Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Bucharest: Week 1

In fairness my brother-in-law tried to warn me.  "You shouldn't come in August" he told me as we were booking flights in February.  "It's hot here then."  In February "hot" sounded just about right.  He left off the right terms.  "Fucking hot" would have been better.  Unbearable, hell-like, atrocious.  Much better descriptors. The guide book we looked at even went so far as to say "Avoid Bucharest in August at all cost".  I should have listened.

"I like it hot, heat doesn't bother me", I told him as a reply.  At the time this was true.  But I wasn't pregnant then.  Now the heat bothers me. 

We had selected our dates to visit my in-laws not around dates that worked for my husband or I but to line up with the dates that worked best for my family.  We were doing one last hurrah vacation with my family and we were going to Spain.  At the time it made sense to merge the two trips, thinking that we could get a cheaper flight within Europe than by having to flight over once for Spain and again for Romania in the fall.  My brother and his wife, who have a nanny, wanted to take the vacation when she was going to be away in the Phillipines.  It saved them money.  My husband and I had another trip planned in August but we agreed to cancel that trip (it was to a nerd convention) and make all of our travel plans around their schedule.

The day we arrived in Bucharest was the hottest on record.  We were told it was 43 degrees Celsius in the shade in the countryside.  That's 109F.  Without taking into account the humidity.  Without taking into account the fact that Bucharest is a utilitarian city with few strips of grass or trees to break up the radiating concrete.  That's fucking hot.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that very few of you have visited Romania.  It's not exactly a tourist hotspot.  It's beauty was really beaten out of it during the communist era and it is now filled with concrete blocks and uninspiring architecture.  There are thousands of feral dogs that roam the streets with no home. The walls are covered in graffiti and even the city parks are not maintained.  There may be no grass on median strips, just dirt, or weeds.  There are a few beautiful parks, but they aren't well groomed the way a park would be in Canada. 

The purpose of the visit was for me to meet my in-laws.  My husband left Romania when he was 13.  His mother had left more than a decade before and his father had finally agreed to let him go and visit her.  She refused to send him back.  My husband didn't return for almost 20 years.  He still has 2 half-brothers, a sister-in-law and a niece, his father and step-mother who live there.

My in-laws were lovely... although neither of us spoke the other's language, so it is hard to get into fights.   They were very kind and are hoping we will come back in soon.  I have told them never in August.

One of the places we visited was the People's palace.  Ceaușescu, the communist leader,  had thousands evicted from their homes and moved into apartments so that he could use the land to build the world's heaviest building, the world's largest civilian building with an administrative function and the most expensive administrative building in the world. 

We toured the palace one day and it is awe-inspiring in size and design.  From Wikipedia the description says :  The building is constructed almost entirely of materials of Romanian origin. Estimates of the materials used include one million cubic meters of marble from Transylvania, most from Ruşchiţa; 3,500 tonnes of crystal — 480 chandeliers, 1,409 ceiling lights and mirrors were manufactured; 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze for monumental doors and windows, chandeliers and capitals; 900,000 m2 (9,700,000 sq ft) of wood, over 95% of which is domestic, for parquet and wainscoting, including walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple; 200,000 m2 (2,200,000 sq ft) of woolen carpets of various dimensions, the larger of which were woven on-site by machines moved into the building; velvet and brocade curtains adorned with embroideries and passementeries in silver and gold.

 My in-laws also took us to the mountains for a weekend where it was a "refreshing" 36 C (98 F).  They really wanted me to see all the beautiful spots in Romania... the problem is that they wanted me to see them all on foot.  One day they took me on a "short walk"for lunch.  It was 2 km...uphill... on a mountain... starting at 1.5 km altitude... in the heat.  I was gasping for air  and water by the time we arrived.  I was afraid by the end of the week that I had boiled the baby.  Fortunately she seems to be doing just fine. 

The beds however were awful, the apartment we stayed in had no air conditioning, the shower had no shower curtain (i'm not even kidding... this was the most annoying thing... after a shower everywhere in the country that we stayed we had to mop the floors afterwards because of pools of water).

