Archives for posts with tag: stepchildren

I balked at the idea of calling this post Tricky 6 part 5. But that’s what it is. The part where he isn’t causing half a dozen medical professionals to scratch their heads and confer, rather that in which he was a joy to his parents and grew to be a smart and very witty young man. But first, the part where he was a tiny human….

At 3 pounds my little man was tiny and felt so breakable. You know when you bring home your newborn and you feel all weird about dressing them and pushing their resistant little limbs through their grow suits? Imagine one who is about a third that size? Then add to that the fact that his skin is so frail and new, so thin that if you touch him to hard you may just give him a nasty looking bruise.

It was awful for the first day or two. I was so shy of hurting him that I felt useless and clumsy. Like a first time mother. Then I got used to him, and learned that I wasn’t going to damage him, that I could touch him gently and lift his little legs to change his nappies. Each nappy was actually a quarter of a full cloth or toweling nappy, which was then folded into a tiny triangle.

My mind boggled at the idea that every thing in his world was a quarter the size of normal baby merchandise. Tiny pacifiers or “dummies”, little jackets especially made for preemie babies, little bonnets and booties that were so sweet and small. I didn’t yet have to worry about feeding him, as he was fed via a tube that was inserted up his nose and down into his stomach, fastened to his little cheek with tape. I was told by the nurses that breastfeeding such a tiny baby would tire him out way too much. Preemies need to do one thing and one thing only and that is to put on weight! The effort of sucking for such tiny humans costs them too much energy, therefore they are tube fed until they gain some strength and weight.

I was so very lucky with 6, who was born healthy, with no breathing difficulties or other problems. He was just required to gain his “full term birth weight” or within those parameters and then we could take him home.

This took time however, and a week after my c-section I was discharged from the Hospital and had to go back to Magoo’s (Mum), to stay. This meant being apart from baby 6 and nearly broke my heart. It also meant being reunited with 3 and 5 as a proper mother. One that could look after them and kiss their tears away and read them bedtime stories again. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Driving back and forth to the hospital wore me out quickly. (These days they won’t let mother’s drive for 6 weeks after a c-section!) Back then, no such rule. I would spend hours by 6’s humidicrib talking to him and changing his nappies. Then it would be time to go to the “milking room” where there were 6 or so breast expressing machines set up for us to use. We would do our “milking” and then go back to our babies.

6 was in Bay 2 of the N.I.C.U by his second day of life, and I longed for his transfer into Bay 3, as this meant it was time to take him home. It was in Bay 2 in his second week of life, that I got to hold 6 for the first time. It was a moment that I will never forget. After having 2 babies that I could hold and feed straight away, it was torment to have to touch, change and sponge bathe my baby through the holes in his crib. Even his first photos had to be taken through those holes! So when I arrived at NIC one morning to be met with the news that today was “the day”, I was beside myself with excitement.

I placed him next to my naked skin, wound a blanket around us, and sat and had one of the most contented moments of my life.

After losing James, after months of laying in hospital, here finally was the wonderful moment where baby and mother bonded. Skin to skin, heart to heart.

He grew so quickly and did so well that we were able to transfer to our local Hospital within a few weeks. He was around 5 pound at this time and so gorgeous. He was smiling and a happy contented baby. We lost the feed tube at around 4 weeks and so breastfeeding was well established. I could live at the flat in town with the other two boys, and would go to hospital approximately every 3 hours for feeds. The hospital had a standby supply of my breast milk. It was so great to be back at home with the boys, my friends and the rest of my family.

Again and again I depended on Aunty J. She was like a second mother to my boys and was essential to my partner and I whilst 6 was in hospital. Life was so busy, going back and forth all the time. I was so glad when he was able to come home.

Four months old.

Four months old.

The photo above was taken at a girlfriend’s place. She was so entranced with how small 6 was at four months, she wanted to take a photo to compare him with her daughter’s baby dolls. He wasn’t quite as big as them yet!

