‘The Symposium’ and ‘The Phaedrus’

Doing a bit more reading towards Western classical literature, Plato, in his writing The Phaedrus, Botticelli’s Venus could have been inspired by the idea of androgyny.

According to Plato, the prime being was both male and female. That this is man’s perfect state. There are suggestions that Botticelli modeled his Venus on a noble woman, and the ‘Queen of Beauty’ of the whole of Florence, Simonetta Vespucci. All admired her and loved her. Her possible androgynous looks and demeanour could have been the reason for her popularity. Think about it. Today, we are just discovering the beauty an individual who possesses both male and female qualities can have. Even mainstream media through high fashion models that have an ambiguous look are becoming increasingly popular.

Botticelli would have, as part of his education, been taught the classics. Now, pardon my assumption it was from Eastern philosophy, although similar, Botticelli would have learnt from Plato rather than writings by Hindu gurus. More logical, yes.

This is my attempt at reconciling Eastern and Western philosophy; I believe Botticelli portrayed this beautifully, whether intentionally or not, in ‘The Birth of Venus’.

Fuck History

Let me extrapolate, yes?

Fuck off all those ancient ruins, artefacts and texts older than a century.

The Greeks, the Romans, the Incas; they had established civilisations of their own. But they all have one thing in common: they’re DEAD. And we’re not.

So we look back to find meaning in our current lives. Trying to find the answers to questions no one asked. It could be a symptom of our transient and wasteful lives where we recycle the past because, what, we’re too dumb to come up with something unique? ‘Unique’ in that it’s just the bastard child of different times gone by. Are we the civilisation that yearns to stay stuck in the past?

Egyptian history is a particular favourite of mine. But what do I know of it really? Because I’m no authority on the subject, I rely of historians and artists. There are romanticised views, logical ones, fanciful ones and so many stories about Egyptian life and culture. Once you start digging, in both senses of the word, only more questions emerge; leaving the answers just maddeningly out of reach. Our own society begins to pale in comparison. The scope for imagination history can provide is limitless. Proven by the current trend towards a flat earth theory. Highly creative.

But what happens when you start thinking about the burden of responsibility to live up to lofty standards, dictated by yourself, set by our ancestors? The story about the earth being borne on the back of four elephants, on top of a turtle can turn out to be an excellent metaphor. It’s heavy!

We, right now, are standing on top of the peak of history. Each day is a new peak. Stacking one on top of the other. If we spend too much time examining the rocks at our feet, we miss the view from the top.

Outcomes

 I grew up watching a damaged man trying to be a father. He didn’t have the best example, but I don’t accept this as an excuse.
The outcome? All my relationships have been with damaged men. 

It’s not for lack of trying to talk some sense into my father. There was always alcohol involved in those arguments/discussions about his views on religion and his chauvinistic ways. I enjoyed the arguing and debating and I thought if I gave him an intelligent argument against his ways, he might change. The alcohol was not helping. You don’t see these things as a factor until you have experienced the effect of alcohol on memory yourself. 

All relationships have ended with me being cast aside, but mostly, casting myself aside. But not this time.

I’m still angry. I’m angry because I still feel that you don’t understand how much I gave up.

3 years. Three years of argument after argument. But that’s not the point. I am most angry about how you accepted my words of comfort and “wisdom”, as you called it then and as you call it now, while sneaking around. Lurking around. Behind my back. While I thought I was helping you. All was for nought. Zero. Nothing.

I crumbled behind my walls that day. My walls just kept getting higher and thicker. I still remain in pieces behind them. The years thereafter grew easier to handle because of the meth. I was able to pick and choose the bits to show to you. It became a carousel behind my eyes; I would portray the picture you would want to see, no more. Just a series of flashing pictures. How it became so easy to hide my own double life.

Now I try to sew them together. I’ve never been the best at that. I have never had someone who could show me the way for once, without betrayal or heart break.

I

So this is me. I have been a drug user of the illicit kind for about five years. It, Ice or methamphetamine, drew me in. I let myself succumb to it’s effects. It’s my own fault. This culminated in a complete break down of what was real and what wasn’t. It became another prison that I put myself in. The self inflicted prison of work, sleep, smoke ice, no sleep, write, rinse and repeat.

