March 29, 2011

What Was Your Cradle Music?

Recently, Apple celebrated the release of The Beatles catalogue on iTunes by filling the screen with a big picture of the lads from Liverpool.

Just seeing them pop up like that, so unexpectedly, led to a lump-in-throat moment.

I love them. I can't quite put my finger on why I feel so emotional about the Beatles, but there it is. Love me do? I do, I do! Cute Paul, Dreamy George, Edgy John, Funny Ringo. And the music? Sheer brilliance. I mean who else do you know could get a chart-topping hit out of the lyrics "I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob"?

The only explanation I can think of for my deep, unconditional, completely irrational love of the Beatles, is that their songs were my cradle music.

My teenaged parents, having taken a tumble in the back of a car on summer holidays followed by a hastily arranged (but lovely and ironically reverent, with altar boys and everything) wedding, decided to name the resulting daughter, moi, after a song from the Beatles Rubber Soul album. It could have been much worse; Tom Jones released Delilah that same year. And how lucky for me to be born to teenagers in the 60s and not today, although Mi$helle has a nice look to it, non?

As a small child I spent hours on hot Saturday nights lying on the cool linoleum floor just inside my bedroom, peeking out through the door into the room where my parents and their friends (still only in their 20s I'm amazed to reflect on now) danced and sang the night away to an endless stream of EPs on the record player, my father swinging my mum around to Elvis and Johnny O'Keefe, Frankie Valli and Gene Pitney. A particular favourite of Dad's, Lovers Concerto by The Toys, became an anthem for my childhood. I still love it and it evokes memories of those Saturday nights gazing at my happy dancing parents when the frustrations of raising three children on a single wage in the 1970s melted away in a wash of moselle and paisley halternecks and doing the twist in a suburban Melbourne lounge room. The nights always ended in a loud and boozy singalong to Unchained Melody.

When Jack was in utero, John was having a love affair with Unchained Melody and played it loudly in the car on every single car trip for months towards the end of my pregnancy. Despite, at the time, wanting to take those lonely rivers and dam them, I had cause to be grateful to John because whenever Jack was unsettled in the car, we only had to release the lonely rivers to the sea and he would shut up and listen.

Jack has since moved on, latching on to certain songs from our own collections. And when Jack loves a song, we all get to hear it many, many times to the point where a previously favoured tune is at risk of having the same effect of nails dragged down a blackboard. We have had, on rotation ad nauseum, everything from Rock The Boat (Hues Corporation) and Big Girls Don't Cry (Frankie not Fergie) to Apple Bottom Jeans and Super Trouper. And of course there are the endless round of lullabies we still sing every night - Gordon Lightfoot and tunes from My Fair Lady from Daddy, Morning Town Ride and a year-round Christmas medley from Mummy.

"Eclectic" doesn't even do this kid's musical tastes justice.

But he saves his best moves for his one true idol, the gloved one, he of the indecipherable lyric, Mr Michael Jackson. We don't even have to go out to get our groove on in this household cos once MJ is on the turntable we spend the night in Frisco, in every kind of disco, bedazzled by a cornucopia of crotch grabbing and moon walking.

I blame it on the boogie.

And now it's Francesca's turn. She will get the same off-key but enthusiastically sung lullabies as her siblings and will no doubt be moon-crawling in a few months. We put Big Girls Don't Cry on in the car for a joke once when she cried and she shut up and listened so that is now our fallback song in the car when she's crying say, in the queue at the drive-in bottle shop or in the car park of the pub while I duck in and drop ten bucks in the pokies.

Most nights she kicks and sucks her fists happily in her bouncer while I'm cooking dinner, the iPod on shuffle, imbibing her musical heritage - Blondie and Bowie, Lily Allen and Lenny Kravitz, Nick Cave and Nina Simone, Madonna and Missy, Rod and Robbie and yes, John, Paul, George & Ringo.

So how about you? Do you have a song or a style of music that always resonates with you, from when you were a child right through to your adulthood? Is there a song that, whenever you hear it, takes you back to a feeling or a memory of safety, warmth, a sense that you've come 'home'? Do tell.

