Year End Meme 2013

 1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Put baby in daycare.  Got laid off.  Took baby to Europe for 3 weeks.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year I resolved to send 5 thank you letters, and I think I got close?  I honestly forgot that I made that resolution, so didn’t track myself.   I also wanted to transition back to work gracefully, and after one of the worst weeks of my life (starting J in daycare), work was just fine.  Until the company laid off 20% of the staff, but whatever, that’s not on me.  For next year?  I resolve to do my best to enjoy the new baby and still manage to give J the attention she deserves.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
One of my favourite coworkers.  That’s about the only person I can think of.  2012 was the Year of the Babies, in my circle.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

We went to Dallas in February, Toronto in May, and Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Estonia in September.  I also went on a couple of work field trips to Northern Alberta and BC.  Doesn’t really compare to Northern Europe.  At all.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

I don’t know.  This year has been pretty great.  Less uncertainty, I guess?  I hated the Schrodinger’s Cat feeling while waiting to see if I survived the work purge or not, and waiting to see if I was pregnant, and then seeing if it would stick.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The 23 days in Europe will probably be my strongest date memory from this year.  Especially as I can’t actually remember what day I finally peed on a stick.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Taking an 18 month toddler to Europe and having an amazing trip.  Everyone always talks about how stressful and terrible traveling with toddlers can be, but it was amazing.  In part because I planned the hell out of the trip (even printing walking maps for every bit of the trip) and in part because we didn’t plan anything once we were in the cities (playing each day by ear and mood and weather.)  And also, in part, because we’ve done our best to make J a flexible baby.  (Sure, it was probably luck, but I have to take a little credit for having such an awesome kid.)

 9. What was your biggest failure?

Falling to absoulte peices when Jess started daycare.  I called it Dead Dead bad, because it really was about that bad.  I feel a bit stupid in hindsight, as J has unquestionably flourished in daycare.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The first trimester of this pregnancy has sucked.  Hard.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Vacations.  Always vacations.  The memory of Jess’s first steps in Dallas.  Her first multi-word sentence in Denmark.  Her stealing the sardine head off the plate to sneakily eat it.  Money buys vacations which make precious memories.  Money well spent, always.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

David is such a great, amazing dad and partner.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

American politics.  God, I’m glad I’m Canadian.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Vacations, for sure.  Also, house stuff and hockey games.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Europe. 

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

The chorus of Said the Whale’s Emerald Lake, AB don’t read like much, but as a strong happy repeating chorus they are glorious.

What a fine life we are living.
The Lumineers’ Ho Hey song has been on heavy rotation this year.
So show me family
All the blood that I would bleed
I don’t know where I belong
I don’t know where I went wrong
But I can write a song
I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweet
I’ve been loving The Joy Formidable’s Big Roar album, especially Whirring:
Turn the dial on my words
I can feel they fall short
Turn the dial, chime alarm, chime alarm
Watch these hands move apart
Turn the dial on my words

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.  I’m going to get so big this pregnancy, I’m sure.  So far, no weight gain, but I have a belly already.
c) richer or poorer?  Richer.  Especially after the severance cheque.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I spent the whole summer wanting to walk to the Reservoir, get an ice cream and go for a family walk.  We someone didn’t quite make it.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At the inlaws, then my mom’s.  Lots of family time, lots of presents, lots of J being adorable.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Not with anyone new.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Can’t choose.  Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Doctor Who, Modern Love, The League, Happy Endings, Always Sunny in Philadelphia…  We watch a lot of sitcoms and British shows, and I love them all. 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I had a work nemesis, so that was fun.  She was a giant bitch and she wanted the layoff package and didn’t get it.  I laughed.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read over a hundred books.  I couldn’t even start to pick a favourite.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? 

The Joy Formidable.  Said the Whale.  Lumineers.  Serena Ryder.

26. What did you want and get?

To go to Europe.  To get pregnant again.  To advance in my career.

27. What did you want and not get?

To keep my job until mat leave.  A bunch of very happy reactions to our pregnancy news.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Another year of seeing almost no movies in the theatre.  I did really like the new Star Trek movie so let’s go with that one.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 32. I got laid off the week before.  I went for a bunch of massages.  On my birth day, I felt pregnantly terrible and D made us KD for dinner.  The next night we went out for a 3 course fondue meal and D took me to a Said the Whale show at the university.  It was awesome.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less Schrodinger’s Cat sensations.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Lazy.

