Wednesday, 27 October 2010

I did it!

I am feeling positive today. And I did it!

I met with my manager, and I thought it might help me break the news if I brought my scan letter with me to show him. So we chatted a bit in our little meeting room, and then I said 'So, are you stabilized? I'm going to drop a bomb' and he said 'Oh, not really, but go on' and I brought out my letter, unfolded it and said 'I'm genuinely really sorry, take a look at this...' and he did have a sort of colour dropping moment at seeing the paper, but he hadn't even read it yet...then I could see him reading it, and registering...and he said 'OH! Another baby!!!', and I am telling you, he looked relieved. A surprise to me I assure you. Then he said 'God, when I saw you bring out the piece of paper I thought it was your resignation letter! This is much better than that, this I can handle!'.


HA! So, it was not part of my master plan at all but it seemed to have worked out in my favour, to have inadvertently introduced an even worse fate for him than me being pregnant, a resignation. A perfect plan, I wish I had thought of it on purpose. To present an even more (apparently) devastating option first...then that worse option being eased aside by a (relatively pleasant) baby - genius.

Then I proposed my plan, my scheme. I had slaved over a hot calendar for a long while, calculating Fridays; how many there were between now and May, how many annual leave days would I have allocated between now and May, are they the same amount? I am working 4 days a week now, with Fridays being an unpaid 'off' day. What emerged from my plotting was this: could I change back to a 5 days a week contract, and take every Friday as annual leave instead? That way my working conditions wouldn't change at all, but I would be paid again at a full time salary AND not have an unnecessary load of time off before the baby was due. If I leave things as they are, I'd be finished work at the end of March! That's too soon, that's SO soon. Frankly, aside from actually not needing nearly 2 months off before my due date, financially, this is better for me. I can work longer, probably over 6 weeks longer, and get paid 20% more for the time I am working (when I think of it that way, the day off work actually DOES have a big impact!). I am paying all the bills myself now, the mortgage, the nursery fees, food, clothes, everything, you name it. I NEED the money right now. The benefits for the company being, I can work probably over 6 weeks longer, shrinking the gap of time where nobody is holding down the fort. It's win-win. And my manager agreed. Horray again!

Then he said 'I'd have to get this approved by [the Director] (she whom I harbour my irrational fear of)'. I said 'WAIT! Not yet!'. This was for 2 reasons: firstly, I want to wait until I am at least 12, or probably 13 weeks, just to make sure all is well and I don't cause a big official kafuffle unnecessarily. Secondly, she [the Director] (she whom I harbour my irrational fear of) only just now knows who I am, and thinks I am alright. My manager had said to me that she 'thought I was good and they should keep me' after I had presented my *wiggly* presentation the other week. I don't want to wreck that already!!!!! God it would just instantly ruin anything good/OK that she thought of me now; the moment she hears that I am pregnant, AGAIN, I am sure she will roll her eyes and take a big huge sigh (actions that may occur only in my mind) and go 'UGH, that Heather....just....ugh'. [Off with her head!]

I feel such a great weight lifted. It's such a relief, telling a secret that is holding you down. I am really glad I don't have to do any lying to get to my scan appointment, and now, I feel like if somebody notices I am a bit chubba in that kind of way, and suspects, who cares? I'm certainly not going to put up any poster advertisements at this point, no no, I will have to continue my terrible clothes campaign. But the overarching sense of Who Cares is soooooo relaxing. I am still not sure how relaxed I will be tomorrow morning as I am presenting, recorded on webcast, a 3 hour training session. The ever-constant question for me lately, What On Earth Am I Going To Wear? repeats itself again.

In other feeling positive news, I made a roasted squash soup last night, and ate it tonight. A new 2011 diary from my husband's college has also just arrived in the mail, and I needed a new diary. My youngest son is finally getting his first molar, at past 14 months, which I thought would never come. It was so nice, just now, rooting around in his mouth with the bonjela and feeling some rough pokies in his upper left side. Drugged and lidocained he has now stopped crying and has gone back to sleep. Ahhhhh.....

