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.