The times, they are a’changin…

2017 is not going to go down as a great year.

It feels like I’ve been put through the wringer and have been thoroughly beaten to a pulp. It all started with the director of the unit I work in deciding that we were all going to move to hot-desking in around April. I loathe hot-desking and think it’s a fantastic way to demotivate staff and make people really unhappy.

Then I started to feel like I was wasting my time even turning up to work because I could see all the interesting projects being passed onto other people while I was doing all the boring drudge work.

I was feeling seriously under-valued and very put-upon and I totally lost the plot. In May I walked out of work and didn’t go back for a week and a half. The idea of actually going to work made me so anxious I thought I might throw up. I got myself a mental health plan and took myself off to see a therapist to help me work myself out.

I’ve never suffered from anxiety before and I had no clue how crippling and debilitating it can be. I know now and my adventures into it weren’t that serious.

It all came to head one Saturday morning when I was out for a ride. Riding is usually my stress relief but this one was just awful. I couldn’t correctly judge how close the cars were to me and my brain kept telling me they were too close and were going to hit me. I spent the whole ride totally freaked out. I made an appointment to see my GP and finally decided for the first time in my life to go on anti-depressants. The chemical balance in my brain was so obviously out of whack that it needed some help to get back to normal.

Even though I’ve suffered from depression my whole life, I’ve always resisted anti-depressants. There’s such a huge stigma to mental health and the medication that goes with it. It’s hard to get past. However I can definitely say that going on them was the best thing I could’ve done. They really helped me. I went from being constantly angry and upset 95% of the time to feeling relatively normal. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me.

And then the restructure hit.

There’s never a nice way to do a restructure. People are going to lose their jobs and that’s the reality. But it seems that every time I’ve been through one here (this is my fifth one) it’s always been handled terribly. It feels like senior management have totally lost touch with the average Joes who do all the work so there was no acknowledgement of the work that’s being done. There also doesn’t seem to be any reason for this particular restructure to have been as slash-and-burn as it has been. And the timing is absolutely atrocious. They couldn’t have picked a worse time to do it. But whatever… it’s done.

Long story short, I’ve been made redundant.

After 17 years at RMIT, I’m being shown the door. A nice redundancy package is heading my way (hopefully) and I’ll wander off, never to have to sit in this freaken office ever again! I haven’t received my “official” letter as yet but maybe that’ll appear in tomorrow’s meeting. That and my paperwork that will tell me how much they’re going to pay me to leave quietly. 😛

To be honest, it’s the best possible outcome for me. The likelihood of me getting a job in the restructure I really wanted was always going to be slim. I accepted that when I didn’t apply for any of the jobs I probably would’ve been a shoo-in for. Still, I have to admit it’s not nice to be told your skills aren’t required and that essentially you’re not good enough to be kept around. I’m sad too because RMIT has been part of my working life for such a long time now. Realistically though, I don’t think I would’ve stayed that much longer anyway, especially if I was feeling that my skills were going to waste.

But screw ’em! I don’t have to be the person they think I am. I will miss my lovely MacBook Pro though.

On the upside…

I have been offered a place in the Graduate Diploma of Journalism at RMIT. It’s an official unofficial offer at the moment but I should get my official offer tomorrow. I am hugely, hugely excited. I wanted to do journalism when I was in year 12 but was directed away from it. So now I’m finally getting to do something that I really want to.

I may not end up as a journalist but it will get me much closer along the way to doing what I want to do – if I ever actually work that out! Once I’ve completed the grad dip I’m going to have a fairly unusual skill set so hopefully that will work in my favour. We shall see. Exciting times ahead!

After everything that has happened this year, I’d really like 2018 to be a year with no major life-changing decisions. That’d be nice after a year of being swamped by them.

To my bike…

Just wanted to say thanks.

Thanks for being there when I was angry, upset or just plain peopled-out. You have always been a safe haven for me, a way for me to get out my aggression and frustration that’s healthy and much much better than taking it out on those I care about.

Thanks for the time to think, the time to be alone, the time to remind myself that I don’t have to be what everyone expects or perceives me to be.

Thanks for being a safety valve, a place to go when everything is getting to be too much and I can feel my emotions bubbling over and going to places I don’t want to go. Thanks for being something that I look forward to, a bright spark when all looked pretty dark around me.

