Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tadpole Diaries #4

July 21
Who knew that the men were allowed to attend the breastfeeding class? I went alone and was surprised to see the seats filled with couples. Oops. Eric would have loved an entire class about breasts - what man wouldn't? Ha. I feel like I deprived him of the coup d'etat in the parenting series.

The class was 2.5 hours long and the instructor bore a resemblance to Mrs. Doubtfire. She had several stuffed felt breasts that she used for demonstration purposes. The couple next to me got the giggles early on during the session and all I wanted to do was laugh along with them.
At one point, the teacher passed out the realistic looking babies that we were to use to try in various holds. They actually name these "holds," The football hold, the cradle hold...etc.
The fake baby that I was handed was Asian in appearance. An Asian couple sat in front of me and they were given a very pale, blue-eyed child.

We all tried to pretend that it was no big deal but kept glancing at each others "dolls" and wondered if we should just make a hasty exchange.

July 22
I went to get into the car this AM and couldn't. I generally have the car for work and when I park our SUV in our VERY small garage, I have to move it far over to the left in order to get in and out . Even being ALL the way over to the left, so that the mirror touches the garage wall, the right hand drivers door only opens about halfway.

Yesterday evening, Eric drove the car and Eric parked the car. My flat bellied hubby could get in and out of the car but I turned sideways and had to scrape my belly against the wall and behind against the car. My coat has streak marks from the scrape.
Ummm, sweetie, do you think you could park the car WAYYYYYY over next time????

Aug 13
Someone from my work resigned today. We are seriously short-staffed and now we have lost a person. She was hired a year ago and was struggling to understand the material. She had difficulties in a few surgeries and when we sent her back to training, it became too much and she submitted her resignation today.

I feel bad for everyone on my team and the increased work load. Whether they like it or not, in five weeks time (or less), I'm taking leave. I'm taking my well deserved, love my baby, enjoy my time, stay up all night, be sleep deprived, worry about things, live in baby world time OFF!!!! Yippee.

When I think about all the times I've had to cut a vacation short or not take it at all due to work constraints, I feel like it's a normal part of my job. I've flown back from tiny airports at wee hours of the night just to cover cases. I've driven through blizzards and been snowbound in cities (Grand Forks) for two days. I've checked patients at 3 am just so I could get to the next place in time for a morning session. I was locked between two sliding doors for a good part of a Thanksgiving morning (that doesn't really fit in here, but it is a funny story). I had to trade call weekends and pick up extra days just so that we could get in our honeymoon last summer. I always panicked about things being covered and things going smoothly in my absence. I kept my cell phone on. I kept my blackberry on. I answered calls from my boss and called hospitals while hiking, camping, and skiing.

This time is different. I cannot postpone due to the inconvenience of anyone else. I will turn off my phone when I am sleeping. I will still return calls, but I can't be at the beck and call of work during this time.

That brings me joy and relief that I haven't felt since I started this crazy profession 6 1/2 years ago.

August 14
Many years ago, when Tofte was still a puppy, I had an interaction that I never forgot. It was a hot summer day, I was driving my little VW bug convertible and Tofte the puppy was sitting in the passenger seat. I was stopped at the intersection of Grand and Lexington when a woman in a minivan next to me rolled down her window and yelled, "You have my former life!" She went on to say that they used to have a convertible but sold it when she had her kids. She and her husband also had a golden retriever but they had just put it down. She paused for a bit and then laughed and said, "Look how the years change things." She was a perfectly joyful woman seated in a beat up minivan with the sounds of yelling children coming from the back seat.

At that moment, I loved my life.

Eric and I have friends here that have in many ways lived a parallel existence to us for the last year. They are an American couple that married just a few weeks before we did, and they moved to Melbourne a week before us. They came here with a transfer for her job and he had a bit of trouble finding work.
There are many similarities among the four of us, but one primary difference, they are ten years our juniors and like the woman in the minivan, THEY have our former lives!
They are busy all the time and travel almost every weekend. They go downhill skiing, take trips all over Australia, and fore-go sleep so that they can take in an extra day somewhere and get back on a red eye flight just in time for work on Monday.

I'm ready for baby and this is a whole new adventure, but I must admit that watching them and witnessing their freedom makes me a bit jealous. I don't know all the joys that this next adventure will bring, so I can only look back longingly and know what I'm leaving behind.
Bye for now last-minute-travel and dodgy accommodations, hello new life.

August 16
Our landlord put a new dresser in our apartment when we were away in the US. We were very happy about it as we now had a place to put all the new baby clothing. All the outfits were carefully washed and dried at my mom's before returning to AU and when we got here, they were divided by size and stored safely away in the dresser.

Something happened.

The dresser drawers are made with some sort of compressed resin/sawdust/formaldehyde material that began off-gassing. All of our cleaned and new baby clothes smelled toxic. I mean really really toxic. Like Rat-poison toxic.

Since we don't have a dryer and our itsy bitsy washing machine takes about 2 hours for a load, we made a trip to the laundromat.

For some reason the laundromat trip was a weekend highlight. I can't explain why. Was it the volume of baby clothing that we hauled with us? Was it watching all of these tiny little things going round and round in industrial size dryers? Was it the glances of those around us as Eric and I giggled while folding these tiny clothes? Was it the fact that even baby socks go missing in a dryer?

Anyway, all our little tots clothing is now safely cleaned and resting comfortably in the crib. The toxic dresser has been moved to the living room where it contains office supplies and various papers.

