After a few days to enjoy having my family home I figured it was time to post a few thoughts on life and how it's changed since Elise arrived.

  • Sleep Ah - my old friend. Actually, more like my "long lost friend"! I don't think Nat or I have had a really long, deep, restful sleep since Nat was about 3 months pregnant with Emily. Not Nat's fault, or even Emily's...that just the way things go when you have kids I guess. Anyway, I thought I was tired having only Emily around, but adding a new born to the mix cuts the sleep I was getting in half (at least). It will get better as Elise figures out night and day and her feeds start to "normalise".Although our sleep has been interrupted we really can't complain. Elise wakes at about 10pm and again around 2-3am for feeds, then the morning feed has been anywhere from 5am to 7am (depending on that early morning feed). So we get some reasonable sleep between feeds. Now if only Emily would sleep through we'd be set!
  • Cars I'm sure the person who invented infant car seats was a frustrated engineer who could never complete a Rubick's Cube so invented infant seats as pay-back! Dammit, those things have more straps, flaps, levers and clips than some of the aircraft I've flown! Anyway, after a few skinned knuckles and choice words last Saturday, we now have both the cars sorted out.However, even though the cars are "sorted" I was presented with an interesting dilemma this morning on my way to University. Ordinarily I throw my bag on the back seat and drive off. Problem: there's a car seat where my bag normally went. Ok, I thought, I'll put it in the boot. Problem: there's a pram in the boot that takes up a LOT of space. Dammit - a little reshuffling and the bag was sorted.
  • Washing How is it, that one child generates "1 unit" of dirty clothes, but two children generate "10 units" of dirty clothes?! I'm sure there's an evil vortex of dirty washing we've fallen into or something, because Nat and I just can't figure out where all this extra dirty washing has come from! :P

But these little epiphanies got me thinking. Like most things in life, the devil is always in the detail. The decision to have a second child was easy compared to the decision to have Emily (our first child) - we'd "been there done that" and felt more than capable to cope with a second. Whilst that hasn't changed, we still feel capable and in control, it's amazing how the little things change with two children that you just simply didn't anticipate; like where to put a bag in the car. Big things are easy to see - holidays etc are obviously going to require a little more planning. So my only advice to people planning on parenthood, first timer's or otherwise, is this: don't sweat the little things - they were always going to change!

Anyone who knows me is reading that last line and must be wondering if aliens have taken over my body! lol. I am one the highest strung people I know - the little things bug the hell out of me! I don't know what's changed (except the arrival of Elise) but now that I have two gorgeous little girls, a beautiful wife and 3 people who need me, these little things have taken on a new perspective...and you know what? They don't really matter.

Choose happiness, choose calm, choose control - CHOOSE LIFE!

A Mother's Day to remember

(This is a few days late, but hey, I've got a new born....what day is it anyway?!?)

It was a pleasant surprise to get a call from Natalie on Saturday to say she'd seen the obstetrician and Elise had been reviewed by the paediatrician and the doctors were happy for Nat and Elise to come home on Mother's Day!! That in itself is special, but also having my mum (Emily and Elise's Nanna) there too was just fantastic!

I don't think the doctor's were in any way being "generous" to us - I think they had a labour ward being backed up with a rush of new babies, and nowhere in the maternity ward to put all the new mothers and children! So I'd say the nurse unit managers etc cancelled all the golf/fishing plans for the specialists and told them to discharge everyone who didn't absolutely need to be hospitalised. Nat was obviously well, Elise was likewise - so they were sent home (yay for us!).

I was concerned that Nat actually felt "up to it" and she assured me she just wanted to get home and get into a routine with our girls. Nat's amazing like that - she's very pragmatic and I love her for it :) I don't think I could live with a "drama queen" as a wife.

She's arrived!!

