And So Ends The Craziest Year of My Life (Sap Alert!)

I go back to work on Monday.

As my final week of maternity leave draws to a close, I can’t help but get a little misty. It seems like just yesterday I was passing out on the couch while watching Californication, around 1 am, dreaming of pissing myself…

I was the size of a minivan so sleeping had become a real challenge. And I was good at sleeping when I was human-sized. Real good.

I was semi-lucid during said piss-dream, so I went with it. It felt nice. Warm. Really warm. Shit, that’s a lot of warmth.

Semi-lucid changed to apathetically-conscious as I reached down to confirm that this was indeed a dream.

Confirmation denied.

I was drenched. The leather couch was drenched. And it was still gushing.

[I know. I’m aware of how gross the word “gushing” is. Particularly with regard to your netherlands. But it’s just the most accurate word here. Sorry.]

Initially I thought, wow, it’s one thing to piss yourself in your sleep, but you’re essentially awake now. Time to Kegal it up, Lax McGax.

[?]

But it didn’t matter. No amount of Kegals or anal winking (see that blog post about “the rectal”) or clenching of anything could stop it. In fact, any sort of movement only exacerbated the flood.

Holy mother shit. My water broke.

Now, I had taken courses in natural childbirth (*half-smirk with one eyebrow raised while unnecessarily re-buttonning single button on blazer*) and fancied myself a bit of an expert on “how to handle labour and childbirth”. Despite never having done it.

One of the first things they told us was that Adrenaline (our “fight or flight” hormone that floods the bloodstream in times of polar bear attacks and whatnot) directly opposes the natural, feel groovy hormone that allows labour and childbirth (and orgasms, if you’re lucky) to happen. Let’s call that rascal Oxytocin.

No problem, I thought. I’m a hippie at heart. I’ll just channel all my inner zen and float through labour like a feather in a warm autumn breeze. Inhale life and love, exhale fear and painBring on the oxytocin.

But as I lay there in a pool (I’m sorry I’m still on this but…wow…like, it’s a lot. Way more than you’re imagining right now. And just when you think your body can’t possibly hold any more liquid; even if you were a previously empty vessel filled head to toe with baby-float juice? It pretty much starts all over), I was feeling anything but zen.

I was pure Adrenaline.

I still tried to fake it. Once J had cleaned up the mess and I strapped a queen-sized mattress into my fullest-arse drawers, I lay back down and tried to get in the zone. But while I attempted to summon tranquility and gratitude, I looked more like Rodney Dangerfield (God rest his soul) on his eighth cup of coffee.

My teeth were chattering uncontrollably. They had told us in our course that, should you go into labour in the middle of the night, it’s imperative that you go back to sleep because “tomorrow you will run a marathon and then some; you will need your strength more than ever”.

But to fall asleep when you know that to-day a human is going to emerge from your vagina (sorry, dad) is tricky, to say the least. It’s like being dangled by your foot from a plane in flight and told, “I won’t drop you for a while, ya might as well try to get a little shut eye”.

I am a hollow reed. My troubles blow through me like the wind.

I am a hollow reed. My troubles blow through me like the wind.

So I didn’t sleep. In my defense, once my water broke, game on. The contractions weren’t very mild for “early labour”, the time they suggest you “go for a walk”, “bake a cake” or “knit something”.

Knit, my ass.

Within an hour of my water breaking, we knew beforehand, I would have to be hooked up to IV. So we called the midwife.

Tangent: We went with a great midwifery group. They met with us throughout my pregnancy and took care of all my prenatal needs and whims – even coming to my home to cater to my occasional bout of paranoia. They were lovely.

The group we were with had three midwives. Let’s call them Jane, Judy and Jackie. We were to meet all three throughout the pregnancy, but on the fateful day of the birth, we would get whomever was on call. Fair enough.

Somehow, due to a mix-up in scheduling, we ended up seeing only Jane and Judy right up until my 37th week. And we were more than happy to have either one pluck a youngster from me. Jane was Scottish, maybe in her late forties, very maternal, doing this for years. Judy was maybe in her mid-to-late-thirties, no kids of her own but very warm and confident and made me feel like I could do anything.

It was Judy who came to see us at home for our 36-week visit. While she was there I casually mentioned that it’s funny we’d never met Jackie. Her face turned uncharacteristically serious.

What? You haven’t met her?

Sure enough, scheduling conflicts. She called the clinic office and quickly arranged it so that my last few visits would be with Jackie.

