**I wanted to write a Mothers Day Blog that was sensitive and soft. Full of pretty things like flowers and bunnies. And then a Facebook friend’s picture rolled up on my timeline. Baby grinning…puked all over mama…and I burst out laughing…and decided…lets keep this real. Thanks to this amazing mum for allowing me to share her photo**.
Mama Mama Mia
There she was. After getting her to finally cry the doctor handed me my first born baby. I glanced downward and my first thought was…
“Good God…I’ve birthed a unicorn”
She was an interesting shade of purple, with two bruise marks on her forehead from a difficult forceps delivery. Arriving into the world much earlier than expected , her limbs far out did her body weight and I seriously thought I’d just pushed out a purple filly.
Our first week was spent under the watchful eyes of hospital staff as I tried to work out how to dress my new gumby horse and not stab her with one of those huge diaper pins that were all the rage back in 1985. I loved maternity wards back in the day. You were offered three beer a day if you planned to breastfeed.
I breastfeed and you bring me alcohol? Sign this mama up.
I failed breastfeeding in about six minutes flat. The moment she latched on every hormone in my body raced upwards to my brain and I sobbed uncontrollably while berating myself for ruining any chance of a mother child bonding experience. The infant attached to the mum in the bed beside me lay quietly while mum leaned back in a state of blissful peace while I was wailing like a wounded jackal. It was a train wreck.
The free bar was closed and I squeezed my poor breasts into a bra three sizes too small to slow the production of the milk that made me cry.
My daughter is 32 and lactose intolerant and I still think it’s my fault.
I’m still resentful about the beer too.
Our first year together is pretty much still a blur. I believe I managed to get about a good solid 60 hours of sleep over that time frame. Our little bundle of joy was hyper colic. Probably because I screwed up baby bonding breastfeeding 101. I got to a first name basis with all of the emergency room staff as I would stumble in no less than twice a month with a baby screaming like I had cut both her long legs off.
I have a vague recollection of one 2 am event where she was all of three months old and I was trying to figure out how to stretch my lady part to accommodate pushing her back in. No seriously….I did have that thought. I even eyed the plunger under the bathroom sink.
I’m still trying to work out how I managed to conceive baby number two on the tail end of the first year from hell. I figure I was semi conscious. I was 21 and pregnant with number two. I almost bit the doctor’s ankles from my vantage point on the floor when I sank to it in shock.
I can still see his face.
“Excuse me…I must have something in my ears. You said bladder infection but I heard you’re pregnant. Let’s start that again”
Carried this one through the hottest summer on record. Migraines daily and a one year old that spewed vomit every five minutes. I had gotten to the point by then that I didn’t really give a crap where it landed. There were many episodes of “Skating With The Stars” played out across my slippery kitchen tiles. How I wish we had You Tube back then because I could have become a millionaire and hired a Nanny.
At the beginning of trimester two I was informed that I had an incompetent cervix and that I would need a suture procedure to maintain this pregnancy. Of course I had an incompetent cervix. I was also an incompetent breast feeder..why not?
“Some women are just built this way” the doctor reassured me.
All I could think was….
“Maybe I did follow through on the plunger attempt and blacked it out?”
My delivery room experience was not at all what it is promised to be in the Lamaze classes. Not at all. My OB resident walked in, reached down, wrapped her fist around the suture and pulled like she was teaching a Rottweiler to heel. I screeched and she glanced up and told me not to be a baby.
Well that ended poorly.
My right foot shot forward and landed her squarely in the forehead nearly knocking her off her stool. My head flew up like the Exorcist and I recall hearing a horrible voice full of four letter expletives as it demanded that she leave the room immediately.
I remember glancing up at the two nurses hovering nearby and quietly saying…
“Hello? Baby face is falling out of my vajayjay here. Can someone catch that please?”
The actual OB strode in at that moment and literally caught bundle of joy number two as he fell out. Handed him to the hovering nurse, smacked my leg and said “Good Job” and walked out.
I laid there a moment staring at the door thinking…
“I am totally becoming a baby doctor. He just got 800.00 from OHIP and he was here for a hot half minute”.
Absolutely exhausted at this point from both the delivery and my karate moves I glanced down at my new little boy and found myself being inspected by the direct gaze of two jet black eyes. I panicked momentarily and figured I had channeled Linda Blair for real. My mother had just walked in and I will never forget her bewildered expression as I lifted him to her and said…
“Take him. He scares me”
He stared at me for a full two years. Never spoke a word. Just stared.
Like Drew Barrymore in Fire Starter.
I thought that at any given moment I might spontaneously combust.
Motherhood was going well.
Baby three arrived 7 years later. I was undergoing a tubal ligation in April of 1992. As the gas mask lowered to my face and the backwards count began I clearly heard my grandmothers voice.
“Oh Tania, you’re pregnant”
My first thought on waking in the recovery room a short time later was…
“Well clearly I am not pregnant now Nanny”
And then the doctor walked in.
“Everything went really well. I decided to forego the D and C procedure”
Meaning…that the uterine lining was intact.
