Tuesday, 20 December 2011

C'mon Baby Let The Good Times Roll

My world has kind of shrunk since Grady was born. I'm all about the babies now. Baby this and baby that. I'm okay with it. I know it won't last forever.

With the lack of travel and parties and disposable income in my life, I find myself getting jazzed about all things baby. Like the onslaught of 2012 babies.

There's Lisa's baby. Leah and Jonna's babies. Kristin's baby. There's an Awkwardly Social baby. A Fab Brunette baby and a Mama in the City baby.  Lots of babies. So many babies that I'm probably forgetting a few (sorry! Baby brain!)

But you guys. There is one baby in particular who is making me clenchy with excitement. Turtle is having a baby! Big sister, best friend, heart person, Turtle is due in May with either my second niece or my first nephew (ultrasound has confirmed there is only one.)  And? She totally knows if it's going to be my second niece or my first nephew but she won't tell me. She won't tell anyone, so I'm not taking it personally. I'm trying to patient until she feels like she's ready to share the news. (Yes, Turtle, sending passive aggressive emails is my way of being patient. Next week? My way of being patient will include phone calls.)

Babies! Wheee!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Perhaps I'll Take A Holiday And Get As Far Away As I Can But Then I'd Just Be Far Away

Two months after Grady was born, after weeks of tears and yelling and distorted thinking, I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety with a side of postpartum depression and just a dash of postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder. Though I did manage to skip the compulsions part of the ppocd (lucky me?)

The doctor who delivered Grady was the person who got me the help I needed. When I saw her for my followup appointment, she saw that I wasn't coping. She referred me to a psychiatrist at a reproductive mental health clinic. She also referred me to a counsellor specialising in cognitive behavioural therapy. For weeks after taking the first step of getting help, I felt so positive that I was making the right changes. I dove headfirst into therapy. I was going to earn straight A's in therapy. My psychiatrist and counsellor were going to be amazed at how hard I was going to rock therapy. I was going to get one hundred therapy gold stars.

Which is something they warn you about when you start cbt. They told me to take it slow. To work at it gradually and consistently so that I didn't have a huge high followed by a huge low. I don't listen well, though. I'm stubborn. I was going to show them.

For a while it worked. The obsessive thoughts that plagued me since Grady's birth disappeared almost completely. I no longer had a panic attack when I walked within six feet of the patio guardrail because I no longer saw, in graphic detail, my baby sailing over the side and falling fifty feet onto the concrete below. I could walk by the kitchen counter and not shudder because I no longer imagined my baby rolling off and landing on the ceramic tile underneath. My disturbing, illogical (I don't put the baby on the counter, I never would put the baby on the counter, and yet every day, a hundred times a day, I would picture my baby (who can't even roll yet) rolling off the counter) thoughts were gone.

My anxiety lessened. With the urging of my counsellor, I joined a yoga studio. Once a week, I'd leave Grady with Shawn for almost two hours and go to yoga. Coming home to a happy baby and a condo that hadn't turned into a disaster zone in my absence helped to reassure me that Grady doesn't need me all day every day. I can still have my life and it can be a little bit separate from my baby.

My anxiety didn't disappear completely, though. I got very good at tamping it down. I focused on my victories (I joined a yoga studio and continue to go to yoga weekly even though I am complete rubbish at it! My kid is giggly and smart and happy! After a rocky start, I now breastfeed like a motherfucking champ!) while completely disregarding the nagging anxiety and depression at the back of my mind. I blamed my daily meltdowns and crying jags on my grandma's passing. I refused to acknowledge that I was slipping. I couldn't accept that I wasn't winning at therapy.

My depression consists of a lot of guilt. Guilt that I'm sad even though I have a healthy, happy, beautiful baby. Guilt that Grady has me - fucked up me - for a mom. Guilt that there are so many people who would give anything to be in my position. Guilt is a useless emotion. I know that my feeling guilty serves no one and fixes nothing. Yet here I wallow.

This week was a low point for me. Maybe the lowest since the early hormone-addled days. In hindsight, there were a few weeks of build up. I was crying a lot, forgetting things, not sleeping well even when Grady was asleep. I crashed in a spectacular blaze of crazy this week. I thought of the meanest things I could possible say to Shawn. And then I said them. I spent a lot of time lying on the bathroom floor, crying. I declared war on Christmas, friendly grocery clerks, and kind strangers because they all obviously exist to highlight my own failures and make me feel bad about myself.

Tuesday is therapy day. I'm holding on until Tuesday. I'm taking deep breaths and relishing the feeling of clarity that comes after I have a meltdown. The dam broke but I am not broken.

I need to write this for me. I need to be able to look at this in a few weeks or a few months and see that I was so low but I found my way out. More importantly, I need to remember this feeling just in case it rears its bastard head again.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Show Me Your Teeth

When Grady was born, he was given a Sophie the Giraffe toy. I'd seen Sophie while shopping for baby  stuff and I was surprised that someone had spent $25 on a teething toy. I put Sophie on the shelf and forgot about her.

Grady has been a fussy drool machine for a couple of weeks so I decided to see if he was interested in Sophie. You guys. We cannot get Sophie away from him. Sophie goes wherever Grady goes. We're thinking of buying another one just in case something tragic befalls the original (Stella has been plotting Sophie's demise since hearing the first squeak.) 

Saturday morning, 4 months and 1 week after he was born, Grady bit me with his first tooth. A tooth! My little (erm ... 17lb ... not so tiny) baby has a tooth! I'm not ready for this. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Miniatures Disasters And Minor Catastrophes Bring Me To My Knees

My grandma's memorial service was yesterday and you guys, it was bad. Like, laughably bad.

There was the minister who pronounced "peace" like "piss" and sang parts of the hymns with comical vibrato and forgot the words to other parts (even though he had a hymnbook right in front of him.) There was the 200-year old organ player who fell asleep in between songs and who played the wrong notes so often that the songs were unrecognizable. Seriously. He played Pachelbel's Canon in D which is like, the most recognizable song ever and I couldn't tell what it was without reading the program. There was the 30-minute long eulogy that my aunt delivered (the same aunt who prevented the memorial service from being on a weekend because it would interfere with her Christmas craft fair schedule) that covered - in great detail - the generation before my grandma but failed to mention, you know, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Oh no wait, the eulogy just excluded my dad's children and grandchildren, not my aunt's child.

So yeah, the whole day was one big "wtf?" moment. But! After the service, after the church basement tea party, after getting stuck in a traffic jam for two hours - with both bladder and boobs threatening to burst - my family and I gathered at my parents' house and ate yummy food and remembered my gram. And it was good.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Four For A Boy

Four months. He's added shrieks and squeals to his vocabulary. He's found his toes. He loves to make people laugh. He's a performer. He's my little ham. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

I Whip My Hair Back And Forth - Updated

I got a haircut fairly early in my pregnancy. And then I swore off haircuts completely because of all the smells. So many smells. By the time strong smells didn't make me want to die, I was too huge to enjoy a good shampoo / cut / dry so I decided to put it off until after the baby was born. Which, haha, was 16 weeks ago.

So! Today! Today I am getting a haircut. I just ... don't know what to do with my hair. It's likely been a year since my last cut. I have split ends like you wouldn't believe. I'm losing clumps of hair daily because it's not enough that having a baby made me flabby and insane, I'm also going bald. (Okay, not really bald. I'm told that the hair will stop falling out at such an alarming rate. I remain skeptical.)

I tried taking a picture to show you guys but the results were grim. Too grim to post on the internet. I feel bad enough about myself already, okay? So instead, I give you this:

This is childless, mortgage-less me. The me who used to spend $175 every three months getting highlights and low-lights and a stylish cut. The me who used to be 20lbs lighter than my current weight. The me who is actually in Mexico in this photo. So. Fuck that me. Right? But! That me has hair that is about the same length as the current me. (Though current me has hair that is much, much darker after a home-dye-job incident.)

