Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I've moved!

Hi there!

I've migrated over to Wordpress (sorry, blogger... it's not me, it's you).

You can now find me here.

See you on the other side!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Plunged into preggers-land

I'm currently 14 weeks pregnant... and I have a LOT to share, so settle in people (or Ctrl+W, those who aren't interested in other people's pregnancies).

It took us 1.5 years to get here (and one surgical procedure). One and a half years – it doesn't sound that long in retrospect, does it? But at the time, lived out in 28 day chunks, it felt like for-freakin-ever. Actually, for the first six months – the timeline I'd allowed myself – I was pretty sanguine about it, but beyond that, it became much harder. It's pretty hard to be chill when every media outlet around is scolding women about how little time they have left to procreate. When you clock another birthday closer to the big 4-0. When you've been fretting about your fertility since your early thirties. As this is my first pregnancy, I didn't even know whether I could conceive, let alone how long it might take.

We were actually booked in for our first IVF cycle, a step I was taking most reluctantly (thank god I dragged my feet).

So when the positive test finally arrived, I was... mostly confused, actually.

First of all, the line was so faint I thought I must have imagined it. It took several more tests, and a trip to the doctor to confirm that yes, that is an early positive result. A grin stole over my face when she delivered this news (no squealing, I'm not a squealer). I was excited but cautious. I wouldn't allow myself to be super-excited - I'm a grown up, I know the stats on miscarriage, I knew my age and history of endometriosis increased the risk.

During those early weeks, I monitored myself for symptoms - are my boobs sore today? Is my tummy especially bloated? I felt a little tired, but nothing too extreme. One day, reading the paper on my lunchbreak, I found myself tearing up uncontrollably over a story of a man who had stood up to some bullies harassing a couple of muslim ladies on the train, and felt weirdly pleased with myself. There were days I craved meat so badly, I devoured lamb chop after lamb chop while my husband looked on, laughing at how out of character it was. One day my eyes were so dry and sore I could barely open them, and they streamed with tears all day. Other days, I felt absolutely normal, and worried about feeling absolutely normal.

Around the week 7 mark, I started to feel a little seedy, and actually felt relieved – here was the classic, indisputable pregnancy symptom, proof that something was happening in there. It was a novelty at the beginning. I suspect I had romanticised morning sickness previously, when in reality, it's just like having food poisoning (or having had too much to drink the night before), but having it again and again without relief, for weeks on end. I am only physically sick in the mornings, but the nausea is constant and awful. Crackers, ginger, a spoonful of peanut butter, cheese, flat lemonade, B6 vitamins, medication – nothing has worked (I'm still suffering through it).

We told my family, who were also excited but cautious (it's genetic). We told V's family soon after, and they were thrilled and full of advice, in the typical Indian fashion. Eat walnuts, his mum advised. They're good for the developing brain. And almonds. Drink 2 glasses of milk a day. Don't worry about putting on weight, just eat what you feel like. They insisted we tell his aunt, a doctor, so that we could have on-call medical advice from a trusted family member. His Dad worried about me riding my bike.

At week 11, we visited the obstetrician and were stunned into silence at the ultrasound image of a little creature moving in there. Is this real life? I wanted to ask V. Because it's still one step removed – you're watching it happen on a screen separate to your body – it feels unreal. You can see the movement happening, hear the galloping heartbeat, but there's no physical evidence of it in your body so it still feels unreal, intangible.

I developed a rash of intensely itchy spots on my torso, spreading up to the back of my neck and down to my belly. This is normal, apparently, for people with sensitive skin or previous skin problems. I prowl the pregnancy forums, searching for tips on how to relieve the insane itch that torments me day and night.

Is there some kind of conspiracy of silence around how much pregnancy sometimes sucks? Or did I just tune out all those conversations previously? The more people I talk to, the more I discover the disconnect between what we expect pregnancy to be, and what it is actually like. It's different for everyone, of course, but for me the first trimester has been a strange journey of new experiences,  physical discomfort, tears of distress at times, and the odd moment of elation.

I guess it's good preparation for what's to come..?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tap, tap... is this thing on?

Hi there!

It's me again.

It's been a heck of a long time between blog posts.

I must admit, I rarely do something in my own time unless I want do that thing (lucky me, eh?) - and I haven't felt the urge to blog for a really long time. I'm not sure why - I'm busy with other stuff? The medication I'm on has affected my writing ability/confidence? I have other outlets for my creativity now?