32. What kept you sane?

David.  Books.  Exercise.  Friends.  The internet.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Jason Segel.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Abortion in America.  How is this still a debate??  I know I said that last year and the year before, but yet, here we are again.

35. Who did you miss?

My dad.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Not quite new, but a guy I worked with became a truly awesome mentor.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

This too shall pass.

Wrapping it up

Hi. It’s been awhile, eh?  I don’t know what exactly to say.  It’s been a busy year, for sure, but I haven’t had that much to say, I guess.  But what the hell, let’s do a recap.

In January, we went to Banff for the weekend with friends.

In February, we went to Dallas.

In March, I went back to work after my year long mat leave.

In April, we mostly focuses on figuring out the new balance of work and daycare and life.  It went okay.

In May, we went to Toronto to visit my sister, who was spending a year back east doing her Master’s degree.  Jess also got to make cookies for the first time at Grandma’s house – she taste tested every single ingredient and loved it.

In June I went to Northern BC for a a 4 day work trip.  David was part of the a large wedding party for a close friend and wore the worst fitting tuxedo I’ve ever seen.

In July, we went to Heritage Park and the Stampede and had play dates and set up the inflatable pool in the backyard – Jess walked up to it, peed on the side and was over it.

In August, David’s sister came to town and J loved hanging out with Tia Eeerin.  We went to two family reunions on David’s side in a single weekend.  Two very different families – one with a zillion kids and one with 2.  A fun but exhausting weekend.  I also got to do an overnight trip to Northern Alberta with my favourite coworker and my mentor.

In September, we went to Northern Europe for 23 days and it was amazing.  Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Iceland. Jess was a dream – handling jet lag like a champ, eating everything and generally being adorable.  Highlights included the medieval walled town of Tallinn, Blue Lagoon hot springs in Iceland, the playgrounds every 3 blocks in Helsinki, Stockholm’s museums and the quiet backwoods of Denmark.

In October, my sister came to town and stayed for a month and J loved her Auntie Dorney.  We went to a local art festival and J was mesmerizeingly cute in her little hot pink fleece horse suit.

In November, I got laid off as part of a 1000 person layoff at work.  Luckily my severance was good.  It wasn’t unexpected, but I’d been loving my new role at work so it was disappointing.   I had until the end of the month to use up my health benefits, so I had 6 massages in a week and that was excellent.

In December, an ultrasound showed that I am pregnant with one healthy looking fetus and am due in June.  We’re pretty pleased.  Christmas was great, too.

All in all, a good year, and the problem with good years for me is that it leaves me nothing to write about.  So, tally ho, internet. Other than my usual year end meme tomorrow, I’m not sure what more I have to say in this space.  Nothing right now, at any rate.  Life is good and I am happy.  We have a plan for the wait period between now and and when the baby’s due – play SAHM most of the time, I have a lead on a part time job offer for 6 months, keep J in daycare 2 days a week from now until both kids go to daycare full time when I go back to work in 2015, because J has done SO WELL in daycare and I’m really not sure that I’m designed to be a full time SAHM anyway.  The layoff wasn’t ideally timed, but I’ve been so sick I have loved being able to take it easy and sleep.  The travel’s been amazing this year and I feel remarkably lucky.  2013 was a good year.  Here’s to a good 2014.

Life is good and I am happy.

All the words

Hey, remember a month ago, when I mentioned that J didn’t talk?  And a few of people promised me that it would eventually happen, and it would explode?   Yup.  That happened.  It’s fucking adorable.

I went away for work, and came home to find that J had learned her first two syllable word: mommy.  Amusingly, we eventually figured out that mommy actually means pictures, probably as David kept showing her pictures of me and saying mommy.  That association has lingered.  But that was the start, and now words are coming even faster than the teeth.  (J: no teeth until 12.5 months old.  Within the last 2.5 weeks, she got 5 teeth, including two molars.  Most slipped in unnoticed, but sadly, not all.)

