Thursday, August 12, 2010

Morning terror

I've never been more scared in my entire life. I was sure Squeaky was dead. I can't even write it without a paralyzing fear staying my fingers and tearing my breath from me.

It was the longest three and a half seconds in the history of time.

We were both asleep in my bed, her dad having left for work about 45 minutes earlier. I was tired - so, so tired - and as it was, delighted that she went back to sleep after her first morning feed. (I was far too tired to act delighted, so I expressed my gratitude by going back to sleep myself.)

Something started me awake. Without my glasses, a fold of the blanket appeared to be covering Squeaky's head. I snatched it away, realizing quite quickly the cover only came up to her waist. Sigh of relief. But my frantic grab didn't disturb Squeaky, so I put my hand lightly on her chest to feel her breathing. (I've done this before, like all new moms, though never with a trace of fear).  I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't hear a breath.

"Squeaky!" I said. "Squeaky!"

Her head rolled to one side. Movement. Still no breath that I could detect. Then it came, so gently, so quietly. It had been there all along, but in my sleepy haze I didn't register the tiny currents of air filling her lungs.

Going back to sleep was out of the question. She's beside me now, still sleeping, still breathing - the most beautiful breaths in the world. I'm asking Dr. Internet about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, about losing a child, about overzealous parents.

I've checked her breathing before, in her crib, in her car seat. But this - this was different. The terror was real. The aftershock worse - I imagined having to pick up the phone and call Man, my parents, an ambulance. I imagined, later, how I would dissect our final day, and if it would have been a good day, and how I would forever blame myself. I tried to make myself carry her to her crib, but I was feeling too much and I wanted her close to me. So I sat up and stared at her, counting her breaths, watching her little chest rise and fall. Talking myself back from the brink of self doubt and self hate.

It was the longest three and a half seconds in the history of time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Getting fit

My plan to Get Fit And Eat Right is coming along..  much as before, I do GREAT one day, and totally and completely fall off the wagon the next. For example, today I bough Ah caramel treats. I've NEVER bought them before in my life, but it's as if all the willpower has been sucked right out of me.

Exercise is better. I get moving every day, and I've had a couple of really long walks. I'm not being too hard on myself, 3 months postpartum that I am, but  I really could stand to get moving a little more frequently.

Like now, for example: Squeaky is asleep. I should close my laptop and pop in a yoga video. Perhaps I will.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What do you mean I can't have chocolate chip cookies every day?

It's reckoning time.

Squeaky has sucked all the belly off me that she's ever going to. I can't maintain my daily handfuls-of-chocolate-chip-cookies-and-ice-cream diet and expect to look good at my friend's wedding next week. Hell, the wedding is only five days away, so any chance of looking good will only be a reflection of the beautiful baby in my arms. So, yeah. Time to cut back on the cookies and milk fat, and fill up on apples and almonds and water.

I used to be an athlete. I competed in a couple of sports on the provincial and national levels, and while I was never winning medals, I could hold my own... When I was 16 years old, I remember sucking my tummy in whenever I was with my boyfriend, convinced I was thick through the middle. One time he said to me (and I remember this vividly, as one of the very few times I've ever vocalized my disappointment with my thick middle) "You look good to me." Those five words sustained me for the next ten years. And though Man makes me feel desirable, I can only see the thick middle, sloping shoulders and chunky legs in pictures. I used to love my legs - they were long, strong, muscled and tan (at least during cycling season). Now they are long, strong, fleshy and stubbly. (Finding time to exercise? No problem. Finding time to shave my legs? A whole 'nother story).

So last week I booted myself in gear, bought a jogging stroller (half price!) and made two trips to the post office, one long walk with the regular stroller, vacuumed the whole house with Squeaky in the Bjorn and did 25 crunches and 10 leg raises. Baby steps. This morning I jogged to the post office, and back, whereas last week I walked/jogged on the way home.

But ice cream and cookies, and chips and chocolate are still my downfall. I do everything right - 1tablespoon on peanut butted on my whole wheat English muffin every morning, big servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner, and apples and cheese for snacking. I drink gallons of water (breastfeeding as I am), and I'm ramping up the exercise ever so slowly. But then on top of all my exercise and ideal diet, I eat waaaayyyy toooo muuuuucchhh juuuunk. Chips! Crackers! Chocolate! Candy! Brownies! Cookies! Ice cream! Ice cream cake! More ice cream!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eight weeks of boobs

Squeaky is eight weeks and two days old today, and in all that time she's only ever eaten breast milk - my breast milk. She's packing on the pounds, too - up three whole pounds from birth. I don't know why this boggles my mind, but the fact that my body can sustain a whole other being - and that that being can thrive at my breast just... just... blows my mind.

Most natural thing in the world, all mammals do it, blah blah blah. Whatever. I'm nourishing a human being, here!

And of those approximately 580 feedings, about 574 of them have been at my breast. (The other 6 have been varying degrees of successful bottle feedings of expressed milk).

It's getting easier. I don't have to curl my toes as much when she first latches on. If my boobs are particularly full or particularly empty, it hurts more, but my milk supply is regulating itself to Squeaky's seven-hour sleeps overnight and her frantic cluster-feeding every evening (though that too is leveling out).

Hmm, now that I think about, it's coming up on one year since my body began sustaining her completely. Can I celebrate her one-year 'date of conception' anniversary, or would that just be weird?

