Five months and counting

Dear Jackie,

A week and a bit ago, you turned five months old.  I would have written sooner, but you have been keeping me busy!  For starters, I had to order a new car seat last week.  You are huge — 18lb, 2oz as of two days ago.  You are 28.5″ long, which is great except that the car seat limit is 29″.  Hmmm…  hopefully you don’t grow the next 1/2″ before Sunday, when your Grandpa John will hopefully help me install the new carseat…

Good lord, little man — where do I start?  You have pulled out all kinds of new tricks since I last wrote.  Let’s see if I can remember a few of them.

1. You roll.  Seriously, we know you can do it — rolling was your special gift to us on Christmas morning.  Sure you had rolled before (such as off the couch), but those rolls could always be explained away by gravity assist, or by a helping hand to get your arms organized.  Christmas rolling was all you — yay Jack!  Incidentally, you have only rolled back to front and show no interest in rolling front to back.  AND you haven’t rolled a heck of a lot since Christmas… but that’s ok.  We know you’ll get there in good time — probably sooner than we’re banking on.  Which reminds me — time to shop for a baby gate, ’cause I would hate to time that wrong. 

2.  You kiss!  For the first little while, I thought this was just random baby slimings, but no — you give open-mouthed cheek-kisses and they are awesome (if sticky).  With all the kisses you receive, it should come as no surprise that you have picked up on this trick early.  You are a happy, loving little guy and it is a privilege to hang out with you every day.

3.  You jump.  You like to stand on our laps and you jump with joy.  I felt both feet leave the ground lap yesterday! We have an exersaucer from our neighbours and you LOVE it.  I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be a Jolly Jumper, but you don’t let that detail stop you from bouncing away in it.  You’re a very physical boy: you love to be pulled to a stand and thank goodness you don’t have the strength to do this on your own.  You can just about sit up on your own though only for a few or ten seconds before you slowly topple onto your face.  Fortunately you like this, or any other motion that involves diving forward, preferably onto pointy and/or impossibly hard and/or insecure surfaces. 

4. Speaking of diving, you have started to lunge at things you like.  Just like those first few days of breastfeeding, when you would dive onto the boob like a petite animal, grunting and snorting with hunger, you dive onto things you want.  You have dove onto your dad’s lap, Sophie la Giraffe, my boob, the couch, a book, Sarah, and anything you think we are eating.

5. Ah, yes — the eating.  I had determined to be a good little kellymom.com devotee and make you wait until six months before starting solids.  I know they have good reasons for this, and I respect their knowledge.  However, I read Dr. Jack Newman‘s opinion that some babies are developmentally ready for solids before six months, and watch the baby, not the calendar.  Since I also have huge respect for Dr. Newman, and Jack was watching me eat yoghurt with a look of wonder like I was performing magic, I offered him a little bit on the spoon – jackpot!  You were SO HAPPY and made ‘put a worm in HERE’ birdie faces frantically, I fed you some more little bits, which you continued to be SO HAPPY with. 

Since then, you have tried plain yoghurt (you liked this a lot), banana (not so happy with) and egg yolk at Bon’s Off Broadway (more enthralled with the eggy spoon than actual eggs).  I want to do Baby Led Weaning and will be trying to offer more of the finger-style foods than spoon-foods, but I guess I’m just not that organized… well, that and you were wildly uninterested in picking up banana than picking up a spoon. 

This list does not include all the items which you would like to have eaten which I didn’t let you, including but not limited to ham, Thai red curry, miniwheats, Steve’s homemade bread with honey, tea, lemonade, cow’s milk, and chocolate milk. 

Ah yes, the chocolate milk.  Every so often (ok pretty often), I buy chocolate milk in those little one litre jugs.  I know Jack has seen me drink from one, but not recently (as in, not in the past week or two).  I had one last night for a co-op meeting which Jack and I were attending (where I go, my breastfed baby goeth also), and I put it down on the table while I was taking Jack’s coat off.  As soon as his little arms were free, he launched himself at the table, grabbing the jug handle while making enormous birdie faces.  If I hadn’t snatched it away, I swear he would have ripped off the lid and started chugging.  I felt badly drinking it in front of him, so I didn’t get to have any until he fell asleep and I was able to lay him on the couch.  In the meantime, however, he had figured out that people were drinking from cans (we don’t have many cans in our house) and practically mugged my neighbour for her lemonade.  Silly baby!  Fortunately you are adorable and nobody minded.

