A Hot Buoyant Mess

I got invited to mom and baby aquafit. Before attending, I figured that it would be something along the lines of mom and baby yoga, wherein a whole bunch of moms stand on yoga mats while jiggling their babies for half an hour and talking about “Namaste”.

I was starting the aquafit class midway through the session, so I had grand plans of arriving early and asking the instructor nicely if I could only pay half of the fee. Mini-Tex of course had another idea in mind, specifically napping five minutes before the exact time that we had to leave. So I rushed around frantically packing what we needed, half-in-half-out of my one piece bathing suit, flashing my neighbours as I rushed past the windows, just in case they needed some more evidence that I’m disorganized and a little white-trash.

Ten minutes later, I woke Mini Tex up, sped towards where I thought the class was, parked, got him out of the car seat, popped him into the carrier and sprinted towards the doors into the church/school/nunnery/all purpose building downtown. Breathless, I bounded towards the security guard and asked where the change rooms were. “You want the Aquatic Center” she told me “it’s on the other end of the building, it’s a ways away. You have to go outside and walk over a block”. Because putting an infant into a car seat takes almost as long, if not longer, than walking any place in town, I ran out the doors and down the street. I entered the Aquatic Center panting and said “Swimming?” to the woman at the desk. “Boots” replied the woman looking pointedly at my snowy footwear. “I need to pay for the class” I added, while removing my rubber boots, which were an inappropriate choice for the weather but I can jump into them, so more often than not I appear at places looking like I’ve been splashing in mud puddles.

“I’m sorry, I meant to get here early to register but we visited the nuns” I explained. “You know the nuns?” the woman at the desk asked. It seemed like an inopportune time to share the story of my accidentally breaking into a nun’s bedroom the day before so I answered succinctly “We got lost”.

The visibly irritated instructor informed me that I was late so we would complete my registration after the class. I bounded into the change room as all of the other moms were exiting to the pool. I pulled out a swim diaper that I had purchased months ago. It was too small and wouldn’t stay on. “It’s fine” I reassured myself aloud, “I’ll just put his bathing onesie over it and it will fit” except that his bathing onesie, size 3-Toddler was too small despite my son being only 9 months old. So doing up the zipper was like closing an overstuffed suitcase, minus putting my knee on my son’s chest to zip it up the last little way. However he was dressed and the swim diaper was in the onesie, so that was all that mattered.

I had put on my suit at the house, so I threw off my clothes like a stripper about to be yanked off stage. Holding Mini Tex like a football, I charged like a running back towards the showers, it was only by virtue of good luck that he was away from the spray and not scalded by the boiling water coming out of the heads as I doused myself. We then sprinted to the pool where the surly instructor told me “Other side” as I attempted to climb down the ladder holding my son.

I had pictured something like mom and baby yoga where moms stand in the pool jiggling their babies talking about jumping jacks. Instead I was met with an unexpected sight of twenty babies in tiny baby boats. They were all bobbing around their moms, sitting in oversized flutter boards with holes cut in the middle to accommodate a fabric baby seat.

I waded over to the instructor, who dropped Mini-Tex into a boat and then started the class. The babies were each given two toys and moms were to hold on to the rope attached to the boat and tow their babies about while they played. Mini-Tex didn’t get the memo about this process, and preferred to chew on the rope, tossing his toys off the side so the instructor had to fish them out of the water while shooting me an annoyed look. So Mini-Tex gnawed on the rope, while riding the waves of the women’s movements and I did aquafit and intermittently chased after the boat when he drifted too far away.

It was awesome, and I loved it. I have grand plans of arriving early to talk with the other moms next week. We’ll see whether that happens or whether I take a wrong turn and pay a visit to the local bait and tackle shop for directions and end up being late, running around like my hot, buoyant mess self.

Traveling Haikus

Squashed tight spaces

Though little I am crushed

In with a baby

 

Babies hate stillness

Discomfort, bedlam follows

Airborne Smarties, toys

 

At least he’s quiet

Quietly throwing objects

Hate me, I chose this

 

Babies shouldn’t fly

People shouldn’t fly period

But babies for sure

 

Even now, still flat

Air travel has crushed me

Junk food, wine, gossip

 

Only a Band-Aid

My two dimensional soul

Formerly 3-D

 

Tired drama queen

Say thanks for the right to fly

Travel is fun no?

 

Your regularly scheduled Unwashed shall return next week. Tragically, passage by plane has all but stolen her will to live.  In the meantime, you can find her convalescing on the couch while her son watches endless episodes of Peppa Pig. Sweet alcohol and pictures of high fashion can be shipped directly to her house. She will answer the door in pyjamas, with wild, unkempt Medusa hair.

Finding Inner Peace with Children: Namest-Hey Put That Down!