6 grew quickly, but had his fair share of hospital visits. Of course he was the most fragile of my children, requiring a 5 day stay in hospital for chickenpox. He had a form of asthma that affects premature babies, which made him get sicker than most  babies do with childhood illnesses. But he was a strong little man, and fought off his sickness bravely. He was prescribed asthma drugs and responded well to them.

6 was around 8 months old when he got R.S.V. which is a very serious virus affecting most babies between the ages of birth and 2 years. It can be very serious for premature babies or babies with weakness of the heart or lungs. Poor baby 6 and I were flown to Canberra Hospital for treatment. His little lungs became very inflamed and he required oxygen 24 hours a day. He hated the nasal prongs and would tear them out, so the only answer was for me to sit with him and hold an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. The only way he would allow me to do this was if I sang his favorite song, “Incy Wincy Spider” over and over and over. Which I did. That song still brings me to a state of mild panic and unease when I hear it.

When I weaned 6 from the breast, I quickly found that his asthma worsened after having a cows milk formula. We put him on goats milk, followed by soy which seemed to work the best. To this day 6 prefers soy milk, even though he no longer has any sensitivities to  cows milk. Recently due to the bad publicity soy products are getting we are trying slowly to change his habits. I am of the belief that just about everything we eat is GMO so I sometimes wonder why Fitty and I bother singling out specific products?

I honestly think that 6 was less sturdy than my older boys. He quickly joined his classmates in growth percentiles, out doing them completely the year before High School began. However his bones seemed more brittle.

At 2 years old 6 decided to learn to skateboard and fell sideways breaking his femur (upper leg). Off to hospital again.

traction is no fun for a 2 year old!

traction is no fun for a 2 year old!

He was a great patient. Requiring traction for 3 weeks, with one of those casts that have a stabilizer between the legs. I was a mess trying to look after him. It broke my heart, but he always had a smile on his face. He was watching Teletubbies all day long, eating Twisties and getting all his Mother’s attention. So he didn’t mind it so much. Once he came home, with the prospect of the cast for another 4-6 weeks, I wondered how we would cope, but he very quickly learned to amble around, he looked like a crab!

At four years old, our poor boy fell down the steps at the farm. He broke his collar bone, but not badly, we had to keep him still and calm, and he healed quite quickly. I began to wonder if he had a bone density issue and took him to the doctor. He agreed that the soy formula and perhaps his prematurity added to his lack of bone strength and suggested more calcium rich foods like yoghurt and cheese. He loved yoghurt anyway and was quite pleased to be offered it more frequently.

My older children and most of my friends have always accused me of “babying” Dale, but when you consider all we went through together, I think we just had a more dependent on each other bond than that which I developed with my other boys. They did all the normal things at the normal times, sometimes quicker, and were always out the door to play in the sandpit or navigate the clouds on their motorbike! (5!!) Whereas 6 was a sick little boy most of his infancy and needed nebulizing and special care a lot of the time. Plus of course he’s my youngest child and don’t we all baby our youngest a bit?

Life as a single mother was obviously funny!

Life as a single mother was obviously funny!

Around the time the above photo was taken, He who used to be and I decided to call it quits. I’d like to say that I was a calm, decent woman who kept all the pain from her children, but unfortunately I can’t claim that. In all honesty I was a mess and due to infidelity on his part I went a tiny bit mad. I was so broken!

This led me to quickly jump into a relationship that wasn’t good. Before I knew it, we had bought a house together and were engaged. I kind of knew it was a rebound relationship, but after a few years together, a marriage, and many dramas we too, called it quits. I had decided then and there that it was all going to be about the boys and I from that moment on. No more relationships. No more dates. No more men. I was sick of all the heart ache and drama and felt I owed the boys some time on our own. I didn’t see Fitty coming at all……

6 turned 7 years old just after we moved into a lovely big house. It was huge, each of us had our own space as well as huge big family rooms. It was one of those houses boys dream of living in. 5 and 6 each had their own rooms built high in the house, each room consisting of two levels. Up the ladder to their bed, down the ladder to toys and clothing storage. The house had a huge light-well in the middle and if you stuck your head out 5 or 6’s internal bedroom window you could pelt a pair of sox down onto your mother as she walked up or down the many stairs! This soon became their favorite game.

