Taking it easy (even if *that* feels tiresome)

I went to town today. Wow! Four and a half hours and I feel like I've done some heavy physical exercise. For all the things I wanted to do/get, in the end I simply packed myself back in the car and drove home, and sent The Man a text that sorry, but I've done jack sh*t and didn't even get groceries, because I'm just tired, tired, tired.

But! I'm not nauseous =).

I got to visit Addington Coffee Co-Op again and eat food alongside The Kid who made an effin' mess. I got to visit a friend in a hospital and carry The Kid on my shoulders a lot (and now my back feels like it's compressed, but hey). I got to drive around Beckenham, thinking, I know this house is here somewhere, I've been here, come on, where is it? I got to see a doctor and get a second prescription of antihistamines so they would finally let me sleep. I got to... what else did I get to do?

Oh, sorry, that's it. Drive, doctor, hospital, food, home - that's it. Whatever else needs doing, well, tough luck, because it'll get postponed into "sometime later".

Yeah. And as soon as The Kid decides to go to sleep, I'm going to go to bed, too.

Russians on the line

The radio we use at work sometimes picks up transmissions from the Lyttelton Harbour. Today, there were men talking in Russian on the line - probably from one of the Russian ships docked at Lyttelton Port.

My manager asked that I say into the radio that we welcome them into the harbour and, basically, greetings to all! (And, in case it's not clear to you yet - I was to say it in Russian which is a language I'm fortunate enough to know.)

And so I did. And then... silence ensued.

After a while Russians started talking again and I piped in, saying, I can hear you talk but I'm not understanding every word you're saying. (It was quite fast talk, after all, and it is a radio transmission, after all.)

Again, silence ensued.

Me and my workmates stood there, wondering: what are the Russians thinking? What do they make of a woman suddenly coming on air, in a heavily accented Russian, and welcoming them in?

Some years ago, I hear, my manager and his friends used to go down to port and make friends with Russians - play volleyball, bring them over for a barbecue, chill out. I'd like it very much if they still did that =)

Good news

Psst!

I'm almost afraid to say it, but I'll say it quietly anyway *whispers in scratchy voice*: I'm feeling better today.

Phew! There - there it is, I said it.

It's so nice to look at the world and not to think/feel, on the inside, ugh... It's nice to wash the dishes without feeling throughout the whole event, oh I wish these were done already, I wish these were done already. It's nice to walk in the kitchen and not to have to go straight towards the sink first. It's nice to brush teeth. Nice to, you know, eat.

It's nice - just plain, simple nice.

Sure, there's still this damn hayfever and getting only 4-5 hours of sleep, and tiredness, and pants that are getting tight (how can it be!? Already!?) but I feel like I can handle that. One, two things at a time - I can handle that.

When I've had enough of whinging in English

Ma tean, et ma olen viimasel kolmel nädalal vingunud viie inimese eest... aga ikkagi! Olen avastanud, et kui on halb olla, siis ropendada tahaks ikkagi eesti keeles. Miks, tont seda teab, aga kui iiveldab ja jõudu pole, siis inglise keel on lihtsalt vastukarva hakanud, sest ei jaksa, noh. Vot siis.

Muidu aga, vaikselt sõuame. Loodan siin vaikselt, et kolm-neli nädalat seda jama veel ja siis võib hakata jälle inimesekombel elama.

Naised, naised, mis te teete.
Iiveldame ja kasvatame last.

Up and down

Yesterday morning I arrived at a friend's place and she was frying onions. I winced and knelt on grass outside her house and yelled towards an open window, sorry, but I can't come in.

It's so weird the way it goes up and down. Yesterday afternoon everyone else was eating pizza and I had myself a piece of toast with a little butter and salt instead, because I just couldn't stomach anything else.

And yet the day before I was even able to go out with The Man and eat chinese. Chinese! That's, like, noodles, steamed dumplings and a fried chicken wing.

It's bizarre. I wake up one morning and it's reasonable, and I'm, like, yeah, I'm feeling pretty good today! And then the next day I get up and I feel from get-go that, oh sh*t, it's gonna be one of those days, isn't it... In some ways I even feel like a fraud because how can someone eat Chinese one day and then have crackers and water the next night, but heck, that's how it's going this time.

One day I have lunch with the others at work, no problem, and the next day I approach the kitchen and run out the back door because the smell of it makes me retch.

Bizarre. So different.
Oh sh*t...

I think it's not helping. Not today, anyway.

Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t. Another restless night then...

*feels like curling up in a ball and crying

On feeling hopeful

Yuss. Yuss! YUSS!

They gave me antihistamines. They gave me antihistamines! They gave me antihistamines!!!

I am relieved and grateful beyond... I don't even know how to explain it. I feel like I could wee my pants just out of sheer pleasure of this relief.

Okay, so it's not working yet - and I cannot breathe through my nose yet... but! I am feeling so effin', frickin', undoubtedly hopeful.

I'm hopeful that this coming night when antihistamines have kicked in, I'll get to sleep until morning and then, when this sleep leaves me feeling rested, I'll feel better about life and food in general, and then... Jesus, the possibilities are limitless.

Never in my life did I expect that hayfever changes people's lives to such extent. So I'd heard (through commercials, mostly, I think) of how people's noses were runny and eyes were itchy and yada-yada - you know the deal - but when I suddenly got it myself, it was, like, whoa, dude.

Just this lack of sleep, I think, which then robs from almost every other aspect of life. Relationships, patience, energy - all of it goes when sleep goes, and to me, when breathing-through-nose goes, sleep goes.

And then add nausea and, bang!, you've got this recipe for weeks of whinging on my behalf.

