Crying in Cars With Babies

We were 6 hours in on our return trip from Sydney to Melbourne when He started to grumble. It was a slow build at first. A disgruntled 10-month-old, uncertain of where He was, why he was there and understandably annoyed with having to face backwards when all the fun seemed to be happening in the forward-facing seats of the car listening to My Dad Wrote a Porno (what! He’s 10 months old! It’s not like he knows what a taint is any way or how to even put it to good use!)

 
But within minutes’ whatever revelry – Nay- comradery we as new parents were experiencing in the front seats of our family-sized SUV was about to be threatened to within an inch of its life.

‘He needs his dummy’ JK postured.

Incy wincy spider-

‘He spat it out’ I declared.

Climbed up the water spout-

‘Well put it back in’

Down came the rain-

I distorted my body into a position I’ve coined ‘the early onset arthritis maker’.

And washed poor Spidey out –

No dummy could be found.

Out came the sunshine –

‘I can’t find it.’

And dried up all the rain –

‘What do you mean?’

So Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.

‘Do you need subtitles? I said I can’t find it.’

(*in rounds this time) Incy Wincy –

‘I’m driving’

Incy –

‘And?’

Spider climbed up the water spout

‘I can’t read and drive at the same time!’

Spider climbed up  –

‘Oh but you can direct and drive at the same time?’

Down came the rain and –

‘Yep’

Down came the –

‘Fine.’

Washed poor Spidey out –

I twist around again, this time certain I won’t be able to do stairs ever again.

Washed poor –

‘There are no dummies. He’s destroyed all and any evidence that they even existed before this car ride started! He’s a sociopath. A tiny sociopath.’

Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain –

‘He’s a baby Lou, get a grip.’

Out came the sunshine –

‘Well they’re not THERE, THEY’RE NOT ANYWHERE! HE’S PLAYING US AGAINST EACH OTHER!’

2 hours later…

(*in a strong almost mocking French accent) Incy Wincy spider –

Having calmed down somewhat I was now in the driver’s seat, while John this time was battling Field of Screams’ and it was at this point, after non-stop screaming for no apparent reason other than ‘cause’ I finally started to get Punky Brewster’s mum – a much vilified and maligned woman from TV history or was she perhaps a misunderstood hero-mum who finally took a stand, said enough-is-enough?

I remember with great concern watching Punky Brewster as a child. Here was a young girl, left in a supermarket carpark by her mother, only to find solace and care with a retired elderly-yet-to-be-vetted old man whose apartment she broke into in a desperate attempt for shelter, food and safety. While I loved the show I never understood why more wasn’t done about her horrible, neglectful, monster of a mother – but now as I drove along ‘a google shortcut’ taking me to the middle of nowhere, I momentarily longed for the days of binge drinking and morning after pills.

Climbed up the water spout –

‘Maybe he needs a bottle?’ I suggested.

Down came the rain and washed –

Milk splattered all over the back seat.

Poor Spidey out –

‘Nup, that didn’t work’

Out came the sunshine and dried up the all the rain –

‘Food?’

So Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.

‘We have some leftover pizza. I’ll try that’

(* through the heavy weight of tears this time) Incy Wincy Spider –

‘Make sure you pick out the olives. He doesn’t like them!

Climbed up the water spout –

‘Nup, that didn’t work’

Down came the rain and washed –

‘You don’t work!’

And washed poor Spidey out –

‘He’s your son!’

Out came the sunshine –

‘You mean our son!’

And dried up all the rain –

‘Your son is possessed!  Can’t you see what he’s doing? He’s trying to destroy us.’

So Incy Wincy –

‘When he’s like this he’s your son. We had a deal remember?’

I hate this song! I hate this f**king song!!!!!!

‘Na-uh’

‘Yes ah-uh’

‘Get out of my SON YOU DEMON! WHAT DO YOU WANT????!!!!’

3 hours later…

(*with the aching jaw of a speed addict) Incy Wincy Spider –

Pitch black, raining and with tears streaming down all our faces now I pulled into a near empty service station. The outline of Melbourne glistening on the horizon, so close, yet so far…

‘You’re an idiot’

And then without saying a word, we both jumped out of the car, pacing around it, taking deep breaths and cheap jabs at each other.

‘No, you’re an idiot’

And then silence.

Not the silence you get from slamming a car door, locking the noise within. No, actual silence.

Could it be?

We opened this car door with as much hope as a virgin at the schoolies…

And…

He was asleep.

Our little angel was asleep.

It was beautiful. He was beautiful. A f**king miracle.

We looked at each other.

‘I love you.’

‘I love you too.’

‘I’m sorry I snapped before’

‘No I’m sorry.’

We hoped back in the car, our relationship restored, our family still intact.

We even picked a new podcast for the last one hour left of our trip.

But then suddenly the silence was shattered –

Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the water spout…

 

 

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Breastfeeding Fails

 

I’ll be honest. Breastfeeding didn’t come easily to me, in no small part due to the enormity of my breasts. At 42HH it wasn’t like I could just drop a silky camisole strap while chatting over a latte, no my breastfeeding experience was far less social and a whole lot more Bad Boy Bubby.

To give you an idea of what 42HH looks like –  sure you could Google it (be warned that breast size seems to appear alongside a lot of people who have had concrete ass implants for some reason), or you could imagine two 4 kilo twins dangling from your neck as they punch you repeatedly in the lungs, screaming the whole time as their heads graze your lap. Aroused?

