Sunday, 29 March 2015

march rolls into april

As it turned out, the evening we decided to cut our losses and leave for the night to avoid confrontation was, in fact, the night the contractor turned up at the house.  One of our poor neighbours got followed on her arrival home - she drives a very similar car to ours and she described his behaviour as odd.  I think he was spoiling for a fight with P and was probably disappointed not to get it.  In any event, we've not heard anything further since the police dropped by his house and I am done (D.O.N.E) with thinking about it.

I spent the weekend with my parents.  Dad was in hospital.  It was grim.  Mum exclaimed at one point in frustration that they were talking like old people, with the internal focus on timetables, drugs, how he's reacting.  The world is narrowing for them to the disease and its consequences.  It's so predictable but yet fucking unavoidable, just like Dad's moon-face and the hair loss and the muscle wastage and the lack of concentration.  I am so fucking angry right now.  He's 58 and he was so well before and he's being stolen from us and it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. 

The joy in the good moments is more intense.  When I make them laugh, I feel it inside me.  He's the only person who has complete permission to make unsolicited belly rubs and I tried to watch for kicking for him to see.  I want him so desperately to know this baby. 

I've written a letter to my boss, confirming my last day of work before I depart on parental leave, but warning them that I may seek leave of absence or to take parental leave early, given Dad's rapid deterioration.  I can't focus at work.  Mum is just so tired and I want to spend time with Dad so it makes sense for me to be there, an hour's flight away from here.  I'll quit if I need to.  I am so damn lucky this is an option. 

I'm back with them on Thursday evening, with P this time.  I've charted a list of jobs for P around their property (lawns and rabbits, mostly).  When we leave, my sister K arrives for a few days.  I hope Dad will be released from hospital and on a new regimen for the latest side effects by the time we arrive.  He's going through a horrific diagnostic test today involving deliberate withholding of all fluids, so I expect any release will be tomorrow at the very earliest.  At least in the interim Mum can sleep.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

update (my house is still standing, I'm not injured) (yet, anyway)

After another perfectly awful email, this time directly threatening our persons, we spent the night out of our house and pursued the police, asking them just to raise the fact of the complaints and investigation with the builder and to ask him to stop contacting us other than through formal channels.  They visited him last night, I'm told, with "consequences [of his actions] explained and understood".  So far, nothing further.  I'll be going home this evening with P and trying to enjoy being there, in my space, with my family. 

I trust we won't be chased further by him, but who knows.  I believe the threats are bluster to try and squeeze a few more dollars out of us, but, like I said, who the fuck knows.  In any case, we've taken them seriously out of an abundance of caution.  You know, I'm a lawyer and I've seen far worse, but it really is different when you're the person intimately involved with the crime, not just the advisor. 

Thank god for insurance, an excellent and responsive police force, an understanding workplace and P's family for accomodating and caring for us last night. 

In the interim, Dad's not doing so well and Mum's struggling with the burden a bit, I think.  I've booked last minute flights to see them this weekend, even though we're booked to go at Easter.  I've rented a car so they don't have to make trips to the airport and even if all I do is sit quietly with Dad, at least Mum can have a breather and some space.  He's still himself, but there are aspects of him that are changing, from what I'm able to tell over the phone.  I need to see them both, I think. 

In brighter news, how about that cricket world cup semi-final?! Poor old P had tickets to the game -- I wouldn't have otherwise felt sorry for him, but this was during the threat crisis and a very busy period at work, followed a hard weekend of work on the house and stag do for a close friend, at a time when he was dealing with a pregnant, ill wife, his father-in-law's illness and has the pressure of completing the renovation -- I think the stress of the game nearly gave him a heart attack!  The result and the game were thrilling, of course, but when it comes to the wire like that it's stressful.  My heart goes out to the South Africans but we're so excited for the final on Sunday :)  I'm backing the Black Caps - go Kiwis! 

Monday, 23 March 2015

i don't even have a title for this

Just when you think things probably weren't going to get any worse, I was woken from a fever-addled sleep yesterday afternoon to a loud banging on the front door.  It was the contractor we'd hired for the exterior work coming to collect his ladders, which was fine.  What was not so fine was the fact he stole one of our ladders despite my explanation that it wasn't his.  From the moment of his entry onto the property he went ballistic at me over payment of his final invoice, submitted approximately three days beforehand and substantially incorrect.  He threatened and insulted me and wouldn't leave the property when I asked him to.  I cried like a baby, sick, in a dressing gown and nearly six months pregnant.  I called the police about the theft in front of him and he drove off, with my ladder.