Once a week, I attend a class where women stand on mats, jiggle babies and talk about Namaste. It’s called “Baby Yoga”. Because babies need to do yoga because life is hard. Or maybe because moms need yoga, to find inner peace. Regardless, here are instructions on how best to discover calm with a small child.

10:14 – Arrive for the 10:15 baby yoga class. Do a small victory dance over not being late then sprint up the stairs because still need to roll out mat, set up “nest” for Mini-Tex that he won’t use and lay out range of toys for him to ignore.

10:15-10:18 – Shuck off layers and layers and layers of clothing because only crazy people decide to walk in the frigid cold with their babies. Run on tiptoe to not disturb other women who are supposed to be focusing on their breathing but are nursing or swaddling their babies.

10:19- Lie on mat with eyes closed, pretending to focus on breathing but actually listening to Mini-Tex crawl towards a group of unsuspecting three month olds.

10:20- Cock open an eye only to see Mini-Tex playing three month old’s head like a set of bongos. Forget all intentions of inner peace and sprint to move Mini-Tex away from bewildered three month old.

10:21- Am instructed to sit Mini-Tex on lap and do sitting version of cat and cow. The three month olds sit placidly in other mother’s laps. Mini-Tex wiggles his way out of my arms and takes off. Continue doing cat and cow.

10:22 – Inhale, am cat. Exhale, release all tension associated with carrying small person everywhere. Inhale am cat again. Exhale, am cow. Inhale, cat. Exha-where is Mini-Tex? Out of corner of my eye spot him ripping toy out of smaller baby’s hands. Jump up to return stolen plaything.

10:23 – Other moms are windshield wiper-ing knees back and forth. Attempt to convince Mini-Tex to play with toys from home. Mini-Tex has seen said toys and prefers other babies’ toys.

10:24 – Mini Tex takes off, invariably to steal someone’s rattle. Lay back into butterfly pose.

10:25- Feel tension releasing from lower back. Hear noise. Is sound of Mini-Tex climbing all over woman on next mat over. Leap up to move him, feel tension returning as apologize profusely to woman.

10:26 – Carry Mini-Tex to far side of room to area with lots of toys and blankets. Lay back down on mat and lift rear end into bridge pose.

10:27 – Breathe in bridge pose. Close eyes, love bridge pose.

10:28 – Breathe in. Fill self with air. Breathe out, remember how calm feels. Realize Mini-Tex is uncharacteristically silent. Open eyes to see Mini-Tex once more using woman on next mat as jungle gym.

10:29 – Grab Mini-Tex while repeating “Sorry. So sorry” over and over while transporting him back to “nest” next to mat.

10:30- Being in tree pose gives excellent bird’s eye view of Mini-Tex pulling leaves off of nearby decorative tree. Dash to relocate Mini-Tex and save greenery.

10:31 – Lug surprisingly heavy tree into yoga studio bathroom and close door. Mini-Tex has made his way across room and is yanking lamp cord out of wall. Rush to prevent damage to lamp and store it with tree in bathroom.

10:32 – Instructor picks up Mini-Tex and carries him to demonstrate warrior one.

10:33 – Am strong warrior, focus on breathing and keeping knees over big toes.

10:34- Instructor continues to hold Mini-Tex to demonstrate warrior two. Am composed of straight, relaxed lines. Am zen.

10:35 – Mountain pose to chaturanga. Feel peaceful intention slowly returning while instructor wrangles squiggling Mini-Tex.

10:36 – Instructor lets Mini-Tex down to show class proper downward dog. Class follows along. Hear surprised yelp from instructor, look up to see Mini-Tex pulling on her bun as instructor tries to lower to child’s pose. Race to remove tiny baby fingers from instructor’s hair.

10:37 – Place Mini-Tex back in play area at far side of studio. Sit back on mat and rock foot like baby with fingers interlaced between toes.

10:38 – Switch sides to rock other foot and open up other toes. Mini-Tex crawls across room at top speed and grabs hold of curtains to closet, then yanks with all his might. Drop foot baby to catch actual baby.

10:39- 10:47 – Accept defeat and play with Mini-Tex quietly in corner while other women with docile babies in adjacent “nests” do yoga poses.

10:47 – Shavasna.

10:48 – 10:50 – Decide to attempt shavasna pose. Stretch out on mat while Mini-Tex blows raspberries on all available patches of skin.

10: 51- 11:05 – Visit with ladies and well behaved babies. Intercept Mini-Tex’s attempts at toy thievery. Apologize profusely.

11:06 – 11:10 – Layer up. Feeling surprisingly exhausted despite not having done any poses.

11:15 – Find inner peace as Mini-Tex falls asleep in carrier during walk home.

How To Differentiate Between Drunken University Students and Mothers

It’s been noted that new parents bare a startling resemblance to inebriated undergrads, the following is a handy guide which characterizes various behaviours to help tell if you are dealing with a tipsy twenty-something or a newly minted parent.

