Archive | Pregnancy RSS feed for this section

You’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus.

9 Apr

Since Ive gained a shitload of weight in the last 8 months shopping for clothes has obviously gone out the window.  Along with cute shoes, mobility, and seeing my feet.  Will I recognize them in 2 months?!  So in order to get my fix Ive taken to “window shopping” online.  Since we live out in the boonies there are no stores except the local supermarket.  Here you can find food, obviously, along with an assortment of (junky) beach accessories, imitation Ray Bans (5euro!), cheap flip flops and the like.  These all come in handy here when the temperature starts rising, but don’t cater to my less country more urban approach to dressing.  I guess this is all well and fine considering I am not the size of a normal person anymore (sigh).  When people ask me how many months I am I usually like to answer with a guess of about 12 or 13.  It certainly feels like it.

As luck would have it there is certainly no shortage of cute spring clothes this season.  Why couldn’t I be pregnant when that whole 80’s revival (yuck!) thing happened? Wouldn’t have missed much there.  I guess by the time I am back to regular proportions this stuff will be on sale! Who doesn’t love a sale!

I was trying to describe the feeling of being pregnant (at this late stage) to a non-pregnant friend of mine.  I looked at her and said:

remember the old buses here (greece) from the 70’s that were still in use about 10 years ago?  Manual transmission, terrible gas mileage, no AC, trails of black fumes escaping from the rear, clunky creaky behemoths?

She:  Yes I remember those.

Me: That’s me.

She:  Oh c’mon.  You don’t look…..

Me:  Wait.  Have you seen the 2012 Porsche Boxster?

She:  It’s pretty hot!

Me:  That’s my husband!

And that my friends is what it feels like to be 8 months pregnant.

This is me 8 months pregnant!

This is me 8 months pregnant!

My sexy husband!

My sexy husband!

Advertisements

The Greatest Show on Earth!

3 Apr

Last night was just glorious here.  The day had been somewhat overcast and breezy but with a really nice temperature of about 73 F.  At about 19:30 the power went out for unknown reasons.  Me and the Mr. took this opportunity to sit on our spacious veranda overlooking the Aegean Sea and gaze at our beautiful surroundings.  The sunset was not as dramatic as it can be here due to the hazy atmosphere but there was a calmness and a peacefulness in the air.  The only thing we could hear were the birds settling in for the night.  When they do this it is like a symphony of chirps and fluttering and what seems to be a lot of commotion but I guess it all makes sense to them because, like a ritual, they do it every evening. And morning for that matter.

 

Even though the power outages here can be inconvenient I do tend to appreciate them.  This always gives us a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy where we are and each other.  No TV, no internet, no distractions.  I couldn’t help but think of the summer so close on the horizon (yay!) and how much I am looking forward to an ice cold beer!  I’ve been told it helps keep your milk up so I plan on drinking lots of beer to have lots of milk for our little nugget.  I wonder what is best?  A watery Alfa (local brew) or a dark rich Guinness.  I guess I’ll have to try them all.  Poor me!

 

I took this moment of quietude to ponder the state of my tits and what the hell those babies are gonna look like in a year. (Shudder)  Right now they’ve been doing a good job of acting as a broom and sweeping the crumbs from my stomach.  I guess in about a year they’ll fit snugly into the waistband of my pants.  And then in about 30 they can act as broom again and sweep the crumbs, this time, from the floor!  Ah the joys of being a woman!  I’ve also been researching industrial landscaping equipment on the web.  Eventually I’m going to need to take care of the garden down below that has been outside my field of vision as of late.  So much to do!

 

