Poor Stevie

Archive of ‘love’ category

So I don’t forget: A day with her

It usually starts with happy calls of what sounds like “daddy daddy daddy daddy daddy!”.

She’ll be standing in her cot, with her leopard print blankie jammed in her mouth, or tossed on the floor. Sometimes she bounces on her mattress. Her curly hair is wild and tall.

When I lift her up and take her out into the lounge room she always points and says “ooooh”, like she’s never seen anything in the room before.

I make her some “nana”, a word she uses for all food, not just banana. She eats her Weet-Bix, while pointing at her belly and trying to stand up in her high chair. Later, she demands most of my toast. She cries when J-man leaves for work, but can be quickly distracted by her stuffed dog, or a pen, or the tupperware cupboard.

When I try to dress her, she struggles and cries and tries to crawl away, unless I give her something to look at like a book, or a toy, or a nappy. She has an incredible appetite, and an incredible digestive system, so this happens several times a day.

She has only just started walking, and it’s strange to hear her little footsteps as she follows me around the house. She watches as I make the bed, put washing on, do the dishes and straighten the house. Usually she spills a glass of water next to our bed, or pulls a million tissues out of the box, or opens her dad’s underwear drawer and puts a pair of undies on her head.

It doesn’t take long for her to get tired and, when she rubs her eyes, I read her a story – but not the one with the pop-up butterflies because it’s too scary – and put her in her cot.

She wakes up about an hour-and-a-half later, often with a loud cry. If it’s a sunny day, we go up the road and sit under the trees. I drink coffee and she plays and points to dogs, buses, and trucks. She eyes children suspiciously, as though she can’t believe we’ve been hiding all these other short people from her. If someone beeps their horn, she will say “beet beet”. If she hears a bird, she will say “teet teet”.

Later, we have lunch and, if I’ve made her something she likes (which changes everyday), she squeals and throws her hands in the air. She eats while grinning and showing me what she’s chewed up. She loves to feed herself, scooping yoghurt from her colourful bowl and spilling it down her front.

Soon it’s time for her afternoon nap, and I read her a story and put her in her cot. She is not always willing to let sleep overcome her in the afternoon, so sometimes she spends half an hour singing quietly to herself.

On hot afternoons we visit my friend down the road, who has a baby only four days younger than her. Her baby friend calls her “Deils Deils” and she calls her baby friend “Bea Bea”. They will splash in the inflatable pool, grunt at each other over miniature prams, drink the pool water, take turns of going up and down the stairs, pull each others’ hair, eat frozen fruit, try to eat rocks, and collapse on a big beanbag in exhaustion.

At the end of the day, she usually plays with J-man for a while and eats slices of cheddar cheese, which she calls “ghee”. She eats dinner, while we sit and talk to her. She has a bath in the big laundry tub and reaches out for her toothbrush every night, because she likes to hold it. She screams when you wash her hair, and hates the little water visor shaped like a duck’s bill even though it’s ridiculously cute. When we get her out of the tub, we wrap her in a towel. It’s one of the only times she will happily agree to cuddle.

She snuggles with her blankie during her bedtime story, and when we say good night and leave the room she waves by clenching and unclenching her fist, smiles and says “bu-bye!”

Happy nude year

At 12.01am on January 1, 2014, as people outside cheered and turned up music and let off crackers, I was changing a very dirty nappy. One of those up-to-the-ears-all-up-the-back poops, that you cannot believe came from something so beautiful and teensy and precious. It turned out it was an apt way to start a year that was a bit of a shit, if I’m honest.

Usually, I do a year in review by looking back at my diary entries for the year. But reading my diary was far too upsetting and boring, so I thought I would take my sister Julia’s Year in Review questionnaire thingy.

My sister Julia’s Year in Review questionnaire thingy

1.What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I became a ‘working mother’. I also ate a cronut.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I kept most of them. We moved out of our horrible hot granny flat in Balmain, I got a haircut, I got out and made some new friends, I am in the process of fixing my pelvis that got f-ed up when a baby passed through it, I read more.

