Me and Mine

Belated Birthday Blogging

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I found this greeting card while thrift shopping over a year ago and set it aside for my significant ‘born in 1957 and turning 57’ birthday. Then after resurfacing (and before joining other bits and pieces in a scrapbook) it suddenly became the perfect inspiration for journalling. Apart from my current age and year of birth relevance, the number 57 isn’t a particularly memorable number – being over a month more than the number of weeks in a year and three years away from the ‘big 60’ milestone. But take the numbers apart or play around with them mathematically and for me they take on a whole new meaning. Five, seven, five plus seven, seven minus five and five times seven. Numerology at work……

FIVE

Age five – school and piano beginnings 

Being forever a homebody and prone to serious homesickness, my first days at school were tearful especially when assigned a teacher my siblings knew to be mean. As luck would have it there was a random first term juggle and within a few weeks I happily landed in Kindergarten 2 instead of Kindergarten 1. My new teacher, Jocelyn, was to become a friend for life. I wrote to her regularly after she was transferred to another school and we visited one another through the years until sadly she passed away from cancer in middle age. I quickly grew to love learning and adore all my teachers after that (except two) until my school days ended in 1976 with a second round of year 12 to try boosting my marks for entry to Medicine. That unsuccessful attempt and more about my school years and other teachers can perhaps be a topic for another time.  

I recall age five was when I first showed an interest in being a pianist by mastering ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ on a tiny red wooden toy instrument and I’d also demonstrate this accomplished tune on pianos belonging to various neighbours and friends. .

Five fingers (on each hand)…were made for chores and creating and cuddling and caring

How fortunate we are to have full use of our hands and fingers and to have them frequently occupied. During a typical day mine will open cans of cat food and comfort kittens, carry things from here to there, sort and organize clutter, handwrite and type, cook (occasionally these days though once very often) and clean. Sometimes I’m in awe that my fingers can create such variety – from the simple paper aeroplane my Dad showed me how to fold….to a complex Beethoven piano sonata my music teacher taught me how to play. And I wonder how many times these hands have cuddled babies and how many nappies they have changed over the years..and how many more yet to come. 

So often I talk about the number 5 while music teaching. Finger numbers remain a very important part of piano instruction from elementary through to advanced level. Note to non piano players – the thumb is labelled finger one! 

Five healthy pregnancies

I was blessed to have five full term pregnancies result in the arrival of six beautiful babies – Amy Mellicent 7lb 13oz, Timothy Mark 9lb 11oz, Geoffrey Stephen 9lb 6oz, Patrick Ainsley 8lb 9 and a half oz, Samuel Alexander 8lb 5 and a half oz and Michael Christopher 7lb 2oz. There are well documented accounts of these pregnancies and births in the family archives and various parenting magazines. And now I am blessed to have six grown up children, all very special and much loved adults. My life’s greatest achievements.

SEVEN

Seven colours of the rainbow

Being more than a little colour obsessed a rainbow is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this number – and Roy G Biv the man who helped me remember the correct order of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Colours, colour combinations and colour matching are very important to me.  My favourite colours in general are mushroom pink, sage green, red, maroon, lilac and sky blue. I also like cream, beige, apricot, chocolate brown, navy blue, yellow and dark green. Least favourite colours used to be orange, hot pink, magenta, lime green and grey but now I embrace them for certain things or occasions including baby clothes and Halloween. If black and white count as colours I love them too – especially black clothes and pianos, white snow and white rabbits and all of our white guinea pigs that are named ‘Rabbit’. Favourite colour combinations are pink and green (fit for a Queen my sewing teacher would say), black and white (especially for piano keys, pandas and whales), red and green and red and white (for Christmas and kitchens), black and orange (for Halloween) and pale pink and pale blue or a mix of pastels (for babies).

Seven letters of the music alphabet

Although there are 26 letters in the reading alphabet there are only seven in the music alphabet A B C D E F G. Sounds easy…however a musician needs to know these seven letters forwards and backwards without hesitation and repeated across the range of their instrument. An 88 keys piano begins with an A and ends with a C.  Additional music trivia – the distance from one letter of the music alphabet to the same letter of the music alphabet eg C to C is eight notes or an octave and two octaves is 15 notes, not 16.

