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Friday, 23 January 2015

rounder by the day

I wore one of P's t-shirts and a pair of shorts with an elastic waistband yesterday evening and was the most comfortable I've been in weeks.  I ditched the white blazer and black pleated midi-length work dress as soon as I got in the door (I'd lost the wedge heels the minute I stood up to leave the office - jandals and workwear is a key look for Kiwis on a summer commute) and heaved a sigh of relief as it all hung out in P's purple t-shirt. 

I guess that's how you know I'm now visibly pregnant, shall we say.  At least I didn't doff my bra the minute I walked in the door - I've taken to unhooking it about 8pm with an audible sigh, then removing it entirely by 8.30 because the bastard keeps roughing up my nipples (by roughing up I mean touching lightly, WOW OUCH). 

Following last night's comfortpalooza, I ordered some maternity jeans and a pack of maternity basics online this morning.  And commenced bleeding on and off. 

I am living in terror of doing something to jinx the pregnancy.  I can't bring myself to buy baby things.  When I purchased the maternity goods, it was the first time I've bought something pregnancy related other than folate-laced pills or ultrasound co-pays.  OF COURSE it preceded a bodily freak out.

This is not my first rodeo with bleeding during this pregnancy.  It is scary, yes, but I've got good at ignoring it while I go about real life (ha.  that and you know, thinking about my father).  The knowledge that it is fairly common and that there is nothing I can do is not exactly reassuring, per se, but it makes me sanguine (wrong choice of word?  oh well, it fits and it stays). 

So I'm daring it to get worse.  I walked around the baby section of Smith & Caughey today (oh christ no, I didn't buy anything, that shit is expensive.) I added to the list of what we might need.  I looked at the DIA's top 100 names spreadsheets from '99 to '14.  This is superstitious bullshit I'm engaging in, believing that a positive act of child-recognition could spell doom for my baby.  I'm not doing it anymore.  I'm going to wear stuff with elastic with pride.  I'm going to be someone's mother. 


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

2014 in review

I usually post this before the end of the year, and I started drafting it in early December, anticipating a lovely long summer holiday.  I've since amended it so if it seems disjointed and/or erratic in tone, you can probably take an educated guess as to why.  I'm trying for slightly less maudlin in tone ... but I'm not sure I've got there. 

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
This is incredibly boring, but I started developing goals and plans for my career.  I've never actually done that before - I'm still in the early stages, but a very new experience.

Got knocked up.  That's kind of a big one, I guess. 

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year's answer still applies:

Eh. I don't really do resolutions because I don't need another stick with which to beat myself. There's usually a vague thought about getting fit, losing weight, blahblah but I know in my heart of hearts I'm quite happy to truck along eating a wheel of cheese and watching the development of my bingo wings.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes!  P's cousin S had a wee boy who we love to death. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Timothy, my lovely kitten.  I don't care what you say about cat ladies or pets, I felt real, honest to goodness grief when wee Tim died.  It was awful. 

5. What countries did you visit?
I didn't leave the country this year (unless you count the South Island?!) 

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
I had written that I'd like to have more contentment in 2015, but that doesn't seem right any more.  I'd like to have more quality family time. 

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
27 October 2014.  Labour Day, a Monday.  Even though it was a public holiday, I needed to go in to work, so I got up early, leaving P in bed.  I went to the bathroom.  I started the shower while three minutes passed.  I stopped it again.  I climbed back into bed with P and broke the news.  We lay there, quietly, for quite a while.  Freaking out, I suppose.  We still cannot get our heads around the fact that we're going to be parents. 

19 December 2014.  The day of Dad's biopsy.  It suddenly became real that my father is mortal.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Making it through the first trimester, I suppose, if that can be counted as an achievement?  It sucked and then it got better.  We thought for a while that I was going to miscarry, so it feels like an achievement to have got this far (15 weeks tomorrow).

9. What was your biggest failure?
Worky stuff. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing serious.  I got pretty tired of morning sickness, however.  Does accidentally triggering a vom with my toothbrush count as injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Probably the professional assistance with renovating the dining room.  I love that room now, so much.  It looks wonderful.   

12. Where did most of your money go?

Once again nothing changes from 2013:

House! Also getting piffled away on food and booze; we're just so GOOD at spending on that.

Oh, one other item - pregnancy tests.  I wasted a loooooooot of those. 
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Seeing an embryo and then a foetus at successive scans. Unreal. Butterfly feelings. P wanted to go out for champagne afterwards, which is our usual celebratory reaction, but isn't particularly appropriate for me, just now!

Both P and I were promoted this year.  While each of us felt a bit wrung out at the time of our own promotion, we were super excited for each other.  I'm so proud of him - he sets goals, achieves them and is so diligent and hardworking.

14. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Chet Faker, I don't know the name of the song, but it has a line about making you move with consequence which sounds terrible but I like it a lot.  We listened to a lot of Chet Faker while renovating the dining room.  The song smells like bare timber, to me. 

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder? I originally wrote: About the same.  I'm a fairly cheery wee chap. But scratch that.
b) Thinner or fatter? Oh yes, most definitely fatter.
c) Richer or poorer? Wee bit richer - promotions, plus we paid off a chunk of mortgage, even though we spent a bit on the house.  Property values keep rising, so I guess in a very theoretical sort of a way we're a bit richer in equity too? 
16. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Debt reduction, as ever.  With the beauty of hindsight, spending more time with my family.  
17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Frivolous spending and being narky to P.

18. How will you be spending Christmas?

The plan was to have a few Christmases with the family - on the day itself, we were meant to be at our house, with P's mother, brother, sister-in-law, SIL's brother and SIL's parents.  That changed with Dad's diagnosis and we spent Christmas at my parents' place.  We ate, played boules in the sunshine & napped indoors when it got too hot.   


19. Did you fall in love in 2014?
The baby is still too uncertain for me to have fully fallen in love.  We had some problems during the first trimester and then another scare at week 14.  As certainty is grows, however, so does love.

With Tabitha, Timothy and Cokes I most definitely fell in love.  I wanted cats in 2013 and in 2014/first days of 2015 they have been such a joy.

As always, I fell a bit more in love with P.  He has been so wonderful during the early stages of pregnancy and I don't know what I would have done without him over the past four weeks during Dad's diagnosis.  He's upset and grieving too, but he's consistently treated me patiently, kindly and respectfully, when I haven't always been rational.

20. What was your favourite TV programme?
Loved a bit of Game of Thrones this year, Homeland, Top Chef as per usual.  Sadly, we have watched a lot of The Block.  Judge away, I would!

21. What was the best book you read?
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood.  Didn't love the two further books in the trilogy, but very much enjoyed the first.  (I think I read this first in 2014? God, my memory is shot). 

22. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Chet Faker.  Yet again, I'm probably waaaay behind the curve.

23. What did you want and get?
The pregnancy.  It took a wee while -- we started trying in January.  Not long in the scheme of things, but long enough to underscore that we did indeed want to have a baby.  While there's some apprehensiveness about what it means for our lives, it also feels very right.   

24. What did you want and not get?


Original answer: a dishwasher.

Now? A positive prognosis for Dad.

25. What was your favourite film of this year?
I haven't really been to the movies in 2014, can you believe it? We watch quite a few at home, but none of them have been earthshattering, I don't think.  Pass.

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?


I could not for the life of me recall what I did on my 32nd birthday!  I actually had to check the post I wrote the day after (THIS is why I keep a blog!) - we had friends around for dinner and to watch the rugby the night before and P's friend P2 conned me into a night on the town in the early hours of my birthday itself.  We spent the day of my birthday hungover and giggly. 

27. What kept you sane?
Up until October, buckets of tea.  Mum, Dad, P.  Plenty of sleep. 

28. What political issue stirred you the most?
Election 2014 in NZ.  The Auckland Rail Loop (just get on with it, NZ!).  The Hopeless Minister of Womens' Affairs (I haven't written about this but HOLY SHIT you're not a feminist because you're not into 'flag waving'??!  You think beauty pageants are good for young women?!) 

29. Who did you miss?
Friends in the Northern Hemisphere.  Timothy, badly. 

30. Who was the best new person you met?
S's son is pretty awesome.  He's cuddly and not a whinger, what more could you want?!

31. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Original answer: Patience really is a key to remaining happy in the face of disappointment.

Holy shit that's prescient.  Or, you know, trite enough to apply to any life situation.  Let's pretend it was prescient of me, shall we? 

I've also learned that life really isn't fair. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

the shape of 2015

I wake up most mornings, thinking I've got the start of a cold.  I'm blocked up and my throat burns with an ache.  Then I remember.
_______________

I met Dad off the air ambulance in Hawke's Bay on a Monday.  It was so sunny outside that I squinted through the waiting room window in the hangar to watch the plane taxi in.  He was the first passenger to disembark, walking off of his own volition, shaking the hands of the pilot and onboard nurse.  Just like him, but he'd lost weight and looked frail.  The patch on the back of his head wasn't large, but it was obvious.

Mum and I drove him home quietly.  He asked Mum if my sister understood what was happening yet.  The burning in my throat intensified, stoked by a fear I wasn't yet willing to name.

He walked in the door and improved by the hour.  Coming home was the best moment, he declared.  It never felt so good as it did that Monday.  His appetite was huge, his strength grew by the day.  We talked, we laughed.
________________

Days later, the specialist called with the preliminary biopsy results.  Mum and Dad sat us down - K, P and I - and explained that it wasn't good.  We'll be lucky to have two years, but we ought to plan on a year, they said. 