A few of my goals for 2015 are: re-learn how to sew, make a complicated birthday cake for someone, go to the theatre, and make sure I mark special occasions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, my sister Mary had the darling Alexandra.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. So, that was nice.

5. What countries did you visit?

Country NSW. That place is the bomb. Wide open spaces, excellent cakes, the best op-shops, old school friends, animals, brilliant melting moments and surprisingly fresh sushi.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Patience. Sleep. Fashion.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 26. We moved house that day and it was the greatest. July 21. That’s when I went back to work and the girl child went to daycare. August 26. The day we ignored our 10th anniversary. September 21, the day my baby became a toddler.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Going back to work. Making a bad-ass batch of cinnamon scrolls.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Scratching the side of my mum’s car in the Orange City Centre carpark. I will never forget that awful, heart-sinking feeling when I heard the sound of metal and concrete making contact.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I kicked post-natal depression in its teeth. I’m still trying to fix a case of pubis symphysis, which has me hobbling like a pirate. I am wearing a sort of velcroed, elastic, grey girdle belt as I write! Oh,mama!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A car. She’s royal blue and we named her Barbara Bush.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

J-man, for being a boss legend. My sisters and mum and dad, for supporting me during the early months of motherhood. The girl child, for being ever so sweet.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled?

The woman who lost it at a checkout chick in KMart when she found out their selfie sticks were sold out two days before Christmas. And after a year like 2014, so, so many others.

14. Where did most of your money go?

To childcare. And the motor vehicle industry.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Seeing Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age. The baby was about six months old, and still not sleeping very well, and I had been feeling pretty flat. I remember coming home after the show and telling J-man that I felt alive again.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Nominal, by #1 Dads.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

a) HAPPIER. SO MUCH HAPPIER.

b) Same.

c) Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Relaxing and being creative. I pretty much never did those things.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Fighting and looking at my phone. I waste so much time on my stupid, fucking phone. Maybe a new year’s resolution should be setting fire to my phone.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Eating. Swimming. Watching an enormous thunderstorm.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

No. But I didn’t fall out of love.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

There were so many good ones this year. Orange is the New Black, Veep, True Detective, and Chelsea Peretti’s comedy special on Netflix, One of the Greats.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No. My hate levels remain very critical, but stable

24. What was the best book you read?

This House of Grief, by Helen Garner.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Young Fathers. Palms.

26. What did you want and get?

A baby who occasionally sleeps through the night. A box of Haigh’s truffles. A new house. A lot of time in the country. Some wonderful new friends.

27. What did you want and not get?

A holiday.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

Ah, man. This is a mean question to ask the mother of a young child. I really liked Gone Girl and was particularly chuffed to have seen Ben Affleck’s man jewels.

29. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Having an interesting job.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Youngish mumish, watermelon print enthusiast.

31. What kept you sane?

Afternoon walks in Rozelle, especially after discovering Bellingen Gelato and their mint-choc-chip. It is spiked with real peppermint essence and is filled with a generous amount of dark chocolate shavings. PUT IT IN MY MOUTH IMMEDIATELY.   

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Ira Glass. Justice Lucy McCallum. Justice Geoffrey Bellew.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Ah, man. This year made me mad in my bones. Gender equality. Racial equality. All of the equalities. Climate change. Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. Changes to the welfare system.

34. Who did you miss?

My mum. 300 kilometres may as well be 30,000 kilometres sometimes.   

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

I’m still learning how to live in the moment. Not in the idiot-girl-in-your-university-dorm-inspirational-quote kind of way, but I need to just to look around every day, and be content with what I have.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

I got a man to stick it out
And make a home from a rented house
And we’ll collect the moments one by one
I guess that’s how the future’s done

How many acres how much light
Tucked in the woods and out of sight
Talk to the neighbours and tip my cap
On a little road barely on the map

mixed nuts

It turns out motherhood has made me pretty crazy. To illustrate, here are a few of my recent Google searches: “sleep regression”, “baby waking at 4am and not going back to sleep”, “sleeping through the night”,”shush pat”, “getting rid of the dummy”, “getting rid of the wrap”, “pick up, put down”, “putting baby down awake”, “baby bedtime”, “am I a bad mother?”, “Khloe and Kourtney Take Miami”.

