Monday, June 25, 2007

Living in the village

When I was about six or seven years old--old enough to know better, but young enough to have to actively ponder the question--I spotted a can of Pepsi on the ground. I picked it up and put it to my lips. The can, I should mention, was partially in the ground, actually: it was half buried. And it was rusty. Do you remember the old, steel soda cans? With the stamped seam down the side? Rusty.

So to recap: when I was six or seven years old, I dug up a half-buried, rusty and decomposing can of Pepsi, and held it up to my mouth. I stuck my tongue out to meet the lip of the can. An ant crawled from the can. It tasted coppery. I stood there realizing my mistake, but unsure what to do.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING! Put that down! Dirty! Yuck! Go in the house and have a glass of water! Don't let me catch you doing that again!"

This was not my mother, but our next door neighbour, and old woman whose children had long left home. She was often crabby. She was a yeller. But her words snapped me from my reverie. Down went the can. I wiped my palms hard against my pants--even my hands felt gross now that the light of reason had shone down from the neighbouring porch--and I went in the house to rinse my mouth out. The ant lived to see another day, and I am still in no position to tell you what rusty-Pepsi-dirt tastes like.

It never occurred to me that she had no right to tell me what to do; it never occurred to her that this was a problem to refer to my mother, or a problem that was no business of hers to intervene in at all. She was a neighbour and I was a little kid, doing something demonstrably stupid and in need of a good hollering. This was the 70s: no one was talking about how we needed villages to raise children. People seemed to just do it, at least in my small town (pop 11,000) where everyone knew everyone else, and by extension, everyone else's kids.

I remembered this incident a couple of weeks ago as one of my friends was recounting an incident from the playground. She's been having a lot of trouble with her 5 year old daughter, her husband's child from a previous marriage, recently adopted into Canada. She was at the playground of her co-op, hanging out with the mommies while the children played. She called her daughter over to ask her something, and as her daughter rolled her eyes, one of the other mothers sitting with my friend chastised her roundly: "Don't you roll your eyes when your mother is talking to you! Bold, bold! Don't let me catch you doing that again!"

My friend was a little startled, and then a little grateful, as the mother suggested that perhaps she saw the influence of another of the children in this particular behaviour, and offered a strategy to combat it. As my friend says, "Hell, I don't mind if other people help me out! I need it, and my daughter is from [West African country] and she expects grownups to tell her what to do. It's part of the culture."

I suggest to you that in North America, it is most emphatically not part of the culture to discipline other people's children, or to accept this disciplining of our own children.

What about you? Do you live in the village? Would you ever say something to someone else's child--to keep the ants out of their mouths, or the sass out of their eyes? Would you let someone else talk this way to your child?

I don't know. I'm thinking about it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

And introducing .... (Ms.) Munchkin!

Well, it was the big birthday weekend last week, and I guess I've just been too pooped to blog! Doesn't help that we've all come down with daycaritis. Again. I've lost my voice and my will to live.

So to those of you awaiting the new nom de blogue and the photos ... whoops. And here they are:

Ms. Munchkin gets her game face on, awaiting the arrival of cake, her first official taste of Sugary Junk with 'icing' of uncertain but definitely transfat laden provenance. And arrive it does, to general applause:

Yes, there is a little candle shaped like a one. Munchkin totally held her own in what was likely a stressful situation: a room full of stranger grownups interspersed with caregivers, and a sampling of wild and noisy children and toddlers, with everyone staring at her and singing, while bearing a large flaming pink and white slab ever closer to her little face.

She smiled.

And then she sampled:

Cake! She ate a little, but was, surprisingly, not too impressed. Huh.

So that's the birthday photos: our baby is now a toddler, our formula-chugger now on whole milk, the wee squalling, squirming, red-faced alien we brought home for the hospital a year ago is now twenty-four pounds big, crawling, pulling herself up to stand, telling us 'done' and 'up' and generally charming us with her emerging little personality.

