Photography: 41 weeks

Baby_Luna_April_2014

The entire photo set can be found on Flickr HERE. I still can't figure out how to put a slideshow on Blogger.

I have so many stories to write and so many blog posts to catch up on, and, at some point over the next few weeks, I will get to them all, but in the meantime I am spending my time staring at my daughter in awe, taking photos of her, breastfeeding, trying to entertain her and then trying to get a few hours of sleep whenever I can. It's amazing, all of it, motherhood, being part of creating this wonderfully perfect little being, and still feels pretty surreal in all the reality of it.

Week_15_Oct_2013

From week 11 of my pregnancy, right through to just before I hit week 41 (and the reason there is no photo for that week will be explained when I write Luna's birth story) I took a photo of my growing baby bump. It makes me laugh now to think that back in the weeks 13 and 15 and 16 I really thought that I was HUGE and that everyone could tell I was pregnant. Looking back at the photos, it wasn't until I was in the 20th week that you could really start telling if you didn't know me.

Week_24_Dec_2013_3

Once I hit the third trimester I knew I was going to get big, but it wasn't until I got to week 38 that I actually started feeling uncomfortable... I still roll out of bed like I had to in those weeks, forgetting that I don't need to do that anymore! It's kind of crazy to think that my daughter actually fit inside my belly only 3 weeks ago, and was comfortable there... I can't imagine being curled up like that and not being able to stretch out!

Week_38_March_2014_3


Ramblings: The Waiting Game

  
 The feeling of carrying a bowling ball in one's stomach...

So it’s been the waiting game for the past 5 days now… Will she arrive suddenly, will she take her own, sweet time making an entrance into this world, basically when she feels ready for it? I wonder what it feels like to be all squished up in there, with so little room to move nowadays. How can that be comfortable? Doesn’t she want to stretch her arms and legs out and open those eyes and see daylight? 

For 9+ months you go every day hoping you won’t see any signs of labour, no early contractions, no cramps, no waters breaking; and then you hit your due date and all you want to see is all of those combined so that you know that things have started and that you are finally going to be able to cuddle your child within a matter of hours or days.  April 1st passed by and although I’ve been having Braxton Hicks, or “practice” contractions for a while, I have not had any signs of labour at all. So I was scheduled for a non-stress test at the hospital and everything looked fine. I got to see my daughter make kissy faces on the sonogram and was sent home with another appointment for the Friday morning (unless I gave birth before). The clinic where I have been going for pre-natal visits and the hospital are in Fort Greene. It was annoying enough when I had to get there from Bushwick, but now that it takes me ages to walk (waddle) anywhere AND we live in Flushing I literally have to leave with a 2 hour window, just in case. 

So on Friday I was overjoyed when I started feeling what seemed to be contractions at 5am. Regular contractions that weren’t unbearable but were definitely not painless. And even though I moved around, drank water, walked, ate something, they still didn’t go away. I had my last doctor’s visit where they scheduled me to be induced (on Tuesday), but there I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to wait until then because labour had started. Off to the hospital we went (poor C. hadn’t slept a wink as he had worked late, but came with me anyway just in case I had to stay in the hospital) – another non-stress test, another sonogram, both revealing that I was having contractions (so at least I wasn’t making that up). The sonogram technician said that everything looked fine, but if I wanted to go home without worrying I would need to come back in a few hours I should go to Labour & Delivery to get checked. An hour later and I was sent packing from the hospital (in the nicest way possible) with the advice to “walk a lot” and hopefully I would give birth before I was to be induced.


So back home we went, hoping that it would be hours and not days… No such luck, it’s now Sunday, I still have those contractions on and off, but no other signs, no intense pain or anything else… Obviously my daughter is quite happy being shy and stubborn and just waiting for HER time. I’m not really worried about it; I just want to finally hold her in my arms after all this time!! And there was I, worried earlier on in my pregnancy that she would decide to make a rapid entrance, waters breaking dramatically on the subway, ambulances and all that. I think it will just end up with me being induced on Tuesday and her arriving peacefully in the hospital the next day. So let’s see what happens! Apparently I was just the same with my mum, not in any rush whatsoever!

There is one thing that I never really thought about before I got pregnant, and that is that the only time I have been in a hospital as a patient was when I was born. And even then, it was a tiny maternity ward in a tiny hospital. I have absolutely no idea what a patient is supposed to do when they go to hospital, what they need to bring, how they are supposed to act and what on earth the order of all the different doctor roles are. For someone who loves hospital shows I am absolutely clueless about the seniority in interns, residents, attendings, doctors etc etc. All I can say after Friday’s visit in L&D Triage is that the nurses are always the nicest and kindest people, and I will be more than happy to just have nurses deliver my baby – especially if they are gentler than the residents! If everything goes according to plan then I won’t need a doctor anyway – just a midwife and nurses. Fingers crossed! And then hopefully that will yet again be my last visit to a hospital until I have another child. 

So in the meantime, I have been pottering around at home, putting butterfly decals up, watching more series on Hulu and Netflix (I’ve now learned all I could from Call The Midwife on Netflix) and rested (even though I still feel exhausted).  Mum got here last night which is wonderful, and I know that even if Munchie doesn’t feel like coming out just yet, she will have to by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. It’s pretty amazing to me that between me, my siblings, and now my daughter, we were (will be) all born between the last days of March and the first days of May. Spring babies! And all late too!

