Ah, Lovelies! My heart is heavy at the moment. Someone I care about is gravely ill. I'm waiting for *that* phonecall. Cancer is cruel. But our everyday life still has to plod on. Regardless. To distract myself, I thought I’d post about our visit to the Child Health Nurse this morning. Yes, it’s rather prosaic but still important in keeping this planet humming along. This will be the first of an ongoing, occasional series of posts entitled ‘Mummy’s little helpers’* about the things which help my life run a little smoother on Planet Baby. How does that sound? It’s not meant to be *earnest* but rather, a slightly more humorous take on some of the mundane events on Planet Baby. Are you up for it? Okay, let’s go.
The Child Health Nurses
This morning, India, Sam and I visited our friendly Child Health Nurse, Rae (Joshie was playing at a friend’s house). It’s a ritual I have undertaken quite regularly for the past 5 years. And by that, I mean most months. That’s a lot of visits! Before we moved to Planet Baby, I had absolutely no idea how valuable a supportive child health nurse can be to a newly-minted mother. Especially A Certain Mother with perfectionist tendencies ☺. Er, make that a perfectionist, full stop! I soon realised that these angels of mercy and The Blue Book would be my best friends as an L-plater mother. Those women have saved my sanity, many times over, with their calm, patient and useful advice. They’re worth their weight in gold.
What’s The Blue Book?
|Yes, I've covered the pixie's details, to protect the innocent!|
Given the three pixies were all born in Sydney, they received Blue Books upon their births. I think most of the other Australian states and territories have an equivalent. In New South Wales, it’s billed as ‘your baby’s personal health record for their entire life’. Hmm, my first thought on reading that was “That sounds like something I should keep in a safe place!”. And I have, interstate moves notwithstanding. Those books are precious on PB.
The Blue Book contains:
* information about development, health checks and services from birth to school age;
* a guide to when to bring your child to routine health checks to check their development is on track. In New South Wales, this includes screening of all babies for hearing problems;
* pages to record all illnesses and attendances at doctors and specialists;
* the schedule for all recommended immunisations which is completed by those administering them and a copy of which is required before attending daycare or school; and
* the infamous ‘growth charts’.
What are the growth charts?
I can hear Planetarian mothers everywhere sighing. Yep, that’s one huge collective SIGH! Growth charts are explained here. Basically, they help you track your child’s growth in length (they’re measured lying down until they’re 2), weight and head circumference. There’s a huge variation in what’s considered ‘normal’ so they’re *meant* to be used as a guide and not as a measure of whether your child is ‘succeeding’ or ‘failing’.
My experience of the growth charts
|Feeding newborn Joshua some precious EBM|
So that’s the *theory* of the growth charts, lovely Planetarians. However, I was staggered to discover as a first-time mother that many other mothers saw them as tools for comparison or a measure for judging whether their baby was the most advanced. And they somehow felt the *need* to report their child’s measurements in public. Fortunately, the mums in my mothers’ group weren’t like that, a fact for which I am eternally grateful. But I encountered other mothers in social settings who were obsessed about their babies’ ‘stats’.
That wasn’t exactly *helpful* for an older first-time, perfectionist mother like me. I vividly recall attending Joshua’s 6 week check-up and discovering that he was on the 10th percentile for height. Horrified, I turned to the ever-patient-and-unflappable Chris and pleaded “But what have I done wrong? I’ve been breastfeeding him around the clock. What more can I do?” Her response? “Well, Jane, you have two options. Firstly, you could give him growth hormones. Or secondly, you could put him on a stretching rack.” Completely deadpan. It took me a few seconds to realise she was joking! See what a greenhorn I was?! Now I understand that the pixies’ measurements at 6 weeks are not an indicator of how they’ll turn out as adults!
Since then, I’ve learnt to appreciate them as a general guide to the pixies’ health. As long as they’re ‘tracking’ (yes, that’s the jargon used) on *around about* the same percentile, then everything’s fine. Only if their growth rapidly declines or increases should I be concerned. And the funny thing? It’s taken Sam’s arrival for me to really understand the truism ‘Every child’s an individual’. Joshua and India developed at very similar rates but Sammy’s taken his own path. And that’s fine by me. And Rae, too. Which is my bottom line.
The progress notes
Ah, the good old progress notes! You would be amazed at how lengthy and detailed the pixies’ are. And that’s not just due to my ‘Nervous Nellie’ alter ego ☺. Seriously, we’ve been through so much with them all, health-wise. They faithfully record all the pixies’ ailments, treatments, medication and operations over the past 5 years.
My experience of the progress notes
Before we arrived on PB, I had no idea we would have to deal with (in no particular order or pixie):
* Painful breastfeeding and breast refusal;
* Settling troubles requiring a 5 day residential stay at Tresillian (other angels of mercy!);
* A flattened head and torticollis requiring numerous physio appointments;
* Sleep problems requiring an overnight ‘sleep study’ in hospital;
* Countless prescriptions of antibiotics;
* Many audiometry tests and countless specialists’ appointments;
* Four operations to reduce adenoids and insert grommets into ears;
* One dental operation;
* Two eye operations; and
* Diabolical sleep deprivation (particularly on my part!) requiring another 5 day residential stay at Tresillian.
That’s *only* a selection! All faithfully recorded in our trusty Blue Books. There is no way I could recall those details without them. So tell me, can you relate to any of this? Or have you lost your Blue Books or never written in them? And how have you found your Child Health Nurses? I’m all ears!
* Not to be confused with ‘Mother’s Little Helper’!