Friday, March 26, 2010

Love is Laboured. Indeed.

I have a perfectly logical question to ask. When a woman gives birth to a baby why isn't there more fan fare? And I'm not referring to an over-priced bouquet from the hospital gift store or a congratulatory casserole. I mean, why isn't there a spot light that bursts from the hospital roof that reads - "Holy Lord Almighty A Human Just Came Out Of That Woman's Body?!!" or a release of 10,000 balloons from the CN Tower? These thoughts plagued me after the 36 hours of labour I endured from my first child. I know, I what do I want a medal?

Um, yeah, kind of.

I decided to go for a home birth the first time around. The combination of my midwives, pre-natal yoga and hypno-birthing classes convinced me that I had a Giant Vagina. Not really. I just liked telling people that - it made me laugh and them feel really uncomfortable. I don't have a Giant Vagina. If I did I would've given birth like in that scene from Big Fish where the baby is catapulted down the hall in a matter of seconds instead of working it for a day and half. But I was sure I could have a baby at home. Why not? The pioneers did it! Why not me? And I'm sure if the pioneers lived as close to every single hospital in the city as I did they would still choose a home birth. Yeah, right. Besides, I had already toured the hospital and didn't want to give "magical" birth to my new child while listening to some woman wailing in the next room. (little did I know)

But a little about hypno-birthing: If you've never heard of hypno-birthing it's basically a way to put yourself in a trance. This being an alternative to any type of drug. My husband and I were the worst students ever. We made fun of each other the entire time. We basically paid $350 to quote "Little Britain" (Look into my eyes, not around my eyes, but directly in my, two,'re you will go directly to Baskin Robbins and by me a large milkshake). What was interesting, though, was when it came time to use it for labour we were champs. It worked. It was like a Mike Mandel miracle. I slept through early labour - I imagined myself lying on a beach in Tulum and drinking cocktails. Then active labour hit...for 16 additional hours - and I suddenly found myself on my hands and knees listening to a midwife chopping ice in the kitchen - and believe me - those cubes weren't for a gin and tonic. You can only imagine.

Midwives are angels of birth. They have so much respect for women and labour that I am astounded by their patience. By the time they slowly broke it to me that we had to go to the hospital I was already dressed and wailing on the front lawn. I would have driven myself if I could've found the keys. This was not in my "birth plan". Neither were drugs. So when the anesthetist warned me that the epidural may "sting a bit" I think they were all a bit shocked when I told him he could use a rusty switchblade covered with heroine and jam it in my back if that's what would work. Fortunately he did not follow my advice. Apparently they do not teach this technique in medical school.

Giving birth was insane - And not just because the front desk called through to ask us if we wanted to take a call from my mother-in-law at the exact same moment (a moment lasting 2 hours) of pushing out the baby - but because a human was coming out of my body. Plus, how could I possibly take a phone call with all that wailing I had to do? And I wasn't the only one. The floor was lousy with birthing ladies. Humans everywhere! 5 pound humans, 6 pound humans, 7 pound humans and more! Mine was a little girl tipping the scales at an almost 10 pounds. And she was fantastic. I was fantastic. Isn't everyone fantastic?!

So I suppose the reward is more of a personal party. No fan-fare. Just the two of you looking at each other: Once we were one and now we are two. And of course the power that comes from looking at another woman who has gone through this and knowing she deserves to have 10.000 balloons released from the CN in her name. That, I know for sure. Every mother does. Have I mentioned how much I love women?

But just as a foot note - I'm generally pretty hungry. So I'll take the casserole. Always. If you're offering.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Not To Set A House On Fire (hint: use your arms)

A couple days ago I indulged in a shiatsu session with my favourite therapist Ron - only to discover his name is actually RONG. I've called him Ron for 4 years so I'm hoping he thinks I've just given him a nick name. Although now I understand why his wife, who answers the phone, always asks "Who?" I repeat myself "Ron, Ron, Ron" and think, "duh...he's your husband!" Her name is Julie, so I believe I've remedied the situation by calling her "Missy J". And I'm sure, like any good Eastern Medicine Practitioner, they've created a sense of balance by nicknaming me "The Tall Pale Asshole"...