So tell me - what would you do with my hair? I need to keep it long enough to pull up in a ponytail because Sir is a puller. I'm adverse to bangs because of the upkeep (I'm not going to lie - some days I'm working with third day hair.) And I need to keep it fairly simple because I'm not going to a fancy salon; I'm going to a neighbourhood joint that had a groupon this week ($20 haircut! What can go wrong?!)

*** Updated ***

Thanks for your comments / ideas! I really wanted to go with a bob but I've got partially grown out bangs to contend with. We chopped five inches off the bottom and layered it around my face to blend in the bangs. I'm really happy with it (I say on day one - talk to me after I wash it and attempt to get it this straight again.)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

I've Got The Words In My Heart But Not In My Brain And Now I'm All Tongue Tied

One year ago today, I woke up and peed on a stick (well, four sticks of varying brands and formats) and our lives were changed forever. I'm tired and sometimes I am so anxious I want to scratch my way out of my own skin, but I am so happy with my dudes.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Come To Think Of It I'm The One Who's Letting You Down

The thing about going crazy is that once you're not crazy anymore, or at least not as crazy, you start to realize what a negligent asshole you've been. I have been so disconnected from my world. Well, my world outside of Twitter. Grady's demanding nursing schedule means that I spend a lot of time scrolling through Twitter on my iPhone. But still! Disconnected. 

I mean, some of it is to be expected. You have a baby and your life is turned upside down. You're not expected to reply to emails in a timely manner or remember birthdays in time to mail a card. But there comes a point when life returns to normal (or as normal as it can get) and you realize that everyone and everything kept keepin' on without you and you don't know how to insert yourself back into your own life. 

Life isn't normal. Not yet. But I'm getting there. I'm starting to feel more like myself. I feel like I'm getting my head back. Now I just need to figure out how to get my life back.

Gratuitous baby in teddy bear jacket picture! 

Monday, 31 October 2011

No I Don't Want To Have To Be The One Who Has To Lose You

My grandma turned 95 last January and shortly after her birthday, she had a stroke. I wanted her to hold on to meet my baby and she did. She fought. She held my baby many times and near the end, when she was confined to her bed and she barely had the strength to stay awake, he gripped her finger and gave her a wide, gummy grin. I couldn't ask for anything more. I couldn't wish for her to get better.

She gave me her pumpkin pie recipe and her snappy tongue. I have her love of dogs and her wonky thyroid. I use Ivory soap because of her. Shortbread cookies covered in red and green sugar will always take me back to her kitchen.

My grandma was not an affectionate lady. She didn't call us "sweetie" or bestow us with kisses or cuddles. I never once heard her say "I love you" to anyone - ever - but I never doubted that she loved us all, fiercely. She was strong. The strongest lady I've ever known. I hope she gave me even just an ounce of her strength.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Easy For You To Say Your Heart Has Never Been Broken

Shawn and I saw the Foo Fighters last night. We skipped the opening acts, I didn't drink any $9 beers, and we left before the encore (I don't even know who I am anymore!) but I'm still calling the night a success. Grady stayed with Auntie Turtle and her fella and everything was swell. I emailed them approximately 87 times and I did my fair share of fretting, but I did not cry or panic once. I'm taking minuscule baby steps but I'm slowly making my way back to normal.

Monday, 24 October 2011

And Sadness Is A Silent Right A Moth Is Not A Butterfly

I have good days and I have some not-so-good days and I have the occasional I-can't-breathe day but overall, things are improving. I'm happy. Even when I start to slide back into my anxiety, I'm happy. I couldn't say that a month ago.

There are so many things I want to talk about but I struggle to find the words. Someone recently said to me that the best parents are those without children. It makes me giggle but also cringe. Pre-Grady I was such a good parent. Full of "my child will never do this" and "my child will always do that." If there's one thing becoming a mother has taught me, it's that I may be playing a guessing game and fumbling my way through parenting, but so is everyone else. I'm learning to be more gentle on myself but at the same time, I'm learning to be more gentle on others. 

It's humbling, this parenting gig. Admitting that I know nothing. Trying to accept help from well-meaning people without feeling too defensive or judged. It's been rough but I still feel so lucky because reaching through my sleep-deprived haze are the chubbiest baby arms, ready to wrap themselves around my neck and make me feel like the most important person in the world. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

I'm In The Pocket Just Like Grady Tate

If Grady turned out to be a lady baby, we would have named her Mabel. Shawn was pushing for Penelope but I would have won the lady baby name battle (we almost named Stella Penny and that would be weird in my head.)

Shawn and I had a lot of difficulty picking Grady's name. We started off at completely different ends of the baby boy names spectrum. When forced to define our naming styles, Shawn's choices fell into the "future rockstar" category while mine were more "fancy little gentleman, preferably with a British accent." Veto power was not used sparingly is what I'm saying.

We could not find a middle ground. Shawn continued to come up with rocker names (Axel, Maverick, etc) and I continued to love my little gentleman names (Finnian, Milo, etc.) It wasn't just our naming styles holding us back, though. We also had a few naming clauses that tripped us up.  

Clause #1: name must not be 1-syllable because of longstanding family tradition-mandated middle name of Shawn (tradition is that firstborn son is given his father's first name as his middle name. So ... sorry future hypothetical partner of Grady who has to work with Grady as a middle name for their hypothetical firstborn son.)  

Clause #2: name must not end in "an" or "en" sound because the last syllable of Shawn and Grady's 2-syllable last name is "an" and is way too rhymey with names like Brendan or Aiden. 

Clause #3: name must be Irish or at least feel Irish. (Shawn's clause.) 

Clause #4: name must not be too Irish because of Shawn and Grady's extremely Irish last name. (My clause.)

Clause #5: name must not be Willie or anything else that sounds like, or can be rhymed with, any slang word for penis (Shawn's BULLSHIT clause.) (Willie is a rad name and I would have loved to name Grady Willie but whatever, I've never been a boy on a school playground so FINE, SHAWN, I respected this clause.) 

I halfheartedly suggested Grady about halfway through the pregnancy. I honestly wasn't that into it but Shawn loved it. I didn't hate it, it just didn't feel like it was the name. I was waiting for an aha! moment I think (which is silly because I've never really been an aha! person.) We continued to fall in love with completely different names (him: Maximus and Ewan, me: Leo and Bennett.) Shawn kept coming back to Grady, though.

Roughly eight weeks before Grady was born, I saw Grady suggested to a reader on Swistle's baby name blog. Seeing it in a different context, with the other names Swistle suggested alongside it, made me see the name Grady in a new light.  I decided to get serious about Grady. I needed to either love it or veto it but I couldn't keep maybeing it. I already knew about Big Sugar's Grady (Shawn's a fan, I'm eh) but in my Grady research, I discovered Grady Martin. As a session musician, he played guitar on many of Willie Nelson's albums and later toured with Willie's band. Not only that, he helped shape Willie's song On the Road Again.

On the Road Again is a song that will forever remind me of my dad. When I was a kid, we used to go camping every summer. We'd pack up the station wagon until it was busting at the seams, all six of us would pile in, and we'd set off for 5 hours of cramped, sweaty driving until we reached the campsite. Dad would always put the Willie Nelson cassette into the tape player and blast On the Road Again and sing along and car dance while pulling out of the driveway.

Finding out about Grady Martin was sort of my aha! moment. Grady isn't named after Grady Martin or Big Sugar's Grady (or Grady Tate, for that matter) but it's our way of finding meaning in his name. I'm nostalgic about Grady Martin's connection to Willie Nelson and Shawn is pleased with the connection to talented musicians.

After our maternity photos were done, I didn't let myself think about names again.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Twenty-nine Pearls In Your Kiss A Singing Smile

Today I am twenty-nine. A year ago, children were in the "some day. maybe" category. This morning I woke up to baby giggles in my ear. It was a nice change from the baby shrieks that woke me multiple times last night.

