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."