The Birth the Baby and the Big Deal Pt 3
The last few months of pregnancy, the fading months of 2019, felt like they were sent to remind me what is important in ones’ life story. Would I remember this time for the sweetness of our first Christmas in New Zealand, our first quiet Christmas as a little family alone without the noise and without the extended families, or would I remember the seemingly never-ending barrage of challenges that this Big Deal seemed to throw us?
Little did I know - did any of us know - the the trials and tribulations that seemed so big in those gentle, quiet months of late 2019, early 2020 would soon be dwarfed by massive fracturing global events that would impact all our lives and businesses. As I look back now, our lives seem so simple then, just 12 months ago.
Christmas was small and sweet. Isabella, newly turned three, shone as she opened presents. Steve went surfing. We ate amazing food and kept company with new friends. As businesses shut down over the holiday period I have never been more grateful for a reprieve from the cycle of the last few years: find deals, crunch numbers, make offers, renovate, revalue, start again.
We walked along the beach, ate yogurt ice-cream and collected shells on the mudflats.
There were no deals to get.
We had one, dormant, waiting for us.
January and February were very full months. Stephen was regularly away and I was increasingly heavy. Isabella was increasingly demanding as she doubtlessly sensed that life as she knew it was about to change forever. In parallel with my developing belly the complications of the Big Deal became increasingly legalistic and bitter.
The journey from unconditional to settlement in the lifecycle of a deal is supposed to be simple and without complication. The work has already been done. This was my expectation but not my reality. Maybe I wasn’t truely yet ready for the wealth and fortune this deal would bring us and felt I needed to create more lessons to learn, more goals to achieve, more problems to solve to justify our impending wealth.
We solved the subdivision and survey access challenge by petitioning the council to grant us more time to complete the works.
We solved the finance challenges by using private investment.
The vendor was shocked that we went unconditional without her cooperation so she sicked a two bit lawyer onto us - seemingly a local friend who was not even the solicitor appointed for settlement. Much of what follows remains commercially sensitive and so I won’t relate it here. Suffice to say our solicitor was once again a barrage of incredulous Spanish fury at the irritating and obstinate obstacles she was now forced to overcome on our behalf. Never in her career, she regaled, has she had to deal with a vendor such as this, one that sells a property and then threatens to refuse to settle because she changed her mind.
I never expected the legality of a sale and purchase to questioned. I have never wished more fervently that I had paid more attention to the tiniest of details, to the clauses within that I have always expected were in order that was now being poured over by great legal minds at hundred of dollars an hour. Never before have my words of genuine intent to facilitate a win-win negotiation been thrown back in my face, transcript of an early conversation facilitated by the agent between myself and the vendor was produced, the vendor declaring I promised to pay them more money if the valuation was higher than the offer. Yes, I was prepared to negotiate, I countered, before unconditional, for better settlement terms. And I tried, I tried I tried to negotiate. But now it is too late, we are unconditional, the finance is in place. There is no more negotiation.
The vendor screamed bloody murder.
The agent received multiple emails and phone calls every day.
She assumed the valuation had come back higher and she wanted money.
She had refused to have the property valued because she did not want to pay the money. We paid, so we owned, and we weren’t sharing, scared to inflame a deteriorating situation. I was torn between the desire to be transparent and to reason with the lady, but our professionals were adamant - keep your silence, do not make contact, you’ve done everything right, you can’t reason with unreasonable.
Our solicitor shone with fury, she was magnificent, her letters were crisp and biting. The opposing council bowed out quickly and the vendor was informed that the settling solicitor would resign as her council should she continue to challenge the legality of the unconditional contract. It was a sticky and unpleasant few weeks. I was laughing internally at the drama we’d created even as my mind busies itself finding things to stress about.
This is the game I agreed to play when I stepped into the big league. This game that gets legal, in which big money is flying across the papers and small people get nasty.
Big money, big egos, big consequences. But only on paper, Steve reminds me. Dinner was still on the table every night, the fare served up by Raglan local markets and grocers, bakers and delicatessens, prepared in our rented kitchen by my husband who loves to create beautiful meals. I am very lucky.
