Browsing Tag

pregnancy

Motherhood

I’m not pregnant.

The other day while Olive napped I sat down with six cardboard file boxes and some 75% off Valentine’s Day chocolates, and I boxed away all of her baby clothes. I had rotated them out of her dresser on a fairly regular basis as she grew out of them, but the boxes were haphazardly filled and improperly labeled. Organizing, sorting and labelling them was one of those tasks that had been lurking toward the top of my to-do list just waiting for the perfect storm of supplies (boxes, chocolate), a long afternoon nap, and the emotional wherewithal to get the task done. 

I cried. Let’s just get that out of the way first.

Obviously I cried,  it’s cliche for a reason.

The tears came first when I felt the soft fabric of the onesie Adam and I dressed her in in the hospital – the two of us bending her newborn limbs with the terrified delicacy of newly-minted parents.

It was the first item of clothing she ever wore.

They filled my eyes again when I pulled out her bear snowsuit. I was flooded with memories of how excited Adam was when he picked it out, how the sight of our little bear would make people smile so big.


I felt it first, then. As the boxes filled up with neatly folded and sorted onesies, sleepers and socks, Olive’s babyhood comfortably ensconced within six cardboard boxes. I felt a low sort of emptiness. A soft, strong pull.

I have felt it every day since. Friends with babies the same age as O have begun to eagerly announce the arrivals of #2, and I pore over their ultrasounds, their positive tests. I stare at pregnant women in a way that can only be described as borderline inappropriate. I lie awake at night scrolling through pictures and watching my life pass in reverse, Olive slowly morphing back into that tiny dark creature they first placed on my chest that sweet fall morning seventeen months ago, my belly in the pictures growing then shrinking back into nonexistence.

I miss it. Oh god, do I miss that feeling of fullness, of being  – just for a few months – the physical embodiment of a wish fulfilled, a swelling bursting sort of happiness.

In the months after Olive was born, and even up until that rainy day last week, I couldn’t have identified any specific desire for another. I thought it was strange. I’ve always wanted a large family, coming from a rambunctious brood of six kids myself. I have watched Olive take her first steps, laugh so hard she falls over, learn how to blow bubbles; I have sat with these moments and more times than I can count I have thought to myself, This is enough. If this is all I ever have, this will be enough.

It still is. It still would be. But as Olive grows and becomes less and less a baby, and more and more an individual person, I also want more and more for her.

Most of all, I want for her what I had growing up, and what I have now. The crush of siblings who love and hate and amuse and tolerate you in just the right measures. I want her to know that unique, irreplaceable bond made up of shared rooms and tight hugs, overflowing anger, secrets kept and betrayed, reluctant apologies, clothing borrowed and never returned. I want her to know what it feels like to look into someone’s face and see pieces of you reflected back – in the shape of their lips or the colour of their eyes.

I want her to live in a house bursting with people who know her almost better than she knows herself, who love her as fiercely and unrelentingly as we do.

There is nothing like the feeling of wanting a child. It is different from the wanting I have felt for anything else in my life. It’s so deep and so strong that it seems to physically ache at times. It’s a sense of needing to be filled up, expanded, and it is so overwhelming that sometimes it’s all you feel.

It can take you over, if you let it.

It also feels different, this time around. The first time I felt this it was such an abstract desire.

A baby.

I wanted a baby like some people want to win the lottery, or be a bestselling author. I wanted it in a no-brainer sort of way, Of course I want a baby. Who wouldn’t?  But what that meant, a baby, it was so fuzzy. Blurred and distant. I wanted it, and looking back I don’t doubt my wanting, but this time I can capture its meaning so much tighter.

I know what this want feels like, tastes like. I know the heaviness, the fullness. I know the moment of hearing the heartbeat and knowing you are holding another life inside your own. I know meeting your child’s eyes for the first time, that strange dual sense of familiarity and strangeness. Hello, little one.

