Friday, December 18, 2009

The Third Period

We're officially in the home stretch: third trimester! Our little girl continues to check out at the midwife's and I'm doing fine too. Everything has been normal -which is exactly what we're wanting. Thanks for the prayers and thoughts.

For those interested in the stats, here's a quick run down: this is week 28, the baby should be about 2 1/2 pounds, I've gained 15 pounds, she should be about 15 inches long (where is putting all of those inches? No wonder I get kicked so often), and I'm still not looking very large - but I feel it.

We stopped off at the hospital this week to get my Rh-globulin shot to be sure that my A- blood doesn't produce any problems for our potentially positive child or any future children. I received my positive first stranger belly comment. The nurse administering the shot said, "oh, what a cute little belly." It was a proud moment. Why this matters? I don't know: things are strange these days. Christmas music makes me cry. All Christmas music. If I were one for going out shopping this would be a problem.

We're about to embark on our Christmas vacation. We're driving to Pittsburgh tonight, flying to El Paso tomorrow and we'll swing through Central Texas around the New Year; because we never do things the easy way. I should be packing and prepping our house for evacuation, but what fun would that be? Besides, we have officially moved the bedroom downstairs, constructed a closet and have created our first official dinning room. This all happened in a matter of hours last Sunday while I was out of the house. I was not prepared for the change, but now it's done and I just have to figure out how to use and decorate the spaces.

I was planning a meal to cook for my parents when I noted to my father that I've very rarely cooked for them. This is odd considering how many of my friends and family I that have eaten with me. I told him, that I figured I needed to get a meal in this Christmas (which is no easy feat in schedule that has so many planned meals that we sometimes have to have a mid-afternoon one just to fit it in). I said, "It's not like it will be easier for me to cook once we start adding kids to the picture." Dad said, "Well, if we're talking that far in the future: it won't be easy, once I loose all my teeth either."

"Um, Dad, you do remember that kid is coming in March? I'm not talking about the very distant future here." I guess some men don't really become grandfathers until they see the grandchild.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm having a person

Lately, I've become so immersed in being pregnant that I tend to forget that I'm not just growing a belly, I'm growing a baby that will grow into an actual person. Perhaps I don't think of this often because it's just too big of a thought. I am only spending a few months carrying her around with me everyday, everywhere and one day this will seem to be an insignificant portion of time compared with the rest of her life.

She will not even consider our time together now as significant enough reason to conform her opinions on politics, food or general coolness to mine. And I don't want her to - but be kind enough not to mention it in that later moment please. She will, God-willling, grow to be someone who is other than me. That seems impossible right now as we share so much together: oxygen, food, pants.

There is so much I hope for her, so much that I would want her to know and be. But we have our day together now. We have Christmas goodies to finish in the kitchen, Christmas music and snow falling outside.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nest Building: confession of a newfound materialist

I wouldn't consider myself a terribly materially-dependent person. I'm not much of a shopper and I don't really feel a strong need to keep up with the Jones or anyone else. Our furniture consists of family heirlooms (thanks Teleps), antique store finds, curbside specials, and pieces Andrew is building. Exception: our brand-new bed, it took me months of futon sleeping to convince Andrew that new was the way to go. I know I'm not terribly virtuous in this though, there are many of our dear friends who are far more careful than I in this regard (do we just attract this sort of person?). This is all to say that for months, I've been craving and acutely feeling the need to acquire baby things, make purchases and stockpile stuff.

I have felt woefully unprepared for our new child mentally & physically. The physical is easier to remedy. Other expectant mothers did not relieve this anxiety. Who are these mothers having multiple showers before they enter the second trimester? Who are these women that have made all of their major baby purchases before I'd even met my midwife? And why did they have to ask what I had bought yet? Was it just for the purpose of gloating when I replied, "well someone gave me a onesie and bib."

I should say that actual mothers of babies worked to assuage my worries. Children hardly need anything they said. Don't worry, the stuff will come, they said. I was sure that they had genuine points and were telling me the truth. But have I mentioned my neurotic tendencies toward planning? I began to look at the baby stores, online mind you. I soon realized that actual trips to the actual stores could be further damaging to my mental health. How was I to know what to buy or ask for? How was it possible that there are 148 types of cloth diapers? Why when I am least able to choose things am I presented with hundreds of choices that seem to affect my child's well being?

Friends and family to the rescue! My newly-mothering friends graciously replied to emails that reeked of desperation: Help me! I'm drowning in a sea of possibly expensive and certainly varied baby purchases and I don't know what to do. Comfort came in the form of reassurances and recommendations. Kudos to Jordan who provided me with her own notes and spreadsheets on the subject of registering. The woman is always impressive. Her organization and thoroughness brought me to tears.

Then came our Thanksgiving Holiday run. Andrew's mother has mastered grandmothering with all the skill and aplomb of a veteran. Each visit has brought lovely gifts that have been as psychologically comforting as they are practical. Rick & Deb, provided us with a car-full of things that Amos has outgrown of the most useful sort: car seats, bathtubs etc. Liz generously gave her niece some of the unexpected fruits of her nanny job, while providing Andrew & I with some valuable parenting strategies that we hope to employ. Pangela outdid themselves by loading us up with bags of tiny clothes for our little one and a miracle-working pillow. I don't know how I was sleeping without this pillow. It's u-shaped and extends four feet on each side to envelop all of me in pillowy-goodness.

We drove home with our stash and I have continued to marvel over it these many days. Andrew is quickly coming to terms with what was before an apparently unforeseen consequence of baby-having. I casually mentioned that a nook in our entrance way would be a good place for a stroller. His eyes widened with fear as he realized that the actual baby stuff would have to have a place in our house. "It doesn't match my aesthetic," he said. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. This is the same man who, when we moved in together, placed all of my furnishings and belongings in our guest bedroom.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pregnant Driving

"Actually pregnant women don't have to drive cars. They could ride motorcycles sidesaddle, strap their feet to two skateboards, or raise their umbrellas and think Mary Poppins, but the fact remains automobiles are an intricate part of a woman's life and to give them up for six months or so is like going back to nesting in a rocking chair for nine months." - Erma Bombeck

I volunteered to be the designated driver for my friends. Many of you know that this is not a role I would play under any condition resembling normal and since pregnancy is not normal, I really thought people should take advantage of my sobriety. At 2am, after a great night of laughter and wine for the rest, I got behind the wheel. I drove us home in second gear without turning on the lights. My passenger gently pointed these shortcomings out after a while.

I am not one to really struggle with driving and I have a good record (especially if we can begin discounting events before the age of 18 - is that done?). However, I have noticed a few problems with my skills lately.

Apparently, so did the New Hampshire state police, or so I gather since their officer pulled me over to discuss them as we drove to Boston for Thanksgiving. The very nice man said that he noticed I had slightly crossed the white line coming around a bend the in highway. He also noticed a tail light was out - which is very obviously not my fault or pregnancy related. As he collected my license and registration, Andrew, disagreeing with the official description said, "Why did you have to swerve all over the road as we passed a police car?"

I believe he immediately regretted this as I burst into great hiccuping sobs. The policeman said it was only one line and I only slightly crossed it. And I had very good reason. I had been driving for 4 hours and it was midnight and the baby was kicking like it was going out of style and my back was hurting and I just needed to shift my weight off of my aching tailbone and the cop just happened to be there as this happened. And now there we were on the side of the highway, Andrew sheepishly in the passenger seat and me sobbing and explaining to the patrol man that the baby was kicking and I had just tried to stretch.

The man asked whose family we were going to see. "His" I sobbed. Have you been on the road for a long time, he asked. "Yes." I sobbed. I can only assume the man felt sorry for me, in spite of my haughty ridiculously-French-looking driver's license picture. After we cleared our background check and Andrew flicked the rear light making it come back on, we were let off with a warning.

