Thursday, December 9, 2010

When I find myself in times of trouble

What with Christmas coming up, I've been thinking about Mary a lot lately. She first crossed my mind about a month before Ellie was born, and I suddenly had enormous sympathy for her. She got dragged across the world on a donkey while she was enormously pregnant, then had to give birth in a stable. Forget being the mother of God, the woman deserves sainthood for that alone, as far as I'm concerned.

And the whole mother of God thing. When I get particularly stressed out about whether I'm raising Ellie properly, I like to step back and say hey, at least I'm not responsible for bringing up the Messiah, because holy cow is that some serious pressure or WHAT. And Mary did not even have the benefit of Google to tell her that it's perfectly normal when the baby wakes up fifty-seven times in the night and refuses to go back to sleep and it's not because she has totally fucked up and ruined her child's entire life.

So what I'm saying here is that I suddenly have tremendous respect for Mary, and I almost wish I were Catholic so I could pray to her without feeling like a total doof. Almost.

These are the thoughts I have these days, people.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Her hair of floating sky is shimmering

Sorry for the long silence, y'all. Most of my spare time the last month or so has been spent reading really good books. It's not that often anymore that I pick up a book that is just SO GOOD that I don't want to put it down, and that's happened twice in the last month!

And on that note, Keith Richards' new autobiography is wonderful. I've never really been a big fan of the Stones - they're all right, but not one of my favorites - but Keith Richards is rock and roll personified. The man has fabulous stories to tell, AND he names names. AND he is hilarious. I'm hoping this book confirms my theory that Keith Richards is immortal. Because seriously, if the man were ever going to die he'd have done it by now.

And now to the main subject of this blog! Ellie continues to insist that sleep is overrated, but it is getting better. I broke my no-parenting-books rule and bought The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and much to my amazement it's actually working. Ellie still isn't quite sleeping through the night, even by baby standards (five consecutive hours) but the last two nights she only woke up twice instead of four times, so this is a huge improvement. I'm hoping that before long she'll get back to where she used to be, sleeping seven hours at a stretch and only waking up once per night. Everybody send her your best sleepy vibes, would you?

But really, this baby is so happy and cheerful and friendly that the sleep thing does not bother me anywhere near as much as it would otherwise. Even when she's tired out, she always has a smile for me and usually a giggle as well. She LOVES it when her daddy plays peek-a-boo with her.

And she continues to be a little ahead of the curve with her physical development. She's almostbutnotquite sitting up by herself - if I prop her up in the nursing pillow she usually lasts about five minutes before she arches her back and slides herself down. So cute.

Part of our bedtime routine is story time with Daddy. She seems to really enjoy this. Also, does she or does she not look exactly like her father?

Seriously, I don't see anything of me in this kid. I did when she was brand new, but the Canuck genes are apparently very powerful.

OH OH OH I can't believe I almost forgot!! As many of you already know, we bought a house! And I got the keys today! But I couldn't actually get in because the prior tenants were still there - they had until 6:00 today to vacate and were apparently taking their time about it. Mr. Canuck is at a conference tonight for work, so tomorrow we're heading up there with a little bottle of champagne. Should we drink it, or break it over the front stoop to christen the house? Either one would be way fun. I'll let you know what we decide on.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Please don't wake me

So, my champion sleeper, who only woke up once per night starting around 4 weeks, has completely fallen apart. She's now waking up about three times per night and laughs in the face of naps. I tell her, "You know, lots of other babies take naps that last more than ten minutes! And they feel MUCH happier afterwards. You should try this." And she says, "Mom, those other babies are weaklings." And I beat my head against a wall and wonder what the hell is going on here.

Oh, and for extra fun, she's recently decided that I am the only one who is allowed to put her to bed. If Mr. Canuck tries it, she screams blue murder and tears our hearts out. It's brutal.

So, remember how I said I wasn't going to read any more parenting books? Well, I've stuck to that, I promise! But I never said anything about Googling. And my trusty friend Google tells me that this is very common and totally normal. Apparently around four months they have a big leap in cognitive development, and with all this new information running around their little brains, it's hard for them to stay asleep. Okay, I guess that's a good reason.

This does not stop me from trying to make her sleep during the day, however. We frequently have conversations that go like this:

What's that you say? It's naptime?

Hmm, she says. Let me think about this.

No, no. I don't think that's a good idea at all.

But, darling, I tell her, if you don't sleep then I can't sleep, and I will turn into a zombie. You don't want a zombie for a mama, do you?

No worries, ma, she tells me. It ain't no thing.

I will just hang out down here and eat my fist.

At this point my head explodes and I wail in despair that I will never sleep again. But then she does this...

...and my heart grows three sizes and I tell her that I will get up with her ten times a night until she's thirty if that's what she needs.

This motherhood gig is damned hard work, but I would not give it up for the world.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I've been to every single book I know

(Today's subject line is brought to you by Sting.)

There are a lot of parenting books out there. I have mixed feelings about them. If you are the kind of person who can take what you need out of a book and leave the rest, then the books would probably be very helpful for you and you should knock yourself out.

If, however, you are like me, and you overthink everything until it is at least ten times more difficult than it has any right to be, and if you are lacking in the self-confidence department, then DO NOT READ THE BOOKS. Oh my God, I have driven myself crazy.

At first it was fine. I figured, hey, I have never done this parenting thing before, there cannot be any harm in finding out what people have to say about it. Right? HA HA. Turns out that there is no such thing as an objective parenting book. They are all selling ideologies, and all of them conflict with all of the other ideologies. And they all say that if you do not follow this one specific method of parenting, you will ruin your child.

A big offender in that department is Dr. Sears, the "attachment parenting" dude. If you do not wear your baby in a sling all day long, she'll be much more likely to be insecure and clingy later on. If you don't co-sleep (the fancy term for letting the baby sleep in your bed), you'll be creating all kinds of sleep problems that will ruin your whole life. If you ever let your baby cry, he'll be much more likely to mow down the other kindergarteners with an AK-47. You get the picture.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for showing my baby all the love and attention I can give her. I believe that babies who know that their needs will be met will grow up to be confident kids. That makes sense to me. But I also believe that there is more than one way to go about this. I do often carry Ellie in a sling, just because it's so convenient to be able to snuggle my fussy baby and also get things done. But she doesn't sleep in our bed, and she is sometimes allowed to cry for a few minutes while I finish my dinner. This has yet to kill her.

Dr. Sears is also really bad about talking up parenting "in Africa," where presumably they are closer to nature and therefore more intuitive than we are here in North America. This drives me CRAZY. For one thing, he never specifies where in Africa. Egypt? Kenya? Botswana? Côte d'Ivoire? Dude, Africa is an enormous continent. You gotta be more specific. Also, I do not believe him when he says that babies don't cry in Africa because their mothers carry them all the time and don't worry so much about "modern" parenting methods. Babies are babies. They cry, even in third-world countries. I heard them personally when I was in Tanzania. Shut up with your stupid colonialist nonsense.

At the other end of the spectrum is that Baby Wise book. I have to admit that I've never actually read this one, but from what I understand they say you should control every single thing about your baby from day one. Won't sleep? Let him cry in his crib until he learns how to fall asleep on his own. Doesn't nurse for long enough? Keep her at it until your clock says it's time to stop, even if she's obviously finished. Um, no.