I know the sleepless nights and the breastfeeding, the feelings of pride and helplessness, success and overwhelming failure. Knowing all of this, this desire feels more authentic somehow. I know what I’m getting into. And I want it even more.

I feel greedy admitting to this want, like I am shoving my way to the front of the line to receive a second helping when some are still patiently waiting for their first. I wonder if it’s a betrayal somehow, if I should feel like one is enough.

This is what I keep turning over and over in my head, these thoughts that have become worn and smooth as stones. I imagine the pregnancy, the birth, the name, the days spent with a newborn against my chest. I imagine watching Olive become accustomed to her new brother or sister, I envision teaching her to how to be gentle, how to manage her hands and her volume and her jealousy.

I do this and I let myself get carried away, I think these thoughts all the way until Olive and #2 are both toddling around holding hands  giggling at some private joke before I remember the most crucial point in this whole matter: I am not pregnant.

Furthermore, I am not trying to become pregnant. I will likely not be pregnant for six months at least, if not later.

I had always imagined having children close in age. I remember our midwife telling me that because of my full placenta previa I would need to wait until January 2014 to get pregnant again in order to try for a VBAC. I remember doing the math, thinking “They will be two years apart. Perfect.”

But it won’t be two years now. It will be three, or three and a half even, and something small inside aches when I think of this gap. None of my siblings and I are more than two years apart. Is it too much? Will they still be close? What gets lost in that extra year? What -if anything – is gained?

Where I always end up, in this circuitous rambling swirling mass of of babies and wanting, is with the realization that children are incredibly effective at teaching you how very little you truly have control of in life.

My pregnancy with Olive taught me that lesson again and again and again until I finally submitted. I finally exhaled, and I lay down everything but my hippie vision board and I just let life happen. I am trying to remember that lesson, and how it felt to exhale.

I am trying to remember how my pregnancy with Olive was everything I didn’t want – the gestational diabetes and the placenta previa and the hospital and the c-section – and yet I still look back on those months as the being the best, the unequivocal, hands-down best days, weeks, months, moments of my life. I would re-live them again and again and again if I could.

So this was not in the plan. The flat stomach and the stack of maternity clothes lying wait in a musty box. The age gap that just keeps getting wider and wider. The creepy pregnant-lady stalking.

But, they say life is what happens when you are busy making other plans, so I am trying to stop. I am trying to let go and sit with these moments, watching Olive climb and run and learn to do butterfly kisses. I am trying to ignore the tears that well up when I look at these pictures, and instead think to myself, “This is enough. If this is all I ever have, it will be enough. ”

Because it might be.

All You Need Is Less, Musings

Potpourri

I wrote a whole post in my head while showering, and I think it was even funny because I recall rinsing the vinegar out of my hair while chuckling to myself, “Good one, Madeleine!”

Then I made the mistake of futzing around with a coconut oil massage and getting myself a snack of apples and brie before sitting down to write and now I am sitting here tapping my fingertips and wondering what in the hell I was planning to write about.

I think that just about sums up my life right there: A sublime mix of congratulatory self-talk, coconut oil, brie, memory loss, and self-loathing.

It smells like patchouli.

Anyway, I’ll just start rambling and see where it takes me.

FIRST of all, a not-so-humble humblebrag: If you check Amazon.com right this second because the lists are recalculated on an hourly basis my little book is #24 on the Green Housecleaning bestseller list! Say whaaaaat?!

I screen-captured it because I thought it was so cool, and this is sort of the 21st-century equivalent of framing your first paycheque (if your paycheque was re-calculated hourly and then probably taken away from you the next day, that is).

Oh. Em. GEEEE.

Oh. Em. GEEEE.

It also lists my book on the top right hand section of the page, under a heading that I feel compelled to point out in case you didn’t already notice, which reads “Hot New Releases”.

Hot. New. Releases.

