Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Slower Week and Fighting a Cold

This past week was a little bit slower on the work front, which was great.

My sister and I were both away from home for my dad's birthday, which was this past Friday, but we are looking forward to celebrating together over the holidays.  Christmas will be very special this year for a number of reasons, but it will also be my parent's 40th wedding anniversary.

My sister and I decided to get my dad golf lessons for his birthday.  He has his first lesson set up for next week and we're hopeful that this can be a new fun (or maybe just very frustrating?) hobby to keep him occupied in his retirement.  Speaking of retirement, I was chatting with my mom one of these past mornings and I got completely turned around after a while trying to keep track of the countries they're planning to visit next year.  So far it's Mexico in February, Iceland in March, Greece and the Mediterranean isles cruise in May.. and then something about Norway and Oslo, Ireland and Scotland, and the French Riviera after that?! Phew!

Nothing else too crazy or interesting to report - I channeled most of my energy into running errands, getting stuff for and packing up my hospital bag, ordering items off of Taobao... oh and getting sick.  Bah!  I've been fighting a stuffy nose, a bit of a dry cough, and a generally stuffed up head/sinus passages all week.

I can't seem to get to sleep easily anymore, and I wake up pretty early every morning.  My sleep during the night is still relatively uninterrupted, though I've been informed that that is about to change very soon as I progress later into my third trimester.  

Our new helper has started with us and suddenly life has become incredibly convenient and wonderful.  She has been engaged in a top to bottom complete scrubbing, washing, dusting and mopping of our apartment.  She is also making our meals, packing my lunch for work, and helping with our laundry.   She's been pretty great so far - has a good comprehension of English, is very energetic and motivated, and can joke around with us.  With two children of her own, I'm hoping her expertise will come in handy once the baby arrives.  She told me that a little baby is the "perfect therapy", because no matter how hectic life is, they're just so perfect and sweet and will put you in an amazing mood.  Hah!  I told her I was pretty skeptical, but ok, I'd have to trust her on that one.

I made her a recipe book (hole punched and with labels and dividers, because I can't resist) and so far she has made us eggs and toast in the morning, bacon, ham cheddar cheese and tomato sandwiches, guacamole, and, for dinners - steak with spinach and mashed potatoes, and chicken and dumplings.  She makes pretty simple Chinese food (stir-fry minced pork with chives, stir-fry cauliflower with pork, sauteed bok choy) and soups (pork bone broth with tomatoes, onions and potatoes, or noodles in pork bone broth with ginger and winter melon) , but that's pretty much what I like.

To cap off the week, on Friday night, we hung out with some friends and enjoyed some amazing, home cooked (but still fancy) cuisine followed by dessert (I bought a fruit salad and little cakes from the Mandarin, which were all very tasty), paired with water (for me) and whiskey (for Michael).  It was a perfect end to the week.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Endless Errands and Tasks

Oy, I don't know how it is that every time I return to my blog posts I realize that another week (or nearly another week) has gone by.  My only excuse is that Michael and I have been caught up in an endless whack-a-mole of work, errands and tasks.


I'm now one day shy of 33 weeks and it's starting to feel REAL.  I am getting more tired and feeling a bit more swollen and bulky than before, though still moving at an okay pace.  If I walk too quickly now, I get some pangs in my lower abdomen.   I am also feeling very hot nearly all the time - something I am really not used to!  I have to consciously remind myself to slow down and take things more easily.  This does not come naturally. 

It's also getting harder to force myself to exercise.  I am starting to dread some of the poses in yoga (like downward dog or ardha chandrasana) because it kickstarts my heartburn.  I really should go swimming more often... for now walking has probably become my "exercise" of choice.  I listen to podcasts and then walk home from work, which takes approximately 20-30 minutes (although the second-hand smoke and bus exhaust I inhale along the way makes me question whether this could truly actually be "healthy").

I still have to sign up for antenatal classes (although, are these classes actually helpful?  I'm starting to think I'll just skip these), figure out what to pack in my hospital bag, and get some remaining basic baby supplies in order.   I haven't gotten any stretch marks yet, although I am watching my burgeoning belly every day with bated breath.   I have started, for lack of a better word, basting myself in oil every day and night, in an (I understand futile) attempt to stave them off.  I'm horrified (HORRIFIED) by the astronomical price of Burt's Bees body oil and Bio-oil in Hong Kong. 