Ahhhhhh again. Maybe I will even sleep well tonight? AND I will now treat myself to a shower. It's sort of sad, but it doesn't get much better than this....

Monday, 25 October 2010

Unspoken Risk

When I first started writing, someone had said to me that I was being quite brave. I have to say that I brushed it off a bit, said oh, no, I'm just talking about funny stuff, whatever....but I knew what was meant, and I knew why I was brushing it off. It is not something anybody talks about, or not openly. I didn't want to either, well, not openly. I'm not even talking about it now, clearly avoiding.

The truth is, I did break the paramount number one rule; don't tell anyone you are pregnant until after you are at least 12 weeks in - the risk of miscarriage decreases significantly after 12 weeks. Until then, it is a risky business. It's something you don't hear about or talk about in general circles. I have been thinking about it a lot lately for a number of reasons - not least of which I feel like I am at the point right now, if something was going to happen it would be happening now, or soon. I am just over 10 weeks. I have been thinking about it now because I am sure I had food poisoning last week, thanks to a ghetto hot dog from Tesco's my son HAD to have. The stupid thing was such a rip off, when he didn't eat it, I ate the rest. Stupid, heat lamp, lukewarm, infested hot dog. I have been thinking about it now, because my scan is next week, November 3rd, and I have asked my manager if we could 'have a little meet up' tomorrow, where I will drop the bomb. I don't know why I am worrying this time around, but I do feel quite worried, certainly more than with my other 2 kids where I arrogantly didn't worry at all. Silly things, like I might have cursed myself by telling early, like somehow I will deserve it, serves me right. I am older now, too, which certainly could affect outcomes. I also think I might have cursed myself by the whole thing being a surprise - I was shocked and flustered and sad and worried early on, rightfully so, really, but...

It is the most sad, terrible thing, and nature can be so cruel. I feel very lucky, I have had 2 pregnancies, and 2 children. But it's not luck at all. The chance is something like 15% for every pregnancy, and there is no rhyme or reason, nothing you have done or haven't done. I suppose my hormones are still keeping me primed, but what a sorry state I was tonight, alone, eating leftover mash from Sat night, drinking the 1/4 inch of flat sparkling water (also left from Sat night) from the bottle, and munching a block of mature cheddar, crying over my bowl, dwelling. I was just really sad thinking of all the personal stories I know of, an alarming number. I don't know how I would feel myself, but I have kids and I believe, after loving the kids you have, you might imagine such a terrible loss. I suppose I am also dwelling on my worry, thinking that, actually, I am completely by myself. What if something horrible did happen? What would I do? How would I cope? It is lonely being alone with your terrible thoughts, being worried, and having no one to say 'don't be silly' 'let's have a hug' 'everything will be fine' - all that stuff that doesn't mean anything at all, other than someone is there, saying it. I do have wonderful friends, don't get me wrong, they are here for me if I need them. Phone calls, emails, and visiting are not the same though, as a partner who is there for you.

I feel like I am on a ledge, just waiting...waiting....3 months of waiting for security is a long time to wait. I have 2 more weeks to go, really, and time creeps on. After all the doubt and to-do initially, there is no concern in my mind now. I am happy with this baby, I want everything to work out, I want this to be OK. I want to be pulled back from my ledge.

I am not really a sentimental, nor religious person, but bless all those children that haven't made it to see their mummies, or were sleeping when they met. I am thinking of you, I really am. And I will give my 2 an extra big hug tomorrow - they are the ones that are here for me now, I am not by myself. I hope I can make them a new brother or sister and all will be well.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Through The Looking Glass

I definitely feel like I live in two different universes.