But best of all, thanks for the joy and the pleasure that you bring into my life. I can be in the foulest mood but I know that time spent on my bike will fix all that. It’s so good to be able to reconnect with a younger, less troubled version of myself.

Thanks for the time spent out in the sunshine. And, to a lesser degree, in the rain. Thanks for reminding me that I happen to live in a pretty amazing country and that there is much to appreciate.

Sometimes the riding hurts so much but that’s more than made up by the times it comes so easy and I feel like I’m flying. It’s worth it – the tired heavy legs, the sore butt, aching back – it’s so worth it.

Time is just flying by

So hard to believe that my little baby is now two and a half. Juno is definitely not little nor a baby any more.

A lot has happened in the last six months.There have been two sets of grommets in her ears to help with her persistently blocked eardrums (first lot didn’t take and had to be removed). The change has been startling.

Physically she’s come on in leaps and bounds. She always seemed okay but I never noticed that she wouldn’t actually climb that much. At the playground she would stick to the easy stuff and avoid anything that required her to use her entire body. But that’s not the case now! Now she’s a little monkey and wants to climb stuff that’s way too big and hard for her and she has to be guided towards more appropriate things. Most toddlers are absolute klutzes so we put it down her disinterest in climbing to that rather than anything else but it appears we were wrong. She obviously had wonky balance so was reluctant to do too much physically.

Her speech is also coming along albeit far more slowly. We have two and three word sentences now which is good but there’s still a lot of babbling going as well. She had a hearing test about three months ago which showed a huge improvement from where she had been. Interestingly though, help – which she was saying clearly – has become pout or pelt. Not sure what’s going on there. I’m constantly saying help to her and she will repeat clearly but when she asks independently, it comes out as pelt. Eh… I’m sure it’ll resolve itself. We have an appointment with Juno’s speechie in two weeks so we can discuss it then.

I have to be more careful in what I’m saying as Juno now seems to hear everything and will often repeat what I’ve said. Um yeah, that’s not so good for someone who’s been known to swear like a trooper. Really don’t want her dropping the f-bomb at childcare. I think I might get questions about that.

Speaking of childcare… The other big event in Juno’s life is that her childcare centre moved into brand new purpose-build digs. The new centre is amazing. The old one was just that – old and very rundown so it’s wonderful to see the kids in a brand new environment with new toys and play areas. It’s also more convenient for me so I’m pretty happy about that, although I think I might be the only one.

I initially thought we might avoid the terrible twos but no, they struck with a vengeance about three months ago. She’s still a pretty calm little kid but when she loses her cool, wow does she lose it! It still baffles me that someone so small can make that much noise. Mostly we try to ignore them when we know she’s faking it but when she really loses it, the only thing to do is try to cuddle her until she calms down. Unfortunately food bribes also work but I only get that one out when I’m desperate. I’ve really learnt that that there’s no reasoning with a two year old who’s mid-tantrum. Sometimes nothing will work except letting her get it all out.

It’s amazing how quickly she is growing up. I’m not sure where the last two and a half years have gone.

The progress of time

So, this time three years ago, I was lying in a hospital bed with a badly broken arm and in an astronomical amount of pain.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot today because today was Amy’s Gran Fondo and I rode it. Yes, my time was slower than last year and I’m absolutely exhausted but I still feel like I achieved something. Today was a much, much better day than the one I was going through all that time ago.

My life was profoundly changed by that accident. I’ve accepted the fact that I will always be angry with the woman who hit me. I can’t change how I feel but hopefully I can move further away from that moment that has been one of two defining moments in my life in the past three years. I guess finally finding acceptance with my anger is a starting point.

I’ve had such issues with my body but I’m trying so hard to change how I think about my body for Juno’s sake because I don’t want her to suffer with the same issues that I have. It’s definitely not perfect and there is so much I would change about it but I should be thinking about how amazing it is. I went though a traumatic experience whilst pregnant, carried a baby, had major abdominal surgery in the form of a c-section and went through 18 months of physical therapy once I could after Juno was born. I need to acknowledge the fact I can pretty much do everything I did before is a pretty amazing accomplishment.

Yay me?

