The Curious Case of the Circling Flies

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I am vexed. The flies fly into the house. They congregate in the centre of rooms and fly in small circles for hours on end. There are dozens of them. They give the living room the air of slaughter-house - it’s not a good vibe. I can’t figure out why they fly in circles under the lights…the lights are not on. They don’t really fly anywhere else. Sometimes perhaps in small circles around the pineapple, but mostly it’s in the centre of the room under the light.

I have spent hours trawling the internet looking for an answer to this question. If Yahoo Answers is anything to go by, it seems that I am not the first person to wonder why flies fly in circles in the centre of rooms. I wonder what was wrong with those other people? At least I have an excuse - I’m pregnant, housebound and my world is about to be irrevocably altered. It is therefore natural (and acceptable) for me to flail in a puddle of inane and pointless thought. The other people who think about the flight path of flies are, however, I suspect, insane.

Despite my level of research, I have not come across a conclusive answer to my question. Suggested explanations vary:

  • Flies fly round and round because they are searching for a perch as it is the best position to fight off a rival and for attracting a mate. (I would prefer if flies did not mate in my living room).
  • Flies can’t hover so they circle. (Interesting but doesn’t explain why the circling always takes place right in the centre of the room nor why they just don’t fly in a random pattern).
  • If they flew in a straight line, they would fly into the wall. (Fair point).
  • They are dumb and they have small brains. (So, it would seem are most of the people trying to answer this question)
  • Because they queue up before the lights get switched on in the evening, like for a night club where people rock up really early. (Plausible)

I didn’t get to conclude my research because I had to go back to the hospital today. Because I’m overdue, the midwives wanted me to see a doctor in the hospital so I had to go to the general outpatients clinic. I have been spared this ordeal up to now because I am on a special scheme called Domino which has meant that my ante-natal care has been entirely taken care of by a team of very lovely midwives and also by my very lovely GP. I haven’t had to see any other doctors. I have been sheltered and swaddled in a cocoon of loveliness and warmth. Today my fluffy bubble was rudely and violently burst. Kind of literally too.

I had an appointment for 1.40pm - so naturally I showed up at 1pm and was told that I was number 19. All fine so far. The waiting room started to fill up and by 1.45 there were no seats. The nurses asked that all non-pregnant people stand up and give their seats to the pregnant. By 2pm, there were no seats for even the pregnant people who started to line the corridors in various states of giantness. The hospital was starting to look like a refugee centre, there were babies and buggies and screaming children and heavily pregnant women fanning themselves as they slumped against walls. There were nurses shouting out instructions and handing out cups for urine samples. The toilets were overflowing. By 2.30 they were on number 6. I wanted to cry (and then I saw that the woman standing beside me was number 71 and I felt a bit better).

Across from me, three pregnant teenagers were discussing how they couldn’t wait to get wasted after their babies were born. Since falling pregnant, they had only been drinking cans and were looking forward to some vodka cokes. I wasn’t judging them - I despise the baseless teetotal nazi school of prohibitionist pregnancy advocates. I think replacing vodka with cans is displaying a measure of responsibility (although it really depends on the number of cans they were talking about…). No, what I found disturbing was not the fact that the pregnant tweens were drinking, but rather the fact that I rather fancied the idea of a vodka coke right about then. I don’t even like vodka but I’d just seen a ‘doctor’ emerge from one of the examination rooms and I really wanted to walk up to him and say ‘Despite what you clearly think, growing a beard does not make you look old enough to be a doctor so take off the stethoscope, tuck in your shirt and go out and play in the sunshine’. The thought of trusting my unborn child to the obstetric insight of Baby Doc Trotsky was enough to make me want vodka, with coke. Or - if I was allowed to choose - a margarita - on account of the sunshine.

Thankfully, the child prodigy was not the doctor who eventually emerged calling my number. Instead, I had a suitably professional looking non-man doctor who ushered me into a room, administered a very unpleasant membrane sweep (don’t google it, it’s not fun) and sent me on my deeply un-merry way within 5 minutes without a whole lot of chit-chat other than to tell me that if I failed to birth naturally, I would be induced next Wednesday. As I left they were at number 23…and I felt particularly sad for poor number 71 who was still standing against the wall in the corridor and would probably remain so for several more hours.

Mr Oh made me sandwiches and I have returned to the bean bag to ponder how much pineapple I need to eat to avoid induction and/or ever having to go back to the public outpatients clinic.



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Apparently 60%-70% of pregnancies are overdue. This seems a like a lot. This seems like perhaps people need to start re-evaluating how they calculate due dates. Less than 5% of babies are born on their due date. Why bother having one at all? (a due date, not a baby).

Another useful fact…on average babies tend to be born on their due date plus three days. This makes me think that my due date is actually, therefore, tomorrow. Hooray! Baby is going to be born tomorrow. (Positive Mental Attitude - it’s what the Olympics are all about).

I am tired of watching Nurse Jackie. Pretty soon I will have finished Season 4 and then God only knows how I’ll fill my days. Hanging out with the junkies outside Tesco perhaps? They’re sometimes friendly. Mostly they’re kind of shouty. I’m tired of eating pineapples and drinking raspberry leaf tea. I am tired of identifying suitably sturdy pieces of furniture from which to cling as I hoist myself on and off furniture. Mostly I am just tired.

