Sunday, September 30

deals galore!


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Yesterday we drove out to Coquitlam (about 40 minutes), mainly because I had an urge to check out the new H&M (bad crunchy mama) and we had a long list of things we still needed to pick up for our home birth that we could pick up at the mall. Sebastian fell asleep about 10 minutes from our destination, so we stopped for drive-thru and stumbled upon a Value Village. I left the boys in the car and hit the thrift store looking for cheap towels and a bed sheet. I got 5 big towels and a sheet for $3.99 each! I also picked up some books, two parenting books, a vegetarian cookbook, a mom and baby yoga book and a book about organising playdates and parties - I paid $2.99 each for four and got one for free. We came home with a couple old magazines, a few baby outfits, a little bag of cars and a plane for S, two shirts and a baby doll - also for S. (*on the map, the three pauses are where we a) saw the H&M billboard and changed our plans, b) saw the sign notifying us that the road we were going to take was closed, and c) finally got going towards the highway)

Sebastian woke up about 1/2 way through my shopping spree and he and Andrew came and wandered the store together.

Once done there we hit the mall - I always forget how much shopping on the weekend sucks... it was crowded and loud and just barely tolerable. We went to Lush where they were having a sale on all unpackaged goods - buy two get one free. We picked up a massage bar, soap and shampoo, plus a free sample of shower jelly, which Sebastian thinks is the coolest stuff EVER.

We hit Old N*vy and got a few things from the clearance rack for S and the new baby, Andrew found a cool pair of cords that the hem had come out on - they were the last in his size and I suggested he ask for a discount (not his style) - we got the $36 cords for $14!! H&M was a bust - it was nuts and had a huge line for the tills - we gave up. Nothing special anyways.

We went to Zellers for the last few bits, got almost all of our birth shopping done - plus bits like hooded towels, receiving blankets and cloths. Now it is all sitting in our new laundry basket (future home of the birth kit) waiting to go to the laundromat for a HOT HOT wash.

Wednesday, September 26

introspection and a future engineer and his tractor.

I find it amazing how, when I spend less time on my own, I end up thinking more. Our week has been pleasantly full, yesterday Sebastian and I ran necessary errands before going to the park - and at every stop we found some lovely, light conversation. Following a very tense non-nap, we packed into the car and headed towards New West, our ultimate destination was a good friend's house where we had dinner plans. Sebastian, quite predictably, fell asleep shortly after take-off.

Dinner was great - food from a local won-ton house - and was followed by a blissful period of child and husband/fiance-free time. My friend's fiance treated himself to a new Xbox (and Halo, of course) and Andrew and Sebastian went along for the ride. Meanwhile, my friend, Shannon, and I got to drink tea and talk. It was wonderful and something I had been craving.

We all stayed up a little later than we ought to have (she had an early shift and we had a grumpy boo, but no one really wanted to rush home to bed). We came home to a house that looked like I had rushed out the door with an uncooperative toddler... normally not something I would worry much about, but I was hosting my very first playdate the next morning. We stayed up a little later tidying before deciding to leave it and sleep.

This morning was spent cleaning, tidying, discovering that none of the markets nearby open before 8, but that if you order decaf at 7:40 at Blenz by Capers they make you an americano (YUM). We spent too much on organic produce and rushed home just in time to sort toys, vacuum and welcome our first guests. I quickly finished tidying (read: hiding all the crap that ends up on the dining room table) and when the second guest arrived I ducked into the bathroom to do my hair. I was a bit of a frazzled host and Sebastian was a bit of an ungracious one - but we had fun and I think most everyone else did too. People left within an appropriate span of time and the one family that stayed later was very much welcome. Sebastian had a great time playing with a slightly older boy and I really (*really*) appreciated the support and advice I got from an experienced mama of two. Again, something I had really been craving - just someone to tell me that a) everything will be okay and b) my bully-son is a perfectly "normal" two-year-old.