In an attempt not to smother bub I was given a bunch of handy tips from everyone from maternal health nurses to complete strangers. Some were amusing – heave your boobs up onto a level table and pull baby towards you. It’s best to do this while wearing a house smock, compression tights and not near anyone who might want to have sex with you again in the future.

Others were functional – use a funnel. Yep. A. Funnel. Otherwise known as a ‘Nipple Shield’ To be attached to my nipple so bub could actually find it hidden amongst my cascading flesh.  Kinda like cave diving.

Do it in a bath – boobs float, babies float. They’ll float towards each other and BANG! Nutritional bliss. This does not work. Because first and foremost you need to fit into the bath and if you do manage to squeeze your recently expanded girth into that ceramic suction tube, the matter then becomes how to retrieve said boobs from their new hiding place – your armpits.

Naturally not being able to breastfeed with convenience (which to be honest is what they sell the whole breastfeeding thing on) – when the need for convenience did arise, all my inhibitions would have to fall by the wayside because when baby needed to feed well he made the point of letting me and anyone within screeching distance know.

That brings me to the gazebo incident. Whilst visiting my in-law’s I went for a walk with bub. Down rolling hills, up steep roads (we were in Sydney) past assholes in cars winding down their windows and telling me to lose weight, to a nice, pretty park, with a gazebo covered in bird shit and some council workers loitering nearby.

It was as if bub was fated to want to feed at that exact moment, you know just as I’d stopped crying after being called ‘fat’ by a couple of teenage boys. And of course, as luck would have it, I was wearing a dress that could only be pulled up at the waist to reveal my boobs, I didn’t have my funnel and he wouldn’t latch without it. It was a mess. I was a mess. But I had to push on. My fiancé hastily constructed a tent out of a scarf but it barely covered me. That was ok I thought. Get over yourself, Lou. You’re a mother now. Pull yourself together. So I pulled the scarf down and there in my undies in a shit covered gazebo I tried to breastfeed.

And for 30 blissfully non-screaming minutes it worked but then he came off, milk squirted everywhere and my nipple kept slipping out of my hand like a well-oiled melon. The audience of male council workers offered little in the way of support, instead choosing to leer at my half naked form under the guise of needing to check the stability of the gazebo railings. Their seedy concern –  nauseous.

I decided to call it quits. Bub screamed all the way home before I was able to thrust him up onto a table, with a funnel and sate his appetite. This was fucked. Short of committing to a life as a hermit breastfeeding in public was always going to involve me getting a council permit of some sort.

As luck would have it thought, bub decided on his own he didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. Maybe he was over the funnel or the threat of constant suffocation by boob that hung over his day-to-day existence. He just quit.

I Googled what that meant and was not surprised to find very little support in the way of what to do when a bub suddenly decides to wean. Nup, everything I came across told me I had given up too soon, too easily. It takes 12 months to wean. I must have done something wrong – had I considered lavender? I needed to get him back on the horse or he might never live up to his true potential.

But he was having none of it. He wanted to feed himself.  In fact in terms of supporting my decision to not pursue breastfeeding any further bub was my most ardent supporter. He did the break up for me.

And as for the funnel? It comes in handy whenever I need to fill up my thermos with coffee so I think I’ll be keeping it…

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The Truth Behind This Photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(totes click-baited you)

 

It’s still an odd feeling, getting out of bed, getting everyone out of the house and then sitting down to write…for money. Odd because even though I’ve written nearly every day since I was 18 and even though I’ve been paid for my work and often, it has taken until I turned 37 to actually acknowledge that this is what I do, it’s how I pay my bills, shit it’s what I write on my immigration card when traveling.
I was lucky enough to have a bit of success early on in my career, at 18, but it was the sort that was stifled by my age. A lot of ‘well done’ but come back when you’re 30 because 20 years ago you couldn’t be young and a screenwriter. I didn’t have the life experience, education, etc etc. So I went to film school. Graduated with accolades and went back to these people to show them I’d gone and further pursued my desire to write, but at 22 I was still too young. With cap in hand I f**ked off overseas. Had a ball. Worked. Partied. Had my heart broken. Lived in the Eastend and finally returned to Australia, ready with my life experience to work back home.
But I wrote predominantly female characters, female stories and there was no market for that 10 years ago. Could I make them male? What did I think of gender swapping the characters? Why would a man watch my work? We can’t have unlikeable women on screen.
And yet for some reason, I kept on going, kept writing and took every other job in between -temp, Barista, PA, EA, caterer, waitress,dishpig, door bitch, program coordinator, just coordinator, data entry, file clerk. I had no fallback. I just had to take the work I could get. Spoiled for choice I was not. Of course, when there are articles about how well your career is going in the paper, or you’ve got a regular guest spot on the radio and even appear on TV from time-to-time,   it’s hard to convey to people, that this emerging success is for the most part smoke and mirrors. And for the next 10 years, I juggled, like most creatives. I had representation, then didn’t. Had films get financed but never made, had meetings full of promise that went nowhere and in between it all I worked a 40 hour week doing ‘another job’ on top of the 30-40 hours a week I often committed to writing, because that’s what people knew me as by then ‘a writer.’
Than about 2 years ago there was a shift. I was finding the juggle harder and harder. I was finding writing commissions were becoming more frequent, better paid than before and while I was able to support myself (and I’m talking ramen noodle support) I couldn’t let go of the other job. The job that had always been there, paying my rent, my insurance, putting food on my table. It was a crazy place to be in. At a time where my career was finally forming (as I was in my 30s now so I guess I finally had enough life experience), I still couldn’t let go of the in between work. I thought for some reason that if I did everything would fall apart. I went into therapy. Got diagnosed with anxiety. Got on medication and slowly I started to acknowledge that I was a writer. A freelance writer. Ok, so I’d started to acknowledge what and who I was but I still had a part-time job, on top of my ever encroaching freelance commitments.
It became a mark of (foolish) pride to have people say ‘I don’t know how you do it’. That somehow I was amazing because I devoted as much time and energy to both jobs. What no one actually knew was that it was motived by fear. Fear that I couldn’t be a writer at 37 years old. Fear that something I’d been trying to do since I was 18, was well a nice idea, but not a reality. But then I got pregnant and that fucked everything up (in a good way). I realised I couldn’t juggle everything. I’d have to choose. And so I chose writing or maybe writing chose me because almost as soon as I got pregnant I could map out the next 12 months with writing jobs. Forest for the trees and all that I guess.
I’m currently writing a film, working on corporates and training films, a web series and a TV pilot. All paid. All jobs I’m ridiculously grateful for and grateful for the people that believed in my work enough to give them to me.  Yet I still think I have imposter syndrome. After 20 odd years, that’s hard to let go of and I’m thinking I’ll probably carry it around with me for quite some time. I guess I wrote this because I didn’t want to post a lovely picture of my writing set-up for today without acknowledging how lucky I am to do what I love and how lucky I am that writing stuck with me all these years and never let me give up. Often people post lovely pictures that make the rest of the world think ‘why can’t my life be so perfect?’ – this is not that picture. Nor is it a picture that’s meant to inspire because f**k it’s hard out there if you have a dream. It’s just plain hard. But the flowers are nice. That’s why I posted this 🙂

