Friday, May 25, 2012


I was working hard outside today, pulling weeds in the hot sun, when a stranger saw me (in all my sweaty, exhausted, pregnant glory!) and said "You poor thing. Your husband should be doing that!"
"I don't have one," I explained, "he ran out on me."
She looked uncomfortable for a moment and didn't know what to say.
"It's OK. He was no help anyway," I mused and flexed my arm muscles, "Who needs him? I'm better off alone!"
"You're a very brave woman" she replied.

I'm not. I've never thought of myself as brave. I'm scared of a lot of things. Though I did hear that courage isn't the absence of fear, it's feeling the fear and doing it anyway... I guess by that definition I am one brave mo-fo! Except it's not bravery. Just necessity and stubbornness. It's amazing what you can do when you have no choice.

I once moved a mountain (16,000 pounds) of soil from my driveway into my backyard by myself. One wheelbarrow at a time. It took me eight hours. It was a couple of years ago. My boyfriend at the time, who had offered to help me with landscaping, abandoned me mid-project so I had to continue without him. Running out on me when I needed him most. Making promises he didn't intend to keep and leaving me with a truckload of work to do alone. Seems to be a theme! I hated him at the time. The anger gave me energy. Afterward I was grateful to him for leaving because it forced me to realize I can do things on my own. Even things that seem impossible. I learned that I was stronger than I thought. And one stubborn bull! When I first looked at the mountain I thought, "This is crazy! I can't do this!" but you can. You just tackle it the way you do any overwhelming task in life. One wheelbarrow at a time.

In a million years I never imagined I'd be having a child and raising her on my own. This is how things panned out. I know that it was meant to be. I accept it. And I'll do whatever I have to do. Taking care of the house. Taking care of a baby. Anything that needs to be done I have to do myself. There's no one to help. I am grateful for the support of friends and family. They have been wonderful. I am especially thankful for all the gifts and donations which saves me having to purchase all the big things I'm going to need (crib etc). I'm glad that my Mom and sister will be with me for the delivery and to help me the first few days after I have the baby, but after that I'm on my own. 90% of the time, I'll be going it alone.

One of the most brave women I ever met was one that I knew years ago who had a child with leukemia. Between working and trips to the hospital, she had almost no time, got almost no sleep, was going through hell but she always seemed to have a sunny disposition. She managed to stay positive and strong for her daughter. She didn't have a choice. She said "I allow myself half an hour of self-pity a week. That's it." So once a week, she would take half an hour to be by herself, to just bawl her eyes out, to feel frustrated and scared and angry and overwhelmed and then she would come out of it and go back to being sweet, funny, resilient and put on a brave face for her little girl and everyone else she encountered. You do what you have to do. Life presents you with challenges. You meet them. You don't get to curl into a ball. There isn't time. Not when you have a child to take care of. You have to focus on the positive. There is always something beautiful, at the end of the pain. There are always moments of joy that make it all worth it. You do it for love. That's what keeps you going.

My mother told me the other day that I've seemed happier lately than ever before in my life. It's true. I have reached a level of peace that I don't think I've ever had before. I'm happier now, pregnant and alone, than I've ever been. How could I have imagined that what I feared the most (having a baby, being alone) would make me the most happy? Apparently this was who I was meant to be. It just took a very unusual turn of events to get me here.

Today I was tugging at the jungle of weeds in my backyard, feeling somewhat discouraged, back aching, perspiring profusely under the sun, when I started to uncover the little plants and flowers, groundcovers I had planted that had been buried under the weeds. And I kept going. It was worth it to clear a path, to find these hidden treasures. Sweat dripping from my brow, belly weighing me down like lead, legs about to give out, I kept pulling. To let the shy, fragile and beautiful things breathe and to banish the big, ugly weed bullies was worth it. Many of the plants I'd forgotten about or didn't even know were there. I was surprised to find them, quietly growing underneath the big monster weeds. The ugly spiky ones are the worst. Dandelions and other weeds. So many of them. Invaders. They just come in and take over. M (my baby's father) had been a weed in my life. He even had spikes! (His hair. Yes he was a prickly character. Darkened my world. Collected swords. Wore chains. Was a scorpion to boot. With a sharp sting.) Invited himself in. Took over my house, my life, my body. Drained me. Overpowered me. I was lost in his shadow. With him gone I have found myself. I have room to breathe again. I can bloom.

I love the sun but when you're working outdoors, it can be unbearable. Especially with the added weight of being 7 1/2 months pregnant. At one point I asked God "Please, can you just turn down the sun a little, to give me a break?" and on cue the sky clouded over for a few minutes. Just over my house! "Thank you" I whispered, enjoying the shade, feeling a delicious cool breeze against my skin.

The garden is worth the work. The magic of perennials is that you almost forget what you planted the year before until you see them come back in the spring. I found so many treasures. Lupine, ligularia, lavender...
The irises took my breath away. Beauty is our glimpse of Heaven here on Earth and I'm so grateful for it. There is something otherworldly about flowers. They are Zen for me. They remind me to stay in the Now. They embody peace, stillness, perfection. They make me feel close to God.

 "Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace."
May Sarton

When I was done, I was so sore, so exhausted, but utterly satisfied. The garden to me is like a living painting, one that is constantly metamorphosing, evolving. It is a work in progress and you're never really finished. You revisit it. You take away what needs to go (darn weeds!) and rejoice in the magic that remains, splashes of colour and texture.

I treated myself by relaxing on my swing and reading my book afterward. My toes buried in the sand. Enjoying a slight breeze under the shade of the swing awning. Ali, my cat rolled around in the sand, contentedly. The baby danced around in my tummy. I sipped a glass of orange juice filled with ice and thought how very lucky I am.

M (my ex) was a coward. He let fear govern his life. He probably never made a decision that wasn't based on fear. He didn't have a life. He had an existence. Basic survival. He didn't know how to love, only to control. And when he felt out of control, he ran. It's understandable. He never got to have a normal life, never had a family. His early childhood lacked the nurturing that would have allowed him to develop into a whole person. I can't hate him because I feel sorry for him. Perhaps he thought that running away would make him free. He's in a prison of his own making. I don't know how he could not be haunted the rest of his life. How do you abandon a child and the woman carrying your child, without a word and live with yourself? How would it not cross your mind every day? He had a chance at a full life, a home, love, everything he'd missed out on. Perhaps he didn't know what to do with it. It felt too foreign to him. We tend to cling to what's familiar, no matter how bleak it may be. He left the life he might have had with the baby and me and went back to the life he knew. A drifter.

