My last week at work.
It's over. I will be back, but I can't help thinking how momentous the closure of this 15-year-old chapter in my life is.
When I return, what will be waiting for me? What on earth will be going on inside my brain when I do go back? How will I be able to do the working mother thing?
Cart? Get back in the shed, we've got a horse to saddle up first. I am getting ahead of myself.
So my last day was February 10. I am due February 20. First of all, let me say that I am quite proud of myself - an inherently lazy person prone to naps and complaining OFTEN - that I actually made it to that date. I remember picking it out months ago to tell payroll...and part of me sheepishly thought I would more than likely leave a fortnight or so earlier. It just seemed so close.
But there, it is, I made it. I had a comfy chair at a desk and air-conditioning. Sure it broke down, but it was summer - it does that every year. I also had a huge goal of getting the maximum time off with our bubbalina after she is born. I didn't want to burn all my maternity leave bridges, especially when I haven't even crossed the whole labour one yet.
My brain managed to hold on to its journalist-wired functions - something I was quite shocked by. And I didn't make a complete fool of myself asking someone mid-serious interview, say, what their opinion of controlled crying was or the best remedy for cracked nipples. Although some days, I must admit, if more than three things happened at once (someone asked me something, my phone rang, an email popped up on my screen and I was half-way through writing a story) certain spheres of my brain would temporarily self-combust in overload mode and I would invariably have to apologise and run away to the toilet. Just to regroup. Oh, and empty my bladder for the 17th time that minute.
Everyone at work was lovely, supportive. I have some amazing friends there, good people who cried with me when we lost our baby in 2010. As they shared in our grief, so too do they share in our happiness and anticipation.
I was even treated to a "pink sugar" themed morning tea. That wasn't what it was officially called, but that's what sums it up. Every pink biscuit, cake, lolly, iced thing you could imagine was served on pink plastic plates with pink serviettes. Cute! I hope the doctors got it right!
I still wonder about our bub popping out sporting a between-the-legs protuberance we weren't expecting! It happens.
It was quite confronting and bizarre to clean out folders and folders of old emails (I am quite the hoarder) as well as my desk drawers and storage places. It was a great cleanse, but one I knew I couldn't commit to 100%.
I am not leaving that job for good. I will be back, in some form or another. At this stage, I will return in August. But anything could happen.
So I gathered up my timebook, voice recorder and a few personally signed business books that I might have time to actually read. They will make a nice change from all the pregnancy books! But I left the business cards of contacts, the stapler and a whole stack of pens for my replacement, who might need them.
It was quite thrilling to drive out of work on Friday night. I felt waves of nervousness and excitement.
Gone, completely gone, are weekdays I can plan out, organise, arrange. I don't really know what will replace them, but I can guess they won't be that structured as my previous life.
And that is actually quite liberating. Exciting.
I must admit, I have been getting ready for this next phase for a while now...ever since I was pregnant the last time. I don't know if all women are like that, but I could feel that I needed a change from the work routine. As comforting as that was, after years of it, I realised it wasn't as fulfilling as it had been in the beginning.
And now, we wait. And watch daytime TV. And spend too much time on the computer getting at least four different updates per hour on Whitney Houston. And do the dishes, cook, garden, swim, dust, tidy, nap, read. And wonder if that twinge is the start of labour. What that kick means...whether or not those damn endless hiccups signal something freaky.
Wondering when it's all going to happen.
I stood in the baby's room yesterday, eating watermelon. I looked down at my belly and then at the cot, which T and J had made up just that morning with pink gingham sheets and her new froggy slinky that J had chosen.
I looked from my belly to the cot and realised in a matter of days, weeks, she will be out of me and lying there.