Dale's first time on an escalator.

Dale’s first time on an escalator.

skating without broken bones.....

still skateboarding……

Enter Fitty! I had begun to go for a drink after work with a few of my friends, and one night ran into Fitty at one of his band gigs. We hadn’t seen each other for years, only to wave or say “Hi” quickly. Here he was giving me an enormous hug and it just felt “right” I can’t explain it better. The rest is history.

dale

6 you are now 6 feet tall and skinny as a rake! You have the most wonderful sense of humour and I get sooo cranky because I just can’t stay mad at you while you make me giggle!

You make me crazy with your untidy room, and you eat so much I wonder if you are going to burst. You are such a different child to your brothers, you fill my head with wild wonderings on just how much you will achieve in your life. I can see you on TV or on the stage. Your dramatic and comedic talents are so exceptional. Watching you perform your community play last year made me so proud. You totally stole the show for me.

Dale performs in first play.

Dale performs in first play.

You make 7 and 8’s life so much happier just by being you, and I am so grateful for the way you love them and “big brother” them. They love you and think the world of you, you know? It’s unusual for siblings, especially steps, to get along so well as you all do, and I thank you for the ease, grace and fun with which you have accepted your younger siblings.

Dale at wedding

I know you are destined to be very happy, it’s something you excel at right here at home. May you always have the energy for laughter and lightness that you have now my darling child.

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My baby, my wonder child. The baby who made me whole again. The baby I worked so hard to have. Here is your story at last, my wonderful youngest son.

When I lost James, I felt as if the universe had divided down the centre, leaving me and my grief on one side, and the rest of the “normal” world on the other. I felt like part of myself was missing, and I believe that part still is, in a small way, but during the months following a stillbirth, that missing part sums up just about everything you are and everything you do. It’s a very sad situation, as you are almost completely alone in your grief. Nobody knows what to say and there is no way of comforting you. Only one thing remained on my mind during this whole awful period, and that was to fill my womb again. It felt empty and ached for another baby. I had been given the go ahead by my Dr Lew, and I saw no reason to wait any longer.

In late February 1997 I fell pregnant with 6.  It had been He who used to be’s birthday, so I am exactly sure of the dates. I knew straight away that I was pregnant. I even told He who used to be the following morning, that I had just fallen pregnant with our new son! He said, “surely we’d be getting a girl this time?”

But I knew…. I just always knew. I would play around with the idea of having a girl every now and again, but it was as if my mind would just say, “stop that nonsense, you know it’s a boy!” It’s the weirdest thing to have to explain, as it is simply a thought in my head that is adamant about things, then these things come to pass. It’s awfully handy when picking out nursery and clothing colours!

I was ecstatically happy with being pregnant, but  I was concerned also, and when at 10 weeks I started to spot blood, I thought I would lose my baby again. I had been so careful, not done anything really strenuous, however 5 was a big toddler and I did have to lift him into the car and bath sometimes when Daddy wasn’t there. The spotting was minimal and Dr Lew gave me the all clear after a few nights in hospital.

I returned home vowing not to lift 5 at all, and enlisted the help of friends and family for lifting washing baskets etc. My friends were great, and even though they all had families of their own, they were there for me. I am a very lucky woman to have the friends I have. My sister in law J was again the backbone of my life. She did so much for us and our boys, I will truly never forget all the love and support she gave us all.

It was impossible not to lift and carry on with life as normal, He who used to be and I were living between our flat in town, and our new property out of town, so there was constant packing and movement between the two properties. The “farm” had no water supply other than a small rain water tank that was very old, and I couldn’t bath the children or do washing. Life was fairly basic out there, so mostly the kids and I stayed in town. We would pack up for a few days at a time and head out, but during the pregnancy I mostly decided it would be better to stay put in town.

