Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Monday 26 September 2011

The Canadian wrap-up

The Prof and I have settled into France again and back into work, which feels good and normal after all of our travelling around this summer. We also FINALLY chose a stroller, which took away the little bit of stress I'd been feeling ever since I peed on that stick and found out I was pregnant. Somehow, my life as a parent had become wrapped up in this one purchase since we were looking for a "travel pack" that included a little bed, a car seat, and the stroller. After three spreadsheets (I'm serious) and a lot of poking around in stores, we settled on this one, which now means that our baby has a home.

Before I get back into everything French, however, I wanted to wrap up the end of our trip to Canada, now that my secret about the baby is out.

When we first got to Canada, I was barely showing. I could hide the fact that I was pregnant if I just didn't mention it. The Prof and I had some funny magical mugs made in order to break the news, but the cups came too late. One one cup, we had a picture of the Prof, posing with his belly, and a picture of an empty box of Mont d'Or cheese, made to look hazy like an ultrasound photo (this is what was in his tummy), and on the other cup, we had a picture of me, posing with my belly, and an ultrasound photo (showing what was in my tummy). When the cups are cold, they're black, and when they're warmed by adding a hot drink or sitting in the sun, they reveal the pictures on them. Unfortunately, the only person we really got to show the cups to was my sister's three-year-old son, who kept having to get panicked re-fills for his herbal tea every time he feared that my "baby disappeared!!" (or went dark).

By the end, however, my tummy was hard to ignore and impossible to hide. At one point, while sneaking through the brush on the side of the road through Algonguin Park with my camera, I realized that my tummy was even starting to draw the attention of strangers. It's often difficult to get a good moose photo without any other tourists in it (when you come to one of those long, exposed stretches where everyone stops), but the game is apparently much easier for a pregnant woman. This time, I got some tourist-free photos as easily as I might have been offered a bus seat.

In Canada, I felt strange about being pregnant, as though this was a plan that the Prof and I had alone -- one that I wasn't ready to share yet. Naively, I'd thought that telling people I was pregnant would be similar to telling people I had a new job -- that they'd be happy, but also somewhat disinterested. But, I soon realized that telling people about our project (especially when it could no longer be hidden), meant that it was getting away from us. A baby, it seems, is everyone's news and everyone's investment, even if it's none of their business.

As one woman I spoke to upon returning to France put it: "Having a baby is the beginning of a 20-year process of having other people tell you what to do with your children."

Her advice, which is the same as the advice I got in Canada (and maybe one of our biggest cultural similarities), was to respond to any advice with this: "Thank you. That's an interesting idea. I'll think about it."

For now, however, we're still just at the stroller stage, and we're ready to roll with it.

p.s. I've finally posted our Smoked Fish recipe at the end of my Smoked Fish post.


  1. Ahem... we did discuss the baby, didn't we? Even though none of us has experience...! :-)

    You were definitely showing a bit at the end of July. But it was the "mmm... not sure" stage. You had the pregnancy glow, a tiny bump and your hand on your stomach but I wouldn't have brought it up first because, eh, you never know!

  2. Zhu: We did discuss the baby, but I was still scared! That was the funny time of in-betweenness, where I didn't have to tell, but sort of thought I should. Luckily, now I'm more comfortable with the news. I'm not a mom yet -- and I still have a ton to learn -- but at least I'm comfortable knowing, and talking about the fact that there's a little one on the way!

  3. Yeah, about this pregnancy... The last time we met you wore your red dress I think. Remember we went for a walk and we bought water at that little bar by the port. The dude in there made some comment to you about being pregnant -- which I ignored 'cuz really, it wasn't my business -- but I just wanted to let you know that I did hear the comment...and I did wonder. You tried hard to ignore his comment or to play it off. I don't know what he thought but I felt for you.

    Anyway, congrats on the stroller purchase. It's the small things that count.

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  5. Tanya: I was barely pregnant!! I mean, I wasn't really showing and I think it was the dress. If he'd said the same thing to me just a little bit earlier, I would have been offended, but he just happened to be right!

    In a funny coincidence, I'm wearing that dress right now, for the second time. And I look huge!

    Sorry I couldn't tell you -- I hadn't told anyone yet!

    p.s. Thanks for pretending I'd still kept my secret!

  6. LOL, no worries.

    You weren't showing, at least, the thought hadn't crossed my mind until after the guy made that comment. Afterwards, I started to wonder but it was your reaction to his comment that started me thinking!