Sunday, December 26, 2010

Better in than out

In the last week and a half, I find myself having entered that uncomfortable end stretch of pregnancy. My hips and pelvis are sore and achy. My back hurts. I am exhausted, and having trouble sleeping. I have gas, bloating, indigestion... All the unattractive and annoying things about the 3rd trimester are really starting to catch up with me. So, I did what any modern women would do in my situation: I complained about it on facebook.

After stating to the world that my body was in a state of 34 weeks pregnant mutiny-meltdown, one of my friends replied: "Makes you that much more ready and 'eager' for labour!!!"

But, no. Not really.

When I was pregnant with Nik, I remember major impatience in the final weeks. I began my maternity leave at the beginning of November, and did not head to the hospital until the night of December 10th, so I had a lot of time to just sit around and wait for our mystery baby to arrive. Some evenings I would enter our perfectly set up nursery, look at the tiny clothes in the dresser or sit in the rocking chair and think, "This is a nice room. We should put a baby in here."

In addition to the normal new mom anticipation of my first little baby, there was another factor making me wish for the birth: I was crazy itchy. I had been unlucky enough to suffer from a major PUPPS rash during the last month and a half of that pregnancy, red and angry over my brand new stretch marks. I spent a lot of time scratching and trying not to scratch, rubbing my belly with ice cubes, and trying to ignore it long enough to fall asleep. When my OB/GYN told me it would likely go away when the baby was born, I could only think, "Well, bring it on."

Touch wood, but I haven't experienced any itching with this pregnancy. And I'm not really longing for a snuggly little thing to complete the nursery - the first snuggle-bug is still here. The factors are just different this time around, and even with the late-pregnancy discomforts starting to pile up, I am not yet feeling that impatience for baby to arrive.

I think my perspective has changed. With my first pregnancy, I wanted to get it over with, get it done, get to the baby part. Having lived through it once though, it seems to me that there will be lots of time with baby, and the pregnancy seems so fleeting by comparison.

Babies are so easy to care for, so portable, and so connected to you in pregnancy. They never cry, never need to be changed. There are no worries about how much they are getting to eat, or whether they are warm enough. You don't have the hassle of dealing with car seats, bulky strollers or snowsuits. No one is spitting up on your dress 5 minutes before it is time to leave.

Also, consider what a small portion of your life is spent feeling another life move inside of you! If the average mom has 3 children, feels the quickening beginning at around the 4 month of pregnancy, and carries to term, that adds up to maybe 15 months. Over an average lifespan of 80 years, that works out to less than 2% of your life where it is possible to feel your child from within. Less than 2%! When you consider that many women (and all men) go their whole lives without ever experiencing this sensation, how could I wish for it to be over all the sooner?

I am also still in the process of getting mentally prepared for the arrival of a second child. My labour with Nik was difficult, and my transition to mama-hood went over a rough road. Since then, a combination of time, information, and experience have soothed those growing pains, but I still have more fear to let go of before I will feel ready to face the next birth with confidence.

Appreciation of the briefness of pregnancy, and a more realistic understanding of what is to come... These things make it easier to say in the face of a possible 5 or 6 more uncomfortable weeks to come that baby is still better in than out.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry little Christmas

The tree is up. The wrapping is done. I have a huge pot of Christmas Eve dinner borscht in the fridge, and the cards have all been sent. We are off to my parent's house for the major gift opening this afternoon, so come 2 o'clock Christmas will be here. But for now I am happy to be sitting by my laptop cuddled up in my robe, with my hair still damp from the shower.

Nik is watching 'Mary Poppins' in the next room, eating cheezies in his pajama top and underpants. On the floor can be found the contents of the couple of presents we let him open last night. Little things like toy cars and new books. Nothing needs batteries.

I got my Christmas present from my husband last night. A couple of new CDs, a small teapot, and clothes that don't fit... ;-) Looks like we will be braving the after-Christmas mall exchanges crowd once again. From me he got a new digital watch and a game. Actually, I gave him the game a few weeks ago after Nik saw the same one in a flyer, and told him, "Daddy? We have that game. That game is hiding." No surprises when a 3 year old is in on the secret, I guess. :-)

Christmas is quieter for us this year. About a week ago, I entered that stage of pregnancy when running up and down the stairs starts to seem like a major undertaking. Walking down the hall to put something away requires a cool-down and a 5 minute breather. Unloading and reloading the dishwasher may be the most productive part of my day. So there has been more sitting, more reading, more knitting. More cups of tea and movies. And much less decorating. No baking. No Christmas letter.

Nik did get to see Santa, but it was because my sister took him. He will be recieving a mountain of presents from extended family, but at home there will be only his stocking on Christmas morning. We are going to two Christmas dinners, at beautifully decorated homes. I am bringing the borscht, and the mashed potatoes. We seem to have found a balance between festivity and simplicity.

It has helped me to see the blessing of family and friends even clearer. We don't have to do it all to have it all. So often I am grateful that is not left to my husband and I to provide all the trappings of Nik's childhood, or even of our own lives. Over the years we have received so much, from cups of coffee and conversation, to money to help up pay for our wedding or first home. Children's toys, clothing and books, baby equipment, computer parts, meals, lodging... even air fare has been given to us. People have shoveled our driveway, mowed our lawn, washed our dishes, and folded our laundry. I think of where we would be without the helping hands of those around us, and I can't believe how much I so often take for granted. How much poorer we would be without them, in all ways. How much less we would be able to offer to our son.

But with our lives enriched by the generosity of others, we have easily found our way to another merry little Christmas. Wishing each of you the same.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love to the library

On Friday mornings, Nik and I head down to our local library. It is five minutes away by car, and, on nice summer days, a 20 minute walk. A few times a year, we sign up for the mom and tot storytime group, led by the soft-spoken Mr. B. The rest of the time, we just go in on our own, reading stories, selecting some to take home, picking out videos, and otherwise browsing the children's collection. It is probably our calmest together time, and we rarely miss our weekly visit.

