Archive | June, 2012

Denying health care to pregnant refugees

20 Jun

I have been largely in a fog for the last few days, preparing for impending childbirth and parenthood. But I just wanted to take a minute to register my absolute revulsion and horror at the fact that the Canadian government is in the midst of cutting off health benefits to refugees.

Today is World Refugee Day. It’s also the day that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced the changes being made to health care for refugees. The decision to cut off refugees from “non-essential” care was rammed through as part of the government’s omnibus budget bill. According to the updates I’ve been seeing on Twitter, the government is going to declare some countries to be “safe” and some to be “unsafe.” If a traumatized refugee is unlucky enough to be fleeing a “safe” country, he or she will be denied the majority of health care benefits. This includes prenatal care and the cost of delivering babies.

Imagine that you are a refugee fleeing terror, oppression or an abusive spouse. You are likely to be a survivor of rape. You may not speak English or French. What would you do if you could not receive health care during your pregnancy or afford the cost of delivery?

According to Dr. Tatiana Freire-Lizama, one refugee woman already asked her to induce labour a month early, because she knew that she would not be able to handle the cost of the delivery after July 1st. These are the kinds of decisions that this government is forcing women refugees to make. I appalled.


Okay, we’re ready

19 Jun

I am 39 weeks pregnant as of today. That means I am in my 40th week of pregnancy. I could go into labour anytime. This reality set in on Sunday night, when I felt a little crampy. I kept getting up to go to the bathroom and Caitlyn kept asking me if I was having contractions. I couldn’t really tell. Though anyone who has given birth tells me that I will absolutely know when I start experiencing them. Last night I wondered downstairs at midnight to grab a snack. “I just need some crackers,” I called downstairs to her. “You’re having contractions?” she asked. Great hilarity ensured.

I have washed every tiny piece of clothing. The nursery is assembled and it’s darling (photos to follow). I have watched TV with my feet up, weeded the garden, filled the deep freeze with food. I have thanked everyone for their lovely shower gifts. My replacement has been hired at work. I have napped and gone for two massages and a pedicure. We are about to be hit with a crazy heat wave, so I am mostly staying close to home these days. Which means I am quickly starting to get bored. Yes, bored. Delighted to have been able to spend this last part of my pregnancy with my feet up, but ready to get the party started.

It makes me imagine what my grandmother’s life must have been like. Going from working in the family business to suddenly getting married, quitting her job and basically waiting around until she got pregnant. I have no doubt that child-rearing will be a life-changing and profound experience. But the waiting is hard. I find it difficult to imagine what it would have been like for women who were expected to quit their jobs the moment they got pregnant — or even started trying to get knocked up.

I do know once I get through the fog of the first few sleepless weeks, I will need to introduce some structure to my days and weeks at home with the baby. I hope to write, get more involved in community/politics and get back to a regular exercise schedule. I want to find joy and meaning in parenthood, but I also want to take the opportunity to connect more deeply with myself and learn how to function outside of the 9-5 working world. It’s a profound adjustment and one that I don’t take likely.

In the meantime, I am sending subtle and loving eviction notices to the baby currently occupying every inch of my expanded uterus. I know that Caitlyn and I will become Mamas any day now. I can’t wait!

The waiting game

11 Jun

I will admit that I am incredibly lucky. I am being paid to stay home and wait for this baby to arrive. I can eat what I want and when I want. I can put my feet up or not at all. I have time to fill the freezer with food and catch up with friends. But after two weeks off, I’m getting a little impatient with the anticipation of what’s to come. I am also making Caitlyn a little nuts. You see, our tried and true bed time routine relies on me going upstairs at about 10 pm or so, reading for an hour and falling asleep alone. Caitlyn then gets a couple of hours to read art books and play with music on the computer before going up to sleep around midnight. I am generally asleep by then, so it means she can toss and turn without waking me up.

All of this has changed since I started my leave. My bedtime has crept later and later. Now I am sleeping from about midnight to 8:30 am (with frequent pee breaks, of course). This means that I am still “active” in the house during Cait’s usual chill-out-alone time. This will all change of course when the baby arrives and we throw all schedules out the door. But it represents the beginning of a very different time in our lives, where we will have to learn to adjust to new patterns (or none at all). We are also both getting a bit antsy. As of tomorrow, I will be 38 weeks pregnant. I am secretly hoping that this baby arrives a week early. I think that another week of this lounging/nesting would be great, but two or three more weeks would be a little much. We have everything ready and can’t wait to meet this new little person. I just want her to be here and okay. And then it all begins.

Things are a-changing

4 Jun

Please indulge me while I return to the foibles of pregnancy for a moment. As of tomorrow, I will be 37 weeks pregnant — which means full term! In other words, this baby could be safely born any time now, but she would probably be quite tiny. She’ll put on roughly half a pound per week until 40-ish weeks. I say “ish” because the due date is never accurate and most first-time mothers are a little late. At this point, I am hoping for right on time or even a little early. Even though I have been blessed with an uncomplicated and “easy” pregnancy, I am utterly exhausted, plagued with indigestion and now quite short of breath. I am so glad that I had the option to take a month off before my due date. I was initially worried about being bored, but now I am so thankful that I am not being forced to engage my brain or spend any time in an office chair.

Most of the major nesting tasks have been taken care of — I just have a few more things to pick up, a hospital bag to pack and some cooking/baking to do for the freezer. I am also convinced that I need to radically re-organize my spice cupboard before the baby is born. It’s one of those “albatross” tasks that I’ve been meaning to do forever. Our pre-natal instructor joked about how it’s quite common for pregnant women to take on an obsessive organizational task before they are ready to deliver. I think this is the task for me and I hope to get the energy to finish it before the end of the weekend.

I’ve been somewhat weepy and reflective these last few days. My attention span and exhaustion level have prevented me from picking up a book (other than quick scans through various birth preparation books). I’ve been listening to CBC, staring out the window, reading the newspaper cover-to-cover and watching a fair bit of mindless TV. I’m getting used to the rhythms of being at home during the day, of not being driven by deadlines and work, of gaining satisfaction from small household tasks. I am listening to my body now and soon I will be guided by the small person who will join our household. I keep walking into our carefully organized and tidy rooms, imagining the delightful chaos that will one day fill them with tripping hazards, stray tiny socks and mashed up food. This time before birth has created a nice transitional period for Caitlyn and I, but it’s kind of like suspended animation. We know our lives are about to change, but we don’t know exactly when.

Here are some of Caitlyn’s observations about how her priorities are about to shift. But in the meantime, download her latest DJ mix, “Making Out for Lost Time.” Three hours of “dreamer beats” to fuel your next BBQ, kitchen dance party or session in a hammock.