Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Birth Story

This is the mostly true account of my niece's birth last April.

Narrator: Coming up. . .Sassy and Joe are expecting their first child. What’s in store for them? Sassy wants a home birth with midwives. But last minute indecision could change their plans.
[Pan to Sassy puking in the toilet, asking her mother “Is it too late to have an epidural?”]
Does Sassy have what it takes to go through with the medication-free plan to give birth at home, as she hopes? Find out soon, on A Birth Story.

Commercial break: Hey everyone! Check out my friend’s website at http://www.spasisters.ca/ She runs her own soap/spa products business with her sister.

[Distant shot of very pregnant Sassy and Joe, walking through the park with a German Shepherd dog named Europe. They are chatting. They are happy. Make sure to get close up shot of oblivious looking Sassy, still in major denial that she’s pregnant at all, even at 38 weeks.]
Narrator: Meet Sassy and Joe. High school sweethearts, they have been together off and on since then. Their romance started when Sassy asked Joe to the Grade 10 dance.

[Pan to Sassy sitting in her living room, with a big bouquet of flowers at her head.]
Sassy: It was his eyebrows I first noticed. Then the kilt. He’s a bagpiper. I guess I couldn’t resist a bagpiper!

[Pan to Joe. Also with big bouquet of flowers at his head].
Joe: She asked me to this dance. I couldn’t say no. She loved the kilt! What can I say? There aren’t many girls who are into kilts.

[Pan to couple together, sitting on a couch. Big bouquet of flowers still in the shot].
Joe: I proposed one day after I picked her up from work. She wasn’t expecting it. We’d been together for 11 years, so she was totally caught off guard. I proposed to her right there on the curb! Then I took her for supper, and had a rose waiting.
Sassy: He gave me the most beautiful ring. It was exactly what I’d asked for. [Shot of ring, as Sassy absently rubs her large pregnant belly]. Of course I said yes. Did I say yes, or did I just laugh? I think I said yes.

Narrator: The couple got married in June, and decided they didn’t want to wait too long to start a family. Both have always wanted children.
Sassy: We were on our first year anniversary road trip to Memphis. I wondered then if I was pregnant. Something about the way the ducks at the Peabody Hotel made me feel. But of course, I didn’t see how it was possible.
Joe: You were in denial.
Sassy: Once we were home, I waited forever to take the test. My sister was pregnant too. Finally, I gave in and took the test. It was positive! I freaked out. I couldn’t believe I was pregnant. Joe was calm, though.
Joe: Calm on the outside! Inside, I was nervous—very nervous. I still feel like a kid myself, who’s even having trouble managing the care of our dog, Europe. I mean, how do you know when you’re ready to be a parent of a child? [Close up shot of the sweat forming on Joe’s forehead, and the panic in his eyes.]

[New scene. Go to shot of sister. Sister has a three-year old named Geister, and a newborn named Boo. Get lots of cute shots of Boo.]
Sister: I knew Sassy was pregnant before she did! All the signs were there. I knew it. I kept bugging her to take the test. I remember going to a picnic with her, and she insisted on carrying everything because she knew I was pregnant, even though I wasn’t telling anyone yet. But it was silly. She was pregnant too! Then we went to a U2 concert together. Those were early days. The music was so loud of course, but we both want our children to grow up to be fans, so we didn’t care. Did I tell you about the time we actually met Bon. . .
[Cut off the sister. Back to Joe and Sassy, discussing birth plans.]
Sassy: I don’t like hospitals; hospitals are for the sick. A pregnant woman isn’t sick. Pregnancy is a human condition, not a medical one. Unless there are complications, I don’t want to go to the hospital. My grandfather was born at home. And last November, so was my friend Trista’s baby.

Joe, gesturing towards his wife: Whatever she says, I totally support her.

Narrator: The couple has decided not to find out the sex of the baby.
Joe: We don’t care one way or the other. As long as it’s healthy, right Sassy? [He gives his wife a huge squeeze on the arm. She looks like she doesn’t want to be touched, but she smiles anyway.]
Sassy: I have a feeling it’s a boy. Or a girl. Or maybe a boy. One or the other. I’m sure of it.
Joe: It’s going to be beautiful, whatever it is.
Sassy, misty eyed: Yes, it is.

Narrator: When we come back, labour starts perfectly on time—on the baby’s due date.
[Pan to shot of Sassy doubled over with the pain of a contraction, waving her hand and saying, “I’m not in labour. That’s not a contraction!”]
Will Sassy finally accept that a baby is on its way, or will the denial continue? Is Sassy going to go through with her plans for a home birth, or will she ask to go to the hospital?