Baby Shower BBQ

I'm hoping that the weather starts to cool down.  It's been an unseasonably hot summer and fall and I feel like I'm not going to get a break from the heat and humidity anytime soon!  We're throwing a barbecue to welcome the baby for a bunch of friends (men and women, I was adamant about that!) in our building at the beginning of November. One of my friends was alarmed that my baby shower was so late (almost exactly a month before my due date), but it was just how the times and dates worked best for maximum turnout.  Fingers crossed!


The "nursery," if it can even be called that, is a disaster zone right now - seriously.  We have diapers, a diaper changing pad, the skiphop playgym, a stroller, a car seat, all haphazardly piled up all over the place, with a pile of clothes (some washed, some not) in a range of newborn to 6 months sizes, piled on top.  We need to sell the guest bed that's currently in there, before we will have room for a crib and a rocking glider/chair.

I did, however, buy two black and white prints of a baby zebra and a baby giraffe, for the wall.  They look a lot like these, but not exactly.  Because, you know, decorations vs. a crib?  Priorities.

Helper's Room

The helper's room has been transformed since I last wrote about it.  Michael built an entire frame bed with storage on top (where we are keeping our suitcases and mahjong table), and four clothing drawers under the bed.  We ordered a custom made mattress.  Michael also built little corner desk and we paired it with a cushion seat that we weren't using, which rolls underneath the desk.  We're outfitting it with a little desk lamp, blue area rug, and matching green flowered sheets and quilt.  I have to say, it looks very different than it did about two weeks ago!

We are keeping our fingers and toes crossed that everything goes smoothly with the processing of this helper's application.  


I've also made some progress on Taobao - I'm still barely proficient, but definitely improving. I've since ordered a jigsaw (for Michael's woodworking), a set of shoe closets, and we are now looking at dining room chairs and a big bookshelf for the living room.  Encouraged by a friend's beautiful supply of home wares, I'm also looking to purchase some dishes, plates, kitchen utensils, etc. to round out our supply.

I spent hours on there trying to buy a soda-maker (the amount of sparkling water we consume is ridiculous and also really expensive), but no one will ship to me in Hong Kong due to the CO2 cartridges.  We had the same problem when we tried to bring one back from the U.S.  It's times like this that I get so frustrated with living here.  In any other country, this would be a simple task completed with two clicks of a mouse.  Here, it's been two years and we still haven't managed to figure out how to make our own carbonated water.

Education Fair

Last week I was invited to, and attended, an education fair hosted by Bloomberg showcasing about 20 different private schools in Hong Kong, and my takeaways from that are: (1) Bloomberg has an amazing snack pantry (the sheer variety of rice crackers alone, and the Greek yogurt, and fresh fruit, and their flavored water, dang)! and (2) Hong Kong is such a rat race.  I thought Manhattan private schools were bad.  Ugh.  I know there is a huge gap between rich and poor throughout the world, so it's not unique to here, but it feels so fraught when you dip a toe into the educational system.

Expats typically do not send their kids to local schools here (although that's not to say they can't) and instead opt for international schools.  There are a variety of reasons for this and I can't speak for everyone's reasons, but I think some of the typical considerations are: the language (local schools focus on Mandarin and Cantonese, with English introduced at a later point), the workload (local schools tend to give out far more homework) and the education principles (closely aligned to the former, local schools may focus more on rote or standard exercises, rather than creative or exploratory approaches).  Obviously, cost is a huge factor as well.

The fair that I attended was thrown by a huge corporation for corporate folks in the banking, legal and corporate sectors.  All of the schools had set up booths with fancy brochures and glossy packets, pictures, pamphlets and tuition information, and spokespersons were armed and at the ready to pitch their schools.  At one point when one of the schools handed me a tome (seriously, it weighed like 2 pounds) I couldn't help but think that that money could have been so much better spent... well, on anything except that.

Most of the schools had brand new facilities with state of the art gyms, labs, classrooms and facilities, very small teacher-student ratios, and either offered an IB and/or a bilingual (whether it be English and French, English and German, English and Mandarin) curriculum.  Here is also another feature of international schools that tend to really appeal to expats. 

