Thursday, 24 July 2014

Everything's coming up Milhouse

Well. That was unexpected. And possibly some sort of medical miracle? It makes no biological sense, whatsoever, based on events of the past few months, but the stick don't lie. And so far, neither does the womb. I think some back story is in order... it has been a while.

I had a Day 21 blood test a couple of weeks ago, the results of which were to determine whether or not we should make the next cycle a Clomid one. Dinner with the core mamas the day after the test, and between us we drank an uncharacteristically lush three bottles of wine. (Let's not dwell on the effects of copious amounts of alcohol on developing embryos. At that point, I honestly thought it wasn't even a remote possibility.) I told them about the Clomid plan, and we joked about adding another set of twins to the group (although the set we have involved no drugs at all). We stayed until the kitchen closed and the waitstaff went home and finally tumbled out into the pouring rain at 12.30 once the messages from husbands inquiring about our safety started to pile up. And then I had to get up and do a giant spew at 3 in the morning. Which did seem a bit weird at the time. But not 'I might be pregnant' weird.

The test results came back a few days later and the general consensus was that actually I had ovulated this time, so maybe try again next month and then come back for the drugs, perhaps. All a bit vague. I don't know what the actual progesterone result was for that test, but it occurs to me that it should have been massively high if I was already pregnant, right? Nobody seemed to suggest this...

Another week passed... Then on Sunday afternoon, The Boy took the kid out to a goodbye party for one of his aikido friends who is going overseas for a year, and for the first time in one million hours, I had five seconds to myself. During which time, it occurred to me that I should probably go and look at my diary and figure out when exactly this next period was due, because it felt like maybe it should have already happened. 33 days was the count, which seemed pretty late, given that what has passed for normal recently is somewhere between 26 and 31. So why not pee on a stick at 5 o'clock on a chilly Sunday evening? Found one in a drawer, unexpired, and did so. And holy shit, that is two lines, right? Just like that. I FULLY expected to see only one.

So I proceeded to shake and grin and shake some more and tried to write up the childcare committee meeting minutes I'd been avoiding and could not concentrate at all and hurry up and come home husband, before I instagram this shit. I did not instagram that shit. I did leave the stick on the bookshelf near the door where The Boy would see it when he put his keys down. My little family came home, eventually, the kid bleary on the The Boy's shoulders, and as The Boy peered at the shelf in the dim hallway light, he said, 'What's that? Is that a yes, or a no?' That's a yes. Cue delight.

The core mamas were beside themselves.

Those girls have been through this whole drama with me, so they got a picture text as soon as the kid was in bed. And they promptly organised hot chocolates for the next evening once all the babies were asleep. That's what we did on Monday night. Sat in a cafe for a couple of hours drinking chocolate and cackling like fiends at our incredible good fortune.

