Tuesday, 12 January 2016


My son grabbed the flaps on Where's Spot? (that literary classic) today, lifting them for the first time himself (lifting, yanking, potayto, potahto). I was so ridiculously proud and thought I should note it for posterity's sake, seeing as I haven't yet made him a baby book.  Does an obsessive recording of his wee person on my iPhone count? Perhaps I need some more blog-style narration of his young life. 

I don't know if W will ever read this -- his father doesn't.  I haven't read my mother's diaries from when I was a baby, though I know they exist.  It somehow seems too invasive. Despite this being a very public record, I feel much this same way about this blog.  Internet strangers? Sure, why not. Family? Not so much.

The little fink has just now demolished a pile of folded washing in time-honoured baby fashion - all the major milestones are being hit today, four days shy of six months!

I am now torturing myself with the question of work and what to do about it.  My year of parental leave is up on 1 May, but before I left they offered an extra couple of months of compassionate leave to see me through to W's first birthday, knowing that I was really departing because of Dad.  I expect I will take up the offer to stay at home until July, as I find it difficult to imagine being apart from him while he is still technically a baby.  

Actually, I'm torn on whether to go back to work at all.  On the plus side, my experience of being a stay at home Mum thus far is that it can be lonely and repetitive. Not always, but when it is like that it is tough. I like my colleagues at the office, I very much like aspects of my work, I like being challenged intellectually as a lawyer.  Yep, and I won't deny the funds would be handy as well. Particularly so should we decide to go ahead with the major renovation our home needs to comfortably house us once W is past the quite small stage. If I stay in my job at least another six months once I've returned, I'm owed a further lump sum parental pay out as part of my contract, which would be nice.

On the drawbacks side, our family life will be more difficult should I return to work.  I expect I'll be the 'default parent' doing the daycare pickups, running kid schedules etc because P is working towards partnership within the next 18 months, which requires a lot of work.  It's not that I mind being the default parent, it's that my job will always also be a little demanding. There are aspects of my job I don't love - stress, business development, discovery, tedious scheduling, court deadlines, admin and time recording (fuck me, time recording! Haaaaaaaate.). If I don't go back or stay for a further six months we need to pay back the lump sum parental leave payment I received pursuant to my contract, which would suck. 

There's also the hard to quantify elements.  I love being with the Fink and being his No. 1 caregiver.  I assume I'll still feel this way in six months' time, but there's no guarantees (I expect caring for a toddler is a different kettle of fish from caring for a baby).  I have also considered whether there might be another role for me elsewhere, better suited to my temperament and strengths and more family friendly.   Most of the answers I have come up with require a move to Wellington and the centre of government, which isn't possible for our family, but it bears further thought.

I do know I don't want to go back full time, or even four days a week, just yet.  Three days seems about right.  I'm not sure how well I can do my job in three days a week, frankly.  Does that mean I'll effectively end up working on my days with W or the weekend? Quite possibly.  That's not very attractive at all. 

Why all these mental gymnastics when there are still a few months to go? Well, I expect my boss will want to know at some point and I'll need to introduce the idea of part time work.  Plus, I probably need to get W on a daycare waitlist of some sort as well. Ah well, I'll keep considering.  

Friday, 8 January 2016

nearly six months later

Last night I slept without a bra on for the first time in months and woke up dry.  God, it felt good.  Old shit tit (lefty) did spring a leak when I was feeding W from the right this morning so, lesson learned, but if I can now sleep unfettered, I think I will be at least 50% less cranky in the morning.  Let it be so! cried her husband.

Body-wise, things are heading back to normal post-pregnancy and birth.  I mean, I'm still carrying some extra weight and a joey pouch on my front, but that's probably got a direct correlation with the fact I'm still eating like its my job.  True too that my boobs will never be the same (when they're empty I think they land somewhere south of their prebaby position). There's a scar from the episiotomy, but it's not big. Otherwise, I think my body has resumed the status quo (unfit, slightly pudgy, but generally operational and mine, all mine.)

I lost my marbles for a period postpartum. I don't think I had post natal depression - we were on the look out for that given other events in my life last year - but I was certainly fucked up by the postpartum hormone cocktail for a while. Not all bad, the rush of love and elation that is magnified by hormones still lingers with me. However, there was some Craziness, with a solid dose of Barely Holding Shit Together for a bit there. By way of example, breakfast related rage was notable (WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE'RE OUT OF YOGHURT), as was my inability to deal with my MiL (who was nothing but helpful, I should say, but I was so on edge that I thought everything could be a criticism and I had this perverse 'I'll do it myself' thing going on).

