Category Archives: Super Cringe

Jam Man

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Jam Man

I accidentally got into a Facebook fight with a local guy who sells jams. I know it sounds ridiculous, stay with me, this guy has been caustic since day one. A few months ago a local non-profit I volunteer for hosted a vendor event. I was doing promotions on Facebook for it when I get a “why wasn’t I invited” in the comments from some stranger. I never heard his name before but I responded politely gave him the details and he joined the event.

Most vendors donated a percentage of sales. He donated a total of $3. to the non-profit.  That was the change from a purchase my friend Pam made. She said “donate the change to the kids” within earshot of me so he handed me the change. I reached out a few times after the event with details of how to donate. I got no response, I let it go.

Things are going fine. I liked his jam related posts and we have some mutual local business friends. Great, I support local businesses. Then in August things went off the rails.

He posted something which asked a question, I answered. Things spiraled from there. It was getting late and I didn’t like the tone that his post was descending into so I turned off the notifications. Then I posted about my newfound love of the “turn off notifications” feature on my personal page. Apparently Jam Man noticed.

I logged off and went to bed.  While I was sleeping, Jam Man started a sh*t storm on my personal Facebook page. Some of my friends defended me and took screen shots of the whole sordid affair. Most of the offensive comments were deleted by the time I logged on the next morning. All that remained were a few traces of a rough night with people messaging me the details.

My friends were demanding a boycott of his business. I urged them to let it go, he makes a good product. Just brush it off. Then I unfriended him because I don’t need the drama. Here’s the funny part…my husband loves this f*cking jam. The one he likes reminds him of childhood summers spent in Italy. How can I deprive him of that? I can’t. But I don’t want to order this stuff online and have Jam Man see my name on the order – he’ll probably poison the jar. And I definitely do NOT want him to have my home address.

So in an ironic twist, filed under things you do for love…I am driving all over, going into local small businesses looking for this stupid jam. I bought another variety at one store, hubs gave it the thumbs down. I go back two days later for the beloved flavor, they don’t have it. Damn it.

This morning my husband sends me a text “good jam” – meaning please get me the stuff that reminds me of childhood summers spent in Italy. My first reaction was “you’re on your own dude, Jam Man was at it again yesterday.” Then I look up other stores that might carry it and find a local venue. I found it!!! So yes I bought the stupid jam because I love my husband more than I dislike the Jam Man.

What Happens in the Barn, Stays in the Barn

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What Happens in the Barn, Stays in the Barn

The bad karaoke and somewhat suggestive dancing with another district mom shouldn’t come back to haunt me. Except that everyone in this Wonder Bread town has a smartphone. Well at least we raised some money “for the children” (starts humming..”we are the world….we are the children”….sorry, maybe).

Planning an event is a solid pain in the ass. Even the well-meaning helpers can be a drag when they get on board at the last minute. The community really pulls through with silent auction donations which is great. The problem is when they get donated at the last minute. You have to scramble to pick up them up on an already over-scheduled day and then you have to find display space.

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The six foot ice sculpture sounds amazing, not sure about the logistics though….the event starts in two hours. Sketch by Lisa McMillen of http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

 

Sheila lets me know the night before the event that she wants to donate a decorative plate to the silent auction. She also wants a ticket to the event that’s been sold out for weeks. Sure Sheila, no problem (I want to make t-shirts that say “Sure, Sheila” and we’ll be the only ones who know what that means, like our secret handshake, except it’s a shirt). The donation had a high-end price tag, but was likely mass produced in a factory with a plethora of human rights violations.

I get Sheila’s  address Saturday morning. She lives on a private road which is the stuff of nightmares. It’s anorexic and is flanked with thorny hedges that are overgrown and spill over onto the road. The kind of vegetation that aches to destroy whatever comes in contact. I put that thought on the back burner as I pull over and run in to grab the donation.

I went there after a rigorous cardio class as it was the only time I could go. Let me just mention that I sweat profusely when I work out, so I’m a bit of a mess when I arrive. My hair is a matted ponytail under my hat and I stink. I’m in urgent need of a shower and I do not wish to socialize.

Sheila greets me at the door and I thank her for the donation. “Thanks so much, I’ll just grab it and get out of your way,” I say hopeful for a quick exit. Instead of running out the door I get offered coffee, a danish and I’m walked into the dinning area. This is starting to drag on.

It took me a bit to realize what was happening, probably because I had six hours worth of things to do in a two-hour window. I was going through my mental checklist when Sheila started pitching for her multi-level marketing company. This house is a showroom for those damn plates. I’m not sure if she is an employee or a disciple.

