Sunday 17th February 2019

Telling My Story. Chapter Nine. 1978-1979.11/2019.

Telling My Story. Chapter Nine. 1978-1979. 11/2019.

Telling My Story

For the past two years I have been writing my memoir which is a mix of my life as a daughter, wife, mother and educator. Written now with no personal details to protect others, I am moving onto the first two significant years of our life back ‘in the big smoke’ a.k.a Sydney. The years are 1978-1979. The chapters already written are found here.

1978.

Living in Sydney as a family.

We arrived back in Sydney and my parents’ house would be our place of abode for the next 3 or so months. Our furniture was transported back to a storage facility in Sydney and we had a holiday – at Mum and Dad’s. Almost by the beach and of course our daughter was the much-welcomed presence. My husband had a new appointment in a north-shore K-6 school as a Deputy Master and I was appointed to what was then a brand new school in the leafy glades near Pennant Hills. Our daughter was to go to school with me. It would be quite a drive across Sydney so we made the decision to get a second car. This was radical and maybe not a great financial move, but we were young! Oh, and the small matter of somewhere to live permanently meant our first mortgage and a house search.

Finding a house.

No longer able to be ‘near that water of the northern beaches’ due to affordability it also made sense for us to go ‘west’ …north-west in fact, as both of us could access our schools with greater ease AND the house and land package was, for us, affordable once the mortgage came through: $44,600.

We were stoked and then I had some health news. About my women’s issues. Just before going to our new schools I had a consultation with my Mum’s ob/gyn specialist who believed the source of my pain on the side was from my ovary. He also heard the full story from me about the NO pregnancy news from others who’d treated me in the previous years.

His plan was to operate on me and remove whatever was causing me issues, and then we might see about the possibilities of a second child.

So proud to call this our first home…that we were not renting.

Schools.

I was already at my school but with no class. In those days the Department of Education appointed teachers when they saw the numbers of students were likely to increase. I was not a happy teacher as I was experienced but I had to comply. Our daughter had settled in too. With the news of this surgery which could be done asap and my recovery period would be around 3 weeks, I decided to go for that then. Mum was there for our daughter’s practical care as was my husband but he was also working in a completely new and busy environment learning about managing large student populations and staff. He took our daughter, Miss Flexible it seems, with him to his school for the weeks involved in my surgery and recovery.

My surgery.

The findings once the abdominal surgery was done, were that I had multiple issues inside for both ovaries which were covered in cysts and ovulation was impossible. I also had some benign growths on fallopian tubes and both of these were causes for my infertility. Not fat. Thanks Dr who told me that. My now ob/gyn, Dr O, said “I have cut tiny sections in your ovaries and that should assist with egg release.”

Home to Mum’s then more news. And We Are In!

I recovered with the best of care and then came the time just before our house would be ready to move into and I returned to school. The news was this: a transfer had arrived at the school where I had no class and I was to report to this new-to-me school asap AND it was much closer to our new house. Thanks to the deities. We moved into the new house with help (and yes it was the wettest 17th March ever) and over time we made it home. I began very soon after at the school where I would be for the next 5 years and it became our daughter’s primary school until she was ready for high school.

New School. New Routines. And NEWS.

The schools in NSW had a different way of enrolling Kinder students then and my class, one of 8, was to receive each of the June and July birthday kids until the end of Term One. Every Monday over a few weeks a new set of scared, sad, happy, nervous young kids began with me in K. In a demountable. No fans or air-con people. Our daughter meanwhile who had a rocky start to the BIG school of 8 classes per grade, finally found her place and flourished. Phew. Meanwhile my husband, who was feeling effects of the neck pain and back pain along with managing his school roles, did it pretty tough. But he is tough.

Can I Be? Really?

We found ourselves a fantastic GP team of a husband and wife who were our medicos from 1978 to 2012 or thereabouts. They were family-oriented and even our kids as adults went to them and then their kids. But I am getting ahead of myself. I was feeling different. It had only been two months since my surgery but I was pretty sure I could be pregnant. No peeing on sticks then but a blood test and wait for results. Oh. My. Goodness. The nurse who did my test was a parent in my class! So much for privacy because she actually knew my story (I must have shared) and she rang me to tell me, yes I was pregnant. She kept quiet but I was always grateful to hear what I had not ever expected to hear again. The news was not accepted as excitedly by my husband right then because I have to add, we were “up to our eyeballs” in loans for cars, house and so on. But I could see we would be OK. And over time, he did too of course!

