Friday, September 29, 2006


Originally uploaded by Spamily
I think I give this baby at least another week in utero, maybe more. The prenatal instructor said that first babies come an average of eight days after the "due date," and I don't feel like this one is in a hurry, even if the head is down.

Sleepers and onesies and socks and diapers and receiving blankets are slowly accumulating in the nursery. We're going out tomorrow for a changing pad to go on top of the dresser that used to be full of yarn.

J., the aforementioned prenatal instructor, has picked up on the grief and fear that are still lingering from the miscarriage two years ago, and suggested an extra hypnotherapy session to help me let them go. I find myself awfully skeptical, and yet willing to grasp at anything that will make it hurt less. This baby doesn't deserve to have birth slowed or made more difficult by anguish about what might have been. So I think I'll take J. up on her offer, and see what happens.

In cat news, Martha has been unbelievably clingy the past couple of nights. bringing her snake directly onto the bed next to me, and spending most of each night curled up half on top of my belly and half on top of the body pillow. Yesterday when I was puttering around in the nursery, she and Charlotte both came tearing up the stairs and then spent a while running around the room, wild-eyed. There's a disturbance in their Force. Poor kitties. They don't know the half of it yet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Thirty-nine weeks

It is getting harder and harder to haul myself off the couch. When I sit on the exercise ball, my belly touches it. This baby is riding low.

I am still making it to my FitMom classes -- last night was yoga -- and this afternoon I'll be out of the house for quite a while, first for a massage appointment, then for some shopping, then for a haircut. (If I want a nap today, I'd better have one now.)

The painter finished last Thursday. The nursery is a nice cheerful yellow with red and green here and there. The master bedroom is a dark indigo-purple, slightly darker than before. It looks fabulous. The piles of crap are diminishing slowly; yesterday we got rid of the big pine table that had been my desk for years. I posted it on, a network intended to keep stuff out of landfills by making it easy to give things away. Within a few hours I had a response; a single mother of three is moving out of her basement apartment and needed a new dining table. We probably could've gotten $40 out of it if I'd tried to sell the thing, but giving it away to someone who really needs it was much better karma. Now to move along the old CD cabinet, my old nightstand, and a box of tumbled marble tiles.

Mr. K is under the gun for a big deadline at work; he pledged that he'd be able to finish this piece of work before the baby showed up, and so he's really feeling a lot of pressure. I find myself getting nervous that the baby will come before he's had the chance to learn enough about labour and birth. I'm glad we've hired a doula.

Man. I am exhausted. I think that nap is a good idea. (Hello, baby. You sure are active today.)

(By the way, I did vanquish the bootie pattern. The results are ridiculously cute. Pictures forthcoming.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

There oughta be a disclaimer

This pattern for knitted booties ought to have a warning on it:
Warning: not suitable for pregnant women
It is way too fecking complicated for my poor shriveled brain.

I will vanquish it. I will.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The nursery

The nursery
Originally uploaded by Spamily.
The baby could show up any minute now and still be considered full term. The picture shows what the baby's room looked like as of yesterday. You might notice the dearth of baby-related stuff and the surplus of random crap.

We spent yesterday evening mucking the room out (into the study, which was previously pretty much done and is now unusable), and also doing lots to move stuff away from the walls in the master bedroom. When my midwife told me to stay away from paint fumes, I decided I didn't want to leave all the painting responsibilities on Dave's shoulders. I also decided that it would be a very good idea to cover the flat indigo paint in the big bedroom with an eggshell paint, so that when the kid gets mobile and starts leaving marks everywhere we'll be able to scrub them off. And I didn't want the painting going on with a baby in the house, so I broke down and hired a painter. He will take three days to do the whole job, and it will look great, and it will be done.

He started today. The room in the picture is now almost empty, and it's a nice yellow with a red bulkhead and green closet doors. Tomorrow he'll do the windowsill, the door, and the baseboards, and then he'll get started on the bedroom. Nice guy, highly recommended by others in the building. So: yay.

