Oh c’mon, out with it already!

What kind of support would you want when you have a baby? Your spouse, your in laws, your parents? The right answer of course is an endless number of maids and nannies, but if beggars could choose and blah blah…🙃

Any (realistic) combination will have its own pros and cons. So when it came about that my in laws will be here for the first 6-7 months of my postnatal journey, I could see the positives and negatives of that. Although as far as in-laws go, they are quite nice. It’s their first time outside the country and this visit is making two of their dreams come true. I am a little self conscious about family seeing me all huge so am really hoping the baby makes a landing before they do.

My gut instinct tells me the baby is going to be late so am working as long as possible. Some of my friends at work throw me a great baby shower, and I am blown away by how much effort they had put into it. After just a few months in Canada, I have actually managed to make more friends than I did in all those years in bangalore. I find it so easy to talk to people here  even when they come from such varied backgrounds or maybe it’s because of it. People are genuinely nice and patient here and I find myself becoming a better person just being in such a place, trying to return the favor.

My colleagues at work have started asking me why am still working, so 3 days before my due date, I  begin my maternity leave. It’s a pity because I had just got into the groove of things and after a year of maternity leave, who knows how it’s going to be. Still, Am carrying some work related documents home with me to just refresh my memory during  the year long vacation (any moms reading the blog – please excuse me, I am a FTM ☺️). I am going to miss working with a few of my colleagues a lot, like my Japanese friend M who is my cubicle and subway-ride mate, and is a super nice and interesting person. She was actually born in a car on the way to the hospital, imagine that!!! That’s the stuff of my nightmares.

My in laws are arriving 5 days after my due date and A has planned for contingencies like if that coincides with my labor. Something tells me that the baby is not going to be here by then and am very disappointed by that.

My due date has come and gone and there’s no sign of the baby. I must have had 5 membrane sweeps by now, and they are NOT pleasant. All the ultrasounds show baby is healthy and super comfy. Throughout this pregnancy, I haven’t been very fanatical about baby movement counter, and the baby is not super athletic inside. Just a tiny roll here and there is all he offers us. So I guess it’s no wonder, he’s taking his sweet time in getting here.

Of course, by now I am quite OK about the idea of a baby (high time, right!) so am getting really frustrated that he’s in no hurry to meet his mom. And so my in laws are here, settled in and baby is still not here. On top of it, living in a tiny 1 bedroom flat with endless trips to the single bathroom that we share among 4 of us, is getting to me.

My midwife Natalie is supportive of waiting as long as I want, but does want me to get induced after 14 days of the due date. They have been so nice to me, even working late evenings to see me. I am quite overwhelmed by this point and in one appointment, just can’t hold back my tears…. Gawd, how embarrassing! Oh and I have long stopped responding to people’s messages asking if the baby’s here yet.

It’s 11 days past my due date; we have just finished dinner and I start feeling some mild contractions but of course, nowhere close to 5-1-1. The contractions continue through the night, they are painful but just not close enough. A is super helpful guiding me through them with the breathing techniques. Thank God, he paid attention in those prenatal classes! Then at 2:30 am, my waters break!!!! We are in business, people 😎

 

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What (and where) is it going to be?

I won’t forget the moment I got my first look at the tiny life inside my tummy. That was the moment it became real to me. I can’t say I was still very emotional just then, but I was no longer in denial.

In the next ultrasound appointment, I will know the gender of the baby. I am so looking forward to that. Back home in India, it’s not legal to reveal the gender so I am glad to have the chance here. Now, I am not the sort to have maternal fantasies from a young age, but whenever I pictured myself as a mom, it was always to a boy. I know A has always had a desire to raise a girl and raise her in a gender neutral way. And frankly, I would also want to do that with a boy.

My ob is good and I am embarrassed to say this but I would have really liked some fussing about, which is missing. Not that I am expecting or getting a lot of that at home. I guess we are just not that sort of people anyway. But my colleagues are being so supportive that it makes up for it. I am kinda socially awkward, but it feels great to have such lovely colleagues and I am grateful for it. My colleague and friend, P, keeps telling me to opt for a midwife birth. I was taken aback because it seems so old school and anyways, isn’t it too late now?