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Warning: Toilet Humour (or How I Learnt To P** Again)

I read once that a guy was so constipated that he took a hot shower, bent over and tried to spoon himself out. It was a success and that spoon is supposedly still in circulation today. A true hero’s journey.

Why do I mention this?

Because I too once thought the idea of removing a shit with a spoon was beneath me, that is until five days after having my son, I found myself hunkered over a hospital toilet, toothbrush in hand, contemplating a similar fate.

Here’s the thing. No one tells you that your first shit after having a baby is going to quite possibly be a worse pain than actually birthing said baby. No one says you become so consumed by the painful and never ending reluctant evacuation that you can barely focus on your new child, let alone name them. No one tells you that the downside of being pumped so full of painkillers is the cementing of your intestinal tract, much like that of a heroin addict.

And absolutely no one tells you that you might end up squatted over a toilet, crying, staring at sign warning against ‘anal strain’ and considering, just considering…

‘JK – are you there?’ I shouted out through the slightly ajar toilet door, into my hospital suite.

‘Yeah, babe. Any movement at the station?’ he asked kindly.

Yep, this is what our relationship had now come to. With the intimacy of childbirth a distant memory, our joint focus had turned to whether or not I would ever be able to provide a stool sample again.

‘No’ I whimpered. ‘The trains still delayed.’

‘Oh, babe. Sorry.’

Pause.

‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

Pause. I looked at my toothbrush.

Dare I ask?

Could I ask?

Should I ask?

I mean he had just seen a human ripped out my intestinal lining (did I mention I failed biology in high school?) and that had, I was in no doubt, brought us closer together, so I mean surely a request to bend me over and scoop poo out of me would only bring even more intimacy and meaning to our relationship?

Or…

Well…

There was always the possibility that it would destroy our relationship.

But here’s the thing – for a fleeting moment, as I saw my strained reflection in the mirror (yep, great place to put a mirror btw) I thought that it might be actually worth ruining my marriage for. I mean I could always meet someone else…

‘Lou, everything alright in there?’

He’d picked up on my silence. My contemplation.

‘Um…is there a spoon out there?’

‘Um…I don’t think so. Why? Do you want me to ask the nurse for one?’

‘Um…’

‘Lou?’

Pause.

‘Are you going to ask me to scoop you out?’

Silence.

We had reached this point. If I said yes, that could be the end of us. If he said no it could be the end of us. 

I took a deep breath, ready to give me answer –

BANG!

The door flew open.

‘And how are we going today?! Still no movement at the station I see!’

A nurse beamed down at me.

‘Nup’ I replied. A sudden wave of relief washing over me.

‘Best we get you some laxatives.’

Laxatives!

‘To help move things along. Can’t have you doing all the hard work on ya own.’

Fuck! That was right! Laxatives! Other drugs! How had I not thought of that?

‘That would be great’ I said, beaming like an idiot, as JK cried tears of joy in the other room.

‘No worries, I’ll go grab some right now.’

She paused. Turned back.

‘What’s with the toothbrush?’

THE END.

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Best Birth-Day Ever

By the time I reached 36 weeks, I think it’s fair to say, I was not the poster girl for pregnancy. I was the pregnant woman anyone thinking of getting pregnant needed to avoid at all costs. There was no glow. No increased libido. No ethereal photoshoot by the seaside with my partner’s arms wrapped around my naked belly. Wheelchair-bound thanks to crippling back pain, vaginal spasms (yes, yes it’s completely ok to be aroused by my writing of ‘vaginal spasms’’), a 35 kilo weight gain and a constant flow of discharge – I looked like and felt like a creature you’d find living under a bridge, picking at an abscess in between scaring townsfolk and eating children.

