Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Almost nine weeks

I heard and saw the heartbeat today, and burst into tears right there on the ultrasound table.

There really is a little person growing inside me.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Thursday was a bad, bad nausea day. The past couple of days I've felt kinda queasy, but not like on Thursday. I wonder how much of it is the McDonald's stink in the washroom at work. It just gets up my snout and stays there. Ugh.

I taught a bit on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday's lesson felt like a bit of a train wreck. It was on conditionals (which I'd never taught before) and I spent far too long on the grammar and not enough time on how what I was teaching connected with what the students need to do, namely, get good marks on their exams. Thursday's lesson was better, I'm glad to say.

Tomorrow I'm teaching for five and a half hours, all material I've never taught before. It's taken me most of the day to get the preparation done for the first three hours of it, because my powers of concentration are pretty much shot to hell. Now I'm writing a blog entry. Someone please kick my ass.

The Olympics are over and Canada got 24 medals, coming in third in the medal totals for its best result ever. Yay Canada. It's been interesting watching the Americans implode: Picabo Street has some interesting commentary up on the NBC site about the poor conduct of so many members of the US ski team. I mean, really, wearing a tiara to your medal ceremony, or going out drinking every night before your events: do you have any idea what the Olympics even mean? Have you given any thought at all to how you're representing your country to the rest of the world?

Watching Sam Sullivan waving the flag at the closing ceremonies was pretty damned cool. The CBC noted that he'd been practicing in parking lots in Vancouver before going to Torino, and that he'd gotten some police attention at least once. Heh. Nothing to see here; move along. No, really, I'm the mayor.

Tuesday is the appointment with the hematologist (the blood test results may or may not be in), and possibly an ultrasound. Please let there be a fetus there, and please let it be moving.

Back to the books. Don't know how I'll get through tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Amalia was one of my students at my previous job, when I taught English to women from other countries. She was my first Romanian, a quick learner who wore her heart on her sleeve like few people I've known. She and her husband worked at a gas station, often on the night shift before she came to class. She had plenty of stories about the customers, some of whom were very sweet to her, and others who were right assholes. (Just like people.) She got so worked up once about someone who'd been awful to her the night before that she started to cry, right there in the classroom. She let her emotions come right to the surface, and she dealt with them, and very soon let the negative ones go. Soon after she cried, she was laughing about what a jerk the guy had been.

Last time I saw Amalia was a year and a half ago, some time after she'd finished English school. She'd dropped by to say hello and to share her happiness in just having found a job at one of the big banks. Her pleasure was contagious. She hugged me at least twice, and then asked shyly, "Baby?"

It was at the end of the week after I'd told my class I was pregnant. I nodded. She touched my cheek with one hand and my belly with the other, with such tenderness I thought I might cry, and she beamed and then hugged me again.

I've thought about Amalia a lot since I lost that baby a couple of weeks later, and taken some consolation in the idea that in her world, I have a one-year-old by now. I know it's silly, but when I'm low I can't shake the feeling that I let people so many people down. It was oddly comforting to know that there was someone out there who still believed.

I'm writing about her now because we ran into her on the streetcar this morning. Hugs galore. She looks great. She still has the job with the bank, and her husband is working in his field (programming) as well. She apologized for not visiting the school recently, and was surprised to learn I don't work there anymore. I told her I was happy at my new job. We asked about each other's husbands, and she finally asked gently about babies. I had to say no, no babies yet. She said the same for herself, but that they're trying. I couldn't bring myself to tell her I was pregnant again.

I told her it was great to see her, and I meant it.

Yesterday we went to the first appointment with the midwife, who works in a private practice with six other midwives in a creaky old Victorian house in which you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the reception desk. It's a warm, welcoming place with dozens of photographs of infants on the walls. It was the first time I'd been there since before the miscarriage. As soon as I sat down in the living room (waiting room), I was blinking back tears.

There was another couple who looked to be from Central Asia. She was wearing a headscarf, and he was in one of those classic Russian fur hats complete with earflaps. Their small son's play with the clinic's toys began with dumping all of them out on the floor, because that's what you have to do when there's a bin of toys to be played with.

