She’s Not Making It Easy


My fetus is a jerk. Incredibly stubborn, and not particularly concerned who she’s inconveniencing. It’s making some things challenging, but it’s what I like best about her. Her, an unborn creature that of course I can only project personality on to at this point.

And while I know I’m projecting, she’s working this stubborn thing pretty hard — hard enough that we’ve given her a twitter account just to amuse ourselves.

At my 20 week ultrasound — the one where they take a picture of every body part from every angle to make sure she’s not missing anything important — it took the tech at least 50% longer than planned to get the images. The tech jabbed me in the belly with her wand repeatedly, made me touch my toes, sent me to the bathroom twice, and had me flip-flopping all over the table in the hopes that the baby would roll over and expose what parts needed capturing. She did roll over briefly, but them immediately rolled back — as if to say “I know what you want, but I’m not going to give it to you. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Once she finally started kicking with enough gusto to feel from the outside, I’d call Ryan over to feel. He’d put his hand on my belly and all movement would stop. He’d wait for a few minutes, hoping to get a sense of the madness that is this alien invasion inside me, but would get nothing. Then he’d take his hand away and she’d move again.

Finally, this week I went for another ultrasound and discovered she was breech — footling breech according to the report. She was just hanging out, head up and foot dangling down, not doing what she is supposed to. We were surprised, though I’m not really sure why. A breech baby almost definitely requires a c-section. Luckily, at 34 weeks, there is a procedure to turn the baby around. In an ECV, they quite literally grab hold of the pregnant belly (well, the lump of baby within), push hard, and turn. My awesome midwives did this successfully yesterday and I thought we were in the clear. Until this evening when my fetus, the jerk, seems to be hanging out on her side.

I hadn’t really thought all that much about what I want my daughter to be – although we’re likely grabbing on to the “I’m a girl who doesn’t take shit from anyone” for a reason. Yes, I want her to be smart and kind, and preferably be reasonably coordinated so she doesn’t have to spend all her school age years feeling out of place. But mostly I’d like her to be strong. I want her to be brave enough to stand up for things and not feel like she has to shape her personality to suit the world around her. I want her to be bossy. I want her to have opinions. I want her to be stubborn, even though it will likely get her in trouble. Ideally, she’ll find a mix of these things, and not let just one thing overwhelm her life. And maybe, if I’m lucky, she’ll cut us a little slack occasionally so we don’t spend the next 18 years in tears.

I’m ok with my fetus being a jerk. But for the next 6 weeks, would it kill her to just behave?

Photo: Korona Lacasse on flickr


5 Things I’ve Learned about Pregnancy: A Listicle

Photo via TipsTimesAdmin on Flickr

  1. Pregnancy is hard, even when it’s easy.
    I’ve had it really easy so far*. I was tired and nauseated the first trimester, but could still function in my daily life. The second trimester was mostly boring, despite a few irrational mood swings about Ryan drinking when I could not, and I’ve had no major health complications (of which there are many possible). I think my body might be made for doing this stuff**.

    And yet, I’m not one of those women who will claim to love pregnancy. (For the record, I think you’re all lying.) Things ache in weird places. I have an invader in my body who sucks out the nutrients and for whom I had to give up coffee***, diet coke, and gin. I can no longer comfortably tie my shoes, I have to take naps in the middle of the day, my abdominal muscles feel like they are being stretched over a frame, and most of the time my sleep is shit.

    And that ignores all the emotional stuff that comes with it. Pregnancy is a big friggin’ deal. So basically, all pregnant women deserve a prize for continuing our species, but women who have it especially hard – 9 months of puking, forced bed rest, who have to work manual labour jobs on their feet all day – should get a fucking parade.

    And yes, I know some people choose not to have babies. You might deserve a parade for something else in your life, that’s awesome. But be extra nice to your pregnant friends even if you think they’re annoying.

2. The human body is nuts. Why are we not celebrating how amazing women’s bodies are on the inside? (Like, actually on the inside. Guts and stuff.)