You guys, I have been feeling kind of old and busted since I turned thirty, but now Amazon.com has given me indisputable proof that I am neither old NOR busted, and indeed I am in fact the opposite – hot and new! I am going to sleep a little bit easier tonight. After I finish the rest of this wheel of brie, I mean.

In all seriousness, although I am being honest when I say that really this doesn’t mean anything because here is the page where Amazon explains how they come up with these ranks and lists and it basically comes down to secret wizardry, I am also being honest when I say that this is one of the coolest things ever. It means that some people, perhaps even some people other than my immediate family (because I know my mom has bought at least eight copies), have pre-ordered books. Perhaps even some of you! And the fact that you would support my writing, and my hippie endeavours, not to mention spending five minutes filling out shipping, billing, and credit card information for something you won’t even see for another two months, I mean – thank you. I may be hot and new, but you are FABULOUS.

Also, you’re weird. All of you collectively. Because another thing I have started noticing lately are the search terms bringing people to this blog. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory like “Sweet Madeline” or “infant sleep lies” or “characteristics of a sex attic” but then there are these:

  • I baked Madeline, they got cracked, why?  This confused me greatly until I realised that someone was baking madeleines, and the tops must have been cracking, which I feel oddly sad and guilty about. I know how it feels to fail at baked goods, and as this baked good’s namesake I feel like I should apologize. I’m sorry! Maybe try cookies next time?
  • sweet madeleine anti-social  Three people searched this. THREE. Sigh. I just… yes. It’s true. I am. Were you looking for more information? Or a reason? Or a cure? I mean, let me know what you come up with. Insights welcome.
  • hal johnson and joanne mcleod costumes Probably referencing this post. I am 100% sure that my blog is not what this person was looking for, but also 100% sure that my blog coming up as a result for hal johnson and joanne mcleod is the best thing ever and totally makes up for cracked-top madeleines. (Right?). I am even more mad now that Adam didn’t agree to go through with it
  • c-section = a+ | pregnancy & post pregnancy operating room tired, crying  Oh. Ohhh, honey. This makes me want to cry, too. You’ll be OK! Look at your fancy google search skills! C-sections seem horrible at first with the giant disposable underwear and your guts feeling like they are going to fall out at any moment but it gets better, I promise. Pinky swear.
  • are Madeleine cannot still together I don’t know what this means, but now I am intrigued. ARE Madeleine cannot still together? You tell me. Please?
  • sweet madeleine hermit  Ughhhhhhh. Not true. Not true at all. I leave the house all the time sometimes occasionally never okay? NEVER unless I have to. What.
  • ion my bsby ultrasound i saw a pic inside of it looks like a demon  I’m sorry, I am laughing. And the only reason I am laughing is because this search term seems like it was typed in a crazy pregnant panic, with added letters and omitted letters and you can almost hear the hormones! It looks like a demon! I feel OK laughing about this because I never showed you the very last ultrasound we ever had of Olive, and that’s because it looked like this:photo (8)Seriously what THE WHAT. I had nightmares about this ultrasound, so helpfully labelled FACE. So I can sympathize, anonymous googler. Don’t worry your baby is not a demon (probably). Ultrasound pictures are just creepy as heck and don’t even get me started on the 3D ones.
  • my 3 month old amazes me I’m not crying! You’re crying!
  • is there a breed of dog called english muffin? No. But there should be.
  • cul guys long hairs I translated this to “Cool guys with long hair” which means ADAM! You’re cool! And people like your long hair!

I can not even tell you how much Adam talks about missing this hair. He LOVED his long hair. I have no comment.

So there we are. I still haven’t remembered what I was going to write about, I had a brief excited glee-filled moment courtesy of secret Amazon algorithms, and you guys are strange and probably will never find what you’re looking for if you keep ending up here looking at my long-haired husband.

Happy Thursday?

Natural Living, Uncategorized

Inexpensive, Plastic-Free Pregnancy Tests

Pregnany Test Strips

 

Buying pregnancy tests in the grocery store or the pharmacy is crazy expensive. Like, $10-$15 each for your basic line-or-no-line deal. That much just to find out if a baby is sneaking around in your lady chamber? Ridiculous!