W is now eating three solid meals a day and I'm feeding him five times.  He sleeps from 6ish to 6ish (he'd like to get up earlier in the morning, the fink, but ain't no one got time for wake up calls that begin with a five.)  He naps three times a day, around 40 minutes a time (utterly inadequate, says his mother who treasures naps of longer than an hour like water in a desert). He has been rolling front to back for quite a while but has shown basically no interest in rolling back to front.  I mean, he has us minions at his beck and call for toy retrieval and entertainment, so why bother? I think sitting up unaided is reasonably close, though it's made harder by his large head (91st percentile for noggin, huuuuuuge). He weighs as much as a small dump truck (approx. 8kgs) and is a very tall baby (69cm in early December). We have packed away the bassinet and the capsule (sob, passage of time, where's mah tiny baybee gone etc).

He's freaking adorable. Highly recommend having a baby, if you think you'd be into it.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

a new year

Welcome to 2016, everyone.  

I'm starting out a new year on the right foot by being an asshole to my husband (I believe my eyes just rolled right back into my head and I exhaled all of the air in my lungs, heavily, because he dared comment on the fact the carrots were probably boiling dry.  The carrots were, in fact, boiling dry). But assholery aside, I'm hoping 2016 isn't too bad, because 2015 was a bit of a shitbag, frankly.

We survived Christmas, you'll be pleased to know.  It was better than I expected it to be.  Leaving Mum on her own a couple of days ago was the hard part and I've been in a bit of a funk since we got home.

We also survived a five and a half hour drive each way with the Fink, too. Caught up with old friends and their delicious little baby girl on the way down, and ate lunch by Lake Taupo on the way back.  I breastfed in the backseat parked on the side of the road on at least three occasions.  Notably, we pulled over once next to another car on a roadside verge near some foals. One of the female occupants was heaving her guts onto the roadside, poor lass.  I felt her pain, having only just recovered from a bout of food poisoning that had me biffing my bikkies for a while -- triggered on one occasion by W's selfish desire to eat from his main food source.  (Babies, man, they're dependent).  I wistfully wondered whether it was a hangover that had her spewing bile on the pastoral scene. I wasn't  envious exactly, but remembering the ghosts of hangovers past on summer holidays, preceded by ruckus and general misbehaviour. 

I spent the whole day at home yesterday, lawn mowing and clearing out, bathing W alfresco under the sun umbrella, snipping lavender heads, boiling spinach and potatoes and carrots for the baby. The baby has taken to solid food with relish, by the by.  He can house a banana in under 10 minutes and go looking for the rider, or peel, or something. It was nice to be home, despite the funk and though I've been shadowed by the cats at all times.  I wonder sometimes if I'll ever be alone again.  

Anyway, here's to 2016. What to expect? Raising a baby, then a toddler.  A return to work at some point, I guess.  A few more trips to be with family.  Supporting P's push for the next step in his career.  We hadn't forward planned anything much, honestly, not knowing what 2016 was going to hold for Dad for a long time.  2016 stretches open ahead of us.


Friday, 18 December 2015

one whole year

You know, I thought I'd be feeling very reflective one year on since the diagnosis and initial biopsy.  That I'd write something profound (ha) about life, death, what's changed for me.  But the well is dry on those subjects.  It's with disbelief that I look at the calendar and realise that it was a year ago my life was fundamentally altered by a phone call, taken in my office after hours. A whole year.

I'm sitting with my son on his sheepskin right now, while he grabs his toes and works on a tooth (I think). (Do not even start with the put down your device and enjoy him crap.  I enjoy him a lot.  I also am an adult and there's only so long I can admire him unswervingly while slobbering on a rubber butterfly). He's just finished a tasty lunch of avocado, preceded by some boob.  We went for a long walk in the sunshine this morning.  In less than a week his father is on holiday for two and a bit weeks.  So, aside from the obvious, life isn't too shabby for me right now. That leads to a lot of guilt.

Christ it's hard writing about the minutiae at the moment.  I don't want to delve into Big Feelings but I can't find a happy place in prattling about what I did today, or what I ate, or what I saw, etc etc.

Call it a day.