Commercial break: Early Years Centre registration is this week. Don’t forget to sign up! For more information go to http://www.ontarioearlyyears.ca/

Narrator: We’re back with our couple. We were going to show you the usual baby shower footage, but due to viewer demand, we have cut out that uber-boring segment on all our Birth Stories.
Now, Sassy has gone into labour on the baby’s due date. With remarkable timing, the baby seems to be on its way. Are Sassy and Joe prepared?

[Pan to Sassy and sister’s parents house. Sassy is bent over in pain, and her sister is haranguing her with questions. The mood is tense. Boo is crying. Make sure to include wide shots that show Joe is nowhere to be found.]

Sister: Sassy, are you in labour? Should I go home tonight? I want to be there for you. If you don’t want me in the room, that’s OK, I’ll wait in the hall. Or downstairs. Or in the basement. But I respect you; it’s your decision. [Faces the camera] She won’t care. She’ll be in so much pain she won’t even notice me. But I should ask, anyway; it’s the right thing to do.
Sassy, to her mother: Do you really think I’m in labour?
Mother: I’ve been timing your contractions. . .
Sassy: They’re not contractions!
Mother: And they seem pretty regular. Shouldn’t you call the midwives?
Sassy: I guess. Should I go [Stops speaking because of the intense pain. Recovers.] home now? I hope Joe is home now. Maybe I’ll go home.

[As Sassy heads for home, her sister and her mother talk of Sassy’s state of mind. They say things like “It’ll seem real enough soon!” and “Poor girl. She has no idea of what she’s in for!”
Pan to shot of Joe and Sassy’s house. Then follow inside, to shot of closed bathroom door. Sound of shower running.]

Joe to camera: Well, I guess this is it. It seems pretty real. We called the midwives about 30 minutes ago. Sassy’s water broke. She called her sister first. I wanted to call the midwives, but. . . She’s in the shower to help with the pain. We’re supposed to check in later when the contractions get more intense. Her mom and sister are on their way over now.

[Shot of everyone coming into the house. Mother asks if midwives are on their way. Sassy says no, she hasn’t bothered to call yet. Mother, not normally forceful, takes control and insists on calling the midwives. The principal midwife is on her way. Time passes. Get shot of clock. Note to producers: If we need to fake the timing later to intensify the dramatic arc, we can. Use standard stills of clocks, set at various times.]

Joe: Well, it’s 11:30 pm. Everyone’s resting. Boo’s sleeping, Sassy’s sister is sleeping. Sassy is sort of resting, in the bathroom. She’s hanging in there. I think. Maybe I’ll go check. [Is interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. Midwife arrives.]

[New shot] Midwife to camera: Well, Sassy’s doing well. She’s fully dilated. We have to get set up for the birth here. It’s too late to go to the hospital now and I have a lot of prep to do. [Pauses] Can you get out of the way? Please? [Smiles politely. Slight commotion] Get that camera out of my face, please. [Sound of what could be a camera crashing to the floor.]

Narrator: There is a lot of activity as the household gets ready for what looks like an imminent birth.
[Joe is running around looking for old towels. The sister has woken up and is standing around doing nothing useful. Sassy’s mom and midwife get the plastic sheet on the bed, and then make the bed with the old sheets. The midwife brings in her loads and loads of equipment. Clip of the sister saying, “Wow, look at all this stuff. It’s very modern, and medical looking!” Then go to shots of Joe and the sister bringing the change table into the main bedroom, for supplies and such. Shot of Joe running into the sister, holding up a large Tupperware container, and saying proudly “Placenta!”]

Sassy, reclining on the bed: It’s been OK. It’s not too bad. I haven’t had any medi. . .(Sassy breaks off, unable to speak anymore. She looks off to the distance.)
Narrator: Two midwives are required for a home birth. They have also brought in a student midwife. Now that everyone’s here, it’s time for the big event in the now crowded room. How will Joe and Sassy handle the biggest moment of their lives?

Midwife: OK, Sassy, it’s time to try to push. I want you to listen to my voice. Pushing can be intense, and it might take awhile. Just focus on my voice. I’m going to tell you what to do. We’ll get this baby past the J curve.

[Shots of all gathered in the room: Mother, mesmerized by midwife’s voice; Sister, standing in oversized closet with Boo, mesmerized by midwife’s voice; Joe, looking overwhelmed, but mesmerized by midwife’s voice.]

