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Gathering strength

By Ampersand Duck - posted Thursday, 4 January 2007

Some of you may be wondering why I haven't been writing more about progress on my letterpress project and my arts grant. That's because there has been no progress. Why?

OK. Get comfortable. This has taken me a few days to write, and I'm going to break it down a bit.

The day that I got the envelope containing my good news about the grant, I also peed on a pregnancy test and got two blue lines. I have to admit, I cried. And oddly enough, not with joy.


I don't know how much you've read back over my archives; I've got a bit of a history of reproductive problems. I gave a quick linkfest a couple of posts ago, on my wedding anniversary. This pregnancy is around the same timing as the last one, give or take a few weeks. This is the 9th week, whereas this time two years ago it was the 7th week.

I'm ambivalent about having another child. On the one hand, there's my lovely man, who would make such a fantastic father, and who is already a fantastic stepfather and uncle. On the other hand, I'm 39, and I've just managed to get to a point in my life when the next 12 months will allow me to achieve something to be proud of professionally, rather than helping other people achieve their goals.

But hey? When nature calls, even at an inopportune time, it's probably best to accept what is happening and make the most of it. Especially when everyone around you gets so excited and happy for you.

For the first few weeks I really had to fight off depression. I felt cranky that the only way we could add to our family involved my body, and my time and energy. I kept wishing that Best Beloved could be the pregnant one (nice thought, but I tell you this, in a classic female way, that if men ever worked out how to have babies I'd be first in line to protest about it). All I could think about was the lousy timing, and how I was poised to start printing, but then it all had to stop.

And everything HAD to stop; I'm really bad at pregnancy, and luckily had my name down with a specialist who started giving me blood tests every few days and hormone supplements. He told me I can't travel more than two hours, which put the kybosh on going to Woodford, and advised against riding my bike and walking too much. Printing, with its physical demands and reliance on solvents for cleanup, is definitely OUT. I've spent the last few weeks driving (oh, the petrol prices!) and sitting in front of the computer, sulking. Your blogs have kept me sane, truly.

Last week I started coming to terms with the thought of being pregnant. I realised that I can use the grant money, buy all the materials and get the artists involved working on their images, make the polymer plates (it's a pretty harmless technology), and then have everything in place to print later next year. I'm sure the Arts Board wouldn't mind granting me a slight extension.


I talked to my boss at the art school, and she was very supportive about a change of plans for the BookStud next year. And I could always work on my bookbinding skills, which don't involve a lot of standing up.

Best Beloved and I started talking about what to do about our tiny house: do we extend or move? We made an appointment with a nice real estate agent we'd bumped into to discuss how much our house would be worth, to help us decide. I know it's early days, but I know people who have their babies in among the builders' dust, or amid packing boxes: it pays to plan ahead.

Actually, I started to feel quite jolly. Morning sickness was kicking in, and my boobs felt like bursting, but that's just the fun of sprogging.

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First published in Ampersand Duck on December 6, 2006. It is republished as part of "Best Blogs of 2006" a feature in collaboration with Club Troppo, and edited by Ken Parish, Nicholas Gruen et al.

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About the Author

Ampersand Duck is a Canberra-based artist and designer. She would like to be a full-time letterpress printer but finds that life quite often gets in the way of her plans. She has been blogging for over two years, and while often repeating herself, never runs out of things to say.

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Gathering strength - Ampersand Duck

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