Room Temperature


imageHaha!  That’s my feet sticking out from underneath a throw.  If you’re thinking I’ve run out of mesmerizing topics 13 days in to this January blog-a-day thing I’ve got going on, you might be right.

But I was sitting here in my 19 degree C house admiring my new fuzzy-on-the-inside socks when it occurred to me that they are worth sharing with the world.  Hey, it’s late and I’m tired, and I’ve had one of those days.  So you get sock sharing.

Early this afternoon I went for a follow-up appointment at the ENT Clinic at the University Hospital to discuss the results of the ultrasounds and needle biopsies on my neck.

The waiting room was crowded and hot and I had my winter coat over my arm for almost an hour.  My chair was right beside the reception desk so I got to hear many one-sided phone conversations from there and from rude people on cell phones, plus people talking and a hanging television screen had the sound on.  I’m always afraid in these situations that I won’t hear my name being called.  Then I imagined what it might be like to have a hearing aid and have all these sounds amplified.  Hell, more or less.

The thermostat in the exam room read 24.8 when I got in there.  Then it went up to 24.9.  When it reached 25 I imagined what it might be like to spontaneously combust.  At 25.1 I considered stripping and lying bare skinned on the floor tiles.  It was 25.3 when I left.  Gawd only knows what it’s at now.

I’ve been seeing Dr. Rizk.  And yes, it rhymes with risk.  Once again everything has come back with all kinds of horrible things ruled out, so we know what it isn’t, but nobody knows for sure what it IS.  Or what these lumps might develop into given time.  So my options are to keep showing up for tests and check ups ad infinitum or to have them surgically removed and be done with them.  He told me to go home and think about it.

I also got a flu shot today.  And some toiletries and these amazing slipper socks.  Never before in my life have I had a problem with my feet getting cold.  I’m that person who sleeps with her feet out from under the covers.  I have put bare feet in snow boots and not complained of the cold.  But lately things have changed.  Poor circulation maybe?  Every so often my feet will suddenly be freezing cold and I have to kick off my flip-flops and scrounge around for socks.

These new ones are perfect.  And yeah, gorgeous too. We turned the heat up to 20.  Because it’s winter and we are old. And possibly because W has complained once too often about being cold and I have suddenly developed some empathy on that subject.

And THEN (will this day and the recounting of it never end….) I looked up “room temperature” although what I really meant was ambient temperature and was astounded to discover Wikipedia says its 75 F or 24 C.  I am speechless.  How can anyone stand it that hot?

Okay, your turn. Tell me I’m cold-blooded and strange.  Or is it just where you live and what you’re used to and comfortable with that determines personal ambient temperature?

I’m going to bed now and these socks are coming off.  My feet feel like they’ve been in an oven.

Coming Up Home Care

This is where a person would normally say something profound about the fork in the road, but sorry, I've got nothing.

This is where a person would normally say something profound about the fork in the road.  Sorry, I’ve got nothing.

My November, Days Four and Five

Theres a reason why I did not commit or swear on a stack of holy books to post every single day of this month.  Because I know me and my procrastinating ways.

Yesterday I went to see W in his hospital bed.  He is doing well, all things considered, and in good spirits, which is half the battle after surgery.  He is coping well with the pain and doing everything he is told.  I delivered his phone to him, and the newspaper and his bathrobe.  He seriously is one of the most out going people I have ever known.  He engages everyone in conversation and learns more about a person’s life in five minutes than I would be able to figure out in a week.  I rarely remember someone’s name.  But I think he knows everybody on his floor.  So of course they all know him.

He has a room to himself and many attentive people taking care of him. He really likes the hospital food.  I wonder if that says something about my cooking….

He looked tired when I left, so I decided to leave him to his other visitors today, but I will be there to pick him up when he is discharged tomorrow morning.

And then I suppose the real fun begins when I get to play home care nurse.  Fun times.  We will muddle through.


New Hip Day

My November Day Three

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Just look at this weather! Would you go out in that? Those are some giant killer snowflakes falling from the sky. I wonder if my neighbor ever wonders why I take so many pictures of his garage.