Please join, Natalie, Emily and I in welcoming our newest arrival! Introducing Elise Kathryn Gray - born at 10:05am on Thursday 11th May, 2006. She weighed in at a healthy 3365g (7lb 4oz) and measuring 50cm (19 3/4 inches). Nat and Elise are doing great!

So how did we go 2nd time around? Well, Nat was induced again and we were really dreading what that might entail - given the rapid onset of labour last time. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Nat's labour progressed smoothly and predictably without the all the problems we had last time.

Nat was induced at about 7:15am and Elise was born at 10:05am - yup 2 hours and 50 minutes from go to whoa! However, Nat's had none of the common problems that are usually associated with quick labours. Nat was an absolute trooper. There was no screaming, yelling or grand standing. She just got in and did whatever was asked of her to bring our little girl into the world. Like last time, Nat took advantage of 20th century technology and had an epidural to help with the pain relief but it was only used in the last 40 minutes or so (after she reached about 8cm dilation - which is about 80%).

The only "drama" was the last few minutes when Elise's heart rate dropped to around 50-60 beats per minute (bpm) during contractions and only recovered to about 80-90bpm between contractions. The fetal heart rate should stay around 120bpm. When Elise came out, it was obvious why this occured: part of the umbilical cord had looped up along her right side. So every contraction was putting pressure on the umbilical cord and restricting blood flow (and therefore oxygen) to Elise. Other than being born a little "blueish" she had the same apgar scores as Emily: 7 at birth and 10 at 10 minutes. Elise needed to be bagged for a few seconds (10 or so) and she started breathing on her own without difficulty and "pinked up" really quickly.

So other than those nervous few minutes at the end, it was an absolutely text book delivery condensed into 2 hours and 50 minutes! Way to go Nat!!

The curse of the "early adopter"!

As I posted in the Site News section, and as can be seen in the "Powered By" section, this site now runs on an Intel CoreDuo Mac Mini. It's fast, it's small, it's quiet....and most of the legacy software I've been used to doesn't run on it! I've been through this before when I bought my AMD64 work station. All manner of ugliness ensued until the software writers ported their stuff to the new platform. Mac is no different. Having been entrenched in the PowerPC (PPC) platform for ages, all Mac OSX software is written for that CPU.

Along comes the CoreDuo (not PPC and is actually an IA32 system, aka i386!) and very few of my preferred apps run :( Thankfully I've become pretty accustomed to open source software, and having access to the source code makes it rather simple (most of the time) to just recompile it for the Mac. Still, it would be nice to have ready-to-go stuff.

The main dilemma facing at the moment is that I plan on moving the mail server to the Mac and thus finally shutdown the 3 lumbering dinosaurs I currently have running my network. Sounds simple right? Well I use MailScanner to scan my incoming mail. MailScanner in turn wraps around various virus scanners and reformatting tools.

Without these scanners and tools, the system just doesn't work. Whilst ClamAV virus scanner will run on Mac OSX (by virtue of it being open source) neither McAfee or F-Prot have a command-line scanner for Mac OSX on Intel! Bah. So I'm going to loose two thirds of my virus scanning!!

You could argue I didn't do my research, and that would be partially true. I knew there would be these issues, but I wasn't prepared for how many tools wouldn't be available (yet!). Seems the mail server migration will be on hold for a little while until I iron out the bugs. Bummer

Site Upgrade

I've just finished upgrading the content management system for The Gray Matter. This new version adds a few cool features from an administration point of view and fixes a number of annoying little bugs for users too. For instance, you can now leave a message from the main body of a story by hitting the "Reply" button at the end of the story, without having to go back to the story list and clicking on the "Post a Comment" link. Same restrictions still apply though (like having to log in to leave comments etc). Enjoy!

New hardware

The process has begun! Today I lashed out and bought a new Mac Mini (Intel Core Duo) and with the help of my good friend Mike, moved The Gray Matter onto the new kit. Page generation has been cut down to about quarter of the old setup and I still haven't got around to upping the RAM to 1GB! Enjoy the newer faster site.

