2013.07.28 The Unexpected

New Zealand- Aotearoa! 3 Comments »

We have been a family of four for five months now.  We were a family of six for a short while when we had Eeny and Meeny our chooks, but we freecycled them and their home a couple months back as we couldn’t tolerate the endless poop and the flies it attracted.  Keeping them in their coop wasn’t an option- I just can’t agree with keeping anything live in an enclosed space.  Having to stress about shoes because of the squishy hazard wasn’t much fun either.  I miss the eggs but it was essentially just an extra responsibility which we weren’t all that into.  & some days we found we were just eating eggs because there were so many- we’re not usually huge egg-eaters.

 

 

So they say that with the first child life becomes chaos and with the second, total chaos.  When you throw in the stress of owning your own home, that certainly seems to fit for us!  We’re in this endless cycle of cleaning and feeding, wiping noses, mopping up milky spills, emptying rubbish bins…we’re just dealing with continual mess.  & through winter that is all it seems when you don’t get much chance to get outside due to the cold and rainy weather.  But in saying that, this morning I looked outside to sunshine on our deck and blue sky, so it’s not always bleak.

 

For Naia’s first few weeks we were a family of eight when Granny Carolyn and Poppa Michael were staying too.  Carolyn returned from Port Vila the day after Naia was born- she would’ve arrived the day of her birth but the aeroplane wasn’t fit to fly on the day.  It took awhile to find our rhythm together, but the adjustment has been made easier with the support of our families.  For our first two weeks back home, Carolyn took over laundry duties and Michael kept the kitchen clean and our bellies full.  They were both a tremendous help with caring for Faeryn, allowing Bo and I to focus on Naia.

Naia’s arrival was a huge surprise.  The day after posting the previous blog, I was absolutely certain I would go into labour- I had Sarah Woodgate’s prediction, the full moon on my side, and surely Naia couldn’t be born so close to Fae’s birthday or on the same day Carolyn arrived back from Port Vila, Vanuatu!  I had a consistent uneasy feeling all day- felt crampy and off my food again and thought this was due to a hormonal dump in preparation for the work ahead.  But I got through that day and night without any twinges.  Then it was Tuesday, day of the scan.  I kept myself busy in the morning running errands and getting things ready for Faeryn’s birthday, blowing up balloons and shopping for gifts- I even went out and bought a 10kg bag of chicken feed, which I carried myself.  I’ve felt pretty strong and vital throughout this pregnancy.

I really thought I wouldn’t have to go through with the scan, but the afternoon arrived and still no sign of labour.  Michelle and Mum watched over Faeryn while Bo and I went for the appointment.  I prepared myself for the scan as if it was just a matter of formality, so I was hugely shocked when the scanner told us Naia was estimated to be 4.7kg and presenting in the breech position.  Of course, I was completely freaked out- Faeryn was 2.990kg at birth so this possibility that Naia was much larger, made me realise it wouldn’t be an easy birth.  Certainly not one where we’d be safe for a home birth.

I didn’t fully understand the gravity of the situation, so after the appointment we headed to Pak ‘n’ Save to grab a few bottles of spirulina smoothie.  My solution to our problem at that moment was to get home and spend the next while crawling around and adopting any recommended positions for shifting Naia back to head down, and also to scull back as much spirulina as I could- my midwife had told me it was good for improving the integrity of your muscular tissue and had put this forward as a suggestion to avoid getting a tear again.  I needed a lot more spirulina than I had been taking if Naia would prove to be as huge as the scan indicated!

I called my sister to share the news and she told me to call my midwife- I’d missed her call as I had left my phone at home.  We then headed to Waitakere Hospital to meet with Gail, and talked to an Obstetrician there.  Suddenly our plans for Naia’s arrival were swept away by a tidal wave of the unexpected, and we had to make a decision.  The scanner had told us there was an error of 15% either side of the estimation so Naia could even be as big as 5.405kg.  The Obstetrician, Dr Raj, was one of the few Gail knew who would support a vaginal delivery for a breech presentation, but I’d have to deliver in hospital.  Anyone who knows me understands how much this goes against the grain of who I am.  I’m absolutely fearful of any form of medical intervention in this context, as it seems you start off with one thing and then end up with the whole lot.  I was so angry and filled with dread, but then it became clear to me that the best choice was to go for a c-section.  Whatever way I would birth Naia, I wasn’t going to get out of it pain nor scar free, so it made sense to go for the caesarian in terms of safety and efficiency.  So, through bitter tears of grief and rage, it was agreed and arranged for the following morning.  Not much time to prepare mentally for such a u-turn.  Silly me for saying to friends who had visited us in our new home- “That’s where I’ll be giving birth to Naia,” as I pointed out one corner of our lounge.

We made our way home, I tried to focus on Faeryn and enjoy these last few minutes where I had her all to myself, but my mind was on getting my bags packed and making sure everything was ready for tomorrow, and trying to push away the tears.  Michelle had agreed to watch Faeryn while we were in hospital for the surgery, and Mum would collect her in the afternoon and keep her until we were out of the hospital.  It took me ages to get my things together- I couldn’t think clearly about what was needed as my anxiety kept swirling around me.  I managed to get a few hours of sleep in the night and thankfully didn’t go into labour.  That would have been a worse situation- having to rush into hospital and go through the pains of contractions, only to have Naia pulled out of me after being cut open.