Things progressed normally for weeks on end and I began to feel secure in the pregnancy. However as we approached the 20 week mark I began to feel crampy and sore. I told Dr Lew who examined me and couldn’t find a reason for the discomfort. He told me to continue taking it easy at home. With a five year old and a two year old this was not so easy, but the flat was small and easy to maintain, and the boys were able to do a lot for themselves. We split their bunk beds so I wouldn’t have to reach up to make them. We left things like cleaning showers and such for a much later date.

He who used to be’s older four children had moved interstate with their mother, causing a lot of grief for us at the time. We missed them terribly, and as they had moved so far away, we wouldn’t be able to see them regularly at all. I can remember one visit we had from them, just a few months after they moved away. The kids had all grown so much! The eldest boy was all of a sudden a young man, and the girls fast approaching teenage years. It was beautiful to get all the kids together again, and they played for hours with the younger boys. Helping their Dad make a sandpit in the small backyard of the unit for the little ones. We didn’t see the older kids again for almost 6 months!

Late in the afternoon one day in mid July ’97 I told He who used to be that I felt exhausted, and asked could he take the boys out to the farm for the night, I would meet him there the next day. I wanted to spend a night in town by myself, and rest. The boys were very demanding, and I was 20 weeks pregnant and feeling exhausted! He packed them up in the afternoon, and after promising I would be out with a yummy lunch for them the next day, off he went for the night. We often did this, sometimes He who used to be would go to the farm to do some work and leave us in town, sometimes we would all stay out there, and sometimes we would all stay in town. It was a very flexible way to live, and our boys loved it. So did we. We felt that we had the best of both worlds!

This night I decided to do some folding and catch up with laundry. I had done everything, had a last cup of tea and decided to head to the shower before bed. I hadn’t really done much, just folded a basket of washing and put it away. For some reason I had done everything I could think of in the flat. The dishes were all done, the beds were all made and everything was tidy and clean. Thank goodness for I wasn’t to return to the flat again for months after that night.

Call it instinct? Nature called for me to get everything organized for my baby. And I did!

As I headed into the bathroom I stopped and stared at the boys empty beds. Such a feeling of sadness and loneliness overcame me. I felt so melancholy looking at the striped “Bananas in Pyjamas” doona covers that 3 had begged me to buy for him and his brother’s beds just a few weeks earlier. Their room was so tidy, unnatural looking. It was an eery feeling. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be tucking my children into their own beds at home for a long time.

I stepped into the shower and as I began to wash I noticed a bit of blood in the bottom of the shower. I was alarmed and quickly decided to get out and lay down. It was as I stepped out and began drying myself that the flood began. It was terrifying. Buckets of blood seemed to be pouring out of me all at once. I knew that I was hemorrhaging and had just minutes to get to the hospital before I bled out. I had become an expert on survival strategies during my my pregnancy with James. (Ironically, I never bled at all the night James was born.) I shoved a big fluffy bath towel between my legs, threw on a night gown and shoes and bolted for the car. It didn’t even occur to me to call an ambulance as I was three streets away from the hospital, and knew I could get there in just over a minute. Waiting for an ambulance could cost me my baby’s life and I wasn’t going to chance that.

I had some car trouble with my Ford station wagon earlier that month and had to push or roll start it a couple of times. I thought it was the battery but as it had started first time for over a week I thought the problem had fixed itself? HA. Picture a panic stricken woman, who hadn’t even phoned the hospital to warn them of her arrival, gushing blood everywhere jumping into a car only to have it not start!!

Aaaargh! It was just over a minute since the bleeding had started, I threw the gear stick into second, opened the door and gently pushed the car out of the car port onto the slope of the flat’s communal driveway. It steepened quite quickly, I jumped into the driver’s seat, pushed my foot into the clutch and released it and THANK GOD ALMIGHTY the engine came to life. I drove like a maniac for the minute and a half to the hospital, parked my car neatly and then bolted for maternity, completely by-passing emergency, as I knew where to go to give my baby his best chance. The looks on the faces of the maternity staff as I came screaming down the hall!! “STOP RUNNING!” the mid-wives yelled to me, as they could see the blood flying from me. I had no idea what I was doing, panic had completely taken over, but strangely as I entered the care of these wonderful people, I became calm. I had another clear as a bell thought in my head that told me everything was going to be fine. Just lay down and let them take care of you.

