Feb 28, 2011

The first week

Baby-boy is now more than a week old, and already he's changing. The changes are subtle but there nonetheless. His umbilical cord fell off several days ago, so we've moved from disposable diapers to cloth diapers. This was not an easy transition. The cloth diapers are bulky and their external covers even bulkier. We ended up going to a baby store in town to buy different covers that are very thin and they work a lot better. Even so, at night we've reverted to disposables because the baby seems to feel the "wetness" less in these and therefore sleep longer. No use in being woken up every hour or so.

The first week has been tough. No doubt about it. If I thought recovering in the hospital for 2 days was hard, it only got harder at home - here I have no nurses to ask for help when I freak out about something "weird" the baby is doing, like choking while feeding, or having odd breathing patterns. Of course, these things are probably normal, but when you're coming down off a huge hormonal high and crashing into a dark pitt, these little fears give way to an intense anxiety like I've never experienced in my life. Days 3-7 postpartum therefore proved very challenging. I think I cried every day, maybe several times a day. I barely recognized myself.

By now, day 10 or so, I'm feeling much better and am starting to cope with the new routine. We've figured out some little tricks like using our stroller indoors to put baby-boy in so that we can eat together, hands-free of baby. Our nights can still be somewhat challenging but I've been taking naps during the day when hubby stays with baby-boy who sometimes can be very awake, and practices "tummy time" with him - every day should have a couple of these sessions to strengthen his arms and neck muscles. He seems massively frustrated by the entire thing, but it's necessary.

I'm also getting more used to the breast feeding although the initial latching on remains a painful experience. I think baby-boy tends to be overly enthusiastic in the first minute or so of feeding. The good news is that he fills his diapers every time, evidence that milk is going in at least (and coming out). 

The recovery period in the hospital is mostly a blur to me. I was in some discomfort. Not least because of the stitches and all that goes with it, but also, I was unable to move my arms. This sounds weird, I know, but because they asked me to hold on to handle bars for the pushing, I went my usual physical route of never doing things by half. In other words, I pulled way to hard probably with too much enthusiasm, and ended up with MASSIVE muscle soreness. To the point where I couldn't straighten either arm, or lift a toothbrush to my face, let alone make the movements to actually brush my teeth. This proved enormously frustrating for the first week postpartum, as it took at least that long to heal itself and still I feel pain when I stretch out my arms.

The good news is that having overcome much of this first week pain and hormonal upheaval, I'm now finally starting to feel like myself again. My old self. Pre-pregnancy, without the hormones, the bloating, the pelvic pains, the PUPPP, etc. Oh sure, I have other stuff going on - my neck is sore from holding baby-boy to breast feed (still haven't worked out the perfect position for that one), and I'm somewhat sleep deprived of course, never managing more than about 2 hours max at a time. But at least now I'm beginning to enjoy baby boy and his peculiarities. Slowly, we'll bond.

Feb 27, 2011

The birth

The whole thing started on the 17th. After the “false alarm” of waters that were not broken, we went home and walked a bit. We shopped at our local market and came home, cooked some dinner, took it easy. After all, my hips still tended towards the sore whenever I walked.

The nurse’s joke from the birthing centre seemed to work. “Go run a marathon or something,” she said.

Well, I didn’t run a marathon, but the walking changed something in my body. A bunch of contractions started. Still not that regular, but somewhere between about 5-10 minutes apart. And they seemed different somehow from the pre-labor contractions I’d been experiencing for 2 weeks or so. Stronger. More definite.

At about midnight, I spotted some blood. It scared me a bit since everything I’d read said you should go to the hospital right away if you’re bleeding at any time. Rather than make another trip just to be sent home, I called them.

“Wait an hour,” said a woman with a definitely strong Eastern European accent who was on call that night. In fact, she said something like, “You will probably wait three hours or so and then come in, if the contractions continue.” She wasn’t too worried about the bleeding since it wasn’t very much. But she was right about the timing.

Sure enough, at 3am I decided to go to the hospital. I hadn’t been able to sleep due to the contractions and I woke up hubby who’d managed a few hours. We packed up all our things and go there by 4am. I was put on another baby heart rate monitor for 20 minutes. This time, it showed more definite contractions, still at about 5-7 minutes apart.

