Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cute Stories: One, Two, Three

In order to appreciate Story One, you need to know that Geister never gets out of bed in the mornings by himself. He’s rather attached to his bed that way—once he’s in it he won’t get out unless I go and get him. He’ll shout and bellow for me in the morning, “Moooommmy!!!” but he won’t move until I go get him. I don’t know why, it’s just a thing he does but we love it. It reassures me that he’s not suddenly going to get up in the middle of the night and decide to go to the club.
Secondly, he still has trouble with clothes—getting shirts on and off is particularly difficult. So I guess if he did want to go clubbing, he wouldn’t be able to get dressed for it anyway.
Oh, and, he stills wears overnight diapers.

To appreciate Story Three, you have to believe me when I say that there were no deliberately leading questions whatsoever.

One

One morning this past week, when I still hadn’t heard from Geister by 8:30 am, I went to check on him. My heart stopped—for a fraction of a fraction of a second—when I saw that he wasn’t in his bed. Where was he? Then I saw him, crouched and hiding beside his dresser, fully dressed!
“I’m dressed Mommy,” he said, and didn’t move.
“I can see that!” I gushed. I crouched down myself in order to be face to face. “Did you put underwear on, too?”
“Yes, I did. I wanted to surprise you Mommy.”
I basked in this moment, this glorious, warm, happy moment. To surprise me. I loved him; and then I saw a wet spot on his pants.
“Sweetie, are your pants wet?” I asked warily.
“Yes, they are. And I pooped in my underwear too. Mommy, I had to go to the bathroom but I couldn’t get up because then you would see me and it wouldn’t be a surprise anymore.”
So then I loved him even more.

That night I went to get him ready for bed, but I couldn’t find his pajamas anywhere (we usually keep them on the floor, or sometimes if we’re being neat, on the bed). I opened his top drawer to get clean pajamas, and there they were—the pajamas he had worn last night, neatly folded and tucked inside.

Two

Same day. Geister and Boo were playing while I was organizing breakfast. Then I heard him say “Ow” in a nice whiny voice. “What happened?” I asked, in my own tired-of-dealing-with-petty-skirmishes voice.
“I hit myself with the tractor and it hurt. Oww!! I was trying to do something to make Boo laugh but I hurt myself.”
He was just trying to make Boo laugh.

I love him for that, too.

Three

Next day. Geister, Boo and I had just returned from a morning playdate and I was getting Geister out of the car. He saw my ring and asked what it was. So I told him that his daddy gave it to me when he asked if I would marry him. “I want to be married,” Geister said.
“Oh you can’t get married. You’re too young.”
“But I want to.”
“It’s illegal. You have to be much older.”
Why??????
“Because you do. Besides, I don’t want you to get married yet. You need to live your life first and find the perfect woman.”
“But I already found the perfect woman. You.”

I almost cried. So there it was, the moment which I sense many mothers of young sons experience: the (pseudo) marriage proposal. But it rocks!!!! It really does.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rate Your Mommy Dot Com

I spent some time on Saturday night in the company of people who have been publicly rated on their profession. These were a professor and a doctor. I decided to dig for my own personal ratings, mommyhood being a professional profession, of course. After some extensive internet research, I found two users who had made comments about me! Here follow the results, which I share freely:

Total ratings: 2
Average score: 4/5
Categories: Punctual, Helpful, Knowledge, Clarity, Easiness, and Hotness*.

User 1
P: 3
H: 5
K: 3
C: 4
E: 5
H: 0

Comments: My mommy is one of the best mommies I know. She likes to read to me and she lets me watch TV, particularly if I feel sick or she feels tired and needs a break. I also get to eat lots of gummy bears, and when she makes me peanut butter toast she cuts it the way I like. She always makes sure I have my coat and shoes on and mitts and hat, even when my daddy is trying to rush out the door and says the weather’s just fine, why the smurf bother?
However, she doesn’t play cars with me as much as I would like. I want her to play cars with me all the time; that is, before breakfast, during breakfast, after breakfast, during the morning, before lunch, during lunch, and after lunch, and during the afternoon; as well as before dinner, during dinner, and after dinner, and finally at bedtime.
Sometimes when I’m mad she says I’m a faker, which makes me smile so then she thinks I was faking, but really I was mad, and I’ll be mad as long as I like. I think she needs to respect my moods a little bit more.
She doesn’t always let me play with my sister the way that I want to. Sometimes she yells “Stop pushing your sister!” when I’m not pushing her, I’m just trying to get her out of the way of the cars. Sometimes she makes me actually share my cars with my sister which is even worse. I think I should play with all my own toys and not have to share, even when friends come over.
But my mommy helps me fall to sleep at night, and if I ever wake up in the middle of the night and get scared, she’s the only one I want. So, overall I have to give her a good rating, although as I said, I have to take away marks for not playing cars with me enough.

User 2
P: 4
H: 5
K: 3
C: 4
E: 4
H: 0

Comments: My mommy is a pretty good mommy. I like her a lot, and I have trained her very well to respond to me when I whine a little bit. I can ALWAYS get her to pick me up if I stand at her feet and stretch up my arms and say, “Up! Up!” and get in her way until she complies.
My mommy is not the easiest mommy—she decided to take away my soother except for car rides and sleeping. I don’t like this but again, she is well trained so that if I whine enough she will give me the soother even in the middle of the day.
My mommy is fun, but not very consistent. Sometimes I’m allowed to open up all the drawers in the kitchen and pull everything out, and sometimes I’m allowed to pull down all the movies from the shelves in the family room. But then some days I try to pull, say a knife, out of a drawer and she yells and tries to act very strict.

She is very good at keeping track of my things: she always knows where my soother is, and my blanket and dog. Sometimes she loses her own things, but not mine.
My mom is good at encouraging me to try new words. She gets very excited when I say new things, and she likes it when I say more than one word at once. She also gets extremely excited when I sit on the potty with my diaper and pants on and pretend to go.

I don’t like it when my mommy tries to get my hair out of my eyes, and I HATE it when she tries to make me wear a barrette. Once I let her put one in, but I made sure to take it out before anyone in public saw it.
Overall, my mommy performs her job well, and I can recommend her as a mommy. But that doesn’t mean I want to share her, because I don’t. I like to have her attention all to myself.


* This category is not considered when determining averages.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy All Saints Day


Only some of the creatures and characters at my house last night. . .
I don't know what I'm in for when Christmas rolls around, but I have learned that Halloween is so pulse-quickening, adrenaline-rushing, sugar-high exciting that when a three year old boy wakes up in the night (because the covers came off? Because he was dreaming? Because he really does have a sore ear?) that memories of the trick or treating completed mere hours before can then keep said boy up for an hour, telling and retelling his mommy tales of his exploits that she might not have known before.
I therefore learned at 3am this morning that sometimes you have to knock on the doors, but sometimes you don't--shouting "Trick or treat!" can be enough to get someone to open the door; that Boo is a very good trick or treater and when she went up for seconds nobody minded so she got lots of candy; that my poor pirate's eye patch was lost somewhere on route and couldn't be found even though Daddy tried to find it; that Boo rushed to greet the dogs that met them on the trick or treating trail, but that Geister rushed away; that pumpkins feel slimy on the inside and sometimes their lids fall into their bodies; and that Daddy said "What the frig?" but frig is not a nice word, in fact it's "bad language."
I am so tired today, but who cares, it was worth it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hand Slip

My daughter just left. She’s left for a week to visit my in-laws, her Grandpa and Grandma. I packed her suitcase, made sure she had two coats in case it gets cold; I packed an extra pair of shoes, her toothbrush and special toothpaste, her hair brush—something she actually needs now that her hair is long enough to get tangled after the bath. I packed some toys, some books, a doll. I took a diaper bag and filled it full of size 4s, and then added three packs of wipes, even though she’s been asking lately—with a point towards the bathroom and a word that sounds like “potty”—to go to the potty. I grabbed her musical elephant so she can sleep at night, and sleep at nap time. I gathered three stuffed dogs, her most precious treasures, and put them in their own special bag for the trip. I packed her bottles and some formula, and with those, stuck in the page of notes I’d made for Grandma detailing her granddaughter’s daily routine. The note said maybe she’ll need this much formula, but it’s OK if you try to give her more milk instead.

This visit was planned in August. I knew it was coming, I agreed it was a good idea, but I never dwelt on it. Why should I have? My mother-in-law asked to take her for a week, and helpfully pointed out that she had taken my son for a week when he was only 16 months old. At 19 months old, my daughter was long overdue. But we’ve only ever been separated for 21 hours before. This time I’m not going on vacation; the higher purpose (for me) of my daughter’s absence is so I can toilet train her brother (he’s 3 ¾ years old) intensively. Really focus, pull him out of preschool, get the job done.

So, in theory I’m OK. I believe in grandchildren bonding with their grandparents even over an extended period. I got to do it with my grandparents, and I won’t deny my children that. But part of me wonders, when so many of my friends wouldn’t even consider letting their children go for that long, am I a good mother?

In Grandma and Grandpa’s car, I strapped my daughter into her car seat. I tucked her pink blanket around her, positioned Dougal (her favourite dog) under her arm. I brushed her bangs across her forehead. I kissed her.

