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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Month

April 2011

Birth, from the mouth of a babe

Somehow, I like her version of labour better.

TMI

Not feeling crash hot tonight.

Maybe it’s indigestion. Maybe it’s growing baby. Or maybe, it’s this niggling nugget at the back of my mind… this putty piece of paranoia… this annoying new knowledge that was overshared imparted during breakfast and, like yeast, was allowed to take hold of the leaven of the mind and give rise to the unholy WHAT IF.

Why. WHY do women like to share horror stories about their birth?

This morning at breakfast, a colleague I barely knew decided to give me four – four – labour stories with varying degrees of gruesomeness.

Usually, I’m pretty alright with the labour stories. I heard the pain described later this afternoon as “hell starting”, and I get that. It’s like nothing I’ve ever encountered, and part of me (the naive, stupid part) is curious. When it’s someone I feel closer to, I even ask for the birth story. It’s something very intimate and among friends, I think it’s a privilege to be told.

However, I was NOT ready this morning – especially while spreading blood-red jam on toast. Yuh.

What made the 4-part mini series particularly jarring was the fact that two of the births were premature with complications – at 31 weeks. Guess what week I’ve just started on. I didn’t realise how freaked out that made me, until I got to my obstetrician today and shyly quizzed the midwife about premature births – the how, the why, the what to do.

And even though she said that a lot of it has to do with a weak cervix, I think this morning’s stories still haunt me somewhat. I haven’t had an ultrasound since Week 20. What if she’s grown funny? I mean, the doctor can hear her heartbeat – big deal. No one’s looked at my goods to see if I’ve got holding power, have they. And suddenly every discomfort, every twinge, every pull and push is making me think.

(And BTW – why does the medical field have such unflattering names for delicate female conditions? “Incompetent cervix” indeed. It just conjures an image of a cervix rocking under her desk at work because she couldn’t manage the filing. Meanwhile, what’s the male equivalent? An “inscrutable scrotum”? Pfft.)

I am getting more uncomfortable, generally. I’m exactly 7 months today, according to the obstetrician anyway (the midwives keep giving me different dates, just to yank my chain.) Blobette packs a punch. Apparently, her head’s down south, which means her feet are up where my ribs are. Sometimes, she even gets me on the sides – right where I’m most ticklish. When she kicks now, I have this image of her doing star jumps, but upside down. It looks extremely awkward.

I love that she’s moving almost all the time now. I love that she’s apparently healthy and fiesty and reacts to ice-cream. But until this morning, I never knew that it’d kill me in some way if I ever found out that my body was incapable of helping her grow healthy and to full term. Until I got to thinking.

Highlights from the babymoon

View from Windradyne
The view of the Blue Mountains from the dining room of the B&B we stayed at. It really doesn't get better than this.
Tony getting into car
Tony getting ready to drive the SR3
Tony in driver's seat
Future message for Blobette: “Look, I am your father!”

 

Tony and Velle
Just happy to be alive and together.

 

P.S.: Told you I’m complete rubbish at the photo-taking.

I am a versatile blogger!

The Versatile Blogger AwardOooh… some validation! And from a perfect stranger, no less! For there, sitting pretty in my inbox last night, was a WordPress comment about me winning a blogging award.

Comments from the rest of the household:

“Ooh! You’re a versatile bugger!”

“BLOGGER!”

“Oh. Blogger. Sorry. I misread.”

“So… where’s this award from?”

“I’m not sure. Someone named Simone liked my blog and gave it to me.”

“Right. So there’s no authority behind this award whatsoever?”

“I guess not.”

“Okay then.”

So yeah. As far as I can tell, this award is really more like a glorified meme than anything else. I mean, what does being a Versatile Blogger actually mean anyway? That I’m capable of writing silly across a spectacular myriad of topics? That I appeal to a wide spectrum of readers, or that I can blog in poetry and prose? I suspect it’s a title that’s genial enough to fit any blogger. Kinda like the Miss Congeniality category of a beauty pageant.