What Happened Next?

I decided to return to my Dr O who I trusted for my care and birth and even though he was not 100% impressed in my ahem, rapidity, in becoming pregnant took me on and this meant a monthly Friday afternoon trip to the Northern beaches to see him, with my daughter in tow, and then have tea with my parents and trek back. I was well. Mind you, I was tired but teaching was a joy and there were two other teachers also pregnant on Kinder and even before it was recess, the lovely canteen ladies would send us cheese crusts! Yum.

So Much Better This Time Around.

I was almost 8 years older than the first time I was pregnant. I was more educated on childbirth and breastfeeding. I did not know the sex of our child and we chose names for both. I enjoyed preparing a nursery from scratch (remember, we had given all the baby items away except for a special baby basket). My weight remained stable and there was no pre-eclampsia. However, the toll of teaching Kinders in Summer in a hot demountable classroom saw my GP recommend finishing earlier than the mandated 6 weeks and I did that willingly.

With regular visits to my parents’ house where my Dad had finally added an in-ground pool, I was treated pretty darned well. My teacher mates gave me a great baby shower, and one of my friends was now at home with her baby and my other colleague was due after me. The due date was mid January and by then I was “over it”. A slight rise in BP meant I took up the locum Ob/Gyn offer to admit me the following Sunday for induction. My Dr was still sailing in the Sydney to Hobart I was told.

Birth day Time

After a leisurely float around the pool, we changed and went our way across Sydney to North Sydney saying good bye to our daughter then 7 knowing she would be a sister next time we saw her. I had then-practice of pre-induction enema and I was given a private room as I had hoped to ‘room-in’ with my baby after having such a different experience in 1971. The night was slow even though I had some pain. My husband went to Mum and Dad’s and I saw him the next morning when I was taken to labour and delivery. If only. Induction was s for slow and I had p for pain. I was adamant no pain relief or epidural. Until I could not bear it any longer – 8 hours of so of pain every 10 mins going nowhere broke me. It appeared, I had another posterior lie baby. I had the epidural and it worked. On one side. S for sheeeet.

I got tired. I was over it. And of course, that meant I was ready to give birth. But I had forgotten that. This time with as gentle coaching husband, a calm Dr, oh and a million or so nurses who rocked up to count my birthing as one of theirs for registration, I pushed out….the watermelon. I was OVER it. In fact, the baby boy was passed to my husband for care, the Dr started his stitching and they chatted. About whether this new boy would play cricket for Australia. Seriously. I was done. In fact the hospital was crazy busy with births and we got some time-out together in a side ward until I (we!) was taken to my private room.

It was a painful but glorious end to our quest to have a second child and he was just a much-wanted child. Not much more to add. His sister was proud, we thought he was great and on the date of our wedding anniversary we took him home – firstly to my parents and then back across Sydney home. Even in those days, car safety for babies was slack and he was in a basket, protected with a net and a safety belt around that.

The family baby basket. This is his sister in it. Later, over the years, our grandchildren slept in it when we cared for them.

Parenting Two.

It really was not a big issue. His sister was 7.5 years older than him and doted on him. We also made sure her routines continued and I would bring the baby with me. One thing I remember doing as a member of the local Australian Breastfeeding Association was take him to the local pre-school and show the kids how he was fed and cared for. However, I was still not as happy about being at home. My friend had her child now and occasionally we would meet up for baby weighing days. But we needed me to be back at school and I did too. There was only one choice in 1979 – full-time or stay on leave.

Of course, it was always going to be about the family day care options. I was given some places to see and I was disappointed on first impression. Then I remembered one of the parents from the K class had told me about Aunty Y who cared for her two and she highly recommended her. I visited with my son and the house was messy but it was kid-messy and a more grandmotherly person I was yet to meet. She agreed to care for him 5 days a week and her house was on my way to school. Win.