Seriously. How am I still upright? #thingslizzgrew

A photo posted by @opinionatedlizz on Sep 15, 2015 at 8:34am PDT

I took a photo today – 34 weeks less a day – and as I looked at it, I couldn’t believe I was still standing upright. Even more amazing was when we looked at a diagram of a pregnant women in our prenatal class and I realized that nearly all of my internal organs have been displaced – my stomach is basically in my throat, guys – and yet, somehow continue to function.

I have an actual tiny human inside my stomach right now, I grew it from nothing, and I am single-handedly keeping it alive. And no, I’m not a special snowflake. Women everywhere can just grow new humans. It’s amazing. For all women’s bodies are culturally devalued (and also over-valued as baby-making ovens), they are biologically awesome.

3. Forcing women to carry babies and become parents before they are ready is absurd.
Really early on in my pregnancy, I was scared. Yes, I did this deliberately, and yes, I wanted this baby really badly, but I was terrified. There were so many possible things I could do wrong. It would take 10 months and a huge toll on my body, and at the end, I would be left with a helpless human that I would have to keep alive – not just for a few weeks, but forever. And I would have to teach it to be a good human, and a kind human, and hope I could love it the way it needed to be loved. I knew we were going to be poor for a long time since daycare in Toronto is equivalent to mortgage payments. I sat in a movie theatre one day and panicked about how hard it will be for Ryan and I to just go to a damn movie without it costing $100. And to be honest, I was a bit resentful of losing control of my own body. And the only thing that balanced that out was knowing that I would get a baby at the end that I truly wanted.
But if you had all that fear and didn’t want, or weren’t, for whatever reason, able to handle a baby right now/ever, it would be awful. I’ve always been pro-choice, but actually being pregnant made me appreciate so much more the need to have access to safe abortions and birth control. Because pregnancy is really hard, and at the end you have a baby that needs a hell of a lot of work to make it into a productive member of society and forcing that on anyone who isn’t interested or isn’t capable of doing that work is both cruel and stupid.

When I read about companies fighting against providing birth control to their employees as part of drug plans for “moral” reasons, the only conclusion I can come to is that they really hate women, and they really hate babies.

4. Midwives are amazing. I am lucky.

I guess we timed things well, because I was more than able to find a space with a midwife (despite the small number available). So far, they’ve been really awesome, and I’ve really appreciated going through this madness with the support of health providers that I not only trust, but who don’t treat me like I’m a moron. They give me choice (sometimes more than I would like), and they assume I’m a rational adult who can make decisions about my own body. I get to see the same people week after week, I’ll know the person delivering my baby, and afterwards, they will come to my home multiple times to ensure I and the baby are doing well. No trudging out to a clinic 2 days post-partum, possibly in the middle of a cold November rain storm (or snowstorm), sleep-deprived, bleeding and sore, and sitting in a waiting room full of sick people. How humane.

Yes, I’m glad doctors and hospitals exist for doing the things that actually require doctors’ skills, but until I’m in need of those special skills (hopefully I won’t ever be in need of them), having a publicly funded alternative is the best.

5. Having a pregnancy buddy is essential.
I know that not everyone is as invested in the details of my pregnancy as we are****. I’ve been trying really hard not to overwhelm people with details about weird things happening in my body (night mumbling) or what strange animal my baby is equivalent to this week (ferret) or what new things we got for the baby this week (Lies. It’s baby shoes and they are the greatest thing on earth.), but it’s hard because it’s basically all I can think about. So I can’t stress enough how essential it has been to have someone to talk about all the minutiae, who not only wants to hear all your crazy, but who has a similar philosophy about pregnancy so she doesn’t make your crazy worse.

*Please don’t punish me for being cocky, universe.
**Pretty please. I promise I know you could smite me at any moment, universe.
**For 6 months. I’m back!
****Once she’s out, all bets are off. Unfollow me now because my baby will be the cutest, most special baby in all the world and I will make you look at pictures of her fat limbs and frowny face.

1825 Days Later

Today is the fifth anniversary of our first date, which was also the day we met. You’re apparently not supposed to count that after you’re married but I can’t do that. I can’t erase the significance of 5 years. So I guess I say “together for 5 years, married for 48 days”. That makes things easier, right?

I like this marriage thing. I liked making the choice to continue, rather than just continuing on. I like saying husband a lot.

