How I’m voting in 2011

This post originally appeared on Matt’s Musings (Matt’s computer focussed blog).

It’s general election time again in New Zealand this year, with the added twist of an additional referendum on whether to keep MMP as our electoral system. If you’re not interested in New Zealand politics, then you should definitely skip the rest of this post.

I’ve never understood why some people consider their voting choices a matter of national security, so when via Andrew McMillan, I saw a good rationale for why you should share your opinion I found my excuse to write this post.

Party Vote
I’ll be voting for National. I’m philosophically much closer to National than Labour, particularly on economic and personal responsibility issues, but even if I wasn’t the thought of having Phil Goff as Prime Minister would be enough to put me off voting Labour. His early career seems strong, but lately it’s been one misstep and half-truth after another, the remainder of the Labour caucus and their likely support partners don’t offer much reassurance either. If I was left-leaning and the mess that Labour is in wasn’t enough to push me over to National this year then I’d vote Greens and hope they saw the light and decided to partner with National.

Electorate Vote
I live in Dublin, but you stay registered in the last electorate where you resided, which for me is Tamaki. I have no idea who the candidates there are, so I’ll just be voting for the National candidate for the reasons above.

MMP Referendum
I have no real objections to MMP and I think it’s done a good job of increasing representation in our parliament. I like that parties can bring in some star players without them having to spend time in an electorate. I don’t like the tendency towards unstable coalitions that our past MMP results have sometimes provided.

Of the alternatives, STV is the only one that I think should be seriously considered, FPP and it’s close cousin SM don’t give the proportionality of MMP and PV just seems like a simplified version of STV with limited other benefit. If you’re going to do preferential voting, you might as well do it properly and use STV.

So, I’ll vote for a change to STV, not because I’m convinced that MMP is wrong, but because I think it doesn’t hurt for the country to spend a bit more time and energy confirming that we have the right electoral system. If the referendum succeeds and we get another referendum between MMP and something other than STV in 2014, I’ll vote to keep MMP. If we have a vote between MMP and STV in 2014 I’m not yet sure how I’d vote. STV is arguably an excellent system, but I worry that it’s too complex for most voters to understand.

PS. Just found this handy list of 10 positive reasons to vote for National, if you’re still undecided and need a further nudge. Kiwiblog: 10 positive reasons to vote National

If you feel the need to comment, head over to the original post on Matt’s Musings.

How I’m voting in 2011

This post originally appeared on Matt’s Musings (Matt’s computer focussed blog).

It’s general election time again in New Zealand this year, with the added twist of an additional referendum on whether to keep MMP as our electoral system. If you’re not interested in New Zealand politics, then you should definitely skip the rest of this post.

I’ve never understood why some people consider their voting choices a matter of national security, so when via Andrew McMillan, I saw a good rationale for why you should share your opinion I found my excuse to write this post.

Party Vote
I’ll be voting for National. I’m philosophically much closer to National than Labour, particularly on economic and personal responsibility issues, but even if I wasn’t the thought of having Phil Goff as Prime Minister would be enough to put me off voting Labour. His early career seems strong, but lately it’s been one misstep and half-truth after another, the remainder of the Labour caucus and their likely support partners don’t offer much reassurance either. If I was left-leaning and the mess that Labour is in wasn’t enough to push me over to National this year then I’d vote Greens and hope they saw the light and decided to partner with National.

Electorate Vote
I live in Dublin, but you stay registered in the last electorate where you resided, which for me is Tamaki. I have no idea who the candidates there are, so I’ll just be voting for the National candidate for the reasons above.

MMP Referendum
I have no real objections to MMP and I think it’s done a good job of increasing representation in our parliament. I like that parties can bring in some star players without them having to spend time in an electorate. I don’t like the tendency towards unstable coalitions that our past MMP results have sometimes provided.

Of the alternatives, STV is the only one that I think should be seriously considered, FPP and it’s close cousin SM don’t give the proportionality of MMP and PV just seems like a simplified version of STV with limited other benefit. If you’re going to do preferential voting, you might as well do it properly and use STV.