When I tried to track down the origins of the award, I came up with diddly squat – which led me to concur with the conclusions made by onefinemess. Still – I am completely chuffed that a complete stranger took the time to say that she likes what she’s read here. I mean, friends love me because they have to. But complete strangers owe me nothing.

So thank you, Simone! It’s an honour. :)

Anyhoo… in the spirit of accepting this award, I now have to tell you 7 things about myself.

  1. The last time I was awarded something as dubious-but-awesome was when I was dubbed The Chilli Queen, both in Secondary School and Junior College (school ages 13 to 18). I like it hawt.
  2. I was the sixth and last writer for a Muppet-type children’s show (same humour, same puppetry, different premise), but then the Asian recession hit and the entire joint evaporated before we got to sign the contract. Dodgy much?
  3. I am a chronic knuckle cracker. It soothes me. It grosses everyone else out.
  4. I’m Singaporean by nationality, but I’m completely torn between nations emotionally. I love Australia. I love the version of Singapore that I grew up with, but I find I am now a stranger to my country of origin. Its people, its essence has changed and this saddens me greatly.  But say anything nasty about my homeland, and I’ll rugby-tackle you.
  5. I’m vaguely interested in doing a degree in creative writing. Or a Masters in Communications. Or a course on theology.
  6. I’m vaguely interested in writing and publishing a novel, but I can’t decide which genre. A perverse part of me thinks it would be tremendously funny if I wrote a Mills & Boons, but I suspect I’m a bit of a snob.
  7. I was never clucky. My biological clock never went into overdrive. But I love being pregnant, and I’ve never loved and cherished Tony as much as I do now. Even if he thought it read “versatile bugger”.

And to pass on the love, here’s 13 bloggers – newly-discovered and old favourites. I was supposed to put 15 in, but I phail.

Lessons learnt from the poster child for contraception

Today, I got about 90 minutes’ worth of reminders that I am NOT kid-tolerant. Just because I’m currently shiny with mumsy hormones and feeling all goo-gah over my baby bump does not a lover of ALL children make. Not even close.

How foolish of me. I thought I’d been cured. Lately, Tony and I have been getting a teensy bit mushy every time we pass a baby girl doing anything microscopically adorable (pulling a face, gurgling, digging her nose). Lately, it feels like the invisible veil of awkwardness between me and the babies of strangers has been lifted, and there’s light shining through, and I no longer scare children, and aren’t they all God’s wonderful creatures? It’s been, frankly, liberating.

Yeah. All that kinda died this afternoon at Jenolan Caves.

It all started when Princess Apple Cheeks threw herself on the ground at the cave entrance, and howled like a midget banshee.

OK, rewind. Tony and I have been away since Tuesday on a babymoon. Except, instead of it being restful and packed full of massages and aromatherapy, we ran off to the Blue Mountains and climbed everything. I have now perfected my pregnancy waddle, purely because my calves hurt like the dickens. But I wear my waddle like a badge of honour because hey – 7 months pregnant, and doing the outdoorsy! w00t! 

Our last stop before we turned back for home this afternoon was the caves at Jenolan. We had booked ourselves in a smallish cave that was deep (470m, 358 steps) and required 1.5 hours for the full tour. The fitness level was stated as “average” and although I was keen, my main concern was that I’d hold everyone else up, huffing and puffing up ladders and stairs.

Until we rocked up to the cave entrance and found ourselves in a tour group with five pairs of doting parents… and over a dozen littlelies aged 1 to 12.

Back to the midget banshee.

Princess Apple Cheeks looks adorable. I mean, her father’s Caucasian and her mother’s Asian, and she’s got the best of both their features – her father’s big eyes, light brown hair, pinch-me-hard rosy cheeks flanking her mother’s wide, generous mouth. Which, we found out, she uses frequently and to great effect. She’s just old enough to scream “Mommy” and then all else is unintelligible, so I think she’s about 18 months going on 17 years – because she also thinks she’s boss enough to call the shots. In fact, she does.