We snuck into St Lawrence Market
We snuck into St Lawrence Market

LizzWedsRyan-1Our wedding was everything I (and I think, we) wanted it to be. It was kind of weird, had good music, good food (I didn’t get any, but I assume it was delicious), free-flowing drinks, and really amazing doughnuts. All the important people were there. If anything went wrong, I didn’t notice.

I got through my vows without puking, we mostly got through photos without rain. I danced like no one was watching. All the stress I was feeling leading up to it just melted away. 19 of my favourite children were the life of the party. All my worlds collided, people who really don’t belong in the same room were there anyway and it just made sense.

We held on to a few traditional elements. It was really important to my dad to walk me down the aisle, and I made Ryan stand at the front waiting for my grand entrance. I had bridesmaids (in an amazing rainbow of dresses) and flower girls.

But there was tons of non-traditional stuff too. Our “wedding march” was this lovely cover of an INXS song.

I got Ryan a ring with a giant dinosaur on it

We started the dance party portion of the evening with Monster Mash. People didn’t really seem to get what to do with it, but that kind of made it better.LizzWedsRyan-436

We invited T-Rex to party. X2


My bridesmaid/cousin/pal Hejira made every single flower decoration in the room. They were amazing.
My bridesmaid/cousin/pal Hejira made every single flower decoration in the room. They were amazing.


My cousin/pal/most talented person ever, Heather, made the single greatest guestbook poster in the history of the universe. We're on a dinosaur's back, guys!
My cousin/pal/most talented person ever, Heather, made the single greatest guest book poster in the history of the universe. We’re on a dinosaur’s back, guys!
Bouquets by my lovely Shawnte, at
Bouquets by my lovely Shawnte, at
When Mother-in-Law searching, find one who brings nanaimo bars
When Mother-in-Law searching, find one who brings Nanaimo bars. I got some pretty great in-laws in general.
Fruit Platters saved the day (and by that I mean saved me from passing out when I realized I forgot to eat). Thanks, Ben and Anna!
Fruit Platters saved the day (and by that I mean saved me from passing out when I realized I forgot to eat). Thanks, Ben and Anna!
I made these cool Kudusama paper flowers. I gave up after 6.
I made these cool Kudusama paper flowers. I gave up after 6.

Guests travelled from Whitehorse, Sao Paolo, Kingston, Maine, Muskoka, Barrie, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, The Beaches. I feel very lucky.

My city wedding bliss.

Lizz whines about weddings: part 2

As my twitter friend, @silentvolume, said yesterday, “The only fun thing about wedding planning is the Registry Gun.” The planning process has so far been all over the place, emotionally speaking: Exciting, tedious, pleasantly surprising, stressful, infuriating. It has also been a big learning curve – mostly about myself. I thought I would like it more. I thought I would like the details more. But it’s kind of overwhelming. There probably is a person for whom wedding planning is awesome. That person likely has endless money, time, and patience. That person must also have the ability to let go – let go of the ideas, the details, the opinions and the static. That person can decide on a vision, make a decision. That person doesn’t get hung up on silly things because that person can focus on the the more important things (you know, the getting married thing). I’m truly trying to be that person. I think I have even succeeded on some fronts, but not all. I haven’t been able to let go enough.

Like with many decisions so far, I’ve realized it is really hard to only medium care.  For the venue, I thought I could live with simpler and less pretty to save money. But then it turned out I couldn’t and we went with the higher priced (but still very reasonable) venue instead. I’m confident that it was the right decision, but it took a lot of angst to make that decision.

For bridesmaid dresses, I figured I’d fall somewhere between “wear whatever you want” and “go get measured for your gown.” I had an idea but I hadn’t given much thought to how it would come together. But learning moment: finding a dress that I like, is affordable, comes in the sizes, lengths, and colours I need, and will hopefully not make my friends miserable is actually not straightforward! A big light bulb when went off and I finally realized why people buy “bridesmaid dresses” at bridal salons. Sure, they’re humiliating by only carrying samples in two sizes and colours, but it’s a one-stop shopping experience. You buy your matching dresses and move on. But by not wanting that experience, I created a whole world of stress. And the worst part is that by being uninterested/unwilling to designate the dresses as something that I am allowed to think is important, I’m feeling resentful of myself for caring.