As you can tell I am really living it up on maternity leave. Also, I am pretty obsessed with sleep. I always have been. For an assignment in year 4 we had to track how we spent our days. I slept the most out of everyone in my class and was mildly scolded by our teacher for listing sleep as one of my hobbies. I’m probably the only person to have enjoyed a bout of glandular fever – two weeks of sleep! Yes! Sleep really is just the best.

I have also always been pretty obsessed with babies. I picked out the name Cordelia when I was 16. I have cooed over little baby outfits since forever. I would snatch baby cousins from their parents and cuddle them all day long. In early high school, I found out it might be hard for me to have a baby. I remember the vacant looks on the pimply faces of my friends as I broke the news in the playground, a mere 14 years since we all exited the birth canal.

So my two greatest loves have collided. Poor J-man has to console me almost daily about some new thing I found buried deep on a 2007 parenting forum. (Apparently I’m also obsessed with torturing myself.) “J-man!” I say “I read about some woman whose baby went from sleeping perfectly to never sleeping at all and her marriage broke down and now she lives in a caravan and has warts on her nose and wears a rope belt and tissue boxes as shoes”. Over and over again, he has to remind me that everything is OK, he won’t leave me (IT’S IN PRINT NOW, JOEL), everything is a phase, our baby is lovely and my feet are way too big to fit in tissue boxes.

This parenthood thing can be rough. But there’s someone who makes it all worthwhile. I love her to bits…

… when she’s asleep

Dearly22

… and when she’s awake

Dearly1

labour pains: the finale

Exactly a week after Snorky was due, on September 21, this is what happened:

4.37am – I wake to painful cramps that pulse through my belly at regular intervals. I wait a moment before I wake J-man because this whole fake labour shiz has been going on for weeks. This could just be Thai take-out, I think. Like that scene in The Madness of King George when Helen Mirren tells Nigel Hawthorne to “try a fart”, I do just that to no avail. I wake J-man and tell him it’s on like Donkey Kong.

6am – The contractions are consistently coming every couple of minutes. In the book they give you at baby classes, it says this means the baby is imminent and get in the car now or you will have the kid in the toilet. I am thrilled at how quickly it all seems to be going and I imagine gazing at my baby over lunch.

8am – I have peanut butter on toast for breakfast, as the contractions pick up. J-man rings the hospital and they tell us amateurs to stay at home because this baby is not coming anytime soon. Hey lady, take some Panadol, have a hot shower and chew on some cement, they tell us.

9am – I set up a pain station in the lounge room, where I kneel on a pillow and put my head on another pillow placed on a chair. I cry, I scream, and I grunt. This baby is coming! J-man talks about calling the hospital again. I say if they ask whether the pain is manageable to tell them yes it is, I have a high pain threshold, and I could just as easily have this baby at home. I hear him say these words, words that will come to haunt me.

11am – Everything comes to a grinding halt. I feel like an idiot.

Noon – Oh, hang on. Here we go, something is happening. I want to keep things moving, so I get the broom and use it as a walking stick for my dicky hip and do laps of the courtyard under the hot sun. The contractions continue to come frequently and I moan and groan while our neighbours discreetly usher their visitors indoors.

2pm – Finally, I rate the pain as unmanageable and we hop in our little hire car and go to the hospital. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I distinctly remember sitting at a red light on Victoria Road wishing for death. Or birth. Whichever.

2.15pm – The midwives obviously care not about my views on life and death and send me to a waiting room in the delivery ward. Another couple – a heavily pregnant woman who is not in labour and her dude – sit across from us watching some kind of car race on the TV. I am contracting in front of strangers and it is the height of totes awkward. I squeeze J-man’s hand until it looks like a rubber chicken.

2.20pm – A lovely young midwife named Emily with a nose stud examines me and finds I am measuring – cough – three centimetres. Three. And I have to get to ten. How embarrassing is this? I can’t even take contracting to a three. She tells us to head back home, rest, have something to eat and come back at about 6pm.

