The whole themed-week thing worked for me. I'm hoping it worked for you too, because I think I might do it a little more often between now and the eventual and inevitable demise of this blog in the distant but nevertheless somewhat foreseeable future.
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As clichéd as this may sound, it has taken me a whole 33 weeks to have what I like to call my most recent long-overdue realization: "Wow," I thought to myself in the middle of the night sometime last week "I'm gonna be a 'Mom'."
It is unbelievably, in fact shockingly, easy to live with a little human growing inside your belly for nearly eight months without this fact actually "hitting" you. You acknowledge him, love him, talk to him and even refer to him more often than most people would like, and yet, throughout all of that, you can draw this thin, wavering, fragile, but existent, line between the reality you know and have always known and the one that is about to take over for...well, forever. There are a million things that go on that can trigger the realization either sooner or later, but no matter how late or how early, I guess it has to come. And when it does, it is overwhelming. Exciting. Scary. All-encompassing. Moreso than being pregnant. Moreso than having a giant belly or having to give up your entire wardrobe and a slew of your favorite foods and drinks.
In some ways, as much as I hate to admit it, once it does hit, you have to fight a feeling of quickly growing panic and paranoia that, I think, any good parent-to-be should feel at some point. But nobody really admits this, and much less tells you about it aside from making the occasional remark about "how much your life is going to change." That doesn't even begin to prepare you for realizing it yourself. Much less actually having a baby (I suspect).
Despite the many frightening, different, unfamiliar and somewhat daunting things that stare you unwaveringly in the face once things 'click,' it is a miracle of nature that you (or at least "I") manage to find even MORE reasons why you are happy, excited, eager, and even downright impatient about jumping in the proverbial parental saddle (after a full-recovery and some much-needed pampering, of course).
In honor of this realization, its miraculous nature, and the further and comparatively wildly vast realization that came with it (that no matter how unique or outstanding or extraordinary we pretend to be, the emotional universal human experience is actually pretty, um, universal), I'm dedicating this week's entries to my impending transformation into a parental unit and a bunch of random things relating to the official "pre-transformation period," also known as pregnancy. :)
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Memorable Moments Leading Up to My Long Overdue Realization
5. Why do I suddenly hate seafood markets?
There I was, the picture of summer-vacation-relaxation, in a sun dress, walking along dreamily on an Athenian street sipping my prerequisite Greek Frappe (aka the best way to drink instant coffee) and talking Matt's ear off, as usual, when my eye first caught the endless stalls of fruit ahead of me.
Suddenly I'm dragging Matt through the aisles of one of Athen's largest open-air markets, just around the corner from our hotel. After the fruit, came the meat. Huge slabs of beef, whole pigs, countless examples of offal (and why we, onomotopoeically, call it that) lay before me. Butchers and their blood-stained aprons hack away unmercifully with cleavers that belong only in horror movies and foreign markets. I was fine. I love butchers. I love meat. I love open-air, un-air-conditioned markets.
Walking toward the next set of stalls, I get a glimpse of my favorite part of any food selling establishment: the fishmongers. I love to eat fish. I love the word monger. A match made in heaven.
Then suddenly, t h e b r e e z e b l o w s.
And I do something I NEVER do in a fishmarket - I gag. Big time.
And when I gag, especially more than once (which, in this case, is an understatement) two things always happen: 1. Matt laughs and 2. I almost throw up.
I was seized with a feeling of total and utter hopelessness. The meat around me suddenly began to smell rancid. The Frappe taste only made it worse. And there was no way out without having to pass at least ten more stalls of stinky, nasty sea-y stuff. What was with my sense of smell?! I have allergies - I can't smell anything!
Athenian Meat Market & the goodly Frappe; before the gagging episodeIt was then and there, at that amazingly putrid moment of vomity madness, that Ludovictus first made his presence known. :)
4. Malaysian Chicken Delight - don't go there.
Continuing with the theme of being sick, I should mention that I am one of the blessed and the lucky who was almost not sick at all during her pregnancy. The following is an account of one of two incidents during which the pregnancy thing got the best of my stomach:
Never act excited about a dish you've never tasted while talking to the restaurant's owner about it if you're pregnant. In fact, just don't try anything you're not completely sure you'll love. Because you just never know.
The little Malaysian lady who owns and works at the Chinese place down the street from us really did assure me that I would LOVE the Malaysian Chicken. Having read the description, I was pretty sure I would love it too (what's not to love about chicken cooked in a shrimp paste sauce with vegetables?). But the moment I took the first bite, I knew I could not have been wronger. The chicken tasted flat-out ROTTEN. Like it was a hundred-year-old chicken that had been fermenting underground and then sauteed in shrimp paste and put on my plate.