My throat ignited afresh, the flames raging through the dry tinder of my heart and mind. 

They'd known or suspected for days.  They'd also suspected that no further surgery would be possible, or worth the risk.  I think the fire in my throat knew, too.  My heart and head had chosen not to listen.   
_________________

There is a focus on early July.  Dad's first round of treatment should be done, and we hope he'll be feeling well.  My daughter or son will be his first grandchild.  One thing I've always known is what an excellent grandfather Dad will be.  That child will be so loved. 

The burn in my throat shreds tissue and exposes the bones when I think about the fact that my child will never know his or her grandfather in the same way I imagined.
___________________

We spent a glorious couple of summer weeks there, in the middle of nowhere, at the end of the earth, on the hill in the paradise my parents call home.  We watched sunsets on the verandah following meals eaten outdoors.  We worked on projects together.  We set up a Christmas tree and celebrated on Christmas eve and again on Christmas day.  We laughed.  We went wine tasting and out for a nice lunch.  Occasionally, we cried.  I cry in the shower, tears beating and streaming over my body like the water, cathartic.  We made plans. 

It's real.  The burn in my throat tells me so. 


 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

dad

Yesterday was one of the harder days. 

On Monday, Dad arrived home from Paris.  It was a work trip.  He felt generally manky, as you do when you have been in transit for approx. 24 hours, give or take a few.  However, he'd had an incident in the airport in Paris when he went to check in.  He couldn't speak.  He could think the words, but there was a disconnect and he couldn't get them out.  He was sped to the airport's medical centre and over the space of about 15 minutes, the ability returned.  He was monitored but otherwise fine.

While he was in transit, Mum made him an appointment for yesterday morning at the GP.  He duly turned up and was sent straight to the hospital for evaluation.  You were probably thinking, as were we, that he'd had a stroke.  At hospital it was confirmed he'd had a mini-stroke (a TIA, a Transient something Attack).  They wanted to do some further tests, which seemed fair enough - there's a heightened risk of having another within the space of a month, and you always want to know what damage has been done, I guess.

Dad had a CT scan on his head.  It showed a tumour. 

We don't know much more at this stage.  Dad had a further CT scan on his chest to check for other tumours and when I spoke to him last, the results hadn't been communicated to him.  He'd been put on steroids to start chemically shrinking what they'd seen in his head.  This morning at 10 he's having an MRI to check the tumour, to check for anything else and to put together a plan with the specialists, I assume.  I think he's having a skype session with the specialists (who are based in another hospital about four hours away) sometime this morning - possibly both prior and subsequent to the MRI. 

Mum called with updates during the day.  I think she's pretty scared but holding it together, because she has to.  I spent an hour on the phone with them last night, helping alleviate the boredom of an internal room in a hospital that isn't home.  We made jokes and chatted about my day.  Dad was pretty realistic, not downbeat but saying the conversation he'd had with the registrar was in hushed tones and suggested that things are pretty serious. 

My Dad is 58.  I love him.  I am trying to block out the noise and just take it as it comes.  God knows Mum and Dad don't need me to freak out.  I've been calling and texting my sister, who doesn't have a husband to hold her when she's feeling scared. 

Yesterday was one of the harder days.   

Thursday, 11 December 2014

purple palace progress

The work on the Lavender Loveshack continues apace.  There's been promises of being done with the painting by Christmas, but that's contingent on the weather continuing to play ball.

The builders will probably be glad to be done - P had a session pointing out a bunch of shonky repairs last weekend that remain uncorrected and I gave one of them a hell of a fright earlier this week.  I don't usually get home until the builders have left, but I'd had a ride and got home not too far off 5.30.  The front door was open and I could hear banging and sanding down the right hand side of the house. I was busting to use the loo, so I didn't walk round to say hi.  I hustled into the bathroom and when I popped out, the builder's son was at the kitchen sink having a drink.*  I swear his feet left the ground he got such a fright - he garbled an apology, I laughed and said of course he could help himself to water and he scurried outside to recover his composure, the poor thing.

With all the prep work and the patches of primed new weatherboards, the Palace is not very Purple any more.  I'm nervous about the colours I've picked going up (what if I haaaaaate them?  I'm not very good with this sort of thing).  I'm also nervous about the expense, both of the current work and what we have planned next.  We're going to re-line our bedroom and install a built-in wardrobe as the first task in the New Year, followed by a similar job on the spare bedroom (we can only do this one room at a time, you see, because we can only store one extra room's furniture at a time and still have a place to sleep that isn't the living room floor.  I'm not opposed to the living room floor, I should point out, but P isn't too keen.  He's got a point because the living room is very compact.) 