We live every day with all the sweet small luxuries that make life in a small country town beautiful and we play a game on paper called ‘Wealth Creation’.
The point of the game is to never let money affect your emotions.
Stephen wins every day.
I’m getting better at playing.
The point of the game is to never let money affect your emotions.
I’m not going to lie and say I experienced no stress in this time. I experienced some moments of stress. But I also meditated everyday. I knew, intuitively that this battle would be won or lost in my mind and my mind’s greatest tool was meditation. Money isn’t real, it is only on paper, or binary inputs into a computer: my bank balance is this much or this much. Just an invisible house of cards, a structure needed by a society driven to create a complicated order to satiate the egos of man. Money isn’t real. Not the kind of money that was whizzing back and forth in the emails between our solicitors and brokers and bankers. I marvelled at my personal growth. A year ago, even six months ago I would have taken all this so desperately seriously, this game of invisible chess with invisible rewards and punishments. I feet like our investment journey, all 12 houses and this motel were just a game we were fortunate enough to be educated and willing to play. Somedays I forgot that it was just a game and Stephen steadied me. He never forgets that the only reality that matters is the tangible reality right in front of you. The people you can reach and and touch, the daily battleground in your own mind that decides whether you see this day as a series of blissful moments or a battle against humanity or your circumstances. Stephen chooses every day to be happy. Its the only thing that matters to him. And when I forget this is the only time I see him frustrated or angry. Its only money, he reminds me sternly. It’s only money, it doesn’t matter. My ego flails in my head, theres no such thing as only money, it is frustration, it is a struggle, it is why my dad worked so hard and stressed so much, it is why people go hungry, or live in cardboard boxes or shoot lines of cocaine. To have it or not to have it, the consequences play out across the globe, across the centuries across race and gender and eternity. Money or the lack of it. Most days I win this battle in my head, but others Stephen has to remind me how to structure my thoughts around this moment. How each moment is strung together with the next to create a day, a week or a whole life. I spend January and February stringing together beautiful moments, my baby kicking my tummy, Isabella talking through my belly button to the new life inside me, developed enough now to survive an early entry to the physical world. The water lapping around my thighs as I waded deeply in the harbour. I couldn’t get enough water, my rounded beach ball belly bathed in sunlight as I stood submerged to the caesarian scar, the result of the emergency extraction of Isabella after 28 hours of very active labour. I meditate every day for the healthy natural birth of a healthy baby. “Healthy baby, heathy mama, healthy birth.” It is my prayer from the sacred pools at the water temple in Ubud in December and it is my mantra every day as I pray my body into preparedness for the upcoming labour. The baby sits comfortably deep within me and my skin expands to accommodate her growing body. I anxiously examine daily for stretch marks. There are none and my vanity preens. Occasionally into these deeply intimate months and moments the need to address the unfolding legalities of the Big Deal take precedence out of need. When the ball has been served back to the sender, the order given, the posture decided, I have to wrestle my mind away from the catastrophist within me who doesn’t feel worthy of wealth and remember to focus on the moment in front of me, the beautiful moment, in a beautiful family, in a beautiful town, shining with abundances small and great.
The baby is due three weeks before settlement but she doesn’t arrive. The meaning of a pregnant pause becomes literally apparent to me. My life seems to hang suspended. I can’t plan anything, I am overdue. I can’t do nothing, because my mind will be my undoing, I can’t do much, because my body complains deeply. I am heavy now. Heavy with expectation. I walk everyday. I do zumba twice a week even at 41 weeks. I will shake shake shake the baby out. I can still twerk, I note with satisfaction. I do everything - WE do everything to have this baby emerge naturally. We do these things until we fall apart in exhaustion. As the days fall by, bright with anticipation every morning and heavy with disappointed expectations every evening I keep feeling phantom waters break. They do not. I wake in the night with pains that feel like labour and never are. I speak to my baby daily, but she doesn’t not speak back. I become convinced that she will emerge on Tuesday, naturally, and five days late. But Tuesday comes and goes. I cry. How can my intuition let me down like that, maybe I am wrong about everything, about money, moments, meditation the whole universe. My grip on my version of reality feels fragile and cracked. I realise that do not feel like I am imminently going into labour, I am gripped by fear that this baby isn’t meant to be, I can’t imagine her, I can’t feel what her personality is like, but with Isabella I knew her intimately before she emerged. I don’t feel like this baby is going to come out. The baby feel settled and comfortable, my body strong, but my mind is crying with the fatigue of a pregnant pause.
