If there ever was a month that felt like a suspended hyper-reality, April was it.
School holidays began and I let out a huge exhale of relief – we had ‘made it’… to the first mini-milestone at least. Dave was home to kid-wrangle and he rose to the occasion like the Type 3 Achiever that he is – soloing all three of them on countless occasions so that I could spend the last few weeks of pregnancy hibernating.
You could say that I’m really not great at the last phase of pregnancy – becoming super alert at the hint of any signs that labour is forthcoming, tossing and turning throughout the night trying to ride out the increasingly hard to ignore tightenings. Somehow, we managed to make it through to the scheduled induction date (a plan that I begged for due to my coloured history of spurious labour and susceptibility to Group B Step which required two of my babies to be monitored and treated for infection after birth).
After another hellish labour (birth story to come soon, I promise) we finally welcomed Harvey Hughes into this world. His life so far has been a whirlwind of visitors, blood tests, lovingly delivered meals, snuggles, tears, photos, feeds and chocolate. And wine. Oh it is so good to be able to have wine again!
In anticipation of the reality of April, I made my goal for this month to rest. It’s definitely not something I’m naturally good at. I much prefer to go hard and get stuff done and only relax once everything is in its place (any other Type 1’s nodding along right now?). This month, however, I learned to move in waves – spurts of energy followed by bouts of rest. I lingered in warm baths, lit pumpkin pie scented candles, devoured books and spent much of the time stretched out on the couch. I can’t say that I was fully able to enjoy the new pace, but I do think that my appreciation for rest has gone up a few notches, and the pace that I settled into has made it less jarring after the birth as I allow my body time to recover, put my feet up to feed and head to bed as often as possible so that I don’t morph into The Incredible Hulk (too often).
What I’m Reading
The Invisible Library (Genevieve Cogman)
I really wanted to like this book, which is the first in the Invisible Library series. It seemed like such a creative and multi-layered concept – secret Librarians with abilities to traverse into alternate universes to rescue precious texts. The execution, however, left me a little cold. The characters were very under-developed – shifting and changing as circumstances morphed around them and never quite deciding what personality to stick with. The story is told from the perspective of Irene, whose face and appearance are still a complete blank in my mind, and her internal dialogue does little to illuminate much of anything. Her most common reaction to other people seems to be ‘well done for stating the obvious‘, although she is never established as a character who has a complete grasp on her surroundings. I felt as if I was wandering through a half-formed world, and just wished for better writing and descriptions most of the time. Needless to say, I won’t be going back to read the rest of the series.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (Amy Schumer)
Ok, this is definitely not the kind of book I normally pick up, but I was given it by a good friend to check out. On the positive side, I am always interested in people’s stories and I found Amy’s exploration of her family relationships and experiences both heart-breaking and illuminating. She is very honest, often brutally so, and doesn’t idealise any of the humans in her life. The sex stuff was a little too much for me, though if you are already an Amy Schumer fan perhaps it won’t be as jarring. On the downside, the book could have been crafted a lot better and flowed in some sort of topical sequence, and considering that it is a book by a comedian, I think I expected it to laugh or smile a little more. It felt as if Schumer didn’t know whether to shock, rant or be vulnerable. I did enjoy reading her annotated journal entries.
A Trick of the Light (Louise Penny)
Despite becoming less enamoured with this series, I continue to be somewhat diverted by them. The setting of Three Pines feels comfortable and familiar, and I (mostly) enjoy the way that Penny unfolds the mystery. This story is focused on the murder of a critic in the art world, and delves into issues of whether people change, the nature of art and criticism, and the reality of success. I feel that Penny rehashes scenes far too much, deploys shortened or fragmented sentences often to jarring effect, and is unnecessarily crass at points (particularly via the characters of Ruth and Gabri).
The Devil in the White City (Erik Larson)
I found this non-fiction dramatisation of the Chicago World Fair linked in with the dark reality of serial killer – Dr Holmes – to be interesting on the whole. Larson delves into the drama and difficulty surrounding the preparation of the World Fair, while jumping back and forth between the sadistic connections of Dr Holmes and how he managed to murder so many completely under the radar for so long. While some have questioned the connection of the two events, I felt that Larson’s pulling them together added to the context of both stories and his writing was engaging and compelling.
What Alice Forgot (Liane Moriarty)
Moriarty is fast becoming my favourite author. When you find yourself keeping your family updated on the plot line of the latest fiction book you are reading, and longing for a few minutes to sit down so that you can learn more about whether Alice has gotten any memories back, you know that you have stumbled onto a winner. I loved the concept of the book – a head injury causes Alice to awaken believing that she is a decade younger and the experience challenges her notion of identity, family, motherhood, friendship and value. Moriarty dealt so well with the complicated nature of motherhood and infertility and she is a masterful writer in all senses, but particularly in terms of character development. Loved it.
What I’m Watching
Miracles From Heaven
Dave and I are on a bit of a mission at the moment to watch any true and inspirational stories that deal with suffering or the depth of the human condition, so this film starring Jennifer Garner seemed like a good option. Covering the journey of a mother fighting for her increasingly sick child to obtain adequate medical treatment, the movie delves into issues of faith, deconstruction, pain, suffering and miracles. On the whole, we were moved by the love of the parents, the helplessness of the situation and the devastation of the tree incident. There were good distinctions in terms of the miraculous and it was an inspiring, hope-filled story. Might be a little jarring if you don’t come from a Christian background though.