And then there's the Baby Whisperer, who presents herself as the "happy medium" between these two ideas. I read her books cover-to-cover while I was pregnant and thought, "Yeah, this sounds reasonable, this is what we'll do!" And then the baby was born and - gasp! - reality did not match up to the book. I've also learned that a lot of what she says about breastfeeding is just plain wrong. I don't know how she expects a young breastfed baby to go three hours between feedings during the day. Ellie is three and a half months old and she still can't go that long. It's nuts.

But all of these authors are VERY persuasive, and they all have bits of useful information scattered into the ridiculousness. Just enough to be convincing, at least to me. So I spend quite a lot of time worrying that I'm doing it wrong, and then forcefully reminding myself that Ellie is MY kid and I can do it however I want. This is a very strange feeling. I am a person who likes to be thoroughly educated about a thing before I start doing it, but in this case that has totally worked against me. For the first time in my life, books are my enemy!

But it's getting better. I am gradually learning to trust my own instincts and ignore what the "experts" have to say. After all, they've never met my daughter. They don't know what's best for her. I do, and I'm learning to trust that. And if any of you catch me reading another parenting book, I want you to slap it out of my hand and set it on fire. SAVE ME FROM MYSELF.

And since I know y'all are really just here for the baby pictures, here ya go. Is she not the cutest baby you ever did see?

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The parenting decision we've made that tends to get the biggest reaction from people is cloth diapering. Yes, we use cloth diapers, and we love it.

There were a lot of reasons for this decision, but the primary one was money. It was a big initial layout - I think we spent around $600 altogether for the diapers, wipes (we're using cloth wipes as well), diaper pail (which is really just a kitchen garbage can with a lid) and pail liners - but we'll never have to buy diapers again. It's even better when you consider that these diapers will also be used on Child Number Two, whenever we get to that point.

Also, because I am a pinko commie tree-hugging hippie, I love that we are not filling up landfills with disposable diapers that will sit there taking up space for thousands of years. I am also wary of all the chemicals that are in disposable diapers and wipes. It turns out that I am very fussy about what goes on my baby's skin.

The first question people always ask is along the lines of, "You really want to handle baby poop all the time?" It's really not that bad, and no worse in that regard than disposables. Breastfed baby poop is fairly inoffensive, and all we do is pull the insert out of the diaper and throw everything into the diaper pail. No rinsing in the toilet or anything. Then, about every other day, I dump the pail liner into the washing machine and let it do all the work. It's not like I'm up to my elbows in baby poop all day long. I'm sure it will get grosser once she starts on solid food, but for right now it's really not a a big deal.

And, as I mentioned above, we're also using cloth wipes. This is even easier. We got a whole bunch of little, thin washcloths as gifts, and they make perfect wipes. We keep a little spray bottle by the change table filled with water and a little bit of baby soap, and spray the cloth to wipe her down with. I find that this works even better than regular baby wipes. Then it goes in the pail with the dirty diapers.

There are a gazillion different kinds of cloth diapers out there, and I am here to tell you that deciding on which kind was really difficult and intimidating. This is most likely because I overthink everything and make things at least ten times more difficult than they really need to be, but seriously, there is a ridiculous amount of choice out there. We ended up going with a mix of Rumparooz and BumGenius. (Yes, they ALL have cutesy names like that. Other brands include Thirsties, Happy Heinies, and Applecheeks.) They're both all-in-one (meaning we don't have to buy a separate diaper cover), one-size (adjustable so they'll fit her all the way up until potty training) pocket diapers (there's a pocket on the inside where you can put extra absorbent inserts). They do a fantastic job of keeping her contained - we've actually had more leaks with disposables than we have with these.

And here is where I have to admit that I lied a little bit when I said we'd never have to buy diapers again. Ellie was in disposables for the first couple of weeks of her life, until we got the hang of things and all the meconium was out (because holy hell, that stuff is VILE). We'll also most likely use disposables when we're traveling. Cloth diapering while you're on vacation certainly can be done, but it sounds like a huge pain in the ass and I don't want to deal with it. So exceptions will be made. All things in moderation, is what I say.

So cloth diapers are awesome. And for an extra perk, they look absolutely adorable, both on the baby...

...and on the clothesline.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Canuck Baby FAQ

To be printed out and distributed to everyone who meets this baby.

Does she sleep through the night?

No. She's not quite three months old and is still way too young to expect her to sleep straight through. She usually wakes up at least once and sometimes twice. A few times in the last couple of weeks she's gone for 8-hour stretches, but I'm pretty sure that's a fluke.

But you know, it's really not that bad, especially since I'm breastfeeding her and don't have to go downstairs and make a bottle every time she wakes up hungry. Plus, our house is miniscule, so even when she's in her crib in her bedroom across the hall, she's all of ten steps away from me. I get up, feed her, rock her back to sleep, lay her down, and go back to bed. I'm usually only up for about half an hour.

Also? Getting up in the night is a fact of life when you have a young baby, and I've found that if I just accept that, things are a MUCH easier.

Where did she get those gorgeous blue eyes?

From being a Caucasian baby. Mr. Canuck and I both have blue-eyed relatives, so it's possible they'll stay that color, but chances are they'll change. I kind of hope they don't, because her eyes really are beautiful, but we'll see. My eyes stayed blue for years before turning hazel, so I guess you never can tell.

Where did she get that gorgeous red hair?

From my mom and Mr. Canuck's grandmother. I am SO hoping her hair stays this color! It's a beautiful strawberry blonde, and seems to be getting redder as she gets older. I love it and I wish I had hair that color. (Mine is sort of reddish, but not enough. I often help it along with the aid of the good folks at L'Oreal.)

Are you breastfeeding?

First of all, why the hell do people ask this?? HELLO, very intrusive and inappropriate! But yes, I am. And I do not care to discuss it further if I barely know you.

Is Eleanor a family name?

Nope, it's just a name we both liked. When we were kicking around girl names, I asked Mr. Canuck if there were any that he particularly liked, and he immediately said Eleanor. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it, so that's what we named her! Her middle name, Grace, is for Mr. Canuck's grandma, whose middle name is also Grace.

She's beautiful!

I know, this isn't a question, but the answer is YES. YES, SHE IS.

Friday, August 20, 2010

You know I love you still

For your entertainment and edification, I have decided to let you all in on a typical evening here in the Canuck household. It's just a barrel of monkeys, I tell you.

8:00 Mr. Canuck gives Ellie her bath. This is Ellie's most favorite thing in the whole entire world, so there is much waving of arms and kicking of legs, and everything in the immediate vicinity gets soaked. It's absolutely adorable.

8:15 We take her out of the bath and she immediately starts crying.

8:20 Pajamas are on, and it's time to go upstairs and feed her. This is her other favorite thing in the whole world.

8:40 Baby is done eating and starts to fall asleep. We wrap her up in her swaddling blanket and break out the bag of tricks to get her down for the night. We recently discovered the magic of white noise, so we keep a hair dryer in her room and turn it on at bedtime. Works like a charm.

9:00 Ellie is asleep! I very very gradually turn off the hair dryer, get up out of the rocking chair, and very very carefully lay her down in her crib.

9:10 Ladies and gentlemen, we have a sleeping baby! I tiptoe out of her room and congratulate myself on getting her down so early.

9:20 Ellie wakes up.

9:25 It's Mr. Canuck's turn now, so he rocks her back to sleep with the aid of the hair dryer.

9:40 Once again we have a sleeping baby!

9:50 Baby wakes up. She immediately begins making noises that mean, "Okay, people, I'm awake and would quite like some attention over here." I hold out hope that she will put herself back to sleep.