Gail was at the hospital for us and supported us the entire way through the surgery, which isn’t her usual role.  The whole process was super stressful even with her there guiding us along.  In the next hour or so, I had all these different people come in and talk to me, the surgeon, anaesthetist, a variety of hospital midwives…  I didn’t follow much of what was being said, except to adamantly refuse the presence of student surgeons.  That didn’t impress the main surgeon and she let her disapproval be known.  But screw her opinion right?  It was the only thing I truly got to decide for myself.  I guess I felt a bit guilty afterwards, as these experiences teach them what they need to know, but I was already so overwhelmed with all these extra people around me… and in such a state of shock.  In my head, Naia’s birth was always going to be to the sounds of the birds waking in the dawn and Faeryn padding into the room, bleary-eyed clutching Madilla, with Bo, Gail and my sister to witness it all.  But here I was on a hospital bed, with messy hair and tears streaming down my cheeks.  I was given the hospital robe to wear and the dvt socks, hair net, shaven (TMI?  made me feel like I was some kind of test animal), IV thingo inserted…  I was given my own room which I didn’t have when we were in the UK, so that was a wee blessing.  Then I was being led into the operating room.

I was pretty much crying the whole way.  For me, this was a completely traumatic situation, and I just can’t comprehend that some women would elect for this to happen to them, and are able to smile and laugh their way through it.  I had seen a few of these scenarios play out on “One Born Every Minute”, but I just couldn’t put myself in that welcoming head space.  Bo had been trying to get me to focus on the very fact that soon we would have Naia here in our arms, but all I could see was the fact that I was being operated on.  Opened up.  It’s just horrific.  The Anaesthetist had glasses, so I could see a reflection of what was happening in her lenses.  I tried not to look.  My mind kept thinking about those stories you hear where someone gets operated on and then the surgeons leave something inside, like scissors or a cellphone… and even with all the drugs to keep me from feeling, I could still feel.  My body being moved about, me having no control of it whatsoever, like it is turned off and inaccessible to me.  It really is a ghastly space.

Anyway, it was 9:37 am on Wednesday February 27th that Naia was brought into our arms, a healthy, beautiful baby girl.  4.13kg so not as large as predicted but still larger than Faeryn.  Bodra was by my side the whole time, aside from when he had to get his gown put on.  What a different world we live in where you can have your partner support you the whole way- he even managed to take a couple pictures when Naia emerged.  Very brave!

The Dr (Nelly?) did a remarkable job sewing me back up and I won’t have much of a scar.  It still hurts a little now and then, like sunburn, but I only took pain relief in the first two weeks.  I was on a morphine drip in the hospital- I could press a button to give myself more which was pretty awesome.  It was very tender initially, and when I started to breastfeed Naia it became worse, as that sets off the uterus contracting back to the normal size.  The midwife had only just checked on me a few minutes before, asking for a pain rating between 1 and 10, and I had said, “yeah it’s fine, about a 3 for pain”.  Five minutes later I called for her as I was in tears for the pain which had suddenly gone to a 10.  It was quite scary knowing that things could change so rapidly.  I really feel for people who have to experience pain in this way without any gradual build up to help create a sense of tolerance.

Mum, Dad, Michelle and Faeryn came to visit in the afternoon.  I was in a bit of a morphine haze so didn’t really know what to do with the gifts presented, and felt an emotional wreck so couldn’t really work out what to say or even to process what was being said to me nor around me.  I was also spinning as, upon seeing Faeryn I was beset with a deep feeling of loss and grief.  I recognised that she was no longer my baby- she was instantly transformed into a little girl.

I had to spend one night in Waitakere Hospital, without Bodra, and in comparison to the RBH, we have got it so good in NZ.  I didn’t have the stress of having to listen to women giving birth right through the paper thin walls like I did in the UK, so I was well rested through the night- one of the midwives took Naia for a few hours in the night so I could just relax.  It’s a bit weird being on morphine as I kept having these strange visions of a spider creeping across the floor, even though my eyes were closed.

Bo was back with us at 7am I think, and we got on with getting me prepared to leave the hospital.  I had the catheter removed and managed to use the toilet, passed some wind which is a good sign to help you demonstrate you are ready to leave (hooray for farts!).  I had a shower without any assistance, and felt able to move around without too much pain.  By mid-day we were out of the hospital and on our way to the Helensville Birthing Centre, via Hells Pizza for lunch. The midwives gave me some tramadol for the journey which must’ve helped as I didn’t feel much pain during the drive along those winding roads.

Again, we had a room to ourselves, but this time Bo was allowed to stay the night.  We also had food being prepared and delivered for me, all really tasty dishes.  All I had to do was relax and nurse Naia.  It would’ve been more relaxing if the mattress was more supportive and less springy- by the end of our second sleep there I was ready to head home. I’m still very much the Princess and the Pea, but I also had a deep yearning for Faeryn.  I felt so guilty being away from her.

 

Our families came to visit us at Helensville- my sister Michelle, came the first day with Faeryn, Mum and Dad.  Kim also visited that evening and gave Bodra her sushi for dinner.  The following day was Faeryn’s second birthday, but we decided to postpone until I was back home and a little better.  Carolyn and Michael visited with Faeryn, and Gail the midwife also visited.

The staff at the Helensville Birthing Centre were all pretty terrific, giving me lots of support and encouragement when I was nursing Naia.  It was really the perfect place to begin this journey, but I don’t think I appreciated it at the time.  I just wanted to be home and with Faeryn.

 

I managed to have a symbolic birthing experience at Helensville during my first night there when I made my first proper bowel motion (ahem!).  This isn’t commentary on how I feel towards my children, but anyone who has been through surgery will relate to the nervousness I felt towards this event- will it happen? When? Will I come out unscathed?  I felt quite disconnected from the lower part of my body, being able to feel the muscles and communicate with them was like stumbling around in the dark after being spun around- completely disorientating.  So I really celebrated when it happened, but then was flooded with anguish that this was all I had to birth.

We got home on Saturday morning.  Carolyn, Michael and Faeryn were there to greet us, and my sister and her boys visited soon after we arrived.  It felt so good to be reacquainted with home, and I was so pleased with the sense of home we had created so quickly.

This was funny- Faeryn was intrigued by Naia’s belly button, pointing at it and saying “Poo.” We explained what it was and then she showed us where her belly button was.