Ok, I thought. But she’d better be Scottish. Or have some other Mrs. Claus-esque qualities. Or at least be uber maternal (in lieu of my own mother who was, at the time, in Africa hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, running a half-marathon and embarking on a week-long, overland safari. I know. She’s wild. Definitely the Blanche to my Sophia.).

For the record, we only had two more appointments before lil M would decide he’d had enough bathing.

The following rant is an example of how I can sometimes fall into that ugly trap of judging a book by it’s cover: At my 38 week visit, out walked Jackie to collect me from the waiting room. Rather, whom I would soon find out was Jackie. At the time I assumed this was Jackie’s spritely niece on a high school co-op program, ambitious little tyke.

But nope. It was Jackie. A vision of petite n’ tight, nulliparous youth. Whereas I was more a “flaccid pudding of leaky hormones”.

Fast-forward to two weeks later, 1:30am. We dial the midwife “pager” number.

Hello, Jackie speaking.

Typical.

Now, before I go any further: I quickly learned that Jackie – despite looking like Topanga from Boy Meets World – is brilliant and possesses an old, motherly, warmly feministic soul. She was probably a midwifery pioneer in a past-life. And she let me crush her hand and howl like a banshee into her face for hours, God love ‘er, without showing an ounce of fear or worry.

Even when things went “a little awry” (look up “lip of cervix” for some light reading with your morning coffee) and I projectile vomitted, Exorcist style, and demanded 9-1-1 and heroin (I’m not kidding)… she knew just what to say. She and J were crucial in keeping me above water (literally; I laboured mostly in the bath and would have stayed there for the birth had someone not pooped in it. Ruuude.).

And even though I was in a zone unreachable by any language or movement, they were my strength.

I am forever indebted to both of them for getting me through that day.

The “worst best day ever”, we like to call it.

One minute you’re somewhere in between conscious and unconscious, and you’re flapping your sweat-drenched lips and rolling your head on a lifeless neck and speaking in tongues. And your body is lifted into the air by an electrified knife and your insides are wrenched and twisted until you are confident you are dead or dying and the concept of breathing or speaking or moving is somewhere far far away belonging to someone you used to be…

And the next minute he’s here.

And your eardrums turn off.

And the pain turns off.

And there’s nothing but him and you, both outside your broken (but still alive) body.

Lil M was placed in my bare arms, at home in our bed, at 6:07 pm on February 27, 2013.  And he was suddenly all there was to feel.

Something tells me it will always be that way.

Just One of Those Days

You know the days I’m talking about. You fell asleep under a pile of clean laundry you didn’t have time to fold. With makeup on, no less. So you wake up looking like the before shot of a Proactiv commercial.

Maybe you’re like me and ate a lifetime supply of peanut butter M&M’s before calling it a night. So you are hardly cartwheeling out of bed like your nimble, former-life self.

Your baby is teething. Again.

It’s humid and rainy out. Awesome.

On one of those days..,

If you were to meet the you that wrote What’s the Happiest Blood Type? B positive! you would, at the very least, karate chop her in the throat. Just a really light, swift one that she might not even feel. And probably when she’s looking away, so you can act like it was an accident. A weird reflex or something. But then, since it’s one of those days, you probably wouldn’t even feel better for your stealthful act of gingerly-delivered vengeance. You’d feel guilty and ashamed for even thinking about hurting that type A, really attractive, pain-in-the-ass go-getter.

You’re an asshole. Everyone’s an asshole. On one of those days.

Anyway…

After I fed the little lord his breakfast this morning, I finally succumbed to the sight of food caked into the creases of his high chair. Until now I’d been trying to keep it my peripheral vision only (if you don’t look directly at it, it’s not really there). But effin’ yuck, b’y.

So obviously the only answer is to lug the whole thing into the shower and let it blast some hot water on that shit, am I right? Seemed to be working like a charm.

Now the chair is back in the kitchen slow-leaking a greenish-brown ooze from each leg. Which is awesome.

Anyway…

So I waited too long to eat breakfast. Powerful leaders who waited too long to eat breakfast have directly or indirectly caused some of history’s greatest tragedies. I made that up but I bet it’s true.

By the time you feed/clean/entertain the baby, you’ve passed that window of opportunity to turn “one of those days” into “a nice little Tuesday, actually”. Your blood sugar has officially dropped below the critical 4mmol/L which makes you, medically speaking, an asshole.