I was thinking about it, and no, I don't feel like I need to be two different people...but more the same person whose two universes command different requirements. Home universe, and work universe. Not exactly Clark Kent by day and Batman by night, but more like Lucille Ball for home and...God I'm useless, I don't even know the names of respectable business women who would be an appropriate example, what Martha Stewart? No she ended up in jail, bah, anyway, some kind of respectable business woman who's opinion is trusted and appears to be a put together balanced individual. Lucille Ball I thought of right away, as she is a shambolic character who gets into mischief and it would be no surprise if she blew up a flour factory to great humorous result, or get herself shat on head first by a giant horse because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually, that's the answer right there. The Lucy 'character' for the show, and the real Lucille who schemed scheduled and managed the show to great success - same person, with two very different requirements. My problem is, sometimes the home version of me ends up making an appearance at work, and silly things happen.

I had a big presentation last week to all of the important department people, and the scary Director was there, front and centre. I am not intimidated by many people, that I am glad for, but oh boy I am super nervous around this lady, she is someone I wouldn't want to cross. It is possibly all in my head, I am sure she is lovely, but she is waaaaaaaay up there and when I first started I was waaaaaaaaaaay down there, employer-employee-wise, and we would never have chance of crossing anyway as I was of such underling status, and most thankful for that. Then, one horrible day, somebody sent me to her, to ask something, oh God, and I had to walk the long walk all the way to her desk...I peeked around the big corner. There she was, looking Really Important. I said "Um hi, I..." and then she looked up and said, in a voice like it was from the Wizard of Oz, from the Wizard with his Booming Microphone of Fear at the Emerald Gates, "NOW IS NOT A GOOD TIME. BWAHAHAHAHAHAH" and I said "squeak, oh sorry, I'll come" and then I practically sprinted away. Then I have been on two consecutive maternity leaves, barely glimpsing her at the working times in between. So three years later, I stand before her and her gang, at the mercy of the crowd. How I ended up there? My manager, when I returned to work this time, said he'd like to 'take the opportunity to raise my profile' and 'why don't you finalize and present the of utmost importance 5 year strategic plan to the Director?'. Sure sounds great! Gulp. She never did say the "BWAHAHAHAHAHAH" part of the story, by the way, but I saw it in her eyes. For certain.

Of course my manager didn't know, and still doesn't know, that actually, 'raising my profile' is about the last thing I want to do right now. I desire most of all to go into hiding, then magically appear 1.8 years from now, without anyone noticing I was ever gone. But no. Instead I am thrust into the glaring halogen spotlights of conference room 02-314, in front of Her. I had to really plot what I was going to wear - how could I make myself look really confident, really thin, and thus really un-pregnant? By necessity the large flouncy top was a must. Patterned, black and white, like a Zebra with their evolutionary strategy for confusing their predators. Due to the extremely flouncy nature of the top, though, I had to then exaggerate any thinness left that I could, to create the look that I was CHOOSING to be flouncy, for STYLE of course. No other reason. So I then had to dig up my skinny work trousers, which I had already had the foresight to retire, as they are really skinny - and for skinny people. Which I am now not. I thought [cleverly] OK, I can't really do them up, and would never survive the day let alone more than 2 hours with them done up, so I'll leave them open [I'll be sitting down most of the day at my desk] and then right before the meeting, I'll do them up and suffer for the meeting and my scary presentation, then undo them again after that. Right. So all is going well, and before the meeting I go to the bathroom to perform the doing-up-of-the-trousers. They WON'T do up. For the life of me, they wouldn't do up! I am really straining, REALLY trying, because God, I can't possibly do that presentation in front of all those people and Her, with my pants falling down???!! And they totally were. No matter how snug, ye trousers that are not done up, are ye trousers that fall down. Time was ticking though and I had to get going, forbid I be late and bring any attention to myself, worse any bad attention. I sidle in and sit down, safe for the moment.