3pm – This part is kind of a daze. I don’t remember being in heaps and heaps of pain, but I do remember telling J-man he should get in some nap time and a Red Dead Redemption session before things get real. I eat coconut bread with honey and an orange icy pole. Things amp up about 5.30pm and red hot, raging cramps race around my belly and back.

6.45pm – We go back to the hospital. The short trip to RPA is horrific. I cry and moan and have hand-to-hand combat with my seatbelt, which I’m convinced is making everything worse.

7pm – A kindly middle-aged midwife ushers me in to a delivery suite and shows me how to use the gas. The gas, my friends, is a con. It does nothing. But it does feel surprisingly good to just pretend. I get into a night shirt and ask the midwife whether I should take off my underpants. She laughs and says I can keep my dignity a little longer.

7.20pm – A lovely young midwife named Tori comes in and takes over. She says I now measure four. Fucking FOUR!? Will I still be in labour when they hand me a gold timepiece at my retirement party? She suggests we all get in the shower together. Me, her, J-man and the gas bottle. The shower is (obviously) huge. Tori and J-man chit-chat and discover we all went to the same uni. It’s weird. Here I am, totally naked, having a shower while my husband watches with another woman and there’s drugs in the room. This is not something I would usually be into.

9pm – The feeling of hot water on my body starts to annoy me. And this is about the time that I lose my mind. It is, I believe, the part the books and Satan himself call “transition”. At first I lean up against the bed growling and grunting like a wild animal, sucking in gas and chewing ice chips. Tori tells me to let her know when I am not coping and she will give me morphine. Soon after, I yell at J-man “I AM NOT COPING” in between hitting him on the chest as the contractions start to become just one big, awful contraction. I get the morphine. It does nothing for the pain, only makes me really sleepy in between contractions. With each one, Tori tells me “You can. You can”.

10pm – It’s time to start pushing. I won’t go into graphic detail, only to say that while it stung like a giant bee with fangs, claws, and Swiss Army knife in its pocket, it was such a feeling of relief. I look back now, imagining being naked, on all fours and grunting, as two midwives look up my clacker, and the only way I can explain it is this: I was not there for my own labour. The real me was at home watching Breaking Bad and eating cheese on the couch, waiting for Labour Steph – the unashamed and naked one – to come home with the baby.

11.37 – A little, blue being drops between my legs and starts to cry. J-man cuts the cord. I call my parents. We cry, we laugh, we freak out. We name her Cordelia.

Delia1

 

 

my boo

I just looked up euphemisms for pregnancy, and my favourite is “in the pudding club”. So yeah, as 50 Cent would say: I’m in the club, bottle full of bub.

Also, you could say I’m growing feet.

Feet

In the grand tradition of lists about things I find weird (Europe and also Europe), I bring you a list of weird things I’ve noticed about being pregnant.

A list of weird things I’ve noticed about being pregnant:

It’s dark and nighttime: When not pregnant I close my eyes, and eight, nine, or sometimes ten hours later, I wake up in exactly the same position. Now suddenly I’m waking up at midnight, 3am, 5am and then when my alarm goes off. But I’m mostly waking up for strange reasons.

A couple of nights ago I woke up in a cold sweat because I had a graphic dream about autopsy photos. A few nights later I woke up in a marital panic in the middle of a dream about passionately kissing some dude. In the morning I realised the dude was a guy I saw very briefly in a lift at work. He was nice and all, but he had a rat’s tail, a paunch and bail papers. Then last night I woke up at 2am with my doona folded very neatly on top of me and lying on Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and David Marr’s Quarterly Essay Political Animal, both of which I remembered putting at my bedside.

Chalk and cheese: My culinary desires have reverted right back to childhood. Serve me a plate of boiled eggs, mac cheese, olives and musk sticks and I would gladly give you my first born.