The quickest thing to grab happened to be one of my sister’s “healthy cookies” from the freezer. Now let me clarify something: they are effing delicious. Big seedy pucks of nutritious, good stuff. Every kind of seed known to man interspersed with the nectar of rare Polynesian health flowers and held together with berries that make you look ten years younger and seven pounds thinner within minutes of eating them. I’m not sure of the specifics but suffice to say they are uber healthy.

But have you ever eaten something uber healthy when your stomach is aching with hunger; just raw and throbbing with its own emptiness? That’s right, it feels like eating a pack of staples.

[Side note: Growing up I always got quite stomach sick if I ate an apple when I was hungry. One time I was skiing with friends. I was maybe twelve or thirteen. The boy I was in love with was sitting with us in the lodge during lunch. He was eating an apple. I’m not sure if he asked me if I wanted a bite, or if I was just staring at him so intently I convinced myself he wanted to discuss apples. Also, I talk when I’m nervous. Ad nauseum.

I may have wanted to say “apples make me wanna puke”. Or maybe “apples make me sick”. But instead, I looked (too deeply) into his beautiful eyes and said, “apples make me wanna pisssssss”. Just like that, lingering on the ‘s’ by my own horror. Apples make me wanna pisssssss.]

Anyway, healthy food? Good. But on an empty stomach? Baaaad. I lost track of how many Tums I consumed.

In an act of self-redemption for letting my morning go sour, I invested myself in making a healthy supper for the fam. I even called mom to ask for her recipe for “quinoa pizza crust” (you just throw in an egg and some cheese but still…I made a phone call!).

I figured I’d feed the baby something way less delicious like pureed kale and salmon with infant cereal (which goes in exactly as it comes out, in texture and in aroma) and save the big she-bang for the “grown-ups”.

By the time I got the wee one to bed and started making the quinoa, my stomach was eating itself.

[Have I mentioned that I’m always hungry?]

I finished it, added the goddamned egg and cheese, mixed it the fuck together (sorry for the string of obscenities; this is just how I was narrating it in my head as I fought the urge to collapse on the kitchen floor), pressed it into a glass baking dish and baked it for twenty, God-forsaken minutes.

Then, I grated the cheese and chopped vegetables with the speed and pizazz of a narcoleptic, newborn sloth. In the process I ate too many olives which added to my hunger pangs the sensation of paint-thinner creeping up (and dissolving) my esophagus.

To make the slow process less painful, I mixed in a (pint) glass of red wine. Which, clearly, is great for both an empty stomach and acid reflux. Also, I’m fairly certain I’m hammered.

I finally decorated the be-otch, set the timer for another twenty minutes and sat down with another glass of wine. Because, ya know…

It was a painful twenty. I’ve resolved to avoid Facebook after 7pm and I find something really sad about channel surfing. So I just sat on the couch. In silence. With my thoughts and my hunger. Mostly my thoughts about my hunger. Trying not to count the minutes but counting them anyway…

Ding! The sweetest sound.

I may have had the oven mitts already on as I bolted (adrenaline surged) to the kitchen.

To see my dinner. Still cold. Still sitting atop the stove. The hot oven empty.

The next twenty minutes of food actually cooking were like a scene from Castaway. I’ve never seen the movie but I’m pretty sure the stress and hunger and desperation would have made me befriend a volleyball. If I had a volleyball.

[i don’t even have a volleyball?! Waaaaaah! It’s one of those days.]

I may have openly wept, but just briefly. A single wail. Like an infant unsure of what he’s upset about.

Ding! Finally. Here she is.

Get in my face hole!

Get in my face hole!

As I gazed upon the gluten-free miracle, it occurred to me: it’s only 7:30. J has basketball tonight. Until 9. And I (clearly delusionally) promised I’d wait for him to eat. It’s kind of (yet another) new year’s resolution.

So here I sit (8:24pm) with another glass of wine (how did that get there?) blindly eating chocolate chip cookies that came with a tea set dad gave me for Christmas. If my list of (lenient and open to interpretation) new year’s resolutions could speak, she’d sound like Tiny Fey and say, “Fuck yeah, ya are!”.

Content. Finally.

Normoglycemia is sexy. And tomorrow’s another day. God willing.

Da Belated ‘n’ Brief Crimmus Blag

Merry Christmas to all and to all...I think I'm drunk.

Merry Christmas to all and to all…I think I’m drunk.