Although in a different way, I let fear run most of my life too. I avoided risks, challenges. I wouldn't even attempt anything that I felt I was incapable of or wasn't worthy of. Being a Mom was entirely beyond the realm of possibility for me. I didn't think I was mature enough, strong enough, reponsible enough. It scared the living daylights out of me. Now here I go! Woo hoo! I'm so far outside my comfort zone but it feels good. It's stretching me. I was afraid to be alone. I was afraid of pain. I was afraid of commitment, responsibility. Now I've been abandoned. I've been without a partner since February (that is a new personal record! I was addicted to having a boyfriend. Now I've gone cold turkey!) I have to tackle my phobia of pain. I survived my first needle without fainting. In a couple of months I'll be going through labour. (Doesn't get more painful or physically taxing than that does it?!) And now that I'm a Mom, I will be committed to and responsible for another human, my child, for the rest of my life. Instead of shrinking in fear, it feels like I'm awakening, stretching my wings. I didn't give myself much credit. I didn't think I could ever handle being a Mom. Now that it's happening, I see that it was my destiny all along. I was just hiding from it. Avoiding it. I have so much love to give. Many times it was misplaced, in romantic relationships with the wrong men. Now I can shower my child with love. That is deeper and more meaningful than any other relationship or experience I could have hoped to have as a single woman. I thought I was looking for Mr. Right. It turns out what I really needed was to find myself and now, without a man in the way, I have. I am a mother. I am creative, loving, nurturing, passionate, positive, blissful. I am what I always wanted to be. No one else could give me that, I had to find it on my own.

So thank you M, for the crucible, the trial by fire that you put me through. Thank you for unravelling me and my life, ravaging my soul. Thank you for giving me this precious, unexpected gift, a miracle baby, a love beyond my wildest dreams. And thank you for knowing enough to get out of the way.

After the darkest night of your soul, comes an awakening. Enlightenment. If you can survive facing your greatest fear, you come out of it stronger, empowered. You see that you are so much more than you thought possible.

I already love this baby so much and I haven't even met her yet. I was inspired to write another song for my baby, if you want to check it out...

"Already Love You" -- music and lyrics by Ann Marie Pincivero:

I will be a brave woman because I am going to be a Mom. And they are the most powerful, brave, extraordinary creatures on Earth. To do what they do, they have to be. And thank God they do. Where would we be without them?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Bachelorette Emily, Single Mom

I don't watch a lot of TV but there are certain shows I can't miss. One of them being The Bachelor/Bachelorette series. During Brad Womack's season of The Bachelor, there was one girl that really stood out for me, it was Emily Maynard. Not only was she a charming southern belle, stunningly beautiful, but she had a heartbreaking background story that made you love her even more. She had been engaged to her high school sweetheart, Ricky, a racecar driver. Tragically he died in a plane crash while enroute to a race. Devestated to lose the love of her life, she was about to get another shock -- finding out that she was pregnant with his child! She was grateful to have his child, a part of him still with her. Though she was heartbroken she had to be strong for her daughter. She named her child Ricki. She got through the toughest loss of her life by focusing on the unexpected gift of a child that would share the rest of her life.

It's tough enough to meet someone worthwhile, never mind when you're a single Mom. Finding someone worthy of your child, who would make a good father as well as a good partner for you is no easy task. Even finding the time to date while you're trying to raise a child can be a challenge. So Emily went years alone as a single Mom without a relationship. She went on The Bachelor looking for love. And found it.

When I saw them on the show, I could tell that Brad was in love with her. When it was down to the last few girls especially, I knew he was going to choose her. A fellow avid Bachelor viewer who had been a single Mom herself sneered "No way. He'll never choose her. No guy is going to pick someone with a kid!"
"But he loves her! I can tell!" I insisted.
I was right. He picked Emily. Out of 25 women, he had fallen in love with her. He proposed to her and she said yes. They made a beautiful couple. It seemed like the perfect fairytale come true.

But there was trouble in paradise...All that glittered was not gold. For whatever reasons, it didn't work out and the couple broke off their engagement. I heard that it was largely because Brad was unwilling or unable to offer the kind of stability Emily needed for her daughter. It sounded as though he expected Emily and her daughter to just uproot and come to him at his whim. It also seemed that he was unprepared for the responsibilities of being a father, that he wanted Emily to himself, wanted to go away on last minute vacations, have the sort of carefree, spontaneous life you would as a single person, not a possibility for a loving Mom. Your child comes first. So they went their separate ways.

Once again, Emily was alone and heartbroken. She'd had such high hopes for Brad. He seemed perfect. The problem is that a lot of men appear to be perfect and show their best side when they are trying to win you over. As time goes on you discover their flaws, find out how different they are from you. Some things can be compromised if you are both really committed to it. Other things are non-negotiable.

Being a single Mom, Emily's daughter was her whole life and kept her busy. She was happy and had a lot of fun with Ricki. Of course your child means the world to you but it can still be tough as a parent on your own and deep down she really wanted a family. To share her life with a loving partner and have a family together, with more children. Emily confessed that she got lonely after Ricki went to bed at 7 pm at night. At night can be the most difficult. You miss having someone next to you. Those are the times that you wish you had a companion, a partner, a romantic love relationship. Emily is a knockout and a sweet girl. Naturally she had no problem attracting men, the problem was finding the right one. That's the toughest thing as a single Mom -- meeting a good man that you feel a connection with, a man who wants a family and is able to love your child as his own. A man might be drawn to her beauty, but would he be ready for the responsibility of being a father as well?

When the show approached her about being the next Bachelorette, she was reluctant. She had already left Ricki when she went on The Bachelor and didn't want to leave her again. Her daughter was her top priority. But the producers were willing to break with tradition and film in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina so that she could be close to her daughter and still do the show.

And so for the first time in the show's history, the Bachelorette is a single Mom. I think it's awesome. It's a sign of the times. There are a lot of single parents out there, each with their own story. Emily's tragic story is rather unique (a widow who discovers she's pregnant after she's lost her love). Others are single Moms as a result of divorce, some are single Moms by choice (either adopting or having IVF via a sperm donor).  Others, like myself, become single Moms unexpectedly. I didn't plan to get pregnant to a man I'd only been dating a month. He originally promised to stick around but I guess he changed his mind about being a father because he disappeared when I was four months pregnant. No matter what their stories, the fact remains, there are a lot of us out there. While I believe it's better to be alone than to be in a bad relationship, ideally many of us would like to raise a child as a family with two loving parents. The challenge is finding that worthy father figure. Plenty of fish in the sea, as the saying goes, but a lot of them sharks. When you have a child to think about, you have to be even more selective.

What's most encouraging about the show to me is that there are 25 men very eager and excited to be with her, to win her hand. They know her story, they know that she has a child and yet are not scared off. Mind you, she is probably the sweetest girl in Reality TV history and is drop-dead gorgeous so it's not hard to imagine men wanting to be with her! The real proof will be how they are with children and with her daughter specifically. As she learned the hard way with Brad, a man can seem to be perfect in front of the cameras and then let you down when it comes to daily realities, off camera. In abstract, it's easy for a man to say "Yes I'll be a father to little Ricki." It's quite another to actually be there on a daily basis. Taking her to soccer practice. Helping out at home. Realizing that when you love a single Mom it's a package deal. You have to love her child too.

One of the bachelors actually told Emily that her being a single Mom was one of the most attractive things about her because it proved that she was strong, independent and capable of unconditional love. That was great to hear. A man who has been raised by a single Mom especially seems to have a deep respect, admiration and sense of protectiveness of other single Moms. So single Moms raise sweet, sensitive men, which frankly the world needs more of! One of the sweetest men I ever dated came from a single Mom household. His father was an alcoholic and left them. He was very protective of his Mom. Growing up in a house of women, his Mom and sister, gave him a unique understanding of women and respect for them.

