The one where we found out

(Foreword: I wrote a few articles and saved them on my phone early on in my pregnancy as I had wanted them to be published after I had told everyone important in my life. Sadly it didn’t quite have an ending that I had wished for. Nonetheless it was an exciting moment finding out I was pregnant so I thought I’d share this nonetheless.)

That’s right. I can finally say it. I’m starting to realize I haven’t had much experience with this, not because people around me haven’t been pregnant, but it just isn’t the topic to talk about.

I mean the first question is: what would ever make you say “hmm you know what, I may be pregnant, let me get a pregnancy test to have a look.”

Most people just tell you the news (when they’re ready) and you congratulate them and forget the anxiety before.

I had suspected it for a couple of days because my intuition told me my body was changing. I googled symptoms, I looked up possibilities. And a few days later, I announced my suspicion to H. And a couple of days after that I told him I would get a test.

I remember we were about to have breakfast while I had already made a run to the drugstore to get a pregnancy test. I proceeded to have tons of water during breakfast. And then I happily announced I was going to pee, after we had already discussed at length the multiple ways of collecting pee. Anyhow.

Then I announced that the job was done, and the test began. And then I asked him to come in.

We both stared at the pee-stained stick. I saw a clear second line, he said it was too faint to see. And as we let it rest, the second line got darker and darker – so we couldn’t ignore it anymore.

H was surprised. He hadn’t quite believed my suspicions but he had assured me again and again that it would be fantastic if we were pregnant.

I was unsure. I always knew I wanted to have kids, and when I was young, I always wanted to be a young mum. But then I just got older and older and never felt like the moment was the right time.

There we were with a positive test. H hugged me and I was in tears, shocked and unsure of what to do next. My first instinct was to say, “Let’s get a second one just to be safe!”

I got the second one, it was also positive.

A day later after I had gotten rid of the shock, it was all about reading up on how to determine how far along you are, when to tell your friends and family (it’s the absolute hardest thing to keep this a secret!!!), what to look out for, etc.

And as you read about early pregnancy you also read about what to do and what not to do, what to eat and what to eat less of. I remember thinking, now that I’m pregnant, I want to remain pregnant. And I tried to incorporate the rules into my lifestyle as much as possible.

And now player 3 is the size of a…

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I’ve got something to say

I was recently pregnant.

“Was” being the keyword there.

I spent my first day, upon finding out I was pregnant, shocked. It was rather planned but it still came as a shock. And I discovered really early on (about 3 weeks in).

After the shock was over, I was thrilled. Excited. Overjoyed. I spent my days planning my pregnancy, realizing all the concert plans I had would get harder and harder to mosh, and weddings I would attend late summer would mean new dresses needed.

H was happy from the start. He didn’t believe me when I said I “felt” pregnant, but the moment it was confirmed, he was happy. But as the guy in such a situation, it was tough for him to really feel like we were expecting. So he came with me to some gynae visits. We subscribed to babycenter weekly newsletters to imagine how the little one was developing in me.

I couldn’t hold it in for long. I told my yoga teachers at 6 weeks. I told my closest friends at around 10 weeks. I told my colleagues at 12 weeks. I even told the waiter at my favorite restaurant. I was bursting with excitement. A little one was growing in me! We were going to share our lives with it!

At 14.5 weeks I had a routine gynae visit, which was met with a dreadful silence from a usually talkative gynae. He couldn’t tell what the problem was, but the amniotic fluid level was suspiciously low. He referred us to a prenatal specialist. He called them up and requested for an appointment as soon as possible – while we sat in front of him. Dreadful would be the adjective I would use here.

At 15.5 weeks, we went to the specialist. He explained that amniotic fluid is produced by the mother in the beginning, and by the child later on. Low amniotic fluid meant bad kidneys. He later said he couldn’t find any kidneys from our little one in the scans.

How could that even happen?

What does that even mean?

No kidneys meant the little one wasn’t going to live. It was a matter of days, weeks or months. It could even miraculously survive till birth and then go straight into palliative care. What do you want to do?

I couldn’t handle the idea of ending my little one’s life in the beginning. It brought us so much joy and excitement. I was growing with it, and I was imagining it growing in me. And I now and then wondered if I felt its heartbeat or movements.

We were given a week to think it through. We asked to see a psychologist.

At 16.5 weeks we met one. I told her I could rationally imagine it’s the right decision but I felt like a terrible mum. She told us to think about how to make peace with it, to talk to the child and explain the situation.

So we did. We cried, explained to my belly, wrote farewell notes, cried.

At 17 weeks we had an appointment with the hospital. The thing is:

  1. Everybody seems to know someone who went through a miscarriage but nobody talks about it.
  2. Everybody has an equally terrible reason for their miscarriage.
  3. No mum would willingly give up their growing foetus.
  4. I don’t know how planned miscarriages take place before 12 weeks but after 12 weeks you have to have induced labour.
  5. Anyone who’s had labour would like to have it acknowledged that they’ve been through labour and gave birth to their little one (dead or alive) and was/is a mum.