Speaking of meetings — thank you!  You were so good last night, I suspect people think I drugged you.  You played with Sophie, then your moose, then the keys.  You stood on my lap and talked happily to my neighbour (trying to convince her to let you have some lemonade), you fussed a tiny bit but then you had a snack and a nap, you woke up happy and then hung out and ate Sophie some more.  Amazing!  You show more patience in a co-op meeting than many of the Board members do :- )

You are talking up a storm, by the way.  You tell us stories with perfect sincerity and obvious belief that we understand every word.  You crow, and laugh, and turn your head when you hear your name.  You are amazingly responsive and you love just about everyone.  We’re still waiting to see you ‘make strange’ but other than occasionally needing your mama, you seem to be just a happy little person. 

Except for the teeth.  While no pearly whites have appeared above the gumline, baby Tylenol and homeopathic teething drops are your friends.  It is a testament to your good temper that we are completely surprised when you suddenly burst out crying; on the upside, when this happens we know exactly what the problem is. 

After five months, we finally have the hang of nursing lying down.  My back hates it a little, but I love — seriously, I LOVE — waking up with you all snuggled up to me.  Maybe we are more tired, maybe you are less noisy and flail-y than you were when you were new, but now we all sleep pretty well when I bring you to our bed in the wee hours and nurse us back to sleep in the soft dark of our bedroom.

Small fry, you are the best baby ever and you are turning into a little boy right before our eyes.  You are growing so fast it is crazy!  I need to go through your clothes and pack up the six-month sleepers and wash all the nine-month ones, and I need to remember every step of this amazing journey we are traveling as a family. 

Right this minute though, it is late, and I need to go upstairs and check on you as you sleep.  In a few hours, I will collect you from the crib and bring you to sleep safely between your father and I, surrounded by love.  And the cat.

With love always,
Mum

The latest stats

Jack is enormous. 

He was weighed on Wednesday (at four months and three days) and he is 16lbs, 11oz, which is an increase from 15lb 14oz two weeks previous.  He is 27.5″ long, which is half an inch larger than two weeks ago.  Insane!  That makes him in the 97th percentile for height and the 75th or so for weight (he was 95th and 95th at birth). 

I buy nine-month sleepers for him now as all the six-month ones are getting tight around the shoulders.  We bought him a snowsuit… 18 months size!  Admittedly, it is big on him, but we wanted to make sure it would last to the end of the winter  🙂  

He’s not even a chubby baby — just tall and strong and full of beans!   I’m working on the ‘more to love’ principle with him (as I nurse my aching back). 

It’s hard to believe he went from this tiny little thing: 

To this, in four short months…

Four months ago today…

Dear Jack,

Today you turned four months old.  You have become such an integral part of our lives that I cannot remember how Steve and I were an us before we were three of us.  I cannot even imagine what it was like to be a me before I was your mother. You are such an awesome little human being and I feel so privileged to be a part of your life.

I can’t quite believe how quickly the past four months have gone.  It seems like only a few short weeks ago that you were this tiny (ok, tiny-er) little being, with such big intent eyes and little animal noises.  I am desperately afraid that I will forget what it was like to hold you as a newborn, to smell your fuzzy baby head, to feel your weight as you fell asleep against my shoulder — perfectly content and secure.

In order to aid myself in this, I am compiling a list of those things I want — need — to remember.  I feel as if forgetting any moment of you would just break my heart.

1.  Your smile.  You smiled early, we think.  Perhaps you had a lot of gas, but by three weeks, your smiles were aimed at us and clearly seemed to be in response to times when you were happy.  I loved your early smiles, but your smiles now are just amazing  You grin, you dimple, you give big smiles and then you give these full-face smiles that just light up the room!  You give them freely and without reservation, and I can tell when you smile because your eyes crinkle up, so even if I can’t see your mouth, I know you’re happy.  You smile in your sleep, these flickering grins that pass your mouth in an instant.  You also smile on the boob sometimes, looking up at me with those big blue eyes, not willing to let go, but too blissed to not respond.  Your face is full of love and trust and you are deliriously happy and want to show the world.  I love your smiles.

2.  Your tears.  Your cries just break my heart, especially when your little lower lip pouts out.  When you were new, your whole lower jaw would shake with the passion of your crying; combined with the outstretched fist, we (lovingly) compared you to the overacting of William Shatner (Khan!!).  When they did the heel sticks to test your blood sugar levels in the hospital, I cried with you.  I can’t understand how any parent could ever just listen. to. their. baby. cry.  I resolved the moment I met you to try and limit your crying with whatever means available to me, because I love you too much to let you cry.  Not that it has always helped, but I have always tried.  Over time, the strength of your cries have increased, but their frequency has decreased.  We had one midnight visit from the midwife in your first week when we just couldn’t figure out why you were still losing your nut at 10pm, when you weren’t hungry or dirty — turns out that’s the normal fussy evenings of a newborn.  Huh!  It makes me wish that I had read more books on parenting, instead of being so focused on the birth. 

