Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The next time we hang out... I will be on my couch.

Life is what you make it according to Miley Cyrrus, and on that note, we agree.

Before I begin, I just want to let you guys know that I am writing to you from an internet cafe on my alleged vacation. Taking five kids to the beach without my husband is not exactly what I would term a vacation, but I can't complain about the change of scenery. Plus, he'll be here on Saturday for week two, so I can't complain too much. More about all of this vaca stuff later.

On a completely random side note, which has nothing to do with this post, I don't know how people write stuff in these places. I feel so naked, so exposed, and also so ridiculous. I mean what difference does it make if these forty people right here, right now. read what I'm writing? Aren't I sending this info all over the world. Still, I find myself looking over my shoulder compulsively.

Anyway, back to Miley. Last Thursday, the girls and I accepted my mom's invitation to go to
NYC for the night so that we could go to Miley Cyrrus' concert on the plaza at the Today show. Isabelle is a huge Hannah fan as I may have mentioned before, and Sierra and I and even my hubby like Miley's song whose lyrics are the first part of the title of this post. I wish I knew its proper name, but I am not that big of a fan.

I was reluctant to go at first. I am not the type of person who wants to hold a sign outside of the today show, screaming, wailing, and trying to get Matt Lauer to kiss me, but I have stood outside the studio from time to time on trips to NYC, most recently when we went over after Thanksgiving to see the Rockettes, and I figured since concert tickets are unattainable, it might not be the worst idea. I knew it would be more crowded than usual, but how could I pass up a night a the Marriot Marquis with two less children. Plus, we'd have Thursday to do other things.

Unfortunately, with an infant, however, we could not go to see any shows. We did walk around a bit, took the girls to Saks, where you can pick your desert off of a conveyor belt in their chocolate cafe, more on this later too, which was something we saw on our pre x-mas visit, but didn't try because of crowds. In the middle of the day, in the middle of July, we sat down no problem, and the girls, even Tashi all loved this!

Next, we spent the evening next door at American girl, dining with dolls. Yes we did eat our way thru NYC.

On the walk back to the hotel we got a glimpse of what the next morning would be like for us. People, with their children, were actually sleeping on the street outside of studio 1A in anticipation of the concert. They had tents, they had pizza delivery, they had little kids who had been on that sidewalk since Wednesday, nearly 48 hours before the concert.

As we passed by, all I could think of was the camera guy from Today who obnoxiously yelled at me as we paused outside of the studio for a few minutes so that our oldest daughter Sierra, who currently believes she wants to be a broadcast journalist, could see the show in the making.

It was drizzling slightly, and Tasha was in a down snow suit, a blanket over here, tucked in her stroller. We were in route to see the rockettes and had about twenty minutes to spend there.

Hey lady, get your kid out of the rain, the guy said to me. I'll put her in the next shot, but you got to get her out of here.

Hey, I yelled back, how bout you use your camera, and I'll parent my kids.

What a complete ass, I thought at the time, judging me. I was trying to bring five kids, and an exchange student to see the sights of NYC, which by the way, was very hard work,not to mention an expensive sacrifice, and now this asshole, who spends his days undoubtedly shooting meaningless celebrity interviews was judging me, and telling me how to parent. I don't think so.

In any case, I wondered what he had to say about all these kids sleeping on the sidewalk of nyc. Standing in the hot sun for two days? I wondered did he boycott his work that day, or did he stick around and take the shots, and make the big bucks, and go back to his hole feeling super superior.

Okay, sorry for the tangent, again. Clearly, I have add.

Anyway, I promised we would leave for the show around six am, an hour before it begins. Needless to say, we could barely make it around the block. We were able to stand across the street, behind the stage, and Isabelle did catch a glimpse of Miley. My mom, Tashi and I stood further away, so Tashi could move about and was not shoved in the crowd, and quite by accident, my mom and Tasha were actually featured on t.v. Go figure. Isabelle, who is five and does want to be on tv, was none to happy about her sisters television debut, but accepted it as part and parcel of going to the concert.