She's no longer our Miss Baby--she seems to have become Munchkin, or more formally, Ms. Munchkin. I've been calling her that a lot lately, now that she's so mobile and silly and hungry and sweet. My dictionary tells me (although Sage, I'm happy for corrections or more backstory ...) that 'munchkin' is an informal noun designating a child, and that the word comes to us from The Wizard of Oz. That seems apposite, for now. It is kind of a magical stage we're going through, fairly short on temper, and mostly long on discovery and fun. I'll let you know when I start to tap my ruby slippers together, wishing for home.

Her Bad Mother was soliciting nicknames the other day--apparently, Wonderbaby in real life is referred to as The Budge.

Here for the first time, I reveal to you some of the things (not all of them flattering) we have called our Munchkin, chronologically:

There were, first, the medical terms:
- Baby Zygote
- Baby Embryo
- Baby Fetus
- Baby [lastname]

There were, and continued to be, the generic names, as well:
- Baby Daughter
- Miss Baby
- Baby Doll (my own mom used to call me this, so it figures in a lot of songs
- Baby [firstname]
- and, from Pynchon, and adorably, Milkdud

But there is one nickname unique to us. Maybe not cute like Budgie or The Budge or Budgerigar, but heartfelt:

Baby Dink.

As in, "Your baby daughter is being a baby dink." So 'dink' in this case is a pejorative marking bad behaviour. Yes, yes, there are no bad babies, and really no bad behaviours in, say, three-month old infants. But sometimes, they can be dinks, non? The nickname led to a series of derivatives, quite useful not least for their absurdity, which could often defuse a frustrating situation: Your baby (I might say) has been engaging in some dinkish behaviours today. Or, There was dinkishness aplenty at naptime!

The nickname even spawned further nicknames, rendering the original in ever more absurd, and comical terms:
- Dinkish MacBaby
- Baby McDinksalot
- Dinky Poopington

Come to think of it, potty-humour abounds in some of our other nicknames as well:
- Stinky McBottom
- Pooper
- Smelly Smellerino

Dinkish or not, poopy or not, we always picked her up and we always cared. Can we help it if we wanted to have a little fun with it while she's still preverbal? Will we ever, someday, be able to convince her that 'Baby Dink' was a term, in its way, of affection? Or should we just wait until she has children to tell her.

In any case, our Miss Baby is now--at the ripe old age of one--a far less dinkish (if more poopy) little girl. She's graduated to Munchkinhood.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Week of Remembering: an actual birth!

Where were we? Oh, right, I was being wheeled top speed through darkened hospital corridors while midwife Joan urged me not to push.

I was thinking: funny, I should be getting motion sickness right now.

I was not thinking: where are my husband and sister?

This last might have been a good question, for neither were with me. Pynchon corrects my post of last night: he didn't ride in the car to the hospital with my sister and I. He came in our car, 10 minutes later, because he was still trying to put the hospital bag together. When he arrived, the doors were locked and he had to do some pounding to get in. My sister dropped me on the curb to argue with Joan about whether I was going to get in the wheelchair or not--you know who won that battle--and then she had to park the car somewhere.

I did not care. Not one bit. Other than surprising myself by not getting nauseated by a high-speed wheelchair ride, I didn't really care about much except my awful awful back pain and MEETING MY BABY.

That's how I was thinking about it: meeting my baby. Finally. Proving to everyone that I was in fact pregnant, and an infant would shortly depart my body. I was a little excited to get going but a little annoyed ... in fact, annoyance seemed to be my default mode up to this point. I had had 20 minutes of fairly peaceful labour by myself, followed by a Marx Brothers routine with startled sisters, sleepy husbands, and bossy midwives all buzzing around me while I was obviously in transition and beyond the reach of mere humans.

I passed most of my time since Joan's arrival and Pynchon's awakening with my eyes open like little slits, glasses flung away.