When her hand slipped out of mine, by this I mean the car drove around the corner and out of sight, I went into the house and cried. I can’t quite bear the thought that she’s gone for the week, and I can’t quite bear the sight of the car driving away with my baby. But my tears reassured me, that though I’m willing to let her go, it breaks my heart, and that means I’m not giving her up glibly, or without a sense of what I’m losing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We Got Home at Last, Which Was Forever Ago (Whatever)

Pretty Tallin



Day 16: July 27

Off to Tallin, Estonia. This was a great day. We took the ferry from Helsinki, across the Gulf of Finland, to Tallin, the capital of Estonia. It’s a good thing the ferry is so fun, since it was a large part of the day (i.e. three hours total spent on the ferry, four minus customs in Estonia). On the ferry you can eat, shop, watch people, chase your kids around, and go up and down stairs repeatedly with them.

Tallin is so much different from what I remember; but then again, I was here last shortly after the iron curtain fell. Given the time, the grayness has given way to colour, and capitalism. In any case, the hours we were there were not nearly long enough. We ate lunch in the old town, and then shopped in the square. Geister and his dad climbed in the old medieval wall, and then it was time to walk/run back to the ferry. Unfortunately on the way back to the ferry we had an incident—M. was pushing Geister in the big stroller over a curb and the stroller collapsed, pinching Geister’s legs and knees. From what I could tell, it was more hurt pride and shock than anything else that made him (Geister) cry, but he did cry. I had to carry him back to the boat with many reassurances that Daddy didn't mean to do it, while M. pushed and kicked the broken stroller along.

[Sidebar: For anyone who is concerned about the welfare of Geister and the stroller, the update is that Geister turned out to be absolutely fine and now has a story to tell about the time he was in the stroller and his daddy broke it with him in it, and it hurt his legs, in Stonia. The stroller on the other hand, did not survive the incident. After Temo broke it some more after attempting to fix it, we ditched it at a garbage bin.]

Once we got back to Helsinki, Temo picked us up and we went back to their house. We had just enough time to turn around to go out again—M. and I were taking the family out to eat, while Geister and Boo stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa. Really, a win-win for me.

We let our hosts pick the restaurant (something cool on the esplanade, I hoped) and they picked, with us in mind, a typical Finnish restaurant. Now, since we’d all been eating authentic Finnish food since the beginning of the trip (did I mention the elk, the white fish, and the blueberries yet? Oh, and the reindeer?) this was a second choice for me. But whatever. Our hosts were very excited—a chance for the Canadians to experience real Finnish food like it used to be served back in the day. To start with, Temo ordered himself and M. an aperitif called The Drunken Log. Very Finnish. Then he ordered beer and wine. Also very Finnish. M. ordered the bear (not a typo) which is less typically Finnish since you can’t get it all year round.

I perused the menu, slightly terrified of the choices—hmm, bear no. Seafood, no. Reindeer, no. Lamb, not so much. That left only one dish for me, the steak. The very rare steak. At least it came with potatoes, also very Finnish.

After dinner wrapped up (with the conclusion that reindeer is superior to bear), we climbed in the car and headed, because we insisted, to the Arctic Ice Bar. It’s a very small room in downtown Helsinki that is entirely ice. You have to pay a hefty cover to get in, but with the fee you get to wear ice bar-issued parkas, and you get one vodka drink of your choice. Tell me this wasn’t worth it:



Ice ice, baby





Drinks and parkas, all part of the fun


Day 17: July 28

Shopping today. Nothing but shopping. Fun, fun, fun. The boys went to a hardware store, had drinks, and then did a few more sights in the city.

Day 18: July 29

Time to leave. So glad to be going home, because the trip has been such a success I feel completely satisfied. The only time I hesitated was when the family dropped us off and Temo said to me, “Well, MLD. . .” and then hugged me, with a voice and a gesture towards me that was very “Gus, quite a party.” So then I was sad but no time to dwell on that when you have two children to check in and manage, and then you get yourself in a bit of a situation because you accidentally walk out of the airport and can’t get back in without the boarding pass that you left with all your stuff (ahem), until it's time to board the flight.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Almost home

Day 12: July 23

Today is the day we visited Sweden, and did not put many km’s on the road. We know that Grandpa, our driver, is not a morning person, but when we have a talk before heading out for the day, and specifically outline how we will NOT stop for a break until at least two hours have elapsed, it’s disappointing to stop after only an hour. (This was a common occurrence on the trip, generally speaking. The sudden and unannounced stop, that could send any or all of us tumbling forward in the camper with nothing to grab on to but the kids, or maybe a bread knife, and send books flying off the table. The stop could occur anywhere. At a market. At an information centre. Or simply at the side of the road. This is why, M. and I finally put our heads together and figured if we made a plan each day before heading out, and communicated such to the driver, we might be able to control the itinerary a little more finely.)
Anyway, Grandpa went into a market and a long fifteen minutes later came out with his cookies, pop, and chocolate, his morning sugar rush.
“I didn’t pay for any of this,” he said matter-of-factly.
“What are you talking about, Dad?” said a shocked M.
“I stood there for at least five minutes—I kid you not five minutes—at the till and no one would serve me. I didn’t see anyone. So I walked out. I thought that would get their attention, but nobody stopped me.”

What do you say to that kind of logic?

As for Sweden, there was some hope of needing our passports and getting a cool stamp, but I wasn’t so sure. I can’t remember any customs between Finland and Sweden. Sure enough, as we drove into Haparanda, Sweden (a “service town, not overly attractive or interesting”) there were no signs telling us we had entered another country, let alone any customs officials.


For this we went to Sweden. Really.





After crossing back into Finland, we didn’t get farther south than Oulu. I picked a restaurant from LP that sounded like it had good food and a decent family atmosphere, but it was really terrible. Yet another meal where the only redeeming aspect I can think of is that eating lots of ice cream for dessert is not only guilt-free, but necessary in order to satiate my appetite.
But when we wandered around downtown Oulu, I could see why it was a popular destination. A beer festival, lots of students, situated on the water, and lots of sun in the evenings.
We found a campground to stay at, but as in 2006 it earned the honour of being Finland’s best campground, there was no room for us. We stayed in the parking lot instead and paid a combined 14E to use their washrooms and showers.

Day 13: July 24

Today we drove all the way to Turku. I drove some of the way, and it was such a nice change I don’t know why I didn’t take over the wheel sooner, and we made good time because I did not stop every hour for a cookie and pop break.

Not much to note, but our campground in Turku is great. We’re right near a beach, so Geister can spend lots of time throwing rocks into the water.

Day 14: July 25

Moominworld today. I had really been looking forward to taking Boo and Geister to Moominworld. I remember going with Temo’s family when I was in Finland before. I was bored then, but now with children of my own, how could it be anything but great?

Easily. It’s a boring park. That said, Geister maximized the fun quotient but being in a good mood and doing absolutely everything. Boo amused herself by getting in and out of the stroller, running around, and then climbing in the stroller again.

However, Naantali, the home of Moominworld, is a gorgeous little town and so that was fun to see.



Once we were back in the campground we decided to do something unprecedented: cook our supper. We had all these groceries that we bought in Imatra; we hadn’t used most of them. Instead, each day we tried to have one meal out, and then eat fresh bread, cheese, fruits, cold meats, and veggies etc. for our meals. Because there was a kitchen in the building right next to our site, this seemed like an ideal plan.

Of course it wasn’t—Grandma couldn’t understand the Finnish instructions on the spaghetti dish she was trying to make, and I just cooked my own thing. Supper was poor, but then, this part of the vacation has never been about the food (except when reindeer is on the menu).

Day 15: July 26

We toured Turku today and I’m glad we could end the camping portion of our trip on a positive note. We saw the castle, went to the marine museum, where Geister pretended to be a pirate (have I mentioned that he’s addicted to watching the Backyardigans on the iPod? And that the pirate episode is his favourite? And that he goes around singing “What do you do with a scurvy pirate? Make him walk the plank! Arrr!”). We toured the 14th century church also. As we were driving back to Helsinki, Temo called us and told us we had to get the camper back immediately, because his neighbour had rented it out again. So, instead of finding supper on our own, which would have been our last detour, we threw ourselves on the mercy of our host family again, and it was the best meal we’d had all week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Days 10 and 11

Day 10: July 21st

We went to a museum today. I love museums! but they are not always kid-friendly. The Artikum was great, though. They had such a good display of things that Geister and Boo liked. We also saw a film on the wildlife in the Arctic, and that mesmerized them. I learned that 3.5 million people live in the Arctic. I find this incomprehensible: Where exactly are these people? They aren’t in the Canadian Arctic, or Greenland, and Scandanavia is not that thickly populated at this latitude. Is this all the large Russian towns accounting for this number?



After seeing the museum, we pushed on. We drove for quite a few hours north, on roads like this:

Move along reindeer.


to a town called Inari. This is the farthest north we plan to go, though if my husband had his way we would drive the additional 98km into Norway, just to grab another country.

We picked a (the only) campground in town and found a spot with electricity, and near the extra cabin we are renting (yay!). This campground is right on Lake Inari. I’d describe our site as picturesque with a side of depressing. The facilities are not that new, and we have to pay to use the shower. Of course, there is a sauna and (of course) it’s already booked up.

After finding a spot, we drove away to get supper. LP recommended the restaurant at Hotel Inari so that’s where we went. It said there is a great view of the lake, and you can watch the float planes come and go. Perfect for our little Geister.

The hotel was everything I imagined it to be:



The menu was even better. Our choice of: reindeer, reindeer steak, reindeer soup, reindeer kabobs, pizza (with reindeer), and it case we didn’t want reindeer, there was an option to have pork tenderloin (with reindeer sauce). Of course, there was also a lot of fish available. Geister, Boo, and I had french fries. M. had the reindeer; apparently, it’s really delicious.

After dinner we poked around some stores and Boo picked a lot of flowers.