It's my turn. Every step to the front of the room, the questionable trousers slip another cm down. I strike a pose, a trouser sustaining pose that must have made me look a fool, but saved me from the worst. I opened my legs into a sort of twisted scissor stance, reverse stretch-shimmying the fabric back in a positive direction. I shift twist orientation to shimmy up another go, to try to gain an original trouser position, and lose any saggy trouser crotch look I had gained. All the while, going over the PEST analysis, key messages, and publication strategy for the cardiovascular franchise. My elbows then come into play to assist; clenching either side, to relieve the Twist and Shout legwork that I was on at before. Someone asks a question - I take the opportunity to 'casually' lean on the table near me in front, over 'lean' with my waist, and gain a few more cms of trouser security. Of course, there is a lot of interest in my presentation [dammit] and I am up there for ages, 25 minutes turn to 45 minutes, and an hour. All the while, the Scissor Twist and the elbows are hard at work, the table shimmy making a few more appearances. I was suffering. But I faced my fear. I actually think all the dancing shenanigans was a blessing in disguise, as I was then far more concerned with my modesty in the workplace, than facing Her again. I did it. I might have even convinced them that, at work, I can be an Important Person.

Meanwhile, back at home, Lucille is at it again. I seem constantly covered in poo, or vomit, or getting weed on. Catching/picking up poo with my bare hands. Using stuffed tigers to divert the vomit from the poor already-assaulted carpet, thus spraying my own face with it. Fishing toys out of pooey toilets. Having other children's wee all over my bathroom. Treasure hunting cat poo from the litter box. Poo poo poo wee wee vomit. Day in and day out. Then I sit on the couch and eat apple pie right out of the box, and only use the fork to 'cut' my 'slice [1/4 of the whole pie] and then pick it up with my hands, while watching some rubbish TV like Britain's Next Top Model and American Idol. I pick pickles out of the jar with my fingers and eat them over the sink. I wear bright green yoga bottoms as standard around the house, and am never without my slippers. I am generally uncouth in my home version of me. Yet I have somehow convinced them all at work that I am super productive, super responsible, super smart, super reliable - and somehow I AM. It quite surprises me.

Too bad I'll ruin that next week [2 weeks?] when I break the baby news. Well, my mum knows someone who is a retired Head of HR at a company like mine, and he says they will forgive me for my 3 serial pregnancies, IF I am good. I did know I would have a lot to prove when I came back to work; even more so now I guess. I'll just have to keep shimmy Scissor Twisting my way to the top as much as I can, before I press the snooze button on my career, yet again. Hopefully just the snooze button, and not Sleep this time. Or Off. Yikes I am dreading having to break the news.

I do like being an Important Person at home as well, don't get me wrong. After all, someone has to be the Director of Vomit Catching and Poo Poo Associate Head. Lucky me I really do get to have it all!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Hiding in Plain Sight

God, look at that gut! Already, hrumph. The first time I got away with it, big time. I mean, I was almost 6 months pregnant before I had to tell anyone at work - and that was just because we had a cursed Conference Ball and I wasn't going to be able to sport my handy-hiding bulky suit jackets for that event. I was so ill prepared, I had to, the day before the Ball, sneak out of the conference, find a maternity store in Birmingham, and buy a dress. The one I had brought was a 'big' (or what I thought was big, apparently not big enough) regular dress. The seams on that one were groaning with the pressure and I thought that kind of explosion was not the way I wanted to reveal my news.

Of course, I HAD to hide the pregnancy as long as possible. As it happened, I started the job already 3 months pregnant. Oops. My advantage there was that when people were meeting me for the first time, they would have just thought I was a bit tubby, as my general state. And I "never drink at work occasions, as I thought it unprofessional". And I had bad fashion taste, with big 80's suit jackets for all occasions, and floaty hippy chick dresses for evening casual. What a dweeb they must have thought I was (am)!! I guess that might have fit in with an image of 'lady who works in a science industry' but I was actually loathe to contribute to the stereotype. My apologies to both stylish- and frumpy-type science ladies, I have done neither category any service. Then they must have thought I 'had a few too many pies' (as they say) over the passing months afterwards. On Ball night, I arrived at the before party in the hotel room, in my fitted black maternity dress, my pretty big 6 month baby belly clearly profiled. SHOCKER. That was quite fun actually, the surprise, the genuine surprise from everyone. I had really got away with it until then.