And that statement there pretty much sums up my wedding complex.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this post on
“othering” on Offbeat Bride. I’ve realized recently that I’m being totally weird and self-conscious about wedding stuff. I felt the need to rebel against mainstream wedding ideals, but also the need to suppress the parts of me that are so very mainstream – because I never really feel like I fit in with mainstream femininity, I really wanted to fit in with the “opposite” of that. But as soon as I got there, I started worrying that I didn’t fit in there either! I’m realizing that I’ve been trying to convince myself that I am something I’m not. I’m not quite mainstream, but I’m more mainstream than I thought I’d be.
This is me making funny faces in a wedding dress. This is not my wedding dress.
This is me making funny faces in a wedding dress. This is not my wedding dress.


Take my dress, for instance. To be accurate, it’s a gown. I had no interest in a big wedding dress, but I thought it would be fun to try some on. So we went to a sample sale and I tried a bunch on that were nice, but nothing special. And then just as we were about to leave, I got talked into trying on a great big gown. As it turned out, I loved it. I truly don’t have any sort of princess fantasy, I just put on an expensive dress, made of expensive materials, and felt really good. I wanted to be looked at. Those aren’t really feelings that I’m familiar with. And both leading up to, and after my big dress experience, I felt the need to tell people that I wasn’t taking the big dress thing seriously. Otherwise they would totally judge me for being just another part of the wedding industrial complex, right? They would think I was silly. (Sometimes I feed people my flaws so they can’t point them out first. I’m working on it.)

But wedding planning has also helped me realize the things I’m sure I want. When registering for gifts yesterday, we got a lengthy sales pitch about having a “relationship with our dishes” and got firm direction about our expected roles based exclusively on gender (me: shiny, pretty, things. Women don’t care about price. him: practical. electrical. money). We walked away, both saying longer, more expletive versions of “WOW.” And we picked things we really liked, that made sense to our personalities and lives. It was actually a really nice team experience.  And in a funny way, it was helpful in reflecting on the type of wedding we were throwing, who we were throwing it for, and what kind of experience I want it to be.

So in conclusion: consider listening when people tell you to elope;) But if you’re really looking forward the actual wedding (like I am) and just not everything that goes into it, keep working on identifying your crazy-making things. Somewhere in the process, the madness might remind you of the important things

Now if someone could just tell me which bridesmaid dress to pick I’d be happy.

Being Fat, Losing Weight, and Feeling Really Confused About the Emotional Consequences

Fat XI
Here’s the thing about losing weight. We’re always sold that a thinner body will make us happier. If only I could look like…. But the strange thing is, before I started my weight loss “journey,” I’m pretty sure I was the happiest with myself that I remember being, maybe, ever. Now, 40lbs lighter, I find myself in unexplored emotional territory. Am I happy now?

6 months ago I was 253lbs, a size 16-18, and only moderately mean to myself. Sure, I always wanted to be thinner, but I had stopped actively telling myself that there was something wrong with me.  I made peace with the fact that Le Château just wasn’t a store I could shop in. It was okay. Turned out Land’s End was. I stopped thinking about my appearance so much. When I did that, it was just … easier. It was okay to be me. I didn’t need to punish myself. But then, after two fairly traumatic wardrobe malfunctions and the fear of being the “fat bridesmaid” in my cousin’s wedding pictures, I started actively trying to lose weight.

The Backstory

I’ve always been a dieter.  Going way back to when I was 12 years old, I was a dieter. I was not good at exercise and I was really uncoordinated. I was taller than the other girls – and often the other boys – growing up which always made me feel different. Awkward. So I guess I got caught up in feeling different, which usually meant that I ostracized myself further. I played up the role as the bigger girl. I looked older so I had to act older. And tough. I assumed the role as the sidekick, never the girl that people would pay attention to, but as the seemingly confident friend who acted like nothing scared me.

I was always really mean to myself. When I look back at pictures from high school, I wonder why I thought I was so bad. I was 70lbs lighter – which empirically must mean that I was better – but I never thought I was okay. I guess I was still 50lbs heavier and a foot taller than the other girls my age so I didn’t fit. I truly hated myself for a long time. But I put in a lot of emotional work after high school. It took a long time –  years – and though it wasn’t done, I got to a good place.