Sick, sick, sick: I haven’t talked about sexually transmitted diseases so much since mine and J-man’s first date. Every medical person I talk to wants to know about any history of warts, rashes and goo. I look them straight in the eyes, cross myself and tell them the only sexually transmitted disease I’ve ever contracted is love.

Clap your hands: I am deliriously, unabashedly happy. And really in love with J-man. Super weird.

sonnet

I am not living my dream.

I’m in a weird slump, and have been all year, where just about every day goes exactly like this: wake, frown, brush, sit, talk, bus, cook, cuddle, fart, sleep. Repeat. It’s just so sad, all that sleeping and eating and cuddling.

So I’ve been looking around to find people who are living their dreams. But the people I encounter tend to be taxi drivers (who have signs in their cars telling people not to spew or screw in their general vicinity), the guy who does overnight security at my building (he does overnight security at my building), the vending machine (is a machine) and a bus driver (who has to wear a fluro vest on a daily basis).

And then, as usual, I realised the answer was staring me in the face. And sometimes cooking me dinner. And spooning me late at night.

J-man is a dude who is living his dream, day in, day out. “It’s raining Joel,” he always says.

Observe.

He liked rap, so he joined a rap group:

He wanted some shelves in the shed, so he built some shelves in the shed:

He liked beer, so he learnt to make beer:

He was interested in running a beer festival, so worked his little nuts off and ran a beer festival:

He wanted to spend his 30th birthday in three time zones and finish it at Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn, so he spent his 30th birthday in three time zones and finished it at Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn:

He likes to chat, so he chats. A lot. With everyone:

He wanted scones, so he ate some scones:

He has a spirit animal:

It’s time to start making it rain Steve. Hallelujah.

gloria

When you are preparing to celebrate being in a relationship for eight years, you want to find the perfect outfit – something pretty, glamorous and saucy.

So you can imagine my delight when, in the weeks leading up to our octo-versary on the weekend, I found a handmade bright pink, neck-to-ankle 1970s bridesmaid’s dress/Rapunzel costume with a ruffle across the chest.

Ticks all the aforementioned boxes, I reckon:

I did consider leaving it long to cover my shame, but I thought I looked a bit too much like Princess Peach. So I got out my measuring tape and scissors and lopped about 30cm off the bottom.

As a side note, this is why I so desperately love op-shopping and eBaying:

I wonder who Gloria was and why she wanted to hide her stems under a bushell.

Anyhoot, I think it turned out quite well. It helped me convince the security guard at Star Casino I was of age and had quite an effect on the footpath poles in Newtown:

Because I have too many feelings I was dismayed at the leftover material, imagining Gloria had probably bought it with the money she saved from her job at the milk bar where she fell in love with George Bailey.

Shiny pink material? Meet a boring maroon dress I wore twice before realising it was far too short. The result? My new favourite outfit!

 

 

in lieu of flowers

On Tuesday it was our second wedding anniversary.

To celebrate I bought J-man a cactus pot and called it Grant against his will (Joel’s will that is. The cactus pot has no will, actually). This family of cactii could symbolise many things about being married for two years.

Observe:

– I am the perky red-headed cactus and J-man is the manly yellow-headed cactus. The prickly green cactus is life poking us in the butts.

– Just as a cactus needs little water, our love needs little … water?

– We have been married so long that neither of us bothers doing anything about our respective whiskers. Man, check out my spiky body spikes!

– If there was a drought (of love) you could break us open and still find water (love).

– We both like to tickle each other’s areoles.

– We will have little prickly babies or alternatively, a really tall, fat son.

OK, so everything above looks like it’s been translated from Mandarin by a two-year-old. I bought J-man a cactii pot because when we walked past the shop selling the cactii pot a little while ago, he said he wanted the cactii pot. You wanna know what love is? That’s it. Listening to your husband when he says he wants a cactii pot and then buying a cactiii pot for him later.

Also we needed a sibling for Admiral Fitzwallace, who was named during the peak of our West Wing viewing.

Love you my little Opuntia (Joel. You can’t feel love for a cactus, actually).

the hangover two

Yeah, so where were we? Oh, yeah. That’s right – me being all lame in Las Vegas.