The person who talked to us the most was not the midwife herself, but her student, who will finish her two and a half years of clinical training at the end of next month. She (the student) told us that if I do have one of these clotting disorders, they are pretty much required to turn my care over to an obstetrician. Joy.

We go back there in three weeks.

Today we went to the pregnancy unit at Mount Sinai Hospital. It's all reception desks and fluorescent lights and vinyl chairs and magazines featuring people who wear $1100 gloves and have different bedrooms for different seasons. No lending library, no comfy couches, no peeling paint, no bins of toys. I've never seen so many pregnant women in one place in my life. We saw a genetics fellow and his supervisor the geneticist. The fellow was quite baffled by my mother's blood results (and relieved to hear that her hematologist was too). The geneticist was glad to hear that I already have a referral to a hematologist in the Special Pregnancy Program next week, and she decided to take blood from both of us to get the testing started. She said that if I have a clotting disorder, small clots could hit the placenta in the third trimester and cause a stillbirth. She also said that most people don't get tested for these blood abnormalities until after a pregnancy ends, and that there are treatments available (such as injections of blood thinners) that would prevent such clots. So, yay.

Best case scenario is that I'll test negative for everything, stay with my midwife, have an uneventful pregnancy, and deliver at home. Next best is that I test positive for one or more of the disorders, have an obstetrician who specializes in placental abnormalities keep a close eye on my pregnancy, keep the midwife, and deliver in the hospital. There are dozens of other possibilities after that, but the worst is that Dave and I both test positive for the same disorder, and the baby doesn't live for very long after delivery. That one's highly unlikely, and not worth thinking about right now.

One advantage of getting the medical side involved, though, is that they're willing to schedule an early ultrasound. So we might be able to find out whether the heart is beating as early as next week. Once I hear a heartbeat, I might actually start to let myself think there might be a baby at the end of this.

Tomorrow I have to teach about conditionals (which I've never taught) and participial adjectives ("I am interested" vs. "I am interesting"). Eep.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sometimes I wish I lived in the UK

British Telecom recently started a new service whereby one can send text messages to landlines, and the recipient will hear them read in Tom Baker's voice. So of course someone started compiling examples for a website.

My favourite is the version of "Video Killed the Radio Star". Brilliant.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Because the world needs more ukuleles

Via Ghost of a Flea: the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain performs "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

Today's update: still pregnant. "Morning" sickness is misnamed. I'm usually fine in the mornings, and quite ill by late afternoon or early evening. Fatty food doesn't sit well. The washroom at work stinks of the grease from the McDonald's downstairs; by the end of the day it's nearly unbearable. If that's the only thing I have to complain about in re the new job, though, I guess I should be grateful.

I did go ahead and tell my boss. He was awesome. Two adjectives that describe him beautifully are "professional" and "humane". His first question was "What do you need from us?" This after he'd spent at least four months looking for someone to fill the job I've just taken. Wow.

Tomorrow I go see the midwife; on Tuesday I see a genetics fellow at Mt. Sinai Hospital. The genetics guy phoned me on Thursday to ask for faxes of all my mother's test results. He said he'd never, ever seen a patient test positive for more than one of the blood abnormalities on the list I gave to my doctor. (My mother has tested positive for seven.) High weirdness. My mum had two healthy pregnancies and no trouble with blood clots until she was past sixty. Who knows what the hematologist will find by testing me the week after next?

In other news, Martha is still awesome. Two nights this week, I've woken up and found her snake on my pillow. This morning when she brought it downstairs, she dropped it right at my feet. Is it possible to have a crush on one's cat?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I think I just got the last copy in Toronto of the new Doctor Who series. Thank you people in the Outpost Gallifrey forums!

Started the new job today. I think it's going to be good. I observed one of the other teachers for the morning. Tomorrow I'll observe my boss teaching all day, and probably do some lesson planning as well. It's nice to have a chance to watch other teachers at work. I didn't get a chance to do enough of that while I was training, and my last boss had no qualifications or experience whatsoever as an educator, so her grasp on what constituted professional development for us was tenuous at best. ("I know -- I'll force the three teachers to swap classes without asking them or offering any rational explanations. That'll develop 'em!" Never mind that we never got annual performance evaluations, to which we were contractually entitled. I suppose that that was a blessing, though, as getting one was invariably code for "You're about to be fired." Ahem.)