She wants to be carried when she’s let down. She wants to be let down when she’s carried. And oh wait, there’s a flight of stairs that’s 56 steps long, but hey – she wants to do those steps all by herself. Never mind that we are in a cave and it’s semi-dark and kinda wet and there’s 15 adults and 12 kids trying the negotiate the same narrow staircase. And oh, if she doesn’t like any decision made by her mother (who, by the way, is as benign as Queen Elizabeth on Prozac, crossed with the Dalai Lama – also on Prozac)… she tests out the acoustics of the cave with lovely, grating effect.

Her oldest sibling, meanwhile, is as attention-seeking as Pauline Hanson and insists on either answering all rhetorical questions made by the poor guide, or raising his hand to ask a question just to be smart. The only kid whose company I enjoyed was the sister – the middle child – who was perfectly content to sit on her father’s shoulders quietly throughout most of the tour, and only asked to be put down when she was in danger of having her head bashed against a cage or a pokey stalectite. Good call.

By the 87th minute of the tour, I was over it. Princess Apple Cheeks was now playing with her daddy’s iPhonesque camera, and was howling every time he wanted to take it off her hands. And instead of wrenching the thousand-dollar thing off her and teaching her that’s the way the world works, the man made this paltry attempt at retrieving his gadget, before getting deflected by yet another authoritative squeal.

The inevitable happened. She dropped-threw the phone. It crashed to the rock-hard ground with a sickening crunch, and Tony winced enough to breathe,

“Well… that was predictable.”

“Oh, that?” smiled the man although his eyes also said, you know nothing. “My phone’s survived far worse.”

And I wanted to scream, “YOU IDIOT! YOU’RE SPOILING HER ROTTEN! YOU WOULD GIVE THAT LITTLE GIRL A HERNIA IF SHE ASKED FOR ONE!” But I didn’t. Because it’s not polite, is it. Because I don’t know any better, do I. I’m not a parent – not of a 7 year old, a 4 year old or a 1 year old. And so I must sit tight and not get lippy.

But lord, did I clock a few lessons in my head this afternoon.

  1. 18-month-old baby girls are not too young to be disciplined. And it’d be better for the whole world if they were.
  2. Don’t let your kids play with any of your electronic gadgets, and then look completely surprised when they wreck it. Duh.
  3. I’m so going to eat my words when I have my own feral baby girl. But until then, I am praying for the perseverance, thick skin, and duty of care to bring up a human being that’s, you know, fun to take holidays with. And if I have to sit out of a cave tour while little missy learns a thing or two about the consequences of throwing gigantic tantrums, then I pray for the discipline to do just that.

Bump check: Week 29-30

I know of friends and colleagues who take a weekly shot of their growing bellies. Er… my phototaking frequency can be best described as “‘sporadic”. There are some couples who chronicle their lives with happy snaps. Unfortunately, Tony and I are quite hopeless when it comes to whipping out the camera. Which means Blobette will hit her 21st birthday one day and we’ll have NO EMBARRASSING PHOTOS with which to hold her ransom. It’s a worry.

Week 30
Nope... cant see my feet.
Gleeful at Week 30
Yes, Im getting rounder all over.

I’m apparently huge AND tiny right now. It’s about a 50-50 split. Twice this week, I’ve been told I’m practically a mini-van, and yet others can hardly believe that this “cu~ute little belly” is already 6.5 months old. I am thoroughly confused.  

I am therefore running a dipstick test to decide once and for all. Please participate.

Tackling the wall decal

We just spent about 2 hours figuring out how to put up the wall decal together. Or rather, Tony stuck on lots of it, while I cut up the pieces and took happy snaps and drove him nuts unsticking some of what he stuck and resticking them “just because”. It’s nice to chronicle evidence for the kid that we can work as a team – heh heh!

We’re still about halfway through getting the nursery done, but it’s amazing how a simple tree with gormless owls can pull a room together.

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