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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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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