We celebrated Faeryn’s second birthday on Monday in the afternoon.  All grandparents were present, along with Uncle Shannon and Aunty Michelle, and Paul popped by with Ryan too.  I was in quite a hormonal spin and very stressed that Fae wouldn’t enjoy herself- silly me, but I felt so terrible that we had delayed her special day.  I still can’t believe our two little girls have their birthdays so close together!

       

It was a difficult first week learning the new rhythm that Naia brought.  Emotionally, I felt all out of sorts.  I’d look at Naia, over there in the Moses basket, and felt this swirling of grief and regret.  I didn’t feel connected to her.  Yes, she was this beautiful, perfect being, healthy and vital.  She needed me, but I felt so broken and lost.  And then there was Faeryn, our baby who had suddenly transformed into a little girl after this event.  Such an unfathomable distance now lay between us as I stared out the window and saw her playing in the yard with Granny and Poppa.  I couldn’t pick her up, and someone else now needs me, more than her…

 

Learning to nurse Naia brought a much different challenge to what I had faced with Faeryn.  Naia is such a keen feeder so in those initial days I was intensely sensitive and raw on my nipples, even cracking and bleeding.  I was very ready to accept defeat and get Naia on formula, but thankfully no one else gave up.  I took a few days off and just expressed, and slathered on the lanolin salve to heal up.  That was all I needed and I’m still exclusively nursing Naia now with hardly any discomfort.

 

Naia is a robust, happy and mostly relaxed, super sweet baby.  She has had a bit of an issue with spilling her feed and getting a lot of trapped wind which clearly distresses her.  We’ve had her on Gaviscon for the spilling which seemed to help but then she’d get a bit blocked up.  We’ve taken her to the Osteopath but after four or so treatments we didn’t notice any difference.  Now we are taking her to an acupuncturist, so hopefully that will be beneficial.  Of course, you never know for certain if these things actually help, or if it is just a passage of time.

  

Naia is saying Mumumumum now and paying a lot of attention to her hands.  She is a digit sucker (not just her thumb) and I’m sure I noticed just a couple weeks back the appearance of a tooth on her lower jaw- just a little white dot on the gum.  Naia is very much a drooly baby so I wouldn’t be surprised if her teeth appear earlier than Faeryn’s did.

   

I would never say that Faeryn was into Naia at all, she doesn’t seek Naia out and mostly only attends to her if I direct her to do so, although there have been the odd self-initiated kisses.  One recent morning was a little tricky as I had Naia in the kitchen with me, sitting in her bouncy, and I asked Faeryn to get Naia a blanket.  This became a game of covering Naia’s face with the blanket.  Luckily Naia wasn’t distressed in this, but as soon as I uncovered Naia’s face, Faeryn was back quick as a flash to cover her again.  I know their relationship will improve eventually, but the current situation does make me feel a bit guilty for changing Faeryn’s world so suddenly, whilst she herself is still a baby.  I can’t help but wonder if the things I sometimes expect of Faeryn now are beyond her capabilities, am I harder on Faeryn now that Naia is here?

 

Naia has nothing but love for Faeryn.  Pretty much as soon as Faeryn is in her vicinity, she’ll crane her head to look for her.  It’s wonderful having such a large play area for them, so Naia can be on her activity mat right in the centre of all of Faeryn’s wild play.  Of course there have been a few occasions where Faeryn has been quite rough with Naia, like when she grabbed the scrubbing brush from outside and decided to scrub Naia’s face- right after I had explained that the brush wasn’t for that purpose!

  

In these past few months we’ve achieved so much at Fort Knox, many of those things with the assistance of Bo’s parents- Michael is incredibly savvy when it comes to nearly any aspect of home renovation.  We’ve had a new hot water cylinder put in the house to improve the water pressure (apparently the pipes under the house are configured like a rabbit warren) and also have hot water in the garage, where the laundry is located.  We had a bad patch at the end of Summer where Faeryn was getting a continuous nappy rash, which the doctor put down to not washing her nappies in hot water, so that motivated us to get the hot water in.

 

We also had plumbers in to upgrade our kitchen faucet, which was a terrible experience- always ask for the hourly rate before the work begins!  We’ve had electricians in a couple times to rewire the garage and recently to fix a tripped wire which took out all the power in the bedrooms.  Carolyn paid for us to get some landscaping done so the pond has been turned into an area ready for planting- the mosquitoes were quite a problem during the warmer months so taking out the pond will improve that situation.  The fireplace was also sorted out with a new flue and bricks and that has been keeping us a touch warmer these past few months.

 

Bo painted Naia’s room- I stripped off the hideous blue stripey wallpaper and then Bo did everything else.  We used this fantastic deep warm purple called seance and then a turquoise colour called yabadabadoo!  There’s still more I want to do in Naia’s room, like painting a golden sun and silver star design on the ceiling, and I’m absolutely itching to getting on with painting Faeryn’s room, but that will have to wait for now.

 

We had one major expense, getting most of our windows covered with Insulglaze- acrylic panels which go over the glass so they essentially become double glazed windows.  Each morning we would wake to discover so much condensation on the windows, sheets of water basically, and that was in early Autumn.  Mold was also appearing on our walls and ceiling.  With Winter looming, Bo did some research and decided Insulglaze would be the best solution as it is also meant to make the home warmer and provide some sound-proofing.  14K or so later, we still get a bit of condensation but we only need to wipe the windows about once a week now.  This is my first forray into having multiple credit cards, which doesn’t sit comfortably with me.  We will have a huge celebration once that debt has been wiped clear.

 

 

Which may be some time away, or may be very soon.  We had some pretty awful but not unexpected news on Thursday morning when Bo’s Manager called to make him redundant.  It wasn’t due to anything Bo had or hadn’t done, just a big change within Symantec where his role can be taken on by another person.  It seems crazy to me, because Bo has been working on developing this tool since early November, and Symantec won’t have anything to show for all that time.  What a huge waste of money, but I’m grateful as it’s allowed him to work from home and be here for these difficult months with a newborn and a toddler, and support me through my exhausted, emotional, hormonal roller-coaster ride.