After everyone had left and we had eaten a quick lunch, I took Sebastian to the bedroom for a nap. The child was beat and we had talked a few times about how much better he would feel after a nap - but I was scared. Naps have not been going well around here and I was really doubting my ability to put this child to sleep (which of course is compounded by my vivid visions of trying to console a crying infant while trying to get a belligerent toddler to take a necessary nap), for a few weeks now, naps have been a black cloud over our days. The fight to get him to sleep would leave me so emotionally drained that I could barely function - and my mind would be left racing and unable to rest. I've been absolutely useless.

Today, however, would be different. Today I had a greater presence of mind - having spent time discussing all sorts of things with other adults - and I had a greater sense of myself - having begun to read and really internalize (parts of) Birthing From Within. Things started predictably, the moment we got into the bedroom Sebastian went from sleepy to excited, he drank his milk and then wanted to play/cuddle/read/etc. I stayed calm and focused and read from the same bad script I had been trying to follow since things started falling apart. But then... I decided to improvise. I figured that the worst that could happen would be that he wouldn't nap, again. So I decided to roll with things and see where we ended up and guess what?? He was asleep within 15 minutes. I had so stubbornly been sticking to my cool and quiet routine that I hadn't considered that he may need to start again from a more comfortable place. I went back a few months to where we came out of our last napless funk and put my hand on his back as he fell asleep... and he did fall asleep. I shit you not I almost cried.

The lesson is to not be so rigid and to work with the flow of mothering. A good lesson to have learned today and one that will help me both in my day-to-day and on that bigger day, the one where we welcome our new family member.

It is a tractor - he built it himself with just a little help getting the bits together

He was so proud (as were we).

babybabybabybabybabybaby

Today is that magical 37 week mark - I could go into labour any time now and be full term... I am getting my birth basket together (a rubbermaid laundry basket that will contain our birth kit). I dropped my group B strep test off at the lab yesterday morning. I am taking Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) and drinking Red Raspberry Leaf (RRL) Tea. I can feel my body physically preparing for the work it has ahead. I am reading Birthing From Within, my midwife's home birth guide and all the articles and handouts from last weekend's Birthing Again class.

We've set up registries and wish lists at BabiesRUs and Sears - even though the stuff we really want (read: expensive but organic/natural/local and beautiful) can be found at places like Dandelion Kids, Natural Pod and Baby Buddha. We are sorting out getting the things we really need (a carseat - which - knock on wood - my awesome mother and step-father are buying us, and our birth kit, which our friends Brian and Shannon unexpectedly purchased for us) as well as all the things we are borrowing (most of which are much less pressing, breast-pump, bassinet, bouncy seat, etc).

We've been talking to Sebastian about the arrival of his new brother or sister - as well as trying to get his routines re-established (oh my god he napped today and I almost cried I was so relieved). Discipline that has fallen to the side due to travel and visits and maternal fatigue needs to be re-established.

There is still lots on my to-do list and I am holding out hope that I have three or even four weeks left to get it all done - but I am at peace with the idea of it not coming together before the baby comes and dealing with that.

the new old-fashioned way

A little while ago I mentioned that we would be home-washing and hang-drying our new cloth diapers. On Saturday, the second half of the diapering equation arrived - a Wonder Wash and Mini Countertop Spin Dryer from The Laundry Alternative Inc. we've been washing a load of laundry a day for the last two days - we haven't started the cloth diapers yet we want to get a good feel for the system before we add extra work.

So far things are great - two days and I am already feeling a groove. Morning is the best time to do it, meaning, eventually, getting up a smidge earlier to get it all done before our morning activities. Doing the previous day's laundry, two loads sorted by colour, take about an hour from sort and pre-treat to laundry on the line. Everything so far has been dry by the next morning - including jeans - and that is hanging in our hallway, not outside (we live on the west coast and the rainy season is upon us). Following the directions, I used about 20 gallons of water per day, including the rinse and six tablespoons of detergent. I also used about a 1/2 cup of vinegar in each rinse. The spin dryer runs three times for a full wash load - for up to five minutes for jeans and as little as one minute for a light load (soccer shorts, some undies and my fancy new top).

I will update when we start doing diapers too!

Note who is doing all the work and who is having fun... actually I was having fun too.

See?

Our dirty laundry

My right arm is going to be so buff.