But I digress...

This session REALLY hurt. So I asked Ron what the hell is that?! What could possibly make it hurt that much? With a straight face he pointed at my belly and said "uh. that." Oh right...

I don't forget I'm pregnant but like most Irish descendants I prefer to credit my pain to something I feel guilty about - like not working out enough. It couldn't possibly be the 25 pounds I'm dragging around on the front of my body. Sometimes it takes something drastic for me to see the light: Like almost burning my house down.

I was at home doing my taxes cross-legged on the floor when the smoke alarm went off in the kitchen. I suddenly realized that I had left the kettle on the stove for 45 minutes. I reacted quickly only to discover that both my legs were completely asleep. The weight of my 9 month pregnant belly had cut off all circulation to my legs. No big deal right? Just give them a little shake? Not so much. I started to beat my limbs with my hands and nothing was happening. It was like my legs were in a coma. I pinched myself. Stabbed myself with the calculator. Nothing. I yelled at my legs. No response. I wasn't even getting those painful pins and needles - they were just like two heavy logs. I have never given my legs enough credit until this point. It's like they were sending me a message: "Appreciate us more! We have to carry you and your big self around". But then, by some miracle, my arms stepped it up a notch. They jumped into action and I found myself dragging my body to the kitchen like an injured army vet. Of course this was all escalated by the fact that my phone kept ringing - clearly my 91 year old next door neighbour. When I reached the kitchen my kettle was literally melting and I couldn't reach it from my current position on the floor.

I was immediately reminded of a few years prior when I thought it was a brilliant idea to BBQ a whole chicken. The entire thing caught on fire - something to do with a combination of too much juice and fire. So I acted swiftly, like they do on TV, and dumped a bowl of water on the burning poultry (the poultry that was still on the BBQ). It exploded. Have you ever been witness to an exploding chicken? It's disgusting. I quickly stabbed what was left of the flaming chicken with a set of prongs and held it up over my head like the Olympic torch. I was in a bit of a pickle. I had two options: bring the chicken into the house without setting anything on fire or whip it over the balcony into the parking lot. In a moment of panic I looked at the sea of cars trying to decide how I would aim the chicken to make it safely onto the ground and not onto the hood of someone's car. At this point, I wasn't fully trusting my instincts so I propped the (still flaming) chicken on to the grill of the BBQ (which was still on. sigh) and filled a bucket of water in which to submerge the burnt carcass. Success! But what happened next still makes me think that I should never ever (ever) consider being a chef: I tried to save the blackened half exploded chicken by peeling off the burnt pieces. Torched, water logged and to me...still edible? I learned a lot from that experience. Almost comparable to the time I put my Granny's electric kettle on her gas stove (you can guess what happened) only to discover that my dear old paternal grandmother from the quaint Irish village of Moville swears like a gang member. But back to me, on the floor, coma legs, present day:

In what I thought was a stroke of genius I was able to locate a large wooden spoon from out of the dishwasher and use it to push the kettle off the range. The kettle had melted a ring of black yuck around the edges which I still find baffling. I then used the wooden spoon to beat my legs. With danger fully behind me my limbs started to regain consciousness and I was able to phone next door and lie to my 91 year old neighbour that the smoke detector was simply on the "fritz". This didn't seem to suffice which I find curious since she chain smokes in her bed at night.

So all in all? I learned a very important lesson from this experience: Do not do your taxes 7 days before you're due to give birth. Phone Ron. Or, sorry, Rong....and ask his wife "Missy J" to fit you in for a daily shiatsu appointment. Appointments that I can write off....on my year.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Damn You Rubber Invalid Ring.

The ladies are sharing too much now-a-days and I think I'm part of the problem. But my bigger problem is I don't know how to stop. It's like an addiction. It all started a few years ago after the birth of my first daughter when I blissfully returned home from the hospital only to discover that she really did come out of my vagina. IT WASN'T A DREAM. It happened. And it wasn't pretty. I distinctly remember seeing my mom for the first time and thinking:

"I did this to YOU? Why do you even still talk to me?"