9:52 Ellie steps it up to, "I am not actually kidding over here. Pay attention to me NOW." Because I don't learn, I still hope that she will fall asleep again on her own.

9:55 Ellie commences with the yelling. I pick her up again and wonder briefly why we thought it would be a good idea to have a baby in the first place.

10:15 She falls asleep again with her face snuggled into my neck and I remember, Oh yeah, this is why. We spend the next thirty minutes waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when the coast is clear we go to bed ourselves.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just a little of that human touch

Holy cow, I can't believe how long it's been since I posted here. I think this is the longest I've ever gone without doing a blog post. I bet you all missed me desperately. I bet you all were weeping into your pillows at night because there were no new posts from me. I bet the long silence caused you all to wail and rend your garments.

Yeah, whatever.

Anyhow. Ellie continues to be an angel baby. By baby standards, she's been sleeping through the night (at least 5 hours at a stretch) for about three weeks now, and she's even done it by grown-up standards a couple of times. Last night she slept from 9:45 to 8:00 and only woke up once to eat, around 4:00. So I am feeling MUCH more human these days. She gives me an enormous happy smile when I get her up in the mornings, which is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. She has beautiful dark-blue eyes, and most of the time they are wide open, staring at anything and everything, trying to take it all in. It's so much fun watching her examine the world. Even when she's napping, she has a slight frown on her face, like she's concentrating very hard on processing everything she learned today. She's just so adorable and precious I can hardly stand it.

And of course I have pictures!

What do you want NOW?


Laundry day!

So yeah, life here at the Canuck house is pretty damned good these days.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You gotta put down the duckie if you wanna play the saxophone

I've seen this video posted on two completely unrelated blogs in the last couple of weeks, and so I'm giving in to fate and joining in. HUGE nostalgia trip, people.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Endless rain into a paper cup

I don't think I have a coherent blog post in me right now, so here are some random tidbits:

- Ellie is growing like a weed. I cannot believe how much she's changed since she was born (three weeks ago today!). She only lost three ounces after she was born, was back at birth weight by day 5, and a week later had gained a whole POUND. It's been another week and a half since then and she's noticeably bigger. If she keeps this up, this kid is going to weigh 700 pounds by the time she starts kindergarten.

- Ellie's Granny Sue just spent a week with us and holy cow was that ever fabulous. It was so nice to have another mama around who actually knows how to do stuff. Thanks to my mom, I can now bathe my daughter without dropping her on her head, and fasten the diaper so that the crotch doesn't come down to her knees. We all appreciate this very much.

- A few days ago, I asked Mr. Canuck to move something heavy for me, and used the excuse that I'm more fragile than he is. He looked at me like I was a complete idiot and said, "You just pushed an entire human being out of your body. Don't give me that 'fragile' nonsense." I love him so much.

- Child absolutely adores her bath. She looks around and kicks her feet and flings her body from side to side so that we have to work pretty hard to keep her from drowning herself. Cutest damn thing in the whole wide world.

- I think I'm starting to get used to this whole motherhood thing. Maybe I'll get the hang of it sometime before she moves out, but I'm not counting on it. I sure am enjoying the ride, though.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gee, I think you're swell

So, now that I've written about Eleanor's delivery, there is a whole other post in my head about how I actually feel about how that went down. For right now, we'll just say that it's complicated.

And in the meantime, it is Video Day! I am thrilled beyond all reason that this child has not one but TWO '60s pop songs with her name in them ('cause y'all know how I feel about '60s pop songs). One of them is depressing as all hell ("Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name/Nobody came"), but the other one is really sweet, if dippy ("Elenore, gee, I think you're swell/And you really do me well/You're my pride and joy, et cetera!"). It's that second one that's been stuck in my head ever since we decided on her name, so for about six months now. And here it is, to get stuck in all of YOUR heads!

See? Dippy, but sweet. I do think she's pretty swell, and she certainly is my pride and joy. Et cetera.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Changing my life with a wave of her hand

So, as I believe most of you know already, the Eagle stork has landed! And, as many of you also know already, our planned homebirth did not end up happening. Here is what DID happen.

Thursday afternoon (which also happened to be Canada Day), Mr. Canuck and I decided to walk down to the pub to sit on the patio for a while. He had a couple of beers, I had a cranberry juice, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. And then on the way home, around 5:00, my water broke! Naturally this happened when we were still a good quarter-mile away from home, so I got to waddle all that way in wet jeans. It wasn't quite the gusher that you see in the movies, but it was plenty wet enough, I can tell you. I have to laugh a little now when I remember how excited we were - baby was finally on her way!

Nothing else happened for several hours except that I continued to leak amniotic fluid all over the place. I think I went through five incontinence pads in about four hours. Finally around 9:00 I started feeling some light contractions, so I followed a bit of midwifely advice and took a couple of Tylenol and a sleeping pill so I could get some rest before it was time to get down to business. I was so keyed up, though, that I didn't actually fall asleep until around midnight, and the contractions woke me back up at 2:30 or so. I got Mr. Canuck up to start timing them, and we found that they were already about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting around 45 seconds. So we called Andrea again, as well as April, our wonderful wonderful doula who is worth her weight in gold. Seriously, people – if you’re going to give birth, hire a doula. You won’t regret it.

By the time Andrea and April arrived (as well as Joan, our student midwife), I had gotten myself situated on an exercise ball by the side of the bed and was having to focus fairly hard to get through the contractions. They were uncomfortable, but nothing I couldn't handle at that point - I was still able to talk to people in between and was still aware of my surroundings. Everybody kept commenting on how well I was coping - apparently the only way they could tell I was having a contraction was that I would put my head down on the bed and start breathing more carefully. Cool, I thought. I can totally do this. It's hard work, definitely, but I can do this!

Toward dawn it was time for the first internal exam to see how far I'd progressed. And HOLY COW was that ever painful. That was the first actual hollering I did. Andrea checked me first, then Joan, and I remember yelling at Joan "OH MY GOD PLEASE FINISH ALREADY." And then I informed them that after all that, they had damn well better have good news for me.

But they didn't. I had reached a whole three centimeters. But I was 80% effaced, which they all kept telling me was a very good thing, and since I wasn't really in a position to argue I chose to believe them.

After this my memory gets fuzzy. They checked me every four hours, and each time I had only progressed about a centimeter or so. This was incredibly discouraging. And at some point during the proceedings, I started having back labor as well, because things were just not exciting enough. PAIN PAIN PAIN.

Around 4:00 Andrea checked me again, and it turned out that I hadn't progressed more than about half a centimeter since last time. It had been 23 hours since my water broke, 19 hours since my first contraction, and 14 hours of hard, active labor, and I was only at seven fucking centimeters pardon my French. I had only slept about 3 hours the night before and hadn't had anything to eat except some yogurt around 5:00 that morning. I had nothing left in me. So when Andrea recommended heading in to the hospital for augmentation, I agreed immediately, after informing all of them that if I was getting Pitocin, I was also getting an epidural, because if it was that bad already there was no way I could handle anything harder.

So off to the hospital we went. We could have gone to the one right around the corner, but the midwives don’t have admitting privileges there, and it was incredibly important to me to keep them in charge. So we went to North York General, which is about a 30-minute drive away. (Luckily, we had taken my cousin Beth's excellent advice and done a prenatal hospital tour, so at least we knew what we were going into.) Pro Tip: DO NOT spend half an hour in a car over a bumpy road while you’re in hard labor if there is any way this can be avoided.