I came out of the fog of transition as I found myself having that damned smock dress pulled over my head again, by Joan. Apparently I was in The Room--a quite nice labour / delivery / recovery room, actually. Another midwife was trying to take my bra off, and I wondered why I needed to take that off to give birth. Why? It was a nursing bra, even. I told them to take my glasses away. Everyone was buzzing around me. Bz-bz-bz. I'm standing naked in a hospital room with no Pynchon or sister in sight, being introduced to a midwife I don't know. I sooooo don't care about anything except my glasses. Take them away, they're BOTHERING ME.

You have to understand how blind I am--so nearsighted that I'm like a -6 in one eye and -7 in the other. I had big plans to put my contacts in, and possibly dab on mascara before giving birth--after shaving my legs and trimming the stage area, if you will. Ha. Now I'm yelling at midwives through slit eyes to take away my glasses and I can't even see my own feet and if there was a fire in that hospital I never would've found the door to the room let alone the building.

"Don't push yet, just another minute, you can do it!"

Why does she keep telling me not to push? I have no urge to push. None. My back hurts like a sonofabith and everyone is very very irritating. But push? Um, if you say so.

I am hustled onto a bed and Pynchon and S appear. I'm semi upright, half in a hospital gown, and the contractions are coming even stronger. Pynchon is at my left, and he is whispering kind kind words, full of love, and full of support. I can hear the awe in his voice, and the love, and a little bit of fear, and I can hear him trying to act the role that the book says he needs to do for me. And half of me wants to hold him close and adore him, and the other half (I'm so sorry Pynchon) wants him to stop talking. I still don't want to push and I'm mad at everyone.

It's 2am.

Oh wait. I don't want to push but ... I ... can't ... help ... it. I thought I was going to be a pro at pushing: my mom and my sister were pros, you know, the 10 minutes of pushing variety? I had been actively visualising and doing my Kegels and reading all the books. I HATED pushing. Hated it. I only did it because pushing made me feel less awful than not pushing.

Joan kept telling me I was doing it wrong. This made me mad. Mad also because I had imagined that contractions hurt, but then you got a break: not me. Back pain. Contractions hurt sort of less but sort of different from the back pain. At least they were distracting. You know what was even more distracting? Pooping. With every single damn contraction.

Of course, Joan wasn't actually telling me I was doing it wrong: she was offering very good suggestions for improvement, in a take-charge manner I had come to expect from her.

We laboured on this way for a while, me semi-upright on the birthing bed, Pynchon at my left feeding me ice chips and putting cool cloths on my head, absolutely at my beck and call, and my sister S at my right being just as steady as a rock and holding my knee in that firm competent way that was so calming.

The baby? S/he was fine, good heart rate through the stethoscope, turned just into perfect position, and heading down a little bit at a time. But not far and not fast.

Joan has this great idea that I should push from a squat. I refuse. I'm not delicate or ashamed or anything: I'm pooped out from already 30 minutes of pushing and I don't think I can support my own weight and push and my back is killing me and I wasn't allowed to stand up to get out of the CAR and you want me to stand on a TABLE and GIVE BIRTH???

But Joan is not the type to take no for an answer. And so S and Pynchon heft my 180 pound self to a crouch at the start of every contraction. Watch me poop. Hear me holler (no screaming! Um, except at the very end). Help me collapse. Listen to me complain bitterly about my back, and then kindly shut up when I tell them to so that I can have 40 seconds of nap before the next go round.

I never imagined I could nap while pushing, but there you go.

Pushing is all a blur, an anxious, demoralising, difficult, poopy blur. I'm left with impressions, very strong sense memory, like how you can never drink lemon gin again after that one high school party ... Ice chips--good. Water--bad. Holding my knees--good. Talking to me--bad. Baby--good. Midwives--bad.

After about an hour and 40 minutes of this (yes, that's right, I pushed longer than I laboured. How sick is that? I want my money back on that damn Mind over Labour book ...) Joan begins to get stern with me. She accuses me of not trying hard enough (I'm not) and of giving up (I am). She makes me crouch some more (I don't want to) and she tells me I have to do it (I can't!).

I do.

This is the next thing I hear:

"Good! Good, Mimi! That was excellent. Now again!"