Arm problems explained...finally!

For those who don't know, last year (early October 2005) I woke up one morning with a practically useless left arm. It was numb in part, ached in others, was weak all over and I had a shooting pain in my shoulders and upper back. I thought I'd just slept in a weird position and it would settle down in a day or two. I was wrong. So after two weeks of no improvement, I went off to see my doctor. A few simple mechanical tests were done and decision made to get a CT scan of my cervical spine done. Now CT scans are good, but in this case only showed the bone structure and alignment were fine. There wasn't a lot to see with regard the soft tissue so the results weren't conclusive. So the next step was a referral to the neurologist.

Now this is where the story will take a slight diversion into "why the hell does this happen in Australia" land. Natalie and I are on top level health insurance, paid for by us (not something our employers provide). We fork out large sums of money every year for the privilege and have never had the need to make any significant or ongoing claims. Once every 2-3 years we buy new glasses and a few claims in between, but, by and large, the health fund loves us - we bank roll everyone else apparently! So here I am, in varying degrees of constant discomfort for almost 4 months and not one cent available from the health insurance to cover the costs of what followed! Goes to show, the Australian health system may be one of the best in the world, but it's still going to hell in a hand basket!!

I digress. After a 3 month wait to see the neurologist he assesses me in his rooms then sends me off for an MRI, a nerve conduction study and the full arsenal of blood tests. Now the MRI was pretty simple, show up, remove metal objects, lay down with some foam ear plugs and go to sleep for half an hour - bliss! I'd never had an MRI before and I was surprised by just how damn noisy those things are. When I was issued with the ear plugs, I was thinking "this never happens on "House MD"! Being half deaf makes it easier for me, which I'm guessing made it possible for me to sleep.

The nerve conduction study was a little... (what's the word?)...uncomfortable. I remember as a kid playing dare with the other farm kids about who was going to touch the electric fence first to see if it was on. Sometimes you'd get a tingle, sometimes it would make you jump, and if the bull was in the paddock, it would knock you fair on your arse! Let's call that the "James Zapometer Scale" (having felt 240VAC across my chest I think I'm in a good position to assess this). Well the nerve conduction tests sat somewhere in the the middle of that scale. However, unlike the electric fence, this time you're hooked up to bloody thing and can't let go. It was uncomfortable, but bearable - I figured it couldn't be any worse than the last four months with a useless left arm, so I grit my teeth.

Blood tests are blood tests. They stab you, they bleed you, they put a band-aid on you and now that I have facial hair, I no longer get a lollipop! Dammit.

Well last week I got the results. I have two torn discs in the lower cervical spine (C5 and C6 for the curious). That in itself is pretty significant, but on its own doesn't explain the arm problem. So reading on through the MRI report the riddle is solved: the lower tear is swollen and putting pressure on the Brachial Plexus specifically affecting the Median nerve. Long story short: I've buggered my neck which has stuffed a nerve or two in my arm.

Despite the serious sounding nature of this injury, the neurologist seems to think some targeted physiotherapy should make a world of difference - here's hoping. Either way I'm just glad the tests ruled out all the other sinister possibilities I've been worrying about (such as Multiple Sclerosis, tumours, spinal cysts, and nasty nerve- eating viruses!). On balance this is probably a good outcome.

The impact on my life will (should) be temporary lasting a few more months...hopefully. With some physiotherapy I'm hoping to be back skiing next season but I'll play that by ear. In the meantime, I just have to look after my neck and try not to slack off with the treatment! bad

Gah - whilst trying to help out a friend, I inadvertently modified the firewall rules to lock everything out while I was working remotely. Long story short - when flushing the firewall rules, set the default policy to accept unless you have physical access to revert to working config! Otherwise (like today) you not only lock out intruders, you take out your connection you were using to manage the firewall, and can't reconnect to fix it!! DOH! Apologies to all. (See, even us über nerds get it wrong occasionally!)