Here are some ducks that it turns out are nicely corralled for this development.
  • The Boy and I had a proper, difficult, successful conversation about the ongoing baby #2 plans when we were at the farm a few weeks ago. After the Clomid discussion with the gynaecologist, before the blood test. Resolved that yes, we did want another baby, but that no, we wouldn't go so far as IVF. Resolved a lot of other things besides. He is a good man. We are good together. 
  • I arranged, a month ago, to take every Monday off for the rest of the year, in order to get my annual leave down to acceptable levels. The kid has two more Mondays in childcare, and then we're the Monday Mumday crew again. I have felt bad about him being in childcare three days a week this year, but he's totally happy to go there so that's not really an issue. But now we get to spend a whole lot of quality time together before his universe (who am I kidding, the universe in general) turns upside down. Also, we get to not spend quite so much money on childcare.
  • We did not buy a two-bedroom upstairs apartment two weeks ago. Phew. Cos while we were thinking it could be doable with a three-and-a-half-year-old who is only getting older, it would not have been fun to be back to square one in babiesville there.
  • I have a five-year contract locked in at work. In an ideal world, I would manouvre myself into a better-paid position within the company before the end of the year, but even if that doesn't happen, I have excellent maternity leave provisions and a job to come back to.
Here are some other nice things.
  • It was very pleasant to leave the doctor's rooms on Monday with a fistful of referrals that were not aimed at solving mysterious symptoms, but were for routine baby checks. 10-week blood test. 12-week scan. 20-week scan. Hospital referral. I think the doc was almost as pleased as I was.
  • N, who I have known since I was 4 and who delivered the kid, is moving back to Melbourne in September, and so will potentially be around to help deliver a March baby as well.
  • I am instantly a better mother. The kid is the most delightful creature, and even when he is not, I have limitless compassion and energy to talk him around. I am reminded of the outstanding privilege it is to create another human being, and of the responsibility involved in raising a brave and good and happy one. Watch this space for updates on my waning patience and waxing belly... For the time being, we're in a good place.
(Also, he draws cats now.)
  • The most gratifying? rewarding? relieving? thing about this situation? When that second pink line started to appear, the instant and overwhelming emotion - other than shock - was happiness. I have had a lot of doubts along the way about whether another child was the right decision for us (mostly tied to whether I would cope), and while I'm not delusional - I know it's not all going to be sunshine and kittens - I am genuinely pleased that this has happened. I trust my gut, and my gut says yes. (I trust my actual guts a bit more now, too.)
We haven't told our parents yet. Haven't told the kid yet, either. We kind of thought maybe we could break the news at the farm, when we inter the placenta that has been lurking at the bottom of my parents' deep freeze for three years. You know, a 'Thanks for taking care of that for us. Save a spot for the next one' kind of thing.

Good lordy god almighty. I am starving all the time and have major bullet nipples all the time and feel pleasantly surprised all the time when I go to the toilet and I don't see red. I am maybe a bit crampy. Definitely cultivating a little crop of pimples... Here's what was happening last time around. (This may well turn out to be a cringe-worthy exercise.)

Although it might sound like it, I am not taking any of this for granted. I know how easily things can come unstuck. But I am also aware of how little help it is to worry. This experience will be what it will be, whether it lasts 40 weeks or 14. Zen-like calm is the only way...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Eggs. We're having eggs for dinner.

Again with the long time between drinks. 

I was recovering ok from the surgery. Gradually getting back on my feet, slowly not having to hold my belly with every step. A week afterwards, I went in to have the stitches out, and all seemed well. A few days after that, I started bleeding. My cycle is still up shit creek, so I just put it down to an earlyish period and went on my crampy, bloody way. A few days after that and I'm sitting at my desk wondering how I'm going to tell my male boss that I need to leave because I'm scared I'm going to tie-dye both my trousers and my office chair a fetching shade of red. He took one look at me and said, 'Are you ok?' I told him I really didn't think I was and he sent me straight home. Didn't have to tell me twice. I went via the gynaecologist's, who decided I had an infection and put me on antibiotics and progesterone to stop the bleeding. Holy moses, I felt like shit for a couple of days there. And then suddenly I didn't. God bless modern medicine... Except...

I kind of feel like modern medicine got me in that situation in the first place. I didn't really write about it much here, but I was feeling a bit reluctant about the surgery before it happened. It all felt like a bit too much. A bit too 'Baby Battle Stations!' Yes, maybe the cyst was interfering with ovulation, but also, maybe not. And it looked kind of bad, but also, opinion was divided on that. (And turns out it was just your average run-of-the-mill quite large but harmless cyst.) Exhale. I have a lot of FEELINGS about the state of my reproductive system. Like, maybe this suddenly erratic hormonal situation - which started pretty much exactly 18 months ago when we decided to try for another baby - isn't actually hormonal craziness at all. Maybe it's psychosomatic? Or, not exactly psychosomatic, but stress-related? Maybe, deep, deep down, I'm so scared about the prospect of having another baby that my body has neatly sidestepped the whole process and taken care of the decision for me? Is that crazy?