The next post may not be for a while… And it may just be random words forming somewhat of a sentence surrounded by photos. Let’s see how tired I really am going to get!

Ramblings: 38 Weeks and Still Growing...


It’s hard to accept the fact that you are allowed to be tired, that you are allowed to actually not really do anything all day except for watch that TV series that everyone has been telling you to watch for the past year. It’s hard for me, because most of the times in my life when I feel this tired it’s entirely my fault (out partying, up all night writing, stress-related insomnia), so I am so used to pushing myself through it that I feel guilty just letting go and just being tired.

Yesterday I woke up at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep again for a lot of different reasons. I had to be up at 6am anyway due to an early doctor’s appointment. So I waddled my 38 week pregnant belly to the subway and went to the clinic in Fort Greene to get everything checked up. I guess I am now the one nearest her due date so everyone is very excited for me (they actually were all a lot more excited than I was, it took me enough energy to muster the courage to keep my eyes open during the appointment). I could give birth any day! I waddled back to the subway in the gorgeous sunshine, trying not to burst into tears until I got home.

And then I did what I have never done before, I asked my boss if she had anything important for me to do, because if not I was just going to rest. And guess what?! She told me to rest! Yes, Jade… There IS a reason you are working from home now, and this is because you are supposed to be resting! So for 10 minutes I tried to work, but numbers and words kept flying in front of my face and I couldn’t do anything correctly so I grabbed a cup of tea and went to the couch. Where I stayed until just after 8pm. And from the couch I graduated to the bed, and fell asleep, sleeping about 12 hours of interrupted sleep until this morning. You can’t be too demanding – there is no way on earth I can sleep more than 2 or 3 hours without having to get up. Bathroom trips, water drinking breaks and of course, a cheesecake eating break at 3am when C. got home. I still feel tired today, but more able to function. I think this is the new golden rule… No fighting the fatigue or the sleep: naps and bed whenever my body wants it.

So now the waiting game has begun. Any day now little Munchie could decide that she wants this to be her birthday and she will start making that journey towards daylight. While I would like her to wait until her due date of April 1st, I have now accepted the fact that she might want to come early, or that she might want to come late too. And that’s absolutely fine. I think I am ready to cope. Everything is pretty much ready (apart from all of her little baby clothes need to go to the laundry and I don’t know why we are procrastinating about that); she has a bed and a bouncy chair thing and blankets and clothes for every occasion and diapers and wipes and even heart-shaped sunglasses to match her mummy. She also has a hopefully endless supply of food that my body will provide for her (the alternative is not an option right now, so I really, really hope everything will work properly). And, so important, she has so much love waiting for her here, all that love that we hope we have projected into my womb over the past 9 months, and much, much more. So many people are waiting for her arrival and to finally meet her. Not the least her parents of course!

To be honest I think I have had a wonderful pregnancy, and I have been very lucky that up until a few weeks ago I really didn’t feel uncomfortable or too heavy. I’m not super huge, my weight gain stabilized in the third trimester (so much that I have actually lost a few pounds even though Munchie has gained quite a few); I’ve had a few aches and pains but nothing major. My feet only started swelling this week, after I started to work from home (so now I need to go for little walks every few hours so as not to sit at the table all day without really moving). I just recently had to develop an elaborate roll to get out of bed and that can only be done in at least 3 steps, and I don’t remember what it was like to jump out of bed in a spritely manner! Actually, I don’t remember what “normal” feels like anymore. What actually WAS “normal”?? I don’t really think I care, because that “normal” has gone, and will be replaced by another “normal”, one that I am more than ready to embrace. My main issue other than not being able to walk fast anymore (and I mean SLOW), is a burning pain I began to feel last month at the top of my belly on one side, that has now graduated towards the other side too. I realised that it’s basically from the skin stretching so much, but it wasn’t until I did some research on the web last night and read people describing it as just like a sunburn, without the redness (and without the sun, because that big golden orb has been on another planet for the past 3 months). Aloe Vera! Luckily I always have a big bottle of aloe in the cupboard as I spend enough time on the beach in the summer, and it really helps relive the soreness! Better than any other lotion that I have already tried. Who would have known that all you really need (outside of a good doctor or midwife) is a large bottle of aloe, a large bottle of Tums, a comfy body pillow and a healthy diet to get through these 9 (I mean 10) months? And yes, my iron level is STILL normal, even though I was anemic as a teen and I am a vegetarian. I guess I did something right by listening to my body. 

And I will continue listening to my body after Munchie is born. I’m not too worried about losing the extra weight immediately – it will happen naturally. My body has never been one to put on weight too fast, and if I make sure I get enough exercise I will be fine. I’m honestly looking forward to evening runs in Flushing, and using them to discover new places to go and new parks to take Munchie to in the summer.