So, I’ll vote for a change to STV, not because I’m convinced that MMP is wrong, but because I think it doesn’t hurt for the country to spend a bit more time and energy confirming that we have the right electoral system. If the referendum succeeds and we get another referendum between MMP and something other than STV in 2014, I’ll vote to keep MMP. If we have a vote between MMP and STV in 2014 I’m not yet sure how I’d vote. STV is arguably an excellent system, but I worry that it’s too complex for most voters to understand.

PS. Just found this handy list of 10 positive reasons to vote for National, if you’re still undecided and need a further nudge. Kiwiblog: 10 positive reasons to vote National

If you feel the need to comment, head over to the original post on Matt’s Musings.

New Zealand, Photo sharing

We’re safely back in New Zealand for our semi-annual visit and we’ve all adapted to the change in time zone without too much issue. Micah was very well behaved on the flights. The only minor hiccup was explosive residue being detected on Micah’s stroller and food as we transited through LAX (worst airport in the world, by the way) but we managed to get that resolved without too much of an issue…

If you’ve already forgotten, a reminder that we’re having Micah dedicated at Hillcrest Chapel this Sunday the 27th November, at 10:30am, if you know us you’re most welcome to attend. We’re also having a BBQ with some family and friends afterwards, email for details if you want to come and hang out with the little man. Since we’re unlikely to be in NZ for his 1st birthday on the 19th Feb, it will be a little bit of an early birthday party for him too.

For the past few years we’ve been fairly public with our lives through this blog and our photo gallery. That’s been a calculated trade-off – we don’t necessarily want to share everything with the world, but restricting access raises all sorts of tricky management issues about how to reliably and simply give access to all those people who should have access, some of whom we might not know directly (e.g. friends of parents, siblings, etc). It was easier to just open it up to everyone.

Two things have changed recently that have made us re-evaluate that. The first is Micah, he’s awesome, but we’re not really sure how thrilled he would be in later years to find that his early years are entirely public on the Internet for anyone to follow. Secondly, a more palatable alternative to Facebook has arrived on the scene in the form of Google Plus, which provides us with a reasonable technical solution to the problem of how to provide access to our photos/lives to those who we’re happy sharing with, without inviting the whole world in.

If you haven’t heard about Google Plus yet, it’s a new part of Google that allows you to interact with circles of friends and family online, sort of like a cross between Twitter and Facebook. Although unlike Facebook it tries to respect rather than trample over your privacy settings, and more usefully for us it’s tightly integrated with other Google products like Picasa which we use to display our photos online. With Google Plus, instead of sharing our photos publicly to the world, I can choose to share them with my “Extended Circles” which means anyone within 2 degrees of me in the social graph formed by circles is able to see them. For example, if I have you in one of my circles, you’re one degree away and can therefore see the photos. Then, everyone that you have in one of your circles can also see our photos, since they’re 2 degrees away from me via you.

The “Extended Circles” sharing option seems like a good balance to us, it means we don’t have to personally know or approve everyone who wants to see our photos, but the world at large doesn’t have access. The obvious downside is that you will need a Google account, and that account must be in the circle of at least one person who I have in a circle, but from talking to our friends and family that doesn’t seem like it will be a major barrier, just head to plus.google.com and you’ll be up and running in less than 5 minutes. Once you’re signed up add Matt’s Google Plus Profile or Kat’s Google Plus Profile to one of your circles, we’ll get a notification, add you to our circles, and you’ll be away laughing. If you get stuck, just flick us an email and we’ll do our best to help!

We are still sharing some photos to the world, mainly of things like our overseas holidays, but all of our more personal family style photos will be kept in the extended circle of our friends and family.

Visiting home

We’re on the final countdown till our trip home. This will be Micah’s first time in New Zealand, his first time meeting all of his aunties, uncles and other adoring fans. To say I’m looking forward to it would be a mammoth understatement. I. Can’t. Wait!!!!!!