I managed to LIE to myself and those around me. Growing up, I became quite efficient at putting up a wall and wearing a mask so that no one would see the real me. See the constant confusion and pain that I suffered and then used drugs as a bandaid. I did not want to feel anymore. I made this choice consciously because I hated my life, but couldn’t be bothered doing anything real about it. A big mistake. How can a writer, as I call myself, not feel? This was just some of the bullshit I told myself. That I was a better writer and more creative while under the influence. Um, no, no you weren’t, mate.

When everything broke down in my mind that one last time that I lied to myself yet again and thought I could handle it, Reality broke down completely. This was not me, but it was all at the same time. Who I am just broke.

And now, in building myself up again, I share my story. No more lies. I know I have made myself a most unreliable source, but that is up to you to decide. I accept this.

The medical system has already decided on my account anyway. They must, to do their job and save as many people, provide a blanket solution. So I am an ice addict and therefore should be treated as such, in their eyes. I did not consider myself an addict three months prior to my relapse because I had refrained from touching it for the longest time since I started smoking ice. They did not and cannot believe me. Fair enough. But the solution was to treat me by supplying me with the same substance I am addicted to, or I was addicted to before I made one mistake thinking I could go back to it briefly, in a much more controlled way, yes, but this is not what I want.

I had said no and then paid dearly, almost losing my sanity altogether when I relapsed. I don’t want bandaids. I don’t need them. No one should. Bandaids don’t let things heal naturally.

Here was my life before I said no: I would work a soul destroying retail job and when the weekend rolled around, I told myself I needed to stay up to write and “catch up” on things (ie. gaming mostly as I had no other life) I had no ‘energy’ to do during the week. Vicious cycle of Shit. I even acknowledged this. But why did I continue to do it even though I knew it made me unhappy? There is no reason. It’s a choice. It was always a choice.

And so now they have me on a substitute and I find myself taking them every night. I have to, don’t I? It has been prescribed and my body is developing a dependence on it. So now, I must purge myself of the substitute. Or else risk being pulled back into the same cycle. Wish me luck.

Case Study No. 1 – The End

We have come far, I think in our observations of customer behaviour and it’s impact on humble service consultant and surrounds. But I came to the end of that particular road and so this is the end to my series of case studies. I know this is the most fitting of all ends. 

There was a call to action from the floor manager above; a difficult customer. Our humble service consultant was requested, specifically and by name, as she seemed to have gained a reputation, shall we say, of having a certain uh knack with dealing with um difficulties.

And so, with the usual sigh of ‘here we go. Man up!’ She headed into battle with that plaster smile. Everything was all good, it read.

“It’s that man over there…” said the floor manager with a look that was meant to convey both, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘you’re the only one who can deal with these people and not suffer mentally…well, on the outside at least’. Okay, fair enough was the meaning conveyed on our service consultant’s face as she followed the floor manager to her doom. 

Yes, the man was rude, abrupt and unnecessarily mean. These things are unfortunately more common than not in most people so we must devise a blanket strategy to deal with all of them. This is unavoidable. We cannot cater each strategy to each individual case as that would be super human. But, on this particular day, our service consultant had a little more patience and was able to observe without speaking and therefore exacerbate the situation. There was something, just something, that called for help in ways it only could, he was in pain. 

Her eyes were opened and she persisted in trying to help this man in buying the perfect phone on the best plan because it was the least she could do for a person who was doing the best he could to cope after losing his wife to cancer and the daunting prospect of raising his daughter alone. This is courage. This is a father doing his best in a load of shit, figuratively speaking. I listened and he gave me his story and shared his pain. He left with a phone for his daughter and minus some of the anger, that inevitably accompanies feeling abandoned, and perhaps a little bit more trust in the human race.

That was it. The game changer. I could not be more grateful to these people who have trusted me with their stories. If anything, it has taught me to never again assume someone is an arsehole purely because they have nothing better to be, most of the time.

iIdiot

In the midst of the smart-phone epidemic, have people refunded their brains in favour of a shiny new toy? Choosing to let the machine think for them while logic and thought are lost in the ether. A select few of these smart-phone users seem to have done just that.

Case study no. 1

Young girl’s iPhone doesn’t turn on anymore. Mother brings it to be fixed and is kindly informed that the liquid indicators tucked away oh so snug in the charging port were clearly red and therefore she would have to pay for a replacement. Kicking up a fuss, as they do, she inquires as to how this happened. Well, madam, a number of ways to be certain. But it would be better to interrogate your daughter as to how it happened rather than the poor retail consultant. After much arguing, the truth comes out; the true nature of the iIdiot.

“Tell me, why can’t I use my phone in the rain?”

End of case study no. 1.