She’s describing the snob appeal of the MLM brand while I’m standing in sweaty gym clothes I purchased at Target six years ago. My entire outfit including my sneakers cost less than one of those overpriced plates. My sneakers are older than her youngest kid and she’s in middle school.

“You meet so many interesting people,” Sheila drawls as I instantly flashback to Bugs Bunny giving Gossamer a manicure. “I’m sure you do”, I reply as my eyes begin to glaze.

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Let’s pretend this is Gossamer getting a mani from Bugs Bunny. I don’t have the financial resources to take on Warner Brothers for copyright infringement.

My brain shuts off whenever I come in contact with cults. Fight or flight kicked in. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw the plate on a buffet server to my right.

“Oh is this it?” I asked as I slowly back myself toward the plate while maintaining eye contact and nodding my head politely.

“Yes, isn’t it spectacular!” Sheila exclaims.

“It’s lovely” I say as I pick it up. I rarely use the word “lovely,” it’s just too civilized for me (unless it has a curse in front of it like an angry verb and it’s dripping in sarcasm – “Oh, isn’t that f*cking lovely”). I then grab the plate and stammer “thanks a bunch” as I let myself out with a fast walk that is more like a jog.

I got to my car only to realize that I would need to do a K turn to get myself turned around to avoid backing out of the angry suburban jungle that flanks the lane. I started the car with Sheila going through her spiel from her front porch “If I sell $718. worth by midnight I get entered into a contest for the French Impressionists Series!” as I feverishly try to turn my car around.

“How exciting!” I reply, while frantically turning my wheel in alternating opposite directions, yielding 10-inch bouts of progress with steering that can only be described as desperate. Sweat was stinging my eyes as Sheila drones on endlessly about how the owner of the company is just like us – “A gay man, lives in Rome, adopted twelve kids and travels on a private jet.” So similar, I think to myself, except I’m not fifty yet, b*tch (I have since turned fifty, sigh).

Sheila offers to back up my car, which has an interior that makes it a candidate for a Superfund Site. I thank her and decline. I don’t want her to know I’m a colossal car slob, I just want to leave. Eleven agonizing minutes later (with Sheila watching the ENTIRE time) I finally get myself pointed in the right direction.

“Bye Sheila, see you tonight,” I smile and wave on the way out. Then I instantly think of the Penguins from Madagascar – “Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.”

The Show Must Go On

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The Show Must Go On

A couple of years ago I thought – Wouldn’t it be fun to host a variety show to raise some money for the school district. I’m not sure what part of my brain thought I could pull this off but other people encouraged me and the idea moved forward.

Suddenly I’m working as a PR person, casting director and stage manager. Let’s be clear, I am not remotely qualified for any of those jobs and yet, there we were. I had two things going for me – the President of the Ed Fund (Prez) and the School District Superintendent (SI). Without their help it would have been a complete disaster. Even with their help, we barely averted a catastrophe.

Prez and I spent a lot of time hosting auditions and just figuring the whole thing out. Neither one of us did anything like this before and it required a significant amount of sweat equity. About two months before the show we decided to get a professional jazz quartet to be our headliner. The cost would be divided among four volunteers.

Things were starting to fall into place, press releases were sent out, a coherent schedule was coming together and ticket sales were brisk. About a week before the show we were informed we couldn’t have full use of the stage and the jazz quartet got another gig that night. Dafug?!

We got the stage cleared and shifted the schedule around to have the quartet open instead of close the show. Ok, we got this. We held rehearsal two days before the show and it was a complete disaster. The acts showed up at random times, the sound guys were having technical difficulties, total chaos ensued. I really thought this would end poorly with some expert level public humiliation.

We trudged forward. The next night Prez and I worked with the sound guys to get the order of the show finalized with lights and sound. We stayed until midnight to make sure everything was set for the next day. By the way, the sound guys were two high school students who were also donating their time. I can’t even tell you how much respect I have for their work ethic. We bribed them with food, rides and gift cards. The show would not go on without them.

The day of the show was finally here. I went to my daughter’s basketball game in the morning and was talking with a good friend of mine, another mom in the district. She asked if I was nervous. I told her that I was a little, but at that point we had done everything we could to make it a success so I just hoped for the best.

Our Superintendent was going to emcee the show with a member of the faculty. Two hours before the show he got a text saying that the other gentleman could not attend because he fell down the stairs that morning. I requested proof of the injuries. I saw a photo, sure enough the guy was busted up. I tucked that one away in case I need to get get out of some future event. I’ve got three sets of stairs in my house, it could happen.

We decided to have the show again the following year. It was easier than the first year because we had some idea of what we were doing. We were better organized, a little more confident and things were going smoother than the first show.

