Thursday, July 24, 2008

Half a world away

Roxy, '02

I took this photo almost six years ago on the Greek island of Ios. It's not your typical travel shot, but I love it. It perfectly captures the mood of our existence in that moment. I remember we were enjoying a bit of respite from the clumsiness of navigating our way through crowds on train platforms, from faulty phone cards, from blistered feet. All five of us with nothing better to do than read, rest, write, think. It was quiet.

Danielle was in and out of a nap, Steph was stretching. I was casually wondering how I was going to get the bag of laundry back that I'd forgotten on Naxos. There was mention of when and where we'd replenish our bottled water supply. Oh and there was a cat, poor thing (was it three-legged?... or one-eyed?...), who followed us back to our dwelling on a previous outing and waited outside our door for whatever edible offerings we tossed its way.

And there was Joey, a stray dog who was adored by travellers (and therefore travellers were wholeheartedly adored back) and really should have come home with us to Canada. When we left Ios he tried to get on the ferry with us and, heartsick, we watched him nervously pacing the dock while the boat pulled away. I still have his photo pinned to the cork board next to my desk at work. I hope that he has a family now and that his stomach is full.

Another reason I love this photo is that I remember what is beyond the limits of its frame. Everytime I look at it, I also see the rest of the room and the vistas beyond it. If the shot was just a little wider, you'd see that to Roxanne's right is a door opened onto a balcony overlooking a ragged, other-worldly landscape cluttered with white-washed domes, seen in miniature from our vantage point high above the waters of the Aegean Sea. There's a little palm tree silhouetted by a hazy October sunset, and a gradation of land masses fading, fading, fading into the distance.

Some things are clearer when left to memory, floating on the fringe.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One day soon

Dallas Eve, a little imp

So I never intended for this blog to become any kind of pregnancy journal, but today I'm feeling compelled to write about some thoughts I've been having related to this whole birth thing. Just a warning: what follows is a personal matter (that I am not opposed to sharing) and significantly strays from the style of my typical blog posts.

Before I became pregnant, and even throughout these first six months, I was certain that I would ask for an epidural if the pain became too much to bear, and would have no qualms in doing so. Even though I think I have a high threshold for pain, I kept reminding myself that labour pain is in a completely different league and that I, as a first timer, might be totally unprepared for it.

But then I began asking myself: Why do I have to feel unprepared for it? Just because it will be a sensation (likely an excruciating one) I've never felt before doesn't mean I have to be completely blind-sided by it. I would like to think that there are effective ways I could psychologically and physically cope with the intensity of labour without surrendering to chemical interventions. And my rational for hoping to avoid drugs isn't necessarily because I'm worried about side effects or consequentials, but more because of a growing determination I have to do it on my own (or more accurately, with a team of drug-free people by my side). Why shouldn't I be able to own the pain? Why not have to suffer a bit to bring my son or daughter into this world? So my thoughts have shifted and I am now approaching this as a true test of strength, as a challenge of focus, of teamwork, of self-control. I want to feel it. As absurd as this may sound, I actually want to enjoy the pain. Afterall, the reward will be more than worth the effort.

In the past when I'd hear of expectant mothers who were adamantly opposed to taking drugs I'd wonder why they would choose to suffer. I'm sure everyone has different reasons for hoping for a natural birth, and for me it's not that I'm trying to be some kind of a hero, but recently I've had an instinctive desire to do as nature intended and I feel very secure in it. My yoga instructor is big on existing in and appreciating the present moment (shocking, no?) and she talks about changing our perception of things that we are conditioned to view as a chore or something we would rather get over with quickly. A difficult yoga pose, for example. Our muscles are straining to hold it, we're struggling to balance, we feel pressure. And we're waiting for the yogi to relieve us of the task of holding it and move on to the next thing. Counting, breathing, waiting, waiting. But why can't we just embrace the difficulty of the position? More like counting, breathing, listening. We are fortunate just to have bodies that are functional enough to allow us to operate them in such a biomechanical way. We have sensation, we are living. Why not confront the difficulty? Why not enjoy it? And truly, at least with yoga, as soon as I switch over to that mentality, the experience is completely different and becomes spiritual.

Now, I am NOT comparing downward dog to labour! I may have already exposed my naivety regarding some aspects surrounding childbirth, but I by no means attempt to convince myself that labour will be a little uncomfortable at worst. I completely acknowledge the possibility of it becoming so intolerable that I start to panic, shake, vomit, scream. And that, dear friends, will be the weakest link, if it comes to it. It will be in that moment when I will beg for pain medicaton. I have experienced significant physical pain before and it's when panic sets in that I lose both my control and my focus. But it's no secret that breathing helps. When I have a migraine, or when I'm at the height of anxiety during take-off on an airplane, I rely on my breathe and turn my focus inward.

But essentially, it's that breaking point that I know I will need help with if my wish is to not surrender to it. I have total faith that Scott will be supportive and wonderful, but I know it can be a challenging and exhausting experience for partners too. So after some thinking and discussing, we have decided to interview a doula, or labour coach. Using a doula statistically (and I like statistics) lowers the instances of Caesarean births, requests for chemical interventions, the likelihood of a long labour, and improves the active participation of the partner. Not to mention, I think I'll really need another woman there, someone who is very familiar with childbirth and can give me a play-by-play of what's going on. I want to know the mechanics of what's happening in my body. The more I can visualize, the more in control I know I will feel, even if unforeseeable events occur that are totally beyond my control.

And additionally, the more I educate myself and the more support I have, the less I fear and the stronger my confidence.

This has been more of a stream-of-consciousness journal entry than anything, a way for me to articulate in writing the crux of my I don't expect many of you to have made it to the end of this post, but if you have, thank you for sticking with me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One year ago today

Love you Scotty, so much.
(photos by the extraordinary talents of Helene Cyr.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A rose, a ring, a deer

1) A lovely orange garden rose from Laurel. It smells like how summer should be and makes brushing my teeth in the morning that much more lively.

2) A recent acquisition found by my sister-in-law, Danielle, at Paradise Boutique in Victoria. We were on the hunt for just such a ring.

3) It needs a good pressing, but this is the fabric sample I ordered from Spoonflower. Recognize the deer? I'm satisfied with the results, although I think I'd be better off sticking with simple line-drawn designs, solid colours, and vector graphics. I'm not sure their printing system is sophisticated enough to produce sharp images of rendered drawings. But these little fawns will do for now and will certainly make a sweet throw pillow.

*an update on the quilt:
Quilting has been put on hold due to the fact that we are in the process of moving and everything is packed up, making crafting of all kinds slightly inconvenient. Or rather it's the moving and the packing that's the inconvenient part. That, and I've started a knitting project which is much easier to work on than a quilt while teetering atop a stack of boxes, watching Scott work his magic with a tape gun.

Monday, July 7, 2008

pink lemonade

The infamous "Never-been-worn" quarterly clothes swap and auction returns.

a Sunday afternoon with some of my favourite girls....

....and a mini Carrie Bradshaw's first birthday xoxo