Me and my mother, 1983
Today is my mother's birthday, I'm not sure how many candles she'll have on her cake that my dad will have lovingly made for her, but it's probably almost 30. Again.
It always makes me think, what was I like as a baby?
Well, apparently, I was not the best of babies. Constantly hungry, always needing things, perpetually destroying stuff... And when I did relax, it was often a bit of a quest to find where I was - I'd often sneak off somewhere incredibly strange to have a nap. My parents keep a photo album (remember those?) of the awkward places & positions they'd found me snoozing.
For my mother, it meant giving up any vices she might've had (I'm pretty sure she was fairly clean before I came along, anyway). No more late nights, no more parties... For my father, it meant another hungry, crying, whining mouth to feed, much less sleep, much less fun with his mates, etc.
It was probably also quite scary, without much information at hand - back in the early '80s, computers were confined to the office, and the internet was a distant dream... But in that, it probably saved them a little. With all the scary stories that are just a click away these days, and news channels that thrive on scaremongering, today's baby-raising environment is a mixed bag of help & hindrance.
Still, though, there I was, becoming more of a pain in my parent's side, snapping up their final years of youth with my enormous appetite for wanton destruction. How they survived, I've no idea. Somehow they did it, and people seem to still be doing it all over the world.
What does all this mean for us now? Well, clearly, our lives are over, as much as we try to live neck-deep in denial. We can probably scrape out a couple more nights here & there before the baby gets too big, but all the wine dinners & balls that we'd planned on going to - well I guess all that money we've now saved will go straight into a savings account that I'm going to call "Prepayments For Stuff That The Baby Destroys". It also means that it'll be another 20 years before we have a year like our last one - and that's if we're lucky. I've been told, though, that it's all worth it in the end. For my parents, I hope so.
To the woman who's life I destroyed, happy birthday.
Not my photo, but still, very awesome.
Just last Sunday, we decided to venture out to what is becoming an increasingly rare phenomenon - to take brunch. Now it sounds simple enough, and usually, it is. As was typical, we skipped breakfast in lieu of preparing ourselves & Bruce for a nice meal out on Fort Bonifacio's High Street. We called a taxi & made our way to the restaurant....
Now, up until this point, we've been incredibly lucky with morning sickness. She hasn't vomited at all (with the exception of the eve of our discovery), and has had limited nausea which was never really incapacitating. Sure, she felt pretty bad for a long time, but always managed to soldier through it and still maintain a distinct level of class and grace, not typical of a woman on the verge of throwing up.
Sunday morning, however, the tables finally turned... Strolling along through the hundreds of shoppers, we stop dead, she finds a garden bed and takes a knee...
I do my best to comfort her by telling her that I've done it before here, too, as I drag the dog away from her and the glass of pre-loved orange juice which is now fertilizing the flowers. She is not comforted...
The main problem that we had was that she hadn't eaten anything for over 12 hours prior. All the good oil on the internet suggests that eating about 6-8 small meals throughout the day as the best way to keeping healthy and hors-de-vomir (and not just for pregnant women, it's the best way to go about maintaining a healthy metabolism for everyone). The problem is getting a woman who is working full-time with a hectic schedule and persistently feeling bloated to sit down & eat.
Having a wee baby growing inside her, literally sucking the life from her, is incredibly demanding, so how do we overcome this? In order to make it as easy as possible for her to graze throughout the day, I now pack her lunch with a main meal (usually frozen leftovers from last night), but also a little bag of nuts & dried fruits, and a tub of yogurt. I've also started baking more, so that she's got a tasty little treat to have with her afternoon cup of tea, and to keep her eating at regular intervals. Not incredibly healthy, of course, but at this stage it's much more important to keep her blood sugar up than have her napping under her desk...
As with everything these days, the internet is full of information on diets during pregnancy, but basically, if she's not feeling queasy, or bloated from a binge at McDonald's or Jollibee, we're both happy.
Telling family members can be awesome!
One of the biggest dilemmas that we faced was telling our friends, families, coworkers, employers, etc, about our new predicament...
Now for us, becoming pregnant was an amazing thing. We were incredibly happy about it. Personally, I wanted to tell everyone I knew there & then, but of course, I couldn't. What if we miscarried? What if there were some terrible complications? What if....