I don't know what the next year is going to bring but I'm excited to find out. 

Especially if what it brings is more sleep.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

And We Won’t Spit With Our Mouths Or Draw Lines In The Dirt With Our Heels And Every Single Day We’ll Just Wait And Hope To See The Next One

I went a little crazy after Grady was born.

At first I felt like a goddamn warrior for birthing my 8lb 6.5oz baby without an epidural. I was on a new baby high for days. I felt like I could do anything. 

The nurses told me to expect to feel a little "blue" and after a few days I did start to feel weepy and low. It didn't get better, though, the way they told me it would. The sadness didn't go away. The anxiety didn't abate. 

Looking back, I can see how certain situations contributed to my crazy (Shawn got a grand total of 4 days off work after Grady was born; Wolfgang got very sick when Grady was 12 days old and for a week we didn't know if he was going to pull through; my maternity leave application was held up with no explanation and Wolfgang's unexpected $1,000 vet bill put a serious dent in our bank account; after a mild summer, we had two weeks of hot temperatures which, combined with the hormones, made me a literal hot mess) but at the time I couldn't identify and deal with them individually, it just felt like one thing after another piling on top of an already unmanageable situation (because newborns? Refuse to be managed. Grady has earned his nickname of Little Tyrant.)

I tried to convince myself that what I was feeling was normal. That the anxiety that prevented me from leaving my bedroom for days, the crying that left me red-faced and gulping for air on the bathroom floor, and the guilt that I was somehow harming my baby by being such a failure, were all just part of the "baby blues" that the nurses had warned me about. And for a while I succeeded. Shawn would come home from work day after day to find me huddled in the dark, rocking Grady and crying, and he would ask me if we needed to call the doctor. I would get very shrill and tell him that this was normal and nothing was wrong with me and why wasn't he on my team (my crazy makes me manipulative. I'm not proud.)

The thing is, even though part of me knew that what I was feeling wasn't normal, the other (crazy) part of me was convinced that I didn't need help. The nurses in the hospital and the pamphlet sent home with me made me think that unless I was about to hurt myself or someone else, I didn't need help. Which isn't logical. I know that now. But in the throes of my crazy, I was able to convince myself that as long as I wasn't suicidal, I was okay and what I was experiencing was normal and fine. I didn't want to be the lady who couldn't handle having a baby. I was ashamed that my anxiety was dictating my life (and Grady's life.) I was locked in this horrible spiral of "what if" thinking (what if I drop the baby? what if I go to the grocery store and someone steals the baby? what if I'm driving and someone hits me and the baby?) and I didn't know how to stop it but I was too scared to ask for help (what if I tell my doctor and they take away my baby?)

Three weeks ago I went for my followup appointment with the doctor who delivered Grady. Before starting the exam, she sat down and asked how I was doing. And then she sat with me for the next hour while I cried and admitted to every single destructive thought I'd had over the past seven weeks. Instead of doing my physical exam, my rockstar doctor came up with a plan and gently but firmly told me what I was going to do. It was exactly what I needed. I needed someone to say "this isn't normal and this is what you are going to do to fix it."

I've been working to fix myself for three weeks. I have a plan and I have support. For the first time since Grady was born, I feel like I'm seeing things clearly. I'm not there yet - I don't feel like me - but I'm on my way.

I'm so glad because I get to enjoy this guy even more.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Two Now That I'm With You Another Point Of View

Grady turned two months old on Monday.

He started off as an 8lb 6.5oz chicken-legged skinny baby.

Then he started to fill out. His teeny tiny belly started to get rounder. 

And now he's got two chins and the most delicious chubby thighs .

And the most beautiful smile that makes the sleepless nights seem easier.

He's a tyrant. But he's my tyrant. My smiley thunder-thighed tyrant. I couldn't love him more.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Baby Baby Don't Be Late World Is Ending I Can't Change The Way I Feel About You Now - Part 3

I didn't have a birth plan. Which is strange, I know. I'm a planner. I plan everything down to the smallest detail. I write lists and analyze the possible scenarios and outcomes. Living life as it comes is not an option for me. I need to know what's going to happen and when it's going to happen so I can plan accordingly.

However. I felt that writing a birth plan would be setting myself up for failure. I knew that if I took the time to think about every possible scenario and write a plan based on the various outcomes, I would be disappointed when things didn't go exactly as planned (which they wouldn't. I'm not foolish enough to believe that the birth would follow my precise directions.)

So I didn't have a birth plan.

Shawn and I talked about what we wanted / didn't want and we relied on each other for support. Shawn knew he was in charge of preventing the doctor from giving me an episiotomy and I knew that he didn't want to cut the umbilical cord and we both knew we had each other's back. (In the end it didn't matter because it turned out the doctor who delivered Grady was staunchly anti-episiotomy and when it came time to, Shawn actually did want to cut the umbilical cord.)

I'm getting ahead of myself.

By the time we were in an actual delivery room, I'd been labouring in the hospital for over four hours. I tested positive for group B strep which meant that to prevent infection, my doctor didn't want to break my water or check the progress of my dilation too often. So when Shawn got back from giving his mom our house keys, it was 11pm, I was standing in a hot shower, my water had not broken, and the last time my cervix had been checked was 4 hours before and was between 4 and 5 cm dilated. The gas had lost efficiency by that time but the mask had become my security blanket. I took it into the shower with me, I dragged it behind me as I paced the room, I loved that gas mask.

When I got out of the shower, my nurse checked to see how far I was dilated. She said that because my water hadn't broken, it was impossible to tell accurately how far I was dilated but that she estimated I was between 6 and 7 cm. I was in so much pain and the contractions were coming so close together. I was devastated that I wasn't further along. I told Shawn I couldn't do it anymore. I needed the epidural. Shawn and I both knew that the epidural was an inevitability. My pain tolerance is low and his watching-the-wife-in-pain tolerance is low so we agreed that I would have an epidural when things got bad. I was hoping to make it to 8cm before requesting it because I didn't want to get it too early and end up stalling my labour, but I couldn't imagine being in that much pain for much longer.

The tech came in to do the blood work but I couldn't stand still long enough for her to do it. I was standing at the end of the bed, hunched over my giant belly, screaming at the nurse that I needed to push, when my doctor came in to check on me.

Brief side note. I went to an obstetrical clinic with 8 doctors. The clinic did not assign doctors, you saw the doctor that was in on your appointment day. I ended up seeing 3 of the 8 doctors during my prenatal visits but I really connected with 1 of the doctors. By some happy twist of fate, she was the doctor on call that night and she ended up delivering Grady.

So my doctor came in to check on me, saw how frantic I was, and decided it was time to break my water to get a true assessment of how far I was dilated.

I was 9.5cm dilated. One contraction later, I was 10cm dilated. Too late for the epidural. Time to push.

I cannot accurately describe how much fear I felt when my doctor told me I couldn't have the epidural. The epidural was what I was holding onto through the hours of pain leading up to the delivery. Not having an epidural was not an option for me. I was ready to throw in the towel. Except that you can't actually quit labour. You're kind of stuck by that point.

Fortunately, I had no time to dwell or panic. It was midnight and I was starting to push.

Another brief side note. My doctor was the Monday doctor. During the whole "you can't have the epidural" debacle, I was also panicking because I thought that my doctor was going to leave right before the delivery and the Tuesday doctor was going to take over. Like, at the strike of midnight. It's funny now but at the time it was devastating. (My doctor did not leave. I'm assuming the doctors on-call status changes at a more reasonable hour and not at midnight.)

Pushing is a blur. I remember my nurse was a rockstar. She coached me brilliantly (Shawn told her she should consider joining the Canadian women's curling team because she was so good at yelling "HARD!") I remember crushing Shawn's hand. I remember indescribable pain. I remember screaming. A lot. I remember the burny burny pain of crowning. I remember the huge feeling of relief of my final push. And at 1:07am on July 26th, Grady was born. The exact hour and minute that my little sister's baby had been born 23 days earlier.