But really, what good was the warning? What could he say? Don't drive pregnant.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Navel Gazing

Never has staring at my own belly button been more rewarding. What was once a definite "innie" is stretching out and becoming alarmingly shallow to accommodate the growing girl inside. This weekend brought about a whole new experience: I can now see the baby moving. While the feeling of movement has been an exciting and comforting, if sometimes sea-sickening, feeling, seeing my belly move independent of me is a whole new ballgame.

There is something disorienting about watching a very familiar part of me moving because of someone else, someone else inside. Our active little girl can now be seen to stretch my skin out or roll herself over. Andrew, lying his head on my belly, felt her little hand or foot not just kick out, but drag down his cheek. He is now regularly coaching her on the continuation of her exercises. Yes, we occupy a bit of our time these days staring down at my expanding belly.

I should say, the lines on belly are bothering me. Why aren't they centered properly? Isn't my body aware that I am a White? Do they know who my father is? He is a man who uses a level and carpenter's square to set up a Jenga tower. We missed a party once because we as a family needed to stay home to mourn the discovery that the kitchen cabinets were off by at least an eighth of an inch. Do the lines indicate that my belly button is off-center? And what if it is? It's a most disconcerting development.

Occasionally, I have the feeling that my skin is at its limit and isn't taking this anymore. I woke up the other night imaging that the breathe-taking pain on my right side could only mean that I was tearing in two. But in fact, my body is shifting everything into place and I am apparently going to follow the course most women take and not be the exception who somehow burst open.

Friday, November 13, 2009

There's no crying in baseball

Tom Hanks, as baseball coach to 1940s women's team, memorably yells this to a sobbing player in A League of Their Own. This line has become a mantra of sorts between me and my mother. That's maybe not accurate, let me try again: During the many times that I have burst into tears throughout my life, Mom has responded with this line. She even told me this on my wedding day; granted she said it through her own tears.

There may not be crying in baseball, but, my god, is it present in pregnancy! I have burst into tears so often this week, I'm in danger of becoming dehydrated. Granted I am no stranger to tears. I tend to cry when I'm sad, or angry or happy or touched or overwhelmed or on Tuesdays, but this is getting ridiculous. I called Kim this week, said hi, everything was fine, I had no discernible source of agitation (rare moment - I know) but she asks how I am and I became a sobbing mess. I'm holding back big, gulping, choking sobs.

I have cried this week while driving, shopping, eating, reading, emailing, talking, thinking. This is getting out of hand. Who cries because Marty Robbins is singing? Yes, it is a rare thing to hear on Canadian airwaves and I am from El Paso, but really? tears? Today, I read an email from a dear friend, laughed at her wit, and immediately let loose a flood. Remember when I wondered if I had lost my mind or if I was just pregnant? Apparently, it's a double positive.

Yes, I know this is normal, I've got oodles of hormones running around with no place to escape except my tear ducts, apparently. Mom kindly pointed out that all women cry a lot during pregnancy. I just happened to be one who cried a lot before pregnancy. Last night, Andrew asked if I could just stop being crazy. I told him I'd quit right about the time he stopped saying stupid things. God help him.

I think the truly bothersome thing about the random crying is the feeling that I'm not in control. Intellectually, I realize that I'm not and I have some vague inkling that this feeling is intrinsically linked to motherhood. The actual experience of it unnerves me. The feeling is altogether similar to that of depression - with the elephantine difference being the noticeable lack of suffocating sadness. The similarities have kept me from sitting back and riding the hormone rush and laughing about how totally ridiculous it is to cry continuously.

But this is, in fact, different. There is no sadness, just my body making adjustments for our house guest. It's nice to be here at this point. We're in week 23. The baby is weighing a whole pound! From here on out, we just have to beef up, while she explores all the possible organs into which she can stick her appendages. She's occasionally found what, I can only guess, is my spleen and boy does it hurt. But it's a pleasant kick to my internal organs - that's how I know she's there. It's nice to say, "Oh yes, I am six months pregnant." Even if I have to follow it by saying," Yes, I know you can hardly tell. If you say that again, I may start crying."

Monday, November 9, 2009

We have no plan

During one of our first snow storms in Vancouver, Andrew and I were exploring the joys of navigating rear-wheel drive vehicles on icy hills. This was going smashingly well for us, as you might imagine. I still remember the helpful people who honked their horns as we slid sideways back down the hill: "Ah, Thank you for that reminder. We should straighten-out and go forward; we were just waiting for you to recommend it."

At one point, shortly before we abandoned our car and searched out the safety of a friend's couch, we were stuck behind a stranded, tire-spinning minivan filled with Korean women. Andrew left our car and went to assist these women by letting some air out of their tires and suggesting that they stop gunning the engine. As they rolled down the window to greet him, he said, "Well ladies, what's the plan?" "We have no plan!" they chorused plaintively.

All that to say, I'm feeling more like those women from the snow storm, than the confident, in-control, over-planner whose pose I usually assume. Birth plans and planning are not for the faint of heart. Have you considered that there are about a billion different scenarios to account for and each little factor can have some lasting effect on your child or your body? Well if you haven't, then you and I probably haven't been reading the same books on childbirth.

A small side note: My father said I'm "strangely obsessed" because I'm reading and learning and forming opinions about my birth. He never did any of this, he assures me. His caution is hard to take seriously though, since he also thinks mom is "strangely obsessed" with "weird ideas" like "being a grandmother" or "retiring." You have to love him.

But back to the birth plan. I have been trolling the internet for a sample plan from which to work and get ideas. There are a lot of options, but interestingly not one that I feel easily fits our situation and preferences. It tempts me to become obsessive (my dad hasn't seen anything yet) and start a plan that has sub-plans and multiple endings, like a choose your own adventure book. Just when I think I'm the most incredibly picky woman to give birth on the planet, I realize that I don't even have a preference for some things. How am I supposed to know what exact position I want to be in when the baby comes? What water temperature will I prefer?

Thanks to my God-son Roberto's arrival, I do know that even the best laid plans must be set aside to account for what comes. I know that the most important goal of all is to work to ensure the health of me and my baby. I know that being flexible, relaxed and open will enable me to make the right choices and surround myself with people who will support and augment that. But a small part of me thinks: I could just write up that 40-page thesis on how I want to give birth which takes into account nearly all imaginable factors. Can you picture it? "Turn to page 16 for preferences involving smells and acceptable lighting options."

For those who have not considered the intricacies of birth plans you may be blissfully unaware that a great deal of effort can be spent researching and preferring various interventions or aspects of birth. Most birthing plans spell out what pain relief options a mother would prefer: massages, ice, drugs, no drugs, what kind of drugs, what dosages of drugs (see how these things grow complicated). Essentially, the reason I see the birth plan as being most useful is that it provides people with a concrete reference of the expectations that I'm bringing into this situation. This can be incredibly useful. How often do miscommunications, hurt feelings, disagreements, and even fights erupt because we are unaware of our own or of another's expectations?

On this occasion, I think it advantageous to let Andrew and my midwife and anyone else involved know that I expect to labour and birth at home. I expect to be allowed to walk if I want to walk, to eat if I want to eat. I don't expect to be cut open; if it comes to that, I think it's important that the doctors and nurses know. If we were always so clear in listing our expectations, we could save ourselves some trouble.

It might be useful for me to know that Andrew might expect the house to be shining clean and dinner to be on the table. I'm not saying that this expectation will be met, but if I know of his expectation then I might better understand and handle the situation. "A quick guide to my expectations of the experience: a birth plan." That's what I'm hoping to provide for the midwife, for me and for anyone else who may happen to find themselves at our birth.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pregnant Brain Parked the Car

It began easily enough. While Andrew was at a training seminar for a few days, I would hang out and explore Toronto. So how did I find myself searching the streets of the city without any idea where I had left my car? I mean, zero idea as to where this thing could be. I knew it was in a parking garage under a building on Bloor Street. What floor? What helpfully lettered and numbered spot? What building? Which one with a book store?

Angela has helpfully told me that pregnant women lose 7% of their brain cells (or is that capacity?). The midwife backed this up. Countless mothers have confirmed for me that, yes, while pregnant, they too forgot very simple things or lost touch with things they once knew. My mother said that for two full years her accounting co-workers blamed her oversights on Ryan's birth. Now, I can't get these women to reach a consensus as to whether this brain function returns. The midwife said it goes with the placenta - creating possibly the most valid reason for eating that thing that I've heard.