I hope that Emily finds love and gets her happy ending this time. I'm sure a lot of single Moms out there, like me, are rooting for her.

I could be very cynical after all that I've seen and experienced myself but I'm still a hopeless romantic. I haven't entirely lost faith in love. It does exist. It can work. It's just a matter of finding the right person. I didn't. But I'm not completely giving up hope that he could be out there, somewhere, someday. The good thing about being a single Mom is that it has raised my standards very high. I will be much more careful from now on, because I have to be. I made some reckless choices in the past. "Oh I know he seems dangerous but it can't hurt to go for a coffee with him." Famous last words. I went for a coffee with two Scorpions last year and ended up falling in love with both of them. And they both stung me. The last one even got me pregnant. I knew they were trouble before I even went out with them. But I went ahead anyway because I was curious, looking for a thrill. I have to be much more careful now. Any red flags, warning signs and I am outta there! I just can't risk hurting my child. Apparently hurting myself was OK! If only I had been as protective of myself as I am of my baby. Still, sometimes you have to follow your heart and make mistakes along the way. The biggest mistake of my life led to my greatest joy, this baby, this unexpected miracle.

I remember reading that there are two types of men -- boyfriends and husbands, boys and men. Most of the guys I dated were boyfriends. It's not that I planned it that way consciously but part of me was afraid of commitment. In a way it was easier to go out with boys that gave me an escape route -- younger men, flawed men, men who couldn't or wouldn't commit. I always had a way out. Mind you, some of the men I dated were husband material, particularly the long term ones -- 2 years, 4 years, 9 years. Even then I had an out. The problem was I was looking for the perfect man. I wanted passion, excitement and romance on one hand, but I wanted stability, friendship and contentment on the other. It's really hard to find both in one person. Usually it's either/or. So I would swing like a pendulum between the two opposites. I ended up with some very damaged men who were fun, exciting, passionate, sensitive, romantic and made me feel alive but would tear my world apart. They were flighty at best and psychologically damaged, substance abusers at worst. It was a rollercoaster. While rollercoasters are fun, constant ups and downs is no way to live in the long run. Then I would run toward someone safe, kind and stable for normalcy. These were good men, but they felt like friends rather than lovers. They didn't make my heart race, my blood boil. I missed the drama and intensity of the more complicated guys. I couldn't win. With both types of men, it always felt like something was missing. What may have been missing was loving myself and feeling whole and complete on my own but I never gave myself that chance. I kept diving into one relationship after another, hiding from myself, thinking I needed someone else to love me, to make me happy. Always disappointed.

One friend of mine, a very strong independent single woman, was always lecturing me about needing time alone, not dating for a while. But I was afraid to be alone. And I had no trouble meeting men, almost instantly. One relationship would end and I'd wind up in another. Most of my boyfriends I met in bars. Even I finally realized this probably wasn't the best way. I tried dating online and that turned out to be even worse. I met a string of really shady characters. But it was my pattern. The only way I could ever get over one man was to date another, usually his opposite. Unless I was still pining for him and then I'd look for his twin. Case in point, I didn't learn my lesson dating one Scorpio who was a slim, blond, tattooed, dangerous, 6'2" complicated, mesmerizing, intoxicatingly sexy character with a ton of baggage. I proceeded to fall for another months later and he stung me worst of all -- knocked me up and ran out on me. A cad, a coward, a cruel, deceitful, heartless monster if there ever was one. (Ok I have been working on peace and forgiveness but sometimes a little bitterness still seeps out. I think I'm entitled!)

My baby's father, (whom I will refer to from now on as "M") was insanely possessive and jealous of my previous relationships. He didn't like that I had photo albums of former loves. He even sabotaged my computer and wiped out my hard drive with thousands of pictures (luckily I had many posted online and backed up on CDs so all weren't lost, but many were), likely because of the large number of photos of my former male model boyfriend, posing shirtless. M had made a snide remark about me living in the past and hanging onto photos and then suddenly the external drive containing all my photos is corrupted and all my data lost. M denied doing it but it happened right after he moved in. Too much to be a coincidence. Given his psychological issues with jealousy, suspicion and control and after him leaving the way he did, abandoning me without a word, I saw just what he was capable of and knew it had been him. M used to sneer that he was probably just the flavour of the month to me, just another bump in the road, that I would leave him for someone else. I certainly would have had an escape route with him. He had a billion red flags. He was the worst prospect I could find. But when I found out I was pregnant with his child, I was committed. He was my child's father so I wouldn't have ended it with him. Even when he got on my nerves. Even when I realized he was a financial and emotional liability on me. I never imagined that he would run. He had told me I was stuck with him forever. It broke my heart when he left but it was a blessing in the long run. Baby and me are better off.

I do want to fall in love again someday. There is part of me that worries if men will run for the hills once I mention a child. Of course the wrong ones will. If it's the right one, he'll stick around. I know myself that even though I thought I didn't want kids, I was still attracted to a couple of single dads and I wound up adoring their kids. It was heartbreaking saying goodbye to the kids when the relationships ended. So I know that you can love someone and their children. I know that children can add so much to your life. I had so much fun with them and will never forget them.

I know a lot of women who were single Moms for a time and they didn't stay that way. They did meet someone and start a new family and a new life together, some of them with other single Dads forming blended families, and others with men who were not afraid of taking on a family and becoming a parent to their loved one's child. Others find that life is happier and less complicated not getting involved and choose to stay single parents. Whatever will be, will be and I trust the Universe to lead me in the right direction. The most important thing to me now is this baby. In the beginning especially she will be my whole world and there won't be room for anyone else. It will be a while before I would even have the time or inclination to date. So I'm finally forced to take my friend's advice and be alone. I have been alone since February (which really is a record for me!) and it feels good. I don't feel lonely. I actually feel a constant connection with the baby, especially when I feel her moving around. I feel at peace with myself, enjoying my own company and getting back into my hobbies again like writing (this blog means a lot to me!) painting, all the things I neglected when there was a man in the picture. I have more time to spend with family. I feel fulfilled. Now, if and when, I meet someone I wouldn't be looking for him to complete me and fill a void in my life, I would only like him to add to my life and share the love of my daughter and I.

I wish Emily the best. I hope she gets her happy ending.
I hope we all do. Whatever that may be for each of us.

The problem for many of us is that we grow up on fairytales and we expect life to be like that. Of course the fairytales end on a vague high note -- "And they lived happily ever after." It glosses over what happens next. We read these stories or watch movies and they're so seductive. We cry at the end and think "That's what I want!" Our expectations are so high. Can real life measure up? Life isn't perfect. It isn't scripted, with Prince Charming who says and does all the right things. Life is messy and complicated. When you're caught up in the excitement and newness of a relationship it can seem perfect but it's getting past that honeymoon stage and into the daily business of living that's the hard part. Living happily ever after includes sometimes having arguments and working through them, getting through challenges, loving each other even when it's not easy, even when you're exhausted and things go wrong. It's not all hearts and flowers. It's putting out the garbage and doing the dishes and morning breath and credit card bills. It's loving someone even when they're annoying. It's making it work even when you're tempted to run. For better and for worse.

