Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And here is the official obit

Came to know today that the NYT had published an obituary sometime back on my former boss...

Here it is!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Maternal desire

The universe is much too small to hold
Your longing for a lover and a child
Virginal, Nissim Ezekiel

I remember reading this poem when I was about 15 and being struck by the power of those words. I thought then that the poet was exaggerating to make a point. Years later though, the words seem more meaningful and true.

A lot has been said about sexual desire in a woman and among other things, the women's lib movement helped women recognize and give expression to this desire. A lot has been said about maternal desire too - mostly in corny sentimental movies (Amma sentiment) and such. Women themselves are not aware of the force of this desire till they have a child or at least till they decide they want one. It's no wonder then that the women's lib movement with its heavy emphasis on career and independence seems to view childbearing and childrearing as intrusions that must be dealt with as little inconvenience as possible (daycare, nannies, forcing husband to take care). But what about the very real desire that women have to care for their babies? This unexplained 'maternal desire' that somehow gets in the way?

I've been kind of thinking about this since I started reading a book called "Maternal Desire" (duh!) by Daphne de Marneffe. I've not gotten past the introduction though, mainly because there are too many other things I am trying to read at the same time.

Whats the point I am trying to make here? Quite a few different ones if I had the time or the mental energy to coherently present it all...The entire issue of career, choices and motherhood is always a charged topic especially to one already prone to angst and uncertainty like I am. But I'll leave that for another day.

Seen from the maternal desire perspective, my friend's comments on my birthday (See prev post) don't seem weird at all. Actually they never seemed weird since I've been there. Irritating perhaps, but perfectly normal. There was a time when it seemed that I may not have children and I do remember getting envious when I read stories of child abuse and such. "How come those CREEPS get to have multiple kids?"

Of course I went through this only for a few months. I imagine this gets worse and worse as time goes by till you can't look at any baby or any parent without feeling faintly resentful. And then there is the feeling of somehow being a sub-woman, not on par with the other 'fertile' women out there that comes up - regardless of whatever else you may have accomplished. But now that I am pregnant, do I think any lesser of the women who for one reason or another cannot be? Heck, no!! But the obsession and the worries and fears are such an integral part of the mindset of a woman who wants to conceive but cannot.

I read an excerpt from "Waiting for Daisy" by Peggy Orenstein a couple of months ago in the Oprah Magazine. The online version of the article can be found here. I was amazed at her candor and horrified at the hell she went through to get pregnant - a self-imposed hell that seemed inevitable and necessary from her point of view. Its a happy ending - she did get pregnant - but she did go through hell. Was it all worth it?

Towards the end of the article she says:

Sometimes, sitting at a miniature table, covered in Play-Doh and reading 'Where's Spot?' for the 30-zillionth time, I don't recognize myself -- and that's not a bad thing: Identity, I've learned, can be sliced many ways, and there is gain with every loss. Even so. Becoming a parent can't give me back the time -- the entire second half of my 30s -- that was obliterated by obsession. It doesn't compensate for the inattention to my career, for my self-inflicted torment, for the stress I put on my marriage. Steven and I may never reclaim the ease of our pre-infertility days. All we can do is move forward -- tenderly, kindly, with mutual forgiveness. And with the knowledge that our love for each other has never, ever flagged.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thirty plus

So I had a good birthday. Like I said, I don't really feel older or different from this time last week.
But based on conversations with friends who've done this already, I think this age-worry is predominantly female.

"Happy Birthday. Welcome to the dark side! It's all downhill from here!"
"Happy Birthday! 30? Doesn't feel like it does it? I went through it 6 months ago. Where did all the time go?"
"Happy Birthday, you old thing. Now you're finally in the same boat as I am!"

Gee, thanks girls! Of course all of these are meant in jest, but its hard to miss the underlying wistfulness - Why DO we grow older?

And of course there was the comment that irritated the heck out of me.
"Happy birthday! The big three Oh! Well, at least you're pregnant even though you're 30. Look at me, I am 34 already and still not pregnant!"
Now, that wasn't a birthday wish, was it? I've got so much to write about this, I'll save it for a separate post.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My last post in my twenties

Tomorrow I'll be 30! Yeah, somehow I did think that the twenties would last forever. Not only did they not, but they've actually gone by pretty darn quick.

In this past decade, I've finished college, come to the US, finished grad school, gotten married, moved to Canada, bought a house and become pregnant.

What was I doing when I turned 20? 10 years ago, I was in Ahmedabad, doing my 4th year internship and having a lot of fun seeing the sights and living the life. I don't remember my birthday being particularly angsty (Gosh, I am turning 20!) or particularly remarkable. I do remember going to work that day as usual, getting a bouquet from my co-workers there - I still have some of the petals stuck in my diary in remembrance. That may well be the very first bouquet I got! I might have gone out for dinner with my friend Zahra, but I don't remember if I did. And add to this the usual number of cards and phone calls from family and friends - It wasn't a bad birthday!

In fact all my birthdays have been reasonably good, although my 26th was particularly memorable for the multiple parties I got from friends and also the fact that being 26 was probably one of the best years of my life! It was my last year being single and the world remained open in terms of possibilities (I love being married, but that feeling of romance and suspense in the air is wonderful too!) I'd finally finished up the Master's thesis I'd been struggling with for 2 years and had all kinds of freedom to go around, see places and do things. I was living the free, unfettered existence I'd dreamed of since childhood and boy, was it heady!