But in the meantime, I'm wandering around Bloor Street imagining the conversation I'm going to have to have with Andrew when he gets out of his conference.

"Yes Andrew, I knew I said I'd pick you up from the hotel right at 4:00.
You see, I've lost the Volvo.
That's right, the Volvo.
It's most likely not stolen. It's just somewhere in some parking garage. Yes, that is the description I gave the police.
No, they don't seem hopeful.
This is not my fault. I don't forget directions. I don't lose my way. I don't lose entire cars. Pregnant brain parked the car."

This would not go well. Pregnant brain has been rather active these past months. Great swaths of my vocabulary are missing. It reminds me of a line from a Billy Collins poem about growing old and memory loss. The words, he said, are not on the tip of your tongue. They have retired to a remote fishing village in the Southern part of the brain where there are no phones. Had Billy Collins been a woman, he would have realized when the words first choose that village for later retirement.

The problem, I believe, is that pregnant brain operates only in the present. The immediate, urgent present. There is no future to prepare for, no past for which to account. There is only now and now must happen NOW! It may be important to note that at the time of parking the car, pregnant brain was immediately and urgently involved with the problem of finding a washroom. Someone was standing on our bladder and there was no time for noticing anything about the place where we abandoned the car in our flight for relief. The cares of tomorrow (and the cars of today) were left to fend for themselves.

I should say, I found the car. I traced down the bookstore only to discover that it had several locations in one building. Stupid bookstore. I did recall that the bookstore I wanted was across from a liquor store (a sure sign of my old brain in action). From there I retraced my steps to find our car securely parked in spot 32 H. Crisis averted.

This morning I shot up from my bed. Thoughts in full panic mode: We haven't had our period in a very long time. What was it? Months?

Ah, pregnant brain. It has been months and we've got months to go.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The baby made me eat it

I saw this on a maternity tee shirt and I laughed, but I did not buy it. My father has requested one though. He wonders if people would let him get away with it. It's cute, it's funny, but I'm not sure I'm ready to have my shirts announce in print that there is in fact a baby on board. Yes in other ways, my shirts are announcing that we're carrying a little extra weight down there, but is it tacky to say it?

Besides, does a woman standing in line at Dairy Queen alone at 10 pm on Friday night really need to wear her justification across her chest? And at that point is it still cute or just over-the-top? Andrew feels that sitting around chomping on pickles is too cliche. "Really, Dana?" he says. Is it necessary to feed the stereotype? Little does he know I'm suppressing an urge to accompany that pickle with ice cream. Ridiculous, yes, but as Flannery O'Conner said, "stereotypes begin in truth."

So, yes, I did go to Dairy Queen last night. For ice cream. Why? Because I had wanted to go there all week, several times a day and I began to fear that it would be impossible. This is not an entirely irrational fear. Dairy Queens close for the winter in Ontario. Why? I don't know, something about making them cost effective and torturing pregnant women who need hot fudge sundaes.

Do you know what makes me a worse person? I brought that ice cream and ate it in front of children and did not care that they had no ice cream. I unabashedly ate my ice cream as a five year-old and seven year-old looked on longingly. I did not share - they may carry germs. When asked why I was eating ice cream, I said, "It's nice to be a grown up."

"Can you eat whatever you want all the time?" asked Niko. "Yes," I said, but then feeling slightly guilty, I added, "You have to make good choices though. I ate a very nutritious dinner before this and I finished all of it." He wasn't impressed with this blatant attempt at parent propaganda. But he wasn't on doctor's orders to eat more. My friend pointed out, kindly, "Well that'll take care of the extra 500 calories you needed."

But really did I need the ice cream? No, I wanted a full glass a of red wine - something dry and delicious. I wanted a nice end-of-the-day scotch, smokey with a single ice cube. I could have used a morning cup of coffee, steaming hot with cream and sugar. A rich and foamy latte would have done the trick. Even a nice cold, super sweet Dr. Pepper would have sufficed.

But no one has told me that I can't eat ice cream. So I stand in line and I'm a touch defensive - so it's probably for the best that no one can comment on the irony of a t-shirt slogan.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I have been eagerly awaiting the time when I would feel my baby moving. The last week or two I felt something, but it didn't seem to clearly be the baby. I have a very active stomach and those who have kept up with the pregnancy from the beginning know that my stomach had been especially busy, what with sending back everything it received and all.

I'm pleased to say that those days of emptying seem to be behind me and I'm looking forward to doing some serious filling work. Chocolate croissants seem to be haunting my dreams. I'd better eat another apple.

But to the baby, as mentioned at the ultrasound, she is a mover. She moves so much in fact, that Andrew felt her kick. He was lying with his head on my belly listening to the cacophony inside, when our little girl felt that she'd give her Daddy a nice sound kick in the cheek just to let him know that she's around.

We are thrilled. Now perhaps if she continues to go about kicking her dad in the face, he may change his mind about it. It's nice to know that she's here with me throughout the day and wow is she ever with me around the time I decide to lay down to sleep.

A thought has started to follow me: my mother had the daughter that her mother wanted (shy, quiet, played dolls and tea party); is karma delivering to me the daughter that my mother wanted (optimistic, athletic, out-going)? What in the world will I do if she always wants to see the bright side of things? And go on walks?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here she is!

She's here. Limbs and fingers and toes in tact. In the last picture, you can see her darkened little beating heart. She is her father's girl moving so much we could hardly get a picture. The ultrasound tech said, "You'll need running shoes for this one."

I can feel her moving around. We're thrilled!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our Canadian Baby

When we first moved to Canada four years ago, Mom said, "Don't leave without having some Canadian babies." While this may have been just another way of saying, "Give me grandchildren" we realized there was something to the idea. To be accurate, I realized she made a good point; Andrew, four years ago said, "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that." My father, more advanced than Andrew in this vein of husbandry said, "Huh? What did she say?"

While someone brought up the idea that our child could later be annoyed by complicated immigration lines as they sort out what they want to be; I am pleased to offer the baby a choice of nationalities. Our child, who should according to plan, be born in Canada will automatically become Canadian, but will have the option of being a US citizen because he or she is born to US citizens. The US no longer allows people to hold a dual citizenship or things would be really easy. So, as I understand it, "Jonah" will have to choose at some point in life.

I'm also thrilled to have access to the great health care system Canada offers. While this may be hard to believe given some of the information that is being passed out in the States these days, I find the Canadian health care system to be fantastic. I have never had a long wait. While in the US, I was asked to wait 3 weeks to see a doctor for the UTI I had - I told them he could meet me in the hospital and they could go ahead and call it a kidney infection since it would be that, by then. I also don't have long fights with the insurance company ahead of me. I just visit my midwife and my doctor and go (I don't even have a co-pay to consider). I will step down from my little soapbox here, but I wanted to defend the Canadians a bit - they have taken good care of us.

There are other advantages - our child as a Canadian will always be thought of as being polite. Everyone knows all Canadians are polite. Our child will be better adapted to cold - or is going to learn pretty quick since March doesn't yet mean that we're done with snow and winter. The government encourages the growth of the country by providing lovely tax credits and regular funding for children. If schooled here, French immersion programs are standard in public schools, so we can have a bi-lingual kid. Andrew is qualified for some great paternity leave. Our town is also quite kid- friendly and Jonah will join with two other babies at church who are expected, one, pretty much on the same day.

Jonah already has displayed some Canadian roots by disliking spicy Mexican food - a delicious and hot lunch at L&J's in El Paso led to a unpleasant evening. Who knows, maybe Jonah will even say "eh" without being ironic?