When it was time to settle down for the night, we learned that the extra cabin is extra work. Just separating the luggage was too much effort. What do we need? What stays here? Who’s getting up first in the morning? Where do we put the playpen? Will Geister still settle in the camper? How can we cover these windows better, seeing as these curtains afford no privacy and let in all the light?

I had the pleasure of getting Boo to bed. I knew she would be apprehensive in the strange and new environment of Cabin 8, so I stayed with her. I lied on the bed, and she stood up in the playpen screaming at me for half an hour, desperately wanting me to pick her up. At the thirty minute point, I declared her the winner and took her shaking and exhausted into bed with me.
I was not ready for bed, nor did I want to be down for the night. I wanted to stay up late and enjoy the last official night of midnight sun. This was the only latitude at which we could experience the constant sunlight, and the last official day for it. However, I fell asleep with Boo in my arms, as worn out as she was. However, some internal personal clock woke me up at 12:30 am, so I snuck out of the cabin and ran around the campground snapping pictures.


Lake Inari, 12:45 am


Day 11: July 22

We wandered around Inari again this morning. I think we’ve seen the town. After lunch, we did the boat cruise recommended by LP.

The boat cruise was good—we went to an island that used to be a place of worship for the Sami people (Grandpa was hoping to meet some Sami people, but most of them don’t live this far south (??) anymore). It was very pretty, and Geister and Boo loved running around. But the return trip was too long for the cruise to earn a three-diamond rating; I don’t know why we had to meander back.

Anyway, on south. We got as far as a town called Sodankyla and found a nice campground there. I really liked it. There was a beach bar and a nice river, and there are fewer mosquitos than in Inari.



The view from the beach volleyball court.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Oh Yeah, There's More

The summer cottage. Amenities not shown: extra cabin, two saunas, playhouse, and not one but two outhouses


Day 7: July 18th

Today was a big day—Temo heated up the smoke sauna. M. and I were kind of keen of stopping in Kuoppio to visit “the world’s largest smoke sauna” but Temo dismissed this as nonsense, and said it’s only partly real, and mostly they use electricity to heat it. Temo has many disagreements with our Lonely Planet Finland guide. I told him if he writes to them to point out the errors, he may get a free copy of the new edition when it’s published, but he didn’t seem that interested.

Today Boo discovered wild blueberries. She not only loves to eat them, she loves to pick them, as she sits right on the bushes. Grandma told me at the end of the day that Boo’s diapers were quite technicolour, but evidently, my daughter’s got nothing on what the ducks can do after a blueberry feast. I’ll say no more.

The smoke sauna was OK, but the kids weren’t in bed yet and it was impossible to take care of them and do the sauna. They don’t like going in the sauna, so they have to be entertained just outside of it. Inside the smoke sauna it smells smoky and the humidity intensifies the heat, so I didn’t last as long as I would in the other sauna. I ran out in the middle of multiple conversations.
“So,” Temo would say, throwing ladles of water on the hot rocks, one after the other, “what do you think about when you will leave tomorrow?”
“Well, I think. . .” then I’d stop, unable to speak due to the scorching heat upon my face, and bolt for the door.

I am sorry this is our last day at the cottage, but I’m excited to push on farther north.

Day 8: First day on the road, July 19th

We were hoping to get as far as Rovaniemi today (Arctic Circle, more or less) but we got as far as Ranua, which is pretty close. Ranua has a zoo which has nothing but indigenous Finnish wildlife.

The campground we stayed at was quite nice and the facilities were new. It is cold though. Only (high of) 14-15C. There were lots of children playing at the playground where we stayed and they wore toques and mittens. I keep finding myself thinking, “Oh, wouldn’t such-and-such be great in the summer” and then I remember this is the summer.

Day 9: July 20th

Little did we know at the time, but the wolverine we saw today at the Ranua zoo would make Geister’s top five highlights of the trip. They are fun creatures to watch: looping around a circle they run.
Ranua is also home to a cloudberry festival. So naturally, when I saw a giant cloudberry statue at the entrance to the zoo, I told my husband and everyone to stand next to it so I could take a picture. He didn’t respond, and I was exasperated. Like, what about the sentence “Stand next to the giant cloudberry” don’t you understand?

Off to Rovaniemi after the zoo. It took an hour and a half or so to get there, but the Arctic Circle is just slightly north of it so that’s where we went first before finding a campground. LP warns that Santa’s Village, which is at the Arctic Circle marker, is a tourist trap full of kitsch. Say no more—I’m SO there!

Really, it was fantastic. I got the kids Lapland hats, which have reindeer on them. We took lots of pictures at the marker, and best of all we got to meet Santa Claus. We sat around him and he asked all about where we’re from. He pulled out an atlas for us to show him our town (in “Kanada”) and them we signed the atlas. He was nostalgic: he said he hadn’t been to our town in a while, but he thought he might have some time in December for a visit.

I also went to the official post office and sent my niece a post card. It was all very convenient—they had a Canadian postal code book there.

Finding a campground was no problem. They told us to go park wherever there was space. We are right near the river. It’s really beautiful, and I love how light it stays. One of those big European camper-buses pulled in late while I was checking e-mail at the registration office. I find those buses so odd, and I can’t imagine traveling in one. I think everyone tents, in some kind of contraption that attaches to the bus. And they all cook their food at the camp kitchen. It seems awfully crowded to me, but who am I to say? So far, we haven’t rented a cabin so it’s been all of us in the RV every night. It’s cozy. Last night Geister fell out of his bed, so I went to help him, and then fell asleep on his bed. I woke up about half an hour later when Boo started banging on my forehead with her fingers. Hmmm, good to know that without my body being a physical barricade, she can get out of bed quite easily. Should we test to see if she can unlatch the door to the camper as well?

Tomorrow, we plan to put lots more miles on the road. We’ll see how that goes.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Still Going on About my Trip

Day 4: July 15th

Sunday we got a late start, but reasonable considering we are still battling jet lag and hadn’t loaded the camper yet. On to the summer cottage!! We stopped at Porvoo. Porvoo is pretty much as I (don’t) remember it. Very nice, but somehow not that memorable. We had tea at a Russian style cafĂ© (Helmi) and I ate a Runenburg pastry. This is named after the Porvoo poet Runenberg. It was good—kind of like a spice cake without raisins. And it had Runenberg berries on it. There’s nothing I like better than eating indigenous pastries around the world.

Then we stopped at Korvala for lunch at the much Temo-exulted ABC. ABC is the place to get everything—food, gas, and a grocery store, 24hrs a day. Although, M. calls it “AB-C you later”. Not a fan. And they have a nice buffet. I am humbled/embarrassed to see how difficult it is for me to function alone in Finland. I couldn’t order any of the food by myself—I really should bone up on some basic phrases like “chicken”.

We didn’t have time to stop in Kotko, so we went on to Lappeenranta. I don’t think we did Lappeenranta before. It was really fantastic for the kids—all 20 minutes of rain-soaked fun we had there. There is some festival which involves a sand sculpture contest and one even had a real car on it so Geister was thrilled. Boo was thrilled to discover that playing in wet sand is as fun as playing in dry sand, maybe more so. She got filthy, and cried when we dragged her away.



Does it look like the car is on my head Mommy?


Wet sand is more fun than dry.


Then we reached Imatra just in time to see the dam waterfall thing. We parked the RV and Temo asked me to step outside. He had his parents waiting there to meet me. It was so sweet. He asked if I remembered them, and I did (by logical guess and vague recognition, though I certainly don’t remember their names). His mother sort of smiled and seemed shy/nervous/mute because she doesn’t speak English, but his father gave me a hug, and then stood then smiling at me, in a I never thought I’d see you again kind of way. I loved showing them Gesister and Boo. My children make me proud.

The falls were better than I remembered, maybe it was because of the music which is new.

Then we went to a grocery store to buy food for our trip. This was a challenge for many reasons: -I don’t know what to buy, even in English. We only have a stove and small pots, and not too much storage space
-everything is in Finnish, so how do I know what things are?
-we were tired and it was late

After an hour or so, we emerged with some success. When we reached the camper, we saw that M. had not changed the kids into pajamas, nor fed them. We also saw that Geister had poop on his hands, because as he claims, his bum was itchy. This was a disgusting but minor mess. We are lucky that we did not forgot to purchase soap.

We arrived at the cottage at 10-ish, and tried to get the kids to bed. This was difficult. I got Geister to sleep by telling him a story of how he and his sister climbed some rocks at a church, but Boo screamed and would not settle. It was close to midnight when she went to sleep. At that point, the womens (Finnishism) had already saunaed (not Grandma), and it was the men’s turn. Temo, M. and Grandpa. I did love that. I loved that they were off experiencing true Finland, at midnight, under the light summer sky. I don’t know when everyone went to bed.

Day 5: July 16th

Blissful cottage day. Day to do nothing but relax, except that this trip is not relaxing. I wrote this in the few spare seconds I had to myself:

I am finally alone in the camper. Circumstances have conspired to keep me with people for the entire time so far (even at night) and I think I’m going mental. At night, I sleep (fitfully) with Geister squished up against me, or alternatively as last night, Geister so far from me I’m afraid he’ll fall out of the bed. He did fall out once last night, but it was a short distance to the ground and he landed on his knees. No harm done; he fell back asleep immediately.

Then it was time to eat or something and that was that.

So I would have written about how the kids loved the playhouse, how Geister wanted to swim the whole day, and how I am reading a terrible book.

Day 6: July 17th

Off to Savonlinna today. This is a town approximately an hour and a half from where we are, but the drive is worth it. There is a castle here called Olavinlinna which is gorgeous, and there’s always an opera festival in the summer. We stopped at a Marimekko sale (Sale is “ale.” Learned a new word!) and I bought a few things.