Okay, Andrew, enough pictures already

Our retractable drying line.

Hanging to dry (note Sebastian's awesome new tee)

Sebastian refers to this as the car wash

Having our laundry hanging in the hallway certainly makes us want to take it down as soon as it is dry, but it is also out of the way enough to not be intrusive, and when there's nothing on the line it blends right into the background.

Friday, September 21

the countdown is on

Seems like just yesterday - but so much has happened the past eight months. I can barely believe we are about to see our small family grow.

In eight months I have:
  • seen our son turn two
  • moved (again)
  • saw the end of an old friendship
  • reconnected with old friends
  • seen my best friend get engaged
  • had a good friend get married
  • said goodbye
  • found community
  • planted a garden
  • watched it thrive and watched it fail
  • spanked my son
  • yelled
  • been broke
  • been flush
  • been broke again
  • hit a truck with my car
  • gotten two haircuts
  • flown on a plane, twice
  • written things I've been proud
  • said things I have not been proud of
  • and made a baby

Monday, September 17

pregnancy update

OOF - I don't know where to start.

Nearing 36 weeks and at once feeling every bit as pregnant as I am and still caught completely off-guard by my bulging belly.

We're all nesting in earnest, even Sebastian. Today he found, among some second-hand toys we had picked up recently, a small doll house crib and a plastic kiwi. The kiwi became the baby and he fed, bathed, changed and kissed the wee baby. It was adorable and hilarious. Half an hour later he was changing the diaper on one of his hot wheels cars.

I am still attempting to pull my life together before the baby comes. Every passing day this goal becomes more absurd, and rather than allow myself to feel like I am failing (which I do do often) I am trying to remind myself that it *will* all work out and figure out where my priorities lie. There are a few things that really need to be in place, like bill and rent payments, some that I would prefer to have in place, like meal plans and getting the cupboards stocked, and a few that have already fallen to the side and I just need to come to terms with it.

Andrew has taken his own nesting to great lengths - while we were in Calgary he re-arranged the entire living/dining room *and* painted a wonderful mural in the kids' room. Our main living area is now more open and more child-friendly. It also now sports a kid-sized couch that used to be our fireplace mantle and those shelves that dove off the walls some months ago? They're back and can support (briefly) my beefcake husband! We also now own a stud-finder!!

As for the actual pregnancy - my belly is getting bigger, but magically (?) the rest of me seems to be getting smaller. I am still off sugar - but have cheated a little recently and feel like shit for it (one post-shower cake binge sent me into a night of panic - I was so very very sure I could not get the baby to move and that my little binge had killed it... dramatic much?). I could list my complaints, but none of them are out of the ordinary or very interesting. What is interesting is that my midwife had to cancel our appointment yesterday because she was in a minor fender-bender... with a semi... she will hopefully recover fully and be back on her feet in time to catch the little bean.

Saturday, September 15

Baby Shower Thank You Card

More on our wonderful shower soon - I just wanted to show off the thank you card I made. It involved using Andrew's macbook running windows, which makes me feel a little dirty (actually, a lot dirty - sorry Andrew), but I am really happy with the result.


shower thank you
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(click to play)

That photo is my new favourite family photo - check it out, with notes, on my flickr.

Friday, September 14

our day in pictures

Start here - after a pancake breakfast with Uncle Julian, we geared up and headed out.


Following a coffee break where we met Karen, owner of New & Green, and picked up our new diaper stash (a baby gift from Andrew's parents), we went to the same park where a lifetime ago Andrew and I were married.


Can you believe it is already fall???


Trying out the macro on my new camera.


I rarely see these anymore - this one is across town from where we live - too bad, because Sebastian adored it.


Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee


Sebastian did not stop moving once until we were back in the car and he had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in his hand.


Here he is making eyes at one of the other park mamas.

Nearing home, listening to the Beatles Love album (All You Need Is Love was the track) with an increasingly tired and crabby child in the back seat, and having just driven past the spot where only two days prior I had side-swiped a truck (I'm not quite ready to talk about that yet), it was nice to look up and see my silly, smiling family.


After we got home Sebastian put up a mighty fight before settling down for a nap. So once he was asleep I decided to ignore the dishes and fawn over my lovely new diapers.