But, man!, I feel hopeful that it'll get better now. I almost feel like I could eat a pizza now, just out of sheer relief.

Stubborn

I refuse to miss these sunsets.












Another one of those

This morning, itching started. At first it was a spot on my chin and I though, alright then, but then it was my neck, too, and soon after, an armpit. Scratching felt good, but it didn't relieve the itching past the moment of scratching itself, so as soon as I lifted my fingers, itching returned.

And then when at one point I was sitting there with both my shoulders and the whole of my upper back itching, and my neck, and my face, I thought, wait a minute. That's not okay.

So I googled - like people generally do now, right?, when they have symptoms - and among the top ten causes of itching there was... guess what?

Hormonal changes in pregnancy. And I was, like, oh... nice. So it's another one of those then...

It's so different, this time. Up and down, up and down I go. I get good moments, like now when I'm sitting behind the kitchen table and drinking Mac's ginger beer, but then I also get moments like today's morning when I was standing by the back porch, retching, or yesterday evening when I was laying in bed, crying.

It rains and my nose clears considerably, and then it warms up again and the wind starts blowing, and I'm walking around with an old t-shirt over my shoulder because not a single "hanky" can endure what's coming out of my nostrils at the moment, just... eww. Snot beyond snot.

And at one moment, I'm eating a cheese sandwich with tomato, quite happily, and mere hours later I am, literally, crying as I try to chew on a piece of potato or a cracker because I feel that if I go hungry, it's gonna be even worse! And whichever way I go about it, I'm nauseous.

So, so, so different.

I am strong and I am healthy.
F*ck me this is not a good day today...

*cradles her forehead in her hands and wishes for a husband to appear home already so she can go to bed, all whilst repeating, "Eight weeks, eight weeks, eight weeks... I am strong and I am healthy. I am strong and I am healthy."
It helps me to know that I am not becoming a bitter person. All this whinging and complaining? It's just de-stressing and sharing and letting it out there - and once this is over? I will once again tramp up the hill and go out eat italian and be loud and obnoxious and totally annoying, but totally fun at the same time, and I will once again gather up an entirely undoable amount of projects half of which will stay unfinished forever, and just...

... life. I will once again live again. In a fun way =)

On sucking it up

Pregnant, meaning, no decongestants, no antihistamines, no cold relief, no nausea relief, no... nothing. Ginger tea, honey and they can "prescribe water to be squirted up the nose".

Yeah, thanks - water, I'll take that. Water will help me sleep past 3 am when I can't breathe through my nose any more and my throat is sore.

Basically, suck it up, sweetie.

***

Oh, sorry, I forgot: I am allowed vitamins. Folic acid and pyridoxine, ie B6 to be exact, to try and relieve sickness and do, well, other stuff that's good for the belly-person.

Man I'm good at this.

***

Am I still complaining? I am, ain't I...

Well, tough luck then.

On the weekend gone past

It's eased a little bit, thankfully, and that easing has given me enough space to have started telling myself, "I am strong and I am healthy."

So now every day, several times a day, as I go through my day I tell myself, "I am strong and I am healthy."

This past weekend we got ourselves together and tackled the yard - The Man, mostly, but I, too. We got out the weedeater and moved around wood, and raked.

Saturday was pretty rough still so as I moved around the grass with a weedstrimmer, every now and again I stopped and sat for a while. Maybe cried a little bit. The Man was patient: he saw I needed to do something in order to feel like I've done something, so he let me take my time. And I did. (The backyard still looks like a jungle, but what the heck.)

A pile of tree stumps became a climbing hill for The Kid.



Strawberries that have been flowering since August got cleaned up a little bit.




And a pile of pallets that will one day become a woodstore became another climbing frame.


That's how we roll here: patiently, quietly. Little bit at a time.

Tired, bored and nauseous

I feel like I'm looking down the end of a downpipe - or maybe I'm halfway down it already, I don't know.

I'm tired, nauseous, bored and sore in my throat. Exercise and socialising I rely so heavily on to keep myself reasonable/happy are both out the door at the moment and I'm feeling the results.

I haven't been up the hill for ages. Okay, sorry - I went there two days ago and was puffing and panting  once I got up top (which is not the norm under normal circumstances), so technically I have been, I guess, once.

It means The Dog isn't getting enough exercise either. The Man has been picking up my slack, but between a whole lot of other things I am not doing at the moment, he can't be doing all of it, so on some days The Dog doesn't get out the yard at all.

And you know what that means? That she's getting destructive again. Broken things, chewed up things, jumping, digging, and when let in, licking to a point of being really, really annoying.

The whole household is coming down. There's a pile of washing that's been sitting on a sofa for two weeks and the yard is starting to look like a jungle, overgrown (by grass that hasn't been mowed) and dug up (by The Dog).

The Kid gets proper food on evenings when The Man can cook, and lunches in my company are more like fruit, rice crackers, pasta and cheese - things that don't smell much and that he can eat on his own.

But wait, maybe I'm writing this all on a Saturday morning simply because I've been up since 3 am - my nose got so blocked up I had to breathe through my mouth, and that made my throat sore. I tried for over an hour, but then I took pity on The Man who wasn't getting sleep with me wheezing next to him either, and I went and sat in the spare bedroom until the sun came up in the morning.

So I'm just... tired. And bored. And nauseous. Impatient. Oh, did I mention tearful? Yeah, that, too.

I don't make a good ill person - I haven't got patience for it. I can handle feeling cr*p for a week, maybe two at most if it's taking a long while to clear, but after that I get tense and angry.

