Saturday, December 08, 2007

This may launch me over the cuckoo's nest

It's not that I haven't had anything to say recently. When you're in your eighth month of pregnancy in a foreign country, your gripes and musings really stack up.

There's the obvious gripes of not being able to get the foods I crave: Jif peanut butter, Mexican food, soft cookies. But a wonderful woman at the US Embassy gave me two jars of Jif a few weeks ago; I can appease any food craving with a little peanut butter. Plus, the last time I wrote I had a serious aversion to all foods Italian, so really...things on the eating front are looking up.

And then there's the embarrassment and frustration at the doctors' the time I went to the OBGYN with Jack and S (female friend and translator) and I was told to get in the stirrups in full view of Jack and S with no towel, blanket, or gown for my modesty. At which point the doctor felt my insides and declared me "morbido, morbido" (soft, soft) in a manner that said the recipient of this news should be filled with pride...and yet somehow I wasn't.
Or when I went to the public hospital to make an appointment for my five-month-ultrasound and was told that there was a six-month-waiting list for that ultrasound. (!?!)
Or the time I went for a urine test and learned that some hospitals are BYOB: Buy Your Own Bicchiere (from the vending machine in the lobby).
Or the other day when I had my third ultrasound and was told by my doctor (using the first English phrase she's every muttered to me) that my baby is "just a little bit fat."
Or the time that we took Nora to the doctor (again) because her eczema was acting up (again), and we wanted to see about getting an allergy test. And the dermatologist looked at Nora and (two minutes after meeting my child) told Jack that "this child worries too much. She's too serious. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. And maybe her parents fight in front of her too much. She doesn't need an allergy test; she needs to go outside and play." Among the trees and grass and pollen that I suspect she might be allergic to. I relay this story to you two months post-visit. Nora's arms remained covered with bumps and a rash until we refilled the prescription from a doctor we'd seen at a different hospital.

There's the anxiety of having a baby in general. Looking for and buying supplies, deciding on names, etc. We still don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl. We had the doctor write down the sex, cut out the incriminating photos, and send it to my parents. So they know. As do any inquiring minds who emailed my father. But we're still in the dark. (Our money's on it being a boy, and we have no idea what we would call it. If it's a girl, Sofia is the front runner.)

Work has changed dramatically for me; we're living in a much larger apartment than the last time I wrote; and Nora's school gave the parents a calendar at the beginning of this school year. Life is good.

But none of those things have inspired me to write. Right now the thing I think about most is not the Christmas season or the work that I've let pile up or the shopping I need to do or the human I'm growing. No...the tiny creature that's consuming my thoughts lately is much, much smaller than my four-pound kicker.

We've got ants.

At first there were just a few. They showed up in our bathroom every once in a while. They weren't drinking the water or going after the toothpaste. Just strolling across the floor. It was a little disconcerting. These were not the orderly, purposeful, single-file American ants I was used to. But I laughed at them and called them Italian ants. Just making a passeggiata across my bathroom. How very Italian of them.

Since then they've started to blitzkrieg. Random, separated by a week or more, attacks. Go to bed; everything's fine. Wake up, and the cabinets in the kitchen are covered. Bleach. Buy ant baits. Go on with your life. Go into the restroom and discover that they're attacking the cough syrup. And the lice medicine (i.e., poison) we bought last year. They were swarming the poison.

And that's just it. It's not so much the ants that are making me crazy; it's that I don't understand what kind of ants I'm dealing with. These ants eat poison. These ants scurry and hide when I come after them. It's almost impossible to get them all because ten will be clinging to the backside of the Mentadent. Since when do ants hide? Since when do they do anything but walk in a line, get the food, turn around, deliver the food. They're not supposed to think, hide, plot, attack. But that's what these ants are doing.

So what can I do? I clean. Not at all my favorite past time, but lately Jack has been making jokes about my OCD behavior. ME! Instead of starving the ants or discouraging them from living in my home, it makes them walk farther for things like cough syrup or dirty clothes in the hamper in my bedroom! They walk over and around the ant baits, but apparently are not interested in going inside. I tried buying poison from the hardware store, but the man wouldn't sell it to me because I'm pregnant. And Jack seems to think he's right!

Does anyone have experience with these ants that defy everything you ever thought you understood about ants? Can they be stopped in a way that won't give me a two-headed baby?

Help. Please.