Thursday, 3 March 2011

Pregnancy Joys... or maybe not

So I am officially 23 weeks pregnant! According to one pregnancy manual the Miniature is about the size of a box of sugar or a bag of coffee beans. Now I’m damned if I know whether the authors are referring to a small 250g box of sugar cubes or a 5kg sack of coffee beans. So basically I’m still in the dark as to how big the miniature actually should be. Referring to another manual she is apparently about 20cm long, now that makes more sense. But is that from head to toe or crown to rump? If I “Google” it I’ll get another answer or rather another thousand or so answers if I choose to read them all. So I settle on she is somewhere between the length of a box of sugar cubes and a thousand answers on “Goggle.” With no fat layers under the skin yet she looks like a thin wrinkled new born, she has fully formed but colourless eyes and “tooth buds” in her gums.

I am, apparently gaining weight steadily as baby grows, may experience backache, water retention and a myriad of other undignified consequences of pregnancy. Let’s not forget that curse known as “porridge” brain or “nappy” brain according to my midwife. Not only do I find myself having to write everything down that has to be done for the day, I also lose track of what I’m saying midway through a sentence. Add to that the frequency of getting tongue tied on simple every day words and you’ve got yourself a really bizaar conversation. I don’t even understand myself when I talk to myself these days either. Then there is the endless heartburn and the ineffective tablets available at World’s End. From the beginning I have suffered from heartburn almost every day, the Mauritian went back and forth to pharmacy and supermarket for remedy after remedy and nothing helped, I would’ve killed for a “Rennies” or a “Tums.” Fortunately that wish was granted when the Mauritian arrived back at the end of the world bearing gifts of “Tums.” Sheer bliss!

Unlike when pregnant with the Butterfly I have also experienced those annoying cravings. Having not experienced them the first time round I was convinced it is a state of mind or a fallacy made up as an excuse to eat for the sake of eating. I was to be proved incorrect in this conviction. I have not had odd cravings like sardines and syrup on cabbage or a desire to eat grass but I have annoyingly had cravings for dessert pastries. Why, when one of the things that gives me violent heartburn is pastry, is far beyond my comprehension. The threat of heartburn and the fact that these cravings attack late in the evening has enabled me to resist them, but damn it’s not easy. The Mauritian, bless him, has said over and over that he will go out and get me something if it helps. But how can I allow him to do that when he is in his pj's, relaxing on the sofa with a cup of coffee listening to music? It just doesn’t seem right to expect that of him, beside I’ll just end up chewing a handful of “Tums” afterwards. I was complaining to my neighbour about the cravings and not knowing what to do about it. She laughed at me, which was rather perplexing until she reminded me of the tip I gave her when she had the same complaint; to kill a craving spread some peanut butter on a slice of apple and eat. Quit squinting at the computer like that, and wipe that look of disbelief off your face! It’s true and it works, I don’t know why or how but it does! Needless to say if we do run out of apples or peanut butter I will send the Mauritian out to buy some regardless of the late hour. What a wicked cow I am!

Going back to those pregnancy manuals, I should at this stage be feeling “some” light movement. Are you kidding me? Where do the words “light” and “some” apply to a miniature the approximate size of a coffee bean bag? This is not just movement this is a well aimed kick in the rib cage, a game of soccer with that organ called the bladder which doubles as an awesome pillow in times of rest. This is not just movement it’s a skip-a-thon using the umbilical cord, a gymnastic dance from one end of the uterus to the other and hey let’s see what happens when I jump maybe I can touch a lung. Just last week I was telling the Mauritian how much more gentle and calm the Miniature’s movements are compared to what I remember the Butterfly’s being. She made me eat my words this week, punctuation and all! But despite all the discomfort it causes it is the most fascinating sensation especially when it seems like she is responding to her family’s voices or when I press on my belly.

There is much speculation about whether or not a baby in utero can hear and later recognise certain voices and sounds, specifically music. There are still those that steadfastly believe it’s impossible. I am not one of those people. I am certain beyond any doubt that while in utero the Butterfly responded to both mine and her Papa’s voice. I say this because whenever she had been still for a while, if I pushed on my belly she always pushed back as if she was letting me know she was okay and when she was moving around a lot if the Mauritian spoke she would suddenly keep very still like she was listening. Then when he stopped talking she started moving again. There are certain pieces of classical music and songs that she still responds to today that I played over and over while pregnant with her. But the most convincing thing for me was when she was a screaming, colicky new born at the sound of her Papa’s voice she would stop screaming and lift her head looking for him. The pregnancy manuals say that a new born will only recognise the father from around 4 weeks or so, the Butterfly knew her father from birth because she recognised him by his voice. There is no mistaking the Mauritians rich deep textured voice and she knew it beyond any doubt.

So with this conviction I have made sure that the Butterfly speaks to her baby sister every day and at bed time she sings to her, because when the Miniature is born the moment she hears her big sister sing she will know exactly who she is. It is a moment I look forward too.

M.E. Rocks!

As most of you are aware I am a diehard Melissa Etheridge fan. I am enthralled by the emotional power of her lyrics and captivated by her music. I have all of her CDs and some DVDs and I will make the opportunity and time to play something of hers at some point during the day. I find myself identifying with so much of her music; I have a song for almost all occasions, from a bad day to doing the ironing. There are certain songs that remind me of friends and family as well as songs that have become a part of many memories. I simply cannot get enough. Her music for me is inspirational; I have written many poems with her voice crooning in the background.

