This & That: Pregnancy Update


| Tuesday, 2 September 2014
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It appears that time has sped up and I have slowed down.  Here we are at September second and I'm just over 33 weeks pregnant (meaning I have 7 or so left.)  While time seems to be flying (cue old age jokes now) the speed at which I'm doing anything is passive, at best.  I'm constantly several steps behind Joe, getting out of bed and getting dressed require grunting and a substantial break is needed after completing any task.  While my sleeping habits are resembling that of my teenage days, I'm also in a losing battle with insomnia.  It's actually quite cruel - everyone is telling you to sleep now because you probably never will again yet at 3 am, sleeping might as well be climbing Mount Everest.

Being informed…
Just over a week ago, Joe and I completed our Birth and Baby prep course.  I was hesitant going in (the whole ignorance is bliss thing) yet aside from a few 'oh shit' moments, I came out feeling quite capable.  We all know where babies come from and how they're born but the actual science behind labour is really quite fascinating.  Essentially, it's like a symphony and everything is designed to work together.  (Did you know that even if I were knocked unconscious during labour, my body would still know exactly what to do and most likely be able to deliver a healthy baby? Crazy!)  It was a good reminder that education is empowering with a dose of que sera, sera.

The Stuff…
I started a small list awhile back of the baby essentials that I figured we should have pre-birth and aside from a few small things, we've basically checked everything off.  It's interesting how different baby shopping has been for us due to our current lifestyle choices.  We've been moving around the world with 6 suitcases and one small air shipment.  We're renting a furnished apartment and we have no idea where we'll be heading next.  We just don't physically have the space for a lot of stuff.  Instead of spending the bulk of money on nursery furniture, our biggest purchase was easily the pram/stroller (thanks Mom & Dad) because we know it'll come with us.  It's been good to pare down, keeping our accumulation minimal, in a world where it is so easy to buy every crazy baby thing on the market.  But, I am human and there have been purchases that probably likely wouldn't be considered essential.  I have to have a little fun!

Also, like shopping for anything else in Norway, choice is rather limited.  Each of the baby stores in town carry almost the exact same merchandise and often, things I hear about from friends at home aren't available here.  There are, however, some fantastic European brands to try out.

Joe and I have not discussed one single name.  Early on we decided that we'd each create a list and at some point, we'd sit down and share our respective ideas.  If we were lucky, we'd find one or more names gracing both pieces of paper (I have my doubts.)  We've yet to do this.  My list is created; Joe's is 'in his head' (more doubts.)  I hope to have a few options agreed upon in the next few weeks but I don't think we'll formally make a decision until we meet the kid.

Speaking of the kid…
He's busy packing on the pounds and getting stronger.  Things are getting cramped in there and he lets me know all.the.time.  He's still moving and grooving regularly although he's gotten less spastic.  He pushes really hard against my stomach creating a hard lump that protrudes out my side and I have to remind him that that is not the way out.

The entire idea that we are having a baby is really starting to settle in.  The other night we were taking out the garbage and in the elevator Joe commented that pretty soon it won't be just the two of us anymore.  At the same time we both said, "I'm a little sad about that."  Clearly we're excited and happy about our expanding family yet there's something to be said about acknowledging the changes that are coming.  Life has been good as a couple and life will be good as a trio but there is the teeniest bit of sadness in having to share my husband.

Also, I bought diapers yesterday.  Aside from the visit to the hospital last week, that was the biggest dose of reality I've had yet.

Our Favourite Venetian Experiences


| Wednesday, 20 August 2014
While Venice may be known for hoards and hoards of tourists crowding St Mark's Square and expensive gondola rides, it's not that difficult to find unique experiences to take in the floating city.

Cruising with Context

I've touted Context Travel on this blog several times and our experience with them in Venice was no exception.  There were a few 'walks' that I had bookmarked for the first portion of our Italian vacation but timing was not on our side and the only one we could squeeze in was "Venice by Boat."  It did not disappoint.

We met our docent, the immaculate private boat and it's driver for close to two hours on the water.  Our docent did a fabulous job introducing us to the city.  We learned all about the history of the city from how it came to be to how it exists today.  We began to understand the challenges a city on water faces and often most interestingly, the quirks that visitors to the city almost never hear.  It was nice to hear a backstory to what we'd already seen but also led us to seek out different areas on foot for the remainder of our stay.

Our time on the boat was fulfilling enough that we decided to forgo the typical gondolier experience and we didn't miss it in the least.