A friend has been a godsend and lent me a ton of baby gear.  Saving me and the Mr a lot of money.  I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to them.  We’ve already spent a pretty penny on pre-natal care since we geniuses got pregnant without any insurance! Doh!  How about that for planning.  I never claimed to be organized but shit by the time I got to my senses the damage had already been done.  Did I say damage?  I meant our little bundle of joy had already been created in the eyes of God!  Amen!  For the first 4 months I was in the good old USofA where Medicaid is available to smarty pants like myself.  And thank heavens it is because a doctors appointment alone there costs about 300$.  I shudder to think the costs of blood work, ultrasounds etc.  So for about 2 doctors visits everything was (essentially…and I say this because I DO pay taxes in my home state and I do work) free.  Here in Greece I couldn’t get private insurance to cover my pregnancy because just like the guys back home why the hell would they want to pay for anymore than they absolutely HAD to.  Two words: pre-exisiting condition.  I always had private insurance, until I had no insurance, because I work for myself or tend to engage in jobs that provide no insurance.  Can you say circus performer?  About 2 years ago I thought about taking out maternity insurance and nearly fell over when it jacked my payment up to about $300+ a month!  What the…….???!!!!  Barnum and Bailey don’t pay good enough for me to be dishing out that kind of cheese.  I turned this over in my head for awhile and broke it down to this: I would be  paying for something that may happen and who knows when.  (I was never the “born to be a mommy” type. In case you haven’t noticed.) Do I pay this 300$ for the next 4 years? 1 year? Two, three?  I may have an appendicitis but I don’t have to take out extra insurance just in case that happens.  Maternity coverage should be every family’s right.  Cheap bastards!  In any case I was in a pickle without any insurance.  That 300$ a month didn’t seem so bad now did it?  Well actually yes it still did.

 

Here in Greece there is nothing like Medicaid for uninsured pregnant women.  Talk all you want about socialized medicine but it’s not that different here than in the US EXCEPT, and this is huge, it is affordable.  I know I won’t need to sell my soul or take out a loan (not that they’re giving out any of those in Greece at the moment!) to have this baby.   Would it be better if I had insurance?  Sure.  But since I don’t the alternative isn’t quite as traumatic as it would be back home.

 

Anyway, enough about that!  All this talk about insurance (snore) has got me tired.  Time to go lie down.  An activity I have likened to parallel parking a bus.  A double decker at that!

 

 

English: "The Barnum & Bailey greatest sh...

English: “The Barnum & Bailey greatest show on earth Wonderful performing geese, roosters and musical donkey”. Chromolithograph. Français : Affiche originale pour le cirque Barnum obtenue par chromolithographie vers 1900. Traduction du texte “Barnum & Bailey, le plus grand spectacle sur terre. Ses merveilleuses oies et coqs dressées, son âne musicien. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does this baby make me look fat?

26 Mar

Yesterday was a holiday here.  I’m not sure which one because I am a bad Greek and because I don’t really care.  Some kind of Independence Day, but I was informed there is no Independence Day here.  Hmmm?  Nevertheless, it seemed like everyone in town (all 200 of us..just kidding!) were out and about enjoying the day.  Strong winds from the south were dominating the forecast bringing in lots of dust and sand (from Africa? How exotic!) and also pleasantly warm temperatures.  The dust clouds are not what your mind is probably conjuring up.  No Tasmanian devil type of clouds or Iraqi sandstorms with a mouth full of dirt and a side order of zero visibility.  Nothing quite that dramatic.  Just a gradual overcasting of the sky giving it an eerie Midwestern summer rain quality to it.  But we are not in the Midwest I was quickly reminded, by the towering mountains and the beautiful sea, dancing passionately with the wind.  The snow on the mountain tops, so lush and pronounced when I arrived, has begun to disappear back into the atmosphere.  I guess we have made it through another winter with our sanity intact!

Back to the holiday.  I met a friend for coffee at a local hot spot otherwise know as Haagen Daaz, everyone’s favorite ice cream.  It was packed to the gills with people enjoying a day off from the grind.  Everyone was drinking coffee and no one was eating ice cream.  My kind of place!  There were lots of families crowded around small tables laughing and having a good time.  Everyone, with the exception of myself and the children under the age of 13, was smoking up a storm!  Holy sheet!  While I was waiting on my friend to arrive the waitress came over to take my order and asked me if I needed an ashtray.  I’m not delusional (at least I don’t think I am) I look pretty damn big.  I have a watermelon (a big one) underneath my shirt not to mention an extra 30 pounds or so enveloping my chest (finally some cleavage!), upper arms (wtf?), thighs & ass (gee what a surprise).  Last night I had a dream that I grew a pretty healthy beard due to the fact that I was getting so heavy and my hormones were getting out of control.  Maybe I’ve been watching too much Family Fat Doctor and gastric bypass stories.  In any case I woke up sweating and had to go look in the mirror just to be sure.  I swear the mind plays tricks on itself during pregnancy.   I declined the ashtray but appreciated the gesture.  One can never be sure.  Besides it’s not polite to make assumptions.