Once we got to Savonlinna we toured the castle right away. The thing about castles is, they’re not that child-friendly. Boo and Geister ran around on the rough stone floor while we were waiting for our tour to start, and both of them fell and Geister’s cut was bloody. Neither could we take the strollers on the tour. So we carried Boo, and sometimes Geister, up treacherous steps and into turrets, and carefully guided them along walkways to other turrets. Finally, after seeing the most interesting toilet ever—an open seat high high above the waters of the moat—I decided to wait with Boo while the others went on to even higher battlements.

After the castle, we ate lunch, I checked e-mail, and we made a stop in Puumala for groceries. This is notable for only two reasons: one, the new bridge tower that has been recently built there from which you can see “typical Finnish lake land”; two, I saw the biggest bug I have ever seen in my life. I mean, in Finland of all places! Geister saw it first. We were on the docks, studying one of the boats, and he pointed down to the water and said, “What’s that, Mommy?”
I looked and saw a creature as big as a mouse, crawling along the rope that attached the boat to the dock. A beetle like thing. A creepy, crawly, beetle—maybe more like cockroach—like huge black bug crawling towards the dock. We showed Emmi who said she’d never seen it before, except for the one time she saw one in the dining room at the cottage.

Sauna again when we got back to the cottage. I love the smell of the sauna. I love swimming in the lake. I love sitting and watching the sun.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

All the Travel Posts I Wanted to Write

. . . while I was in Finland, where I had the (wireless) technology available, but never once had the time.
The people involved include my family and my in-laws, as well as the family I worked with for a summer during university, 13 years ago. They are Temo and Maria (parents) and Emmi, Matti, and Kirsti, the children.

Day One/Two: July 12th /13th

Leave for the airport. Mentally prepare for 8hr flight, and the 7 hr. time difference Toronto/Helsinki. Well, can’t prepare really at all.

Geister and Grandpa both order chocolate milk, which bonds Geister to Grandpa in a way I’ve never seen before. After the chocolate milk coincidence, Geister will not let Grandpa alone. Figure might be good time to get Grandpa to teach Geister how to use the potty.

Sit on tarmac for an hour. Boo starts to wail. I sing to her, hope that no one else can hear with all the ambient noise.

Arrive 2 hrs late to Helsinki; wait an hour or so for luggage; get most of it except for Geister and Boo’s suitcase.
We make M. wait in line to register that our bag is missing, and the rest of us go out to meet whoever is picking us up—it’s Kirsti! So good to see her. And then Temo is there too.
We arrived at their house around 11am, and Maria had a big breakfast waiting for us—it was so Finnish, and exactly how I remembered it. There were the rice cakes/bread, and the good cheese, and summer sausage, and fruit and lots of good things.

The house is not the one I stayed in before—Temo gave us a tour of it as soon as we stepped inside. Really, it’s exactly like an Ikea house, and I mean this in the most positive way. The floors are light wood and everything is done for the purposes of simplicity and practicality. But it is so clean and cheery and lots of Marimekko inspired patterns. I like these designs—nice colours.
The sauna is in the basement. The house is only one storey, but the basement is finished. That’s where we sleep, except for M. who sleeps in the camper.

We went to bed early, and then I couldn’t sleep for a while. Then Geister and Boo both woke up at midnight, and stayed awake until 3 or 4am. Geister watched the Backyardigans on the iPod, and Boo was in a quiet alert state. Until she started to scream. Finally, M’s mom (she was up to help, bless her) and I gave the kids Gravol and we all slept until around 9am. Jet lag—take that!

Day 3: July 14th

Saturday we went into Helsinki. We got a late start—it’s hard to organize that many people to move, plus we slept in—but Temo and Kirsti took us on a wonderful tour. Wonderful as in, very thoughtful, and very accommodating to us. Geister especially liked the big cruise ships—seeing the Silja line brought an immediacy to my last summer here; I remember being so excited and pleased to be going to Stockholm for the weekend. But Geister saw the lifeboats and said he saw bathtubs hanging off the ships.

We walked around a bit and did the Esplanade. I bought a change purse at Marimekko. Then we tried to see the rock church, but it was closed for a wedding. M. climbed the rocks, so then Gesiter had to climb the rocks, so then Boo had to (try) to climb the rocks.


Lonely in Helsinki, left on the steps of a church.


Back home, we ate pizza for dinner and then did all the horsing around in the 21 ft camper we are renting for the upcoming week. Sleep-wise: Do I fit here? Would Geister fit here? Would Geister and I fit here? Would M. trip if the luggage was left here?—and then went to bed around 11pm. Only to lie awake for hours again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Garbage Truck

I don’t have a good reason for not getting the garbage out today. We slept in, Geister fought me tooth and nail to get his dirty overnight diaper changed, and then complained about every piece of clothing I offered to him. But somewhere during our spar-and-parry routine of “Let’s-put-this-on NO!”, I heard the dreaded sound of the garbage truck on our street.
I ran to the front windows to check—no sight of it, but still, I could hear the sound of a heavy truck that was just out of my line of vision, and while it could be one of the many construction trucks in our neighbourhood it could also be the garbage truck.

I ran downstairs with Boo in one arm, calling to Geister as I flew past his room that I was checking if the garbage truck was here. This left Geister to howl, “But Mommy don’t leeeaave me.”
“Hold on, I’ll get you in a minute,” I yelled back, as I threw open the front door and saw that, indeed, there was the garbage truck a few houses down on the opposite side of the street, but coming our way. And I saw that technically our side was already done, but it’s a short stub street with no traffic, so what difference does “side” make anyway?
In a panic (because I really have to get this garbage out before we go away for two weeks) I ran to put Boo down somewhere (no gate, don’t have time to wedge it in the doorway), grabbed the bag of garbage with my free hand, and ran barefoot and in my pajamas out to the curb.

There, I’m sure they totally saw me. I’m sure they’ll get my garbage. And they see I have a baby in my arms, so they’ll have lots of compassion for me and make an extra effort to grab my one bag of garbage. And, once they’re directly in front of my house, they may even see that my toddler is standing, without pants on, at the front door. So, we’re good. No problem. Oh. Wait a minute. Maybe they don’t see me. Why are they driving past my house? Oh no. Are those teenage garbage boys actually looking at me now as they hang off the back of the truck, and round the corner out of sight? They’re going to act as if they didn’t see my mad dash to the curb in my pajamas with a baby and one bag and now I’m stuck with this garbage?????

I retreated inside.
“Mommy!” Geister said, with a serious and concerned expression, “They didn’t take our garbage.”
“I know.”
“Mommy the garbage truck came and it didn’t take our garbage. It’s so sad. It’s so sad that the truck didn’t take our garbage can I get my pants on?”

And so it was. The sight of a pajama-clad mommy, holding a baby, and running to the curb does not play to garbage collectors, at least today on my street.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Identity


I had more time to prepare for the idea of becoming a wife than I did for becoming a mother. Pregnancy lasts nine months; my engagement was a year long. I took two prenatal classes, and I would say at least three premarital classes. None of these stats matters though, or seemed to foretell which was going to be the more difficult transition for me: that of single girl to married wife, or that of child-free me, to being someone’s mother.

I admitted here to having a “huge” identity crisis when I got married, and then not when I gave birth. So this is my attempt to think about why this was so. First, I remember how true it was; I have an image of my new husband and I attending a small Bible study in our new town, and me deliberately sitting across the room from him so that no one would confuse us, as—I don’t know—one Borg-like unit. I never once shied away from claiming my new son as my own, however; the closer I could be to him in public, the better. I can’t imagine how odd it would have felt if someone hadn’t known I was his mother, if they had guessed I was his nanny or something. But during the early days of my marriage, it would have been fine if people had not immediately known my marital status, so that I could be a separate entity distinct from the guy I chose to sit across from. My husband, M. didn’t react this way at all. For him, the more he could throw around the phrase “my wife” the better. I could tell at times he was practicing it, that the words didn’t come naturally, but he always said it with some measure of excitement and pride, with a pause afterwards and a glance towards me as though seeing if I liked what he’d said.

I got married when I was 29. M. and I had been engaged for a year, and had dated for a year and a half before that. But the thing is, there is only so much time and energy you can spend on “Why are there no decent men?”, “Will I be single forever?”, and “Please Lord, don’t let the verse ‘Sing, O barren woman . . . because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband’(Isaiah 54:1) be a verse for me” without the singleness becoming an indelible part of who you are. The girls with the boyfriends, strangers. The girls bonding over why there are no guys, me. I remember one day at work, after university and after my year abroad, sitting in the cafeteria by myself and observing a table of married middle-aged women: they had mom hair and they had mom hips, but they had men. It wasn’t fair—I didn’t have mom hair or mom hips—and I resented them their good fortune, and my as yet unburgeoning one. But I didn’t see how I was going to be crossing to that side of the cafeteria any time soon, being such a single person and all.

On top of feeling generally somehow single, I craved independence and self-sufficiency. To this day, I have to have alone time on a regular basis or I lose my equilibrium. I saw marriage as a potential threat to these, even as much as I wanted to be married to my husband-to-be. I worried about negotiating my (solitary) needs with my new identity as wife, co-dependent: What is my space? What becomes our space? Before the wedding, M. moved some of his things over to the new apartment and placed his lab coats in the closet: to me this became the symbol of our space, which amazingly included his stuff too.