But back to breast milk. I'm fascinated by the biology of it, and the amazing feeling of having Squeaky grow and thrive and learn to laugh and smile and try to crawl... all powered by milk from my own body. That's cool stuff.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Living by the sea

Last night as Squeaky was screaming in my ear and my nipples were rubbed raw and I was so, so tired, I started tallying up all the woe is me sob stories and things I have to complain about - the self-pitying that comes from fatigue and a broken antique rocking chair (*sob*).

Our house is still a construction zone.
The walls are all marked up from moving furniture.
I'm tired.

My nipples hurt
My rocking chair just broke.
My baby won't stop crying
Why won't my baby stop crying??
Man looks so sloppy and lazy on the couch with his laptop playing solitaire and oh my heavens I hate it when he plays solitaire
You know, all the things that will really make you feel sorry for me. And then I heard, above the roar of the wind and the cracking of the fire and the draught in the chimney, the waves crashing ashore not 40 feet from where I was sitting.

I've got saltwater all around me. Life isn't so bad after all.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Never default on rent owed to a woman in labour

Here's how I coped with the pain of labour:

I read a book.
I talked on the phone.
I watched half a movie.
I breathed through each contractions.
I evicted my tenants.

Never default on rent owed to a woman in labour, or you will find your lease agreement terminated at the earliest possible time.

Last night Man and I went back to my house, showing the place to potential new tenants. I've had trouble collecting the rent money from the current tenants every month, and I know my former neighbours are none to pleased with them either, as their kids have been terrorizing the neighbourhood (seriously - break and enter, thievery, spray-painted roads).

The showing last night was a little stressful, becuase my current tenants were at home, with their two yappy dogs and three surly kids. And those kids? Those kids keep untidy bedrooms. The whole house was untidy, though if you were being evicted I don't suppose you'd be inclined to clean up for the landlord, either. As we walked through discussing electricity costs, tenants' insurance and how many references I require, the oldest kid was sulking around after us. When we checked out the backyard, he came outside for a smoke. As we stood in the driveway discussing move-in dates, he hand a hankering for more nicotine... this time out the front. His younger brother took a more stealthy approach, hiding out in his bedroom with his window cracked open listening from there.

The couple who saw the place last night were friendly, and their kid, at 2 years old, is not likely to be breaking into the rec centre down the street. Promising. I've had many more calls on the place, and a few more lined up to see it in the next few days.

It was hard being back at the house - I bought it before Man, before Squeaky, and I had pictured many long hours in the garden, many mornings canoeing on the lake just beyond the back fence, and many barbeques and bonfires among friends. It is also an ideal house for our small family now, but it is just too far away from Man's work to make it a viable living arrangement at this time. Also, what did we spend all winter renovating for if not to live here in our wee small house?? (And I like our house, I really do, I just wish it was finished). I know houses are nothing more than four walls and a roof, and ideally a wood stove, but the associated memories and fantasies of the future can tug on the heartstrings as if they were living beings.

First time (separation) jitters

My baby is five kilometers away from me. This is the farthest we've ever been separated, and will likely be the longest stretch of time, too. Apart from when she's sleeping, but even then I'm no more than 10 metres from her (living in a tiny house as we do).

Man decided he was going to take her to work this morning to give me a chance to rest. He feels bad because I do all the nighttime feedings and changings, but really Squeaky is an easy enough baby, and he works mad hard hours, so why shouldn't I get up? (The other night she slept from 11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. - not an unusual occurrence - and she's five weeks old! I know I may be crowing a little too soon, but for now I do count myself lucky beyond measure.)

So my baby is at work with her father being showed off to all and sundry. This makes me glad. What makes me sad is the five kilometers separating them and me. What makes me mad is the thought of his mother getting all handsy with my baby, and breathing her smoke-filled breath into my baby's ear as she tries to Shhhh her. (Newsflash, Grandma: Babies cry! Just because you spanked your oldest child at six weeks to make him sleep through the night does NOT make you an expert on Shhhing babies.)

And now I've gone and gotten myself all riled up. There will be no rest for me. I guess I'll just HAVE to get dressed and drive those five kilometers to get my baby back. Shame.

But I don't want Man to think I'm checking up on him, because I'm totally not - he's a wonderful father, he's got all the diapering accessories he'll need and a bagful of expressed breastmilk. And I REALLY need to get over my irrational anger towards his mother when it comes to Squeaky. So, as Man pointed out, this will be good for me in the long run. Better still if I actually use the time to get some sleep. Wish me luck, dear Interwebs.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sleep, and music for the very young

Squeaky's got me spoiled. She sleeps five- and six-hour stretches so regularly that I've come to rely on them, until BAM! Two hours was enough for her last night! And I'm left with debilitating fatigue for the rest of the day, and the next.

I can't complain. Like my pregnancy, I've been so, so lucky with this Motherhood racket, especially when it comes to Squeaky and sleep. 

Meanwhile, I'm thinking I need to track down a few lullaby CDs. I visited my friend and her baby on Wednesday, who had instrumental lullabies playing while her baby took a nap. They were so soothing, they almost made me fall asleep! So yesterday I tried out Squeaky's baby Beatles CD, but I found it had a little too much tinny noise to send me off to sleep. Squeaky too would only doze for a couple of minutes at a time (her new favourite trick). We have a couple of other albums - choruses of kids singing silly songs and the like, but I prefer the instrumental stuff and Squeaky's too young to know she's supposed to like the sound of kids singing. I've got a ton of cello recordings, and she seems to like those. Any recommendations out there for excellent baby background noise?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


In all the reading I've done about new motherhood, breastfeeding and the life changes that come about when a baby joins your household, there was one thing missing from the litany of nap-when-you-can new-mom tips. That is: just how much time you will spend naked.