The new boss pays us for staff meetings (the old one didn't) and apologized that he can't pay us for the lunch hour yet. (!) He has very carefully designed the schedule so that I'll be able to ease into the job and still get Tuesday and Thursday mornings off. All this makes me feel guilty that I have to tell him I will most likely be leaving in late September, at least for a while. I'm doing a lot of debating about when to break the news that I'm pregnant. I hate keeping secrets, and I feel like he deserves to know why I'm going to be flaky and exhausted for the next while. But it would kind of suck to conduct the sort of search he just did and have the new person say "Whoops, sorry! Knocked up! Seeya!"

At least I'll be around during the summer, which is high season for private ESL schools in Toronto. And ESL teaching lends itself well to part-time work, which is good for new mothers.

Decisions, decisions.

I think I'll watch some Who.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


It's Winterlicious time in Toronto, so we decided to go out for a really nice dinner at a posh restaurant of the sort where we'd eat regularly if we were filthy stinking rich. I pored over menus for a while, and we finally settled on EPIC, at the Royal York hotel. The food was fabulous. Mr. K and I agreed that our waiter looked like Dan Castellaneta.

What I had for dinner:
  • Nova Scotia Lobster Bisque with Enoki Mushroom
  • Blood Orange Brushed Atlantic Salmon with Ginger and Lemongrass Scented Belgium Endive, Cardamon Infused Roasted Carrot, Lemon Thyme Essence
  • Praline Crème Brulée with a Cumin Scented Biscotti
How long it stayed down after we got home: about three minutes.

Me, leaning over the toilet: Yay! Still pregnant!

I saw my doctor today. She's referring me to a hematologist and to the genetics clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital. Don't know when they'll see me, but at least the wheels are moving.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Everything louder than everything else

One. Trust me to write a rant about how I'm going to keep working out while I'm pregnant, and then fail to summon up the motivation to get out of the house for days at a time. (Why, no. Being knocked up hasn't helped with the clinical depression, thanks for asking.) The only way I could get to my workout today was to ask Mr. Krapsnart to drive me there on his way to work. It's out of his way (the new gym won't be, much, but I won't start going there until after I've started working again, and it'll be easier to get there on my own because I'll already have achieved escape velocity from this black hole of a condo). I'm tired of inconveniencing him just because I'm such a slug. Yet more proof that I suck. Oh yes, the depression is still here in spades.

Anyway. The point is that yay! I got to the gym today! and who should be working out there but the Canadian Tire Guy. Oddly enough, he wasn't trying to sell an all-in-one Workoutenator to everyone who walked by.

Even so, it was weird.

Two. I got a phone call from my mother today. She's had some pretty hideous health problems over the past couple of years, including intestinal blockages, diverticulitis, major abdominal surgery to remove more than two feet of her colon, and serious problems with blood clotting. We're lucky she's still with us.

She just saw one of her many MDs -- I think it was the hematologist this time -- and he told her that it's critical that I be tested for all of the seven different blood disorders that she's recently been diagnosed with. Dad sent me a Word document (thanks, Dad; I still read all my e-mail in Pine on a Unix shell, so attachments are a pain in the ass, but how could he know that?) with the list of them. I've been plugging stuff like "antiphospholipid syndrome" and "prothrombin gene mutation" into Google and getting pages that contain the words "second trimester" and "fetal loss."

Of course Depression Voice starts up with the "you are destined never to have a baby" shit again. (And that makes my brain go "Look Betty, don't start up with your white zone shit again! There is just no stopping in a white zone!") It doesn't matter that K., who was here this afternoon to watch some Doctor Who, and who has depression so crippling that she hasn't worked in four years, is able to point out that my mother had two kids even with all that wrong. My onboard saboteur bursts its pimples at me and sends me careening down the "everything is going to hell" fork of the road instead.