  1. Late nights

Drunken undergrads are known for staying up late, stumbling around and then passing out wherever looks softest. Mothers also are known to host all night parties. This behavior cannot be used to differentiate the two

 

  1. Little Sleep Followed By Excessive Napping

After these all night parties both new parents and fratboys have been known to take naps during the day. Once again, daytime siestas cannot be used as a way to tell between a new parent and a fratboy.

  1. An Excess Of Skin

If you find yourself surrounded by cleavage and boobs there are one of two places you might be; a sorority party or a breastfeeding moms group. Tread carefully, previously the presence of sequins ruled out the latter but since the emergence of stylish nursing tops, this is no longer a reliable way to distinguish between the two populations.

  1. Forgetting Items Everywhere

Misplacing one’s phone and identification is a time honored tradition of both intoxicated students and new moms. If the phone is lying next to a squeaky toy, it is most likely a new parent encounter but there is a trend of students owning dogs so this is not a definitive qualifier.

  1. Traveling In Groups While Engaging In The Same Activity

Undergrads are notorious for running wild in packs; jogging, playing sports or hollering in public places. Likewise, mothers are often found working out in parks as a group or practicing yoga, they have also been known to yell in commercial centers, in particular grocery stores. Thus unless one is standing next to the egg section, it’s questionable whether it is a parent or student meeting.

As evidenced by the lists of characteristics above, it’s almost impossible to tell a drunken undergrad from a new mother. The only truly reliable way to tell if the person sleeping at the park with their breasts showing with no identification or phone, surrounded by other similarly attired people, is whether or not they have a baby.

An Open Letter To The Neighbours: More Cooing Dammit!

I don’t usually rant, but something has been bothering me since October. It was Mini-Tex’s first Halloween, so I dutifully dressed him up, ran him over to a fellow baby friend’s house and together our families Trick or Treated for twenty or so minutes. It was an abysmal failure; virtually every house we visited missed their marks, so I’m composing a letter to improve our experience next year.

Dearest Neighbours,

Thanks you for the sugary sweets, however as evidenced by both the presence and kempt appearance of the four adults in the group, we are both old enough and organized enough to purchase our own. We weren’t there for candy, those Smarties, even if the babies both had teeth would still be a choking hazard. No, we were there so you, our fellow homeowners, could lavish attention upon our babes.

With the exception of one effusive, older woman, all of you failed miserably at the task. Although my hopes are high for each of the neighbouring properties to be sold and a pack of infant-loving, grandmotherly types to descend upon the city, the likelihood of that happening is low. I mean heck, I would have taken a woman with a cookie house who wanted to eat our children as long as she had fawned over them sufficiently first. Admittedly, my false sense of bravado and adventuring comes from the fact that we were traveling with a member of the law enforcement whose home gym resembles Jillian Michaels’.

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I’d like to see the inhabitants of gingerbread homes just try to snack on this woman’s offspring. (Photo Credit : channelguidemag.com)

In lieu of a sudden influx of lovely, little, old ladies, I’ve written out some instructions for next Halloween.

  1. Fling the door open before we arrive on the stoop. This aggressive show of enthusiasm will communicate the extent of your excitement.
  2. Comment about how creative the costumes are, I mean for Pete’s sake, I almost dyed socks with food colouring for this moment!
  3. Hand out one piece of candy. It’s a rite of passage and if you’ve ever struggled to make a baby into a beluga whale by putting their tiny legs into a narrow, flippered tail, you know that a person deserves chocolate afterwards.
  4. Lastly you may choose from any one of the following statements and actions:
    1. “Yours are the cutest babies in the world! I’m going to turn off the lights and take in my pumpkin as this moment is clearly the pinnacle of my Halloween.”
    2. “Hold on, I’m going to chase down the twins from next door who just visited, as you possess the most attractive and adorable children in the world, you should have their candy.”
    3. “Well, having seen the most beautiful babies in the world, my life is now complete and I can die happy.”
    4. Or you can freestyle it with a similar statement of your own- points for originality!

Hopefully this helps to clear up the confusion so we can all have an enjoyable Halloween next year.

Madness, This Way Lies

Let’s all just agree that Pintrest ruins lives, that said, I think I figured out how it started. I’ve never understood the attraction of looking at all the projects that take hours upon hours of time only to look nothing like the photo.

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Start smiling Amanda! The baby on Pintrest LOVED sitting naked in a cold, wet gourd. Image courtesy of Pinterestfail.com

I swore that I would never be that mom who stays up until 2 am, piping icing names onto cupcakes and losing it over misspelling Adelaide because why in the world would someone use five As and a Y in that name?

