Sunday, July 15, 2012

Keenie Beanie's Olympic Moment

I do love watching the Olympics, getting sucked into the stirring back stories, learning (or feigning to know) more than I ever though possible about a variety of sports, watching the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.

Yet, here I find myself living mere miles from the centre of this year's Summer Games, and I feel completely uninspired.  In fact, I'm rather dreading it.  I have a beastly commute already, and in a few short weeks, precious travel lanes are going to be placed off limits to the proletariat for the convenience of those involved in the Games.  There are signs and warnings everywhere about the coming travel snarls.  There are companies encouraging their employees to take holiday or stay at home for the duration.  It hasn't stopped raining for months; Britain has chalked up the wettest spring EVAH and the London Games could be, quite literally, a washout.

Signs placed all along my 25 mile commute warned about coming traffic difficulties for the Olympic torch relay scheduled last Tuesday to start in Oxford, visit the Queen in Windsor and wrap up in Reading.  Monday night, I googled the torch route to find out just how much my commute would be impacted.  To my surprise, it was scheduled to pass right through Egham, in which my office is set.

Egham is a nondescript little English town with no particular claim to fame.  It blends seamlessly into Staines, the larger town down the road made famous by Sasha Baron Cohen's Ali G (to Staines' collective embarrassment).  Yet the torch was going to come through unremarkable little Egham a mere 15 minutes' walk from the office.  I decided that this was a moment not to be missed.

There were two schools of thought in the office: those who wanted to go be a part of Olympic history and those who were "bah, humbug!" about it all.  The morning passed, as it so often does lately, with alternating showers and sun.  When the time came to set off, the sun was shining and the torch-seeking contingent recruited a few bah-humbuggers to our cause.

Photo: Surrey County Council News
Within minutes of our departure, grey clouds gathered ominously and by the time we joined the crowd lining the route, a proper downpour was underway.  I had ventured out in a designer raincoat more stylish than functional and a wool felt bucket hat that is absolutely impervious to rain.  With the exception of the meager protection offered by that hat, I was soaked through to the skin.

Between the brolleys and the five-row-deep crowd, there was precious little view of the route.  A lady near me in the crowd expressed surprise that the rain hadn't kept more of the spectators away.  In a classic observation, another woman exclaimed - "Of course not, we're British!"

However, proving that old adage "if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes - it'll change," in short order the rain had stopped, the brolleys were stowed and the sun was shining brightly again.  As the crowd and the road started steaming in the sun, we waited expectantly for the torch to arrive.  Soon enough, it came into view - union jacks were waved, a cheer was raised, photos were snapped, and a bit of Olympic history passed by.

Photo: Surrey County Council News
In a quick moment, it was all over.  We all headed back to the places of which we were from, and I imagine in 20 minutes there was little left to indicate the crowd had been there at all.

Our bedraggled group returned to the office, to the bah-humbuggers' self-satisfaction about the wisdom of giving the event a miss.  One of my soaked co-workers rustled up a vendor's promo T-shirt reading "I'm too EXSI for this T-shirt" and got a fair amount of ribbing for donning it in place of her soggy blouse.

However, as another one of my co-workers observed: "From now on, there will always be two groups of people.  Those who were there, and those who were not."  Soaking wet and all, I'm very glad to say I was one of those who were there.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Some news

Although I haven't been posting, I have been writing, and it's time to go public now.  Even though I found out 11 weeks ago today, I still can't quite believe it's true: D & I are going to have a baby and Baby Beanie is due on Christmas Eve!

So, more for my own benefit than anything else, I've been keeping a weekly pregnancy journal, which can be found in all its neurotic glory here: Baby Beanie, week by week

But in case you, understandably, don't want to immerse yourself in the tedious details of my gestation, I've excerpted the first and last couple posts to share with you below.


St. George's Day, April 23 - Week 4 +3

Looking back, the signs were there, but I dismissed them.  I didn't want to get my hopes up.

The previous Friday, we had simultaneously closed the sale of our house in the U.S. and found a new (smaller - uh, oh!) place to rent in Britain in order to escape the rat hole.  Then on Sunday evening, D and I were watching a property search show, and the featured couple announced midway through their home search that they were expecting a baby.  As we had recently noticed how often that seemed to happen on these shows, D remarked on it once again.  I said, "Do you know what else is strange? We just sold one house and rented another and I'm a few days late."

D looked at me with a surprised little smile.  I said, "Perhaps I should wait until Tuesday and then take a pregnancy test."  He nodded eagerly and we spoke no more of it.

I woke up the next morning and took a look at the calendar.  Yep, officially as late as I'd ever been.  So I decided not to wait anymore.  A few minutes later, the pink line appeared.

I crept upstairs, woke D with a cup of tea and quietly told him, "We made a little baby!"

July 2, Week 15 - Nothing to see here, folks

Though I'm not showing at all and have only gained 4 lbs (3 in the first three weeks after that positive test!), there are visible signs that both D and I can see of Baby Beanie's growth.  When I first wake up, before I'm up and about and gravity tucks everything back down below, we can see an actual tiny bump - and baby still has a definite preference for the right side of my tummy.  My uterus has grown enough that some mornings its top has migrated nearly up to my belly button, though it is usually about 3-4 fingers lower.

On Sunday morning, Baby Beanie had uncharacteristically wandered over to my left side and nearly up to my belly button and there was a sharply visible protrusion that, had it been later in pregnancy, I would have sworn was an elbow.  As I chilled out in bed for a few hours, that same sharp bump wandered around my tummy until Baby Beanie settled back into the customary lower-right-side location.  I started to wonder if I was feeling some sort of cyst, but later on Baby Beanie must have changed position, and the bump returned to its normal taut, smooth and round shape.  Maybe it was Baby Beanie's bottom?

Baby Beanie is supposed to be about 10 cm now (almost 4").  When I think about the rate of growth, its astounding - that's nearly 30% since the scan.  I do want to document progress of the bump in photos, and that wouldn't be complete without a "before" picture for reference.  I'd best get that taken soon, before Baby Beanie catches me out and makes a surprise appearance on my waistline.  Might be any day now... or it might be months.  I do have my fingers crossed for one of those discreet "basketball up the sweater" pregnancies that can't be detected from behind.

July 9, Week 16 - The Wanderer

Ever since last week, when the mysterious "bump on the bump" appeared, I've been visited more and more frequently by this odd phenomenon.  It moves about from down near my bikini line to more than halfway to my belly button.  Sometimes it's very easy to trace its dimensions, which are roughly baby-sized (about 12 cm now, a little shy of 5 inches, after another burst of growth last week), and sometimes the thing isn't perceptible at all.  A very scientific search of google reveals that I'm not the only one to experience this, and the general consensus is that it's baby.  Baby Beanie, if indeed it is, nearly always makes an appearance when I wake up.  So I lay there for a few minutes with my hand over the taut little lump, trying to connect with the little one and detect any movement. (Nothing yet.)

I had my 16-week appointment with the midwife today.  She measured my still outwardly invisible uterus at 15 cm and then had me lay back so we could listen to the baby's heartbeat.  She warned me it might be a bit difficult to find and not to panic if so... but as soon as she set the doppler wand on my tummy we could hear it, galloping away at 147 bpm.  She even heard the baby kick, though I didn't realize what I was hearing until the moment was already past.  It was so reassuring to hear the little ticker beating away.

I described the "bump on a bump" to her and asked what she thought it was.  Unfortunately, the thing was in hiding, so she couldn't actually feel it at the time.  To my disappointment, she guessed it might be a fibroid or maybe even a part of my bowel.  Which means all this time, I might have been communing with lumps of poo.