They put Grady up on my chest and Shawn cut the cord. My little man was born but he wasn't crying. My doctor and nurse were rubbing him with warm towels but his face stayed grey and his arms and legs stayed blue. That's when they took him away from me. My doctor kept calling over to me, "he's safe, he's safe" but I still made Shawn go hover over her shoulder.

Fifteen minutes later I had my baby back. My beautiful little cone-headed, lizard-eyed baby.

taken half an hour after birth

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Baby Baby Don't Be Late World Is Ending I Can't Change The Way I Feel About You Now - Part 2

When I woke up, Shawn had fallen asleep beside me. I felt huge and uncomfortable so I went outside and started doing laps around our courtyard. Very slow laps.

I woke Shawn up at 5:30 and told him we needed to go back to the hospital. I'd told Shawn to try to talk me out of going to the hospital too soon and bless his heart, he did try. Poor guy. The morphine had completely worn off by that point so I may have used a few firm words to indicate that perhaps we should head back to the hospital immediately.

So we did. By 7:00 I was admitted and was between 4 and 5 cm dilated.

Labour and delivery was very busy that night. I ended up in a bed on the ward, with only a curtain separating me from the labouring woman beside me. There were four of us in a row and I remember being so amused by the different sounds of our labours (until my labour got so intense that I was no longer laughing and was moaning and groaning along with my fellow labourers.)

For hours Shawn ran back and forth between me and the sink at the end of the ward, replenishing the cold compresses on my forehead and neck. The nurse would come every half an hour to check the baby's heart rate, my pulse, and my temperature but we were left on our own for most of the night. I had the gas by that point so whenever a contraction would hit, I'd smack the mask against my mouth (I'm surprised I didn't chip a tooth - the contractions would hit me so hard and so fast that I pretty much punched myself in the face with the gas mask every single time) and breathe my way through it.

I didn't want Shawn to tell our families that I was in labour too soon. I had visions of our parents showing up when I was 3cm dilated and camping out in the waiting room until their grandchild was born. I knew that I would feel pressured and anxious so we held off telling them until we needed someone to go look after the monsterpups. Shawn's mom came to the hospital but because we were still on the ward, she wasn't allowed to see me (thank you, 1 visitor at a time rule.) Shawn went out to the parking lot to give her our keys and it was at that precise time that a delivery room freed up for us. The nurse didn't want to wait for Shawn to get back so she made me shuffle through the halls to our room. It wasn't a long walk, distance-wise, but it felt like it took hours.

As difficult as it was, the walk was a positive thing. Gravity ramped up my labour with gusto. By 11:00pm, Shawn was back and the nurse was urging me into the shower to ease my labour pain.

Sir demands attention - part three to come.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I Know You've Grown Tired Of Trying To Fix Me And I Know By Now My Best Years They Are No Longer With Me

I thought that when Grady was born, I'd still be me, just with a kid. I was completely unprepared for how not me I'd feel. I've still got all the pieces of my life - Shawn, my family, my friends, my body, my job, and so on. They just don't fit together like they used to. I feel like an orange. The separate pieces of my life used to make a whole. Now I feel peeled and segmented. My pieces don't fit together to make a whole anymore. How do you put an orange back together? I'll never be an orange again. I'll be an orange held together with tape. Some of my pieces might need to be smushed a little to fit back in. Some might need to be left out completely. Which is fine, really. I can handle that. I just don't know how to find the tape to hold myself together again. I'm desperately trying to hold on to all of my pieces so I don't lose any before I figure that out.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Baby Baby Don't Be Late World Is Ending I Can't Change The Way I Feel About You Now - Part 1

I woke up on July 25th feeling crampy and annoyed. I'd been feeling crampy and annoyed all week though, so I just got up and carried on with my morning. I had a doctor's appointment at 10 and since my doctor wanted to discuss induction, Shawn had taken the morning off work to go with me.

I had no idea what contractions were going to feel like. I mean, I knew that active labour would be painful but I didn't know what to expect with early labour. It wasn't until we left for the doctor and I had to sit still in the car for 15 minutes that I realized that I was in labour. Those 15 minutes were torture (which is laughable now, considering just how intense and painful real labour ended up being.)

My doctor confirmed that I was in labour and told me I was 2cm dilated. She recommended that we go for a walk because her office is right across the street from the hospital and she predicted that I'd want some pain relief pretty quickly. Being a stubborn asshole, I asked Shawn to take me home. I didn't want to go to the hospital at 2cm dilated. I knew that I wouldn't be admitted until I was at least 3cm and I didn't want to be the wimp who showed up begging for drugs before I could even be admitted.

So Shawn took me home and made me chicken noodle soup while I tried to watch television to take my mind off the pain. I lasted an hour before I was begging Shawn to take me to the hospital.

Shawn and I took a childbirth class a few weeks before Grady was born. The midwife who ran the class drilled into us that we couldn't go to the hospital before we reached 4-1-1: contractions that were 4 minutes apart, were 1 minute in duration, and had followed that pattern for 1 hour. She even gave us a magnet with the 4-1-1 information on it to hang on our fridge as a reminder. Which would have been really helpful and great, had my labour even remotely resembled that. My contractions came fast and hard with only 45 - 90 seconds separating them. Also, they didn't hit a minute in duration until I was well into active labour. I was so focused on the 4-1-1 rule that I started panicking on the way to the hospital, convinced that the short space separating my contractions meant that I was further along than we expected and I would end up having a baby on the side of the road.

And then we got to the hospital and learned that I was still only 2cm dilated.

I felt defeated. I'd been labouring hard (or rather, I thought I'd been labouring hard because I had no idea how hard labour would become) for over an hour since leaving my doctor's office and I was no further along. A nurse offered me a morphine shot and even though I felt like a failure for accepting it, I did. It turned out to be a wise decision. After being monitored for a short while to make sure I reacted well to the morphine, I was allowed to go back home. The morphine didn't take away the pain but it took the edge off and allowed me to sleep for three glorious hours.

More to come...

Sunday, 28 August 2011

We Get To Carry Each Other Carry Each Other One

Grady turned one month old on Friday. It seems like just yesterday he was born but at the same time I feel like he's always been here. The hours are long but the days are flying by.

The physical recovery was something I was prepared for and it turned out to be much easier than I expected. What I wasn't expecting was how long it would take me to recover emotionally. Not just from the hormones or the intense feelings of becoming a mom and being responsible for this tiny, helpless baby, but also from a birth experience that left me feeling helpless.

I think the hardest part is not feeling like me anymore. I will never be the same person as I was before Grady was born. And that's not a bad thing. It's just been difficult to figure out how to be good for him when I don't even know who I am.

I wake up to this face every day, though, so life is definitely good.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

You're Only The Best I Ever Had

Dear Shawn,

Three years ago we did this:

Nine days ago we did this:

It just keeps getting better and better.

Love you, dude.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

You're What's Happenin' Baby

It took a while but he's here. All 8lbs 6.5 ounces of him.

Grady Shawn arrived on July 26th at 1:07am (the exact time of his cousin's birth, just 23 days later.)

More details to follow, just as soon as I can tear myself away from these chubby cheeks.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Now I Was Sitting Waiting Wishing That You Believed In Superstitions

The pregnancy iPhone app I downloaded on a whim at the start of my pregnancy tells me that today Willie is roughly the size of a pumpkin. My first part-time job in highschool was actually at a pumpkin patch and you guys, I have seen some freakishly large pumpkins.

Last Monday, my doctor told me to go ahead and make this week's appointment but that she would be "shocked" if I actually made it that long without giving birth. Which was exciting to hear at the time but is now just massively annoying, seeing as this week's appointment is in an hour.