We will be going back to Romania... how can i prevent my child from an opportunity to know her roots.  But if I didn't have family there I don't know that I would be going back. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The one where Shmily gets a new name

Yesterday was the big day.  The anatomy scan.  Shmily hit 20 weeks of age yesterday as well and we were told it was the last possible day that we could have our ultrasound.  So even though we had been out of the office for nearly 3 weeks my husband and I "had" to take half of the day off yesterday and head into the city for an ultrasound.

No matter how we tend to think of them there is a lot more to an anatomy scan than just the sex determination.  So let's get the serious stuff out of the way first.  Our baby is completely normal from what they could say.  Yes, those words that will strike anxiety into our hearts on baby's academic record, describing our pride and joy as merely average are the sweetest words a mama-to-be of "advanced maternal age" can read.  Our baby is normal... boring almost.  Shmily is measuring at 19.8 days on average which is only a few hours smaller than expected.  So a pretty nice size so far.

I personally am rooting for this baby to maintain size on the smaller side, I have no desire to push out a record sized baby.

The results weren't perfect.  The radiologist wants us to come back in two weeks for a more detailed analysis of the heart and brains, but the comments we were given were that it was due to baby's positioning and poor visibility not because of a red flag... so I am oddly comforted and not panicking at all... so not my normal attitude.

Now for the news that gets way more attention.  The big reveal.

I had always pictured this moment as being one where with my husband standing by my side holding my hand the ultrasound technician would  reveal the baby's sex.  But apparently our hospital will not allow the technician to discuss this information with the parents.  Instead, you receive a report after waiting in the waiting room for (in our case) an hour and a half.  You read through the words quickly and you feel the tears start to well up as you read the words:

"likely female"

a girl.

They think we are having a girl.

While we were on one of our many flights over the last few weeks my husband and I took our onerous list of 120 girls names and 145 boys names and weeded them down.   We went through the lists and if either person objected to a name is was crossed off.  We were left with a list of 12 boys names and 17 girls names.

We each then ranked the names and then tallied up the combined ranking.  We both ranked our little girl's name as first choice.  This process wasn't meant to be as decisive as it was... just a way to kill time while we were on an airplane.  But we had both fallen in love with the same name.  Neva.  (pronounced with a long E)

Neva means from the place of snow in Italian, which we thought was appropriate for a little girl born in January.  It is the name of a river in Russia, my husbands father's side emigrated from Russia so we felt like it went well with our last name.  It isn't common but we don't think it is freaky weird, or too You-neek in spelling. 

We haven't shared this information with our families yet... we are going to reveal the gender to my family on the weekend, but we are keeping the name a secret in case we change our mind.  But for now our little girl will be Neva Margaret Rebecca P.  And we are looking forward to meeting her.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Make up Post

Ummmm.... so yeah... it's been a while. 
Sorry about that.

First of all, everything is just fine. 

Work got stupid crazy for a while and I didn't have any free time day or night to write even a simple blog post.  I was rushing, trying to tie up the loose ends of my projects before my husband and I disappeared in what was meant to be a blissful 2.5 weeks of vacationing first with his Romanian side of the family who I had never met and then with my family.

I thought FOR SURE I would have lots of time to write a blog on vacation.  But then I discovered that my husband did not bring his computer with us on the trip and somehow seized control of my computer because he was always downloading pictures or figuring out the best route to take tomorrow.  Somehow the time got away from me.

So today I am finally back at work.  And I am about to run out of the office to attend my anatomy scan for our little squirmy bundle of joy.  So I can't really do much. 

They moved my office while I was away and we are moving again in about a month, so it doesn't seem worth while to even unpack anything.  So I am managing to find a few minutes to write a quick blog post before I dash off.  But I clearly have some making up to do.

First I promise to post with all of the details of the anatomy scan asap.  ANd then I will write a blog post about all of the "fun" vacation time we had. 

But I just want to warn everyone.  NEver go to Bucharest in August.  It is too freaking hot!