Once we got into the birthing suite, if I’d had any energy left I would have been clutching people’s lapels and screaming for the epidural, but I had to wait...I don’t know, half an hour? Time sort of stopped meaning anything somewhere along the way. In the meantime, Carla, our backup midwife who met us at the hospital, consulted with the OB on call, who agreed with Andrea’s assessment. And at some point Joan tried to insert an IV and missed the vein. That should have hurt like a bitch, but honestly, at that point she could have been sticking the needle straight into my eyeball and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

After another six years or so, in came the Angel of the Lord in the guise of the anesthetist. This man was incredibly nice, and incredibly good at his job. It took him less than a minute to get the epidural catheter in, and maybe two minutes after that I was blessedly pain-free. He got the dosage absolutely PERFECT, so that I could still feel the contractions but they didn’t hurt anymore. The baby did complain a little bit, but they gave me oxygen and she got better almost immediately.

The next hour and a half or so mainly consisted of sleeping. Carla stood watch in the room while Andrea napped on the couch in the staff lounge, Mr. Canuck crashed out in the recliner in the room, I of course slept in the bed, and April actually went into the bathroom and slept in the tub. After a while, Carla checked my progress and it turned out that the baby was facing the wrong way, hence the back labor. I don’t think she was completely face-up, but it was close, and that was a big part of why I wasn’t progressing. So Carla, who is magical, had me push one time while she did some sort of fancy internal maneuver and actually managed to turn the baby! And again I say THANK GOD for the epidural, because if we had tried that without it I would have crawled right out of my skin and died.

After this, labor was perfectly manageable and even quite pleasant. Around 9:00 Carla checked me again and told me that I was fully dilated and could start pushing anytime. What, really?? I actually really enjoyed that part. I could still feel where to direct it, and because of the epidural I didn’t have that overwhelming urge to push that they say you get at this point, which I think made things easier. Plus, I finally felt like I was DOING something. And after about two hours of pushing, out she came! Our little Eleanor Grace is perfectly healthy and absolutely beautiful, and we cannot get enough of her.

She’s a week old today and is still an angel baby. She’s a champion eater and not half bad at sleeping either. She only lost three ounces of her birth weight and had gained it all back by 5 days, which is really impressive. We’re all getting used to each other, and life is wonderful. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

On the incoming wave

As you can imagine, Mr. Canuck and I have lots of big ideas on how we are going to parent our children. Only time will tell how many of them pan out and how many of them will end up being dumb. And because we're pretty sensible people, we are smart enough not to share our parenting theories with the world at large. We know that every kid is different, we know that everything is entirely theoretical at this point and reality is likely to be totally different, WE KNOW. You don't need to tell us that.

There is one parenting stance that we're completely open about, though, and that is our extreme dislike of marketing aimed at children. We both think it's pretty despicable. And for largely that reason, there will be no TV in our house, at least not while our children are small. We do have a TV, but it's used only for DVDs and the occasional episode of Jeopardy!. We don't have cable and have no intention of ever getting it. This way, there are no commercials in our house (except for the hilarious local ones out of Buffalo that we see during Jeopardy!), and that is how we like it. Now, don't get me wrong, we totally get that we can't shelter them entirely, and we don't want to. Of course they're going to see advertising, there's no way to prevent it 100%. But that doesn't mean we have to provide it at home.

The branch of children's marketing that I hate the most, though, is the whole Disney Princess thing. I don't have anything against princesses in general, but the Disney ones....bleh. They all have lessons to teach that I don't want my little girl to learn. Take Ariel, for example: Giving up your voice, literally, is the best way to get a man. Or Belle: If you just love your man enough, he will eventually change for you and stop being so damned scary. Also, Stockholm Syndrome. And every single one of them is completely helpless and powerless over their own lives until the handsome prince swoops in to take them away from all this. (Now that I think about it, though, I do remember Jasmine making some noises about deciding her own future, but I can't remember if she actually did or not. But even if she did, that movie has plenty of other issues.) Little kids are very impressionable, and I just don't want my daughter to think that that's how romance should be.

Now, I know a lot of you are rolling your eyes and saying "It's just a kids' movie, for crying out loud! Not everything has to be a tool of the patriarchy! Kids are totally capable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality!" And yes, that is true to an extent. I'm sure they're not going to think that carpets can fly and candelabras can talk. But ideas about how people behave are an entirely different story. Clearly those attitudes about men and women still exist, and they have to start somewhere. Hell, the fact that hardly anybody seems to realize that Edward Cullen from the Twilight books is NOT a romantic hero but a controlling abuser proves that point. (And yes, I have read all four books. I know of what I speak.)

I should add that this is really just for while they're little. I don't have any sort of burning hatred for Disney, I just think they've put some awfully bad morals into their films. (And I haven't even started on racism). I don't intend to ban Disney from the house forever; I'd just rather wait until my daughter is old enough to talk with her about it. And besides all THAT, I just don't want my house filled with Disney Princess shit.

So there you have it, the one parenting theory that I am willing to share with people. Please commence telling me that I am wrong and unreasonable and will ruin my child's life if I don't allow her to watch The Little Mermaid. I can take it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Send me no wine

(Except that you should actually send me lots of wine. It won't be long until I'll be able to drink it again.)

Continuing my musings on Why Pregnancy Is Gross, I thought I'd share with you all the various disgusting things that can be done with the placenta. As hard as it may be to believe, please keep in mind that I am not making any of this up.

(Also, so as to avoid offense, I should point out that obviously there are plenty of people out there who do these things, and that is their right, etc. etc. I just happen to think it's really gross.)

In ascending order of disgustingness:

1. Bury it, then plant a tree over it. Actually, this is something I can get behind. I bet the placenta would be excellent fertilizer, and it would be nice to have a tree commemorating our child's birth. However, I am not doing this in a rental house, and HELL if I am saving a frozen placenta until we buy our own place.

2. Turn it into art. Apparently you lay a sheet of paper over the placenta to make a print, then frame it. To this I say EW.

3. Use it as a dietary supplement. Basically, you get somebody to dry your placenta, turn it into powder, and put it into capsules, and then you consume your own placenta in pill form. Apparently this is very nutritious and can help with postpartum depression. I am deeply skeptical.

4. Eat it. Yes, there are people who do this. If you search the Internet, you can find all kinds of ways to prepare it. Again, supposedly very nutritious and helps with lactation and depression and blah blah blah. Again, I don't really believe it. Yes, animals do it, and lots of people point out that humans are in fact mammals, so why should human birth be any different or more difficult than other species'? Yes, there is some truth in that, but that analogy only takes me so far - and I draw the line well before placenta-eating. I am not into autocannibalism.

5. Lotus birth, or umbilical nonseverance. This is exactly what it sounds like: Instead of cutting the umbilical cord at birth, you leave it intact until it separates by itself in about two to three days. So apparently you're supposed to carry around a chunk of rotting human flesh along with your baby. As far as I can tell, for this one its proponents don't even pretend that it has any physical benefit - after all, once the placenta is detached, it's not sending anything useful down the umbilical cord anymore. Instead, it has something to do with the baby's aura or some such. Again I say EW.