This got me to thinking about attitudes towards pregnancy in different cultures.  Greece is not so wildly different than the US in many aspects.  We are still in a modern, 1st world, western country (at least that’s what they tell us but sometimes I’m not so sure)  If you took a snapshot of life here and you compared it to one from the US, the only difference might be that one is analog and the other digital.  My point is is that we aren’t living in mud huts, wearing penis gourds and gathering around a sacrificed virgin to pray to the gods.  This might be happening further up in the  mountains though, I can not say for sure.  But there are definitely different approaches to what is and is not OK to do while pregnant.  I’m curious as to what these differences are in other countries as well, readers I’d love to hear your comments.  Is anyone in fact reading this besides my mom? Hi mom! Cant wait to see you!  My favorite, and possibly the most striking example of a difference, is the following:

I have heard from numerous women that their doctors have told them it was OK to smoke while they were pregnant. Just to keep the number of cigs down to about 3 a day.  I always laugh when I hear this.  (I really have to disagree with that advice, but I’m not a doctor am I? )  I only wish that was the kind of crap a doctor said to me when I was justifying smoking my 23rd cigarette of the day.  The reasoning behind it is that it is better to be in a calm relaxed state than in an anxious one, which many people are when they can not smoke.  I just can’t picture any American doctor dishing out this “age old” wisdom to a woman.  A yoga class, some mediation, a hot bath, a stroll around the park. Shit, lets get crazy and throw in some retail therapy while were at it.  All healthy activities in which one may try to achieve a relaxed state.  It’s not my place to judge now is it.  But I do feel ahead of the game for having cold turkey-ed the cigs the day I found out I was going to turn into a big fat blimp.  I wonder though, if smoking is so bad for our health (and we all know it is) and we are encouraged to quit (even here in Greece!)  why would it not be harmful for a growing and developing fetus?  I’m just not sure I follow.

Just for a little comparison:

Before I left for Greece I agonized over whether I should take a  Xanax on the plane, (just a half of a half of a half I swear) I Googled the hell out of that and got a wide range of opinions.  I thought well my backup can be a glass of wine.  FYI I don’t LOVE to fly and that trans-Atlantic is a bitch!  I decided to call the doctor and get the 411.  His answer:  Do not take a Xanax and do not have a glass of wine.  Pretty cut and dry there.  No wiggle room at all.  No concern for the mother’s state of relaxation in that response.  I did have a glass of wine about an hour into the flight due to some (heavy-ish) turbulence and just felt nauseous and then guilty for the next 8 hours.  Gee what a blast!

My point, if I even have one, is that there really is no cut and dry way to  be pregnant.  Just keep that bun roasting in its cozy little oven for 9 (really 10) months and keep your fingers crossed!

 

Obviously she's NOT pregnant!

Obviously she’s NOT pregnant!

Too much of a good thing……is great!

21 Mar

I’m just now getting underway in my 7th month of being a big old gal.  Lumbering around like a giant penguin.  Seriously I think what I do these days instead of being called walking could be described as wobbling from side to side.  I’m not going to present a list of all the gripes one might have during pregnancy…boring!  Actually I have been quite comfortable (interpret loosely) and have had a pretty easy (read: boring) pregnancy.  Which is just the way I like it!

I did get around to thinking, however, of the differences between being pregnant stateside and here in Greece on the island of Crete.  Even though technically I am still in Europe, I am really not in Europe.  Crete has always occupied its own continent in my mind.  The same rules do not apply here as they do there.  But that’s besides the point.  I put together a short list inspired by the frequent “What to Expect” emails I receive a few times a week. Here it is:

Here’s some of the things you can find in the USofA:

prenatal massage

prenatal yoga

lactation consultant / breastfeeding classes

birthing classes: lamaze etc…

birth plans

the option to have a home/water/non medical birth

chiropractors experienced with pregnant women

parenting classes

cheap baby supplies (not made in china)

mom groups

dad groups

moms and tots groups

medicaid

just to name a few

Here on Crete you can expect:

Prenatal care at your gyno or hospital

fresh air

nice scenery

meat!