Here’s an eco- and wallet-friendly alternative. It, like all good things in this world, starts with a google search.

Go ahead and type “Pregnancy Test Strips” into the search bar and then head to the results.  Pregnancy test strips look like this:

Image

and they are basically the diagnostic part of a pregnancy test, without all of the clunky plastic housing. Test strips are available to be purchased in bulk, and they are often less than a dollar a test. I’m no mathematician but I think that is approximately 98% off – what a deal! Now instead of trying to sneak a test through the checkout hidden under a container of ranch dip, you can buy them in bulk on The Internets and pee on one every morning if you like,

Test strips can be purchased in bulk, and they are often less than a dollar a test. I’m no mathematician but I think that is approximately 98% off – what a deal! Now instead of trying to sneak a test through the checkout hidden under a container of ranch dip, you can buy them in bulk on The Internets and pee on one every morning if you like, just to be sure!

These tests are totally legit, and we used to order them at my job for the teens we worked with – y’all know a non-profit can’t be shelling out $15 every time someone thinks they are pregnant – and I got my first positive when I was pregnant with Olive by using one of these little darlings.

The ones we used to order came from here, but there are a few different places you can buy them from so feel free to shop around.

Not that you need more convincing, but if you DO, just think of dear, sweet old Mother Nature! I know that there are a lot of paranoid “Am I pregnant? Am I pregnant? Oh god, I can feel my uterus I am 100% positive I am pregnant!” ladies out there (and I know because I am one of them). All of that crazy adds up to a lot of pregnancy tests, and a lot of pregnancy tests equals a LOT of plastic and I mean let’s be honest here, nobody is recycling these.

By choosing to forgo the drugstore tests you save yourself some cash AND you save a huge hunk of plastic from ending up in the landfill. Win, win, win.

So there you have it, pee-on-a-stick addicts! Ditch the drugstore, get yourself on Google and never wonder if you are pregnant ever again.

Uncategorized

Guys, can we just take a moment to mourn this ridiculous belly? Jesus I miss carting that thing around.

This was me three days before having Olive. I still can’t believe it was her in there that whole time, I still can’t believe how HUGE I was, and I still have no idea where all of that skin went. 

Ladies, our bodies do some strange, strange things.

Uncategorized

37 Weeks

        

Well friends, we have reached the end of our journey.

This sweet child of ours will be born at 37 weeks and three days gestational age. In less than 72 hours these bony knees and exploring hands will be held and kissed, their every minute detail marveled over. This funny little being we have come to know and love in a fierce, abstract way, will be here, in our arms.

When I first wrote about my pregnancy, about seeing that second pink line, I said:

Within that single defining moment, life didn’t simply go on, it expanded, exploded – pulled apart our cozy little circle of two and insisted that we make room for a third. A teeny, tiny third.

I was more right than I ever could have known. Pregnancy has been a constant process of splitting and tearing open, stretching a life that fit two in order to gradually, week by week, make room for more. Each experience has pulled apart pieces of ourselves and stitched us together closer, tighter.

I have seen glimpses of Adam as a father, a strange secret tender side that he doesn’t talk about, doesn’t feel the need to explore and tease apart and share like I do, but one that has slowly emerged nonetheless.

The way he made it a priority to sit beside me in all of those waiting rooms for all of those appointments (no small feat considering I have seen midwives, geneticists, maternal fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, nephrologists…the list goes on).

He supported every decision, helped me through each small molehill made mountainous by my fixations. And every so often he would fall silent and I’d find him just looking at me, a strange, quiet contemplative stare.

And that look said it all.

       

                 Not this look…this look is saying “Hey! Look what I did!”