Squeaky feeds every three hours or so during the day, for between 20 and 40 minutes each time. Between feedings, she'll nap, and so will I. So I don't get dressed. I wear underwear and a nursing bra, most often with the snaps undone.

Some times she feeds every hour in the evening, which leaves even less time between feedings to get dressed. So why bother?

And at night, I was never comfortable in pyjamas, so it's naked-to-bed for me.

All this to say, I only get dressed to leave the house. If there are any Peeping Toms in this small town, I hope they're not into stretchmarked bellies and leaky breasts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The logistics are staggering

Before I had a baby, I'd spend an hour in the bathroom only the rare time I took a book, the phone and a bag of Epsom salts to the bath with me. I haven't had a shower lasting more than five minutes since Squeaky was born. And a bath? A laughable luxury.

Last night, I spent an hour in the bathroom. Five minutes in the shower while peaking around the curtain at Squeaky in her bouncy chair, five minutes setting up the bathroom for her bath, 30 minutes bathing her and everything that goes with it - hair wash, diaper changed (twice), drying all her tiny toes etc., five minutes soothing her (Squeaky? hates the bath), five minutes drying my hair and ten minutes cleaning up the place.

I said to my friend who drove from the Big City to spend the day yesterday that the logistics of newborn care are staggering. (You see, we have two cars and therefore two car seats, but do you think they are compatible? No. The van was at our house, my car was at Man's parent's house. We couldn't drive my friend's jeep because there is no backseat. So in order to get out the door and on the road to the trail head, we had to load Squeaky into car seat # 1 that matches the base in the van, drive 10 minutes to my MIL's house, switch a sleeping Squeaky from car seat # 1 to car seat # 2 that matches the base in my car, and load up the diaper bag, Baby Bjorn and picnic and strike out for trails unknown.)

And Baby Time moves at approximately one quarter the speed of normal time, so all these switcheroos take time. All this to say, hours in the bathroom are a luxury of the past. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Six long weeks

That's how long I've been instructed to avoid intercourse following the birth of my daughter last month.

"I'm not worried about me," Man told me months ago while discussing the postpartum reality. "I just don't think you can last that long."

He may be right.

I almost feel I'm betraying all of womanhood, or at least all the new-mom guidebook authors out there by admitting that, at three weeks postpartum, I can't wait to have sex!

And I've felt this way for the past two and a half weeks. That's right, folks, mere days after getting home from the hospital, I was thinking about Man's body in all kinds of ways I never expected to so soon after giving birth to his daughter. I couldn't quite imagine taking the fantasy further, because oh the stitches!, but there was a definite...tingle.

We've had a few make-out sessions already, and it's awesome. Despite our newly-collicky baby (yeah. No fun.) and my still squishy belly, I'm grateful for this one bit of postpartum life that hasn't been by the book.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

At the mercy of the wind

On this crooked spit of land reaching into the Atlantic Ocean, our little house braces against the wind. Today it is out of the South West; a warm wind, but blowing so hard that cool air is forced through the cracks in the walls and around each window frame. The draught from under the couch is enough to make me put on socks.

The water in the arm is whipped to froth where is comes ashore. The waves would be far too much for my canoe, but are not enough to keep the fishing boats home - there are lobster pots to haul and herring nets to check. The tractor-trailer is parked at the wharf, waiting for the fresh catch.

The wind is as loud as it is strong, drowning out the washing machine and the beeping forklift at the wharf. I'm impressed that Squeaky can sleep through it. But she sleeps so soundly I shouldn't be surprised - at four days of age, we brought her to the volunteer fire department annual dinner and dance. Her father was awarded a five-year service pin, and we had our first family dance. She slept through the whole thing.

Yesterday Squeaky and I walked to the end of the point, or at least as far as the pitted trail would allow the stroller to pass. There was no wind, except the air currents I made brushing flies away from her face. We saw two hares - or I did, anyway. At three weeks, she can't see much beyond the stroller's carriage. She slept while we walked through town, but woke up as soon as we hit the trail. We named her well. Her name means wooded or forest, and she lived up to it yesterday, wide awake and taking in all the sounds and scents of the woods, meadow and ocean. She only started to scream when we hit the pavement on the return trip. I know, Squeaky, pavement makes me cry too. 

This South West wind, warmest on the land, is the hardest on the house. When the wind is from the North East, it's another story. A fishing stage - twice the size of our little house - guards us from the worst of the Atlantic's icy breath. The wind in the chimney still whips the fire to a frenzy, but there is less draught through the floorboards so the wood stove keeps the cold away. From the South, there is nothing to ebb the wind's bracing blow and the stove that can smother us with it's output in calm weather can barely keep the chill off.

Living on the edge of the Eastern ocean, you've no choice but be in tune with the ways of the wind, the direction of the waves, the cycle of the tides, the plunging of the thermometer. Even inside our little house, the weather reaches us. It is at once refreshing to be so in touch with nature, and worrisome to be so vulnerable to the elements.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Baby is no longer unknown - she's a squirmy, snuggly little thing with a personality already and tiny hands that are forever in motion. Right now her mouth and cheeks are a vibrant purple, thanks to gentian violet we're using to treat us both for thrush. Her sucking blisters are dyed a deep purple, and I have visions of Halloweens and teenaged makeup applications to come, She's just so funny and serious at the same time. She loves our bedroom curtains - black with white embroidered flowers. She smiles at me as if she knows she already owns me. And she does.