Narrator: Coming up, will the baby arrive quickly, or will pushing take three hours? How do Joe and Sassy fare? Will the smell of cigarettes and smoke clinging to the second midwife make her sister want to barf? When we come back, answers to all these questions and more.

Commercial break: Hey again everyone! If you too want to become a blogger, just check out https://www2.blogger.com/start. It’s free and it’s easy!

[Shots of exterior of house. It’s dark. Follow inside to main bedroom. Close up shot of clock: 2:45 am. Action shots: Discreet shots from shoulder of Sassy pushing. This is difficult, as Sassy is on all fours. Midwife is calm and in control. Joe is saying, “You can do it. Come on honey. Push!” Mother and sister are saying slightly more inane things like “Push!” and “Push some more!” Close up of Sassy’s face. Screams.
The baby is born. Show clock: 2:56 am.
The baby is brought forward to Joe, who examines the sex and says, “It’s a girl, Sassy.” Joe has the biggest smile of anyone in the room, as well as the bushiest hair. Sassy looking happy, but still bewildered, says “A baby just came out of me.”

The group is happy. Sassy’s sister is encouraged directly by the midwives to take some pictures of the baby that also capture some things we are not allowed to show on TV.
Joe cuts the cord. The baby is weighed: 7lbs, 6 oz.]

Narrator: With the birth of their daughter successfully over, Sassy and Joe now have to wait for the kitchen chair and desk lamp to be brought into the room, so the midwives can do some stitching. Will this take far longer than it should? Will it be painful?
[Various shots: The midwives continue to work for hours: filling out forms, cleaning up, taking pictures, and creating a sign for the front door that says “Shhh!! A baby was born here last night. Please keep visits to a minimum and do not leave until you’ve done some housework.”]

[Morning. Pan to sister, father and mother coming up the sidewalk to the house, pausing at the front door to look quizzically at the note on the door. Go to Sassy and Joe and baby, snuggled up on the bed, pastoral feel.]

Sassy: I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I had a baby! She’s beautiful. I love her!
Joe: She’s amazing. You’re amazing Sassy. We’re a family now.
Sassy: Europe is our family.
Joe: I mean a bigger family.
Sassy: Yup.

[Credits roll over this image of the little peanut.]

The End.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Because That’s Just the Way It Goes

Last night was bath night, which we schedule for every other night. Boo would have a bath every day if she could, she loves the water so much; Geister would whenever the mood strikes. This could be never. Normally, this every other night schedule avoids the situation where one parent (me) has to do the bath solo—a doable but daunting task. But tonight, despite our careful scheduling, my husband got called in at the last minute to do some ambulance patient transfer blah blah blah. I had to do the bath myself.

“Isn’t it interesting,” I mused, as I scrubbed their faces and rinsed off their backs, “that my children never have accidents in the bathtub!” By which I meant, never mistake the bathtub for a toilet—with one exception of an incident in a hotel in Ottawa, when I had put a “soothing and relaxing” bubble bath into the water. My bad.
“Of course,” my other self then replied, “that realization means it is likely to happen tonight.”

It did. I had Geister out and dried, saving Boo till last; she sat relatively contained in a bath seat. As I let the water drain out, I saw the evidence. You know how it is: `Oh look, there’s something brown in the tub. . .oh frack I know what that is. . . @#$! '* (*add descriptive swear/non-swear word of your choice here)

Sidebar: It’s just like the time my husband walked through our family room and noticed similar brown substances on the floor. Curious, and unawares, he picked it up to examine it closer. “Hmm, what is this on our floor?. . .oh smurf!. . .Geister! What have you done?” Geister, at 18 months, had been toddling around in shorts, which allowed little gifts to escape from his diaper onto the floor.

I rescued from harm what toys I could; I cleaned off Boo, diapered her offending bottom, got her into her pajamas, and cleaned up the rest. Meanwhile I kept the ever-fascinated Geister at bay. Boo went to bed shortly afterwards, which left Geister to ponder the infraction with me.

“Mommy,” he said, “Boo pooed in the tub!”
“Yes, I know sweetie.”
Why did she do it?”
“I don’t know sweetie. She’s a baby. She didn’t mean to.”
“Can I see the poop?”
“No, you can’t. It’s cleaned up.”
“But I want to see it!” he whined.