We decided to get unbleached Indian pre-folds, not only are they inexpensive and versatile, they dry more quickly than many fitted diapers and since we plan on home-laundering and line-drying (more on that later) that is a big plus!


You might also notice a nice stash of Bummies Super Whisper Wraps - we only splurged on four over the entire course of diapering Sebastian (2 small, 2 medium) and they were awesome - I was beyond thrilled to be able to get a complete supply this time around (6 small, 6 medium). We also got some Snappis to try out (though we used no fasteners when we used pre-folds in the past), a dozen recycled flannel wipes, a dozen micro fleece liners, a small waterproof tote and locally-made wipes solution concentrate.


Diaper mountain.


Wipes in detail (these make me lust for a Serger of my very own).


And Karen's business card - if you are in the market for cloth diapers, I highly recommend New & Green. Not only is it local, but I've been amazed by the level of customer service I've witnessed in the short time I have been in touch with Karen. She really loves cloth diapering and wants people to love it too. During our coffee meeting she picked up a tester kit from one mother and gave a lesson on cloth diapering to a woman due with her first around the same time as I am. Once she finds a suitable space she will be running cloth diapering workshops - all this while mothering her very sweet nine-month-old daughter.


Andrew got home right at the end of my diaper photo-shoot and Sebastian woke from his nap just in time for pizza from a chain. I can not believe what we endured to order those damned things *or* that it cost as much as a good sushi dinner would have. But for some reason Andrew and I were both desperately craving stuffed crust (it was not nearly as good as I remember). In fact, none of it was very good and next time we'll stick with one of the much better local shops- or get sushi.

Andrew laying out the greasy "spread" while Sebastian drinks plastic broccoli from a cup.


After pizza we all crawled into the big bed and watched Fantastic 4.

what colour is the sky on your planet, Mr. Bush?

A good dissection of The Prez's prime-time speech last night from washingtonpost.com by Dan Froomkin. Thankfully, I don't have a TV - so I missed the talking head - but you can read the whole, painful speech here.

I am a little confused as to why, if everyone *knows* he is full of shit, no one has impeached him yet - but my understanding of US politics ranks up there with my understanding of fission.

Yes, it is long, but well worth the read.

Tuesday, September 11

something so right

There are only two options when life hands you any difficult set of circumstances. On one hand you can fall apart, you can give up and wallow in a place of sadness and pity. On the other, you can find the brightness and a reason to smile (even through tears).

Generally, I tend to be a wallower - feeling sorry for myself, feeling like life has handed me a shitty hand simply feels comfortable. It is my wall, it protects me. It is an infuriating trait that I have very thankfully been growing out of for years - but when things get rough I tend to revert. I get whiny and sarcastic - oh and it is all about me... me and my problems and the difficult work of laying blame.

As our adventure began:


c-train

Some wallowing is allowed in every one's life, every once in a while life just sucks - and it is alright to say so. But life isn't awful all the time, it isn't even awful most of the time, and generally I think it would be best to conserve my self-pity for the times it is warranted. I was handed just such an opportunity yesterday. First I accidentally threw my nearly new digital camera onto a public bathroom floor - rendering it useless on the final day of my trip home. Informed by the clerk of the repair shop that it would not be worth fixing I found myself in a place of pity.

I cried, I felt like an idiot for breaking my camera, I chided myself for not being responsible, I scolded myself for thinking I was worthy of owning something so nice, I tried to will time to reverse so that I could change the outcome.

After pulling myself together and deciding to wallow in the privacy of my parent's home I headed to a store to get bus fare. I willfully ignored the bright pink sign stating that the store did not make change for transit and sweetly asked if I could please get my change back in bus-fare friendly bits. The woman behind the counter, who undoubtedly hears this all the time, pointed out the sign and very sternly explained to me that no, she would not make change. I was still in pity mode and was feeling attacked - my response was to try and escape - but not until I had made the required change by buying something else. I muttered about having a bad day and her not needing to be a bitch considering I was solving the problem. She yelled angrily behind me as I left the store.

