Posts tagged ‘teh sick’

33 weeks: Nesting, Exhaustion, All is Well

I have been such a naughty blogger. Haven’t been writing, haven’t been taking belly pictures. Naughty!

Alas, I’ve been kind of knackered. I had three (count’em) colds, one after another, stretching out over two snot-encrusted months. It would appear that I have no immune system at all. I’m also just plain tired. Walking is far, stairs are tall, bags are heavy. One theory is that I may have developed anemia: the midwives have me taking iron supplements for the next few weeks, then a blood test will reveal how I’m doing.

But, really, in the realm of important things, all is well. The kid is enormous (or feels that way to me) and is vigourous, flippy and full of kicks and pokes. He is positioned incorrectly (as indicated by the bony skull pushing into my ribs), but at 33 weeks tomorrow he still has lots of time to turn. I’m going to see an acupuncturist tomorrow to see if she can convince him to get head down. I wonder if that might be more comfortable as well as more conducive to easy birthing, but won’t get my hopes up about comfort.

A random image from Christmas day by the ocean.

After the Christmas holidays, I’m back to work until 39 weeks (or that’s the plan). The very thought of going downtown and working 8.5 hours every day for 6 more weeks is so exhausting that I’m trying to get lots of nesting done in the next few days here. Z is painting the kid’s room, because it had lots of holes in the walls. Today, we did a big shop, picking up all kinds of baby miscellany like a change table topper, diaper bag and swaddling blankets.

Then, the day after tomorrow, we’re going on a road trip to collect hand-me-down clothes from some friends in another city. I’m hopeful that between the clothes their little girls have outgrown, and the stuff we already have, we can be officially set for clothes for the first six months. Then, we just have a few more things to fix and organize in the kid’s room, and we need to put together a functional guest room space in the basement or attic for when grandma comes to visit after he is born.

Just twoish months left! When I feel like an old, old woman huffing and puffing my way down the sidewalk, I remember that one day I will go running again, sleep on my stomach and be strong enough to carry this little kid around all over town.

Some Whine with my Cheese

On the subject of cheese: I have been all about the dairy products lately. I can’t decide whether to count my heightened cheese and milk consumption as a virtuous attempt to meet the insane dietary protein guidelines recommended in my prenatal class, or whether I am just a gluttonous cheese-hound. Because I am definitely that.

I've been eating these little cheeses like they're going out of style.

As threatened, a bit of a whine: I have a cold, which makes me cough all the time, which would make my abdominal muscles sore, if I had any. Instead, coughing torments my poor stretched-out belly, aggravates the round ligaments, and makes my belly button distend outward in the most tragic manner with each cough. And gives me a headache. It’s really very tragic.

This is the tail end of the second trimester, a time when I had hoped we’d be more or less finished renovations and able to settle down, relax and get ready for the baby. Haha! Renovations are certain to extend past the kid’s birthday, and may in fact outlive us all.

Oh well. We are tough and resourceful. We’ll do what we can for now, take a little break when the kid is born, then keep going. Babies don’t need kitchens or living rooms anyways, right? They just need diapers, a place to sleep, and somewhat sane parents so I’m focusing my efforts on that stuff for now.

This is what every mama says at every stage of pregnancy, but I CANNOT BELIEVE there are give-or-take 12 weeks until we will have a kid. Living with us for ever! How can you even prepare for a thing like that? You can’t. It’s insane.

Response to the book "Maybe One"

Propped up on pillows with a cup of tea – such a civilized way to spend an evening! Of course, it’s two o’clock in the damn morning – such is my unscheduled time management when home alone, and during the respite between academic terms.

At least the Plague is retreating. While I did call in legitimately sick this morning for an academic research meeting, I then dragged my coughing carcass to the bar tonight to play music.  Does this say something about my priorities?  The justification I allowed myself was that I wouldn’t have the energy to do both things in one day, but the academic meeting would go fine without me, and my band would really suffer with a person short.

(The band, the research job, etc.: My meagre contributions to the household revenue stream while I am a student consist of weekly and other sporadic gigs with my traditional world music band, a weekly music-teaching gig at a studio near the university, plus an academic research job which my advisor said would be good for me.  I am hoping that if I can just give it the old college try, that something will click and the research will become interesting. In the meantime, I dread even thinking about the spectacularly dull and obscure tasks I am supposed to be doing.)