And then I came home only to discover that the pain doesn't stop there. I was constantly in a state of WTF?! What is THAT? The best was when friends would say to me:

"Oh yeah, that happened to me was AWFUL!"

And so I'd ask: ", friend in quotations, how come you didn't share that super important information with me before this carnage began?"

The answer was always the same: "I dunno. I forgot. I guess".

You FORGOT? How could you forget this? THIS?! I could NEVER forget this. NEVER NEVER NEVER. EVER NEVER NEVER EVER! NEVER. You get the point.

But I did.

Up until about 2 weeks ago I was in a state of total denial. Denial that lead me to believe the only thing I needed to worry about was whether or not I had washed the onesies.

I was walking through Shoppers Drug Mart looking for things I don't need but needed to get only because I was in a drugstore when I suddenly noticed it: The Rubber Invalid Ring. Just hanging out there next to the tensor bandages looking all innocent and all "What? I'm just a rubber invalid ring. What's the big deal?"

Damn you Rubber Invalid Ring. You purgatory of full ass recovery.

And then suddenly I was overcome with it all: Perineum sitz bath! Gigantic maxi pads that need to be frozen in witch hazel! laxatives! Metamucil! Espom Salts! Oh Good Lord Almighty - we've got another vagina buster on our hands.

I immediately spent $350.00 and bought three of everything. I bundled packages together and gave them as shower presents. And btw There's nothing you can do to jazz up a package of Large Lady pads but these new mom's don't yet know what's in store for them. Why not interrupt their maternal bliss with a little dose of reality?: Your ass is going to turn inside out. Have FUN!

And now that the sun has come out and all those hibernating Winter birthers are coming out of their houses with their translucent skin and blood shot eyes I can't help noticing that a large percentage of them are walking funny. And although I have this intense desire to shove packages of fiber into their diaper bags - I don't. They need to go through this...only to discover how smart they will be the second time around.

Because it will be different this time right? RIGHT?

Friday, March 12, 2010

There's Nothing Logical about it..and yes, I was unaware that my pants had split up the back.

I'm discovering being pregnant elicits one of two responses. The first being, "Congrats!" the second being "I just don't know if I'm ready!". I can always tell which response I'm going to get when the person approaching me is about 5 meters away. The first is usually coupled with waving arms, big smiles and happy eyes. The second? Usually a sweaty brow, a confused smile and psycho eyes (that read..."oh God, Oh God, now I'm going to have to have the talk about whether or not I'm going to have a baby, am I ready to have this conversation? And does she know she has food on her forehead?!)

So let's get the most important question out of the way: If I have a piece of toast attached to my face there's a good chance I don't know it's there. I admit, I'm hungry, but not so hungry that I think it's wise to use my face as a pocket. I actually went through an entire lunch meeting only to discover afterwards that there was a crescent shaped strawberry smoothie moon on my forehead the entire time. As surprising as this sounds, I wasn't saving it for later.

And as for the first question, and I believe I can speak for most 9 month pregnant ladies: "Don't sweat it!" My eye lids are bloated, my vagina is numb and I have to sway back and forth to get my stubby feet to move in a forward direction, I'm honestly not thinking "Oh here comes so and so...When is she having a baby! Why doesn't she have a baby! Have a baby! HAVE A BABY! BABY BABY BABY! " If anything, I'm thinking, "You thin waisted bitch I want to bite you." Unless of course you have food on you...then I'm thinking "Give it to me! Give IT TO ME!"

That being said I am sympathetic to the panic. Deciding whether or not to have children is huge. It's probably the biggest decision you'll ever make in your life. So here's my advice - just do it**. Why? Because there is nothing logical about it. It doesn't make sense until you look your new turkey in the eye and think..."Oh....yeah, you, you were meant to be here." Up until that point it's just crazy talk. Who wants to lose sleep, time, money and romance on purpose? And you can't look at other people's children and make any logical decision either because your children will always be better then theirs. You have to think this...or parents would have made it legal to eat their offspring centuries ago. It's biological. It's actually a miracle.

