Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


Sunday, December 14, 2008


That was supposed to be my husband's thing. I never thought of myself as someone who valued stability very much. The conventional wisdom is that I am too restless, too hyper, too neurotic for that.

But as I look back at the last 3 or 4 years, I can't help but feel a contrast. My life WAS stable for a very long time. Fast-paced maybe but still stable.

I mean, I lived with my family in the same city for 29 years. I went to the same school from KG until I graduated high school. And I had the same inner core of friends. Yes, there was limited interaction with all sorts of people but they were all really just on the fringes. Real friends, real connections didn't really change much after grade school. I mean, my best guy friends are my brothers and my uncle.

True, I went abroad for university but even then, my brother and quite a few of the same old friends and classmates were there with me. And they formed my inner circle there too. And I did more or less the same thing there I had been doing here. I brushed against a lot of people but didn't feel the need for most of them to really register. Too many of them were nothing more than an interesting conversation or argument, a pleasant shared activity, a night spent cramming for a test, a dance etc...Too many people who meant only one thing each.

And so I lived 5 years abroad - also in the same city - and I came back with the same friends I had before I left. Why did I do that? I don't know. Maybe because the whole time I was there I knew I wasn't there for good so I didn't want to get attached or get anyone attached to me?

Or maybe it is just my nature to be shallow?

Even love and relationships. Different though the circumstances of each crush/love affair, I only ever got involved or wanted to get involved with people in that same tigh-knit circle. A cousin and two childhood friends. All the men I ran into and was accused of flirting with. All the strangers I felt instant violent attractions to and drooled over with my girlfriends. And yet I would only ever consider getting involved or have real feelings for men I've known more or less since birth.

Then there's my career. A little uncertainty at first. Two or 3 very short tenures at this company or that bank. And then I found a place to get attached to and I stuck like a leech. No amount of hassle or abuse could dislodge me. My entire career is tied to one company.

I think my relationship with K was the one big aberration. For me of all people to fall so hard so fast for a stranger out of nowhere? Who would have believed it?

And it seems like it was some sort of turning point. He was such a fundamental change and he came at a time when everything else was changing too. My family moved away for one thing. My old, tight-knit circle isn't as tight-knit as it used to be as various members moved away or got married, started families and became wrapped up in their own lives.

The miscarriage was my next earthquake. I'd had such a sheltered life, alhamdulillah, such little experience of real loss. And then all the fallout. The way my greatest fear - motherhood - suddenly became my greatest wish.

The way I went from never having lived on my own, to being married and then to living alone, to the single life I guess I missed out on by going from my father's house to my husband's in the time-honored, Arab traditional way. Only I became Bridget Jones AFTER I got married.

And now, getting pregnant. And moving away from all the things that provided the stability I've had all my life.

The last few years of my life have had more action, more pain, more joy, more passion packed into them than my entire life.

Sometimes I have moments - like tonight - I'll be looking at my husband sleeping and I'll want to shake him awake and say to him - who are you? Where did you come from? Did I really sign my life over to you? Am I really going to have your child? And am I really going to let you uproot me from everything that ever gave me the least bit of stability or familiarity in my life and take me away somewhere where YOU will be all I know, my only anchor? You know what? I am not as anti-stability as I thought. Me, the commitment-phobic, the claustrophobic. I am not independent. I depend very much on my family and my friends and my company and my city. I am not wild and adventurous. There's no sense of adventure, of looking forward to what is going to happen to me as a new experience. None of this is me. It's not me to fall for a stranger and follow him to the ends of the earth. I don't want the new experience. I want the things I know. And I'm scared.

Sometimes I really can't believe the last 3.5 years.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This and That

Everyone told me that I would experience cravings while pregnant. But the reverse is happening. I am going off an increasing number of foodstuffs. It's not that I have no appetite. That's all in the past now. I still wake up feeling nauseaous in the morning but it goes away as soon as I get up and start moving about.

But I can't eat pizza anymore for example. We would order a pizza with all my favorite toppings from my favorite restaurant and I would be starving. But the minute I take a bite and see that sticky mozarella stretching out all white it just feels icky and I don't want it anymore. Still hungry though so we wind up having to order something else for me.

It happens when we go to restaurants too. I used to love sweet and sour sauce. Sweet and sour chicken was one of my favorite chinese dishes. And spring rolls dipped in sweet and sour sauce. But last night we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and I ordered my usual. Hot and sour veggie soup for starters and then sweet and sour chicken. And the same thing happened. I took one bite of my chicken and suddenly the sweet flavor was sickly.

Lost in conversation with my husband though, I pushed the chicken dish aside and just ate the rice side dish. When I finished that, I was still hungry. So I tried to eat the chicken again. And again I couldn't manage more than one bite.

K: Eh? Mabtaklish leh? (Why aren't you eating?)
Me: Ma3rifsh. Jo3ana. (Don't know. Am hungry.)
K: Tab koli. (So eat)
Me (feeling bad because I keep doing this): I don't know. I don't think I like sweet and sour anymore.
K: Wala yihimik(Don't worry). Wanna try mine?
Me: Maybe.