Oh summer… I am looking forward to you. Showing my little daughter all of the things that I love about life: sunsets on the beach, waves, walking barefoot in the sand, listening to The Cure while dancing in the living room (not just for summer of course), and reading on a warm park bench under the trees… So much to be excited about!!! In the meantime I will continue to wait at home, not feel guilty about resting anymore, and watch as our cat follows me everywhere I go, just so that he knows that I am OK. Maybe the next post will be one with newborn pictures, or maybe it won’t – now that I am at home I have a little more time and energy to devote to catching up on writing. I say “a little” because a lot of that energy is put into making sure I am happy with how our apartment is set up. And catching up on TV shows. And thinking about making food, and then ordering salads from the delicious diner down the street.

That said, does anyone know where there is a regular supermarket in Flushing? One that isn’t Chinese and that sells an array of Western goods? I was so excited that we had a supermarket within walking distance, but it really doesn’t have a good selection of non-Chinese goods, and I need a little more for my palate!

(On a side note we are EXTREMELY grateful to everyone who has helped us out and given us gifts over the past few months. This alone deserves its own blog post and everyone will receive their own personal thanks, I promise, I am just a little slow at getting round to doing things these days. Without you all we would be having a much harder time getting through this, and the amount of love that we feel around us is extraordinary!). <3>

Ramblings: Setting up a new home and those last few weeks

ALISON TOON: Jade baby shower &emdash; Jade's baby showerAh it has all been a bit of a whirlwind these past few weeks, and I have been getting so tired that between work, the commute and trying to make our new apartment into a real home before the baby gets here I haven't had a moment to really write anything down. Although there is a lot to be said... I feel like so much has happened and I need to record it now before I forget due to baby brain, or have even less time on my hands! I know full well that the moment the baby gets here I will hardly have time to sleep let alone anything else!

Between the endless (or what seems to be that way) snowstorms and icy winter days and nights we managed to move a lot of our belongings from the old apartment on Troutman St in Brookyn to the new place in Flushing at the beginning of February. Our moving truck man got stuck in the slushy snow pile outside the building, and tried to put Joey Ramone the howling cat in the back with the furniture, but we managed to make it to our new home without breakages or damages. And what a home! It's big, airy, bright and so quiet. I slept so well the first night and woke up to the sounds of birds singing, not to the sounds of the endless construction on the streets of Bushwick. There were still quite a few of my belongings left in the old place, but my mum and wonderful best friend went to pick it all up for me last week so I didn't have to deal with it. I just don't know if I could have faced any more moving at that point.

Setting up home has been so much fun, apart from the fact that every time we save some money, we end up spending on very important things... Necessary things of course, but the money part is beginning to worry me, as we have 4 weeks left until the baby gets here... I know deep down everything will be fine, but I am taking 2 months off, and am not used to not making my own money and not being financially independent! All for a very, very good cause though, as I will be busy looking after our little Munchie and giving her the best start in life that we can give her. Buying a new couch was the most fun part, turning up at Bob's Furniture and walking around trying all types of different couches, and looking at sectionals as we have the space for one. We ended up going for a lovely coffee coloured one with large pillows and enough room for us to both lie down on it and watch TV on our brand new 42 inch HDTV... Which we ended up getting at a super discount price because someone had messed up on the pricing at Best Buy... There are still boxes and boxes that need to be emptied or put away, but there is no real rush with this. I've been doing one or two a night, and trying to imagine how I would like our home to look like when it is all done. I feel like we are finally really making a home for our family, a place that is ours and no one else's!

I'm still working 40 hours a week, and C. is still at his 60 plus hours, and it's been a little strange for us both as I am now working day times and he is still working the usual night time hours. We are going to have to make real efforts to spend enough time together on this schedule as I spent a lot of the first week feeling a bit thrown off and missing him, even though we live together and work on the same premises. I know he did too. Thankfully we both have Wednesdays off together still and these have become even more important than before. We have been trying to explore our new neighbourhood (we already have found "our" deli and "our" diner), looking for places to eat and shop and hang out. It's been a little difficult with the weather that has limited my movements a lot (on top of the fact that I get tired fast when I am walking now, as Munchie is really growing fast). I love how multicultural the neighbourhood is, how there is a church that has service in 5 different languages on Sundays, that it feels like it's still NYC, but a little quieter and more relaxed than where I lived in Brooklyn before. Then again, I wasn't too happy when I had to get the shuttle bus instead of the subway last week and people kept pushing me, despite the fact that I have a very obvious baby bump. I'm sorry to anyone who got my elbow in their face, but being pushed and squashed makes me do those type of things!

ALISON TOON: Jade and Cesar &emdash; Jade and Cesar


I don't really want to get started on the whole getting up and giving your seat to a disabled, elderly or pregnant person on the subway, but I do want to mention it. I was brought up in countries where this was a normal thing to do. You don't look up, look at a person and look down again, without getting up from your seat. Yes, maybe I chose to be pregnant and ride the subway, but standing up for long periods of time in a crowded subway at this point in my pregnancy actually makes me feel light-headed and faint, and easily able to lose my balance. In any case, it's always other women who give me their seat, never has a man offered his seat, not even when I am standing right above them. I'm not the type to ask for a seat, nor am I going to glare at you angrily to make you feel bad, but people need to be a little more aware. It's quite sad really! The best moment for me was the time I asked a woman to move her bag so I could sit down and was looked at as if I were some kind of cockroach trying to crawl into her personal space. Of course I didn't feel bad ha!