What was even worse was waking to an email this morning (sent after 11pm last night) giving us a deadline of 5pm tonight to pay him, or he'd throw paint stripper over the entire house, take a chainsaw to the weatherboards and damage our car.  It included veiled personal threats to our persons and included some of the ugliest personal insults I've ever been subjected to. 

I could detail the history of the correspondence with him but I can't face it, frankly.  You're probably wondering what you're missing; what we did to trigger such a tirade of threats and abuse.  So are we.  I lay awake last night wondering exactly how I could have handled the entire situation better to avoid this, but the conclusion I keep drawing is that I've made every progress payment he's requested, we've paid more than three quarters of the total amount due by way of deposit or progress payment, the work was only completed last week (in his view at least, we are concerned about bubbling paint on the front door but we'll cut our losses I think) and I've been ill over the weekend and we were still discussing the outstanding invoice - not unreasonable not to have paid, I would have thought?  Besides which, even if we were totally in the wrong and were owing a large amount that was overdue, I just can't see how it would possibly have justified a reaction even remotely on the scale of what we received. 

So, I spent this morning on the phone to the police making another complaint about the threats, because that shit is not legal and is scary.  I blubbed some more in the office (where I was when I read the email), which is just wonderful.  I issued a trespass notice and served it by email, and need to spend my lunch hour also issuing it by registered post (because I'll be damned if I'm giving him verbal notice or effecting personal service, I never want to see or speak to him again).  I can't spend this evening in my own home because P's is going to be out and he won't let me be alone there right now.  We need to find somewhere else to park our car for a week or so until the dust settles, in case he does follow through on his threat.  We think we ought to warn the neighbours, which is a really fun conversation to have.  I have a bunch of follow up calls or visits to go with the police, probably. 

The whole thing is a giant clusterfuck.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

funny ha ha or funny peculiar

You might be surprised by this, but I'm going to a comedy show this evening.  Yes, even though I normally detest staged comedy (exception might be made for Billy Connolly), am terrified of the potential for P to heckle (he thinks he's so clever, sigh) and have not, well, been in the mood for funny business of late,* I saw a sign for a show that P would like and purchased tickets out of the blue.  I wanted to do something nice for him.  He's been lovely despite the wasting away of our mutual social life -- do you know, I think he might actually like my company and is missing nights out together? Strange as it may seem -- that I thought he would both greatly enjoy a show and recognise it for the clear sacrifice it'll be on my part.  Nothing like enjoying a side of martyrdom with your gesture of goodwill.

On Thursday I have a function for work.  On Saturday a high tea for a hen, which I think will only last a couple of hours.  I think those events will probably drain me of all the social camaraderie I can muster this week, aside from the usual pleasantries in the office.  I'm such a drag at the moment. 

Over the weekend, you could generally find me pottering around the house, providing pleasant company for the cats but very few others.  Being bigger than normal in hot weather is no joke.  I was completely cranky by the end of Friday and Saturday evenings, as the evening humidity rose.  Oh, and I am never going to the hairdresser pregnant in hot weather ever again.  It was some twisted torture sitting under a cape with a hairdryer being pointed at my scalp and having to make pleasant conversation. 

I suspect it's at least half unwillingness to unleash my beastly self on others that is causing my social reluctance at the moment.  Poor old P, wish him luck this evening...

*This goes exactly as far as you think it does.  Well, I have been feeling better pregnancy-wise and I think under different circumstances this might actually be an, ahem, amorous period of my existence, the circumstances remain and make spontaneous one-on-one time somewhat more difficult than usual.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