My ultrasound results are out and what do you know! We are having a boy!!!! Oh I am over the moon and it’s no longer just real, but it’s exciting. A is a little disappointed but ehhh…. He’ll get over it.

My ob is affiliated to the North York general hospital. While it has a good reputation, my gut tells me this is not the place I want to have my baby. And an incident confirms this for me.

I have some uterine fibroids and pregnancy hormones can sometimes cause unbearable pain by shrinking the fibroids. I had this severe pain one night and I  called up both north york general and sunnybrook (closer to me). Nygh lady was so brusque while the person at sunnybrook was so sympathetic and asked me to come in. I did just that and all the nurses there were so sweet. It was exactly the kind of TLC I had been craving throughout my pregnancy. The next day, the pains were back again and this time, I decided to go to nygh as that’s where I am delivering. Everything about that experience felt so, so wrong. The nurses were super rude. They did their job but with absolutely no empathy or even a kind word. They discharged me when I was so weak from pain and medication that I fainted at the hospital’s front door. That does it for me. Do I really want to be at my most vulnerable self and place myself and my baby in the care of such unfeeling staff? No!  Meanwhile, my ob informs me that she’s going to be on vacation for about 2 months and won’t be around for my delivery. Well, ob don’t deliver the baby unless they are the on call doctor too, so while it doesn’t make that much of a practical difference, it triggers me to be more assertive about shaping my birthing experience.

On a whim and a night spent awake by endless bathroom visits, I apply for a midwife at seventh generation clinic – a team of midwives with access to Sunnybrook  hospital. I don’t expect anything to come out of it as I am already 34 weeks along and have never heard of anyone changing care so late.

But what do you know? I get a call from seventh generation and they have a midwife for me!! I am excited but terrified at the same time. A thinks I am over thinking and nygh will be just fine but he leaves the decision to me.  I decide to meet the midwife and then make a decision. I meet Natalie and we have a long chat and after some thought, I decide to trust my gut and go with a midwife. Phew, so much happening and it’s already 37 weeks!!!

But now I  know this – I am having a boy that will be delivered by someone I am familiar and comfortable with in a hospital I like. And I am proud that I decided to take charge and shape things my way instead of just sitting, wishing and fretting. I feel like a new person and I cannot wait to meet the new person inside me.

 

 

And it’s official

Life in Canada is lonely. When we packed our bags and moved here, I think we were still unclear about our reasons why. At some level, I think for A, it was so parents could realise their dream of visiting abroad. For me, I guess I just wanted a first world experience. Not that life in bangalore was bad, in fact it was great. Even now, when I think back, I have only fond memories. Even so, in a way, the romantic in me felt that building our life afresh in a new place would be such a great thing for the relationship because of a shared nature of experiencing something brand new. In a sense, moving to a new country together is sort of like experiencing the parenthood journey 😊. But like I said, that’s the romantic in me and life is not all romance, not for everyone.

We have a few friends here, some we knew from India and some were friends of friends. In a foreign land, you work harder at friendships. Both A and I are not socially magnetic people, although A is super friendly and loves to make friends. Anyhow, the first people we revealed the pregnancy to were a couple, B&B, who started out as friends of friends, are lovely people and I have come to like them a lot. I hope we can be friends for a long time.

By now, my probation period is over and I have announced my pregnancy to my manager (was super anxious about this but once you bite the bullet, it’s such a relief). Canada allows a mat leave of  upto 1 year with payouts by govt. Which have a ceiling so I will have some loss of pay. My company will cover me upto 17 weeks so I decide to take mat leave of only 17 weeks. After all, that’s still more than what I would have got in India. B&B advise me strongly against it but I keep my options open.

We make the big reveal to families next – to in laws very casually during a video call. They were caught unawares; they had been waiting so long for this and after 7 years of our marriage, I guess they had given up. I told my mom over phone just as they were leaving for a long train journey to the other end of the country. It was all very muted, and for a while, it was as if they didn’t acknowledge it at all. Well, anyway…

Pregnancy has kinda sunk in now. I have had zero morning sickness or any other side effects. I feel great. I want to do a trip somewhere, so we go to montreal (loved it) and then, Algonquin to see the fall colors. Fall is my favorite season but then, who doesn’t like Fall, eh?