Second time around I had gained my station with the company, earned my keep as it were, to deserve to tell pretty much right away. It saved me a lot of tight trouser imprints on my stomach, and whole afternoons of constant-inhale-hold-in-the-gut-lunch-has-bloated-me-like-an-inflatable-dinghy. But somehow, this time I am back at stage 1. At least I feel that I am. The company had bent over backwards making accommodations for me to come back, special working hours, working from home, no travel, new office based job, promotion...they have been very generous, and I felt really appreciated coming back. Now I feel very...sheepish. Embarrassed. How could I repay them in this way?? Terrible employee! Bad Employee! I really should be sat in the corner with a naughty hat, a 'No More Babies' hat. I am also meant to be covering the position of someone on maternity leave, who doesn't return until September. Now I'm leaving them high and dry, probably the end of April. So let's count together that's May June July August September 5 months of high and dry. See, oops again! It IS like the first time. My poor boss, what will I tell him?? WHEN will I tell him? How will I tell him? Do I have to tell him? AAck!

Funny, I even reassured him when I came back to work, I literally said "Well, you don't need to worry about any more babies from me [as Mike's away], unless it's by immaculate conception!" Ha ha!!! Joke's on me. Actually, joke's on him. Maybe this is an immaculate baby? Good thing I am not a religious person. Let's not get carried away now.

I was at the pharmacy the other day, and noticed a poster on the wall, with silhouettes of people with big guts, with tape measures around their big guts. It said (along the lines of) 'Is Your Big Gut THIIIIIIIS Big? Then You Are At Risk Of Having Diabetes!!!'. Considering my own profile nowadays, the poster should more appropriately warn 'Is Your Big Gut THIIIIIIIS Big? Then You Are At Risk Of Having A Baby In There!!!'. Or, "Is Your Employee's Big Gut THIIIIIIIS Big? Then You Are At Risk Of A Surprise Work Absence That Requires Annoying 6 Month Coverage Or Unattended Vacancy!!!'.

So, I have begun to don my stereotype frumpy lady attire, again. I look dreadful. Good thing I am only in the office twice a week. My boss won't know what happened - he has been away for 3 weeks on holiday and had left a thin and stylish Science Lady behind. He will be greeted back by a tubby, floaty, frumpy, Gut Buster. I wonder how long until he notices himself, considering the fashion change? Considering my Big Gut is THIIIIIIIIS Big?


Saturday, 2 October 2010


I used to be a good mum.

When I had just one child, I had a cleaner for 4 hours, once a week. I had a full time live in nanny. I was even at home with a nanny-mum overlap of over 4 months! I had schedules and lists on the kitchen utility room wall of his routine, his carefully planned healthful meal schedule, his range of activities and outings and how to get there; the ideal amount of time spent there. TV was available 'as a treat' only, 30 minutes once a week. No sugary biscuits, no candy, no chocolate - just wholesome baby biscuits with extra vitamins, fresh fruit, and yogurt. His yogurt was the expensive Total Greek yogurt, mixed with fresh fruit puree made at home. His morning cereals had omega oils mixed in, and ABIDEC vitamin potion. His sleeping bag was washed twice a week, and bed sheet changed once a week. Bottles were sterilized until he was at least 14 months old, and his water boiled even longer. His tray was sterile wiped after each meal, and taken off and washed at least once a day.

Sorry, let me change that. I used to be a 'good' mum.

God what a crazy lady I am! In my life, through my life, I have tended to quest for perfection. I always actually wanted or expected 100% on my tests and exams. I wanted to be able to do anything, and be the best or at least almost the best at it. If it was a pretty far fetched goal, I'd at minimum expect myself to be able to get into it, get to do it, be accepted at it. Get away with it. In university and just after university, I fancied myself a sort of Forrest Gump; in that I could seemingly fumble my way into anything, meeting one different situation/opportunity/challenge after another, no matter how unrelated, no matter how inexperienced along the traditional pathway to get there, and pull it off. Why? I need a psychologist in the audience to answer that one. Insecure? Requiring external acceptance for 'being' remarkable? Too much energy? Too much positive feedback and reward for being 'keen' 'enthusiastic' and 'different'? Never feeling accepted in groups and needing to 'prove' myself to the world? "Look at me, look what I can do, la la la la, wow what will I do NEXT!!!"