Emily is different this time around. She's asking more pointed questions. She's seeing past the fairytale romance, past the glamour of the show. She's thinking about the big picture after the show is over. Who can really fit in to her life. Who is on the same page, has the same goals. Who could really be in it for keeps and make a good husband and father. I hope she finds him.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Birthday!

The only thing more mind-blowing than conceiving unexpectedly at 42 years old is that I'm actually having a baby at 43! This baby will keep me young though. I feel younger and healthier, more vibrant than I ever have (in spite of the discomforts of pregnancy -- heartburn, trouble breathing, back pain largely owing to the beach ball sized belly I'm sporting now!) My skin is softer than ever. I've never been this voluptuous.

No one ever believes me when I tell them my age. Maybe I should stop telling them! Maybe I'll just be 25 from here on out! Sure! My baby's father said I had the body of a teenager. Considering he managed to knock me up inside of a month, I'm inclined to agree!
My family celebrated my birthday this weekend. It's always the May 2-4 weekend. Sometimes it falls right on Victoria Day. Other times not. The year I was born it was Victoria Day. Mom always said that was why I was such a "firecracker." I think being part-Italian, part-Irish and a feisty redhead were also a factor! I've always loved fireworks. The sights and sounds of coloured light exploding like shattered stars. I'm a romantic.

Being pregnant, this is a monumental year for me and my most special birthday ever. My family has spoiled me. I had some amazing gifts even before my birthday. I've been enjoying the swing my Mom gave me. I'm actually allowing myself some time to relax. Spending hours just reading on my swing, in the sunshine, my toes in the sand in my own little backyard paradise (all I need is the sound of the ocean...) My sister has a pond and little waterfall in her backyard. It's so soothing. I'd love something like that but it's not really an option for me at the moment. I might get one of those little mini-fountain/pond things one day just to have a water feature close to my beach. Next year if nothing else I'll probably get one of those small inflatable pools for the baby to play in and I might cool off in it too.

This weekend the weather was beautiful so we all spent the day in my sister's backyard. I didn't realize how huge I looked until I saw these pictures! I do want to point out that horizontal stripes make you look wider. I love maxi dresses though because they keep you cool while being covered.  My white legs are not my favourite right now...

We were all out talking on the patio and Mom brought up the subject of kids to Chris. He confirmed once again that he has no desire to have children and began making a list of the reasons. I felt like he was protesting too much. He must have felt outnumbered since now he's the only one in the family not to have kids. He mentioned how many of his friends had kids and how it changed them. He said that they weren't fun and carefree anymore. They didn't want to dive off cliffs, go whitewater rafting etc. He spoke as though being a parent meant your life was over. That it would become ordinary. He said that everyone he knew with kids became mediocre. I told him that in my case (and I haven't even had my child yet) it's just that my priorities are shifting. For instance, it was on my lifetime to do list to go skydiving. I had actually hoped to cross it off my list before this birthday (I didn't get around to it before my last birthday). Obviously I couldn't do it while I'm pregnant but even after I have the baby, I don't know if I could do it now. It's too risky. My life is too valuable now. I'm a mother. I couldn't risk my life and leave my child alone. Before I was living for myself, it's different once you're living for someone else. My life has purpose. Not that I actually think I would die. I mean I'm sure they're pretty careful with the parachutes and they give you training beforehand to make sure. But I think you still sign a waiver and the fact is that there IS a risk. Before I wouldn't have batted an eyelash. I would have already done it if it wasn't so darn expensive. Now that I'm a Mom, it changes everything. I couldn't live with the thought of something happening to me and leaving my daughter alone.

My other brother Mike agreed with me. He used to be a wild one, quite a daredevil and adventurer but he hasn't really done anything dangerous since he's had children. It's not that you lose your courage, you just feel a responsibility to be there for your kids. You love them so much that you wouldn't risk anything that could hurt them, including hurting yourself.

Got a lot of gifts ahead but still had things to open on my birthday. May gave me a stylish diaper bag with "Baby Couture" on it. It's so cute and practical. Like a huge purse with room for all the things I'll need for baby. She also filled it with some necessities -- nursing pads (my Mom kept going on about how I'll need those), tiny clippers for baby nails etc. I talked about how nervous I was about having the baby and how I worried I was that I wouldn't know what to do. May said I'll be fine. Your instincts kick in and you learn as you go. She's been through this three times though. Both she and my brother Mike have three kids.  

It will just be one for me! This one was already the biggest surprise of my life. Mike was telling me how truly blessed I am. I certainly never expected this at this stage in my life. We talked about how many couples struggle to conceive. It usually doesn't happen so easily, especially at my age. I just know that it was meant to be. I am very grateful.

Shannon asked me if I would want any more children after this one. I said no, that one was more than enough. More than I ever counted on! Considering that I'm not in a relationship (and at this point it's hard for me to imagine getting involved with someone, trusting someone again) and won't be for quite some time, it probably wouldn't be an option anyway. I don't suppose I can say "never" because I've made that mistake before. You just don't know. I could fall in love with someone wonderful who's a single dad with a child of his own. Or could get involved with someone and decide I do want another child with him. At this point I would just say it's highly unlikely.

After Chris' whole diatribe about not wanting children, he had Shannon on his knee and was warning her about watching out for guys and telling her he'd screen her boyfriends for her. She's a beautiful girl. It's scary to think that she might be dating in a few years. Shannon asked Chris why he didn't screen my boyfriends. He said because I'm older. Supposed to be older and wiser, should have known better! If someone had been protecting me and was interviewing men before they were allowed to date me, would any of them have made it through? Maybe not. Particularly not my baby's father. But he had to be the one, for whatever reason. I  am still grateful I met him because but for him this child would not exist. But would I ever let my daughter date someone like him? OH HELL NO!!! I may be a bit of an overprotective parent... I may not have protected myself from monsters but I wouldn't let one near her! In fairness, some of the men I dated were good guys, just wrong for me. Hindsight is 20-20. But if I could go back, I wouldn't undo any of those relationships. They all played a part in shaping my life. They all had something to teach me. They all gave me some wonderful memories that I cherish.

Chris is so good with the kids, I know he'd make a wonderful father. He's probably just scared, as I was. I know that if he ever was going to be a father, he'd be thrilled. His girlfriend is completely against it so it doesn't appear to be in the cards. Then again no one could have been more committed to a childless existence than me. I was driving a two-seater! (I still haven't found a buyer for the car. If you know someone who wants a 2010 Mazda MX5 silver automatic, please let me know!) I saw my future as a carefree single, living on a beach somewhere, falling in love with someone, maybe getting married one day, but certainly not having kids. I just couldn't see me as a Mom. Everything changed when I found out I was pregnant. A whole new set of feelings, beliefs, values, switched on. I was a new me and my old life, old dreams seemed to pale in comparison. This baby was everything to me.