And then:

"I know it's hard, I know it's hard just keep keep keep pushing. Just 5 more seconds keep keep keep pushing. Now do 5 more seconds. Keeeeeeep pushing ... Again!"

She's a real taskmaster, that Joan. And always lying about five more seconds. She doesn't mean it.

There are several more pushes and much more congratulations, but I am TIRED. And then:

"Look at all that hair! I'm twirling it around my finger! I'm giving a hairdo."

What a bitch! Is it my fault I didn't have time for the trim? I'm not the height of pubic fashion, I know, but this is a little insulting ... Oh. Wait. She means the baby. I am encouraged to look in the mirror but yell at everyone to leave me alone because I'm not wearing my glasses and shouldn't I be giving birth?

The baby is coming.

The baby crowns. I have never, obviously, felt the likes of this. I am relieved but I am being split in two. I push again. The head comes out, to judge from all the cooing and cheering and happy noises.

But then: stuck. The shoulders. For what feels like 20 minutes but what Pynchon assures me was no more than 30 seconds, the soon-to-be Miss Baby is neither in, nor out. I am actively and vocally cursing all and sundry for abandoning me like this. No swearing, but much blaming. Pynchon recounts now that Joan braced herself against the table and pulled: "I didn't think," he says, "that you could pull on a baby like that." But I guess you can.

And then, with a great whoosh, baby was born. It was 4:29am, Friday, June 9, 2006

Pynchon yelped, "It's a girl! ... it's a girl ... it's a GIRL!" and my heart sang with love and pain and tenderness for this new little girl and this man whose yelling voice betrayed his emotion.

I was the only one who heard him. A chorus of "what is it?" rose from the corners of the room, as Pynchon repeated himself at greater volume and exasperation.

Me, I was suddenly alone on the table, so nervous for my baby, and I just kept repeating "where's my baby? I want to see my baby! Give me my baby! Where's my baby?" as I became increasingly agitated. Pynchon came to my side but I sent him after her. Her. Miss Baby. Our little girl. They were only 10 feet away, but I wasn't taking any chances: I was somebody's mother now. She was weighed and measured and scored: 8 lb, 14.5 oz, and 22 inches long. My nine pound baby predicted by the ultrasounds. Purple, then gray, then red and squirmy. I could hear her little squeaks.

Finally, Pynchon brought her near to me: he had tears in his eyes, and hers were wide open, little shots of blue peeking out from under a full head of hair, apparently styled by Joan in the space between born and not-born. My baby.

Here we are:

So the final tally was about 4 hours of labour in total, with two-and-a-half hours of that time spent pushing. I got one Tylenol and one Advil, after the birth. No stitches, no tears. Very bad backache, and sore throat from hollering. Tired.

But I got a baby girl, the little girl of my dreams, and she was perfect. A little slimy and prone to squeaks, but beautiful and perfect and a good latcher and my very own baby daughter. Ours.

We were home by 10:00 am. And started our lives together, a project that has swung all through the calendar pages once, a giddy and vertiginous and ... well, you know what kind of year it was. We've been getting to know each other. And in that time, I have become a mother, and Pynchon a father, and Miss Baby has become a person, loved and lovable. And tomorrow we celebrate that year with a little party, where she will eat cake and I will get teary.

"Mom! Mom! Nice to meet you! Look at me! I'm very alert and I'm 10 hours old!"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Week of Remembering: Thursday night


edit: new links added for ROFL traffic! Woo!

This is a multi-part post: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Thursday was bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ring. And a little embarrassing: all this fuss over me, and I still wasn't going into labour. I had imposter syndrome: whoops! Sorry to be a bother! Looks like I'm not really pregnant after all. Please forgive me.

So my sister went home at 1. And Pynchon was back at work. I watched a little bit of A Baby Story, found it too close to home, and opted for a three hour nap in the guest room. Very good idea. It was the longest sleep I was to have for about a month.