I know that due dates are not an exact science and Willie will come when he's ready and I'm lucky to have a full-term baby, etc. I know. I'm just having a bit of a Monday morning pity party. Who wants to join me? What's currently chapping your ass?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

He Sang Nursery Rhymes To Paralyse

When we moved, the second bedroom was already decorated as a nursery. The previous owners left the tree decal on the wall and we decided that leaving it up would be easier than taking it down. We didn't really have a plan for the nursery, though, apart from not wanting to spend a lot of money. This week we finally pulled the room together:

I dragged Shawn to Ikea's midnight madness a few weeks ago and we snagged the crib for $59 (marked down from $199.) The dresser was in our old bedroom but didn't fit in our new bedroom. The clock is my favourite nursery purchase.

The Harley Davidson lamp is Shawn's favourite nursery purchase. It can be used as a lamp or a night light (the headlight and brake lights light up.) I actually made the wooden airplane when I was a kid and my mom saved it for me.

The changing table was a bit of a sore spot for Shawn. He thought a change table is an unneeded luxury. He also didn't want to pack up his electric drum kit that was occupying that space. Fortunately my parents have a basement of extra furniture they saved from when we were kids and they gave us the dresser for free. Shawn can't argue with free. I bought a change pad for the top and claimed victory. The prints on the wall are the result of an afternoon spent on Etsy. The shelves are more freebies from my parents' basement.

We bought a glider and felt like a pair of 80-year olds doing so. I'm not going to lie, though; I freaking love the glider. It's just so ... glidey.

So now we just wait. My due date is tomorrow. I'm uncomfortable but I've not yet reached the point of needing Willie to get out. Mainly I'm just tired. Tired and enjoying some quiet time with the pups before our world is turned upside down.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

You Can Kill A Lot Of Time If You Really Put Your Mind To It

Willie is due in a week. One week. I'm finally on maternity leave, trying to get the nursery organized, and failing miserably at staying focused. My head is in the clouds. Part of me wants Willie to stay put where's he safe and protected. And then there's the part of that is almost giddy at the thought of having my body to myself. (Which isn't an entirely reasonable thought, I know, seeing as I'm hoping to be able to nurse Willie.) There are a lot of unknowns in my immediate future. I'm trying to savour each day that I have and not wish my time away. Willie will arrive when he's good and ready. All I can do is wait.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Everyday You've Got To Open Your Eyes

It kind of figures that the day you have to ask your doctor if you're leaking amniotic fluid or if you've just peed yourself, is the day that your regular doctor is away and Dr. Beautiful is her replacement.

My water? Remains unbroken. So. That was fun.

(Also? Dr. Beautiful is suddenly less pretty in my eyes after he compared Willie's head to a bowling ball.)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

You Know Our Hearts Beat Time Out Very Slowly

I am a bear. A giant, lumbering bear. I grumble. I grunt. I swat at anyone foolish enough to get in my way. I plow through my day with a snarl ready on my lips. Shawn and Stella have learned to steer clear of my volatility but Wolfgang, sweet Wolfgang, is not the brightest pup. He follows me around from room to room, waiting for me to sit down so he can jump up and perch his tiny little puppy bum on my Willie-bump. He covers my face in kisses and makes tiny little grunty noises when I scratch behind his ears just so. He's driving me insane and keeping me sane (well, as sane as I can be) at the same time.

In an effort to feel less like a bear and more like a glowy pregnant lady (ha! am so not a glowy pregnant lady!) I made an appointment with a photographer friend of a friend to have some maternity photos done. Which is one of those glowy pregnant lady things I said I'd never do. Not that there's anything wrong with maternity photos, I just never thought they were something I'd consider doing. I have friends who have had them done and the photos are gorgeous and my friends look like beautiful earth mamas wrapped in flowy scarves and translucent fabric and I appreciate the beauty of the photographs while knowing that it's just ... not me. At the same time, I was tired of feeling like a giant, lumbering bear. I wanted to remember this pregnancy for more than just extreme mood swings and a horrible aversion to toothpaste (which is now back, in full force, after a lovely months-long break.)

I'm so happy with the photos. It's all about perspective. I feel large and heavy and slow but when I look at the photos I see a beautiful, healthy baby bump. Less bear-like, more glowy.

(all photos by the lovely Alanna Dyani)
(mustache teething toy by little alouette)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Pills Enough To Make Me Feel Ill Cash Enough To Make Me Well Take Me Take Me To The Riot

We skipped the hospital tour to watch the Stanley Cup final last night.

The Canucks lost.

The good news? The name Stanley is 100% off the table.

The bad news? The city lost its damn mind.

It's difficult to describe how disappointed I am. Not about the game - the Canucks had an amazing season and losing the final doesn't take away from that - but about the absolute stupidity of a handful of people. Vancouver is an amazing city but today we look like fools.

Monday, 13 June 2011

She Likes Hockey And Summers By The Lake

The Vancouver Canucks are playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. They've won three games to Boston's two. The Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup. The last time they made it to the finals was in 1994. If they win tonight, they win the cup. Tonight's game is kind of a big deal is what I'm saying.

If the Canucks lose tonight, the series will go to game 7 (and my head will melt.) If necessary, game 7 will be played on Wednesday. Wednesday is also the night of our hospital tour. The hospital tour that is impossible to reschedule. So can we all think happy, winning thoughts for the Canucks tonight? Because I am 99% sure that I will chose hockey over the hospital tour if forced to chose and I am 100% sure that I will feel like an asshole for doing so.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Take A Little Time Walk A Little Line Got The Balance Right

My obstetrician belongs to a practice of eight doctors. My initial plan was to book my appointments on varying days of the week so that by the time Willie was born, I would know all of the doctors. Instead, I was so comfortable with the Monday doctor (she is seriously rad) that I've ended up booking every appointment with her. Which is a bit silly, I know. There is a very good chance that Willie will not be born on a Monday and I will end up with a stranger all up in my junk (though I'm pretty sure that having a stranger all up in my junk is going to be the least of my worries when I'm actually in labour.)


Yesterday I was having some pain. Not the usual pain (ligament pain, back pain, hip pain, boob pain, you name it, I've had it.) This was worrisome pain (spoiler alert: everything is fine.) I really didn't want to be that pregnant lady, you know? The hysterical "mah baybeeeee" pregnant lady. So I consulted Dr. Google and confirmed that I was either totally fine or facing imminent death and went on with my day. Willie was active (more active than usual, actually) so I didn't call my doctor's office until late afternoon when the pain had spread. Which is how I ended up with a Wednesday morning doctor's appointment with a doctor I've never met before.

You guys. He was gorgeous. Like, uncomfortably attractive. Tall and dark and chiseled. The office was still locked when I arrived so I had to stand in the hallway with Dr. Beautiful and make flustered smalltalk about traffic and the weather. It was ridiculous. I am ridiculous. Ridiculous but pleased. I've been so blue lately and everything has been such a struggle. It felt really good to have a normal, awkward reaction to something that lately would have sent me into a funk. I don't know if it's the sunshine we've had this week or if it's because the move is finally over or if it's as simple as not being sick and deathy anymore but I am finally starting to feel like myself again. I'm still overwhelmed and feeling completely behind in everything (see below: week 32 photo. I am now 34 weeks pregnant) but this week I've found myself laughing in situations that up until recently would have sent me into a fit of tears. Like when Shawn and I were hanging wedding photos and he said, "look how skinny you were!" or when Wolfgang lifted his leg and peed all over the pot of mint I had growing on my lovely new patio. Things are beginning to feel good again is what I'm saying (apart from the clueless dudes in my life, amirite?)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

I Want Pinned Down I Want Unsettled Rattle Cage After Cage

May was a difficult month. It wasn't all bad (Shawn's birthday! the arrival of Shawn's dad to help with the move!) but even the good stuff came with its own set of challenges (Shawn's new job! That required a 4-day trip to San Francisco, which turned into a 5-day trip after a massive travel fail resulted in a 24-hour trip from San Francisco to Vancouver.)