Do I think it is God talking to me in my head? Kind of, especially when I remember the dream I had of letting James go the night before I had him. The dream I had as he was dying clearly showed me that James was going upwards, out of my body, and I was fighting to pull him back  down to me. The way I see it is that “God won”. James is with Him now. Maybe it is my own subconscious talking to me. The “voice” or ‘thought” in my head has always known exactly what is happening and what is going to happen next. (That I’m having a baby, that it is a male child etc). Something you would expect your subconsciousness to know, yes? I won’t know for sure until I meet my maker. But in my life I choose to believe, and therefore it is more logical for me to understand that “God” was talking to me, or allowing me to “think” for myself, these life changing and sometimes life-saving thoughts. I’m not saying, “God talks to me”, I’m simply stating that I “listen” to these specific thoughts I have at special times in my life. And that these “thoughts”  have an uncanny ability to be 100% right. The guidance is good, so I’m going to trust it. There is no clearer way for me to explain my faith.

It was scarey, but I knew things would be okay, I was filled with a feeling of calm once I arrived at Maternity. I knew I was in good, and most importantly, caring hands. These ladies are exceptionally good at their work, and as I had birthed a few times in their unit before, I was well known to them, and the risks associated with my new pregnancy taken into consideration from the start. None of these girls expected me to keep my baby that night, they told me later they were sure I was going to lose 6, the amount of blood I was losing was a very bad indication. I lay as still as I could that night. I kept saying, “I cannot lose another baby”. “I won’t lose him, I can’t!” I knew it would cripple me if I had to go home once again without a baby in my arms.

I was able to sleep for a few hours early in the morning, and when I awoke the bleeding had all but stopped. The nurses and midwives were astonished at how lucky I had been. I was scheduled for an ultrasound later that day that showed a good strong heartbeat, but because of the bleeding not a lot else could be seen. In the next few days while resting in hospital it was decided that I was a high risk case and should consider moving to Canberra Hospital in order to give my infant a chance should he be born prematurely.

Our local hospital, although fantastic, did not have the necessary skills or equipment to care for an extremely preemie baby. Dr Lew directed me to a top Specialist who I was to see when I arrived in Canberra. He didn’t think it was necessary at that point to put me in Hospital in Canberra, and thought it best if myself and the children could find somewhere to stay in Canberra, so we could be close to the N.I.C.U. (Newborn Intensive Care Unit), if my baby was born early.

Luckily Magoo was living in Canberra at the time, and she was delighted to have us come and stay. We were unsure how long we would have to leave our home for, but being with Grandma and Grandpa was so much better than me having to leave my boys at home with their dad and go to Canberra Hospital by myself. We moved into Magoo’s house to await the Specialist appointment. He who used to be brought us up to Canberra in the family wagon, stayed the weekend, but had to return for work on Monday, so he drove the 3 hours home, Sunday night.

I had an appointment with the Specialist at Canberra Ante-natal clinic, the following Tuesday. I was just under 21 weeks.

True Love

True Love


Spectacular, stunning, beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, how else can I describe this beautiful girl. Our Bride V was a most exquisite sight coming down her grassy aisle to meet her handsome Groom. Was there a dry eye in sight, probably, but I couldn’t tell from the water threatening to spill from my own eyes as I watched this procession of beauty approach the destination at which they would become forever joined.

Tribute was fairly paid to the fact that V and 2 were already a well established family, and also to the fact that they presented with extraordinary strength. After all 2 has been to Afghanistan with the Australian Army, and our gal V has waited faithfully and passionately for the chance to wed her man, patiently keeping the home fires burning for their two adorable children.

It isn’t often that someone so young inspires in me the kind of praise that V deserves. I really do respect the way she lives, the patience with which she raises her children, and the calmness she has shown in the face of the various challenges thrown her way. I just have to say she is one of the most impressive young women I have ever had the good luck to meet, and I get to be her, wait for it, “Step-mother-in-Law”, for all the days left of my life.