13 Reasons Why
There aren’t many shows that manage to capture the interest of both Dave and myself. He likes dystopian, sci-fi/fantasy… I tend towards more character driven drama… 13 Reasons Why was an unlikely choice for us both, however it somehow worked. Delving into the background to the suicide of high school student, Hannah Baker, it turns out that she has left a series of cassette tapes dedicated to the 13 people who caused her to take her life. The tapes begin to unravel Liberty High’s complicated pecking order and threaten to wreak havoc on all involved. This series is very well done – though it has many heavy and graphic themes – and the unveiling of all the details of the story is (mostly) masterfully carried out. There were moments where we grew frustrated with the pace of the show, and we were left a little dissatisfied by the number of loose ends in the final episode, but I suppose the show’s creators have to pique interest for a second season somehow. Overall, a fascinating depiction of high school life, the complicated relationships between teenagers and their families, and the potential of seemingly ‘harmless’ gestures to contribute towards the undoing of a sensitive person in the throes of a fraught reality.
Broadchurch (Series 3)
I don’t know what it is about this community of people, but I find myself so drawn into the story and the lives of the people that I don’t want the show to end. Having watched the first two series and preferring the crime/mystery-style format of the first season, I was very satisfied that they returned to this model for the third season. Revolving around the case of a reported sexual assault, the series unveils (in a sophisticated and completely non-gratuitous way) complicated issues relating to porn, sex, rape, consent and gender roles. I love the way that the show keeps you guessing and descends deeper into the story in each episode. Definitely recommended (though be prepared for a bit of a slow start).
This is Us
Feeding through the night gives you a lot of time to binge watch television series! I have been hearing good things about this one for a while now and thought I would give it a try. I haven’t quite finished the season yet, but I’m really enjoying the drama and the way it unfolds. The characters are very likeable and interesting and the jumping back and forth between the past and the present keeps the show engaging. The sibling connection and rivalry is fascinating and the show deals well with issues of racism, obesity, family, love and marriage.
What I’m Listening To
The Simple Show
As usual, this podcast was my go-to this month, and I enjoyed listening to the episodes At Home in the World, The Hard Parts of Travel and Adventuring in Your Own Home. Probably a bit much of a travel focus for my tastes this month, but I always find something interesting in the conversations between Tsh and her regular co-hosts.
After being slightly obsessed with On Being in the past, I think I have listened to the majority of the episodes that caught my interest. I found the interview with Carlo Rovelli (‘All Reality is Interaction’) somewhat engaging, but also a bit over my head.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this podcast. I’m about three episodes in and I have no idea where it is going. Broadly, the show looks into the reality of life in a small town in Alabama, initially through the lense of a colourful character called John. It is well done and mostly entertaining if you are after something diverting to listen to.
Poor Eli really tends to feel the complexity of this phase of life. The unknown timing of Harvey’s arrival threw him a bit and he alternated between really stepping up in maturity (offering to put Ivy to bed for me and reading her stories) and having frustrated emotional outbursts. He asked me gravely before the birth if either I or the baby would die. Based on his sudden voracious interest in spelling and story writing I wouldn’t be surprised if he became a writer of some sort in the future. He delights in writing ‘books’ at every opportunity, and even completed an entire saga of Harvey’s arrival (which included a mention of Mummy screaming a lot when Harvey was coming out, and the baby showering Daddy and Hudson with wee the first time Dave changed his nappy). Eli lost his second tooth this month.
I feel like Hudson has really grown up this month. His language has developed significantly and I’m finding I no longer have to translate his sentences to other people. He tries his hand at humour with great success at times, asking with a glint in his eye ‘Was that funny guys?!’ Hudson had been hanging out for Dave to be home so that he could finally drop him off at Kinder. It is so nice to see how much he is flourishing at Kinder, particularly in light of our initial concerns of whether or not he was ready. He is enjoying being a big brother and loves to get out his guitar and serenade Harvey while he is lying on the play mat.
The biggest surprise when the kids came to visit at hospital was how big Ivy seems now. She is an adoring big sister and will ask for a cuddle at any opportunity. The fears that held her back last month seem to be mostly disappearing… at least we can get her to have a bath now. She has some very funny lines like ‘Don’t even think about it!’ which is said with a very stern face and a firm jab of her index finger.
Well, 10 days is not much to judge by, but already we feel as if Harvey has been a part of our lives forever. His little expressions are very cute and we are constantly being reminded of the other three when they were babies. So far Harvey is pretty chilled, crying intermittently and being content to observe his siblings with wide, knowing eyes. The jaundice has been difficult – necessitating lots of blood tests – but so far he has not had to undergo photo therapy. I’m trying to savour every minute of these special first days, knowing how fast it all goes by.
You could say that we weren’t at our adventuring best this month, due to very limited reserves of energy. Nevertheless, we managed to have a few interesting outings and experiences. Eli had a record number of sleepovers this month as family and close friends volunteered to take a bit of the pressure off in the last weeks before the birth and the week afterwards. Dave took the kids on trips to the park, playground and to Wilson Botanic for an Easter Egg Hunt with friends.
Dave and I escaped for some pre-hospital appointment dates over the course of the holidays- at Frankie’s Cafe, sampling burgers at Sneaky Cheese and then final drinks at The Timber Mill:
Joined an impromptu Easter Parade at the Library:
Had a family lunch at Hungry Jacks:
Braved the torrential rain for a Sky High Hills Adventure:
Celebrated Easter with Dave’s family:
Turned ourselves into pirates for a Easter treasure hunt at my family’s house:
Got to finally meet Harvey:
Chilled by the fire and ate pizza with great friends:
As for the rest of the month, we made Hot Cross Buns, ate far too many chocolate eggs and watched a lot of shows and movies. We have enjoyed getting to catch up with friends and family as they have come to meet Harvey and we are slowly getting used to doing life with four…
April, you were a month with incredible highs and lows. I’m very glad that we are on the other side of the labour now and I’m looking forward to embracing life again with gusto… as soon as I get my energy back!