I am actually quite crazy, on and off. When I'm not, I can see clearly that my behaviour is completely bonkers. But when I'm deep in that black fog, it seems utterly real to me. All those problems, all those issues, they are overwhelming in a way that makes me want to walk out on my life and disappear. I am not suicidal, and I do always go home/turn up where and when I'm meant to be. But I am unreachable. I am closed off to The Boy and the kid, and humanity in general. I do the bare minimum to keep up appearances, but I cry in the shower and use the self-checkouts and basically wish I didn't exist because then I could just shut my eyes and sleep and let everything slide. And then, a day or three later, the sun rises and hello! Here I am again. Nothing has changed. Still the same job, house, life. But it's fine. I can laugh. I can talk. I'm back and I'm happy. And I can see that I was possessed by something wrong for 48 hours. Hormones are the obvious answer, but I forget to track things, and the whole system is so erratic, it's a total crapshoot as to which hormones might be causing things on which days. And also, when it's fine, it's GREAT! I kind of even forget I was at all unhappy. It doesn't occur to me to investigate things more deeply until after the next bout of misery...

Anyway. I have lost track of days and weeks. I don't know how long ago the last bleak blip was. Three weeks, maybe? Somewhere in there I went back to work for a week or so and got the plague. Honestly. So, so sick. I am rounding out two weeks in bed now, and I am only just beginning to feel like I could maybe be a functioning member of society again. There is no official diagnosis. Lots of blood was taken, to no avail. Some weird thing was going on with one of my pupils. They scanned my brain. Antibiotics didn't work. Painkillers didn't work. I was sick. To the point where my GP got in the habit of calling me at home to check on me, and has given me her mobile number. (Yes! Side-stepping the receptionists, oh yeah.) Whatever it was seems to have almost run its course. So, back to work next week. Back to the real world. (They gave me another contract. Five years, this time. Yay? I guess. That's a whole other post.)

These last couple of days as I've begun to feel a bit better, I've baked a bit. Buns and such. Roasted a chicken (which I never do, because I am scared of meat/oven situations). Saved all the bones and bits and made stock yesterday. Strained it all out and left it on the stove to cool a little. Was patting myself on the back for my frugal, thrifty homemaker ways and the healing broth we were going to have for dinner tonight. Except while I was reading bedtime stories to the kid, The Boy washed the dishes and poured my healing broth down the drain.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

And then my grandmother died.

While my mum was picking me up from hospital. Washing our dishes. Changing the kid's sheets. Making me a hot pack.

All her life she's taken care of other people. Now she's all that's left. Her brother, father, mother dead. My poor mum. Alone.

I sure do.

The kid, at childcare, standing back from the boisterous noise of the 4-year-olds learning to kick the footy from someone's partner, who is a coach.

Says to an educator, 'I want to ask that man a question.'

Goes up to him.

'My name's the kid. T-h-e-k-i-d. I'm pretty funny, if you like funny.'

Notes from the fug

Fog or fug? Both. Jelly or ice cream? Both. (Ugh.) One ovary or two? Both. I have them both.

Laparoscopy, D&C, hysteroscopy, dye studies, cyst removal. Oxycontin, endone, panadeine forte, panadol. Laxatives. Suppository. I am a star-bellied sneech if you connect the dots. (The cyst was big. My womb is very small.)

The Boy to visit last night, but not the kid. Home now. Sore and bleary. Time for sleep. But also...

 I ran on Saturday. Turns out 14 is much longer than the easy 10s. Up hill and hill and hill in heat. Bladder gushed. Felt not good at 10k drinks, but plodded with a friend who shared the mental load. A sprint to the line - my boys shouting my name, I thrill to hear them, and thrill again to see the clock say 1.24. Six minutes faster than I hoped. 6 minutes for every kilometre, it took. And a toenail. Maybe two. I wobbled to the tent, drank, ate, but not enough. Buzzed along on adrenaline for a couple of hours. Splashed in icy ocean with the kid, both of us wet up to our waists and giggling, gasping with the cold. An hour's drive to Lorne to the hotel, and then a shock. Pink water in the toilet bowl. Haematuria says Dr Google, so ok. Out for dinner, but I cannot eat. My guts in half. I stumble home to bed, all cramps and twisted insides. Water, water, water, in it goes. I cannot drink enough. The boys return, we pile in, this bed is made for three. I don't sleep. Sore and sore and sore in legs and head and toes and tummy. Up and down to pee, and kicked by tossing child. Still, hours lying down heal wounds and in the morning fine and kilos lighter. Jeans slip. Up the hill we stroll to watch the start. My running coach says 'See you in two weeks'. Says I too have a marathon in me. He does not know the costs of this last run. 

