And for once I was SuperMom

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Elusive electricity, bloated bellies, and garden gnomes...

Earlier this evening I leaned my head back against our couch, the one luxury here in Kenya that I do not feel guilty about owning, and wished for all the world that I could fart and take a hot shower or even better a hot bath. I felt as if a small garden gnome had plugged a bike pump into my bellybutton and gleefully jumped up and down on it for about an hour, making my twenty weeks pregnant abdomen feel like the most uncomfortable and tight place in the world to dwell. We woke this morning to a power outage, a daily occurrence in Nairobi, and later found the power return but only at a dim brown half light. It remained this way for the rest of the day. We left in the afternoon to go workout at Rosslyn’s gym and hoped that upon our return that we would have full power. Alas, it was not there still dim and ineffective. We quickly revamped our dinner from oven baked quiche to something we could cook on our stove. My spirits sunk in a bit, I could tell power would be elusive for quite awhile.
Looking at an evening of semi-darkness, part of me thought there would a good way to take advantage of this situation and I could sense my dear husband’s amorousness. Unfortunately this possibility was ruined by the fact that Gnorbert had done his worst to my insides leaving me feeling like an overzealously blown beach ball. At the advent of my pregnancy my libido disappeared. It’s as if it stood up, dusted off her jeans and said, “Well, my work here is done, I’ll see you kids in nine months, ten months, if that labor is a rough one. Have fun now, ya hear!” Well if you stuck around maybe we could.
We checked with our fellow American neighbors, Jill and Nate, if they were in the same predicament, they answered the door headlamps ablaze and I knew the answer. Right after dinner I could see a dim light out of our door, the hall lights in out apartment building were on downstairs, I smacked the light switch for our upstairs hall lights and low and behold they blazed to full blinding light. I cried out in indignation and frustration, what was this? Everyone else had power but us upstairs dwellers? Is this a conspiracy against the foreigners? And how is this possible?
Jill and I marched downstairs to see if the guard was about and he could solve our problems, all the lights were working downstairs. Through stilted and slow English we explained that our lights were not working. He came upstairs and Jill demonstrated that they were having a brown out. He said he would call the handyman, he returned shortly with a plastic chair and an energy saving light bulb. Jill and I had now taken to sitting on our well lit landing and discussing our days. Fatalism had conquered our spouses who saw no point in calling our landlord, because they wouldn’t fix it tonight anyway. As the guard returned with said light bulb Jill and I exchanged looks and shrugged, we could tell him that wouldn’t work, but best to let him find out on his own. He makes his discovery and disappears with his plastic chair and promises to call someone. Tomorrow will be a dim day as well. And perhaps without coffee, a true aggravation.
Scott calls our landlord who never picks up her phone until we’ve called atleast four times. She does not pick up. We resign ourselves to a dim night and return to our respective apartments. Again all I want is to fart and bathe, and I think to myself these are not horrible requests, these are not bad desires, these I don’t think, are even pampered American desires. I start water heating for the treat any traveler or developing nation dweller has been treated to of a bucket bath. After placing the sufaria (cheap aluminum pot) on the stove full of water I settle into our lovely couch and allow myself that one glorious sigh.
While in my dimly lit shower splashing hot water from a plastic tub over my shoulder I think this is why Nairobi is so frustrating. I gaze at the tub and think if I could just sit in a bathtub of this delicious brew for a half hour my abdomen would relax and deflate and my problems would melt away. But, no, we have a stand up shower, and there is not power enough to heat water so I can’t even have the reasonable facsimile of a hot shower. You almost have everything you want, hot water, electricity, etc., but often it is taken out of your hands and is just there right outside of your reach. Like right now, there are blazing lights RIGHT OUTSIDE OF MY DOOR, LITERALLY!!! And it’s not taken for good reasons, usually because someone was incompetent or stole something. We keep hearing that the rains have failed in Nairobi, there is drought because the rains have failed. Apparently the year has been drier than normal, but this dry year has sure yeilded more in the past month than they see in Nevada all year long. It's not that the rains have failed, it's that Nairobi has failed to properly catch the water that has fallen.
My husband just leaned over me and made a smart suggestion of taking advantage of the situation, I told him of what Gnorbert hath wrought. Damn pointy capped little beast, he probably crossed some wires as well…
Written by Lara

