Ex Pat Mamma

Monday, February 28, 2005

Forza la Romabíll

The baby lives on :) Turned out the alternator was busted, which meant the battery drained. They needed replacing plus another couple of tiny parts. In the UK it would have probably cost about 100 GBP: here it cost over 3 times that... ouch! Well, at least I don't have to walk up the hill to work again for a while.

BB continues to wriggle about inside of me and I am constantly hungry. I am having 6 slices of toast and butter (and sometimes cheese too) just for breakfast. I'm definitely bigger and heavier but so far there isn't much actual fat. Apart from my boobs, that is, which surprise me by managing to get even bigger on a daily basis. And they've started to leak! (I thought it was a bit early for such things, but I suppose the body is just practising. Guess I'll be breastfeeding then.)

I've also taking a bit of an urge to baking, which is quite frightening really, especially for the kitchen. Cakes are still a bit too intimidating, but I made half a kilo of peppermint creams (with raw egg white, naughty, naughty, don't tell the midwife).

20+1 - over half way there now :)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Stranger in my own body #2

After I get one hiking boot on, I need a wee rest before I can start on the second.
My waist has gone the way of hieroglyphics.
I can't put my socks on standing up.
My dangly necklace keeps getting trapped between my boobs.
Last night I got up 5 times to pee.
I can't see my pubic hair without the aid of a mirror.

Just half way there....


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fatherly Advice

Yesterday, my 12 year old renault clio, a.k.a. la romabíll was showing signs of distress; the red battery light was staying on after she started. She hasn't been anywhere for months, apart from running around the town so I thought perhaps the battery needed charging. As a good daughter does, I phoned my daddy and he said it might be the fan belt that needed changed, which would mean the battery wasn't charging. BUT it was a good idea to take her for a run to see if it would charge. Which I did. Took her a good long run and although the battery light was flickering on and off after a bit, it certainly didn't look too sure of itself so I decided to go straight to the garage. Until I was about 3 minutes from town and the light goes off. Hurrah! I decided just to keep driving and went out of town in the other direction (town takes approximately 87 seconds to drive through). But there was another light, orange with a squiggly line, whatever that means. The battery light would flicker on sometimes and stay on occasionally so I accepted that a mechanic would be required. I slowed down to turn the car at a wee road and as I reduced my speed to a crawl to turn, the OIL light came on and she stopped dead. Dead dead dead. Not going anywhere. Crap. Middle of nowhere. 9am, Iceland, february (OK, I admit, it was a beautiful day but it was cold), not exactly a main international thoroughfare. But kindly lady did stop and let me use her phone to call my office manager who set out on a rescue mission.

Of course, just before she arrived, I realised that neither of us could move the car; she is smaller than me and I am not pushing a car 19 weeks pregnant (or 20 weeks and a bit, depending on whom you believe). So we flagged down two big strong men who came to our rescue, slagged off the car (poor baby) and pushed it to the side of the road.

Keys have been delivered to hubby whose problem it now is to find someone to collect it and tow it to the garage. Damn thing just had its bílaskoða (MOT) and a service, so I hope this isn't going to be a big job. I've got a pram to buy.

Daughterly Advice: don't automatically accept fatherly advice!


Baby is "normal."

Just normal. What a disappointment. I wanted to be told he was fantastic, a genius, a football star in the making, an astrophysicist. But I guess that won't become apparent for a while yet, so we will settle for normal - for now, anyway.

So we had the scan today to check everything was in the right place. Apparently it is. I mentioned the insomnia and accompanied 4am anxiety and the doctor asked me if I was working "more than 100%" (which means more than 40 hours a week here). erm.... maybe. This was the same doctor that told me to take time off in January. He said he would write me a sicknote and I could work shorter hours on that basis. But that won't help me at all, because the work will just pile up till I come back and I will end up more stressed in the longrun. I tried to convince him that things were getting better. He offered me sleeping pills, but no thanks, not until I have tried absolutely everything else and then only if I am desperate.

We had a minor disagreement about the due date: he'd tried to put me down for 10th of July and I insisted it couldn't be so early. (I'm betting on the 19th). So we whipped up my top and had another look and he remeasured and we compromised on the 14th - Bastille Day and funnily enough the day I arrived in France and met the man who is now my husband. It matters what day they put down, because today's date is the "official" one and if I go more than 2 weeks over that date, they will put a lot of pressure on me to be induced. I really don't want this to happen and it being my first baby, it may well be a bit later. But if you stick my due date 9 days early, then that doesn't give me a proper chance at a natural birth.