 

 

 

I just can’t believe that this happens to families though.  That a company can be so brutal, taking away the income in two weeks time.  How do you even begin to be prepared for that?  So the future is somewhat daunting.  Bo is incredibly upbeat about it all, he says he is highly skilled and highly employable and has already applied for half a dozen positions.  We are hoping that he finds a job outside of Symantec soon, so that he can collect the redundancy payout and be earning a salary at the same time.  Then our debt will be clear and a weight lifted off.

  

I know I’m going to struggle quite a bit initially trying to manage our girls on my own, and we’re trying to work out a plan so that it isn’t as huge a stress as I think it will be.  It will be easier once Naia is sleeping through the night which surely is only a month or so away?  I’m worried about having a timer on my nursing with Naia, as it is often the only time I get to make contact with her and I want to go at her pace so that she gets what she needs from me.  But Fae will need me too and I don’t want to just plonk her down in front of the telly.  I guess it’s all about making adjustments to our expectations, and trying not to feel too guilty in the process.

  

Once we have Naia’s digestive situation on track, I’ll be able to start her on some purees (or maybe I will be braver this time and go for the baby-led weaning approach).  We usually wake her around 10pm (but she mostly wakes herself) for a change and feed, and then she wakes us usually once in the night after 3am for another feed.  Sometimes it is very challenging to settle her back in the cot as she gets so distressed by the built up wind, her belly feels so bloated- as tight as the skin on a drum.  It surprises me because she is such a farty baby.  I don’t even remember Faeryn farting, but every one of Naia’s is a celebration as it means relief for her.

 

I know there is more from these five months that I’d love to share but I think this will do- it is the weekend after all and I should really go play with my family.  I remember a lifetime ago when I used to celebrate the weekend.  Friday night was so majickal, there was this sense of potential adventure and bountiful freedom and it was only ever a few days away.  Now, every day is the same, and adventure comes in the shape of the new sounds Naia makes and the amazing sentences Faeryn springs on us to show how much she absorbs without us even realising.  I just wish there was something I could take to keep the energy required cranked up so that I could do all the chores at warp speed and have more time to play with Fae and Naia.  & that there was more time to do ‘just me’ things too.  Highly unoriginal thoughts I’m sure, and as Michael says “This too shall pass.  Just breathe in, and let it go.”

    

I kind of feel like I will finish the blog now, as it’s no longer about Bear and Butterfly travelling the world.  I still want to share our beautiful girls and our lives with our friends and family, but that would be better done in person.  So, whomever is out there reading this… come by and visit us!

   

2013.02.24 A Place Called Home

New Zealand- Aotearoa! 10 Comments »

We have been back in eNZed for nearly four months, and living in our own home for over one month.  Needless to say, it has been a full-on third of a year.  Bodra always reassured me that things would work out, and I’m grateful to have yet another life experience demonstrating how much I can trust that he’ll do his best to make good on his word.

The journey to this present moment has been hugely supported by our families.  We stayed with my Mum, Dad and Jimi for nearly three months, and they placed no stress, nor time limits on us, continually saying “Stay as long as you need.  You can have the baby here.”   Pretty amazing given that we more than doubled their household overnight, filling it with the exuberant and relentless energy of a toddler and all our house-hunting woes.  It was a fantastic time seeing Faeryn’s relationship grow with her Grandma (Dhamma), Grandad (Dad-Dad) and Jimi the Dog.

2012.12.23 Faeryn picking flowers

2012.12.23 Faeryn Climbing and Sliding

       

I had my first midwife appointment at the end of our first week in NZ.  I was quite nervous as I didn’t know what to expect, but I have to say what has been available here has blown away what was offered in the UK with Faeryn.  I’ve seen the same midwife at every appointment and she is definitely going to be present for the birth, whereas in the UK, I saw a different one nearly every appointment and again had different midwives at the birth.  Gail Kiss is a very confident womyn, having given birth seven times with five of those being home-births.  She is very down-to-earth and super caring, and has reassured me through this whole stage.  I feel super excited and confident with what is to come and having her support us through the home birth.  Gail has lent us a birth pool too, so we have that blown up and waiting for the first inklings of labour.

 

We had our (hopefully) last ultrasound shortly after my first appointment with Gail.  I say hopefully as currently I am overdue by a week and one day, so there is a scan booked for Tuesday just to check all is as it should be.  Kowhai, Michelle, Mum, Dad and Faeryn came along to the scan in October- Bo was there too but he had to leave towards the end of the appointment so he could get on a work call.  He missed out on finding out what we were having- another girl!  Her name will be Naia Jasper Swift- Naia meaning ‘Water Nymph’ in Greek or Dolphin in Hawaiian, and Jasper being the name of Bodra’s sister.

Bodra started work almost immediately when we came back home.  He is still working for Symantec, but in a different role where he is being managed by a guy in America.  He has more of a development lean now, so it has been quite a learning curve for Bodra, and fairly stressful.  Recently he has been building a prototype, but I’m not so au fait with what that all really means.  He tells me he is working on a proof of concept for the system that he is building… does that mean anything to anyone?

In the first weekend of November we enjoyed Kim and Ezra’s hen and Stag do’s.  Ezra had a Gangnam Styled Stag Party, where he was dressed up as the sexy lady.  They got up to plenty of mischief, giving Ezra loads of cheeky dares to perform as they took Auckland City on that night.  Kim’s friends, Kristy and Jennifer, organised a pretty special event for Kim- we went up to Puhoi and stayed at the Wellspring- lovely accommodation in a huge house in the countryside.  We had pub fare for dinner and Kim had a few dares to perform.  Unfortunately the pub was very quiet, due to a 60th birthday happening elsewhere, so the pub staff were very keen to move us along.  We then headed a little further into Puhoi to a glass bead making workshop at Kleur Glass, hosted by the artist Inge Chappell.  We watched her create a few beads and some of the ladies had a go too- I didn’t as it really was just so fascinating to watch.  We then strung some beads together to create necklaces and earrings, so it was a lovely bonus being able to take something away from the experience. I created a fun, chunky necklace for Faeryn, but she really is a big young to be wearing it just now.  In the morning more of Kim’s friends and relatives joined us for a huge breakfast feast, with full fairy-fied wear.  We played a cheeky version of the game “pin the tail on the donkey”.

