Thursday, October 25, 2007

sprout proofing
Yesterday I wrote a cheque for new windows, my second attempt to get our windows replaced (the first floundered on the issue of scaffolding). Today I am overseeing the repairs to the storage heater in the living room, which has been out of action for more than a year. We want the Sett to be warm enough for Sprouticus, even though making it so is costing us a hell of a lot of money.
I’m eating oily fish twice a week at the moment – I have been throughout the pregnancy, but I’m concentrating on it now because it is a key time for brain development and have been completely teetotal for a few weeks for the same reason. Subtly, my priorities are shifting to those of mothers everywhere – safety, security, health, nutrition. It feels strange, but not altogether unwelcome.
We’re in the home straight now – 11 weeks to go, more or less, and only seven at work. My hospital bag is packed, except for nursing bras and jimjams, and a dog-sitting roster has been arranged. I’m still in the weeds at work and will only get more busy as yet more antenatal appointments fill up my diary, but I’m only part engaged – a large part of my brain is simply ticking loudly, counting down the minutes until we meet our son.

Friday, October 19, 2007

the wheel turns
TA is coming to the end of the bears - only one more week to go. For the last three weeks he's been trying to get a new gig at the same company. Various projects were mentioned, mainly television programmes (which are very short-term contracts). The biggest project, the one that TA's friend has got a job with, the one which will last six months, didn't seem as though it was an option. That said, TA sweet talked HR into securing him a meeting with the producer. The interview started badly, but TA hoped that his enthusiasm won them over. He got a second interview, but the role required two scripting languages that TA doesn't know very well. This new role would be a huge stretch and put many feathers in his career cap. It seemed as though a few months of nail-biting two- and three-week contracts were ahead, if we were lucky.
For the last two months neither of us have relaxed - this return to "normality" could not, should not, be taken for granted. If the last five-and-a-half years of patchy employment and struggle have taught us anything it's that the wheel of fortune turns when you least expect it and entirely to its own timetable.
Poverty and financial insecurity have curbed our spendthrift natures. This month we will pay off the huge loan I took out to pay for the course that gave TA his billing as "the animator". I remember how nervous I was in the bank that day, even though I believed wholeheartedly that we would pay it off a few months after graduation thanks to TA's glittering new career. That was nearly five years ago now. We will also pay off the less huge loan we were forced to take out to pay the rent after I quit my job, thinking that I'd find another immediately (I was wrong).
I must admit, I had no idea how we were going to afford my six months of maternity leave when I decided to take it. Hell, I had no idea how we were going to afford to raise a child when I discovered that actually it turns out I am fertile. Perhaps some of my devil-may-care attitude hasn't quite left me after all.
TA rang a couple of hours ago. He's got the six-month job on the film and has three days between contracts to learn those two scripting languages.
We've come so far, so fast. I think we're on the very rim of fortune's wheel: when it turns for us it turns big. The thing is that we've learnt, we've changed. I'm excited because this means we'll be able to overpay our mortgage for a few months. I'm excited because this means that TA will have more going for him the next time he needs to scare up a new job. I'm not complacent though, I don't think that this means we'll always have jam for tea.
I can see the lines that join these dots, but I'm not sure I'm describing the whole picture very well. I'll try a different tack. Sometimes I lost faith that things would change; sometimes I blamed TA - but not very often. Many people have doubted him during the last five or so years and many people looked sidelong at both of us. I felt that people thought less of him because he wasn't working. Certainly, he felt lessened by unemployment. In the end we were both shadows, until therapy and happy pills pulled us back.
It seems to us that there is a lot of complacency in our part of the world and not much acknowledgement of the wheel. People burble happily along, never realising that redundancy, illness or some other sleight of fate's hand might pull their house of cards down on their heads. Perhaps it's just that we're still young(ish) and that our contemporaries have that life lesson still to come. No matter, I feel as though it's been etched into our bones. We will make as much hay as we can and lay it up in store - we will continue to live frugally, we will stay in the one-bedroom sett until it is time to emigrate or Sprout gets too big for our bedroom. We will overpay the mortgage and save, because tomorrow the wheel may turn again - not because either of us have brought it on ourselves, but because that's what the wheel does.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


twice the woman I was

Here I am in my jimjam bottoms and a stretchy vest proudly showing off my new haircut and, of course, Sprout's impact on my previously svelte figure. Not bad for 28 weeks, I think! Also, check out that cleavage! TA is a very lucky man, no?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

days end confused
Work continues to be crazy, crazy busy. After a weekend spent working and days and days of panic, I made the mistake of relaxing yesterday only to discover, at 6pm, that files I had submitted to the printer were borked and needed to be redone. Great - cue much frantic head scratching and sleeplessness as I tried to work out how to get myself and the client out of a shibboleth-sized hole while struggling with network issues. Poor TA - he tried to advise and help me but I was so far into panic mode that any suggestion was met with wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Sprout, meanwhile, punctuates my every waking and sleeping hour with a series of punches, kicks and wiggles that send my innards flying all over the shop and announce his burgeoning presence to the outside world. I’m - exhausted, sore and tetchy - in countdown mode to maternity leave: ten more weeks. This should be a light at the end of the tunnel and it would be if my employer’s cover proposal didn’t effectively render me redundant. I’m raising the issue in a meeting on Thursday so perhaps we’ll get it sorted out amicably and straightforwardly; honestly, I don’t think there’s any malice in their proposal, they are just not that bright or forward thinking (or perhaps they think I’m not coming back). In the privacy of my own head though I’m raving just like TA does whenever he has to make a customer-service complaint “If this isn’t sorted out I’m going to SUE you!”
Speaking of TA, his contract is almost at an end and, unless he can arrange to be taken on by another project, life will soon revert to the relative calm of abject poverty. I’m not sure what I’m hoping for - the calm or the cash. I miss him and we’re both so tired, frayed, but the prospect of being dual income for a while longer is too good to be turned down and almost any sacrifice of family life is justified by the increase in financial security.