So, tonight I polish off the last of the crispie cakes and read my trashy novel and drink some melissa tea and try not to worry about the fact that I am too worried to sleep. Gotta break this vicious circle!

19+1 (according to me)
anything up to 20+1 according to dr
18+1 if you go by the 8 week scan I had, when I was put back to 7 weeks. So there you go. Hardly an exact science.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The stepford wife in me

Expatmamma is delighted to announce the birth of 17 perfect crispie (oh SOOOO crispie!) cakes :)
Mother is tired but elated.
The cooker is in intensive care.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Proof! See here! Not just a baby box!

So, after a wait of 6 months for my friend who kept promising to pick it up and a wait for another 6 weeks for it to arrive after I finally gave up and asked the office to mail it, today, hand delivered to my very office is.....

My Doctoral Degree Certificate!!

HURRAH! It is true, I really did it :)


Is there a contradiction?

Being awake in the middle of the night is never a good thing, especially when one is feeling extremely tired and has the added pressure of "ooh, I HAVE to get to sleep because I have lots of work to do tomorrow." Not exactly conducive. Whilst I never fail to dose off in the relaxation session at my yoga class, at 4am the same skill utterly deserts me. The body is practising for parenthood.

So what was it this time? The career thing. Do people judge me because I have no plans to curtail my career for this baby? And why do I care? Why am I even writing this self-justification blog? Why do I feel I need to?

Needless to say, it has not even occurred to my husband to feel in any way as though there is a conflict between his work and his family to be. Nor has anyone else implied that there might be. There is no suggestion that loving his job means that he will love his baby any less; in fact, the general attitude is that loving his job makes him a better father, ´cause of course he will need all his hard earned pennies to support his wife and child. (This, incidentally, is not true in our case; my husband and I earn the same and could live on one - either - salary. We might curtail our trips to our families but we would certainly not be poor.)

Why am I writing this? I hate myself for writing this, for feeling I have to. But I read something in a magazine where a stay at home mother said that she thought going back to work was not only selfish and irresponsible and meant your child would be permanently emotionally scarred but that she thought it was a form of "acceptable child abuse." What? And why I am I STILL pissed off about this? Why do I care what a total stranger things about my life choices?

I love my job. I love my career. I have worked off the balls I don't have to get here. Sure, some mornings I struggle to get out of bed, because I am tired and some nights I go home exhausted. I cherish my weekends. But I never wake up and wish I didn't have to work. It is the most important thing in my life.

I believe that when my baby arrives, things will change; my child will be the most important thing in my life, infinitely more precious than my career. I think this change might even begin gradually before I give birth; in the last couple of months slowly my love and devotion to this child will grow and grow. And I am already fiercely committed to this baby; sitting in hospital waiting rooms wondering if this baby would even make it brought that home very much.

But, and this is the big but: I do not think, no matter how much I love my child, I will love my job less. It is not a zero sum game. There is not only so much love to go around, especially when the sorts of love and committment are so completely different. Incommensurable.

One reason (apart from the fact that it is deadly dull) that I didn't pursue a career as a practising lawyer is that to get anywhere, you need to work ridiculous hours and sacrifice your personal life. You CAN have a family and work "part-time" (part time for lawyers is only 40 hours a week). This is known as the "mummy track" for good reasons and guarantees you shitty simple cases, crap pay and zero chance of career development, let alone the chance to make partner.

One of the reasons we moved to Iceland was that work and family are not mutually exclusive here. When I have a child, I will work 8-4 and no later and no-one will even think this implies I am not committed to my job. This will not hold me back. (We turned down Barbados for this!)