And I was doing pretty well on that front, until this morning when I found myself running around looking for blue sparkly pants and yellow socks. Because it’s Mini-Tex’s first Halloween. An event I didn’t take too seriously until I showed up a the third Mom and Baby class having forgotten that it was costume day. Ok the last class wasn’t so bad, I actually remembered – Mini Tex was supposed to be a cowboy however in my haste to get out the door I forgot his hat, so he ended up just being a boy again.

After seeing all the babies dressed up as adorable apples, cute chickens and lovable unicorns, I got jealous and decided to buy Mini-Tex an actual costume rather than just throwing riding headwear on him. However it was October 28th and so the shelves were bare. Hence why my son is going as a fish/bird/dinosaur. That’s what moms who wait until the last minute get- an unidentifiable mix of the animal kingdom. Just in case you were wondering, the costume was 90% off and there were two others left, in the event that you too wish to dress your infant as a fish/bird/dinosaur.

No problem, I assured myself, I’ll simply accesorize the heck out of it. This idea would have worked better if Tex and I lived in the big city where I purchased said costume. Instead we’re an hour and a half away and grateful that there’s a Walmart. So away I went this morning to find sparkly pants at the local Walmart.

Either all of the Moms who bought the cute costumes that have a definitive theme bought up the sparkly, blue baby pants, or Walmart doesn’t carry them. Regardless, I had to think of something else, so I decided on red pants. Mini-Tex actually already has red pants at home, but they have a penguin on the bum, and I didn’t need to add to the whole lizard/fish/bird confusion. So I bought new red pants with a plain bottom.

But Mini-Tex’s costume doesn’t have sleeves, it has these capped things that might be wings, or fins, or foreshortened arms so that babies can get a head start on feeling empathy for creatures without full length limbs. Regardless, Mini-Tex would need to wear a shirt underneath the costume and not just because there might be a foot of snow here on all Hallow’s Eve. I decided that a yellow shirt would work best. Only there were no yellow shirts in Mini-Tex’s size. There was, however, a yellow Minion themed shirt two sizes too big. My husband loves “Despicable Me” so this would work for Mini-Tex’s costume and be a beloved article of clothing after. Boom! Done.

Then I had a moment of doubt. It was in this moment when I bought a round trip ticket to the crazy train AND drank the crazy cocktail. What if the shade of yellow didn’t match the costume exactly? How would people know that Mini-Tex was a bird/dinosaur/fish? They might think he was a manatee/dog/banana. So I grabbed another shirt the reflective yellow of construction worker jackets. This is the moment where the crazy balloons were released into the sky signalling that the show had started.

Unwashed, the Unwashed who readily lets her child eat off the floor, who sits idly while another baby sucks on Mini-Tex’s pacifier and then hands it back to her son once the other baby is finished, without wiping it, was gone. Instead she had been replaced by the Mom who is painstakingly trying to insert another A into Adelaide at 2:13 AM. This meant that the costume needed socks because the cutest fish/bird/amphibeans have yellow feet. So Mini-Tex’s blue socks with the paw prints simply would not do.

The only problem was that the yellow socks had Minions on them. Neither fins, nor feet, nor claws have faces on them, so Minion socks will not work for fish/bird/dragons. So I went searching for dye because the store HAD to have white socks which could be coloured to match. Even though our town has a Walmart and we are grateful to have a Walmart, it’s not a big Walmart, meaning it doesn’t carry fabric dye. So I weighed my options; colouring the socks with markers would result in uneven shading, fabric paint would make them too stiff. I wandered up and down the aisles hoping in vain that the fabric dye had been shelved in a strange place and I spotted my savior- concentrated icing colouring! Edible dye in hand, I was off to find white socks.

There were no white socks. Obviously the organized mothers whose babies were dressed as strawberries had bought them all up. There were knee high socks eight sizes too big, but those would go all the way up Mini-Tex’s legs, obscuring the red pant legs giving him just a big red butt so that people would think he was a fish-monkey or a baboon-osaur.

As I stood there trying to figure out when I would have time to dye the socks between now and Monday afternoon, a little voice quietly asked “Are you making this too difficult?” God in heaven, I wish that voice had spoken sooner. I love that voice. It’s the voice that says, “Leave the laundry, no one cares” and “Your tub isn’t that dirty; go read a book”.

So I replaced the knee highs and returned the food colouring back where it belonged and walked out of the store. When I got home, my husband, ever the wonderful man exclaimed “Mini-Tex, look at this wonderful primary coloured outfit your Mom got you! You’ll be like a box of crayons!”

So he’ll be a fish/dinosaur/bird/writing utensil. Now everyone give me candy and tell me how adorable my baby is.