Squeaky is her name.

No, not in real life. But in the virtual pages of the wide open Interwebs, Squeaky she shall be.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I ought to be napping

It's really hard. When she's sleeping, I want her awake. When she's awake, I just want her to go to sleep. I'm afraid I don't talk to her enough, hold her enough, wear her enough, bathe her enough, feed her enough, play with her enough, sing to her enough, change her diaper enough...  She's two weeks old. Two weeks, and the farthest we've been separated by has been about 35 ft - the distance from her bassinet to the garbage box down the lane. I also made two trips to the woodshed, but that was only a 20-ft separation.

Already there are things I miss. I miss sleeping soundly. I miss snoogling with her father. I miss our uninterrupted suppers. I miss jumping in the car and going to the Next Big Town at a moment's notice. I miss not having to plan my showers around a sleeping baby, or a fussy baby. I miss having two arms free. I miss my stretch-mark-free belly. I miss my breasts as my own. I miss my independence. I miss all my fantasies about parenthood because now that it's here, it's so much harder than I imagined.

And so, I feel guilty. Guilty for doubting my parenting. Guilty for doubting my love for this perfect little girl who is so SO beautiful she takes my breath away. (Just thinking about her takes my breath away), and even now as I relish these moments of quiet, I want her to wake up so desperately, because my arms ache for her. And then I hear her stir, and I wish her back to sleep because I haven't had a nap yet and the supper dishes are still unwashed, and then I feel guilty for that. I feel guilty for resenting her father's work schedule. I feel guilty for not welcoming my partner's parents as readily as I do my own. I feel guilty for the stack of birth notices still unmailed, for the coursework I've been neglecting, for the hours I spent watching The Mom Show and Friends instead of lighting the fire and sweeping the kitchen. And even though I know I'm a danger to my own mind when I haven't slept, I'm still up, still writing, still checking on her bassinet to make sure she's warm enough, not too hot, still breathing, still sleeping, not hungry and growing enough.

It's a mental and physical tug-of-war between my wants and needs, and her needs. It is exhausting.

I imagine the women who Do It All must have cleaning services, nannies and zero financial worries. They must also be even more organized than me, and I had casseroles in the freezer. They are probably living in finished houses, too.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I haven't forgotten about my blog; I've been mothering a newborn baby. MY newborn baby. She's just wonderful.

I'm still recovering from the delivery. It was all relatively mild - 4 hours of bad pains, 20 min of pushing, no drugs, no IVs. But I do have stitches. Lots of stitches. So getting around is... achy.

I am trying to keep a mental "did do" list every day, rather than a "to do" list. So far today I've checked my e-mail, ate lunch, gave my daughter a bath, showered, walked to the post office, and made chocolate chip cookies. Not bad.

The days are mostly easy; the nights are not as bad as I anticipated. There are difficult stretches when Babe won't settle and won't sleep, and these are SO MUCH HARDER when I haven't had enough sleep myself. She is a good sleeper - Up to five hours at a time! - if only I could sleep as well as she does, I'd be just fine.

I will definitely try to get back on track here. I have started a longhand journal again - maybe blogging just isn't my thing - but I like the outlet and I will do my darndest.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dear O.b.: Please check the Garden of Eden at the delivery room door

Friday I saw my obstetrician for the third and last time before I make it to the delivery room. An hour wait for a five-minute checkup (My pregnancy is a medical breeze, for which I am neverendingly thankful). Here's all you need to know:

Dr. Rush* : Any complaints?
Me: Nothing serious, some back pain and a little swelling (as I hoisted myself onto the exam table)
Dr. Rush: Well, that's what you get for being naughty in the Garden of Eden. You have to suffer through monthly periods and the pain of childbirth, all because your kind couldn't follow instructions.

WOW! My KIND? What kind is that now? The 'kind' with breasts? The 'kind' with wombs? The 'kind' that can bear children?!? I was too slow gathering my thoughts for a comeback, but what I should have said if I could have gotten my thoughts together in time was "Whatever the reason, I'd rather keep God out of the delivery room." or something of the sort.

I'm not uncomfortable with physicians who attend church or synagogue or mosque or who follow their own breed of spirituality. I'm uncomfortable when they bring their beliefs to work, and then vocalize them. His comments, however snide, didn't even offend me much - I understand that small-town living comes with plenty of downsides as well as perks, one of them being the stubborn-held view that everyone believes in God - the Christian kind - but I'm outraged on behalf of the next woman who climbs onto his examination table who doesn't believe in the Garden of Eden, who carries a whole other set of beliefs altogether.

And just what did his remark add to our appointment? I complained of back pain - he could have followed up with a question or two to find out how bad, and to consider if it was caused by something other than being pregnant. Instead, he stunned me into silence and I was too tongue tied to ask him about side sleeping (do I HAVE to?) before he had packed up my chart and was out the door.

My own firmly-held belief is that pregnancy and child birth are pretty damn awesome - I mean, hello! I'm growing a whole 'nother BRAIN here! And what other mammal on this great planet doesn't experience pain during childbirth?

Dr. Rush is an educated man. I would hope he has more explanation for how delivery works than brushing it off as penance for something one gal may or may not have done some six to eight thousand years ago.