This is not to say you won't have moments of yearning for those times when you could walk to the corner alone (don't worry eventually you will be able to) or wear skinny jeans (this too may again be a possibility with the help of either Spanx or Gall Bladder disease - see my post from last September - or even better - someone decides that skinny jeans look stupid) but somehow, someway, and by some strange genetic miracle, this small turkey who grows up to talk and think makes life a whole lot more interesting...even if it took you carrying food on your face, walking around with your pants split up the back (yes - I did - for an entire day) and turning your life way upside down to make it all happen.

**Just Do it: This should include (in my opinion) those individuals who are over the age of 30. If you are younger please, for the love of God, just go out and party. Have a beer on fact I'll pay for it as long as you promise to not think about this again until your body starts screaming for it. Oh, and if your reading this and pregnant already? - you have food on your face.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Advantages of being 9 months pregnant

Here is a list of the top 5 things people say to me at my current stage of 37 weeks pregnant:

1. Wow! You look great (they are lying)
2. Man, you must being dying to get that thing out. (they are unclear of how "that thing" comes out)
3. So what are you up to now-a-days? (This?...this one I love)
4. Your face doesn't look fat at all! (Clearly the first time I did this I had a gigantic face that no one mentioned to me)
5. Are you super excited?! (ummmm....define "super" excited?)

So in the spirit of staying sane I've been coming up with this running list of advantages to being 9 months pregnant. Here they are:

1. I have created a natural ledge to catch food. My couch has never been so clean and this is the second time in the my life (the first being my other pregnancy) that I've been able to eat an entire muffin without having to vacuum it off the floor. FYI: Those little bits that we all usually lose are in in fact the tastiest and somehow are even tastier when you are eating them off your shirt.

2. I haven't been hungover in a good 9 months. Let me clarify here that I'm not a massive boozer but I am Irish so not drinking a pint or two is like an Italian giving up pasta or a Ukrainian pretending like Perogi's don't exist.

3. I can rent movies like "Sleepless in Seattle" and not feel like a loser. I am a huge fan of Nora Ephron. I love the woman. But I love her even more when I'm pregnant because she writes movies that make me feel like I'm wrapped in cashmere and someone is rubbing my feet. When I'm not pregnant I feel pressured to rent movies that make me sound cooler in conversation. I switched it up last night and watched "Precious" and I didn't sleep a wink. If I had gone with an old faithful like "When Harry Met Sally" I would've spent the morning laughing at the line "baby fish mouth!" instead of crucifying myself for those few times I've said the "F" word in front of my three year old. After watching that movie I swear to never swear again. (Not an easy feat for an Irish descendant)

4. I walk by knitting stores with signs that read "Learn to Felt!" and I think....should I? In any other circumstance I would NEVER consider this. But being 9 months pregnant some sort of ancestral urge takes over my body where I start thinking about making my own baby clothes and learning how to knit skull caps. Don't worry...when this happens I take my butt to the nearest Starbucks and read the newspaper like any other sane urbanite.

5. I get to sleep alone. Remember those days when you lived with your parents and had your OWN room that you could decorate with stickers and hot pages from Teen Beat? Or better yet when you lived in your OWN apartment....your little oasis from the world where you could sleep by yourself and watch romantic comedies without anyone thinking you're a loser? Well all that is lost once you get married....but the magical thing about being 9 months pregnant is that no one wants to sleep with you! AWESOME! You're the most annoying person on the planet with your lack of breath and peeing and flipping back and forth and getting up in the middle of the night to make yourself a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Sleeping alone means spreading yourself across the bed, turning on the light to read a magazine and doing whatever you want without bugging anyone! I swear one of these nights I'm going to claim one of my perfectly white bedroom walls and cover it with stickers and pictures of George Clooney.