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Tex decided to add a hat at the last moment. So now our son is a fish/bird/dinosaur-cowboy. Or maybe just a fish/bird-cowboy. Tha hat obscures the giant fin/plate on top of the costume so he looks less prehistoric. (Photo Credit – Yours Truly)

What It’s ACTUALLY Like To Have A Baby, Including All The Gory Details Your Mother Wouldn’t Tell You

A couple of months ago, I transformed from this

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Two days before Mini Tex arrived.

 

into this

 

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You can’t see it from this angle but I have in essence created a Mini Tex, the only way you’d know for sure that my baby is related to me is if you watched him emerge from my junk.

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Sometimes I can’t even tell them apart.

What happened in between was kind of like when a butterfly emerges from a cocoon. That is if butterflies screamed at the top of their lungs and covered the space around them in blood like something out of a B grade horror movie.

Until Mini Tex actually came into the world, I had no idea how it was going to happen, I mean obviously I had a rough idea of which people were going to come out where but Moms and surprisingly the internet have a way of keeping the whole process hush hush. Something I discovered before Mini Tex’s arrival while researching online. My friend Sula also commented on this fact after she asked her mother to elaborate about having children. So strap on your helmet interwebs, I’m going to give you a crash course in the birthing process. SPOILER ALERT – It’s going to be terrifying and also possibly a little gross.

 

Early Labour

Babies like to inconvenience people. Hence they choose to start their entry into the world at inopportune times like 2 am. You can lie in bed during this time but good luck sleeping because contractions hurt, not bad enough to take your breath away but just enough so that you can’t have sweet sweet dreams about former Playboy bunnies or whatever it is you like to dream about.

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Don’t judge me, their ditzy mannerisms and way of deeming everything “Super fun!” bring me joy. (Photo Credit: fanpop.com)

This continues for a while. Like a long while. Such a long while in fact, that you decide that your baby’s arrival should inconvenience your partner too, so at 4 am you wake him up. At this point you’re both stoked because your baby is almost here! All you have to do is walk forever to get him out faster. So even though it’s the middle of the night, even though it’s minus twenty-five out, even though you’re both a little drunk on sleep deprivation, you start walking. And walking, and walking. For Pete’s sake where is this baby? Does he need you to march an actual marathon with kilometer markers and race officials before he will come out?

10 am – Still walking. The good news is your labor is progressing; the bad news is that means during every contraction you have to lean a little on your partner, also you aren’t getting very far very fast. Please note labour is not the time to do sightseeing.

11 am – You walk past the hospital where your partner proclaims that it’s time to see a doctor. Having seen the birthing “suites” you are reluctant to check into the hospital; it appears the people who designed the rooms have never visited an actual hotel and didn’t understand the meaning of the word “suite”. Just outside the doors, you realize you need to pee NOW. However your body needs to contract this baby out of you. It’s a dramatic fight to see whether your bladder sphincters triumph over your slow pace to the washroom. After dragging yourself up a flight of stairs you make it to the loo just in the nick of time.

12 pm – You arrive at the maternity ward where there are wheelchairs everywhere as if women just randomly lose the use of their legs and drop to the floor. After checking in the receptionist asks you if you can walk the five feet to the next window. Clearly she hasn’t looked at the steps on your Fitbit that day.

12:30 pm – You are directed to a room with another woman in it who is either dying or about to have her baby right then and there based on the pained groans coming from behind the curtain. Her husband runs frantically in and out of the room crying “Epidural! Epidural!”

Get ready my Unwashed public, you’re about to get the Coles Notes version of how labour progresses. Standing between you and your beautiful newborn is your cervix. You’d call it an asshole for keeping your baby from you but your cervix has kindly been holding the little bugger in for nine months, so you forgive it. In order for the baby to emerge, your cervix both has to thin out (efface) and dilate 10 cm (Make a hole 10 cm in diameter for the baby to come out of. Also, does that seem like a really small opening to anyone else? After all, you’re having a human baby not a ferret. )

The doctor comes in to check your roommate, it isn’t polite to eavesdrop but you and your partner do anyway because in all likelihood the father of the child is going to be running down the halls shouting for pain meds rather than in the room to catch the baby who is certain to come flying out any moment now if the woman’s cries are any indication.

It turns out your fellow labourer is three centimetres dilated, just like you and a long way from having her baby. Score one for yoga breathing to reduce pain and relax your contracting muscles. You ask to go home so you can continue the world’s slowest walking tour of your city.

4:00 pm – You lie down to rest because you are not the Proclaimers walking five hundred miles and then five hundred more because you can’t fall down at the door at the end as directly after all that endless marching about, you have to push.

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That’s great that you guys want to keep going- I’m going to take a nap. (Photo Credit : citylab.com)

 

However, sleeping is a bad decision because between this bout of inactivity and the bath you take immediately afterwards, your baby takes the opportunity to turn and you have back labour.