You're going to lose your baby again. Or if you don't, you're going to have to disappoint your new boss and tell him that you're pregnant and will have to spend a lot of time in doctors' offices over the next eight months. And you're going to have a highly medicalized, depersonalized birth with all the invasive equipment and machines that go PING! and everything you didn't want when you told the midwife that you wanted to give birth at home. You'll have to give up the midwife.

Sometimes I really hate my brain.

I guess I should call my doctor tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Party animals

A while ago I got a call from the brother of a very good friend from college. He was having his second 21st birthday party (having not been able to celebrate the first 21st birthday properly, as he was in the Army), and could we come?

We said sure. Never mind that the party was at least 9 hours away by car. We went anyway, I suspect largely because we want to do roadtrips while we still can.

It was a fun party, with lots of comestibles and games of Cosmic Wimpout (which I played) and Mao (which I did not). Not being able to partake of some of the refreshments, I wasn't as outgoing as I often am at parties; I even fell asleep on the couch in the middle of everything for a while. By the end, my pregnancy was not very secret. Lots of people wished us well.

My college friend, C., and her husband I. have a ten-month-old who is too cute for words. They went through several different kinds of hell for him to be here. The first time C. got pregnant, the fetus died, but nothing much happened after that. She's a doctor, and had to go to a colleague to see about a D&C. He kept putting her off, telling her to wait for it to pass naturally. It didn't. She carried a dead fetus for a month until she finally went to someone else.

It became clear that she had fibroid tumours in her uterus, so she had to have surgery to remove them. The surgery rendered her unable to conceive by traditional means, so she and I. had to go through all the awfulness of infertility treatments: hormone injections, egg extraction, and finally the IVF procedure (which has only about a 20% chance of working). Miracle of miracles, it did, and little Ewan the Butterball joined us last March. I. jokes that when Ewan starts to ask the inevitable "Where did I come from?" questions, they'll tell him, "Well, first Mommy and Daddy went to see the reproductive endocrinologist..."

I told her how scared I was that I'd miscarry again. She said she understood. I'm sure she understands better than most people do. In the grand scheme of things, one little missed abortion is not that big a deal; it just shows that the body knows what to do when things go wrong in the development of the fetus. But it happened just when I was starting to let my guard down and think maybe, maybe a real baby is coming to us, just when we were starting to talk about concrete plans for a nursery and work schedules that would enable us to look after a child, just when my body was changing enough that I was starting to buy new clothes. I have an expensive pair of black wool maternity pants that I've never worn. They hang there in the closet reminding me of what could have been. (What kind of cruel maternity shop doesn't take returns?)

I'm terrified to let my guard down again and let myself enjoy the knowledge that there is a baby growing in me. Maybe I'll feel better when we hear the heartbeat in mid-March.

On the way home from the party, I drove for the first three hours. I took us as close to the house where I grew up as I've been for nearly fourteen years. I drove along the stretch of two-lane highway that I've been up and down at least 3,000 times. The area had changed far less than I'd expected, except for my high school, which is now more than twice as big as it was when I graduated half a lifetime ago. I pulled into the parking lot and started to sob.

Damned if I can tell you why.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Martha and her awesomeness

This is Martha. She and her prickly yet loving sister Charlotte turned two in October. They are the second generation of cats in our household, coming after James and Percy, who were known far and wide for their awesomeness. (We lost both of them to cancer in 2004. 2004 was just a bad, bad year.)

Martha is pictured here with her rainbow snake. She has a very complicated relationship with it. I would dearly love to know what goes on in her little walnut-sized brain concerning the snake. Every night, shortly after we've gone to bed, she processes it upstairs in her mouth, squeaking in major sixths all the way. She then drops it off next to the bed.

Every morning, when we're downstairs, she processes it downstairs and into the living room, again with squeaks. She then spends a good part of the day guarding it, as you see here.

I was just upstairs trying to nap to take my mind off how queasy I felt (I guess I needn't have worried yesterday), and pretty soon Martha squeaked in, bearing the snake. Martha then jumped onto the bed and lay down in the meatloaf position clear on the other side from me: close enough to let me know she was there, but too far away for me to scratch her.

I am so very, very fond of Martha.