My feet and ankles are sausages. I'm finally getting stretch marks across my belly. I grunt a lot when I move around. I'm glad I'm not working anymore, because it's so much effort to get anywhere, and I get exhausted very easily. But even with all the discomfort and unpleasantness, I've really loved being pregnant. It's amazing to know that my body can do this, can build a tiny person by combining two cells. I'm a little sad that this part of the process is almost over.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thirty-seven weeks

Yesterday the primary midwife (M.) and the student midwife (C.) made their home visit. The cats were friendly; Martha certainly did turn on the charm. M. and C. had a look around the place, deemed the master bedroom an appropriate place in which to give birth, and then examined me. Blood pressure 110/80, fundal height 36cm, baby's heart rate 144bpm, head engaged in the pelvis, body starting to turn so that the back is toward my front. This last in particular is very good news, because I'm told it's extremely painful to give birth to a baby whose skull is pressed up against one's tailbone. (This is what's known as the dreaded back labour.)

Plus, we've made it to 37 weeks. The baby could come today and be considered full term. People keep telling me that first babies are usually late, though; we could be waiting for another five weeks. I hope that labour waits for at least three more, because the prenatal classes that we're taking end on October 4.

I'm not sure what to think about these classes. I've been very glad to be able to approach this birth with so much attention to its emotional and spiritual aspects as well as to its physical ones; the traditional medical model of care tends to ignore all the touchy-feely stuff (literally, with babies often being whisked away to warming units when they'd do far better to be lying skin-to-skin on the mother's chest). And even though I'm more than a bit of a hippie, I find myself oddly resistant to the idea of self-hypnosis, and I'm having a hard time achieving the deep relaxation that we're being taught. The classes are paid for, though, and I'm sure it'll be good for me to hold a lot of my fears about labour, birth, and being a parent up to the light so that I can try to let them go. It is nice to be in a class in which everyone has a midwife, not an OB.

Plans for the next week: exercise class tonight at 7:30. Lunch with the old boss and his wife tomorrow at 1:00. (I have to figure out a nice gift to give them. Suggestions welcome. They've been very good to me.) Trip to the west end tomorrow evening to look at the contact sheet for the pictures we had taken last Saturday, and to pick up another dozen and a half cloth diapers. (Doug: we're planning to wash them ourselves.) Then back out east to greet Teezonk and two other friends who are coming for the weekend.

Saturday is the neighbourhood garage sale; if I weren't so lazy I'd have spent part of today making price tags for all the stuff we need to get rid of. Saturday night we're having dinner at the Thai restaurant owned by one of my former students. (I hope she's there; I'd dearly love to see her.) Sunday we see our friends off and then get to work moving furniture and boxes of crap so that the painter can show up on Monday morning to work on the nursery and the master bedroom for three days.

Monday is lunch with my awesome trainer, with whom I hope to start working again a couple of months after the baby comes, and then yoga class in the evening. Wednesday is lunch with my friend Mika, and then another prenatal class in the evening.

I write all this here mostly to keep myself from forgetting something. I'm looking forward to getting my brain back someday. It's not a bad brain, when it has enough serotonin floating around.

I'm going to go downstairs and get some more food and water, and put my feet up, and finish this second baby hat. I like knitting for babies: yesterday's hat took, yup, one day.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Baby-related consumer-based activities

Yesterday we dropped a lot of money on cloth diapers (yes we are planning to use cloth diapers), a diaper pail, diaper covers, and a baby carrier. On Thursday, after we dropped my parents off at the Buffalo airport, we went to a Babies-wah-Us* and bought a co-sleeper bassinet that attaches to the side of the bed. It's exactly what we wanted, but we couldn't find the Arms' Reach brand in Canada. We also bought a couple of onesies and a couple of sleep suits with feet. One of them has little trains on it because Mr. Krapsnart is such a railfan. High cuteness.

*Our friend Steve K., lexicographer extraordinaire, calls it this because the backwards "R" is pronounced "wah" in the Cyrillic alphabet. I love hanging out with language geeks.

The other thing we did yesterday was go to a professional photographer who shot pictures of me and the belly (clothed and not), and pictures of me, the belly, and Mr. K. We've been together for more than 14 years and had never had a professional portrait taken before. We'll have a contact sheet (she uses film!) next week, and some prints sometime after that. I am very excited about this, and very happy to have found a good photographer on short notice. (Had tried Heather Rivlin a while ago, but she's booked at least eight months in advance.)