As this blog is basically me just outsourcing my thoughts and memories…  Here’s an incomplete list of what she says now: no, baby, bye bye, hi, nana (banana), wat dat (what’s that), more (complete with insistent sign language), wa (water), ME (milk, and yes, it’s that insistent), du (duck), be (bear), ami (hungry), shoes, sock, no(se), ear, eye (complete with violent poking motion), ders (shoulders), fee(t), bu bu (belly button), knee, apple (which seems to mean all fruit), mama, mommy, dada, up, boc (book), ouchie, owie, and my personal favourite, nigh night.  Which she does when she’s ready for a nap, or when she’s imaginative playing, by putting stuffed animals to bed and covering them with blankets.  Actually, the imaginative play alone is fascinating to watch – she’s started to eat pretend food, feed the stuffed animals pretend food, and pretend to nap (usually in downward dog position).  She knows several animal noises, and when we went to the Stampede, she lost her tiny little mind when she saw her first cow.  She was frantic with excitement – pointing and yelling “moo!”  Her thought process seemed to be: OH MY GOD YOU GUYS THE THING FROM MY BOOKS THAT GOES MOO IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME OH MY GOD IT’S SO BIG OH MY GOD THERE’S ANOTHER ONE MOOOOOOOO!  Totally, totally adorable.  (And then a horse sneezed in her face and freaked her out really badly and there starts a lifelong phobia, oops.)   I’m in the middle on a mild library reno, and the walls are currently patched and waiting paint, and J’s totally unable to even see the room without urgently pointing out all the owiest that the room has, and we keep promising to fix them, but that’s apparently cold comfort to a baby concerned about the room’s feelings.

Man, this age?  This age is the freaking best.  I love my kid so, so much.  I wish I could send a message back to myself in the early weeks, in the darkest pits of PPD, depressed and exhausted, confused by this blob of need, and show her just how fucking great it will be.

Bodies, again

It’s been seven months since I wrote about my postpartum body.  (Insert legitimately felt cliche about time flying.)  4 months back at a desk job, 16 month old baby.  Finally weaned a month ago, a month and a half off the domperidone.  Breasts finally starting to shrinking (F cup and falling…)  and period started to resume a normal cycle.  So, all told, in quite a different place than I was in December.

To use the scale in that post, I’m now at X+2, so, heavier than I’ve been since there was a human being inside of me.  And none of my pants fucking fit, and that makes me cranky.  (Pants shopping is the worst type of shopping.  I don’t know what the fit models people use are shaped like, but it’s sure as hell not anything like I’m shaped like.)  I’ve put on 5 pounds since coming back to work, and while that’s honestly not a big amount, when you don’t quite crack the 5’4″ mark, it’s enough that pants don’t fit.  And I had to buy new pants to come back to work, because even at 5 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight, my actual hips were bigger. I unpacked the box of work clothes in March, and was sad but unsurprised that a grand total of ONE shirt fit over my giant boobs, and all my sweaters were far too short, again due to the chest.  So none of my shirts fit (even still) and now none of my pants fit. Getting dressed every morning is awesome!

In the short term, I’m cutting out snacks and cutting down on food, and upping my fitness classes, at least until my pants fit again.  Calorie restriction is easier than buying new pants.

But.

I don’t know how to feeeel about this.  On the one hand, I could just accept that I’m now in my 30s and I’ve had a kid, and this is what my body looks like, and I should just go out and buy some damn pants, and get over going up another size. Ditto shirts and bras.  After all, this one is my real body.  But is it?  is this just a heavy weight blip as I adjust to the new routine?  And what about the next baby?  We’re planning to start trying before the year’s out, so I don’t want to invest in clothes that might only fit for a few months, and who knows what my body will look like after another pregnancy and birth and mat leave.  I feel, honestly, like this isn’t my real body – that this is just this temporary thing.  Can’t I wait to get back in to shape after I’m done having kids?  Is it really worth sweating my ass off on my lunch breaks if I’m just going to balloon up in a few months anyway?  (Duh, of course it is.  It’s better to be healthy, in general.  But it’s haaaard.)  I feel generally uncomfortable with my body.  I miss the firm lush roundness of pregnancy.  I know I’m getting older, and my genetic destiny will become increasingly harder to fight.  I’m just… tired.  Can’t I postpone this fight until I’m done with the babies thing?