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Baby Blues

So Scott and I realized that we have blogged maybe only a handful of times while in Kenya, so I am writing. While not much in Kenya has changed, it’s still full of corrupt politicians, they are still complaining that the rains have failed even though gallons of rain water get wasted because they aren’t catching it, the internet is still slower than a three toed sloth with chronic fatigue syndrome, even though there’s been talk of installing a fiber optic cable from U.A.E. for years. The political situation still feels unstable, the economic situation is still unstable, riots could break out anyday, and they regularly do. But that’s Kenya.
As I sit here feeling my underwire straining at my ever-expanding ribcage and bustline the one thing I can think about that has changed is that I am pregnant. Since I have announced on Facebook and we put it in our ‘monthly’ newsletter and there’s no way I can physically hide it at this point the cat is out of the bag and I may as well blog about it.
Pregnancy feels very similar to me of the process of falling in love and getting married. While I feel that pregnancy is less tangible stress (nobody buys a big exceedingly expensive white dress to give birth in and you don’t have middle-aged over made-up sales ladies pushing a cathedral length veil on you and cooing about how this is the most important day of your life and you should have whatever you want, even if you don’t want it) there is an event to prepare for, one that will be perhaps a day long that will forever change your life. There are insecurities to be grappled with, there is the thought over and over again of, ‘how will this change my life?’ There are fights to be fought with your spouse/fiancĂ© and the main all-encompassing feeling of doubt that you are actually ready to be a parent.
As with my engagement period I entered it with two sides of my emotions parroting very different things, one side giddy with excitement and breathlessly in love and the other side stressed out over the event of the wedding day and the fear of a deep abyss of not knowing what I am really getting myself into. Months up to actually getting pregnant I kept daydreaming of myself pregnant, big bellied and as beautific as the Virgin Mary (like every girl dreams of her day in the white dress). I wanted to start my family, Scott has been ready for at least a decade and me feeling more and more like this is the time to start our family. So we get pregnant (he gets on one knee and slides the ring on my finger), and I wonder, ‘what have I just done?’ The different between getting married and getting pregnant is that there is no turning back with pregnancy. I think even after we put down hundreds of dollars on the dress we all knew we could bolt. It’s not the same. The baby is in there. You’re getting whatever comes out.
Again one side of me is excited picturing a cute little cuddly baby miracle that I get to take care of and mold (as much as it will let me) and the other side of me knowing that I won’t get to sleep in again for the next decade. I fear just how this little life will change my life? Will I ever run that marathon I’ve thought about? Will I ever get to New Zealand like I have always wanted to? And what exactly is my body going to look like when this is all said and done? I’ve been told all the sacrifices are worth it, that my priorities will change, that New Zealand becomes less important and that you may not care as much about sleeping in or marathons. People have done this for millennia, someone did it for me. But really what does it do, how does it change you? And is it all worth it?
Now part of this fear needs context, I have become increasingly more athletic in my life and have gotten used to pushing my body in sports. I have a healthy heart and body and it usually rises to the occasion, I can hike as long as I want, lift as much as I want, run until the path disappears, etc. In pregnancy that is all gone, you’re tired all the time and not tired in a normal way, not in a, ‘I can push through this if I want.’ No, it’s time to sit and put your feet up and pass out. And your body keeps getting increasingly bigger, and as someone who has struggles with body image expanding thighs and arms (not too mention behind) are hard to take. And for me pregnancy does not bring on that beautific Virgin Mary glow, I feel more like a large gestating beast stomping through Nairobi. Some women sail through pregnancy feeling fabulous and loving the changes in their body, I liked mine better before (which is good since this does only last nine months), a host of common ills have sunk in upon me, heartburn, fatigue, morning sickness, etc.
And you know and I have never really enjoyed baby sitting. I’ve always kinda resented the fact that it was foisted on me because of my gender. Really, can’t I just mow your lawn for ten bucks? Instead of being left with the child you refuse to discipline because that would squash his creativity….I know it’s different with your own kids, but I don’t have those yet….
So my whole body and lifestyle has changed and I’m not sure what’s going to happen on the other end. I felt the same way with marriage I wanted to be married, I wanted this man in my life but I wasn’t really sure how it was going to change my life. Now with marriage I found that it only made my life better, and that’s what I’ve heard about babies, but doubt arises in my mind because never once has my husband woke me up in the middle of the night crying because I need to feed him. And how awkward would that be if he did?
So recently trying one of my many mental games to fix my attitude about thighs that have never rubbed together like that before I have started thinking about things that I like about being pregnant:
1. Insomnia? What’s that….zonk…snorrrrrrrrrr……
2. My nails are strong and awesome, hooray for prenatal vitamins.
3. My hair is thicker and once I figured out how much oilier it is and that I can no longer fudge the shampooing it looks pretty good.
4. For my whole adult life I have carried a full Nalgene around with me, often I gaze at it’s half empty carcass with guilt because I don’t really like the taste of water, I have toyed with adding stuff to it but eventually that just makes your Nalgene taste funny and adds calories, what’s a dehydrated girl to do? NOW, I can’t get enough water down my parched gullet. I drink three liters a day, and just water, not Crystal Light or lime flavored water, just pure water, that’s all I want.
5. I think it’s been good for our marriage, it’s brought us into a raised mutual respect as we deal with the changes this baby has already brought. We get to have fun conversations about names, nurseries, and how we’ll take joy in our little progeny. Conversations about how we hope it gets my hair and your eyesight, etc.
6. I like the attention I get, I thought it would annoy me but it doesn’t. I don’t even mind the belly rubs. At this point it’s still mostly good friends who are that audacious.
7. Feeling the baby move. It’s weird, it’s kinda alien, but it’s nice to know that there’s someone in there.
So I’m sure that when I am gazing at that little pink face I will wonder how I could have ever doubted my joy and happiness and thought, ‘will this all be worth it?’ The same way I felt after the dress was dry-cleaned and hermetically sealed into a plastic bag, ‘it’s all worth it.’

Written by Lara