3.  Your hunger.  When you were tiny, your hunger cues were easy: you were breathing, therefor you were hungry!  Well, not quite so simple, but that first night I lay with you beside me in the hospital bed, I found your “ah ah ah ah” compelling me to open my shirt and offer you nourishment and comfort.   Your breathing would quicken and your mouth would open like a little bird’s, and I would feed you.  You also came with a cue which is only now starting to diminish: you would bonk your head against the shoulder of whomever was holding you, presumably tenderizing the flesh below for easy suckling.  The bird faces were lost within your first few months, sadly, but the “ah ah ah” still makes the occasional appearance, as does the bonking.  Lip-licking as a cue came and went, though I still sometimes find you licking my stomach in anticipation.  When you’re hungry, your breathing still quickens as I come close, and sometimes that is all you need to ask me to bring you to the breast.  You now show the proper ‘rooting’ reflex, where you turn your head to a stroke on your cheek and open your mouth to a hoped-for breast.  Even on nights like tonight, when you snacked for two minutes out of every twenty, I am still intensely satisfied with my choice to breastfeed (I say that as if it was a choice rather than surrendering to your right and need for breastmilk).  Your cues have changed, but your need and my ability are still dominant factors in our lives.

4.  Your hands.  Your tiny little fists when you were first born have unfolded slowly into open palms, creeping starfish which cup my breast as you nurse, wander slowing up my shirt front and flow up to cover your face so you can focus more intently on the task at hand. We were so overcome with pride for you that we remarked to the midwives how you were so focused on having your hands in front of your face, as if this were a mark of some infant genius.  No, we were informed, all babies do that. It’s how they were in the womb and they’re not yet used to having all this space.  Ah, we said. Ok.  I remember when you held onto our fingers with your deathgrip, and how you learned to guide our finger to your mouth for drooling and chewing (instead of guiding it carefully into your cheek!).  Now you can get a toy right into your mouth, along with a washcloth, your shirt, many fingers, sometimes your thumb, your seatbelt or any other thing that is placed remotely near your mouth.  You are very dexterous.  Your fingernails are your fathers, as are your long fingers and elegant wrist.  Perhaps you will play the guitar.  Or the drums, if your father is lucky  🙂

5.  Your ears.  Your ears were one of the first things I noticed when the doctor held you up to my view, flat on the operating table: they are perfectly formed and pinned close to your head.  They are lovely ears, Jack, ears you can be proud of.  The other amazing thing about those ears is how much music they have listened to, for all your life.  Besides all the music you danced to in my womb, when you were just two weeks old we took you to the Heritage Music Festival in Princeton.  You heard sea shanties at top volume not two feet from your head, tuba on the front porch, and banjo all over the place.  When you were not quite a month, you realized at the Duttons show on Gibsons pier that the people you saw and the sounds you heard were related: you watched the show from my lap, rapt.  You crow with joy and make your bouncy chair rock hard when your daddy plays music to you in your shared early mornings.  You were transfixed by the native drumming at Daryl’s birthday party (though the dancers scared you a little).  Sometimes your unhappiness in the car seat can be put off a little by Steve and I singing along to loud, upbeat music.  Or “Ain’t No More Cane”, which concerns your father a little.   You are already an aficionado, and we can’t wait to see and hear how your musical taste develops.

6. Your hair.  You have the craziest baby hair I have ever seen!  You were born with a full head of fine, dark hair, with a little curl and blond tips.  It was surfer hair, or little ‘duck feathers’ as Pixie put it.  Everyone said it would fall out and you would be bald, but they were only half right: you have worn the hair off the edges of your head, and that part has grown in silver-blond.  However, the top part is still dark, and long, and curly, and has ended up as a little baby faux hawk.  It is adorable, and many people comment on it.  I have to declare that we did not do anything to your hair to make it look like this, and I’m not sure everyone believes me.

7. Your nose. You were born with a little strawberry nose: pink with little white dots from where the pores were not developed. It disappeared slowly, so slow that I didn’t mark the loss of the little dots.  Your eye also cleared up: the goopy eye from an undeveloped or blocked tear duct that they told us would resolve on its own did so, sometime last week.  Your eyes, by the way, are still blue.  They may yet change, but the clarity and intensity of the blueness make us hopefully that you will be our blue eyed boy for the rest of your life.  Your eyelashes are crazy long and dark, though your eyebrows have always been light (I guess to match the blondness of your new hair).