The crazy part, though, is when talk gets to the admissions process, which is naturally where everyone seems the most anxious.  They've got a whole set of terms here that remind me of Harry-Potter speak, i.e., when your kid is old enough for "Reception," (kindergarten) whether the child is "matriculating" "pre-Reception" or only in "Primary," (often increases or decreases your chances because after a class is filled spots only open up when children leave), whether you have a "corporate debenture" (like the concept of legacy, but definitely prioritized and guaranteed, because - money) whether the child makes it past the "first round application" (yes, like a college application) and gets a "callback for the interview" (invited back for an assessment).

For Pete's sake.  Do we not have enough of these hoops when it comes to high school, standardized tests, SATs, college, entrance exams, graduate school, and life in general (job interviews, feedback sessions, upward and downward reviews, dating) that we need to start at birth or 2 years old?  And yes, at some places, the baby is eligible to be added to the waitlist as soon as they are born - while at other places, they take the more relaxed approach of waiting until your child is 2. 

After all that information, I still can't figure out, and couldn't get any of them to explain, exactly what criteria they're using in the assessment to determine whether the toddler is admissible.


All I have to say is, they're done. Hallelujah, praise be, and thank goodness for our amazing accountant.

Attorney Registration and CLEs

Of course this turns out to be the year that I owe the NY bar $375 and have 20 credits of CLE that need to be fulfilled in the next month.  One of the not so great things about being dual-qualified as a Hong Kong solicitor and a New York attorney is the double dose of credits that you need.  I've just finished fulfilling my CPDs (for the Hong Kong Law Society) and now find myself in the unpleasant position of turning to the other set of requirements.  While you can get both CLE and CPD credit for certain courses or seminars (those are VERY worthwhile) often they are mutually exclusive.  Doh.

One Fun Thing

So amidst all of these errands and tasks, I am very excited to report that I'm getting a new fancy wallet!  I've been lusting after a Celine or a Bottega for a while to replace the very wonderful, but also very old and very abused, Kate Spade wallet that Michael bought me nigh seven years ago.  That wallet has accompanied me to SO many countries, so many places, and been such an integral part of my time here in Hong Kong to date, but alas, the snap closure is no longer really holding and I want something a bit more secure.  A friend is in London now and picked up a nice navy blue Bottega with a bright cobalt interior for me.  I am very much looking forward to handling that soft, buttery lambskin, woot woot!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Villa and Vacation Home Ideas?

We are thinking about spending a couple of weeks in a vacation home or a villa, once the baby has arrived, after shots and vaccinations have been administered, but before my maternity leave is over.  Michael's parents are also keen to meet the newest grandbaby, and would fly out to meet us.

We have friends who went to Indonesia with their newborn for a month, and listening to their stories of relaxing in pool villas was very inspiring!

It turns out that it's actually kind of hard to pick a location if you give yourself relatively free reign over the globe.  We have managed to narrow it down to the following:

New Zealand -

pros: a place we have wanted to go for a long time and have never been, beautiful natural settings, fresh food, not crowded, good weather in March/April

cons: remote, far for everyone, we wouldn't be able to do most of the activities that we want

Japan -

pros: very hygienic, baby and kid-friendly, delicious food, a new country/experience for all other visitors except me and Michael, less travel time for me and Michael

cons: still quite far for all our other visitors, will be cold

Southern France or Tuscany/Umbria -

pros: I confess I have a soft spot for spending an extended time in Europe (who doesn't?!), and the food and atmosphere will be amazing

cons: will be a bit chilly, some of the areas are pretty rustic and rural, and I don't know if we should be closer to, say, a hospital or a big metro center in case something goes wrong

Personally, I think a house or pool villa in Indonesia or Vietnam would be nice and relaxing, but Michael seems to be "over" the Southeast Asia thing (I mean, really, how ridiculous, but who am I to judge).

pros: cheap, beautiful, great service, likely very kid friendly, easy to get to, warm

cons: not that much culture, not a new experience

Finally, one of the other things to consider is whether we could baptize the baby while abroad?  One of my colleagues ended up doing that for his baby in Paris.  That could be fun too...but I have no idea the logistics of such a thing.  Yet another thing to research.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Happy Friday!