August 20
Most women in Australia finish up work between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. I'm 35 weeks along and you should hear the comments. I think I'm the biggest and most unusual thing anyone has ever seen in the workplace. I'm all belly. Most people describe if they are carrying High or Low. Eric says I'm carrying the child "external".

We've been watching the Olympics (LOVE THEM!!!) and the commentators make references to the body types of the athletes. "Well, now, isn't she a chubby gymnast" and "He doesn't look like your typical diver...quite old looking." It cracks us up. Maybe it's an Australian thing. They feel rather free to comment on body shapes.

So, with that in mind, I would like to share my list of things that a person should and should not say to a pregnant woman.

Let's start with the Should's...
1. "Good luck" or "Best Wishes"
2. "You look so tiny"
3. "My friend so and so was so much bigger at that stage..."
4. "Congratulations"
5. "How are you feeling?"
6. "Are you sleeping alright?"
7. "You look radiant."
8. "What a cute outfit."
9. "When are you due?"
10. "Do you know the gender?" and a considerate "Are you telling?"
11. "Where are you having the baby?"
12. "What are you most excited about?"

And the things that it would be best to REFRAIN from saying...
1. "My goodness, you're huge."
2. "You look pale."
3. Any horror stories about baby delivery.
4. The word "Tear"
5. "Is it twins?" and then further insistence that perhaps it is twins and "maybe the doctor just hasn't told you."
6. Asking gender is fine, following it up with, "but what are you hoping for?" is not.
7. "When are you due, yesterday?"
8. Any comment that includes the word "waddling."
9. Remarks about how much smaller someone else was at that stage.

And the all too personal series...
10. "Will you be delivering vaginally?"
11. "Will you be breastfeeding?"

and the doomsday favorite...
12. "Life as you know it is about to be over, are you sure you want this?"

August 23
What a quandary.
What a major decision.
alright, I open up the floor for suggestions.

We already have a girl name all picked out. In fact, we had about 5 girl names that we really loved, but one came naturally and we are about 98% certain of it.

However, since we don't know the gender...we need a boy name.

That is SO much more difficult.
I don't know why, but it seems that there is much less creativity in the boys names and I go back and forth between something traditional and something more "out there."

However, the risk with a boys name seems just that much greater.

We have about 6 baby name books. Most have titles like, "600,000 names for babies or the much more creative "401,000 baby names." We also bought a survey book that lists people's opinions of certain names and another book titled, "Cool names for babies."

If we went with something purely Australian, we'd end up with one of the rather odd names like "Hamish or Lochlan". Don't fret, those two aren't in the running.
Alistair is out as well.

There is, however, an Aussie Olympian swimmer with a certain interesting name that we are considering.

Eric has a couple of favorites and so do I. Unfortunately we are having a hard time meeting in the middle on them.

So...post your (serious) suggestions and all will be considered.

August 24
This is the day that we left Minnesota last year. One year ago today. At times I think "Is that all? and at other times I realize how much can change in just one year.

For Eric, he's just wondering who the chick in our wedding photos is...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

We can never move to the UK

When mild mannered Eric manages to anger people into leaving a dinner party early, we know we are in trouble.

Last night we attended a party with a mix of Brits and Australians. It was an awkward beginning for the eight of us in attendance. There were introductions of names only and we all found ourselves standing around a kitchen counter hovering over an appetizer platter. There were moments of silence interrupted by the occasional inquiry. "So, where do you work." Nothing really seemed to engage anyone and conversations fell flat.

However, one person had arrived with a very professional looking set of poker chips and we knew that the silence between people couldn't last forever.

When dinner was finished and the table was cleared, the game carrying guest began to take out the poker chips.

In retrospect, that's when the we should have left.

The chips were distributed by color! "OK, you be the blue chips, you are the red chips, you two are the white chips." AGRRGGGHHHH. Values people, chips have values. One must respect these chips!

Over the course of the evening, any number of serious grievances that would have gotten us shot in Vegas began to occur. Hands were mis-dealt and then simply amended rather than re-dealt, people folded and then reentered the game whenever they felt like it, there were too many out of turn raises to be counted, one person declared a flush with a set of four, someone else declared a straight with a card missing from the middle. I began to feel like a rule keeper.

Halfway through the game, most of the chips sat at the end of the table between Eric and myself. When I returned from getting a water and a taking trip to the bathroom, I found that the chips had been "redistributed" as people were "running out."

I quickly and purposefully lost my remaining chips so that I could just become permanent dealer. Eric's pile of chips came and went as the person next to him gave him handouts. Finally, he missed out on a massive winning in the middle of the table because no one understood the concept of splitting the pot. Apparently in this off-label game, there was only one winner each time. HUH? Suddenly it was not a five card game, but a seven card game in those instances.

OK, we aren't poker gurus, but we know enough not to be completely dim about the game. This abomination of Texas Hold-em was too much for us, especially Eric.

With us both eliminated from the game, we watched as another person was about to become robbed of a huge win in a same 'split-pot' scenario. Eric, the defender of the innocent quiet ones, got a bit aggressive and HAD to point out the error of their ways and demand that they give some chips to a relatively quiet woman at the end of the table. Eric was outraged that they couldn't see that she had ALSO won. Mild mannered Eric was standing, rather loud and trying to manage the reorganization of the chips.

That was it. The British sensitivities couldn't handle any more. Suddenly the two Brits at the end of the table declared, "This is no longer fun and we are leaving." They were gone within about 3 minutes.

We left about 5 minutes after them and when I got to the car, I couldn't stop laughing.
The only thing I could say to Eric was, "Well, we can NEVER move to the UK."