Silly Boy

September 27, 2006

This afternoon as our babysitter and her son and Little Red were taking me to work Little Red and Jack were being the biggest goofballs in the back. I must have known it was a sign of things to come. As we pulled into the parking lot Little Red started chanting “bye bye!” and he and Jack were waving at me to leave before the car had even stopped. Was this the vortex of the universe? Surely that wasn’t my clingy Little Red!

Then this evening after my husband had to leave for a meeting he sought comfort in my lap. He cried and he pulled at my shirt. “What do you want?” I asked, confused. “Milk,” he said simply. “Are you kidding?!?” I said, “there’s nothing there.” He left it at that, thankfully, but I can’t shake the idea that the polarity of his attitudes has something to do with me working and being pregnant.

I could be wrong. It could just be another example of the enigmatic toddler.


Preparing Number 1 for Number 2

September 25, 2006

My father was the oldest of his family, and he grew up on a farm outside of Calgary before Calgary became what it now is. He didn’t have a lot of playmates and considered himself lonely. When his mother got pregnant again they told him there was going to be another brother or sister and he would have a playmate. To keep him involved they even decided to let him name the new baby (and they kept their word, he actually named two of his three subsequent siblings.) When mother and baby came home from the hospital, with adoring family all circling the baby, Dad walked into the room with his set of TiddlyWinks, ready to play with his new sister. He took one look at the infant and his face fell. No one present has ever forgotten the look he had. “How am I supposed to play with that?!”

When my in-laws were pregnant with my husband they talked to his older brother about the coming of the new baby. The prevailing psychology of the time was to tell the older sibling about how much fun it would be (hmmmm, very similar to what happened to my Dad, and yet very different generations.) Of course what they failed to mention is that when babies first come they cry a lot, don’t play, and demand all of the adults’ attention. Sometimes I can still see my husband and his brother doing a little dance around their past, trying to reconcile their first two decades.

I don’t know what wisdom my parents used with me to prepare for my brother. I was much younger. I know that I gave Mum the cold shoulder for a bit because she left me and returned with another baby. Dad says the spacing (19 months) between the two of us was really good because I was so maternal and I really helped out. Dad says that. I wonder if Mum would have agreed? I should ask her.

So far we’ve been talking to Little Red about love and families and how we want to expand our family to share our love. I’m hoping whatever we do won’t cause the same pain and scarring as happened to several family members! Any suggestions? Any horror stories?

Marriage Lessons

September 22, 2006

Transcript of an email conversation with my husband this morning:

“What if I made Little Red a chocolate chip cookie costume? He’d be excited about it, but it wouldn’t be as hot as a full cookie monster fur costume.”

“Sounds complicated… But if that’s what you want to do.”

“or a carrot or an orange crayon?”

“A carrot works… We could probably buy a costume”

ABQ tells me the lesson to be learned here today is that “subtleness doesn’t work with husbands.” The problem is, I’ve been telling him for over a month that I NEED to MAKE SOMETHING this year. I didn’t think I’d been subtle, I thought I was being overt.


September 22, 2006

We all know it’s no one’s business when and if a couple will decide to start a family, yet our society has a morbid desire to poke it’s collective nose into our most private lives. My husband and I had not been married long when our friends, many of whom were procreating, began asking us when we were going to have kids. We collected a variety of responses to quell the questions (including “we believe sex is only for procreation and we aren’t ready for that yet,” and “we’re practicing” which always elicited an “eww! I didn’t want to know about your sex life!” when they clearly were asking exactly that.) The fact is we knew it wasn’t the right time for us and we weren’t going to bring a child into the world before we knew we were ready to care for that child.

We were so far behind so many of our friends’ “schedules” and so firm in our “stay out of our business” responses that people finally stopped asking.

In the years to come I realized that people thought we were barren (surely we wouldn’t hold out this long to have a baby!) They stopped announcing their pregnancies to us, they stopped inviting me to baby showers, and they avoided any form of babytalk in an effort to be sensitive to our obvious pain.