Taking in the Views from San Giorgio Maggiore

Most people visiting Venice opt to visit the bell tower at St Mark's Basilica but we had heard that there was a lesser known tower across the water with fantastic views of the city.  We took a water bus over to the monastery where we were greeted by a practically empty cathedral and tower.  The views from the top were magnificent and with only a few other people in attendance, we could take our time admiring the city from above.  Also, the lift up the tower is half the price of the bell tower at St Mark's.


Getting lost is part of the Venetian experience so we decided to embrace it instead of fight it.  Each day we'd set off in a particular direction but without a strict timeline or destination in mind.  Our favourite moments were found in deserted alleys that I'm not sure we'd find again if we tried.  Also fun, trying to draw our route on our city map when we stopped to eat or drink.

Have you been to Venice? What were your favourite lesser-known experiences?

Daytripping to Bath


| Sunday, 17 August 2014

There seem to be endless possibilities when it comes to taking an easy day trip from London.  We pondered Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton, York but eventually decided on Bath.  On the eve of my 31st birthday, we grabbed a quick breakfast from a coffee shop near the hotel and walked over to Paddington Station to take the 90 minute train ride to Bath.

First, and really the only, thing on our agenda for the day was to visit the famed Roman Baths.  The actual city of Bath was formed due to the natural hot springs around 70 AD.  The baths are considered some of the best preserved Roman remains in the world and the site of that iconic green water is certainly something to behold.

We followed the audio guide supplied with our ticket and were generally impressed by the labyrinth of different rooms comprising the Roman Baths.  While it has certainly be restored into a museum of sorts, it was still quite easy to picture just how the complex would have been used centuries ago.
From there, it was time for lunch and previous research had us curious about The Salamander.  Joe, being a beer connoisseur, was intrigued by their in house ales and given that it was in the centre of town, it felt like the perfect place to rest our feet and tempt our palates.  Lucky for us, Sunday roast was also on.  It was while we demolished an obscene amount of British fare that the weather decided to turn on us.  Without umbrella in hand, we tried to wait out the rain but just as soon as it would taper off, another short rainfall would drift in so we eventually threw caution to the wind and faced the soggy conditions.

We wandered up to the Circus and on to the Royal Crescent, ducking under porches and behind buildings when the rain reappeared.  Had the weather been on our side, we probably would have lingered longer and perhaps ventured into the city further.  Instead, we looped our way back, crossing the Pulteney Bridge and walking along the river before returning to the train station.
Aside from being impossibly picturesque, Bath is also known for fabulous spas.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I did not put two and two together and book us in for a night at a luxe hotel-spa. As we found with our day trip to Bruges, the city was lovely when the crowds thinned out and it would have been nice to spend more time getting to know Bath.

The next time I find myself in the vicinity and needing a little pampering, Bath will certainly be top of the list.



| Thursday, 7 August 2014
The kid around week 28

There are certain milestones in pregnancy that most everyone anxiously awaits.  There's the magical end of the first trimester marking the disappearance of that pesky nausea and then spreading the happy news.  There's the moment when you start to notice your belly protruding and then the moment where your belly no longer resembles what it looks like after a holiday meal but an actual pregnant belly.  There's hearing the heartbeat for the first time and finding out if you've got a baby boy or a baby girl growing in there.  And then there's the movement.

I haven't done a very good job of documenting my pregnancy so I can't tell you exactly when I started to feel the kid grooving but it was pretty early on.  Early enough that I questioned (as many pregnant women do) if it is in fact the baby moving, or if it's gas.  People and blogs and books will tell you it feels like flutters or bubbles.  I'll tell you, it feels like something.  Something that could be mistaken for gastrointestinal things but another something tells you it's not.  Later comes the time when it's unmistakable.  The "whoa, yup. There's someone in there."  Looking back, I can't pinpoint exactly when this happened but I do know that those "whoas" were big enough for Joe to have felt before my first midwife appointment at week 17.

I'm not a particularly sentimental person.  You will not find me oohing and ahhing to anyone and everyone about the wonders of pregnancy.  I haven't come up with any cutesy names for the child occupying my abdomen and I don't sit in his room with tears in my eyes as I sift through his clothes.  But, as this baby grows and his movements are stronger and more pronounced, I can't help but feel a special connection, beyond the physical, with this little boy.