Besides, I don't even like apples.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy, though after this particular encounter I'm thinking of changing it again, to Dr. Inconsiderate, or maybe Dr. Guilt, or even Dr. Religious Imbecile. Is professionalism too much to ask of my physicians?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Belly bopping

37 weeks today. All the books tell me Baby Moves are supposed to slow down this last month, but my belly is really rocking out today. And HARD, too - Last week Baby was head-down (according to my obstetrician), but I am feeling all kinds of body parts all over my tummy, so it's hard to say. Nothing to be concerned about - just enough to keep me from my afternoon nap.

Man said he could feel the baby move in bed this morning - I was still asleep. Neither his hand nor baby's bopping woke me up! Yes! I'll take any sleep I can get, because between all the dreams and the trips to the toilet, I'm not convinced I sleep very much at all.

I'm very conscious that I should take it easy over these next few weeks. We moved all my furniture and belongings out of my house last week, and though I didn't do any of the heavy lifting (okay, much of the heave lifting) the constant squatting and stairs and general omgwhereamIgoingtoputthiscarafeI'veonlyusedonce?!? panic really took a toll. I can't believe I was doing intense water aerobics just 10 short days ago. It feels like eons.

In the meantime, our house is not ready yet: Man is working every day, and the insulation and ceiling strapping will be finished today, the priming tomorrow and the ceiling, kitchen and bathroom will be installed after that. Floors will be the last thing to go down - Trim will happen sometime in 2015 or so. Realistically, we'll be lucky to be moved in before Baby arrives. Worse would be if Baby shows up while we're moving. I want to be able to get settled away in the house before Baby, rather than have someone else move our things while I'm busy in the case room. But we'll have to wait and see. We won't be homeless, and if we have to bring baby back to our apartment rather than our very own house, well, it won't be the first kid to sleep in a laundry basket.

Speaking of laundry, there's a load of dirty with my name on it, and a sink full of dishes. Hi ho, hi ho, it's out of bed I go.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Baby Shower #2 : bath and baby

The girls at work hosted a shower for me - very low-key. Everyone showed up at different times, so there was no more then four or five of use at a time. We had cake! And one coworker make a diaper cake - which I haven't taken apart yet because I have, oh, say, 51 facecloths already. I figure I can afford to keep the tower together for a while longer. But I will probably need at the diapers eventually. I intend to cloth-diaper, and in fact I have all the diapers pre-pre-pre-pre-pre washed and dried and folder, but they are infant-sized, not newborn-sized. I hear babies grow like weeds, and will be out of the newborn size in a month or so (and I suspect my baby is going to be on the large side anyway).

There were no games, no prizes. It was more of an excuse for the girls to drink and complain about the boss. It was lovely.

The best gift by far was the spice bottle full of burnt flour - A home remedy for diaper rash!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Survivor: Baby-shower edition

I'm pregnant. Man and I are renovating his house. We're renting out my house. My office has been short-staffed since September. I live in a small, small town hours from any friends (and half a world away from my best friend. Seriously. She thought it would be a good idea to move to China and LEAVE ME ALL ALONE right before I got pregnant).

Anyway. I couldn't stress about everything, so I decided to focus my anxiety on just one upcoming Life Event.  My baby shower.

I'm not fond of being the centre of attention. I'm shy. And I hate getting gifts for gifts' sake. (I've been trying to talk my extended family out of wasting their money every Christmas for the past 10 years, to no avail). So a situation that requires me to be the centre of attention, among dozens of women, some of whom I don't know very well, and accept piles of gifts? Well I'm not real down with that.

Then there was the gift registry: to register, or not to register? I find gift registries greedy, but people are going to buy gifts anyway, so I may as well suck it up and gently guide them in the right direction, right? So I registered at two local stores that sell mostly adorable and/or hilarious natural baby gear and local products. Nothing on my list was more that $20. I refused to let one store gather all my requests in a glass display case with my name on it as they would usually do, because I didn't want people to feel obligated to get me something on the list. And I forbade my mother from telling anybody about the lists unless they asked outright.

Yeah. the registry backfired. I did get some wonderful things from the shops, but I also got a massive amount of newborn onesies and sleepers and - get this - not one single receiving blanket. Thirty women, most of them mothers, and not one receiving blanket among them. All my research into baby shower etiquette and what-to-expect led me to expect a ton of receiving blankets. Funny how that worked out.

Next up, the games. Oh god, the games. I was dreading the games. I had strict guidelines: No chocolate-in-diaper games. No guess-my-circumference games. No guess-my-weight games. No taste-that-baby-food games. Name games might be allowed. Word games would be acceptable. So there was a delightful program of guess-how-many-Q-tips-are-in-the-baby-bottle game (207). An unscramble-the-baby-word game (which was hard!), and a match-that-name-to-its-meaning game (We used the names of everyone present). There was also a prize for the person with a birthday closest to my due date, and a lucky plate and bowl prize. All tolerable.

Then there was the gift opening that went on forever. It's a tough balance between wanting to get it over asap so we can get to the food, and wanting to spend equal time admiring every gift so no one feels left out. Also, there was LOTS to admire, because baby stuff is frickin' cute. (Living several hours away from the Big City, I didn't know just how much cuteness could be had when your shopping choices are not limited to Walmart). 

All in all, I came away fairly unscathed, with a mountain of baby clothes and blankets and a couple of gift certificates to use as needed. I hope everyone had a nice time. And I can't begin to express how much that pile of baby clothes and gear will help come April. I've re-thought the game thing, and concede that some games are more than acceptable, and actually expected. I also went in telling myself the gifts are for BABY, not for me, which helped ease my aversion to gifts.