I made it, though. And now it's time to rest.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Joyeux anniversaire

I am doing no justice to any of the experiences I am having here, but my goodness, I am living.

My French hosts are a philosopher and a historian. My French is terrible, but so far nobody has been rude to me because of it. The blackbirds in the trees this morning were singing 'a sky of honey', just like Katie.

Is there any more beautiful place on earth for a morning run than Jardin du Luxembourg?
I met FJ and B and baby A under the Eiffel Tower and spent the day with them. It is incredible to me to be actually in this city that I know the layout and the landmarks of so well. Here it all is. Here I am.

In the afternoon we bought stinky cheese and Beaujolais and baguettes and pastries and took them back to the Embassy where FJ and B are staying, and had ourselves a little feast looking out towards the Tower, before F came home from work and off we went to dinner.

We ate a very spectacular, very French, very expensive meal, with excellent wine (and Ricard to start!), and then because they are wonderful friends - and it was already my birthday at home - B refused to let me pay for any of it.

I cannot quite believe that this time here is mine. I miss and love my boys, and I speak to them every day on FaceTime, but to have these weeks of my own on the other side of the world is kind of a dream come true. It's not a birthday I'm going to forget in a hurry.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gute Nacht, from Berlin!

I am so freaking exhausted. I have walked for hours and hours, every day since I got to the other side of the world, and it makes me incapable of doing anything like pithy blog posts. Or even blog posts at all.

London was utterly splendid, of course. But that's old news now.

Today I crossed paths with Aung San Suu Kyi. And a squirrel. So that's pretty much untoppable.

The squirrel was faster than Ms Kyi.
Also, I ran 12 km.
Everyone dresses very well here. Many streets are named after women. My high school German is... adequate.

Maybe tomorrow night I will feel less like I have cotton wool (Wattebausch!) for eyeballs?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Peaks and troughs

I have not posted in so long that I cannot even begin to remember what has been going on. Actually, wait, yes I can:
  • The kid turned 3. We had a party in the park around the corner, which basically involved turning up and putting on some picnic food, and not doing much supervising of the kids on the play equipment. (That's what friends are for.) It was a gorgeous day, and we were there for four hours and everybody came, and the kid got one thousand cool presents and people were completely dazzled by the rabbit cake even though I actually thought it looked a bit crap.
White Rabbit, immortalised in cake
  • My dad left my parents' car running with the keys in the ignition for the whole time they were at the picnic. Good thing nobody nicked it. Shame about the part where my dad is losing his mind.
  • I have gone back to running. For realz. Proper training twice a week, and a regime that includes another run squeezed in on Mondays and creeping out of the house before six for yoga on Tuesday mornings. Registered for the Great Ocean Road 14 km in May. That is one mountainous son of a bitch. I think I can.
  • My pelvic floor is not entirely in agreement.
  • I am going to the UK in, erm, four weeks' time. Work have locked in the Book Fair bizzo, London accommodation is sorted, Paris for my birthday shaping up to be a riotous affair with a pack of school friends, culminating in another school friend's wedding in Poole over Easter. Mama does Europe, sans family. I am going to miss them terribly and also cannot freaking wait.
  • The part where A and I were going to hang out in Florence might not happen. There may be a little more solo time than I am really prepared for.  Probably it will be good for me. There's also a small chance it won't.
  • We almost, almost bought a house. Almost. But then we didn't. Lordy, it was close. (Actually, The Boy did the almost-buying part. I was with the kid at another 3rd birthday party that involved a jumping castle in the back yard and a spectacularly great roving ballon artist.) 
  • Glad our chilled out soiree came before that one.
  • I really, really like where we live. I like walking the kid to childcare. I like the people in our building. I like that the coffee guy waves to the kid as we go past, and that The Boy and the kid rides their bikes around the neighbourhood together.
  • Pretty sure we're not going to be here pretty soon. I'm also not sure that three days a week at childcare is a great situation for the kid.
  • We cut down the ugly trees out the front of the farm house in order to make room for the 'orchard' (one pear, one apple) that I have been pining for forever. (Finally spurred on by my parents' decision to get rid of their deep freeze, where the kid's placenta has been stored for the last three years. Get in the ground, weird frozen organ!)
  • We are looking into bees. The native ones without stings can't cope south of Byron.
  • The kid is pretty into 'Singing in the rain', even when the sun is shining.