Do I identify or even like her as a person? That would be hard for me to say either way. She is the type of celebrity who lives in the public eye. She is unafraid to put her personal life out there for all to see, considering of course how much of what the media reports one can actually believe. From all the interviews with Melissa that I have seen, she is not afraid to speak from a very personal level, and that is evident in her music too. But it all gets too much in the end! I’ll admit to being curious about her life, upbringing and inspiration behind her music, but now I just find the hype boring. I don’t really care about her sexuality, her relationships or her politics. How many times she marries or how many kids she has means little or nothing to me. There are so many rumours going around about her latest divorce and recent relationship that is painting her in a very bad light and giving the impression that she is a dishonest person. I say, who cares, and she’s the one that has to live with her conscience.

Melissa Etheridge is first and foremost an artist and entertainer. Her life revolves around her music and her fans, without which she would not be the “Best Female Rock Artist.” Like so many other artists and entertainers she has her eccentricities and oddities that have helped make her into the success that she is. Like all other celebrities she thrives on public recognition, and has to take the good with the bad to continue being a success. Like most song writers and poets she draws on her own life experiences to write her songs and make her music, it is this that gives so much of her music the raw emotion that wraps around you when you hear her sing. It just wouldn’t be an M.E. song if there wasn't that deep seated feelings of anger, love, confusion or joy in every note sung.

But unlike her first albums where the emotion was real and raw I am finding now that it has become a little bit forced and her songs a bit too autobiographical to be universal. I think she has begun to rely too heavily on her own experiences and is no longer writing from the heart. I think she is succumbing to the pressure to continuously perform and perhaps it’s time for her to go into hiding for a while and just breathe.

But even though her latest album is not, in my opinion, her best she has still managed to win me over. Despite her eccentricities and oddities and all the negative and over the top press she gets I still like the message she puts out there to “Speak True.” I will continue to do my housework with M.E. belting it out on my Mauritians Hi-Fi; I will turn her on when I need inspiration or to cure a case of the blues or bad mood. I will continue to buy her albums, pay my fan club membership fees and read all the gossip and news even though I don’t believe half of it.

I will continue to contribute to her success because, well, I’m just a diehard M.E. fan who cannot get enough. So in the words of one of my favourites from my youth, Michelle Shocked: “...Keep on rocking girl...”

Quietly Heroic

Christchurch is in the middle of a living nightmare having just barely started to recover from the last earthquake they are now reeling from the devastation of another. It is estimated that there are at least two hundred and forty people who died as a result, with scores more injured and even more homeless and jobless. It is a tragedy that has left World’s End reeling from the shock and horror. Not one single person has been left unaffected by this; even the Mauritian and I have been glued to the television or radio waiting for updates, hoping for some good news. There were lots of stories of “close escapes” and survival in the first two days after the “quake” but since then only heartache as the death toll slowly climbs higher with each passing day. Within hours of the “quake” Urban Search and Rescue teams (USAR) were despatched from all over Worlds End to help in the search for survivors, by the following morning there were teams from Australia arriving and still more from the States and Japan on their way. Add to that the police and fire service here and there is now nearly seven hundred men and women from around the world performing the daunting task of sifting through the rubble to find people who are trapped.

For just over a week now these selfless people have put their lives on the line for the sake of others, those from Christchurch putting the safety of strangers first before their own families. In an interview on the evening following the quake a paramedic said that he was just doing what he was trained to do and that keeping busy helped him to cope. How does one put aside the concern for one’s family and show compassion and empathy to those strangers around him? I for one think that is an awesome sacrifice. I heard about one man who had managed to get into a rather tight squeeze just to make eye contact with a survivor and while his team mates dug around them he stayed with her holding her hand and just being with her for nearly two hours. WOW! During an interview he was shifting from foot to foot and looking back towards the work site all the while trying to be courteous and answer the questions and tell his story. The interviewer eventually remarked that it was obvious the rescuer wanted to get back on the job. The rescuer responded that there is nothing more motivating then a successful rescue, the adrenaline is pumping and the only aim is to find and rescue someone else. What was most remarkable was this man had already been at it for twelve hours and all he wanted to do was get back in there and do more. That’s dedication! The common thread throughout when listening to interviews with these phenomenal people is that they are there because they want to be there. These people want to help those that are in need, they don’t see themselves as heroes, and to these people they are just doing what they are paid to do. As tiring, as “backbreaking” or as risky and their job is these people put their lives on the line for strangers not just because they want to but because of the immense satisfaction and sense of achievement they get from a rescue.

It takes a very special kind of character to do that kind of job. I imagine there is a need for “adventure” in these people that is fulfilled in a way, for sure none of these people could successfully hold down a regular office job. I’m sure they are “adrenaline junkies” in some way or another, and they would have to have a lot of self confidence in their own ability you can’t go into a dangerous situation without it. Watching all these interviews it is obvious that these men and women are very proud to do their job. The obvious satisfaction they are feeling and the empathy that shows on their faces while they are working is touching. I know I keep repeating myself but I do find it truly remarkable!

Seeing all of this going on I am reminded every day of my middle brother, he’s a fireman. Well actually he’s now also a paramedic with the fire department, I think. Let’s just stick with fireman in case I get it wrong. My brother the fireman! I love the sound of that I really do, because him being in this line of work is exactly where he should be. He is not somebody who could pull off a regular office job, he’s confident, and certainly a bit of an adrenaline junkie. But most importantly he has unlimited empathy and a willingness to help anyone if he can, even if it means taking a calculated risk himself. I know that were he here in Christchurch now he would give everything he’s got to help those trapped, I know that he would be saddened by the mounting death toll and I know that he would never give up hope of finding someone alive even now.

Watching the tragedy that is Christchurch unfold and hearing the heroic stories told has brought home to me exactly why my brother chose to be a fireman and I am very proud of him for doing so.

So here’s to you brother mine, it is an honour being your sister!