Next up: Baby Shower, Round Two... the one that made up for the lack of receiving blankets.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Snow day

...but not for me.

The excitement over a snow day as one ages progresses something like this:

School-aged:  WAHOO! SNOW DAY!

University student: C'mon! All the K-12 schools are closed!

Professional: It will be a quiet one in the office today.

Working parent of a school-aged child: Damn. Not again.

This marks three Fridays in a row that schools have been closed. Kids these days don't know how lucky they are.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


So I'm pretty stoked I've found tenants for my house. I couldn't really afford to go on maternity leave and have my house sit vacant. A family of five will be moving in next month, after I move out of here and into the construction zone that is soon to be Our House. I didn't meet all five family members - the couple brought their youngest, an eight-year-old, along to see the place. The girl was polite and talkative and made eye contact with me, which I believe reflects well on her parents. Is it wrong to judge potential tenants by their offspring? I was hoping for a retired couple or maybe a smaller family (five people are really going to wreck havoc on my water pump), but I got good vibes from the kid.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's my blog and I'll cry if I want too

I cried at work today. Great big fat tears that rolled down my neck and into the creases of my too-small bra. I haven't cried in weeks, and I was having an otherwise easy deadline day. So what happened?

Yeah yeah, hormones schmormones.

What happened was this: My coworker mentioned a number of kids she knew with hyphenated last names. Smith-Murphy. Green-McDonald. For example. Asked what Baby would be.

Aha! Man and I have talked about this. I tease him about giving Baby my last name only. He clams up and grunts and doesn't say no, but doesn't exactly say okay either. I am teasing, because it is his kid as much as it is mine, and there's no singular argument for giving the child my last name (even if it is infinitely more cute than his last name. Just sayin'...). So I figured we'd hyphenate. I believe having family unity is important, if only for when travelling through customs. And seeing as I don't use his last name (we're not married), hyphenated is the way to go. If we were married, I'd go hyphenated (I really do love my last name, and it truly is much cuter than his) but the kid would have Man's last name. That way we'd all have one name in common and customs/air travel would be that much easier. Without a marriage certificate, it's Baby who is burdened with being the tie that binds. Sorry, kid.

And this is what set off the waterworks. Okay, maybe there's something to this hormone thing after all.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

You lazy lout

Get off the couch and do some dishes. Or light the fire. Or pack up the spare room. You're MOVING in three weeks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A pencil, a notebook and a bus ticket


I've just come from browsing the Interwebs, following links from an old classmate's blog to another, and another.

I thought I was doing pretty good, making a living and putting my journalism degree to good use. I thought I was a success story, coming from a class of 60 who graduated on the eve of a recession and in the dying times of newspapers and journalism (because all these "Bloggers" are taking over the news, you see).

I've kept in touch with a few classmates. We commiserate on being under-paid, on how volatile the freelance thing is, and whose work we caught on CBC or in the Globe. Though I never said it out loud, I was pretty pleased with myself for jobbing it up in the journalism field.

But apparently community reporting is not good enough for some of my classmates, even some of the chronically unemployed ones. They bemoan the state of newspapers, and begrudge the lack of newspaper jobs. Hello! There are five openings in this province! Where are all these journalist wannabes when the job ads go out?? One, who did a stint at a small-town paper in Alberta, called community reporting "a joke."

Thing is, they want to write the Next Great Scoop. They want to be Barbara Frum, Stephanie Nolan, Peter Jennings and Ian Brown. (Another camp want to be Carrie Bradshaw, but that's neither here not there). And so they are too good for community reporting.

Now I don't know where the greats got their start, but I know they didn't walk out the hallowed halls of journalism school and into top reporting jobs around the world. I would venture, when they were cub reporters, nothing was beneath them. Because good reporters find good stories everywhere.

Never mind that I have a sneaking suspicion that this line of work just ain't my thing. Never mind that I feel hopelessly inadequate sometimes. Never mind that I know I'll never write 10,000-word investigative pieces for the national papers. I have a job, and that's more than I could say for the majority of my peers.

But apparently weekly community newspapers are just not cool enough for my breed of classmates. I am sure I am not the first new grad to weigh her accomplishments against her classmates, and I certainly won't be the last. I am fiercely aware that I have many, many more years of learning ahead. Still, I wish every out-of-work reporter with sights set on the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail would read this. And then think about where they really want to work, and whose stories they want to write.

Quality time with the Baby

Baby and I are having a nice day today. I'm cleaning house, and Baby is napping and kicking my bladder intermittently. We're listening to tunes LOUD, and I've already shaped up the office, spare room, furnace room, rec room and living room. All that's left are the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. Then I need to sweep snow from the front and back steps and see about tearing down the broken Christmas lights from the eaves.

Why the flurry of activity? Some may call it nesting. I call it 'Potential Tenants Are Coming To View My House Tomorrow and I Want Them To Take It So I Can Afford To Go On Maternity Leave.

The sky has clouded over since this morning - the good news is I don't need to wash the windows now! (Boy that sunlight really shows off the dirt). It's windy and effing cold, but my furnace fire is crackling away. I haven't spent a lot of time at my house lately. This is nice.

The OTHER house is getting subfloor upstairs today. Maybe even a bedroom wall, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Nine weeks, Five days to go.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


We went to the house today, to insulate a wall. Progress since the last time I was there? Invisible. We started tearing boards off the exterior bedroom wall to expose the studs. Then we were going to stuff insulation and put the boards back on.