Physically, my body has earned my eternal respect and devotion. I joke a lot about my physical failings and all of the ways my body lets me down -I have zero hand-eye coordination, horrible eyesight, my kidneys don’t work- and this pregnancy has brought on many more of the same jokes -my disobedient placenta, lazy insulin receptors- but still,my god, despite all of that, LOOK:

      

      

How is this possible? It really is incredible.  I have gained 26 pounds, 13.5 inches. My belly has swelled, my breasts filled. My tears spill more easily and my tastes have changed from craving all things savoury to desiring everything sweet.

Physically there will be almost no part of me left untouched by this experience, yet from day one I have felt blessed (a terrible, simpering word. But yes, blessed). I’ve been buoyant, happy – I haven’t been uncomfortable or in pain. I have had an easy pregnancy, I’m swelled with gratitude for this.

I’m grateful that I made it to 37 weeks, full term. Thankful for no emergencies, middle of the night panicking phone calls, I’m grateful that this little baby has always been so active – I’ve never had to worry about feeling that eerie stillness, the ominous absence of movement.

So. Here we stand, this is the last week of updates, the last photo of me crammed into this pink dress (and honestly, that’s probably a good thing because as this gargantuan belly grows out, the dress goes up, and I don’t know what these pictures would have looked like in another 3 weeks.)

I didn’t know where to begin writing this last post, I put it off all day yesterday, sorting through words in my head. I feel inadequately equipped to describe this, to offer the sort of reflection I would have liked to read.

      

I was reluctant to tape up those numbers, I didn’t want to to sit here and write an ending (because despite the fact that it is truly a beginning, it sometimes doesn’t feel that way from this side of things, with the future such an unknown.)

I feel like I should be able to offer some poignant, overarching reflection on pregnancy. But as I sit and search for words, (which, in a surprising turn of events, seem to be eluding me) I am just swamped by memories, overwhelmed by how quickly the past few months have passed, how many firsts have been crammed into these two hundred and forty nine days. How can I even begin to sum it up?

The first time we heard the heartbeat, the first time we saw the baby’s sweet profile. The first kick, the first hiccup. These 37 weeks have been filled with some of the most incredible moments of my life, and I say that with unabashed awareness of how syrupy I sound, how cheesy.

I can’t avoid it, won’t apologize for it.

I have been laid flat by this experience. When I think about what has happened, when I think about building a child within myself, when I imagine Adam holding that tiny pink bundle in his arms, I have no excuses anymore. I’m stripped bare and my snark disappears, my sass hides its sharp edges. I am left soft, tears streaming down my face, a heart aching with love and happiness and a fierce desire to thank someone,anyone, for being allowed to do this, feel this.

It’s all I’ve ever wanted.

      

I guess here is also where I tell you that I’m not sure I’ll share the baby’s birth story. Not in the way that many bloggers do anyway, where each stage of the process is described and recorded and written about in detail.

I know that I approach a situation differently if I plan to write about it. I notice different things, feel pressure to record and document and inevitably I end up approaching it from a place where I am reporting, rather than experiencing. 

What’s more, if I’m actually part of the situation I’m writing about I really can’t be sure that my own actions aren’t being affected by the need to have a good story, develop a good narrative. I don’t want to go into this experience needing to take pictures for the blog, remember times and details simply so I can write about them later.

I don’t know that I have the words to write about something that feels this big. I wouldn’t know where to begin, I don’t know that I’m capable.

Basically, I don’t know how it’s going to go and despite how much I have shared about this pregnancy, I want to leave open the possibility that I won’t write about it at all.

I suppose the final thing to do here, at 37 weeks, is to express my appreciation for everyone who has followed along through all of this – the pictures and the panics, the decorating and the crises of conscience big and small.

It’s been amazing to have so many people – both in “real life” and through this blog- supporting me, offering advice and feedback and a sense of community.

I’m going to continue writing after baby is born -it’s a form of release for me, rather than a chore- and it’s amazing to know that as I write these words, there’s people (real, live people!) reading them. 

Thank you.

        

37 weeks. See you soon, baby.