I had an induced labour and gave birth to my little boy.

We laid there, happy as can be that we met him and that we got to admire him from top to toe, but sad that we had to do this, that it was way too soon, that he had no chances of living.

He was born on 22 June.

The power of women

Recently I attended a conference for women in the IT industry.

In my (skeptical) colleague’s words, it was like a women-shall-rule-the-universe gathering. Except it wasn’t.

Just shortly before that, the first female referee took the lead in a Bundesliga match, which made me extremely proud. I felt the significance of this monumental event was a little like having a first female president.

And I do have our (first) female president in my home country, and a female chancellor in my residential country.

So are women ruling the world?

Probably not. The world isn’t quite ready for this amount of female leaders yet. But whose fault is it, really?

I’m inclined to think that us women have it too hard on ourselves. Men are generally innocent. But women – we put these double standards on ourselves.

We judge when a mum goes to work while the child is young. We judge when our sons marry a girl who can’t cook. We judge when our female colleagues fail to stand up for themselves in a male-dominated arena.

But it’s up to us to change this.

I think in our current state of feminism, we may be overdoing it. We may be trying to become men, rather than embrace our strengths.

We forget that the stroke and elegance of a ballerina is sign of strength and control. We forget that our emotional intelligence leads us in the right way in crises. We forget that we can be pretty damn smart, without having to try to prove ourselves all the time.

So women, what I’m trying to say is: Believe in your strengths. They don’t have to look like men’s strengths and it’s also okay!

And stop judging other women.

Moshing with the flow

I was in a reggae-ska-concert in Berlin recently. I hadn’t expected it and we stood quite close to the front in this small bar, which I later learnt was the mosh pit.

Sometimes human’s idea of a safety zone is quite a strange concept. I have no problems being shoulder-to-shoulder with people in a subway or a crowded place, but the moment I feel someone in front or behind me, I think that’s way too close.

So I started to have my arms half bent in front of my chest. Somehow this made me feel more protected.

At first I wondered if educated civilized people would take part in moshing. In this concert where the distortion of the electric guitar was so loud that the text becomes barely audible.

Then I got slightly terrified of the people bumping into me. I quickly turned to H and told him this isn’t quite an Asian thing. I could tell it wasn’t his either, but we went with in.

Later I realized it was more tiring to stand there and judge these annoying people who kept bumping into me, than to take part in it. So I started jumping and pushing back.

I quickly became slightly terrified when I realized the one guy I had been pushing a lot looked unhappy and had a physique that looked as though he could throw me out quickly. I stopped to observe what happened next.

He continued moshing.

I continued moshing.

I even started to think this was fun.

It’s like if you’re in a car, and another behind you rams right into you, your injury depends on whether you had jammed your brakes or not. If you hadn’t tried to resist the impact too much, you wouldn’t have been too impacted at all.

Apparently this is also true with moshing… lesson learnt.

Have you ever moshed?

Good friends are there for the good times

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague yesterday. We talked about friendships.

And she said, you know what? People like to say good friends are there for the bad times. But that's bullshit.

It's way too easy to have to be a listening ear and comfort someone by saying things will get better, this too shall pass, he doesn't deserve you.

But the true friends are the ones who are there for your good times – because they are the ones who feel happy for you.

That couldn't be better said.

When was the last time you put aside anything you're dealing with to share the joy and excitement your friend is going through?

I've exciting/scary news at the moment, (and I would share it in due time) but the reactions I got so far has made it way too easy to evaluate who gives a damn.

Some empathize with your anxiety and share your joy, while other only react to the news they want to hear, and prefer to speak about themselves instead.

I have a theory based on a scale of acquaintance to good friends.

  • Acquaintances are there for the good times; they pop up to congratulate you in good times despite having not spoken to you in years.
  • Friends are there for the bad times because they can still be assed enough to ensure you feel a little better.
  • Good friends are there for the bad, and most wonderfully, for the good.

Ah, friends.

Dentists are like dogs

H was at the dentist today. He doesn’t have a latent hatred for the dentist. He has good teeth. He goes in, smiles, and comes out saying, “Done!” And the dentist presents him a candy for being good.

I might or might not have fabricated that last sentence.

I, on the other hand, do not like the dentist. It’s nothing personal, I just dislike all dentists. And I have a theory about this.

I think all dentists are like dogs.

(Follow me on this one.)

They can sense fear in their patients. And I always carry extra fear along with me when I visit the dentist. The moment they are certain of my fear, they ride on it. They exploit it. And I suddenly feel mad about ever opening my mouth.

The gums are bad, the teeth will fall out. I’ve had several dreams about my teeth actually being shaky and falling out one by one. I blame dentists for that. But they continue to sniff it out and bark.

