Worlds Best Parent. Ever. Full Stop.

I have to admit I was riding high, thinking I was the best new mum in the world when I went to my second maternal health check. Sure we didn’t have it all figured out, but from where I stood, we were smashing it –  bub was still alive, we were yet to drop him (on a very hard surface) and I’d started vacuuming our carpet at least once a month in anticipation that he might, you know, one day crawl and the last thing I wanted was him choking on the remnants of a truffle flavoured potato crisp from our earlier, decadent child-free days. There was no hiding it, we were nailing this parenting shit.

So you can imagine my surprise when I met Kathleen. My new maternal health nurse, complete with a nifty fanny pack around her waist because she liked to keep everything she needed close to her as she wasn’t a fan ‘of reaching for things.’

As was usual I’d gone to this ‘not mandatory but strongly advised’ appointment with our sex trophies’ co-creator, his father, which doesn’t seem so odd until I point out that it would have been just as useful to bring a potted plant along, given Kathleen chose not to even acknowledge his existence.

‘These appointments aren’t for the father’ she pointed out. ‘There to see how your son is developing both emotionally and physically with you as a mother.’

‘Detrimentally’ I joked. She did not laugh. Kathleen never laughed.

‘The thing is’ I pointed out ‘Kathleen, I can call you Kathleen right? Both JK and I are around all our son all the time. We’ve both taken time off, together, to be with him and I think it’s important to –

‘- it says here you had a c-section’

‘Um, yep – but as I was saying, it’s important we acknowledge the father-’

‘If that’s the case you shouldn’t be sitting like that…with your legs crossed.’

‘Crossed? It’s fine.’ I said ‘my physio said it’s fine.’

‘Oh well, feel free to take someone else’s advice, that’s your choice pet, but I’m saying I don’t think it’ a good idea.’

‘My doctor also said it was ok.’

‘Well if your doctor said it was ok, and they are a doctor and I’m just a -’

‘Nurse?’

‘Huh! Maternal Health Specialist Nurse deary –

‘ – it wasn’t meant to insult you’

‘ – no insult was taken. If you want to believe your doctor that’s your call but if I were you and I’d had a c-section I wouldn’t sit like that, not if I wanted to have another child in the future, just saying.’

I kept my legs crossed in silent protest. Her eyes flaring up, my defiance noted.

‘Are you breastfeeding?’

‘Yes’

Exclusively?

‘No. He’s been combination fed since he was born.’

‘Was there a reason?’

‘He was early. It should all be written there. We did discuss this last time we came in.’

She sighed, rubbing her temple as if the fate of every child rested on her shoulders.

‘Louise, is telling me your child’s health history an inconvenience to you, because please let me know if it is and I’ll take some time now to read up on him?’

I crossed my legs a little further.

She continued.

‘So you bottle feed?’

‘Yep, about once a day. It’s good, it allows JK to be part of  the feeding process and lets me get a little sleep.’

‘Formula?’

Yes.

‘Hmmm,’ she scribbled something down for effect.

‘And what’s the reason for that?’

‘Like I said, I get a little sleep, JK can bond –

‘- well it is your choice. Sleep is very important…’

I couldn’t hold back.

‘But?’

‘It’s just if I was you and I could breastfeed, well the literature says to breastfeed exclusively, but that’s just me, and the literature.’

‘I’m not very literary,’ I said ‘I’ll continue to give him a bottle then.’

And then to my astonishment, she mumbled under her breath ‘You do what you want, don’t mind me. I’m just the maternal health specialist.’

I turned to my pot-plant for support but he was focused on distracting our sex trophy from his mother’s demise.

‘Ok’ Kathleen jumped up.

‘Lets get him undressed and weighed.’

JK stood up, starting to get bub ready, when Kathleen turned to me.

‘I’d like to see the mother get him ready’

‘I’m assuming I’m the mother in this scenario’ I sparked back.

She did not smile.

‘I’ll let you get on with it then.’

The colour drained from my face. JK was the master of getting bub’s t-shirts off quickly without squashing his head. I was not. My strong suit up until this point had been keeping bub alive with my boobs, but even that seemed to hold no sway at this point in time.

Fumbling as I got him undressed, under the vengeful eye of Kathleen I suddenly became concerned that as his jumper stuck around his head, and his little arms flailed about that I might lose custody of him just for being a bad baby un-dresser. I wasn’t smashing this parenting thing. I’d deluded myself. Maybe he was better off being raised by a woman who didn’t cross her legs?

Finally, his little head came free and he smiled as if to say ‘I only lost a little oxygen mum.’

I nodded my thanks back.

‘Turn him over’ barked Kathleen.

‘Now I have to tell you…Baby is dry’ she said.

Finally, I smiled. Something I got right. ‘Yeah, I dried him after his bath this morning. I was pretty thorough -’

‘ – no, I mean his skin is too dry. Do you moisturise?’

‘Um yes, daily.’