The wedding day came and went. You can’t tell from my wedding pictures that I didn’t believe any of it was happening, in that surreal kind of way brides can experience their own wedding days; I just looked happy, in fact, I looked happier than I’d ever been. Once the honeymoon was over, and we moved into our apartment, with his stuff, my stuff and our stuff, I had the luxury of standing apart from my marriage, and drawing inwards to myself, to have those moments when I could look at the fact I was married (really gobs of time to do this, since I was in a new town, knew no one, and was looking for a job). What resulted was a feeling that everything had changed while not much had changed. Eventually I got used to people knowing me as a married person without ever having had the chance to know the single me. I even got used to the words “my husband.”

When I became a mom, I didn’t have that luxury of standing back and ruminating (way too sleep deprived). But more than that, I accepted motherhood much more graciously. Even when a great representative of the me I used to be—my brother—watched me with my new son, and said incredulously, “Do you realize you’re someone’s mom?” I knew it was true, but so? Your point? The fact of motherhood didn’t rattle me a bit; the act of motherhood, well, quite a lot.

There is nothing like getting married and having kids to make one feel so changed and so ordinary, but ultimately so very (despite what Stats Can says to the contrary) happy. And it is possible, I find, to do these things—marriage and motherhood—with my own style, me-ness, and identity, rough hewn and still under development as it is.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Eight Things About Me

I’ve been tagged by Bub & Pie for this meme. These are the rules:

A. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.

B. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I’m a little over 5’8”.
2. INTJ, and that’s the story I’m sticking to.
3. My favourite new reality show is Age of Love. Have you seen it? It pits a group of women in their 40s against a group of women in their 20s in order that one woman from either group wins the affections of Mark Philippoussis, tennis star. I keep hoping for the 40-somethings because I’m closer to that stage of life than I am to my 20s (ah, the glorious 20s), but then again, I’m hoping for the 20-somethings because Mark has every right to want a family, and frankly he oughta go for a nubile woman. But then I hope for the 40-somethings because I so firmly believe in women marrying younger men (ahem), but then I hope for the 20-somethings because why not, they’re young, they don’t have kids or established careers, I'm sure they deserve something to get excited about.
I’m offended to think that the premise, I mean the whole show, wouldn’t work if the 40-year olds weren’t uncommonly beautiful (although I would say both groups are equally plastic). It’s like age doesn’t matter when it comes to love, but looks sure as heck do.
4. I can’t figure out why I liked Knocked Up (the movie) so much, when I found The 40-Year Old Virgin offensive, and not likeable. Lots of raunch, in both films. Do I forgive offensive content as long as it’s funny? Is this the human condition?
5. Getting married gave me a huge identity crisis; becoming a mother did not.
6. I’d rather be a t-ball mom than a soccer mom.



7. I hate dumb blonde jokes.
8. I’ve rediscovered The Watchmen. I listened to one of their CDs last week. I’d forgotten how much I like it.

There’s no way I know eight other bloggers who haven’t already been tagged by this, so I’m going to try something different. I’ll list some people who don’t know about this blog, and get them to visit.

Nancy
Rose
Amy
Deidre
Lauri-Anne
Miriam

Well, that’s three-quarters of eight.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Birthday to Canada


. . . last year.


This year, too much running around finding stones and trotting them over to Grandpa to sit still; too much pine cone collecting, running circles in squeaky shoes, standing up in the playpen so as not to sleep, squealing and shouting at passing dogs, marshmallow roasting kind of fun, for a picture.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Countdown to a European Family Vacation


Now that our trip to Finland is less than a month away, I feel the need to blog about it. The trip participants include me, my husband, Geister, Boo, Grandma G. and Grandpa G. The reason we are going to Finland is because I know a family there; the reason we are going this year is because Boo will fly for (almost) free (there are some taxes on overseas flights, as it turns out, and tax calculated on a $0 fare turns out to be about $300. Who knew?).

Our itinerary includes:



  • Seeing Helsinki

  • Spending time at a summer cottage (I use the modifier “summer” deliberately, as this is the phrase the Finnish always use. “You have a cottage?” you might say, only to be told in reply, “Yes, we have a summer cottage.”)

  • Driving to the Arctic Circle

  • Hitting a Swedish border town, and crossing over, just to say we did it

  • Going to Russia, if I remember to get the required visa

  • Spending a day at the Moomin amusement park for the kids. Geister already has his own Moomin plate, and cutlery set.

  • Seeing Helsinki again

  • Crossing over the Gulf of Finland by ferry to see Estonia

  • Having a sauna everyday

It will be a great experiment to see:



  • Whether Geister and Boo can get over jet lag

  • If they can sleep with that much constant daylight

  • If the mosquitoes are worse in the Finnish north, or ours

  • How cozy it really feels to travel and camp with my in-laws in the 24ft camper we’re renting

  • Whether or not our host family will go nude in the sauna when we’re there, and what they expect us to do (This brings to mind the one rule I have for the trip: Do not see father-in-law naked. I'm trying not to be glib here--I really really mean this.)

*************
Also, this is my blogiversary, or birthday or something: in one year, I’ve managed to post 25 entries!! That’s an average of one every two weeks. Honestly, that’s better than I thought I was doing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Recalls

I have just gathered up five wooden Thomas & Friends toys as per the RC2 Wooden Vehicle Recall. For more information, go to http://www.recalls.rc2.com/ where you can get complete information on what is recalled and how to send in your pieces.

Geister asked me what I was doing as I hunted for the red James, his coal car, and a few of the other Friends. “What are you doing, Mommy?” he asked, concerned.
I explained that there was some bad paint on the toys, but we could send them back to the store and get new ones.
He absorbed this explanation, and then asked, “Can we get a new Mommy, too?”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why Geister?

Geisterhaus is the name of our boy. It was hard to decide on his name. For one thing, we thought up until the day he was born that he would be a girl. We had our pick of the girls’ names: Cakes, Doodles, Angel, Sweetie Pie . . . but divining a boy’s name was much tougher. Would we stick with the popular names that were charming, but not distinctive enough? Bud, Joe, or Stinker? Should we name him Junior after his father, who is also a Junior? What about naming him something we liked—like Sweet Pea—but that was fast being assumed as a girl’s name? No again. The reservoir of acceptable boys’ names was dwindling, and it was our task to find something more original, masculine, than what immediately came to mind.

At last my husband dad came up with an idea: What about naming him after the main character in a game he used to play on his Commodore 64? The game was no good, he leveled with me, but the name just might work for us: Geisterhaus. We could call him Geister for short.

What could I say? Naming my child after a ghost-like character from some lame Commodore 64 game aside, I wondered: Could I shout this name out loud, as though I were calling him at the playground? Did it sound natural to my ears? Did the German-inspired name promise something that couldn’t be delivered? Would others understand how to pronounce the name? Gee-ster with a hard G. Did it sound too much like “geezer”?

I wrote the name out—did it look OK with our last name; did it look harmonious with all our first names clustered together at the bottom of, say, a Christmas card?

But I pushed my hesitations aside, embraced what I loved about the name (its soaring quality, its originality, its strength), and on the day my son was born, without any other major contenders, I cradled him in my arms, looked in my husband’s eyes, and we knew: This was our little boy, our little man, Geister.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Birth Story

This is the mostly true account of my niece's birth last April.

Show
Narrator: Coming up. . .Sassy and Joe are expecting their first child. What’s in store for them? Sassy wants a home birth with midwives. But last minute indecision could change their plans.
[Pan to Sassy puking in the toilet, asking her mother “Is it too late to have an epidural?”]
Does Sassy have what it takes to go through with the medication-free plan to give birth at home, as she hopes? Find out soon, on A Birth Story.

Commercial break: Hey everyone! Check out my friend’s website at http://www.spasisters.ca/ She runs her own soap/spa products business with her sister.

Show
[Distant shot of very pregnant Sassy and Joe, walking through the park with a German Shepherd dog named Europe. They are chatting. They are happy. Make sure to get close up shot of oblivious looking Sassy, still in major denial that she’s pregnant at all, even at 38 weeks.]
Narrator: Meet Sassy and Joe. High school sweethearts, they have been together off and on since then. Their romance started when Sassy asked Joe to the Grade 10 dance.

[Pan to Sassy sitting in her living room, with a big bouquet of flowers at her head.]
Sassy: It was his eyebrows I first noticed. Then the kilt. He’s a bagpiper. I guess I couldn’t resist a bagpiper!

[Pan to Joe. Also with big bouquet of flowers at his head].
Joe: She asked me to this dance. I couldn’t say no. She loved the kilt! What can I say? There aren’t many girls who are into kilts.

[Pan to couple together, sitting on a couch. Big bouquet of flowers still in the shot].
Joe: I proposed one day after I picked her up from work. She wasn’t expecting it. We’d been together for 11 years, so she was totally caught off guard. I proposed to her right there on the curb! Then I took her for supper, and had a rose waiting.
Sassy: He gave me the most beautiful ring. It was exactly what I’d asked for. [Shot of ring, as Sassy absently rubs her large pregnant belly]. Of course I said yes. Did I say yes, or did I just laugh? I think I said yes.

Narrator: The couple got married in June, and decided they didn’t want to wait too long to start a family. Both have always wanted children.
Sassy: We were on our first year anniversary road trip to Memphis. I wondered then if I was pregnant. Something about the way the ducks at the Peabody Hotel made me feel. But of course, I didn’t see how it was possible.
Joe: You were in denial.
Sassy: Once we were home, I waited forever to take the test. My sister was pregnant too. Finally, I gave in and took the test. It was positive! I freaked out. I couldn’t believe I was pregnant. Joe was calm, though.
Joe: Calm on the outside! Inside, I was nervous—very nervous. I still feel like a kid myself, who’s even having trouble managing the care of our dog, Europe. I mean, how do you know when you’re ready to be a parent of a child? [Close up shot of the sweat forming on Joe’s forehead, and the panic in his eyes.]