Here’s to 12 more weeks of sobriety!

IMAGE5

When John Gray coined the phrase “Men are from Mars” what he really meant was Crete!

14 Mar

Last Sunday was gloriously beautiful.  Seems we are having an early Spring here on Crete.  I can’t complain about that after having spent countless winters in Chicago where Spring doesn’t seem to start until the end of May, sometimes not until middle of June.  My mother would beg to disagree but she is the eternal optimist, bless her, which is why I think she’s been able to tough it out in the Midwest after all these years.  A few winter vacations to warmer climes doesn’t hurt either.  Love you mom!

We decided to take a (short) trip to the fresh water lake and have lunch to enjoy the afternoon en plein air.  When we were discussing what to do with the afternoon I kept suggesting we be Real Greeks and go for a stroll on the boardwalk and then spend 3 hours drinking 1 single shot espresso at any of the numerous trendy cafes on the strip.  Mr. Mallios didn’t like that idea, sometimes I wonder if I’m more Greek than him?  Pre pregnancy I would usually drink a pot or two of coffee in the morning.  Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little but you get the idea.  Then I’d enjoy at least one, but sometimes two, icy cold Freddo Cappucino in the afternoon.  Greeks go for coffee at 11 o’clock at night so I didn’t need to be ashamed for my love of the bean.  But at 11 o’clock at night the only coffee I’m ordering is of the Irish variety if you catch my drift.   So lunch at the lake it was!  I guess we do have to feed this growing baby so a liquid lunch of strong coffee probably not the best idea.

We found a great spot perched on a little hill affording views of the tavernas below and the growth of everything from thyme to fennel to wild sage.  We ate slowly and enjoyed the strong sun on our pale forearms.  About 20 minutes into our meal another table requested the awning be lowered to provide for more shade.  The owner happily complied and began lowering it to shade us from the (amazing!) sun.  Mr Mallios and I looked at each other tragically and thought aloud, we’ve been in Chicago all winter!  Bring on the sun!  But the locals were having none of it!  Typically they don’t sit in the sun, or go to the beach I should say, until June.  Even if it’s 80 degrees!  There’s definitely a rhythm to the seasons here.  Despite the high temps it is quite common to still see people dressed in heavy coats and sweaters.  I guess winters not over until the calendar says so.

We observed people strolling on the path below us and decided to play a little game called tourist/local.  This is usually pretty easy on Crete, and probably most Greek Islands.  The Greeks while not only having strong physical characteristics that might set them apart from say Germans or the Brits, also dress and behave differently than their European counterparts.   The first couple we saw had a stroller which the man was pushing (tourist) and wearing shorts (definitely tourist).  Like I said, because its still March even though it’s 80 degrees, the locals are still dressed in their parkas and winter gear.  Not until the Spring Equinox (21st) will we start to see shorts and summer gear. Maybe. The next group of people we saw we’re two couples strolling leisurely down the path.  They walked in a line man, woman, man, woman (tourists).  They seemed to be speaking together in a calm manner (tourists). The men, it was noted, had little to no hair (tourists).  About 30 minutes later we noticed two men walking side by side.  Hard to tell at this point. One had quite a large gut protruding from his pants (local?).  The gentleman next to him was twirling something in his right hand. Komboloi? (Local).  Up ahead, a good 100 feet or so, Mr Mallios spotted two women walking side by side.  Both were dressed modestly in below the knee skirts and wool sweaters (locals), hair cropped short in the fashion of most women over 60 here (locals). They seemed to be carrying a lot of stuff (locals).  They lumbered on, burdened with the weight of their packages but never once seemed to be bothered by it (locals).  A cackle echoed up the hill as one of the men slapped the other on the back in appreciation (local…could be drunk tourist…no, local).  He lit a cigarette (local).  The taller man clasped his hands behind his back and continued on.  We surmised that these two couples were actually traveling together and in true Greek fashion.  The women well ahead of the men clucking away about their children and life in the village.  Shouldering loads of whatever they thought might be useful to them on their journey or at their destination.  While the men, a good half mile behind the women, hands suspiciously free of any packages, lazily strolled up the path laughing and passing the time with jokes and cigarettes.