  • The sun shines an awful lot these days!
  • An American friend who moved back home realised her Qantas frequent flyer points were about to expire and couldn't get anything posted to an address outside of Australia, so she sent the kid a lego fire station that took The Boy two hours to build and is totally brilliant.
This is not the half of it.
  • My enormous cyst has not resolved itself, and is now filled with something other than fluid. Back to the gynaecologist's tomorrow.
  • I think... I'm pretty sure... I'm almost certain that we are going to be a one-child family. 
  • I think I'm pretty sure I'm fine with that.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Horsing around

I have been sick. Nothing too terrible. An ear/throat/head kind of thing that isn't killing me, exactly, but is making me take advantage of the approximately 13 million sick days I have accumulated. (Nobody needs 20 sick days a year. But I'll fight anyone who tries to take them from me!)

I have done literally nothing besides dozing and looking at crap on the internet and picking tomatoes.

Yesterday's yield
The kid and The Boy did an excellent job of cheering me up on Friday afternoon. I sat on the couch while they re-enacted the dance moves in these two videos:

(Let's not discuss the unsuitability of the Get Lucky lyrics for two-year-olds and feminists.)

Also, what the fuck is this?
Significantly less gruesome-looking here than in reality
I saw it in the shower on Friday morning, and it wasn't there when I wore a dress to work on Wednesday. Given that I basically didn't get out of bed on Thursday, I am a little baffled. Do I have ebola? Late onset haemophilia? Weird.

It's the year of the horse, at last. So long, stupid snake. I did not enjoy you. We spent the morning at the market following the Chinese lion around, and learning some dance moves from a woman with a whole lot of ribbons on sticks to share.

When the core family we bumped into had to bail because twins, they invited us over for dinner. God bless friends with swimming pools. Essential when it's so hot you can't get through the walk home without a quick soaking.
Getting completely drenched means going home completely naked. Ulterior motives from our resident nudist?
New year. New adventures. New attitude as well, I think. Giddy up.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

'Mum! I've got something for you...

...It's something that's alive!'

Well, hello there, Mr Witchetty.
We did not tell him they are edible. It would have gone against the 'Don't bite your friends' policy.

Also, are we hothousing him? I went out with the core mamas for dinner on Saturday night, and when I got up to have breakfast with the kid on Sunday morning, I asked him how his evening with Dad was. 'Pretty dood. We had a dood conbersation about medical conditions.' And then he gave me a pretty passable explanation of epilepsy, diabetes and MS. Excuse me, are you 12 or are you 2?

And thirdly, there is nothing on God's 39 degree earth better than a post-work beach swim. I am not even really sorry that my coaxing to get the kid home on The Boy's timeline was half-hearted this evening. I was on his side. 'Let's stay at the beach forever!'

Thursday, 23 January 2014

2014. I like you already.

The Boy goes back to work next week. I've been back for almost two. Five days is utterly exhausting. Although partly that could be because I'm still living like it's holidays. They're over, but summer has been good. Last night, for instance.

We were here.

Arcade Fire did this to our hearts.
Picking your own raspberries makes it ok to eat a kilo of them in two days.

Farm kitty looks down.

Farm kitty looks up!

Styled by the kid. Having his teenage foot photo period early.

Made some art.

Obligatory water-wall shot.

Tiny fearless zookeeper at a completely over the top 4th birthday.

We have danced to a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band in the living room of a share house. (Kid stole the show. May also have sustained permanent hearing damage.) We have swum and swum and swum. (Kid taught himself the underwater doggy paddle. Goes like a wind-up bath toy, except that he never runs down.) We have farmed and friended and had a lovely holiday at home, while every other bozo clogging up the roads has been down the coast. Brilliant.