‘It should be forty times a day!’ (*slight exaggeration in the retelling but you get the idea…)

‘Ok’

‘And what do you use?’

‘Mineral oil – just like we were told’

‘No! Edible oils only’

And that’s when I cracked it.

‘Really? Because last time we were here- ’

‘ – Yes we!’ JK shouted out. Thanks, babe…

‘We were told there was new research and edible oils could lead to skin conditions when he’s older’

‘Then you were told the wrong information.’

‘By two of your colleagues, the other midwife-’

‘We are not midwives. We are maternal health specialists and we’re here to help you be better parents. You need to listen to me for the sake of your son. You need to know I have his best interests at heart before you continue to have a go at me.’

My hands curled up in anger.

‘Me, have a go at you? You’ve done nothing but make me feel like a barely adequate parent, no, a barely adequate human being since I’ve been here and -’

I stopped. Suddenly Kathleen’s face distorted. Her tongue recoiling back into her face with horror as urine sprayed out at her care of my son’s well aiming and meaning penis.

Squad goals.

And then just like that, any concerns I had about being a bad mum have washed away. He’d done me proud. He’d done every mother and or father being told they’re doing a bad job proud. He was my hero.

And so without finishing the appointment we grabbed our naked, still peeing son and left.

JK making a point to say we would be making a formal complaint against Kathleen because he was concerned she would upset other parents, what with her fanny-pack full of judgement. I watched him go to bat for me, I couldn’t help but smile as urine continued to run down my leg and into my shoe because we’d left the spare nappy at home…that wasn’t important right now. Being righteous parents was.

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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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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.

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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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I love you, just not what you’re into.

Since we nearly broke up a few months into our relationship after I told my Lord of The Rings loving boyfriend (JK) that ‘I didn’t care for fantasy’ I’ve made a concerted effort to champion his interests while remaining detached and uninvolved. Like he’s really into historic drama TV shows – Vikings and Hell on Wheels type stuff. Sometimes he even insists we watch them together so I try and make a game of it, guessing how far into an episode I’ll see a woman’s breast, or her rape or perhaps her sale to a wealthy landowner.

He’s also really into reading books about dogs, which is cool, if that’s your sort of thing but he thinks I should read them as well so I can get a better understanding of our staffy. But I’m not sure how much reading is going to solve the issue that our dog, who is so in love with JK, will one day kill me in my sleep, proceed to make a Lou suit out of my skin and resume her rightful place on the pillow beside him.

Anyone in a relationship will admit it’s hard to like all the things your partner does, well unless you’re these guys…

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…and while it’s great to share interests and be introduced to new ones, there comes a time, let’s say past 30 where you just think ‘fuck it’. I mean most of us spend our 20s pretending to like things we don’t in order to get laid or not die alone, so why, as I head into my late 30s should I continue the charade? After all, don’t all of us die alone?

This leads me to where my preamble has been heading – gardening. Yep, gardening.  My boyfriend is really into gardening. He loves it. He’d be a gnome if he could be, complete with short man syndrome and pointy little hat, but alas he is 6’1 and refuses to wear a waistcoat, even though I think it would be totally cute, but whatevs.

Myself, I’m not into gardening.  Never have been and at 36 unless I’m struck by a bolt of lightening and wake up from a coma as a totally different person I never will.  Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good garden as much as the next person, some of my best friends garden but I’m more of an applauder than a performer when it comes to a good mulch or a well watered vegie patch. I love that in my yard I have a slew of burgeoning red cabbages, spring onions I can always count on, sprigs of thyme perfect for soup and even a passionfruit tree. I love that there are pots of flowers all over my house, mainly all gifts I’ve received over the years from JK, and only alive due to his efforts, though my ongoing disinterest in their welfare has made it touch and go on occasion.

But what I love most of all – I’m not responsible for any of it.

And so it was, that on Melbourne Cup Day, I found myself dressed in flannel and a 80s vintage jumpsuit, reading instructions on the side of a bag of fertiliser that assured me it would not burn my eyes, playing gardening assistant to JK, or apprentice as he liked to say. We were planting tomatoes because that’s what you do on Melbourne Cup Day, that and kill horses for sport.

He had requested my company. Said it would be fun. It would be my job to hand him things, fill buckets with things and control the afternoons music selection. One of those things I did with great abandon, the other two, I did somewhat half assed. To be fair he had offered me a way out earlier in the day, suggesting he fix up the hammock so I could read but I was tired of being cast of the bad witch from Wicked in our relationship, so I insisted on helping. My ego thwarting me once more.

We gardened for what seemed like days, no months. Winters came and went, summers were cruel, the springs a welcome break from the intense labor that came with handing JK a watering can at varying intervals and clipping off bits of twine to secure the vegetation. It was exhausting, soul destroying. I think I lost a piece of myself that day…

I was about to give up, walk away, perhaps get lost on the way back to civilisation and Foxtel on Demand and starve to death in our driveway when JK suddenly turned around, smiled, running a well calloused hand through his beard. ‘Thanks for today’ he said ‘I know you don’t like gardening, but I really like getting to spend time with you. It’s been nice.’