I personally have absolutely no interest in my placenta. If I were giving birth in a hospital, I would say chuck that sucker straight into the biohazard bin, I don't even really want to look at it. Since we'll be at home, the midwives will wrap it up well and put it in the freezer, and we'll toss it out with the rest of the compost on garbage day. (This is perfectly safe and legal, by the way - I checked.) This is just my personal opinion, however - obviously there are plenty of people out there who disagree with me!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stay, little star

It's Video Day! Today it's more Gillian Welch. Her album Time (The Revelator) is one of the best albums I own, and I firmly believe that everyone in the world should hear it at least once. Today's song, "Dear Someone," is one of my favorites of hers, and will be sung to our little one as a lullaby. So beautiful.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I won't tell them your name

The official baby-name policy here in the Canuck household is simple - we want the baby to be the first person to find out her name, so until she is born it is top secret. This, I'm sure, is bugging the living daylights out of many people in our lives, so even though it is lots of fun to have a secret (and even more fun to occasionally twitch them about it - I AM DRUNK WITH POWER), I thought I'd throw y'all a bone and let you in on some of the names that didn't make the cut.

We'll start with the boy names, since we already know that these are irrelevant for the time being.

Julian - I think this is an excellent name, but Mr. Canuck does not agree. He's wrong, though. It's a good, strong, classical name, it goes very well with our last name, and there wouldn't be four other Julians in his kindergarten class. But I guess it's important for both parents to like the baby's name, or something. WHATEVER.

Cary - see above re: strong and classical. Plus great connotations - who would not like to be named after Cary Grant, for pete's sake? Just look at him!

(Incidentally, I don't know about you guys, but I can never see a picture of Cary Grant without having Jimmy Stewart pop up in my head hollering, "C.K. DEXTER HAVEN!!")

Ultimately, I think this works better as a middle name, though. If I'd had my way, a boy baby would have been Julian Cary. But that didn't happen.

Jude - This is just a name I really like, but would probably not actually use. It's a great name, but I don't think it would work well in the modern world. Plus there's that whole Judas thing. Possible future middle name, though.

Theodore - This was one of Mr. Canuck's picks. He really likes it, but I really don't. There are good old-fashioned names, and there are bad old-fashioned names, and to me this is one of the latter. Plus, I've only known one Theodore, and I couldn't stand him. I think he poisoned the name for me.

There were a couple of others that we kicked around for a while, but the boy name we eventually settled on was Thomas Anthony. Thomas is an old family name on Mr. Canuck's side, and Anthony would have been after both his uncle and my father.

But none of that matters, because this baby is a girl!! All the girl names you will see on this list were my idea - the one name suggestion Mr. Canuck offered was the one we ended up using, because it was brilliant and we both love it. And you don't get to know what it is for about seven more weeks, nanny nanny boo boo. But rest assured that it is none of these:

Magdalena - This is probably my most favorite name ever. It is just so beautiful, plus I absolutely love Mary Magdalene (who was not a hooker - read your Gospels a bit more carefully and you will see this). Unfortunately, we are not of the right culture to be able to use this name without looking a little stupid. And people would probably end up calling her Maggie, which I don't like at all. So that one was out. Dammit.

Anastasia - Beautiful, gorgeous, excellent name, but just didn't quite work in the end. I actually AM of the correct culture for this name (it was my great-great-grandmother's middle name) and I love it, but not quite enough to actually use it. And again with the nicknames - I wouldn't want people calling her Stacey.

Eden - This is one of the few more modern-ish names that I actually really like. I like the Biblical association, but mostly I just think it sounds nice. Mr. Canuck would take some convincing, though.

Mary - Another Biblical name that I really, really like. It's not hugely common anymore, and it's very pretty and feminine. I like Marian quite a lot too.

And what did we actually pick? Never fear! As soon as this child makes her appearance and has been informed of her name, we will share it with the rest of you. And you will love it, because it is EXCELLENT. I promise.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Leave the light on

We got A TON of stuff done yesterday, and that included setting up the baby's room. I suppose I could also call it the nursery, but that word sounds so Mary Poppins to me, like that's where we banish the children to when we can't be bothered to interact with them anymore. So it's the baby's room.

Anyhow. We bought the crib on Saturday, and Mr. Canuck's parents were kind enough to bring it over to our place yesterday after I finished the last bit of painting. So the first order of business was to get that put together. For this we needed supplies.

Tired, pregnant (though you can't really tell in that picture, oddly enough) and covered in paint stains, but I am still kind enough to bring my husband a beer. Note the pair of scissors under my arm, with the point poking into my belly. I'm such a good mom.

Mr. Canuck made it very clear that putting the crib together is the daddy's job.

Seems to be going well so far! Although this was after we'd put it together once and had to take it apart and put it back together the right way. This was entirely my fault.

Putting in the mattress support. In case anybody is wondering about Mr. Canuck's T-shirt, "Launch Week" was the start of his MBA program in 2006. He assures me that an MBA is required to properly assemble an infant's crib.

This is what the stylish mamas are wearing around the house these days.

A very badly framed shot of the finished product. We've ordered the mattress, but the store was out of stock so we won't actually have it until next weekend. In the meantime, it's filled with blankets and stuffed animals. I've also ordered a pack of Cavorting Hippo greeting cards, which will be framed and hung over the crib (well out of the baby's reach, of course). You MUST click the link and go look at those cards - they are too adorable for words.

The room! There is a rocking chair on the way, which will go in the corner by where Mr. Canuck is standing, underneath the picture of St. Francis. The basket on top of the dresser will be the baby's first bed, most likely in our bedroom so I don't have to be stumbling down the hall in the middle of the night.

Baby's first library! Mr. Canuck would like all of you Canadian readers to know that it includes The Hockey Sweater. I must admit, though, that the appeal of this book remains lost on me. It must be one of those things that you have to be Canadian to properly appreciate.

My mama made this for me as a Christmas present a few years ago. Those are all baby pictures of me, and the caption under the mirror reads, "May you always be held so tenderly." And on the back of the frame, there is a picture of me naked that says, "And be so comfortable in your own skin." I absolutely love this, and I thought it was very appropriate for my daughter's bedroom.

This is a portrait of St. Francis of Assisi that my grandmother stitched years ago. Isn't it beautiful? It's hanging over the spot where the rocking chair will be.

And this is just a print I found at HomeSense and fell in love with. I thought it was very sweet and girly without being totally froufrou, which is exactly the aesthetic I'm going for here. Plus, the purple butterflies go very nicely with the purple walls.

I am very, very pleased with this room, and so is Mr. Canuck. Neither of us can walk past it without going in to admire how pretty it is. Now we just need a baby to put in it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A thousand points of light

It has recently occurred to me that I do nothing but complain in this blog. That is probably getting tiresome. So here are some things that I genuinely love about this pregnancy:

1. I can actually SEE the baby move now. It looks like my belly is having very localized earthquakes. It's really weird and I absolutely love it.

2. I've definitely reached the point where I really look pregnant, and not just like I've put on some weight.

3. The combination of pregnancy hormones and prenatal vitamins is making my hair look awesome. I've always had extremely thick hair, and now it's reached all-new levels. It's extra shiny these days too.

4. I am having SO MUCH FUN imagining what this baby might look like. I am really, really hoping she looks like Mr. Canuck but with red hair. (My hair is sort of reddish, he has tons of red in his beard, and there are redheads in both our families. I've even drawn up the Punnet squares and determined that she's got about a 25% chance of turning up redheaded.) For those of you who have seen Mr. Canuck, just imagine how beautiful a little girl who looked like him would be. Besides, little girls should look like their daddies. Lord knows I do, and I've always really liked that.