Why wasn't the house insulated when it was built?

Because it's 80 years old, and insulation was a foreign word - they slapped layers of newspaper and, later, wallpaper over the cracks to keep out the wind.

We worked from the ground up, right to left. Man would pry off one end of the board, and I'd move to the left prying it off each stud until the whole thing was free. The first couple were especially bad. They were about knee-level, and I'm especially uncomfortable bending and kneeling right now. We were about seven and a half minutes into the job before I started feeling glum. Hopeless! The job is hopeless! We have bare studs for walls and sawdust-covered floors and roughed-in rafters, and BABY IS TEN WEEKS AWAY! I didn't say anything, because the more I panic the more Man worries, so I kept hammering away (by now I was in charge ot getting the nails out of the wood while Man insulated), feeling the despair well up, afraid of opening my mouth and afraid of tears starting to roll.

I felt angry and helpless and frustrated.... and then all of a sudden I didn't. I stopped thinking about it. It wasn't a concious decision, but I stopped dwelling on the enormous task ahead, and the looming Baby-imposed deadline, and soon we had the wall back together and the sawdust swept and we were out the door, arriving at the apartment to steaming chili in the crock pot and a loaf of sourdough bread as accompaniment.

If I can keep The Crazy at bay just a few more weeks, we'll start seeing major progress by way of walls and gyprock and paint and light fixtures... I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oh to get a full night's sleep

Baby is not even born yet, and I'm already lamenting my lack of sleep! This does not bode well.

I recognize now that sleep is VITAL to keeping my hysterical episodes under control. I know, I know - Duh! right? But understanding this simple concept on my own terms is a giant step forward for me in my continued battle with keeping The Crazy under control.

MEANWHILE, I'm 10 weeks and 4 days to D-day, and our house? Our house looks a little something like this:

I wish I were joking.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The count is on: Five weeks, five days till quitting time

I've started telling people I'm leaving work at the end of February. I began with my boss, (who wrote an editorial from the delivery room hours after giving birth to her youngest child). She said "Tell your doctor to come talk to me. I was here one day and delivering my babies the next." Mostly she was joking. I explained that I'm no good to her at 50% capacity anyway, so it's just as well that I leave before I totally burn out. I do hope this puts the rush on her to GET SOMEBODY HIRED ALREADY - we are already short one hand, and this baby is coming whether there's a full staff on deck or not.

Then I told my mother. "What, already?" Mildly accusing. I told her something's got to give, and the only thing that can give is work. I think she heard the panic through the telephone line, because that was all she had to say about that.

I told my aunt. That went well.

I believe having a set date is important. Everything else in my life right now is so uncertain. Of three major changes coming in the next three months - leaving work, moving house and having a baby - I don't know when any of them are going to happen. They're all inevitable, but that doesn't make preparing for them any easier. I can only hope they happen in that order!

So my last day on the job will be March 2: That equals six more newspapers. I can handle six more papers. I survived the last six. No reason to think I won't get through the next half a dozen.

March 2 also happens to be exactly two years less a day since I started in this job. (Ha! Like a jail term!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Home De-construction

Man and his brother were supposed to be re-wiring our house today.

It’s a 500-square foot saltbox a mere 20 feet from water’s edge. It’s old, and we went in to it knowing it needed more than a facelift – we’re talking tummy-tuck, lipo and bum job. 

We peeled eight layers of wallpaper from two layers of wallboard. We tore up carpet. We tore down walls. I made mini scale models of our furniture to rearrange on paper floor plans as a way to ease my nesting instinct as I count down the days until D-Day: 11 weeks, 6 days and counting.

But today, there was going to be progress! There was going to be wires and boxes and maybe even a wall or two framed out!

Then I made the mistake of calling from work, just to say hello.

Me: “Hi, Honey! How are things going?”
Him: “Good.”
Me: “What are you working on?”
Him: “Redesigning. We’ve noticed a few structural problems.”
Me: “…Tell me more.”
Him: “The ceiling beams between the sink and the bathroom are unsupported. There’s nothing keeping them up.”
Me: “…”
Him: “So we’re going to have to put a header in there.”
Me: “Okay…”
Him: “And the floor of the bedroom is pretty bouncy. We’re going to move the stairs. It will give us more space for the bedroom and family room upstairs.”
Me: “Okay.”
Him: “And it will make the living room… cozier.”
Me: “There’s a lovely house for sale in the next town…”

Apparently this “minor” change of plans will only set us back two days. I wish I believed him. Man’s brother likes to think things through a LOT. I suspect I’ll be getting the second, third and forth revision of our floor plans by the time I get home.

Did I mention it's deadline day and half our office is out for funerals and family obligations?

I really shouldn't have called.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Exercise: An exercise in avoiding the mirror (Alternative title: I get enough exercise just trying to get my damn swim suit on, thank you very much!)

I went swimming last night. I haven't been in a pool for ages - over a year, at least! I've swam in ponds and rivers (no oceans - far, far too cold). Needless to say, my swimsuit didn't exactly fit. I'm talking leg holes stretched up so far belly fat was escaping, and arm holes stretched so taut I had more sideboob on display than Bai Ling. It was not pretty. I ended up wearing the halter tank-top from my cutest two-piece ever, the one that USED TO hide my jelly-covered abs and show off my (formerly) lean back. It was Magic Suit - all my flaws gone in one swift woosh of black fabric! Last night, the top didn't quite cover my belly, so all my flaming read stretchmarks were on display if I wasn't careful. On the bright side, did I ever fill out the cups!