There's the moments where he's stretching and his movements are slow but strong as if he's just waking up and pressing his back, legs and arms as far as the space will allow.  His head or back or bum protrude out the side of my belly making a hard, round surface.  I'll gently push back, sometimes out of discomfort, and he'll respond by either moving on to another spot or pushing back.

There's the times where almost instantaneously after food or drink drift across my mouth, the movements are sudden and sharp.  I imagine him throwing his fist into the air in a sort of, "woohoo, what do we have here?'  These jumps are sporadic and impossible to predict, particularly if I've had something sugary or the temperature more extreme.  A cold drink of water or a hot tea will really start the spastic dance that might last ten minutes or more.  These are the ones that are fun to watch from the outside as my belly contorts with him.

There are times when the movements are undetectable from the outside but completely rhythmic.  Logic tells me he has the hiccups but I prefer to think he's just carrying a beat, tapping along to a song in his head like his Mama is known to do.  Other times, completely unexpectedly, I'll take a single kick to an organ, usually the bladder.  By the time I've complained vocally, it's over.

At night as I'm settling into bed and reading, he begins his workout.  It's as if he crouches himself into a ball and then throws his arms and legs out, flails around a bit and returns to the ball.  Over and over again I'll feel limbs protruding on either side of my belly.  I'll tease Joe telling him his son is acting up and it's his turn to take over or I'll address the kid directly, trying to persuade him to calm down for bedtime.  But, like clockwork every night, he picks up his routine.

These movements are bizarre, occasionally uncomfortable and annoying but also kind of amazing.  While Joe partakes when he can, it's me that knows the schedule and it's me that feels the full breadth of every kick and stretch.  While we've yet to meet face to face, I'm starting to get an idea as to who this little person is - small glimpses into his personality.  I wonder if I'll recognize his moves when he's out, putting the pieces to the puzzle together confirming what I felt but couldn't see.  Even though pregnancy is fraught with more than its share of discomfort, it's in these moments of movement that I'm reminded just how incredible the entire process is.

And that's about as sentimental as I'll get.

An Escape Up the Coast


| Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Joe was working like crazy.  A combination of being generally understaffed and unsupported with colleagues on holidays, jobs coming up at the same time and problems with equipment kept him at the office to nearly midnight (or sometimes after) for an entire week.  The poor guy would arrive at home, eat an extremely late dinner and slump into bed only to wake up at 6 and do it all again.  We had planned a night away before everything went nuts but of course, had to cancel the night before as Joe just couldn't get away.  When the following week calmed down, the time away was even more needed as I wondered if he might turn up at home one day telling me he quit his job.

Haugesund is a small city just up the coast from Stavanger and while it's only about 80 kilometres, 2 undersea tunnels and a ferry ride make the journey close to two hours by car.  We had no idea if there was really anything there but we've seen it on the map and road signs over the last couple of years and we were curious.  Known for its past in the herring industry and home to Norway's longest pedestrian street, we hoped it would be a quaint and cozy weekend away.
Well, truth be told, it wasn't.  The town itself felt a little run down and that long pedestrian street wasn't anything to write home about.  It wasn't lined with cute cafes and pubs and it lacked the charm we had hoped for.  After a quick peruse Friday evening, we immediately decided a day trip out of Haugesund was in order.
 Haugesund is also home to Norway's National Monument, Haroldshaugen.  Supposedly, Harald Fairhair is buried here.
Saturday after breakfast, we jumped back in the car destined for Langfoss, one of Norway's many waterfalls.  In 2011, CNN featured an article on the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the world and Langfoss happened to make the cut.  Thankfully, it was impressive.  The sheer length (2 008 feet) combined with the width as the water crashes out over the rocks and into the fjord certainly make it a sight to be seen.  There is an accompanying hike to the top of the falls however, it's deemed as 'Demanding' and demanding in Norwegian standards is most definitely a challenge that I wasn't up for 7 months pregnant.  Instead, we drove the short drive over the bridge that cuts directly through the waterfall, parked and admired the sight from a number of different vantage points.  On the return trip back to Haugesund, we stumbled across a small Polish cafe in ├ślen that was serving pierogis which might have been a highlight of the entire weekend.  They weren't the same as the Ukrainian variety I grew up eating regularly but they were pretty damn good.

So, Haugesund itself was a bit of a bust but the waterfall and those pierogis saved the trip.  Joe caught a break from his computer and it was nice to be just the two of us in the car with time to chat about life away from the distractions of home.  Sometimes, that's all that's needed.
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