Sunday, 13 December 2015


I have a partially drafted post about my car and financial woes (v v minor) but I sounded like an asshole so that's going to languish in drafts until I can figure out a way to lower the entitled whinging factor.

Um, what else that isn't about the death of my dad (still a big deal but I just can't write about it right now)?

Fink had a big week last week.  We moved him into a cot in his own room and, probably not coincidentally, he's slept from 6 to 6 every second night since.  Two days ago he ate his first solid food (kumara puréed with boobjuice) and he devoured it.  I've just fed him some rice cereal and he's worked out how to take food off a spoon.  His poor wee puku is so distended! He has some immunisations today and will be 5 months old tomorrow.  Holy shit, time flies, where mah baybee gone etc etc.

I went to my team's Christmas lunch on Friday. W came with me as his father was out drinking with clients.  God, it was so nice to talk to other adults about grown up stuff that I almost wanted to go back to work right then and there.  Don't worry, I came to my senses pretty quickly and realised that I miss the people, not the work and stress particularly.  I mean, if I could fanny about writing opinions all day I totally would but that is a small part of the job and deadlines, discovery and email drafting are still a big deal (sigh). So, not going back in the immediate future, it would seem.

Summer really arrived on the weekend. It was light until nearly 9pm, there was cricket on, Saturday was about 26 degrees, lovely.  Saturday in particular was great.  P and I have not been together at home on a weekend day with W for at least a month and spending some quality time was wonderful. We ate yum cha, we fed W his first solids and filmed the shit out of it, we hung out in the sunshine, W had an almost 2 hour nap which is unheard of over here, we had a lovely meal cooked in large part on the bbq (polenta, chorizo sausage and grilled veg salad), we played with W who was in an excellent mood post nap, we matched a movie after W went to bed.  It felt like our old pre-baby life, but better for the addition of this really excellent person we both love and who is a lot of fun.  I tried and largely succeeded at not thinking about Dad.  

Monday, 7 December 2015

2015 in review

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?

Gave birth, mothered. Yep, chalked up quite a few new + big life experiences this year.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No resolutions is the answer to both, I think. I've always been kind of ambivalent about resolving at New Year (read: unrealistic goal setter and lazy at follow up)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 
Yes. CM, P, S -- & a whole coffee group of babies. Was nice, the baby thing this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die? 
My Dad. 
5. What countries did you visit? 
I didn't leave the country this year. It's been a couple of years now since we travelled internationally.  We talk about our next France trip all the damn time, though probably more likely would be a trip to the islands or perhaps Vietnam or Cambodia in the next few years.  

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
A well and healthy father, but don't see that happening any time soon. God, this is turning bitter & twisted.
7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 
15 July 2015. I gave birth, became a mother and met my son.

23 November 2015. Dad died.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
W. Yep, he's quite a big achievement!
Having as few regrets as possible.

9. What was your biggest failure? 
You know, I don't really like to think about this -- I'm giving myself the right to pass on this question this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 

Actually, I take that back. I had a bastard episiotomy which is definitely an injury.  And then borderline mastitis twice which was a total shitbag both times.  

11. What was the best thing you bought? 
Professional help finishing the front two bedrooms, and the bouncinette. I have no idea where I'd be without that damn boucinette. I love it to death.

12. Where did most of your money go? 

The house, flights to Hawke's Bay and baby paraphernalia.  I never thought of myself as particularly spendy, but I can drop some serious cash on baby crap.  Like, I have a serious sleeping bag problem.  
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
That easy -- my Finky.  He's the sauce.  

14. What song will always remind you of 2015? 
Hello, Adele.  While it was only released recently, it was being thrashed about the time of dad's death. It will also be bound up with the smell of star jasmine, which was beginning to bloom outside the entrance of the hospice during Dad's last days.  There's a star jasmine bush on our fence, and I see it everywhere now.

I wrote the above earlier, then when driving this morning I saw a jacaranda tree in bloom.  The jacaranda was blooming at Mum and Dad's last year just after Dad's biopsy and it all came flooding back as I drove past the tree in full purple fig.  Beautiful and kind of melancholic.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you: 
a) Happier or sadder? Surprisingly, this is quite hard to answer.  We knew Dad's prognosis by this time last year and the initial grief was powerful.  I'm sad now, of course, but in a different, wrung out way.  It's hard to compare the two.
b) Thinner or fatter? SQUISHY BABY WEIGHT ALL OVER
c) Richer or poorer? Poorer, for sure.  We're a one income family at the moment with a sizeable amount of debt. 
16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Holding Dad's hand and telling him how wonderful he was to me.  It's not that I didn't do those things much, but it will never be enough.
17. What do you wish you'd done less of? 
You know, there's a few habits I could wish away (being on my phone too much for example) but I can't work myself into a lather about it.  