W has been safely delivered to the hospital for his surgery. We had to arrive before eight so we avoided the worst of the morning traffic, and we missed only one turn. Seriously, what are the odds? It was the last major one before the surgery centre, so no panic. We gave ourselves lots of time to drive around in circles.

It’s wonderful to be able to park your vehicle right at the door for fifteen minutes to unload your patient and help him carry all his stuff in and up to the second floor. It’s orthopaedic surgery so they are used to slow hobblers with crutches and walkers and canes.

Leaving the city centre and getting home was simple, since most of the traffic is headed in the opposite direction in the morning. And now I’m waiting to hear how it all went. And thinking up excuses for not walking outside today.

I might miss a phone call. I have a big pot of vegetable soup simmering on the stove. There’s no one here to point out to me that I haven’t gone for a walk yet. My finger tips hurt. My glasses might fog up. It’s Tuesday. The snow has stopped falling for now, but it’s impossible to predict when it might start up again. Do I really want to get caught out in that?

Yes, those are all pretty lame reasons, but the mini trampoline is also calling me; “…it’s outside or me, you can’t ignore both of us!” Sigh. Some people talk to their pets or their plants, but I don’t have either of those. It’s just me and the furniture.

It’s so quiet in here without the resident noise maker who has the satellite radio and the tv and the computer going all at once while he’s talking on the phone or trying to tell me something from three rooms away.

Anyway, enough blather for November Post Number Three. Stay tuned (or tuned out) for more exciting trips to the scary city centre coming up soon.

My November, Day One

Look who I saw while out and about in the neighborhood yesterday! It’s JACK! We often see him hopping about in our backyard and then he scoots to the front lawn and across the street and disappears from view.

I guess this is where he goes. Or one of his destinations. This is a corner lot about a block from our house, with a big old tree which obviously is perfect for napping under if you are Jack. Or any jackrabbit….perhaps Jack is played by many different actors who all look the same.

I think it’s amazing how docile and trusting he is, and I might have gotten even closer but I didn’t want to disturb him. When I doubled back on my walk about 45 minutes later, he was still there. No dogs run loose here and cats are well fed, so he must feel safe.

Because the weather is still lovely for this time of year we had a lot of trick or treaters on our street last night.  Almost every one of them said thank you and happy Halloween.  One little guy with a big bag almost over flowing with junk told me he was on his sixth neighborhood.  Now that’s dedication.

Today we made our trial run to the part of the hospital where W has his surgery on Tuesday, so that will make the actual trip less stressful, avoiding construction and not being surprised by one way streets.  It’s an old people thing.  If you’re not in your sixties you probably won’t get it.  Now I’m hoping the snow will hold off a little longer.

It was also clock turning back day.  My little sister sent us this awesome “movie trailer” showing how traumatic Daylight Saving can be for some people.  Enjoy!


What Happened Yesterday

Random art work unrelated to subject because the alternative was a photo of an actual human colon.  You're welcome.

Random art work unrelated to subject because the alternative was a photo of an actual human colon. You’re welcome.

It’s been a long morning for me, thanks to Lacie, the amazing alarm clock dog.  The neighbours next door let her out in the early morning to do her business and she barks her fool little head off at….I don’t know….snowflakes, fence posts, air.  I wonder why she can’t just go for a quiet pee like a normal dog and let me sleep.  But this morning was better than yesterday morning, so I have forgiven her.

Today is a good day because it’s Friday, it’s snowing, and I have nowhere to go!  And no gigantic four litre jug of vile laxative to consume!  I’m going to tell you my colonoscopy story, so if you’d like to skip on to whatever you were going to do next, now’s your chance.

For the three of you who have decided to stick around because you love old people medical stories, here we go.  I have a family history of bowel cancer, and a colonoscopy is something doctors have strongly advised me to have done to detect any potential problems.  The day before the procedure is spent cleaning out the colon, eating nothing, drinking clear fluids, feeling sorry for yourself and staying close to the bathroom.  Black coffee is allowed.  Thank God for small mercies.  For the last eight hours you can have nothing by mouth, not even water.