7:00 pm – If given the choice between pushing another human being out of me and back labour, I would happily squeeze another person out of my lady garden. Back labour is painful, for the first and only time, yoga breathing fails you; there is nothing aside from loud sobbing which can contend with this pain.

Funny side note about back labour and marriage – One of the many aspects I found sexy about Tex was this sprinkling of salt by the temples in his dark coloured hair. The day after Mini Tex was born, I noticed a new patch of grey by his ear, it’s hard to say whether it was caused by watching me scream in agony while his son was coming into this world or watching me rock back and forth while sobbing because of back labour.

8:00 pm – After watching you rock back and forth sobbing for an hour, your partner insists that you return to the hospital. Existing is uncomfortable, breathing is uncomfortable, so walking back to the hospital is definitely out of the question. Also when I say “uncomfortable”, I actually mean excruciating.

9:00 pm – After all of that laboring, the doctor checks and deems that you are fully effaced but still only 3 cm dilated. Being fully effaced is a good thing but you don’t hear that part through your pain, all you hear is that you’re in the same place as ten hours ago and conclude this labor is going to continue forever. Then you think of the video from birthing class of the woman who had to have a C-section after her labor failed to progress. You dissolve into exhausted tears.

Baby birthing side note – While caesarian sections make for cuter infants right out of the womb; Mini Tex came out puffy eyed, bruised and looking like he’d been on the losing end of a baby bar fight. I don’t know what babies would come to fisticuffs over. Who gets dibs on the breast with the tastier milk first?

I digress, C-sections are actual SURGERIES. Meaning there are stitches and a much longer recovery process. Having had six stitches in my leg this past year which hurt like the dickens, I can’t imagine enduring a surgery and then caring for a small person while I recovered. Also you stay in the hospital for longer which is zero fun. Picture traveling on an uncomfortable bus for four days, that’s what the hospital is like; there is a lack of fun and it smells funny.

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If you add an IV to this image, the experience is identical, right down to the person next to you who gives WAAAAY too much information. (Yes I recognize the hypocrisy of this comment as I am in the process of sharing my birthing story with the greater electronic world.) (Photo Credit: yelp.com)

10:00 pm – Given that you’ve been up for twenty hours, are in pain and exhausted, you decide to try some morphine. There’s a catch though, morphine makes people puke so the doctors administer Gravol along with it.

There were a couple of reasons I decided that I didn’t want an epidural. The first is that pain evolved for a reason; people without pain receptors don’t live as long. Those little jabs are your body’s way of communicating what’s going on. Also, it’s my completely unfounded belief that epidurals mean more tearing. So in my mind, an epidural was like trading short term pain for long term recovery pain. Lastly and most importantly, I’m built small and metabolize pain medications poorly. Cold medication leaves me a stoned wobbly mess. This was why when I was given a normal adult dose of Gravol and morphine during my labor, my pupils shrunk to pinpoints and I passed out. It was so bad that Tex had to lift me into my preferred position during a contraction and then lay me back down after it was done so I didn’t topple off the bed.

12 am – You walk around the hospital, still wobbly from the Gravol and morphine. You swear off drugs, green fairies and rainbows for the rest of your life.

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Except for you my delicious morning friend. (Photo Credit : fakefoodwatch.com)

12:30 am – Having spent the past five months practicing squatting because it shortens labor and helps get the baby into position, you decide to squat.

12:31 am – You scream bloody murder for your partner to help get you out of a squat because it makes the contractions so intense you can’t bear it. There goes five months of doing the malasana yoga pose for zip.

2 am – You get moved to a delivery suite. Again don’t let the second word deceive you, unless this is some sort of private American hospital for millionaires, there is nothing swanky about this hospital room. By contrast, the staff are amazing. I’m not saying the labor nurse was an angel, but if she had pulled out a harp and sprouted wings, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The nurse spoke in soft soothing tones, anticipated all of my needs and was wonderful.

3 am – Not everyone’s water breaks in a grand and embarrassing splash in the middle of a grocery store. Some must have their water broken during labor. The doctor will apologize for the discomfort while they do this, I’m assuming because they’re under the impression that every other part of this process has been like a day at the spa.

4 AM – The heavenly nurse decides to leave her harp in the closet for the time being, but offers you something even better -gas. You remember from birthing class that if laughing gas is used for longer than an hour that you get a wicked bad hangover. You make a mental note to check the time and then realize that time and your ability to tell it, has lost all meaning.

5 AM – You’ve now been up for twenty-seven hours, niceties are no longer necessary, you yell at your caring husband when he doesn’t move his chair right away. You bellow at the doctor that you are ready to push. Perhaps it’s because you seem rude and unreasonable that the bad cop physician is called in.