Of course life with kids is different. Maybe I won't go skydiving (not for many years anyway.) Maybe I can't travel as light. I have to give up my cute little car. But the rewards outweigh the sacrifices. My whole life the most important thing to me was love. I was a relationship junkie. I kept falling for the wrong people, trying to find the right one. Trying to find that one all-encompassing love. I never saw that it could be a child. That that is the perfect love. I was looking for my soulmate, that intense connection and bond with someone whose soul is the same as yours. I didn't realize that the bond you have with a child is beyond anything else. She will literally be part of me. She will come into this world innocent and vulnerable and it's up to me to show her what life is, to help her to be strong, to share everything with her and laugh with her. What a gift that is. What a miracle. And I have my whole heart to give her. Yes I'd like to find romance again someday but this time I will only dive in if it's right and real and forever. Only if he can be a loving partner to me and a loving father to my child. Only if he can be strong and sensitive. Only if he is responsible and fun. Only if he has all the best qualities I've seen in the men I've loved with none of their tragic flaws. A tall order. Until then I have my family. My brother Mike offered to be there for the delivery and said he'd help me with whatever I needed. It was very sweet. I assured him I'll be fine with Mom and May there. It's good to know I will have positive male role models in my daughter's life though. Her uncles are very different from each other. Mike is more sensitive, a father figure, Chris is more of a free spirit but both are loving, funny, good men that I am proud to call my brothers. 

I love my nutty family! I laughed so much my belly was hurting. Baby was moving around more than ever. Not sure if it was all the commotion or the sugar (sorry baby I couldn't resist the delicious birthday cake!) I know that my family can help me get through anything. I've been through a lot so far this year but I feel strong, happy and hopeful for the future. I'm proud to be adding another member to the family. We Pinciveros are a unique bunch. Kind of crazy, but real, honest, loving, loyal. We are there for each other. We are a close family.

It was a happy birthday for me. I love when we can all be together and talk and laugh. No one makes me laugh as much as they do. I appreciate them more than ever now.

Last year when I booked my vacation time I never could have imagined that I'd be spending this birthday pregnant! I figured I'd either be skydiving or off on some adventure with the man in my life (whoever that happened to be. There was always someone. Until now, there has always been someone. I've never gone so long without a boyfriend. Baby is keeping me out of trouble!) I had planned to make a road trip to California. I imagined I'd be bikini-clad and driving with the top down. Having a baby is more of an adventure than any roadtrip. It is more daring than jumping out of a plane. Physically, emotionally and in every way this will be the biggest leap of my life.

Chris is wrong. Becoming a parent doesn't make you mediocre. Life with a child is extraordinary because you get to relive your youth, to see the beauty and magic of life again, through their eyes. My life has a purpose now that I never had before. More deep and meaningful than anything else I might have done. To me, love is more important than anything. Being a Mom I know I will feel (and already feel) more love than I ever dreamed possible. And my baby and me will have adventures. We will travel one day. We will cross things off my lifetime to do list. Having a child is something I never dared to dream. It wasn't on my to do list, but having found myself in this position, it feels right and it makes anything else seem unimportant.

The most important birthday of my life is still to come in a couple of months -- my baby's birthday in July! I was talking to my Mom and realized how strange it is that we celebrate someone's birth and make a fuss of them when they really didn't have much to do to come into the world. It's Mom that does all the work! Our birthdays should really be celebrations for our Moms! Now that I have an appreciation of what she went through, I am so grateful to my Mom. Thank you for carrying me for nine months. Thank you for going through the strain of labour and delivery to have me. Thank you for caring for me and loving me my whole life. Moms should be celebrated on our birthdays too! Thank you for giving me the gift of life!  

Friday, May 18, 2012

What's up, Doc?

Mmm Oreo McFlurry!

At my latest doctor's appointment I was anxious (and nervous) to hear the results of my gestational diabetes blood test. I knew that if I failed it would mean a follow-up THREE HOUR TEST and if I failed that one then it would mean changing my diet accordingly -- cutting out sugar entirely I guess. To my great relief she said the test came back normal! Woo hoo! The sugar test and hemoglobin were both good. So I celebrated by going for an Oreo McFlurry at McDonalds (if you haven't tried them, McFlurries are McDonald's answer to the DQ Blizzard, just as good and half the price so I highly recommend them! They even have a snack size for only $2.40 with tax!) Screw it. You only live once.

My check-up went very well. My blood pressure was 110 over 70 which is apparently quite healthy. At my last appointment she told me that I had gained too much weight too quickly. My weight gain has slowed/stalled since then so she said I'm right where I should be now. Phew. She asked if I was eating healthier. I almost said "Yes except for the celebratory ice cream I'm going to have later!" I actually have been making more of an effort to lay off the junk food since my last appointment. But I think the biggest difference is that I've been getting a lot more exercise. Now that the Spring weather is here I have been outside a lot -- weeding, gardening, mowing the lawn. So that's probably good exercise. I've also been going on shopping excursions with Mom. And I've been dancing a lot more. I have the radio on when I'm home and I have been boogie-ing to the songs I like. Dancing was always my favourite form of exercise. I used to go out to nightclubs all the time. Now I just bust a move in my kitchen/living room!

The doctor measured my belly and said it's the perfect size for the stage I'm at. I got to hear the baby's heartbeat again and it sounded great. It's amazing to hear. It's my favourite sound in the world these days, followed by the sound of waves, the cat purring, thunder.

"She moves around a lot" the doctor said. Baby was doing somersaults. The doctor felt my side and said "There's the head, there's her arm..." I can never tell when I feel kicks and jabs exactly what part it is. They all feel the same. "Is that a foot or a fist or an elbow?" One day she was kicking so low it felt like her leg was going to come out! Other times it feels like she's punching up in my ribs. I guess she's stretching while she can. I can actually see the movements now. Looking down at my belly when the baby is active is like a scene from "Aliens!" The doctor told me the baby was almost upside down but keeps moving around. She still has room to change positions. At about 36 weeks her head will drop to the bottom to prepare for birth and she won't be able to move so much. They call it "lightening" but I'm sure it's very heavy on the bladder. I'm making countless trips to the washroom already! It may be a relief on my ribs though. I've been having pains under my chest from the pressure. It's more difficult to breathe these days too. And sometimes the heartburn is really bad. So I guess it's a trade-off. I'll have more room to breathe without the baby crowding my ribs but she's going to be leaning on my bladder so I'll probably be waddling to the bathroom even more frequently. I've noticed I am waddling lately.

I reminded the doctor to give me a requisition for the 32 week ultrasound. She was reluctant to send me for one since everything appears normal and I guess you need a medical reason for an u/s. "I have to know whether it's a girl!" apparently isn't a valid medical reason. I did have spotting (well, one spot) about a week ago so she put spotting as the reason just to make sure everything is OK. When I called the lab they said this will just be a brief appointment, not a one hour one so it will just be sheer luck if I'm able to tell the sex. Please cooperate this time baby! Show us the goods! It's not a priority for the lab. It's a big one for me! Of course there are places you can go for a 3D ultrasound gender assessment and even get a DVD of it but it's rather expensive. I guess if nothing else I'll know in 10 weeks anyway but I really want to be prepared. Either way I have a motherlode of pink clothes so I can only hope for the best!