The first colonoscopy I had was done in 2003 and I was instructed to come back for another one in ten years.  But because of my superior procrastination skills, I was able to stretch that to twelve.  If the results are fine for this one, I may set a fifteen year goal for the next one.

The procedure was scheduled for 11:45 a.m. yesterday.  I like to be insanely early for things and W likes to be a minimum of five minutes late.  The morning started off with a dead battery in my car.  This was all my fault for not driving it enough.  And we could not take the truck because W was having way too much fun making a big production of recharging the battery and slicing a finger open in the process.  This required much swearing and a bandaid.  Then we took a long convoluted route to our destination, slowing down for green lights in the hope that they would turn red before we got to them.  There is no parking at the hospital.  Well, there is, but every parking lot is always full and we know this, but drive around through all of them just to make sure.  There’s lots of parking spaces at the mall nearby, because it’s better to inconvenience sick people than to piss off shoppers.

W dropped me off at admitting 80 minutes instead of the required 90 minutes ahead of time so that I could check in and fill out a form and sit on my ass for a bit thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong and wondering if he would make it back from wherever he finally managed to park.  I also thought a lot about food and being incredibly thirsty and how much my head was aching.  Eventually I was taken to a prep room where I signed a consent form and donned one of those beautiful back-open hospital gowns I’m so fond of.  The nurse told me to leave my socks on, because just the gown by itself isn’t funny enough.  Then they inserted the IV paraphernalia and told me to lie down and wait.  W had shown up and taken off and come back again while I studied the ceiling tiles.  He told me he went to the hospital cafeteria for soup and a sandwich.  I was going to say “I hate  you” but I didn’t because, although that is a perfectly acceptable thing to say when you’re in labour,  in this case I was faint from hunger and simply didn’t have the energy.

The procedure itself took about fifteen minutes.  The IV is for sedation.  They don’t like to give you too much because it’s a busy place and no one wants you hanging around too long afterwards waking up.  So I was sort of aware of what was going on.  Trust me when I say passing out completely would have been my preferred option.  I was then wheeled to a recovery area where I studied some different ceiling tiles until they removed the tubes and tape and let me get dressed.  Then the doctor popped by to tell me it all went well and although there were a couple of polyps discovered, he wasn’t anticipating they were anything to worry about.

Because you are not allowed to leave on your own, the nurse pointed across the room at W and asked me if that was my ride.  Normally this would not be a funny thing to say, but when you’re coming out of sedation all bets are off.  I imagined introducing him to strangers as “my ride” and thinking that was the most freaking hilarious thing I’d ever heard.  She quickly told me I was free to go.

On the way home “my ride” stopped at Swiss Chalet and watched me eat a huge plate of chicken and ribs and sweet potato fries, washed down with two cups of coffee and three glasses of water.  Then of course I felt sick, but also happy.  It’s hard to explain.

And here you thought nothing interesting or exciting ever happened in my life as a retired person who never starts her car.  I am so glad that today is another day exactly like that.  Even Lacie the yappy wonder dog can’t ruin it.



Our gigantic tree dropping its leaves in at least four backyards.

Several things yesterday got me saying “really?” or even “REALLY??”  It was really that kind of day.

