In which I discuss the weather

People tend to say that “Hell has frozen over” when something incredibly unlikely or unusual has taken place.

I’m starting to wonder if Hell is actually already frozen over. What makes us think it’s typically a warm place, anyway? From what I’ve seen, living in this ‘Arctic Vortex’ for what seems like forever, never ending cold, snow and bitter wind are certainly seem to be eternal torment or punishment.

I’m going to briefly point out that I’m not normally one to complain about the weather. I genuinely appreciate having four very different seasons and the very different pleasures and challenges that come with each. Spring has lots of rain but it also sees the return of all kinds of animals. Summer can be sticky and smelly, but there’s something really encouraging about feeling the sun on your face (and most of us look better with tans, let’s be honest). Autumn, however brief, always seems to have the perfect mix of crisp, fresh air and bright colours, but the days start to get noticeably shorter. And then there’s winter – cold, snowy and serene.

Now that that’s taken care of, it’s time to complain about the weather.

I’ve been pretty good this winter, despite the outrageous conditions. Sure, it’s at least ten degrees colder than seasonal most days – that’s okay, it’s practice for living in Cochrane. And yes, we’ve had way more snow than usual, and it has all come on weekdays, so my husband’s been away at school and I’ve had to shovel it all myself – it’s probably good to get the exercise. And there has yet to be a real thaw, so everywhere I go is a catastrophic carnival of ice, leading to the possibility at any moment that I might fall square on my belly and dent this Little Parasite – I have yet to think of an up side to this one, but I’m dealing with it.

But now it’s the end of February, and winter is threatening to last forever, and I have a problem: my coats are getting dangerously close to no longer doing up.

When I found out in October that I was pregnant, here was my thought process; “Okay, I’ll start getting big around five months, probably. That puts me at the end of February, and my regular coats should do until then. I should be able to get by one what I already own for winter wear, and all of the maternity clothes I buy can be spring- and summer-appropriate, which will cut down on costs.”

Any other year, it would have been a sound plan.

But this year, Hell has frozen over, and all of the clearance winter coats are already sold or put into boxes and shipped to the clothing old folks’ home to live out their final days. If there even is such as thing as maternity long johns, I am quite certain that the beginning of March is not the appropriate time to go looking for them. And the plentiful selection of hoodies that remains in stores is limited to those made of breathable, cute fabrics, not the heavy duty stuff that will protect me from wind chills capable of incapacitating toes.

In short, I think the ship has sailed on being properly prepared for a polar pregnancy.

So, what’s the new plan?

I really don’t know. Stay inside for the next month, I guess. I’m sure work won’t miss me too much, and I’ve got some reading I’d like to catch up on, anyway.

A farewell to toes

The interesting thing about losing enough weight to go from ‘morbidly obese’ to ‘normal’ is that moment – for me, it was about 65 pounds into my weight loss journey – where one realizes that toes are once again visible.

Of course, I could always see my toes. If I bent over or stretched out, they’d still be there, attached to my foot in the same orientation as always. It didn’t occur to me that I should be keeping an eye on them, so I never realized that I couldn’t just look down and see them.

Until one day I could.

I remember in the shower one day, I was opting to lather and rinse but not to repeat, and I casually glanced down and saw the edge of a toenail peaking out.  It wasn’t the sorry attempt at nail polish coverage that shocked me, but the abrupt awareness that I couldn’t remember the last time that had happened to me.

That was about a year ago, and with every pound or two shed since then, I’ve gotten a clearer view of my exquisite digits (not to mention a few new bottles of nail polish).

Of course, I eventually got used to the new toe viewing situation, and my excitement about the experience faded.

Well, let me take you back the shower with me, this time just a couple weeks ago, when I discovered that something was once again afoot. Once again, I was refusing to toe the line, ignoring the shampoo bottle’s instruction to repeat the lathering and rinsing process. A thought occurred to me, and I looked down out of a sense of regretful duty – I knew the floor of the tub would be covered in dog hair, and when I saw it, I’d be obligated to take action. To my surprise, I didn’t spot any dog hair. In fact, I didn’t spot much of anything – my downward view was blocked by my own bulging belly.

I delighted in this knowledge for a moment, feeling that karma was handing me a sly favour (perhaps in recognition of me not eating that last chocolate chip cookie so my husband could have it). I wouldn’t have to clean the tub after all. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

But then it occurred to me – my toes were out of sight, too.

My mood snapped from probably-too-happy to definitely-too-sad in an instant. It seemed devastating and unfair; all my hard work and progress was now being eclipsed – literally – by my bump. I considered going to the store to buy some paper hats and colourful candles to throw myself a pity party (and maybe to pick up some more chocolate chop cookies, too), but instead, thankfully, a quick cry seemed to discharge the built-up crazy hormones from my brain, and I was able to re-evaluate the situation.

Of course my belly is big. Of course I can’t see my toes. This isn’t a step back – it’s a step forward, into a new phase of life. It’s something to be celebrated.

I’ve lost a bunch of weight before, and I have complete confidence that I can do it again. The difference this time around is that when I’m finally able to count my toes again, I’ll have a whole other 10 to keep them company.

A house to write home about

I guess my golden locks are coming in handy.

We ended up seeing six houses in Cochrane. One was too stinky. One was too haunted. One was too decrepit. One was too small. And one was too nice (yeah, that’s a thing).