I’m going to blab (at length) about a book I devoured at the end of term, which is now back at the library and risks being forgotten unless I write something down.  Maybe One, by environmentalist Bill McKibben, applies the environmentalist perspective to the very intimate question of how many children to have.

When I was a purple-haired, gaunt, sullen and eminently unlovable teenager, it occurred to me that the Earth was overpopulated, and yet people persisted in bearing children. Anyone could clearly see that the Earth was full, and that people should adopt the underfed, unwanted children of the world instead of making more babies. I indignantly felt that anyone who could adopt a baby but decided to bear one instead was selfish for favouring their own genetic material. I wasn’t familliar with the expense and administrative nightmare of adoption at the time, and my understanding of socioeconomic forces was a little fuzzy. My parents and friends let me venomously hold forth on the subject, but some folks were put off. Imagine that!

I had forgotten what it felt like to stare down people’s indignation in discussions of family size until I read “Maybe One” and started discussing it in public.  It seems almost impossible to talk about a relationship between family size decisions and environmental responsibility without hurting people’s feelings. This is a drag, because it’s a super important topic. Nobody walked away from me crying or anything, but I got the sense that people were uncomfortable just listening to me describe the book’s argument, and how I am considering it personally. Bill McKibben really did a bang-up job at keeping a respectful tone throughout the book. He must be either a nice guy and a humanist, or have a great editor.

My darling cousin A and her friend were visiting last week, and we had some interesting conversations about making the dreaded connection between family size and environmental concerns. The first time I mentioned the book, A and I had been talking about Peak Oil and economic or ecological collapse.  In that context, she thought that limiting family sizes might be reasonable.

Her friend, however, seemed to find the whole idea insane that someone would intentionally limit their family size for reasons external to the family. “It’s such a huge sacrifice!” she said. I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms- as sacrificing something that you might otherwise have had – but more as a choice between one kind of fulfillment over another. I take her point though. If, in your heart, you really felt that fulfillment could only come with a large family, then choosing to have a small one for environmental reasons would rankle.  You’d feel like you had made a giant personal sacrifice, and wouldn’t be happy.  You’d have to find other reasons for joy. It would be a hard road.

Both A and her friend are attracted to large families- they want to have lots of babies and stay home full time to raise them. That kind of abundance is very appealing – I have felt its pull too at different times, although a different image of family life appeals to me more strongly at the present. I remember feeling inexplicably sad when several of my friends explained that they choose to have only one child, either because of population and environmental concerns or because of career aspirations.  The meaning of that sadness is hard to articulate – I think it must be an illogical idea of loss, as in “You are such a good parent with a beautiful baby. You could create those kinds of good things again. How can you stand not to?”

Of course there are other reasons to limit family size, which are widely accepted nowadays, thank God. My grandmother had five babies one right after the other in the 1940’s, while running a farm, and by the fifth pregnancy she was so completely exhausted she didn’t know what to do.  She had a tubal ligation at the hospital where her fifth was born, even though the idea of limiting family size was counter to her religious understanding. She felt apologetic and ashamed of this decision to limit her children until the end of her life. I’m so sorry she had to deal with that insane guilt, and I’m grateful for the conversations I get to have about family planning, and for my freedom to make decisions without heavy religious judgement.

That said, the most convincing part of “Maybe One” I found to be the last chapter, which takes a religious perspective. Religion and poetry speaks more closely than science to the fundamental part of our psyches which hold our ideals of family. The author is Christian, but I think the “be fruitful and multiply” commandment is common to several religions. His argument is that having a big family is a good, time-tested way to become a selfless, wise, mature person.  But there are also other paths to that goal, including community service and environmental stewardship – other kinds of “good works” we can do which might be more called for at this point in history.

I find this last idea pretty appealing. I want to have a small family and love them to bits. I also really hope to do important work in my field.  Not “important” like well recognized or compensated, but important for helping societies move in the best direction towards the future.

I read “Maybe One” in the hopes of shoring up a little more context for the day I get to decide whether we want a second kid. According to the book, that decision has the biggest environmental impact of any I will make in my life. That decision will only get made for sure once child #1 already exists – the answer might even be obvious at that time.