5. Buying baby things! Holy cow, there is SO MUCH adorable stuff out there for baby girls. I've been very restrained, all things considered, but it's hard sometimes.

6. And the best part of all: I have the most wonderful people in my life. My family, the Canuck family, all of our friends, they have all been so helpful and supportive and amazingly generous. I am very touched and incredibly grateful for everything that everyone has done for us and for our baby. I know that there are far too many women out there who go through this with no one supporting them, and I know very well how incredibly lucky I am. Thanks, everybody.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Take a load off, Fanny

It's time for a Video Post! Today's selection is The Band's excellent song "The Weight" - the live version from The Last Waltz, featuring the Staples Singers. Those of you who know us well will not be even a little bit surprised to find this video here. This song gets played a lot at our house. This is of course the very best version of it, and it's almost all because of Mavis Staples. As the saying goes, that woman could sing me the phone book and I would love every second of it.

And, just because it is also awesome and I just couldn't help myself, here is the same song performed by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, and Old Crow Medicine Show. This performance is from a BBC special that I wish to God was available on DVD, because all the clips available on YouTube are fabulous. Anyhow, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

She bangs the drums

People of the Internet, my advice to you is this: When a pregnant woman complains about how rotten she feels, just be sympathetic and/or encouraging. For example, when she tells you that she hasn't slept properly in two weeks, that tying her own shoes has become problematic, or that she has heartburn that goes up to her ears, a good response would be, "Wow, that sounds like it really sucks." Or, "Hang in there, it can't last forever!" A bad response is anything that resembles, "Just you wait, IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE FROM HERE." That is not helpful and will probably make the pregnant woman hate you. As the lovely Dooce put it, "I can guarantee that every time you use that phrase in conversation with a pregnant woman you are earning cosmic points that when added up one day will result in a piano falling on your head."

So yeah, I haven't slept properly in two weeks, I'm having trouble tying my shoes, I have heartburn that goes up to my ears, and this pelvic bone issue is making everything about ten times harder and more painful than it needs to be. And if one more person tells me that it will only get worse from here, I will personally drop that piano on that person's head. I am sure that that's true and all, but that doesn't change the fact that I feel like shit RIGHT NOW.

Okay, now that the bitching is out of the way, here are some pictures!

This is me and my sister-in-law, who is also pregnant. When the photo was taken, I was 27 weeks and she was 15. I swear we did not wear matching colors on purpose.

There it is! Perhaps that mark across my stomach means it's time for me to stop wearing those pants.

And this was just too damn cute to keep to myself.

So there you have it! I'm cranky and I feel like hell, but at least I'm cute.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Makes you think all the world's a sunny day

I really doubt I have any readers left, since it's been so ridiculously long since my last post, but here goes anyway. Hello, void!

I am now 27 weeks pregnant, and pregnancy is still simultaneously excellent and awful. There are many women who really love being pregnant and adore every second of it. I am realizing that I am not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate it, but I keep thinking longingly of the days when I could comfortably tie my own shoes and wear my cute jeans and not have to keep a huge jar of Tums next to my bed.

And the latest development has upped the discomfort quotient even more. I have got something called symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD. Basically what this means is that the ligament that holds the two halves of my pelvis together is loosening up. This is normal, but in my particular case (because I cannot ever do anything normally) it's not going quite right and is causing inflammation. This is exactly as much fun as it sounds. I am in pain most of the time, and if I'm not careful about how I move my legs, it gets worse. But the midwife wrote me a prescription for a sacral belt, which will basically hold my bones together, and also showed me some exercises to strengthen up that whole general area, and she tells me that it will get better. I am choosing to believe her.

The other thing the midwife told me is that because of this, it would be a pretty bad idea for me to have an epidural, even though this condition is likely going to cause me extra pain during labor. (OH BOY. Extra pain! Just what every expectant mother wants to hear.) Without that pain there as a warning, I could potentially do something really stupid like throw my legs apart and (prepare to be grossed out) separate that ligament entirely. This would leave me immobile for months and would be VERY VERY BAD. I am actually looking at this as a good thing, because I am really wanting to get through this with no medication, and now the doula will have extra ammunition for when I am hollering, "I DON'T CARE WHAT I SAID JUST GIVE ME THE DRUGS." And I might be less tempted, knowing the potential consequences. So yeah, silver lining! And I didn't even have to look that hard!

So that's where things stand right now. I'll try to update this thing a bit more regularly now that I'm finished gallivanting around North America. This month is Baby Preparation Month, and the nursery should be all set up within a couple of weeks. There will be pictures!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And it seems like it goes on like this forever

Two blog posts in two days!! You guys are getting spoiled. Don't get used to it, though.

It's Video Day! Today's choice is doubly fabulous, because it is my favorite singer (Alison Krauss) covering a really fantastic song ("Carolina In My Mind") at a James Taylor tribute. She's so great, you guys. Just listen.

And to pad this out a bit, here's one of the less banal internet question meme things. Many of you already know me, but some of you might not (like my mysterious reader in Sydney. Hello, mysterious Australian person! Don't be afraid to say hi!) so here you go, for what it's worth.

1. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?

Huh. Sudden violence kind of wigs me out, so I'm not sure I would want to do that. Maybe Lady Gaga, though, because a) she would probably dig the publicity, and b) she annoys the shit out of me.

2. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Who will it be?

See above.

3. Who would you really like to just punch in the face?

All the religious and/or just really self-righteous people who think that everyone in the world should live by THEIR moral code because all others are wrong.

4. What is your favorite cheese?

I like cheddar that is so sharp it crumbles when you try to cut it. Also, I once had a garlic cheddar from that awesome cheese place in Banden, Oregon, that was TO DIE FOR. My attitude toward cheese is pretty much the sharper and smellier, the better. Hence, I dislike brie.

5. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. What kind of sandwich will you eat?

It would involve fresh sourdough bread, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, green peppers, and cheese. YUM.

6. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?

I would say Neil Patrick Harris except he's not a movie celebrity and he's gay. So let's go with Will Smith.

7. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music celebrity of your choice, who will it be?

I honestly can't think of any musicians whose bones I'd particularly like to jump.

8. Now that you've slept with two people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. What do you buy?

The voice of responsibility says I should use it to make a payment on my student loan or buy some practical supplies for the baby. But that voice has been drowned out by the other voices that shout, "TO THE BOOKSTORE!!"

9. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?

I'm assuming I can share this ticket, because I'm going to pick up all of my girlfriends and take them to Zanzibar.

10. An angel appears out of heaven and offers you a lifetime supply of the beverage of your choice. It is?

Dr. Pepper, but only if it has no calories because holy cow would I get fat otherwise.

11. Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anywhere in the PAST. Where do you go?

Elizabethan England, but only if I can be wealthy and attractive with an indulgent father who doesn't make me marry somebody a million years old and covered in warts.

12. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?

Anybody who writes "your" when they mean "you're" will be immediately thrown to the sharks.

13. You have been given the opportunity to create the half-hour TV show of your own design. What is it?

Guys, if I had good ideas for TV shows, I would not be temping right now.

14. What is your favorite curse word?

Um. Most of them. I'm pretty sure I was a longshoreman in a previous life.

15. One night you wake up because you heard a noise. You turn on the light to find that you are surrounded by MUMMIES. The mummies aren't really doing anything, what do you do?

