Wednesday, 30 April 2008

37 Weeks, just want to lie down...

Tired of seeing me being pregnant? Me too.

Today I hit 37 weeks and had another appointment at the hospital. My doctor says I'm already measuring 40 weeks ("At least you're consistent," she said. "Well, consistently ahead of where you should be.")

The ultrasound shows Kickbaby weighing about 7lb 5oz so far – although at this late stage the measurements should be taken with a grain of salt. He still has ample time to relax in there and get fat(ter), but I'm being optimistic and hoping he might end up in the 7-8lb range.

I'm down to rotating three reasonably presentable maternity shirts and one not-so-fabulous tshirt, and two pairs of pants. Jenny McCarthy confessed that she resorted to wearing only a muu-muu in the last months of her pregnancy. Officially I'd be appalled at myself for doing that; unofficially, it sounds sooo comfortable. It's lucky I have my pride.

Tomorrow is May 1. Tomorrow when people ask me, "When is that baby due?" I'll finally be able to say, "This month!"

Maybe then they won't shake their heads and look at me funny...


Monday, 28 April 2008

Bit sad...

Kickbaby's in the middle of a vigorous workout, Berry's finally, finally, upstairs in bed, and I'm feeling like a mediocre excuse for a mother again.

(All together now: feign surprise!)

I've been feeling so tired and unwieldy and overwhelmed and irritable these past couple of weeks, struggling with the big big baby, with being 37 weeks pregnant in the Mississippi heat, and with the polyhydramnios (for sensible normal people who have no reason to know, that's just the medical term for having way-too-much amniotic fluid).

I had been fervently wishing that Kickbaby would just come out already, until the other night I was lying on the bed and it dawned on me – when Kickbaby's born:
1) I'll have to look after him, and he'll be more exhausting out than in; and
2) Berry won't be an only child anymore. It won't be just us.

Both of these things would have occurred to a sensible-normal person a long time ago, but for a moment I was genuinely caught off-guard. And in that instant, I felt the resurgence of the bizarre feeling of sorrow for Berry that punished me when I first found out I was pregnant again: "Oh, I've betrayed you! You're my little girl, you need all my attention! I'm so sorry! What have I done!"

It doesn't matter that intellectually I know Berry will love her little brother, it doesn't matter that I can't even begin to imagine my life without my sister and brothers – somehow, I feel like a terrible traitor. I hope it's just the hormones.

In the aftermath of my little revelation on the bed, I've been trying to focus on spending good, fun times with Berry in the last days where it'll be "just us" – with play-doh and drawing and painting and gardening (she loves to water plants) and reading stories... Unfortunately, things aren't exactly coming up roses.

I don't know what I expected from a two-year-old, but in the midst of all this positive attention Berry has actually seemed more needy and jittery and demanding and prone to unbearable frustrations, which in turn is making me agitated and snappish. It's so very far from the effect I wanted to have.

Tonight, after a long series of small battles that I didn't handle well, she finally cuddled up on my shoulder saying, "I bit sad, I bit angry, Mama. I not happy-again. I sad. Sing me, Mama..." And so I sang to her, feeling like a great big failure who just wanted to cry too, until she fell asleep.

I'm sure there are a hundred answers to the little mess I'm in – relax and back off probably chief among them – and I imagine it'll all work out in the end. But for now, I just want to sit at the end of my sleeping two-year-old's bed and tell her that I really want to get it all right, that I really am trying, and to tell Kickbaby that I hope I'll be truly nice by the time he gets out here.

In the meantime, I just wish my mind and body would do me the kindness of being quiet, and still, until all this is done.


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Not Fall Down

When Berry lost her balance and fell forward in the toddler pool at the resort, Nathan said, she didn't move. "She didn't even try to stand up." He was incredulous.

He had her out in a heartbeat, and there were tears about falling, tears about being cold, tears about wet hair, and more general tears. We wrapped her in a towel and cuddled her and changed her into warm clothes, and she seemed better.

Or not.

I didn't see it happen, but in the three weeks since then I've heard about 896 blow-by-blow replays of the "fall down pool" incident. Every time she sees water...

"I not fall-down, no. Go BOOM, pool. Splash! Splash! Ma-maaaaa! Daddy: cough! [coughing re-enactment] Daddy: okaaaay? [crying re-enactment] Come out!!" Et cetera...

Every time she gets in the bath: "I not fall-down water, no. I not fall-down." She clings to the sides of the tub and despite our best reassurances, the whole re-enactment follows.

When she comes across a colouring-book picture of Ernie in the bath: "Ernie not fall-down..." And yesterday: "Bear Partyhat not fall-down pool, ever."

You see how it goes.

It could be worse... at least she gets in the bathtub without tears, and several days after the famous Fall Down, Nathan was able to persuade her to sit in a pool with him (holding on tight) ...a kind of getting back on the horse, if you will.