Goodness knows, but here we are.

Today I felt the urge to write for the first time in a long time, and I think it has to do with where my head has been at for the past few months. If blogging is journaling into the void, then I feel the need to chronicle what's been happening with me. If I'm the only one who reads it, that's fine. If anyone else wants to read it - well, that's fine too.

The past three months or so have been 'interesting' - exciting, stressful, different. V and I moved to the North Western suburbs of Melbourne, about 15k from the CBD, an area neither of us knew at all prior to looking for a place to buy. I underwent a laproscopy to try and help with the infertility issues we are dealing with. And I've been doing lots of temp work.

1. Moving to the burbs
The good: we have a beautiful new house, with so much room! There's an entire bedroom we hardly ever set foot in, which is currently devoted to clothes drying racks. After living in a teensy 36 square metre apartment, it feels very luxurious. Nice neighbours. Lots of great turkish bread and sweets in the area. A good zumba class up the street.

The bad: it's a long way from family and friends (at least a half hour drive). We are deafened by choppers coming in and out of Essendon airport on a regular basis. You can't get good coffee. No good yoga classes. NOT RICHMOND.

2. Baby-making blues

Don't think I really need to list the cons of this one - there are a million and one blogs out there devoted to various infertility stories. Suffice it to say, it's a stressful journey and I have a huge amount of empathy for anyone who has battled through it. We're currently looking down the barrel of IVF (reluctantly).

3. Lots of temp work

Pros: It pays the bills. The team I'm working with are nice. They have an awesome coffee machine. I can (usually) sail out the door at 5.30pm.

Cons: I'm now commuting for over an hour in each direction, by train or car-sharing with V. I'm juggling private freelance work as well, so I'm trying to squeeze in jobs on evenings and weekends. I barely have enough energy for the minimum level of socialising that is required to be an adult human.

So that's what my life has been like the last little while. I'm just now realising that actually, there has been quite a bit going on and maybe I should cut myself some slack for not coping like a superhero. I also had the mini-revelation today that since I stopped doing my regular Saturday morning yoga class, my everyday level of anxiety has spiked, and as such am not coping with stress as well as I could.

Then there was today.

This morning I woke up to a glorious morning, put on some bacon and eggs, and went to scratch the head of my neighbours cat, who has forcibly adopted us as her surrogate owners and now lives in our front yard (even though we don't feed her or let her inside). Every day this week, she has been there when I open the door in the mornings to race for the train, and every night she is there waiting to twine around my legs when I come home. Today I had time to sit with her for a while, and I realised it's super-lovely having an unexpected porch buddy who just wants a little affection.

As I patted our new pet (named 'cat cat'), I decided that in lieu of yoga, I'd go for an outdoor swim. I freewheeled down to the local pool and did 20 lazy laps, up and down, alternating breast-stroke, side-stroke, back-stroke, thinking about how things have been lately. There was just one other guy in the entire 50m pool, and the sun was so bright and the water so clear and pleasant that neither of us could believe our luck. We just smiled stupidly at each other as we passed, each in our own vast empty lane.

Then I came home and my lovely husband was there. We sat happily entwined on the couch, watching the F1, sharing a beer. And despite everything that has happened and how much I've struggled over the past few months, I don't think I've ever been so happy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What really changes when you get married?

I have always been a marriage sceptic. I just didn't think it was necessary, in this day and age, to go through a public ritual based on religious beliefs that I don't hold, in order to demonstrate my life-long commitment to another person. In my mind, this was a thing we had to do to prove to V's parents that we were serious and committed, and everything else - the dress, invites, cakes, certificate, reception - was fluff (expensive, fun fluff). The important thing was our relationship, how serious we were about one another, our commitment to a shared future.


Since getting hitched, I have noticed a few things that have changed, for better or worse - some of which I didn't expect. I'm here to share my widsom 9 months post-vows. Let me hasten to add, some of these will apply to people in long-term relationships who aren't married - this is just my personal experience.

People take you more seriously.
It's subtle, but it's there. People see the band on your finger and they think you've taken one more step on the ladder towards adulthood, and they treat you with more respect. Not that they didn't before, but... there are some people who find it hard to take eternal singletons seriously as grown-ups. Personally? I'm not even sure I want to qualify as a grown-up. Even saying 'my husband' makes me feel insanely self-conscious (I still can't do it without imagining it in a Posh Elderly English Lady accent).