The show is held in the high school auditorium. We are guests of the school and need to respect the rules of use. There is an elevated stage and two pianos on each side of the area in front (not on) the stage. Last year I had a parent insist that one of the pianos be moved for his son’s act.

Stage Dad: Excuse me, who is in charge of this show?

SC: I guess that would be me and Prez.

Stage Dad: We need to move that piano to the stage.

SC: I’m sorry, we can’t do that. It’s stationary, trying to move it would be risky and would likely put it out of tune.

Stage Dad: No this is unacceptable it has to be moved! No offense but I’m going to need to speak with someone higher up.

SC: Oh you mean the person who signs my checks? Sure, oh wait a minute…I forgot I don’t get paid. You can discuss it with the Superintendent.

This year will be our third event and I won’t even be there. In true cringe fashion, I realized I had a date conflict while sitting in a recent event planning meeting. I was looking at a flyer for the show and my brain was trying to sort out why the date seemed familiar, oh that’s right I will be out of town. Keep in mind I helped pick the date of the show, yay me! We tried to change the date but the auditorium isn’t available so I guess I’ll miss it (no stairs required).

 

 

*Featured Image Sketch by Lisa McMillen http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

Volunteering

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Volunteering

Geezus it’s getting hard to give your time away for free these days. I’ve been a frequent volunteer in my kids school: class mom, chaperone, field trips, book drives, food drives, Secret Santa, Daisies, Brownies, Cub Scouts, soccer coach (psst, totally not qualified) and various fundraising efforts. Some of the activities were for a day or during a brief trial of a new activity.

A few years ago the State of Pennsylvania made it a total pain in the ass to volunteer. Here’s a checklist for people that volunteer in PA schools:

  • Criminal History Request
  • Child Abuse Clearance
  • FBI Fingerprints
  • School Personnel Health Record – TB test & physical for those volunteering 10 or more hours a week
  • Arrest/Conviction Report & Certification
  • Blood of a Unicorn

Only one of those is false. Not only do you have to pay some fees to fulfill these requirements, it’s also a time suck. Our closest FBI fingerprint office is a 30 minute drive away. Between scheduling, transportation and processing – I’m looking at 2 ½ hours just to get my fingerprints. Good luck finding people to do that.

One of my more substantial efforts has been volunteering for an education fund. It’s an organization that pays for teacher-led grants in our school district. It is one of those rare efforts which is all positive, no controversy – money for teachers, YAY!!! Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows for everyone!

I hate to break it to you but the idea of an all positive, no BS, everyone stands in a circle singing “Kumbaya” organization that deals with the public is a myth (OK, LIE, it’s a freakin’ lie). There are a handful of us that volunteer for this non-profit. A few of us came onboard several years ago to try and revive the ed fund which had been neglected for some time.

We determined that we would revive “Ed” by hosting community wide fundraising events that would promote awareness and earn some cash. In the past three years we put on variety shows, held food truck events, a paint nite, a 5K and couple of barn bashes which featured a silent auction. We try to keep the “fun” in FUNdraising (I just smacked myself so you don’t have to). For the most part our efforts have been well received by the community and some fun has been had by all. There have been some exceptions.

It’s like planning a wedding. You have to be considerate of the majority of the attendees, smile politely when people want ridiculous accommodations and contribute more time and money then you ever anticipated. And in the end someone will always complain that the chicken was dry or the music was too loud.

 

 

 

 

 

Moms Club

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Moms Club

We were living in a shore town in central New Jersey when I had my son. I purchased the house five years prior when I was single and wasn’t worried about the school district or extra storage space. It was two blocks from the beach with easy access to New York City. That was the selling point; location, location, location. Now that our family was growing our priorities shifted.

We found a house in Pennsylvania which was just over border from New Jersey. Still a reasonable drive for relatives, better property taxes, an excellent school district and closets galore. We kept the beach house because we thought we could rent it out and we weren’t ready to sell it.

At this time our son was seven months old and I was still struggling to find my groove as a mom. I made a few mom friends at the beach house but I knew we were moving so I kept it casual. I missed the camaraderie of working friends, adult conversation…some shred of personal identity. When we moved to Pennsylvania, I was determined to join a Moms Club and get involved.

Within a week of moving I was scheduled to go to my first meeting. I hoped the desperation didn’t ooze out of me like sweat, I was in dire straights. I’m sure I spent more time figuring out what to wear than some people spend getting ready for the prom. This was important. So for the first time in months I wore makeup, did my hair and dressed like someone who could pass for an adult.