After thirty minutes of Miley, the largest today show concert series crowd ever began to break up, and I heard many kids complaining about all the waiting, the getting up early, because they barely could even see the celeb. This is where being five is a godsend, because in Isabelle's five years of experience she has never been to a concert before. She didn't know what to expect, and so sans expectations, she was very happy with what she got. Life is what you make it.

As for me Miley, Hannah or whoever you are, don't take it personally, but I can actually wait to see you again. If there is a next time in person, it will be when I have a seat to see you, which will happen only if I can purchase reasonably priced concert tickets, i.e., they don't cost the same as the rent of my first apartment per ticket.

Other wise the next time we hang out, it will be on my couch, when I watch you on Disney channel with my little rock star wannabe.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quitting nursing, like quitting smoking, but worse.

Okay, I know that I promised my next post title would be, "Don't you want to do something to make your kids proud", but I have to preempt that story so that I can tell you about my weekend of weaning. And by my weekend of weaning, I mean my weekend of absolute excruciating torture.

As I write to you, my dear internet friends, my boobs are as hard as rocks- it is not pleasant.

My baby is nineteen months old, so I know that it is time to stop. Also, with the xanax, no breastfeeding- and as much as I love being mother earth, I gotta go in favor of sanity. Sorry, baby.

The choice, I will tell you, has not been an easy one. I am one of those weirdo moms who actually enjoyed nursing my children, all five of them. Unlike so many mothers that I have watched on A Baby Story, or Bringing home baby who have trouble or can't nurse, I was fortunate enough to be a natural at nursing. Even at nineteen when I brought my first baby home, who incidentally is turning 14 tomorrow, huge, gigantic gulp!!!!!!!, I immediately was able to nurse her with essentially no assistance. Moreover, unlike most breastfed babies, my newborns left the hospital actually having gained weight, which I am told is very unusual for breastfed babies. I have thought from time to time maybe I should be a lactation consultant.

Don't be too jealous, though, because breastfeeding hasn't been all roses for me. I had my share of blistered nipples, mastitis; but worst of all for me has always been the weaning. Because as I have said before I'm not really a type a, I was never in a huge rush to wean my children. I mean I didn't want them to be ridiculously old and nursing, but my first daughter was two before she completely stopped. The middle child, my younger son, stopped earliest, at nine months- middle kids always have it the toughest, because I got pregnant again. On average, I would say that they all nursed for about eighteen months.

Weaning has always been difficult for me because none of my children were eager to give it up. I have heard stories from other moms who say, oh, Johnny just lost interest. This never happened for me. I think, for my kids, I was their security object, their wooby, so to speak, and so the end of nursing was always traumatic- but typically more so for them than for me. With the other kids, I was usually really ready to stop, and also, I didn't have to stop immediately, because of medication, and so the gradual milk drying was quite so painful.

Going cold turkey, as I have been since Friday, however, hurts like hell. I am a stomach sleeper, so in addition to feeling like my chest is about to explode, I also have been having one heck of a time sleeping. Tylenol and ice packs have been my best source of relief- and yesterday, I think was the worst day, because the day before wasn't so bad, and today seems a little bit better- but yesterday, I literally felt like I could vomit from the pain. Not good.

On top of all of this, I am not so eager this time to stop nursing because this is my last baby. I know she is number five, and I should probably be way over it by now, but I'm not. Partly because I love little babies, and partly because the end of lactating makes me feel old, dried up a bit- put out to pasture. Silly maybe, but still, I'm having a bit of a moment.

Yesterday morning was especially hard because she was crying, I was in pain, and then I started to cry. It's hard to give up that bond, especially when you know there is no going back. Isabelle, my miniature psychologist, however was able to shed some light on the situation. Oh, if only I had her wisdom.

Aren't you going to give Tasha bubber anymore? she asks. I think secretly she is a bit delighted. After all, this cute little lady took her spot in the sunlight, displaced her as the youngest, and got to be on mommy all the time.

