Waiting, waiting, waiting

I went.

I listened to my mother’s voice nagging in my ear. I listened to the kind and concerned advice from family and friends.

I went to the gynecologist.

The Diagnosis

Well there wasn’t really anything to diagnose, but the doctor did have a couple of concerns.

His first priority was that I schedule a mammogram (my first). From now on, I will have to do them every year.

His second priority, upon looking at my family history, was to recommend the genetic test for the mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Luckily, my insurance covers the test and they were able to take a blood sample right there in their lab.

What This Means

First off, I have to wait three weeks to know the result. That’s hard.

And secondly, the result terrifies me.

If the test is negative…

It could mean very little. My mother tested negative, and she still got breast cancer.

Her cousin had it, and she also tested negative for the gene mutations.

According to the CDC, “most breast and ovarian cancer is not caused by genetic mutations” anyway. So getting a negative result doesn’t mean I won’t get breast cancer.

Hardly comforting.

If the test is positive…

I guess if it’s positive at least we’ll know, right?

If the test is positive, then we can start looking into options and discussing possibilities.

Maybe it would just be easier if the test came back positive. It might make things more straightforward.

A Terrifying Emotional Load

A friend very eloquently said that all this comes with a terrifying emotional load.

I couldn’t have described it better.

Knowing my family history as I do, it almost feels like there’s an expiration date stamped on my butt.

Use by June 2050

Feeling that way can sometimes spur me into action (Life is short! Grab the bull by the horns!) or freeze me into depression (Is my life already more than half-way over?).

And I can go back and forth between the two (and be anywhere in between) several times in one day.

Talk about a rollercoaster.

Is this what a mid-life crisis looks like?

Is It Okay to Feel Like Crap?

We all have those days, right?

It might be an isolated day, or it might be a couple of them back-to-back.

Where you just feel crappy.

Sometimes you feel physically crappy, like when you’re sick or injured. Sometimes you’re just mentally pooped: tired of everything.

And let’s not even talk about how emotionally drained we all feel with this pandemic.

Unproductive Thoughts

When I have days like this, I often feel like I should “snap out of it.” Like my failure to make myself feel better is somehow a personal failing.

I also start to make a mountain out of a molehill. If I feel this bad more than one day, what does this mean? Am I always going to feel this way? Will I ever feel better?

These thoughts, as you can imagine, do not help.

So… What to do?

Why do I have to do anything?

Why do I need to change the fact that I feel like crap?

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just let yourself feel crappy for a day or two. Usually, for me, it passes soon enough. (If it doesn’t pass, that’s another kettle of fish.)

After a couple of days, I’ll wake up and feel like getting out of bed. Maybe I’ll even feel motivated to do something I know will help me feel better.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember in the fog of a bad day, but when the fog starts to clear, I try to remind myself:

This too shall pass.

A Slight Case of the Plague

You’ve all heard of the man cold, right?

That’s when a man gets a cold. Anyone who has shared a home with a man knows what I’m talking about. To listen to him you’d think he was dying.

Well, I have a man cold.

I am dying.

It feels like my sinuses are going to cave under the pressure, and I sound like I’ve been singing along at a K.I.S.S. concert.

Staying at home with the kids while Chico is away, it’s hard to take the time I need to rest and get well.

Mom guilt kicks in whenever I lie down for a bit, instead of doing the one million other things I think I SHOULD be doing.

Like preparing a healthy dinner for the boys, or applying for another job, or getting some exercise, or folding the laundry, or, or, or…

You get the picture.

So here’s a message to all the mamas out there suffering from a cold:

YOU CAN TAKE THE DAY OFF.

Well, you know what I mean. You still probably have to get the kids off to school, but it is TOTALLY OKAY if you want to get back into bed when you get home.

Your kids will not fail to get into Harvard just because you didn’t take them to the library this afternoon.

(Let’s face it, they’re probably not going to get into Harvard anyway…)

That extra episode of Sesame Street? Yeah, it won’t kill them.

They didn’t get much exercise today? Whatever. They’ll be fine.

Self Care Starts with Me

There’s a whole industry out there that tries to sell me products labeled as “self care” products. Things like manicures, scented candles, bath salts, facial creams, a glass of wine…

But if you ask me, that’s all horse hockey.

Self care is taking care of my mental and physical well-being.

When I have a cold, that means giving myself permission to take the time I need to recover.

This week, I’m setting the example to my boys of what it is to take care of myself when I don’t feel well.

I’m eating healthy foods, drinking lots of tea, bundling myself up like a babushka and resting as much as possible.

The Boys Kinda Love it…

The Bug and the Bear are so much enjoying all the extra TV time that I suspect they’re going to TRY and get me sick as much as possible.