 
And so with that in mind, it was far to say I suspected the actual birth of my son would be like that scene from Alien, you know alien bursts out the guy’s gut, blood, horror etc but in my case, I imagined my baby would simultaneously punch out of my boobs, mouth, head and vag, as if he had been wearing me as a human skin suit for 9 months…

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We arrived at the hospital bang on 6am. I was scheduled for a C-section, so I knew by lunch I’d be a mum and that I’d be out of my wheelchair and the last 9 months would finally be over. I was so excited by the idea that I had never thought for a minute that I would actually enjoy a day of abdominal surgery, spinal injections and stark realities – I was going to be a mum. You can’t give them back when you’re the mum…but I did enjoy it. I enjoyed it a lot, thanks in no small part to drugs.

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And boy when they kicked in, nothing could dampen my vibe. Even when I was being told off for trying to high-five the other women in the ward “Fuck we’re having a baby ladies!! We made babies, ladies!!! – it rhymes! I’m a genius…’ (you get the picture). Turns out you’re not meant to do that… “Not everyone is as excited as you Lou,” the less angry-than-the-other-midwife said to me as I lamented everyone else’s lack of enthusiasm.

 
‘But we made humans’ I mumbled under my breath.

 
‘Not yet you haven’t…’ the midwife corrected me, ‘Gotta get it out first.’

 
Buzzkill.

 
Wheeled into the operating theatre and helped to the table, it was explained to me that someone was going to stick a needle into my spine. Right. Into. My. Spine.

 
Five minutes later, after four failed escape attempts thanks to my spasming vagina, I was resolved to my fate and let someone called an ‘Anaesthetist’, who claimed he was a ‘professional’, paralyse me from the waist down.

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From what I remember the surgery was simple enough. A screen went up and a few moments later a baby was presented to me scrotum-first. Thus my first interaction with my son was to be me beaming up at his huge gonads, which would no doubt bode well for our future relationship.

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It’s from that point on things get blurry. The only thing I clearly remember was giving a lot of double thumbs to various other drugged-out new-mums, extolling to all who would listen to my very strong opinions on bathroom bins and telling the flurry of midwives that crossed my path that we should call this whole C-section surgery affair a ‘Macduffin’. Could have been the drugs talking…maybe…

 
Finally, my son was presented to me, not a scrotum in site and with no time for a more proper introduction, he was attached to my boob – to further cement our already Oedipal-esque relationship. Now while in the past someone attaching themselves to my boobs, no questions asked, was not something I’d be cool with, when it came to this little guy I was ok it…

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By the time I wheeled up to my room, I thought to myself how nice a day I’d had. What a great birth experience it had been and how lucky I was. It was a nice thought that lasted all of 4 minutes before the pain meds started to wear off…

 

Chapter 2. The Pain.

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With All Seriousness

‘You’re a mum now Lou’ my friend informed me as I sat before her, tea in hand, despair draping my face. ‘You’re going to have to learn to deal with it.’

I silently opened a packet of Teddy Bear biscuits as she continued.

‘You’re just won’t be able to be funny anymore. Happens to the best of us. I use to be fucking Conan O’Brien till I had kids. Now everything I say comes across as if I’m giving a speech at the Hague.’

And just like that, she had confirmed my deepest fears – that now I’m a mum, everything I say and do will forever be read and taken with all seriousness.

F**k. For someone that makes a living from writing funny things, this did not bode well. I mean, I’d had a baby, there were bills to pay, a new car I’d bought to live in…

Yet the thing is, I had/have cause for concern. It had already started – the ‘with all seriousness.’

Last week my boyfriend/fiancé’s face flashed up on my phone – ‘F**k, he can’t live without me’ I chuckled to myself as I paused Netflix’s F.B.I Files (‘True stories from the F.B.I.’) ‘I bet he’d kill for me if I asked him….’

‘Yo, waz up?’ I casually enquired with my usual greeting.

‘Is everything ok?’ He blurted out between tears. I sensed something was wrong so I paused the TV. I’m good like that.

‘Why? Should something be wrong?’

‘I just got a text asking if We were ok. Are We ok? Why would We not be ok?’

I thought about it. Were We ok? Perhaps this was my out? Mark Ruffalo had recently landed in the Gold Coast and I had just gotten my legs waxed a month earlier…coincidence?

I decided to give it a go.

‘I don’t know. You tell me. Are we ok?’

‘What?’

‘I mean unless you’ve done something wrong?’

I un-paused the TV. This definitely was a conversation that could continue with background noise.

‘No, no…I mean don’t think so.’

‘Are you sure…?’

He fell silent for a moment, searching his brain for an incident, one where he’d fucked up so much that it would undoubtedly drive me into the arms of The Hulk.

‘Someone from work rang. Said you posted something on Facebook, about our relationship. She was worried.’

I flipped over to a documentary entitled ‘My Time in a Cult’. Winner.

‘And then she said it was something about me no longer being your lover, that I’d become your carer.’

‘Oh, that? It was a joke.’

‘She didn’t think it was a joke.’

‘It was clearly a joke. That’s my thing.’

I scrambled to pull up Facebook on my phone, only to notice 11 unread text messages had popped up, including 3 voicemails and various Facebook notifications.

‘And then my brother left a message asking if it was true –

‘- You are not my carer.’ I assured him from our bed, wearing an adult diaper, pushing 100 kg, wheelchair idling by my side table, power pumping two boobs at a time…

‘All I wrote was…’

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‘Remember, from the other night when you were reading that SBS article, and I thought it was funny given I’d just wet the bed for the second time that evening and we’d laughed about how we really needed to get around to buying a mattress protector. Remember? It was funny.’

I scrolled through the messages:

Saw your post – it gets better xx

You and JK will be fine xx

I’ve sent you a link to a single mother’s Facebook group. Mostly widows but heaps of great tips. xx

I never liked him. Let’s do coffee soon x

This is just a kindly reminder that your ANZ card payment is now overdue.