We've acknowledged to ourselves that we can't afford to do the extension/kitchen/bathroom renovations as yet, so we'll stick to whacking in a dishwasher in those zones, once the bedrooms are done.  Sweet, sweet dishwasher, I cannot wait to meet you.

There's also been talk of underhouse excavations and moving the laundry to a concreted space under there.  I don't think there's any point until we do the major works at the back, and we'll still have to walk outdoors to put on a load of laundry, even if it's under the house.  The washing machine presently lives in a utility shed in the backyard, which doesn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would.  We don't own a dryer so everything goes outdoors on the line anyway, we don't hear the noise, and the lack of overhead lighting restricts my laundry days to the weekend, so I don't have a horrible constant pile of folding to do.

So, we're going to be pouring some $$$ directly into the house, rather than continuing to shove it all onto the mortgage in the name of reducing the ridiculous mound of debt.  I know that it technically increases our equity as well, but I have a cheap wee heart and it certainly doesn't reduce our interest payments! 

That is all very domestic and dull, but it's what's going on just now. 

*You might recall that our bathroom comes off the kitchen, part of a standard 50s lean-to addition to the old cottage.  Just charming.

Monday, 8 December 2014

decemberish

The end of year party season has well and truly begun.  Case in point: it was not yet 3pm last Friday at a team lunch when one attendee grabbed her breasts in an illustration of the difficulty caused by her lovely (but possibly workplace inappropriate) backless top.  I'll have you know I was a model of propriety.  Oh, hey now, doubters: I had to get back to the office so I actually was well behaved, unusual or no!

The party got me in the holiday spirit.  I dragged P to a Christmas tree farm and thence to the Warehouse for cheap decorations.  We bought a ghastly Michael Buble Christmas CD and I thrashed it while adorning the tree with super! cheap! candy! canes! and scattering glitter on the floor.  My house smells just lovely, like pine and happiness.  I abhor pine scents generally - them old fake ones - but I cannot get enough of huffing my Christmas tree.  It's delicious and sends me straight back to my childhood.  The tree itself isn't as big as my family memories, at least in part because the space for it ain't so big neither.  I left the bottom largely undecorated, expecting the purrymouses to destroy it in five seconds flat.  However, they're largely unphased.  Cokes batted a decoration to get my attention last night, but then he also jumped on me, scratched my leg, ate my headphones and manufactured a spew on the living room floor all in an effort to wake us up to fill his bowl this morning, so I think I don't think he has a particular animus in relation to the tree.

TWO WORKING WEEKS, TWO WORK PARTIES AND A LUNCHEON LEFT.  CANNOT WAIT TO BE DONE.

I'm so desperate to be finished this year I've started drafting my usual end of year survey.  I'm still struggling with a pithy description of 2014, in large part due to denial that 2014 has in fact begun. 

********************************************

On another, horrible note, I've had some very bad news that affects my Hat Friend.  I am sorely worried for her.  I don't pray, I think -- so I'm thinking near constantly about Hat Friend's situation and hoping for the best possible outcome.  It's scary when (a) things are completely out of our control and (b) your words sound like horrible, hopeless platitudes.  Words can be powerful. I need to corral them and winnow out the least effective, leaving something meaningful, I hope. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

end of spring 2014

I was in Christchurch last week, alternatively squinting as the sun beat down on me through the windows of various meeting rooms or pushing back my hair as the wind blew a gale when I managed to escape outside.  It's been a disappointing spring, really.  Gusty, drizzly, grey.  I shouldn't complain - in the two years since we returned to New Zealand, the seasons have outdone themselves.  Aucklanders grow to expect six weeks of rain during spring, standard so there's nothing new with what we've been experiencing to date. It's just that springtime elsewhere seems to have bright days (notable exception: London, Spring 2012, miseryfest). 

In the past two weeks, the humidity has finally arrived.  Sensing it was going to take even more of a beating than usual, my GHDs promptly gave up the ghost and are lying abandoned on a shelf in the bathroom.  I've been using horrific amounts of hairspray and plastering my bob back into a weird little pony tail.  It's gross.  GHD's are GD expensive, the bastards, and have a life of about two years.  I've been through three sets now which is an obscene amount of money on a hair implement.  My vanity knows no bounds.

We had patches of sunshine at the beach this weekend, though the wind was still there.  We escaped to the Coromandel for a night, though I'm not sure it qualified as relaxing.  The last half hour of the drive left me contemplating whether I would, for the first time in my life, actually require P to pull over.  The alternative being that I threw up in the door handle, as did a poor British woman on our tour in Rajasthan.  I managed to keep it together, but spent some time afterwards laying prone either on the beach or on the window seat of the bach in Whangamata, letting the heaves settle.  There's sand in my cardigan but it was worth it.