8. Your noises.  Right now, living with you is like living with a strange and exotic bird.  Most of the time, your laugh is an inhalation that results in a boisterous “eeeeeee”.  Sometimes, more recently, your dad can get you laughing so hard that you make all these proper chuckles, but they are less often.  You also chat, and tell all kind of stories with perfect sincerity, so much that we wonder what you think you are telling us.  It’s quite fantastic, really.  Did you know you were born talking?  The doctor had only your head out of the incision and you were already chatting away.  He told you: “Stop it!  You aren’t supposed to be talking yet!”

9.  Your demeanor.  You were always an engaged baby, with lots of eye contact and a serious expression.  You could hold your head up from when you were born, which made life a lot easier for me as I was less worried about breaking you.  Your favourite position has always been up looking over the shoulder, preferably the left.  Your dad used to burp you folded in half over his shoulder, and you seemed to like it just fine.  You hardly ever spit up (yay!) and you hit your nose when you are stuffed up.  You have always loved to stand, even from being weeks old, you have stood with all your weight on your legs, relying on us only for balance.   You love your shiatsu chair now, though it seemed like a waste of real estate for the first few weeks.  You give so much to us, and I’m not just talking drool: you laugh, you smile, you fuss generally only when there is a very good reason, and you are so very present in our lives.  You seem so much more person-like than we expected such a new baby to be.

10.  Your father.  I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention that your father has blossomed in a way that I didn’t know he would.  I always knew Steve would be an amazing father — he is caring, dedicated, compassionate, patient, fun and he has some amazing talents to teach you.  However, he is so perfectly in love with you, it just breaks my heart.  The first days in hospital, he roomed in on a narrow cot, and he slept with you on his chest while I napped.  From the beginning, your bond was apparent; you knew his voice and trusted him completely.  It kills me that Steve never expected to be a father, because he is the best of fathers.  His confidence and humour have increased exponentially from the first days, even though he was never as scared of hurting you as I was.  He changes your diapers, rocks you to sleep, entertains you in the morning, and loves you beyond all imagining.  His love for you makes me love you both all the more, if that were possible. 

 I know how fleeting some of your phases and characteristics are, and I am trying to document them as much as possible.  To that end, I am going to enjoy the last of your crazy baby hair until you move on to some new ‘do.  I love you, Jack.

It’s always the planes that get me

We left the house late, of course.  We have a baby.  Walking through weak sun to the bus stop, it felt like a gift — sun in November in Vancouver.

The crowd was enormous, spilling up the streets and sidewalks.  We could just hear the choir sing, high and sweet and pure, anonymous of words.  The mutter from the sky grew louder, more insistent, and a moment later, a bomber flew low overhead.  So low I thought I could reach up and touch it, feel the rivets under my fingertips.  Then the tears started.

I don’t often think about my grandfather.  I don’t need to, I suppose.  He was a good man, large and larger than life — growing peas (oh such sweet peas) in his tiny backyard in a brick suburb in middle-class England.  He played the pipes in a band. He marched onscreen for a nanosecond of a movie with his pipe band, and his friends made him an Oscar.  He was an airplane mechanic in the RAF in World War II, stationed in India.  It took some forty years before he could set foot in a plane again, before he could come to Canada to visit his only child, my father.  I know his name.

That is pretty much all I know — I met him a half-dozen times, on trips to England, his visits here when I was a teenager, unaware of the importance of family connections.  His life did not affect mine, nor mine his, I imagine.  His death after a slow mental decline four years ago did not seem to affect me much either, and I understood that was the normal feelings of no real personal relationship.  It was fine.
Until I heard the planes.  Three years ago, I attended Remembrance Day services in Gibsons.  It was another fine fall day, another gift of no rain and rustling leaves scuffed underfoot.  There, the planes came from the south, low over Keats Island and the harbour, and the noise of them preceded the formation by a minute or more.  When I heard them in the distance, and caught sight of them over the glinting water, I was choked by loss.  The loss of a grandfather I never knew, the loss of a grandfather I would have known, had he not been so damaged by that goddamn war that his fear was more intense than his desire to be a part of our lives.  Of my life.  The loss of lives, of a generation, of quiet despair and ‘keep strong and carry on’.