After my supremely whiny post from yesterday, I'm ready to channel some more positive vibes now that I'm on this side of Friday.  The weekend ahead looks nice - more so because I've decided I need to take action into my own hands (or, really, my own head).

Work and stress will always be there and I really need to learn better ways to cope with this stuff, whether by pushing back, erecting more boundaries, or even just compartmentalizing my feelings and giving more attention to the present.  These are all such easy things to type, but they're so hard to effect in practice.

I went to my prenatal check up today (they're getting more frequent now!) and was told by my doctor and the midwife to slow down, relax, and try to take things more easily now.  We want the baby to make it to full term, and I want to maintain a healthy, less stressed attitude for the remaining months.  I also don't want any mandatory bed rest or unexpected hospital visits...   I got the whooping cough vaccination (seriously, is whooping cough still a thing?!) but apparently there is an ongoing epidemic and babies are very vulnerable to it, so it has been recommended by the CDC and most doctors for women in their third trimester.

One happy thing that occurred yesterday that I didn't include in my post was my lovely conversation with my grandmother.  She is 89 years old, turning 90 in a couple of months - full of energy and spark, with a robust voice and plenty of cheer.  She lives in her own room on the third floor of my parents' house, which means she happily clomps up and down three flights of stairs every day (and refuses to have it any other way).  She has been very excited about my pregnancy, eagerly awaiting the chance to meet her great grandchild.

Meanwhile, my parents have been having a fantastic time in Peru, hitting up Lima, Cusco, and seeing the various amazing sights (including Machu Pichu).  I'm so happy that they now both have the chance to travel with their friends at every chance they get.  My parents have worked so hard their whole lives and scrimped and saved at every opportunity, so it really warms my heart that they are wholeheartedly embracing retirement with such zest and zeal.  I'm of course also really looking forward to their visit to Hong Kong in December (which is coming up so quickly)!

Despite all the work and craziness of work yesterday, I still managed to go and grab dinner in the neighborhood with a good girl friend, so that was also really nice.  We just sat around and chatted about all kinds of random and esoteric and interesting things, while catching up on life as well.  Soon I'm not going to have as much freedom or flexibility to do these things, so I am cherishing these moments now.

I also feel compelled to share my love of Eberjey pajamas, specifically the Gisele sets (they are so soft), and just got myself another set, this time in a nightshirt rather than top and pants.  Too bad I missed the 20% off Shopbop sale though - I was thinking carefully about what I wanted and missed the window!  Doh.

Phew, okay, that's a wrap.  Happy weekend!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! And We're Now in October

Gosh, you guys, I just don't know where the days and nights go any more!  I really thought work was going to slow down after my craziness in Australia, but unfortunately two of my other deals have heated up.  With a myriad of other corporate housekeeping items (catching up on CLE and CPD credits, preparing presentations, answering one-off questions) and just generally dealing with all kinds of STUFF that keep popping up, it's been hectic.

And instead of getting a proper public holiday today like I should have, I got volunteered (thrown) onto a terrible work project that took up about 9 hours of my day.  And I am up blogging at half past midnight instead of going to bed, which I really need to do to ensure that I get enough sleep for my arduous, challenging, 9 am meeting tomorrow.  I am GRUMPY.

Then, of course, there's all of the life stuff that we have happening.

Last week, the domestic helper that we hired, and who we thought was ready to be settled, ended up falling through.  Her behavior was so odd, and her story so inconsistent, that despite our best efforts to give her the benefit of the doubt, we just could not proceed to hire her.  Basically, in the span of something like 48 hours, we went from having a signed contract, to her quitting, to us wishing her well in her future endeavours, to her changing her mind and wanting to work with us again, to our vacillating and deciding to give her another chance, to her telling us that she had already agreed to another contract because of our failure to contact her in time (i.e., 12 hours), to our wishing her well (again!), to her contacting us again (!) and saying that actually she would like to work with us after all.  My God.  By the end of this, I was dreading any message that popped up on my phone from her.  It was clearly not going to work.

I went into action mode and lined up something like 10 helper interviews in the span of five days, and then, we decided to offer the job to the very next helper that we met with.  I then proceeded to cancel all of the other interviews and now we are keeping our fingers crossed that her application and our paperwork get processed without a hitch.  It has certainly been an adventure!