Usually the end of a year is ripe opportunity for a bit of self-flagellation but I can't work myself up to it this year.  I mean, I thrive on that shit normally, but I'm uncharacteristically mellow right now, cutting myself some slack.

18. How will you be spending Christmas? 
P, Finky and I are going to Hawke's Bay to spend Christmas with my mother and sister.  There will be tears, but there will also be an alfresco meal, champagne cocktails and some happy reminiscing too, I hope.

19. Did you fall in love in 2015? 
Utterly and unconditionally with W.

20. What was your favourite TV programme? 
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. So good.  Died laughing about Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, RIP me.  

21. What was the best book you read? 
I didn't read much this year, so the answer is a bit lame. A biography of the Duchess of Devonshire, whose author I can't recall. 

22. What was your greatest musical discovery? 
No discoveries of note this year, I'm afraid.

23. What did you want and get? 
Aside from a lot of stuff I couldn't have, a healthy baby.  God, I am so lucky.
24. What did you want and not get?

Ha, there is far too much I couldn't have. A healthy, well father?

25. What was your favourite film of this year? 
Do you know, I really enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road

It most emphatically was not Jurassic World.  P took me to see that while I was heavily pregnant, and while we both enjoyed the childhood nostalgia element, Jesus it was awful.

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 

I spent my 33rd birthday being a hugely pregnant person, SO FUN.

27. What kept you sane? 
Tea, P, a massage in the third trimester, the Internet reminding me that hormones be crazy.  My pets, my baby.

28. What political issue stirred you the most? 
Medically assisted suicide.  Thank you Lecretia Seales, for using your illness and plight to take steps to ensure this is back on the political agenda.  Thank you.

I could not raise a healthy dose of give a shit for the flag debate.  If I don't hear anything more about it in the next 2 years, it'll be too soon.  There's been some quality assholery all over the board on that one.

29. Who did you miss? 

30. Who was the best new person you met? 
My Fink!

31. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
It's not perhaps a life lesson applicable to all + I recognised how lucky it is that it applies to me.  Family is everything, it's the reason.

left ring finger

I am back at home for a couple of weeks before Christmas. It is a flurry of admin and chores, lavishing attention on two neglected cats, attempting to get W sleeping in a cot before he actually bursts through the sides of the portable bassinet we've been using at Mum's house. I have made phone calls today, opened mail, shopped for food, planned meals, unpacked bags.  I felt useful to my husband, my son, my life.  

Mum now gets to pick up the pieces of her life and attempt to move on, in the era after Dad.  For her, I'm very little help.  I can't replace him.

I looked at her wedding ring a lot, over the past two weeks. Traitorous, I watched it shine while consumed by the fact that she's suddenly a widow, single.  The ring sits in the present tense, a false declaration of what box she should tick on a government form.  But yet nothing feels more true than that ring, a survivor of the wreckage that brain cancer made of their marriage.  

She wore her engagement and eternity rings to Dad's party and to a Christmas party hosted by the neighbours.  I didn't ask about how she felt as she undressed those nights, tucking those rings back into her jewellery box.

They were married 36 years, together 39. She now faces another 20 or 30 years without him (assuming, that is, that she lives a fairly standard life span.  We know that's not a given, we know it now deep in our bones). She's fairly stoic and grieves on her own.  I know that she goes down the farm to check the stock and cries out there, in the early dawn light on the land that they worked so hard to attain and keep.  I cry and rage that it's unfair.  What she says from time to time, before quietly weeping, is that there's someone missing. It breaks my heart afresh to hear it, each time.

She will have less than a week by herself before my sister arrives on the farm.  K and I cross over at Christmas.  P, W and I stay until the New Year.  We have another trip to see her at the end of January, for her birthday.  Mid February we'll join her for a week at the bach on the lake.  We've booked her flights to spend a long weekend with us at the end of Feb.  We're trying hard to fill the giant hole rent in her life, but I'm achingly aware that it's a paltry second best.