Once Geister was resigned enough to not seeing the poop again, and knew that his bedtime was upon him, I tucked him in and turned out the light. (Then I lied down with him, because I have to. . . anyway, that's another topic.) He was silent for a few moments, drifting off to sleep. Until he sat upright, that is, blanket clutched to his chest.

“Mommy, Boo pooed in the bathtub!”
“Yes, I know.”
“But it’s not nice to poo in the bathtub!”
“No, you’re right it’s not.”
“Why isn’t it nice Mommy?”
“Is there poop in your bathtub?
“Of course not.”
“Mommy, is Boo going to poo in the bathtub again?”
“No, I promise she will never do it again.”

Silence. . .
Sleep. . .
More disinfectant.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I attended a bridal shower this week. This is a rare event in mommy-land. There are lots of baby showers, but the bridal showers—the lingerie bridal showers—are as rare as a mommy actually wearing said lingerie.

We enjoyed champagne drinks, blueberry French toast, fresh strawberries, and chocolates, while relaxing, baby-free. The bride happily answered questions regarding the courtship and wedding: what she first thought of her fiancĂ© when she met him just eleven months ago (I’ll withhold those details); how that opinion rapidly changed; what her dress was like; etc. Yummy stories to accompany yummy food. She also talked about booking the honeymoon: Cuba . . . nice beach . . . staying in an upgraded casa suite.

Of all the things to be envious of that day, this was the thing that made me wish to trade places the most. I wanted to be planning a honeymoon. I wanted to pack my sandals, sunblock, underwater camera, trashy (but not too trashy) beach novel; fly to Cuba with just my husband; spend a whole week admiring my coral pink pedicured toes, while relaxing on the beach sipping mojitos, or something sin hielo (without ice) so as to be careful not to contract hepatitis.

My husband and I have traveled kid-less since becoming parents, and it was fantastic and romantic and wonderful. But I missed Geister every day we were separated from him (Boo was not yet on the scene). I called to check on him every other day. Everything we saw I wondered how he would like it. I noticed every playground, every child’s attraction. I noticed every stroller and all the other parents travelling with their children. I noticed how child-friendly even the museums were, how there was so much for Geister to enjoy.

But a honeymoon is the ideal vacation for many reasons not the least of which is because it generally occurs before kids. If I were to trade places, the longing I would feel for Geister and Boo would be instead for the children we would have some day, and it would be lovelier and sweeter and easier than the harsh reality of actually missing them, and wondering how they would feel, gritty and grimy from the mixture of sand and sunblock on their skin, as I scooped them in my arms after a long day in the sun and took them in to the casa to get changed for supper.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

For Those of You Clicking Over. . .

from B&P's post, this is a picture of the boys in action. Just sorry I didn't get the action shot of Bub kicking the poo in the backyard.

Note: AS, I am working on the story, of one year ago, of the homebirth, no medication, and one beautiful baby girl. . .and me hiding in the closet.

Friday, April 06, 2007

What a Difference

Something reminded me today of the word “piranha” and how I always used to get that mixed up with the word “pariah”. Once the distinction became clear to me, it opened up a new world of communication possibilities; that is, I could use each word correctly. (“Piranhas are really pariahs” I could say now, while not scientifically, um, accurate, at least demonstrating some knowledge that the two words are not clones.) I have always tried to mentally track other words that I used to think were one (or at least, could be used interchangeably). For example, ambivalent and ambiguous; class and caste; historic and historical; epidural (yum) and episiotomy (yuck).

There is also a list of people who have caused me similar confusion—forgive me sisters—Gertrude Stein and Gloria Steinem had me confused for years. More recently, of course, there’s been Verve and Verve Pipe (not the same band!) and Nelly and Nelly Furtado. Really, the list could go on and on.

So this led me to thinking about how much my vocabulary has grown in general since becoming a mother. It is natural to learn a new lingo when embarking on any new career, and it’s certainly true of this gig. The words that only the insiders know, the words the outsiders don’t even pretend to understand.

In short, here are some of my favourite new words, all courtesy of mommyhood:
  • Bumbo
  • fenugreek
  • exersaucer
  • gymini
  • onesie!
  • playdate
  • Mum Mum
  • minigo, my favourite

Consider this an open post; not complete. So many more words to learn as my preschooler starts t-ball, enters JK, then SK. So many more chances to think I’ve got it straight, when I don’t.

Post Script
It’s funny how these are just plain out of date:

  • pablum
  • play pen

isn’t it?
And this one remains a pronunciational controversy: Robeez