Thursday, March 07, 2013

Oh, baby.

I`m pregnant and it`s been hard. I`ve spent the past 20 some-odd weeks freaking out about my weight gain (which hasn`t really been much, truth be told), my inability to run as much as I`d like to, the nosebleeds. And all of those worries came crashing to a halt on Tuesday when I was told my baby has enlarged cerebral ventricles and that he or she may not be compatible with life.

I`ve been wondering if and when my maternal instinct would kick in. I worried that I wouldn`t immediately bond with this child, that I might resent the stretch marks, the bad skin, the loss of a year at work. And yet, when a doctor sat in front of me and said I may want to consider `terminating my pregnancy` I wanted to lunge across the room and rip her throat out so that she could never utter those words again. `Incompatible with life`? This baby, this growing, kicking, turning creature inside me is life, it is what my life is for.

All of a sudden I`ve been thrust into a world of too-easy-to-get doctor`s appointments and meetings with genetics counselors who I know feel lucky not to be me. A world of statistics, of odds, of stories and sleepless nights. I used to wonder where parents of terribly ill children got their strength - now I know. There is no other choice when when it comes to a child you love with a ferocity you could never have imagined possible.

I am sick with worry that I will lose this baby before I have a chance to hold it. Because we don`t know whether we are having a boy or a girl, I have nicknamed my little one Thumper, because he or she is constantly thumping away in my belly. Though sleep is hard to come by, I have taken to cradling my growing belly and coaxing Thumper to sleep at night, or at least stillness. If I might not get the chance to ever comfort him or her outside of the womb, I hope to transmit some of my love and caring through skin.

I love you, baby. Now, and always.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Is anybody home?

Um, it's been awhile. I had not so much as typed in the address of this blog for years up until a week ago. But, now that I have, and that so much in my life has changed, I feel compelled to compose a little update. And yet, I feel a bit intimidated, a bit embarrassed. I rarely write anything anymore, unless it's an email to a friend I haven't been good at keeping in touch with, or a briefing note for work. Yes, I do have an actual job now, a decent one that comes with a paycheque that allows me to buy fancy shoes and expensive, no-grain dog food. Yes, I have a dog now. Sigh. Where to begin. As I write this I am sitting in my bedroom, or rather, our bedroom (that has been surprising easy to get used to), in the five-bedroom house that is located in one of the very best neighborhoods in Ottawa. When I first moved to this city three years ago, I would walk my dog through this part of town, angling my head for a better look into the windows of the homes I never imagined I could own. Bella and I would trudge back to the scuzzy part of centretown where we lived, and up the steps to my co-op apartment, down the stained-carpeted hallways and past the smells of curry and Kraft Dinner smashing into each other on the third floor. Fast forward years, months and days and now I am getting married. Getting married to a pretty great guy and am living a pretty great life that somehow doesn't quite feel like mine. I spent the day pounding through a 16K run in the blazing heat that made my bones ache and my blood sing and drinking a Starbucks smoothie. I pruned my perrenials and made a quinoa-egg casserole. I mopped my floors and talked on the phone; I walked my dog and walked her again. And all of this partly for fun, but partly in an attempt to fill in the hours before he would be home. Because then the second part, the best part, of my day would begin. The part where we sit out on our deck and drink wine and laugh. The part where I feel connected, tethered to this life, to this great big rambling house with it's wonky floors and wealthy neighbors. The part where I am reminded that all of this is ok and that it makes sense. That it's mine and it's ok. And so when he said he was visiting a friend this evening and that although I was welcome that maybe...well maybe not, I was hit with an immediate and surprising sense of dread. Dread at being left in this house, this life, for hours I had not planned on, by myself. And all of a sudden it hit me just how far I had come. How far away from myself, and from my ability to look upon a Sunday evening at home alone with nothing but the radio and a tired pup at my feet, and to look upon that itinerary with contentedness.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh my GAWD.

Girl #1 in University bathroom, maniacally applying peachpit lipbalm: 'So like, I'm taking medical anthropology, intro to english lit and intro to psych. You?'

Girl #2 in University bathroom, burning holes into the mirror from staring at her own reflection so intensely: 'Oh, like, I'm only taking one class cause you know, I'm like, working on my album.'

Girl #1: 'Oh! Like, totally cool!'

Girl #2: 'I know! It's pretty awesome. So, like, see you at church on Sunday!'

Girl #1: 'K, bye!'

Sunday, September 14, 2008

27 going on 19

"And isn't it time we recognize, that we all lead such broken lives"?

-The Be Good Tanyas

I’m working this semester as a TA for a poli sci statistics course, up on Burnaby Mountain. I haven’t had very many occasions to get up there since moving to Vancouver – my own campus is conveniently housed downtown, right in Harbour Centre, where students creep in and out of classes relatively unnoticed by all of the conference attendees our building is constantly being rented out to. I guess that’s what you get for going to university in a prime piece of real estate in the financial district of one of the world’s most expensive cities, but for today, that is beside the point.