I have a certain standard to live my life to and this... loitering around the house, for a lack of a better word, is doing my head in. I'm bored laying down so much, and sitting, and resentful of standing by the kitchen sink, nauseous, but I really haven't got the energy to be doing my usual stuff, either. I keep telling myself to let it be, and let it go, and let myself be, but when I then also get this blocked nose which robs me of sleep, too, then I feel like banging my fist on the table and saying, look, you, this is not fun.

And a few expletives after that, too, ebut I won't repeat them here.
Hayfever? Really?! I get to be sick AND with a blocked nose?!

Wonderful.
Mac's ginger beer! It works!

Well, today and at the moment anyway =), but I'll take that, no problem.

It's coming!

OMG, it's actually happening!

In November, The Man's family will come for a visit and when they do, they are bringing over from Estonia my... complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics. This.
 
OMG, OMG, OMG. It's really happening!

Things that have helped my morning / pregnancy sickness

To somehow start this controversial and very opinionated topic, let me begin by saying that I do not believe in the existence of sureproof pregnancy sickness remedies. Women are different, pregnancies are different and even within one pregnancy, as things progress, things change!

My two experiences, one of them ongoing, have been very different and so have been things that help. It is why I've titled this post "Things that have helped my morning / pregnancy sickness" rather than titling it "How to..." because in my mind, there simply aren't any how-to rules on this topic: there's things that help some people, sometimes, and that's about as firm as it gets.

But as much as I don't want this to be a how-to post, I'm also a firm believer in collective wisdom. As we share our daily going-ons on the internet, we not only benefit each other directly by sharing this piece or that piece of information, but all of it gets trawled by search engines who index it all and over time, that data gets built up into tangible results in form of conclusions on what works for a whole lotta people or at least benefits some people very strongly.

Basically, things that work.

And for me, things that have worked are...

Previous time

First time I was pregnant my morning / pregnancy sickness had a whole different dynamic to it. I vomited from when I was 5 weeks pregnant all the way until I was 17 weeks, with visible decreasing around weeks 13 or 14. At first it was daily (sometimes twice-daily or even thrice-daily) and over time became more like twice or three times a week - I doubt it had anything to do with the sickness itself though, and more that I simply learned to manage it better.

The key element to that sickness was, I found, that if my stomach had enough volume in it to vomit it out, it would - and so my key strategy became managing a constant, low volume of food and drink so I would get at least some nutrition and hydration, but not enough to be able to vomit it out.

So how much exactly am I talking about?

A mouthful.

I would wake up around 6 or 7 in the morning and reach for a muesli bar on the sidetable - not moving anything apart from my arm and then my jaw to chew it. Through trial and error I'd found that if I moved, say, to walk to the kitchen or even sit up, I'd vomit.

I'd chew on that mouthful and lay for another 15 minutes, nauseous but keeping it down. Then I'd reach for a drink, this time lifting my head slightly, and drink one or two mouthfuls - and again just lay there for another 15 minutes.

It took me 30 minutes to even get out of bed in this manner, but something about giving my body time to absorb some of the food/water or maybe get some sugar into my bloodstream made the difference between keeping it down and vomiting.

Sometimes even that wouldn't work. One night a friend stayed over: he was well aware of me having to lay there for the first 30 minutes and so he gave me that space. He walked around the room and brushed his teeth and kept me company.

But because I talked a little and therefore I didn't stay entirely still - at least I think that's where the problem was - even that was too much and 2 minutes after my mouthful of water I jolted towards the sink and just made it in time whilst he stepped away and observed, with quite some pity I guess. I retreated to bed and started my 30-minute-routine all over, this time quiet.

Through the day it was pretty much the same process, over and over and over again: 15 minutes, mouthful, 15 minutes, mouthful, 15 minutes, mouthful. Every day I had a goal of 1.5 litres of water and two muesli bars, and most days I succeeded in that.

Did I actually like the taste of muesli bars? No. I still think they're held together by so much sugar it makes them sickly but something about the sheer dryness of these bars, that I think it was simply too difficult for my stomach to push it up, worked.

Sometimes when nausea would ease a little I'd have a barely ripe tomato, or a rice cracker, even some dry noodles. The simplest of carbohydrates seemed to stay down better: pasta, dry white bread, unflavored crackers.

On nicer days I'd try bits of "normal food" to help me feel a little more "normal", too, but in all honesty... most of those twice-weekly vomits were precisely from those tries at "normal food", ie whatever The Man was cooking and what looked tolerable.

But then there were other things that made for exceptions.

Because I knew I wasn't meeting even my regular nutritional needs, even apart from the pregnancy, I started taking pregnancy vitamins. You know those $100 packs for a 90-day supply? Those. And because they say that fish oils are such good things for babies I also bought a packet of fish oil capsules.

Oh my dear god...

If usually the rule of vomiting went something along the lines of "if there's enough to vomit out in the stomach, it'll come out" then fish oil capsules, may I tell you, surpassed all that. I swallowed a capsule, not even half a teaspoon of oil in it, and when that capsule had melted in my stomach about 2 or 3 minutes later, the retching that started was... Jesus, I don't even know how to begin to describe that.

I was standing outside some workshops in industrial Queenstown and was bent over in one of their parking lots there, retching and retching and retching. It felt that my stomach was doing everything it could for the oil to come out, but because it was such minuscule amounts of it to begin with, it couldn't quite get it out so it just kept pushing and pushing and pushing. After a while of doing it, rather painfully I must add, I finally grabbed three or four mouthfuls of water to give it some volume to help, and finally got that fish oil out, and didn't dare to touch any of those capsules until I was well into my last trimester.

And, basically, if your pregnancy goes anything along the lines of this description here, the only rule I found was to simply survive, day after day, until it ceases or until birth, whichever comes sooner.

