Today was a bit of a cluster-fuck. It’s now 2:30 and this is really the first time I’ve been able to sit and relax all day.
Winter’s first real snowstorm is howling outside. The snow started falling at 8AM, as I was standing at the bus stop with the kids. That’s never a good sign. It means a day of constant checking (and checking, and rechecking) to see if school is being dismissed early.
It was also not the lovely feathery flakes you always see in Hollywood movies. It was tiny tiny flakes that scoured your face like grains of sand.
At 830AM I got a call from my doctor’s office. My regular pre-natal was scheduled for this evening – you know, after the kids go home – but since the forecast was just calling for things to get worse they were trying to squeeze all the pre-natals in today. And could I make it in for 9:30?
Today was preschool for Arthur and Ron, so I’d be on the road anyway. I said sure, I’d drop them off at 9AM and then head straight over. This was my first mistake.
Dropped the boys off, explained to Marie, Very Quiet Boy (anyone want to suggest a name for him? he needs one), and Monkey that we’d be going to the doctor’s office, and why. The responses were pretty much what you’d expect:
Monkey: Doctor! Hannah doctor! Hannah see doctor! Monkey drive! Monkey drive van! Snow! Snow!! SNOW!!!
VQB: *nothing, starey eyes*
We headed out. Right away it became obvious that this was going to be a textbook example of a bad day in Halifax winter driving. The temperature was hovering at one degree below zero, so the snow on the road was melting ever so slightly, then refreezing into a hard-packed mess. The snowplows weren’t out yet – no point really until the storm has stopped – and our road isn’t salted because we are all on wells and the salt contaminates the water table. The more rural of my neighbours were weaving and slewing all over the road because a) snow tires are for city pussies and b) slowing down is for losers. I forged ahead though because often our road is terrible but the city’s main arteries and the highway system are not too bad. This was my second mistake.
Made it to the highway. I only needed to drive past two exits to get to the one I needed. A distance of maybe 5km. I was heading outbound and a good thing too, because we passed FIVE ACCIDENTS. All inbound. All rear-end collisions because cars were simply following too close and couldn’t stop. By this time I’d realized I had made the first two mistakes and wanted to go home, but the only way back was to take the exit I needed anyway… I figured I’d go have my appointment by which time the accidents & morning rush hour would be cleared up and I could head for home. Mistake number three, for those of you still counting.
Got to the doctor’s office slowly, but with no incidents. Realized after sitting in the waiting room for ten minutes that I had somehow ended up taking three children under the age of four to a pre-natal appointment and none of them were actually children I had given birth to. Want to freak out the norms? Go to a medical clinic 34 weeks pregnant with three preschoolers in tow. People kept sneaking looks at me. Except for the nice Korean couple (also pregnant, with their first) – they were clearly dumbfounded and staring openly, but didn’t seem to want to ask me what in the hell I was thinking having all those children and not having the sense to stop.
The appointment itself went fine. I have only gained a pound in the last month and a half. The same doctor who shook her finger at me in the first trimester when I gained 20 pounds right off the bat raised her eyebrow and asked if I was eating anything at all. HA! I LAUGH AT YOU, SILLY DOCTOR. I AM EATING ALL THE THINGS. (In fact, I spent this past weekend with some of my very bestest friends and I ate my weight in cheese. I’m not kidding. I will probably give birth to a nice Brie with fig compote). The baby is measuring right on target and the heartbeat is strong. Even my blood pressure was rock-solid, and after the white-knuckle drive and then keeping the three children under control for the 45 minute wait that is even more impressive than usual.
I stopped at the front desk to book my next appointment and chat with the receptionist about how bad the roads were getting. Another patient overheard us and started talking loudly about the mess on the highway! and the accidents!! and the ambulances and tow trucks and traffic backups and SNOWMAGGEDON!!! All of this in the direction I *did* want to go… and we were already late for snack time… and what if they cancel school… I’d better go the other, longer route home. This was a huge colossal mistake, bigger than all the other ones.
The longer route home goes down a long hill toward the water. I went very very slowly. I pulled over a couple of times to let people with four wheel drives / better snow tires / death wishes pass me. My concentration narrowed to a point. I was very conscious of the fact that I had three children in the van – none of them mine – and that if anything happened to them it would be entirely because of my lapse in judgement. As I crested the hill I saw that the intersection at the bottom was completely blocked, so I would have to come to a full and complete stop – even if I had the green light – to avoid t-boning anyone.
Did I mention I’m still driving the rental van? Because our own vehicle is still at the collision repair shop from our accident that happened on October 21st?
I gently touched the brake, tapping it as I had been taught. And whoa! Turns out the fucking thing has anti-lock brakes. And they weren’t working. The brake pedal started to vibrate violently. The van was not stopping – or even slowing down.
So I drove up on the curb. Calmly. I knew there was a strip of grass there and it would slow me down (it did). I took a minute to catch my breath and we headed out again.
The long route home? Completely clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic. It wasn’t moving. Marie kept asking why it was taking so long. Monkey just yelled “faster Hannah go van Hannah go drive Monkey snack! snack!! SNACK!!!” VQB started to drift off to sleep even though his nap was still three hours away.
I gave up and turned around. I figured the highway might be clogged but at least with two lanes it would be moving, if slowly. Made my careful way back out to the highway while Marie sang a days-of-the-week song in French on repeat and I kept asking VQB questions to try and keep him awake.
The highway was slow-moving, but completely clear. All the morning accidents were tidied up. I have no idea what the dude at the doctor’s office was on about, but as his advice nearly caused me to have a devastating accident AND put me in a position to hear the “lundi-mardi-mercredi” song 729,411,809 times – let’s just say he’s got one wicked headache right now.
Eventually got home after picking the boys up from preschool early. Bundled them all up after lunch and they had a blast playing in the snow. Got supper made. Started feeling cautiously optimistic.
Of course this was before hubs got home and the snowblower wouldn’t start. And then he couldn’t get the car into the driveway and it took two of us to manage that. And then the garbage I’d dragged out for pickup this morning before the snow started needed to be dragged back because pickup was cancelled. And then the snow shovel broke in two. And then Monkey didn’t get picked up until 6:30 because of the bad roads. And everyone’s nap was freakishly short for no discernible reason.
I’m posting now. Then I’m going to have a glass of wine. And eat some more things, because apparently I am dangerously underweight. And then I’m going to watch some trashy TV before the power goes out – because it will – and hope that by morning our road will have been plowed – because so far it hasn’t been.
Did I mention I fucking hate winter?