So we shared his food. And once we were done with it, we were both still hungry. So he ordered one more of the same. And because I wasn't sure I wanted more seafood, he ordered a couple more dishes just to make sure something will work for me.

The waiter must have thought we were nuts. I love my husband for not getting impatient when I do this because it seems to get on a lot of other people's nerves.

I also can't seem to eat anything I cooked myself. It's like once I see, touch and smell raw food, I can't get those sensations out of my mind. So when it's all cooked up and ready to eat it still tastes and smells raw to me. So we sometimes wind up having to order food after I've cooked.

Other foods I can't eat anymore:

1) Chocolate cake.
2) Vanilla ice cream.
3) Mayonnaise.
4) Eggs of all types.
5) Lamb.

No.5 we learnt because of Eid. In keeping with religious ritual and tradition, we slaughtered a lamb yesterday. I don't mean we actually did it. My husband went out and bought one and had it slaughtered and carved up and brought the meat home. And with help from my aunt, cousins and friends, I cooked most of the meat. One third of it had to be given away to the poor so my husband took it to the mosque. The other third we gave away to family and friends. He also delivered those house to house.

The last portion is supposed to be ours. But it is still too much food for just the two of us. And my husband doesn't eat frozen meat so deep-freezing any of it wasn't really an option. So in keeping with tradition, we had both my uncles, their wives, my cousins, my friends, his friends and their partners/spouses for lunch.

I did most of the cooking but couldn't eat a bite of lamb. Wound up having the soup, salad and some rice. And then lots of deserts. Thank god I didn't make any of the Eid sweets!

I don't know if it was the lamb or the fact that I had to cook it myself. But after yesterday, I just find the idea of lamb completely unappetizing.

At this rate, with 4 months to go, I'll find myself with a ravenous appetite and nothing known to man that I can actually bear to put in my mouth.

In other news, me and my baby are getting to be quite good friends. I can now hear the heartbeat quite clearly at the doctor's. My husband even thinks he can hear it sometimes if he puts his head to my stomach.

And this baby looks a lot more human now in the scans. I can see the fingers of both hands which is really cute and just makes my heart turn over. I feel even more strongly now that it's a boy. We don't know the gender yet officially but I mean, he just LOOKS like a little boy to me.

It's more than a little frustrating that my visa wasn't finalized before the holidays because now with so many holidays, it is unlikely anything final will be completed before next year. K and I decided that if we don't get to leave in the next month or so, we want to wait until after the baby is born. It's a long flight and neither one of us wants to chance it if I am further along than 7 months. Most airlines don't allow you to fly if you're 6 or 7 months along anyway. I don't really like the idea of going into labor in-flight - particularly not premature labor.

At any rate, we have now been officially informed that my application is approved. It is showing as approved on the website. But we still have to wait to receive some papers in the mail and then get an appointment for one more interview at the embassy.

It's good because it means I might not have to change doctors. I am really comfortable with my doctor and wasn't looking forward to having to get used to someone new so late in the pregnancy.

But it is tough on my husband though because there are frequent rows with his sister for not taking care of their parents as she should. She means well really. She's a good kid and she loves her parents. She is just not very disciplined. And K is extremely disciplined so they clash over things like missed doctor's appointments and her taking the car and going out with her friends all day and leaving her mother stuck at home with no car in bad weather etc....Stuff like that. Sometimes I think he is being too tough on her. To the point where she might just get intimidated and bail out and leave it all to him. And other times, I really have to share his frustration. Mostly I try to keep the peace.

There's an underlying fear that something bad will happen over there while he is here with me. And that he might then never forgive me for being the cause of his not being there.

There is also sadness because I can't go out and decorate a room for my baby. I see so much adorable baby stuff and I would have wanted the perfect nursery. But what's the point in doing that here when we're leaving either before or immediately after the birth?

We will be staying with his parents for the forseeable future. At least until we find a buyer for his house so we can buy something closer to them. Property markets worldwide aren't great at the moment so that maybe sometime. And I accepted that without complaint. It felt like the least I could do for him, given how well he is taking care of me and how worried he is about his parents.

But the idea of leaving the apartment we got married in to go and live in a room - or even a couple of rooms - in somebody else's house is still hard to accept. Last time we were there, privacy was such an issue that I was scared of having sex incase we were overheard which would have been mortifying to me. I mean, who wants to be overheard by your in-laws? That's such a passion-killer.

Even private conversations, we would be whispering inside our room sometimes. The rooms on the top floor are all so close together. I mean, after having this big apartment to ourselves, that is going to be one big adjustment.

I have to admit that dealing with his father's condition from such close quarters is also something I am dreading. Last time, I found it difficult to even be in his father's room. I hope I will be strong enough to help as much my husband needs me to.

I know he is feeling bad about everything I am having to give up because of his family situation. And what I've said to him is that as long as we can stay together I will put up with anything and do my best to help and not be in the way.

I mean it too. I know my new situation is going to take some getting used to but the bottom line is I will do it for him. Everytime I feel that flutter in my belly I think I would do anything for the man who is responsible for it. Anything, that is, except let him get away from me again.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Eid Mubarak All