I had continued to breast feed with success and at 18 weeks our son happily went to his family daycare home with some bottles of expressed breast milk and was cared for with love. I, on the other hand, found it trickier being a breast-feeding teacher and when I thought about it, my milk would ‘come in’. I found over time though the my milk regulated and with the energy expended by me with teaching Year 1 , playground duty and so on, I had enough to feed him once we were home, and then express for the next day. Over time he added milk in a bottle and some food as babies do but I was proud of “us” lasting around 8 months.

We were grateful to have a very independent and resourceful daughter, a pretty good baby and a hands-on husband who was also in full-time work and we made it happen. It was hard. I know we got some nights where sleep was patchy because of the baby but we all know we can power on…thanks to coffee! My parents offered on some occasions to cook a meal at our house and that was readily accepted. We were new residents of a growing suburb in north-west Sydney and though very busy, our life was going well.

Teaching and Ambition.

I returned to a Year One class in May 1979 and was immediately struck by the teamwork and professionalism in this particular section of the school. I admit, I saw teachers who were applying for promotion via what was then called The List system and it made me say to myself “I can do that.” So, from then onwards, I took on a few more responsibilities within the school. It was a very large school in a newly populated area. 8 classes per grade: 24 classes K-2! We only tended to meet with our grade as the time was hectic. We were in temporary lodgings as a new school to take some of the kids was being built further along the road. By 1981 that would occur and we would be all on the same site.

Family Life.

What would occur in our family life in 1980 is part of the next chapter. It was huge, and significant and continues to affect us in some ways today.

Next Chapter: 1980 onwards. 

This will incorporate more of my teaching career as it was the beginning of promotions and new roles for me. NOT something I had planned but it happened for quite a few reasons.

Denyse.

Joining here on Thursday with Leanne and crew at Lovin’ Life.

 

 

 

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My Moving House Stories. Pt.1. 2018.34.

My Moving House Stories. Pt.1. 2018.34.

Maybe I have some ‘moving house stories’ to share because I am 68!

Let’s go. Oh. At the beginning, of course!

All of my houses have been in New South Wales, Australia.

I was born in Wollongong, south of Sydney and lived there until the end of 1959.

This pic taken by me a few years back. Mum and Dad built this house aided by family and friends. I was brought home from hospital to this house in 1949 and my brother nearly 3 years later. I remember every room of that house!

House Move #1: Wollongong to Balgowlah Heights in Sydney (near Manly on the Sydney map). I wrote about that last week here.

Built as a one-off by the owner builders who sold it to Mum and Dad, this house is split level. Living areas as you go in, and you downstairs to bedrooms and more living space and out to…the pool Dad put in for him and the grandkids!!

As a 10 year old what I remember most about the move was the excitement of a house with stairs, starting a new school at the end of the year and how close we lived to the Harbour. It was a great place to live aged 10 to 20 and I will always be grateful for that.

House Move #2: Adult life and graduating as a teacher at 20 meant a move from home. From Sydney to Barraba. Barraba is north of Tamworth on the map. The best part was starting my career as a teacher and having my first class, being in a very social group of staff in a share house AND meeting my husband-t0-be at the end of that year. I also was totally not great at house-sharing. I was wanting to be ‘out and about’.

Share house: with 3 other teachers from Barraba Central. My bedroom at the front (awnings) was a shared one. The school is over the road so it was not far to walk!

House Move #3: Married Life begins as a 21 year old! In a house on a property outside Narrabri and within driving distance of my school and my husband’s. Also pregnant and in my 2nd year of teaching, I was glad to be married to a man who had already set up a home so at least one of us knew what we were doing! It was a lonely time once I had our daughter. My home-making skills became cooking…and eating…and then, after two more years  my husband got a new school, I did too. Our daughter was still a toddler. So another move was happening! I was 23.