No, I say, clearing my thought, and trying to be brave.

Well, she says, think of all the new things that you are going to be able to do with your baby now. You can meet new mommy friends when Tasha makes new baby friends. You can buy new pretty sippy cups.

Then she says to Tasha, you are a big gull now. Now you are just like sissy.

I look at her. So cute, so wise, and I realize that my baby growing up to be just like her big sissy is really a good thing.

And once my boobs deflate, and return to normal, I think I'll treat myself to some new bras, the kind that don't snap down in the front, the kind the dream angels from Victoria's secret wear.

Better to look forward because looking back gets you no where.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday's Facts

I'm changing my tune today and promise to be as many all smiles as I can be. Given my recent xanax prescription, this should be easier than I once thought, a couple of days ago, that it would be. God Bless mood medication.

Here are a few fun facts for Friday... I am running behind on essentially everything in my life- so I'm keeping it short and sweet, but nevertheless, I hope you enjoy.

#1 A couple of weeks ago, the delightful, inspiring, and seemingly super cheery wondermom, Mrs. Fussypants, asked me to contribute to her online magazine, "Blissfully Domestic". Now, those of you who know me, Moira, especially shhh, may be wondering, how can this be possible? Laurie is neither blissful nor domestic. Aha, but I do have multiple personalities, one which is sorta domestic, the other which can be downright blissful. Sooner or later, I knew my mania would come in handy. Fortunately, to avoid confusion, all of my personalities have agreed to share the same screen name, so you can find my articles on Blissfully Domestic under Laurie of the seven stories. When the magazine formerly relaunches, sometime in August, I will be formerly introduced as a new domestic diva. Until then, you can visit the site to read my first contribution, an announcement about the American Girl movie, Kit Kittredge.

#2 On Thursday night, I realized that my friend, Nicole, mentioned in my last post as my brother's possible new love interest (but I don't ask questions) is as crazy, if not crazier, than I am. It is always a welcome revelation to find someone who shares my level of insanity.
Those of you who read my post on the death of the turtle know what a weakened condition I was in that day. Because of the mass hysteria, I took the children to the pet store to calm them down and to look...I know that you are all laughing at me now- I can hear the cackling coming through the computer.
Anyway, they had these absolutely adorable lab puppies, all golden and soft with fat, full of life paws. Perfect for healing the broken heart of a mourning pet owner- but also very poopy, and chewy, and who would watch ours in two weeks while we go on vacation for two weeks. I was so proud of myself for coming to my sense, and we settled for an equally warm and fuzzy pet that requires much less maintenance- a piranhas. All...so cute. If I could find my damn digital camera, I'd post a picture,
At dinner, on Sunday night, the dinner I wrote about in the last post, I mentioned this to Nicole and her kids. I see her on Thursday, and she cursing me and berating me, and telling me its all my fault. I can't imagine what the problem, except I figure it involves my brother in one way or another.
What, I ask is all my fault? Apparently, out of boredom, old Nicole decided to take the boys, her boys, to the pet store, to look at the piranhas. She didn't believe a pet store would sell such a thing. Before, however, she was able to make it to the back of the store, she and the boys stumbled on two black, cocker spaniel mixes, a girl and a boy, brother and sister.
Yes, she bought them both- because she didn't want to split brother from sister- for $1000, plus supplies. Well, Nicole, I don't know anything about the condition of your health, but I think you are right on target about your finances. In fact, I feel my own wallet getting lighter just listening to you.

#3 Because, I have been so absent from blogging, I have sooooo many stories to tell. My next title, "Don't you want to do something to make your children proud?" is 100% true and a real humdinger and a doozy. Be sure to come back to the playground. And bring something to sit on because the equipment gets hot in the simmer, and I don't want you to burn your butt.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I skinned my knee, but I'll be okay.