And really, we’re not talking huge differences.  At my average size, I wear a 12.  At my very lightest, usually a 10, and currently at my heaviest, a 14.  We’re not talk huge changes.  Just enough that, you know, none of my clothes fucking fit.And I’m too cheap and or lazy to buy new stuff, especially not knowing if this change is permanent, or if I can swing things back to the middle.  Or if I should even bother trying.

Ugh.  Being a person is hard some times.

The Great Flood of 2013

It’s really weird living in a city devastated by a major natural disaster, and being personally almost completely unaffected.  I mean, sure, I’m working from home with a baby at my feet because my building downtown is still powerless, and D’s been temporarily relocated to an office in the deep south, but that’s about it.  The house flooded 2 years ago, but that was due to the saturated ground and constant rain, not due to river flooding.  We discovered that our roof leaks, which isn’t awesome, but is a mere trifle compared to the fact that 100,000 people were evacuated (including my mother, trapped on the other side of multiple closed bridges) and actual houses were swept away.

So.  City’s in chaos, region is devastated, industry shut down, houses ruined (and did I ever mention that flooding isn’t covered by insurance in Canada anymore?), transit a mess, Stampede grounds flooded weeks before the city’s huge moneymaking Stampede…  And we hung out at home, carefully positioning water barrels and listening to the sump pump turn on briefly perhaps a dozen times.

D's spiritual home, flooded

D’s spiritual home, flooded

It’s been heartwarming to watch the city pull together, and amazing how great our mayor’s been, and astonishing at how fast things are getting back to normal.

I mean, sure, I don’t know how I’m going to get to work when it finally opens back up – the c-train’s down for weeks, and the bus I would otherwise take follows the Elbow River – where the worst of the flooding was.  But we’ll figure something out, and I’ll still be grateful that everyone I know is safe, and that I live in a place that really comes together in times of crisis.

Dad

My dad died three years ago.  Three and a half now, really.  At the end of January, although I couldn’t swear on the date.  My memories of how it felt are vivid, but a calendar is conspicuously absent when I talk about his illness and death.  He was diagnosed in May, I think?  Or maybe June?  He did three rounds of chemo, I think, but maybe just two, or four.  Was it the same number of rounds of radiation as chemo, or not?  I think they just did radiation on the brain, but couldn’t swear to that.

But I remember how fucking terrible that Christmas was, so clearly.  I remember the hospital bed in the living room that he wasn’t quite in, yet.  Not for a few more days, so we covered it in presents to make up for the lack of tree, or any other festive trappings.  I remember the night he died with achingly clarity, and the taste of cold McDonald fries eaten in the emergency ward.  I remember most of all the horrible feeling of waiting.  Death was waiting in the wings, but we didn’t know if we had hours or days left, and so we went home to sleep for a few hours.  And that is, of course, when he died.  (I don’t know yet how to feel about that.  Mainly I don’t.  Can’t.  Wont.)

On Father’s Day, everyone on my whole fucking facebook feed (hyperbole) put a picture of them dancing with their daddies at their weddings.  And I refused to have any of the feelings.  Or to address Father’s Day on social media in any way.  (David got a card and a book and some booze.  Low key for sure.)  We were never big on Hallmark holidays growing up, so they day doesn’t actually carry that much emotional punch for me, but clearly it does a bit, because I’m typing this out.  It certainly carries more punch than his actual day of death, considering I only remember that a week later this year.  I don’t have any pictures of my dad at my wedding, obviously.  I don’t have any pictures I can bear to look at from the year before that, either.  (Jesus.  I just found a single picture on FB from a family wedding in July of 2009, at least two chemo rounds in, and I can’t even look at it.  Skeletal is the only word for it, and it got nothing but worse from there.)

You know, it’s not that I miss my dad more on some randomly assigned Sunday in June.  It’s that on this one, randomly assigned Sunday in June that I am more acutely aware of the big alive-father-shaped-hole in my life.  And it fucking sucks.

Don’t smoke, kids.  That shit will kill you in a terrible way, and leave behind a person-shaped-hole behind that will haunt your family for the rest of their lives.

Fuck.