Pynchon and I patrolled the neighbourhood in my fluorescent green terry cloth digs again that night. Nothing. We lay in bed that night and talked about how Baby B was never going to be born, and how s/he surely was stubborn already. We turned off the light at about 11:30, Pynchon having delivered his good-night-now-get-out evening address to our unborn.

We fell asleep.

I awoke at about 12:15, to what I can only really describe as a a wet thunk at my cervix (and I was well aware of what cervix thunking felt like, thank you midwives Joan and Nikki). It woke me up, but was not followed by anything dramatic. I had to pee, and I was sore. Ho-hum. I was uncomfortable. What else is new?

So I got up and I peed. Dribble. Dribble. I sat on the toilet for awhile, idly wondering if I was in labour, but it didn't seem likely. I walked over to the guest room. I decided I had to pee again. Dribble, dribble. Wondered. Dismissed. Sat. Got up, and wandered into the guest room and turned on the TV. Decided that I obviously didn't need to pee again, so should just sit down and watch TV instead. Sat. Decided that maybe I did have to pee. Dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble. Wondered, "did my water break, and that's why I'm dribbling?" Dribbled some more and sniffed at the tissue. Was undecided. Sat. Wondered. Got up and wandered into the guest room, and lay down on the bed. This made me feel really nauseous, so I decided to sit on the toilet again, which felt much better, and offered me ample opportunity to dribble and sniff at tissue, and relieved a growing downward pressure that was making me uncomfortable.

I know! It's obvious to all of you that I'm in labour at this point. But it totally wasn't obvious to me. It would be difficult to describe my sincere hope for labour and adamant doubt of it at this juncture: surely I was just sore and perpetually peeing. There were no contractions to speak of, and my increasing agitation was not obvious to me -- no one was observing me go to the toilet FOUR TIMES IN TWENTY MINUTES, so it didn't strike me as odd.

I got up and checked the time, although I was loath to get off the toilet. 12:35. Can it have been only 20 minutes since the wet thunk and the pee sprints? I decided to go down to the main floor for a glass of water. In the kitchen I felt distinctly uneasy, and my back hurt and there was a lot of downward pressure and I still had to pee and also appeared to be dribbling.


I realized my water must've broken, so I marched back upstairs and sat on the toilet. Yes, yes, this was in direct contradiction to the strongly worded orders of midwife Joan--she said, you'll recall, "Lie down first! Call me second!" But I really really wanted to sit on the toilet. It made me calm.

When I could get off the toilet long enough to do so, I wandered back into our bedroom, to share the news with Pynchon, who was peacefully snoring.

"Pynchon ... Pynnnn-chon ... Pynchon! Pynchon! PYNCHON!"

Toss, roll, groan. "Unh ... what?"

"Pynchon, my water broke!"



This was about as much dialogue as I could handle, so I went back to sit on the toilet. It eventually became apparent to me that I was still alone. I heaved myself off the toilet again, and staggered, wincing, into the bedroom. It was 12:45. My husband had gone back to sleep.


"WHA! What! I'm awake! What?!"

"Call Joan! I'm in labour."

Apparently, what he needed was not information ("my water broke") but direction ("call the midwife") because he sprang up. I immediately abdicated all responsibility, and sat back on the blessed blessed toilet. Where I dribbled. And felt uncomfortable.

"Um, Mimi, didn't Joan say to lie down if your water broke? And, um, didn't she specifically say that under no circumstances were you to sit on the toilet?" This from Pynchon, gingerly.

"Happy toilet. It hurts. Don't want to lie down. I want toilet. Go call Joan."

"Shouldn't you lie down, though"

(Glare. Glare. Furious dribbling. Pynchon wisely leaves, rummaging through the house, asking me where Joan's number is and where is the cellphone, and I tell him off, fairly politely but unequivocally: find it yourself. I'm kinda busy here.)

I hear him on the phone: "Her water broke ... no ... she's on the toilet ... I KNOW! BUT SHE WON'T LISTEN TO ME! I told her that's what you said." Joan is on her way. It's 12:50. Pynchon then calls my sister, leaving her a truly incomprehensible voice mail message: "S, it's Pynchon. Mimi's in labour. It's about 6am"--now we joke about him calling her from the future. But he was really messed up from getting woken up.