We have also been trying to get the apartment ready, and part of that has been to clear out the furniture in the guest room and the items we currently had stored in the helper's room.  To our surprise, our landlord was amenable to our removing the bed frame and mattress that had come with our rental.  Michael also has to outfit the helper's room with a bed, desk, and some shelves.

I've also been on Taobao searching for new dining chairs, a bookshelf, a shoe closet... we are doing some refurnishing around here!  Taobao is a bit confusing, but the plus side is that it's forcing me to hone my Chinese skills.

We also have to get our taxes prepared before the looming deadline, which is already extended from April.


We are also still trying to decide on a name for the baby.  Bah.  It's currently feeling like a very big thing (it's going to be the name by which this person is known for life, and all the good or bad nicknames or connotations that will come out of it, and will probably shape the baby's personality, and...yikes!)

The saving grace to all of this is that the baby has been active and moving (the kicks feel different now, more like rolling and pushing and less like thumping or punching), I still feel great (really no lower back pain soreness or pain at all, and no discomfort except for some sporadic heartburn, especially in certain poses during yoga) - with all of this other stuff going on, I say, thank goodness!!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Thirty Week Bump Pic

Ten weeks left, people!  The pressure is on - we need a name for this baby!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Back in Hong Kong and Attempts at Normalcy

Now that I'm back in Hong Kong (it is SO hot and humid here!) and have had the weekend to recover and try to get back into my normal life, let's turn to some of the more mundane things that have been going on, shall we?

My first order of business upon my return home, after greeting Michael (who felt like a bit of a stranger after my long sojourn away!), catching up with my family, eating dinner, and showering, was indulging in a manicure and pedicure.  Light pink on the fingers, sea foam on the toes.  It made me feel so much better.

Over the weekend, I got a desperately-needed haircut at the Aveda salon in Central.  It was my first time trying them out, and I really liked it!  My stylist, Moses, was a pretty serious character who got down to work immediately.  He seemed to  understand what I wanted and I think it worked out really well (even though I didn't have any pictures for references).

I then went to see my masseuse, who tsk'ed at how long it had been since I'd been there and tsk'ed extra hard at how tight my shoulders and neck were.  Apparently I am also starting to retain water in my legs.  I guess this is the third trimester swelling that I've been hearing about from everyone!

I also slept long and hard, as often as I wanted and as often as I felt like.  I interspersed episodes of "The Good Wife" in between my naps and have been trying to get to bed by 10:30 every night.

I went back to yoga for the first time in two weeks, which was both painful and wonderful.  I felt like my legs were wobbly and I couldn't hold poses as long...I've also been struggling to find my enthusiasm for yoga classes lately, mainly because of my body changes but also because I currently really only like one teacher, and her classes are such a struggle to get into.

We have now also signed a helper who will commence working with us this fall.  We have found that communicating with her has been a bit of a challenge, given the language barrier and her passive communication style... so this will be interesting for us.  I am about 65% optimistic that this will work out, but in the meantime, the text conversations have been interesting at least.  Fingers crossed!

Otherwise, all else is as usual.  We continue to clean out our storage closet and re-arrange our apartment.  I read up on post-partum ice pads and have thoroughly frightened myself with vivid descriptions of post-partum recovery.  We continue to struggle to come up with a good name for the little one. 

I am 30 weeks today - and baby is the size of a butternut squash, weighing in at just over 3 pounds.  It's crazy to think that there are only 10 weeks left to go!  I read that the baby is gaining weight at a pretty fast pace, or just about half a pound a week from now until the due date. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Some Pictures from My Australia Trip

Here are some pictures of my Australia trip, just to show that it wasn't ALL terrible.
View from the conference rooms
Coffee shop
Barbecued meat, yum
Outdoor seating for a massive food court; I wish we had this in Hong Kong!
We went to a gelato place where there were so many flavors!
We also went to a Thai restaurant, Long Chim, which was very tasty but a bit spicy for my pregnant state
The intersection at Hyde Park
So many trees, so much grass!
I spotted some local wildlife
The city looks so nice through the tropical plants!
There is a big water fountain in the center of the park
With Westfield in the background
A pretty church
Views of the CBD downtown
During the intense two weeks, I worked on this lovely patio for a bit to get a breather from the monotonous conference room
It was really beautiful, when it wasn't too windy!
I was lucky to capture some beautiful views from the plane on my descent into Hong Kong
It felt so nice to be home!