Weaning, redux

So, I was on domperidone for like, a million months.  Okay, about 9 months.  About 750 little white pills. That’s a lot of time, and a lot of little white pills.  That’s, particularly, a lot of time on an anti nausea drug that interferes with your dopamine receptors.

The first few days totally off the pills sucked.  I didn’t throw up during my pregnancy* but 36  hours after my last pill I found myself puking up the pain pills I’d taken for the splitting headache I had again woken with.  So nauseous.  And headachy.  And ragey!  Yikes.  It took days to feel better.  I read somewhere on the internet that the drug’s halflife is 70 hours, and it takes 6 halflives to be out of the system.  It’s been a little over a week, so I’m halfway through the detox and really am feeling better.

I am still nursing in the morning though – for increasinly short times, as my milk dries up.  I’m surprised that it didn’t just vanish overnight without the pills, as I was expecting.  I’ve decided that J’s month-a-birthday next week is the last time I’ll nurse the baby – “I nursed for 15 months” has a nice even ring to it, as opposed to a more wordy “I nursed for 14 months and some extra weeks” that the pedantic in me would probably use.  (Er, provided that there’s still milk there in a week.)  It’s funny the way we tell stories to ourselves.

I didn’t intend to nurse for so long.  The year of mat leave and a month of transition was as long as I’d planned, once I was in to the thick of it.  But before I had a kid?  I was very much pro breastfeeding, but when they fed the baby formula while I was still knocked out cold from the c-section, I wasn’t overly concerned.  When I had to supliment with formula for a week after J was born until the “too complicated for the hospital to fix” tongue tie was resolve, I just did it.  The whole routine just about killed me: every three hours I had to feed the baby a bottle of breast milk, then nurse, then feed the baby formula, and then pump.  8 times a day.  But the formula part just … was, emotionally, not a big deal.  I was happy when she weaned off the formula herself – it smelled really gross – but I was never truly opposed to using it.  I mean, after the birth plan fails pretty catastrophically, supplementing with formula for a few days was no big thing in comparison.

But was that birth failure WHY I put myself through 9 months of brain-chemistry-altering pills?  I mean, I did it without a thought, really.  “Kid’s starving, take drugs, skim over 10 page warning pamphlet, feed kid, sleep through the night again.”  The logic was so clearly there, but why the extra time?  How much of my willingness to fuck with my body chemistry was because I wasn’t going to fail at breastfeeding too, goddammit?

I mean.  For a long time I felt like I had failed at birth.  The PPD certainly made me feel like I failed in the first months as a mother.  I felt like I failed when my milk dried up, despite exclusive breastfeeding on demand – something I didn’t even know was physically possible.  Going back to work (as generally pro-me-not-staying-home as I am) and enjoying it makes me feel a bit like I’m a failure compared to the “naturally great at it SAHMs” who surround me  and are able to actively engage their toddlers every day, instead of like, taking J to the mall on my Fridays off as I do.  I felt like I failed at bonding with the baby for quite a while.  I certainly felt I failed, and flailed, during the various weight crashes.

But, dammit, I could NURSE THIS CHILD.  There was something.  Medically assisted or not, I could offer the baby a nipple and she would eat and I would know, KNOW, that I wasn’t failing her at this one thing.

And I guess, as I work this out on my computer screen, that’s not nothing, if that’s the route of why I have nursed for so long.  That in the rough seas of early motherhood, I found myself a touchstone that I could say, with confidence, that Yes I Can Do This.

It’s funny.  I also cloth diaper and made like 98% of the baby’s food, but that doesn’t feel the same to me, despite how the three are often grouped together in  “parenting philosophy”.  I CD because it’s cheap, and cute, and since the introduction of flushable wipes, surprisingly not messy.  I made all her baby food because it was cheap, and easy, and I could make 3 weeks worth of food in an afternoon, and my kitchen produced infinitely more interesting varieties of food than the store, and I like cooking.  I have no ego tied up in them – it’s just, you know, what I did, because I could, and wanted to.

But breastfeeding?  I have ego involved in that, which I’m only realizing now in the final days of my nursing relationship with J.  That’s interesting to me.  I wonder what other choices I’ll look back on later and see more complex reasoning for, tucked behind the stories I tell myself?

*except for that one night of stomach flu, but that wasn’t pregnancy related, so it doesn’t count.