“You are 2cm dilated,” said the Eastern European doctor who seemed very stressed out and was none too gentle in her exam. “You go walk for two hours, then come back and I check you again. Walk. All the time walk.”

With that, we were sent packing to go walk. We left our stuff at the hospital and went exploring out doors. It wasn’t too cold, but at about 5.30am, there wasn’t much open. Still, we found a 24 hour coffee shop and I sat for 15 minutes to have a cup of peppermint tea, but then walked again per the accented instructions. We found a Couche-Tard, Quebec’s version of 7-11 and bought some magazines and pulled some money. Then, we headed back to the hospital waiting room where hubby fell asleep on the sofa and I went walking up and down the corridor where all the new mommies and babies sleep. Every few minutes I’d have to stop and hold on to the wall for support to breathe through a contraction. They were stronger, but very manageable at this point.

At around 7.30am we headed back to the triage area and the accented doctor checked me again; 7 am, we discovered is a flurry of activity at the hospital. The nurses and doctors change shifts and many people were coming and going. This meant the on-call Eastern European doctor had to debrief all her cases and she wasn’t exactly happy about it. We observed about half an hour of defensive aggression before she was able to examine me.

The good news was that I was now 3cm dilated. I started to get excited because they told me they’d admit me. In the hallway I had seen Dr. Yuen who had been nice to me the previous day when I had the “false alarm”; she was gentle, kind, informative and all round pleasant. And she seemed pleased to see me again in the corridor, welcoming me with an enthusiastic “You’re back.”

Before being admitted to the hospital, I had to make a trip down to the administration, to sign in officially. It’s quite an experience, sitting there, having pulled your ticket to wait in turn (a la Quebecois), breathing through contractions … for some reason I didn’t anticipate this step, though I suppose it makes sense. Perhaps they thought I was well enough to do this myself rather than have the hospital’s administration system do it for me. In any case, I opted for a private room post delivery and paid a little extra. Some friends had given us the great advice to do this as you don’t want to be sharing a room with an extra mom and baby while trying to recover for 2 days.

Once officially admitted to the room, things progressed their course. The contractions got stronger as time went on but were very bearable. About two hours after I had been officially admitted, at 10am, Dr. Yuen came to see me about breaking my waters (I was walking through the corridor, in fact, at that time). She said it would help progress the labor and also asked how I felt about her doing the procedure – it would be her first time and my birth plan had specified that medical procedures needed to be “vetted” by experienced doctors.

Since the breaking of the membrane is a relatively simple act, I told Dr. Yuen she could do it. I went back to the room and she came to do the deed. After three attempts, during which I could hear that she had broken the membrane, but no fluids were gushing out, she called a more senior intern. The senior intern was able to get things going. On their way out they whispered something about a special type of membrane – I have no idea what was different about my membrane, but I guess it was harder to get things going.

After the membrane rupture, the contractions got a lot stronger. The next few hours are now a bit of a blur to me. At first things were still very bearable; as it got harder, hubby helped me by massaging my back with counter pressure. I moved around the room a lot, changed positions often, used a ball, used the bed, stood up. You name it. At this point, of course, the membrane was already broken so fluid continued to leak out and it was generally a back-and-forth between the bathroom and the main room to manage between pain and cleaning up.

I cannot recall the time, but I’m guessing that about 3 hours before baby’s birth, the contractions started to get strong. I asked the doctor about epidurals: the pros and cons. Hubby said not to try to be too brave; that if what I needed was an epidural, I could by all means have one. The doctor told me the pros/cons and I asked if she could check how dilated I was. She said she could, but not too often because of the risk of infection now that the membrane was ruptured.

I was 5cm dilated. I debated the epidural, and decided to wait. Yes, the contractions were strong, but I thought I could still manage. The doctor told me that was fine and that I could decide later, but warned me that at some point, it would be too late. I acknowledged her comment.

Some time later, the contractions became very strong indeed. And I could no longer breathe through them, nor was any kind of counter pressure working any longer. Hubby could do little but hold my hand through each one, and they were coming on quite often. The nurse, who had been with me throughout the day, and given helpful advice along the way, suggested I take a bath.