Still feels like yesterday, but apparently a few more years have gone by and here I am suddenly a woman in my thirties! Yes, I know I'll really feel no different tomorrow from what I am today, and yet on paper it sounds somehow like a really big deal!

So I'll sign out now and go enjoy my last few hours of being 29.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

some links

My husband sent me this link this morning from CNN.

The stats are startling - According to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 74 percent of mothers try breast-feeding, but after three months only 30 percent still exclusively nurse their babies. After six months, the number dwindled to 11

The comments are interesting too!

Later this afternoon, I came across this site when googling.

Don't know how true the stats are, but it seems kind of reassuring. But as with googling anything, you can always find some other site with different data and conclusions. As for example this:

But if washing and flushing is what we do when we become toilet trained and if its really the same amount of water that we'd use to wash the cloth diapers as we would to flush the toilet 5 times a day - cloth diapering doesn't seem like a bad option at all...cheaper too.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Money money money

Tons of pregnant women in Calgary - not surprising considering 10,000 babies were born here last year! Still, its quite a sight to see an auditorium full of pregnant women or for that matter only pregnant women lining up in a queue outside the restrooms. That's exactly what I saw and was part of yesterday, when I attended the course 'Budgeting for babies'.

The course itself was okay. The presenters touched on various aspects on how the new arrival would impact our finances, ranging from living on a reduced income, to setting up RESPs to save for the child's college education. Also discussed were birth certificates, wills, life and other forms of insurance and child tax benefits (if applicable). For a free course, it did a fairly good job of at least introducing the several topics new parents will need to consider.

Under the section of cutting expenses and coupon clipping were of course the 3 standard recommendations:
1.) Breast feed
2.) Cloth diaper
3.) Make your own baby food

Apparently these measures can save you about $2000 - $3000 over the course of a couple of years! Impressive, but easy to implement?

1.) I see too many people around me - people I know personally, people on TV programs, people I know distantly from online bulletin boards - all having tried and failed to breastfeed successfully. On one hand there is Jack Newman who insists in his book that its fairly simple and straightforward. On the other hand are all these people, some of whom have gone through considerable pain and difficulty before moving on to formula feeding. Would some of these cases been resolved with some professional assistance? Some maybe but not all. My friend consulted 2 different lactation consultants and 2 different breast surgeons and went through a lot of pain before throwing in the towel. My point is that while breastfeeding should be encouraged and supported, its not really a question of choice for many people. Certainly I will 'choose' to breastfeed. But I also hope luck is on my side to help.

2.) Cloth diapering: Don't know enough about this to comment yet. Intend to find out more over the next couple of weeks. Good for the environment and the wallet for sure, but how troublesome is it to keep doing additional loads of laundry every other day? And if you factor in the the water and the detergent and the electricity for the laundry, is there really any savings in money or in terms of environmental impact?

3.) Baby food: easily 6 months away. Sure, I'll make my own baby food.... Or something, when I get to it. Again, I've got to wonder though, how much is the cost savings really? Baby food does not seem very expensive - 65c for a bottle of Presidents Choice Organic baby food, that will probably last for a couple of feedings. Is it really worth the time and effort to make your own food at home? One benefit that I can see is that baby will get used to things that we eat at home (rasam and sambar saadam) - but that's not a cost benefit really.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I originally had some clever title for this post and the content all thought out. I'll be darned if I can remember what it was. Pregnancy brain has certainly struck and how! Its fairly commonplace these days for me to leave something cooking on the stove and forget all about it and start doing something else, till my husband asks about the burning smell. Other forgetful things I've done recently: misplacing things, keeping the oil can in the fridge and the milk can inside a kitchen cabinet instead of vice versa, forgetting to keep leftover food back in the fridge and consequently wasting it the next day etc. Luckily, nothing major has happened as a consequence so far..

Been browsing usedcalgary.com, buysell.com and craigslist till I am almost sick at the mention of cribs, changing tables and baby monitors - these being the major items still unpurchased. The crib is not an immediate need though and I've been doing a lot of back and forth reasoning on why we need or don't need a crib. A pregnancy brain doesn't help with the logical reasoning part and I find I can actually argue and convince myself about completely differing things...

In any case, since I am planning to co-sleep I won't really need a crib much except for naps. So maybe my money is better spent on something else. Like a playard? I almost bought one yesterday. Today I am convinced that the thing to buy is this:
Who knows what tomorrow brings!

I did buy a ton of clothes - a lot of boy specific clothes in blues and browns. Then I read about someone who was told that she'd have a boy but ended up with a girl instead. Neutral colors, here I come...

Oh, I saw the Harry Potter movie recently and I quite liked it - better than the other ones anyway. Although its not quite something I'd want to see again and again - unlike LOTR or something. Its funny how the two keep getting compared, while they're not in the same league at all - not even close! Anyway, I read the 'Deathly Hallows' book too and again quite enjoyed it, although the ending was not as well written as the rest of the book. A series finale deserves much better, doesn't it?