[New scene. Go to shot of sister. Sister has a three-year old named Geister, and a newborn named Boo. Get lots of cute shots of Boo.]
Sister: I knew Sassy was pregnant before she did! All the signs were there. I knew it. I kept bugging her to take the test. I remember going to a picnic with her, and she insisted on carrying everything because she knew I was pregnant, even though I wasn’t telling anyone yet. But it was silly. She was pregnant too! Then we went to a U2 concert together. Those were early days. The music was so loud of course, but we both want our children to grow up to be fans, so we didn’t care. Did I tell you about the time we actually met Bon. . .
[Cut off the sister. Back to Joe and Sassy, discussing birth plans.]
Sassy: I don’t like hospitals; hospitals are for the sick. A pregnant woman isn’t sick. Pregnancy is a human condition, not a medical one. Unless there are complications, I don’t want to go to the hospital. My grandfather was born at home. And last November, so was my friend Trista’s baby.

Joe, gesturing towards his wife: Whatever she says, I totally support her.

Narrator: The couple has decided not to find out the sex of the baby.
Joe: We don’t care one way or the other. As long as it’s healthy, right Sassy? [He gives his wife a huge squeeze on the arm. She looks like she doesn’t want to be touched, but she smiles anyway.]
Sassy: I have a feeling it’s a boy. Or a girl. Or maybe a boy. One or the other. I’m sure of it.
Joe: It’s going to be beautiful, whatever it is.
Sassy, misty eyed: Yes, it is.

Narrator: When we come back, labour starts perfectly on time—on the baby’s due date.
[Pan to shot of Sassy doubled over with the pain of a contraction, waving her hand and saying, “I’m not in labour. That’s not a contraction!”]
Will Sassy finally accept that a baby is on its way, or will the denial continue? Is Sassy going to go through with her plans for a home birth, or will she ask to go to the hospital?

Commercial break: Early Years Centre registration is this week. Don’t forget to sign up! For more information go to http://www.ontarioearlyyears.ca/

Show
Narrator: We’re back with our couple. We were going to show you the usual baby shower footage, but due to viewer demand, we have cut out that uber-boring segment on all our Birth Stories.
Now, Sassy has gone into labour on the baby’s due date. With remarkable timing, the baby seems to be on its way. Are Sassy and Joe prepared?

[Pan to Sassy and sister’s parents house. Sassy is bent over in pain, and her sister is haranguing her with questions. The mood is tense. Boo is crying. Make sure to include wide shots that show Joe is nowhere to be found.]

Sister: Sassy, are you in labour? Should I go home tonight? I want to be there for you. If you don’t want me in the room, that’s OK, I’ll wait in the hall. Or downstairs. Or in the basement. But I respect you; it’s your decision. [Faces the camera] She won’t care. She’ll be in so much pain she won’t even notice me. But I should ask, anyway; it’s the right thing to do.
Sassy, to her mother: Do you really think I’m in labour?
Mother: I’ve been timing your contractions. . .
Sassy: They’re not contractions!
Mother: And they seem pretty regular. Shouldn’t you call the midwives?
Sassy: I guess. Should I go [Stops speaking because of the intense pain. Recovers.] home now? I hope Joe is home now. Maybe I’ll go home.

[As Sassy heads for home, her sister and her mother talk of Sassy’s state of mind. They say things like “It’ll seem real enough soon!” and “Poor girl. She has no idea of what she’s in for!”
Pan to shot of Joe and Sassy’s house. Then follow inside, to shot of closed bathroom door. Sound of shower running.]

Joe to camera: Well, I guess this is it. It seems pretty real. We called the midwives about 30 minutes ago. Sassy’s water broke. She called her sister first. I wanted to call the midwives, but. . . She’s in the shower to help with the pain. We’re supposed to check in later when the contractions get more intense. Her mom and sister are on their way over now.

[Shot of everyone coming into the house. Mother asks if midwives are on their way. Sassy says no, she hasn’t bothered to call yet. Mother, not normally forceful, takes control and insists on calling the midwives. The principal midwife is on her way. Time passes. Get shot of clock. Note to producers: If we need to fake the timing later to intensify the dramatic arc, we can. Use standard stills of clocks, set at various times.]

Joe: Well, it’s 11:30 pm. Everyone’s resting. Boo’s sleeping, Sassy’s sister is sleeping. Sassy is sort of resting, in the bathroom. She’s hanging in there. I think. Maybe I’ll go check. [Is interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. Midwife arrives.]

[New shot] Midwife to camera: Well, Sassy’s doing well. She’s fully dilated. We have to get set up for the birth here. It’s too late to go to the hospital now and I have a lot of prep to do. [Pauses] Can you get out of the way? Please? [Smiles politely. Slight commotion] Get that camera out of my face, please. [Sound of what could be a camera crashing to the floor.]

Narrator: There is a lot of activity as the household gets ready for what looks like an imminent birth.
[Joe is running around looking for old towels. The sister has woken up and is standing around doing nothing useful. Sassy’s mom and midwife get the plastic sheet on the bed, and then make the bed with the old sheets. The midwife brings in her loads and loads of equipment. Clip of the sister saying, “Wow, look at all this stuff. It’s very modern, and medical looking!” Then go to shots of Joe and the sister bringing the change table into the main bedroom, for supplies and such. Shot of Joe running into the sister, holding up a large Tupperware container, and saying proudly “Placenta!”]

Sassy, reclining on the bed: It’s been OK. It’s not too bad. I haven’t had any medi. . .(Sassy breaks off, unable to speak anymore. She looks off to the distance.)
Narrator: Two midwives are required for a home birth. They have also brought in a student midwife. Now that everyone’s here, it’s time for the big event in the now crowded room. How will Joe and Sassy handle the biggest moment of their lives?

Midwife: OK, Sassy, it’s time to try to push. I want you to listen to my voice. Pushing can be intense, and it might take awhile. Just focus on my voice. I’m going to tell you what to do. We’ll get this baby past the J curve.

[Shots of all gathered in the room: Mother, mesmerized by midwife’s voice; Sister, standing in oversized closet with Boo, mesmerized by midwife’s voice; Joe, looking overwhelmed, but mesmerized by midwife’s voice.]

Narrator: Coming up, will the baby arrive quickly, or will pushing take three hours? How do Joe and Sassy fare? Will the smell of cigarettes and smoke clinging to the second midwife make her sister want to barf? When we come back, answers to all these questions and more.

Commercial break: Hey again everyone! If you too want to become a blogger, just check out https://www2.blogger.com/start. It’s free and it’s easy!

Show
[Shots of exterior of house. It’s dark. Follow inside to main bedroom. Close up shot of clock: 2:45 am. Action shots: Discreet shots from shoulder of Sassy pushing. This is difficult, as Sassy is on all fours. Midwife is calm and in control. Joe is saying, “You can do it. Come on honey. Push!” Mother and sister are saying slightly more inane things like “Push!” and “Push some more!” Close up of Sassy’s face. Screams.
The baby is born. Show clock: 2:56 am.
The baby is brought forward to Joe, who examines the sex and says, “It’s a girl, Sassy.” Joe has the biggest smile of anyone in the room, as well as the bushiest hair. Sassy looking happy, but still bewildered, says “A baby just came out of me.”

The group is happy. Sassy’s sister is encouraged directly by the midwives to take some pictures of the baby that also capture some things we are not allowed to show on TV.
Joe cuts the cord. The baby is weighed: 7lbs, 6 oz.]

Narrator: With the birth of their daughter successfully over, Sassy and Joe now have to wait for the kitchen chair and desk lamp to be brought into the room, so the midwives can do some stitching. Will this take far longer than it should? Will it be painful?
[Various shots: The midwives continue to work for hours: filling out forms, cleaning up, taking pictures, and creating a sign for the front door that says “Shhh!! A baby was born here last night. Please keep visits to a minimum and do not leave until you’ve done some housework.”]

[Morning. Pan to sister, father and mother coming up the sidewalk to the house, pausing at the front door to look quizzically at the note on the door. Go to Sassy and Joe and baby, snuggled up on the bed, pastoral feel.]

Sassy: I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I had a baby! She’s beautiful. I love her!
Joe: She’s amazing. You’re amazing Sassy. We’re a family now.
Sassy: Europe is our family.
Joe: I mean a bigger family.
Sassy: Yup.

[Credits roll over this image of the little peanut.]

The End.



Sunday, April 22, 2007

Because That’s Just the Way It Goes

Last night was bath night, which we schedule for every other night. Boo would have a bath every day if she could, she loves the water so much; Geister would whenever the mood strikes. This could be never. Normally, this every other night schedule avoids the situation where one parent (me) has to do the bath solo—a doable but daunting task. But tonight, despite our careful scheduling, my husband got called in at the last minute to do some ambulance patient transfer blah blah blah. I had to do the bath myself.

“Isn’t it interesting,” I mused, as I scrubbed their faces and rinsed off their backs, “that my children never have accidents in the bathtub!” By which I meant, never mistake the bathtub for a toilet—with one exception of an incident in a hotel in Ottawa, when I had put a “soothing and relaxing” bubble bath into the water. My bad.
“Of course,” my other self then replied, “that realization means it is likely to happen tonight.”