I started this blog in about mid-December. The fact that I’m even posting it now – two days after the twelve drummers drummed – is kinda risky.

Because let’s face it: you’re dealing with the crippling plague of sadness that is early January (taking down the tree, returning to work, admitting how fat you truly are and resolving to change that…).

One week ago, you were a yuletide legend; an A-lister at every Christmas fete. Now you’ve got a “drinking problem”.

The last thing you want to hear is some asshole’s recollection of Christmas (newly) past.

But here she goes anyway. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short. And I hope you haven’t completely shunned drugs and alcohol, because I want this to be not totally unenjoyable.

***

The main distinction between this and any other Christmas is I now have a tiny guy who accompanies me, like, all the time. Which, in all honesty, is friggin’ sweet. It just changes the game a little.

Take Christmas shopping. I’m normally a last-minute, Christmas-Eve-at-Shoppers-Drug-Mart-surrounded-by-panicked-husbands kinda shopper. But not this year. Once you have a youngster, you’ve got to be on the ball.

So the shopping day was planned for December 13. Yes, that’s right, Friday the 13th.

[I’m not at all superstitious. But my weekly tarot card reader did tell me to “beware” this day so…]

Lil M was a mess. He’s teething, poor little bug, so he was red faced and leaking fluid from all his face holes. And his mother made the mistake of feeding him spaghetti for lunch so he was covered.

It’s 1pm. I haven’t eaten (and hypoglycemic me is not me at my best, let me tell ya) so I’ve got the hunger sweats, big time. I’m trying to clean and dress him as he screams in my face.

After a mild wrestling match, I finally get his diaper on (at 9 months, babies are strong and wiggly and they don’t care what they’re covered in or what color your carpet is). I rush to get up off the floor and step on the bottom of my skirt, which yanks it completely down. And I nose dive, thong-arsed, into the carpet.

This makes him cry harder. Probably because of the guttural sound that came from my face.

But more likely because of the sight of my bare arse.

We made it through shopping though. And I only stepped on one used syringe outside the Dollarama.

***

Then there’s Christmas songs. At every opportunity I’m busting out  impromptu performances of them for the poor boy. Usually as a distraction technique when I’m changing his diaper.

We think we know the words to all the classics until we are forced to sing them in their entirety. And I don’t mean, like, Good King Wenceslas classics (although had you asked me a year ago I probably would have thought I knew all the words to that too). I’m talking the basics.

Like Jingle Bells.

Jingle Bells? you ask. Everyone knows the words to Jingle Bells!

Oh really? Finish this verse: Now the ground is white…

How about this one: A day or two ago, I thought I’d take a ride…

If you did, indeed, successfully finish either of those, you’re probably in a choir. Or you’re an elf.

Most likely, you downright butchered this beloved holiday classic by finishing it from your untrustworthy and aged-well-before-its-time memory. Like I did…

*ahem* Here we go. Feel free to sing along!

[The first verse I obviously know because I wasn’t born during a zombie apocalypse. And yes, I’ve been watching a lot of The Walking Dead lately and it’s all I think about.]

[Yes, you’re supposed to sing the “Oh” like Lil’ Jon.]

Jingle Bells – a Mother’s Improvisation

Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh

O’er the fields we go, laughing all the way

Bells on bobtails ring, making spirits bright;

What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight.

Oh!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh – hey (b’y)!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago, I thought I’d take a ride

And seated in a show, as Pete did by my side

The horse was mean and rank, misfortune seemed his luck

He got into a pistol stank and

buck, bu-buck buck buck!

Oh!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh – hey (b’y)!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

Now the ground is white, so blow it while you’re young

Take the girls tonight, and sing a sleighing song

You’ll get a bobtail snag

In forty-four below

And pitch it to an awful hag

And pop! You’ll take a leak.

Oh!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh – hey (b’y)!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

The End.

I know, I really got into a pickle with that last verse. It doesn’t even rhyme, it’s just what fell out of my mouth as my sweet baby looked up at me with eyes filled with wonder (disappointment?). I had to keep going. He clapped (threw his hands together haphazardly, sometimes making contact) and everything. I just couldn’t let him down.

So I let Christmas down instead.

I made up for my disasterous rendition by making the “Oh”s extremely loud and over-confident. I think that helps.

***

Parenthood or not, ‘tis the season. The key is making time. Time to lounge in Christmas jammies, quote Clarke Griswold in every other conversation and draw icing dicks on gingerbread men.

Happy new year.