I like it, pants

Two year olds are a lethal combination of stubborn determination and ill equipped faculties and my days are mostly spent preventing Jude from carrying out a horrifying variety of ill-conceived ideas and if he was a client or a friend I’d have left him to self-destruct eons ago but it’s so weird, how genetically pre-disposed we are to loving the creatures that come from inside us. Even when they’re totally, unflinchingly crazy.

Jude perplexes me everyday with his frantic, irrefutable Jude-ness and I remember the naive woman who thought that Nolan is sweet-tempered and sensitive because of something measured she did and I want to wipe the smug off her face and tell her the whole truth: you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

Every morning Jude and I go through an overflowing laundry basket of his clean clothes and he decides what he wants to wear.  Invariably he tries on three pairs of striped velcro shorts and three shirts that look exactly the same and then takes them off again, getting his nubby legs stuck in one leg hole or his shirt inside out and we do this again and again for half an hour until I am sticky with sweat and heaving with frustration.  Finally, he declares, “I like it, pants,” and we are ready to start the day. 

It’s been almost a decade since I was last home with small human beings and I’d forgotten about the frazzled, hard-breathing pace of nothingness that infuses the days.  There are diaper blow outs in Superstore and heartstopping brand new smiles, there are tiny hands grazing my chest and scrambled egg remnants in the bookcase.  There are temper tantrums in the worst possible places, and a strange, inexplicable emotion that hovers around me: gratitude for what I am doing, guilt that I crave a bit more.  There are no tangible benefits to this job, just long-term perks that are fleeting and often dampened with all the tired and the crumbs. 

I like them, my babies.  But I’m grateful for the past experience that allows me to understand the fleetingness of this crazy, frenetic, banal phase I’m in right now.

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If I permitted it, he’d scooter down a mountainside and crash into a murder of crows, igniting feathers and cursing us all.

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(Corn in the back of a Hot Wheels truck because, Two.)

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(We do an awful lot of walking in circles in forests, until Jude’s legs tire and I carry him in one arm and a scooter in another and baby on the front and pray for no tantrums until I can deposit him on the doorstep)

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(Thank god for Nolan.  Who is sweet and kind and obedient with absolutely nothing to do with me)

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It’s worth it. 

The Magic Doesn’t Wane

 

The operating room was yesterday and also two centuries ago and when I close my eyes and think about it I see this:  the same tobacco-smelling nurse with the crepey smiling eyes that was there for Jude’s birth, the two small and serious black haired anesthesiologists with flowered pants under yellow smocks, the smell of burning skin, cauterizing something I didn’t want to know about.

I started tearing up the moment they finally got the IV into my rolling veins.  They wheeled me into the cold edged operating room several dozen minutes before they let Corey in and I was panicking, craving his impenetrable calm in stressful situations.  I was distracted by the clamp on my thumb, the obscene amount of time it seemed to take to slice into my stomach, the desperation I felt to finally meet the baby girl I already knew in my heart.

When Summer Juliette was born, there was a small, almost delicate wail and then Corey was ushered away and the pediatrician took some photos with my old Canon.

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In tI’d had a dream the night before and it was vivid and not what you could call good and I recalled that dream minutes after Summer was born and couldn’t stop myself from bellowing through the serious silver cutters and whizzing life savers:

“It’s not a tiny Asian boy with eyes on top of his head? Is it?”

The nurses looked at Corey with confusion and I’m sure adrenaline and temporary insanity were contemplated and no one answered me and then they brought me my girl.

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She’s an angel baby.  She cried when she came into our world, briefly, and has barely cried since.  She sleeps all through the night and she takes in her Universe with her tiny wizened little face and she looks worried, except when she smiles and then my heart explodes with the incredible miraculousness of it all.  Even after three babies.  The magic doesn’t wane.

Also, this:

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***

Summer is 7 weeks old now and stay at home motherhood deserves a CFO salary and Jude is totally crazy and thank GOD for Nolan, is all I have to say about our current situation.  There’s a reason this blog hasn’t been updated in weeks.

***

I have diastisis recti again, and also a pretty messy belly button and in the grand scheme of wars and debilitating diseases and the ocean rotting, it’s ridiculous that I even notice this but I can only directly influence the meaningless things and so I’m planning to document my progress back to a normal belly again on here because: goddammit, it’s irritating to still look pregnant in your stomach when you’re fit everywhere else.    Also it’s easy to bang out quick posts about food and exercise, easier than trying to eke anything interesting out of my days of diapers and tantrums, anyway.