Mercifully, I have grown up since then. I had ended up doing some pretty wiggity-whack things in my time. Exciting time, that was. And you know what? I DID get away with it. I did do all those things. I did swerve left right up down, made it 'in'. I got 100%. People WERE surprised at what I did 'next'. It was also, in retrospect, a humbling time. In my misguided enthusiasm I know I stomped on a few toes...not full-on foot or head stomping (I'm not an evil crazy lady, just a crazy lady) but I am humbled by the loyalty my friends have shown me, and I am wizened by the non-loyalty my non-friends have shown me. I do feel genuinely sorry for those who got stomped. What a bum. I also learned that being me, whatever my personality is or isn't, is polarizing. I was either really really loved, or despised. Hopefully in my grown up state of self I am a bit more on the loveable side.

Although I have grown up, I clearly, two years ago at least, had a way to go. I appear to have placed my quest for perfection efforts on my poor son. I have to assume now that healthy yogurt and no chocolate won't scar him for life (but you never know). And lucky for him, something has knocked me down to size, bumped me from any pedestal, no matter how shrunken it was. That something is Motherhood. I've been bested by mother nature herself! My situation now is further evidence of my lack of control now over my life. Anything can happen! Unplanned things! Unschemed things! Things I don't know what to do next about!

Over the last couple of years, as Motherhood seems to have been winning, en garde! and I have fallen ever so steadily behind in the control of my environment, my children, my life, it has come to this. I have a new 'blind eye' policy I have made to myself, as I just cannot face it sometimes. There are really big entanglements of cobwebs on the Artex on the ceiling, and in the cornice mouldings - probably helping to hold it together, as there are huge cracks on them, and between the ceiling. In the garage there is a resident spider, quite a big fella, whose home is suspended between the dryer and the freezer, whom I face at least once a day. On top of the garage freezer is an very huge collection of tiny bug dead bodies, which I also ignore. There is a grit, like an overspilled sand pit style grit, through the front hall that my slippers grit about on. I wipe the bottom of my slippers on the leg of my jeans as I leave the hall, and move on.

The children's sheets get removed and washed when a magic combination occurs of me thinking of it, and me actually doing it. My youngest son has his tray wiped with a regular cloth, and very rarely removed and/or sterilized. He also got unsterilized bottles and tap water from about 10 months old. They eat Petite Filous and Munch Bunch and Little Stars yogurts. My oldest son has even had chocolate Oreo cookies. After their supper tonight they watched not one but three shows, two Thomas and Friends, and one Postman Pat: SDS. I found a little stone in the washing machine, and I picked it out, and threw it on the carpet by the back door. OK fine, then I thought about it and picked it up and put it in the bin. Some old habits die hard. I do have a cleaner, but she comes every other week, for 3 hours. Sometimes even just 2.

My kids both go to nursery, 4 days a week. Two of the days they even have to have breakfast there, and are dropped off at 7:45 am, and I can only get to them again at 5:45, and I fear in the future as the weather and driving get worse, 6 pm, later? Two of the days, at least, I work from home, and they can eat at home and play a bit first, then get dropped at 9 am and retrieved at 5 pm. Am I guilt-ridden? Extremely. Am I broke right now? Yes. Do I have to be a working mum? Yes. Do I have to send them to nursery? Yes. Do I not have time/energy/home skills to keep on top of every blinking job in this house? Yes. Will the kids survive anyway and end up being balanced, kind, clever individuals? I'd like to say yes, I'd hope for yes. So OK, I'm OK with that.

Fine, I'm not a 'good' mum anymore. Not to be cliche, but, oh go on then, I'm a Great Mum. We all have a cuddle at the end of the day, I am there for them when they need me, and I still have 3 days a week to guide them emotionally and behaviourally...they don't care about my cracked up ceilings and sandy floor and cobwebby corners. Petite Filous aren't so bad, either. I'm doing the best I can now, and that's just fine.