So, I didn't literally skin my knee- but if anyone, anyone, anyone has been wondering where I've been the past week, the truth is I have been feeling a little bit low.
As I mentioned to you earlier, my daughter left last week, about this time, for California. She went with my mom and the two of them are to return today. They spent three nights in Disneyland and three nights at a resort in San Diego. I spoke with them this morning because I am picking them up from the airport tonight. Their plane is scheduled to arrive somewhere around midnight- perfect timing.
They had a really great time, even though their original plan was to stay with my pseudo Aunt and Uncle, really my mom's good friends, at their home in San Diego. They were going to go to Laguna and to LA, so that my star struck teenager could stalk stars. A couple days before they were supposed to leave, however, my cousin called to say that there was something wrong.

My Aunt's husband, not her daughter's real father, but the only real father she has ever known, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is 69. I don't know what any one knows about pancreatic cancer, but being the hypochondriac that I am, I try to stay away from any health news that I can- but even still I knew that this was not good, and have subsequently heard life expectancy, after diagnosis, is typically counted in weeks. So the day before they left, I spent much of my day on travel websites trying to cobble together a new itinerary for them.

All the while, I started to think, and I was not thinking good thoughts. My mind, like a run away train, started to go down roads that made me very panicky and sad. I read an entire book in two days to try to get my mind refocused. I rented a movie, feast of love, which the cover said was soul uplifting, that was so sad, it made me feel worse, which I did not think was possible. Over and over again, I was thinking how life draws us in, tricks us into making plans, having dreams, achieving goals, and then right when we are least expecting it, it pulls the rug right out from under us. The catch 22 is that the only way to "get over" having the rug removed is to be lured back into living, which at some point will result in the same ending, leaving us right back where we started from. I wondered isn't that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Is living really the process of going insane? I started obsessing and hyperventilating, and well questioning, once again, what this life really is all about?
Sunday night, my brother invited us over for dinner, and after a couple glasses of wine and some laughs with him and our mutual friend, Nicole, who may or may not be his new love interest, my perspective started to change. Nicole is divorced and has two boys, who are the same age and go to the same school as my Aidan and Isabelle.
As the kids ran around and played, Nicole and I started to talk about paranoia, depression, and the fear of death in my brother's kitchen.
I had a premonition when I was sixteen that I would die when I was thirty six, she told me.
How old are you?
Thirty six, she said.
We both started to laugh uncontrollably. For some reason, these types of thoughts stop being scary and start sounding absurd and hilarious when shared with someone who can relate.
The thing is, she said, I am half way through, but I have been spending money like its my last year, so if I turn thirty seven, I'll be alive but broke.
Now we were really cracking up.
The kids came in and were prodding my brother and Mrs. Mullen to kiss.
Do you love each othah? Isabelle asked.
Are you going to get married? another voice questioned.
Of course, both my brother and Nicole laughed off these suggestions. I thought for a moment of my brother's ex girlfriend, Hannah. They dated for six years and broke up, at age 35, this past February. Needless to say, we thought that they would be married, that she would be part of our family. We shared many laughs and meals in that kitchen together, and now she is no longer a part of any of our lives. I am saddened by this, but also enjoying the new company. I'm not glad that she is gone, but without her leaving, I know these new people would not now be a part of our lives.
As I was thinking of all of this, I started to think about how life changes gradually from season to season. In the moment, so often, we think that what is, will always be, and then when it changes, we are so often stunned, shocked, disappointed, even depressed. Gradually as days pass somehow we create new comfort zones, new traditions, new always' that seem like they are not new, were never new. Every once in a while, we reflect back and remember the time before, and we may long for it for a moment, but at the same time, we realize that the now could not exist if the old did not change, and so in this way, somehow we are able to let go and move on...
I wish that I had some profound thing to say about the meaning of life, but really I don't. All I can think of is the line from Jerry Maguire spoken by the "late great sports agent", and mentor to Jerry Maguire, Dicky Fox. He said in the movie, regarding success, that "I loved my life, I loved my wife, and that is my kind of success." I may be paraphrasing, it's been a while since I've seen the movie. The point is, it may sound oversimplified, and I am guessing that if my old philosophy professors were to read this blog they would hang their heads in shame, but of all the things that I have heard about life, that probably makes the most sense.
So this week, I am trying to get back up on the horse. I am renewing my faith in life, and planning a bit more carefully to enjoy every moment, and to find success, as I define it. I am trying to breathe, and to have faith. I am trying not to focus on the sad, and hoping that my Uncle will find peace as he attempts to cope with his horrible disease.
Finally, I am promising to stop with all this depressing talk of death- and starting tomorrow, I will be back to administer the best medicine that I can. For now though, I hope that anyone reading this will send positive thoughts, prayers;etc. to my Uncle and his family- and if you have any extra to spare after that, I could use a few positive thoughts myself.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A trail of tears, and motherhood really is hard work.