I feel like every step we take toward getting ready to have a real baby around will delay the imminent arrival that little bit more.

People have been asking where we're registered. This is a very good question. The answer right now is that we aren't. This morning I tried registering at the Sears Canada website. Feh, I say. Feh. The "Register online" page was nearly impossible to find, and once I'd filled out our information (which I hate sending over the Internet) I discovered that there seemed to be no way to add items from the website to the registry. So I called the 800 number and, after being talked at for ten minutes by a particularly loquacious CSR, confirmed that no, there is no way to do everything online; to add items you either have to go to the store and fire a scanner gun at the things you want, or sit at home typing in numbers from the (paper) catalog.

Grr. So much for, then.

(Martha is washing Charlotte's head as I type this. They usually have quite an adversarial relationship, so this is nice to watch.)

Even though we've bought some stuff there, I don't think I want to register with Babies-wah-Us because they seem to have been pretty crappy corporate citizens over the past few years. doesn't have all the baby stuff that has, and most things coming in from would be subject to Canadian taxes and import duties on arrival. So I'm at a bit of a loss about a registry. It would be nice to have one so we could specify "no pink or blue pastel" (one of the biggest reasons we haven't been forthcoming about whether this baby is a boy or girl, even though we've been 95% sure for months*) and "no branding, especially no Disney." Much of what we're buying is in bright colours (babies see them better!), and, well, don't get me started about Disney. (They bought Pooh Bear, dammit. And never mind their stranglehold on the American media, and the sexism and racism in so many of their products, and and and... Like I said, don't get me started. I'll know I've lived a bad life if I die and find myself eternally trapped in Disneyland.)

*Recently I was talking to a friend about boy and girl babies, and mentioned that one of my cousins and his wife had been expecting one and been surprised by the arrival of the other. My friend's response: "That would have been such a disaster! We'd have had to redo the whole nursery!" I don't get it; I really don't. Everything we have so far is unisex.

And yes, I freely admit that my stances on corporate and personal social responsibility are inconsistent and even at times hypocritical. I could be far more diligent than I am about refusing to buy anything made in China; I could spend a lot more time researching the provenance of what I buy; I could get off my ass and actually move the money in my RRSP out of the big corporate funds where it lives now and into more socially responsible funds at the credit union. [FWIW, the bulk of my investments, made back when I was living la corporate vida loca ten years ago or so, are in ConglomMutualFundsCo's ostensibly "socially responsible" fund, which has done much better than many of their other ones.)

But: I live in a big city and almost never drive; I haven't eaten meat in 15 years; lots of my non-pregnancy clothing is made from organic cotton; and I do my damnedest to avoid buying anything made by Nestlé. I'm going to have to think about all this stuff a lot more so that I can explain it to our child over the next few years and provide enough education and facts to enable the kid to make her or his own decisions.

This is the long-winded way of saying that no, we are not registered anywhere, and probably won't be. We really appreciate the inquiries, though. You guys are awesome. If you really want to send us something, drop me a comment or an e-mail and I'll send you our address.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Almost 36 weeks

Almost 36 weeks
Originally uploaded by Spamily.
The scary thing is that this is the biggest my tits have ever been.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes

This morning started at 7:00 when the alarm went off. We lay there dozing through the national news on CBC, me with my head on Mr. K's chest and my leg across his legs, Martha curled up in the small of my back. Charlotte, as always, was at the foot of the bed.

I got up at about 7:40 and got into the shower. After I was clean and dressed, I came downstairs and had some breakfast: a scrambled egg, slices of cheese, and a pile of alfalfa sprouts on a wholegrain English muffin. Mr. K has become very efficient at making my little breakfast sandwiches. I put on a bit of makeup (concealer under my eyes, some definition for my eyebrows), poked around on the Web for a bit, and finally got out of the house just after 8:45.

The Pigeon Man was out this morning, lying on a small mound of grass in the little parkette he frequents, shaking out a bag of bread to feed the masses of pigeons and sparrows that were clustered around and on top of him. He always looks terribly unhealthy, just inches from death with his sunken cheeks and hollow eyes, but he's there almost every day, pulling on his giant foul-smelling stogie and letting the birds surround him.