I got a great deal on an IKEA dresser from Kijiji and they even delivered it and set it up in the nursery for me. It's light wood so it will match the crib, rocker and change table. My sister doesn't want to part with the change table until lil Reggie is potty trained. Hopefully he's ready by July. Girls are much easier to potty train than boys it seems. I guess because girls are more particular about hygiene. He is starting to catch on to the idea though. Now it's just a matter of knowing when he has to go and getting to the potty in time. Apparently he has an easier time with #1 than #2. He'll pee on the potty without a problem. But he runs to hide anytime he has to poop. Not sure why that is. Something about the concept of poop in the potty has him freaked out.

I also got a little bookcase in a birch veneer to match and filled it with books and toys I've collected so far. My Mom was asking the other day if "everything has to be fish?" Yes! The nursery has an ocean theme. You can't just randomly stick a giraffe or an elephant in there.

I've started another mermaid painting. I'm hoping to get the paintings done and get the furniture set up while I have some time off. I'm on vacation for a bit now. I booked this time last year, before I ever knew I'd be getting pregnant. I decided to keep the time anyway because I could use the break. Work is definitely more of a challenge, physically and mentally, being pregnant. Twelve hour shifts on no sleep can get rough. I don't go back until late May-early June and even then I'll only have 12 days left until my vacation which will lead into my maternity leave. Time really is going quickly. People have been telling me to enjoy the next couple of months of freedom while I can. Of course those that are mothers also tell me that the next year will be the best year of my life. It is exciting and I tear up every time I think about holding my baby. Seeing babies when I'm out always gets to me. I've been seeing more newborns and pregnant women out and about than I ever remember seeing before. I'm not sure if pregnancy is just really popular these days or if I'm just noticing it more. Probably the latter. It's like when you buy a silver car and then it seems like everyone else is driving a silver car (especially when you're trying to find it in the parking lot because you didn't pay attention when you parked! D'oh!)

I'm loving the nice weather and will probably be spending a lot of time relaxing on my beach swing.
I'm sure I'll be swinging and rocking with the baby a lot after July. Baby also has her own swing, a gift from my brother, in an ocean theme of course!

I'm happy and grateful for all the gifts and donations I've received so far. Most of the things I'll need for the baby are covered already which is a huge relief. I still don't feel prepared. The whole idea is overwhelming. I really don't know what it's going to be like.

I opted not to go to pre-natal classes for a couple of reasons: they're not free and I figure that most of what they'd tell me I've read in books or can learn online (I've also taken an online class). Mostly I don't relish the idea of being in a class full of happy married couples awaiting their new arrival while I sit there alone. One woman I talked to who was a single Mom for her first child said that the classes were a nightmare. She didn't learn anything worthwhile and she was the only one by herself. She almost felt like an inconvenience to them: "OK class. Everyone sit cross-legged and lean on your partner...Oh you...I guess you can lean against a chair." Yeah, no thank you! I'd rather be spared that. I don't need to feel singled out. It reminds me of when I'd gone to Canada's Wonderland years ago with a group and it sucked when the rides would seat two and I was the odd one out. I remember the ride operator yelling "Any other SINGLES?!" to fill the seat next to me.  

I won't be alone for labour and delivery. I'll have my Mom and sister with me for support and I'll be relying on them for the first few days after birth to show me the ropes! I'm so nervous. I always get butterflies before any big event. A control freak, the unknown is always scary. I always got stage fright, no matter how many times I went on stage. This is the biggest event of my life! It's beyond butterflies. I'm terrified! Of the pain of labour, of caring for a newborn baby. Will I know what to do? Will it come naturally?

I remember when my sister taught me to drive. I chose her because she is the most calming person I know and I felt more safe with her than with anyone. I wasn't even going to attempt to drive a standard. My whole family drove automatic and that's what I learned on. When I very first got behind the wheel I said "No. I don't like this! It doesn't feel natural!" I expected it to feel natural right away. I couldn't understand why you only use your right foot. You have two feet why not use one to brake and one to drive? Driving felt weird, parking felt strange. My spatial perception felt off. I was getting frustrated. "I'll never be able to do this!" But of course with practice, it started to become second nature. I felt comfortable. I imagine it will be the same way with a baby. I'm going to feel awkward at first. I'm going to be nervous. I know that some things don't just come naturally right away. For instance I've heard that breastfeeding is tricky when you start and it really does take some effort for you and baby to figure it out. I have to just cut myself some slack, relax and realize that it's going to be OK. Eventually everything will come naturally. Women have been doing this for thousands of years. I can do this!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mia famiglia

Had the whole gang over to my place for Mother's Day on Sunday. I always love having them over. It's a bit sad when they have to leave. I've gotten used to having the place to myself but it's nice to have company. There are a lot of them and they are quite boisterous so it almost seems too quiet after they're gone.

Showed them my newly painted nursery and the mermaid painting I've done so far. My sister said her hubby can come with the crib and change table any time which is good to hear. I'm excited to get the nursery set up. Even though there are still months to go and I wouldn't even be using the crib right away. (Baby will be in the bassinett right in my room next to me for the first couple of months or so.)

Thankfully it was a beautiful day on Sunday and we wound up spending most of it in my backyard. I even got a bit of a sunburn. Mom had gotten me a garden swing as an early birthday/Mom-to-be present. She, my dad, my brother and nephew all helped put it together for me. I was very grateful because if I had to try to figure it out on my own it would have taken me days! Actually you need at least two people to hold the parts so I probably couldn't have done it on my own. It would have been quite a sight watching a 7 month pregnant woman struggle with poles and canvas and a screwdriver by herself! I did manage to construct the bassinett by myself but it was a little smaller to deal with (and it was a struggle. I've never liked reading instructions! The only thing I ever really liked putting together were bookcases. Very straightforward. Hard to mess them up!)

I am so happy to have the love and support of my family so I'm not going through my journey alone. Being a single Mom wasn't something I planned on or ever thought possible. For the most part I feel strong and capable. Most days I feel good, confident and I think "I've got this! It's going to be OK!" I do however have moments of weakness, self-doubt and sometimes just sheer exhaustion. Sometimes it's tough when you don't have a partner to help out with anything. I work long hours at my job which takes a toll. Twelve hour shifts are rough at the best of times. When you're 7 months pregnant, on no sleep, with heartburn, indigestion, sore ribs, swollen legs & feet, it's really rough. Even on my days off I don't really get to relax because there's so much that needs to be done. Cleaning. Shopping. Taking care of the house inside and out. I was mowing the front lawn one day and I was tired. My back was aching, I was having trouble breathing, the extension cord kept getting caught. It was so frustrating I almost started to cry. I just felt overwhelmed. Every other house on the street, the husband cuts the lawn. For a moment I wished there was someone here to help me out. "You put your feet up honey. I'll do the lawn. I'll vacuum. I'll clean the bathroom. I'll get the groceries. I'll make dinner." Of course, as I mentioned in a previous post, not all boyfriends/hubbies are that helpful anyway. (Even when Mike was here he said he wouldn't mow the lawn because he "didn't know how." He'd never had a lawn before. Yeah. And he couldn't have gone for groceries because he didn't even have a driver's license. At 32. I know, right? He tried to help a little with dishes but I still did the cooking and everything else. With Mike and his pets here it just meant more work for me.) Some men are helpful though. One boyfriend that I dated years ago was a godsend. I didn't have to lift a finger around the house. Anything that needed fixing or doing, he was on it. He put up all my ceiling fans, installed all my blinds, kept the lawn pristine, made me a delicious dinner each night, washed the floors. I'll always be in his debt because he's also the one who taught me my first guitar chords and inspired my first songs. And he gave the best massages EVER. Of course he was unemployed. You can't have everything. (Does a man exist who is actually sweet, sensitive, strong, sincere, smart, sexy, successful, with a sense of humour? Not that I've found anyway. Usually you have to settle for 4 or 5 out of 8. Some qualities appear to cancel each other out. I can't settle anymore so I guess I'll be single for a while!) Of course having any help at all is nice rather than having to do everything on your own. I should mention that my Mom told me my dad would mow the lawn for me when they came over but I wasn't going to make him do it. He already mows the lawn at their place which is 10 times the size of mine. With the garden at the front, there's really only a small area I have to do anyway. It's just that when you're carrying so much weight up front (new boobs and belly bigger by the minute), everything is more difficult. And sometimes I have a little pity party. Luckily it doesn't last long and I snap out of it and realize how lucky I am.