 

Pomodoro “Pasta” with Crabmeat and Fresh Basil

Crab Pomodoro Pasta with Basil

Crab Pomodoro Pasta with Basil

I started up this new blog with intention of posting my favourite healthy meals along with fitness and life posts, but got a little derailed by a post-Mexico pregnancy surprise and subsequent new job, etc.  Also: I haven’t been cooking so healthfully.

I remember being pretty disciplined in my eating throughout my pregnancy with Jude in 2011, save for the first trimester when buttered English muffins were the only food that didn’t send me stumbling, yellow-faced and streaming tears to the vomit toilet.  But this pregnancy has been full of food fails and a total absence of the kind of discipline I’ve been kind of proud to have cultivated over the last few years.  Baby has wanted rice pudding and Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream.  On the weekend it was my Mom’s birthday celebration and I was asked to bring some coconut water and assorted drinks and I also nipped into the Whole Foods dessert section, possessed, to buy some trifle no one had asked for.  I secretly ate a quarter of it in the kitchen while everyone else was on the dock drinking coconut water.

I’ve been doing Crossfit 4-5 times a week throughout my pregnancy (except this last week which has been full of Braxton Hicks and stomach issues) — so I haven’t totally gone off the rails, but it’s time to go back to eating with some regard to nutrition and fitness.  I miss the view of my toes and I have no interest in retaining this cellulite and I have plans to be able to jump off the dock in my Mexico bikini, unselfconsciously, by the end of summer.  And though I’m not sure I’ll go back to 100% Paleo (I want to up the veggies and down the animal in my diet) – I know I want to immediately reduce carbs and get back on the healthy train.

My lithe and athletic colleague mentioned a fail-proof and inexpensive veggie spiralizer last week, I purchased one, and surprise!  Last night’s “pasta” dinner was infinitely more satisfying than rice pudding and Ritz cheese crackers.

Monday Night Pomodoro Pasta with Crab + Basil

Ingredients

Makes 2 good-sized dinners

2 cups sliced fresh cherry tomatoes (local, in season if you can get ’em)

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (best quality you can get)

2 finely chopped small chili peppers, seeds removed

2 medium sized zucchini

handful of chopped fresh basil

1/2 pound of crabmeat (this was a lot — you could probably easily get away with 1/4 of a pound and still garner the sweet crab flavour)

Steps

1. Set up your veggie cutter device.  I made Corey do it because I am notoriously bad with anything with a sharp edge but this was super easy.  Shred up your two zucchini and set in colander to drain.

2. Throw your cherry tomatoes in the blender (I just used a regular old smoothie blender) until they’re pulsed to a texture you like for sauce.

3. Heat up your olive oil on medium heat in a heavy skillet.

4. Throw in your garlic, chili peppers, and tomato and cook for about a minute and a half.

5. Add some salt and pepper and your flaked-up crab.

6. Optional: add a very small (2 tbsp?) dollop of cream if you want this to have a very smooth and rich flavour, but it’s not necessary in the slightest.

Remove your zucchini noodles from the colander, put them in bowls, and spoon hot pomodoro + crab sauce over top.  No need to cook the noodles, the sauce will warm and cook them to a perfect, delicious temperature.  Top with chopped basil and enjoy.

I envision this dish with goat cheese, or shrimp or a veggie medley instead of crabs.  All around healthy, low cal, and amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Countdown

 

A man with a moustache and paint-splattered jeans stands outside an open warehouse door as I lumber past, all stilt legs and comically protruding belly.  He’s holding a cigarette downward in one hand and a cup of coffee and he stops mid-drag to yell at me.

“Wow, lady, you’re pregnant and still running?  That’s incredible!  You go!” He fist pumps the air and I give him a watery smile and keep trucking, Humpty Dumpty with a ponytail and aerodynamic running shoes.

People are so nice to heavily pregnant people.  A grocer who would normally bag bananas without looking up comments on my cute toddler.  The lady behind the makeup counter at the drug store tells me that my skin is radiant. Even the 19 year old at Aritzia went out of her way to find me a long dress that would fit my curves, and then told me I was a hot mama.

I’ve appreciated every second of it for the last several months that I’ve been visibly pregnant.  But now that I’m in the final two weeks, I want to lock myself in my room with a vat of Kozy Shack and not listen to anyone anymore, even well-intentioned totally awesome random nice people.  I don’t want to tell anyone my due date, I don’t want to hear that I am a trouper, I don’t want to note a visible gasp when I admit that I’m working right up until the day before I give birth.  I remember this from the last two pregnancies as well: a kind of bitter desperation that builds into a crescendo in the final few weeks: likely a culmination of hormones and no sleep and peeing 16 times a day and wondering if your life is headed into a total downward spiral with all the changes you know are about to skyrocket.