Currently writing lists, packing suitcases for three, and planning baby travel logistics. Just barely containing the excitement.

We fly out on Saturday, spend one week in the US where Matt will be visiting Google HQ for work, then fly into Auckland on Nov 20th. We’re back in NZ for 3 weeks and hoping to cram in as much time as we can with family and friends.

We’re planning to have Micah dedicated at Hillcrest Chapel on November 27th and then having a BBQ lunch afterwards. A combination celebration of Micah’s birth, dedication, and first birthday since this will be our one opportunity to mark all of these things with our family and friends (if you’re keen to come just let us know, we’d love that!).

Micah – 5 months old

Micah was 5 months old and 5.6kg yesterday. Where has the time gone!?
He is a very happy, active little boy now. He likes to play with his toys, bop around in his door bouncer, and smile at himself in the mirror.
All this activity during the day also means he’s started sleeping for longer stretches during the night. I’m especially delighted about this! It feels amazing to finally be getting 8 solid hours of sleep again.

He’s had all of his first follow-up appointments now (hearing, eyesight, MRI, and developmental checkup) and is perfectly healthy 🙂

We are half way through summer here. It has been a great one so far and we have lots going on in the next month or two as well.
My mum came to visit for the first half of July. She got to meet Micah for the first time and had some precious cuddles, smiles and play time with him. We did a few day trips around Dublin and the surrounds to show Mum where we’ve been living for the last 4 years. It was a lovely visit with lots of Mum and daughter time and lots of Grandma and Micah time too.

On Friday the three of us are headed to Boston. Matt will be visiting the Google Cambridge Office and Micah and I will be sightseeing and shopping for the week. It will be Micah’s first time on a plane and we’re treating this as a test run for a potential trip back to New Zealand with Micah later in the year… more news on that once plans are confirmed.

Once we return from Boston we have the wedding of two dear friends to celebrate on the 1st of August, followed closely by the arrival of Matt’s parents on August 2nd. Mark and Gill are coming to see us and spend some quality time with Micah on either end of a European cruise holiday. They’re cruising the Greek Islands, visiting Prague and Moscow, then taking a river cruise to St Petersburg. Sounds fabulous doesn’t it. I’m a teensy bit envious as those are two areas we haven’t managed to travel to yet!

At the end of August our friends Brian and Tamsyn are hopping across from London for a short stay. Mark and Gill will be back for a few days at the start of September and my aunt Caroline is coming for a visit after that.

It’s wonderful to have so many visitors! Anyone else keen to pop over and say hi? We’d love to see you.

Micah – 3 Months Old

Our little man is 3 months old today! He’s growing nicely and passing all his tests so far. As of Tuesday he was 3.75kg, much chubbier and looking much like any other newborn baby that you might see around. We went out to the shopping center last weekend, and I lost count of the number of people who commented on how tiny he was or ‘how brave’ we were to have him out of the house so early.

We’re slowly settling into a semi-routine with him. He still sleeps and eats when he feels like it, mostly every 2-3 hours. Although in the last 3-4 days he’s started to be happy sleeping for 4-5 hours in the late evening/early morning, so that is a very welcome change! Kat takes care of him most nights during the week, so I can get a decent nights sleep before work (aren’t I lucky!) and then it’s my turn to take care of him during the weekend nights, slowing working through the copious supplies of frozen expressed milk still in our freezer from his early months in ICU.

He’s had his first round of immunisations and was a very brave boy, with very little crying as they jabbed him in each leg. More vaccinations are scheduled fairly regularly over the next few months as they boost his immunity up. He also had an MRI scan to check that his brain is all in the right place, and a hearing test. Still to come are appointments with an eye doctor, cardiologist and then the pediatrician for his “6 week” checkup in mid-June. Somewhat tiring getting him to all the appointments at various different locations around Dublin, but great to know that he’s being well looked after!

We’re looking forward to visits from Grandma (Kat’s mum) in late June, and then Nan and Poppa Mark (Matt’s parents) in August/September. Micah’s in the process of applying for his Irish passport too, and he told me the other day that he’s looking forward to coming to visit all his friends around the world before too long.