Being single is actually easier in many ways. I'd rather be on my own than with someone who adds more stress to my life, which my ex did, to a great extent. I was driving home from the grocery store the other day, singing along with the radio, feeling baby boogie in my tummy when I suddenly saw a couple having an argument in the car ahead of me. The male who was driving was wildly gesturing his hands, flailing about. The female next to him was yelling back. I could see their angry faces, their mouths gaping like fish. I wondered what could make anyone that angry on such a beautiful sunny day? Those are things that I don't miss. Car rides from hell. Arguing about directions. Arguing about the destination, the day's events, anything. Blaming, name-calling. It is hard for a man and woman to spend an extended period of time together without arguing about something. You just start to get on each other's nerves. There will always be differences of opinion, different goals. If you happen to be two people that need control and always need to be right, it's really a struggle. Money is a big argument for almost any couple. Sometimes you argue over the silliest things. You're just stressed and tired and irritable and wind up taking it out on each other. And some people just push your buttons. Mike and I could be pretty volatile. He had a short fuse and if I happened to say the wrong thing to set him off, it wasn't pretty. I was hormonal and moody in my first trimester so I was quite the powder keg myself. At least not having a man there, there isn't someone to argue with. No one to disappoint you. No one to disagree with. No one to battle for control. But I miss the good things. The companionship, laughter, love, support. I still get that from friends and family, though it is different of course. I do hope to find romantic love with someone again one day perhaps. But my child will be my world, especially in the beginning, and I definitely need a long break from dating. For decades I jumped from one relationship to another without a break. This long hiatus from (bad) romances is long overdue!

I admire strong single Moms who manage on their own. My sister was a single Mom for a while after her divorce. She just did what she had to do. She is a strong, loving mother and has three fabulous kids. The reality is that even now, when her husband is working out of town etc, she is alone to care for the kids and the house. Even married women often end up doing most of the work when it comes to the children and the home. One woman I knew had a husband who was away travelling on business all the time. Everyone said she was practically a single Mom because Dad was just never there. But at least her hubby earned a good living so she had help financially. It's tough when it's all you. I know single Moms who have to fight with their exes for child support payments, battle over custody papers etc. I have people trying to convince me to seek out a lawyer about my ex saying that he should be giving me something. I'd rather not go through that. Mike wouldn't have had much to give anyway. I'd rather just not have him in the picture at all. Of course if he did win the lottery or something it would be nice if he'd send me a cheque with no strings attached, just to assuage his guilt for abandoning the baby and me in the cruel, cowardly way that he did. Heck, even if he just sent me the money that he owed me it would be a help. But I'm not holding my breath on that one. It would be nice to win the lottery myself. $50 million would sure come in handy! They say money can't buy happiness, but I'm pretty happy already and not having to worry about money would make everything a lot easier!

It still freaks me out that I'm actually going to be a Mom. An Aunt to three nieces and three nephews, I never dreamed that one day someone would actually be calling ME Mom! My Mom pointed out that this will be her lucky 7th grandchild and will be the tie-breaker. We are still operating under the assumption that it's a girl, so now Mom will have more grand-daughters than grand-sons. But it's not 100% official until I have the 32 week ultrasound. (Coming up soon! And it better be definitive this time!) As you know if you've read my previous blogs, I really am counting on a girl. I'm a girlie girl myself. I already have her name picked out, have a bunch of pink outfits, the whole bit. I imagine us making sandcastles on the beach (my backyard beach and others) as Shannon was doing here on Sunday. I'm so close to my Mom, sister and niece. I really hope that my child will stay that close with me as she grows up. Not just a daughter, but a companion, confidante and friend. A close bond for a lifetime.

The whole gang on my little beach
I'm so grateful for my beautiful family. They mean the world to me. Especially now. I know that I can count on them. They make me laugh. They're a little crazy. I've shared so many memories with them over the years. There's comfort in being with people who have known you forever. You can completely be yourself. They know you inside out and accept you. You may not always get along, but you always love each other. From talking with other people I realized that not all families get together so often. Some don't even get together for special occasions. They go their separate ways, can't be bothered or have a falling out and stop speaking, move too far away, etc. It was always just a given in our family that you spend birthdays and holidays together and have visits for no occasion. Mikey (that's my brother not my ex!) is a bit further away so he can't always make it (he wasn't here on the weekend but is coming next weekend.) A lot of it is at my Mom's insistence. She can be very persuasive. It's just not worth the guilt of not giving her her way! It's good though. It kept us coming together even when it was difficult. There is no bond like that between family members and it's a shame that some people let that go. 
My brother Chris and I certainly had our moments of conflict over the years. In some ways we were too opposite, in others too similar. Living with our parents as adults definitely put a strain on the relationship. Even silly things like fighting over the bathroom. We were both stubborn and locked horns on numerous occasions. But the love was always there, even underneath the arguments. Since living apart it's much easier to get along. Sometimes you just need space. We're the two middle kids and we were the two siblings who never married and didn't plan to have kids. Chris joked that the pressure was off of us because our eldest and youngest siblings, May and Mikey, kept having children so we didn't have to. I guess I unintentionally broke our unspoken pact. No one EVER expected me to have kids (least of all me!) and here I am due in July, so never say never! Chris is actually wonderful with kids. If anyone should have them, it's him. But he and his girlfriend don't intend to. They've gone on a few trips recently, including a trip to Cuba. Chris is even learning to speak Spanish. They seem to be enjoying their freedom. Still, I see how his eyes light up when he plays with his nieces and nephews. He's a natural. A big-hearted kid himself, with so much energy. He would be a great father. Who knows? Maybe one day he'll be a parent too. For now he can be a loving Uncle to six (and soon to be seven!) kids.