A piano and piano lessons at age 7

I still have my first piano – a German iron frame ‘Belling’ now in much need of restoration – and clearly remember going to the music store with Dad to purchase it. I loved having piano lessons once a week after school with a local teenager named Janis Heath and stayed with her until we moved interstate when I was 15. Although I continued to play and successfully put myself through exams and have some mentors and music related jobs along the way I didn’t have regular formal instruction again until I began lessons with Pamela Topen in 2002, a experience that has only recently and regrettably come to an end. 

Seven wonders of the world

Though I have always had a fascination with memorizing facts and lists such as Academy Award winners, books of the bible, nursery rhymes, French words and foreign music terms when trying to name the seven wonders of the ancient world I am quick to answer “The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon” and have to look up the remaining six…Great Pyramid of Giza, Statue of Zeus At Olympia, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes and Lighthouse of Alexandria. I keep meaning to check for the seven wonders of the modern world.

Seven stones on my eternity ring

I’m not sure exactly what the tradition is for time and reason to give or receive an eternity ring but mine was bought during a holiday to the city where my husband and I were married (and where four of our six children were born) when our youngest were five. Unplanned but an event long on my wish list I saw in the window of a jewellry shop exactly what I had in mind – white gold with small diamonds in a row. It wasn’t until I tried the ring on that I saw there were five diamonds and a tiny one at each end to make seven altogether. Always one to look for meaning in everything I decided the five diamonds would represent my five healthy pregnancies and the smaller stones for the two babies I lost.

Trying for a 7th child

It’s not a well known fact among family and friends that we did indeed try for a seventh child although it would have come as no surprise to many – and in fact readers of Mother and Baby magazine in those days would have seen my ‘even bigger family’ wish in writing among letters to the editor. Over the years a few people have asked me if our twins were a result of IVF. No they weren’t….although the pregnancy was preceded by the keeping of an ovulation chart for one month, as recommended by my gynecologist, due to a few false alarms in previous months.

FIVE PLUS SEVEN EQUALS TWELVE

Twelve months of the year

January: our wedding anniversary, Australia Day

February: Tim’s birthday, Valentine’s Day

March: St Patrick’s Day, Easter 

April: Easter

May: Mothers Day, Bailey’s birthday

June: Mum’s Birthday, Michael’s birthday, Mark’s Mum’s birthday, Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary,

 July: Dale and Kane’s birthday

August: Mark’s birthday, Jaiden’s birthday, Dad’s birthday,

September: Father’s Day, Geoff’s birthday, my birthday, Patrick’s birthday

October: Halloween

November: Amy’s birthday

December: Samuel and Michael’s birthday, Christmas Day, Sebastian’s birthday

Cheaper by the dozen

The title of one of my favourite movies – the original with Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy and the remake with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. If nature hadn’t stepped in and ended my fertile days we very likely would have gone on to add another half a dozen children to our family.

A dozen eggs (of the edible kind)

Eggs are one of my favourite foods – love them boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, omelettes and used in quiche and frittata. I can’t eat anything that mixes egg with chicken – eg a chicken omelette or chicken quiche. I adored Mum’s curried eggs and rice and I love curried egg sandwiches. I am ‘famous’ for my mini quiche, a savoury treat that is the first thing to disappear at parties. Son Geoff loves my devilled eggs and long ago I would make Scotch eggs too. Eggs of course make me think of Easter – especially our Good Friday tradition of having a cellophane carton or two of twelve Cadbury chocolate eggs in the refrigerator for helping ourselves to throughout the day (to balance the buttered hot cross buns from the oven). The movie Steel Magnolias comes to mind because of the cartons of pastel dyed eggs they had ready for Easter egg hunts. Memories too of our own Easter egg hunts – real or plastic ones – down the backyard with children and grandchildren. Another fun tradition has been to grow cress in empty eggshells to make egg head men and then cutting their ‘hair’. And many an empty egg carton has been used to make caterpillars, trains, boats and mini gardens and to sort buttons from my huge button collection.

Twelve years old

It’s not unusual for a child to quite suddenly grow up at this age with all the adventures of maturing and starting high school ahead. I was fortunate to attend an Anglican Girl’s College for three years delighted with the formal uniform and strict rules and eventually becoming accustomed to the half hour train ride to and from school each day. But a certain incident of abuse from a neighbour took away my innocence and made me grow up overnight and the memory will haunt me all the days of my life.  