Come to think of it, it WAS the Bug who gave me a full-on kiss on the lips and then sneezed into my face.

Clever boy…

Pregnancy Is A Waiting Game

Hooray! I’m 37 weeks pregnant! For those who don’t count pregnancy in weeks, that means I’m 8 and a half months pregnant, or 2.5 weeks away from my due date. As of 37 weeks, this baby is officially full-term, meaning he could come ANY MINUTE.

Any minute.

Any minute now…

Has it been a minute?

WHY ISN’T MY WATER BREAKING OMG??!!

First and Second Trimesters: A Breeze!

thebraininjane.com 34 weeks pregnant
Believe it or not, at this point things weren’t too hard.

When you’ve had a pregnancy as easy as mine (I swear, I was BUILT FOR THIS), trimesters one and two are a breeze.

If it hadn’t been for my getting slowly fatter (and knocking over wine glasses with my belly), I could have forgotten I was pregnant. It wasn’t until I started feeling the baby’s movements that I could really believe it.

Even at the start of the third trimester, things weren’t that hard. Yeah, I’d get winded quickly, and I was starting to feel quite a bit bulkier. But nothing compares to the past week or so.

Third Trimester: The Waiting Game

Suddenly, I feel like I have BALLOONED. Standing for long periods of time is uncomfortable, but so is sitting because all my vital organs have been shoved up into my ribcage, making my lungs feel a bit crowded.

pregnancy is a waiting game
I may be smiling but I’m struggling to breathe.

Normally an active person, getting out of the house has been difficult. The weather doesn’t help (thank you, Montreal), and the fear of slipping on the sheets of ice that cover the sidewalks makes my ventures tentative and short.

So what to do? Low on energy, feeling huge and lumbering, I spend a lot of my days indoors, knitting, reading, sewing, finishing off the last things on my to-do list.

But mostly, I feel like I’m just waiting. Yup, pregnancy is a waiting game.

The Worst Is Not Knowing When

People wait for their delayed flights at LaGuardia Airport in New York
This is what the last weeks of pregnancy feel like.

I’m an organized person. I like to plan things out and get my logistics in order. I’m not obsessive or anything, but I am not the best at improvising (unless, of course, I have planned to improvise…).

Waiting for this baby to come is like waiting on a delayed flight. You know your flight will be leaving at some point–it’s inevitable–, but you don’t know when. You don’t want to wander too far from the waiting area at the gate in case they make an announcement, but the all-knowing voice over the loudspeaker isn’t giving you any information. It seems that only God knows when your plane will start boarding.

At this point, only God knows when this baby will decide to get the party started. Braxton-Hicks contractions are like the movements of the airline personnel up at the gate desk: you think something is getting started, but then it’s always a false alarm.

And so I wait.

What to Do? Be Ready.

The only thing that I can do is try as best as possible to get on with life, and be ready. My organized self has prepared as much as possible. Here’s a helpful list of what you can do to be ready:

  • Have your hospital bag packed. You can find some useful lists of stuff here and here.
  • Get hubby to pack a bag! Several friends have pointed out that they completely forgot to prepare PJs or anything for Dad.
  • You need a hospital bag for baby, too!
  • Cook up some food and freeze it. I hear you’ll be glad you did this when you get home from the hospital.
  • Keep your phone charged and have your charger with you ALWAYS.
  • Carry around a maxi pad. Okay, this may sound weird, but what if you’re out and your water breaks? It can happen in a gush, but it can also happen in a trickle, so have a maxi pad ready on hand, just in case.
  • Download a new ebook, some podcasts or episodes on your phone or tablet, for distraction purposes during long hours of labor.
  • Have all your documents, birth plan, ID, etc., ready to go.

Other than that, the only thing you can do is distract yourself. I’ve decided to do so by hosting a dinner party. Because, what could go wrong, right?

What It’s All About

Honestly, what it all boils down to is this: I’m really excited to meet this kid. I’m impatient to see his face, to hear his voice and to get to know him with my Chico.

That’s what makes this waiting game so difficult. Delicious anticipation.

Evolution_of_one_hour_of_exercise

The Evolution of One Hour of Exercise

Or, “How amnesia helps keep me in shape.”

Evolution_of_one_hour_of_exercise

9:00am

Alright! I’m outside and it feels great! I’m pumped! I’ve got my gear and my tunes and I’m READY!

9:05am

Man, I didn’t realize it was going to rain this morning. Boy am I glad I have this awesome gear to keep me warm!

9:07am

There’s a bit of a wind today, isn’t there? I’ll be turning around in 23 minutes, it’ll be at my back then.

9:12am

Okay, breathing’s getting a bit harder. But it feels great!