My Mom was quite happy with her special day and the day before (I decided to take her out for a day of shopping, her favourite pasttime, on Saturday as a pre-Mother's Day celebration.) She was thrilled with that. After reading my Mother's Day blog she said that that was her greatest gift. (I printed it out for her. She's not on the internet. She doesn't even have a computer! Seriously. She's even more old-fashioned than I am!) She's loved all my blog posts but was especially moved by my mother's day one and was so proud of me. Most of my life I was trying to win her approval, to make her proud and often felt like nothing I did was good enough. My perception of a lot of things has changed these days. I'm realizing how much she did love me all along. She just pushed me when she thought I could do better. She wanted me to succeed and she was behind me every step of the way. She was proud of my academic success (awards and medals, graduating university at the top of my class) and my talents (singing, writing, art etc). I often focused on the criticisms and the negatives (she has always been a worrier and she can be negative) instead of the praise and the positives. I was my own harshest critic for most of my life and it affected my perceptions of others as well. Anything that reinforced my negative self-image was what I responded to. I could get 10 compliments and 1 criticism and guess what I dwelled on? Over the years I've mellowed out, become much more positive and learned to like myself. For a long while I felt as though I wasn't loved (by family, partners etc) but the truth was I didn't love myself. Why couldn't I have figured all of this out a few decades ago?!  

You go through phases. At the time you think that your perception is the reality and it's hard for anyone to convince you otherwise. Starting in our teens, we naturally start to rebel a little. We don't feel like our parents understand us. We can be hostile. We see them as the enemy. I suppose I'll go through some of those growing pains with my own daughter. (That's the really rough part I think! More so than the tantrums of the terrible twos or the sleepless nights and diaper changes of a newborn.) Maybe I'll get lucky though. My oldest nephew was a dream child. He never gave May a hard time. So you never know. Raise a child with love and open communication and hope for the best.

My sister loved my blog as well. She thinks I'll be a great Mom. I hope so. It's such a huge responsibility. And it's a different world now. Kids today are scary! When I was a kid we didn't even have the internet. Now it's everywhere and kids at such a young age have so many high tech gadgets -- cellphones or blackberries, tablets, kobos, ipods and apps and I don't know what all. I don't even own a cellphone! I think I may be the only one in North America over the age of 12 that can say that! I refuse to get one. I think they're evil. They turn people into zombies, mindlessly texting all the time. Once you get one, you can never go back. You're never really free. Sure there are times I'd like to have one in an emergency but I make do. I can always get to a phone. I can use a payphone if I have to, mind you they are harder to find and because they're not used very much, they're not maintained terribly well. The way I look at it, I'm not a Hollywood actress or a real estate agent. I'm not so important that someone has to be able to get a hold of me every minute of the day. Even when I'm in line at Walmart. One single father that I dated had kids with little computer games (Nintendo DS or something) and they would play with it during long car rides. I found it kind of sad. As a kid, I loved road trips. I loved looking out the window at the countryside, watching other cars, fields, scenes whizzing past me. Window rolled down. Wind in my hair. Daydreaming. That was part of the adventure for me. Now kids are so focused on their gadgets that they miss the world around them. They lose the simple pleasures. When I was a kid I loved playing double dutch. I don't know if kids even do that anymore. I never see skipping ropes. Now half the time kids are playing on their computers rather than being outside enjoying nature, the fresh air, chasing frogs, doing somersaults on the grass, being kids. Now they're like little adults in training. Well maybe I'll raise an old-fashioned girl like me. Though I suppose at a certain age they start to realize that "all the other kids have one!" and then what do you do? Hopefully I have the determination to be firm but fair. People are hooked on their gadgets. Whether it's kids with games or adults with cells or blackberries. I'll see people out for lunch together and they're not even talking! They're each texting on their cellphones! Why are the people who aren't even there more important than the one you're actually with?! (Mind you they were probably texting friends who were meeting up with them. But I just find it strange. I see it all the time.) Technology is supposed to make life easier. But in some ways it seems to make it more complicated. You start to lose your freedom, your imagination, your peace. Don't get me wrong. I use my computer. I go on the internet. But I can walk away from it. And when I'm out, no one can get me. They can leave me a message. I need my space, my zen. Sometimes you need to just do nothing. "La dolce di far niente" as the saying goes (they mention it in "Eat, Pray, Love.") North Americans are obsessed with work and often don't know how to relax. Europeans understand that there's more to life than work. There's love. Family. Food. Art. Music. The simple pleasures. I need that myself. Maybe it's the Italian in me.

I always loved visiting my Italian relatives (on my Dad's side.) They were so animated and gracious. And the food was to die for! They kept bringing one delicious dish after another -- pasta, pizza, pastries. "Mangia, mangia, Anna Maria!" I visited my Aunt in Italy many years ago with my boyfriend at the time, as part of our European backpacking adventure. It was beautiful. I felt like a celebrity as she introduced me to the locals in the little town on a mountain where my father was born. Everyone made such a fuss of me. Some were even calling me "Madonna" not because I resembled the Queen of Pop but because I looked like paintings they had of the Virgin Mary. I even played Mary once in a school play. As a Catholic, I was deeply honoured to play the Mother of God. I never could have imagined at the time that one day I would be a mother. Certainly not by immaculate conception! If anything my ex had more in common with Lucifer! But he used to call me angel and I'm hoping our child will take after me...

My sister pointed out that next year on Mother's Day I'll have my baby, close to a year old by that point. I'll be the third Mom in the family. Even Christmas this year will be so different. I'll have a baby 5 months old! Baby's first Christmas! The seventh member of the youngest generation of our family. It's all very surreal to me.

Sometimes my mind races ahead to the future. So many things to look forward to. Other things to fear/worry about. So many unknowns. Mostly I try to take things one day at a time.

Just a little over two months to go before baby makes her grand entrance! I can't believe it. My Mom and sister keep telling me how much bigger I'm still going to get. It's scary. My belly already feels like it's going to explode. I don't know how it could stretch any further. The other day I saw a girl who looked about my size, belly-wise except that her bellybutton had popped out. I could see it poking through her shirt. I asked how far along she was (it's a question that's not always prudent to ask. You just never know. Sometimes the woman isn't even pregnant!) I felt safe asking because she was a petite little thing and only had weight in her belly. "Six more weeks!" she announced proudly. Having almost double that still to go, I was starting to feel my belly had gone too far too soon. Everyone is different though. I know Jessica Simpson took a lot of flack for how much weight she gained. I still think she looked beautiful. I think that being pregnant gives you a better excuse to eat than ever so you might as well enjoy it! As long as you're having enough healthy nutrients for the baby, why not indulge now and then for yourself? I'm just hoping that I will be able to lose the weight again afterward. I look at my bikini pics from last year for inspiration. I think that between working out hardcore and getting back into my yoga I'll be able to get close to the shape I was in. I also hear that breast-feeding helps you to burn off a lot so hopefully that goes well.

All of us at Mom and Dad's Anniversary

Family has always been important to me and now more than ever I rely on them to keep me grounded. I am grateful for their love, support and friendship. I always used to say that I wanted to live on a remote tropical island but the truth is, if I moved far away from them, I would miss them too much. (Unless of course I did win that $50 million in the lottery and could afford a private jet to fly back and forth for visits every month!)

They say that home is where the heart is. My family will always be home to me. They are my people. My history. I feel closer to them than ever now that I'm starting my own little family of two. I want my baby to be close to her grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. To see how blessed we are to have such a beautiful, loving family. Ti amo, la mia famiglia!