Friday, November 20, 2009

A very poor substitute for Noglies*

Christmas time's a-coming, and I haven't taken my summer holidays yet. That particular adventure starts next Wednesday, when Man and I fly West to ranching country. Yee-haw, we're going to take in a cattle auction. (This excites me).

While summer holidays are upon me, Christmas holidays are right around the corner... And nothing puts me more in a Christmas mood than cold weather (check) a starry sky (check) and a mug of eggnog and Baileys. Or milk and Baileys. Or water and Baileys. Really I'm not that picky.

Sadly, the bun in the oven takes priority over my own needs holiday cheer. I've been looking for alternatives. Hot chocolate (1c. milk, 3 tbsp cocoa, 2 tsp honey) has served me well all autumn, but the trees are heavy with dogberries and I need a pick-me-up with a little more punch.

Enter Irish cream coffee flavouring. The thought of adding artificial flavour to anything is on the far end of my Acceptable Kitchen Practices spectrum, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

A sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg, et voila!

Hey, at least the milk is full of calcium. 

 * Noglies: n. a drink containing eggnog, a generous serving of Baileys and a sprinkle each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Best enjoyed near a roaring fire in the months of November through March.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A good reason to stay in bed

The morning sun really shows off the dirty windows.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Crazier than I thought

I've got an appointment with a counsellor in two weeks. Two weeks is a very short waiting period for a service that sees wait-times of up to six months. So now I feel guilty for commandeering time and energy and appointment slots away from people who might actually be crazy, and who need the counselling more than I.

After all, having a baby is nothing out of the ordinary.

I wonder if I sounded especially desperate on Monday? It also turned out that the social worker I met and I share an uncle - I would hate to think that this distant family connection got me in the door. Afterall, I know there are people worse off than I am. People without homes; people without friends; people who can't even afford to buy frozen turkey dinners on Christmas Day.

Outdoor decorations in the capital city

 On Monday, a colleague told this story: It was Christmas Day, about 20 years ago. Her own children were 8, 10 and 11 years old. They didn't have any batteries in the house to run some of the Christmas toys, so she and her husband ran out to the nearby gas station to pick some up. Inside, there was another couple with a toddler. They were picking up two Swanson turkey dinners, presumably to share among them. And my colleague remembers thinking, 'There but for the grace of God go I.'

I'm trying to see the bright side, but that image has stayed with me all week. At least the child had two adults in her life; at least they could afford the meals; at least, what? at least they were together on Christmas Day?

I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to church. I prefer to put my faith in trees and stars and the great outdoors, but Christmas, to me, is still a time to spend with family. To have 18 people squashed around the table, elbows in the neighbour's gravy and noses in their business. It's loud and hectic and there are inevitable insults, but I've been so, so lucky not to know a Christmas Day without friends or family.

An outdoor Boxing Day adventure. Hot chocolate and dark cake, as they should be. 
(I remember when that coat still fit)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh my leaky eyes

I would like to know just how people manage having one, two, four or eight kids. How do they do it?? I understand pregnancy isn't easy. I understand my hormones are out of whack. I understand I'm growing out of my clothes because of the baby GROWING inside of me, and not because I'm simply careening out of shape.

I understand my focus is off. I understand my body is slowing down. I understand all these things... And yet I can't handle them. Instead I'm pretending as if all this is no big deal.

But apparently I'm wrong. It is a big deal.

Today I had an appointment with a social worker. An intake meeting, to determine how Crazy I am, and how soon I need to see a counsellor.

Because apparently pretending everything is just fine is not an acceptable coping strategy.

The Man is not here, so this is the birch junk that will keep me warm tonight:

On the bright side, I found a month-old Globe and Mail in fire-starting bin. (As I live in a land where the G&M does not, this is almost cause for celebration). I will take the crossword to bed with me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A few things on my mind

First off, the ultrasound was FINE. I knew the technician, so we chatted about mutual interests while he measured Baby's heart, liver, lungs, umbilical cord, etc. etc. Then Man joined us and we really got a show - Baby was stretching and running on the spot, and even waving. The tech could see his or her eyes moving, but I couldn't see through the static all that well. Baby also kept moving - rolling from side to side as we tried to get a look at its feet. When it was running (it was head-down and face-down in my uterus, the perfect birthing position, in fact) I could feel its feet tapping on the inside of my belly button. It was out of this world! I could have watched the monitor all day, despite my protesting bladded. 470ml of water is a cruel amount to make a pregnant lady drink in one go.

*this is not my baby, or my belly.
I'll upload the real deal when I get the pictures scanned.