I ran out of time to go into labour naturally and I was induced in Hamilton hospital on the 9th of March, ten days late. My baby has not spoken to me about when she plans to emerge and now we take matters into our own hands. I feel she does not intend to emerge. So we flush her out synthetically.
Here ends the birth detail I will share in this post. My personal records will run deeper as I desperately try to capture a moment to keep close to me, an indescribable experience that I am desperate to describe. Every moment is irreplaceable. But this is impossible. A moment, once passed, no longer exists. Memory, a fragile shell only within ones own mind, deeply flawed and without true context, a signpost only to a moment once lived.
No discussion can prepare a woman for a birth. Our society doesn’t even try. Should we share the gory details with our mothers - to - be so that they understand a little more than those that went before us…. but potentially scare them so deeply that they can not cope with the idea of the coming birth? To know what is coming would be to fear it for all but the strongest of mind. I think I was better off not knowing. So I will share with you what society would share about this birth: it was straight-forward and free of complications. And at the end of it, a baby was put on my skin, rooting immediately for the nipple.
Hello wee thing. We meet at last. It is 130 am, 9th March 2020.
A few short hours later I am in the car - sitting on a cushion to protect my tender underside - before the dawn is breaking outside and we drive away, a tiny new life sleeping soundly, too impossibly small for the carseat behind us and we are suddenly a family of four and Stephen and I are laughing about something and everything seems exactly the same as before and also completely different because I can not go back to who I was before that experience.
The next few days are an oasis of calm and comfort. We have a baby who we can not name, and I am propped on cushions and drugs around the clock but somehow each moment is sweet and restful and food tastes so wonderfully good. The baby, is settled and peaceful, feeding and sleeping like a dream and I am too exhausted and on some blissful cheek tingling painkillers that I too sleep like a baby.
It is not even a day before the outside world intrudes on our oasis. The emails start piling up. Solicitor, agent, urgent, settlement jeopardy, paperwork paperwork paperwork. I sign things without reading them, Stephen shielding me from the unfolding dramas, dramas of paper and words, settlement is a week away, the late baby bringing closer together the two events we tried to separate. He takes phone calls outside the door. He assures me everything is fine. He doesn’t know that I am really not worried. The world feels like a distant place and while I am in here, in the birthing centre for a rest, the outside world doesn’t touch me and the midwives bring me tablets to numb the pain even as it begins to become acute and my body wakes and sleeps and eats in cycle with the tiny baby who we have not named.
There are many moments in the following days that I wish I could grasp and hold in my heart forever. There was the moment we spoke the name Madeline and knew that she would be called Madeline Joy. Joy for her nature, Madeline for her own self. There was introducing Isabella to her sister, overjoyed herself at the gift in front of her, childlike awareness of the miracle of new life, sensing the portal to the infinite that new life brings nearest to us in a way in which adults long lost the awareness. No shred of jealousy or displacement. Just joy. This is our joyful baby, and she will bring joy wherever she goes.
Settlement occurs some days later, anticlimactic in a flourish of final paperwork completed to the satisfaction of two legal parties whose exacting demands fail to register on the scale of the urgent and acute needs of a newborn. According to the paperwork trail, and the lenders, we own a motel. In practise, nothing changes: Maddy feeds and sleeps.
But the year is 2020, and the drama around this Big Deal so far, seemingly reconciled in settlement, was just a precursor to the drama to follow.
The echos of this are not yet heard in New Zealand even as China is grappling with a mystery illness that is fast and slippery and spreading like wildfire, New Zealand is sleepy and warm in an Indian summer and no-one can possibly guess at the drama already on our doorstep as 2020 unfolds.