I love dogs, but I hate dentists. So this post has a picture of a dog, rather than a disgusting dentist. Ugh.

Well roared, lion.

Have you ever been so angry that your entire mind and body gets mad along with you? You find yourself literally taking heavy puffs while walking. Your body curls up a little. You don’t want to speak to anyone else who’s innocent, really. You fight back tears. Your mood is ruined. You start to get mad at the weather. You start to get a headache.

I did yesterday. And it was exhausting.

It makes me wonder – how do people get so mad so often? I’ve a boss who roars every so often. We don’t take it personally because he’s just heavily passionate about the business. But still.

I just did it once in ages and I feel like I aged in a day. This exhaustion is so not worth it. Anger is so not worth my life.

If you ever get mad at someone, go do something that makes you happy. You don’t deserve to be angry.

Getting “hit on” on the train

I just got back from my first ever work trip – and it was to Madrid so it was quite awesome. But I’m very relieved to be home again. My husband’s missing but the place is lovely and quiet, and I get to be in my favourite solo spot – lying on the mat by the window.

While on the way back, I had to figure my way out of my least favourite airport and wait 20 minutes for a train that I didn’t plan to take. A lady asked if it was alright that she sat in my four-seater area. I said of course, and shuffled my luggage closer in, so she had more space.

Then it was silence for about 10 minutes as I fumbled with my phone and also tried to figure out if the familiar voice I keep hearing was indeed from someone I know.

As the lady about to check our ticket approached us, she warned me before, and all of a sudden we started to get talking.

As part of what I’ve been learning from The Happiness Project (this book is totally growing on me), I’ve taken the waiting time for transport to be factually terrible but mentally ok. I’ve got time, why do I need to get worked up about it?

And I was pleased that the lady and I started talking, because social activities make people happy and it totally made my day filled with simply travelling from one place to the other, trying to get home.

Not only that, we hit off really well. I said things like “I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but…” and it was a really lovely conversation. She initiated exchange of contacts, I suggested since she’s in town temporarily, we could hang this weekend while the husband’s away, etc.

And she said yes, how about tomorrow?

Isn’t this just ridiculously random but wonderful?

I’m also starting to get slightly worried that she isn’t contacting me because she has my contact and the power to reach out… Hope it doesn’t take 3 days. 😉

Watch you grow

Have you ever watched yourself grow?

Trust me; it’s possibly one of the best feelings in the world.

I’ve been reading The Happiness Project and while I think it’s a far cry from a very exciting book I completed just before, it did teach me one thing: it’s absolutely fundamental to sit back and reflect your behaviour – all the good, bad and ugly.

Often, of course, we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We think we’re fat when we aren’t, we think we’re old when we hit 30, and we think true love falls from the tree and all bad behaviour means the relationship is falling apart. Myths. That’s what they are.

I constantly realise (without reminding myself) that I’m having the best time of my life right now, and it just keeps getting better.

I used to walk when completing a 2.4km sports test in school and struggle to reach my toes, but now I encourage others to join me in the 5.5km company run and am surprisingly flexible thanks to yoga.

I am a city girl who’s used to luxury and being driven around, but now I grab my backpack and trek into the woods without a problem.

I used to fear dark dodgy corners but now I keep my head up high.

I don’t dread getting older because I feel my age.

I used to hate speaking in German to my own husband but now I don’t think twice speaking in German to him, or his friends, or his colleagues.

And, the best part is – I used to dread work and look forward to the end of the day, while I now actually like that it’s a part of my day.

Feeling awesome isn’t about waiting for that one rare lottery moment that strikes you, but giving yourself credit for the effort you have put in to make yourself better.

Perhaps I hadn’t “peaked” early. And of course these moments can also be fleeting, but it’s important to remind yourself while you’re at it – that life can be pretty damn awesome sometimes.

Quarter Life Crisis

I thought I lost it a couple of days ago.

I have a loving husband, a job I like, colleagues I enjoy spending time with, a gym membership that is almost worth it. And yet I needed more. I, with everything I could ever dream of, felt like my life served no real purpose. I, the successful and wonderfully blessed person, needed more.

I thought – this is it. It’s my quarter life crisis.

But on hindsight, I think it was a nice wake-up call. I’m cooped up in a very warm and comfortable bubble. Somewhere along the line, I subconsciously decided to take everything for granted. Nothing excited me anymore.

But that can’t be it. It must be a mindset thing. Someone once told me she took a seminar on willpower, and everyone received a pep talk and ran through a column of coal on fire. It was all in the mind.

The phrase “quarter life crisis” is a fashionable term. Almost as fashionable as boasting about how “busy” one is, to make one feel more important.

But it’s just a pretty lame excuse to be crappy to everything and everyone that was great to you.

Somehow I’m fine again. I found myself back and stopped being snappy. I know what I need and what I have to do.

If you think you’re in a quarter life crisis, think again.