  • We got stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital.  There is construction going on all over this city and we are running out of alternate routes.  Everyone says it will be nice when it’s done, but construction is like housework and will never be done.
  • The nurse at admitting asked me if I hadn’t already checked in because she had me marked off on her list.  Nope, just got here.  So off she went to find my impersonator.
  • Flipping through a home decor magazine I came across instructions for kitchen art. Paint some utensils white, hot glue them (artistically arranged) to a red board, put them in a frame and hang them up. On the same page there was an ad for glass cocktail wands.  So much classier than swivel sticks.  I guess.
  • The many people around me were comparing their various wait times and how far behind things were when a nurse called me to say my doctor was running ahead of schedule.  Do I know how to pick a surgeon or what?
  • Hospital garments confuse the hell out of me.  What goes frontwards and what goes backwards with a gazillion dome fasteners and ties and elastic papery things for gawd knows what.  By the time I got it all figured out we were probably back on schedule.
  • I lost count of how many people with clip boards and check sheets asked me the same questions over and over.  I think they were all planning to meet up in the O.R. later and compare notes.
  • One minute the anesthesiologist was starting my  I.V.  and the next minute it was two or three hours later and I was somewhere else.  This is what time travel must feel like.
  • On a scale of one to ten, one being discomfort and ten being the worst pain you’ve ever felt, how would you rate your pain?  I don’t know.  I hate math.  I had different levels of pain in different places – neck, throat, back, head.  I didn’t want to sound like a wimp or a whiner so I said it was a four.  Wrong answer!  No extra pain meds for you.  Next time they asked I upped it to five.  Still not high enough.  Sigh.
  • After i was declared sane enough to leave, W wheeled me down to the main entrance and left me sitting in front of the hospital directory sign while he went to get the car.  No one asked me for directions.
  • It’s impossible to keep your head still in a moving vehicle even if you hang on to it with both hands.  I suffered a thousand mini whiplashes on the drive home because we kept braking for pedestrians and red lights.  Yes I am being overly dramatic.  I believe most post op patients are.

The pain med prescription bottle says one or two tablets every four hours as needed and they gave me 30 of them.  They are supposed to cause drowsiness but I managed to have a restless night anyway.  I am supposed to leave the steri-strips in place for seven days.  They told me not to have a shower for two days.  REALLY??  That rule is already broken because our shower is hand-held and I kept my neck dry.  Fewer people will die as a result.

Now once again we wait for answers.  Follow up is in two weeks.  By then I should look less like a bus ran over my face.  Another drama queen statement.  Sorry.  I’m drowsy.  Not quite as exhausted as this topic, but close enough.

This Different Me

sue fitzmaurice marjorie pay hinckley

Last night I slept for eleven hours.  It’s amazing what a good long sleep does for your outlook on life in general.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like myself.  For one thing, I don’t want to write every day, even on days when there’s nothing of any consequence to write about.  Oh, hell, who am I kidding, that’s always been the norm here.  Now that I have something mildly interesting to talk about, I don’t feel like talking about it at all.  Apparently these days I prefer to sit down and stare off in to space with an empty head.  I suspect W is completely exasperated with me, because no matter how hard he tries I can always find a reason to be negative and bitchy.  I’m not so fond of this different me.  No doubt he isn’t either.

When I’m at work and some annoying person starts complaining about a random inconsequential minor stupid bit of nonsense (they’re all like that lately) I really would like to tell them to just please shut the F up.  I don’t care.  I’m sick.

My CT scan was done on the seventh of July, and now I have an appointment booked for August 11th at the University Hospital with an excellent doctor.

Surgical Oncology
Professor of Surgery
Divisional Director and Zone Section Head
Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Does that not all sound excellent?  I’m sure I’m in excellent hands.  I should be feeling totally excellent.  Except that the ‘oncology’ word scares the living shit out of me.  He is also a plastic surgeon, so if half of my head has to be removed I’m sure he can build me something interesting to take its place.

The holiday that we’ve booked for two weeks with family in Ontario can go ahead as planned, leaving on the 26th of July and flying back on August 9th.  I have hours in the day when I completely forget about all of this.  What’s the point in worrying and imagining and dwelling on it, really.  I thought when I got to Day 16 of Jazzy and her happiness project and my life took this funny turn that I would have to put a hold on all her blather about happiness.  At least this different me realizes what a huge mistake that would have been.  I’ve had a couple of dark days but look, here I am.  I survived them.  I think life likes to hand you bad things you think you won’t be able to handle just to show you how strong you can be and that you can.

So until the middle of August, life is good.  We’ll have a fun holiday, a time to remember.  And perhaps after the middle of August life will still be good. Maybe it will just keep on getting better and better.  One way or another, life does go on.

See how weird this different me insists on being?  Seriously, stop it.  Okay.  I’m done.  Me too.

There’s not much more I can say on this topic anyway, since I didn’t ask any questions in the interests of ignorance being bliss.