It could be just the sheer desperation of wanting an adult discussion about something other than your distended, vein criss crossed stomach, too.  I know it’s hard for people to look at me and notice I have eyes or a brain when my belly button is exploding out of my shirt, but I’m craving the day in a few weeks when the grocer ignores me again while he runs my bananas over the scanner.

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(38 weeks.  Surgery is scheduled for July 3rd, so baby is coming then or sooner.  I’m such a crotchety asshole right now — the only redemption is that I already know with certainty how very worth it the baby will be.)

Advanced Maternal Age

My Facebook feed is a scroll of graduations: grade 8, high school, junior high.  There’s a series of inevitable exclamation marks below the captions, women my age, the same sentiment, reworded:

How did that happen?

I remember the day she was born and now she’s in Grade 8?

So grown up.  Time flies.

I went to elementary school with Jennifer and I remember that she invited me to her birthday party in grade 5 but not in grade 6, that she had a pair of much-coveted faux paint-splattered white jeans, that she was one of the girls who smoked in the bathroom in junior high.   And today her photos are at the top of my Facebook stream, standing with the same mouth and eyes with her gigantically tall son who is graduating from high school.

My belly, ripe and mapped with blue-purple veins, pulsates with rippling feet and tiny limbs and I am expecting my third baby at a time when some women from my small hometown are becoming grandmas.  When Nolan graduates high school, Jude will be in grade 5.  Our daughter will be in grade 3.  Sometimes it makes me want to put my head in a paper bag and other times I feel overwhelmed with the fact of my second chance at a full-fledged family, of messy Sunday omelettes and fuzzy masses of sweet-smelling toddler hair tickling my nose too early in the morning.

This is my third pregnancy but because I know with final certainty that it will be my last, I am noticing more.  I stop to look when the roiling starts in my belly, when a kick extends down my loins and causes a startle of inside-out reflexes.  I don’t begrudge the shooting-rocket belly button, the scribbly spider veins, the brand new cottage cheese, because they are battle marks and because they’re fleeting, like everything else.

****

If this were 2006 this would be a totally different blog post and I’d be writing the details about the last 5 months of our lives and then a string of comments would appear within minutes

Holy shit are you OK?

We’re thinking of you and sending positive vibes.

I am going through something exactly like this and thank you for sharing because I thought I was the only one.

You’re an asshole narcissist pin head and you brought this on yourself, bitch. (which is precisely the reason that compelling personal blogs no longer exist and you need to read about honest life grit in amazon memoirs)

It’s been a challenging few months, for sure, and that’s partially why I haven’t been writing here and partially why I need to start up again.  Our baby girl will make her entrance on to this planet in 23 days exactly and I know her babyhood will be gone in a snap, that I will be 62 in a matter of minutes, that Nolan will be grinning down at me, a graduate, in the blink of an eye.  And I don’t want to forget about any of it.

***

For those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook and may have missed it, I did an article last month for the Crossfit journal, and it’s here.  I also have an article in the July issue of Today’s Parent magazine and I’m going to start doing more professional writing again too.  I’m pretty stoked about an upcoming article I have for a national women’s magazine, too, and I’ll keep you posted here when that comes out as well.

 

 

 

 

Shiny Shells and Shrivelled Innards

 

The silver light of the moon slices through the downstairs windows, casting long shadows on wood, enflaming her hair with the blue of the screen.   She sits at her computer desk in the corner of the living room, beneath the painting she made for him on his birthday last year.

Her living room, she thinks, is perfectly comfortable.  It tells a story of normalcy, which she applies to herself like a layer of makeup, daily.  Purposefully.  Masking the lines, the ugly, the stuff that’s not supposed to be seen.

She has a fiancé with an earnest job and an appreciation for the way she can hem his pants.  He likes her laughter and her femininity, the way she calls him babe.   She goes to school full time, because, though she is beautiful and gregarious and could live on his salary, it’s prudent to look ambitious.  She studies late into the night, when everything is black except the street light and the lamp.

“Gotta impress my professor, babe,” she tells him and he kisses her head before he turns out their bedroom light.

  Right now, the kitchen floor smells like Pine Sol. Her school clothes are laid out on the bathroom counter and she’s carefully folded over his lunch bag into tight, neat folds over the homemade turkey sandwich, Saturday’s homemade apple muffins.

Her computer is carefully turned against the closed bedroom door,  arranged so that he can’t see her screen before she sees him. She knows how to erase tracks.  She’s been doing it for a lifetime.

