June 25, 2010

Ferals and frights

A week ago my next-door neighbours mentioned that a stray cat and her five young kittens had taken up residence in their back yard and that they didn't know what to do. Fearing that they might resort to the burlap-bag-full-of-stones option, I promised to take care of the situation if they would give me some time. I placed an open pet carrier several feet from the cats. Twice a day, I brought food and water to the feline family in an attempt to gain their trust. The mother cat was decidedly hostile but undeniably ravenous, and she would gobble up whatever food I tossed to her. Her kittens, though standoffish, were willing to come out of hiding for tuna. Since the mother cat appeared to be a Scottish Fold, I figured that someone had paid good money for her and could very well be looking for her. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any postings about her on the local lost-and-found sites. I placed my own notices but had no replies.

A typical Scottish Fold

Being pregnant, I know it's more important than ever to avoid potentially germy things such as stray cats. After several days of bringing sustenance to the brood, the mother cat stopped hissing long enough to emerge from her hiding place as I filled her water bowl. I thought that I was making progress but I had no plans to touch her. She had her own plans, which involved marching up to me, scratching me and quickly retreating. I began to understand why no one was looking for her.

Earlier this week I was distracted from my feral-feeding duties after getting some frightening ultrasound results. (TMI alert here, folks.) At just 30 weeks of pregnancy, I am already starting to dilate. My obstetrician instructed me to avoid anything requiring exertion -- even the Aquafit course I recently registered for in a sad attempt to introduce exercise into my sedentary lifestyle. The doctor also made appointments for me at the hospital to receive Celestone injections to help the baby's lungs develop more quickly in case he makes an early appearance. Following yesterday's shot, I noticed no movement from the baby all day and just a few weak kicks in the evening. When I awoke this morning and still felt no movement, I proceeded to the hospital two hours before my appointment. By the time I was in Maternal Triage I was also in tears, fearing the worst.

In a hospital gown, lying on a bed with a fetal heart monitor strapped to my belly, I heard the most wonderful sound a paranoid expectant mother can hear: the rapid kaTHUMP kaTHUMP kaTHUMP of a healthy baby's heart. The on-call doctor then performed an ultrasound to show me that the baby was indeed moving, although I still couldn't feel anything. I had my second and final Celestone injection and went on my greatly relieved way, anxious to phone Scott with the good news. Well, the mostly good news. I wasn't thrilled to learn that, if I should go into labour early, there will be no attempt to stop it, as the baby has a "90-95%" chance of survival at this stage. I worry about his health if he is born prematurely, but all I can do is to take it easy, as per the doctor's orders.

Having had the distraction of the baby fright, I missed two visits with the felines next door. Scott and I bought a case of canned cat food this evening only to discover that the brood has moved on, leaving an empty plate, empty bowl and empty pet carrier. My great happiness from the morning's reassuring hospital visit was tempered by the sadness of knowing that I was unable to rescue the cats from joining the already large population of feral cats in our area. Priorities change when one is pregnant, and I certainly had to put my unborn baby's welfare above all else, but that doesn't prevent me from feeling like I let down the little ones next door.

June 13, 2010

Twelve weeks

It's hard to believe that I have only posted a few times about my pregnancy, and now here I am with just twelve weeks left until my due date. For anyone who is interested, here are a few facts about my expecting experience to this point:
-morning (all-day) sickness sucks, but it ends;
-bending down takes preparation, and standing up again often requires assistance;
-my body will never be the same, but that's okay since it wasn't all that great to begin with;
-I'm amazed at the strength of my backaches, and at my obstetrician's reaction when I reported them to her ("Well, it's only going to get worse");
-friends with little ones have been incredibly generous with hand-me-downs;
-the baby now kicks so hard he can move my laptop when I carelessly rest it on my belly;
-I'm going to miss the kicks, rolls and flutters once the little guy is born.

This isn't a very inspired post and I apologize, but it's hard to concentrate with sawing and drilling going on overhead. Did I mention that our bedroom and nursery have been completely gutted? Again, there are just twelve weeks left before my due date. Uh-huh. Scott and I owe huge thanks to my dad, brother and our friend Martin for taking care of the demolition while we were away on our babymoon. It was a hot, filthy, back-breaking job.

The nursery

Scott and his dad have been slaving away for the past few weekends to frame the new walls and repair the roof and floors. They assure me that there will be a ceiling at some point as well. We've hired or are in the process of hiring an electrician, a window installer, a mason, a spray-foam insulator and a flooring refinisher. Once they have all completed their work, it will be time for drywall and paint. As hard as Scott and his dad are working, I have expressed my doubts about our ability to have both rooms completed in time for the baby's arrival. My mother reminded me that Jehovah's Witnesses can build a Kingdom Hall in six days. Perhaps the next time the Witnesses knock at my door I'll invite them in to help with the renos. I might seek out some Amish folks while I'm at it, as they only take one or two days to raise an entire barn. Maybe it has something to do with faith; it could be the fact that Scott is an atheist and I'm a Humanist that makes our renovation projects take so long.