Still plenty of photos and videos being added to our gallery in Picasa. Power User Tip: in the right hand column of any Picasa page you can click the “Follow” link (if you have a Google/Gmail account) and you’ll get an email every day or so if we’ve added new pictures.

Home with Micah

When we went in to the hospital to visit Micah on March 26th the nurses were pleased to tell us he had taken all his feeds overnight fully from the bottle (no milk via tube). They told us if he continued to take all milk feeds they could remove the tube the next day.

When we went in to the hospital the next day Micah was without his feeding tube and the nurses told us that they were happy with his progress and would plan to discharge him on the 29th (two days later). We were a little overwhelmed at the sudden progress but delighted at the prospect of having Micah home!!!

Micah
On Tuesday, at 35 weeks and 1 day, Micah came home from the hospital with us. He has settled in well to his new home here in Dalkey and we are settling in gradually to being full-time mum and dad. Our days have been filled entirely with feeding, burping and changing Micah since his homecoming. We are tired but very happy finding new delights each day in our precious little boy.

Micah has come such a long way. When he was born he was 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) and needed the incubator for warmth, CPAP to keep him breathing easily, and an IV drip to feed him. Today Micah is 2.4kg (5lb 5oz). He sleeps cozy in his moses basket here at home, breaths fine and feeds well (apart from a lot of wind haha). We’re so thankful for our Micah and how well he’s doing.

We’ll continue to update here as Micah reaches new milestones and will share our cute Micah pics on Picasa.

Micah – 4 weeks old

Time flies and already Micah is 4 weeks old! He’s still doing wonderfully and better than we imagined he would do. Here’s the quick summary of what he’s done in the last week and a half:

  • Moved twice, from ICU1 to ICU2, and then very quickly again out of ICU2 and into the “Special Care” room
  • Moved out of his incubator into a crib
  • Had a blood transfusion due to low hemoglobin levels, which were making it hard for him to keep his blood saturated with Oxygen

The blood transfusion sounds scary, but it was very straightforward and nothing to worry about. It’s obviously a fairly major procedure, but he’s noticeable better looking (e.g. pinker) since he got it, and his rate of desaturations (episodes when his blood oxygen level drops) are decreasing.

His weight is increasing nicely, 1.937kg as of today so he’s likely to hit 2kg tomorrow or the day after. The main focus for him and us now, is getting his feeding established. He’s starting to learn how to suck and has taken a few feeds from the bottle, but the complicated combination of suck, swallow and breathe is still a little bit of a challenge for him. His desaturations are most frequent when he’s feeding so most of his food is still being delivered via the tube straight into his stomach to make sure we don’t wear him out.

We’ve had several meetings with the nurses and midwives to plan for his eventual discharge. Learning about all the follow-up visits in various locations all over Dublin that we’ll need to take him to, and various practical tasks like how to perform CPR and resuscitate an infant, and a demonstration on how to bath him. It’s all helping to make us feel more ready to bring him home, but changing his nappy while he squirms and wriggles (and poos mid process) is still a fairly stressful few minutes for his daddy!

The daily grind of getting to the hospital and spending time with him is starting to take its toll, especially now that we’re being encouraged to be present for as many of his feeds as possible. We’re both very keen to get him home as soon as possible. As tiring as it will be to have to look after him 24/7, it still seems like an attractive option to just be able to do so at home rather than having to travel somewhere else…

We’re continuing to post photos and videos to the Picasa galleries and have our fingers crossed that the going home date may occur sometime towards the end of next week!

Micah – 2 1/2 weeks old

Two and a half weeks after his arrival Micah is doing very well. We notice the little changes each day and are very proud of our little man and the progress he’s making.