It did. I had Geister out and dried, saving Boo till last; she sat relatively contained in a bath seat. As I let the water drain out, I saw the evidence. You know how it is: `Oh look, there’s something brown in the tub. . .oh frack I know what that is. . . @#$! '* (*add descriptive swear/non-swear word of your choice here)

Sidebar: It’s just like the time my husband walked through our family room and noticed similar brown substances on the floor. Curious, and unawares, he picked it up to examine it closer. “Hmm, what is this on our floor?. . .oh smurf!. . .Geister! What have you done?” Geister, at 18 months, had been toddling around in shorts, which allowed little gifts to escape from his diaper onto the floor.

I rescued from harm what toys I could; I cleaned off Boo, diapered her offending bottom, got her into her pajamas, and cleaned up the rest. Meanwhile I kept the ever-fascinated Geister at bay. Boo went to bed shortly afterwards, which left Geister to ponder the infraction with me.

“Mommy,” he said, “Boo pooed in the tub!”
“Yes, I know sweetie.”
Why did she do it?”
“I don’t know sweetie. She’s a baby. She didn’t mean to.”
“Can I see the poop?”
“No, you can’t. It’s cleaned up.”
“But I want to see it!” he whined.
“No.”

Once Geister was resigned enough to not seeing the poop again, and knew that his bedtime was upon him, I tucked him in and turned out the light. (Then I lied down with him, because I have to. . . anyway, that's another topic.) He was silent for a few moments, drifting off to sleep. Until he sat upright, that is, blanket clutched to his chest.

“Mommy, Boo pooed in the bathtub!”
“Yes, I know.”
“But it’s not nice to poo in the bathtub!”
“No, you’re right it’s not.”
“Why isn’t it nice Mommy?”
“Because.”
“Is there poop in your bathtub?
“Of course not.”
“Mommy, is Boo going to poo in the bathtub again?”
“No, I promise she will never do it again.”

Silence. . .
Sleep. . .
More disinfectant.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sueno

I attended a bridal shower this week. This is a rare event in mommy-land. There are lots of baby showers, but the bridal showers—the lingerie bridal showers—are as rare as a mommy actually wearing said lingerie.

We enjoyed champagne drinks, blueberry French toast, fresh strawberries, and chocolates, while relaxing, baby-free. The bride happily answered questions regarding the courtship and wedding: what she first thought of her fiancĂ© when she met him just eleven months ago (I’ll withhold those details); how that opinion rapidly changed; what her dress was like; etc. Yummy stories to accompany yummy food. She also talked about booking the honeymoon: Cuba . . . nice beach . . . staying in an upgraded casa suite.

Of all the things to be envious of that day, this was the thing that made me wish to trade places the most. I wanted to be planning a honeymoon. I wanted to pack my sandals, sunblock, underwater camera, trashy (but not too trashy) beach novel; fly to Cuba with just my husband; spend a whole week admiring my coral pink pedicured toes, while relaxing on the beach sipping mojitos, or something sin hielo (without ice) so as to be careful not to contract hepatitis.

My husband and I have traveled kid-less since becoming parents, and it was fantastic and romantic and wonderful. But I missed Geister every day we were separated from him (Boo was not yet on the scene). I called to check on him every other day. Everything we saw I wondered how he would like it. I noticed every playground, every child’s attraction. I noticed every stroller and all the other parents travelling with their children. I noticed how child-friendly even the museums were, how there was so much for Geister to enjoy.

But a honeymoon is the ideal vacation for many reasons not the least of which is because it generally occurs before kids. If I were to trade places, the longing I would feel for Geister and Boo would be instead for the children we would have some day, and it would be lovelier and sweeter and easier than the harsh reality of actually missing them, and wondering how they would feel, gritty and grimy from the mixture of sand and sunblock on their skin, as I scooped them in my arms after a long day in the sun and took them in to the casa to get changed for supper.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

For Those of You Clicking Over. . .


from B&P's post, this is a picture of the boys in action. Just sorry I didn't get the action shot of Bub kicking the poo in the backyard.


Note: AS, I am working on the story, of one year ago, of the homebirth, no medication, and one beautiful baby girl. . .and me hiding in the closet.

Friday, April 06, 2007

What a Difference

Something reminded me today of the word “piranha” and how I always used to get that mixed up with the word “pariah”. Once the distinction became clear to me, it opened up a new world of communication possibilities; that is, I could use each word correctly. (“Piranhas are really pariahs” I could say now, while not scientifically, um, accurate, at least demonstrating some knowledge that the two words are not clones.) I have always tried to mentally track other words that I used to think were one (or at least, could be used interchangeably). For example, ambivalent and ambiguous; class and caste; historic and historical; epidural (yum) and episiotomy (yuck).

There is also a list of people who have caused me similar confusion—forgive me sisters—Gertrude Stein and Gloria Steinem had me confused for years. More recently, of course, there’s been Verve and Verve Pipe (not the same band!) and Nelly and Nelly Furtado. Really, the list could go on and on.

So this led me to thinking about how much my vocabulary has grown in general since becoming a mother. It is natural to learn a new lingo when embarking on any new career, and it’s certainly true of this gig. The words that only the insiders know, the words the outsiders don’t even pretend to understand.

In short, here are some of my favourite new words, all courtesy of mommyhood:
  • Bumbo
  • fenugreek
  • exersaucer
  • gymini
  • onesie!
  • playdate
  • Mum Mum
  • minigo, my favourite

Consider this an open post; not complete. So many more words to learn as my preschooler starts t-ball, enters JK, then SK. So many more chances to think I’ve got it straight, when I don’t.

Post Script
It’s funny how these are just plain out of date:

  • pablum
  • play pen

isn’t it?
And this one remains a pronunciational controversy: Robeez
.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

How Great Are Great-Grandmas

My grandmother is now in a nursing home, after having suffered a stroke this past summer. She has good days and bad days. A couple of days ago, I received this card in the mail:


"You're three and you're special . . . "

I suppose this is a sign of her doing well and not so well. It is close to my birthday, and I am 3 plus something. Truly I love the card; I love the effort she made to think of me and to write to me. So because I love her, and I love that Geister and Boo have a great-grandma, I wanted to post about it. However, despite my efforts to write in a more essay-like manner, this post became a list post.

My grandma is a great great-grandma because:

      • She remembers everyone’s birthday.

      • She gave stuffed animals (dogs) to her great-grandchildren at Christmas.

      • She treasures all the pictures she gets of the great-grandchildren.

      • She called my daughter’s legs “doubles” when she first had her stroke, stroking Boo’s exposed legs and repeating “My, what doubles.” They were at the time, beautifully chubby doubles.

      • She’s said that both my children have great names.

      • She now calls the minister the “minister’s wife”, because the minister is a woman.

      I know my children love their great-grandma because:

      • When we left after the last visit to her, Geister said “Mommy that was fun. That was fun!” Granted, there were cars for him to play with, but I think his heart is blessed with the innocence of a three-year old. He thought it was fun to visit his great-grandmother in a nursing home.

      • Boo likes to be held by her great-grandma, and play with her watch. Boo does not have eyes for age marks, wrinkly skin, or the discolouration of sickness.

        * * * * * *
        Well, that’s about it, because now I'm stumped; what else can I say? Should I be making fun of my grandma in any way, even when there is obvious humour? But I won't make light of what she means to me, or how much my children (and all the great-grandchildren) mean to her. She’s a tie to my past, a vision of my future, and at present, someone who sends me very cool mail.

        * * * * * *

        And also Yay Oma! I can’t forget her in a post about great-grandparents. She’s not so confused; in fact she’s in good health and she, also, loves to visit the great-grandchildren. I am the one who is sometimes left confused, as she has a tendency to throw in Dutch words with her English, without realizing she’s doing so. Hallo and Verwarring!

      Monday, March 19, 2007

      No Topic

      I don’t have a topic to write about, although lots float around. Am I privileged? How does this affect my blogging, my writing, my voice? What about our vacation to Disney? Should I post a few pictures, talk about Mickey?

      Today is such an ordinary day, except it’s my birthday. It’s a Monday, which means my husband worked all day, and then came home for a short time, before heading out for his weekly volleyball game—it’s hard to object to this, this non-adjustment of his schedule to accommodate my birthday, when his birthday falls every year on Hallowe’en. Sometimes I make him wait for his birthday; mine can wait too.

      So it’s an ordinary day. Boo woke up at 7:30, and I nursed her. I don’t know when I’m going to give it up. I thought she would have weaned herself by now, but she hasn’t, so we continue on. Then Geister gave me the little gift of sleeping in to 8:00, which meant I had time to get myself up and dressed, face washed, hair quickly brushed and contacts in. When I got him up I told him it was my birthday, and that meant no matter when in the day I felt like a hug, he had to give me one. So he whispered “Happy birthday” to me in his morning voice and gave me a hug.

      Then we all had breakfast, and I packed the diaper bag, consulting the list I keep on the side of the fridge—it helps me remember all the basics, even though I’ve been doing this for three years.
      My husband called from the office, wanting to know would I be interested in seeing the von Trapp family children? I answered his question at face value, trying to assess my true interest level, when I realized of course this was a query targeted at finding a birthday present. I heard a few more clicks of his keyboard, as he continued his internet search. “How about Ricky Martin?” he asked. “Christina Aguilera?”
      “I want a spa day!” I said.
      “Nope. Boring!”

      I called A. to see if she was willing to come to the indoor playground (which of course she was since it’s my birthday and I got to decide). She called K., while I called R. It’s an ordinary day, except that R. is grieving the loss of her sister-in-law’s baby, who died on Saturday. The baby died in utero, two weeks before the due date, the cord wrapped around her neck six times. She was breech; was she trying to turn herself around, getting ready for her own birth? R. is going to the funeral on Friday, and she herself is 39 weeks pregnant. How can this be?? But it is.