104 weeks, 24 months, 2 years


Happy second birthday to my bright, hilarious, chatty, wild-haired, adorable Juno.

It’s still so very strange to have a piece of my heart running around independently of me. You are can be so many different things all at once – precious, annoying, shy, loud, quiet, sad, happy, fierce, silly, sombre.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided it was a good idea to try and have a child and it has been so much harder than I thought it would be. But it’s also been, by far, one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. You’re an ace little kid.

Don’t let the world change or extinguish the brilliant spark that’s inside you.

We have a toddler!

When did that happen? How do we have a 21 month old? It feels like it was only yesterday I was being walked into an operating theatre, enormously pregnant and about to have a c-section. Suffice to say, life has been quite different since that moment 21 months ago.

Juno is almost running (eep!), getting into everything, loves books and is generally an ace little kid. I am eternally grateful that somehow I ended up with the world’s most laid-back child who sleeps through the night. Of course she has her infuriating moments – she’s a toddler – but on the whole, we totally lucked out.

She returned to childcare last week after a three week break over xmas. She’s now in the toddler room on Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays. On the whole, the change has been okay. She’s a little unsure when we first arrive in the morning but that seems to wear off pretty quickly – usually as soon as she sees something to play with. We’ve had to nearly double the amount of clothing she has for childcare though. I thought three outfit changes would be enough. Uh, no. When I went to pick her up at the end of her first day back, she was in the room’s spare dress! She went through every item of clothing in her bag. The next day was a similar story with nothing left in her bag but she was still in her own clothes. She is yet to come home in the clothes that she left the house and I don’t think she ever will.

There still hasn’t been much development in her speech. She has more words but seems to have difficulty pronouncing the first letter of words with two or more syllables. Book is ook, duck is uck, woof is oof but she says yes, no, uh oh, oh no very clearly. The odd thing is that that says words – or rather makes sounds – in her babbling that have two or more syllable just fine. The dropped first letter only seems to occur when she’s consciously trying to say something.

Her hearing test in December showed that she is suffering from mild hearing loss that would be affecting her speech. But it’s caused by ear glue and not damage to her ear drums. We have a follow-up hearing test in a week so we’ll see what that shows. If the ear glue hasn’t cleared up, she may need grommits which means going to a Ear, Nose, Throat specialist. If it has cleared, I’m guessing we’ll be off to a speech pathologist.


What are you doing, mother?

2016 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Attempted to ride up Mt Hotham. It did not go well.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Eh. Who needs them?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope. I correctly guessed that my boss was pregnant about four weeks before she told anyone though. LOL

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Any overseas trips are most definitely a few years into the future.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
More time? But I know that’s not going to happen with a toddler.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
30 March. I went back to work after 13 months on maternity leave and had to relearn how to use PC. (Seriously!!)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Returning to work. Unfortunately for me, I returned just as two major software systems were about to be replaced so I had to learn a huge amount of new stuff. One of them had me doubting my ability to learn new software quickly – a skill I’ve always had – but it turns out everyone was and still is struggling with it. Still, it was really nice to use my brain in a way that had nothing to do with managing a baby/toddler.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting my spending under control. We’ve both dropped to four days a week so there’s definitely less money around. I must do better! Especially if I want to get a custom-made bike for my 50th birthday.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’ve had a lot of problems with my back this year. I think it’s stemming from issues with my Cesarean scar which hasn’t healed as well as I had hoped it would. I have adhesion and on the left side, they’re catching on one of my oblique muscles, which in turn seems to be throwing my back out. I’m seeing a specialist myotherapist in the hope she can break down the scarring which should free everything up and hopefully reduce my pain.

Really hoping the myotherapy works otherwise I could be in for surgery. Bleugh.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
All the cute outfits for Juno!! She’s so much better dressed then I am.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Richard. He has put up with a lot this year and he still loves me. Pretty amazing I think.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The Australian voting public. We’re idiots. What are we? Idiots!!

14. Where did most of your money go?
Juno, Juno, Juno! I don’t seem to be able to resist all the things for her. I would’ve said bike shoes but nope, not a single cycling company seems to want my (currently non-existant) money.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Finally getting to do Amy’s Gran Fondo after not being able to to for three years. They reversed the direction this time and I found the last 30kms down the Great Ocean Road a pretty hard slog but it was also really rewarding as well.