I believe this was my first night away from Faeryn, so that made me feel a bit lost for snatches of time, and of course coming back home to her in the afternoon was wonderful.  Reunions really are such special moments!  Bo did quite well given that he had a late, late night.  My Mum helped him with Faeryn for a bit in the morning so he could catch a bit more rest, but it’s always tricky to get that proper rest when you know you need to be on-to-it in the very near future.

The following weekend on the tenth of November (10/11/12) we celebrated Kim and Ezra’s wedding.  It was such a moving ceremony- Ez and Kim looked so regal above us on Ezra’s parents’ porch, surrounded by such beautiful flora with their adoring family and friends sending all their loving attention to bless the union.  Faeryn loved the bubbles floating in the air, but we got her back to her grandparents shortly after the ceremony so that we could enjoy the rest of the evening.  How fantastic to finally have family available to look after our daughter and free us up- something you can never take for granted.

   

We had a delicious feast and then headed over to Carrington’s Pump House for the after party.  Bo and I presented Kim and Ezra with a Traditional Native American Navajo Wedding Vase.  Unfortunately we had managed to break it, just before we were due to give it to them, so it had a hole in it’s body, but Kim and Ezra managed to drink from it.  The speeches were super entertaining and it was so lovely hearing from the Dads.  This was something I always regretted missing out on at our wedding- it is really quite touching hearing these special tributes.

    

So, onto the joys of house-hunting!  We would sometimes join my parents and Jimi for their morning walks around the park and this part of our new routine formed the basis for choosing the house we made an initial offer on.  Our first parameters for what we thought we wanted in a home was somewhere in West Auckland (any other areas are too expensive), $350k max and a place we could hopefully add value to and then flick off in a couple years.  It was potentially a leaky townhouse with the monolithic cladding, but really well-presented and just across the park from my parents, but within closer earshot of the train tracks.  I had fantasies of sitting outside in the morning, enjoying the garden and sunrise with a big pot of tea brewing, waiting for my parents to pop in during their walk.  It wasn’t a hugely spacious home, being a townhouse, but having access to Henderson Park was going to make up for that.  Thankfully our offer didn’t go very far- I think we found this home in our first weekend of doing the open-home parade, so pretty silly of us to think we would be satisfied so quickly.

Our parameters changed as we thought we could go a little higher in our price, and we found quite a sweet home over in Glen Eden, with lots of personality and a manageable yard, just down the road from East West Organics.  We were about to put an offer in, got the pre-approval from the banks and had arranged for a builder to do an inspection when we decided it wasn’t quite what we were after- a bit close to the railway and maybe needing more work than we were prepared for due to the possibly rotting window frames.

     2012.12.09 Faeryn running along the Cascade Falls Track

We went to our first auction shortly after this, just to get some experience and see what it is like so we weren’t attached to the outcome.  This was a house in New Lynn- up a shared driveway, but very private with a garden all around and good fencing, close to a park and with a fantastic sand box in the yard.  I don’t remember too much about the interior- the sandbox made the strongest impression!  Strangely enough,  no one placed an opening bid so the auction fell flat on it’s face.  People were able to make conditional offers then, but we weren’t organised to do so.

The next home we found was pretty fantastic.  In Glen Eden again on Phillip Avenue, which is a seemingly quiet street with cats and chooks wandering freely.  The outlook from the backyard took in farmlands so I immediately felt drawn to the property.  It included two sleepout type rooms, so space for Bo to work and for me to set up a creative space, separate from the main house.  The actual house was quite small, three bedrooms with a tiny bathroom and scuzzy looking bathtub, open plan kitchen/ dining/ lounge so not a large space, but these were things we could live with, especially with the lovely decking and views.  So we acquired a builders report and then went along to the auction, my sister Michelle and Mum supporting us.  It was a rainy evening and the house was packed with people.  I was offered a seat up front due to my royal waddle-iness.  Bo bidded very confidently, firstly bidding against a phone bidder from China, and then someone else in the crowd.  The price went beyond our limit and beyond what we thought it was worth, Bo went a fraction higher and then was slammed down by a new bidder.  We were quite shocked, as there definitely was this feeling that it could be ours, but it wasn’t meant to be.

By now it was the middle of December and we were starting to feel a bit forlorn about the situation.  I’d really wanted to be in our new home by Christmas, to have unpacked and got everything in place before our new arrival, especially as all our gear from Canberra was due to arrive shortly before Christmas, and we had been so close with Phillip ave!

Michael and Carolyn returned from Singapore so it was lovely sharing Faeryn with them again.  

 

Russell and Alanna also made the journey back home and one wet afternoon we went out to Bethells beach with them and Waimarama.  Being able to do these things even though Bo has a full-time job was great- he didn’t have so much on initially so we did have quite a few afternoons where we could go off for a drive, take Fae to a playground or to the beach.  We also took our nephews and Michelle to see “The Hobbit- An Unexpected Journey” in 3D at the Imax theatre in town.  It also meant Bo was more available to do all those extra daytime things when you’re hunting around for a home, so I’m really grateful how these opportunities have worked out so well for us.

         
The middle weekend of December was Alanna’s Masquerade themed Hen do and Russell’s Stag.  Her cousin Cat had arranged for us girls to meet in town at Quay West Suites, where we were plied with lots of yummy treats and drinks.  We had a few modest games, donned our masks for some pics and then headed out to a restaurant on the Viaduct “Y Not on the Wharf”.  It was lovely meeting Alanna’s friends and her sisters Rhiannon and Jess.