23 weeks

Things I have noted about my pregnancy, recently:
  • I never felt 'flutterings'.  I went straight from believing I had those weird intestinal gas pops (you know, where there's trapped gas and you get a wee explosion in your intestines, cf fizzing) to thinking a week or so later, hey, that must be a baby.
  • The movement still isn't particularly regular.  At least, I don't register it as particularly regular.  The pops are still there, as is pushing and what must be kicking.  Very occasionally I feel something that may be wriggling.   
  • Pregnancy yoga is the business, still.  Even though I burst into tears during quiet time once.  I cannot believe I am voluntarily going to a class twice a week where I 'breathe my baby' and have to think about my terrible posture.  I love it. 
  • I had to wear one of P's t-shirts to yoga this week.  My gym pants keep rolling over at the top because they don't fit under the bump. 
  • Knocker growth is out of control. I am seriously concerned that Lefty is going to far, far outstrip Righty, which, given Righty's still the size of a football (or so it seems), is a Very Bad Thing.
  • I'm a bit slower than I was previously.  I get a bit huffy heading up the first hill in the morning. 
  • Everything is stretchy.  My tummy, the ligaments in my pelvis - they're stretching all the time. 
  • At night, it's now really uncomfortable if I end up lying partly on my stomach or back.  I wake up quite a bit, but am peeing slightly less frequently than previously.
  • I need to pare back the meal size and eat earlier because heartburn blows. 
  • I really need to get organised on the paperwork for parental leave.
  • I really need to get organised to think about daycare (can you fucking believe it, over a year out from when I'll need it.  Calm down Auckland parents!) 
  • I really, really want to know who is in there.  I don't usually let people I don't know inside me.  But it's not creeping me out - rather, I'm curious and feel a kind of wee secret smile come across my face when I think about it. 
  • Tailbone is still giving me grief, but then, I've not done anything to fix it recently either.
  • Wore a horrible, sacklike dress to the wedding last weekend having paid more than I should for it.  Have another wedding in two or three weeks and really want a new one...but cheap heart tells me to recycle the first to make it remotely worth the price.  Will wear my stacked heels come hell or high water.
  • P thinks he felt the baby from the outside, when we were away on holiday.  I'm not sure he did because when he thought he felt it, I didn't notice anything.  I'm giving it to him though. 
  • I still have an innie tummy button. 
  • I really like Fresh'n'Fruity custard and rhubarb yoghurt. 
  • Good apples are very satisfying.
  • I am ordering a fresh Tank C (orange, pineapple and ginger) juice almost every morning, asking them to put apple in it.  I can tell when they get the proportions wrong.  I am going to bankrupt myself over juice on the way to work.   
  • I find myself holding the bump all.the.time. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

a trip booked before all of this

I spent four days in Golden Bay this weekend.  Think of a map of the world.  Then think of the small collection of islands in the bottom right hand corner of the globe, to the bottom right of Australia.  That's NZ.  Of the two largest islands in the cluster, think of the southernmost one.  See how at the top it curves away in an odd spit of land known as Farewell Spit?  Golden Bay is beneath the Spit, sandwiched between two national parks, and is pretty remote, as far as places on earth go.  It is inhabited by dairy farmers, hippies and transient German tourists, so far as I can tell.  It's pretty much my favourite.

We went for a wedding and it was lovely, despite torrential rain that ruined the marquee two nights before and saturated the grass and guests on the day of.  We crammed into the local hall and celebrated loudly the illegal marriage of two old and dear friends (illegal only in the sense that they're doing the licence thing later and had an unregistered celebrant, not illegal in terms of consanguinity or anything scandalous, should you be concerned).  While they don't live in Golden Bay, they are civil servants who would love to be hippies making goat cheese off the land.  We gifted them chooks and a coop for their backyard as their wedding present.  They're chuffed. 

We stayed in a bach beside the water with fourteen-ish old friends from scattered corners.  We laughed, we reminisced, we hugged, we swam, we ate together. 

The sun came out the day following the wedding.  We celebrated by a taking trips to the clearest, cleanest springs I have ever seen and to a remote, windswept beach on the Abel Tasman coast where seal pups were playing in a rockpool.  It was magical.  Te Waikoropupu Springs and Wharariki Beach, respectively, should you ever find yourselves in that neck of the woods.  The springs are wai tapu or sacred water, so you can't touch or drink the water, but nothing I have ever seen has made me so thirsty in my life.  And the seal pups! Well, I have no words for the seal pups except for horrific things like ADORABLE.

It was restorative.  I used to have family living in that neck of the woods, so I called Dad every day for recommendations and to discuss the lay of the land, the size of the ice-creams.  It was a lovely way of reminiscing about childhood trips spent swimming in the river, panning for gold and running over the dunes.  It was precious.

On the way home, we stopped in Nelson for lunch with Dad's two surviving sisters, his brother and their spouses.  Dad is the youngest by a reasonable stretch and it is tough to see them grapple with the mortality of their naughty, independent wee brother.  We focussed instead on my baby and the next generations of grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.  It was lovely to see them. 