During his first week Micah lost quite a bit of weight and had a rough time with his IV lines. He needed the IV for medication and “total parenteral nutrition”, his specially made up food. A new IV was put in nearly every day as his little veins didn’t hold up for long. It was very sad to see his little hands and feet and even the sides of his head marked by the attempts to find successful IV points! Thankfully after a gradual introduction to milk feeds through a tube Micah was eventually able to tolerate and digest breast milk and is now being fed fully on milk with no more need for the IV line. He is now 1.46kg and nearly back to his birth weight hurray!!!

As well as ditching the IV, Micah has graduated to breathing without the CPAP mask. He no longer needs the extra help that was provided by the continuous air pressure. He is managing to breath well on his own with only the occasional forgetful spell when he needs a gentle nudge to remember his inhales and exhales.

Needless to say, without the needles and noisy CPAP mask Micah is a much happier baby. In the last few days he seems more aware of us and alert to things. He is a daily joy and blessing.


The routine of hospital visits is working well and we’re learning the ropes of the NICU. We’re able to help give Micah his feeds and change his nappies when we’re there. I spend each afternoon at the hospital and Matt visits in the evenings after work. We both look forward to each opportunity for some eye contact and cuddle time! I am able to hold Micah nearly every afternoon and Matt has also had lots of cuddle time during the weekend visits.

We’ll add more progress updates here in the weeks to come as Micah inches closer to that eagerly awaited day when we can take him home! You can also see our many photos and videos of Micah on Picasa.

Micah – nearly 4 days old

Micah - cute as cute can beOur little man is nearly 4 days old and is doing wonderfully for someone born at just under 30 weeks gestation. He’d already completely won our hearts before we’d even seen him, but he made absolutely sure of it yesterday when he opened his eyes for us for the first time, simply amazing!

Kat is doing well, still quite sore but getting better each day and very happy to have mastered the art of expressing milk to help Micah grow big and strong. She was discharged from hospital yesterday (Tue 22nd) so two thirds of our family was home last night and we’re eagerly awaiting the day that we can bring the final third home too.

We don’t have an exact date for when Micah will be able to come home with us yet but it’s at least 5 weeks away since they’ll almost never discharge a baby before 35 weeks gestation, and in addition to that he also needs to be able to reliably do all the following on his own with no assistance:

  1. Breathe regularly and keep his blood oxygen levels up.
  2. Keep his body temperature stable.
  3. Be at least 2kg and growing.
  4. Feed from breast/bottle perfectly.

As we get closer to 35 weeks it will become clear how he’s doing on each one and therefore how much longer we can expect before we can take him home.

Currently he still needs the CPAP to help him to breathe – he’s having short periods (1-2 hours) off it every couple of days which mostly go OK, but without it he does forget to take breaths every now and again which leads to low blood oxygen levels. They’re giving him a daily dose of caffeine to help him with this!!

He’s lost about 40g of weight since birth which is to be expected, but still not the right direction. He had his first feeds of breast milk via a tube into his stomach yesterday, so hopefully that will start to turn around and he’ll pile on the fat. He still gets his specially mixed up food via an IV as well for now.

Having prepared ourselves for a much less healthy baby, we’ve been very happy with his progress and the amount that we’ve been able to interact with him. We can reach in and touch him at any time and Kat has had two “Kangaroo care” cuddle sessions with him on her chest, she also got to change his nappy yesterday and I helped to feed him. The risk of infection and various other complications is still present and the doctors have warned us that it won’t be unusual for him to have at least a couple of setbacks along the way so we have to keep that in the back of our minds, but for now it’s great just to enjoy him as he is!

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent love, cuddles, presents, prayers and everything else to us over the past few days. We feel very well supported and loved. Please accept our apologies if we don’t get back to you immediately, we do still appreciate your messages even if we don’t respond 🙂

We’re continuing to add photos to our Picasa galleries, so make sure you check regularly, if you login you can add us as a “Favorite” so you’ll get an email each time we add new photos. We’ll try and keep the Facebook/Twitter updates to just the major events lest we overwhelm everyone with too much Micah news.

Finally, we’ll keep posting here every week or so if you just want to check in semi-regularly for the digest version of how Micah is doing.