I put my small clutch inside my large diaper bag and I stood outside another shop's window and had a good cry. I pulled myself together again and walked to the transit platform.

When I arrived I went to get my small clutch out of my large diaper bag and it was gone. I muttered many things under my breath and walked back towards the mall - feeling very beaten-down. I called Andrew as I entered the air-conditioning and told him I had lost my purse. With him talking me down I walked back to the place I had gotten change and asked the woman if she had seen my purse. She said no, she said she had seen me put it inside my bag, she asked me if I was sure it was missing, uncertain and hopeful, I dumped out my purse on her lotto table and verified once again that it was not there. She checked the candy bars, in case I had dropped it, all the while saying she had seen me put it in my bag. Through my head ran the following scenario:
I am stuck in Calgary without identification or access to money. I can not board a plane home until I have proper ID for both Sebastian and I. I am 35 weeks pregnant. I am going to end up stranded in Calgary and giving birth in a hospital surrounded by strangers. I am not going to be able to fly home for six weeks (because waiting for ID would take more than a week, by which point they would not let me fly, and once the baby is born it can not fly until it is 7 days old - I may have been hysterical, but I could do math). My whole world was falling apart.


So I snapped at this woman, who I am now sure was just trying to help, but felt like an insidious leech sucking my remaining goodwill. She snapped back at me, I gained the attention of pretty much everyone on every floor of the mall while I had a total meltdown. Security was called, a very bored-looking bloke took my statement and information - he told me not to hold out hope, that wallets usually get tossed and that I probably would never see it again.

Realising he was right, I pulled myself together again. I started asking mall staff if they had seen my wallet, on the off-chance someone picked it up and turned it in. Suddenly this man came up to me and handed me money - he wanted to make sure I got where I needed to go safely. I fell apart.

Meanwhile, Andrew was on hold with Air Canada to find out what I would need to do. I headed to a bank branch on the off-chance they could give me a new bank card. They did. By the time I had finished there Andrew had found out that if we had a police report regarding the lost or stolen identification we could board the airplane. So we walked to where I thought the police station was, then walked to where the police station *actually* was.* I told the inconvenienced-looking young officer that I wouldn't normally bother reporting my wallet, but that the report was necessary. He understood and morphed into a very helpful and sympathetic guy.

As I filled out my reports, I overheard a distraught woman try and get in touch with someone on in vice whom she felt she had developed a relationship. The police were pretty cop-like, not asses, but cold, factual and detached. I felt sorry for her and I wondered, not for the first time that afternoon, why I thought my trauma was so all-important. I completed the report as quickly and concisely as I could. I thanked every deity that I was still alive, still healthy, still in the presence of a toddler who's boredom could be overcome with simple toys and healthy snacks.

I thanked them all that I could fly home, that I had a clean, safe and loving home to fly home to, I thanked them for the lives around me, for the life inside me.

By this point it was rush hour, I was determined to get back to my parent's place and shed my sweaty clothes and relax. We waited 20 minutes for a train that was "empty" enough that we could all board. A woman I shared the platform with cleared us a path. As we'd waited she had told me stories about her many children, her job, and life. On the train another woman pulled Sebastian's stroller in tight to her body to give me and the belly a little more room. Every time I apologised she would give me that "oh please" look and tell me to stop worrying so much. She assured me that I wasn't in the way and that everything was fine.

I got home and excitedly told my story to my step-father, still full of pity - but also a hint of humour and hope. When my mother got home I told her the story too. We had dinner and discussed the petty crime that comes with a booming economy, we talked about my luck in still being able to fly the next morning, we talked about other things and enjoyed our meal.

After dinner my step-father informed me he would be replacing my camera, had already priced them online and that we should do it immediately. He has this really funny little soft spot and I know that in telling my story the part that still hurt the most was losing my camera. This is a man who I compared to an ogre in childhood and through adolescence, whose kindness I have very rarely glimpsed (though I am always assured it exists). This is a man with whom I have butted heads for most of my life.

