I had dinner last night with a group of women who are all about to, or have recently, given birth. One woman is due in two weeks and I'm due in five, so there was lots of advice given by the already-mothers about the time ahead. For instance: 'Get a mattress protector for your bed. If your waters break while you're in there you'll wreck it.'
As it is, I feel like I'm hardly ever in bed anyway. I'm up every 60 minutes to trundle off to the loo (the toilet is sooo far away in our new place) and despite being exhausted when I go bed I am finding it hard to sleep. This is a combination of being increasingly uncomfortable and having increasingly anxiety about all the things I've yet to do. It's a big relief about the nappy service though. I don't have to think about that, at least, and they even provide the nappies. Plus, the friend who has had her stuff stored in the Room of Fear is coming tomorrow morning to clear it all out, which is good too. And I'm starting to wonder if I even need a change table. Maybe I only need the shaped foam bit that fits into it.
The others at the dinner last night were all from the same high school and were laughing (albeit in a horrified kind of way) about some of the sex-ed videos they were shown in year nine. Apparently there was a very graphic one where the final sequence was a woman ripping as she gave birth. All of them remembered it vividly, even 20 years later.
Belly laughing has become painful for me, and I am attempting to avoid it. Thieu and I watched a DVD the other night about Leonardo da Vinci and the actor playing his patron, Cesare Borgia, had a very fake-looking beard on. Thieu pretended to be Borgia, boasting about his vast collection of fake beards. 'This one was made by the Visigoths. They make the finest fake beards known to man.' I had to beg him to stop after a while. I can't imagine what it would've been like for the Bump. Something like going on a 4WD journey across rough country, I imagine.
The next morning I wrote 'Cesare Borgia' on a post-it note as a blog-reminder, not noticing that there was already something written on it. Now the post-it note reads: 'Hi! There's a DVD-R writer installed on your computer for your backups! Cesare Borgia.'
Which is currently amusing me almost as much as the fake beards conversation.
The farewell lunch (which is not really farewell) went well yesterday. I'd heard hints that there was some consternation as to what I should be given, so I started hinting that there was an elephant mobile that I'd quite like. I was intending to be helpful but apparently confusion ensued as the person I emailed the hint to thought I meant the phone variety of mobile rather than the dangling from the ceiling type. As I only got a mobile for myself this year this struck me as amusing, although I like the idea that the baby could call (or just text, because it's cheaper) when it was ready for a feed or a nappy change.
Speaking of nappy changes the other thing they got me was a 6 week nappy service, which is a great present (and something I hinted at strongly). It was altogether a very pleasant lunch. My boss got a bit teary ('Babies always make me cry') and I said thanks heaps for the stuff and that was that. I even had a sip of champagne - first since December (infact, I can't remember when I last had one) which made me instantly want to curl up under my desk and go to sleep.
My collegues all signed a giant card which says on the front 'You're Going to Have a Baby' and then on the inside says 'Good luck'. I like the way you could either interpret this as a positive message or a slightly cynical one. I've got it next to my desk, just in case I ever forget that I'm having a baby. It's a handy visual reminder.
I went to a lecture last night run by Readings and the Victorian Women's Trust about working mothers, delayed motherhoood and the declining fertility rates in Australia. It was, as I expected, fairly depressing and, not surprisingly, no real solutions were drawn. Infact, it was suggested that things could well get worse - the proposed changes to the current unfair dismissal laws in Australia are likely to impact most severely on part time and casual workers who are often mothers.
Anne Manne quoted another author asking how we feel about living in a culture where a child's first words might be spoken to a childcare worker and an old person's last words to someone in a hospital or nursing home. Which is all very well to say, but often there isn't a way around it. For many people having two incomes is an economic necessity and then for other women, who have worked hard at building up a career, working is something they actively want to do.
Leslie Cannold was very interesting on the subject of declining fertility, suggesting that a lot of the time it's not that women are delaying having children because they're too busy with their careers or having fun etc but because they have yet to find the right partner. She suggested that women are much more likely to leave an unsatisfactory relationship than they were in the past and that many women would not consider having children with someone who they don't feel will offer them the support they need. It seems obvious, but it was interesting.
It's all very good timing for me because I'm having my 'farewell' at work today, even though I'm staying on for another 2 and a half weeks. A number of people will be away on my actual departure date so it was decided to have it early. My work has been incredibly supportive throughout my pregnancy which has helped things considerably.
I'll probably spend some time mulling over the things that were said at the lecture throughout the day. Anne Manne pointed out that the government's concern about declining fertility rates could actually work in women's favour as a way to push for improvements in the current childcare situation in Australia. The area Thieu and I live in has over 1950 names on childcare waiting lists. Bump doesn't even have a name and is one of the 1950, as people keep telling me that it can take over 2 years to get a place.
On a completely different note, I think I've found my next crochet project. Isn't this blanket lovely? I'm not sure how many blankets Bump is going to need considering the weather will shortly be warming up, but I think I'll make it anyway.
There has been, of late, an urge to create things using sticks and wool. I'm loathe to call it 'nesting' because I haven't been swooping on the sticks from afar and carrying them back to the Room of Fear in my beak and then deftly weaving them in with other sticks. But I'm not sure how else to explain it. I managed to satisfy the urge for a while by knitting scarves. Thieu would watch me,perplexed, as I knitted endless metres. 'Surely that's long enough now?' he'd suggest once the scarf reached had done a loop of the house. 'Not quite,' I'd reply and keep going until my fingers seized up.
But eventually the scarves weren't enough. And so I gave in and began a baby blanket. Even though it's almost definitely bad luck. Even though it doesn't save money. I wanted to make one just because I wanted to make one. It wasn't a knitted one either. Knitting has an element of alternative-hipness about it. No, I crocheted it. There's nothing cool about crochet. You can't proudly do it on a tram the way you could with knitting and have other hipsters smile at you. People move away from you if you crochet in public.
So I crocheted furtively at home, in the evenings, while watching tv. But eventually I stopped caring. I even got a bit blaze about it and left the rug lying around where anyone could see. And when people asked me what I was knitting I'd correct them and tell them it wasn't knitting, it was crochet. I embraced crochet and it felt good.
On Friday I even told some people at work about it and didn't care when they (gently) mocked me. I understand. The grumpy-faced girl in black is not the one you imagine curling up at home with a ball of yarn and a crochet hook. Later, however, one of them offered up a confession. 'I understand about the crochet,' she said. 'When I was pregnant I took up cross-stitch. It happened to my sister too. I was too embarrassed to mention it before.' It was a good moment. I felt we understood each other.
Last night I finished the rug and felt sad. It's not the best blanket - the stripes go the wrong way and it's very uneven. But I enjoyed making it.
Thieu's brother and his partner had their baby yesterday - 4 days early and 7lbs 1. As yet un-named. They live in the country, about 30 minutes from the nearest hospital, which is not too bad except that M's last child arrived after 40 minutes of her being in labour.
It's a milestone, because I knew that when theirs was born ours would not have long to go. Bump seemed disinterested by the news our her/his cousin's arrival, but later in the evening got a vigourous attack of the hiccups. Thieu pressed his ear to the hiccuping area and leapt up in alarm a moment later. 'Bump kicked me in the face,' he said indignantly.
Three more weeks of work left - doesn't seem possible.
The Room of Fear remains unexplored territory although, encouragingly, the baby clothes seem to be multiplying in there. I found a bag of them that I didn't know existed (I was in there using the only mirror we own). I'm getting closer to being able to deal with it.