Monday, 28 November 2011

Music for a hospital bag

So, the time has come to pack my hospital bag.

Soon I will be heading to the JR, for the scheduled c-section, since baby is breech and that is what must be done now.

I have been putting things into my marathon running bag, which I have decided to take with me. After all, this is going to be a marathon - of another kind.
I know how to do this, I have prepared marathon bags in the past, this sort of emergency, hair-raising situation is something that I am familiar with and can relate to. I have also packed my first ever marathon finisher T-shirt, it is big and roomy, exactly what I will need for those days of staying in bed at the hospital. Perfect reminder to Never Give Up, necessary for the days ahead.
Then of course all the essentials as specified by the countless books and websites, each one with its own set of packing essentials.
The most interesting I have come up so far has been ice cubes in a cool box to cool yourself and absorb fluids during those long times of labor (OK so this will not apply in my case, but a most excellent suggestion courtesy of Virgil, my NCT antenatal class instructor). The most delicious tip on offer was the packing of smoothie drinks, delicious nourishment which always reminds me of baby food for grownups!

My bag will certainly include my favorite tunes of the moment, and I do hope at least a few can be played in the hours of waiting and the aftermath, hopefully even in the operating room!
I was pleased to find out that there are cd players in the delivery rooms of the JR, so I am not only taking along my updated MP3 player but also some of my most recent favorite Cds. I have been taking a closer look at them, and my goodness it doesnt sound like hospital music. Or does it?

OK, so here we go:

-Blink 182 - Greatest Hits.
Colin brought this one home one from HMV the other week and it got me jumping up and down in our living room within seconds (poor baby!). Released in 2005, it contains such great tunes as All the Small Things, Man Overboard and The Rock Show (that video also always makes me smile!). I just love the energy of these punk delinquents!

- The Vaccines - What did you expect from the Vaccines?
Expectations were high for the Vaccines' live gig here in Oxford at the O2 yesterday evening and apart from the disgraceful sound, they did not dissapoint! They are one of my newest favorite bands, just because some songs remind me of a more contemporary version of the Ramones, while others are more Brit pop sounding (and Family friend reminds me soooo much of the some low-key Jesus and Mary Chain). But all of them make me wanna boogie! I couldn't help doing a bit of dancing to their songs yesterday (OK I am 37 weeks, I know!). Not sure if the baby liked it though, he was eerily quiet (and woke up right at the end of the gig, as we were walking to the car, how strange is that!).

- Kasabian - Velociraptor!
I still can't pronounce the name of this album but when I heard it for the first time, I immediately had the feeling of bumping into an old friend. Something familiar but new, it was to me. I don't remember when was the last time I felt that for an album, what a gem this one is! Kasabian's 4th, released in mid September, and what I like so much about is its meta sound. It is like bringing together all theads of modern Brit pop and marrying it with a feeling of angst so appropriate to our times. It makes me wanna shout out loud "Hit me harder, I am getting rewired!". And don't let me get started on the haunting qualities of the chorus singing in Days are Forgotten, so mind-piercing!

-Ash - Free all angels.
I got this recently from the Poundland shop in Oxford, where everything costs, you guessed it, 1 pound! It is a second-hand copy, but I am relieved to say it works brilliantly. The name of the group reminded me something but I couldn't place them exactly, and then I listened to the album and I know at least half of the tunes in there! For the past couple of days, I have woken up with one of the songs stuck to my brain, so they have definitely affected me on a deeper level. The wake-up calls in question by the way were Sometimes, Shining light and Burn baby burn (the latter one appropriate for the occasion?).

- Dido - Life for rent.
This is one of my favorite albums ever for its comforting, like a nice home made warm soup, aura. I walked down the aisle in a Dido song last summer (Thank you, from the No Angels album). The entire Life for rent album fills me with nostalgia, warmth and a sense of going back home where I belong, wherever that is.

- Rhapsody in Blue -  Gershwin.
One of those 20th century classics that we all know more or less, but how many of many have ever really carefully listened to the whole piece lasting approximately 18 min (depending on the performer). For the past few months I had been listening to Gulliver Ralston, the music director at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford, rehearsing parts of the solo piano version of this piece - over and over again. I took notice for the 'less well known' parts of the composition and realised how complex and difficult they are even for the more seasoned pianist. On Sunday, I also listened to Viv McLean's performance of the solo piano version in the Holywell Music Room, the oldest purpose-built chamber concert hall in Europe, a simple and beautiful space. The second half of his performance especially was brilliant. My fascination with Rhapsody in Blue continues, and I don't seem to get tired of listening to it. The cd that I will bring along features the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with Leonard Bernstein, perhaps a more traditional approach to the performance of this piece.

So I guess that I am all packed now. Well, let's not forget the toothbrush!


Monday, 14 November 2011

Counting down days

There was never going to be an easy way to write about finding out I was pregnant and what this whole experience has been like for me. Even now, as we are nearing the closure of this phase and getting ready for the next one, the most challenging one for sure, it is still difficult for me to recapitulate. 

Just a few days before posting my Delphi photos, and as I was getting ready to run the Stratford marathon on the 8th of May 2011, I had the pregnancy test that confirmed what I had been half-suspecting since spending Easter in Athens. 
I had even told my mother, half-jokingly to be fair, that I was under the impression my period was a bit late and what did that mean, did it mean the obvious!
As a runner, the only reason I would keep a note of dates and days was so I could be aware if I would be running a race when I have my period. I absolutely hate running a marathon on one of those days as it gives me awful cramps and forces me to make pit stops. 
So I ended up having to remember when was the last race, and if I had my period then, and how long before, and after... Complicated stuff... And still i have no clear idea. Girls, just jot down your dates, please!

I more or less knew that it would not have to be that way in Stratford. But the race was coming closer and closer and still no sign of my period. Little did I know that I would be free of that worry for good for the next few months! 
The last (out of a total of three- just had to make sure!) pregnancy test that I took on the Saturday evening before the race, was again positive, as I said already! My goodness, by then, all concern about the race had seriously dwindled! This was the real deal! 
And anyway, do you run a race - a marathon or half-marathon, at that - one day after having found out that yes, you are definitely pregnant (and five weeks into it according to the digi kit!)? 
I guess if I had trained properly for it rather than rely on my previous fitness, which at that point was not in a bad place though, I might have faced more of a dilemma. 
But as it were, I wasn't. 
I was feeling ecstatic and overwhelmed - and completely lacking focus on the Stratford race, which was never meant to be. 

Fast forward six months later. What a whirlwind few months these have been. A pregnancy, a wedding, a honeymoon, quite a bit of work, a bump that has been stubbornly getting bigger and bigger, a few fears and many joys. And a boy that will be arriving soon. Not too long to go now! 

And no running since July. Do I miss it or do I miss it? What do you think?! Luckily, the counting down the days to motherhood, and then eventually to my return to action, has already begun!

A couple of weeks ago, Colin took this photo of me, my bump and my smiling Mum in the background.