 My amazing mother came out for a week to help us with everything and to participate in the baby shower that my lovely best friend threw for me. It was really perfect, as I really don't like being the centre of attention, but she made it into a lovely tea party at the Kings' Carriage House where people I love joined me to celebrate the impending arrival of my little girl. Everyone has been so generous and it is really helping us get ready for having a baby in our home. I have the best people in my life, and I hope I am the same type of friend to them as they are to me. Mum took some wonderful photos of the afternoon that display how lovely (and pink) it really was. You can see them HERE

ALISON TOON: Jade baby shower &emdash; Jade's baby showerSo this is it really... Four weeks left (give or take a few depending on when she decides its time to come out), and I am hovering between stages of feeling elated and intensely nervous. Not about the actual birth which still feels like something surreal that is going to happen but that I have no idea how, but more about afterwards. Am I going to be able to breastfeed easily? Is everything going to be OK? Will I be a good mother?!? Will my baby be happy and healthy?

In the meantime I shall continue to feel content and to breathe through all the mini moments of panic, and just know that everything WILL be OK. Both C and I are happy and healthy and are prepared to do anything to make sure our child is happy and healthy too. And I really really really can't wait to finally meet her outside of the womb, and talk to her little face and tell her how she spent the last month inside me kicking my ribs and making me laugh.

This continues to be the most amazing journey of my life.


For more of my mother, Alison Toon's photos from her recent stay here and more check out her website here: Alison Toon

Ramblings: Happiness, Moving and Getting Closer to that Date

I’m so happy.

Despite the fact that it has snowed at least once a week since the beginning of the year, that the pavements are icy and slippery and despite the fact that the wind is bitterly cold. Despite the fact that my belly feels like it’s getting heavier by the day and despite the fact that I feel like my bones have expanded and I have become a clumsy woman with a waddle.

I’m so happy.

Every day I wake up and feel excited as well as nervous about the idea that we are one more day nearer the moment that I will give birth to our daughter, and therefore one more day closer to the fact that I am nowhere near ready. Or I don’t feel anywhere near ready. Mentally I have always felt ready, but practically I feel that there is so much more to do, so many things to fit into so little time. I know that everything will work out and I am forcing myself to stress out as little as I can about it. Which doesn’t make it too hard when I am walking around in such a state of happiness…


After signing the lease and then a lot of back and forth on getting the keys to the new place we finally have our new home in Flushing, Queens. It is fully renovated and cleaned and waiting for us to move in as soon as we can.  Our room in Brooklyn now looks in a state of distress, half full with boxes and half full with just stuff. My next steps are to cancel the electricity here and install a new account at the new place, find movers and decide on a day to move that is on the only day C. and I have off together, and then set up the new place in the way we want to before the baby arrives. That’s the really exciting part as we are really starting from scratch again, new couch, TV, dresser, tables… All furniture that we need to buy at some point in time. Nothing can be rushed though, for 3 weeks we practically lived like paupers so that we could pay the three months upfront for the apartment. Thankfully we work enough hours in a restaurant that we can eat most meals there, and I wasn’t too tired to take the subway home at 2am. The latter is only something I can do while still in Brooklyn as it’s only 6 stops away - once we get to Flushing I don’t think I will be doing the late nights anymore, so there won’t be the anxiety of having to find a cab that doesn’t charge you through the roof to take you to Queens…

We are now into the single digits, with 9 more weeks to go. I love how so many of my regular customers at work take a real interest in how the pregnancy is going and love to chat about it and hear updates. I love how everyone at work is excited to see the growth and excited to finally meet the baby. I also love how surreal it still seems to this day. Even after I finally managed to put my registry together another pregnant friend and I were walking around baby stores exclaiming how we still couldn’t believe that this was us, deciding on the best type of stroller rather than the cutest new party dress. I am pretty sure that I will always talk about the best party dress to pair with a Doc Marten boot, but nowadays I’m more into what type of sleepwear I want to dress my daughter in when she comes home from the hospital with me.

C. and I went for a tour of the Labour and Delivery department of Brooklyn Hospital the other day as that is where I will be having the baby if all goes to plan (and I really hope that it does).  It’s a lovely hospital (if you can actually say that about hospitals…). Not that I have much experience of hospitals – the last time I was in one for myself was when I was born. My knowledge of hospitals comes from the TV show ER. But I am determined to have my baby in a hospital. I want to have my baby naturally, but I want to be hooked up to monitors and have access to pain medication if I want to, and also be surrounded by people who can help if something goes wrong. Of course I am hoping that the delivery will be as easy and as great as my pregnancy has been – but who can predict that? Walking around the labour and delivery rooms, and then seeing the rooms that you stay in after the baby is born reassured me a lot, and made C. feel more nervous. This is all very very real now, even if it still feels surreal! The lady who showed us the rooms asked me if I had a birth plan, to which I just responded “Umm… delivering the baby here?” Should I be writing one of these? Yes I want to breastfeed so I suppose I need to write that down so people know. At the same time I am hoping I am going to be fully conscious so I can voice all of this myself, and I also don’t want to set a rigid plan that probably isn’t going to work out anyway. I want to be flexible and make sure that whatever happens is the best for me and the baby. 