I would immediately have an embarrassing mess to clean up, if you know what I mean, because that would be damn scary.

16. Your house is on fire! What do you do?

Um, what anybody would do? Grab all the living creatures (and also my wedding photos) and get the hell out of there.

17. The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?

Call up all of my friends and family and talk about how much fun we've had. Because lordy do I know some fun people, and that would be a great way to go.

18. You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and whats even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What super-power is it?

The ability to teleport.

19. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?

Any half-hour from my very first hours-long conversation with Mr. Canuck at Suze and Zara's wedding. Because that was amazing, and we can never do it again.

20. You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?

That time I totally misjudged my audience and accidentally implied that my best friend's cousin was a lesbian. It was meant to be a joke, but it did NOT go over well. And it was kind of a dumb joke to begin with. And then I didn't know how to apologize without making the whole thing worse. I'm a terrible person.

21. You got kicked out of the country for being a time-traveling heathen who sleeps with celebrities and has super-powers. But check this out you can move anywhere. Where are you going?

Hrm. I haven't been very many places, so this is hard. Probably somewhere in western Europe. Or possibly I would call up my auntie Juli in Zanzibar and find out if she needs a housemaid.

22. This question still counts, even for those of you who are under age, if you were banned from every bar in the world except one, which one would it be?

The Irish Embassy in downtown Toronto, because a) it's a cool bar, and b) it would serve them right for not letting me in that one time because I only had American ID.

23. Hopefully you didn't mention this in the super-powers question... If you did, then we'll just expound on that. Check it out… Suddenly, you have gained the ability to fly! Whose house are you going to fly to first, and be like "Check it out I can FLY!?"

My mom, because her favorite hobby is bragging about her children and this would give her bragging rights for LIFE.

24. The constant absorption of magical moon beams mixed with the radioactive vegetables you consumed earlier has given you the ability to resurrect the dead famous person of your choice. So which celebrity will you bring back to life?

George Harrison, because I love him to little bits. And then I would make him record an album with Paul Simon. And then I would make them tour together and give me free tickets. Wow, I'm demanding.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Waiting for the eastern glow

Greetings, Constant Readers! Since you have probably been waiting all week with bated breath to find out the sex of my baby (no you have not, you liars), I am finally getting my act together to tell you.


The cables for our scanner seem to be missing in action, so for the time being I've just taken pictures of the pictures. Here she is in profile, with helpful descriptions added by me with the help of Microsoft Paint:

And here she is looking straight at you and bearing a frightening resemblance to Skeletor:

I have every reason to believe that she will outgrow her Skeletor phase and come out of the womb as adorable as the day is long. Although, if she doesn't, think of the power she'll have to terrorize the other kids on the playground!

Needless to say, I am thrilled about this, and so is Mr. Canuck (who has started wearing aftershave because he wants to smell like a daddy, which is just so adorable I can hardly stand it). After the initial glee wore off, though, I started panicking. Parents of daughters, how do you do it? Already I am tempted to lock her in a closet on her thirteenth birthday and not let her out until she's 25. How do I stop her from rolling up the skirt of her school uniform until it barely covers her ass, as I see Toronto schoolgirls doing all the damn time? How do I teach her that no matter how much she wants that boy to like her, or how persuasive he is, it is okay and even preferable to say no? How do I give her a moral code that is strong enough to hold up in the outside world? How do I make sure she knows that she can do or be anything she wants, as long as she sticks to her guns? How do I teach her self-respect in a world that seems determined not to let her have any?

Is this what it's like to be a mother? This child is not even born and already I'm terrified that I won't be able to do right by her. All I can do is my best, and what if my best isn't good enough? This is scary, people.

DISCLAIMER: Please do not interpret that paragraph to mean that I'm having second thoughts. I'm not. And I'm pretty sure I'm not going to seriously fuck up my daughter. We all have moments of uncertainty, is all, and I'm indulging in one.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

She's often inclined to borrow somebody's dreams 'til tomorrow

Two things today:

1. Pregnancy Brain is a real thing, I am here to tell you. The wires get crossed between my brain and my mouth on a fairly regular basis anyway, but I seem to be gradually losing my mastery of the English language. About twenty minutes ago, I turned to Mr. Canuck and said, "When you've finished your drink, will you help me with the thing the stuff and the parts?" Bless him, he somehow managed to accurately translate this to, "Will you help me take the new computer desk out of the box so I can put it together?" Worth his weight in gold, I tell you.

2. Since the baby can apparently hear now, we've decided it would be fun to start reading to it. And for Baby's First Book, we've settled on The Hobbit. I still can't quite get behind The Lord of the Rings (I KNOW I KNOW) but I love Bilbo's little round face. One of my favorite bloggers recently reviewed The Hobbit, and I could not agree more with the following sentiment:
And we all know that I am a giant fantasy suck, and that even when it's garbage I will love its face. But my indescriminate love of dragons and magic swords and shit doesn't detract from the delight of reading really very good dragons and magic swords and shit.

So yeah, I'm geeking out in a big way over here and I'm taking my baby down with me!

Okay, I guess there's three things:

3. We have our ultrasound on Tuesday!!! I am really, REALLY hoping that we find out the sex. It's always possible that the baby won't cooperate, but apparently it's also possible that the tech won't tell us. I guess there are some religions and/or cultures where if the baby is not the sex they want, they will abort it. Also I guess there's liability issues if they turn out to be wrong. I will sign whatever I have to sign, I will get violent if I have to, but they had better be willing to tell me what my baby is! I'm getting tired of calling it "it." I'd like to know who it is in there.

Stay tuned!

(Oh, and in case any of you are wondering where I'm getting these wacky-ass titles for my posts, they are generally stolen from songs I like. Today's title is taken from "See Emily Play" by Pink Floyd. Trust me, I am not that creative or that weird.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's been a long, cold, lonely winter

Today's video is a double feature: "Here Comes the Sun" and "Homeward Bound" as sung by George Harrison and Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live. This is one of my favorite performances ever, by two of my favorite musicians (and boy howdy do they harmonize beautifully), so you'd better like it. It's fabulous.

Sorry I've been quiet for so long around here. Mr. Canuck and I moved into a new house last weekend and it's been pretty chaotic for the past few weeks. Packing, painting, moving, unpacking, and generally living in chaos has been STRESSING ME OUT, people. And even with the help of my wonderful mother-in-law, I managed to overdo it with the painting and crippled myself. I was so sore I couldn't walk for a couple of days, and the best I could do was hobble for about three days after that. It's been over a week now and I'm still a little tender. I have got to get in shape.

But the best news is that I've left my job! My last day was last Friday and I am not even a little bit sorry. The year I worked there (as a temp, after they told me it was going to be a temp-to-perm deal) was way more stressful than it was worth, and frankly I am seriously unimpressed with how that company is run. A lot of people were sorry that I was leaving, but as Beyonce said, if they liked it they should have put a ring on it. Their loss!

So now I'm apparently a housewife. I'm spending this week putting the house in order, and next week I'll start trying to drum up some transcription work (assuming I can find my foot pedal - where the hell did we pack that thing?). I'm really happy that I have this opportunity to chill out before the baby is born.

Speaking of the baby, we have our ultrasound a week from tomorrow! I'm thinking now that it's a boy - couldn't tell you why, that's just how I'm feeling it - and it'll be fun to see if I'm right. Whatever it is in there, it seems to be a ninja. I'm pretty sure he's even got a little set of nunchuks in there. I wouldn't be surprised if he just kicks his way straight out the front in a few months, it's so strong already.