So we had to sit on the news, as most first-time parents do. We waited until we were certain, and once we got over a few hurdles, then we were free to tell everyone. But what hurdles they were, and the longer we waited, the more nervous I became.
Our first issue is that we discovered our little secret just before Christmas, which meant a slew of parties to go to, relatives to see, sugar to consume, and of course, booze. Now those who know us will know that we have been fond of a quiet little tipple on the odd occasion, so showing up to a Christmas party and drinking soda water with lime was almost entirely out of the question. We weren't ready to deal with the barrage of questions from curious onlookers, however good their intentions, so we had to mask it. The good news was that Megan was due to have surgery just before Christmas, so we got away with a lot, blaming various surgeons, anesthetists & antibiotics that we ultimately had to cancel on.
Our child will be my parents' first grandchild, so when we told them, they were blown away - well, as much as one can be, sitting in a streetside cafe in small-town New South Wales. They agreed to keep it completely secret until we were ready. Megan's parents were much more accustomed to it, though, as they already have two, and another on the way.
Our next step was Megan's boss. While he's not a daunting man, she was still quite worried, and rightly so. She is the only senior executive of her company's international division who is able to conceive. Previously, there were no other women in her area. There existed no policy on maternity leave in the company. The prospects were not the best. Still, he had to be told that his right-hand woman would be on the sidelines for a few months later in the year. Not such a big ask, but when she was flying from Hong Kong to Port Moresby, then to Hanoi, all within a month, the task became a bit harder. Magnifying that was the fact that her boss kept a similar schedule, with meetings in Melbourne, Japan, Beijing, etc... Eventually, they were able to sit down & discuss it, and just as I'd thought, everything turned out ok....
When it came to my friends, I was very tight-lipped. I didn't know how to tell anyone, but I knew that the longer I held out, the more likely it was that they'd find out some other way, so I had to eventually bite the bullet. Some of my really close friends, I emailed with a little ultrasound shot - I've got to admit, it was a great time to be living overseas... I didn't have to tell anyone at all as I wouldn't see many of my mates until rugby season came around again. Eventually I sent my friends a group email & then told the boys at training one night. Of course, it all went better than I thought, with everyone being supportive. I don't normally like being the centre of attention anywhere, but saying those words out loud... "Meg's pregnant"... was the most incredible feeling yet.
*P.S. Hot tip for getting around those pesky aunts & uncles - a well chilled flute full of Appletiser is a great substitute for real booze, just make sure no one sees you pouring it from the esky you hid. Dads need to be on top of this so mum never has an empty glass in her hand!
Just yesterday my dear lady & I went shopping. Not really shopping, but browsing through the baby sections of our local department stores... For me, this was pretty scary. I'm not a good shopper at the best of times. In fact, I'd say I am a terrible shopper. There are a million things that I'd rather do than go shopping, but there we were, surrounded by brightly coloured, plastic baby things.
I know that it's inevitable, but having to buy all that shit scared me. How do people so little need so much crap? And I guess that it's mostly not their fault - they have no idea how many shirts they own, nor do they care how cute they look in those size 0000 jeans (for like three days). That baby's got no idea what the hell it's wearing. It doesn't care. It could make a mess all over my $10 t-shirt, or Megan's $400 cashmere top - it doesn't care.
It's the people selling it that tell us that they need it. One thing, out of the hundreds that amused me, was a food processor, made just for babies. I mean, really, can any other adult-based food processor make baby food? Is this something that children have been missing for the last 2.3 million years? What happened before this? Did babies get fed food from an adult food processor???? How did they ever survive before this?
The questioning of things like that is probably what makes me a terrible person to shop with...
This is a debate that my lady & I have often. What to call our developing child. The fact that we debate about it slightly amuses me, as I know full well that I have absolutely no say in the matter at all. Several friends that I have spoken to about the issue have said the same thing. The best solution I've heard is for the mother to write down 5-10 names, and the father gets to select the one he likes best. All other attempts seem to have been met with any combination of the following: "it's in MY belly"; "you don't even know the sex yet"; "my ex was named that"; "your ex was named that"; or my favourite reaction - stark, deathly silence, backed up with an icy, heart-piercing glare that makes every organism in the room want to die slowly and alone...