When I was young, thin and believed that short shorts were appropriate attire in February, I ran marathons. My mother who has run the Boston marathon five times ran my races alongside me. She would yell when I walked, urging me back into a run then run circles around me singing and taunting me when I slowed my pace and once, my mother threatened to leave me in the middle of nowhere if I didn’t run faster. That last story may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight, all I remember were chasing her heels for five kilometers as I tried not to lose my ride back to the hotel. Anyways, it seems that all of this loud, determined coaching was preparation for the consultant who bellowed a baby out of me.

Nowadays doctors are taught empathy and to think about patients’ feelings. This woman must have been trained before this era. She was merciless. During every contraction she yelled “PUSH GIRL PUSH!” at the top of her lungs as if she was on a distant mountaintop, instructing me from afar. Her insistent instructions were contrasted against the soft, angelic tones of the labor nurse who whispered into my ear “You’re doing great Unwashed” in between the drill sergeant’s shouts. When this forceful woman wasn’t roaring instructions at me, she would critique my efforts to the resident who was sitting in the hot seat, silently waiting to catch Mini Tex; “she’s not using the full contraction, she could be pushing longer; she’s barely doing anything.”

This is the part that some women dread, that you’re told about beforehand. You poop in front of God and everyone. But it’s a bit like being the kid in line for a carnival ride. You’re just so damn excited and caught up in what’s about to occur that you mess your pants then keep going because – what the hell? It’s the tilt-a-whirl.

The part that is not mentioned is that all the signals for your bladder get kind of scrambled, so if it’s full, which it probably is, it will make pushing a baby out harder but more on that later.

So you keep pushing, and the bad cop doctor keeps shouting instructions and you can feel your baby’s head almost coming out of your kootch. You change positions, ostensibly to make pushing easier, but in reality because you’re more likely to be able to kick the vocal doctor-cop while sitting up. The bad cop tells you to feel your son’s head as a way to try and encourage you to keep pushing. This is a bit like someone saying at mile 25 of a marathon “Look! You’re almost there! You just have to run for fifteen more minutes!” Instead of being invigorated, you want to slap them and then lie down and die from exhaustion.

The only tidbit I could find which described the actual birthing process said that when the baby crowned (laymen’s terms for when the largest part of the baby comes out) it felt like someone taking a blow torch to your crotch. Having received a small terrible burn on my hand once, I kept waiting for the blowtorch. It didn’t arrive. I will admit that it hurt, and you definitely feel your skin stretching and tearing. If your husband is watching, he might be horrified. Those who didn’t grow up on a farm should likely stand near your head around about this time. Although that puts them in closer proximity to your mouth which at this point is emitting a lot of sound because you’re yelling so loudly that your voice will hurt for two days.True story.

But then you have a baby. Which is awesome for the twenty minutes you hold him for before you pass out from exhaustion.

 

Afterwards

Remember the spoiler alert that it was going to be gross? And the part about the bloody butterfly and everything looking like a B horror movie? We’re totally at that part. You might want to stop reading. Or at least put down your sandwich.

Birthing is a messy business. I feel badly for the custodial staff of the hospital, because despite my attempts to clean up, after I used the bathroom, it looked like the set of “The Shining”. There was blood EVERYWHERE. The poor sod would have needed three mops to deal with that floor.

Also recall my statement about the wiring from your brain to your bladder being scrambled? Basically there’s so much going on in that area that your brain is all “Bladder, shut the hell up, we’ve got bigger issues than the need to evacuate your contents” this lack of communication continues even after you’ve had the baby. Luckily the nurse who took care of me in the maternity wing knew this. She carefully explained this fact, then turned on a faucet full blast, told me to sing in to help me relax and basically did everything short of sticking my hand in a bowl of hot water while showing a slideshow of Niagara Falls.

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“What does this make you think of?” (Photo Credit : youtube.com)

 

Have you ever gotten a paper cut? On a joint? It’s super painful and keeps opening up right? That’s exactly what peeing after having a baby is like. Only there are a thousand paper cuts. On your kootch. And some jerk keeps smearing hot sauce on them.

This sounds awful but urinating is a picnic compared to your first bowel movement after having a baby. Nic Sheff, author and drug addict, described in his book “Tweak” having to pick pieces of granite-like stool out of his butt after going on a month long meth bender. This experience seems preferable and significantly less painful than pooping after having a baby, an event which happens multiple days after the birth. My advice? Take the stool softener they give you at the hospital, and then steal your neighbour’s supply of stool softener too, consider it their comeuppance for not having read The Great Unwashed’s cautionary tale of birthing before creating a person.

So that’s a true life birth story. If I had a larger audience I would expect the birth rate to drop significantly but as it is, I think I’ve probably just traumatized my uncles and grandfather. Sorry, but I did warn you to stop reading multiple times.

Also, I should probably add that even though my doctor missed her calling as the furious head of a military operative, I only pushed for forty-five minutes. The average amount  of time is two and a half hours. The take home point here is that if you want to get the job done, choose a physician with anger management issues who really wants their coffee break NOW.