The whole Wedding Day was beautiful. The week had been rainy and cold, but the clouds broke and the sun shone for our two, just in time to make the afternoon so warm and perfect, which was lucky as all our dresses were strappy or strapless. We really  couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. The wind blew our hair around a bit, but also stirred up a nice cool breeze for the boys in their three piece suits.

The Reception was lovely. Mouth watering canapes kept on coming and the entree and mains were delicious. Lots of fun was had by all of us, and there were many tears throughout the speech of the Bride’s sister. (I actually thought our eldest girl, 1 might need a drip to replace some liquid as she cried so much during her brother’s speech.) It must be hard being the eldest child and watching your little brother being so grown up and responsible.

gorgeous babies, down the aisle.

gorgeous babies, down the aisle
kids at wedding
8 and 1 followed by 4 and 7

7 and 8

7 looked so grown up

vick and wally

Stunning V never a more beautiful bride

I was so proud of our brood, they all had such a wonderful night, dancing and laughing together. Fitty snapped photos most of the night, and the kids and I partied on the dance floor. (Yes I took lots of pain killers for the opportunity to live a little normally for once.) I wasn’t alone as Fitty’s poor sister had come down with a bug and was feeling miserable.

No problems, everybody happy and only one or two cases of illness. I feel a little rushed writing this and would like to say so much more, but I really need to get to work, and I have lots of things to organize this week. Another trip to the local surgeon, as I have had a minor setback, and may need a little operation while waiting for my big operations! So typical of my life right now, I”m not even going to tell you how I feel about that!

I also need to finish my tributes to our children. I am exactly half way through and up to number 5, which I can promise will be a very entertaining and dramatic read.

Also now that the Wedding is behind us, the next big thing will be our kitchen renovation. I have only been waiting for about 5 years, so that will be most exciting…..If it EVER HAPPENS!

5and the lovely one, the nut and 3. 7 next to 6 and I, and 8 squatting in front. Nearly all of us!

5and the lovely one, the nut and 3. 7 next to 6 and I, and 8 squatting in front. Nearly all of us!

My first born child, how can I possibly express in words the difference he made to my life, the joy and love that he brought to me. I’m going to try, and I know I will probably sob my way through the writing of this post.

such a smiley little fellow

such a smiley little fellow

I had an uneventful pregnancy, (my only one without some kind of complication), and 3 was born early in the morning of Father’s Day 1990. (A bit of irony there as it took nearly 17 years for 3’s biological father to accept him.) My father considered this a gift to him, and crowed about the Maternity ward telling anyone that would listen about his amazing Grandson. They became very close, the two of them, and I was always feeling left out, when 3 smiled for the first time, it was at my Dad. Dad taught him his first tricks, like blowing raspberries to all and sundry. He loved this trick and for a while it was all he would do. We lived with my Dad for about 6 months and then ventured out into the world on our own.

It was around this time that my oldest brother had a car accident and became a quadriplegic. He had spent some time in rehabilitation and was looking to come home to live. He had recently separated from his first wife. He was in a very depressed state.

I wasn’t married, I was single and living in a big house with my baby who was about 12 months old, I decided he could come and live with us. My brother P, didn’t want to live with either of my parents, who had both remarried and P would have been an awkward addition to their households, where he was a sort of natural addition to ours.

I spent the next 15 months or so exhausted. Looking after both my son and a newly injured quad was no easy thing. For a start 3 was very active and intelligent and was into everything! Then there was setting up all P’s routines with home-care nurses and additional help around the house to cope with the extra washing, cleaning and sterilizing work. Everything changed for me and my little boy that year. I had to set an alarm to wake up every four hours to turn my brother in his bed, to avoid him getting bed sores. I had to be a pillar of strength for him, he thought his life was over and I had to talk him into living again.