I'll leave you with the lads and a song for John and my children. I will.

Image courtesy of iTunes

March 15, 2011

Infertility For Beginners

Watching Nicole Kidman talk about her struggles with fertility on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that the subject of fertility is one that transcends race, religion, wealth and Oscar nominations. It's the great leveller, something that women everywhere are confronting, the only difference being how each woman attempts to solve her infertility. (This is where wealth and Oscar nominations come in handy because the ultimate fertility solutions generally involve dollars. Lots and lots of dollars, but that's a whole other story!)

I've been following the fertility excursion of Emily-Jade O'Keeffe (EJ prefers 'excursions' to 'journeys' because they sound more like the fun rides up the back of the bus on school trips and less like something from Idol!). If you are struggling on your own fertility 'excursion', I strongly recommend you read this post by Emily. Apart from being written with her usual warm, witty and slightly irreverent style, Emily has written a form guide for how she intends to tackle this baby making business.

As a girl who lives her life by lists, I find this approach appealing and I'm REALLY REALLY glad she has decided to put a plan in place. I wish I had have done the same thing years ago instead of waiting until it was nearly too late.

You see, the thing about infertility is that it kind of creeps up on you. You start with the mindset that there is nothing wrong with you and that you'll fall pregnant easily. Because you're a woman with a uterus and a good grasp of how babies are conceived and people have been doing it for millennia and what could possibly go wrong? Right?

After trying for a few months, you start to wonder why it isn't happening and google 'conception' to find out if there are any little tips or tricks you could be trying. This is where it can get confusing. One website tells you to raise your hips up on a pillow for half an hour after having sex to let gravity help the little swimmers on their way, but another website warns against raising your hips too high because the sperm can 'pool' behind the cervix and not make their way in at all!

The mental image of a 'sperm pool' doesn't help either (I'm thinking of all the little blokes cruising up to the wet bar and staying put for a few mucus mojitos instead of getting their tadpole arses up to the uterus and getting down to work. It's a business trip fellas, not a holiday junket!)

The thing is, it's all very well to try the diets, herbs, acupuncture, timed sex and all the other natural conception methods going around but if you are over 30 and it hasn't happened within 6 to 12 months, then get yourself on the medical highway pronto*. And if you're closer to 40, run don't walk to your nearest baby doctor because in the great ovulation lottery, the last supplementary ball is about to drop.

And that doesn't have to be IVF immediately (although at 41 I decided to bypass Fleet Street and go straight to Little Feet Street without passing GO or collecting $200!); your excursion might start with something as simple as an ovulation predictor kit, or a drug like Clomid to stimulate ovulation. Or perhaps your plumbing needs unblocking or a bit of uterine spring cleaning is the only thing standing between you and a sudden craving for anchovy milkshakes.

In fact there are a few treatments you can put on your fertility to-do list before you hit the big guns of artificial insemination and IVF.

The thing is, you need to start. If you want a baby and it's not happening, don't wait too long to do something about it. Just the very act of taking control and booking an appointment is empowering and exciting.

Sitting on the sidelines watching the growing bellies of pregnant friends (and, it seems, every second woman on the street!), genuinely wishing them well and outwardly smiling, but inwardly drowning in self-doubt and guilt-ridden envy and wondering why it isn't happening easily for you, is NOT the way you want to live your life. Taking positive action - any action - towards your goal is the best remedy. At least it was for me.

I love this quote by Mark Twain . . .
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
How very true.

Except in the case of pregnant pole dancing - I'm fairly confident I won't be disappointed in 20 years that I didn't explore that particular harbour :) But I'm so glad Christina Applegate did cos boy does this make me laugh. Enjoy . . . (and then go write that list!)

Prenatal Pole Dancing DVD from Christina Applegate

* Just want to reiterate that the opinions in this blog are just that - opinions. Based on my experience only. I'll let you know if anything I say is based on actual, yknow, medical fact.
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