Okay!  Has this bloggers block been broken?  Different me hopes it has.

Someone From High School

When was the last time you saw someone from high school?

Ahh, yes, high school.  I remember it well.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Was there ever another bewildered teenager with such a curious combination of colossal conceit and pitiful self-loathing?

Probably, right?  But if you lived it perhaps you know how hard it is to get over yourself and the whole high school experience.  It was all just so…..HIGH SCHOOL.

The last time I saw someone I went to high school with my sister had to point out the fact to me since I didn’t recognize her. Quite possibly there have been lots of other chance encounters of fellow students and I’ve been blissfully oblivious.  There’s really no one I’ve kept in touch with from that time in my life, except for one person who found me on facebook, and sporadic Christmas cards from someone else, and of course those rare chance encounters where somebody has to give me a hard nudge with her elbow to make me pay attention and figure out where I’ve seen that guy before.

We had gone to the hospital in my home town to visit my dad following his stroke.  A little dark-haired nurse came in and fussed over him for a bit and my sister said a few things to her.  Then she said to me, do you remember Cathy P, who used to be Cathy C.?  And suddenly the face was familiar – the cute little cheerleader years later in a nurse’s uniform!  No doubt what flashed through her mind might have been – huh – the prom queen gone to fat and wrinkles!  But we smiled and said hello and how are you and it’s been so long, and it’s so nice to see you again….all the right things, whether sincere or not really makes no difference.

Later my sister told me that Cathy had married her high school sweetheart.  And that he had died a few years ago, and she had been completely devastated for a long time. He was the love of her life and she said after he was gone that even if she’d known of this eventual outcome she loved him so much she would do it all over again. Hearing this put everything in a completely different perspective for me.  We are not who we were in high school.  People become wives and mothers and widows and dedicated nurses who fuss over our sick fathers.  Our lives may be vaguely shaped by those school years but in the big picture they’re just a short little spurt of growing up time preparing us for whatever comes next.

We give it such excessive and boundless importance while we’re living it – the relationships and the friendships and the angst ridden search for who we are and how we want to be regarded.  And then we graduate and go off in a myriad of different directions on various divergent and dissimilar paths and what people think of us becomes nothing at all compared to how we feel about ourselves.

So, old high school people from my past, if we should happen to meet and look each other in the face and have no clue whatsoever why we look familiar to each other for some obscure reason – I hope you have had a wonderful life.  I hope you have known joy and contentment and love.  I hope that whatever pain and sadness you’ve had in your life has made you stronger and that you are at peace with the world.  That’s really what I mean when I’m saying hello, how are you, nice to see you again.

Sentiments from Scents

My maternal grandfather died when I was nine years old. If anyone explained to me the nature of his illness, I don’t remember what was said. There were hushed whispers about cancer for a long time, but he continued to live at home and grandma was taking care of him. If I thought much about it at all, I guess I just assumed that he would eventually get well.

Our grandparents lived mostly on one side of our house, although my grandma never took anyone else’s privacy too seriously. So I didn’t take hers seriously either. I would go skipping into their bedroom whenever I pleased to visit and talk and generally make a nuisance of myself. Grandma had potted plants all over the house and had moved a bunch of them into the bedroom so she could fuss over them without leaving grandpa alone. So it never smelled like a sick room as much as it did a flower garden. Perhaps she was giving him a little preview of things to come. Seeing grandpa so sick made me sad, but listening to grandma just made me mad. Even if he was half asleep she never shut up, ranting and raving about everything non-stop. Later I understood that it was her strange way of coping with a situation over which she had little control. But my nine-year old self wondered why grandpa put up with it. Maybe he liked the noise and it kept him rooted in this world a little longer than he would have stayed if he’d been left in peace and allowed to slip away in silence.

Ultimately it wasn’t the cancer that killed him anyway. He fell down the stairs. Terrible, tragic accident, everyone said. It crossed my mind that he might finally have been attempting some kind of getaway and if that was so, it was certainly one that stuck. He never regained consciousness and passed away in the hospital.