In throes of that pregnancy sickness, I read all books and articles I could find on this topic, desperate for a hint or another that would make it easier. One was a book written by a woman who works in such a large US hospital that her entire job is to work with women who have pregnancy sickness. (Did you notice I don't agree calling it "morning" sickness which I think is entirely misleading and unfair?)

That book was an eye-opener because when I saw that even a woman whose entire career is built around nauseous pregnant women doesn't have a clear-cut answer - because there simply isn't a clear answer yet on what exactly causes it, let alone how to fix it - then I understood that whatever worked and whichever way I got through it, that's what it was going to be.

I do remember one bit though: a woman she was working with said she'd been suggested a herbal remedy to fix the sickness and after trying it found that it didn't just ease it, it eliminated it! And then years later, at a medical conference, this author was listening to a presentation about South-American herbal mixtures and realised that what had helped that sick woman years ago was... a form of cannabis.

Ahem!

And I also remember the anguish of having everyone tell me how it "eases after 12 weeks" and walking into my midwife's office at 12 weeks and her first question being "How are you feeling? Is it getting better?" and bursting into tears right there, shaking my head, and saying, "No, it isn't..."

But, hey, it could've been worse. Even at the time I knew it could be worse because that book I was reading was full of women who had to be hospitalised for extreme dehydration, and kept vomiting pretty much until their due dates, and even then I was, like, "Yeah, mine's not that bad."

This time

This time I am a much more classical morning / pregnancy sickness lady, I think.

There are some hours in some days when I can't tell I'm nauseous at all. It goes up and down, every few hours throughout the day, but I am able to eat a much more varied diet that includes fruit and veggies and even a touch of sausage, though I still heavily rely on muesli bars and the simplest of carbohydrates, ie crackers.

It's funny, actually, because a few days ago Miriam reached out to me by packing a bag of snacks that would help me get through the day. With it she added a note where she said she is hoping it gets better and she is thinking of me. A really heartwarming gesture!

But the funny thing about it is, I teared up not only because of how heartwarming the gesture was, but because there wasn't a single snack that didn't look offputting to me. Like, I've tried, but I haven't touched a single thing in that bag - and we're talking about a proper shopping bag full of stuff! - because the way my tastebuds work at the moment must be so different from what Miriam's tastebuds were doing when she was sick. (The Man is enjoying the snacks alright though. And The Kid.)

I can eat dry muesli/nut bars and simple salted crackers. Between crackers I can get down half an apple, or maybe a pear, or half a carrot, but I do feel not-so-great for a while after I've done that. Most days I've had a sandwich with toasted bread, a bit of butter and a slice of cheese and tomato.

Cream cheese is a no-no, and so are dairy products in general, except cheese. (I can drink hot chocolate thought!) Meat is a no-no unless it's a slice of salami at an hour where I'm feeling good. I've had a few cupfuls of Maggi's Cream of Mushroom cuppa-soup, though I'm not sure if I can have any more after I tried it with some rice and veggies and got totally sick afterwards...

Chocolate is a no-no and so are sweets in general. Rice crackers can go only if they are unflavored. Sour cream and chives potato chips can go in very limited amounts, and so can breads in general. Healtheries ginger tea goes, and so does peppermint tea. Two days ago I even had a Bundaberg, but I didn't feel very flash afterwards...

Although I am not vomiting, I still stick to the general rule of constantly snacking, throughout the day, and drinking every 15 minutes or so. My teeth hygiene is having a meltdown, probably, but oh well, tough luck.

And am I, yet again, running at less nutrition and even calories a day than I need? Yes, I'm pretty sure I am. But! Having learned from last time, I simply need to give myself space and take it easy, and not feel guilty about any of that, and just keep going at whatever works.

Typing this here, for example, is possible because The Kid is watching his second Pixar movie in a day and eating the other half of the apple I didn't finish. I share my crackers with him, simply because he notices me getting snacks and wants some, too. When he comes with a book I read him a book, but then I let him mooch away and do his own stuff somewhere and I just let him be - and I let me be, sitting behind our kitchen table, typing.

I am very blessed in a sense that I am capable of taking care of The Kid this time around, whereas with my previous pregnancy I doubt I would've been able to go un-hospitalised if I had had to take care of children in addition to taking care of me. I am nauseous, up and down most days, but I am not vomiting and I am keeping everything I am eating down. And though retching sometimes, I am able to wash poopy nappies - that sort of stuff!

So whether this piece here generated any useful information to someone who might be needing support when they're going through hard time, I don't know, but in a nutshell, whatever works, be gentle to yourself and take it easy, as much as possible.

I am.

***

Edited to add: totally forgot to include a very important topic before, and that is, tiredness.

It is especially clear this time around (because I am not sick all the time) and the correlation between tiredness and sickness is straightforward, and that is: if I get tired, I get sick. As simple as that.

It is why I've just put The Kid in bed and I'm laying in bed. The kitchen needs tidying, and there's washing waiting to be put out, and other washing to be brought in, but I am tired.

I could already feel it building when I was reading The Kid his bedtime story, but I was quickly approaching a moment where if I had, indeed, gone outside to bring in that washing, after a few minutes I would've not cared because I would've been sitting on the kitchen floor, crying.

And although I know that The Man will be home soon and it'll help him to see the place tidy, I am simply not going to do that. I am not laying in bed out of leisure, I am laying here because of self-preservation, and I am going to take it easy, and I am going to keep taking it easy until I feel better.
Bluaghhhh...

This and that and not much else

Quarter past eight in the evening, in bed already. Looking forward to sleep because it'll give me some respite.