When I heard the planes — those four lone bombers, flying in a tight formation — I imagined what it would have been like to huddle in the darkness of London, hearing hundreds of bombers streaming through the skies with their impossibly inhumane payload.

Every year, I hear that rumble, and I remember my grandfather, and what wasn’t to be, and I cry.

This year, I nursed my infant son on the curb of a street next to the cenotaph, and my tears landed on the blanket that kept him warm and safe.  I cannot imagine a world which would send their precious little boys to war, to be killed, or damaged, or suffer wounds that their granddaughters bleed generations later.

What do we tell Jack about war?  That it is cruel and horrible, but there are times when you have to take a stand against great evil?  That he should never be a soldier? That he should be a soldier if he thinks the cause is right?  Certainly, we will tell him that he should always use words instead of fists, or guns.

And I will tell him about his great-grandfather, who would have loved him.  I know it.

His father’s son

Jack is his father’s son.

On reflection, what a stupid, stupid phrase: of course he’s his father’s son! By definition of the word… never mind. Jack is obviously Steve’s son. My case in point: shopping. Instead of our usual ‘pajama Monday’, I decided today to spend the day out. We drove Steve to work (ok, I drove), pooped (Jack, I swear), ate (Jack again) and went to Ikea (Jack and I). Jack was fine at the co-op, fine in the car, and began to complain as soon as I sat down in the cafe with my $1 breakfast. He complained the entire shopping trip, at least until I sat down with him on the as-is white leather couch (boy I bet those as-is staff were nervous until we got up and left their couch unstained!) after which it was close enough to home, only with a better, cleaner unstained couch.

We enjoyed as-is couch snacks (Jack, again) and some flailing time (mostly Jack) and, in the middle of breastfeeding, were asked by a woman if “we would be long” — I gathered my righteous indignation for an anti-breastfeeding conflict — only to be asked if she could leave her shopping cart under my watchful (and immobile) eye while she ran to the bathroom. I was almost disappointed — more on my unsuspected lactivism later. The boobysnacks and couch time mollified Jack for a minute or two, and he was fine in the return car trip… right up until we entered Costco. Suffice it to say, I ended up carrying an unhappy Jack through to the checkouts while simultaneously steering a Costco-sized shopping cart through a wave of oncoming people who were apparently incapable of veering from their immediate trajectory. Hmmm. Note to self: do not attempt Costco alone again.

Speaking of couches, Jack destroyed ours last week. Well not DESTROYED, but definitely de-couch-I-want-to-sit-on-ified. The sad reality is that sometimes ‘diaper’ would be better replaced by ‘bucket’, except that ‘bucket’ would not fit in the car seat. Jack hadn’t pooped in almost 20 hours. I should have known. Honestly, watching the creeping stain up Jack’s back seemed alarming enough, only surpassed by the alarmingness of the wetness on my leg I noticed when I stood to take him upstairs to change him. With everyone changed and a load of laundry on, I was just about to sit back down on the couch when I saw the acid-yellow smear on the side of the couch and the puddle on the floor. Yuck. I washed the crap out of that couch, literally and figuratively, and at least the smell was gone after it dried.

We’re shopping for another couch on craigslist.

Preferably free.

Why pay perfectly good money for another couch that will be *ahem* in the line of fire?

That said, we’re going to keep the old, poopified couch as well. Does that make us unhygenic or just new parents? Both, perhaps? The reality is that with a family of three, our lone two-seater just isn’t cutting it any more, which reflects another reality: a 15lb baby takes up more room than a 200lb adult. SERIOUSLY. Especially on a couch. Therefore, we get a new couch so there is somewhere cushy for someone else to surf the internet on her laptop (we’re not mentioning names here) and keep the old couch so that someone else (Jack and Steve) always has a place to nap. I’m not telling which is which, just in case you visit and refuse to sit on the old one. Hint: one of them will definitely smell faintly of vinegar.

Jack is just over three months old — his 1/4 birthday was November 6, 2009 — and as of two days pre-1/4 day, he weighed in at a solid 15lb 7oz and measured 26″ long. In other words, he’s huge. Enormous. Only not in a huge way — he’s a long, tall drink of water (ok, milk, obviously of the boob variety) — just like his father. Which is why I was at Costco: buying size NINE MONTH sleepers for the little man. And just like his father, he hated every minute of the shopping trip.

At least we got some spare Stoatys at Ikea.

The next chapter in my frabjous life

So. We met, fell in love, got married and went on a honeymoon. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun, but nothing compares to what happened next: we had a baby.