Winnipeg has an amazing system of public libraries. There are 20 branch locations throughout the city, the largest of which is the Millennium Library, in the heart of downtown. According to the statistics posted on the website, the Winnipeg Public Library collection has over 1.6 million materials, including books, magazines, CDs and movies. Also available are books on tape, sheet music, and language learning resources. Library computers have internet access, word processing software, and educational games for kids.

The library offers lots of free programming for children, teens, adults and families. Bring your kids to one of the many storytime programs, or drop in during a Family Literacy Day. Special programs featuring musicians, magicians, historians and authors of all kinds are scheduled throughout the year. Take a free workshop to learn more about green living, health and wellness, or researching your family history. Other classes focus on computer skills, photography, or creative writing.

Even if you don't have time to sign up for classes or browse the shelves at your local branch, that need not stop you from taking advantage of the huge collection of library materials. My favourite feature of the library is the huge online catalogue, which allows you to search for materials, and have them delivered to your closest branch, with notification by e-mail or phone when they are ready to be picked up. You can also renew materials online, and sign up for e-mail notification reminding you when your materials are coming due, helping you avoid any late charges.

Almost everything offered at the library is free, though there are a few things that have a minimal cost. Printing and copying services are available at every branch, with a fee of 20 cents per page. If you request materials, and do not pick them up within 9 days of being notified that they are ready, you pay $1.20. Adult collection DVDs have a borrowing fee of $2.20. If you lose your library card, it will cost $4.05 to replace it. And, like any library, there are fees associated with lost, damaged or late return materials.

In my perspective, these costs are insignificant compared with the huge amount of value in the materials, resources and classes available to you with your free library card. You don't even have to take my word for it. The library has recently added a "Library Use Calculator" to its website, that quantifies your library use as a dollar amount, based on the average costs of purchasing the same materials and services privately. Even when I plugged in my most minimal numbers for a month, costs came out at over $5000 per year to buy, $0 to borrow.

If you're a Winnipeg resident, I challenge you to get your library card, and use it at least once every three weeks. You could start by checking out the New and Noted collection for hot reads, or putting a few cds on hold. Sign up for a workshop, or take in a free lunch time concert or lecture. Do it for six months, and see what happens. At the least, you will come out of the experience just a little bit more informed. At best, you will be a true convert, and like me, want to send much love to the library.

*All photos courtesy of the Winnipeg Public Library

Sunday, December 12, 2010


It is amazing

what you can do

with some Lego men

two cake mixes,

and a few cans of frosting.

Nik is 3 today!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Community lights

I have heard it said that Winnipeg is famous for its Christmas lights. Not world famous, or even nationally known, mind you. What they say is that the pilots know us. That the pilots that fly over Winnipeg, in and out of the airport here, see a difference between the night scene here and that in other cities. Tiny points of lights are everywhere.

The downtown strip is done up every year by the city. Various BIZ (Business Improvement Zone) groups also do their part, dressing up their own mini Main streets, hanging wreaths, stringing lights and decorating trees in front of the shopfronts in their neighbourhoods. The casinos also get in on the action, with lit up message of 'Season's Greetings', lights on the building and trees, and large lit figures next to the entrances. Even the roof of the Super Lube is sporting stripes of golden lights.

One of my favourite traditions in the Christmas season is taking the long way home. Once the sun has set, we will often detour from our regular route, and take to the quieter residential streets just to look at the Christmas lights on everyone's homes. I don't know if you could find a block without Christmas lights. They range from the truly understated single green porch light, to the massively overdone Christmas wonderland scenes complete with Nativity, Santa with sleigh and all nine reindeer, and light-covered roofs, fences and house fronts. Some homes boast large amounts of blinking coloured lights, to which my son will say, "Look Mom! A party house!" I am glad we don't live across the street from 'a party house'.

Last night, as we searched out the Christmas lights, we drove through one of the newer neighbourhoods not far from our home. It is full of impressive, two-storey houses built just in the last few years. Many of them have vaulted ceilings, attached garages, and sparkling chandeliers. They are open concept with large windows, through which you can see large leather seating arrangements and dark wood dining sets.

We live in the left side of a duplex that was built in the 70's. It needs paint. The floors squeak. The fence is old and decrepit. And it is certainly devoid of vaulted ceilings, attached garages, sparkling chandeliers, large leather seating arrangements and dark wood dining sets. After such a description, you might be thinking I returned home last night wistful, and wondering when we will be able to move into that newer neighbourhood. But that is the not the end of the comparison.

On my street, there is a sidewalk. And on that sidewalk travels the mailman, delivering mail from home to home, often with a smile or a nod for passers-by. Traveling east down our street will lead you to the community centre, which has a small playground, baseball diamond, and outdoor skating rink just outside its doors, and out of which runs a Mom 'n Child drop-in playgroup, and a local kids hockey team. Traveling a few blocks south of our home could lead you to the public school with it's large playground, enclosed by trees and backyards, or to the swimming pool, wading pool or hockey arena. If you are willing to walk a little farther, there are many more parks, schools, churches, shops and even the public library, all accessible by sidewalks canopied by towering elm trees.

The streets of the new neighbourhood have no sidewalks, just many, many driveways. There is just one large mailbox for 40 homes, and the mailman stops there in his truck. I saw just one small playground, and this was right next to the road, with nary a tree in sight. And there are certainly no wading pools, libraries, or baseball diamonds.

Both neighbourhoods are full of Christmas lights. But I believe that my neighbourhood is also rich in different kind of light, the light of community. And I wouldn't trade it for vaulted ceilings.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...