Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places



Adjusting to huswifery when shaped like a house

I’ve heard it said that the main benefit of taking the full 6 weeks’ maternity leave before baby arrives is so we can adjust to full-time home life.

Because believe me, it is an adjustment.

Whether it’s the lonely sound of a ticking clock, or the fact that your day is no longer governed by the crisis of the moment in between seven consecutive meetings, this business of full-time huswifery takes a little getting used to.

My urge to nest coincided the week I stopped work in the corporate world. Which is perhaps cruel because when you’re shaped like a blimp, all you can really do when you see dust is to point and stare. Of course, you try and get on your knobbly hands and knees and get some dust-busting going… but you pay for it soon enough. I am still shaped like an inflated bowling ball propped up by Japanese chopsticks. Which means whatever little padding I had to begin with is now squished beyond redemption.

It no longer pays not to have a generous posterior. Ladies, God made us soft for a reason. This is the reason.

My latest party trick is the Movable Pelvis. Everyone goes on and on about the Happy Hormones and the muscle relaxants. No one actually mentioned how said muscle relaxants tend to loosen your body parts near the end – to the extent where you feel like you’re literally coming apart. It is physically ouchy to walk now. Or move in bed. Or dress myself. I actually snap, crackle and pop. It is most disconcerting, but my midwife is very pleased with my progress.

“My pelvic bone hurts like the dickens!” I wail.

“That’s wonderful!” she beams.

“I feel a little like I’m being hanged, drawn and quartered! I can’t breathe!”

“What great progress!” she enthuses. “You’re right on schedule, luv!” And then she goes on to take my blood pressure, and pronounces me textbook and boring.

So, physical limitations coupled with No Corporate Project makes this Jane rather schizophrenic. These 10 days have seen a new pattern emerge: I’ll “go hard” for a day or two, and then completely collapse in the house on day 3. By “go hard”, I might be

  • out at a doctor’s appointment in the morning
  • shopping at Koorong and Baby Bunting in the afternoon
  • grabbing lunch groceries at Woolies, on my way over to
  • FertilityFriend’s place for lunch and baby cuddles
  • stopping by Coles to do the grocery shopping on my way home, before
  • settling in to cook a semi-ambitious dinner.

Not rocket science. Very cushy, really. But I’m paying for it today. The thing is, the mind still remembers how crazy-busy I’ve been the last XX years of my life, and cannot buh-LEEVE that I can be wiped out so easily. So it pushes and pushes. Just one more load of washing. Just one little stop at the shops. Just one quick visit at a friend’s place.

But my bulbous belly can no longer take it. And it’s probably time I learnt to listen to my body.

The unwind

Seven months can fly by scary-quick.

After tying my personal identity inextricably with my corporate life; after delivering a helluva project that proved an exercise in long-suffering and triumph, I cut the cords yesterday at 6.17pm and finally walked out the door. (I ran back in later at 7-something to retrieve my phone charger, earphones and “Well behaved women rarely make history” fridge magnet, which kinda ruined the drama. But you know what I mean.)

Yesterday over dinner, I felt like I had just embarked on a holiday with a wishy-washy start date, and an even more uncertain end. How many times have I been told to savour this freedom for as long as possible because when she finally arrives, I’ll look back on this in wonder. How many times have I been told to sleep, as if sleep were a commodity one could store up and then cash in on later. The body doesn’t work like that.

And yet, sleep I did. I crashed my monthly writer’s group meeting for five minutes to buy a signed copy of a novel that had been brewing since my last meeting with them in September. Had a surprisingly lovely Italian dinner with Tony at La Scala. And then drove home, blogged a list of things I wanted to get to from Monday, crawled meekly into bed… and slept for 12 hours.

This morning, I feel unemployed.

I am wearing a ticking time bomb, if the world is to be believed. My life, as I’ve known it for the past eight years with Tony, will apparently come crashing down the moment we hold her in our arms and make googly eyes. And so I’m slightly stressing over what to do first – get our personal things in order, or run out and manically enjoy my new, temporary liberty like a woman on death row. In amongst everything, I feel resentful of the implication – the expectation, almost – that this will be my last shot at some sort of personal happiness before I lose myself altogether and become a mommy.

How prosaic. And we all secretly protest the pedestrian, or at least fiercely determine that it shall never apply to us. But I’m not getting much positive reinforcement that I will be capable and able of resisting the ordinary.

But! On to more important things… like betting.

Majority of the office folk have dibs that Blobette will announce her arrival this weekend, because I’ll finally relax and my body will kick into gear. I surreptitiously cover where I think her ears are, everytime someone says something like that. But statistically, they say the first baby usually comes after the due date. And if several others are to be believed, I look like I’m carrying a 6-month old, and not a baby due in 3 weeks.

So – when do you think Blobette will arrive?