This sounded like just the thing; maybe the water would calm the contractions somewhat – boy, was I wrong about that. First off, I had to walk over to the bath, which was a task, and then, once in it, the contractions were just as bad but now I was in a slippery bath and soaking wet besides. The belt I had been wearing around my belly all along to monitor baby’s heartbeat and my contractions was also soaking wet . I quickly decided that the bath wasn’t going to do it, and I needed to get out of the bath and back to my delivery room. I was feeling an urge to push – something the nurse told me to look out for.

Hubby helped me dry off and get me back. The nurse checked me and told me I was 7cm dilated – not yet ready to push. And I wasn’t, I would realize later. I just started to feel an early urge to do so. Back in my room, I experienced major spasms all across my belly and back, like a ring around my body. And not just a single spasm either, that started slow, rose to a peak and then slowly withdrew, as the other contractions had been. No. These spasms were entirely different. Like a massive muscle spasm and they occurred in rapid succession in groups of about 5-10 at a time. It was almost unbearable.  After a few rounds of these, I decided that maybe an epidural was the way to go after all.

The nurse checked me again and said I was 8cm dilated, and that she would get an IV going so that the epidural could be administered. Easier said than done. She gave it two tries, then gave up because my veins wouldn’t cooperate. Another nurse came and gave it another two tries, also failing. A third nurse was hauled in. She was replacing my day nurse (a new shift). She tried once and failed. I was getting sick of being poked, even though these failed attempts were not nearly as painful as my contractions, they added to my discomfort.

I started to feel a much stronger urge to push. The new nurse had an insight. “Why don’t I just check you again,” she said. At this point, 30 had easily passed.

“You’re fully dilated,” she announced.

These were probably the best words I’d heard in a few hours. I was fully dilated. Ready. I could push now, give in to that urge. Except that the doctor wasn’t ready yet, even though I was.

“You need to wait for the doctor,” the nurse told me. “She will be here in 15 minutes.”

“What? You’re fucking kidding me,” I think I actually said that. I know you’re not supposed to use profanity in the hospital. There is a big sign about it in every room: they speak over 30 languages but violence isn’t one of them. Still, the only way to describe how I felt was through expletives at this point. And I said it quietly. I didn’t shout it at the top of my lungs or at the nurse – it was really more a side comment to hubby.

In either case, the nurse pretended she hadn’t heard me, and instead told me to pant through the urges to push.

Sometimes I managed. I think I even engaged some kegels at various points which seemed to diminish the urge to push somewhat. But I couldn’t pant through every contraction – the push instinct was simply too strong. The nurse checked my push mechanism and said that I had very strong muscles. Well, I suppose that was good. Hopefully I’d not be doing too much pushing for too long.

Dr. Yuen came in, in sterile scrubs. She was ready, but we were still waiting for the other doctor. I think it was the longest 15 minutes of my life, and in reality might have been closer to 20.

Dr. Yuen explained to me several possible positions to give birth. One sounded appealing to me, but the experienced doctor who was now in the room suggested my arms might get tired, and that staying on my back would probably be better. (I’ll get back to my arms later …).

So they had me push on my back. I had grips on the bed to pull myself up with and push with every contraction. For at least 10 seconds, while holding my breath, 3 or 4 times in a row while the contractions lasted.

It wasn’t easy. It was better than the last stage of unbearable contractions, but now the pain moved to birth canal itself. I was asked to feel the baby’s head, and it felt soft. I think it was meant as encouragement to get me to keep going with the pushing. The nurse gave verbal coaching each time. Hubby helped to hold up my head. They told me to drop my legs to the side more, but every time I did, my hip muscles cramped up. What a time for cramps, I tell you.

The doctors tried to give me encouragement every step of the way. Giving me little tid-bits of information like “Oh, he’s blond!” when his head first appeared. It was nice of them, although I barely remember much of what went on.

At some point they gave me extra oxygen. I think the baby’s heart beat was dropping and I must have been running out of oxygen with all the pushing. The hold up was that my perineum was not stretching out enough. So in between the pushes, I was being massaged to stretch these muscles. This was extremely painful. The doctor kept forgetting that I hadn’t had an epidural and could therefore feel everything “down there”. Yet, stretch they did. But not enough.