Something else brilliant... I'm going to London in April. By. My. Self. Holy jet lag, Batman, I can't wait.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Be brave

I've been thinking a bit about Bunny's tough vs strong question. About the difference between the two concepts, and about why it is that difficult circumstances bring out one or the other of these traits. Tough, to me, is all talk. Bravado. Swagger. This, basically:

But strong is something else entirely. There is no google image search that can show the resolve and determination and resilience that strength is. Strength is on the inside. Strength means living through the shit that my brother and I lived through and not drowning in the psychological rip tide. Strength is living, even when living is the last thing you want to do. My brother is tough. It is not at all certain that he is still living. (Of course, the implication here is that I am strong. Sometimes I think I am. And sometimes I know I'm building walls of tough to keep the world very squarely out.)

Strength is what I want the kid to have. The kid, who's name means 'brave'. Which is something that The Boy's dad used to say to him and his brother when they were little. 'Be brave.' Not 'Be tough'. Not 'Don't cry'. Be brave. Be brave enough to try something you think is scary. Be brave enough to be yourself. Be brave enough to stand up for what is right. I am torn by the knowledge that only way for him to find this strength and bravery is to come up against turmoil and live through it. I can't bear the thought of his warm red heart in pain. I believe in him, though. He is brave.

I hope that in becoming strong, he doesn't get too tough.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Touch wood

Faaark, it's hot. Say it with me, people, 4 days of 44. 

Every fifth front yard festooned with faded sheets draped over tomato bushes and lemon trees. Buckets of water on porches for the birds. No one at the tennis.

We are still ok without air-conditioning. Only just. I walked to a childcare committee meeting last night and found 36 degrees at 8 pm positively cool.

Reminds me of Luxor. Aswan. Those fiery days where my fingers swelled and we drank litres and litres of water, slamming it down icy cold from hotel fridges before the air turned it blood-warm. (Too late, always.)

The trains stopped working this afternoon. People sheltered in the tiled interchange tunnels. Not willing to stand on platforms, iron-hot with the absorbed heat of so many baking days. The staff handed out water. I changed tactics: squeezed onto a Frankston line and got off at South Yarra. Caught a W-class rattler tram down Chaps - the kind that were the only ones on the tracks when I was riding them to school. They used to run with the sliding doors rolled out on both sides on days like these, bottle-green vinyl blinds drawn on the right, and the left wide open to let the breeze through. Probably against the rules now. I don't think they still have blinds.

We are glued to the FireReady app. Willing 'Advice' notifications not to become 'Watch and Act', 'Emergency', 'Too late to leave'. We have cleared and slashed and cut back fuel. We brought in doormats and moved furniture off the verandah before we left last week. There are fires 6, 4, 7 kilometres away. So far, ok. Touch dry, flammable wood.

Stay safe, little farm house

Saturday, 21 December 2013


At last, the heat. Metal bench warm through my dress, even in the shade. Oven on in the cold bunker of our kitchen. Gingerbread and almond bread and panforte. Stupidly hot to be baking. It begins to feel like Christmas.

The last day at work. Boozy lunch. Chocolate piling up as people do the rounds with bags and baskets. Loose ends, untied. Out-of-office on. I walk away, unburdened by unfinished business.

Hanging motley decorations along the mantlepiece. Lifting the kid to poke cards over the ribbon on the picture-rail. Sufjan singing carols. A pine switch in a vase, salvaged from S upstairs. No room for a tree, but one branch, the scent, I'm six years old again.

Farmhouse snug with captive warmth in the cooler evening. I sleep alone, feeling womby. Wake late to sounds of breakfast disco. The black cows fat and shiny. Raking long grass green last week, now cut and yellow, into piles knee-deep. The lunette fills to overflowing twice in as many hours. The air somehow pink. Blue mountains, sagey scrub.
Knobby hands of bottlebrush,

 flowering gums,

 kangaroo grass.

Busy days to come, but right now, peace.