Pynchon coaxes me off the toilet before Joan arrives. She is brisk and efficient and in charge. Thank God. I want to sit on the toilet, and Pynchon thinks it's 6:00 am. We need the help. A fast exam indicates that baby has dropped, and the cord is not in sight. Joan counsels us downstairs into the kitchen, and I practice some of the labouring postures we learned in yoga.

They don't help. I can't feel any contractions, but my back is one big wall of pain, constant and sharp. I'm caring less and less about Pynchon and Joan and want more than anything else in the world to sit on the toilet, and they won't let me. Damn them.

We decide on a bath.

The relief is immediate. All of a sudden, naked and lying on my side on a towel in the tub, I'm at peace. And, all of a sudden, I'm having contractions with starts and stops, but still the excruciating back pain. I'm practicing my breathing, and I'm moaning deep low moans that soothe me and indicate the stops and starts of my contractions. They are about two minutes apart, and lasting for two minutes. I could stay in this tub forever. It's now 1:10.

Apparently though, this kind of contraction pattern means get thee to a hospital. Joan makes me get up and I hate her all over again. Dripping and angry and in pain and naked, I try to make the 20 foot walk from my tub to my bed, for another exam. I tell Pynchon and Joan in no uncertain terms at the halfway point, that I must and I will lie down and moan. I do lie down and moan. To hell with them and what they want.

So. I am naked and wet and on the floor and moaning at the very top of my stairs, when my sister appears on the landing. I don't see her, but Pynchon says he will never forget the look on her face. As she stopped dead in her tracks then tried to turn around. Nope. She was hauled into service.

Examination reveals that I am 10 cm dilated. It's 1:20. I have been in noticeable labour for something less than an hour, and really uncomfortable for about half an hour.

Joan calls the hospital and uses the phrase "possible unplanned home birth" and tells them to get the room ready, because I will be pushing the minute I get in the door. No time for paperwork, she tells them. Joan's threat galvanizes Pynchon and S, but I don't care. They try to make me put clothes on, but I don't want to. They keep talking to me, and I'm getting annoyed. And I want to sit on the toilet, and my back hurts.

Comedy ensues. I am dressed against my will in that damned smock dress--but without the t-shirt. I look like a hillbilly. Somehow I make it down the stairs, where in the background I can hear annoying and nonsensical negotiations of who is taking whose car, and has anyone got the car seat and where is the hospital bag and where did you put the cellphone. I am annoyed with the lot of them: didn't we plan this? But I don't really care and I need them near to me so I can complain to them, so I don't tell them off. Pynchon actually asks me one of these irritating questions and I tell him I don't care and to leave me alone. I make it into the driveway, supported by my sister, where I lean on her car and moan and tell everyone in no uncertain terms that I am in pain and I don't want to give birth at home and I don't want to get in that car and they can't make me.

They make me. But I kneel on the back seat, wrap my arms around the head rest, and look out the back window. "Hurry," I tell my sister once Pynchon gets in. "No bumps! Ow. Hurts. Hurry. No. Owwww!"

I complain the entire four blocks to the hospital. Yes, I live four blocks away from the hospital.

We arrive and although I now don't want to get out of the car, I do. I definitely don't want to sit in the wheelchair, but I also can't stand upright at this point so am not in much position to argue.

I am wheeled through a propped open, supposed-to-be-locked door, gathering a sense of the urgency of the situation. It 1:50. Less than 90 minutes of labour, and Joan is urging me not to push yet ... just hold on ... we're almost there ... for God's sake don't push yet ...

But what happens next technically happens on Friday ....

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Week of Remembering: Wednesday (and Thursday)

Your impatience has made me giggle, oh blogosphere--it matches what I was feeling at this time last year. In our last instalment, the midwives got into a panic and threatened to get an obstetrician to induce me, but then didn't. My sister left work and moved into our guest room, and Pynchon drove me to appointments and tried to appear calm. Nothing happened.