      So we all agreed to meet at the playground, and I packed the snacks for the kids, grapes because they’re healthy, and gold fish because that’s what Geister will eat, and I got everyone in the van. I hit Starbucks of course, and treated myself with a grande size latte instead of the usual tall.

      We got to the playground in decent time; I think the morning routine is increasingly efficient, although without much margin—a last minute poopy diaper can still make us late to anything.

      The playground was fun—we hadn’t been in three or four weeks and in that time Boo had matured considerably, her taste in toys now completely grown up. She played independently in the toddler area, and even played in the sit-in cars (what do you call them?), propelling herself backwards with a surprising amount of control. Geister climbed up into the tubular play structure for the first time, and then got (predictably) stuck when he refused to come down the towering slide. I had to help him out, but he did so well to venture up in the first place. His friends have been doing this for while, but he’s cautious, and that’s OK.

      After the playdate we went home for lunch, my parents sent me flowers, and I tried to minimize the time I spent playing cars with Geister, and tried to maximize the time I spent reading my magazine.

      The day slipped on from there, reaching the home stretch to bedtime, a time when we all perk up; me, with the anticipation of some down time, and they with the last bursts of energy for the day. Geister got me to play cars one more time, creating a “crash” of cars so large, that he could only look on and quote Richard Scarry, “This is what I would call SOME ACCIDENT. You can see from yourself.”

      Boo went to bed well, after a bottle and one last diaper change, a story, prayer, and song; then Geister went to bed, peacefully listening to my (always abbreviated) reading of the aforementioned Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I tucked him in, lied down with him till he fell asleep, then snuck out.

      It’s such an ordinary day, but it’s mine. It is and has been, and when I look at my children I am so deeply thankful that they’re here, living this life along side me, given to me by God, given a chance to reach their birthdays, too.

      Wednesday, March 14, 2007

      From 2004

      When Geister was the same date as the e-mail.


      This is an excerpt from an e-mail I wrote in May 2004, when my son was four months old. It contained questions regarding what I had learned about myself since becoming a mother.
      The first section must have been my general thoughts (??). Who can remember. You can see my editorial comments are italicized.
      Duh.

      I have no guilt about leaving my baby in dirty diapers, when I can't be bothered to change him. No comment.
      At some point, sleep deprivation will catch up with me. Huh! As if four months of spotty sleep was deprivation!
      I may be vain—Geister's flat head really bothers me. It’s all good now.

      2) What have you learned about God since becoming a mother?
      How much he must love us!!! And, how easily we could please him with the simplest things. This part I meant.
      Re: Psalm 131—heavily quoted by Elizabeth George in A Woman After God's Own Heart. We were all meant to be homemakers!!! I believe I am saying this in jest, but Elizabeth George isn’t.

      3) Do you feel like you've given up your own life since becoming a mother?
      Yes!!! I don't do much for myself anymore. When Geister was 4 weeks old, my mom and him and I went to the mall and I splurged on some makeup—I remember it as being SO indulgent to buy something for myself, and to think of myself.
      I have definitely given up work (temporarily anyway). However, I am rediscovering parts of my life—I'm reading more, participating in the community more.

      4) What haven't you done since the baby was born?
      Movies (at night). Restaurants (at night). Gotten a decent haircut. Travelled lightly. Eaten slowly.

      5) How many times did you get up last night?
      Once!!!! :)

      6) What has the baby done to surprise you this week?
      See above response :) He has also gnawed at my fingers, and he has sat in his high chair with great enjoyment watching my husband and I eat.

      7) What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?
      Internalize. Then talk to my husband when I can. Also, call the Grandmas in to help.
      I’m not sure what talking to my husband would do, aside from increase the stress due to his sympathetic but entirely too practical suggestions ("You just need more sleep"; "Hire a babysitter" and the like); Now my first line of defense is to call K, A, R, G, AS, among others ;)

      8) Which of your traits do you want to pass on to your child?
      My level-headedness! And a rich inner life. Very important.

      9) Which of your husband's traits do you want to pass on to your child?
      Friendliness and enthusiasm!!

      Now that we have two kids, I’m happy for them to split the pot. If at least one is friendly, I’ll be happy. If at least one is level-headed, I’ll be happy. Etc.

      Saturday, February 24, 2007

      My Little One Is One

      From my little little girl to

      my big little girl.

      The best days of my life so far include December 28th, 2003, the day my son was born. But it’s not his birthday today, so moving on: That best day was subsequently one-upped by October 12th, 2005, the day I had my 18-weekish ultrasound for Boo, found out she was healthy, and then was told it looks like you’re having a girl. I cried, while my husband just stood there not sure how to react to my reaction (Happy tears? Check. OK). Then in the parking lot of medical building I tried calling Aunt Sassy—work number not listed because you better not be calling this government office willy-nilly—whom I couldn’t reach, then called B&P who was silent when I called and told her the news because she wanted to cry. That evening my parents came to visit and I had the ultrasound picture with me, and so I could say slyly to my mom, “Do you want to see a picture. . .of your granddaughter?” My dad was just coming in the front door and was bent over slightly in the mid-attempt to take his shoes off. I wasn’t sure he heard me (I was going to ask him the same question) until he stood up in a nanosecond and said, “Girl? It’s a girl? Name?” in a perfunctory style that was so funny with the enthusiasm it contained.

      I grew up with the fundamental belief that when having children, it doesn’t matter what sex they are, only that they are healthy. This is what I heard my parents say, over and over again, on any occasion when asked if they had ever hoped one way or the other. I have specific memories of this. I am six years older than my sister, so I can remember my mother’s pregnancy and remember putting in my two cents worth that the baby should be a girl, because then I would have a brother and a sister. I got my wish.

      So I carried this notion into both my pregnancies, that all I wanted was a healthy baby, and I dared not wish for something too particular. And this remains fundamentally true. But somewhere along my pregnancy with Boo, I realized that of course given the choice, since we had a son, I would like to have a daughter. And then I realized, I could actually say this out loud and if anyone dared misinterpret that to think I wouldn’t therefore love and adore another son, they would be wrong, wrong, wrong.

      My mother soon after revealed something that shocked me: She had always carried a preference for the sex of her children. She wanted her firstborn to be a son, to carry on the dwindling family name. Then she naturally hoped for a daughter. Then with her third pregnancy, she hoped for another girl—she figured if she was going to hang around the house a lot and raise a “caboose” child (my word, not hers) then she preferred a girl.

      *****
      Now finally moving on to the next best day, February 24, 2006:
      I woke up at 1am as my water broke. I couldn’t believe it—it was nine days early. It was hard for me to believe that I could deliver early, since Geister was eight days late. I felt instant low-grade fear at my core—after almost nine months of pregnancy, I was actually going to have to i) go through labour; and ii) bring home a baby and have two children to look after.

      My husband is a doctor, so in our house none of the “Oh my water broke” or “Oh, I think I might be in labour” cause any nervous excitement whatsoever. He assessed the clock—Hmm, middle of the night—and rolled over to go back to sleep.

      I dozed intermittently until four in the morning. I showered, and then pondered who to call. Who was on the list to get the “labour-has-started” call? Who on the list really wanted to be called at 4 in the morning? I tried to call my parents but I couldn’t reach them. Then I called Aunt Sassy. Then I called my parents again, who answered this time. Then at 7am I called Geister’s daycare to ask, since I was in labour, was it possible that he could come for the day, even though it wasn’t his regular day? Because of a particular confluence of factors, there was no one to take care of him until the reinforcements from out of town arrived.

      We drove to the hospital shortly after 8, and I was examined. I wasn’t far along, and my doctor told me to go home and walk some more. Then a nurse pulled her aside and advised that I not be sent home, because there was no chance in heck I’d be readmitted. They were too busy. They were going to redirect; I’d be sent elsewhere if I left. So I stayed, and I was the last one admitted that day.

      Labour progressed relatively slowly. I was hoping for a lightening-quick delivery, since this was my second child. But no, I laboured intensely for some time, only to be told I was 2cm dilated. Lunch time came and went. I was given an epidural at 6cm, but it didn’t take. Shortly after 3pm, I felt the need to push—Now for many women, they know what this feels like. The agony of needing to push. But for some of us, this is an unknown part of labour. With Geister, I had such a good epidural I never really felt the pushing—By 3:30 I had to push. My doctor was across the street, and in my haze of pain, I didn’t know that my husband had gloves on, ready to deliver his own child in case my doctor didn’t make it in time.

      I remember being crossways on the bed, writhing, and thinking “I’m going to die” thoughts because it hurt so much I didn’t see how my body was designed to withstand so much. I remember being told to straighten up so that the baby didn’t shoot out onto the floor. I remember looking at the faces around me: my husband, the med student, my doctor—no longer across the street—the L&D nurse, and my mom. It was a crowd, but it hardly mattered. I remember thinking that despite the pain, I knew that it was too late for a C-section, that the baby was too far down. So I pushed and willed myself past the pain. My daughter was born at 4pm that afternoon.

      She was so beautiful! 8lbs, 4oz, and a nicely shaped head. (I note this, as with Geister, on whom the vacuum was used, I can make no such claim.) It wasn’t love at first sight; we had loved her for so long already.

      ****

      So Happy Birthday Boo! You are one year old today and you are worth all the sleep-deprived months of this past year and more. You are gorgeous, and wonderful, and I am so privileged to be your mommy. Sigh.
      Love, Mommy.