Our child psychiatrist friend Kirk, who very kindly answers my neurotic 3am parenting emails about his goddaughter, assures me that we're giving the right reassurances and that she will, in fact, bounce back from the trauma.

I guess if we're still hearing "fall down pool" stories before she leaves for Spring Break 2023*, we'll know we have a problem.

[*I think I just gave myself a small heart attack. Excuse me while I go have a lie-down...]

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Home, James

Berry's been missing her London visitors, and she's given her detailed "Uncle Jules, Aunt Shey-yey, go big airplane, back own house, not fall down" commentary pretty regularly. She's also been busy variously declaring herself "a imp" and "a cwown" and "a caggywag" (that's scallywag – she'll get it right one day). Her new comic routine: interrupting her own stories mid-sentence with "MOO! I a cow!"

After they left I became even more acutely aware (as if I wasn't already) of how completely great Jules and Shelley were with her. They're an exemplary uncle-and-aunty team. The first day after their departure was quite the challenge because Berry was really missing the full-on attention of her super-patient playmates, and I was realising anew how completely constant she can be when no one else is around. I guess it also doesn't help that the endless discomfort and sleepless nights (thankyou Kickbaby) are starting to make me the teeeeensiest bit irritable.

Fortunately two-year-olds are as appealing as they are exhausting. In the end, an imp and a caggywag will make you feel it's all worthwhile...


Friday, 18 April 2008

Ridiculous Photo of the Week

Here, Berry demonstrates her belief that you can permanently own a sandcastle, if only you defend it vigorously enough.


Thursday, 17 April 2008

The Deep South Tour – 2008

In general, the Americans were quite dismayed when they heard that Jules and Shelley would only be seeing Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and a teensy edge of Florida on their first visit to the States.

It reminded me of my first six months in New Orleans, when people would ask, "So where else in the US have you lived?" and I'd say, "Louisiana is the only place I've lived since I left Australia."
"Oh," they'd say gravely, "I'm sorry. The rest of America is Really Not Like This." (Trust me, I could hear the capitals.)

If I had limitless funds and a nanny for the two-year-old and someone else to haul Kickbaby around under their shirt, I would've loved to take Jules and Shelley to other cities I love, like Portland and Seattle and Santa Fe and Atlanta and New York, and to places I'd love to see – like Savannah and Charleston and Chicago and Washington D.C.

But with Berry and Kickbaby in tow, we improvised our own itinerary – one that will never quite be replicated by anyone else, ever.

We made Jules sick with the American Breakfast at Waffle House; we made Shelley sick with rich soul food at the Praline Connection (Australian stomachs just aren't built for Southern fare); we stalked the wedding cake house on St Charles Avenue in the Garden District so Shelley could get the perfect picture (the upside-down one just didn't cut it); and we compiled a veritable photo essay on the hazards of New Orleans' crazy footpaths.

We sat out a pouring should've-been-sunny Saturday in Perdido Beach, we built sandcastles with Berry, we went all over New Orleans' famous French Quarter by day, and by night Nathan (a French Quarter bar expert if ever there was one) took Jules and Shelley to some of his favourite haunts. There was jambalaya at Napoleon House and a streetcar ride down St Charles and frisbee in Audubon Park and the best Southern-diner food ever at Camellia Grill. And last but not least, I enthralled Shelley with the appalling-ness of Wal-mart. She berated herself for leaving the camera at home at least 18 times in that one trip, especially when she spied the jumbo jar of pickled pigs' ears. You think I'm joking; I'm not.

It was an unconventionally action-packed two weeks – certainly not the way Fodor's or Rick Steves or Lonely Planet would've done it.

And all I can say about that is: thank goodness.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Do it myself!

When Berry started wanting to stay at preschool instead of coming home with me, we realised it was time she had her own tricycle.

Every single day when I arrived to pick her up, she was "paddling" a little red tricycle around the playground. Yes, I said paddling. There was no pedalling. She'd sit on the tricycle seat and propel herself along with her feet on the ground a la Fred Flintstone.

The second she spied me entering the playground, she'd take off at top speed, little feet flying, shouting "I ride my tricycle! I ride my own tricycle!" Sometimes I'd let her go, and she'd do a few laps of the playground, stopping every so often to swat in my direction: "No chasing me, Mama! I ride my tricycle!" There was always weeping when we finally headed home.

When we went to New Orleans with Jules and Shelley last week, we solved the problem. We bought Berry a retro-style Radio Flyer tricycle, red with ribbons on the handlebars. All the way home from New Orleans, Berry kept up a barrage from the back seat: "I ride my own tricycle? I ride my own tricycle?"

The store didn't have a demonstration model, so it was only when Nathan and Shelley assembled the tricycle that we realised that the "2.5 to 5 years" written on the box probably referred to average-sized two-year-olds. Poor little Berry's feet barely touch the ground; even with the seat fully lowered, she Fred-Flintstones along on tippy toes.