One of the latest 'trends' that we've observed in the more & more absurd game of child naming is the merging of two names (because apparently, people can be that indecisive now) to form one ridiculous title, like 'Staniel', or 'Audlissa'.
Yes, apparently, this is now a thing.
If my child ends up going to school with a kid that's unfortunate to have parents this inane, I'm going to make sure they get made fun of. It's not my fault. It's their parents' fault.
But it doesn't have to be this bad, does it? I often get chastised for being boring, for wanting names like Daniel & Ava, but really, is that such a sin, when in a few years' time, he or she will be going to school surrounded by other kids named Atticus and Thelonius? (Well done, hipsters, that's your legacy)
The good folks at www.bubhub.com.au have put together a good system, though. It seems quite logical & balanced, without too much room for making too much of a mess of things. Check it out here:
Right now, though, it's time for me to get out of here. It's Friday night!!
Further to my comments yesterday about tiredness, my dear lady today asked me again about her caffeine intake. How much is too much? Can she get away with another coffee?
All the good advice seems to point to 300mg/day as the magic number (from the World Health Organisation), which translates to about 8 shots of espresso per day. I know only a few people who would normally have this many shots in a single day. Drip (brewed) coffee, if you're into that kind of thing, is much less caffeinated - less than half. The problem being that servings of drip coffee are much larger than the typical one-ounce espresso shots. This brings the upper daily limit of drip coffee servings to around 3 x 8 ounce cups per day.
Now obviously, instant coffee is another kettle of fish (just because life loves making everything more complicated). The coffee that we get is made for the Asian market, so has no advice on the label whatsoever... The internet, however, tells me that there is approximately 32.5 mg caffeine per gram of instant, on average. How does this translate? Well, if you're pouring the stuff in by the fistful, you're going to have a bad time. If you like it on the lighter side, though, you should be fine to have a couple of mugs each day.
Just recently (three days ago), a Scandinavian study has been released that identifies caffeine as a cause for low birth weights & smaller babies. This news might come as a boon for some mothers, but for their offspring, the results can be ominous. Coffee was found to prolong pregnancy, but overall, excessive caffeine consumption was found to increase risks of pre-term delivery and tinier babies. You can read the science here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1741-7015-11-42.pdf
Christopher's conclusion: switch to tea, and then treat yourself to a bit of dark chocolate if you need a pick-me-up. It's heaps better for you so you don't have to feel guilty - apparently women do that...
So tonight we're going through a bit of an issue - Megan is having a busy week at work and I feel like we haven't seen each other all week. She gets home after a long day and is so worn out that she ends up in bed almost immediately after dinner. Now obviously I'm not blaming her for anything here - growing another human inside you has got to be exhausting, as well as going on an almost total caffeine detox...
We are in the early stages of trimester #2, and we've both been eating ok. Not too much, but not starving. Apparently this is not uncommon, but fades away after the placenta has fully developed. It's not like her to be this tired at all, but the worst part is that she feels so upset because we haven't spent any real time together all week.
Let's hope Heidi's advice comes through for us...
Please excuse the bad language, but this guy is amazing.
Me, five years ago, not caring.
Wow, the beauty of hindsight. One year ago today, who would've thought that this guy would be expecting a baby. Certainly not this guy. At all. Ever. What was I doing on this day last year? I have no idea. I have no idea because I didn't keep a diary. Because I didn't need to. Because it didn't matter about what I was doing. I didn't have appointments to go to with doctors at hospitals. I didn't have books to read about pregnancy diets or Kegel exercises. No. All I had to do was play with my dog and play rugby, and I was happy. Oh, also Megan, I had to look after her, too.
Two years ago I was probably out playing golf with my dad or something. Three years ago I was in pre-deployment training before a peacekeeping mission with the Australian Army. Four years ago I was probably partying somewhere on Bondi Beach. Now, though, I am here. Knitting.
Please don't get me wrong - I'm incredibly excited about having a baby. It's the greatest thing in the world and I can't wait to experience it. I worry, though, about how difficult it will be. However, let's hope that we can share some of our experiences so that anyone reading can maybe learn something, or at the very least, have a good laugh.