Ah, before I forget, as a gift to ourselves (amidst all of the stress of finding an apartment and really not having any money to spare) we booked a 3D ultrasound in a place in Midtown. It really wasn’t too expensive, especially seeing as my Medicaid is covering for everything else and this really was a little extra, just because I wanted to see Munchie again… We went to Goldenview Ultrasound and booked the Silver package. It was a really lovely experience, although I would only recommend it to women whose placenta is not anterior – it’s much harder to get a clear picture of your baby if they are hiding behind the placenta all of the time! The technician was lovely and tried all sorts of techniques to get Munchie to move away from the placenta, which she was cuddling like a teddy bear, as well as take her hands away from her eyes. She finally moved in the end and we got to see her lovely little face, her chubby cheeks, her little hands and her big feet! I do have to say though, that seeing your baby that way is a little creepy and they look a little deformed. It’s a little scary and quite wonderful at the same time!!


I do have to apologise… Over the past few months I have pretty much only posted about being pregnant and having a baby. I have just been so consumed by all of this, as well as trying to work as much as possible and relax when I can that my writing has totally fallen by the wayside (which is also the most common excuse I always have whenever I start slacking in writing). It will get better… Once I have a little more time. But will I have more time?! Maybe I will be able to get a few sentences in here and there between baby feedings? Maybe I will be so overwhelmed by motherhood that all I will be able to write about is how much I love my daughter? (I kind of already know that is going to happen). We will see. In any case, there are still many stories and reviews and essays to come out of me, enough ideas for more than a lifetime of writing. In the meantime I am just going to keep them as ideas and hope to bring them to fruition in the near future. The first plan must be moving my blog over to my own domain and finding a template that suits me. Decisions, decisions…

In any case, despite the next impending snowstorm and despite the fact that I really wish I didn’t have to work for these next couple of months, I am still so happy. I feel like there is so much happiness that is still inside of me, waiting to get out and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Well everyone who deserves it anyway ;)

Ramblings: Apartment hunting in NYC (often equivalent to hitting your head repeatedly against a wall)




I’ve lived here nearly 9 years now and the am convinced that the single most stressful part of NYC living is finding an apartment to live in. Finding a place to live, a place to call home. When I first moved here I lived in a small one bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side (corner of Rivington and Clinton to be more exact) for a month, courtesy of the company I worked for, so that I had time to find my own place. Yes, I thought that was small at the time. I loved the neighbourhood the moment I set foot in it, and spent the first few weeks walking around at all times of the day and night, grabbing a drink at random bars, observing people, buying Pringles at 24 hour delis at 4am, watching the people walk by from the apartment’s fire escape and writing poems up there. From the moment I started looking for a place to live I knew that the neighbourhood was completely out of my price range, especially after I had decided that for the first time in my life I wanted to live alone, without roommates… 

I was clueless. I had no credit (what on earth was this credit that everyone was speaking of), no real money to my name, no furniture and no idea how I was going to find a place. I had also never been to NYC before, let alone lived there, didn’t know anyone, and also had no idea on where it was safe or cheaper to live. Luckily, after trawling through Craigslist for a few days I found a 1 bedroom furnished sublet in Spanish Harlem, on First Ave between 119th and 120th streets. A tiny one bedroom for $900 (heat and hot water included, electricity separate) on the ground floor, with a little back yard (meaning a concrete area outside the bedroom door). It seemed pricy, but still affordable if I were careful, and it was finally my own place. Some people warned me that the neighbourhood was dangerous, but in 10 months I lived there I never had a problem. The guys who were always hanging out on my stoop were always courteous and opened the door for me, the man who ran the deli next door held on to my packages for me, and the only unwanted visitor I had was a rat, who appeared during my first week there, and after that never reappeared again (yes, you quickly learn how to plug up holes that may be found under the sink with wire…). Oh and a clogged toilet on July 4th weekend just after I had moved in because the previous tenant thought that that was where you disposed of your cigarette butts. Lesson learned – always have a plunger at hand!

Ten months later I was able to secure a bank loan thanks to my wonderful mother (she probably wouldn’t jump at doing that again though, but that’s a whole other story), and started looking for a place that would be mine, a studio on the LES, where I was all the time anyway. With the help of a friend who also happened to be a broker I ended up finding a little rent stabilized studio in the West Village, on Sixth Ave between Houston and Bleecker, right above the restaurant called Bar Pitti. $1350 a month for a place to call my home. I spent over $7 grand on first month’s rent and security deposit and broker’s fees and furniture, and never thought about the fact that $1350 was going to be too much to spend if I didn’t curb my lifestyle in a little… And even though everything was super legit, I still felt like it was all kinds of shady, signing your life away to a management company or landlord that issues you with a lease with so much small print that your brain starts to hurt after the first sentence. Advice to all: always read the small print, especially if you have a vindictive landlord who will try to extort money out of you after your lease ends. I signed a 2 year lease on this place and although I don’t regret living there, and the experience of living in the West Village, the convenience to everything and the fact that I could literally walk everywhere I needed to go to, if I had to do it again I would have been a lot more financially savvy, and would have spent less money on rent and electricity and take-out and all the rest. But I still have fond memories of that little place, where the two windows looked out onto another building and where it got so hot in the summer there was no way you could live without AC. The convenience of the location was amazing – I walked everywhere. If I didn’t feel like getting out of bed I could call the deli down the street and they would deliver within 20 minutes. So convenient that I ended up spending most of my time outside of the apartment, and in the end it just became a place to sleep rather than a home. A very expensive place to sleep.


