When my daughter was nearly 6 weeks old, we flew to Sydney so she could meet grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles and family friends. It was a lovely trip. Unfortunately, she was exposed to Pertussis (Whooping Cough), probably at the airport or on the flight on the way home. Two weeks later she developed a cough which steadily got worse over the next couple of weeks.*
A at about 6 weeks old
After several trips to the GP and many phone calls to Nurse-on-Call, we eventually ended up in the Children's Hospital in an isolation ward for a few nights so that her symptoms could be managed. The GP didn't pick it up because the symptoms look so different in an infant compared to an older child or adult. As infants don't have the muscle strength to do the characteristic cough, when it gets severe enough they stop breathing instead. As a parent, it's incredibly distressing to witness, and requires being on high alert ALL the time so that you can sit the baby up during a coughing fit to try to keep their airways clear. The only treatment available for Pertussis is a course of antibiotics, which limits the contagious period to 5 days from the beginning of the course of antibiotics (as opposed to 3 weeks if left untreated). It does nothing to treat the symptoms, which need to be constantly monitored and managed.
In the last couple of weeks, a five week old baby in South Australia died as a result of Pertussis. This was apparently the fourth infant in Australia to die in the last 12 months, when typically in this country, there is only one Pertussis related death each year. The disease is not life threatening for most people over the age of 12 months (though when my sister had it a few years ago, she broke a rib with all the coughing), but in small babies they don't have the strength to cough as effectively, which means their airways can be compromised, and they can end up too exhausted to feed which further reduces their strength, which can spiral down into a very bad place to be. Fortunately, if you make it past the worst of it about 2 weeks after the cough first appears, there are no lasting side effects once the 3 month (very) gradual recovery is complete.
We were lucky. My daughter's case was considered 'moderate', which meant she didn't get to the point of needing to be tube-fed and only had oxygen waved over her face during a coughing fit rather than it being attached permanently. Thankfully she was a great feeder from birth, and consequently a fatty-boom-sticks which I suspect put her in a more resilient position to start with than many babies often are. She is now completely healthy, and amazingly, given the levels of adult anxiety she was exposed to while she was sick, is a joyful, carefree, adventurous little thing. It doesn't seem to have had any long term impact.
A last weekend seesawing enthusiastically at the park...
But now we're about to have another baby. And the rate of Pertussis in the community is again significantly higher than normal. And I'm feeling slightly paranoid. I REALLY don't want this child to get it. I'm not sure I could be as together if it happened again - I know a lot more about it and the potential consequences now than I did last time! Sometimes lack of knowledge is a good thing... We WILL vaccinate this child**, but it will still be completely unprotected for the first 8 weeks of life.
The conversation with my rational brain goes something like this:
My SIL had a baby 2 months ago and when they left the hospital they were advised that, in addition to ensuring that any adults who were likely to have regular contact with her (like parents and grandparents***) were up to date with their vaccinations, to keep her away from public places, especially those with air conditioning (like shopping centres). My advice at the time was to be cautious and sensible but that they couldn't let the unlikely possibility shut them in the house for the first 8 weeks! Obviously that applies to us, too!
Here is a sample of the conversation with my slightly less rational brain:
Our daughter caught it in one of those public place scenarios!! We can't go anywhere public then!! Well at least not to the shops. Or church. Or cafes. And only people who are up to date with their vaccinations can come into our house!! And so on...
There's got to be some kind of middle ground here! Listening too closely to my irrational brain is a recipe for serious mental health issues. However, it's not completely crazy. I suspect that not being cautious enough and getting into the same situation again would result in psychological catastrophe too. Obviously, we won't be going anywhere near airports or public transport for the first few weeks of life (been there, done that, outcome not good). The question is: Where do we draw the line? When does caution become paranoia? What do you think?
*She was vaccinated, but babies don't receive their first lot until they're 8 weeks old, by which stage she'd already picked it up.
**I know there are many people who don't agree with vaccination, but it's something that we're committed to, especially in this situation.
***Babies typically pick it up from parents or grandparents who have not been vaccinated in the last 5 years. Most adults don't realise the vaccinations they received as children or teenagers have well and truly lost their effectiveness! And most adults who have Pertussis often don't get diagnosed until after they're no longer contagious, because it's the fact that it lingers for such a long time that often results in a diagnosis being made.
When we arrived home from our (too) brief escape to a rural lifestyle, a lovely package was waiting for me as part of Jellywares' Spring Washcloth Swap.
I REALLY like the washcloth made by Kitty from a lovely cream eco-cotton, and I'm looking forward to using the honey, oatmeal and chamomile soap (which I will be declaring mine, all mine!) as well as planting the Zinnia seeds in a few pots for the front garden. I'm really lucky to have had Kitty as my swap partner. Thank you!
And now that we've returned from our few days away and hubby is now home for several weeks in a row(!), I'm attempting to get back into the vague routine that had been completely tossed out the window over the last few crazy weeks. Step one is to re-establish the meal plan! Admittedly, part of the motivation for planning things at this point in time is to try and convince Peanut that it's inconvenient enough to join us, but even if that doesn't work, at least having dinners organised will mean that dinners actually happen even if I'm cooking in my sleep... and maybe, the freezer might end up with a few extra meals in it. Here's hoping, anyway.
Monday: Spinach, Feta & Olive tart (making it up, using spinach from our garden and eggs from our chooks!)
Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff (Masterchef mag #3, p. 98, hopefully with leftovers for freezer)
Wednesday: Pasta Bake (making it up, but including Istra bacon bought on our way home from Daylesford at Istra's farm shop)
Thursday: Moroccan Chicken Stew (delicious Aug 08, p. 94, with leftovers for freezer)
Saturday: Lamb & Chickpea Pizza (Masterchef mag #4, p. 42)
Yesterday afternoon we returned from a few short days away staying at a friend's farm* cottage about 15 minutes drive from Daylesford. Looking out from the living area, we were lucky enough to be treated to views of rolling green hills and paddocks full of cows. It was wonderful! And so peaceful (if you discount the exuberance of our 21 month old daughter...!).
The view from the cottage
We managed to do some exploring of a few local attractions, including cafes, the Chocolate Mill, Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm and the Digger's St Erth garden at Blackwood (below). My daughter also honed her skills in animal identification and noise making! I think she'd love to be a country kid... Sigh. Dreaming is good.
The Garden of St Erth - a view from within the food forest being established, across the kitchen garden and espaliered fruit trees to the drought-friendly garden, with a few daffodils in bloom thrown in for good measure!
I also managed to fit in a fair bit of crafting while we were away. Two washcloths** were crocheted for my secret swap partner in Jellywares' Spring Washcloth Swap...
...several ends were sewn in on my epic granny blanket (over half way now!), and I started work on an Eden's Adam vest (Ravelry link) for my daughter...
Beginning the vest was almost a non-event though. I discovered, after running around the morning of the day we left getting the right sized needles, that when I pulled all the bits out to get started, that I needed to do a long tail cast on. Which was a slight issue as I'd never done one before. To my great surprise, I had no internet access on my iPhone, and while this was a blessing (lots of craft done rather than wasting time online...), it meant that I had to be a tad resourceful in my efforts to find out about long tail cast ons. Mum tried to help (we had phone coverage), but it was too complicated to explain without pictures. Eventually I found my way to Daylesford Library where the extremely helpful librarian set me up with 30 minutes internet access which sorted me out fantastically! In the end, I found the Knitty instructions with still shots most useful. What a saga! But it was begun, and I'm really enjoying the process of knitting it!
Tonight, we had roasted free range organic Wessex Saddleback pork belly for dinner, bought direct from the grower at Fernleigh Farm. It was absolutely delicious! It's great being able to buy meat by breed, as well as direct from the producer. We're fortunate enough to be able to do this occasionally at Farmers Markets, but it's a special treat getting it from the place where the animals actually live.
*Farm is probably an overstatement given the size of the property is 1.5 acres, but it's surrounded by farmland, so you can pretend!
**Tulip stitch washcloth (pattern here) using Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton in 8 ply and a 4mm hook.
The edge is complete, and now all I have to do is sew in the ends.
Ahem. Yes. Those ends. I naively thought that it would take me a couple of evenings worth of work. I think I'll be doing well if they're all woven in within a couple of weeks!
1) It doesn't matter how frugal you think you're being, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT think it's a good idea to leave a tail behind a joining knot* of less than 5cm (and especially as small as 1cm!?!). It's not. It will not weave in and it will look horrid, aside from driving you completely barmy when trying to work out how to hide it.
2) If at all possible, weave as many ends as you can in as you go. You will thank yourself later, rather than cursing yourself over and over (as I'm doing right now!).
3) If it's too late and you've already done what I did, keep persisting and weave them all in! I'm working on the theory that this blanket will be much better on the couch than hidden away in the WIP basket. I hope so, anyway...
Kirsty has some long term/slow burn projects on the go at the moment too. Hopefully she's finding them a little less frustrating than I am! Pay her a visit and while you're there, check out the other creative spaces around the traps this week.
*I find the whole idea of joining with a knot slightly disturbing these days, but this was a 'learn to crochet' project. I have learnt much along the way, including that some strategies are not ideal. Like joining knots. A slip stitch, on the other hand, seems to have potential?
And it seems to be a genuine obsession - I knitted this hat in record time! The pattern is courtesy of Leonie from Dr Bones Knits, and I must say that I think it's great! It's a very flexible pattern that can be modified to fit your yarn, needles and size required, which is perfect when you need to go stash diving because you absolutely MUST make something NOW! (Ahem.)
Yarn: BWM Luxury 8ply in Ruby (I think - it's been in my stash for years but it seems to match the current colour card sample of that colourway!)
Sticks: 5mm dpns (I have discovered that having less than 3 stitches on a dpn can result in some novel twisty stitches...not an issue in this case as my perfectionist streak seems to have taken a holiday - the need to make fast is obviously the priority right now!)
Size: Newborn (I think. We'll find out, I guess!)
And continuing on with the obsessive theme, apparently now I MUST finish this granny blanket that's been languishing in my WIP pile for at least 4 years without being touched.
I have one more row of squares to stitch on (whip stitch - I really wish I'd known about joining with slip stitch when I started this!!) before doing the edging and then weaving in about 70 gazillion ends. This was my 'learn to crochet' project, and I've learnt an awful lot since then. Like weaving in ends as you go. Arrrgh! Even so, I MUST. FINISH. BLANKET. Weird obsession central in this house right now...
To check out some slightly less weirdly obsessive creating, visit My Creative Space at Kootoyoo!
Meal planning is on hold for the moment as we settle in to life with a newborn. We are being supplied with meals by wonderful friends most nights, and have a freezer full of meals to be eaten on other nights. We will hopefully return to some kind of predictable evening rhythm in the next few weeks as the fog (hopefully) begins to clear!
I'm a 30-something mother of one currently on extended maternity leave. I have crafted in some form for most of my life, but have only recently discovered the true joy of finishing things! At the moment, I cook, knit, crochet, sew and parent. And read. I read a lot, so some of that might find it's way here too! Thanks for visiting.