Letting go

Watched Eat, Pray, Love yesterday and had a hormonal meltdown not even 1/16 through, which resulted in snotty sniffles and unintelligible gibberish about “running out of time” while Tony sat beside me, patient and bewildered, stroking my hair.

The nutty: wasn’t because of any grand Elizabeth Gilbert epiphanies (in the form of the delectable Jules) that came snaking out from the screen before me to soccer-punch my sensibilities. Hardly. Like all nutties – and pimples – I think I had been ticking along for a good while, and I probably rented something as rama-rama-ding-dong and self-indulgent as EPL to perhaps find the words and the impetus to throw a dribbly and pathetic tantrum – which I further ruined by repeated admissions that I was probably sloshed with mumsy hormones, sodon’tmindme.

So what set me off? There is the one freaky coincidence – the fact that the author, at age 31, had known her first husband for 8 years and been married for 6 before she went epiphanising. But that’s where the similarities end. Unlike her, I loved turning 30 and it didn’t loom over me like a death sentence. And as much as “having a baby is like getting a tattoo on the face” (irreversible and kind of a big ask, commitment-wise), I think I’m ready. Or at least, more ready emotionally and spiritually than she was.

Still, there is a smidgen of something in all her moaning that I can identify with whole-heartedly. The quest for self. The awful sense of ending something in my life and embarking on something new and wholly irreversible. Have I given my freedom my all? Did I capitalise on my independence? Will I regret the fact that we didn’t do a round-world trip and spent oodles of cash, cashing up on experience instead? Would I have days where I’d yearn to trade in the child for a semblance of my former self and life?

The thing is, I have exactly 15 weekends left before my due date. Less, if you count the fact that I will be a beached whale in June. And I am – we are – investing the last vestiges of our precious couplehood fixing the computer and watching re-runs instead of living big and loud. Stupid, I know. My days are a mind-numbing hamster run of meetings and frustrations and stress and cracking the whip and balls in the air… but in the grand scheme of things, they are not what matter. Not even to the people who gave me the balls in the first place. How Ecclesiastic.

15 weekends, before Tony and I cease to be just Tony and I. Yesterday, I mourned its impending end for the very first time. It’s time to grow up.

Bump check: Week 16

I’m finally past the Big Lunch belly and have embarked on the “Okay, she’s definitely carrying something under her blouse” road. The one refrain about my Week 16 pregnant state has been, “Omigosh, that is the tiniest baby bump!”

Which is a weird comment, really. Because if that bump were that tiny, you wouldn’t be able to see it. Just a thought.

Anyhoo. For the curious and the overseas, here’s what they’ve been talking about:

Week 16 bathroom shot
Note to self: Need more practice in those Japanese photo booths.
Week 16 after work shot
Yeah, that halter top is working hard. Cheesy grimace!

The wait

…is interminable.

But there you have it. It’s Thursday evening, and in 3 days and a sleep, I will be at the ultrasound clinic getting Blob’s happy snaps. Most days now, I feel too normal. My pants fit. Today, I wore a skirt, and zipped all the way to the top. And as for getting rather bosomy, I am completely and utterly gypped in that department. On the one hand, I’m told the morning sickness is supposed to abate as I approach the second trimester. On the other hand, I’m half-convinced that Blob has left the building because I’m such a blabbermouth and prematurely telling random people that I’m expecting. Presumptuous cow that I am.

Speaking of random people.

Two colleagues this past week decided to play psychic. The first one, while we were harmlessly talking about crazy workloads, suddenly came right out and asked if I was pregnant. Which made me laugh nervously to buy time for a witty repartee (which NEVER came because my brain is traitorous.). Which led her to whisper, “I knew it! I knew it!” very excitedly. And then there was really no returning from that point. She claims she had her suspicions because I fell ill the day that yet another colleague had announced her baby news. The trouble was, I really DID have the case of bad hayfever. But hey. Since my branch seems to be breeding babies left, right and centre, I guess every sick female colleague is newly knocked up, unless proven otherwise.

Which led to the other colleague randomly dropping me an email mid-week, telling me she had the most vivid dream of a heavily pregnant me. She was apparently helping me with my copious number of shopping bags. All I managed to eke back in reply was a question – was my face puffy? She said my eyes were really emotional and I was radiant. I then replied that I could tolerate having soulful eyes, but not a puffy face. And that it was a sure sign that we had to go shopping.

Crisis temporarily thwarted.

Tony told his second sis yesterday, and then the news was broken to my younger sister-in-law and her husband. ‘Noni’ promptly texted her congrats, and a kidding-rueful bit about not being impressed with the secretiveness. And this is why, dear friends who are not pregnant yet, that you should start making a list of

  • who you want to tell and in which order once  you find out
  • how long both of you want to keep it secret
  • whether you should even bother with the sacred 12-week rule when you’re as gleeful and excited as a pig with a new trough of nom-noms
  • what to say when people start making wildly accurate guesses that make you want to snort your mango ice tea out your nose.

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