For bottoms, I chose a pair of black bikini briefs - nothing fancy, but the only swimsuit bottoms that didn't demand to constrict my thighs any further. They sat underneath my baby belly. I can only home my boobs were enough of a distraction.

I've read good things about maternity swimsuits - though I have yet to even see one in person. I am doubtful I'll find one in my neck of the woods, maternity shopping being limited to one rack of jeans and size extra-small tops (for real) at Wal-Mart. I will try on some big suits tonight, but I want that comfy pouch thing to keep my belly all snug. (Last night, the water would make my top ride up, so anyone with goggle on (read: EVERYONE) could see my belly doing its wobbly thing.)

At the pool, I was acting way more pregnant that usual - putting my hands on my belly, gingerly getting in and out of the water and trying to stick my belly out in a more pregnant manner. I'm not going to pretend it was easy to walk on deck twice my usual size wearing a suit that could only be described as "too small." I only hope the crowd got the "I'm PREGNANT, not FAT!" memo.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

That thing you do

Year-in-review (thanks to Aunt Becky)

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Bought a house. Got pregnant, and experienced all the wonders/terrors of the first 6 months of pregnancy. Told my parents they're going to be first-time grandparents. Told my boyfriend's parents that I'm having their first grandchild.Visited China. Played golf. 

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't make any, didn't keep any, haven't made any to keep.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A baby, a new(er) car, a lack of procrastination

6. What countries did you visit?

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
August 4: the day I found out I was pregnant.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Buying a house. Not going completely crazy, though sometimes I felt thisclose.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Remembering my failures makes me cringe. I know I have dozens. Cooking fails, keeping-in-touch-with-friends fails, newspaper fails. Only one threatened a lawsuit.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Hello, Heiny flu!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My house.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mechanic's, for keeping my car on the road.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My own, in the thralls of hormonal brain fogs

14. Where did most of your money go?
Airfare and living expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
China! Having a Baby! My friend's band's CD! (Listed chronologically, not in order of excitement)

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Yeesh. I listened to a whole lot of Neil Young, Josh Ritter and David Francey. Hard to pick.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter (Pregnanter?)
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Camping, hiking, canoeing and being outside.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stressing about money; FREAKING OUT.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent it with family, eating.

21.Name one random thing that people would be surprised to know about you.
I really don't like dogs. Or cats. Or pets in general.(Also, it's the Internet! The Internet is not surprised by anything!)

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Two and a Half Men and Jeopardy.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That I'm not very talented.

28. What did you want and get?
A house.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Slumdog Millionnaire. It's possible that's the only movie I saw.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Visited Man's family and friends in the great Out West. Had sex. Drank Perrier.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Immeasurably!? Hmm, curing cancer. Eliminating AIDS and world hunger and poverty.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Does it fit? Does it have a hole it it? Is the hole really that noticeable?

34. What kept you sane?
Long walks on the beach Hugs and Baby kicks.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
 I have a total crush on the backup goalie for the local hockey team. And I don't even like hockey. Much.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Oh my. Afghan detainees, the many failures of child protection services, The inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's death and the RCMP officers' attitudes, how slowly the cogs of government do turn.

37. Whom did you miss?
My friends overseas and far away.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My obstetrician! Is that weird?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
Having a baby and moving house is a Very Big Deal. You are allowed to FREAK OUT more than occasionally.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Tonight will be fine
Will be fine
Will be fine
For a while
-Leonard Cohen, Tonight will be fine

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Taking stock of my profession

This has been on my mind all week. The first Canadian journalist killed in Afghanistan. 34 years old. A wonderful researcher and writer.

There have been other journalists killed, in other parts of the world. Each time I read those headlines, I think how lucky I am to work in a small corner of the country, where the most dangerous story I've covered was... hmmm, actually I have to think about that.

Community reporting, in a docile, democratic country isn't much of a risk. Michelle Lang and I are about as far apart on the journalism spectrum as vanilla and rocky road ice cream - both ice cream, but one has many more bumps and hurdles along the way.

I spent several hours on Sunday night reading the tributes to Michelle from her colleagues and friends, and the Calgary Herald did a fine job of celebrating her work and mourning her death.

Tonight, when I went to grab that link to their Jan. 2 editorial, it was already buried on the website. Because though her colleagues no doubt are still in shock, the rest of the country will not stand still while they tend to their hearts. The news keeps coming.

And bravo to them, her colleagues, for keeping up the news torch and turning out the latest headlines on the prime minister, the Olympic flame and air travel security.

In that small respect, all journalists are alike. When faced with terrible, lousy news - stupid news like four more soldiers killed in Afghanistan and young bodies found in the ashes of burnt homes (sometimes twice in one week), news that makes my insides boil with the sheer waste and tragedy of it all - we only have a few moments to process it before updating our newscasts and websites with the latest info. And when that story is done, you know what? We turn back to our desks and write another story, about food banks or potholes or the federal budget. Because deadline is looming and the press has to roll. We must be bred with some sort of immunity to depth of feeling.

And that's why Michelle Lang has been on my mind so much this week - she won't get another coup of a good story, the thrill of a great quote or the delicious feeling of breaking news before anyone else. Her death has made me think about the reporter rat-race that I live every day. Life is so fleeting. How can racing for deadlines be worth it?