You put on some 'wedded bliss' pudge.
YEAH. Did not expect that. But we lived together before we got married! I hear you protest. Fat don't care. I guess there is some truth to the 'fat and happy' thing after all. That, and all the delicious Indian snacks/food I am exposed to now (and yes, V has put on weight too).

You argue about ridiculous things...
Like, say, for instance, just hypothetically...what time you will have dinner every night. Because some people like to have a big snack after they get home from work, then a late dinner, while other, dare I say more rational people, would prefer to eat at a reasonable hour. When you get married, you're aware that this is for REALS now, which means that you need to iron out some basic shit before you find yourself eating midnight curries for the rest of your life.

Just hypothetically.

- but the fights are less serious.
Because you're married now, yo. You can't get too mad at someone you chose to spend the rest of your life with or you're going to have a very unhappy life. Then again, we're new to this marriage gig, so ask me again in 5 years.

Some people expect you to change (and not just your name).
I haven't changed my name (yet). I'm still undecided. But there has definitely been an expectation out there that I will, and I find myself reacting against that. 

It's expected that I will adapt to my husband's culture, learn to cook Maharashtrian food and speak Marathi. I'm doing good on the cooking front; not so hot on the language front (I can count to 10...)! The spiritual side is trickier; I'm an atheist (well, secular humanist) but open to practicing some rituals for the sake of respecting the cultural heritage I've married into.

Thank goodness V's an enlightened fella who loves to cook (and is reasonably clean), so those outdated 'traditional housewife' expectations that sometimes come from *ahem* less enlightened cavemen people, are politely ignored. Or sometimes impolitely ignored, if I'm feeling fiesty.

You gain an entire other family.
In previous relationships, my in-laws were kept at arms length for various reasons (physical distance, family issues, lack of closeness). Now, I feel like my family has exploded in size. In Indian culture, you don't marry an individual, you marry into a whole family (distant cousins and random great-uncles included). Everyone has a stake in your marriage. This has been a major adjustment for me, as a fiercely independent human female person.

There's no back-up plan.
Which I guess is scary for some people? But for me, it's just a massive relief TBH. More than any other relationship I've been in, I feel secure. I know the divorce rate is crazy-high; and people change; and a lifetime is an incredibly long time, yada yada - but for me, this is the first time I've let myself be in a relationship without having a plan B at the back of my mind in case things go pear-shaped.

It feels different.
It just feels different.

TLDR: Marriage: it's not for everybody, but it works for me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Clambering out of the wilderness years

Oh hi there! Gosh it's been a while. I'm a little out of practice with this writing thing, so be patient with me. I'm also typing this with two fingers on an iPad keyboard (#humblebrag #sowhiterightnow)

Where were we?

Last time we talked, I had moved back to Australia and I was working as a freelance designer, internet dating like a fiend, loving my home town and basking in the warmth of the family circle. All of these still apply, apart from the dating one. Thank god.

Internet dating is the worst. But I did meet my husband that way, so it's got that going for it.

Yup, the lovely Indian dude I mentioned came through with the goods, stood up to his parents and asked me to marry him. Well, technically he didn't ask - it was the natural result of many conversations over a number of months, as we grew closer and found ourselves on the fucking serious relationship level - the level where you talk about the practicalities of raising bilingual kids, and caring for elderly parents, and what time you'll eat dinner (our most fraught ongoing discussion to date), and how you'll reconcile your two very different cultural upbringings, and how much spice is too much (NO SUCH THING he insists, while I sweat pure curry out of my eyeballs), etc etc.

Sexy as hell, no? No diamond either, cos I'm with this guy on the whole diamond engagement ring scam. I'm practical like that.

It has been awesome. And terrifying. And stressful. And wonderful. And eye-opening.

I have a closet bedazzled with Indian jewellery and colourful outfits, a pantry full of weird smelling powders and snacks in non-English packets, and a beautiful dark-eyed man to spend the rest of my life with. I can't quite believe it myself.

One day I'll tell the story of how our wedding actually came together despite all the odds, but not right now.

Right now, I'll just say that things are good, and that I hope to do more writing. Watch this space.

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