I still dabbled in dieting. A few years ago, I put myself on a salad and protein diet before a trip to Vegas in an effort to avoid feeling awful in a bathing suit. I wanted to enjoy myself on the trip and not get hung up on what I perceived to be what Vegas would look like.  I lost about 10lbs and decided that I was okay. I went. I bought pretty dresses. I existed in public in a bathing suit, no one publically shamed me and I didn’t burst into fat flames. It was good.

I survived not because of those 10lbs I lost, but because of all the years I spent teaching myself to like me just a little bit better. The 10lbs helped – my bathing suit actually fit better and the small loss gave me the confidence to go forth because I felt like I had accomplished something – but it wasn’t the real victory.

So, what changed?

I decided that I needed to lose weight because my clothes really weren’t fitting – I point you back to the aforementioned wardrobe malfunctions – and I didn’t feel very good about it. I lived my life in yoga pants so it crept up on me, but by summer I only had one dress that I felt comfortable wearing – a coral sun-dress that I hated – and that was getting old fast. I just wanted my clothes to fit again. But I wasn’t really sure how to make that happen.

I joined Weight Watchers in the summer. It’s been incredibly successful – assuming you’re judging success by pounds lost. I’ve lost 40lbs (well, I had before the week that was Christmas 2011) and I feel quite good about it. I feel proud of myself for doing what I’m supposed to do and getting the results I wanted. I feel generally better because I’m eating healthy food every day. Clothes that I haven’t worn in years fit again. Jeans. I’m wearing stretch-less jeans! I forgot how much I like jeans because it was so much more comfortable to just wear yoga pants all the time.  The dress I fought so hard to make fit for my brother’s wedding is loose on me. I spend mental energy thinking about myself instead of all the things I’m stressed about. It’s generally really great.

So, What’s the problem?

I feel a bit crappy about the whole thing.

It really hit me at Christmas when at least six family members greeted me by commenting on how much weight I’d lost and how good I looked. They were shocked. SHOCKED I tell you! It was like I’d cured cancer, or saved puppies, or done something else truly amazing.  It was as if I had become a better person.

I’ve probably acted this way with people who have lost weight before too. It’s ingrained. We all know that thin is healthier, more attractive, and all around better, right? And I don’t mean to begrudge my family so much – a) I know they all really meant well and were trying to compliment me and b) A big change is a logical jumping off point with a person you don’t see very often. But it made me feel self-conscious and a bit defensive. Am I more valuable now? What if I gain the weight back? What will they think of me then? Will they like me less? Will they think that I’m a failure? What did I look like before? I must have looked AWFUL for them to make THIS big of a deal about my loss. If they think it was so hard to lose weight, do they think I just wasn’t trying hard enough before? Why aren’t they scrutinizing anyone else’s body?!

What’s more, I’ve really come around to the fat acceptance movement as of late. I believe that people really do come in all different sizes and we’re not meant to be the same. I believe that fat and unhealthy are not necessarily the same thing – after all, I’ve never been unhealthy. I started losing weight out of vanity. That’s been my only motivation for my entire life. I just wanted to be thinner. So by getting all this praise, and by accepting it as something good, I felt like I was betraying my newfound principles. I was buying in to the same old crap that surrounds us. Fat=bad/lazy/gross and thin=great/healthy/smart/responsible. Thin=YouAreABetterPerson

By actively pursuing weight loss, wasn’t I saying being fat isn’t okay? Well, yes. I guess. But only for me! It’s a mess of contradictions, I get that. But it’s my body, so that’s sort of my prerogative.

I wanted to keep pointing out size-ism when I saw it. I wanted to keep speaking up when people conflated health with appearance. I wanted to continue being pissed off at movies and people making fat jokes. I just didn’t want to be quite as fat anymore. But I was pretty sure I’d still be sort of fat. I’m tall. And broad shouldered. I’ll never be small.