To address my fears, this is what I know:

Baby is NOT molar or malignant.
Baby is NOT ectopic.
Baby is NOT twins.
Baby is NOT triplets.
Baby has two arms and two legs, but I forgot to ask about the ears.
The technician did NOT say "Hmmmm, that's strange...," nor did he summon a radiologist.
There IS a baby.
The placenta is well placed on the front of my abdomen (except it cushions the baby's movements, so I don't feel it moving as much as I would if the placenta were in a different spot. But this is a good thing, because if there's any future problems with the placenta they will be very easily spotted by ultrasound).
The placenta is growing fine - It's bigger and softer-looking and more pillowy-like than I expected.
Baby's heart IS beating, at 144bpm
Baby doesn't exactly breath yet, but he or she IS swallowing/hiccuping as it should be.
The ultrasound machine worked just fine.
The ultrasound tech HAD the swine flu two weeks ago. My appointment was right on time.
Until my doctor gets the detailed report from the radiologist, I won't know about other rare and not-so-rare things that may be wrong. I've got 3 more days to wait, but I'm feeling pretty good.

So THAT part of being a mom is a little easier now. The worry-about-Baby part.

The worry-about-paying-for-Baby is a whole different story.

I mean, how do people DO it? I'm fortunate in that I will be able to collect maternity benefits at 55 per cent of my salary, plus an additional $100 (approximately) per month as the child tax benefit. All of that will add up to about half of what I make now when you take away taxes. I barely scrape by as it is. Some bills will be less costly, like gas and entertainment, but the essential ones - mortgage, telephone, light, insurance - will all stay the same. In fact, insurance will go UP a little bit thanks to Baby. I must look into this.

Man is around in body and spirit, but he has precious little money of his own to help out with Baby. On top of that, there is the small matter of my fierce independence, especially when it comes to moolah. I bought my own house at 24, didn't I? My older sister still gets an allowance of sorts from my parents, but I haven't asked for a dime in more than two years. This is a matter of pride, and a matter of my own peace-of-mind. I can look after myself, thank you very much. I understand that if ever there was a time to ask for help, this would be it, but I'm trying to do everything I can to get my finances in line before I put a hand out.

For example, I applied for interest-relief on my student loan. Three and a half months ago. By phone, they told I was approved and would have to make no payments for the next six months. Awesome. Last week, I get a "You are $600 past due" notice from the collections agency! So I got on the phone and I got frustrated, and the best answer I got was to pay the outstanding interest and suck it up. This month I've already bought a new water pump and paid for routine car maintenance - I just don't HAVE $150 in un-earmarked cash to pay to the government that already told me I wouldn't have to pay! I could take it out of Baby's account, but I'm very reluctant to do that.

I've also set up Baby's account to put aside money ever paycheck, so I can have SOME kind of cushion when Baby is born. In fact, the bank was the second person I told the News to, when I went to set up that account.

Problem is, while I'm busy worrying about ectopic pregnancies and ohmygodwhatwasthatshootingpaininmyabdomen?, I'm ALSO worrying about money. And the books say that's the dad's job. Actually, the books say it's an equal worry, but that men tend to do more thinking than women in this department because women are too preoccupied with having a baby in their tummy. So not only do I have all the typical worries of health and stretch marks, I'm purely panicking over the money tree that hasn't flowered in my backyard yet, despite all my watering and prayers. I know Man shares many of these worries. I just wish he could do something about them. Basically, anything we do when it comes to Baby, we have to do on my budget.

In the grocery store line up, I picked up one of the colourful celebrity magazines to pass the time. Apparently, Katie Holmes got $3 million for giving birth to their first child. She's asking for $10 million to get pregnant a second time. My womb is worth at least that, being young and healthy and cared for with so much fresh air and home-grown produce:

Now all I need is the cash. I'm auctioning off these strawberries, starting bid $100,000. Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Picture time

I've got to add pictures, I know. But my camera is on the blink, and I've misplaced my cable to transfer pictures to the computer. In the meantime, I'll browse my hard drive and take my mind off the ultrasound.

An iceberg!  Ooooo, pretty....

An outdoor lightbulb, of course, lighting our way to the iceberg.

I got pregnant about two weeks after this excursion.


It's a scary day. I was excited right up until yesterday lunch time, then I got scared. Today (in 3 hours) I will have my belly exposed and sound waves knocking off my bladder and, hopefully, my baby. It's ultrasound time. I'm 18 weeks and a couple days pregnant, and so far I've had no problems. But this is the first true test, I guess. And I'm scared.

What if it's a molar pregnancy? And it's already turned malignant?
What is it's an etopic pregnancy? Wouldn't I have felt that by now?
What if it's twins, and they are not growing properly?
What if it's triplets, and they are not growing properly?
What is it doesn't have all its arms and legs and ears?
What if the ultrasound tech says 'Hmmm, that's strange..." and goes to get a doctor?
What if there is no baby?
What if I have placenta previa?
What if the placenta is deficient?
What if the heart is not beating?
What if it's not breathing?
What if the ultrasound machine isn't working?
What if the tech has swine flu and my appointment is postponed?
What if there's something else completely wrong with Baby, something so rare that I haven't even read about it in any of my books?