Matt tasted it and thought it was a little weird too, but then he tasted it again when I told him I swore the flesh was literally decomposing and said he actually liked it.
I then had to suffer through the rest of the meal picking at the bell peppers on the plate and secretly eating Matt's beef and broccoli while the woman's head was turned. She kept coming over and singing the praises of the chicken and telling me what she would order for me NEXT TIME. It was all I could do to hold it together and not gag in her face (I did, however, gag several times at the table - much to Matt's amusement).
I was less than 3 months pregnant then, and we have not been back to that restaurant ever since.
Admittedly, this is partly because as soon as I walked out the front door, I turned my head and vomited all over the sidewalk. I don't know if the owner saw, but I know that the group of people standing outside the bar next door did. And so did the two guys who ran past us to avoid the further vomiting the entire way home. They must have found it odd that Matt was actually laughing at me. Bastard.
3. Wait, a MIDWIFE?
As much as it pains me to admit this, there are a couple of reasons I am glad we have lived in the UK this long. One of them is the chance to find at least one reason not to hate the NHS (National Health Service). Well, oddly, I still haven't done that, but I do have a newfound appreciation for British healthcare in one aspect: childbirth.
I was less than thrilled when, newly pregnant and eager to get started on prenatal care, every hospital I called kept talking about seeing a "midwife." A midwife? Where the hell are the doctors? Aren't midwives those hippie-chick, tree-hugging freaks who hate pain killers and try to lure you into having your child at home where the dangerous process of childbirth could quickly spiral out of control and find you and your newborn dead in the arms of your hyperventilating husband?
Well, I guess if you've grown up in the US that's definitely how you might see it. I sure did. Matt got the lion's share of my rants in this regard, until I finally started to find out more and realized that actually, no, midwives are not freaks - they are trained medical professionals. And they are used in all the hospitals here when it comes to childbirth - OBGYNs are only in the picture if your pregnancy is high-risk (because that's what they specialize in - special births like c-sections and inductions). Otherwise, midwives know all they need to know for normal births.
Normal births! What a concept! You mean people can give birth naturally without being induced, without getting an epidural, without needing twenty IVs stuck in their arms and in a room that's quiet and comfy with just their husband and midwife? Shocking, isn't it? (Well, it was to me.)
Enter The Birth Centre and Pippa my midwife. What relief and what excitement! Whatever I need to do for my safety and that of the baby, I will do, but for now, I can't tell you how excited I am about the possibility of having my baby in such a comfortable, professional, personal place...
They have nothing to do with the NHS. Just thought I'd make that clear. I'm still not over my hatred.
2. "I hope those prawns aren't for YOU."
Just after coming home from the US after Christmas, I ventured to the grocery store to shop for something I now consider a luxury given its scarcity in the UK: fresh, uncooked, unpeeled shrimp.
Of course, they call them prawns here. And they seem to consider it odd that you ever want them unpeeled or uncooked. Or without copious amounts of mayonnaise mixed into them. But we'll save "The Shrimp Cocktail Rant" for another (rainier) day.
I was still in that awkward "I don't think I look pregnant but I clearly do" stage. People were giving me the knowing looks, the knowing smiles, the works. I'm not gonna lie - I kinda liked it. But these little pleasantries were taken to a new level when I made it to the fish counter and ordered 500g of prawns only to have the gentleman serving me pointedly stare and say, "I hope those prawns aren't for YOU."
He meant well. He really did. British people, weirdly, are all told by their doctors, or rather, midwives, and every other person whose ever known a pregnant person or been pregnant themselves, that prawns (and all seafood) are bad for you in pregnancy. I really don't get this at ALL. The medical explanation is that you're not supposed to have undercooked seafood. But who the hell eats raw shrimp!? Anyway, he meant well.
*begin time freeze for explanation*
*begin time freeze for explanation*
*end time freeze for explanation*
I actually just smiled at him - even let out an incredulous giggle - and said, "Well, yes, they are actually." To which he responded with feigned indifference and yet obvious shock at my lack of concern for the unborn, with a shrug.
1. Second Class Citizenship Ahoy!
One of the best parts of being pregnant thus far has been watching Matt. He has gone from being a normal, happy but only somewhat interested father-to-be to a suddenly freaked-out-what-the-hell-is-that-moving-in-your-stomach guy to an excited, picky-name-picking paternal force.
The other night he had to go out to a business dinner where he apparently had the occasion to speak to some recent new-dads. The gist of their sage advice to him, man-to-man, was this:
*insert Matt's comically disconcerted face here*
"They said, 'Get ready to become a second-class citizen in your own house.'"
Is that harsh? :)
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