And! I'm considering re-naming this blog Complaints and Nuisances and Not Much Else, for obvious reasons.

On the other hand, though, if this is what Blob needs to do in order to keep growing, then you go, Blob, be my guest. You are very welcome.

So for all the complaining I'm doing, I really am grateful - really.

On afternoons and life's beauty

Up and down, up and down.

At some points - in the morning, for example, after I've taken B6 and a little bit of food (whether it actually helps or I'm just making it up in my head, I don't care, because either way it works) - when it feels like nausea is subsiding, I, on one hand, think gratefully, "Phew, it's subsiding!" and on the other hand I think suspiciously, "Why is it subsiding?"

But then at other points I find myself laying on the floor in the kitchen thinking, subsiding my a$$.

Because here's the thing: life's full of beautiful moments. Yesterday morning for example: though I'm on a mission of getting The Kid out of nappies this summer, he isn't there yet so he, well... poops in his nappy sometimes. No big deal, right? Right.

So: I lift him in the bathtub and take off that stinky nappy to wash him down with a showerhead, and suddenly I am head-down in that bathtub, retching.

"Gaaaack... Guaaaaaack! Brhhhguaaaaack!"

(Because it smells. It really does.)

And The Kid is just standing there, naked-butt, horrified, with big wide eyes looking at me and probably thinking, what the hell is she doing!? Is she angry at me?! Please don't do it anymore! Please stop! I'm scared!

All whilst I am head down and thinking, sh*t, this is so bewitchingly glamorous I don't even know what to do with myself.

But no, I did do something with myself: I stopped gagging and held my breath and dealt to that nappy and carried on.

So yeah, life's beautiful. At the moment, for example, I am reasonably happy and sitting behind a kitchen table and typing away. The sun is behind a cloud, but it was shining just a few minutes ago. The Kid is eating his apple. The Dog is running outside. I'm thinking of... making a sandwich.

An afternoon, basically.

On being different

I watched a movie about Nick Vujicic yesterday and it reminded me of when I was seven years old, a new friend came over to our place. We were in the kitchen, making sandwiches, when my dad stepped in to take something, a lighter probably.

My friend did this little freeze where she sort of gasped and I asked what's wrong, but she didn't say. Only later when my dad had gone she said that she's sorry, she didn't know my dad's hand was like that.

And I went, "Oh." It was honestly the first time in my life when I remember thinking, my dad's hand is different. 

You see, his fingers were fused together, I just had to Google to even see how this thing is called - syndactyly - so instead of having five fingers his hand looked more like a... claw: there was one big digit where my thumb is and then another big digit opposite, where I have four other fingers.

I had always known his hand looked like that, and to me it was simply "the way dad is". I guess I knew that other people's hands were different, because I had ten fingers and my mom had ten fingers and basically the rest of my family all had ten fingers each - but in my child's brain it didn't click that different was, like, opposing different. I just knew that this was the way my dad was, and was never bothered with anything beyond that.

And watching this movie reminded me of it.

I sometimes wonder how these "don't point" or "don't look" politeness rules came about - that if there's a person that's somehow different, children are told not to stare. I understand it in general, sort of, but it has always made me uncomfortable in a way because it also feels... unnatural somehow. Why not look? Why not ask?

I've always been curious - I think most children probably are - and curiosity is how I learn. How most people learn. I think? (How do you learn?)

And though I haven't got the perfect answer, ignoring somehow feels like an incorrect one. Ignoring is about pretending that something doesn't exist - and that's also called, denial.

My dad always carried his hand in his pocket and seldom took it out in public, at least I never remember him doing so. I guess he must've been embarrassed, and I don't think children in his school were very tender with him about it back when he was a child - but I never thought about why exactly he carried his hand like that, not until it occurred to me that he's different. Almost every photo I have of him now is with his hand tucked away someplace. (And on another note, wasn't I cute?)



So, yeah, as a child, I just took the world the way it was. Did you?

Seasons and reasons

Every now and again I go through phases of feeling that some particular place somewhere - that there's something waiting for me there, at that particular time. It's intuition more than anything, because most of the time there aren't "real" reasons for going there.

In Svalbard, for example, I felt I needed to get myself to New Zealand. I didn't know why exactly, but I felt there was a big, important lesson for me to learn in New Zealand and though I had a feeling it might be a man and then, possibly, a child, I didn't really know and either way - I just needed to get there. I stood on the shore, listened to reggae music in my headphones and thought of New Zealand.


In New Zealand, too, I've travelled around like that. I've come to places, breathed in, and thought myself, "Is that a place I want to be at? How's it feel? Am I feeling... good here?" I've spent a week up north listening to myself like that.


These feelings don't stay static: for a while I might be feeling a pull of a place and then, gradually, it wears off. Sometimes it even wears off within days.

The way I see it, it's like that poem about some people being there for a reason, others for a season. Here, I've googled it for you.

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. 
When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person. 

When someone is in your life for a REASON, 

it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. 
They have come to assist you through a difficulty; 
to provide you with guidance and support; 
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. 
They may seem like a godsend, and they are. 
They are there for the reason you need them to be. 

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, 

this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. 
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. 
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. 
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. 
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on. 

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, 

because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. 
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. 
They may teach you something you have never done. 
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. 
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season. 

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; 

things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. 
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, 
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. 
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. 

(I don't know who the author is, but if you tell me, I will gladly reference their name here.)

Like with that poem, I think pull of different places happens at a time when there's something drawing me to said places, and when I change, or those places change - which inevitably we all do - it goes away, that pull.