We came home last night to a plastered master bedroom, two happy kitties and a boat load of washing, following an unfortunate incident in P's bag with a bottle of red wine.  I really, really needed that trip.  I needed the laughter and the happiness of a wonderful life event and the natural beauty and the escape from the everyday and the time with family and the sleep, oh god, did I need the sleep. 

I am really a lucky girl, I think. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015


The renovations are actually going quite well, in case you were wondering.  Gib went up in the master bedroom yesterday (hah, master bedroom - in a very wee house, it feels odd to describe anything that way!) and today I believe it'll get a new door and a frame for the wardrobe.  With any luck the gibstopper will have been in too, to get the walls plastered. 

The wardrobe interior and doors are planned and barring a few minor details, should be ordered shortly too.  Assuming all the framing and stopping happens this week, P and I (well, P, I am mostly useless) only need to sand and fill the roof, sand the window and then paint the bejesus out of everything and voila, we should be able to move back in. 

So yes, it's going well.  Mostly because we're paying a professional this time.  We've streamlined to our DIY strengths - we can demolish, insulate and paint.  With me mostly out of action between visits to family and pregnancy, this being P's busiest time of the year at work and the looming baby deadline, we've decided that it makes sense to pay to get the work done quickly.  This does fill my wee nesty heart with horror though, thinking about the unpaid months of parental leave looming on the horizon.  So much so that I'm squirrelling tiny amounts of cash away for a rainy day unbeknownst to P.  So far, I've saved the princely sum of $350 which isn't going to go far but honestly, just the act of dropping $20 in a savings account from time to time relieves the hormone-induced need to be financially savvy.  We're not going to be destitute by losing my income for a while by any means, but I don't know, I'm like a spare change hoarder. 

Bedroom 2 is next in line, but isn't getting a new wardrobe.  We're just going to insulate, re-line, decorate and replace the door on that bad boy, because we still aren't sure where the bathrooms will eventually end up.  The bathroom or rooms may be on the other side of the wall to bedroom 2 and if we decide to have a wee ensuite, the space where a wardrobe might go may need to be a doorway.  We thought about leaving the room entirely alone, but it's not properly insulated and eventually this baby will move in there.  I think it preferable that the baby have a warm dry space to sleep in, I guess. 

(PS Tuesday was a good day, Dad was well enough to go back on chemo.  Wednesday, unfortunately, not so hot, Dad feeling terrible.  Rollercoaster is the cliche, I believe.)

Monday, 2 March 2015


I spend the day following my return from a visit melancholy and processing, churning over the events of the previous few days.  I lay in Mum and Dad's guest bed last night, stoutly chasing away all thoughts of how bad it must have been for this weekend to count as 'good', but following three hours' transit back to Auckland this morning there's no avoiding it.  The processing is grim.  I'll adjust by tomorrow and be back into summoning optimism and dealing with normality.

I also spend the day before a visit in a similar reflective and concerned mode.  On Friday, not long after posting that last angry/sad missive, I burst into tears during quiet reflection time at the end of my yoga class.  The others were very, very kind, but I was mortified.  I couldn't stop -- the dam had opened and there wasn't a single thing I could do.  I leaked the whole way home behind large sunglasses, sniffling and trying to unobtrusively wipe my face, as much as that's possible as a pedestrian beside a four lane road. 

This was bothersome also because yoga has been the one proactive thing that makes me feel as if I'm doing something to help my baby, myself and my stress levels.  So if it's not achieving that result, what on earth are the alternatives?  P's step-mother was so kind, a week or two ago.  She told me that there was evidence that a pregnant woman's stress levels only affect the unborn baby to the degree that she feels unsafe in her own home or relationship - other things, like grief, don't necessarily trigger concern for the child.  I want to believe that, whether or not it's true, because the belief in turn reduces my stress.  It seems that the inhabitant of my uterus is currently flopping around quietly post-lunch, apparently unperturbed by what's going on upstairs.  God, I hope that's the case.  He or she seems to get a little kicky/punchy at 4am-ish when I've rolled over onto my stomach, but otherwise has seemed very low key, up to now. 

(I've just googled pre-natal maternal stress and come across this doozy.  Oh not to worry, the effects may not last into adulthood, we're not sure yet.)

So I breathe, I focus, I work on my posture.  We will get through this, that's all I know.