Last year my husband took a trip back to where we both taught and lived. Here’s a rundown of Maules Creek:

Maules Creek

Maules Creek is a hamlet burrowed in the picturesque foothills of Mt Kaputar National Park. It is accessed from Narrabri by taking Old Gunnedah Road, crossing the Harparary Bridge and then turning onto the Maules Creek Road to head for “the hills”. The rugged and enchanting landscape hides a deep rich black soil, perfectly suited to farming. As a result, the region harbours some of the country’s leading cattle studs.
Water flows from the mountains, trickling through Melaleuca-lined creeks to arrive crystal clear. Many beautiful locations along the river provide captivating hideaways for picnics or quiet time in the presence of nature. The size and grandeur of the Nandewar Ranges viewed from the Maules Creek area is spectacular.
To the South of Maules Creek is Leard Forest, which predominantly features pine, iron bark and gum trees. Parts of the forest are being mined for high quality coal deposits.
Whitehaven Coal started building its open cut coal mine in the Leard Forest in January 2014. Whitehaven also runs the nearby Tarrawonga coal mine, and Idemitsu operates Boggabri Coal, also an open cut coal mine.

The playground of Fairfax PS where my hub taught from 1968-1969 ( a one teacher school) and then in 1972 & 1973 I taught there as it was a 2 teacher school. Our baby daughter was cared for in the house in the distance by my principal’s wife (her godmother).

Driving from Narrabri to Maules Creek, last year, my husband came to the sign leading to the property we once called ‘home’ Violet Downs. All given to crops now.

 

House Move #4: The Department of Education paid for our move and it was in the Christmas holidays. We were hanging out in the cool of my parents’ house for most of the school hols but eventually had to drive to the new school residence and school at Merriwagga (Black Stump territory) ..in the heat of Western NSW. Mum came along to help with our young daughter. Mum was a great help but we were soooo hot. Dad tried to send a cooler unit by train from Sydney but there were  none. We ‘did’ survive and Mum was glad to get back to the coast. This home was a very comfy one and we entertained a lot. We even put an above-ground pool in. I taught at Hillston and travelled each day with our daughter in the back, going to the deputy principal’s house where his wife cared for her like she was hers! We stayed there for 3 years. I was 26 when we moved on. Read about Merriwagga and its history here. 

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=images+merriwagga+school&source=lnms&tbm=isch

The school buildings are now a caravan park. We lived in the residence (not shown) alongside.

House Move #5: My husband’s teaching career was blooming, and my ability to have a second child was not. That was when we got the chance to go to one of most isolated schools in NSW as a teaching couple. He would be acting Principal and I would be his teaching staff, along with some teacher aides from the local Aboriginal community. It was again a move that the Department paid for but we still had to pack and be ready for the BIG truck making the trek of 2 days from the Riverina of NSW to almost the Queensland border, Weilmoringle. The house was elevated like a Queenslander and had some air-conditioners to fight the sometimes 50deg heat outside. I learned about how to cater lunch for visiting Specialists like the late Dr Fred Hollows, as well as how to teach co-operatively with my husband!! Living there was pioneer stuff and as we arrived in late January 1976, with a laden station wagon with us and supplies…so did the flood and we were ‘stuck’ for 10 weeks.

https://www.google.com.au/search?biw=1542&bih=868&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=yPPSWvjgKYGR0QSBn4vwDQ

The school building has not changed much. Upstairs: classrooms and office. Downstairs: library, craft spaces. Building in background is a cottage used for visitors to the school and where I taught some cooking lessons. The school residence, not shown, is no longer occupied as our now adult daughter found when she did a trip down memory lane some years ago. Good to see the school is still operating!

This was a most challenging but awesome place to teach but not to live comfortably. Unfortunately this was when my husband’s physical ills became more evident. Clearly we needed to be closer to medical facilities, our daughter needed to go to school where her parents were not her teachers AND it was time for us to BUY a house in Sydney. That all happened by the time I was 28.

q=image+map+of+nsw&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_ybeUs7naAhXGlJQKHa3vAnAQ_AUICigB

Next time I will write about the house moves within Sydney…and of course, the house moves OUT of Sydney!

Just re-reading this I see I moved house 4 times from age 20 to age 28.

Have you moved house much?

What were those moves about?

Tell me more!

Denyse.

Gratefully linking here each week:

Tuesdays with Kylie Purtell for I Blog On Tuesdays here.

Wednesdays with Sue and Leanne for MidLife Share The Love here.

Thursdays with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky here.

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