It’s funny and strange and sad to be around so many undergraduate students, now that I’ve got close to ten years on a lot of them. Most of the people in my class are 19 years old and I remember so vividly, like a bad, bitter, sweet and sorrowful taste on the tongue what it meant to be that age, when you had no clue who you were but were in such blissful denial of that possibility. And so, when I look around the room and see the girl with the bleached blond hair and the standard grey hoodie over an overpriced American Eagle t-shirt, the girl with the jeans her mom hemmed for her and brought to her residence room, the girl who laughs too hard and too loudly in class when the 30-something prof accidentally on purpose uses the word virgin, instead of version, the girl who rolls her eyes and flips her hair, picks at her nails and sighs audibly, because the whole tedious business of living, of life, it’s just all such a terrible bother. The guy who plays interactive dungeons and dragons on his outdated Mac, a present from his ailing grandfather upon high school graduation, the 21-year old European guy who oozes sex appeal and a power he is only beginning to harness but knows will carry him far, the girl who lays out her gel pens and colour-coded folders at the start of every class, who scribbles furious notes and tries to write away the sinking realization that it’s all a little over her head and she just isn’t cut out for this…as I look around this huge auditorium I fight back tears and hold back the desire to cry out, ‘I was one of you, once. I thought I had it, whatever ‘it’ was. I thought I knew it, knew it all, knew who I was, where I was going. I thought it would all work out.’

Because now, just a few years later and a few too many, I’ve realized that being 19 means being alive in a way you can never get back again. For I too, flipped my hair and talked about politics I didn’t understand. I too, scribbled furious notes, and never read them. But somehow, that sense of self, of myself, has faded away. And so, while I talk to these students, these teens and twenties about z-scores and standard deviations, about linear regression and homework due dates, what I really want to tell them is to hold on. To hold on to that sense of self, of possession. Because one day, just a few years down the road and a few too many, you might find yourself in a different city that will never be yours, with different friends and different tastes. You might find yourself without a net, without a safe place to land. You might find that you cry into a glass of red wine that substitutes as supper, find yourself out on a daily run when you realize you aren’t really running anywhere, you might find yourself with a boyfriend, a man who looks into your face and tells you he will perish without your love, and this is the same man who hurts and betrays you in a way you could never have imagined, never even heard of, at 19, and really why should you have?

And so on Tuesday morning, when I file back into that auditorium, and look around at the hundreds of faces, some bored, some keen, some sleepy-eyed, some smiling, when I take a seat and pull out my own notebook and pen, it will be with the realization that while I sit among them for two and a half hours every week, I sit aside, I sit outside, with the wisdom, the pain, the sorrow and the joy that sense of knowing brings.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The wonder years

I’m going home tomorrow, to Montreal, for my ten-year high school reunion. Unlike a lot of people who dread gatherings of this nature, I’m actually looking forward to it. While I still keep in close touch with many people from high school, there are many I haven’t seen in a full decade. People who have shed braces and puberty-induced pounds, trading them in for careers and baby strollers. People who never left the small town we grew up in, others who left the country in search of multicultural adventures.

The woman responsible for organizing this reunion first took on the task about four years ago, amassing email addresses and phone numbers so that when the time came, tracking people down would be a fairly easy feat. I remember filling out the information she requested, fantasizing about where I would be another four years down the road. I had just started working as an editor at a magazine, and was confident I would be made editor in chief by then. My handsome fireman boyfriend and I would surely be married, but not with kids – not yet. But we’d live in a house – an old stone one, and I’d be a fabulous cook and gardener, in addition to world traveler and I would also grow another three inches and drop 20 pounds. I would also somehow be a natural blond.

Fast forward four years – I left the magazine a year ago – just two months shy of a changeover that would have seen me positioned as editor-in-chief. The handsome husband-to-be kicked me out of his life in a fiery rage, and my heart has been broken a few times since. I moved to Vancouver to go back to school and my roommate and I eat bowls of cereal for dinner because neither of us can cook to save our lives. Most of the travelling I do entails visiting the man I'm dating who is from Newfoundland, I met in Montreal, and recently moved to California. Any weight I’ve lost has come from trying to live on a student budget and I haven’t spent a cent on my hair in months.

But somehow, this is all ok. Somehow, this is all pretty great. It will be sad and funny and sweet to see the tiny offspring of the girl who shared my Bunsen burner in science class, and the engagement ring of the girl everyone was certain was gay. But when it’s all over, I’ll be happy to return to my life, in all its uncertainty and all its quirks, only to fantasize about where the next ten years will lead me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A few of my favourite things

I love seeing people walking down the street, by themselves, eating ice cream cones.
This makes me inexplicably happy.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tiny ocean of tears

On my way into work this morning, I passed a young girl, maybe in her mid-twenties. She was sitting outside the Parliament buildings, in dress pants and a black blouse, her honey blond hair pulled into a ponytail. She had one of those doughy, open, honest faces that are so beautiful in their own way. She was sobbing into her cellphone, as quiet and controlled as she could manage - and despite that the person on the other line was doing all the talking, you knew her heart was being broken. First thing, on a bright, sunny July morning on Rideau Street, a chapter of this young woman's life closed, and it was all I could do not to sit down beside her and cry, too.