I’m on my way over. Bringing chocolate! How could he!!! ☹ ☹ ☹

Did I leave my hairdryer at yours????

The Facebook messages were much the same

‘Thinking of you and the bub during your turbulent time xx’

‘Not you guys!!!’

‘Hi, my name is Kirtia and I like sex and men. Please meet??’

I couldn’t understand what was going on.

It was clearly a joke. I only ever posted funny things. I was the funny girl. What was happening?

And so this was when I called my friend for reassurance, the one who now works for the Hague…

‘Everything you do, write or post about from this point onwards will be met with a degree of earnest belief and genuine concern. Gone are the days of flippant remarks, you’re part of something bigger than yourself- being a mum on social media.’

‘But I’m not just a mum.’

‘As of now Lou, yes, yes you are.’

I took the last remaining Teddy Bear biscuit offering none to my friend.

‘Don’t despair Lou. You can still be funny in private, you know, as long as no one is watching, listening or reading you, but once you post your funny on Facebook, Twitter, Insta, blog about it, or continue to post on that YouTube Channel you made that no one ever watches – it will only be seen as a cry for help, a need for support, a plea for understanding, shit Lou, I mean with any luck you might end up a mummy blogger – purely by default.’

‘You shut your mouth!’ I spat at her.

It was a truth bomb I clearly wasn’t ready to hear.

‘You need to leave’ I said shaking ‘Get out of my house’.

And with that, she was gone.

A few weeks late I took to social media again. This time posting on the hilarious feeder-esque situation I now found myself in.

It was my comeback. A nuanced, funny observation on breastfeeding-


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My phone beeped:

‘OMG Lou. Are you ok? Just saw your post. Can I recommend Lanosin for your chafed nipples…’

Beep! Another message…

And just like that, my fate was sealed. My friend had been right. I was f**ked. Chafed and f**ked.

 

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Hello Leakage, my new friend.

Date night.

  1. Soft candles – check
  2. Billy Joel love-making soundtrack – check
  3. Dog locked out – check
  4. Temperature just right – check
  5. Billy Joel love-making soundtrack destroyed in mysterious house fire – check
  6. Incense…lots of incense…because we can’t quite seem to shake the smell of –

‘Urine’ my partner confirmed. ‘The whole room smells like urine.’

Then he sniffed me.

‘It’s you. You smell like wee.’

‘That’s ok’ I cooed ‘it’s just a little leak, we can push through.’

I burped – ‘wasn’t me’ I giggled ‘it’s the baby. They must be awake.’

And with that, my partner rolled off me.

‘You really smell like wee, it’s quite intense.’

I heaved myself up onto my new, yet-to-be colostrum stained U-Pillow.

‘You’ll need to get changed’ he stated ‘and wash.’

‘What are we talking?’ I asked ‘Flannel wash? Laundry trough dip or are you suggesting full shower?’

He took another sniff.

‘Shower. I’ll be needing the trough to soak your pyjamas.’

Since getting pregnant my body has been full of surprises – finding ingrown hairs under my boobs – where no hair had lived before; something I like to call Circular Vomiting much like circular breathing, except, vomit forms in my stomach, comes out through my nose into my mouth and because I’m driving and can’t pull over, I’m forced to swallow it back into my lungs and nearly die. REPEAT. Then there’s hair that grows across your stomach giving the illusion of a moustached man being trapped inside you. And though there are many others wonderful #miracles I’ve been experiencing none have thwarted me as much as the leakage.

The constant leakage.

I was at Pilates (because I’m one those really fit pregnant woman – see pic) getting my leg extensions on when I felt a warm liquid start running down my grey leggings. It was also at that exact moment I saw the horror in the other members of the class who for some reason were positioned opposite to me, as they too saw the amber liquid trickle down my leg.

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‘Lou’ my instructor quietly said ‘do you want to go get yourself cleaned up?’

I raised my leg in defiance, displaying the full-scale saturation that had engulfed my crutch

‘Nup, I’m good, still got two more sets to go.’

And with that I squeezed, maintaining eye contact with everyone the whole time.

But even I knew as acted out urine soaked vengeance on my Pilates class that I couldn’t go on like this forever. That at some point I would need to concede that I had a bladder problem, albeit a temporary one, but a problem just the same and I needed to face up to it.

Driving home that night I pulled into a pharmacy and found myself standing in front of the incontinence shelf. Based on the amount of incontinence ads I’d seen on midday TV I guess I was expecting more of an entire aisle dedicated to leakage, but alas, I’d make do with just a shelf. Now, at 28 weeks pregnant I needed to decide what sort of leaker I was, a decision, if I was being honest, I wouldn’t have thought I’d needed to make at least until I was 60 years old, at least.

Was I A Sneezer-Leaker?

A Giggle-Leaker?

A Dog Walking-Leaker?

A Making-Just-An-F**kin-Cup-of-Tea Leaker?

Or was I…

A Just-Being-Alive Leaker?

An Everyday Saturator?

A Cold-Drip Urinator?

Answer – I was all of the above. I am all of the above. I’m an All-Day, Every-Day Leaker. Feel my moistness!

Arriving home I told my partner about my latest self-realisation. He hugged me,let me know it was all going to be ok. That this was only temporary and that there was nothing I could do that would turn him away from me. It was a relief to hear.

‘Lou’ JK whispered as he hugged me close.

‘Yes?’ I cooed back.

‘Did you just wee on me?’

‘Yes, yes I did.’

He started to cry.

‘There, there…’I comforted him.