When the rent just got too much and my lease was finally about to expire my friend Beth and I decided to look for a place together in Brooklyn, as she was in the same situation as me, and both of us needed something cheaper.  I also just wanted more space and light in my life. We had no idea where we should go in Brooklyn, visited a few places in Williamsburg, and branched out a little to Bushwick, even though most people we knew warned us not to. This was 6 years ago when no one wanted to live in Bushwick. We saw a 2 bedroom going for $1900 in a brand new building just off the Myrtle-Broadway stop on the J and decided to visit it. The place was amazing. Huge space with stainless steel appliances (a dishwasher!!), laundry IN the apartment (yes IN THE UNIT), and huge windows. The street itself looked pretty calm and there wasn’t much around in terms of restaurants or bars, but it was $1900… Meaning that we would both be saving around $400 a month EACH. Yes, we jumped on it. I still can’t believe that I thought that the commute would be a little long after living in the West Village for ages… Then we were told we had to present first and last month’s rent, as well as one month’s security deposit before we could sign the lease. And ASAP, in case someone else wanted the unit and got in there before us. That’s a total of $5700. Luckily we managed to get them to agree to first month and security deposit and got the money together within the week. We passed our credit checks and other checks, signed the lease and had the keys within a few days. The first people to move into a brand new, empty building. We felt like queens!! We discovered the neighbourhood and watched Bushwick change rapidly over the years. We negotiated our rent down to $1,700 and it hardly went up over the years… Until last year. Last year saw a huge influx in new buildings in Bushwick, and also a huge hike in rent. Ours went up from $1750 to $2000 (and even after a meeting with our landlords they assured us that they wanted to go up to $2200 but didn’t want to lose us so agreed to $2000). People were really paying these types of rents in Bushwick?? Apparently so. 

(The story of life on Troutman St will be relayed in another, separate account. It deserves its own post).


And so now it is time to move again. For multiple reasons, most importantly because I am having a baby in April, because I want to move in with my boyfriend in OUR own home, and because I want to pay less rent. Over the years my credit has gone from being nil to passable to completely crap, and C. has no credit at all, not making it any easier to secure a place. On top of that our lease runs out on February 28th, and I don’t want to have to move when I am ready to give birth. The stress of finding an apartment in this city makes me want to cry on a good day – imagine being 7 months pregnant and traipsing the streets looking for a place that will take you without credit and that is actually affordable… We had already decided that Queens was where we were heading this time, with rents that are still affordable and places that were still of a decent size. I walked out of the first agency in tears because the woman told me she couldn’t help us as we didn’t have good credit. Didn’t even try. So we started grabbing numbers from leaflets on lamp posts on Roosevelt Avenue, and ended up meeting some type of broker guys in the back room of an Internet café (yes sketchy it was). They took us to a few places, one being a large one bedroom apartment in Flushing. Yes, large. And quiet. And on the ground floor. And airy. And light. And large. Did I already mention large? Oh, and with a rent of $1275 a month. 

Yes, it’s in Flushing. A few blocks away from the last stop on the 7 line (but still, no buses! It’s still off the subway!!). Does this bother me? Surprisingly, no. To be honest it’s a perfect compromise. I’m tired of being in the noisy parts of the city. I want to be able to take my baby to the supermarket and to the park without feeling that I am walking a stroller through a maze of unexpected obstacles. I want to be able to relax at home without hearing sirens and car horns and people blaring their music from their car stereo. So, Flushing it is… I hope! This time it’s even more shifty as we don’t want to have to go through a credit check just to get rejected, but the lovely gentlemen who showed us the apartment are helping us through it and we will be signing the lease tomorrow… Fingers crossed as I don’t want to jinx it, but with a little help from some friends, long hours at work and the art of living off pasta for a week we managed to cobble together the funds that we need to get the keys. It appears to all be legit too as the landlord/owner of the building called our workplace to check that we weren’t lying about our jobs… Honestly, looking for and finding an apartment in NYC always feel completely sketchy, as if you are doing something slightly illegal. Even when you have amazing credit and a decent salary and enough money to pay for 3 months rent up front.

I can’t wait to take this next step, setting up our child’s first home, living in a new borough of the city (for me) and just discovering a new neighbourhood. I’m excited to decorate a new place with our drawings and photos and belongings, making it ours. And I’m so happy that I don’t have to worry about this any longer, as once the lease is signed we can focus on moving and setting up the apartment for the baby… So long Brooklyn, Queens here we come!


All images  © Jade Anna Hughes

Ramblings: The End of the Second Trimester




It still feels like a dream. Even now, while I am heading into my 27th week, and starting to feel those little kicks on a regular basis. It still feels like a dream, an amazing, wonderful dream; a dream that I am going to be a mother in just a few more months. That we have created this little girl who is growing inside of me and who I am going to love and be responsible for for the rest of my life and beyond that. How incredible is all of this? And yes, I know that millions and millions of women have done the same thing since the beginning of time, but it’s all such a new and wonderful feeling that I can’t get enough of it. Every day I wake up knowing that I am carrying the being that I will love more than anything I have ever loved in my life, and that I am responsible for bringing her into this world and making sure she is as healthy and happy as possible. Everything else seems just so ephemeral, but this is real, however much it may feel like a dream.