This morning we left the house at 6:00am. The sweetest image was of my step-father carrying my son downstairs, neither are morning people, but both were smiling widely. I felt so blessed in that moment, in the house I had grown up in, surrounded by the family I had once known as my own, having survived (nearly) a week. Not just survived. I enjoyed myself. I learned a lot. I re-centred. I was spoiled. I saw my sister as the adult she is becoming, I saw my parents as the people they are, I saw myself in a crystal clear mirror and saw things I didn't like and things I love.

And I got a great haircut. And I saw old friends. And I made a new one. I was inspired and inspiring - our choices to work to be green, to move to a new city, to be a young family were all affirmed. I left feeling like I was doing a pretty good job of life, that my perceived failures and shortcomings were just that - my perceptions.

All in all, a pretty good week.



*I have finally mastered the gmaps pedometer!!

Sunday, September 9

two years of sir sebastia-pants

Something Andrew put together while we've been gone - it is so sweet, I cry every time I watch it. Seeing my baby so small makes me really excited to finally meet the babe in my belly.

Thanks Andrew, I love you and miss you.

video

the more things change, the more they stay the same

Last night I attended my ten-year high school reunion. I was a small affair held at a sports pub and attended by a very interesting and ecclectic mix of people.

$2.25 time travel

Imagine my surprise when I looked up tomorrow's bus trip and discovered I could arrive at my destination eleven minutes before I'd left. They told me the city had really changed since we left - but no one mentioned public time transit.

*click to enlarge





Friday, September 7

a little levity

My latest posts have been downright morose and, I admit it, a little whiny. One might think that my life is devoid of fun. I assure you, this is hardly the case- and so, dear readers, a little look at the sillier side of my life.

On Tuesday Sebastian and I made our way down to Science World, it was the first day of school and the throngs of half-pints were conspicuously absent. We got there early and for a time felt like we had the entire building to ourselves. Sebastian was able to explore the toddler-centric area while I got a few last-minute travel and budget things worked out, once it had filled with kids we were ready to move on. The first thing we did was head to the disco room, in a darkened room with ever-present disco music, a psychedelic projection of the room's dancing occupants occupies one wall. In the past this room has been a hit simply because of the music, but on Tuesday that all changed when Sebastian realised thathe controlled what appeared on-screen. He went into full hard-core disco mode and it was the most hilarious thing to watch. He incorporated a few break-dance moves, some gymnastics and some elaborate hand-gestures. This included some distinct disco moves, how he knows the whole point and spin bit is beyond me, but apparently he does. I nearly fell over laughing.

party in the disco room

We then visited the bees (they have a working hive) and the turtle and snake before grabbing a bucket of popcorn on our way out the door (amazing how much trauma can be avoided when you have a good exit strategy. This time, with the knowledge that we could come back whenever we wanted to, we left early, before getting over-stimulated and the pop-corn served as the perfect distraction. We were in the car before he noticed we'd actually left, and the promise of a return trip when we got back from Calgary (and quick topic change to our lunch menu) got him past the disappointment.

I won't bore you with tales of our dull afternoon of frantic packing, but suffice it to say we had take-out *again* and I was up far later than I should have been knowing we needed to leave the house by 5:30 the next morning,

Wednesday morning we awoke to not one, but three different alarms. Not being a morning person, I knew that in order to make our very early flight I would need to do everything I could to get myself up on time. It worked, and I managed to get dressed and primped, grab a few last-minute things and help get Sebastian ready to go (thank goodness my husband is good at mornings - Sebastian and I are both so surly that left to our own devices we would never get out of bed before noon). We were out the door in record time and breezed to the airport in about 15 minutes. Andrew maneuvered the gauntlet of a passenger drop-off-area like a seasoned cabbie and while he said his goodbyes to Sebastian I got the car-seat out. After our shirt car-ride we were all feeling bright-eyed and excited - Sebastian was talking non-stop about the adventure we were embarking on and was handing out kisses and hugs like candy. We managed a tear-free goodbye and were on our way.

Sebastian was charming and sweet to everyone we met, he walked to the gate by himself and thought the security screening was really neat. He watched with a mixture of concern and excitement as his stuffed bunny vanished into the darkness of the x-ray machine and giggled with relief when he saw it re-appear. Having forgotten the liquid rules I had water bottles packed for each of us - the friendly security worker dumped mine, but let me keep Sebastian's ice-filled cup. He also directed me to the nearest fountain so I could re-fill my water, which I thought was very sweet.