For a while I felt that for some reason, I needed to get to Tasmania. Being in Wanaka on a work permit, it wasn't a (comfortable) option, so I never did, and after a while I didn't feel the need to. It still intrigues me, but not in a way it used to.

Then for a short while it was Perth - The Man found it almost maddening. Why does a girl who loves cold want to go to a city in a desert?!

Now it's been Dunedin for a while. I want to study again, and once The Kid is bigger, I finally want to spend some time on The Ice which is one of the main reasons I wanted to be in New Zealand (apart from the general pull) to begin with - Christchurch being the place where 90% of Antarctic cargo moves from - and for that, Dunedin is the place.

And recently, I've started picturing this thing in my head where we live in a place with a garage, and The Man can drag all the beautiful, reclaimed wood he wants into that garage, and have that space where he can make things, and I can restore furniture, and he can teach me things. I haven't got much patience for woodwork, but The Man - boy does he have it.

He makes beautiful woodwork. Really - beautiful, beautiful woodwork. For the most part he does it on summer evenings when it's warm and dry enough that he can work outside, because we don't have a garage, never have.

The crawlspace under the house is packed with wood he drags home. The more beautiful, old rimu and totara stuff is under our bed, and behind The Kid's cot, and behind sofas. We've dragged it along as we've moved from place to place, and each time we've done that I've thought, really? We're moving this stuff again?? Why not just make something of it?

But he doesn't want to just make whatever with it: he wants us to have our own home where these beautiful, thick hardwood beams can become tabletops and countertops and bedframes and mantels.

Have I told you about the cot The Man built for our son? Have I shown you pictures of it? Ever?



The generosity of our neighbors who let him finish it in their garage, even after seeing the mess woodwork involves?




The random-sized bits and pieces and planks he's plained to make a collection of discarded wood...


...into a bed?


The way he made more railings than necessary so he could choose the ones with the most matching patterns, as being a pile of reclaimed wood, most of it has different grain and color?

I'm envisioning a home we live in, a small, warm place, and a workshop where The Man can work on wood to his heart's content.

And at the moment, I feel it is down the coast somewhere. Dunedin maybe?



That's where The Kid was born two and a half years ago - a place and people I hold dear to my heart.

Thank you, Dunedin, and the entire staff at NICU. It is very important work you're doing.











On the way home!

Not fun

I know, this is not fun whinging here like that, but it's just... ugh.

It so clearly reminds me of three years ago when September and October were spent mostly looking green in the face and keeping the sink empty.

And that feeling of finally laying in bed in the evening and waiting for sleep to come because it'll give some respite for 8 or 9 hours? That was yesterday - three years ago September and October, and yesterday.

And in many ways I am grateful, because this is not even remotely as bad as it was last time: I am able to keep down food and water and I'm not outright losing weight because of vomiting, in fact I haven't vomited a single time this time, and have always managed to gag but keep it down... but still. This feeling nauseous, from the morning until going to bed at night, it just sucks.

Like, really - really sucks.
Today is a one long day...

*goes and gets another ginger tea, and looks for something that'll keep this bloody nausea down...

On being nauseous

3 am - a bite of salty cracker, a mouthful of water.
5:30 am - a bite of salty cracker, a mouthful of water.

7 am - a slow, patient, drawn-out breakfast. Mouthful after mouthful, eat, Maria, eat, it's good for you. It will make is easier, eventually. Mouthful after mouthful. Ginger tea.

By about 8 am I'm feeling pretty good. Woohoo! Every time I walk past the fruit bowl, I grab a mouthful of banana or maybe a tangerine; I keep eating, hour after hour, small bites, continuously.

When at about 9 am I am still feeling pretty good, I get suspicious: is it okay for morning sickness to subside already? Is everything okay? Should I be worried?

And then I get complacent. The Kid is down for a morning nap, so I lay in bed, too, and watch a movie. I feel a slight pang of hunger, but think, nah, I'll be alright.

And then, suddenly, at about 11 am I am standing by the kitchen sink, frantically chewing on a piece of cracker that tastes horribly dry and nauseating, but I have to get some carbohydrates down, quick, or else... Everything smells, from the sink to the washcloth to the rubbish bin. Even the kitchen itself, it smells. Everything smells! Horribly!

The Kid wakes from his nap, demands food. I pick him up, stand by the kitchen sink making him a piece of peanut butter toast, and the smell of it keeps pushing me to retch. It's such sickly sweet... yugh.

And as I stand there, I am thinking to myself: yeah, Maria, it was such a wonderful moment there when you thought this thing is subsiding and you're cool enough that you don't have to keep taking care of it. Nice work.

And now after about an hour of keeping the retching down, I am finally starting to feel reasonable again.

I have to find some other ways of doing it though because there's only so long I can eat toast and crackers without going bonkers - for whatever reason fruit isn't helping, and neither are veggies, or dairy. Even rice crackers are nauseating.

Cracker-making companies, bring it on. I'll be eating a lot of your stuff for the foreseeable future, so, please, offer me some variety - it's very much appreciated.

Thank you.

On Americans and healthcare

It makes me cry, watching what's happening in America.

Okay-okay, so most things make me cry at the moment - Notting Hill, reading The Press... seeing lambs and calves on our paddocks - but this really pushes a button somewhere.

I would not even consider living in US now that I have a family. It's... crazy. The way people in that country go bankrupt and die because of medical problems they have, or their families have, it's nuts!

Every day the government shut-down keeps going, I look out the window and wonder, when will it end? How will it end?

What'll happen to their health insurance?

I'm not well-versed in what Obamacare is offering, so I cannot say if what they're hoping to do at the moment is awesome, but to me, universal healthcare is a no-brainer.