‘It’s nothing a shower won’t fix.’

 

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Where’s My Murphy Brown?

 

Last week as I wandered the streets looking for purpose, I overheard a woman and her friend bemoan the current state of television.

‘I miss family shows you know? Like, The Cosby Show and Hey Dad.’

Her friend nodded in agreement as if she too had been stuck down a mine shaft with her companion for the last three years…

I watched as they continued on their way, no doubt going home to old VHS recordings of The Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris Variety Hour while eating Subway sandwiches.

Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. It makes us reflect on more ‘wholesome’ times, even if most of the time we are reflecting through rose coloured glasses.

Indeed, when it comes to TV we are particularly susceptible to this, just look at the recent reboots of Fuller House and The Gilmore Girls. We somehow have managed to convince ourselves that these shows were from a better time, you know, when you stayed at home with the family, without a single smartphone screen in site and simply watched families be real families – unlike like the chaos of TV today.

Yet they were from a better time, but for a much better reason – TV was bolder, not always in a good way, but it took chances.

Stay with me on this…

And nothing was bolder than situation comedy…

I can’t cover all the comedy from the 80s through to the 90s, so I’m going with a few that just popped into my head while I thought about this topic.

I’m going to start with Punky Brewster – this is a show you couldn’t pitch today unless it was reworked as a gritty urban drama written by the guy who penned The Wire.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, 7-year old Punky Brewster was a modern-day Annie. Abandoned by her mother, along with her dog Brandon, in a grocery store car park, she finds shelter in an empty apartment, only to be discovered by building manager Henry – a single, older man who lives on his own.  She moves in with this stranger and it all works out happily ever after.

Ok, to recap – abandoned 7-year-old girl, moves into a squat and is discovered by a man, whose other passion aside from building maintenance, is photography. In the 80s this was a ridiculously popular family friendly show. Today, it’s a Law & Order SVU episode.

Like I said, bold.

And let’s not forget The Golden Girls. A bunch of women over the age of 50 (yes, over 50 and on actual television screens) all without the responsibilities of husbands and children (well, with the exception of Sofia, but that’s different) live a wonderful, friendship filled, at times challenging but rewarding life in Miami, with their own storylines and character motivations. They even eat cheesecake at least once a night and they actually look like women who would eat cake. And no, Hot in Cleveland is not the equivalent.  No, this show was groundbreaking and unfortunately one can’t help but feel that after that ground broke we’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years refilling the hole, and filling it with cement…

Let’s see, The Golden Girls tackled important issues such as aging, disability, gay rights, feminism (it was a feminist show full stop), AIDS, aged care, loneliness, death, gun control, reproductive rights – heck, it even covered Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – by using humour and pathos. So a bunch of amazing actresses over 50, on our televisions, being funny, with no fixed lead male characters…our equivalent today is….is….is….is…I’m sure something will come to me…maybe there’s something on Netflix…

Rosanne. There I said it. Weird ending aside, this show was and is to this day still bold TV. Yes, before Mike and Molly, believe it or not we had other large lead characters on our screens – Roseanne and Dan Conner. But being big wasn’t the focus of their show. No, it was about story, family and all the crap we have to get through every day just to survive. It was hilarious, relatable and is the reason I lusted after corkscrew curls for most of my teens.  Our equivalent of a working class family today – The Middle. That is all. I’m just going to leave that there – The Middle.

(P.S. By the way, the fact that real-life Darlene married the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, makes up for the way the show ended…barely).

And in these days of debate surrounding gender pay gaps, abortion rights, gay and transgender rights and online trolling of women is our god damn Murphy Brown! The only comparison that springs to mind is Press Gang, but even then that show was of the same ilk and time. I can’t help but think our 2016 version of Murphy Brown would be the story of a single working mum trying to have it all, set to a montage backdrop of New York City.

Now I’m not saying that just because a show was bold makes it somehow better. There was definitely a fair share of bold and questionable in the 80s. Just take Perfect Strangers – and the less said about that the better. Much like the questionable set-up of Punky Brewster, Charles in Charge could easily be tainted with the same SUV brush today. Charles, a college-age student moves in with a family who has a teen daughter, as their babysitter and housekeeper. Yep, college student moves in with family, who has a teen daughter…and he becomes in charge of her day, of her life… I’m not saying college-age men can’t babysit 16-year-old girls, but this was the 80s and it was Scott Baio. That’s all I’m saying.

Maybe I just miss Let The Blood Run Free or Doogie Howser MD too much and that’s why I wrote this, but I’m not sure how much I’d like a reboot of a show about a teen genius that would inevitably just make me question the life choices that have lead me to still be a blogger and a renter at 36. Perhaps I don’t need bold TV like that, perhaps I should be content with groundbreaking TV like Modern Family that finally gives much-needed visibility to the older man/ younger woman relationship.

I’ll think about it… while I’m thinking about a TV comedy that stars women over 50 not being predominantly caregivers – sorry, couldn’t resist.

 

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Dream A Little Dream

I’ve always been a firm believer that if someone, even with all the best of intentions, feels the need to unburden last night’s dream on you over coffee, it’s ok to end the friendship there and then. They’ll understand. If not, in time they will. They will.

But being the massive hypocrite I am, I’m now that friend, the one with the dreams, and I just have to talk about it.