Our Jack was born on August 6, 2009 at 10:22pm, weighing in a ginormous 10lb 8oz, which translates to 10.5 pounds or 4770 grams. Insane! He was 22.5″ long.

John Ryan Quattrocchi, to be known henceforth as ‘Jack’. I still look at him sometimes and can’t believe he’s mine to keep, even though he’ll be three months in less than a week. Un-freaking-believable. I can’t believe he’s only been here less than 90 days; it feels like I have had him forever and can’t imagine life before Jack. It also, simultaneously and contradictorily, feels as though he must still only be days old, with years left to smell his tiny head and look at his tiny fingernails and gaze in awe at his tiny, perfect sleeping face.

Who the hell am I kidding? There is nothing ‘tiny’ about this baby.

When I was pregnant, I read every book, blog and article I could find on pregnancy and delivery. I lined up a midwife and a doula. I chose a pre-natal class run out of a midwife office that was the most holistic, all-natural, fuzzy, birth-art making class I could find. I wrote a birth plan. I took vitamins and D supplements. I gained the ideal 26 pounds, and I knew exactly how my labour and delivery could (should?) go. Too bad Jack never engaged, too bad I was induced at 11 days late due to low fluid, and too bad I ended up on the operating table after 28 hours failed induction, still at 4 cm dilation with Jack’s head swelling from being beaten against my pelvis for ten hours. When the midwife looked over at where Jack was being suctioned as Steve prepared to cut the cord, and said: “He’s big, ten pounds at least. Maybe more!” all I could think was “that explains everything.” That, I suppose is a different story.

I seem to have a lot of untold stories from the past few years: the story of how we decided to move back to the Raincity of Vancouver, how we finally hiked the West Coast Trail last summer, how we applied for almost every co-op in East Vancouver and decided to start trying for a baby a little early since it might take six months to conceive (yeah, not so much six months!), how I thought it would be a good idea to go through my second trimester while taking full-time classes and working 40 hours a week, how I fell off a short bus… lots of stories. I gave notice at a job in a Sharpie written note. Steve started running the art co-op he was a part of setting up over ten years ago. We moved into a fabulous two-bedroom co-op with a view of the world when I was seven months pregnant. I got my first A+ in post-secondary education, and walked across the stage to get my BA in English during convocation, only to leave my row three minutes later to go nurse my infant son.

I had a son.

Skunk walks and other miscelleny

July 23, 2009. Thursday. Maybe. Jack is happy and healthy. And inside, the little bugger. D-minus six days to due date.

Today was a lovely day, if not restful. Have I had a truly restful day since going on maternity leave? Maybe two? But I have gotten a heck of a lot done. We went to a midwife appointment at 10:00 am… too bad it was actually for 2:30pm today. Oh well. Steve and I wandered down to Chinatown and took advantage of our annual Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden passes to admire the blooming lily pads and calico carp and drink many tiny paper cups of green tea. It was very relaxing. I would like keep the image of the blooming lotus in mind during labour… we’ll see how that goes.

A quick trip around Home Depot later plus one large fight with a local furniture store (they did not make what I wanted and they took their sweet time about it, but it appears I won the battle) later, Steve’s parents met us at our house in time to put up the last shelf in Jack’s room which, BTW, looks freaking awesome, especially with the cow hide on the floor. They also put together the (organic cotton) bouncy chair which made me a tiny but more relaxed.

We then hit up the new downtown Costco where, among other things, I bought a Costco-sized multi-pack of wet wipes. Now I REALLY feel prepared 🙂 Andie came by after all that and refolded Jack’s clothes in the change table/dresser she refinished for us. She used to work for Gap, so the girl sure knows how to fold a onesie. We packed a few outfits in the diaper bag along with one of the receiving blankets Gayle made and now Jack is packed. Steve and I just need to get our crap together and we’ll be all ready for labour… well, as much as you can be ready for labour, anyway.

Somewhere in there I made it to the midwife appointment where I saw Grace, who I like a great deal. Well, I like all the midwives, but I like the Kootenay connection with Grace especially. She poked Jack a bunch and reassured me that he was actually probably not huge, but I have lots of amniotic fluid. Whew!

I had previously been told by the midwife student from Iran (cool, huh?) that I was having a “big boy.” I said that was fine, so long as he was tall and thin. The student looked at me and said in a deadpan tone, “he’s not thin.” Did I mention whew? Yeah.