 SEVEN MINUS FIVE EQUALS TWO

All things even

I’ve always liked even numbers better than odd – in fact for a long time it really bothered me that I was born in an odd numbered year until I added the numbers together to make an even 22. I often buy two of anything that I like a lot – in order to have a spare to give away or in case an item is lost or damaged. 

Twins

I had a fascination with multiple births from an early age and listened intently to Mum’s stories of twins in our family tree where sadly one or both babies did not survive. I do, on my Dad’s side, have twin cousins James and Andrew a few years younger than me. Even my Sindy teen doll had twins! As a child I kept a scrapbook of cuttings about a set of quins – one of the five being a Samuel, a name I loved and would many years later use for one of our sons. Now that I’m an avid baby doll collector I have a few twins and doubles or more of the same sculpt doll in my collection. We found out at nine weeks of pregnancy that I was having a multiple birth and then a scan at 20 weeks revealed two fraternal boys due January 8th 1993 (arriving on December 22nd after being induced).

FIVE BY SEVEN EQUALS THIRTY FIVE

With easy internet access and little left to the imagination these days I’m sure my ‘age 35’ entry will barely rate in the ‘too much information’ category. But feel free to skip reading the next part if girly body talk offends. Although in the past I have not discussed the nitty gritties of my reproductive years or the ending of them..for family medical health history I think I should. 

I’m not sure exactly how I would have coped with being unable to have children of my own – extreme disappointment and devastation no doubt and a willingness to resort to any and all fertility treatment available. I am grateful this was not something I had to face – and as with other females in my family had no problems conceiving as a young woman. 

I was very maternal from an early age and adored my baby dolls of which there were many (some I still have today). My bedroom was set up like a nursery, baby health center and children’s hospital and I would spend any pocket money on real baby clothes for my dolls (and on sheet music). I loved and would seek to spend time with other people’s babies and children and as a teen enjoyed part time babysitting jobs. I was fascinated by pregnancy and birth although in those days such topics were rarely discussed. I also had a strong desire to study and learn and though I knew I desperately wanted to be a mother one day I also wanted to be a doctor…and chose my school subjects accordingly – English, Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics. 

I got my first period on August 11th at age 13 and the next a whole year later at 14. I’d heard friends complain about ‘the curse’ but I was excited to begin my womanly journey, my heart set on having a baby one day. To shorten a long story (and leave the sharing of detailed pregnancy and birth stories for another time) I was thrilled to became pregnant at age 21 and our first child Amy was born 11 months after Mark and I married. Timothy, Geoffrey, Patrick, Samuel and Michael followed with gaps of three to four years between each new baby…and four minutes between the twins. I wasn’t aware prior to becoming pregnant with twins that multiple births are common in the mid to late thirties –  due to nature’s way of releasing an extra egg before there are no more eggs to release. Surprise!!

The twins were born when I was age 35 and my monthly cycle didn’t return in the two years to follow, not an unusual occurrence when breastfeeding two babies. By then I was unbelievably ‘clucky’ again despite being busy with six children including a pair of toddlers. Although I’d been having severe hot flashes and I knew there was a strong family history of child bearing days ending early for some women in our family – my auntie at 29 and my mother at 40 – it didn’t for one moment occur to me that my baby days were over. But there I was at the local GP with all the symptoms of what I felt sure to be another pregnancy, so sure in fact that there was a layette already set aside for another new arrival or arrivals and I waited with excited anticipation for an approximate due date. The result was indeed positive. For menopause. Zero estrogen. A few months of the fertility drug Clomid to try and trick my body back into action were to no avail. It was a difficult time for me and there was little sympathy, empathy or understanding from anyone considering I already had a large family. “Don’t be greedy” one doctor said as he tried to trivialize the situation and push Hormone Replacement Therapy at me. From that day on I kept my feelings of shock, loss, disappointment and grieving at the unexpected end of an era to myself, real as they were. It has since been suggested to me by more caring medical professionals that I should have had counselling at the time because early menopause is very significant in any woman’s life no matter how many children they have already. Greedy it may seem to some but at least I’m honest enough to admit that to this day, even at age 57, I still wish on every star for ‘just one more baby’. Surely we are all entitled to at least one unrealistic dream in our lifetime along with the gratitude we have for the many that came true 🙂

 

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Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 4:19 am  Leave a Comment