 


The next day, Bodra, Faeryn and I went out to Waiheke Island.  We had thought that living on the island could be a possibility, so had arranged to view a selection of available properties.  It was a lovely adventure, but every property had something majorly unsuitable which was most disheartening.  We stayed the night at the Island Breeze Apartment, and battled with mosquitoes through the night- never a selling point!  The following day was super rainy, so we decided to head home earlier.  We came to the conclusion that perhaps we should focus on finding a rental for the meantime, as we really were running out of time before Naia would be here.  The next day we viewed a few places- none of them even measured up to liveable and by the afternoon I was in a pretty awful state, feeling complete despair for our situation.

   

It’s funny the journey you go on sometimes, how almost in a matter of moments your whole perspective can take a u-turn.  In the evening, just as we were getting Faeryn started on her bath, I remembered that in a few minutes there would be an auction for a house we had looked at and quite liked.  We left Faeryn with Poppa Michael and Dad-Dad, and took my Mum over to Knox Road in Swanson.  It was an unusual atmosphere, not like the other auctions we had been to, as there weren’t loads of people there and the Real Estate Agents were kind of floating around, looking for bites.  The auction didn’t go ahead but instead they asked for us to put a conditional offer on paper.  We weren’t expecting any of this, as we had just assumed the property was beyond our budget, but suddenly it was all happening between us and the owners.  Then our offer was accepted!  From that point on, it was a frantic rush to get the builders report done, get the place evaluated, the bank sussed for the mortgage and all our ducks in a row with our solicitor, all before everyone took their Christmas holidays!  And amazingly, we achieved!  We received the keys on January the 11th and moved in on the 17th.  Yay for us!

On the 21st December 2012, the supposed end of days according to the Mayan Prophecy we witnessed Russ and Alanna’s wedding.  We went out to the Settlers Country Manor in Waimauku where the ceremony was held outside in their beautiful tropical gardens.  Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious feast in the banquet room, a space where we half-expected swashbucklers to be swinging from the walls in swordplay.  Alanna and Russell sat on these high backed chairs, elaborately decorated like thrones.  It was so touching listening to Russell’s speech to Alanna and her family, and watching their first dance as man and wife (another thing Bo and I didn’t do at our wedding- hmmm, we really will have to get married again!).

      

A few days before Christmas we had a pre-Christmas get-together with some friends at Bevan and Sarah’s.  Faeryn had a lovely time meeting our friends’ children and it was really rewarding for us seeing how much more comfortable she is around people.

We had lots of fun on Christmas day with our families, although Poppa Michael was feeling quite ill and didn’t join us.  It seems like the traditional re-introduction to NZ requires one to get the cold- Bo, Fae and I were all hit with it when we arrived and it actually took my voice away.  Carolyn and Michael also experienced the cold and Michael was considerate in that he didn’t want to spread it around any further- not the ideal Christmas gift!

Mum encouraged us to fill up a pillow slip with presi’s for Faeryn, so upon waking, her day exploded with presents!  We picked up a drum and a soft material NZ alphabet book from the Titirangi Markets, and a Frog Prince and Princess puppet.   Faeryn’s Grandma and Grandad got her a sand castle making kit, Kim & Ezra gave her an animal stamp set and some insect stickers.  That was just in her santa sack!  Michelle had made her two cross-stitches, one of Bottomley Potts covered in spots and the other of Muffin McLay, like a bundle of hay.  More presi’s from Grandma and Grandad- beach towels, books (Do Your Ears Hang Low and Noddy).  Granny Carolyn gave her rice crispies, an animal sticker book she’d created, a bumblebee bag and a book on Frogs.  We gave Faeryn a bird kite, farmyard jigsaw puzzle which she loves, the story of the Wonky Donkey.  The Shingles family gave Faeryn a fairy mobile.  There were loads more presi’s of course!

         

2012.12.25 Faeryn’s second Christmas

We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary with a drive into the city to go to Kelly Tarltons, which has opened up a new section for Penguins.  It’s a bit weird seeing them enclosed like that, in such a fabricated environment, but hopefully it benefits them somehow…

   

The following day we missioned out to White’s Beach with our Nephews and Aunty Michelle- Bodra carrying Faeryn in his arms pretty much the entire way.  We didn’t have our gear from Canberra yet, so no child carrier.  But hey, I don’t exactly have a child carrier either!  It was a lovely way to spend the early part of the day.  The Pohutukawas were all out in bloom and we noticed there is a bit of diversity in the intensity of the reds.  I don’t know if this is seasonal or if we are just looking a bit closer as it has been a while since we’ve been totally immersed in an NZ summer!

       

We had a fantastic start to 2013 in the company of Adam and Kelly-Anne Tebbutt, Kim and Ezra and a few new friends at Adam and Kelly’s home in Hillsborough.  They’ve spent the past half year renovating and their home is super lovely and inspiring.  Bo took part in a few rounds of beer pong which was great to watch.  We had modest fireworks to bring in the new year, and big positive vibes all through the night!

So January was filled with new home chores and catching up with friends.  I met up with Kaight Forgie and her super sweet son Caiden for a play at Crystal Mountain with Faeryn.  There is a petting-farm there with a small train, so we rode that to take in all the different animals and then had a wander around.  I haven’t seen Kaight since high school days so it was quite an affirming experience.  I usually feel quite shy at the idea of meeting someone from my past life, especially when it was so long ago, but people don’t really stray from their essence.  I always enjoyed Kaight’s company when I was younger and it was really warming to relate to each other again and share our children!