Anyway, Grace is a tiny bit concerned over where the heartbeat was found, in that they’ve had a run on breach and semi-breach babies this July, and his heart location indicates a slight chance that he has moved to be head up… which would suck. She figures it’s a 10% chance of breach since she thought she could still feel his head lower down in the pelvis. In any case, I have a quick ultrasound tomorrow to check his position and then we’ll know for sure. Grace also reassured me that some women just aren’t waddlers, and my lack of duck-walk does not indicate that I’m miles away from giving birth. Not that I’m anxious or anything…

We finally took the dog for her evening walk just after nine. Initially my back was quite sore, so we took the flat walk along 5th, or at least until I saw a small black-and-white striped creature stomping across a lawn in our direction — skunk! We backtracked pretty rapidly (especially for a pregnant woman) and decided to go up and around the block instead. Steve hesitated as he thought that we’d be heading right past where we last saw the skunk, but I told him that the skunk was in the bushes on the other side of the street from where we could walk. No problem, right?

Yeah, right until we almost literally ran into skunk #2 around the end of the block. Fortunately Angel was on leash at that point, since she seemed mighty interested in investigating the little black ‘kitty’. We tried to get ahead of the skunk in order to walk down the street without running up behind him and getting sprayed, but that little guy could move! After a few tense moments (being within ten feet of an urban skunk makes me nervous), we passed the little stinker and hustled up the sidewalk to home.

That makes two skunks and a coyote that we/Steve have seen in our neighbourhood so far this week. We like the urban wildlife, so this is a good thing. During the full moon in June, when we had just moved in, I heard coyotes laughing and howling down on the empty lots near the train yard. It seemed auspicious. So far the portents have proven true — we love our neighbourhood, and can’t wait to bring our baby home. I’m looking forward to sitting in the comfy chair in Jack’s sunroom during full moon nights and listening to coyotes, and to having dusk walks where we run away from skunks with our stroller, and watching sunsets where we can stand on the north balcony and see the crows swoop right past our home on their way to their mysterious crow moot over in Burnaby.

So come soon, ‘k? We’re waiting for you.

Week two? three? Wow, do Saturdays ever fly by…

July 22, 2009. We have a Leo. I turned 39 weeks on Tuesday, and still no Jack in sight. I’m not even sure he’ll be here by his due date, if the distinct lack of waddling on my part is any indication. Sucky. Maybe the midwife can give me a hint tomorrow.

I really can’t complain, but I will anyway. I have had a ridiculously easy pregnancy so far — no morning sickness a cupcake couldn’t shift, no frightening weight gain, and very little of that terrible malaise some pregnant women seem to feel after about week 32. You know the kind — the GET IT OUT women — I have not been one of those. Until Monday, when all of a sudden I realized I was a little bored of being pregnant. Not sick, not cankle’d (or worse yet, thigh-kled), not crampy, discharge-y or any other nasty thing. Just bored. Bored of taking two or more minutes to get off the couch, bored of not being able to pick stuff off the floor, bored of my limited wardrobe.

The time has come to meet this baby, so come on out any time now, ‘k Jack? Please?

Today I took advantage of my last few baby-free days to go to SFU and hand in the paperwork necessary to maybe, possibly, potentially graduate in October. What a trip that would be! It took what, eight years? but I finally completed my BA course requirements in April. Mind you, had I known exactly how difficult it would be to take full-time courses, work full time AND grow a baby, I might have made a different decision back in November when registering in three courses seemed like a peachy-keen idea. The perspective is different on the other side of two pink lines, I assure you. That said, it was hard, but not quite too hard, as I managed to complete all three courses AND nailed the first A+ of my university career.

See, I told you I can’t complain.

Jack’s room is almost done. One more shelf to put up, and the art, and a portable package of baby wipes for my (new, shiny red Columbia TM) diaper bag! Oh, and I need to pack him some outfits to come home in, plus mine and Steve’s hospital bag, and THEN he can come. Please?

I’m ready to meet my little man. I’m ready to see Steve become the amazing father he is going to be. I’m ready to see Angel wag her heart out when we finally bring home her very own baby to love.

I am damn ready to drink that glass of wine in early labour.

So, please come soon. Please?

First week of Saturdays

July 14, 2009. I think it’s a Tuesday. Baby Jack (John Ryan Quattrocchi) has been reassuringly active and I feel great, as usual. D-minus 15 days until due date.

So. Last Monday was my last day of work, as I started Maternity Leave a few weeks earlier than expected. I commented to my husband, Steve, that it felt like the first Friday of an entire year of Saturdays. Since then, he has nagged me unmercifully to spend some of my pre-baby time blogging my ‘holiday’ experience. So fine — I will. I’m not entirely sure this will end up being a holiday. All things considered, no sleep and being at the complete beck and call of an eight pound, hungry, non-verbal tyrant doesn’t seem very restful, but I sure am enjoying this first, feet-up part of my year off.