(And we were secretly relieved: Tuesday's date was 6/6/6. It seemed inauspicious.)


Wednesday was Pynchon's birthday--our baby's due date. It had taken several months for Pynchon to reconcile himself to possibly sharing a birthday with his child. He was sure to never get his own cake or his own presents again. I assured him as best I could that all the babies are born weeks early in my family. As time passed, and continued passing, this argument lost is persuasive force.

Wednesday dawned with me still pregnant and still not in labour. It was outrageously hot and I now felt the added pressure of meeting my sister's and husband's expectations--they had booked the day off work! And the midwives! They kept coming to my house and poking my innards. I felt that, to be polite, really I should go into labour. Seriously.

We spent they day alternately trying to stay cool and rested, and trying to annoy me into going into labour. We drove to the park, where my sister shouted "pick 'em up, put 'em down" at me when my pace on the path flagged. She believed in induction by peregrination: we traced all the paths they had. My feet hurt and I was too hot, but still not in labour. For the afternoon we rented comedian DVDs: Chris Rock. I lay on the couch in the cool cool basement and felt sorry for myself while trying to laugh. The DVD wasn't very funny.

We celebrated Pynchon's birthday with dinner and dessert at a local coffee house, with Uncle J. We played Scrabble. I sat on the outside of the booth, because I had to pee every 20 minutes, that frustration tablespoon-dribble that feels so urgent but is so unsatisfying to relieve. Much shuffling between table and bathroom for me, much gawping and clucking by restaurant patrons aghast at my hugeness.

I was, by this point, wearing the emergency smock dress: it was long, and it was ugly, and it made me look even more spherical than ever, but it FIT, blessedly loose, and even if my t-shirt was riding up over my belly, no one could see. The outfit was completed, I share with you oh blogosphere, by a pair of Pynchon's underwear, boxer briefs, because my gelatinous inner thighs were rubbing together something awful.

[It's very kind of you to say I was all belly: but I gained 50 pounds, a goodly portion of it in my face, inner thighs, and upper arms. I look all belly, because I really carried round and forward. Come to think of it, I WAS pretty cute ;-) ]

Wednesday was anticlimactic. Nothing happened but more of the same. We went for another walk, on the local nature trail, me in my fluorescent green terry cloth shorts, flip-flops, and Oilers t-shirt. I was a spectacle, and people quite literally pointed and laughed. Pynchon teases me about that outfit to this day.

Joan and Nikki came by to do another exam: dilated another half-centimetre, but baby not dropped, and labour not started. They promised to make the exam extra rough, in the hopes of provoking The Unborn into action--they urged me to call if things heated up. Nope. We all went to bed disappointed--except maybe Pynchon, who got a piece of cake, and a Jay-Z CD and a Gwen Stefani CD and didn't have to share his birthday with anyone ... except my sister.

I got up at around 2am to watch another episode of Gilmore Girls on DVD, to rub my belly and talk to The Unborn, to tell my baby how eager I was to meet him (I was convinced it was a boy).

Thursday I felt downright sheepish. Pynchon went back to work, rightly reasoning that he would be better off using up his vacation time after the birth than before it. He works about a 7 minute drive from home anyways, and carries a Crackberry. My sister and I spent the morning together, lounging around and talking, and bonding, and then, desperate to do something productive, we went to the mall to buy me new flip flops. My other pair, 6 weeks old, were mashed beyond repair. She drove me home, and packed her things--her own family needed her, but she promised to come back the minute I went into labour.

We joked that the key to breaking the impasse was for her to drive the 100 km back home--baby would of course make her turn around and come back, probably later that night.

Which is just what baby did. Tune in tomorrow ... for all the gory bits!
I did forget to say yesterday that, workaholic that I am, before I left the office, I emailed the final version of my chapter on weblogs to my editor. When I got the page proofs back a couple of weeks ago (the book is now forthcoming) I noticed that all the web addresses in the works cited list have a 'date accessed' of June 6, 2006. Awwwww .....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Week of remembering: Tuesday

On this Tuesday, one year ago, and at about this time of day, I was sitting right where I am now--my office at the university--and doing pretty much what I'm doing right now--reading about nostalgia in a bid to think of something clever to say about You've Got Mail.