There were only a few moms in attendance. In my mind, they were all smarter, prettier, better educated and had gobs more confidence than me. Two of them became close friends, Amy and Trish. Amy had a daughter and Trish had a son – all three of our babies were born within a week of each other. We spent the better part of the next two years together. We got ourselves through that crunch time before preschool when, unless you have “help” your kid is glued to you all day, every day. (I didn’t have a lot of help)

When our babies were turning one, Amy announced that she was pregnant. I congratulated her and promptly said something cringey – “Better you than me sistah!” Amy laughed, her angel baby slept through the night. I was still dreaming of Tylenol PM and four straight hours of sleep.

About a week later and several discussions about how stressful Amy’s life would get once Baby #2 arrived, I found out I was pregnant. This was not in the PLAN! My husband and I weren’t against having another baby, it was just risky business given how scary the first delivery was… and I still wasn’t sleeping on the regular.

I gained almost 50 pounds in my first pregnancy and on my son’s first birthday, I was within 3 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited about that, it took A LOT of work. Prior to becoming pregnant I was the skinny chick. I always exercised regularly and ate well, so it wasn’t some genetic gift and I was afraid of getting huge again.

The trio of moms with babies took turns hosting play-dates. I would always bust my ass to keep the house in some kind of presentable order when they were coming over. My natural tendencies lean toward hoarder meets a tornado, so it took effort. We would all put out snacks for ourselves and the kids. I had an old greyhound at the time named Scooby. I remember one time in particular, I was hosting when Trish busted Scooby eating from the cheese tray.

I also took my son to weekly activities including, a variation of mommy & me music. It consisted of sitting in a large circle with other moms and their babies. We would sing awful songs, play toy instruments (Jimmy Fallon style except we sucked)  and humiliate ourselves through some form of interpretive dance.

Dear Gawd I don’t know how many hours I lost to this activity. I was desperate for company and my son seemed to like it. One time I was running late and got a speeding ticket. Here I am visibly pregnant with a toddler in the back seat getting pulled over for speeding. What kind of a weirdo is so desperate to get to mommy & me music that they get a speeding ticket. Um, me. To add insult to injury I needed to haul my pregnant ass into traffic court to get the fine reduced (speeding points are the devil).

At some point I switched from music class to an activity at the YMCA. I was in the beginning of my second trimester and I waddled around the gym floor trying to keep pace with my son.This is where I made a new friend named Kristy. Her son was a couple of months older than mine. Her family had recently moved from New York. She was soon folded into our little mom club and our trio of moms became a quartet.

What a gift it was to have these women in my life. Such a comfort to have friends I could depend on, peers for my son to play with and memories to be made. We had many adventures together in that early phase of parenthood. Sometimes it was a walk in town or along the canal. Other days we would meet at a destination like the zoo, the beach or a children’s museum. These people saved me from a postpartum depressive spiral and I don’t think I could ever properly thank them for that.

An Accidental Stay at Home Mom

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An Accidental Stay at Home Mom

My plan, our plan, THE plan was that I would go back to work after our son was born. I took three months maternity leave and after two weeks of being back on the job, I got laid off. I worked for a software company at the time and all of the Project Managers were “let go.” Wow that was a lot to wrap my head around, now what??? I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM).

Honestly, I was scared. Financially we could swing it (thank you husband) but mentally the idea of not working was completely foreign to me. I hadn’t considered it before, it wasn’t in the plan. This wasn’t a choice, it was an unexpected circumstance. I worked most of my life up to that point, from the time I was 16 until I got laid off at 35 and there were several years that I worked multiple jobs. Before I was legally old enough to work, I worked.  I raked leaves, shoveled snow, cleaned, weeded, babysat…I hustled.

 

 

I was raised by a single mom and we were broke. I worked because I needed to if I wanted anything beyond the absolute necessities. Through observation, I took in many lessons from my single mother. She always said things like “don’t become a secretary” and the not always verbal but always present and paramount life lesson – don’t depend on a man. Well damn, now I have a 3 month old baby and no J-O-B and a husband OK with me staying home.

The medical complications of my pregnancy and necessary follow up also had a profound effect on me. Part of me was just happy to be alive. I had to talk myself through the not working thing. I questioned myself, if this was my last day on earth, how would I want to spend it? Working some random job or taking care of my baby.Truth be told I did send out some resumes but it was a half-hearted attempt. I could not justify making a choice to work and leaving child care up to someone else a big chunk of the time, simply because I HAD a choice. It’s a different game entirely if it isn’t a choice, I get that.

It didn’t take long to see some hostility between SAHM and working moms…my theory is guilt. Only my theory based on my own experience not a universal truth so calm down…your theory may kick my theory’s ass at recess…I don’t really care.  I had guilt as a SAHM because I was used to being financially independent and I had to constantly tell myself it’s OK, it’s best for the family (and it was best for us).