I swear to God that I heard my grandmother giggle from somewhere in that room.
Three weeks later I found myself at the OB office feeling very off.
“You must have left a sponge up there or something cause I feel awful”
I left some “lets check for pregnancy” blood vials behind and my mouth on the floor.
Two days later I got the news. The nurse called and was laughing.
“Talk about shutting the barn door after the horse bolts”
I stood staring at my husband and finally the words fell out.
“I am pregnant”
The dish he was washing fell from his fingers and hit the floor.
No suture surgery with this one. You can only do that once. At five months in I was told to hit bed rest phase. Oh I laughed. I really laughed. Bed rest?
My eldest is seven and although the vomiting has stopped she is a drama queen with a penchant for high pitched screaming to gain my attention to the fact that she has a hang nail. Bed rest you say?
My five year old is still staring at me and now he’s obsessed with dirt. He walks around all day in my Playtex Yellow Dish Gloves. He reminds me of the butcher in some horror movie I watched when I was 12. I have fears of being smothered while on this bed rest.
“The baby may simply drop out in the toilet Tania”
“OK…well I will bend over each time and beg him not to” I responded.
On the due date day of Dec 14th I was doing jumping jacks because he had decided to wrap his feet around my bottom ribs because I think I had created his fear of drowning by begging him not to jump earlier.
I seriously did jumping jacks trying to dislodge him. I had never gone to term and this was freaking me out thinking he may never leave home at all. I went to bed depressed and fat. I woke up at 5 am in full labor with contractions every 30 seconds.
Awesome. Note to new mothers to be. No jumping jacks. Bad bad very bad idea.
We raced out of the house and tore off for the hospital with the 7 year old drama queen and Playtex Gloves losing their shit in the back seat.
“You get to meet your new brother or sister soon”, I cooed through pursed lips.
“I don’t want a new brother or sister”
Playtex Gloves just stared.
We arrived in a record breaking three seconds somehow. I leapt from the car turned and hit a patch of ice. Straight up in the air and slammed to earth with an extra 60 pounds of belly to really bring it home but good. My husband still trying to wrestle the other two from the car turned and yelled
“What the hell are you doing!?”
“Oh you know….just thought I’d lay down and do it right here”
“Mummy you can’t have the baby in the driveway, get up!”
Playtex Gloves….well…..you know…
This baby was coming with no pain medication AT ALL. And he was turning his head back and forth like he was looking for the way out. The nurse smiled and said she’d never seen a baby do this before. Thought it was cute or something. Not so cute for me as I screamed at the top of my lungs….
“Grab that head and pull it the hell out!!!”
Oh boy. The epitome of motherhood was shining that day.
They grew up. Much faster than I ever expected they would. My mother warned me about this each time I would mutter about another Sparks meeting or Scouts. Each time I would sigh because another tooth needed fixing or another pair of shoes were too tight. Every time I would groan because my teenage daughter wanted to invite all 47 of her friends for a sleepover. Each time they hugged me. Each time they hated me and wanted me to not be their mum. Each time grew into each year and each year took us further away into now.
And each moment I found reasons to tell myself I wasn’t doing it right. Not good enough..too tough..too soft…too easy…too pleasing. Was I too self focused? Too blunt? Was I too nurse like when they came crying and I told them to stop being so ridiculous? Was I too human?
And then I sit and remember.
I ruined a wardrobe of clothing because I didn’t want to upset my colic child any further in running for a towel. She was already struggling and in pain and my clothes could be replaced. With second hand store clothing yes…..who could afford new back then? But it was OK. I bought her 70.00 dresses that would be destroyed in ten seconds flat with similac stain. But I bought them anyway because she deserved to be pretty.
I sat hours staring back at Playtex Gloves wondering if I had screwed him up from the onset of the pregnancy. I was so tired from not sleeping the year prior that I spent the time completely down and frustrated. I wondered as he stared at me what he must think of this mother that handed him away moments after birth. You do things in a moment that can cause you to question yourself constantly. But it’s OK. He learned to speak and it turned out that he didn’t have a problem with me at all. He simply wanted to watch the world instead.
The youngest? Well he spent years terrified…I mean terrified of water. I would quietly beat myself up absolutely certain that I made him this way. Each time I would go to the bathroom I would lean over and say…
“God please don’t fall in”
And I think the kid heard me.
But….he learned to swim. Without any help from me. So that’s OK too.
They are 32, 30 and 25. They survived me. And I survived them.
And despite all of my perceived shortcomings they went forth and they multiplied.
Thus far we have a 5 year old drama queen, a 7 year old starer ( no gloves thank God) and the two year old is making his own brand new quirks.
Clearly I didn’t mess them up that bad. They are incredible parents doing their best too.
Would I do it all again and the same way? With the same frustrations and the same fears?
Yes I would.
And so will you.
Be gentle on yourselves Mamas. You’re teaching your children to be real parents. Not perfect ones.
Happy Mother’s Day Beautiful Ladies.