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Gestational Diabetes Scare

So the whole Australia incident was rather scarring, and I am trying not to think too much about it, because some part of my mental health awareness is cognizant that I have to just stuff this into a dark recess in my brain and not dwell on it.  The work itself wouldn't have been so unbearable if it weren't also for the fact that I was really stressed that I was overdue for my gestational diabetes test and my routine checkup. 

I had had a test scheduled in Hong Kong for the week before I left for Australia, but then moved it to the following week because I thought that timing would be better, only for me to not be able to fit anything in before I had to leave for Sydney.  My anxiety over this, coupled with a complete lack of sleep and stress over work plus stress over stressing over work, was playing a real number on my mental state.  It didn't help that I ended up being in Australia by myself, so Michael was small comfort over the phone. 

I finally decided that it would help me calm my nerves and help me feel better if I went to get the test done while I was in Sydney.  That's the benefit of international health care, right?  Well, worst idea ever. 

First I called up an ob/gyn, but because they didn't have availability until the following day and then I would have to separately go to a clinic the following morning, they suggested I reach out to a clinic facility instead, which would be able to run labs on the premises.  That sounded efficient and promising, so I scheduled an appointment first thing in the morning, and fasted before the appointment. 

I got to the clinic bright and early and met a rather confused general practitioner who asked me what I needed, and had to be reminded about gestational diabetes and to check my pulse and blood pressure.  Not off to a promising start.  Then I was became the confused one when the lab technician informed me that, with no family history of diabetes or sugar in my urine, I would only need to do the glucose challenge test, and not the full oral GTT.  So I could eat.  This seemed contrary to what I'd heard from my doctor previously, but I heeded their professional advice.  No blood was drawn at first - I just had to drink a small bottle of sparkly sweet soda, and wait for an hour.  They wouldn't let me leave the clinic (I'm not sure why, as the test didn't require me to fast so it wasn't like I was a fainting risk - although I had, in fact, fasted, and for nothing).  I ate a banana and orange to pass the time.  Then the technician drew a vial of my blood (and bruised me badly in the process).

The next morning, I was so busy that I missed my 10:30 am appointment and couldn't make it in to the clinic until 4:30.  When I finally managed to get to the clinic, I was greeted by a different general practitioner, a wizened, old man.  When I sat down, he launched into a long and nearly indecipherable soliloquy about diabetes and getting my results checked with my doctor when I was back in Hong Kong.  I kid you not, it took me about 5 minutes to understand that I had failed the test. 

It was something about his complete lack of introduction, the confused and meandering way he delivered the message, coupled with my absolute conviction that I didn't have/couldn't have gestational diabetes, combined with all of my stress and lack of sleep or fitness over the past week, that completely robbed me of my rational defenses.  The doctor then weighed me to determine if I had "gained too much weight during pregnancy" (I stepped on the scale and he confirmed that I had not) which also didn't seem quite like the right measure...and otherwise told me to lay off all sugars and carbs in order to control the diabetes.  I really felt at a loss, and just so... vulnerable in that moment.  It felt like he was giving me rote, random advice and no context for this huge, shattering news.  But then when I asked follow up questions, he could give me no more advice than to speak to my doctor once I was back in Hong Kong - and then reassure me that it wasn't urgent or anything to worry about immediately. 

It all felt very futile.  I was also really pissed that I had to pay for two GP visits and a blood test that didn't tell me anything except that I needed another test.

Of course I called Michael in a very wobbly and emotional state and from there he panicked and went into overdrive checking out the impact of diabetes on me and the baby.  It all just snowballed from there.  I also couldn't get ahold of my doctor in Hong Kong to confirm what I should do.  Not to mention, all of this was happening while the deal was fast approaching the last moments of signing, always a frenetic, relentless and punishing point.  Those were some low, low moments.