When we arrived at the gate we had to go to the counter to have our seats changed, because we had booked the tickets separately the seats had also booked separately. After initially telling me I would have to wait until they had finished filling the flight (or something like that - I hadn't had coffee yet) the woman at the counter then smiled and informed me that the seat next to my booked one was empty and she would switch it for me immediately. Such a simple thing, but it felt really nice not to have to wait. We grabbed a coffee and some breakfast pastries and by the time I had cram in my coffee they were announcing general boarding.

Getting onto the plane was a tiny ordeal - to accommodate more stuff belonging to those in business class (I am assuming)they narrowed the passage between those two front closets. This made for a comical squish as I tried to fit myself, my stomach, my coffee, my toddler, my toddler's back-pack and stuffed rabbit and my considerable diaper bag through a space that was three feet wide at the most. Thankfully once through the aisle widened and I was able to let my toddler walk on his own. We found our row and I immediately stuck Sebastian in the window-seat, he watched the various airport vehicle mill about while I got us settled. Our row-mate showed up and took his seat in the aisle. He was a business-type in his late-thirties/early-forties and as soon as he sat down I could tell he was a dad. This is a good thing - in my limited experience I have found that fathers, especially ones who travel on business, make the best row-mates. Usually they can recall a time that they travelled with their kid(s) and it was awful, so they can appreciate a well-behaved child, and also have a bag of tricks in case the child is not-so-well-behaved.

Once we settled I looked up and realised we were occupying the wrong seats- that this guy was supposed to have the window. I looked at him and said"I just noticed we took your seat, I am really sorry about that," to which he replied, "not to worry, I remember how hard it is travelling with kids (ha!) - you keep that seat, he'll enjoy it more than I would have anyways." Score!!

Sebastian was incredible on the flight, he asked questions and marvelled at all the sights, he drank from his water cup whenever I suggested it, and refrained from using his tray as a drum after only one request. We coloured, we listened to music,we ate our breakfast, we talked about where we were going and who we were visiting and before we knew it we were landing.

As passengers got up a number of them commented on how good he was, I was a little worried that his constant chatter might bother someone, but pretty much everyone who sat with three rows of us either smiled at him, told us how good he'd been or politely ignored us. Not a malicious stare in the bunch. Our row-mate shook Sebastian's hand and told him it was very nice meeting him and then told me that once his son had screamed for an entire four-hour flight.

To avoid the awkward squish on exit, I gave Sebastian a piggy-back ride off the plane. He shouted good-bye to every person he saw.

He may be a handful - but he is the loveliest handful I could imagine.

Sunday, September 2

what "they" don't tell you

Pregnancy is alienating.

Forget what you see in those glossy Pregnancy magazines, filled with the latest, greatest, must-haves and cute pregnancy fashions - pregnancy is not all that much fun. I can't quite remember my last pregnancy - it was two sleepless years ago, but I remember thinking along the way that it didn't seem nearly as cool as I was made to think it would.

And that pregnancy was far "cooler" than this one, I worked full-time in a funky retail shop until very close to the end, I got to interact with adults all day, I got to listen to music I liked and read books and magazines (it was a quiet store). I saw my co-workers and friends every day, we talked about my pregnancy among other things and I was, generally, treated like an adult. That said, I definitely felt myself drift away from the people in my life as the life inside me took over. We hear the list all the time - tired, hormonal, cranky, bloated - but never does it really occur to us that all these things will happen at once and be so consuming.

Before getting pregnant again I envied other pregnant women, that glow, that joy, that incredible ability to grow a life - I rarely considered (even after having Sebastian) that they might be lonely. I always assume joy, assume a grand pre-occupation with their magical bodies, mostly I assume they wouldn't want me to bother them. I imagined, both times, of pregnancy as a kind of secret club. Full of belly pats and kindness from strangers and friends alike.