When I told him about the book, Z curiously asked “Oh, so are we only planning to have one child now?”  I do not understand how a human being can possibly be so easygoing, but he is.  There’s one reason we are so good for each other. He comes back to me from his business trip this Saturday, and I can’t wait to resume our continuous dialogue of small thoughts.


Since this cold has continued its streak of making me dumber with each passing day, today I post cheap lulz.

Writers Who Accidentally Crapped Out Masterpieces

This pretty much confirms that writing stuff under duress is the way to go.  I have been going about school the right way after all.

Also, the very idea (mentioned in the article) that somebody published the memos Kafka wrote in his bureaucratic desk job cracks me up to no end.  I hope that after a long and fruitful career as a civil servant, I fulfill my dream of writing wise and amazing poetry in my retirement.  Then, after my death, somebody can publish my reports to city council and apply literary analysis to them. 

The short walk to Corporate Video Mart to rent “Milk” has done me in. Sneeze! Here’s to a healthier, more prosperous tomorrow.

Sniffling Saturday

Today has been Day 5 of a cold that started out very mild and now has taken over my lungs and brain. Pretty much the only thing I accomplished all day was a short bike ride to  buy some bagels at the local Jewish bakery. Basically once you’ve tried those bagels, the pathetic imitations available at Safeway don’t compare. It becomes a powerful addiction, such that you would set off down a steep hill in heavy traffic, hacking and wheezing, to pick up a dozen frozen bagels.  They will be totally worth the burning in my lungs from biking back up the hill.

Tonight my parents had me over for an early 29-th birthday dinner, I spent most of the evening on their couch blowing my nose into the toilet roll I brought over in my purse. In normal circumstances, I am a stalwart handkerchief woman, but when this kind of cold strikes, there’s nothing for it but to switch to toilet paper.  You’re welcome for the mental image.  My angry red nose is at the forefront of my thoughts right now.

Over appel, I mean apple pie, my mom cleared her throat and said “So.  You’re almost 29!  You should think about having children.  Don’t wait until you’re 40.”

My mom was 39 when she gave birth to me, and in those days that was (apparently) scarcely believed possible. I have friends in their late thirties still waiting for their ducks to get in a row to have that first baby, but apparently in 1980  it was totally shocking.  Mom had thought she and dad couldn’t have kids together at all, since they had been trying for a long time. I believe they subscribed to the folk wisdom then popular that if you had sex in really uncomfortable positions that it would make conception more likely.  When it still didn’t happen, they gave up.

Then finally, years later, I appeared.  Mom had all sorts of complications which she doesn’t know the medical names for (I suspect a calcified placenta).  One story is that there was something wrong with her placenta and only half of it worked, and my mother understood this to mean there was only a 50% chance that I would be normal and healthy.  Maybe there was another reason  it was a high risk pregnancy. Anyways, the outcome is, somewhat naturally her moderate level of anxiety about me getting to the babies already!

I don’t really talk to my mom about this stuff.  I’m generally most comfortable keeping her at an arms length from my innermost plans, because she tends to get very invested in them.  But I did tell her that right now my top two priorities have to be finishing school, and finding some kind of job.

That’s the truth. The tentative plan, should I be lucky enough to find a job in whatever remains of the economy if/when I graduate by the fall of 2010, is to set a date then for trying for a baby. Maybe we could start trying right away after I find a job. Z is a few years older than me so he’s certainly on board for trying sooner than later. Nonetheless, I spent most of my wasted youth traveling the world and playing in bands instead of getting on with grad school. I don’t regret these things, but there it is. We’ve still got some waiting to do. I am trying to enjoy it.  Like now, for instance, when I am free to be a giant sick baby myself.

Sickness brings out the most pathetic comfort-seeker in folks – at least in me.  The big teddy bear that a roommate gave me for 20th? birthday had to come out of the closet for me to lay my head on.  The cats think this fake fur is the greatest thing ever.  A cat is currently reclining on  top of the giant bear’s torso right now, with her paw stretched protectively over the bear’s shoulder.  At least I am in excellent company while Z is out of town! 

I do believe the time has come to knock myself out with cold medication, wrest the teddy bear from the cat, and sleep for 12 hours!