Bannock: the bun that just keeps on baking

Well, I can’t say that I was expecting to have to write the last post on being overdue, but I reeeally wasn’t expecting to write this one. At nine days overdue, my little rib-stomper is still frolicking to her heart’s content inside my innards. I know that wombs are generally warm and soothing environments, but mine must really be providing the ultimate resort experience.

To distract herself from the fact that she still has no grandchild, my mother has started a new hobby which involves taking horrific photographs of me:

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That may or may not be a knife in my hand…

Much as I enjoy cracking jokes, the past two weeks have been a psychologically difficult time. Every day has felt like a bit of an emotional roller coaster – at times, I have coped pretty well, but at other times, I have been a full-on basket case. It’s like being a kid again and waiting for Christmas morning, but Christmas morning keeps getting indefinitely delayed. I know in my (semi) rational brain that Christmas WILL come, but at times, I forget. (To make a truly accurate analogy, I guess the eventual Christmas morning would need to begin with a few sledgehammer blows to the uterus before opening presents from Santa).

And another one of my mother’s gems:

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Making the pedicurist nervous that I am about to give birth in the foot bath.

We managed to waddle our way over to church yesterday, and were reminded that it is the first Sunday of the Advent season. On the way there, we were debating what the first Advent candle symbolized (different faith traditions follow different patterns). Turns out that at our church in Bangkok, it symbolizes waiting. One line from the bulletin jumped out at me: “Waiting is difficult. But when the object of our waiting is a treasure of great value, the waiting is worth it; the waiting is rewarded.” While the message was referring to the world waiting for a Messiah, I also felt like God was reminding me that He holds Bannock, the little over-baked bun, in His hands, and that I can trust Him with this whole crazy experience. She’ll arrive at the right time.

And one final photo from my mother:100_2494

Todd and Zach prepare themselves for labour…

 

The due date that came and went

Well, it is three days past my official due date, and Bannock is not showing any interest in making an appearance on this terrestrial sphere. I knew before I hit the 40 week mark that it is quite common for first pregnancies to run over term, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the psychological toll this would exact. It’s kind of like running a marathon, and then having “someone” (*ahem* Bannock) tack on an extra mile at the end. Instead of a mini-me, I’ve been hanging out with this ugly dude:

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Only a mother could love this face…

Also my more-human, but less toothy Momalot, who arrived last Tuesday. Since she has no baby to cuddle, she has been forced to fill her time by cooking butter beef, and buying me ice cream. This is healthy pregnancy eating at its finest.

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Not quite sure how I ever fit in her torso

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Todd and I spent my due date at the hospital. My doctor wanted to make sure that everything was still looking normal, so he prescribed a non-stress test for Bannock. Basically, I had a couple of monitors strapped to my impossibly large mid-section in an effort to determine whether Bannock was still moving normally. While I appreciated the diligence, I could have answered that question on my own: Bannock and her best friend Placenta are throwing a rager.

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Only in Thailand do the birthing rooms and nurses look like they belong in a soothing spa.

I took the test in the room that I will most likely be giving birth in. It was nice to get a feel for it in advance, but also an annoying reminder that we weren’t there for the actual event. So I made Todd placate me with more ice cream.

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If you haven’t tried Haagen Dazs’s salted caramel flavour yet, do yourself a favour and buy some immediately. It may be trendy, but you won’t care once it’s in your mouth.

The rest of my recent pre-child days have been filled with bad photo shoots, bouncing on my birthing ball, and giving Bannock lectures about the importance of respecting other people’s schedules.

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In the battle of the bulge, Bannock is clearly dominating.

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Ok. That’s probably enough whining, and more than enough revolting photographs of me. I’ll try to enjoy these last, fleeting moments of butter beef bliss, and start preparing the ultimate sermon on punctuality that I will preach to Bannock throughout her life.

My Hospital Stay – AKA Getting nurtured to death

Nope, Bannock has not yet arrived. She is still firmly ensconced in my womb, unaware that she is about to experience the worst day of her young life. I like to remind myself that no matter how painful/traumatizing labour might be for the mother, it has to be infinitely worse for the poor baby who is being squeezed from a warm amniotic sea, through an incredibly small tunnel that will actually make pieces of her skull overlap, and into the cold, cruel world. Todd and I often watch Bannock happily kicking my ribs, and say “Poor munchkin. You have no idea what’s about to hit you.” And then we have a good laugh. There’s already some great parenting happening right here…

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Todd learning to be a father at our hospital’s birthing class.

We have had several weeks full of fun, assorted sicknesses. For me, it started out when Todd flew to Singapore for a weekend conference. As soon as he was safely out of the country, I got hit simultaneously by the flu and false labour. I’m sure that anyone who has previously given birth wouldn’t be too concerned with the false labour, but as a first-timer, the first taste of contractions is pretty shocking. Todd started looking for earlier flights home while I was busy hacking up a lung and phoning our doula. In the end, Todd made it home, Bannock decided to bake a little longer, and the doctor gave me antibiotics for a throat/chest infection.