There is one thing that will help Jonah feel like a real Canadian in spite of American parents. We can always look forward to saying (as many other Canadians have said before us I'm sure), "You were born the year your Daddy's favorite hockey team won the Stanley Cup." (There's no need to do the math, but playoffs end in June.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Cravings

Last night over dinner, Andrew casually asked how my cravings for salty foods was going. When asked why, he just took another bite and reached for a water glass. Apparently, now that I'm back in the kitchen, I'm a little heavy handed on the salt. That's bothersome for a person who prides herself on cooking. What's worse is that I didn't even realize it.

I'll just have to police myself a little better, but I honestly find nothing so offensive as having people adjust the spice levels on my cooking at the table. I know I put the salt and pepper on the table, but I'll tell you if it's necessary to use it. Occasionally, I recommend that my guests do some adjusting and I don't mind someone kicking up the salt or pepper if they are particularly keen on it. I suppose I must have early on learned that shaking the shakers over your food before even tasting it was gauche. These days, if you're dining with me, I guess you'd come prepared with water to try to overcome my zealous salting.

I'll work on it though since I've got some great food available for a dinner party. My grocery shopping and day at the market have turned up a few fall treasures. Today, I remembered that Thursdays mean market days. I was there and hungry for the first time this pregnancy. That may explain why I came home with half bushels of pears, apples, concord grapes, 6 pumpkins, and a lamb's worth of chops. Not to mention that I went out yesterday and restocked the kitchen. I'm prepared for a small invasion of diners. Hopefully, I can get a plan underway. If you find yourself in the area, you're welcome to join us!

That's the problem with living so far from so many great friends. We can't sit down for a meal together often enough. While we are thrilled to have a couple of great friends and a happy array of people who are coming into the friend circle here, there are so many wonderful people who are living all around North America and the rest of the world that I want to see more.

Excuse my sentimentality, the cold weather has driven me indoors. I'm curled in my favorite chair with a cup of growing belly tea (by Mother Goddess or something like that). I'm devouring a bowl of Concord grapes and an Macintosh apple. Concord grapes are really amazing things. I was very slow in discovering them. They are the grape flavor that is so often packaged and sold as grape flavor. I'm obviously working on improving my healthy eating here. This baby better be coming out healthy as a horse.

Speaking of the baby's arrival: last night Andrew and I came up with the first concrete plan for reorganizing the house that I've been able to get excited about. To give you a better idea, here's what we are working with:

I was reminded when talking to an old friend who now resides in Arizona that we don't do space the way they do in the West. I mentioned that we had lived in a small apartment in Vancouver. She nodded with understanding, "Was it like 1200 square feet?"

No. It was not. That is an incredible amount of space. That is the kind of space that we one day aspire to own. Our basement apartment, beautiful as it was, was 500 square feet. We own less and store efficiently. We're currently living it up in about a 1000 square feet and feeling really excessive.

So by the numbers, we have enough space for a baby, but the layout is hard. We rent what is actually two apartments in an old house. We have the main floor at the front of the house and the basement apartment below it. Don't ask how this came about, it's Andrew's sweet talking. The main floor where we mostly live now consists of an entry way, large living room (where we also dine), a good sized kitchen, large bathroom and a bedroom. The basement has a small bedroom, smallish full bath, and a large open kitchen living area, also a wonderful cellar. We use it mostly for storage, closet space, laundry and a guest room.

To fit a baby in here and not have the baby so far away; I'm starting to consider moving my bedroom into the basement. I have been hesitant to do this until now because the basement apartment less beautiful, the staircase connecting the two is shared by our lovely upstairs neighbours, the basement seems humid. But I'm beginning to set aside these concerns and starting to think of painting and scrubbing and rearranging in favor of readying the space for three Teleps.

The season change is leaving me craving salt and old friends and space for the new baby. Oh and if anyone has any fantastic ideas for pumpkin, I did buy six of them today.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Outwaddling the Storm

Tom Petty was running down a dream. Some try to outrun the law. Bob Dylan was offered shelter from the storm. Me? I'm waddling down the street just a few minutes ahead of a hail storm.

Today was another pre-natal visit with Carol the midwife, but we lent our car to Tibra (our friend from Waco who just moved here). The midwife's office is not "far." Andrew cheerfully reminded me: I could easily walk, or ride my bike, or take a bus or even his skateboard. He was not bothered by the cold (it's in the fifties); he was not bothered by the rain. In fact, he said, as he rode off on his bike, "It's done raining for the day; you'll be fine."

As I left the office, headed home, I called Andrew. It was the first appointment he had missed and was I giving him the update, when he said to his co-workers, "Whoa, is that hail outside?" Then I glanced to the North to see a dark mass of cloud approaching. Now, I'm not working with a huge belly here, but I'm beginning to feel a little self-conscious about my movements. Maybe its the expanding hips or the beginning of the mass in the front, but I think I may be beginning to waddle. Waddling is not a graceful motion. Fast waddling is even less graceful. I felt pretty silly trucking down the street as the rain was starting to fall and the wind was picking up. When the traffic light changed, I thought I was a goner, but I managed to make it home before things really came down.

I'm now safe and warm, but I thought that your day could use the image of me waddling down the street just ahead of a storm cloud. If you were curious: the midwife's visit went well. I did not fail my glucose test! I have now gained about 10 pounds. The baby's heartbeat was nice and strong, up around 160 beats per minute. If the old wives' tales are to be believed then this means the baby is a girl. Carol even prodded my stomach and concluded that the baby was sitting bum down in my uterus at the moment. That is so freakin' cool that she could feel that; I think I'm going to spend the rest of the poking at my stomach to see what I feel.

Ah, and to the good news. Carol says I need to eat more! She says I could probably use about 500 more calories a day. Food and fitting into these maternity clothes here I come. Speaking of maternity clothes, I'm really outfitted well these days. My Mother-in-Law brought me some great new clothes! Mom and I managed to get a run to Target into our time in El Paso and I've got some sweet mom jeans and a pretty purple top. Then Deb, my sister-in-law, lent me a huge bag of her clothes from last year. I'm now ready for this new 500-more-calories-a-day me.

For those keeping score: this is week 19. We go in for the ultrasound on Monday. Andrew and I have decided to find out the gender of the baby at that time. I think we're doing this partly to avoid referring to the baby in gender neutral terms and hopefully to be able to prepare ourselves to meet this person. We currently refer to the baby as Jonah, because Jonah spent time in the belly of a whale. Being the whale mentioned, I must say I am not pleased with the name. Andrew however, thinks that this is quite funny. Dan Train assessed the trouble Andrew could be in for that joke best by bemoaning the fate of "poor fatherless Jonah."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enlightening Experience = Frightening Mysterious

Today I suspect that Andrew and I could be taking part in some sort of trial parenting test; like someone has arranged a series of challenges for us and if we pass them then we will be awarded a child. If so, they should have been filming us, because we're flailing and flopping our way through these times.

Our friends Kim (whose praises I have previously sung) and Fr. Chris have been so brave as to leave their four children in our care this week while they went to their conferences. I just returned from El Paso (I'll have to say something on that soon) to join Andrew after he held the fort down for a night with the kids. He was asleep sitting up on the couch when I arrived. He said things were holding together pretty well until the puppy put her wet paws and snout in his lap. Why was the puppy wet? Well, the puppy had been playing in the toilet. Things went downhill for Andrew from there. "Maybe it's easier if you don't start with four of 'em," said Andrew as he fell asleep.

Yesterday, I was on as stand-in-Mom/taxi-driver. I was up making lunches, playing in the park, walking the dog, carting kids to play dates; I made dinner, ballet, gymnastics and scouts and even got an ice cream date into the day. Andrew got home from work and managed bath and story time while tucking in the youngest and then fit in an episode of Glee and a hockey game. In short, we rocked it, but not without being rocked ourselves. Who does this stuff and who does it more than once?

This morning we overslept when the alarm didn't go off. Rushed the crew out the door while I performed a monologue that ran something like this, "Turn off the TV. Get dressed. Get dressed for cold weather. Pack your bag. I already filled out your reading log. Unpack yesterday's lunch box. Didn't I ask you to unpack this yesterday? Who left the bathroom door open? How did the dog get the whole roll of toilet paper? You get dressed for cold weather, too. Find your jackets. Turn off the TV. Get in the car! Buckle your seat belts. I'll buckle your seat belt." We delivered the children as the bell rang.