With such crippling accusations levelled at my feet I realised he was right. I do not like gardening, that day being no exception, but there is something I like more – spending time with JK, watching him do something he enjoys, so I smiled back in a way that communicated ‘I love spending time with you too, but no, we’re not watching The Hobbit after this.’
There’s only so few compromises I was willing to make that day.

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Give So I May Brunch

Dear Reader, 

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. 

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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 

Lou

x

ps. This is how I will look once your donations start rolling in.

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I’ve dated a Trans Person. A lot of us have.

‘….our identity is a sum of our parts, not just one part in particular.’

I’m not Trans. I can’t speak to that experience. So I won’t. What I will speak with is the experience of someone who was once in a relationship with a Trans Man. Some people know about this, some people don’t. I always felt uncomfortable talking about my experience, thinking that in doing so I was revealing something that wasn’t mine to do, so much so that when I did a show about this particular relationship back in 2009 I didn’t mention it. I was really into prop comedy at the time anyway. I argued it wasn’t important to the story. I argued with my director, my script editor. I told them it wasn’t my story to tell. And you know what? In all honestly I didn’t want to distract from the show.  I didn’t want the audience to spend any of their time trying to figure ‘it’ out.  Trying to figure out what that made me? Oh and the much more common concern – watching the audience try to figure out how we did ‘it’.

Does that sound crude?  Abso-fucking-lutely it does. And sadly it was a question I got asked all too often.

No one ever thought they were being offensive or intrusive when they asked how we had sex and my grimaced smile didn’t really send home the message that it wasn’t an appropriate question to ask – the sort that revealed more about the ignorance of the asker then the answerer. I thought by not answering their questions  that that would say, albeit silently, that their questions were inappropriate. Like when they asked ‘have they had the surgery?’ or when they said ‘it’s amazing, they pass so well. You’d think they were a real man’ or my favourite ‘I could always tell.’  I’d tell them finally to shut up, that it was their ignorance and lack of education talking, but I was loathed to discuss it further as I still believed that just because I’d dated a Trans Man, that didn’t give me the right to discuss it.

But now that I’m older and as an LGBTQI ally and advocate I believe it is visibility and experience that is our strongest assets in this community. Putting aside the Bruce Jenner media spectacle we’ve seen in recent weeks, sharing our experiences, even if they are fleeting is important. It doesn’t mean you’re telling someone else’s story, it means your telling only part of your story. So yes, I dated a Trans Man.

As friends, we were great. As lovers, we were fun, tempestuous, fiery, belligerent and miserable – the perfect 20something relationship.  During my time with him, aside from the constant teary eyed break-ups and passionate reunions I never really thought about what being with him made me. People who knew us just thought it was great we’d gotten together, finally. Only when I started telling some close family and friends that didn’t know about him I was asked ‘are you gay?’ I would always answer ‘No, I date a man because I’m straight’ but I knew what they meant. They needed to make sense of it, as open minded as they were. If I was gay it would make sense. It would explain all the Indigo Girls albums and my fondness for the film ‘But I’m a Cheerleader.’ What didn’t make sense was that for all intents and purposes I was in a straight relationship and my boyfriend could be an asshole just like everyone else’s. On the odd occasion his transition  would come up during our time together he used it to try and empathise with me, like when I was complaining of period pains and he tried to empathise and I threw his trainers out the window…

I won’t write about his journey in this post. I still believe that’s his to tell. What I will say is he was an activist and friend to many in the trans community and it was hard not to be in awe of what he had overcome to be the person he really was. And whilst my relationship with him didn’t make me gay, it did make me more aware, more liberal and more importantly, did in some way contribute to the person I am today. But that’s what all relationships should do. The good, the bad – they teach us something about ourselves.

After we broke up and I started dating again, I would sometimes disclose details of my past relationship with him and be met with a mix of curiosity and utter transphobia –  ‘oh so now you’re with a real man’. This comment uttered by more than one but less than a few. Those relationships would last the length of a short breath.

I saw this short documentary once, where a Trans Warrior went around asking people on the street questions about what it meant to be a man. Questions like ‘If you were in a car crash and you lost your cock would that make you less of a man?’ In all of these ‘if you lost your cock’ questions the answer was always the same ‘having a penis didn’t make you a man’.  The interviewers intention was clear – our identity is a sum of our parts, not just one part in particular.

I realised while reading some of the reporting surrounded Bruce Jenner’s recent admission as well as  watching TV shows like Orange is New Black and Transparent –   that while it is important we continue to see trans visibility increase in our society, that it is also important that those of us who have been in relationships with Trans People not fall silent on it. By letting people know that being a relationship with a Trans Person was part of your story it can help lessen the stigma and at times offensive curiosity surrounding the community. It can show young people struggling with transition that they will love, live and have tempestuous and at time shitty relationships just like the rest of us. It might just show them that it does get better. It sure showed me that.

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