This pregnancy I have been a member of a club so secret that I have been spending most of my days in the lonesome company of my dear son. Life is easier that way - for months it has taken me forever to do anything, from getting ready in the mornings to making a decision to making dinner. Everything seems to take three times as long to do as anyone would think it should.

Then there's that whole not actually wanting to do anything bit. Sure a trip downtown on the bus sounded like a good idea the night before - but when the possibility of dragging an uncooperative toddler on to and off of a bus, up stairs, down stairs, having to change plans at the last moment because I'm too hot, there are too many stairs, there's not enough time, plus trying to make a lunch decision because I know I will either forget to pack a picnic or be completely repulsed by the sandwiches I'd worked frantically on before missing our third bus on top of the guilt over deciding to drive to my destination because otherwise there is no way in hell we would get to do anything before naptime and if we bail on this trip one more time this week Sebastian is likely to have a two-hour tantrum. When I contemplate trying to add other people into that mix I cringe. I can manage my guilt over screwing up my own family's day, but I can't bear the guilt of ruining another family's too.

Being out of the loop hasn't helped any either - it is easy to fall into a sort of solitary routine after enough time passes. With friends away for the summer, friends with out-of-town guests, out-of-town guests of our own, family members off on trips, family pre-occupation with house hunting or house selling and moving, Andrew's near-constant summer overtime, and the closure of most community-based activities so soon after our move to a new community. Life just felt simpler alone. Not better, just simpler, more adaptable, more manageable, less tense.

I'm a little side-tracked here, though, making excuses for my own alienation instead of focusing on my original thought, that pregnancy is alienating. I have heard it from all around, places where I talk to other mothers online, especially. We all feel a little left out, as one woman put it, it is like feeling 45 while surrounded by 18 year olds. This is especially true if the majority of your friends are childless - they don't quite get that your mind has been turned to swiss cheese and that not drinking is not the biggest issue when they want you to go out with them. Being pregnant means being aware of a whole laundry list of rules, some straightforward (don't get wasted, don't smoke, don't eat raw fish) some less-so (don't eat feta, or brie, or deli meat, eat peanuts, no don't eat peanuts, yes eat them - but only if you want to, and don't eat too many), exercise, but not too much, listen to your body, even though it is speaking a foreign language and you don't have a translator, you are strong, you are weak, you are doing a good and miraculous thing, you are contributing to overpopulation and global warming. Oh, and is there lead in any of the baby stuff you've picked up? Should you buy second-hand? What chemicals are those plastic toys leaching? What birth-route should you take?

The first time around, the questions that swam through my head were consuming an distracting - this time, with the addition of a ever-changing toddler and the combined effects of normal parental sleep deprivation and pregnancy insomnia (and is coffee okay?) my mind is just full-up.

And it seems the second (or third) time around is no less alienating. As I stated I am feeling it pretty intensely, but so are other mothers I talk to - and it seems, to me at least, that by the time the baby comes we have spent so much time occupying our tiny world that we can't quite figure out how to interact with other human beings again. This certainly isn't true of all mothers, but I see it in some of the ones I met early in my pregnancy. And I really wish I had reached out to them. They all had that same distracted look, that preoccupied conversational style, that wandering train of thought that can come off as disinterest, but now think is more a symptom of the isolation (or left-over pregnancy hormones). Whatever it was, I am pretty sure it was not directed at me. I now leave conversations with a distinct feeling that I was just like that (or worse, said something totally inappropriate or out of context), sadly this realisation usually hits too late (we're talking hours or days later, if ever).

So I am lonely and feeling alienated, all the while I am alienating my friends and family, the cycle is vicious and seemingly never-ending.

At least I am getting my mama-groove back (more on that soon!) and am feeling a little more inclined to try and get as much fun out of the next few weeks as I can squeeze. I just hope that when the chips fall I still have my tiny tribe.


ps. don't get me wrong, there are loads of things I am really enjoying about my pregnancy - and they may also be contributing to my hermityness and laziness - I enjoy sitting around, drinking tea and just feeling the baby move inside of me. It is much like how I am trying to make the most of the last of my alone time with Sebastian - I am also trying to mentally record every happy nuance of this pregnancy, I know this time it will be my last.