I can be so hard on myself (especially lately as the weight has crept back on) but I have to remember that I had a baby. 20 months ago I had a baby. My body did this amazing thing and I should love it for that, not get all critical on how I look. I think my problem is that pre-baby I did so much riding and exercising in general but now I’m restricted in what I can do. I should be thinking how great it is that I am back on the bike and doing some relatively hard rides.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? it’s a little more complex then that these days.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. Sigh.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer – most definitely poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
More fun stuff with Juno. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing enough stuff with her to stimulate her development and mind. But then again, she’s such a happy, laid-back child, I guess she’s doing okay so I must be doing something right.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Doubting myself as a parent. I put this last year too but it’s still true. I shouldn’t be doubting myself so much. Juno is an awesome little kid and I’m doing my best I can. That should be enough.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family. Juno was rather disinterested in her presents but we’re enjoying the fact that she’s still young enough to not understand what xmas is and start demanding things. Next year will be different and I’m guessing we’ll have to get a xmas tree.

21. What was your favorite month of 2016?
I’m going whoa! it’s December already?! When did that happen?

22. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Yes 🙂

23. How many one-night stands?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Game of Thrones. So looking forward to seeing how it ends.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. Hate is a pretty wasteful so why put any energy towards it?

26. What was the best book you read?
All the Terry Pratchett books I’m currently re-reading. Can you miss someone you never met? Because I certainly miss him. I miss the excitement of a new book coming out, buying it as soon as possible for my kindle and then again in book form so I can read with all the footnotes. Sigh.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Still listening to the same stuff I always have. But I haven’t really had the time this year.

28. What did you want and get?
I didn’t really want anything. Well, that’s not true, I wanted the pain in my arm to stop and that’s kinda happened. I guess I’ll just have to see what happens with it in 2017.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Doctor Strange was a visual feast for the eyes. Story might’ve been paper-thin but I quite enjoyed it. Did chuckle at how Doctor Strange would suddenly drop into an English accent on the odd occasion.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
This year was a real treat. I got taken to Brae and we stayed there overnight in their five star accommodation. It was very swanky and we had a Juno-free night thanks to my mum.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Having a little more confidence in my parenting skills. And worrying a good deal less about what other people thought of said skills. Juno is my baby therefore I know her best and I know what’s right for her.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Comfortable is a word that springs to mind.

34. What kept you sane?
Bike, bike, bike! Riding worked about 95% of the time. I’m a better person because of it.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh…

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The American presidential election. It was like a car crash, I couldn’t look away and then we got the worst result possible.

37. Who did you miss?
Me? Is that an answer? It feels like I’ve spent of a lot of this year figuring out who I’m supposed to be now. Still working on it.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I’m saying Juno again because she’s changed so much this year. Every developmental jump has changed her.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016
Toddlers are amazing little people. I love Juno’s lack of self-consciousness. If she wants to dance, she will. Everything is interesting to her and being with her is a reassessment in how to see the world.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I can never think of anything for this. Also, toddler brain!!

Blink and you miss it.

Miss J is 18 months old. 18 months!!! When did that happen?

It’s been a wild ride. Everyone talks about how hard it is when you have a newborn but I’ve decided that’s a crock. It’s hard regardless, it’s just different. Every stage in development has its challenges and just when you think you’ve got it under control, something new pops up.

Juno is curious, bright-eyed and loves getting into everything. She’s definitely mastered walking and has recently starting climbing the stairs on her own (which is nice because she’s getting heavy!). She’s also very into books at the moment and loves being read to. Which makes me a little proud – another book worm in the family 🙂 The only problem is that she also loves turning the pages and often won’t wait for the person reading.

We only have two clear words – no and up – which is a slight concern. So the next logical step is for Juno to have a hearing test. She talks all the time but it’s all babbling (which does sound quite lovely because it’s very musical). Not panicking, just wanting to find out if anything is up. I figure the earlier an issue is discovered, the better the chances are of it being fixable. However, she communicates very clearly – especially when she says no and pushes whatever she doesn’t want away with her hand. I guess I would be a good deal more concerned if there was no non-verbal communication.