Now that it’s official, everyone has some advice for me. And by that, I mean my in-laws because like I said, it hasn’t really sunk in for my parents yet. They tell me not to eat papaya or pineapple. The Rebel in me resents this advice because I checked with my ob and she says it’s a myth. Anyhow, A requests me not to eat and I wonder if that’s how it’s gonna be from now on – we throw scientific facts out the window and listen to old wisdom from parents and grand parents which may not be right. But after what I have experienced in this journey with  A so far, it hasn’t been like that and I am grateful to him for that. We are doing this our way with parents advising us but we are still the decision makers. That’s the way it should be, but in India is usually not. In fact, here, I am able to be active and carry on my daily life without any changes. I love that.

I haven’t had any cravings per se, although the baby seems to love the aroma of meat and hates certain veggies like green peppers, which make me slightly nauseous but I can eat them still.

I don’t know if it’s because of the mood I am in today or the sum total of my experience here in Canada, but I feel lonely and it makes me feel that yes, I might have had a few distractions (and the familiarity factor) in India that would make it less so but I would have been lonely there too. Because to me, loneliness is a deeply internal feeling with only influencing factor being the state of your closest relationships.

I have to admit though, North America ( and by that, I mean the US and Canada) are a little bland for my taste. They don’t have the dizzying chaos of India or the refined elegance of Europe. We are still mentally converting the dollars into indian currency before buying anything and it’s not a happy calculation.

Oh well, at least we have jobs and  some friends to hang out with and that’s more than what many new immigrants have. Anyways, our first Canadian winter experience is just around the corner and I am looking forward to it. 😊

It’s early days yet

Coming from India, where medical profession is not so regulated, Canada is a huge change. We didn’t have a family doctor yet, but with the pregnancy, things get into a fast forward mode for us.

We haven’t had to experience the infamous wait times etc in Canada yet (fingers and toes crossed that we don’t). We did have to wait for 2 -3 weeks for our first appointment with the family doctor. But once that happened, things fell into place quite easily. Our family doctor referred us to a great ob-gyn and she works right across from my office!!

By this time, I have made a few acquaintances at work. Haven’t announced my pregnancy yet, waiting for the first trimester to get over as they say the chances of miscarriage are pretty high then. I am still on probation and mulling to myself if I should tell the manager about the pregnancy before probation is over. I decide not to, because of the first trimester thing again.

Trying to go for a walk everyday. Work is new and I am learning and doing a lot ; really enjoying my work but three words play constantly in my head – I am pregnant.

 

The blue line

You can tell how much having a baby was on our minds, or how naive we were, when we signed a lease for a tiny 1 bedroom apartment for our first year in Toronto.

Our first night in the new house, we find out about the pregnancy. It was all too sudden for me and to be honest, I was kind of in a denial. I could never imagine myself having kids and yet here I was. Was I ready for a baby, or is it possible to ever be ready? I guess not. You take baby steps (pun intended).

And what better time or place for a brand new phase of life – new country, new job, new everything. People say their lives change a lot after a baby, but our new lives were already in a flux. When we have a baby after a few months, it would be a part of our quest to find the new normal.

I see people with a few days old babies, doing their grocery shopping at Walmart or traveling to offbeat places and slowly, I am getting used to the idea that having a baby can be a manageable experience.

Maybe right now, you have a smirk on your face with a thought in your head  – let’s see about that. So you know what – yes, let’s see about that.

 

The new…everything

2016… A year like no other for me.

The year of moving to a new country

The year of leaving a job without knowing if I will get another where I was going

The year of landing in Canada and within 2 weeks, getting  several job offers. Oh the high of knowing you are valued!

The year of living in a cramped basement for the first time in my life and then moving into a tiny 1 bedroom apartment

The year of learning to do everything by myself.

The year of feeling uprooted

The year of feeling free like I hadn’t in a long time

And, finally

The year when I became pregnant. Oh my, can anything come close to  the memories of the time when your life changes irreversibly.

More on this last change in the next few blogs, oh I have got so much to say. 😊