I have a huge respect for stay at home mothers. I believe they do the most amazing and important job. It frustrates me when they say "I don't work, I'm a stay at home mum." (What?! So you are just sitting about all day drinking tea? The feeding, clothing, bathing, nappy changing is done by the fairies?) The irony is that within my research for my job I routinely call for greater support and respect for full time parents, including pension savings for people who put their paid jobs on hold to do something that is both more important and contributes more to society. I do this whilst demanding that women have a choice - a choice with quality day-care so that if they choose to work for pay, they can "afford" to do so. It is tragic when women who want to work for pay cannot do so because they end up worse off financially at the end of the week. And it is also tragic when women and men who would like to be full-time parents of their pre-schoolers cannot afford to do so. This is particularly hard for men as, being usually the higher earner and also the one who is expected to be the breadwinner, they simply cannot afford to swap traditional roles with the mothers of their kids.

Some parents work for pay because they can't afford to stay home. They hate their jobs, or at least don't enjoy their jobs and would much rather have the job of full-time parent. But some parents work for pay because they love their jobs. And I think it is hard for people who do not love their jobs to understand that. What could be more important than being with your child? Nothing, that is a stupid question. But I can spend 128 hours a week with my child, knowing that for the other 40 he is in loving, caring hands. My husband will do the same. No-one judges my husband on this (if anything, they will think he ought to be working more). Why do I feel they will judge me?

And more to the point, why do I even care?

Public Property

Pregnancy has an interesting affect on those around you. Not satisfied with volunteering legions of unsolicited advice (see this: written much better than me and very funny -
http://finslippy.typepad.com/finslippy/2004/05/attention_publi.html ) "other people" also seem to think that your body is no longer your own.

A couple of my friends have already come up to me and fondled my belly without asking. It takes one back a bit what can you say? But yesterday took the biscuit. I'm at work, admittedly looking a little dishevelled by 1630 and not exactly in my suit and tie, but still at work. We have a reception for high school teachers to encourage them to encourage their students to come to us. I'm introduced as lecturer and co-ordinator of legal studies. And so off we go to "mingle." And high school teacher asks me if I am ok; I looked at her a little perplexed and said I was fine; so, realising I hadn't a clue what she was talking about (I did look pretty tired, I WAS pretty tired, but surely she wouldn't be so rude to comment on the rings under my eyes?) she gives my belly a big rub and asks when the baby is due.

Astounded. Here's me playing law-professor-grown-up-honest and I'm being patted like a dog. Worse, the dog can at least snarl in response. It was hard enough being taken seriously in my job as young and female but now pregnant to boot, credibility is completely out of my grasp. Would you even touch a friend that way if she weren't pregnant? You might give a squeeze or a hug to someone close in the right circumstances, but a belly rub? Shall I just feel your ass?

Am I invisible? Am I just a big walking womb with some random flesh on the outside? Is it possible that I can be pregnant AND still have some expectations about respect for my own body (medical profession excepted; gave that up after my 16th internal ultrasound)? Is it possible that I can be pregnant AND have a brain? Might I be pregnant AND a law professor at the same time?

Which, in a round about way, brings me to my next post. Such are the perils of insomnia: one thinks too much and therefore has far too much that just needs to be SAID to someone, everybody, anybody. And if you don't read this, then hey, I don't need to know :)


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

All brains, nae sense

Chocolate Crispy Cakes.
3 ingredients: chocolate, cornflakes and raisins.

On Sunday I took a serious fancy to a big batch of crunchy cornflake crispie cakes. Yum yum yum. Yesterday, I went to the supermarket and picked up cooking chocolate, cornflakes and cake cups (we had the raisins) and proceeded with much excitement. So much excitement, in fact, that I got so hot, I had to take off half my clothes. I'd got a recipe, if such it could be called, since recipes usually involve some actual cooking to be done. But I did have to melt the chocolate in a bain marie - in a pot over another pot with hot water in. Not, you might say, rocket science.

Chocolate melting went fine. I added some golden syrup as recommended for added thickness and flavour. Went a bit thick, but still definitely liquid enough. Then I added the cornflakes and it all immediately solidified into a big lump.

Hmmm... what now? Clever old me, added some milk to thin the chocolate. Not very much, but enough to make it liquid again.

Now, friendly scientists: what happens when you add milk to cornflakes? Would you like to ask the audience? Would you like to phone a friend? Or are you confident of your answer?

YES, that's it, spot on, you have won two quid because when you add milk to cornflakes THEY GO SOFT.


Not only that but the chocolate was now diluted just enough so that even though my "cakes" spent the night in a cold fridge, the chocolate hasn't really set.

So I have 20 portions of soggy cornflakes in chocolately goo.