Andrew went to work in yesterday's clothes, because I didn't bring him any new ones (I thought he'd go home). I suppose he's just getting his co-workers ready for when he no longer has any thing without baby spit on it. He couldn't shave because the razor batteries were dead. I got to the school without brushing my hair or my teeth - it just occurred to me that I'm sure the children didn't brush theirs. I've never been so happy to be far from 3 o'clock in my life.

While checking in with Andrew over the phone, he asked how I was holding up. "This has been an enlightening experience," I said. From the back seat, I heard Margaret (age five) repeat, "This has been a friwghting mystewious."

Yes, she knew that what I really meant by "enlightening experience" was "frightening mysterious."

Friday, September 25, 2009

What the Aitch?

DISCLAIMER: This post will be about breasts and pregnancy-related-breast matters. If you feel that you are not interested or that your interest is inappropriate, please discontinue reading this entry now.

What the AITCH! Aitch, that's right. No longer are we living in the realm of double dee's (like your grades) or even the more recent triple dee word score. We are at H and approaching I. H standing for huge and hell and humongous. I, God Forbid, is somewhere I can't even imagine going. It's in the idiotic, incredibly large, impossible category. But here we are at 16 weeks and a 34H.

I went to be fitted for a new bra today; in case you were still wondering what is fueling my alphabet-inspired rant. Bra shopping pregnant is not any easier than bra shopping not-pregnant was. I went to a special maternity clothes store in Toronto and tried on everything they had (I think). It took hours and many women and many hands checking me out and deciding what went where. In the end, I walked out with two new bras that will serve as nursing bras provided things stay in check. This cost the equivalent of Andrew's entire clothing budget for two maybe three years.

In my defense, Andrew's clothing budget is crazy-low and purchases like this should really be covered by medical insurance. The stress I'm trying to take off my poor back could be saving major chiropractor bills. I wonder if anyone has ever submitted a claim for a bra before? They're not even terribly cute, people. Cute doesn't come in this size.

At one point, a nice sales lady said, "Wow, what were you before you started growing?" Really? Extra attention up top is not exactly new to me, let's just face facts. As Carol, our lovely midwife said to Andrew, referencing my starting cup size, "Oh well, you were never deprived, now, were you?" I wish you could have seen him try to figure out how best to respond to her. I believe he went for the stare-straight-ahead and hope the question was rhetorical (it took me five whole minutes to locate that word).

My hairdresser, bless her heart, said when she saw me a few weeks ago, "I just knew you were pregnant; girl, your boobs are huge!" They are in fact huge, with an aitch. The great news is that they are no longer as sore as they were when the growth spurt began. In fact, their soreness was a major tip-off that I was pregnant and in the first few weeks, I found the aching a nice reminder that I was going to have a baby. But the measurements are in and I'm a little off balance. Has any pregnant woman ever fallen forward from the shear weight of her front?

The baby books estimate that each breast should gain about a pound. If that's the case, then I think we're on target or even a little over (I refuse to put them on the kitchen scale) and these new bras should be with me for a while. I'll have to get some pictures of the belly up soon so we have something to compare to, but the belly is still definitely overshadowed. Actually shadowed over.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yes I Can

Sunday night, Andrew met me in our kitchen. He threw his arms around me and whispered, "Thank God, you're back! I didn't think I could make it much longer without you." This touching and sincere confession on his part was my reward for (drum roll please) cooking dinner.

I did it. I cooked. Twice last week actually. I managed to be in my kitchen, not nauseous, not exhausted, cooking. It took some degree of external impetus: a handful of visiting Texans no less. To those who think it far to come, it has been done, and the travel time is not too bad. Dan Train came up just for dinner (and to deliver the cats with Tibra, but I'd like to think he came for a night hanging out with the Teleps). One night stays are not generally recommended though; consider this your invitation: Come, Stay with us!

Now, I won't say I'm back and on top of my game. I severely over-cooked the prime rib. Sin of all culinary sins. Seeing the not-pink centre of the meat made me dust off a few four-letter kitchen descriptor words. But I did manage a meal that really left me grateful for our new location. Upon surveying the table, I realized that our food was from well within the 100-mile radius. Most of it was organic, locally grown and picked up from our fabulous farmer's market. The fried green tomatoes were from our own front porch. The best part of this is that it wasn't intentional. I didn't set out shopping with a moral obligation - this is just what is available - and not at a premium price.

Oh to be back in the eating world among the living! It is a good thing. And since I was at the farmer's market and it wasn't too late, I picked up some tomatoes and beets for canning. Last year, my bushel of Roma tomatoes kept us from having to purchase canned tomatoes all winter. I began to develop a complex about buying tomatoes out-of-season after reading Robert Farrar Capon's book, Food for Thought. That book, very highly recommended, also solidified the complex I already had with margarine and blunt knives. Going without tomatoes for most the year is not an option, so I realized I could do one better than buying canned tomatoes by canning my own.

As the movement towards buying local and growing your own food has been growing, canning has been making something of a comeback. It was one of the new hobbies I have undertaken as a professional housewife after moving here. It is one of the hobbies that baffles my father who wonders, often aloud to me and others, why his daughter has thrown all those years of higher education into recapturing the lifestyle of his grandparents. However, eating my tomatoes all winter was worth it. Now, the stock is replenished and we've added pickled beets to the cellar.

Spending hours yesterday pickling beets reminded me that I could never have done it one month ago. The boiling vinegar and cinnamon spices would have killed me or at least left me immobile in the bathroom. I won't say it was easy. Beets are messy; my hands are still a ruby-red shade of purple. Steaming hot water on the stove heated the whole house and I felt like I'd accidentally ventured into Houston. I complained; I had a breakdown when I found myself temporarily locked away from my supply of vinegar, my back hurt. But now I have two and half dozen pints of beets for eating to show for my day.

Now, I just have to figure out where to muster the energy to finish de-beeting the kitchen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To be a Woman...

“Across the happiness data, the one thing in life that will make you less happy is having children,” said Betsey Stevenson, an assistant professor at Wharton who co-wrote a paper called “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.” Have you heard? It's the talk of the town; you can check it out here. Women are unhappy, more unhappy than they were forty years ago before the women's liberation movement, and it doesn't make sense to anyone.

Women have more earning power, more opportunities, more equality: what more could we want? The researchers point out that the argument that says women have taken on the workplace and kept all the work of the homefront isn't the case. In measurable hours, women spend less time working at home (cleaning and cooking) while men have increased the work they do at home. Men, by the way, are happier than they were forty years ago. Stevenson does note that this data doesn't quite give the picture in total because she argues that the emotional weight of the responsibilities of the homelife still rests primarily with women while men get to "help out" without bearing the burden.

This past year, I have been conducting a sociological experiment: I have been staying home employing myself as a housewife (and here my Dad just thought I was unemployed). As we transitioned from Vancouver to Ontario, Andrew and I agreed that I could have a chance to stay home and do some serious thinking about what would make me happy. It has been a remarkable gift to have this time and I am grateful that Andrew was willing to work with me on this.

One of the surprising side effects of our arrangement has been the reaction from those around us. Based on the strong opinions elicited, I often felt that this whole housewife gig has been the most counter-cultural stunt I've ever pulled off. People seemed uncomfortable with the idea that I was wasn't working outside of our house - I could, I was capable, but I just wasn't. For the past year, I have been questioned regularly as to how I spend my time.

In one of my best moments, in reply to the question that is always on the tip of everyone's tongue, "What do you do?" "I enjoy myself." I replied. The stunned party guest eventually moved on to talk to someone who had the decency to answer that they worked in finance or IT. Why do we ask that question of strangers we're meeting? How many of us have jobs that define who we are and what we "do"?