My original weight loss goal was moderate(ish). I wanted to get back down to the weight I was when I met Ryan. I don’t actually know what that weight was (I was training for a 10k run at the time so I was probably in the best shape I’ve ever been fitness-wise) but I wanted to wear the outfit I wore for our 4th date – my favourite of all the early dates. I wore jeans (the ones I’m wearing right this minute, as a matter of fact) and a teal blouse with adorable cap sleeves and a cute little belt. I loved that outfit. I felt sexy as hell in that outfit. And I had a fantastic evening in that outfit. I was chasing those feelings.

I wasn’t thin by any stretch of the imagination on that date. I was probably still a size 12, but I was rocking that size 12.  Setting this as my goal seemed like it would be not only good for my psyche – years of dreaming of looking like the other girls always caused me so much pain – but also attainable.

So I started Weight Watchers and I loved it immediately. It’s a system that’s really well suited to my personality. It’s concrete. It’s a numbers game. Did I mention that I love it? If you’re interested, I’d be happy to tell you about it someday if you ever ask. I love to talk about the program because it works. The program. That’s a very different thing than talking about me. It’s very different about talking about how much I weigh or how my body fits in my clothes. Because it’s my body. It’s not up for discussion and dissection when everyone feels like it. I get to own that conversation. It’s not small talk to fill a silence. It’s me, and there’s a lot of complexity that goes with that.  It’s not yours. It’s mine.

So I guess that’s half of what my stress is about.  The other half is much more familiar.

On New Year’s eve, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and those old feelings came back. Why is my arm so fat? Does this dress fit okay? Are people looking at me? Despite achieving the goals I’d set out for myself, I seemed to be spending even more time nitpicking. Here I am, upset about other people scrutinizing me, and yet I’m doing it to myself. What gives?

What’s the solution?

Part one is: Don’t talk about other people’s bodies unless you’re invited to do so.

Part two, and this one is for me, is to take some of the focus off losing the weight. Am I quitting WW and breaking out the sweat pants? No. I really do enjoy how things are going. I have a new dress in my closet I look forward to wearing. I have set new goals and I look forward to achieving them. But I need to stop looking at being lighter as being better. That’s not an easy task. I’m a goal oriented person and I really like to win at things.

But history has shown that I’m not happier just by being thinner. I need to put some serious work into self-acceptance again. It’s one thing to accept myself as fat and put up a wall to any criticism. It’s another thing to truly understand that my value as a person isn’t actually related to my appearance. I thought I was at that point before, but clearly that’s not the case. I need to really learn to like myself at whatever weight I am at that moment – whether I’m 100lbs or 300lbs.

I don’t actually know how to do this yet. There may be another 2000 words in my future devoted to tearing this issue apart into little pieces, and then tearing those pieces into even more pieces of excessive analysis. If you last that long, let this be my apology to you in advance. You won’t get those fifteen minutes of your life back either.

Memories of 1999

I wish I had been a stronger person in high school.

It was a bad time in my life. I didn’t have any friends when I started (perfect example of how truly awful young girls can be), my family was broken up by the end of it, and throughout I had no self-esteem. As I sit here leafing through the pages of my year book, I don’t feel the pain that I went through then – though memories of my first kiss and first heart-break stir – but I feel regret.

The picture of my friend reminds me. In a photography class dark room one day in the ninth grade, I found myself with my former best friend. No one else was around. It was the opportunity I’d waited on for months: my chance to ask my best friend why she abandoned me, and why she’d taken others with her. I still remember how scared I felt. I ran the conversation over in my head. I felt panic rush through me. I wanted to know. I needed to know. But I developed my photos in silence instead. And then I went on to my next class. I wish I had asked that question instead of being tormented by it for years. Continue reading “Memories of 1999”

Happy Birthday, Ryan!

Today’s Ryan’s birthday. Here are some of the reasons why he is rad:

1) He’s got a ridiculous, and pretty weird sense of humour.

2) He rides a bike crazy fast.

3) He writes good stuff, like this blog.

4) He thinks he’s less weird than I am, but that’s a lie. Also, he lies a lot.

5) He reads big books so I don’t have to.

6) He likes baseball and video games.

7) He’s kind even when I’m miserable and grumpy.

8 ) If you were trapped in a castle and the only way out was to answer a series of trivia questions on Shakespeare, Romans and/or the many incarnations of The Flash, he could totally help you out.

9) He’s a feminist.

10) He takes care of me when I’m sick.