It was still hard to shake the guilt because of the lessons my mom taught me growing up. I was falling short by depending on a man. I think working moms feel guilt because they don’t see their kids as much. It’s just a hard frickan’ job whether or not you work outside the home.

I had to step away from my practical, always working self and do something completely different from what I had carefully planned. Sorry atheists…but for me being a SAHM was an act of faith. You see at that time between the health issues, unexpected unemployment, moving and other changes…I really felt like the universe was telling me to stay home, so I did. Honestly it is not something I did gracefully. It was out of necessity and circumstances that were bigger than me.

A week or so after my son’s first birthday, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. This was unexpected. After the complications of my first delivery, my husband and I were a little scared. We “planned” on having one child. We were wrong. So one and done became two and through with lots of monitoring of my high-risk pregnancy.

Knowing what to look out for in the second pregnancy was helpful but it didn’t alleviate all of my fears. There were weeks when my husband traveled internationally and it was just me and our son. My fear was that I would throw a blood clot which would incapacitate me and my son would be the only one around. It was not an irrational fear.

Late in my second pregnancy, we were having a New Year’s Day dinner at my mother and father in-laws house. My sister in-law and her family were there as well. My husband was joking about some minor health issue he had. I laughingly said something like – “Sure you get a man cold, meanwhile, I’m throwing blood clots like a pitcher in the Major Leagues” – something stupid and yet (cue the the creepy music) prophetic.

The next day I felt that familiar dull ache behind my knee and I called my OBGYN. This time she had me go directly to the Maternity Ward at the hospital and did the ultrasound there. Sure enough I had another blood clot behind my knee. This granted me a 5 day stay in the hospital with an IV of blood thinners and mandatory bed rest.

When I was released from the hospital, I had instructions to inject myself in the abdomen twice a day with a blood thinner. Say whaaaaat? Every twelve hours I had to psych myself up to jab a needle into my very pregnant belly. Dare I say, super cringey stuff.

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We decided to temporarily move back to New Jersey to be near the hospital and closer to family. I injected myself twice a day for a month before the Hematologist and the OBGYN got together and decided it was time to schedule a C-section. They were both afraid of a bad outcome (fatalities really mess with their malpractice insurance and I think they liked me). I had another retractable filter inserted. This time I demanded a mild sedative for the procedure, much better.

At 35 weeks/6 days of my second pregnancy our daughter was born via C-section. Me, my husband and our trusted doctors, all decided it was best to perform a tubal ligation after the C-section. Apparently I suck at being pregnant. I was 36 and survived two high-risk pregnancies. We had one healthy boy and one healthy girl, no need to get greedy.

Our second baby was so much easier. Perhaps because we knew the drill and our expectations were not as regimented so we could relax more. We knew we couldn’t “plan” every aspect of things so we just rolled with it. Bonus this baby wasn’t colicky and slept a reasonable amount from a very early age. (You mean they don’t all scream for several hours continuously and wake up 4 times a night…for years?)

Fast forward many years and I can see how being a SAHM served me. If I am honest, I got the perks and the liabilities in good measure. The perks are obvious, I haven’t missed a thing with my kids. First steps, first tooth, first haircut, first day of anything – I was there for all of it. We had so many special day trips that wouldn’t have been possible if I worked outside the home. They don’t remember most of them. I do, and I suspect they are the days I will reflect on in old age.

When I walk into my kids school, I know half the faculty, the school board and at least 60% of the kids by name.  I have created a network of go-to moms that can get me through to the finish line or at least high school graduation. I have volunteered for just about everything in the district (exception: I refused to get on the school board, that is just bat sh*t crazy).

The liabilities are pretty stacked too thankfully some of them have passed.  My first born was a colicky baby who had night terrors and did not sleep through the night for FOUR years (4 mofo years). My kids are about 20 months apart and (aside from my hospital stays) I got up with both of them every single time. Every. Single. Time. During those years I fantasized about being alone with a fist full of Tylenol PM in a dark quiet hotel room. Sleep was like trying to catch vapor in those early years of motherhood.

Being a SAHM was great but I had no time to myself. I thought it would be good to get away from the littles few hours a day, I couldn’t. I looked forward to medical appointments to get some “me time.” Some days it was easier to have the blood drawn than to be home. And sometimes I had to take two kids with me to those appointments. When they were toddlers I would play hide and seek just to get a few minutes to myself in the kitchen pantry (there may have been Oreos in there).