As I walked north I didn't see the tall, nervous, thin woman who always seems to be in a rush to get to work. Nor did I see the squarish red-haired guy with the chinstrap beard.

The streetcar was relatively empty and I got a seat with no trouble. I'd forgotten the new September Metropass, but the very kind driver let me on anyway and even gave me a transfer so I could get on the subway. The chimes of the cathedral announced nine o'clock as we went past, letting me know I was on time.

I got onto the subway and rode to work. Took the stairs out of the subway station, and the two flights after I got into the building. Went into the tiny little teachers' room, chatted a bit with another teacher, gathered the books I needed, and went off to class, where I had one (1) student.

This routine, with minor variations (usually more students), has been my weekday morning for months now. Today was its last hoorah. I taught for a couple of hours, and then cleaned my stuff out of the fridge, said my farewells to my boss and his wife (they're taking me out for lunch next week), and left.

This is the seventh job I've left since I finished university. It doesn't get easier to walk away. This is the first time, though, that I've had someone kicking me from the inside to remind me why I'm going.

I've been thinking a lot about the work I do and about how it's compensated: even though there are more letters after my name than after Mr. K's, I make a fraction of what he does, and my jobs are far less stable. I discovered a week or two ago that I am most likely not eligible for any sort of maternity leave because I've been officially self-employed for the last eight months (read: working for a place that's too small to afford a payroll system).

The work I'm drawn to -- teaching English as a second language within the realm of social service -- is traditionally underpaid. There seems to be an assumption that because it's good, meaningful work, often in the nonprofit sector, those who do it shouldn't expect more pay. Aren't you committed to the cause? How dare you want more money? Shouldn't you be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good? (This hasn't been the case at all at the job I just finished, but then that job wasn't at a nonprofit.)

I find myself wondering about the degree to which the inequity of compensation between jobs I can get and the job that Mr. K has is linked with gender: when I go to professional conferences, I can't help but notice that 90% of my colleagues are female. Even the ESL jobs that aren't connected to social service are usually underpaid and unstable. (At one conference, the [male] keynote speaker noted that ESL teaching is "the armpit of academia." ESL programs in schools are often the first ones to be cut when budgets get tight.)

And the instability of my pink-collar job means that I don't get benefits when I have to take time off to do the unpaid work that women have been doing for millennia. This isn't what I had in mind when I finished my degree at a feminist women's college.

I'm feeling deeply dissatisfied by the lack of structural support available for women who find themselves in what are traditionally "women's jobs" and need to leave for a while to bring new people into the world. People keep telling me I'm lucky to be able make choices, but even if I had a job that guaranteed me a maternity leave, it just wouldn't make any financial sense at all for me to keep working and Mr. K to drop to only 55% of his salary so that he could take time off. For economic reasons, I have to make exactly the same decision that a working woman did 40 years ago.

So that's what's been kicking around in my head for the past couple of weeks. Kicking around in my belly is a baby, whose imminent arrival is freaking me out no end. Baby baby baby.

My parents are here, and they and Mr. K and I spent the afternoon poking around baby shops. We have bought almost nothing even though I'm due in less than five weeks. Right now the baby's possessions add up to this:
  • a dark blue Wellesley onesie
  • twelve small washcloths
  • three receiving blankets (two of which were gifts from friends)
  • a pair of soft-soled shoes (also a gift from friends)
  • one pair of socks (gift from my parents)
  • one bib (gift from my parents)
  • a travel playpen (a gift from Pina and Ian, given when they visited and their then-13-month-old needed a place to sleep)
  • a sling (also from Pina and Ian)
So far no diapers (we're planning to use cloth), no co-sleeper or crib, no big pile of onesies, no diaper cream, no nipple cream, no "so you've gone and had a baby" books, no changing table, no bedding, no curtains, no car seat, no stroller. The nursery looks like a storage room: it is currently full of crap purged from my study (soon to be our study, but currently in use as a guest room for my parents) and stuff that Mr. K needs to deal with. We haven't even bought paint yet.

I am simultaneously equanimous and overwhelmed.