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Too bad he couldn’t give me a prescription for my swollen feet/cankles.

A week later, I had mostly recovered, when Todd and I decided to eat street food for dinner. We kept exclaiming over the delicious chicken satay, which is ironic considering the utter havoc it wreaked on our guts. After 24 hours of intestinal distress, the situation was basically under control when I visited my OB/GYN for a regular appointment. I mentioned the food poisoning episode, and – this being a private/for-profit hospital – he eagerly referred me to a Gastroenterologist. The Gastro then eagerly informed me that I should really spend the night in the hospital for rehydration and monitoring. I figured, “what the heck. Might as well get some serious bang for my baht/buck out of this insurance policy,” and agreed to stay.

No sooner had I murmured the fateful words than the nurturing began. Suddenly, an orderly with a wheelchair appeared to take me to my room. I started laughing, and said that I could walk, but the nurses looked appalled and said “you are pregnant.” So I sat in the wheelchair, and tried to look like an invalid. Once I got to my room, a steady stream of overly-attentive nurses appeared. They took my blood pressure, inserted an IV, and inquired about the content of my guts. They then informed me that any time I needed to use the facilities, I had to call the nurses station: “Madam. You go pee-pee, you call.” Considering that pregnancy makes me “go pee-pee” approximately 30 times a day, this was a bad joke, but the cute nurses were unrelenting. I drew the line when one of them tried to come in the bathroom with me, though.

I spent the next 24 hours lying in bed flipping through a truly dire array of tv channels – when you are excited by the opportunity to watch the same episode of “Cupcake Wars” twice within 12 hours, you know it’s bad – and eating the same meal in four slightly different formats. Apparently, the gastroenterology department has decreed that chicken and mush is THE appropriate food for distraught intestines. The first time, it was ok – mashed potatoes and a slab of some sort of ground chicken. When I woke up to the same slab of ground chicken and gravy accompanied by something that looked like potatoes but tasted and smelled like rotting eggs, I was less than pleased. Lunch was a bowl of broth with a few noodles and ground chicken balls. To end the cycle, I was served the exact same dinner as the previous evening immediately before I checked out of the hospital. I never want to see ground chicken again.

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The first of many…

The nurses fluttered in and out of my room throughout the day and night, and at one point even offered to shower me (I firmly declined their generous offer). As the day dragged on, I started to wonder when I would ever be allowed to leave. After being visited by various insurance agents and doctors, I assumed that my stay must be over. As if on cue, the steady stream of nurses slowed to a trickle, and I was left to contemplate Adam Sandler’s acting ability for several hours with no interruptions. When a nurse finally set foot in my room again, I asked her when I could leave. She looked surprised, and said “You want to leave?” Yes, yes, I did. 30 minutes later, I was finally allowed to put my own clothes back on, and, miraculously, walk out of the ward (although a wheelchair was offered).

The humid air outside the hospital tasted like pure freedom. Next time I get food poisoning, I think I’ll drink some Gatorade and take a nap.

Bannock goes to camp

I’ve been back in Bangkok for almost 2 weeks now, but I hope you’ll humour me by reading one last post about Canada: I have some pictures of a miniature horse that I’ve been dying to share. After spending a few weeks in Calgary and Edmonton, I decided it was time to introduce Bannock to the joys of summer camp. My family has been volunteering at Pioneer Ranch Camp for a few generations,* and I usually get lured in at some point during the summer months. Plus, Bannock’s Auntie Sarah was directing camp, and she clearly needed our support. I never offer much in the way of practical support, but MAN am I good at planting myself on a couch and offering a little of the moral variety.

Meet Sarah. If you read my previous post, you may have wondered if every member of my family is overpoweringly unphotogenic. You would be correct, with one notable exception: Sarah somehow managed to absorb (by osmosis, or some other dirty trick) our entire family’s portion of photogenicness, leaving utter ruin in her wake. Here is an example:

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Both of us giving the camera a little “attitude,” with mixed results

For an additional comparison, here is the woman who gave birth to Sarah:

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I rest my case.

Bannock and I made ourselves useful at camp by helping to create a spa night for campers who had just returned from their multi-day outtrips (here I am using “spa” in the loosest sense of the word). I decided that mud masks were a necessary spa activity, so I had a bunch of mud dredged from the nasty/mucky/silt-y lake. When the campers asked me where the mud was from, I told them “it’s locally sourced and organic.” Apparently 11 year olds dig buzzwords, because this seemed to satisfy them.

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The very essence of purity

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Sarah applying pure organicness to an unsuspecting camper. The tarp just adds that certain somethin’ extra

After multiple requests, I finally visited the spa’s hair-braiding station, where a ten-year old camper eagerly manhandled my tresses. She asked me which style I wanted, and I told her to surprise me.

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The only surprise is that I’m still awake after my 10 hour styling session

After the rigours of spa night, I decided that Bannock needed a break, so we went off to find Percy the Miniature Horse. I’ve seen some small horses in my day, but I think Percy might win the prize. I like all animals, but I have an almost magnetic attraction to anything resembling dogs (or crocodiles), so Percy had no hope of escape.