What I am not tired of is frenetically googling the endless number of things that may indicate impending labour. Twitchy eye? There is a website out there that will reassure me that twitchy eyes are a sign from the baby Jesus himself that one is about to go into labour. Everything from ‘cold toes’ to ‘strong desire to clean fridge’ can be (and is) considered a strong signal that the baby is about to be born. The fact that the strong desire to clean fridge was felt - and acted upon - by Mr Oh rather than me is immaterial. Everyone knows he’s suffering from Couvade syndrome and is therefore just as pregnant as I am, only without the actual baby part. Is it wrong that I’m secretly hoping he feels the contractions too?

Bring on tomorrow.


The Day After The Day That The Baby Did Not Arrive

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Baby Hu is late. I blame Mr Oh who is generally late for everything and has a peculiar relationship with time. He has little regard for temporal strictures and the sanctity of scheduling. In contrast, I am paralyzed by anxiety at the very notion of not being unnecessarily early for everything. I wonder if this baby has any of my genes at all.

Even though I’m only one day overdue, the midwife asked me to come back into the hospital this morning for another assessment. She’s scheduled me to see the doctor later this week “on account of the baby’s size”. She chuckles quietly in a way that reminds me of Santa as she wraps measuring tape around my bump and announces “well, it’s a good size baby anyway”. I ask her if she thinks the baby is likely to be over 10lbs. I have to ask twice because she pretends not to hear me the first time and stares blankly at the wall as if singing internally to herself. When I ask again she looks away and busies herself fiddling with folders and pens while muttering ‘oh, I wouldn’t necessarily think so’ in a way that suggests she is evaluating how convincing she sounds and then spins back round to announce ‘but you’re very tall so I’m sure it’ll be no problem’. I’m not sure how being tall is going to help me birth a baby sumo wrestler. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten so much peanut butter ice-cream - this is all Mr Oh’s fault (although I’m not sure how).


Operation OBH Suspended

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Operation Oust-Baby-Hu enters its third day, hope for timely delivery of the project begins to fade. A tactical recalibration of the delivery timetable may now be required. The consignment is in stasis.

Over the last few days, I have conducted a campaign of displacement based on the strategically compelling foundations of conjecture, wishful thinking and mythology. The offensive began quietly on Tuesday morning with a low-key reflexology session and accelerated quickly that afternoon over a number of speed bumps in the North Dublin area. On Wednesday, the onslaught continued as needles were inserted into key vantage points on the skin and driven into the underlying nerves (this is similar to waterboarding vis-a-vis levels of unpleasantness and appears to be significantly less effective). A pineapple was consumed. On Thursday, the subject overdosed on raspberry leaf tea in a valiant effort to flush Baby Hu out of his/her hiding place - a tactic which backfired and resulted in hourly nocturnal trips to the bathroom. This morning, in desperation, more needles were again inserted into nerves, more tea was drunk and more pineapples were consumed.

Baby Hu remains ensconced in the trench and is refusing to budge. It occasionally launches decoy physical assaults on surrounding organs which are most likely intended to confuse and vex subject. Both sides have agreed to a weekend ceasefire. Engagement will resume on Monday morning at an undetermined time.


Maternity Leave

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So after a disgracefully long hiatus, I have returned to my blog. In my defence, the blog absence was not my fault. Apple decided to eradicate Mobile Me and on 30 June, it mercilessly wiped my blog off the face of the netosphere. I would like to say that I have spent the intervening period furiously trying to re-establish its existence elsewhere but I have instead spent the intervening period napping. I was tired.

I also had very little news to impart. The final few weeks of work were pure torture. Sitting in an office chair all day was incredibly uncomfortable and the bump had grown so big that I had to reach forward to touch the keyboard. At one stage I tried to put the keyboard on top of my bump and type that way but the baby kicked it off. It’s all over now thankfully and I have spent the last two weeks on maternity leave doing what one is supposed to do on maternity leave, cleaning the floors with dettol wipes on one’s hands and knees. Apparently this is normal. I also arranged the tupperware in size order. Mr Oh was very proud of me.

The first few days of maternity leave were very strange. I woke up early. I did the shopping. I vacuum packed all my clothes. I cleaned the bathroom and then I wondered what to do for the rest of the month. I made a little well in my bean-bag (like the little well one makes for an egg in flour when making a cake) and sat in the middle of it to contemplate my next move. I promptly fell asleep for three hours and woke up with sudden awareness that I would spend the rest of the month napping. So far, it’s working out well for me. In fact, it’s unavoidable. Every time I sit down to read my book, I get about three pages in and then pass out for two hours. It’s amazing how easy it is to fill one’s day in this manner.

In a way, pre-baby maternity leave is a terrible waste of lots of free time. There’s so much I could see and do, if only I were awake, energetic and able to walk more than 100 yards without sitting down. All this resting has been fun (and necessary) but it’s been going on for too long now. I realized I was in trouble at the weekend when I was getting ready to go out and lamented to Mr Oh that I had nothing glamorous to wear. He reminded me that we were going to the Saturday matinee showing of Ice Age 4: Continental Drift and was unsure as to why glamour would be necessary. Sadly, I realized, this outing was the highlight of my week. I sat somewhere other than my bean bag and watched something other than re-runs of Scrubs - there’s no reason not to dress up for that.

Due date is in 6 days and I’m finally at the stage where I can begin to try to bring on labour by bizarre and dubiously effective means.
Operation Oust-Baby-Hu begins in earnest tomorrow. I would have started today but I couldn’t fit a whole pineapple in my backpack. A elderly woman in Superquinn last week offered to mow me down with her trolley ‘if it would help move things along’. I was a little bit disturbed at the time and politely declined. I’m going back to Superquinn tomorrow to hunt her down and throw myself in front of her trolley.