So after about 45 minutes of pushing, the doctor decided I needed an episiotomy. They wanted to make a small cut so that the birth canal could widen a bit to allow baby’s head to get through. I was all for it. I could not be pushing forever and I could feel that things were stretching too much, and would likely rupture. The doctor agreed and said she’d prefer for the tears to go in the direction she wanted them to.

She made the cut. I didn’t feel it.

With the next push, the baby’s head emerged.

“Stop pushing,” was the next instruction.

Woah. Ok. Shift gears. I had to wait for them to turn the baby a bit to deliver the rest. A minute or so later it was done. Baby was out! Hubby told me later it was 16:16pm.

The next thing I knew was that baby-boy was on my chest, screaming away. He was very wet, but the nurse quickly and efficiently dried him off. Hubby meanwhile cut the umbilical cord at the doctor’s insistence.

While I held my little bundle, I felt enormous relief and happiness. Hubby and I connected over the baby, while the doctors stitched me up after delivery of the placenta, which I didn’t even feel. I felt some discomfort with the stitching, but the main thing was that the contractions and the pushing were over, and my life improved 100 fold.

I held baby-boy the entire time and got a shot for something (maybe to stop blood clotting?). At some point, baby-boy taught himself to suckle at my breast. Yay. He managed to breastfeed. After an hour or so, the nurse asked to check the baby and she did so nearby, while we could watch.

Not long after, the nurse “massaged” my stomach to help the uterus to contract. The massaging was most unpleasant and I couldn’t withhold the instinct to tighten my stomach muscles. She did this several times.

An hour and half or so after baby’s birth, the nurse helped me into a wheel chair and placed baby-boy in my lap. We were being wheeled to my private room where we would spend 2 days recovering and under observation.

I cannot tell you how proud I felt at that moment, of my beautiful baby boy. I wanted each person we passed to look at me and coo over my baby. Most of the nurses at the station didn’t notice, but a few other passersby did. I saw one woman walking the corridor, clearly trying to spur on her labor. I smiled as I thought back to earlier that day when I had been doing the same thing.

Soon, I’ll write about the first few days in baby-boy’s life.

Feb 21, 2011

Happy birthday baby Tijke!

Baby Tijke is here! Made his way into the world on Friday, February 18th at 16:16. He weighed in at 8lbs 2oz (3676 grams) and measures 22 inches (55cm). We are both now at home and doing very well!

Feb 17, 2011

False alarm?

Woke up this morning thinking that my water might have broken. So like a good patient, I followed the doctor's instructions and off we went to the hospital (after eating breakfast and having a shower, of course ... no need to rush over there).

We spent about 1.5 hours there. Once again, they hooked me up to a baby heartbeat monitor in the triage area. The beats are now very regular and we didn't detect a single skip (!). The monitor, apparently, also tracks contractions, which were about 5 minutes apart, though so mild that I barely noticed them. Eventually, a doctor had time to check me and a lab test indicated no ruptured membranes.

They sent us home, and told me to do a lot of walking, to speed things along. Of course, walking is difficult for me, but it being about 5C outside (yay!!) we did manage to very slowly make our way across the melting ice/snow patch near the canal with the dog. We went to the market to stock up on some food and then stopped off at the coffee shop for tea and cake.

The walking seems to have helped a bit. I'm now experiencing much stronger and different contractions. Still very far apart though, so no going back to the hospital just yet. And they may yet go away when I decide to lay down on the sofa in a minute. But it's exciting nonetheless. Maybe another day or so ...?

Oh, and hubby says that I'm giving too much detail in these posts - so I apologize to the squeamish and will try to take a little more distance by reducing some of the descriptions.

Feb 16, 2011

Ice, ice, baby

Many thanks to all of you: your messages have all been very sweet and encouraging. All three of us were a mess yesterday, but thankfully things seem to be improving. Hubby had a head massage, and the "scalp over-stimulation technique" recommended by the doctor seems to be working a bit for him.

Meanwhile, baby-boy is still happy to stay in his little patch, it seems. Perhaps he peeked out and saw it was -29C, and piles of snow, and figured he'd stay warm and cozy for a little while. Haven't seen any more changes in my body today, so it might still be a few more days. Tomorrow should be above freezing, so perhaps we can entice him to come out then :).

