(totes click-baited you)
(totes click-baited you)
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…
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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…
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.
‘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?’
‘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…’
‘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-
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.
‘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.
‘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 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.’
It’s not often I ask for help. I’ve never been very good at it, what with being a lone-wolf, renegade adventurer, blogger. But today I out to my friends, I can call you that right? You see, the other day I went for brunch, dressed in clothes that I would come to realise, could also function as a cloak of invisibility. As I entered the well-lit inner city café/bookstore/ carb intervention centre, for a moment I thought perhaps I’d made a mistake and fallen upon the sign in booth at the start of a triathlon or at the very least, a competitive Mother’s Day power walk.
For as far as the eye could see there were Lululemon Compression tights and Northwest Fleece Vests filling every table, bar stool and cranny. It was as if a neighbouring gym had had a gas leak and this was their evacuation point. As I stood there in a dress and opaque tights, a look I describe as ‘leaving the house chic’, being ignored by a waitress dressed in last year’s best goat-milking coveralls, I couldn’t help but think – was I allowed to eat here? Perhaps, much like a Cannes red carpet, there was a dress code I’d missed as perhaps it was only communicated via weathering stares and spelt-milk fuelled eye-rolls.
Finally, my boyfriend, wearing leather soled shoes, an obvious silent protest against the Adidas that surrounded us, were seated. Seated at a table with four young women, all wearing matching lavender tights and fit bits, all talking about how they were too busy to hit the gym that morning. Unlike my boyfriend and I, they were served promptly and not judged when asking for extra bread and could heartily indulge in a large stack of pancakes because they were dressed to burn it off. I on the other hand, well the fact I was dressed in ‘day clothes’ meant I’d given up for the day, might as well turn in for the night, hoist open my mouth and roll me towards a trough…the end was nigh.
And then suddenly it struck me, as a tried desperately to get the waitresses attention because I needed cutlery to eat (though I’m pretty sure given I wasn’t wearing the appropriate amount of pre-workout foundation that she had just assumed I ate with my hands), that I was invisible. That without perfectly coifed and overly expensive exercise gear I might never have brunch again. My tears could have filled a thimble that day.
Of course I have my own workout gear but somehow I’m pretty sure my black leggings, the ones with a hole where my vagina begins, adorned with an oversized grey t-shirt hiding two Kmart sports-bras, well it’s not going to give me the visibility, the relevance as a person I need.
So that’s why I’m turning to you guys, my friends, my bestie’s, my compadres. Sure if I budgeted better, perhaps stopped having my one-a-day instant coffee habit or my monthly trim at Just Cuts, I could afford to buy all the ‘going out’ gym gear I needed, but I don’t see why my frugal lifestyle should suffer when I have you guys – haven’t I suffered enough by wearing ‘going outside clothes’ for years?
But lets be serious for a minute – If I don’t get your support then I’ll probably never be able to out for brunch again – don’t look away from me- I know it’s hard to see one of your peers begging for help, begging to be seen by all the coverall wearing waiters and waitresses of the world, but look at me! Look me in the eye – surely you can see I deserve to eat coconut infused muesli with optional pomegranate placenta at 11.30am on a Saturday just like everyone else? Do I not bleed if you stab me? Am I not you, just with a lot less shame?
From as little as $20 a day you can keep me in the attire I should’ve learned to grow accustomed to by now and I know that with your help I might be served before 5pm on a weekend, once again
Thanking you in advance
ps. This is how I will look once your donations start rolling in.
I find women funnier. I just do. There, it’s said. It’s out there. For years I’ve taken a diplomatic stance – funny is funny no matter what the gender, no matter who is telling the joke, but who was I kidding, give me an Amy over an Arj any day. Now by no means is that meant to be taken as a disparaging comment on the Arj’s of the world, it’s just that my pen is inked from a different well, um, a well of ladies.
I was born this way. From the moment I came into the world, as my mother looked at my tanned skin and joked between puffs ‘oh look, she’s nicotine stained’…it was inevitable.
About a week ago some guy called Wippa from a radio show mentioned that funny women don’t get the guys. Mama Mia writer Lucy Gransbury posted a great response to his assertions – ‘Eat a bag of dicks’. A more articulate response to the ‘funny women shut up if you want to get laid debate’ I’m yet to see. My fiancé, a man no less, decided he too would post a response. Less barbed he conceded that funny was sexy no matter what gender but I begged to differ, and I did. Under his post, I wrote ‘I find women funnier.’ It was out.
As much as I’m a fan of David Sedaris, it’s his sister Amy Sedaris who I stalk with unwavering commitment. Her Instagram account is ‘what Instagram was made for’ a friend recently declared. Her recent turn in Broadcity, something to behold ‘where isn’t a toilet?!’
Judith Lucy and Jane Kenndey were the reasons I fought to stay up well past my bedtime to watch The Lateshow, it had little to do with Mick or Santo. Then of course there was Lynda Gibson in Let the Blood Run Free, Madge in Big Girls Blouse, Smack the Pony, Lucille Ball, The Golden Girls, Mona from Who’s The Boss, Ruth Cracknell, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Shelley Long in anything. Oh and then there was Girls on Top that introduced me to Tracey Ullman, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. And Julia Davis pretty much revolutionised my viewing experience with Nighty Night, um and Jo Brand, Ab Fabs Patsy, Tamsin Greig, Janeane Garofalo, Olivia Colman and Parker Posey, and that my friends is only a list encompassing my formative years to say about the time I started working in comedy in the early 2000s.
Now sadly it was only when I started working in the industry did I learn, or sorry, I was told that women weren’t funny from some punters, some promoters and the odd comedian thus negating my entire back catalogue of inspiration, well they would have if I’d actually given a shit and for a moment believed them. I guess it doesn’t help that near every year some journo with space to burn poses the question ‘Are women funny?’ it’s about as relevant and interesting a question as that from my Year 12 debating final ‘Should you be permitted to choose whatever clothes you want to wear outside of school?’
Sure I have friends who are professionally funny and successful because they’re funny, but it’s also my lady friends from other walks of life that crack me up just as much, if not more. I think it’s the reason I think I’m drawn to them in the first place, that and their hair. It’s what I value most in a friendship, a good laugh and good hair. My mum is one of the funniest women I know, now whether or not it’s intentional we’ll probably never be certain, but on more than one occasion she’s made me pee my pants and this is well after the potty training years. My friend Clem never fails to make me laugh-cry in my face and then there’s Hattie. I see her maybe every 5 years or so, but I’m still left smiling for years after our catch ups because of her tales of exotic world travel engrossing me while her cigarette animatedly dances around the table as she weaves her squeal inducing stories. Actually if I’ve invited you around for dinner and plied you with booze and you’ve got a vagina it’s probably because you’ve made my tummy hurt with laughter at some stage….feel used? Good.
I’m sure if you know me you’ve probably always suspected that I’m funny girl inclined, there’s been rumours floating around for years and I just felt it was time to set things straight, on my own terms. I plan to raise my children as lovers of funny women and you know what, I don’t think they’ll be alone, especially if the recent spate of fan obsessing ver the Amy’s, Mindy’s, Tina’s and Ilana’s is anything to go by and they’ll be in the best of like-minded sexy funny company, I’m sure.