There was pain, but I was pained for the babies that had come to unprepared parents, spending their entire days in their car seat carriers while the parents continued their lives, treating the infant as a doll. I was pained for my friends who announced their pregnancies at the first day of the missed period only to have to backtrack and announce the miscarriage. I felt badly for the parents who were stretched too thinly, working, going to school, and trying to care for their newborns, sacrificing their own health, marriages, and mental well-being in the process. And I felt badly for those who were so closed-minded that they took us aside to warn us of being too selfish and not giving bodies to the spirits who needed to come to earth. (I am compelled to note that not all of my friends’ babies suffered as a result of being born to young parents, but some really did and it was for them I was sad. Also, not all pregnancies were a result of careless decisions. I do not write this blog to criticize other people’s decisions and life experiences, but to illustrate the irony with which I was judged.)

When ultimately I did conceive Little Red, and after we knew things were going well, we announced that I was pregnant. We were met with surprise and elation. It was a miracle! I could see it on each of their faces, first the overwhealming surprise -how could that happen?- and then the faith affirming glow from having seen a miracle. Having a healthy baby is a miracle, but not for the reasons they were thinking.

Love Thursday – I’m such a follower

September 21, 2006

Why I love Thursdays:

* it’s the first day of the week I don’t work. That means, comfortable clothes, and napping as long as we want. It means not worrying about the babysitter showing up on time and not worrying about the energy it will take to repay her for her time by babysitting her boy. We usually don’t plan anything for Thursdays so Little Red and I can just hang out and play the whole day as we please…

wait, no one else writes about how much they love Thursdays, let me try again.

Why I love my Nurse Practitioner:

* her first baby came as a c-section for the same reasons as mine. Her second was an unplanned VBAC. She is very confident that my VBAC will go smoothly and “that baby’ll just fall out!”

* she thinks Little Red is brilliant with his adaptation skills (he uses the orifices in his face as pockets for his digits to reside: thumb in mouth, index finger up nostril.)

* she is thorough without being an alarmist, all the while being positive

* she did the entire visit with Little Red sitting on me — her idea!

what? Love Thursday should be about real love? okay, one last try…

Little Red has finally learned to say “I love you.” The first time I heard it was when I was prompting him to say it to his grandmother over the phone. Last night while out on a walk my husband was prompting him to say it to me and he said, “I love you. Mummy, I love you.” This from a one-year old who’s been talking about (and identifying) the letter “w” for over a month and who can count up to ten when he wants to (never prompted), but wouldn’t ever say “I love you.”

Secrets (or how I really spent my summer)

September 18, 2006

I’m of the opinion that it isn’t healthy to keep secrets. Ultimately the truth needs to come out and it’s easier to just be honest along the way. But I’ll be the first to admit that this has not been my summer of full disclosure.

Remember that super-great job that my husband got at the beginning of the summer? The one that was going to get us out of debt before the end of the year (including a huge chunk of the student loan), and help us put aside for retirement, savings, and possibly a house? The one that was going to send us to the dentist come October 1st? The one that made me finally relax and feel like a real person again after that long job hunt?

There was one good thing came from that job: I relaxed enough about our situation that we decided to work on baby #2.

And almost as soon as I conceived the job didn’t turn out to be what we thought, and with the little money we had made in those few short weeks my husband came home and got to looking full-time for another job. We were full of faith and optimism, knowing that he could get another job easily and that we’d be back on track with our plans in no time, but the offers that came in were often commission-only or in other ways unacceptable, and time wore on.

There were several days that I thought we’d reached the end, that we were done with the trials and good would come on the morrow but the only thing to greet me when I woke was another day of sameness. And even though I thought I couldn’t do it, I did. The day our computer died capped the end of a week full of bad news. How could we possibly get a job without a computer? I thought for sure we were at the end then, and I knew that Monday morning would greet us with an acceptable job offer, and a call back for me for some of the things I had been investigating. It didn’t, and I survived. It would be another week before he got a job that we felt good about, and none of my fruitful leads ever did work out (but at least Sylvan called me back, as you already know.)

Underscoring the stress of looking for a job without money coming in was my inability to continue my schedule as before. I had forgotten just how exhausting it is to create a biosphere and had assumed that my narcolepsy last time was due to my rigorous teaching schedule. Unable to function normally I resorted to Sesame Street to raise Little Red while I lay on the couch on my way to becoming catatonic. He was surprisingly patient with me, but I know he’s ready to have his mother back (and I hope he’ll be okay with watching less television now that I’m getting back on my feet.)