I can assure you, that lameness continued during our second day in Vegas. Unlike everyone else in that crazy city with their fake boosies, Flinstone houses and sparkly fanny packs, I hate spending money. I’m a cautious person. Just now I scolded J-man for washing the hand-held blender while it was still plugged in and told him to cook the chicken through. You have to be so careful when it comes to electricity and chicken.

So J-man had to convince me to re-marry him before Elvis Christ. Over lunch that day he talked me into a $200 wedding package at Graceland Wedding Chapel, the very same place Jon Bon Jovi Christ married his wife in 1989.

On my real wedding day, I spent the morning painting my nails, doing my hair and sweating. On the morning of my second wedding day, I walked with my love through Red Rock Canyon. It was truly one of the most beautiful national parks we visited. It’s just like the America I imagined – magnificent and slightly eery, with plenty of places to hastily bury bodies to the sound of duelling banjos in the background.

red rock

Later that night, we went back to our seedy motel room and got gussied up. Just after night fell, a stretch limo picked us up and drove us up the strip to the chapel. J-man had never been in a limo before and was pressing all the buttons and marvelling at the television screens tuned to AV and the (empty) in-car bar. Oh J-man, what a novice. I, on the other hand, was once taken to a Justin Timberlake concert in a stretch hummer with a bunch of strangers who plied me with alcohol in the name of building professional relationships (I never heard from them again, like most people who have a) talked to me and b) seen me dance while mouthing the words to Sexy Back).

When we went inside the chapel, Elvis was not in the building. The two blonde receptionists, complete with teased hair, entertained us by showing us photos of Hamish and Andy’s wedding at the very same chapel. We all agreed it was strange that Andy would marry Hamish, when he had steak at home.

They pinned a rose on J-man’s shirt and handed me a bouquet and then a very sweaty Elvis appeared. It was a Tuesday night and it was clear Elvis would have preferred to be at home gently stroking his shag pile carpet. He quickly ushered us into the chapel, gave us a little run down, before walking me down the aisle; something I didn’t let my own dad do in the name of being an Independent Woman (the rock I’m rockin’, I bought it).

I walked down the aisle to Only Fools Rush In, exchanged Elvis-themed vows with J-man (“I promise never to step on your blue suede shoes”) and hammed it up for the cameras:

elvis3

elvis1

elvis2

Photies by Graceland Wedding Chapel.

When I look back at the photos, it’s clear I’m kind of getting over it towards the end and probably, judging from my bloated face, jonesing for some curly fries. But I remember leaving the chapel feeling absolutely euphoric. I was happy that we capped off our American adventure with something completely frivolous and crazy. And dudes, I may make fun of J-man all the time, but I would totally marry him a third time.

like i love you

Sometimes people ask me why did you marry J-man? Sure, he lets me eat food off his plate, buys me flowers twice in one week and strokes my head while telling baby animal stories when I can’t sleep. But just now? He made me soak his white t-shirt after he’d spilt homemade pizza sauce on it while making my dinner. It’s a lot for me to deal with when I’m trying to watch TV.

So it’s just as well he has the world’s stupidest sense of humour:

lunchbox

The reason this makes me laugh is not so much the fact that I can imagine J-man, who insists he’s some kind of professional, will leave it somewhere after a really important meeting. It’s mostly because it reminds me a lot of what I was like as an eight-year-old neighbourhood roughian. This is the kind of stuff I used to write on my wooden ruler. Once I sent an invitation to a picnic to a boy in the street with instructions to: “eat my shorts”. This is the same boy to whom I sent an anonymous Valentine’s Day card bearing the greeting “You Tickle My Fancy and I Fancy Your Tickle”, not fully understanding the glaringly creepy sexual overtones. I hate myself, I really do. It’s lucky I even found someone to marry.

PS. Just FYI, I’ve been meaning to BRB lately, but I’ve been trying to sort out the backend of my life. You may think I finally booked that appointment with the backend doctor, but I really mean “backend” as in, “offline”, life. We need to find a house! LOL.