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Although he gave it his best shot

We had to carefully plot our approach:

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Camouflaging ourselves behind a clump of daisies…

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Spotting our quarry

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My slouchy posture is carefully calculated to make me appear less threatening

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In Thailand, it would never be acceptable to greet someone by touching their head, but fortunately, Percy is unaware of Thai customs

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Uh… if you’re trying to meet Bannock, you’re aiming about 6 inches too low

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Showing Percy who’s BOSS

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for all of 5 seconds

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Why do my relationships with miniature horses never seem to work out?

Bannock and I also spent time transporting campers, filling water balloons, and playing the role of a pre-pregnant Virgin Mary in a skit. Not quite sure how we were chosen for this last one, but some questions are best left unasked. Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Calgary to prepare for another long flight to Bangkok. It’s good to be back in Asia, but there’s definitely a part of me that’s still roaming the Canadian pastures with Percy the Miniature Horse.

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Good-bye camp. Good-bye Canada.

* Friends still remind me that my grandfather’s “prayer for the meal” at my wedding reception somehow morphed into a “soliloquy on the history/joys of camp.” Not sure where that came from, but it was memorable.

Bobbleheads

This trip has been full of bobbleheads – otherwise known as children under the age of 5. Our circle of friends must have taken notes from the rabbit handbook, because procreation has happened en masse. This is just fine with me – I dig a good bobblehead. In spite of their limited impulse/bladder control, they got their priorities right: eating and sleeping are my favourite activities, too. Here are a few of the little dudes’n’dudettes we hung out with before Todd left to go back to Bangkok last week (I’m livin’ large and in charge in Canada until early August):

1. First up, we have little Theo.

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As you can see, Theo is one gorgeous little dude. While I guess his parents may have had something to do with his genetic makeup, I attribute his good looks mostly to the fact that he was born in our house. That’s right: our frenants (friends/tenants) Eric and Laura decided that our little love shack would give their birth experience that certain extra somethin’ somethin.’ Clearly, it worked out. I generously offered to let them pay their rent using Theo as the currency, but they were strangely disinterested…

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“Excuse me!?! Of course Theo belongs to me – he was born in MY HOUSE!!”

**If you’d like to birth your child in the Abode of Attractiveness, contact us – we are currently offering sweet package deals. Beautiful Babies guaranteed. **

2. Next up, we have my favourite twins/goddaughters Bobble and Yoda. We have known these two pixies since birth, which is probably why we felt the need to give them such thoughtful and concise nicknames. As a baby, Bobble (otherwise known as Esme) would flail her limbs and head all over the place as though she’d been given a major sugar hit. We assumed that she was just a really active baby until we noticed that Yoda (Maelle) was eerily quiet and focused: clearly, she was manipulating Bobble’s movements using The Force.

The twins try to control me using only basic hand motions

Now that they are 2.5 years old, both twins have gained full control of their limbs, and have learned to use The Force in less conspicuous ways, such as helping Elderly Math Geeks (ie: Todd, and their father Joel) design water features out of old pipes, and using their oversized brains to learn both of Canada’s official languages. I take comfort in the fact that they still can’t speak Pig Latin, so at least I’ll have some party tricks to impress them with when they’re older.

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The twins instruct the Elderly Math Geeks on proper hose and pipe placement.

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“Ahh. My strategic instruction paid off.”

3. And finally, we have a whole litter of kittens. Todd and his two buddies Mark and Andy are basically Tweedle-dee, Tweedle-dum, and Tweedle-dumber, except that Mark and Andy hopped on the procreation train before Todd did, and cranked out two kids each before Todd could even procure his first.

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“Dude. Todd is DEFINITELY Tweedle-dumber”

We got to spend a weekend with the Tweedles and their wives and kids, which gave us plenty of time to hike, catch up on life, and have multiple philosophical discussions with their 3 year old daughters, Anna and Emily.

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Todd and Emily debate that age old question: What flavour is the colour red?

We learned that a 3km hike with 4 children is an epic endeavour, and requires numerous chocolate bribes and rest stops to throw rocks. However, I’ve never had adult hiking buddies pick flowers for me; or ask if the dog walking toward us on the trail is a bear; or refer to my husband as “That boy,” so I’m calling it a winner.

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“That boy” helps Emily and Anna search for magic swimming bunnies

I got to hang out with some additional awesome bobbleheads after Todd left, but I have to cut this post off somewhere. Before I sign off, though, let me just reassure you that amidst all the hangouts with our friends’ kiddies, I didn’t neglect my own wee bairn. Nope. Bannock got plenty of high quality food:

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Enjoy it while it lasts, little Bannock, cuz after you’re born, no fast food will ever touch your lips.

And heaps of rest:

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And one last photo for all of you who have bugged me for photos of the bump: rest assured, it is growing.

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Photo courtesy of my Aunt Jeanette. She is a Dutch Oma, so if you ever bump into her, ask her to make you some Butter Beef.