His was the first funeral I ever attended. It was just like a church service, except a lot more weird. There were flowers on the casket, and along the walls, and on pillars and posts and framing doorways and on tables and on the floor. I assumed they were to cheer up my grandma. They were everywhere. The room was too warm, and the smell was over-powering.

During the service my brother told me to stare really hard at grandpa’s face. If I did that and didn’t blink and kept doing it until my eyes hurt, I’d see him move. Well that was too tempting not to try, so I did it until my eyes burned. I was about to give up and kick my brother for being such an ass when suddenly I saw my grandpa take a breath. Even though I knew it wasn’t possible, it made me gasp. And take in a lungful of the sickening sweet and cloying scent of a gazillion flowers.

I felt all hot and cold and shuddery, and I tugged on my mom’s arm and told her I was going to throw up. She glared at me and told me I WAS NOT going to do that. So I didn’t. But it was a struggle. Finally kicking my brother really hard helped take my mind off it.

My whole life flowers have been something I always associate with grandma (because she loved them more than anything, possibly even grandpa) and of course with funerals. I know I’m supposed to be all thrilled to get a bouquet for a special occasion, but the truth is, the smell makes me nauseous. I like them just fine when they’re alive and growing outside in the open air. But when you cut them, they’re just going to die. I carried an artificial bouquet at my wedding. Not a good time to be flouncing about carrying something that makes you want to puke.

I understand the appeal of a great big smelly old flower arrangement, and if I get one I try to be adult about things and tolerate it.

But seriously, I just don’t like them much, mostly for how they smell. Floral perfumes and air fresheners make me gag. It’s been a lifetime since that day, but the memories remain aromatically vivid.

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Life As We Knew It Then

May 09

Life As We Knew It

We have great memories of living in Guelph, Ontario.  The first place we lived was an apartment in a high-rise.  We had very little furniture and we were dirt poor.  I was able to get a job right away at the Guelph Campus Co-op bookstore, and we immediately applied for co-op housing.  We had a car.  We made friends.  We had money for food and beer.  That’s what a student loan is all about isn’t it?

The Guelph skyline is dominated by the impressive Church of Our Lady.  I’ve never been inside it, but just looking at it always gave me a sense of serenity.  I have no idea why.

And the University Campus is quite beautiful.  I’m sure it has changed drastically in the years since we were there.  But there continues to be a wonderful sense of tradition.  The old buildings are kept in good repair, even if their function changes.

This is probably one of the oldest and best know buildings on campus, made into a coffee shop.  The co-op bookstore was fairly close, and I suppose it’s still there.  The only other landmarks  pertinent to this memoir would be the co-op student housing on Forest Drive, the Harvey’s restaurant, various pubs, and the Guelph General Hospital.

So picture the two of us.  I’m working full-time at the front desk at the bookstore, helping students find everything they’re looking for and loving being in on the hectic campus lifestyle.  W. is attending lectures and labs and any spare time at the library working, so that when we go home at night we can spend some quality time together, sitting on pillows on the floor watching our little black and white t.v. (which also sits on the floor) and more often than not, eating some kind of take-out.  Most weekends we feel like we deserve to party at least once.  Our friends aren’t picky, they’ll join us on the floor and drink our wine.  W. takes up smoking a pipe.  I find this hilarious.  My bearded pipe smoking biologist.  We smoke a lot of pot. We make wild plans to go to Africa and work for CUSO.   We drive up to my parent’s house every so often where my mom frets that we’re not eating right, so she stuffs us and our car so full of food we don’t have to eat or grocery shop for a week.  W.’s brother and his wife move to Hamilton where she works and he goes to school.  (We’re starting new family traditions.)  It’s great to have family close.  I find an incredibly beautiful long black belted pea coat at a thrift store for five dollars and I never take it off.  God I loved that coat.  Life was good.