The other night I had a dream where I had to mediate the Weasley Twins from Harry Potter as they navigated a polyamorous relationship they were in while identifying as pansexual and admitting an attraction to each other because they’re turned on by the whole being related thing. This ongoing issue was further complicated by the fact that Jon Snow’s alive head had been left in my care and he just wouldn’t go to sleep, no matter how many times I drove him around the block. He also didn’t like being bounced up and down by the knees. It was a nightmare, a literal nightmare.

chucky-124140

Or how about the dream from last night where, after not falling asleep until 4am, Samuel L Jackson, Devon Sawa and myself found a secret castle just of the Burnley Tunnel Richmond exit, where Holly Valance was being held hostage by a guy I knew in high school whose claim to fame was his calf muscles. In order to free her, Samuel and I had to embark on a 15 year career as exotic dancers in Singapore. We were quite the act, but my biggest concern was how I was going to get back to my parents in time for Sunday dinner. I finally made it home from my erotic oddessy only to be disowned by my family, with my father vowing never to speak with me again because he was forced to throw out the lamb due my tardiness. Oh and for some reason Tom Cruise was there and he was mad at me as well.

Now because I’m not an asshole, before I inflicted these dreams on my partner and friends I turned to the internet, mummy blogs and forums to be exact. WTF? What fresh hell are those things?! It’s like someone took all the judgement in the world and gave it a landing page.

Typing in ‘bad pregnancy dreams’ I was met with mixed responses that ranged from:

  • ‘Oh don’t get me started on crazy pregnancy dreams.I had one the other night where tiny angels appeared to me, looking, I kid you not, like Blue Ivy #beyonceforeva and they whispered into my ear as I slept peacefully, the names Ebony and Archer, which is crazy because my husband and I were thinking of naming our twins those exact names. Crazy right?’
  • ‘Bad dreams are a sign your baby will be born with severe communication problems. To learn more about the dangers of vaccination…’
  • ‘I just ate more carrots before bed and they disappeared, now I just dream of acceptance, oh and Peter Rabbit :)’
    DIE ALREADY – yes, I’m judging them..so what? When in Rome…

Nowhere could I find what I was looking for, a kindred, someone who had also dreamed of going to a Beyonce concert at Rod Laver arena only unable to find a carpark had to move to Ireland, join the IRA and live the rest of their life under a new identity (in that dream, I also had to get reconstructive face surgery without anaesthetic). I also was unable to get a refund on my Beyonce tickets. I woke up crying.

So I was forced to turn to a friend. My non-pregnant, gay male friend, but someone I was certain would have a concerned ear I could bend.

‘…and then mum said they wouldn’t pay to get my ears pierced and Hillary Clinton agreed and said she could do it herself but we needed to go to Greensborough to get the equipment and I didn’t have a valid Myki card on me – ‘

I could barely finish the sentence, as a shaking hand gripped my decaf weak long black, with extra water.

‘ – and there was nowhere to recharge it in Australia, so I never got my ears pierced and Hillary was so angry she wouldn’t let me go to Hungry Jacks with her. And she’d promised. She’d promised!’

My disinterested confidant frowned.

‘Are you telling me about your dreams Lou?’

I gulped. Damn my transparent demeanour.

‘I thought we had an agreement about stuff like that.’ He pushed.

‘I thought that was only boring dreams, not horrifying scenarios involving various pop culture icons that will inevitably come true knowing me.’

‘A dreams still a dream Lou. What if I told you about my dreams, how would you like that?’

I feigned interest in the name of self-preservation.

‘I’d love to know about your dreams. I’ve changed. I’m cool with stuff like that now – puppies, potpourri and vision boards, bring it on I say.’

He knew I was lying, but we’re the sort of friends that would never call each other on stuff like that. True friends.

‘Great. So, I had this dream last week where my dad just turned up at my house and we spent the week just hanging out. I even learned to fish.’

Silence.

‘Crazy right?’

‘Yeah…’

‘Cause dad was only here like last week and we talked about going fishing but we never actually got around to doing it.’

‘Crazy…’

‘Yeah, it’s like my subconscious knew what I hoped we’d done and made it a reality for me. Dreams are amazing.’

‘Dreams are amazing like that.’

Silence.

‘That hurt you a little didn’t it Lou, listening to me talk about my dream?’

I paused, letting out a deep breath/burp-fart.

‘Can I be honest?’

‘Of course Lou’

‘I died a little inside.’

‘Oh’

‘Your dream wasn’t even a dream. It was at best a memory, a distorted memory, but, and I say this with the utmost respect, it was no dream.’

He took the barb well, toying with his gluten free pistachio cupcake, for which he no longer had the appetite.

‘We can’t all dream about the universe being constantly disappointed in us.’

‘Is that what you think my dreams are about?’

‘Absolutely, I mean, take the dream about Hillary Clinton not taking you to Hungry Jacks – ‘

The waiter came over, refilling our water.

‘ – are you sure you have time to talk about this?’

My friend adjusted his glasses.

‘Plenty, now back to Hillary and the fact you’ll never reach her heights of success and your own ongoing inadequacies…’

I couldn’t help but smile, maybe talking to friends about dreams wasn’t so bad after all…

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Diary of An Adequate Mother

A few months ago I found out I was pregnant. 

‘How did this happen?’ I asked legs spread atop the toilet seat, testing for the third time that morning.

‘You pretty much did that’ my boyfriend replied smugly, motioning to my legs akimbo.

Now to be perfectly candid, we had talked about having kids for while, even getting a rescue dog at one point and naming it ‘training baby’* but talking is theoretical. I’m the greatest mum in the world, theoretically. A Full House remount is great, theoretically.  The new Milo bar was meant to be great, theoretically! My point is, lots of things are great theoretically, but the actual real thing, that’s a more harrowing prospect.