So… at 18 months, Juno:
* weighs – 12.25kg
* height is – 81.5cm
* head circumference is – 50.5cm
* currently sporting a black eye from banging her head on a shelf.

She’s gained two kilos in six months, grown 6cm and her head is so far off the chart it’s ridiculous. One day she’ll grow into her head. LOL

Two words

Chronic pain.

Not happy words. But that’s where I am right now with my shoulder. I’ve been to the surgeon and there’s nothing structurally wrong with my shoulder – it’s actually healed really well. I have a little bursitis but that’s about it.

I know that I was told repeatedly at the hospital that my arm would never be the same once it healed but I didn’t expect it to be like this either. I thought it might ache a bit in the cold and be weak initially but with some work it’d return to fairly close approximation of how it was before the accident. That’s so not what has happened. Nearly two years later and it still hurts. We’re not talking eight or nine on the pain scale, or even a five. We’re talking a one or two but it’s my constant companion. I have times where it doesn’t hurt at all which is nice but they are few and far between.

I guess I wasn’t helped by the fact that the accident happened at the worst possible time. Pregnancy and broken limbs definitely don’t go together. Especially broken limbs that need rehab to recover. I did do mild rehab while I was pregnant but in the end it was too much. I felt so physically overloaded by the end of my pregnancy that the idea of doing anything for arm felt like it was just too much. Guess I’m kinda paying for it now.

I think I’ve worked pretty hard with my physical therapy and I guess it’s worked because I have pretty good mobility. However, mobility doesn’t mean pain-free. I don’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life. (If my grandma is anything to go by, I’m going to be around for a while yet – she’s 98!!)

So now we’re into where to go from here? How do I learn to manage my pain?

I know chronic pain is caused by the brain’s plasticity. Provoke it into a pain response for long enough and your brain rewires itself into that being the default. Any movement, any position that your brain decides is wrong leads to a strong pain response. What fun! The pain can come on at totally random times and it can tip up into the high end of the scale. If you’ve ever noticed me with my eyes shut taking a few deep breaths, it because my shoulder is giving me a hard time at that moment.

I’m about to find out if I can rewire my brain back to how it was before. I figure that if it can wire itself into this position, it must be possible to undo it. The trick will be working out how. I’m starting with acupuncture and have an appointment with my GP in a week to see if there’s something I can take to suppress the pain in the short-term. The logic behind medication is to simply give my brain a break in the hope it’ll get the picture to quit it with pain messages. Also thinking some therapy wouldn’t go astray. Talking to someone about how to manage my pain is probably a good idea.

It’s been so long since the accident. I was undoubtedly naive in the thought that it would simply get better and go back to how is was but I didn’t expect it would be like this either.

65 weeks

Look at my little cutie patootie 🙂 So grown up now. Juno is 15 months old today.

I guess the biggest thing that’s happened in the last three months is that we’ve finished breastfeeding. I’m still not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand I’m kinda relieved because it means she’s not as dependent on me. On the other hand, I’m sad because it’s the end of something that was shared by just us. I’m still surprised that we made it to 14 months after the bad start we had. I would’ve never predicted all those months ago that we’d last as long as we did. But now Juno doesn’t need me like that any more and I guess that’s a little sad.

If nothing else, being a parent is a lesson in firsts and lasts.

She’s still not walking independently but she’s a champion at cruising the furniture. We still have the box from her stroller because she loves pushing it around – both on her feet and kneeling – even though I bought her a little toddle truck from Ikea. (She uses that too so it wasn’t a total waste of money.)

The way Juno plays has changed too. She explores her toys and is learning what she can do with them. She loves her Duplo spaceship and is slowly working out how the pieces fit together and that she can make things. It’s super cute when she decides to put all the pieces back in their box but I think that’s because she loves tipping them all out once she’s done. But she does seem to like helping with the putting away of things – something we’ll most definitely be encouraging her to keep doing.

No words yet either but she talks all the time. It’s just that we can’t understand what she’s saying. I’m sure she’ll talk when she’s good and ready to. She seems to makes big jumps in development rather then a more gradual approach. It’ll be whatever it’ll be and there’s not much we can do about it except keep talking to her and encouraging her.

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