 

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Sketch by Lisa McMillen http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

Being out of the workforce for a decade didn’t do me any favors career-wise. This may be the biggest hit that a SAHM takes. That and the guilt about doing anything for yourself because you get to stay home. What saved my ass was a small group of women in a Moms Club. Unlike me, they “planned” to be SAHM and their friendships have had a huge impact on me.

 

 

 

Stayed tuned for future installments of #SuperCringe

Becoming a Mom

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Becoming a Mom

I was one of those doe-eyed first time moms who took the birthing classes, read libraries full of books and even (and I still chuckle at this) created a birth plan. My birth plan included a leisurely stroll on a New Jersey boardwalk while admiring the view of the Atlantic Ocean. This would be followed by a trip to the International House of Pancake (IHOP) where I would consume my soon-to-be-born baby’s weight in pancakes.

 

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Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_bhofack2′>bhofack2 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

Full disclosure, I was a vegetarian when I became a human incubator and instead of embracing the holistic lifestyle, I decided to reintroduce meat. In fact, I fell off the vegetarian wagon during my first trimester when I ordered a hot dog at the San Francisco Airport. I was of the mindset that if my body wants it, I must need it. I was an idiot. My birth plan included stacks of pancakes and bacon, glorious bacon.

At 39 weeks pregnant, I had an ache behind my left knee. Whenever I tried to sleep on that side (I know who sleeps at 39 weeks pregnant) it hurt more. I told my doctor about it and she sent me for an ultrasound. Shortly after, I discovered I had a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and needed to go straight to the hospital. This was NOT in the birth plan. Sh*t got real very fast but I still wasn’t entirely aware of the danger.

The panicked looks on the medical staff in the Maternity Ward alerted me to the seriousness of the situation. A blood clot could have easily broken away from the DVT and instantly killed me or my baby. I was told to make one last trip to the bathroom, put on a hospital gown and then, DON’T MOVE!

A few hours later I was taken to the trauma unit. The plan was to insert a retractable filter in preparation of childbirth (apparently giving birth is fertile ground for throwing blood clots). The filter would, fingers crossed, break up any clots before they got to my lungs, heart or brain.  I was petrified. I sent my husband on an errand to distract him. I told him to get me a tuna sub because, hello…pregnancy cravings.

I silently begged God not to take me or my son away. Thoughts of my husband raising our boy alone were excruciating. I was placed on an operating room table and told to turn my head and not move. First they inserted a needle in to my jugular vein to numb the area (thank you and how about a little something to take the f*cking edge off) then the retractable filter was gently guided in to place.

 

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Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_megaflopp’>megaflopp / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

I don’t remember how long it took, it was an overwhelming blur. I do remember a sweet nurse holding my hand and telling me it would be OK while a stream a defiant tears made their silent escape. I wanted to ugly cry with sobs, snot and a heaving chest but the procedure did not allow for that. First lesson of motherhood, put your issues on the back burner honey, you have a small human depending on you now.

The retractable filter became my “get out of jail free” card (or try not to die card). The doctors and nurses were pretty sure that I wouldn’t clot out so they transitioned from let’s-keep-this-woman-alive to let’s get-this-baby-out. Shortly after the filter was inserted (tuna sub, consumed) I was told that labor would be induced.

Well, YAY! What first time mom doesn’t look forward to that. This was also NOT in the birth plan. I got the prostaglandin insert which is basically a tampon that is supposed to prepare the cervix for labor. I had mine “in” overnight. The next day was removal time and lucky for me they sent in Nurse Krueger for the process. She could not get it out despite her claw-like hands. Finally my OBGYN came to my rescue and removed it, humanely. Then we just waited for the magic to happen.

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The nurse must have been related to this guy.

The hours ticked by and I happily took the epidural.The idea of biting on a stick or focusing on some object to get me through this seemed a bit ridiculous. At this point I was happy to be alive. My whole beach walk, pancake eating birth plan was out the window. Eventually it was time to push. I pushed and pushed and pushed some more.

Two hours passed, then three, my OBGYN told me she had to go to NYC that night.  I pushed harder, she told me about the doc who would fill in for her (gasp, a man). Four hours of pushing, then five. My baby wasn’t coming out and my sweet doctor stayed with me. I have no idea what she sacrificed to stay with me that night but she did and I will always be grateful for that.

At one point during this process a group of eager looking med students came by to ask if they could observe.That was a big “HELL NO!” from me. I wouldn’t even let my mother in the room. It was just me, my stubborn refusing-to-be-born baby, my husband, my doctor and two nurses.That was enough of an audience.

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Scrubs: “Can we observe your tremendously complicated child birth?”                                                     Me: “Hell No!”

Back to my non-compliant baby…at some point it was obvious that my baby wasn’t coming out the traditional way and a C-section was in order. Great let’s do it.  Whaaaaaat? I have to wait for an operating room? Oh come on and there is a backup for C-sections. What are we at Newark airport, waiting to take off?