This post is dedicated to Sula who asked all of the best questions and was appropriately horrified by my responses.

 

The Art of Parenting

I am the first of my friends to replicate myself. Being in this coveted and feces covered position has gifted me with the high task of bestowing advice and my own carefully gathered nuggets of wisdom to said people. The most commonly posed question is; what is being a Mom like? My response is that ultimately parenting is a mix of three feelings; uncertainty, guilt and a sense of inadequacy.

Uncertainty

You have never done this before, so you are filled with questions. How often should a baby eat? Which way does the diaper go on? I’m covered in derivatives of breastmilk- obviously the other way. Am I reading to him enough? When do I start reading to him? Why isn’t my baby looking at the book? Everyone talks about this being SO HARD, is it because I’m supposed to learn Sanskrit and teach it to my infant?

Guilt

When you can’t answer the questions, you are filled with guilt. This is your little person, who has half of your genes, for whom you are the entire world. They depend entirely on you and you can’t even figure out how many books to read them a day. All you know is thirteen isn’t the answer because the one day you read over a dozen books, your baby screamed for two hours after being so thoroughly overstimulated. Also all the other Moms are learning sign language not Sanskrit. Duh. How is Sanskrit supposed to help the baby communicate earlier and develop their brain so they can get into a good university and be successful at life? Your baby is failing already because of your lack of knowledge. Also the library book you took out on Sanskrit and didn’t read is two months overdue.

A Sense of Inadequacy

All of that guilt snowballs together to create a roaring sense of inadequacy which grabs hold and shakes you awake at night, leading you to conclude that you are most definitely not up to this task. You’re not sure who is up to the feeding, changing, playing, Sanskrit Sign Language teaching task but it’s certainly not you.

The Take Home Message

So parenting is soldiering on, in that face of those three basic emotions. You hug and kiss your baby knowing full well that someone else could do a far better job. Luckily they don’t let babies pick who they go home with after their born, so your small person is stuck with you.

Cowboy Quotables: The Parenting Edition

Although parenting Mini Tex is becoming easier, and for all those who I scared with my description of nursing, allow me to assure you, that element is becoming significantly more enjoyable and comfortable. However there were still a couple of weeks where it was quite painful. While my mother was visiting, my breasts became engorged and took on a pebbled, rock like appearance and feel. I approached Tex with my arms extended, expecting him to hug me, as my mother was RIGHT THERE and said “feel my boobs, they’re like stones”. Instead of wrapping me in a hug to appreciate my rocky mammaries, Tex reaches out and honks my boobs right in front of my mother.

“Tex!” I exclaimed. “You weren’t supposed to do that; you were supposed to hug me!” Luckily my mom found the whole scene amusing and dissolved into laughter. “You asked me to feel them” he responded “Was I supposed to rub my nipples against you to determine their firmness?” He then demonstrated by rubbing his chest against mine. “Yes the test is sensitive but is it specific?”

The nursing related antics didn’t stop there, of course. Throughout the first month of Mini Tex’s life, his Dad and I would trade off having the same nightmare- that Mini Tex was in the bed and encased in blankets despite the fact that Mini Tex had never slept in the bed with us. One night my breasts were particularly large and painful to the point that I couldn’t stand to have fabric against them. Tex woke up panicked and thrashing “Mini Tex is in the bed!” he yelled throwing covers this way and that, accidently brushing one of my painful boobs in the process which were so engorged that they were the size of our son’s head. “No he isn’t” I tried to calmly assure my husband. Still flailing madly trying to find his son in a sea of covers Tex brushed one of my boobs again, “I can feel his head” Tex cried now in a full scale panic. I winced as Tex grabbed my swollen mammary and tried to extricate it from the covers. “That’s my boob” I replied, trying to stay calm as my husband slowly exited his dreamy state.

Having jumped out of the bed to confirm that Mini Tex was in fact asleep in his Moses basket next to the bed, Tex was somewhat calmer but still on edge. “Why would you have your boobs in the bed like that?” The words “because the cupboard seemed like an inconvenient place” seemed mean given how frantic my husband was, so I just apologized.

Aside from the occasional nightmare, Tex is loving parenthood; he plays with Mini Tex, singing songs and saying rhymes although my funny cowboy puts his own spin on the words. “This little piggy went to the market and this little piggy stayed home. This little piggy was very long so he was an urologist.” I find Tex’s versions of nursery rhymes almost as amusing as his thoughts on breast milk.

One night while I was cooking, Tex set the table. “What would you like to drink?” he asked. “Milk” I replied mid stir. “What kind? Human or cow?” Tex asked, then after a moment he paused, “Probably cow, I think the other would be akin to eating your toenails.”