I feel like I am lucky as I am having a relatively good pregnancy – although I don’t really have anything to compare it to, so I am just assuming that it is. I’m still working 55-60 hours a week, maybe a little bit slower and clumsier than before, but I’m still able to do it. Yes, I get aching feet and my ankles sometimes double in size, but it’s nothing physically crippling. The back ache that I get on the cold days when I have been standing for too long is definitely annoying and the days when I get the indigestion/backache/feet ache/headache/tummy ache all combined together are the worst, but I’m mainly at the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. That might come from the fact that for the past 6 months I have been thinking that one glass of water is the equivalent of a pint of water and I have been trying to down 8 of them a day. I only learnt last week that one glass is the equivalent of 8 fl oz, and therefore half of a small bottle of water. Not feeling as much of a water drinking failure anymore!

I think for me the worst symptom of all is one that I just cannot manage, and one that I have had from the moment I got pregnant: the tears. I literally can cry at the drop of the hat and there is no stopping it whatsoever. Something makes me angry: I burst into tears. Something makes me sad: I burst into tears. Something makes me happy: I burst into tears. That cute little doggie that needs a home? I cry. Don’t even get me started on reports of starving children, bombs and civil wars… I don’t mind crying, it’s a good release and it helps get rid of some pent up emotions. But it’s really, really annoying when you are trying to manage a restaurant and the basement starts leaking at 2am when you are about to go home and instead of formulating a plan of action to make sure it doesn’t flood the basement all you can do is burst into tears. Or when someone annoys you and you try to explain to them in a decent manner why they are wrong, but all you can do is lock yourself in the bathroom and hope that ice cold water will make the redness in your eyes disappear so that you don’t appear to be some kind of pregnant maniac who can’t keep her emotions at bay.

Or you just go with it and just hope that being pregnant will give you some kind of VIP pass to be able to cry in public without anyone batting an eyelid. I mean there are much worse things that I could do in public in my condition apparently, things that I may experience once the baby is bigger and heavier…

Talking about being big… One thing that has been bothering me is the weight gain. Actually lets reword that, the weight gain itself isn’t really bothering me at all, it’s on par with the course and I expected it. It’s the talk about weight gain that bothers me.  I never expected to be one of those women who only gain a few pounds with a large tummy and stick-like limbs. I know what the other women in my family looked like pregnant, and I also know that they naturally went back to their pre-pregnancy weight afterwards. I also know that doctors recommend a weight gain of 25-35 pounds on average while pregnant. And I also know that they monitor your weight gain every time you go to the doctor and talk to you about it. Yes, I am eating more than I did before I was pregnant. But yes, I was on the low end of what is considered normal for my height and build. Yes, I am eating healthy, with some exceptions, but I naturally crave veggies and healthy carbs and protein. I do eat chocolate and crisps and cheese, but I don’t eat more than I did before I was pregnant. I don’t drink soda or anything other than water, tea and the occasional fruit juice. And no, I am not going to cut down! I’m enjoying food! Although nowadays I have to start eating smaller portions as I feel like my stomach is beginning to get slightly squished… Actually, as a piece of advice to anyone: don’t look at a picture of what your insides look like at the end of the second trimester… Who would have thought that your stomach would start getting squished into your lungs?! Then again where on earth did I think all my organs were going to go?! So yes, I have gained quite a bit of weight, and yes, I will be going over the high end of the recommended average. But I am still on the slim side… Apart from the belly which is growing very, very fast now.

This brings me to the next subject: people and their words. In normal circumstances one would never tell anyone else that they are “huge” or “enormous”, would they? So what makes it OK to tell a pregnant woman these things? Weight gain is always going to be a sensitive issue for women, so telling anyone, especially a pregnant woman who is probably hiding her feelings about her weight gain, that she is enormous, is never an acceptable thing to do! Just like the woman who asked me if I was having twins and if I was sure I wasn’t… Yes, lady, I am very sure I am having one child. Everyone is different, some people show fast, some don’t show for months, in the end the most important part is that we are healthy and doing our best to ensure that our babies are growing correctly and in a healthy manner. And yes, I am going to have fries with that because they are absolutely delicious and I don’t feel like restricting myself! I really hope that I was never one of those people who mentioned the words “huge” or “enormous” inadvertently to a pregnant woman in the past, because if I did I apologise profusely! 

I have a feeling that these next 3 months are going to fly by, as my movements get slower, time is just going to get faster. There is so much to prepare for, and so many things that I still need to learn and I know that there is not enough time left to do it all. That’s all right, I am sure that I will learn as I go, as will C. There is only so much you can prepare for, and the rest is just going to happen anyway. I’m so excited about it all (and I little scared too, I don’t think there is anything wrong with admitting that), and wondering if this will still feel like a dream when the belly gets even bigger and the kicks harder. Those little kicks are pretty amazing too, and I am so glad that I am feeling them all the time now – I was getting a little worried that I wasn’t feeling enough movement. All I needed was to voice my concerns to the doctor last week and little Munchie decided it was time to step up her movements in the womb. I guess it’s true what they say about the baby being able to hear now!