The raisins came out ok though. At least I am still getting my fruit and veg. supply.

Meanwhile, the 3 day left over lasagne is still the more tempting offering.... time for lunch.


Íslenskir Karlmenn

And America's Next Top Male Model is.....

an Icelander!

The poor child has only one facial expression - but since in only one photo of his portfolio is he actually decently clad, it's safe to say noone is looking at his smile :)


Looking only for research and comparative purposes you understand :)

I'd say there are much hotter Icelanders out there - who probably spend considerably less time in the gym and in front of the mirror... form an orderly queue ladies. Francesca dF, you can come first :)


Friday, February 11, 2005

Must be blooming then

Or maybe just blushing...

I was in a taxi yesterday in Reykjavik and got chatting as one does because cab drivers in Iceland always want to know why a foreigner can speak Icelandic. It came out I was pregnant (due to a misunderstanding, because he asked if I had an Icelandic "boy" and I said I was going to have one in the summer... but he meant boyfriend, duh!) Anyway, he seemed genuinely happy to hear this and I was happy and the sun was shining and the whole world was happy till he said something I didn't understand... so he translated in broken English that he wasn't safe around pregnant women 'cause he really liked big women with big bellies and.... I swiftly made my exit. Thankfully this all came to light as we pulled up beside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for my meeting.

The weird thing is that in Iceland noone EVER hits on you, at least not sober. At the risk of sounding seriously immodest, in Canada or Scotland men do try it on; but in Iceland, everyone is too 'cool' and no-one ever tries to flirt, well not before 3am and a crate of beer. So it was quite a shock to the system.... I've been in Iceland for a year an a half and this is the first time a sober man has hit on me. And all for my big belly. Which isn't even that big yet - honest. Remind me to use a different taxi firm if I am in Reykjavik this summer!

17+5 and not THAT big, honestly!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


One of my dear friends send me an email today telling me she bet I looked "elegant." This would be a friend in Canada who hasn't seen me for over a year. So, to set the record straight, I definitely do not look elegant - at least not in motion.
Standing still, there's a possibility that in the right light and in my one nice long maternity dress that I might pull off something close to elegance. I've gained 3 kilos so far (though it varies depending on the time of day, strangely enough) but there isn't any fat: just a big football belly and some seriously porn-star-esque boobs. Not that I am trying to suggest it is sexy: it isn't. But in truth, I find my new figure quite beautiful.
Elegance, however, is another thing. Elegance requires being able to move in an elegant manner. No chance. 4 months gone and already doing the pregnancy duck waddle. It's just impossible not to: my back must have changed shape, things are moving about in the middle, and I have to lean back to balance the belly. And the belly is only 3 kg bigger so far, so I can't imagine how I will be moving by July! Bending over is a challenge, not because I am particularly enormous, but because what belly there is, is rock solid. It is not like being a bit chubby, because fat folds and bends. Pregnant bellies move for no man (woman or child) and you have to reach around them. Trying to get the hiking boots on in the snow is already proving enough of an effort to leave me out of breath. Dropping something and having to pick it up - especially from a sitting position - consumes enough calories in my quick estimation to constitute at least 100g of milk chocolate. Oops, just dropped a pencil - better go to the canteen :)


Friday, February 04, 2005

Back to Reality

So where have I been? The exciting truth is... my office, snowed under! I am feeling better, not "feeling" pregnant anymore, which is great as I can actually function like a normal human being but unfortunately during the weeks of feeling rubbish and having to be careful about things, all the admin piled up and up and up on my desk. And I have a paper to write for next week. And 15 essays to grade. And the schedule for next year to fix. And to make sure my teachers all describe their courses according to the bureaucratic system by Thursday next week (NOT going to happen: I asked them to do this in early November...).

And it all needs done by the end of next week; in fact, by Wednesday, because on Thursday I am off to Reykjavik to deliver said paper and I will come back on Friday.

Looks like I am in for another action packed weekend.

Sorry to neglect you all.

Oh, I nearly forgot (told you I wasn't feeling pregnant anymore) - I think I felt the baby move!! It wasn't a recognisable kick or anything, just a kind of weird feeling in my belly, like when I am extremely nervous: it reminded me of being a kid and knowing I was going to get in trouble, or walking into my doctoral defence.