And now I'm feeling guilty because there are still a couple of boxes in the kitchen waiting to be unpacked, and getting the kitchen finished is my goal for the day. So I'd better get on that. Unpacking is BORING, but I'll feel a million times better once this place is organized.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A song in which to weep

So, in an effort to make myself update this poor little blog a little more often, I decided to introduce a Feature! Once a week or so, probably on Fridays, I'm going to pick out a song I like and post it here so you all can like it too. I'm going to do this via YouTube videos, because that way I don't have to worry about file storage or bandwidth, and you don't have to go to the trouble of downloading anything. If you like the song, you can obtain it via the method of your choice, and everybody wins!

The introductory song is "The Weeping Song" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Two summers ago, Mr. Canuck and I went on a road trip to upstate New York, and while we were on the road he decided it was high time I got acquainted with this fine band. I'm still not sure how I feel about them in general (I find Nick Cave about equal parts fascinating and terrifying, if we're being honest here) but there are a few songs that I really love, and this is the best of them.

So give it a shot and see what you think. The video is ridiculous, don't pay any attention to that, but the song itself is fantastic. Ominous piano lines, complicated percussion, slightly creepy vocals, and most of all the syncopated handclaps, which (I am not even kidding here) make the song. Happy Friday!

Friday, January 8, 2010

(I've already posted it elsewhere, but I think it's important so it's going here too. My apologies if you've seen it before.)

The Cancer Chick is dying.

For those of you going What? Who? which is probably all of you, the Cancer Chick is Mary Herczog, a writer in L.A. who is dealing with her third round of metastasized breast cancer. One of the sections on her website is what she calls the Merry Maladies, which are the emails she sends around to her friends to update them on how she's doing. I highly recommend reading them. She is hilarious and positive and cheerful, and the kind of person you wish you could be friends with. Even though this episode of cancer just refused to go away (she referred to it as Cancer: The Extended Dance Remix), she never lost her optimism. I've been rooting for her for about two years now.

And now her doctor has told her that there is nothing more he can do, and all that's left is to wait for the inevitable. And I am sitting here crying for a complete stranger, because it is so unfair that this wonderful woman should have to die because there is nothing left that modern medicine can do for her.

So I am taking this opportunity to plug The Breast Cancer Site. Go there every day and click their little pink button, and their sponsors will donate money to ensure that uninsured and low-income women can get mammograms. There are lots of other good causes linked to that site as well, so I'm sure you'll find something that floats your boat. Go and click. It will do the world some good, and perhaps prevent a few future Cancer Chicks from experiencing what Mary has.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Baby, you can drive my car

O Faithful Readers (all three of you), I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Mr. Canuck. There are two important points you should know about him:

1. He is a banker and wears suits and ties to work. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of literature and classical music, especially opera. He votes Conservative.

2. When he was in college, he crowd-surfed in the mosh pit at a Nine Inch Nails concert and someone bit him.

I adore this man.

And one of the many reasons I adore him is because he is very open-minded and is always willing to consider new ideas, even if they seem wacky at first. Ages ago, when I first brought up the idea of having a home birth with a midwife rather than a hospital birth with an obstetrician, he was extremely skeptical, to say the least. But we both researched the topic pretty extensively and thought about it quite a lot, and now we're both convinced that this is the way we want to go.

Now, home birth has gotten quite a lot of bad publicity, but that is (as usual) due to the crazy minority rather than what actually tends to happen. I am absolutely not planning an unassisted birth, or "freebirth." In my opinion, that is nuts. Yes, giving birth is what women's bodies were made to do. Yes, plenty of women around the world give birth unassisted every day. But you know what? A LOT OF THEM DIE. I think it is naive at best and downright insulting at worst for women in the first world to compare themselves to third-world women who have no other choice. And I think that deliberately choosing to give birth with only self-administered prenatal care and no professionals of any kind in attendance is child endangerment. There, I said it.

So I'm not doing that. The other thing I am not doing is hiring an unlicensed, self-trained midwife. I am lucky enough to live in a country, and in a province of that country, where midwifery is not only strictly regulated but is covered by the provincial health care plan, including home births. It's downright mainstream! Practically.

There are a lot of reasons why I chose to go this route. Mostly it was because the very idea of a medicalized birth in a hospital scares the bejesus out of me. From what I've learned through reading and talking to women who have done it, it seems to be just a slippery slope of one intervention after another. You go into it expecting to have a natural birth, but the OB decides that labor isn't progressing fast enough so they put you on Pitocin. This makes the contractions so powerful that you can't stand it anymore, so you get an epidural. And so on and so forth until, about 30% of the time, you end up with a C-section. (Those statistics are for the United States, but Canada is similar.)

And besides all that, a hospital is a stressful environment. Nobody likes being in a hospital. It's full of activity and bright lights, you've got people bustling in and out of the room all the time, your actual OB may or may not even be there for the birth, and the nurses might be awesome and supportive or they might be rushed and impatient. Not to mention the high risk of infection that comes with any hospital stay, and having to follow hospital protocols, and getting conflicting advice from the assorted maternity staff. None of that sounds the least bit attractive to me.

Now, I know that it doesn't have to be that way, and quite often isn't. I know that an awful lot of women have had very positive experiences giving birth in a hospital. It's just not what I want to do.

On the other hand, giving birth at home is a very attractive option for me. And the statistics support me on this. Infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rates are both slightly lower for home births than for hospital births. Interventions of any kind are of course drastically reduced, and unnecessary C-sections just plain don't happen.

Being in a calm environment is also important to me. There is some evidence that being in a stressful place like a hospital can actually slow down labor. (I could try to explain the physiological reasons for this, but I wouldn't do a very good job of it, so I won't. Basically it's all down to the autonomic, specifically the sympathetic, nervous system - the "fight or flight" response.) At home, I'm in my own comfort zone, I can wander around and contort myself into whatever weird positions I need to in order to make myself feel better, I can get in the bathtub to relax, I can even have something to eat if I want. Everything can proceed as nature intended it to.

As for safety, I'm not even a little bit worried. We live very close to a major teaching hospital, so should anything go seriously wrong, we can be there in less than thirty minutes, and the midwife will of course have called ahead so they'll be ready for us. And for most situations, she's perfectly capable of taking care of it herself. For example, when Mr. Canuck was born, he had aspirated some amniotic fluid and needed resuscitation to get him breathing. That is something the midwife can do with no trouble at all. Should anything at all happen that is outside her abilities, she can recognize that and call in the big guns.

All this, of course, is assuming that nothing goes wrong during the pregnancy itself. If should develop, say, gestational diabetes or (god forbid) pre-eclampsia, home birth ceases to be an option. It's just not safe, and a good midwife will recognize these conditions and hand me over to an obstetrician.

Of course, there are all kinds of other people out there who can explain this far more convincingly and eloquently than I ever could. Here are a few of the books I've read that got me to this decision:

Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein
The Doula Guide to Birth by Ananda Lowe and Rachel Zimmerman
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Basically, like all parents, we want what we feel is best for our baby and ourselves. Mr. Canuck and I believe that, given our own personal preferences and beliefs, a home birth is our best option. If something goes off the rails and we end up in the hospital anyway, and even if I end up having a cesarean section, we will know that we did everything we could before that. The main thing is that we come out of this with a healthy baby, and we're convinced that this is the best route for us to take to get there.