However, fast forward two days later, on the first morning that I was back in Hong Kong, (you know, feeling super refreshed and awake after not sleeping for 24 hours straight and then boarding a 9 hour flight), I re-did the GTT, but this time the "real," "full-fledged GTT", with the full fasting, blood drawing before and after the test, a two hour wait instead of one, and a much more sugary drink.  My poor arms had been pricked back and forth. 

And the very good news is that (1) I do not have gestational diabetes (hooray!! yay!) and (2) I did not faint or even feel lightheaded after all that blood had been drawn. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Straya Work Trip Recap

So I started this post 12 long days ago - 12 long days full of working 15 to 16 hours back to back, in which I lost track of the days, culminating in pulling an all-nighter on the last night before signing, and then hopping on a morning flight back to Hong Kong as the deal was announced and news reports started blaring.  This trip to Sydney was the longest continued business trip I have ever taken (I extended my hotel reservation three times) and the painful part was that, as we were trawling through endless drafts and negotiation sessions, we really had no visibility of "the end."

At the beginning of this trip, I was still optimistic and full of energy.  When one of the partners of our local firm told me that she had pulled an all-nighter back in the day when she was pregnant with her first baby, I had privately thought, "Dear God, please don't let that happen to me!" and so of course, it had.

I was 27.5 weeks pregnant when I left, I'm back and now 29.5 weeks today.  I really don't know where my September has gone!

 I took the Sunday night flight down on September 11 and arrived to Sydney's gorgeous blue skies, low to no humidity, and sunshine filled days.  Unlike last time, I had an hour between checking into the hotel and then gathering for meetings.  I used this time to shower, then immediately headed down Pitt St. in the Central Business District to finally see the Rocks, the Quay and the Sydney Bridge during daylight.  It actually wasn't anything that special, but it felt nice to walk around and see and capture some postcard snapshots of this city.  I had a feeling I wasn't going to have a chance to do much more than this once the meetings started kicking off, and I was right.

View from my hotel room this time:
 Martin Place.  I was in Sydney for their gay pride parade and the marathon, neither of which I saw or heard.
 The museum of art:
 The modern museum of art right next door:
 Here I am with 28 week belly, profile of the Sydney opera house in the background!
 and then the Sydney bridge
 A few more shots along the way before I trudged back to my meetings...
From them on, it was just a non-stop blur of meetings and drafting sessions.  An entire team of lawyers basically set up shop in the local counsels' offices, and never left.  Every morning emails started pouring in at around 7 or 8 am, and things didn't usually pause until well into the night.  There were three sets of counsel on our side, two sets of counsel on the other side, investment banks for each side, and a whole slew of business/commercial and strategic teams from each side.  It was incredibly intense, and to further exacerbate matters, my team was tiny - just three people, with a mid-level associate who was only able to help for a portion of the days. 

There was no rest on the weekend, either, as we trooped into the offices on Saturday and Sunday at a disgustingly early 7:30 am to rush to review and turn drafts before a 1 pm meeting.  I honestly would be hard pressed to tell you exactly what I did, where I went, who I spoke to, or what I ate, on any of those days.  In fact, at one point, I started confusing what happened on my last trip to Australia with this one.  The whole thing had a bit of a nightmarish monotony to it.  While treading through it, it was just a matter of pushing through it all, so I think I was just blocking out all other thoughts as a matter of adrenaline and sheer survival.  Now, upon reflection, it all feels pretty ghastly.

It's a huge deal though.  It's probably the first time that I had, for certain moments, the command of a room of at least 15 people, including the heads of strategy and investment at some of the largest institutions in the world.  I would venture to guess that I was the youngest person in the room, or at least generously outweighed by an average of a decade for the majority of the time.  Often I was the only minority.  I was one of a handful of women at any time (4 or 5 on the opposite side, the only one on my side) during the negotiation sessions.  I was definitely the only one 7 months pregnant!!  So those statistics are pretty intimidating, and daunting, and as Michael was pointing out to me, a pretty incredible feat on my part.

Interestingly, all but one of the females on this entire deal was a lawyer, and I have pretty consistently found this to be the case on my deals.  I was sitting in on one business planning meeting where I startled to realize that in a room of nearly 14 people I was the only woman and the only minority.  I was also one of only two lawyers in that meeting.  We still have so far to go.