Since my baby wasn’t in distress, I needed to wait. I was grateful my baby was not in distress, I on the other hand was exhausted. About an hour later we got in and my son was born via C-section. I will never forget the relief I felt when I heard his cry. I was able to hold and nurse my son soon after delivery. It was miraculous especially after such a stressful delivery. It didn’t matter, nothing mattered except that my boy was healthy. Of course there were medical issues that I needed to confront and those would once again alter my plans.

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Actual photo of my birth plan...(not really).Photo by Movidagrafica Barcelona from Pexels

I had planned to breastfeed for six months. I figured once the teeth started to come in, I would transition out of it. I never considered not nursing in my “plan”. Apparently, that wasn’t in the cards. I was to be given a blood thinner for a minimum of six months as follow up treatment for my DVT. The retractable filter that was inserted could only stay in for two weeks.

The first time I felt like a sh*tty mom was the night of my son’s birth. I was talking to a friend (a staunch breast milk advocate) on the phone and her disappointment in my inability to breastfeed was palpable through the phone. I may have muttered something like “you know I almost died” while she extolled the benefits of breastfeeding. This is how it is for moms…you can come within a millimeter of death and someone will say something ridiculous to try and make you feel bad. I just wasn’t “Mom Enough” (screw you TIME Magazine).

I remember being somewhat shell-shocked the day we left the hospital. They let us leave with our son, I didn’t think we were qualified. My husband is an engineer and proper car seat installation was a bit daunting for him (unusual). The early arrival threw him off balance as well. Our son arrived a week before his due date.

My husband had a plan too, a project plan. We renovated our kitchen during my pregnancy. Kitchen renovations during pregnancy are a bad idea. You have to eat out all the time and wash the few dishes you do use in odd places like tubs or the laundry room sink. Our laundry room sink was in the basement with uneven stairs and my stomach was the size of 5 basketballs tethered together. The hubs had a renovation plan detailed out by date and the finish date for the renovation coincided with our son’s due date (feel free to laugh at the naivety of that one). I have no idea how he pulled it off but he managed to finish the kitchen before we came home from the hospital.

I don’t think we ever discussed it but when we got home our residential census grew by three – our newborn son and my in-laws. My mother and father in-law just moved in with us for the first week. Thank God they did, it was overwhelming. I remember sitting in the living room chair feeling like my breasts were two flaming bowling balls. I looked down a few times to make sure they were not actually on fire. My mother in-law brought me ice packs and happily held the baby.

Having your first baby is life changing. Having a newborn with your own medical complications ups the ante. Suddenly I had doctor appointments with a hematologist, and a pulmonologist, I had to get the “gist” of my condition. I also had to have my blood tested weekly to determine if the medication was effective.

Two weeks into the parenting thing, we felt like we were getting a handle on things. That was short-lived, out of nowhere our son started screaming, continuously…for hours at a time. We took him to the pediatrician and were basically told that we won the lottery and got a colicky baby.

He would literally scream for hours. We would hold him, rock him, swaddle him, sing to him, feed him, change him, drive him in the car, attempt bribes, nothing worked. It got to the point where I looked forward to blood draws and the doctor appointments just to get away from the screaming.

On top of this, I had to have my retractable filter removed. Keep in mind this was my safety net. I insisted on having an ultrasound on my leg to see if the DVT was gone before they removed the filter. You may think that would be a given but I had to advocate for myself to get that done. The prevailing thought was the filter needed to come out whether there was a clot or not. I needed to know.Thankfully the DVT had resolved.

A few weeks later, the blood thinners I was taking were giving me unusual symptoms, tingling in odd parts of my body like the bridge of my nose or my forearms. This prompted more visits to the “ists” – a neurologist and a radiologist to see if I had Lupus or MS. It was such a daunting time, it was a lot to juggle.

Things started to settle into a new normal and three months in, my maternity leave was coming to an end. I had it all worked out, my mother and mother in-law would each take one day a week and I found a great sitter for the other 3 days. I could work from home most days so I would be able to check in on my baby throughout the day. My new plan was on track (cue the foreboding music).

 

 

Mother’s Note: I want you to know that the once colicky baby is a great teenager today. In fact, once he got past the screaming non-stop for hours every night and not sleeping phase, he became the best behaved kid on the planet.

Super Cringe

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Super Cringe

My alter ego has an alter ego. Stay with me here. I write under a pen name, so Bryce is an alter ego of sorts. The other day I thought perhaps I should have a character for my blog. Someone who visits from time to time with antics and foolishness to share. And then I thought:

If my alter ego wants an alter ego is that just multiple personality disorder? Asking for a friend (actually several friends…)

I posted that on Facebook and Twitter and to my surprise, no one had any solid advice for me (us, insert audible eye roll).