2014 is going to be such an amazing year.

Ramblings: There is no I in Me anymore...

By the time you are reading this you probably already know (if you are very, very close to me), have an inkling something has changed, or really just don’t know and are going to be super surprised. In any case, it’s all been a little surreal for myself over the past nine weeks… Yup. There is no I in Me anymore, there is an Us. Me and It, It being a little munchkin that is eventually going to grow into a He or a She and eventually be born in late March/early April of next year.

Everything seems surreal and exciting and scary at the same time. There was that moment I had that dream where I took a home pregnancy test and the test appeared to be positive with a due date marked in the screen… Which lead me to run out to Walgreens as soon as I woke up in the morning to buy a real one, and then sat around staring at the packet for hours until I finally dared to do it. The two lines appeared almost automatically, and at that moment I decided there was no way I was going to be able to keep a child and I needed whatever it was inside of me removed as soon as possible. Needless to say, by the next morning , on my way to Planned Parenthood for a “proper” test, I had already changed my mind dramatically and was hoping that the home test wasn’t a fake positive… I mean I knew it wasn’t. I already knew I was pregnant, there are certain signs that you can’t ignore. And yes, it was positive.

That Friday I went around in a haze, lying on the grass in the middle of Washington Square Park, trying to fathom the idea of having a child, and then raising said child. I stopped smoking and drinking that very day, and surprisingly enough it was easy. I mean REALLY easy. No nicotine withdrawal, no crankiness, no nothing. Just the knowledge that there was a little me growing right inside of me. For the next 10 days it still didn’t feel real. I told a few people close to me, but that was it, my little munchkin was going to remain a secret until I was ready for the world to know about it. 

I don’t have health insurance. That was my main concern about actually having a child. Planned Parenthood lost all funding to provide prenatal care, so they just gave me a number for a low-cost women’s health clinic in Brooklyn, and I was able to get an appointment for 10 days after I found out I was pregnant. In the meantime I found out I was eligible for Medicaid, so I started working on all the paperwork I needed for that. In the end, the clinic filed for me (they are amazing – and there I was worried that I would have to pay for everything by myself!). I had blood work done, and exams, and went over all different kinds of things with the technician and the nurse and the midwife, and then finally got a referral appointment for an ultrasound at the Brooklyn Hospital for the following week. I am really happy with the people who are following my pregnancy – they made me feel comfortable and a lot less nervous than I was before I got there. 

Unless you have already been through this yourself, you can only imagine what it feels like to see your baby inside of you and then to hear the heartbeat… It’s mind-blowing. That little blob on the screen, the actual size of a bean which is beginning to form into a person is actually part of you and created by you. And that heart beating… Honestly it was only then that it fully became real to me – I now have two hearts beating in my body, and one of them needs to be protected and nurtured and loved at all costs. Every day I wake up and (after the immediate feelings of absolute hunger and thirst, followed by a wave of nausea) I feel blessed that this is happening to me. I remember my 17 year old self writing in my diary and telling my best friends that I wanted a child by the age of 19, and that I would call her Luna. Instead I got a cat and called her Luna, and as the years went by started to wonder if I would ever have a child. Growing up with an amazing mother but with a father figure who disappeared too early and another who wasn’t around for too much longer I always promised myself I wouldn’t have a child unless I was completely sure the child would have parents who would stay together forever. Well, unless you remain a complete and hopeless romantic with no shred of cynicism in your bones all of your adult life you will certainly realize that this was quite a tall order. And a straight shot to never having children. And I have to say that at the beginning of this year I was really starting to think that maybe I wouldn’t have kids, and that, in a way, that was allright (as long as my siblings were going to have them). I could just live in New York City for the rest of my life and live like I have enjoyed living for the past 8 years…

And when have I ever done anything conventionally anyway?! Every time I try to I fail, so I gave up on trying a few years ago and started living life in the way I wanted to. I have never been happier, or more comfortable in my own skin, and everything is just another adventure to embark on… This one probably being the most amazing adventure I will ever jump into head first. And don’t get me wrong, little munchkin’s father is more than present, and won’t be going anywhere (unless I decide to move, because then he will be moving with me, and munchkin). Which brings up the idea of moving… For some silly reason being pregnant kind of changes your perspective on everything. I mean everything. Obviously the idea of moving away from NYC has come to me over the past eight and a half years, but I’ve never actually really acted upon it. But now I just want to move to California, be nearer my family over there and actually be able to live in a house with a back yard where I can grow my own food, not feel like I am constantly hustling to make ends meet like I do here. I will always love New York, but I don’t know if I really want to bring up a child here. I’m most certainly going to have the baby here, but after that, who knows? Within the next 18 months I am pretty sure that I will be making a move over to California. It’s always been my dream to live in Santa Cruz, but I think I will probably have to start in Sacramento and then see where life leads me. 

But all of that is not for a while yet… In the meantime I am going to enjoy the amazingness that being pregnant is (especially now that the uncomfortable first trimester is over), and be happy.