This mother stuff is hard.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's crazy time

I've been careful not to fall into pregnancy-stereotype-madness. I only use the excuse "But I'm pregnant!" when I really need it. (i.e: when Canadian Tire tried to sell me oil-based primer. Umm... I don't believe oil paint is healthy at the best of times. And I will definitely take my mother up on her offer to strip the last remaining wallpaper border from my house (see: wallpaper bordering, crimes of)). I haven't had any serious cravings, so I can't claim 'Baby wants it!" when I get a hankering for pizza. (Actually, what Baby wants most is mashed potatoes. I'm the one that wants pizza).

I also thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping a even keel. No major freak-outs. No driving into ditches (a la my friend, mother of 3). All in all, I didn't think pregnancy had changed me much. Apart from my new-found adoration of mashed potatoes, of course.

On Friday, all that changed. My friend and colleague has left for greener pastures in the Big City. Friday was his last day at work, and we got together that night for tunes, drinks (of the juice variety for me) and cake.

I found out I was pregnant in early August. I was 4 and a half weeks along, and I waited two more months to tell the office. (I would have waited longer if it wasn't such a gd small town - I was afraid they'd hear it on the street before they heard it from me). Anyway, I told my boss in private, and she called a staff meeting to announce it to the office. (We are an office of seven women and, until last Friday, one man). Reactions were predictable - the mothers shrilled with glee, there were hugs and questions and best wishes and choruses of "how long have you know?! Why didn't you tell us sooner!" etc. etc...

Friday night, we were reminiscing on the past two years, and my two months of pregnancy-secrecy came up. I was quite proud of myself for keeping mum (I am the WORST secret-keeper in the history of secret-keepers). The women were shocked that they didn't figure it out for themselves. (Though two of them admitted they thought I was getting a little think around the middle). The man? His take on those two months was, "I just thought you were being a really big bitch."

Wow. Let dooowwwwwwwn.

"But... but..." I stuttered. "I wasn't that bad!"

"hoo-ee," he exhaled.

"I APOLOGIZED for the dictionary!" I cried.

The Dictionary Incident happened the day before I peed on a stick. We're an office of writers, and he had passed me some copy to proof. I picked up on a word (I don't know what one) what had been misused. I'm pretty sure it was a synonym problem, where the word sounded right but meant something completely different. (My favourite example? Troupe and troop.  Ie: The troupes moved in for an assault.  Heh heh heh.)

So I marked the error and handed the copy back. Minutes later, he e-mailed "You can troop all you want. I'm going to troupe" (or something. It was a lot funnier when he used the actual word we're talking about here). Except I didn't find it very funny. In fact, I didn't think it was funny at all. I wanted the CORRECT word there, and I wasn't taking no for an answer. I picked up my Canadian OED and stormed across the hall. Pushed open his (glass) office door, slammed the dictionary (paperback) on his desk and shouted "Use a FUCKING dictionary!"

Needless to say, that day didn't end well. It was deadline day, and tensions were running high. In fact, that evening the manager asked me if I was pregnant. I said no, no way. but I went home that night and thought about it, and took a test the next morning.

I knew the Dictionary Incident was out of character, and I decided right then I'd apologize the day I told him The News. That day was two months later, but my colleague hadn't forgotten. Neither has he forgotten all my other hormone-charged bouts of the crazies.

I've apparently airbrused all my insanity from the record, and for that I give myself and absolute discharge.

So maybe there's something to this pregnancy-insanity thing. (see: The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine, Chapter 1). I'll cut myself some slack, and not get too upset when I find myself acting just like the books say I will.

I just hate being predictable.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The "joys" of home ownership

My dishwasher is broken. Yesterday, it was the water pump. Last week, it was the UV filter. For six excruciating weeks this summer, it was my oven.

This is not what I signed up for when I signed my mortgage papers.

In the past nine months, the "joys" of home ownership have manifested themselves as a temperamental garage-door opener, a broken washing machine, an oven on the blink, the same oven that finally gave up the ghost, a smoke-filled basement, a leaky dishwasher, and two fried water pumps. And that's just the appliances.

But today it's my dishwasher. The day the Man In My Life left to go moosehunting, on the eve of my father heading to the nation's capital on business, and the morning after the only man in the office left town for good.

Don't get me wrong - I paint my own walls, clean my own chimney and mow my own lawn. But I leave electrical stuff to those who can at least pretend to know what they're doing. In general, those people are the men in my life. 

Here's how I dealt with the useless piece of crap dishwasher today: I ran it twice. Pretty clever, huh? Now instead of mildly sudsy dishes, there is caked-on crud baked into the porcelain and glassware. Apparently, the water supply to the dishwasher is compromised. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fried water pump of yesterday? It's been replaced (I sprang for a new one this time), but the flow just isn't what it used to be. For this same reason, I am coming up on three days without a shower.

My hair is surprisingly lush.

That could just be the pregnancy hormones.

A word to the wise? Don't get between a pregnant woman and her dishwasher. That's right, Water Flow, I'm talking to you.