As for me, I've been using LOTS of ice packs and they seem to be doing the trick for the symphysis pubis dysfunction. I'm also restricting my walking and not going outside at all - the slipping and sliding seems to be the worst kind of activity. Instead, I am trying very gentle stretches in the bath and on my bed (when on all fours). By now, I can stand up and turn over when lying down without too much agony, and I'm paying close attention to how I do it each time. When I engage the right muscles, things seem to go fine, although I still get the occasional shooting stab when I forget for a moment and try to side-step my way between the sofa and the coffee table. I'm glad the ice packs are working. It seems like all my time in physio-therapy for various joint/tendon related inflammations have given me the right techniques to cope with this thing.

Some of you have asked hubby to update his blog. In fact, he has a new one now, so here is the link.

Feb 15, 2011

Hearts and hips

Baby-boy isn't quite here yet, but that doesn't mean he's not active. Today hubby and I went to the children's hospital for a specialist appointment with an echo-cardiologist to look at his heart. The good news is that they had real trouble spotting the arrhythmia, so much so that it took them an hour of ultrasound scanning to get all the pictures they needed. I tried to stay as still as possible to make their job easier, but needless to say, by the end of the hour, my body was protesting vehemently. My back was seizing up, my belly full of dried gel gunk which does my PUPPP no good at all, and my hips ... we'll get to my hips in a bit.

Baby-boy also wanted to get out of there after a while and made his feelings known by jabbing his knees, fists and elbows, and twisting out of the way whenever he could. Hubby was equally in agony, his head/face pain not being resolved. A visit to the doc yesterday informed us that it's most likely some kind of viral reaction by the central nervous system, and that there is nothing they can do about it. So he has to wait it out, with his head on fire all the while -- so much so that he can't even wear a hat in the -20C weather (-27C if you add wind chill).

All of us were happy to come home after the hospital visit. We got the results right away and basically were told that the arrhythmia is not a worry at all, since it's now so infrequent. Apparently it happens more often to babies in late stages of pregnancy. They did confirm, however, that baby-boy has a small hole in his heart. Too tiny to be of any major concern though, at about 2mm. They told us not to worry; we can still have a regular delivery and we don't need to do anything special to care for him after he's born. They simply want to do a follow up visit with the little one when he's 4-6 weeks old. So all  is good for the moment. Not that we were truly worried, but it's nice to have it officially confirmed.

Yesterday's check up went fine. I have a small perforation in my right ear which probably caused the pain over the weekend. No infection thankfully, so just been told to stay out of the swimming pool. The doctor also said that I'm 1 cm dilated. But my cervix was still quite high, so the birth is not imminent yet. I suspect that dilation is continuing to happen as some of my mucus plug appears to be loosening today, so perhaps in a few more days ... exciting.

In the meantime, I'm suffering a new ailment -- or rather, an exaggerated version of a pain in my hips I've been feeling for a while. When I say this, I mean that yesterday the pain became excruciating. I could no longer walk at all; any time I tried to push one leg forward, my pubic bone felt like it was dislocating. Changing positions is agony -- sitting seems to least painful, but to get up or lie down, or worse yet, turn over when I'm lying down all cause extreme pain. I suspect that it's symphysis pubis dysfunction, where the two frontal parts of the hip become misaligned either due to hormones or something else.

Again, not much one can do while pregnant, other than sit on an ice pack to help reduce inflammation, which is what I'm doing as I write. My main goal is to reduce the pain enough so that when labor begins it doesn't add unnecessary amounts of agony. It's a tiny bit better today, but it's frustrating not being able to do any exercise at all now that swimming is out and walking is a disaster.

As my mom says: time for baby-boy to come out already.

Feb 14, 2011


It's baby-boy's official due date today. Well, at least according to the schedule I've been keeping. The ultrasound scans keep saying Feb 15th, but Valentine's Day sounds nicer so we've been sticking to that. 

We'll see if anything happens. I'm up, of course, at 4am. Partly due to pregnancy-related annoyances like fat-fingers that wake me up. But more so because the middle-of-the-night snow-plow shenanigans are back. Time to call 3-1-1 again methinks.

On the agenda today: a quick meeting with my research assistants, getting some fingerprints done for police clearance records procedures for several countries I've lived in, and a doctor's visit later this afternoon. Hubby will also be visiting the doctor, perhaps at an earlier time during the day: his head feels like it's on fire and he keeps getting stabs down his face ... can't be good and I hope it's fixable.