So I guess that was the ‘life as we knew it’ that I’m referring to.  I don’t know why I thought it would go on and on.  Because suddenly – poof – it was done.  Time to finally grow up.  It was sometime before Christmas that I started to feel decidedly ill.  For over a week I was constantly nauseous, pale, tired, and weepy.  We’d just seen Love Story, so I imagined myself with some sort of fatal disease – our punishment for being so blithely happy.  I finally dragged my naive little butt to the doctor when a friend at work suggested I take a pregnancy test.  And that’s of course when all the signs and symptoms at last made perfect sense.  The very first things my doctor asked me were if this baby was planned, and was I happy about it and did I want it.  No, definitely not planned.  Too utterly stunned at the moment to think about the happy part.  But immediately protective, and enamoured, and committed.  I remember those feelings suddenly so strong it was as if someone had turned on a tap somewhere and they just flowed through me.  Of course I wanted it.  How could anyone imagine anything else?  W. picked me up after my appointment and just started driving.  I practically screamed at him….don’t you want to KNOW???  He said my face told him everything.  And he squeezed my hand and said everything would be okay.  And that started the crying that really didn’t stop for any great length of time for the next eight months.

Such ridiculously bad timing!  W. had two years of school to complete.  I had to work.  Neither of us had ever even talked about a child.  Life just seemed to keep happening to us.  I went home from my doctor appointment and threw my cigarettes in the garbage and then I phoned my mother.  Everyone kept asking me, are you happy about this?  Of course I was happy!!  Then why are you so miserable?  I DO NOT KNOW.  There are pregnant women who glow.  I was not one of them.  For me everything was a battle that I had to win.  I willed myself to not be sick.  I refused to take anything that remotely resembled a drug even if I had the worst headache of my life.  I gave up beer and wine and coffee and pop.  I started cooking vegetables and drinking milk.  I vowed to stay on my feet and work until the bitter end.

There’s a reason for a pregnancy being divided up into three trimesters.  The first three months are for getting used to the idea and dealing with the nausea.  Which could be a physical or a mental thing or a little of both.  The next three months are for reading everything you can get your hands on about pregnancy and delivery and nutrition and becoming an expert, especially if it’s your first one.  If there was a happy time for me, this was it.  Everything was new and interesting.  I could still see my feet.  The last three months, when ‘normal’ women do that strange glowing thing, were for me the most tedious, tiring, boring and miserable time of my entire life.  I don’t know how W. put up with me.    I did not like the physically awkward fat new me.  I didn’t want to admit how tired I was at work.  I wanted it to be over with.  My doctor actually said to me on one visit – don’t worry.  There has never been a case yet of a pregnancy that did not terminate.  I was sure I would be the first.  I would be pregnant forever.

The maternity leave rules back then were completely out to lunch, as far as I’m concerned.  I had to leave work six weeks before my due date, and return to work four weeks after that.  I did not need six weeks to wallow in self-pity.  That last month I sat in our basement apartment eating popsicles, drinking chocolate milk and watching game shows.  W. predicted our child would be born black and frozen, but with a high IQ.

We had gone  to pre-natal classes, because W. wanted to be with me for the delivery.  What a glutton for punishment he turned out to be!  I took my bad attitude with me all the way to the hospital, four days past my due date when I had abandoned all hope of ever seeing what the place looked like on the inside.   During labour I  informed him that if he ever did that to me again I would kill him.  And that’s when he shrugged and left the room and went to watch a baseball game in the waiting room.  Every labour pain after that I mentally strangled him.   He was smart enough not to come back until they gave me my epidural.

For every birth there is a different pregnancy and delivery story.  When you’re pregnant you get to hear them all, which means you’ve either already heard them or you may someday.  I won’t bore you with the sordid details.  Our daughter was born at 9:20 p.m. on the 27th of July.  She was the tiniest most beautiful little human being I had ever seen.  She scrunched up her little red face and screamed.  Even when she wasn’t yelling her eyebrows were pulled together in a mad little frown.  I was immediately a firm believer in the fact that a mother passes her moods on to her unborn child.

Top left is baby’s newborn frowny face.  Top right, the stunned new parents, with baby turning away thinking omg, why me.  Bottom left and right, new dad, new mom.  Baby thinking, okay, maybe this won’t be so bad after all.