Shawn went away for the May long weekend. He goes away every year with the same group of guys for four days of shenanigans. Months ago (when he had to pay for his portion of the trip) Shawn asked if I was okay with him going this year. We knew about Willie but the move and the new job weren't in the picture. So I told him I would be fine. And then we sold the condo and had to move the last weekend in May (the weekend after the trip.) And then the job opportunity came along and he had to be in San Francisco for the weekend before the trip. And my head started to melt.

We've been in the new condo for almost a week. The move was horrible and stressful and disorganized but it's finished (thanks to the kindness of our families and friends who seriously saved our asses.) Our condo is a mess of unpacked boxes and half-built furniture. Shawn started last week with a cold and ended up with the flu. I caught Shawn's cold and ended up with a chest infection. We're miserable and ill and we don't like each other very much right now. But the move is finished. And soon we will be organized and settled and we can be friends again.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

If You're Low Just Hold On 'Cause I Will Be Your Safety Oh Don't Leave Home

When Shawn and I first moved in together, we lived in a cramped 1-bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver. There were a lot of things wrong with that apartment. The building was old and smelly, the elevators were constantly breaking down, the parkade was not secure (one time someone actually cut through Shawn's door to try (unsuccessfully) to steal his car) and we had to go down ten floors to get to the laundry room (and then it cost $4 per load.) The closets smelled disgusting, which meant that anything we stored in them (like, uhh, our clothes) smelled a bit off. One time we were watching tv in the living room when we heard a shower of water hitting the bathroom floor - it turns out our upstairs neighbour had left the tub running and it overflowed. Our landlord cut an opening in our ceiling (roughly 12 inches by 12 inches) and for the next six months we had a gaping hole above our shower, through which we could see the blanket of black mould we were living under (which explained the daily nosebleeds I had for two years that mysteriously cleared up within a week of moving out.)

It was not an ideal living situation is what I'm saying.

But when we bought our condo and had to leave our smelly, mouldy apartment, I was really blue. Yes, the apartment was gross and small and probably hazardous to our health. But it was also the first home that we shared. We moved in together four months after I moved back to Canada. We were still getting to know each other again and re-learn how to be a couple when we moved in together and had to learn how to live with each other as well (which was difficult. We're both extremely stubborn people and are set in our ways and can be difficult to live with.) (Though he's more difficult to live with than I am.) (Obviously.) We learned how to make it work in that apartment. And one August night, while eating cheesecake and watching the fireworks over English Bay from our bedroom window, he asked me to be his wife. To which I said "I guess so" (because saying awkward, inappropriate things is what I do when I'm caught off guard.)

I find myself in the same position now, four days before we move. There are a lot of things wrong with our current condo but I'm getting sadder and sadder the closer we get to moving day. When we bought the condo, we were engaged, puppy-less, childless people. Three and a half years later, we're married, with two monsterpups, and a surprise baby on the way (8 weeks, people. Deep breaths.) We've lived a lot in our current condo. I'm not ready to let it go. Neither are these guys:

Thursday, 19 May 2011

I Twist It I Missed It Can't Keep This Thing Together

There are things I've been ranting about lately (moving! packing! while pregnant! not fun!) and there are dull things that I don't bother talking about (meetings with lawyers, mortgage dudes, real estate agents, insurance dudes, doctors, etc, snore) and then there are things I haven't found a way to talk about. Like Shawn's new job. Which is excellent and potentially a huge opportunity for him. Which came out of the blue, three weeks ago, with the requirement that Shawn be in San Francisco for four days this week and that he be available to start the position June 1st. As in, four days after we move.

Life is crazy. I have to keep reminding myself that it's good crazy. That all of these things that are causing me stress now will (hopefully) bring me much happiness later. That all we can do is keep breathing and smile because even though we're experiencing multiple huge life changes all within a short period of time, allowing myself to wallow in stress and anxiety only makes the situation worse.

That's not to say that life is all sunshine and sparkles. I find myself twisted up in knots multiple times a day, worrying about getting everything finished, anxious that I've messed up or am forgetting some important detail. Shawn's trip was extended for a day after a series of fuck ups by American Airlines resulted in a 24-hour trip from San Francisco to Vancouver, meaning he's only in Vancouver for a day and half before leaving for another four days on his annual boys' weekend (that is already paid for in full and I can't talk about without getting very shrill and shouty so let's just leave it at that.) So yes, I'm twisty and anxious and trying my best to remember to breathe.

Fortunately, I have many reasons to smile right now. Like this little lump that sticks out right beside my belly button that is either Willie's head or his bum (I have no idea how to tell which it is - it's just round and firm and completely adorable.) And Kraft caramels dipped in Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce (I know, okay? But it's my one weird craving and it's fucking delicious so keep your judgment to yourself until you actually try it.) And the fact that we've named Willie (barring any disastrous scenarios where a celebrity I dislike names their new baby the name we've chosen. Like when Jane Krakowski (Jenna from 30 Rock) recently ruined Bennett for us.) Life may be crazy but it's also good, is what I'm saying. And in two weeks, when our move is complete, it's going to be great.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Gold Medal Gleams So Hang It Around My Neck 'Cause I Am Deserving It The Champion Of Idiots

Whenever anyone asks me how I'm doing, my standard reply is "fine, thanks. How are you?" It doesn't matter if I'm particularly happy or sad, I say that I'm fine. Fine has been my answer for years. I don't see myself changing any time soon.

It's the same whenever anyone offers to help me. I always say "thanks, but I've got it" or "thanks, but there's really nothing you can do" or "thanks + insert variation of rejection of help." I don't know why my initial reaction is to turn down offers of help but it is. And just like "fine," I don't see "thanks, but no" disappearing from my vocabulary in the foreseeable future.

You guys, I am not fine. And I really could use some help. I know that you can't come pack up the condo, or make the monsterpups behave, or change Shawn's schedule so that he's in town for more than 5 of the remaining 11 days before we move, but I would really appreciate it if you could please remind me that I'm not going to get a gold star for doing all the things all by myself and that working myself up into a froth will result only in a headache and not a damn medal hanging around my neck.

Numerous lovely people have offered to help me pack the condo or just keep me company while Shawn is out of town. Shawn's dad is here for the summer and he actually offered to pack the condo. Not help pack, no. He offered to do it all. And yet this weekend I found myself alone, lying awkwardly on the kitchen floor, trying to shimmy blindly on my back (because my belly was getting in the way) arm outstretched, trying to reach the various baking pans and other rarely-used items that had migrated to the very back of the lowest shelf of the horrid cupboard that stretches the length of the oven (seriously - worst cupboard ever. It was difficult to navigate before I got pregnant, I don't know why I thought I could do it now.) And there was this horrible moment, just for a second or two, where my arm cramped up and I couldn't move and I couldn't shimmy because I needed my arm to help me push off and I thought I was going to be stuck there on the kitchen floor until Shawn returned Tuesday night. Obviously my panic was a little premature because my arm stopped cramping and I managed to get myself up off the floor, but it was eye opening for me. I can't do it all. I cannot tell you how much it pains me to acknowledge those words.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

It's A Random Chance Selection

I went to bed at 9:30 last night and slept until 7:00 this morning. It was delicious. I could have slept longer but a fuckhole demolition crew started tearing down the building across the alley from ours at 7-o-clock on the dot (the earliest a construction crew is allowed to make noise. I checked.) The problem with going to bed so early is that I ended up having to pee three times during the night (there was this blissful 2 months of my pregnancy - starting around 16 weeks - where I actually managed to sleep through the night without peeing. I miss that time.) And I woke up around 5:00 because my stomach was grumbling. I eat all the time now. It's getting a bit out of hand. I ate an entire fresh pineapple a few nights ago. My mouth bled but I kept eating until it was finished. (Does fresh pineapple make anyone else's mouth bleed? I really hope the bleeding doesn't mean I'm allergic. I love fresh pineapple.)