Left without supervision and zero guidance…I’ve decided screw it, let the alter ego’s alter ego be born. She shall have a name because – alter ego’s, alter ego is a terrible name. Too many words. Introducing (insert dramatic drum roll here)…(still drumming)….(just a smidge more drumming)…SUPER CRINGE.

Super Cringe is not your run of the mill heroine. There are no super powers to cast her for anything by Marvel. In fact, it’s her lack of anything spectacular that caused her existence. She leans into the ordinary.  A dorky, teen-embarrassing run-of-the-mill mom like so many that afflict our children. If you’ve raised humans you probably have some super cringe worthy stories of your own. Hell, even my dog is embarrassed by me sometimes. The husband just pretends he doesn’t know me in public.

Super Cringe was inspired by the fairly obnoxious text I got from my dear daughter a few nights ago. She was texting me on her way home from ski club. This is how it played out.

DD: Love u and it was fun. I went on a few black trails.

Me: Love u 2 my little bad@zz

DD: That was super cringe

And that is how Super Cringe was born, out of my child’s disdain for my choice of words. Stay tuned…visuals to follow.

 

Sketch drawn by the amazing Lisa McMillen of Cica Lisa Designs. Visit her website and prepare to be blown away. http://www.cicalisadesigns.com/

 

I Might Be Terrible

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I Might Be Terrible

I’ve been doing cringe worthy crap my entire life. This week has been off the chart, here’s a recap:

Last night I was in a doctor’s office with my daughter. She needed to get an X-ray. I saw a close friend with her daughter also waiting for an appointment. Instead of just saying hi like a normal person. I go over and say “What are you in for?” because people love to announce their private medical concerns in a crowded waiting room. I might be terrible.

One evening at bedtime my daughter mentioned that she has fears of someone breaking in and killing everyone. She asked if I would run in and rescue her. I said, “Hell no, I’ll be running for my life. You’re smallish, hide in a closet, play possum, figure it out.” Now I’m wondering if we should just put her college fund toward therapy. Probably terrible.

A dear friend has been dealing with a kid with a foot injury. Her kid is pretty delicate so the pain tolerance level is – butterfly kisses chafe. One morning this week she was trapped in bed with her tween, afraid of waking her daughter if she moved. I don’t know how long she was pinned, arm going numb as her bladder begged to be emptied. Most parents have been held hostage in this way – desperate to escape, afraid to rouse the sleeping child.

The injury happened over the weekend and the effects lingered for several days. She kept her daughter home from school on Monday, concerned that she wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom without assistance. Later that day she sent me a picture of the balloon animals they made out of an excess of desperate boredom. I texted her…If your kid can make a G-D balloon dog she can pull up elastic pants, that’s all I’m sayin’. My friend insisted the issue was with putting weight on her injured foot, but still…moderately terrible.

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This is the balloon animal my friend made. It appears to have some kind of balloon animal medical issue. I don’t know what it is exactly but my visceral reaction is concern for the balloon and my friend.

I was assisting an 80 year old client with bathing this week. Three minutes into the bath she mentioned that she felt an urge to go. I may have said “please don’t sh*t in the tub” repeatedly under my breath. She has really good hearing. Sh*t in the tub is a horror show so, probably not so terrible.

This weekend I accidentally took my son’s phone. Not too terrible, EXCEPT when he suggested that I might have accidentally picked it up and I immediately dismissed the idea. In fact my husband and I thought that perhaps our son was scared that he lost the phone and was desperate for a scapegoat. Then my husband and son searched the path of a walk they took the prior evening (the search took place in cold, rainy conditions because of course it did). Approximately an hour later the phone was found in my car. Clearly my son’s suspicions were proved correct. Moderately terrible, I apologized.

I was catching up with some volunteer work the other day. To be honest, I’ve wanted to “retire” from this particular project but the benefits are so good it’s hard to walk away. That’s a joke the benefits are a significant loss of personal time, a severe lack of appreciation and agita. I was emailing another volunteer and she was getting a bit testy with me. I decided to use the exchange as a writing prompt and somehow managed to send her a text with my observations which I intended to flesh out into a fictitious blog post. Bottom line is I hurt the other person’s feelings. So I’m terrible AND an idiot. I apologized, definitely terrible.

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From this day forward, all the sh*t that goes sideways will be known as a writing prompt. What terrible cringey things have you done this week?

I leave you with this gem – How to Make a Balloon Poop Emoji –