Here's to love, love, love (think Beatles song).

Feb 12, 2011

Waiting it out

We're in a stage of waiting now. Waiting out baby-boy to see when he will honor the world with his presence. Mostly, I wait indoors: there is too much snow and ice for me to move around with any kind of confidence. Plus, things are getting heavy and cumbersome. My belly jiggles like some enormous watermelon, my hips are in agony whenever I move position from lying to sitting, or sitting to standing, or standing to walking. Perhaps this is due to (old) age, but I reckon I was fitter before my pregnancy than I ever was in my 20s. Once I do get moving, things seem to flow and feel better though.

So my strategy is to keep active while waiting. We went to Home Depot today to buy a little nightlight with a red bulb and fixed it close to the changing table for those middle-of-the-night baby activities. We also bought a bunch of cord, so that I could macramé a plant pot holder (I brought home my purple heart and want to keep it out of reach of kitty teeth). Then there were the small fixer-uppers, such as a bit of sealant for around our kitchen tap which has been letting water through for weeks, and a bit of glue for our loo roll holder which keeps falling off and making a racket.

Anything, really, to avoid the real work, especially those reviews I still need to finish up for a conference. I'm two thirds of the way through, but not willing to sacrifice my weekends any longer for that kind of thing.

All of it is a good distraction from general pregnancy discomforts, such as my swollen fingers and "fat wrists" (hubby's words), sinus congestion (that now seems to have developed an earache to go with it), and the persistent practice contractions that happen every time I sit, stand, bend over or move. 

A few more days till the due date ... can't wait to see what happens. Baby-boy sends a little foot punch to say hi.

Feb 10, 2011

Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect. This also seems to hold true for babies. The last few days have been marked by many practice contractions, or so-called "false labor". It's a misnomer. There is nothing false about it. More accurately, this stage is called "prodromal labor". It's basically a pre-labor phase before transitioning into what's known as "active labor".

The false contractions started a few days ago. I had about 42 contractions over a 3.5 hour time frame during the evening meaning that for about an hour, my contractions were 5 minutes apart. That's the guideline we've been giving by the hospital, that if contractions are 5 minutes apart for 2 hours, we should head on in. Or, if my water breaks.

Although there were a lot of contractions, I knew that this wasn't the true active labor. For one, the contractions didn't seem painful enough. Really, it was just a hardening of my entire uterus, making it appear oddly shaped as it outlined baby-boy's form. 

Though not active labor, prodromal labor is actually more than just a Braxton-Hicks contraction (these occur earlier in the pregnancy, for some women). For instance, they may be quite a bit stronger, though not strong enough to take your breath away, apparently. In general, they shouldn't last longer than a minute or come more often than 7-10 minutes apart. 

Yet, they are not the same as contractions during active labor. They only happen in the front, rather than starting at the back. They irregular, and there is no "bloody show", or loss of mucus plug. The key is progression. If the contractions don't get worse or become more and more frequent, it's not active labor. 

That doesn't mean nothing is happening. According to one good website, prodromal labor has some real physical effects. The cervix is moving to an anterior position, softening and thinning. All of these things are preparations for active labor. It could also cause the cervix to dilate, and therefore it's possible to lose your mucus plug.

The advice during this stage is to rest, eat well, and conserve energy for the real thing. I've found it helpful to be a little less active. When I am more active, the contractions come more frequently and it can be a little tiresome to cope with every 7 or so minutes.

Apparently, prodormal labor can last "days" ... so we'll see. It's been a few days by now, but luckily I have been able to have long quiet periods. Some women experience this for weeks and can't sleep; mine are nowhere near that. The good news is that some sites report that this kind of pre-labor activity can help for the actual thing. I do hope so!

So for the meanwhile, no active labor yet, and no need to go to the hospital. Though we are, of course, actively preparing for little one's arrival.

Feb 7, 2011

Vive mon francais!

The curious among you have asked how the immigration interview went. The answer to that is "peachy". I'd like to put this down to my knowledge of French and my impressive mammoth effort to speak French the whole way through the interview. But it could have been that the woman took pity on a 38 and a half week pregnant woman. 