But she's thrilled with her own tricycle, and determined to conquer the challenge. Every attempt to push her along or help her steer is rebuffed with "I do it myself! I do it myself! Hepp me Mama! Hepp me! No, I do it myself!"

At least now I can pick her up from school without feeling like a reject. We'll call that progress.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Waffle House – or how I made my brother sick

Torrential rain ruined our sun-and-sand plans for our first morning at Perdido Beach, so we did what any insane family would do – we went to Waffle House.

In my defense, I'd only been to Waffle House once before in my life – at 3am in Mississippi, with a worse-for-wear Justin and Nathan, and a fight had broken out the second we walked in the door. Glass bottles were thrown, fake maple syrup splashed everywhere, police were called.

Wait – that's not sounding much like a defense.

How's this: Shelley wanted to go. She wanted a "real Southern experience" and my word, if the sheer number of Waffle Houses in the South are any indication, it's an experience the Southerners really embrace. Seriously (and sadly) you can't go three blocks without running into one.

So in we went, brave and foolish. Shelley thought the thing to do at Waffle House would be to have waffles. Berry and I stuck with scrambled eggs and toast, while Jules (with my encouragement, I'm ashamed to say) had some version of the American Breakfast.

It was a bad idea. I'd completely overlooked the fact that Jules doesn't have an iron-clad stomach like our brother Aaron (who's been known to eat, among other things, whole prawns with their shells and heads still on – yes, my stomach just turned over too).

The American Breakfast did poor Jules in. He spent the rest of the day turning various shades of green and saying valiantly, "Well, I don't think I'm going to be sick right now." I felt terrible for not being a more cautious tour guide, but not everyone minded so much. The waffles – and the whole Waffle House misadvanture – sat well with Shelley. "Despite everything, I'm very pleased we went," she said cheerfully. "It really was an experience."

Friday, 11 April 2008

Ridiculous Photo of the Week

Well, it's not so much the picture that's ridiculous* – it's the child.

Berry spent a good ten minutes of this morning glowering at poor Uncle Jules across the breakfast table, accusing him of "wooking" at her. And then a declaration: "No wooking at me, all peoples!"

There. That should cover it.

(*Actually, the photo is a little bit ridiculous. This is Berry working in her 'office', by turns typing vigorously on her laptop and talking on her cellphone... every call ending in "Okay, okay, bye.")

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

34 Weeks, still standing (barely...)

And I thought 28 weeks was grim...

On Friday I have to go in for another ultrasound growth study on Kickbaby, to see what he's up to now. And how large he is.

If this goes on much longer, I'm going to have to buy bigger maternity clothes again – because I'm bursting out of the shirts I have. I can hardly bear the thought.

Things I'm looking forward to, in no particular order:
1) wearing normal clothes (and fitting into more than four outfits)
2) sleeping on my stomach
3) rolling over in bed
4) breathing easy
5) Pinot Grigio
6) sushi
7) going out in public sans comments, stares and 20-Questions
8) running
9) real workouts
10) shopping for something other than shoes
11) playing on the floor with Berry, without seriously wondering how I'll get up again
12) a cocktail or five (okay, two)
13) no midnight leg cramps
and last but not least –
14) holding Kickbaby, and saying, Hello there, what took you so long...?

Monday, 7 April 2008

Secret stash

No, I won't share.

When my wristlet order arrived from my fabulous friend Jodie (of Meringue fame), it was also overflowing with contraband guaranteed to make a pregnant Australian girl a bit homesick and very, very happy.

I haven't even told Nathan it's here, because I just know he'll try to "acquire" the Tim Tams. He is a Tim Tam maniac with no conscience.

And here's a picture of my much-loved Meringue wristlets. I'm now the proud owner of four – and I won't be sharing those either.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Welcome to the USA

Berry has been tremendously busy organising her Uncle Jules and Aunt Shelley into various fascinating (for a two-year-old) activities.

They probably didn't expect their first-ever trip to the United States to involve so much paint and sand and play-doh, and so many conversations with stuffed animals.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Ridiculous Photo of the Week

Berry shares a special moment with, uh, one of her favourite people...

The Gap is more interesting when you have "company".

Thursday, 3 April 2008

A hole to fall in

If you're in the mood to sue a city, here's your chance.

This rather breathtaking hazard is about half a block off Decatur in New Orleans' French Quarter. It's hard to tell from this picture how truly, bone-breakingly deep the hole is – but believe me, even after living in New Orleans for four years, I was impressed.

So anyway, good luck to anyone who falls in this beauty and tries to get justice... New Orleans scoffs at your pothole indignation and says, "We're built on a swamp. Watch where you're going."

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Big Strawberry

I don't know... this monster on the left just seems all wrong to me. I couldn't bring myself to eat it, but when I came back a few minutes later I discovered Berry had had no such qualms.