9:17am

Breathing is even harder. It doesn’t feel so good anymore. In fact, my lungs are burning.

9:20am

Has this hill always been this steep?! Or is this new? They’ve changed this park layout, right? Holy crap I’m sweating.

9:25am

How long have I been doing this? Maybe I should stop and drink some water.

9:29am

No, I can’t stop! It’s been almost half an hour, I can keep it up!

9:32am

Oh God every breath is agony!

9:35am

WHERE IS ALL THIS RAIN COMING FROM?

9:36am

Wait, the wind has changed! It’s in my face again!

9:38am

My sweat-soaked clothes are starting to freeze in this biting wind. My fingers are red and swollen. I can’t feel my face.

9:41am

How are my legs still moving? It’s like they have a will of their own and their objective is to DESTROY ME.

9:44am

NOT. BREATHING. LUNGS. ACHING. FOR. OXYGEN.

9:45am

Whose freaking bright freaking idea was this to freaking exercise in this weather? I hate this place. I hate this weather. I hate my legs. I hate my lungs.

9:47am

I hate my gear. It sucks. My feet hurt.

9:48am

I hate my tunes. They’re not distracting me from the pain!

9:50am

Is that my house? Am I home yet?

9:51am

NINE MORE MINUTES TO GO, NOOOOOO I CAN’T DO IT!!!

9:53am

How many croissants can I eat after having run this far?

9:55am

Breathing seems to be unnecessary for survival because apparently I’m still alive.

9:56am

Oh God I can smell my own sweat!

9:57am

Just a few… more… feet… home…

9:58am

That’s my door! I can see it!

9:59am

Left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right…

9:59:59am

Just crawl up the front steps, woman, then you can collapse.

10:00am

I MADE IT!!!! *Collapse in a heap*

10:07am

Regain consciousness.

10:10am

Facebook status update: “Went for a run this morning. It felt great! Can’t wait to go again tomorrow!”

 

 

What I Have Just Cooked is Pure Deliciousness

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just made the most divinely delicious dish.

“Surely, you exaggerate!” you say?

I do not.  And don’t call me Shirley.

(I guess that joke only works when spoken.  Oh well.  Moving on.)

Tonight I made sofrito, a basic Spanish fry-up of onion and other veggies, including grated tomato.  This base is then incorporated into all kinds of dishes.  Tonight, I made it into an arroz con ternera, or rice with veal.

Chef José Andrés
“Made in Espain!”

My Chico and I have been thoroughly enjoying José Andrés’ “Made in Spain” (pronounced “made in espain” of course).  We don’t get PBS, but we have been watching his program online, here.  Inspired by his show about Castilla-la Mancha, I decided to delight Chico this evening by preparing the dish José Andrés makes on this show.  Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:

  • 500g veal ragout (José Andrés used rabbit, but I was fresh out)
  • plenty of olive oil (preferably Spanish!)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic (whole and still in its skin)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • paprika
  • saffron (if you don’t have it, as I didn’t, you can use turmeric, but use it sparingly)
  • 2 large tomatoes, grated (don’t include the skins)
  • mushrooms (about 225g – you can use whatever kind you like)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup medium-grain rice

Method

  1. Season the veal.  Heat a large pot (preferably not non-stick, I used my largest le Creuset pot) and add a generous amount of olive oil to the pan.  Make sure it’s nice and hot.  Carefully add the veal ragout pieces to the pan and brown on all sides.  Remove from the pan and leave all the lovely juices behind in the pot.
  2. If necessary, add a some oil to the pan until the bottom is well coated.  Let it heat up.  When hot, toss in the onion, green pepper, garlic clove (smashed, but not chopped) and bay leaf.  Let it cook slowly for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Meanwhile, grate the tomatoes into a bowl.
  4. When the onion & green pepper are nice and soft, add good heaping teaspoon of paprika and a pinch of saffron or turmeric and stir it around quickly (careful: the spices can burn very quickly, so be sure to mix them in well). Then toss in the tomatoes.  At this point I also added a splash of white wine for flavor, but that’s optional.
  5. Cook until the liquid has reduced and the mixture is a nice, deep red.
  6. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until they’re soft.
  7. Add the meat back into the pot and stir it around.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Add the 4 cups of water and bring the whole thing to a boil.  Add salt to taste, then cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  9. Throw in the cup of rice and stir it in well.  Keep stirring for about 5 minutes, until it simmers again.  Then cover, and cook on very low heat for another 15 minutes.

Voilà!  You have just made a delicious Spanish meal!  If you can get your hands on saffron, it’s worth it (though it is hella expensive).  If not, like I said the turmeric can work.

Chico gave it rave reviews and even made a face like the one José Andrés makes.  It was awesome.

¡Buen provecho!