  

We had a second visit to Auckland Zoo, with Bevan, Sarah and their daughter Rachael, and Paul, Rachael and Ryan joined us too on their return from their New Years holidays at Whiritoa.  We also caught up with Bodra’s sister Jasper one day for lunch during her whirlwind visit home.  We had a lovely chat in my parent’s garden and then went to Crystal Mountain for lunch.  On our way back home we diverted to Fort Knox so we could show Jasper our new home from the beyond the gate- the present owners were still there so we couldn’t go in.  She was quite pleased for us, but we talked about being nearby the park and how that might attract unwanted visitors at night, so Jasper suggested we get a bright security light for the area.  Thankfully that is pretty much already sorted, so if people wander down our side of the park, a light will go on.

      

With the help of our family we moved in and had our first night’s sleep at Fort Knox on Waimarama’s birthday.  Carolyn and Michael had already beat us to it, parking up in the RV shortly after we received the keys, which was lovely as it meant someone was always around to watch Faeryn whilst we unpacked.  Michael also got stuck into doing repairs around the house, one of the major ones being fixing the gate so it no longer dragged across the driveway.  We had quite a few visitors in our first few days- Sarah and her daughters Sophie and Ella, Shane (thank you for squeezing in some time before you left for the UK!), Ange, Gareth and their daughters Maya and Ruby, Kim and Ezra.

         

Everything has gone fairly well at our new home, with just a few minor issues.  The presence of mice leaving their telltale poop evidence in the pantry, cupboards and shelves, which has meant acquiring a humane trap, some poisonous bait (thanks Dad!), blocking up any access points with tinfoil, and the last tactic has been to buy a bunch of bait stations, just to keep things a bit safer.  I haven’t seen anymore poop for a while now, but the other day during lunch we watched a mouse creep around the deck and then disappear under the window frame.  A slight improvement from seeing them in the house and pantry, and we could kind of admire it’s cuteness… but still, mice aren’t the kind of house guests one wishes to have, especially when you have children and there is that threat of salmonella disease from contact with their poop.

The other issue has been the park, and there have been over half a dozen nights already where our sleep has been disrupted by drunken explosions coming from there and the street nearby.  Unfortunately for us there is a car park close to our driveway where the drinkers like to park up, get noisy into the wee hours of the morning and then leave their debris (smashed bottles, tissues and spilt sticky alco-pop on the playground equipment).  We’ve called the Watch House a few times but I don’t know if a police car has ever responded.  We also had one night where a local party spilled out onto the street, and some people had their car parked on our grass verge and decided that after 1am would be a good time to crank their music from their car super loudly.  I got out of bed and expressed my displeasure to the drunkards, and things calmed down a bit.  It’s a bit scary having to deal with this sort of thing, but hopefully once summer dissolves there will be fewer nights like this.

The summer has been awesome.  We’ve had only a couple days of rain, and nearly every day has been plentiful with sunshine, blue sky and the chorus of cicada.  We have a fantastic backyard, enough shade, privacy and space to set up the paddle pool for Faeryn and let her enjoy a nakey splash around.  She’s had quite a long spell of nappy rash so it has been quite important to give Faeryn free-bum time.  There is a bit of an issue with the presence of  mosquitoes, due to the somewhat defunct ponds by the side deck, but Faeryn hasn’t been too bothered by them.

We have two chooks roaming in our yard, so lots of chicken poop to deal with, but we receive two eggs each day so there is a benefit, as well as having someone to deal with our kitchen scraps.  Apparently the chooks have been here shortly after they hatched, so they have no inclination to be anywhere else.  Regardless, the fence is all secure with chicken wire and we always keep the gate closed.  There are plenty of cats crossing through the yard, curious and cautious around the chickens.  We’ve named them Eeny and Meeny.  They have pretty cheeky personalities, there have been a number of occasions where I have been in the kitchen with the front door open and turned around to find a chook has entered.  They know we have food for them and they are always hungry!  We can pick them up and Faeryn can almost catch them now.  I don’t think we will get anymore chooks, as they provide us with more eggs than we eat- Faeryn is not an egg fan yet and given that Bo and I were seriously considering going vegan at the end of last year… Eeny and Meeny really are more just creatures we care for rather than a commodity.

Towards the end of January we had an evening out where we went to Bethells Beach to enjoy dinner and some local music.  We met up with Kim, Kristy and Reece, Chantal and her friends Stephanie, Alex and Colin.  It was a great family event, but we left Faeryn with Granny Carolyn and Poppa Michael as it was going to be quite a late one, especially as there were so many people there for dinner.  It took nearly two hours for our order of pizza to manifest!  But it was worth the wait and just lovely taking in all the dancing kids and enjoying the company of friends.  We walked out to the water once the stars had come out- the beach at night will always be majickal!

The following day we met up with Chantal, Kim, Alex and I think Chantals other friend called Gillian, for a spot of strawberry picking at George’s Farm in Kumeu.  There is no better way to acquire the tastiest strawberries!  So red all the way through and super juicy too.  Faeryn kept grabbing the white strawberries, I guess they stood out more to her, but it didn’t take long before her fingers, mouth and chin were stained red.

   

Michelle, Faeryn and I had a morning out at Cornwallis as part of Shane’s farewell.  I can’t believe he waited until I was all settled back in NZ to finally make his OE happen, but I’m so glad his adventures beyond NZ have begun.  He started with a visit to Australia to see his family and now he is in the UK, and less than two weeks being there he has already had a job interview, which is pretty amazing given the current job market climate.  I’m looking forward to hearing about his experiences.


On the second of February, Granny Carolyn headed off to Vanuatu in a somewhat spontaneous kind of way.  Her friend Joy lives there and had suggested she join her for a few weeks to teach at her school.  We encouraged Carolyn to go for it, so hopefully it has been a rewarding experience for her, opening up new doors for opportunity.  She has been waking up quite early (5:30am) to get to school- their days start earlier as they send the kids home at 1pm- I guess that is due to the warmer climate.  Carolyn has found the kids cute, and enjoyed dancing and listening to one of the teachers singing in a bar, but the days have been quite long (9 hours) compared to when she taught in Singapore.  It has been a bit difficult communicating but at least we have Skype!