I don’t know what I would have done without 3. He was such a special child. He has always been and always will be my greatest protector. I can remember countless times that gentle little boy would come and put his tiny arms around my neck, and say, “are you ok mummy?” He also gave me the focus I needed to stay aware and happy and not get sucked into depression. It would have been easy in those days, caring for my quad brother who talked about killing himself daily…

He also gave P something to laugh about. He, being a Virgo, was a little perfectionist and would always make sure P’s things were “square”. He would line up the things P was using from biggest to smallest, that kind of thing. He also learned to hop into the wheelchair when P wasn’t using it and became quite proficient at wheeling around the house. It was hysterical to watch this tiny kid pushing himself about in it.

P also had a tool with a pincher on the end, it was about 3 feet long and was designed to help P to pick things up that were out of his reach. In those days I would keep treats like lollies on top of the fridge. Guess who learned to use the pincher tool to get them down?

We lived with “Uncle P” until 3 was nearly 3 years old and he was enjoying his life again. He had begun to paint beautiful pictures, by weaving a paintbrush through his fingers. He is a very talented artist, (gets it from Magoo, who paints magnificently). He also began to play guitar again, with a slide, making it easier. Having limited use of his arms and hands made all the difference to my brother. He went on to marry again and his life is turning out ok.

Enter “F”, my other children’s father. He was 13 years older than me and remains today one of my best friends. He and I always had a great friendship, we just weren’t right together as a couple. He had already been married once, and had 4 truly wonderful children to his first wife. I became a step-mother to his 4 kids as a young mother myself. They were great kids, and I still remain friends with them today, especially the two girls, who are now in their late 20’s. I still have never met closer siblings. They are a truly close family and are each others best friends.

F was a typical Aussie bloke. Spent more time at the pub and the footy than at home with me and all the kids. (I guess this was the reason we split 3 babies, and 10 years later.)

How cute is he? 3 years old.

How cute is he? 3 years old.

3 was a typical big brother, taught the boys all the things he should, how to ride the one pedalled, no brakes bike. How to raid the fridge without mum finding out. How to drive me up the wall fighting over toy trucks in the sand pit, but at the same time was very responsible and protective of them. However I will never forget when I brought 5 home from the hospital. He had severe reflux and would scream constantly. He only ever slept for 10-20 minutes at a time and would awaken screaming, wanting to feed again to stop the pain from his refluxing tummy. He must have found some comfort in swallowing milk, as I became nothing but a feeding unit for about 8 months.

I was up at the clothes line one day hanging out nappies and heard 5 start screaming again, awakening from a 5 minute nap. 3 walked up to me as I sat on the ground, tears starting to pour out of my eyes. “Mummy, can I tell you something?”

“Sure honey, what is it?”

“Well you won’t get angry with me will you?”

“No, I don’t think so. What is it you want to tell me?”

“It’s just that, umm, I hate my new baby brother, all he does is cry. Can’t we just take him back to the hospital and get a new one?”

Just what I needed to hear. There was nothing wrong with his 4 year old logic. This one is not working out, can we replace him?

He always made me laugh when I thought I never would again. We made it through 5’s infancy. God knows how, but we did, I don’t think 3 ever really forgave 5 for it though…

He learned that year to do everything for himself. He learned to get his own breakfast, to tie his own shoes, to dress himself properly and to amuse himself. He was a funny little thing, very independent. I remember getting up one morning around 2am to pace the floor with 5. I found 3 sitting in the lounge room watching an old Dracula movie on TV, a lemonade in one hand and the biscuit barrel between his legs. He said he couldn’t sleep!

On his first day of school I eagerly anticipated getting him ready. 5 was older then and a much easier baby to deal with. I awoke that morning at 6am excited and wanting to go wake 3 up to begin getting him ready. There he was sitting at the table eating his breakfast. His entire uniform on, shoes and socks and everthing. He had made himself a sandwich and had wrapped it up ready for his lunch box!

He was only 5 years old, and was already showing me that he could cut me some slack. I felt so cheated. But I realized he had to learn to cope so much during those months with 5’s reflux, that he truly thought he was doing the right thing. I think he just didn’t want me fussing. He still hates it when I fuss over him…