* * * * *
The Canucks have made it through the first two rounds of playoffs. I was 11 years old the last time they made it this far in the playoffs. I am feeling very clenchy about the Canucks right now. I love them to bits but I've been a fan long enough to know that things can go very wrong very quickly. It's why I haven't vetoed Stan as a potential name for Willie (yet.) The superstitious hockey fan in me won't let me.

* * * * *
Turtle leaves for Europe next week and I'm trying very hard not to pout. It is not working.

* * * * *
Our moving date is just two and a half weeks away and I'm starting to panic. I know that everything will get done (because it has to be done) but I can't see it happening. We are so behind and my big plan of purging before packing is looking like it's not going to happen. We've managed to accumulate so much junk in the three and a half years we've been in our current condo. I hate the thought of packing it up and bringing it to our new home.

* * * * *
Happy Wednesday, all! I hope you're getting sunshine (and not dreary rain like we've got in Vancouver.)

Monday, 9 May 2011

When I Was Young And Grandma Wasn't Old

One of the strangest parts about pregnancy for me has been the level of involvement from complete strangers. People see a pregnant lady and feel totally comfortable commenting on her choices (a random lady told me I had no right to give my baby a caffeine buzz when I was actually drinking decaf) or commenting on her body (telling a pregnant lady that she looks like she's about to pop when she actually has two months left to go will result in tears and quite possibly bloodshed) and then there's the touching. Oh the touching. People cannot resist a round, pregnant belly. It is so weird. I've been very "keep yer damn hands off me" throughout this pregnancy. I don't like being groped. Also? My belly hurts. All the damn time. The skin is stretched and painful and itchy. My belly button aches in a way I can't really describe, except to say that it's kind of like that horrible nervy toothache pain. I don't like how my belly feels most of the time so I certainly don't need people all up on it making it feel worse.

That being said, when I visited my 95-year old grandma in the retirement home yesterday (the 95-year old grandma who had a stroke a few months ago and who had us all worried about her chances) and she patted / rubbed / cupped / pointed out to her friends and various retirement home employees as my "condition" / kissed my belly? It wasn't weird or creepy at all. You guys, my grandma is going to get to meet my kid. How cool is that?

Thursday, 5 May 2011

You Never Look Like Yourself From The Side But Your Profile Did Not Hide

Our condo is a bit of a disaster zone right now and my camera cord has been MIA for weeks. I found it last night (in a box of thank you cards. I ... don't even know) so here's my latest bump progress shots:

I keep forgetting how pregnant I am (because I feel like I've been pregnant forever) but today my iPhone informed me that I'm 29 weeks pregnant. I'm pretty sure I've been calling myself 29 weeks pregnant for at least the last two weeks so I feel a bit cheated.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

There Are Different Names For The Same Things

So. Baby names. Picking out names can be fun and exciting. It can also be frustrating. Like, dickpunch your husband frustrating.

My heart has been broken numerous times over the past few months by his flippant use of the veto. Milo, Felix, Declan, Leo, Finnian, and Arlo were all cruelly (and firmly, meaning I can share them here because there is no way he'll relent) rejected by my husband.

Then there are all the fabulous one-syllable names that are unusable because of a generations-old tradition on Shawn's side of the family where the first-born son is given his father's name as a middle name. Meaning Willie (oh, and Shawn preemptively vetoed Willie before I even suggested it) will be Willie Shawn 2-syllable last name that starts with the letter "m."

The whole thing is made even more frustrating by Shawn's inability to stick to a certain naming style. Ewan, Tiberius, Aidan, Liam, Gibson, and Maximus are his top picks (that have been vetoed by me - works both ways, sucker!)

Willie remains nameless is what I'm saying. Which isn't a huge deal, I know. We've got 11 weeks left until my due date and here in BC you have 30 days to register a baby's birth. There's still time to find the perfect name. I just want to know now. I want to know, with certainty, that we've found the one.

There's one name that we keep returning to. Shawn suggested it months ago and I don't hate it. I just don't luh-huv it. It's a very Irish name and Shawn's last name (which will be Willie's last name - we're not saddling him with a 5-syllable hyphenated last name) is also very Irish. Which is fine, I guess. We're just not very Irish people. Is it weird to give our kid a very Irish sounding name if we're not particularly Irish? I mean, we drink green beer on St. Patrick's Day but that is pretty much the extent of our Irishness.

Of course, if the Canucks continue to do well in the playoffs all of this angst could be all for naught. Shawn and his brother are still pushing for a little Stanley Shawn M if the Canucks bring home the cup. Which puts me in the bizarre position of kinda-sorta-hoping that my favourite hockey team doesn't win the Stanley Cup

(I kid! I kid! I still want them to win! 100%! I just don't want my baby to be named Stan.)

Monday, 2 May 2011

But Do You Really Feel Alive Without Me

I make no secret of the fact that I love control. I am unapologetically Type A. I have my way of doing things and it is the right way. I am stubborn and decisive and headstrong and unbending. I don't say it with pride. I say it because it is. Both a flaw and a virtue and completely ingrained in my character.

Willie is my surprise fetus. I love him. I don't resent him. I resent being pregnant. The distinction is important to me. I don't know why.

I thought I was doing a good job at this Surprise!Pregnancy! thing. I read books and took my vitamins and found a doctor. I have tried to accept that this pregnancy is happening to me instead of happening according to my plan. I thought I was pulling it off but I'm not. I'm brittle. The slightest friction breaks me and I wind up in tears for what feels like the 80th time that day. I was bent over the examination table this morning, getting a giant needle in my butt (thanks, Rh-negative blood!) and I couldn't help but feel rage in place of my normal needle anxiety. I'm angry. I feel claustrophobic in my own body. I have no control over my emotions. I feel like I'm doing everything wrong. Which is all normal, I know. But knowing that I'm experiencing normal pregnancy highs and lows doesn't make it any easier. I try to channel my dear, nutty friend who happens to be the loveliest, most positive person I've ever met and I try to focus on the light at the end of this tunnel (the light being Willie, who has definitely upped his activity levels this week and doesn't hesitate to give me a good kick when I'm feeling blue.) I know that things will improve and even if they don't, this pregnancy is not indefinite. In 11-ish weeks I'll be done. I can absolutely last that long (I say with more force and confidence than I'm currently feeling.)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

I Wish I Was Special So Very Special

Homeowners: did you tip your Realtor? Or buy him or her a small gift to show your appreciation for a job well done? I need help deciding if this is creepy or not.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Geography's Too Stubborn And People Are Too Clear

Geography Lesson! Or Fun with Paint! Or Hillary's Brain is Fried! Take your pick.

This is British Columbia. Or rather, my poorly drawn interpretation of BC.

See where the little "x" is? That's roughly where Vancouver is located.

The Strait of Georgia (the water between BC and Vancouver Island) cuts into the mainland and becomes the Burrard Inlet once it wraps around the peninsula of downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park.

Vancouver is actually quite large but downtown proper doesn't go beyond the peninsula. (Which is why commuting to downtown Vancouver is such a nightmare if you don't take public transit.)

If you follow the Burrard Inlet to its end, you pass by East Vancouver, Burnaby (including Simon Fraser University) and end up in Port Moody. Or, my new city. We're actually going to be living right at the tip of the Burrard Inlet (just the tip, just for a second, just to see how it feels - name that movie!)

