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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekend Errands, Jazz Night and Some More Shopping

This weekend, I mostly did mundane life stuff - did a bit of grocery shopping, researched and selected a desktop for Michael (he is so old school) that has all of the ports and hubs that he needs for his home office, helped my parents book their flights to Sapporo (a side trip when they come to visit Hong Kong in December), discussed my sister's plans for when she and her fiancee (yes, that happened recently!) come to Hong Kong (also in December - our family will be gathering in Asia this year to celebrate Christmas and see the baby, fun!), and, on a whim, purchased a bunch of little succulents and cactus and have lined them up on my kitchen window:
I also purchased a little fern that I plopped into a white pot:
And finally, I did loads of laundry, packed for Australia, researched visa processes for domestic helpers, and continued to follow up with, and interview, potential new helpers.  It's an exciting life I lead, isn't it?

On Saturday night, we also went to a friend's house for an evening of drinks, food, and jazz.  She hired a musician and put together a whole shebang of a party.  I neglected to get any pictures of the food, which was too bad, because it was an amazing spread of hot and cold appetizers (including guacamole and chips, fried potato wedges with dip, sliders, bruschetta) followed by platters of fresh fruit and brownies and assorted cakes, and they had an assortment of drinks, including champagne, wine, beer.  We had a great time.

In other baby shopping related news, we just received the cute Skip Hop Silver play gym (I confess I picked it purely for its soft color aesthetics) and this carseat canopy, and are waiting for the Fisher Price tub.  My parents are going to bring me the Baby bjorn mesh bouncer in gray with this toy attached, and also this little sleep sack from Woolino which my friend recommended.  We were also gifted an adorable Jellycat monkey soother, which is SO soft.

I am also taking advantage of my trip to Sydney to buy some of Australia Target's organic baby clothes, which seem much nicer and cuter than the available selection they have elsewhere, and all still at very reasonable prices.  Another friend ordered this camera for me from Taobao, which we plan to use like a baby monitor:
I personally wanted a baby monitor that would not hook up to my phone, because I distrust the whole cloud/internet connection thing.  But clearly I lost the fight because we are now getting an all-invasive, 360 degree viewfinder, walkie-talkie style, interactive video monitor, and from Taobao, nonetheless.  We might as well have just installed a bug directly into our home for anyone to tap in and watch and listen!  Yes, call me paranoid, but I completely distrust any electronics from China.

Thank you to everyone who has been giving me extremely helpful and insightful tips on what to buy!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Dinner at Neighborhood

Happy weekend!  This Friday night, we went to check out Neighborhood, a restaurant nestled off of an alleyway/park behind Hollywood Road.  It's a European fusion restaurant, but with mostly a French sensibility.  Overall, the food was tasty and innovative, but I felt like the portions were really pricey for the small portion sizes.

Potato and octopus salad.
 Padron peppers with mustard sauce.
 Amazing, truffle chicken wings, just delicious.
 Mushrooms and snails, an interesting combo.  This was an earthy and juicy dish and so lovely.
 The warm vegetables served in an "Alain Ducasse" style, topped with truffle flakes.
 A really tasty flank steak - I had to be "that" person who sent it back to the kitchen and asked if they could cook it to a medium, but even then it was capital d Delicious.
This was the grouse that we had to pre-order because it takes a really long time to cook and prepare.  To be honest, I have no idea why it would take so long to cook, as the grouse was served so rare (like the interior was a deep, dark purple).  I tentatively sucked on one of the tiny legs and one of the tiny wings, which were more fully cooked, but I've decided that grouse isn't to my liking.  The meat felt oddly bitter and a bit stringy.
 We also got a white bait stew, which was topped with shaved garlic and had little chopped chili peppers in it.
 And finally, to round out the dinner, we got a tripe gratin, which was... tripe-y.  Michael had a little bite at my insistence and I'm pretty sure he tried not to gag, hah!  The rest of the table ate it with gusto.

Neighborhood
Man Hing Lane
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2617 0891