Of course, I made sure to have looked up all the vocab related to "due date", "pregnancy", "labour", "birth", etc. I even made sure that hubby knew how to say "the baby is a boy". It seemed it did the trick. The nice immigration lady explained that she'd ask us a bunch of things and that each would give me a certain amount of points. If we accumulated more than 60 something points, we'd pass the interview, and she'd tell us at the end whether or not we did.

After passing a cursory glance at my PhD and MBA certificates (both of which I had to fold in half in order to keep them dry and protected from a most horrible snow storm, which I was very miffed about), she launched into a bunch of questions about my job, what I thought of Quebec, the baby and all such things. We had a funny moment when I mistook the work "lucky" for "singer", and I told her I was terrible at singing. But other than that, I pretty much followed everything she said and she followed my cobbled-together French.

The trouble is, I haven't really practiced in about a year or so. Speaking, at least. I can manage the listening part and have been training my ear to understand the Quebecois accent that our cleaner favours. But this lady's speech was very clear so it was easy to follow. But speaking, well speaking is always another matter. As hubby will no doubt tell you on his blog.

But in the end, my efforts paid off. We passed the interview. Not only that, but about half way through she informed me that my French wasn't "merely" intermediate, but in fact advanced-intermediate. I can't deny that I felt proud.

Now, all we have to do is pass the federal stage: it involves asking for police clearance records from only five different countries. Two of which don't seem to have functional websites or forms relevant to non-citizens wanting police clearance. All of whom seem to operate on different time schedules -- and since the police records are only valid for 3 months, this could be very problematic. It's going to be a juggling act of timing and remembering to request them at the right time. All when we're most likely bag-eyed from our new arrival ... due in a week, no less!

Feb 1, 2011

Back to work

After last week's gastro-enteritis fiasco I am finally back at work since Sunday. I'd been freaking out a little bit about not getting any work done. Apart from simply feeling exhausted and trying to recover my digestive system which remained dodgy for the entire week, I had the further distractions of my brother's visit and hubby's gallery opening (vernissage) to keep me occupied. In the end, I ended up doing lots of aimless wandering from here to there and sleeping my way through the week, as well as spending most evenings hanging out with bro on the sofa (who spent his days snowboarding). It was all good fun and time flew by. 

But by Saturday I was starting to feel itchy and jumpy about my work, although I had zero energy to actually do any. I decided that Sunday would be the day to kick-start my brain, my body (i.e. going to the gym), and my work ethic again. And it worked. 

The trick was to buy a decent chair for me to sit in at home. So hubby and I went off to Costco and bought an office chair that supposedly is for him, but I'm using at the moment in order to avoid cutting the blood supply to my legs three minutes after sitting down in one of our dining chairs.

Hurray for chair. I got at least 5 solid hours of work in on Sunday, which led nicely into Monday and Tuesday for full days of work (at my own office). The result is that two paper revisions are almost done, and I feel much better about my state of affairs and the likelihood that I will actually get most of my work finished prior to arrival of baby-boy.

Today consisted of a small detour to the doctor's office for a regular check-up. We heard baby-boy's heartbeat again and it's still skipping the occasional beat, but we also heard a long stretch of regular heart activity. The doctor still doesn't seem too worried. Status quo, then. She asked if I had my bag packed and knew when to come to the hospital. I do, on both accounts. Last week's gastro event made me realize that I was not yet ready for the birthing center, so on Saturday I packed a proper bag that contains most of what I'll need to bring, barring last-minute things like my e-book and my toothbrush.

Tomorrow will mark a break in my highly efficient work activity, in that we have our interview with the immigration people. Apparently the entire thing will start off in French until they decide you're rubbish and then they'll switch to English. I've spent the last few evenings collection the stack of paperwork that we need to bring. Tomorrow morning I'll have to go to the other campus (slightly outside of town) to collect a copy of my employment letter that for some reason has mysteriously disappeared from my files (I found everything else). Of course, I had to take my diplomas out of my frames AGAIN. I'm getting tired of doing so, but a nice colleague stood on a chair for me to break union rules and take down my frames.

Wish me bon chance pour demain! I'm going to spend most of the day studying everything there is to know about Quebec, like who is the premier, what is the capital city and how many people live here. Yikes.