I have never lived in a country that didn't have universal healthcare, and I doubt I will ever, either. The two seasons I spent in Alaska don't count because I had travel insurance and I was never away from Europe long enough to make my European insurance cease anyway... but even in Alaska, that second season, I came home early because of (potential) health problems.

I hadn't had a period for months, and what I had instead were growing pains in my abdomen, up to a point where I was sitting in the kitchen tent with our cook, telling her I was scared there was something wrong, and crying. I ended up quitting my job and flying back to Europe because I was needing to see my GP and then my gynecologist.

And it's not really a point of American healthcare here, because being a seasonal worker I would've not had access to public healthcare either way, but unlike my American friends, I had an option of getting on a plane, flying home, and seeing a doctor.

Which many of them, didn't.

I've seen a guy try and stitch his own hand after cutting it with an axe. Then, because it didn't work so well, I've seen our veterinarian stitch his hand (because going to a medical centre instead would've been expensive).

I have a friend who was lucky enough to get a melanoma whilst she was working for a publicly funded organisation - because otherwise, she would've had to pay for it herself, and boy are melanomas expensive there or what.

And deadly.

It's just... nuts. People whose children are dead; young, ambitious 20-somethings who are dead; fathers, mothers who are gone well before their time - or if they're still around, families that are broke. And, heaven forbid, if your child is born with any sort of a medical condition! Or, say, your coverage gets dropped because your employer went bust and you can't get new insurance because you have, oh, I don't know, diabetes, or PCOS, or something else along those lines.

It's nuts.

But I do like the conversation that has started under Dooce's post on this topic, dooce.com/2013/10/09/omg-the-aca-is-like-fml

Good night

I hadn't been up the hill for over two weeks - just haven't the energy.

But today, I picked myself up and did it, slowly and patiently.




It's changed since I've been up last - I've changed, clogged and worn out.


The Dog hasn't.



To all of you who wished me well, in writing and otherwise - thank you. It feels warm.

Fastest bra removal ever?

Looking at this I wonder: how come I never thought of that? Brilliant.

Skydivers and BASE jumpers alike, you might appreciate this one.

www.epictv.com/media/podcast/fastest-bra-removal-cutaway-system-%7C-base-girl-ep-4/252315

On photos and the beauty of having a dog whilst pregnant

Yesterday, Ashley wrote about a lady called Aleida Frankin - I'd never heard of her before, but the story touched me, and so I am sharing it here.

Who's Aleida Frankin? Well, in short, Aleida is - was - a lady that liked to scrapbook and blog. She wrote her thoughts down at ricanlaw.typepad.com and on August 6th, 2008, she wrote about the importance of taking photos of her children with herself in them.

"There is a reason why I'm posting these pictures. Pictures that I'm actually in. Not because I think I'm all that and a trip to Hollywood. No. It's because I'm actually tired of being worried about how I look and not taking or having very many photos of me with my children. I have very few pictures of me and my babies when they were babies, and I have myself to blame. Precious opportunities to capture on paper, lost because of my silliness. Well no more I say! One day I won't be here and there will be hardly any pictures of them and their mama. So ladies, hand over the camera and get in those photos! Please. You'll be happier you did."

A month later, on September 12th, 2008, Aleida was killed in a car accident.

I can only guess at the outcome, but I believe for Aleida's family that conviction - allowing herself the grace of being in the photos alongside her children - has come as a tragic blessing.

I didn't even have to look into my folder to know that I don't take (even remotely) enough photos of myself in them: the folder's full of photos of The Kid, and The Dog, and The Man - but not me.

And I've never looked at it like that: photos being there for the sake of children.

I know lots of you are taking weekly photos of your children, and posting them online - I can see where you're coming from - but to me, Aleida' story here resonates much more deeply. It's of the importance of letting myself be in them, in the photos, and I think I'm going to make an effort to remember that.

It's been several months since I've taken a photo of my kid with me in it.


It was such a wonderful feeling, getting attacked by a licking, photo bombing dog. Ugh.

Talking of The Dog: I had one of the grossest mornings today, grossest I've had in a long, long while.

The Dog vomited in the front hallway (why, I still don't know, but I guess it's because I let her run around after having just fed her). Being strong and determined I immediately grabbed her collar, led her into her crate, shut her in it to keep her out of the way and returned to the hallway, intent on clearing the mess, except...

...within about a second of bending down to clear the mess I found myself flying towards the sink, retching and wailing.

It somehow hadn't occurred to me that being generally nauseous already I can't approach her pile of half-digested chicken meat and vegetables without starting retching - but when I did, I was bent over the sink already.

Every time the retching eased I tried stepping away from the sink, but it kept happening over and over again: the retching would ease, I would breathe in, the smell of vomit would hit my nostrils and I would be down in the sink again.

And so I stood there, retching and wailing, thinking how on earth I was going to a) get away from that sink and b) get that mess off the floor, and whilst I was wondering that, I just kept on retching and wailing.

Finally I grabbed a towel that was hanging within a metre of that sink and tied it around my face to block some of the smell. It seemed to work, sort of, and whilst it did, I started grabbing floor mats and throwing them out the door in the rain.

After about two minutes of that I was towel free again, but entirely exhausted and still wailing, and it kept playing and re-playing in my head again, how I was bent over that sink unsure of how I was going to get out of there again.

And it's just... one of those pregnancy moments, I guess. The beautiful times of carrying a child.

I bet they never told you that in antenatal classes.

Two stripes

So, here's the thing: I'm pregnant.

I thought I'd come up with a cleverer or funnier or just otherwise better way of sharing this, but the truth is that at the moment I am simply not, well... feeling that good.