I have not been bored - apparently I have a very high capacity for spending quiet time with only myself as company. There are in fact so many things to do that I've found myself pressed for time. Being home and seeking what it was I want to do has led me to the conclusion that I thrive in this working from and on the home environment. Now, I just need to find a way to make money while doing it, because money is nice and important to make (yes Dad I do believe that). I do regret leaving Andrew to cover the financial burden of our lives.

Now, our upcoming arrival has complicated this little experiment. I had been looking to get back into the workplace in order to again accrue income, when I found that my interviews would be complicated by a deadline. Please hire me and I'll work very hard for you until March or maybe I'll have to quit in February. Now maternity leave in Canada lasts for a year; they do things so well here. But we do know the importance of keeping one of us home with our child when they are young - so I'm looking for some temporary work to bring in a little money before the baby. My housewife vocation has been augmented or perhaps I am to be promoted from housewife to stay-at-home-mom.

But there remains, this paradox of declining happiness in women: it does not seem surprising that the working-mothering-marrying-successful woman is not quite happy. She's busy; we can get busy with things that are put upon us rather than chosen or if chosen, it can be frustrating to spread your time so thin. Having spent the year avoiding that busyness, I have found that I'm a great deal happier than I was in the years before. I don't believe that the women's lib is really to blame and I happily encourage my sisters to conquer the corporate, government, and academic heights- or not - pursue what fulfills you. It may be time to ask what makes us happy. Maybe we should make sure we know how we define happy.

And really, am I on the sure-fire path to happiness-destruction by procreating? That seems hard to believe. At this point there's no going back, I'd better throw on some rose-coloured glasses and skip merrily down the road to the unhappiness that is motherhood. Perhaps, a little attitude is needed: "I'll prove 'em all wrong. I will be happy! Take that happiness statistics."

Excuse me, it's time for me to go throw up.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Last Throes of the Nausea

I hope.

In the event that I decide to repeat this whole pregnancy bit, I feel the need to record a few details. From what I've been given to understand the arrival of my child and the departure of a few key portions of my brain will render me un-hesitant to embark on this path all over again. I want some record in place so at least I know what I'm getting into.

[Disclaimer: in a very serious spot in my soul I am truly grateful for my pregnancy and all that it entails and I fully intend to do it all again later.]

To the matter at hand: I have still thrown up everyday this week. It is just once. It is not even really accompanied by nausea and food aversion - which makes it dangerous. At least when food seemed like a bad idea I could be sure the throwing it up part was safer i.e. no difficult textures, no spices. But really, people, I'm very tired of throwing up. My stomach muscles have adapted and strengthened and if I didn't have the beginning of a belly I would a have a vomit-induced six pack. I have this down to a science people.

I wake up and even though I feel hungry I must remember it is not time yet. I make myself a pot of mint tea or interestingly enough "Morning sickness Tea." Sometimes I vary the routine and try Ginger Ale. Now the key to a successful round of upheaval is to limit my intake to liquids. Often, this does not seem possible and I have a banana. After an hour or sometimes two, I must put down my tea and run for the bathroom. This is an orderly jog. I often remove my glasses on the way. Then I am in place to throw up. And I am not left disappointed in this.

I have tried to vary the routine to prevent this last little manifestation of the first trimester. I have tried not eating - that's too painful, I throw up stomach acid. I have tried eating crackers before moving from bed - I just throw up crackers. I have tried eating solid foods to stave off the vomit - I then throw up the solid foods - much harder than tea. The routine is sticking right with me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm not coming down with gestational diabetes, I just have poor judgement.

We had visit number two to Carol the Midwife this week. This time everyone in the room heard a strong healthy heartbeat. The baby is now too big to swim away from the doppler machine. The baby gave the machine a few kicks to let us know that he or she was doing just fine without us listening in. Carol let us know that the baby was strong, active and athletic. "Thank you," I said, clearly proud of my 15-week old prodigy.

Andrew, however, felt the need to clarify, "How much can you really tell about a baby at this stage from listening to the heartbeat?" Well, Carol smiled and blushed slightly, "About all we can really tell is that the heart rate was within what is considered to be normal. Every baby moves a few times an hour. That's really all we can know."

Sigh. Andrew has been informed that the next time our child receives a compliment, no matter how far removed from scientific veracity, he is to accept it, gladly. We will have no more of this demand for "proof" when something as obvious as our child's innate athletic prowess is recognized. He has gamely agreed to supress all further attempts to rain on our parade.

I was in need of that little bit of ego-stroking, the appointment started off with a little scare and (yes another) forced confession. Geez, I'm not getting away with much of anything these days. Every visit to the midwife requires a glucose and protein test and a weigh in. I have gained 6 pounds that accounts for my little belly and other growth. But the glucose test went a bit wonky. I turned the little strip that was supposed to stay yellow a variety of shades from lime to blue.

Now at some point during the appointment, I'm supposed to report my findings to Carol. She doesn't start off asking though, she starts by asking what I want to talk about. Well, I don't really want to rush into the fact that I've surely just acquired gestational diabetes, but I don't want to delay it either. I'm racking my brain trying to remember all I've read, Ina May (midwife, author, general good person) has some strict diets to control this, but what else will it mean? I'm thinking it means I'm no longer in the "normal" birth category. I'm far into the worst-case scenario, when I interrupt the thought train to bad places to say, "I-didn't-do-so-well-on-glucose-test-probably-a-plus-two-on-the-scale-I'm-not-really-sure."

Carol says calmly, "Oh. What did you have to eat today?"

"Today?" I say brimming with instant guilt. Andrew smiles. He realizes that I've been caught in something. He recognizes the guilty face. Today I ate fast food. Now at a normal time in my life this wouldn't be a huge confession, but I've been trying to eat healthy now - I'm growing a baby. I'm trying to bring in all the nutrients and vitamins and all that other nonsense that all the books say. But today, after having been so careful in my food log that I had to turn in, today I decided since I wasn't recording the food, and since I was in hurry, and hey, since I am almost entirely over that nauseous thing... let's pick up a sandwich from Arby's. Just a little delicious turkey sandwhich, oh and they pretty much come with curly fries and since I was there and hungry (How often had I missed that sensation!) let's add a couple of chicken tenders too.

"Oh that's fine, said the midwife, "it's those little boys that send you craving the Big Macs and bad food. But what did you have to drink?" Damn.

Now, I have kicked a few serious food habits in the past three months. Aside from the forced-sobriety-march that I've entered in, I had a distinct fondness for caffeine. I'm talking a carafe of coffee in the mornings and a Dr. Pepper later in the day type of habit. Dr. Pepper was one of my most Texan of habits; it is a key part of my cultural identity. With the help of my particularly aggressive morning sickness, I have entirely left my morning coffee and colas behind. But since I was feeling better, I thought a caffeine-free Root beer might be a nice treat.

Carol had a good laugh. "Oh that appeals to my sense of humour," she said in her lilting Scottish accent. "Next time you come to take the test, don't chug down one of those sugary drinks. They're just loaded with sugars." Right. Got it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baptism and my confession

Andrew and I were honoured to baptize and serve as godparents to Roberto Stathakos. The ceremony took place over the Labour Day weekend and everything went beautifully. The ceremony made clear the humbling responsibility that Peter and Angela have given us to stand beside them and help raise Roberto. The priest didn't mince words either letting us know that our job was to raise a saint. No small task, especially since he advised leading by example. I might prefer to judge our success as godparents by the measure one of the family members gave us instead, "It's your job to make sure he doesn't get any tattoos and piercings."
One of the tangible differences in an Orthodox infant baptism is the prominent role anointing plays. Now, I had made some passing jokes about slippery olive oil covered babies before in the blog, but I didn't realize that I was the one to do the oiling. As I held both hands cupped full of the blessed oil, I felt the connection to the older mythology of our cultures. I worried about leaving a spot uncovered, creating an Achilles heal perhaps by neglecting to oil it. As Roberto cried out in confusion (I suppose we could have practiced this so it wouldn't have felt so surprising for him), the more practical concern for not getting olive oil in his eyes won over my attention. Roberto was anointed, blessed and baptized and then he retreated to Andrew's towel covered arms where he was immediately quieted and comforted.
I know he looks pretty upset here, but he recovered quickly. He may forever associate church bells and possibly even me with a rather cold, odd experience, but minutes later he was sleeping warm and safe in our arms. His mother even managed to recover from her grief too.
It has felt particularly appropriate to undergo these rites as we prepare for our own child. Somehow it feels like a foreshadowing of things to come. But if the lessons I'm learning from Roberto and our journey are to apply to me, I'd like take this space to confess that I really learned my lesson last night. I was just trying to take a little shortcut - and feeling pretty proud of myself for even thinking of it - when the thing which must never happen, happened... again.