We enjoyed this cultural distinction and the differences between men and women and returned to our meal.  Rice wrapped in cabbage leaves with a tangy red sauce, wild greens dressed lightly with olive oil and lemon, a salad of seasonal greens and vegetables, and a shit ton of grilled meat!  Lamb chops, pancetta, chicken, little beef patties, local sausages.  All fresh and all prepared by the owners mother!  I could just picture her back in the kitchen  sweating away since the early morning preparing for a day’s work while he stretched his legs and imbibed another raki.  Locals for sure!

Lovely Lake Kournas!

Lovely Lake Kournas!

 

How to prepare a Freddo Cappuccino (Italian for COLD cappuccino)

Take one, two or three freshly pressed shots of espresso (pronouced es-PRESS-so…no x sound in there).  Four if you are having one of those days.  If you are opting for a decaf option I would suggest having just the milk part of this drink.  After all what is the point?  In a metal shaker put two ice cubes with desired amount of sugar and pour hot coffee over ice and sugar.  Gently mix allowing sugar to dissolve and liquid to cool.  In a milshake type mixer pour about a quarter cup COLD milk over one ice cube to achieve maximum results.  Hit the milk in the mixer allowing milk to froth up.  This is similar to the process of making whip cream.  Cream must be very cold in order to achieve desired results.  The longer you hit the milk the frothy-er it will be.  While milk is frothing take a clean tall glass and put two ice cubes in it.  Some people prefer crushed ice.  Pour cold coffee over ice in glass.  Fill remainder of glass with frothed milk.  Voila a beautiful refreshing freddo cappuccino!

Freddo Cappuccino! Yum!

Freddo Cappuccino! Yum!

I’m a pretty shitty relative

10 Feb

Yesterday I went to see some old relatives in the village.  I was a bit overdue for a visit considering I’ve been here about a month, but I never said I was a good relative.   I went up to see my dearly departed Grandad’s sister.  So in other words my great aunt.  I got to their house around 10:30am.  Planning on doing a quick in and out kinda deal.  A cup of coffee (even though I’m on strict orders from my recently pregnant sister to NOT drink ANY caffeine. God the horror!)  No alcohol, snore. No drugs. boooooring. AND no coffee? Whose idea was this?  I always thought I had a limited amount of self control, compared to others, but when this whole pregnancy thing is over I think its safe to say I have damn good command of myself.  Sit. Stay. Good girl.

I have had  one glass of wine (xmas party) and a few micro, i will stress micro, sips on the airplane due to the heavy duty turbulence sending my adrenal glands into overload.  I thought it best for me and baby to be in a more relaxed state 35,000 feet up.  Needless to say, the few sips of wine I did drink on the plane didn’t do shit except make me feel nauseous and then later on guilty. Live and learn right?! Or live, live again, and again and then learn. As is usually the case for me.  Flippin the bird to the rules just one last time I decided to have a light cup of Greek coffee (some of you may be familiar with this type of coffee as Turkish or Egyptian coffee) with just a half a spoon of sugar.  I enjoy a Greek coffee, if made well, every once and awhile.  If made poorly, usually when I try and do it, it is similar to drinking a cup of dirt. Not so yum.  I guess that gets me out of making coffee for my husband for the rest of our lives.  He likes Greek coffee in the a.m. hours.  I figured over the course of my great aunts’ lifetime she had made hundreds, probably thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of Greek coffees.  It was safe to say I was in good hands.  No dirt for this girl today! 