Shawn loves Port Moody and has been pushing for it ever since we decided to list our condo. I was resistant, not because I dislike Port Moody (I actually quite like it there) but because it feels so far. It's a bit silly, actually, because my commute time will be the same if I continue to use public transit (only now I'll be using the lovely commuter train instead of the skytrain - Vancouver's version of a subway.) It's just that where we are right now feels so central to me. It takes me 30 minutes to get to work, 30 minutes to get to Turtle's, 20 minutes to get to my parents' house, 30 minutes to Shawn's mom's place, and 40 minutes to get to Shawn's brother's house. Moving to Port Moody is going to double the time it takes to get to my parents' house and to Turtle's place. It will now take about 15 minutes to get to Shawn's brother's house and under 10 minutes to get to his mom's place. Which isn't a bad thing, don't get me wrong. Shawn's family is lovely and we all have a good relationship with each other. That being said, part of our good relationship is based on boundaries. Physical boundaries. I'm afraid that moving so close to Shawn's family (and further from my family) will create a scenario where I have to either be a total bitch to enforce my boundaries, or accept that people will feel free to stop by because we're so close. I hate it when people stop by. I do not encourage stopping by at all.

Resistant may not be a strong enough word. I really didn't want to move to Port Moody.

So we started looking for condos in both Port Moody and our current location. And the more we looked, the more I began to see Shawn's point. We do not live in a nice neighbourhood. I do not feel safe walking by myself after dark. Crime is high. And not just property crime - in the last year, there have been three fatal shootings and multiple stabbings all within a three block radius of our condo. Our building has a state of the art security system but I would not feel comfortable living on the first or second floor. Our condo itself is lovely. The area it is in? Is not. We live a block from the police station. Our condo is filled with traffic noise and police sirens. Our neighbourhood has character. It's improving. But it's not safe. Not yet.

I wasn't convinced that Port Moody was the answer until we found our condo. It's perfect for us. We're gaining over 400 square feet of space. It has ample storage. It has a massive patio. It's painted beautifully. It has high ceilings and entire walls of glass. I couldn't turn down the perfect condo just because I didn't love the location.

So I'm moving to a new city. And I'm trying to be excited. The lovely magenta accent wall certainly helps.

Monday, 18 April 2011

It's The Colour For The Battle In My Head I Have A Beat In My Life Like Love In My Heart

Midnight Friday was the deadline for our buyer to remove the subjects on his offer. Which seems to be Canadian terminology, if my weekend Twitter conversations are any indication. I'm no expert (ha! understatement!) but my understanding of how it works is this:

Buyer makes an offer. Negotiations ensue. Buyer and seller reach an agreement. A deadline for subject removal is set (usually a week to 2 weeks.) Subjects are the conditions that need to be met (like financing being approved, the home passing an inspection, etc) before the deposit is handed over. Once the subjects are removed, the deposit is made, the final papers are signed, and the contract is binding. If the buyer tries to back out of the contract, the seller gets to keep the deposit.

So. Our buyer had a few subjects that he had to remove by midnight on Friday. If he did not remove his subjects, we could not remove the subjects on the condo we wanted to buy (one of our subjects was that our condo was officially sold because we can't afford to end up with two condos.)

Our Realtor phoned me at noon on Friday to tell me that I shouldn't panic - yet - but that the buyer had a few "concerns" about the inspection. The inspection that was completed on Tuesday. I, of course, morphed into Anxious Hillary with a side of Ranty Hillary (why? Why not voice the concerns after the inspection? Why wait until the last minute unless you're being an ass and trying to renegotiate the price down?) My stress level rose steadily all day as the buyer's Realtor stopped returning my Realtor's phone calls and then peaked when the buyer's Realtor finally called our Realtor to say that he could not reach the buyer.

I was a lot of fun to be around on Friday.

Late Friday night our Realtor called to say that the buyer thought the subject removal deadline was actually midnight on Saturday. Which we chose to accept because we had no other option. Enforce the midnight Friday deadline? What good would that do? We had another sleepless night and then Shawn went off to work while I spent Saturday morning stress-eating my way through a shameful number of grilled cheese sandwiches and blasting Girl Talk and Jessie J in an attempt to divert my nervous energy.

We got the call early Saturday afternoon. Our buyer removed all subjects and the deposit cheque was in our Realtor's hands. We're moving to a new city, to the new condo with the lovely magenta accent wall. And I can breathe again.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Don't Waste The Sun On A Rainy Day

Random rainy Thursday thoughts running through my brain:

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I'm pretty bad at being a gushy pregnant lady. I read blogs written by gushy pregnant ladies and I feel like somehow I'm missing out on the experience. Like I'm somehow already failing at motherhood because I can't describe any part of this pregnancy as magical or say that I love being pregnant. I do not love being pregnant. I love Willie. Which surprises me, honestly. I mean, I knew I'd love the kid, I just didn't know that I'd love the fetus. Sometimes I wish I could be a bit more gushy, though.

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Our buyer has not yet removed his subjects. He has until midnight on Friday to remove them so I'm not panicking yet. I'm just all frothed up in a state of perpetual fret. If our buyer backs out of the contract, we have to back out of the purchase of the new condo. Our time line is already so tight that we won't have time to start the process again; we will have to pull our condo off the market and make our peace with staying put. Which isn't such a bad thing, I guess. Our condo is small and only has one bedroom but our mortgage payment is so low (and we wouldn't have to, you know, pack up all of our belongings and actually move.)

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My camera cord is packed somewhere so I can't share my 24-week belly shot. Which is unfortunate because I'm already halfway to 28 weeks and will be taking a new belly shot.

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The first round of Stanley Cup playoffs started last night. The Canucks are playing the Blackhawks, which causes me a great deal of stress and angsty feelings. I love hockey. I love the Canucks. I ... cannot stand to see Vancouver eliminated from the playoffs by Chicago for the third straight year. Not that I think they'll be eliminated. Vancouver has had an amazing year and Chicago is not the same team it was last year. Plus we totally kicked their asses last night (suckas!) I'm just no good at being a cocky sports fan. I'm more of a hand wringer. I really hope the Canucks do well in the playoffs but I'm not necessarily rooting for them to win the Stanley Cup (only because Shawn has threatened to name Willie "Stan" if they do win the cup. Which is kind of funny on its own but downright hilarious if you say Stan with Shawn's last name - which will also be Willie's last name.)

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Shawn's band is playing at the Westcoast Tattoo & Culture Show tomorrow at 5:30. Vancouver peeps should check it out - tickets are only $15 and there's a bunch of stuff to see and do.

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Any rainy day thoughts you want to share?

Monday, 11 April 2011

I'm Holding On Til I Can Find You So Take Me Home

So I don't want to jinx anything but Shawn and I most likely bought a condo last night. I say most likely because the purchase is contingent on our sale and our purchaser doesn't have to remove his subjects until this Friday. If everything goes well, he'll remove his subjects on Friday and on Monday we'll remove our subjects on the place we want to buy and then it will cost everyone time and money if they want to back out of the contract. Meaning, I'll feel less jinxy talking about it and I can tell you all about the rooftop terrace and gorgeous paint job and 9-foot ceilings. How about a little peek?It's not a gorgeous turquoise accent wall but it is bold and colourful and lovely (also, Shawn thinks it's red so let's just go along with it until I've got our furniture in there and it's impossible for him to insist on a new paint job, okay?)

But now I have to stop talking about it because this could all fall apart before Monday. If our purchaser bails, we will lose this condo and how many condos with gorgeous magenta accent walls do you think are out there? This was the only gorgeous magenta accent wall I saw all weekend and we saw 24 units between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon (11 of which we saw on Saturday after my 2-hour gestational diabetes test. Note to self: never plan anything after a gestational diabetes test, unless the plan involves planting your ass on a couch and not moving until the extreme sugar high and subsequent low have passed.)

If everything goes as planned, we'll move into the new place in 47 sleeps (47 sleeps! Less than 7 weeks!) which will give us 54 sleeps until my due date (note to Willie: please stay put until then.) Our time line is very manageable is what I'm saying. We just have to get through this week of anxiety and then we can breathe a sigh of relief and move onto the next stage: packing. Also known as: Shawn throws everything all hodgepodge into an unlabeled box while Hillary gets clenchy and shrill. I can't wait.