It's nothing major, just some nausea and overall tiredness and now, also, a cold, so I'm still functioning at a comparatively fair level (and compared to the last time when by this date I was doing daily vomiting already, this one's great!) but still, whatever creative juices were there before, I'm simply not feeling it.

But I wanted to share it nevertheless.

Last time, with The Kid, I kept the general audience at bay until a much later time: I needed the space and so did, I think, The Man. It was our first and given the history of PCOS and thyroid issues, I wasn't sure how well it would keep, so for a while I kept it to myself - as much as vomiting allowed.

This time I feel different.

It's been very important to me to know that two and a half years ago my body carried a child to full term, healthily, and I've been feeling very grateful towards it for that. It did well - we all did well. The Kid is running around happily now, creating both laughter and trouble, and our lives have never been the same since.

And so this time I am feeling much more accepting towards whatever other scenarios pregnancies can go at - as they sometimes do - because I feel that whatever my body is doing, it is doing the best it can. I am feeling very accepting towards it this time, because I know it's already done well once. I don't feel the need for the shelter of the first trimester because at 6 weeks I already feel like sharing, whoa, I'm pregnant!

Because the thing is, up until this weekend even I was dubious. You know how they say that technically anything beyond day 21 is considered late ovulation, and women go through a lot of medication/therapies in order to bump that date earlier?

Well, but... how does 80-something sound?! Because by what I can tell at the moment, this is exactly what has happened.

When I saw two faint stripes appear on a stick last Tuesday, at Creative Mama's place, I actually went and fetched her into the bathroom because I couldn't fit it in my head that there were, actually, two stripes on that stick there. I'd never even heard of anyone getting pregnant that late in their cycle and I wasn't sure I wasn't seeing things.

I wasn't expecting to see two stripes. I'd gone exceptionally tired and sad the weekend before and so my idea behind buying those pregnancy tests was that it's either that or I'm depressed, and I was fairly certain that pregnancy tests were going to come up negative, but Creative Mama, too, saw two stripes there and I was, like, whoa!

The Man, when I shared the news with him at home, had a reaction that was somewhat similar. He got out the sheet of instructions that comes with every pregnancy test and started reading into fine print - of the few other things that could, potentially, register as incorrect positive results.

Is it possible I am having uterine cancer?
Is it possible I am having a cyst that has bumped my hormone levels?

But no, even at an ultrasound this Saturday - because I couldn't, possibly, wait until Tuesday when I could've gone for free - they quite clearly pointed out that I was happily 6 weeks pregnant and with a heartbeat, and both of us, me and The Man, sort of went... oh.

So it's for real then, isn't it.

And in some ways, I am still sitting here, thinking, wow. I'm pregnant.

But here you go.

And on a writing note: at the moment the nausea is still building, so I wouldn't expect much writing here if I were you as I don't know yet how far we'll be going this time 'round. Fingers crossed, it'll be easier as I simply can't fit it in my head how I am going to take care of The Kid and The Dog otherwise, but here you go.

Happy Monday evening to you, too =)

Famous last words

"I don't feel pregnant, just ill."

Seing what "auto-enhancement" does to other people's images

This is so cool...

Since I learned about Blogger's "auto-enhancement" and how to switch it off, almost every time I come across a blog with a white background now, I tilt my screen to see how other people's headers and footers and side menus look against their white background.

And it's been a total wow moment for me.

Turns out, blogs I never even considered had a problem with their color balance, do - they have the same thing I did, that same "halo" around images that sit on a white background.

That Bloggers Connecting website has this problem is of no surprise to me - I, myself, uploaded those logos on the right hand side; and so if my blog has a problem with images that have a "white" background that isn't really as much white as it is mild grey, then it only makes sense that Bloggers Connecting has that problem, too.

(Mind you, not all the logos are like that - Google must've made that change sometime in the middle of our organising process because whilst Creative Memories logo, if I change the exposure, is totally out of whack...


...Whittaker's logo, on the other hand, is fine...


...and Whittaker got uploaded earlier.

And you might not even be able to tell, but on both logos I've changed the exposure almost all the way - on Whittaker's it's just not making a lot of difference.)

But then there are other websites - websites where I never even suspected that images are off-white until I started to get so curious that I started tilting my screen to check it out.

An utterly lovely dee*construction, for example: little grey spots up the middle and a grey box around the flower. (And yet again, with exposure changed almost all the way to make it visible.)


Another utterly lovely The Simple Life: same thing.


Or Freedom Creative, which is a header I really, really like: again, same thing.


And I'm not a designer, nor a computer programmer, and I don't know how these headers have been made, so I'm not saying that's where the problem is and maybe there's something else going on here that I'm not aware of, but... doesn't that make you wonder?

It does make me wonder.

I'm not obsessed: all I'm doing is that when I come across a website with a white background, I tilt the screen and see if the images are grey instead, but it's just time and time again I'm seeing websites like this - like mine - where there are grey "halos" around images and I keep wondering, why did it happen?

How do colours change between JPG, PNG, BMP and other formats? How do different (editing) softwares treat colour? How do web editing softwares treat colour? What is, in computer speak, a definition of colour?

And why was something like that - the fact that Google uses "auto-enhancement" on images uploaded through Blogger - so difficult for me to find through Google? It took me over an hour of playing and trying and testing and reading until I realised where the trouble was.

And now I wonder, does the "auto-enhancement" treat all file formats the same, or does it "enhance" JPG files differently from, say, PNG files?

Because here's the thing: not all websites have images with grey noise; and the ones that don't, more often than not their headers are in PNG format.

And it just makes me really curious.

Besides, it's Friday morning, 10 am, I'm in bed, and it's a good topic to research.