If you’re doing the math at home, that’s five houses that were knocked out of contention for being too something. But if fairy tales have taught me anything, and if houses can be readily compared to porridge or chairs or beds, then the one remaining house would definitely be just right. Right?

The last house was – is, I guess – a little out there. Literally. It’s about six kilometres outside the town, and it has all the ingredients of a typical rural house. Let’s review, shall we? It has about an acre of land. It has a well. It has a septic system. It’s heated with a wood furnace. And it has exactly one neighbouring house.

Are these things we were looking for in a home? Absolutely not.

But it also has all the things on our wish list. It’s move-in ready. It has three bedrooms on the same floor. It has two working toilets (in case of pooping emergencies). It has a fireplace. It has a double attached garage. It has a workshop.

In that sense, the house is just right.

Neither one of us fell in love with it when we first walked in – in fact, we both had our hearts set on other houses we had already seen. One of us (him) really liked the decrepit house and one of us (me) really liked the nice house. We both ended up ranking the house in question as a moderate second choice. But we each appealed to the other’s practical side to dissuade our respective first choices.

On the decrepit house: “I really don’t want to have to walk down two flights of stairs through a dingy basement to have  a shower – especially when we have a baby. And we’re going to have to tear down the sun room, and we won’t have the time or money for that. And the room configurations are awkward and might limit what we can put in them.”

On the nice house: “It’s just not us.”

So after seeing the whopping five other choices in our price range, we opted to go back and have a look at the house that could have been any number of things – too rural, too rustic, too isolated, too wood furnace-y – to see if we could fall in love with it. Looking around it with a more critical eye, I saw a lot of flaws. The windows are old. The main washroom doesn’t have a window or a fan. The other washroom is a little cramped. The kitchen is dated – more dated than when my parents still had orange cabinets and a matching yellow stove to boot.

But then, it happened; I caught myself thinking about the changes we could make when we bought the house.

When, not if.

Flaws be damned, I guess I loved the house. And I could see in my husband’s eyes that the prospect of a wood furnace was really starting to appeal to his lumberjack tendencies. “I guess I should start taking pictures so we can show our parents and figure out where we’re going to put everything, eh?” “Yes.” It my mind, the house had already become our future home.

To be clear, it isn’t ours yet, but we’re working on putting in an offer.

It turns out the house is too something, though – it’s too good to be true. (Except it is true. We saw it and intend on buying it.)

Let’s talk about sex, baby

Before I got pregnant, I never would have thought I’d be the kind of person who would be interested in finding out the sex of a baby before it was born.

Now that this Little Parasite is halfway to cooked, I’m a lot less sure of what kind of person I am.

I still think finding out at the actual birth is a romantic idea. I am of the opinion that life is full of very few positive surprises, so you may as well maximize the ones you get. And after going through the less-than-glamorous process of extracting a living human from one’s nether regions, I can only imagine what a delightful surprise it would be to find out a piece of information that will surely shape how you relate to that child (whether you want it to or not). 

But in the weeks leading up to my 20-week ultrasound, my romantic side started getting into a bit of a skirmish with my curiosity.

I’ve always been in the business of learning as much as I can about any new situation that comes my way. For example, while I only own one (okay, three) pregnancy book(s), I have about eight pregnancy websites bookmarked to check on at least a weekly basis, and I check a forum for pregnant women multiple times a day. I seriously believe that knowledge is power (and that having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card), and regardless of whether I can do anything about a particular situation (for example, knowing about the potential for pooping during delivery doesn’t mean it won’t happen), I still feel confident and comfortable if I know what to expect. 

I realize there’s not a whole lot that knowing LP’s sex will change – especially because I do not plan on focusing my attention on blue- or pink-specific paraphernalia – but my need to be over prepared certainly wants me to get all the information possible about this baby before it arrives.

My conflicting ideals left me hovering somewhere near the proverbial fence – some days in favour of taking a peek between LP’s legs now, and others preferring to let him or her grow in peace for the next four-and-a-half months.

My husband was not much help.

In a series of conversations that reminded me how eerily similar we are in terms of romanticising ‘the old-fashioned way’ and being practical in terms of current realities, he flip-flopped in rhythm with me. When he was flopping, I was flipping, and vice versa.

Finally, about four days before the can, we both flipped at the same time. We decided we’ve had enough surprises in the past few months – let’s be prepared.

(Plus, I figured, it’s as much as nice surprise now as it would be in the summer.)

Why hello there, Little Parasite. Good of you to sit still for a moment to have your photo taken.

Why hello there, Little Parasite. Good of you to sit still for a moment to have your photo taken.

We haven’t had the official results on the issue – ultrasound technicians aren’t allowed to disclose the sex to patients – but it’s a good thing we made that decision, because I’m pretty sure I got a glimpse of the all important bits during the scan. Of course, I’m not going to announce what I think I saw just yet because I am not a trained ultrasound technician, and I have an overwhelming fear of the public humiliation that would ensue if I were incorrect.

But I can say even believing that I know one way rather than the other has been a great relief. I’m now confident that it was the right decision for us.

Given that my husband and I shook on not exchanging Christmas gifts or Valentine’s day gifts, I can’t say I’m surprised to discover I’m not as much of a romantic as I originally thought.