I flooded our basement. Again. Andrew warned me when he set up our washer and dryer. The basement doesn't have the proper hook ups available and the water from the washer must drain into the sink. He was very clear: the hose from the washer must always be in the sink and restrained there. Incidentally, the first time I forgot this rule coincided with the first time I used the washer. But last night, I didn't forget. I thought I had come up with a brilliant idea: you see the towels from Roberto's baptism were covered in oil and baptismal water. The oil and water had been blessed, and therefore, when cleaning the towels you shouldn't just pour the washing water down the drain. The water needs to be returned to the earth to directly give life and blessing back to the earth (use it to water your garden).

This should mean washing the towels by hand, but as I thought about the task, I remembered, "Hey, I can control where the water from my washing machine goes. I'll just put the hose into a bucket and no problem." Apparently, when cleaning holy things, God has in mind that you take the time to clean them yourself - or at least that's the lesson that I'm beginning to see. Now my time saving brilliant idea "blessed" my basement floor and carpet with about half of that holy water that should have been helping lifeforms outside of my house to grow and prosper. I have been mopping and wet-vac suctioning for hours now. This has become a hands and knees scrubbing suctioning time of penance.

For the record, "I get it. I'm sorry. No more short cuts for me."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Phase Two: a general accounting of what's what

We've made it to the second trimester! Now I can start telling people... oh wait. I'm a prolific secret-teller or a lousy secret keeper depending on which way you see things. Our baby is the size of a clinched fist. This is major progress from the blueberry and tic tac it seems like we just had.

Now is when the first trimester symptoms start to disappear. They really seem to be on the way out. I am not throwing up everyday. It's a great place to start. Also, I was hungry! And I mean very-seriously-interested-in-food not just eating because-it-was-on-the-to-do-list. Andrew has been doing a great job at accommodating the demands for food.

He's been very willing to stop the car at the only decent Mexican food restaurant in all of Canada (location: Toronto approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes from home) so I can get a burrito at 4:30 pm even though we're on our way to dinner. By the way, that dinner didn't actually get ordered until 9:30 pm. Moral of the story: always feed the pregnant lady. He also managed to drag his buddies away from the bar to bring pizza with "interesting" vegetables for his growing wife and child. "Interesting" being the only adjective I could think of to describe the type of vegetable that I wanted on my pizza - those not married to me did not envy Andrew as he had to presumably interview the vegetables to distinguish who had hobbies and who was boring.

We seem to be progressing nicely according to schedule. I have a very small, but noticeable to me, "bump." Meanwhile, the girls' progress has been noticeable to most everyone.

I had a very exciting moment yesterday when walking through High Park in Toronto. I realized I could actually feel my uterus contracting. The small bump got solid and Andrew could even join me in realizing the change. It's nice to feel any connection to the changes taking place. This month we should start to see more of these.

Additionally, High Park brought up a surprise attack of the hormone-fueled tears. Luckily, Esther and Dave are understanding people and my giant sunglasses hide these things well. The Toronto air show was taking place. The Blue Angels flew overhead buzzing the park and performing the flips and tricks that you would expect, but while everyone oohed and ahhed with the afterburners, I cried and had to stop talking. Mom, always the practical one, pointed out that Ryan (my little brother who is now deployed in Afghanistan) doesn't even fly planes, but it was a short hop for my normally acutely sensitized hormones to go from planes to brother to tears all in an afternoon of fun.

But today I'm battling a cold (thanks suppressed immune system) missing my brother and growing a baby. Andrew told me last night that he thinks I'm a fantastic "creator of life."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The unexpected when expecting...

There are some things that cannot be planned. Some experiences cannot be forewarned and even if they were, you would not believe them. "Surely that wouldn't happen to me!" You would say to yourself, perhaps with a slight note of trepidation.

A piece of cantaloupe got stuck in my nose.

I spent half an hour trying to dislodge a chunk of cantaloupe from my left nostril and sinus cavity. I had happily eaten my pre-breakfast snack and was on my way to throwing it up, all according to schedule, when a chunk diverted from its intended path and became a big, painful and incredibly silly problem.

Andrew found me over the sink blowing my nose for all I was worth. He may not stop asking after my well-being if I continue to provide him with answers like this, but he had a solution never-the-less. " It can't go out. You've got to go back the way it came." How did he know?

Sure enough, another five or ten minutes of sucking not blowing produced a cantaloupe. The void was felt acutely for another few hours.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Have you seen me lately?

I miss me. I miss the person who lived to eat and eat well. I could really use some more time with the self that was capable of cooking a meal, a real flavor-filled meal with actual foods. Especially now, as the literal fruit of my earlier labour is ripening on my porch; why can't I eat the tomatoes I've raised? Why do I have to miss the best produce at the farmer's market? Why do I have to eat a pre-breakfast sacrifice to keep down a bit of breakfast?

I know the "sickness", as Ryan affectionately called it, is hopefully almost over. I even know that its actually a good thing that I have such high levels of hCG pregnancy hormones that make me sick. They ultimately mean that I have a strong healthy baby. That bit of knowledge goes a long way towards making my daily time in the bathroom happier. It is especially encouraging when compared to the possibility of thinking the sickness had other causes.

For instance, an 1893 manual called Safe Counsel or Practical Eugenics attributed morning sickness to "an irritation in the womb caused by some derangement, and it is greatly irritated by the habit of indulging in sexual gratification during pregnancy." Ah, the relief of imaging that I throw up, can't eat anything, and feel lousy because I'm deranged or depraved. I can see that many a mother-to-be would readily adopt the advice of the authors to "preserve [her] vital forces" against such indulgence.

But to the subject at hand, real food. I lay awake at night thinking of foods that I can eat. Foods in the safety zone are generally processed and salty if otherwise flavourless. It was a great day to discover that fried rice, from the right take-out place where its not overly greasy, was safe. My Dad felt that I had some level of derangement when after a day of throwing up everytime we stopped the car, I requested a Chick-fil-a grilled chicken sandwich, no pickles but with bar-b-que sauce-even-if-it-kills-me. It may interest you to know that the joy of discovering that particular safe food was quickly killed by the fact that the nearest Chick-fil-a is now 221 miles from my home. As mentioned, Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup is acceptable.

But the farmer's market will not wait. The produce is ripe and now is the time. I am missing out on prime canning season. I took up canning last year and had big plans for this year. Jars of homemade pickles, pickled beets, canned tomatoes, jams and salsa were as good as stockpiled in my mental cellar. The real cellar holds only the wine I can no longer drink and a few jars of apricot jam that came up in the early season. I probably need to come to terms with the idea of a bare cellar for the year. The smell of dill sends me running from the market. It very nearly caused a bad and embarrassing scene mid-market. So did the farmer who insisted I bite into a cucumber.

I am not alone in missing this portion of myself. Andrew is a sadder, hungrier man without the old me. Visiting friends note that we're eating out and I'm even serving ready-made pizzas, to Italians no less (the shame). But as much as I try, the kitchen produces smells and smells repel the new me. Even my favourite smell, the one I could turn to for a guaranteed pick-me-up: sauteing garlic, is no longer a balm.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Churching

"Churching" is the ceremony celebrated in the Orthodox Church to welcome the mother and baby into the Church. It is a simple affair where the mother and baby are met at the door of the church, prayed over and then the baby is ushered in by the priest, blessed and welcomed. You can see the roots from older thoughts in the actions. It happens 40 days after the birth - I'm guessing this has some correspondence to the mother now being "clean" and able to reenter the temple.