To add stress to stress to stress we got caught in a bad situation with insurance coverage thanks to the ineptitude of someone from the original job (who is one of the reasons we decided to leave that company in the first place.) If I wasn’t pregnant it would have been an easy thing to fix, but I wasn’t about to commit insurance fraud so I had to keep trying to do it the right way, despite the stubbornness on her part to cooperate and the fact that it was going to cost us twice as much. I won’t go into the tirade I’d like to on this issue, not now, and not ever, but I’ll just say that the system is broken and once again we were left pregnant and trying to find a way to make it work. So the weeks were dragging on like years and I had yet to see a doctor, not to confirm my pregnancy -that’s obvious- but to confirm that the baby is okay. For the first time in two pregnancies I was actually starting to worry, although I knew I shouldn’t.

I discovered that I’m better at keeping secrets than my husband is, and that he did let it slip a few times that “we think Heather might be pregnant.” I guess, to be fair, it isn’t like he announced that we were, just that we might be. But I know he worded it that way because last time we announced we were pregnant we were met with skepticism until my OB (who wouldn’t see me until I was 10 weeks along) had confirmed it.

Why did we keep quiet about the job search? We had been open about the first job search and all that did was add to the stress as people lobbied for us to live their lives or told us “you just can’t move!” Neither of which was very helpful when multiplied by the number of people who wanted us to live our lives as they had planned. And I’ll be honest, this second job hunt was so discouraging on the back of the first. It wasn’t that we had done anything wrong, but it really wasn’t something we wanted to broadcast. Without the well-meaning pressure from all of our friends and acquaintances we were able to investigate all options fairly.

Why did we keep quiet about the baby? We would have even without the job search, but the job search made it all the more necessary. But now, having seen my nurse practioner, seen the baby, and been given the okay, I feel okay talking about it. Besides, when it was a secret I couldn’t complain about how lousy I felt.

Now you know: my husband has been working his new job for a week now. It’s a better work environment than either of the jobs he has held out here, and while the base pay is lower than that super-great-sweatshop it’s such a relief to be somewhere that will move us forward professionally and still recognize the need for balance in life.

Now you know: I am eleven weeks pregnant and the baby appears to be due on April 3rd. I’m so glad I’ll have Kaiser insurance throughout the pregnancy, as I adore my NP and I know that my best shot at a VBAC in California is with them. I know I can do it and I know they will help. Baby is healthy and Mummy is happy.

The Blonde Hawaiian

September 15, 2006

I couldn’t have been older than eight when our school had a Hawaiian-themed day to break the long dark winter days. I knew nothing of Hawaii except that it was an island, very warm, and very sunny. I scoured my closet for something to wear and found a shapeless white dress (think mu’u mu’u style) with brightly-coloured flowers embroidered all over it that my father had picked up for me in Mexico. I knew only that Mexico was south and warm and sunny and figured that it would be the most Hawaiian thing I had.

As Mum did my hair I heard her make a comment about me being a “blonde Hawaiian” and I was astounded — how could they not be blonde? All I knew of the sun was that it bleached your hair, so why would people who lived in the sun all the time not be blonde? (There were no Hawaiians in the Okanagan Valley.) She explained to me that Hawaiians had dark skin and black hair. I thought that was a cruel joke by God — wouldn’t the dark hair absorb the heat and make them even hotter?

A stupid boy at the busstop who never had anything nice to say took one look at me and asked me if I had forgotten to dress that morning, commenting that I appeared to still be in my nightgown. I don’t remember the rest of the day, I just felt so self-conscious that I went to a Hawaiian day in a Mexican dress and how was I supposed to be Hawaiian when I was blonde, anyway?

Years later I did my last two years of college in Hawaii. By then I knew enough of the world to not be surprised at my minority status, but was surprised at how many white people were Hawaiian. And in the end I had some locals ask me if I was local. My skin was still glow-in-the-dark-white and my hair still blonde, but long like the dancers, and I could speak pidgeon with the best of them.

As I lay on the couch this morning, wishing Little Red didn’t really want to be awake at 5, I remembered that story. Once I rose I discovered that an old friend has moved to American Samoa for a year, and I post this story to ease my envy and in honour of the Colettis.