‘Well too late now’ a friend of mine said to me over daiquiris ‘but look, don’t worry. I think you’re going to be a great mother’. I felt reassured as I ordered another round of soft cheeses ‘or at the very least an adequate mother’ she continued.  

And as I bit into my sushi I knew she was right, I could handle adequate. I was great at being average. Fuck it, I could rock adequate!

But if it was the eighties I don’t think I’d harbour as much doubt in my parenting skills as I currently do. The eighties was a great time to be a parent. Kids entertained themselves, cut themselves, broke themselves, got stung by bees, ate peanut butter and shoplifted copies of Playboy and VideoHits. Broke a bone skateboarding on the street with no parental supervision? No problem, casts were cool. DOCS hasn’t been invented yet. It was a golden time. And we all survived. I was even flown to Queensland to model for Japanese investors at the age of 12 and I survived. Of course that’s not to say that some people didn’t come out unscathed, but for the purpose of this blog post, they’re of no interest to me, as I’m clearly romanticising the era. 

Yep, if it was the eighties I’d be a great mum. Golden Circle would make me mum of the year or something like that for letting me kids use the non-contractor built tree house in the backyard to jump onto the illegal trampoline, using it as a launch to the swimming pool, sans pool gate. Can you say Australian of the Year?

But it’s not the decade that changed the world, it’s the year 2016 and if you’re not in the business of being a responsible parent, you’re not in business full stop. And all this responsibility starts straight away.

At the doctors, I was asked how I wanted to approach my pregnancy. 

‘I want to make sure it gets out’ I responded cautiously, sure it was a trick question.

‘Safely’ my partner interjected ‘we’d like to approach this pregnancy safely.’ Thank god for JK and his folder marked ‘Baby’ he had carefully opened across his lap.

‘Wonderful’ my obstetrician responded ‘but what sort of information would you like?’

See, I knew it was a trick question.

I’d read somewhere that the smarter you are, the more you’re compelled to know about the in’s and out’s of pregnancy, the pros and cons, dangers etc. As I’m smart and suffer from anxiety I decided that ‘knowing things’ would not be the best approach for me, thus I answered accordingly.

‘I’d like to approach this pregnancy, like a teen girl, from the Appalachians, who believes in creationism and virgin birth and who’s only warning she’s pregnant comes when she gives birth in a KFC toilet, mid shift.’

‘OK…’ my ob-gyn managed to say.

‘What she means’ said my partner ‘is that if you want to give us any information, best you give it to me. I’ve got a folder I can put that stuff in.’ Like I said before, thank god for JK and his folder.

And my lack of responsibility only got worse from there. 

A few days later I got an email asking if I’d like to donate my babies’ cord blood. Sounded like a good enough idea. I’m an organ donor. Baby cord blood worked on pretty much the same principal. There might be a family out there waiting for a donation and if I could help in any way it seemed like the right thing to do. Wrong.

‘You opted to donate the blood?’ a mother queried me, in much the same tone I imagine the question ‘you told them where Anne Frank was?’ was asked. 

‘Um, yep, seemed like the responsible thing to do.’ 

‘You didn’t save it for your own baby, in case something goes, god forbid, wrong?’

‘Um..no…’

‘Oh, well I’m sure everything will be fine. I’m sure if, god forbid, something goes wrong, that they’ll be a donor there, just like you.’

‘And if there isn’t?’

‘Well god forbid…’

That night I went home to my partner. He was reading through his well-eared copy of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’.

He looked up, seeing my pale face.

‘What’s wrong?’ he asked.

‘I think I did something wrong’ I muttered.

He jumped up, enveloping me in a hug.

‘Come here, it can’t be that bad.’

I started to sob.

‘You know how I ticked the donate cord blood option?’ (imagine heavy wheezing at this point)

‘How we chose to donate the cord blood.’

‘Sure…well, there was this woman and she told me that – ‘

‘- what woman?’

‘- the one that runs the café near work.’

‘Ok’

‘  – and she said – what If you’re own baby gets sick, god forbid, and you’ve donated their cord blood to someone else’s baby? And then I started to think, what if that happens right? And I go all determined Sally Field, like ’Not Without My Daughter’ determined and try and track the baby down with our babies cord blood and they reject me JK? Our donor baby rejects me? What then? Oh my god, I’m responsible for this little life in here ( pointing to my stomach) and I’ve already ruined it!’(more sobbing, lots of snot).

‘There, there…’ JK muttered softly ‘its ok. You haven’t destroyed anything. That woman’s an idiot. What did I tell you about listening to unsolicited advice, hey? What’d I tell you?’

(sob, sob) ‘Not to listen to it.’

‘Exactly.’

He stroked my phlegm covered hair.

‘Our baby is going to be fine, cord blood or no cord blood.’

‘You sure?’

‘Yep, I’m sure. Now let me make you some dinner.’

I pulled back, wiping  the tears from my eyes.

‘That’s ok, I’m not hungry. Grabbed a Subway wrap on the way home.’

‘You did what?’ a voice came from him, no longer soothing.

‘Grabbed a wrap.’

‘From Subway. You know you can’t eat anything from an open salad bar. Did you at least get it toasted?’

‘Umm…I got them to put extra chipotle on it…to kill the germs.’

He huffed and went back to his folder and pulled out a sheet listing foods I was now advised not to eat. 

‘I thought we agreed you were going to do all the reading.’

And with that, he went to make dinner, and I was left with an overwhelming burden of responsibility in my hand…

*may or may not be true.

*I write a satirical blog. If you’re not into what I write or about, that’s ok, just go read something else that will make you happy, on someone else’s blog, or start your own 🙂

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