Yesterday, I was present for the churching of Roberto Stathakos (Peter and Angela's son). Roberto is our godchild. I feel that his birth and upcoming baptism are playing an important part in my road to motherdom. In a very small way, I'm learning more about this role of mother and what it involves.

For instance, as Godmother, I was able to assert my clout and be the lucky person who was able to hold Roberto through the service. (Note to self: consider arm exercises. Babies are heavy). He was fantastic. He smiled at me through the sermon (this probably counts as a confession that I was not listening) he didn't even cry when set down at the front of the church by himself (a part of the churching ceremony not neglect on my part). We worked out our rhythms together and he was patient with me even though I don't bounce or pat as vigorously as mom and dad do.

The churching felt like an entrance into the church for me as well. Gossip travels quickly and I'm not really interested in limiting the amount of people that will pray my child into the world. But I realized as I walked the gauntlet of smiling, knowing expressions that most people at church know that I'm pregnant. I didn't realize it, but Roberto's churching was a coming out party for me too (or "coming in" as the case may be).

The older women smiled at the sleeping child on my breast, one said slyly, "It looks good on you." A younger couple gaped anxiously when he fussed slightly. "Could I handle a child? Did I know the magic to get an infant quiet." On whole, thanks to his mother's feeding and a bit of a luck, I held a soundly sleeping baby and made my entrance well. Who knew it would start so soon? I'll keep you posted on how I handle the baptism. Andrew and I should start practicing passing the greased watermelons now.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pregnancy as Kenosis

I haven't spent the last ten years of my life in the company of theologians or theology students without overhearing a few ideas. Which may explain why, while throwing up all of my breakfast and then some more for good measure, the connection between pregnancy and kenosis occurred to me.

For those whose Greek is a little rusty: Kenosis means "to empty."

In my experience of child-bearing, I am becoming intimately acquainted with the idea of emptying. I'm told some women experience "morning sickness," others feel "nauseous," some smug, lucky ladies skate through hardly aware of a thing. I throw up three or four times a day and have been doing this now for nearly six weeks.

I have the routine down pat; it's one of the few things I'm keeping down. In the morning, I know that breakfast is just an exercise in futility. What goes down comes up. Lunch varies things up. The blander the better generally: Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup (the plain kind – don't get fancy with your home made, or chunky, no – plain) . There is generally a period of afternoon unrest. Lately, dinner has become a real possibility but fried things, spicy things, things that taste nice in general: a no go.

The theological concept of kenosis employs emptying in describing the idea of Christ humbling himself to take on our human nature in the incarnation. This serves as a model for mankind in that we should “empty” ourselves and our own will to take on the divine nature becoming more like Christ. This is not a simple or pleasant process. Saint John of the Cross describes this in his work, “The Dark Night of the Soul” (as you can see from the title, he really sells it there). I'm grossly simplifying kenosis, from here theologians spill ink parsing out time, space, energies and essences; slipping down the slippery slopes toward one heresy or another and I lose interest.

I'm thinking that there are features intrinsic to the nine month gestation period that lend themselves to an emptying of ourselves to prepare for the incarnation of another. Certainly, there is a humbling that comes with having to pay this much attention to small processes like feeding yourself and bowel movements.

Perhaps during my next trip to the toilet, I'll thank God for the physical process that so beautifully mirrors spiritual movement that is preparing me for motherhood. But really, that may be asking too much for such a moment.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We have a heartbeat!

Today was our first visit to the midwife! Carol is fantastic. We love her Scottish accent, her calm quirky demeanor, her quick and thorough answers to our questions, her years of experience in Scotland and Canada, her way of providing options and answers that enable us to prepare for the best choices. On the whole, we're feeling off to a great start.

Most importantly, we had about 4 seconds of a strong healthy heartbeat before the little one moved away from the sonogram.

Now we have some blood tests to take and Integrated Prenatal Screening (IPS) to consider. If anyone knows about or has an opinion on IPS, please let us know. Apparently, it's a new screening that tells you if you have a higher or lower chance of having a baby with down syndorme, trisomy 18, or an open neural tube defect. Now, I was prepared to reject an amniocentesis, but the things I've read don't have any information about this screening (it's blood work and an ultrasound in the next three weeks). I think we're predisposed to pass this screening procedure since we won't be terminating any pregnancies, but I'd welcome any information you have.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Either I'm Pregnant or I've Completely Lost My Mind

"Either I'm pregnant or I've completely lost my mind." The thought sprang fully formed from my head at 2:30pm on Tuesday June 30th. This was all the more shocking because it was the only complete thought that I had achieved in a few hours. I was driving home and sobbing. Why? I wasn't sure exactly why, but I was absolutely positive I had the right to cry.

I had just hung up the phone on Andrew. We had spoken three times already that morning. This being problematic for him because he was at work trying to be a productive member of society and frequent phonecalls from a wife who was alternately beseeching, accusing, questioning, threatening, and generally conversing (sometimes all within the same call) were not helpful. In my defense, I was not having a picnic racing through these feelings either.

I calmly examined the thought for a moment. Now, Andrew and I have been married for four years and have a relatively steady life. We want a family and children and we were thinking that it was beginning to be a good time. However, when standing on the edge of that decision; I felt the first thing to do was take a nap. I was exhausted. Come to think of it, I napped yesterday.
As I crawled into bed at 3 in the afternoon. I said to myself, "I will go buy a pregnancy test when I wake up."

At the pharmacy, I picked up a pregnancy test and just to hedge my bets, a box of tampons. I drove home carefully preparing for the options. I realized that I was going to be very sad if after having gone to the trouble of taking the test it turned out negative. (That would by default mean that I had actually stepped over the thin boundary that was keeping me from crazy.) I decided that if I wasn't pregnant I would go see my friend Kim. She has answers for everything. Then I decided that if I was pregnant I would go see Kim (see: answers for everything mentioned above).

I carefully read the instructions on the box and began the test. Unfortunately, I instantly got a case of stage fright. I remember Ryan famously suffered a similar fate early in his Airforce admittance. (It encouraged me Ry.) After a few drops and not at all the recommended 5 seconds in the stream [if this bothersome to you I apologize, I assume the blog may only get worse] I began to regret not buying a multi-pack of these tests. How was I supposed to guess that I could fail this test?

I stared intently at the window and saw one pink line immediately. It seemed to have "took" as it were. Then I began to muse on what constituted the "existence" of a critical "second line." If I could see the outline of where the line was, did it exist? I returned to the instructions where helpfully in ALL CAPS which let me know that EVEN a FAINT LINE constituted a SECOND LINE. Two minutes later, after a harrowing and probably ill-advised drive, I arrived at Kim's house (It was the plan in place before the universe turned upside down).

Kim would like you to know that I walked in her door, said nothing intelligible and handed her my test, the instructions and my debit card. After an hour of soul searching and comforting words and interesting information like, "No, it is not common to have false positive pregnancy tests. They are very accurate in diagnosing positive pregnancy results." I returned home ready to discuss with Andrew the fact that our lives were never ever going to be the same because I passed one silly test.

Having just had my own come-to-Jesus-moment with the news (and I was the one whose innards had been aching for babies or puppies for the last six months), I realized that Andrew may need time to be receptive to the news. Andrew was fantastically enthusiastic and supportive from the first second of receiving the news. Truth be told, since he was expecting to come home to the nutcase he had spent the day talking with on the phone, learning we were pregnant probably felt like a bullet dodged. "Whew! I don't have to have her committed after all."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This New Life


I'm a few years late to the blogging party, I know. However, now seems convenient to enter the fray for the purpose of keeping my friends and family up to date on my very newest obsession: the little life that is growing within me.

Now, instead of wondering in vain, "How is Dana feeling?" or "Is she fat yet?" You can check it out online with a couple of clicks. Actually, I must say I've drawn inspiration from the musings of Mother-Extraordinaire Jordan Rowan Fannin.

My hope is that we'll all enjoy this little experiment in internet communications and feel like the world is a smaller place.