In the computer, on the flip screen, is the truth that only one person knows.

It’s the way things are, the way things always will be.  You don’t know the person you’re living with.  You’ll never really know.

 

 

 

Dude. No Dude.

Whistler, February 2009

We’re sitting in the corner of a steamy restaurant, the smell of oily yam fries and sticky beer rings swirling around us and we’re still pretty new into this.  Our legs are touching under the table, my wine glass is a quarter full and my mind is overdosing on benign observations of the tapestry around us: everything is present in increased dimension at the budding stage of new love.  I notice the small butterfly tattoo of the waitress at the table beside us, the unfamiliarity of the German words from behind us.  I see a man at the doorway, waiting for a table, green ski pants two sizes too short.

I don’t remember the conversation that’s led up to this point, but I remember that he wore a striped black shirt and looked at the middle of my eyeballs when he talked to me.

“I thought you didn’t want kids,” I said, and I am surprised, because I thought I didn’t want any more kids either, because of the rawness and the risk to your heart and all the holy christ this is hard moments.  The possibility that you will be doing it all alone, flailing.

“I didn’t think I did,” he said,”But I think I do.  I would with you.”

And then I remember that my eyes filled, and I knew that another risk would be worth it.

North Vancouver, February 2014

The technician appears suddenly in the corridor at 4:27 pm.

“Kristine.” she says and I look up from my illegal phone.

“Yes!  Oh.  You’re early.  Which is great.  But my husband isn’t here yet.”

“He can come in when he gets here.” She is gruff. “I need to take measurements first.  Room 6.”

I follow her down a long hallway, sloshing with all the water I’ve been guzzling.

“Take off your clothes and you can get on that table.”

She tells me to wedge closer, to straighten my knees, and she presses hard on my bladder with a circular wand that will tell her whether we should worry more than we already do.  I think about dry deserts and salt and anything but how amazing it would feel to pee. Nolan and Corey enter ten minutes in and I press my finger over my lips to Nolan.

“You have to be totally silent so she can concentrate, OK?  Then she will show you.”

She clicks and whirs and turns the screen carefully away and when I glance at Corey to start to tell him that the baby has just kicked me hard, she shushes me sternly.  No talking.

She is concentrating and I smother a smile as the guy in the speakers behind us sings horribly about the baddest girl in the club, which apparently is more non-destructive to concentration than whispering.

20 minutes later, Moderately Angry Ultrasound Technician uses a kleenex to wipe jelly off my belly and suddenly becomes Motherly.

“Here is the heart,” she tells Nolan, beckoning him closer,”And the legs, and the feet right here.  And it is drinking.  Pee.”

Nolan makes a face.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

It’s the question we’ve all been wondering: 88% sure that we were a house destined to be full of noxious gas and toy trucks and pee on the toilet seat.

She shakes her head sadly.

“New law.  I cannot tell you that. I am not allowed.”

“New law? Since 2012?” I ask, thinking of the technician at my 20 week ultrasound for Jude, when she circled his boy bits on her screen and blew them up in a picture for us.

“Yes. New law.”

It’s hormones.  And it’s the fact that I worked through lunch today, and I’m exhausted and these goddamned hormones and my feet stink, I think, and my feet shouldn’t stink, eff you pregnancy smells, and goddamned headaches and I told my family we’d know today, either way.  The tears make me angry at myself, but I let them silently fall anyway.

Corey twitches and Nolan’s eyes widen and I can tell he’s going to start crying too and the technician looks at me with pity and turns the screen to Corey.

“I can’t tell you, but I can show you and you can take a guess for yourself.”

The screen is white and fuzzy and I can’t tell if I’m looking at a paper cut out of a raggedy ann or someone’s unfortunate toe.

She points to something that might be a bum, might be an electric apple.

“Well, I have no idea,”I say,”I can’t see anything there.”

“In here,”she points to an area in the middle of the apple.

“Do you see anything there?”

I look at Corey.

“I don’t see a penis.”

“Right.  No penis.”

I am slow and mute and I’m not really grasping.

“It’s a girl.” Corey says and his face is twitching upward.

“I did not tell you that.” says the technician.

“It’s a girl?”  I’m crying again, but this time it’s with a crazy hope.

“When your doctor tells you that, you act surprised.”

She shuts the door behind her and we are all a bit glassy eyed and the sensory overload is on again: the congealed jelly on the tube, the numbers on the scale, the flecks of green in Nolan’s eyes and Corey’s familiar eyeballs in mine, and I’ll never forget this moment either.

We are having a girl.