I connected in with Shane’s eldest sister Heidi, and her two children Kaylah who just turned 4 & Cooper who is 1 and they came over for a morning play-date in early February.  It was great chatting with Heidi and hearing about her parenting experiences.  Cooper just doesn’t stop smiling and Kaylah is super active, so Faeryn was quite fascinated by their company.

We managed to organise a house warming in the second weekend of February.  It’s neat how the focus of our socialising has changed now we all have families or are getting started that way- parties happen at a more reasonable hour of the day and curtail in time to put the kids to bed.  Everyone brought a plate to share and we mostly just sat around chatting and giving wee tours as new visitors arrived.  We received a lot of positive feedback on the house, which makes us feel really happy here!  The highlight of the gathering was when I got Fae in the bath- Ryan joined her (Paul and Rachael’s son) and then Bevan and Sarah’s daughter Rachael jumped in too!  So cute!

2013.02.10 Faeryn practising her finger skills

After everyone had left and Faeryn was soundly asleep, Bo and I had time to relax on the couch in front of the TV for a bit before bed.  Once my head hit the pillow, I started feeling all sorts of discomfort so my mind naturally thought this was labour.  My cheeks were perspiring, then I was super hot then super cold, I started to shake and couldn’t sit still, and it felt like Naia was somersaulting inside me.  Bo was quite calm, despite my distress and kept reassuring me that we were ready for labour and we’d be ok.  But all I could think was, this was nothing like what I felt when I went into pre-labour with Faeryn, and I was scared!  A few hours later it became apparent that it was some kind of gastric bug- just as I told Bo to call Gail, everything came up.  The consequences of eating two chocolate eclairs at lunchtime!

On Valentines Day we scored tickets to the “][" {[]} {[]} ][_ concert in May, at the Vector Arena.  Their concert was announced just after Shane left NZ, so I think it is interesting karma for him.  But no doubt they will play in London- I’m sure he won’t miss out on seeing them.

My Mum and Bodra took Faeryn along to the Swanson Playcentre in the middle of February, and I took her along last Tuesday.  She had a ball of a time, loved playing in their massive sandpit and with the colourful playdough.  There are so many resources there so I am really encouraged to go along more as I know it will support Faeryn’s development.  The playcentre is only a 400m walk from our house and we cross a railway line to get there.  From the backyard of the centre we have views of farmland and the railway line, so it’s quite cute when a train goes by and the kids all stop what they’re doing and putting, calling out “Train!”  Faeryn is such a good listener too- she always hears when a plane goes by or a helicopter- she calls them Hellatocka.  “Hellatocka Mum.  Hellatocka in the sky!”  Gorgeous!

Last weekend we had Chantal over on the Saturday (my supposed due date) to take photos of Naia.  We had planned on going to a professional photographer, but when we got there for the studio session, it turned out their way of doing business wouldn’t suit our requirements.  Their product was more the quality of the prints and framing rather than the actual photos, so they wanted to sell us these massive portraits (gallery sized, not humble abode sized) when Bo and I only wanted the digital images.  They had told me their prints started at $50 a pop, which was fine until I realised they meant strictly only postcard size and quality.  So happily, Chantal took our photos and I’m sure we will be well-pleased with her captures.  It was quite lovely being a family in our yard- the yard that will be ours for years to come- and in front of the lens.  I kept thinking, how lucky we are to be here now and have Chantal make these memories for us!  Chantal even managed to create a studio-like setting in Fae’s play space, drawing the curtains closed and getting some light on the belly.

Last Sunday we went for a mission out to O’Neill Bay with Poppa Michael.  I really hoped the walk would get things going, but instead we just enjoyed the walk around the coast and down to the beach.  We had a splash in the water and a good wander and fossick along the shore.  I went off on my own while Bo and Michael sat chatting, and it was neat watching Faeryn start to wander off in my direction on her own too.  I really believe it is important to create these freeing experiences where she can feel safe even though there is distance between us.

    

Bodra went to a cricket match yesterday with Paul, Bevan and Gareth- I think it was NZ vs UK (Barmy Army).  The game was pretty abysmal but they enjoyed being together again.  They took the train out to Eden Park and had the company of an entertaining drunkard by the name of Rusty on the way back, who declared Bodra as being the ‘Father of the Year’.  I was a bit anxious at the idea of being left alone and threatened Bodra that he had better make sure he really enjoys himself.  Luckily Bevan’s wife Sarah and Paul’s wife Rachael came over in the afternoon, and sorted out dinner for us all.  Ryan and Faeryn had a good play together in the yard, splashing about, but they weren’t the best dining companions.  Once we got Faeryn and Ryan down for the night, we had a good space to chat without the constant interruption of toddler craziness.

So now I am over a week overdue with Naia.  I can’t help but wonder if she is waiting for the Full Moon on the 26th, or for Granny Carolyn to return on the 27th, or perhaps even Faeryn’s birthday on the 1st.  Or perhaps she is waiting for Bodra to finish his interface for his prototype, or for me to post this blog.  I know things are all good, she still moves around a bit, so clearly I’ve just made it too comfortable there.  I saw my midwife on Friday- she’s been coming out to the house the past few visits which is a great service.  Gail isn’t concerned at all, but I am booked for a scan on Tuesday just to check things out.  Maybe Naia is just trying to give us a little more time to spend with Faeryn before we become a family of four.  I do feel a bit guilty about the upcoming changes to Fae’s life.  I don’t know if she has grasped what will be happening soon- I’ve showed her clips from “One Born Every Minute” and we talk about how Naia is her baby sister and is in my tummy now.  I get her to kiss and cuddle my belly.  Kim came over last week and created a stunning henna design of love splashes on my belly.  I feel really ready to bring Naia into the world, vastly different to how I felt two weeks ago when I had the gastro bug, so I’m very grateful that Naia has given us some extra time to really get organised, and time to do the special things like have the photo’s done, create a belly cast and get the henna blessing from Kim.  So what will happen when I hit post?  :-)

 

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