I was humongously pregnant: Miss Baby was due on the 7th, but no woman in my family had ever managed to carry a baby past 38 weeks at the very latest, and I was feeling hard done by and uncomfortable and tired and anxious and impatient. As one does. I was wearing flip flops and my feet were hideously swollen. I was distracted by self-surveillance: is that a contraction? Is the baby moving more today? Less? Where's my damn raspberry leaf tea? I was also the object of some fun in my department, a red-faced and puffy whale of a researcher, pig-headedly still coming in to the office everyday, if only for the relief provided by the industrial air-conditioning. I was also the object of some wonderment to my midwives: at my Monday's appointment, it was discovered that I was still perfectly healthy, Miss Baby was perfectly content, everything was wonderful. But I had progressed from 3 cm dilated to nearly 4, with no labour. And Miss Baby was still riding high high up in my belly, unwilling to drop. They sent me home to wait.

But Tuesday, this Tuesday one year ago, at around 11am, midwife Joan called.

"What are you doing at the office?" she demanded. I told her I was working.

"I'm concerned about you," she said. "I was too hasty with you yesterday and now I'm worried. You absolutely cannot work anymore. I don't want you going into labour at the office. I called Pynchon already and he's coming to pick you up."

This was surprising. At my appointment the day before, Joan and student Nikki were the picture of blasé unconcern, dismissing my impatience and desire to go into labour RIGHT NOW. Joan had still more to say:

"You're ready to go, and that baby is too high up. I've been thinking about you all night. You need to go for an ultrasound right now, and I'm referring your case to the obstetrician at the hospital. Call and make your appointment with the ultrasound technician, and then call me back."


"And for God's sake, if your water breaks, lie down first, and call me second. Lie down. That's important. I think you're going to go really fast."

This was very surprising. Ultrasound? Obstetrician? Lie down? Really fast? I had beautiful blood pressure, and a lovely fetal heart rate. I was bored but not yet overdue. I was dilated but not in labour. I had been for plenty of ultrasounds already--oddly-placed placenta--but now Joan was sounding urgent. It seems she feared the cord might come before the baby, or that the placenta might be blocking the cervix. And she seemed to believe that I might give birth on the floor of my office if I didn't leave this very second. All this wait, and suddenly, at 11 am with a book in my hand and my feet up on the desk, HURRY HURRY HURRY.

My heart was beating fast. I called the ultrasound clinic and then Pynchon. He raced to get me. I called my sister--my second labour support person--and she decided to come to my town, to leave work, to keep me company and await what might be a birth today.

Lying on your back for half an hour of 'emergency' ultrasound with still no labour symptoms and no sense of urgency is uncomfortable, but worrisome. And then, after all the bustle and hurry, you go home to wait. To call the midwives and find out if you're going to the hospital for an induction under the care of the duty obstetrician.

I went home and shaved my legs. I called my mom. I ate a lot of cookies and waited. Pynchon went back to work. My sister arrived, bearing a mound of celebrity gossip magazines and some welcome distraction, in addition to a hospital bag full of snacks and amusements and necessities. We were ready. We waited together.

Joan and Nikki came to the house, and they examined me in my own room, on my own bed, an intimacy that seemed to portend coming events. Pynchon held my hand. Nothing happened: the baby was still high, my cervix was still dilating, my placenta still enough out of the way to not be a concern. Only now I really really wanted a climax to the story. They did tell me that the ultrasound indicated that the baby was about 9 pounds, and I freaked out. Joan assured me that these estimates were usually off the mark by about 15% in either direction. I prayed for small.

We took some silly photos. Every minute seemed an eternity. We waited. And then we went to bed.

June 6, 2006: dressed for the Stanley Cup playoffs.