Her husband was there too, which would in fact make him my uncle (great uncle) but I always refer to him as her husband.  Like I said, I am not a good relative.  He’s got the kind of elfin look you might see in a 102 year old hobbit.  Milky blue-ish gray eyes.  If you look at him the right way you can catch just a hint of a twinkle in them. Thick swatch of grayish white hair.  Short in stature.  Kind in spirit.  His wife is quite the opposite.  Not in character but in appearance.  She’s every bit as kind as he is, but twice as tall and twice as big around.  Definitely a mismatched pair in that sense, but love is blind deaf and dumb, and thank god for that!  She wanted to fry me up some eggs (YUM!) I can not go on enough about how tasty the eggs are here. A friend put it nicely: American eggs are anemic. It’s true, they are.  Very industrial looking, even the organic ones.  Is the extra 3$ really worth it?  I guess having a clear conscious IS worth the money.  I declined her offer, having already eaten.  But do intend to take her up on it.  Greeks know just the way to fry an egg.  We chitchatted for a bit.  Mostly about my pregnancy.  I guess I CAN use this pregnancy thing to my advantage after all. I have lots of chatter now to make with relatives who I otherwise don’t have terribly too much to say to after the first 10-15 minutes.  The three of us conversed about my impending confinement (or doom depending on which way you look at it) and about my grandmother’s crumbling down country house that nobody seems to have any interest in fixing.  Or money for that matter.  Then it came time for me to move on to the next part of my day.  Killing a chicken and preparing it for lunch…….JUST KIDDING!  I haven’t graduated to that just yet.  I said I would come again with my husband (might have been lying a little there)  and it was good to see them (not lying there).  I made my way to our ferrari and headed down to town.  In the car I was imagining the scene back at their house. 

Aunt: “oh wasn’t that lovely seeing her”

Uncle:  “yes, that was great to see her”

Aunt:  “she looks so healthy, probably a really robust Cretan baby in there”

Uncle: “hopefully its a boy, otherwise we’ll have to drown it.” (he would never say that!)

Aunt:  “yes that would mean she has good loins if its a boy.”

Uncle “so, uh, who is she again?”………….

Best fried eggs (and easy as 1,2,3)

Lots of olive oil. Do not be shy. Abandon your American instincts. No Pam spray (or whatever its called). No frying eggs in butter either.  The oil will not make you fat but give your skin and hair an unbelievbale glow.  Besides it raises sperm count! So if you are a fella that likes to smoke a lot of pot go crazy with this stuff!  (That comment has in no way been approved by the FDA or any other scientific group of people)

Should be about an inch or so of olive oil in your frying pan.  Heat pan up to a medium-ish heat.  Crack those beautiful nutrient rich eggs in there. And no egg white only bullsh**t,  if you are going to eat do it right. 

Let eggs do their thing for a few minutes.  Don’t let pan get too hot or sides of egg will burn before they are cooked through. Get a spoon and gently splash olive oil on yolks to cook tops of them.  This is why you need the extra oil in your pan.  I like my eggs over medium so I usually splash until yolks have a thinnish white coating on top.  Remove from heat.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with some sliced tomato or avocado and some toast.  If you’re feeling adventurous add a cup of Greek coffee to wash it down with.  Enjoy!

Image

A perfect meal!

 

Eat yogurt. Move bowels.

4 Feb

Ive been consuming Activia at a pretty regular rate since Ive been pregnant.  The digestive benefits it boasts are certainly true and since I discovered my little bun in the oven I will never take another bowel movement for granted!  Back in the US yogurt flavors tend to be pretty run of the mill.   You’ve got your berry varieties:  strawberry, blueberry.  Then there’s the ubiquitous and oh so delicious peach! Maybe a strawberry banana combo finds its way into the mix YUM!  I’ve seen, on occasion, an exotic pineapple on the shelf.  Usually its the last man standing when all other flavors have been picked over.  Well here in Greece Ive noticed quite a departure from mainstream US yogurt flavors.  My first venture to the supermarket upon arrival had kiwi and prune on offer.  Hmmmm? Kiwi I can do.  Prune?  I guess with that flavor you get double your money’s worth.  Prunes are supposed to be a natural laxative so………let’s give it a try.  Come to think of it things were working out pretty good…uh nevermind. When it came time to replenish my stash  I went to a different supermarket hoping this trip would prove to be more fruitful (haha!).  Well all I found was plain.  I was more pleased with this option than prune and kiwi. Today, my third trip in search of Activia, proved to be interesting as far as flavors are concerned.  I saw plain and was a bit disappointed.  I was hoping for a blueberry or banana.  Then I saw walnut (wtf?) and thought plain sounds fantastic!  There was prune again and fig and something I couldn’t quite decipher-some type of cactus fruit?  Blech!  I reminded myself not to come back here for Activia.  I decided to give the refrigerator case one last look in hopes that I had missed something.  There shining like a beacon of hope at the very top I saw strawberry.  Cue the choir!

Imagine that in your yogurt! ouch!

Imagine that in your yogurt! ouch!