I am deeply grateful to live in Canada, where, with maternity and parental benefits together, I can be off work for 365 days in order to give our son the best start in life. I’m also grateful to Steve for letting me take the full year, instead of splitting the parental leave up between us (though he works part time, so he’ll be at home with us lots of time with us anyway).

In any case, the laptop is getting sleepy, and I should probably not laze about on the couch ALL day, so this will be a short first post. I’m off to look for a diaper bag as I’ve been told babies poop a lot and I’ll need one of those.

The aftermath

It’s so strange that dinner out and a few idle hours of blogging can be so overwhelming.

And… welcome to my not-so-subtle segue about how eleven months wasn’t actually eleven months and tonight was very strange.

So… you may have noticed that I finished the Turkey portion of the blog back in November, just after we got back from our trip. Only, it wasn’t actually November — what with our move back to the Vancouver area on January 1, 2008, my new job, my next new job and all the other chaos that came with our subsequent lives, I only finished the Turkey parts in June. Or so.

Then we went on the West Coast Trail, which was much, MUCH harder than I expected, and Steve sprained his ankle, which wasn’t in retrospect as traumatic as Kathy breaking her wrist, but they both finished the trail anyway. I suppose that’s a story for another night. I guess that’s the problem — life has been full of stories to tell but no time to write them down.

I don’t even know exactly what to write about the weirdness of today. Suffice it to say that I accidentally found reference to a Turkish restaurant while looking for information on another restaurant that might have been vaguely Turkish, and was so excited I called up Steve and demanded he stop whatever dinner he might have been making as we Had To Go to this place. Dinner was ok — like food in Istanbul, which is to say that it was adequate and Turkish, but not amazing and Turkish like the food in the smaller towns we went to. It did, however, put the official stamp on my overwhelming desire to go back… see how I almost wrote ‘home’? I am madly in love with That Place, and as much as other people who ought to know, having actually traveled to multiple places in the world, that other places will be as wonderful and profound as That Place, all I can think is that I want to go back to Turkey.

I would never leave my husband for another man. I hate to think of what would happen if he didn’t want to go back to Turkey with me.

So. Already feeling a little strange, though happily full of lamb and eggplant salad, I decided to do a little blog surfing while Steve was teaching a lesson and then out at a show. For me, I follow a certain number of blogs which I catch up on every few days. There are others which I have noted as potentially interesting, bookmarked, and then have largely forgotten about. Since I’m pretty caught up on the regulars, I decided to take a quick look at my giant messy pile of bloggy bookmarks and see what links I followed and where they led me. They led me to a site, and then another site, and then I saw what happens when a lovely, happy family has an unbelievable tragedy: Nie Nie.

In a nutshell, this Stephanie and Christian Nielson, parents of four kids, were in a small plane crash in August, 2008 and are still in hospital recovering (we hope, and I include me in that ‘we’) from very severe burns. Tonight, I’ve read Stephanie’s (Nie Nie) blog, her sister’s blog ( c jane), the bloggers who have made etsy garage sales to raise money and all kinds of online support for these lovely people and their million-dollar medical bills.

Even though idealogically, geographically, constitutionally, we’re very different — I’ve read their words. Words are powerful things, and I’ve felt very strongly for them tonight. I think that I’d have liked them –the whole family — if we’d had the opportunity to meet. I’ve never wanted so much to reach through a computer screen and two time zones to pat a stranger on the back. I look at my own life through the lens of contingency and I know (perhaps more than most, but that, too, is another story) that sometimes that viciously impartial contingency can rear up and smack you in the face just as well as it can stroke your hair gently in the night.

Good people can get in car crashes; bad, bad people can be the President of the USA.

When my beloved husband came home tonight, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. Do I pragmatically finish my entry, so long coming? Do I fall on him with kisses? Do I fall to my knees with gratitude that he made it home safely?

Maybe all of the above. Just give me a minute.

Honestly, I was hoping my first post back in such a long time would be decisive, witty — maybe even succinct. Instead, I am rambly and maybe a little maudlin. I miss Turkey. I missed Steve. I hope to everything that everyone comes home safe to their loved ones.

I’m overwhelmed with love for my husband, and fear of not having a long, happy and unscarred life with him, and if he doesn’t want to go with me to Turkey, I won’t go either.

Besides, I’m in no big hurry to get on an airplane right now…