Anybody who underestimates the job that a mother, who stays home all day long to raise children, does should be shot, by firing squad. No questions asked, no fancy defense lawyers- even if the glove fits, we will not acquit, you know what I'm sayin'?

Today started off as what I would term a "normal" summer day, which means by nine am, chaos reigned in every corner of the house. My oldest daughter was preparing to go cross country to California with my mother on vacation, so in addition to the normal hullabaloo, we had packing dramatics.

First things first, she put all of the clothes she had washed on my bed. With two hours and fifteen minutes left until my mother was coming to pick her up for the airport, she wants to know, "do I have enough shorts?" I begin helping her fold, suggesting she make piles, matching things up- not that she can't, but she wants me to help.

I like this top with your white Capri pants, I say in an even tone.

You think that everything that I have to take is ugly don't you?

Apparently, in the latest version of the teen to English dictionary, the word like actually means hate and find ugly. When I was a teen like meant similar to, but that was a billion years ago. Clearly, I can no longer talk the talk. Since she is preparing to fly half way across the country, I just smile and say, "oh is that what you thought I meant", "no, no dear, I love all of your clothes. As the words slip out of my mouth, I realize those words could set off a ticking nuclear time bomb... and then, all of the sudden, tock. Everything. is. fine.

The thing is, you never know how these things called teenagers will react to certain things, like approval.

As the bewitching hour approached, and it was almost time for her to leave, I had to tell her 3,650,007 times to stop reading her yearbook and get in the shower! I didn't know why she was not doing this. I figured she was just procrastinating and practicing her favorite game of make mom crazy. This summer she is doing particularly well at this game, although her brothers and sisters are gaining on her lead.

My mom rang the door bell, twenty minutes early, of course, and naturally my daughter was not ready. This left the other kids with plenty of time to ask my mother a million times, why they could not go to California? Right as my mother was about to walk off into the sunset, and go to California alone, the oldest emerged from her room and stood at the top of the steps.

It's time to go! My mother says to her from the downstairs hallway.
Come on, I yell, what are you waiting for?
And then it happens- the floodgates open. The little kids are crying because they are not going, and they are going to miss grandma, and now the oldest is crying because she is afraid to fly, and the baby is crying because, she is super tired, but who in the world could ever take a nap in a house like this?
I see the tears in my oldest daughter's eyes and not only can I sympathize, since after all, I haven't been on a plane since early 2004, but I also feel guilty. I know that I have caused this fear. In a lot of ways, I think that I have been a good mom, but in teaching my children to brave and not fearful, maybe I have failed. This makes me sad, and inside, I, too, am a little scared. I think that she will be fine, but, of course, the truth is that you never know. Looking at her tear stained face, I realize that she knows this now. She is no longer the little girl that I can reassure just by laying aside of her and stroking her hair. She understands that the world is a dangerous place; that living is a hazardous occupation; that nothing is ever certain, for sure or forever- and this makes me saddest of all.
As a mother of five, one of the questions that I am asked most frequently is how do you do it? Now that question can be pointed at how I do many different things, but most often, I find that what parents of one or two children mean, when they ask me that question, is how do you not worry yourself to death over all your children? Most recently, I was talking with a friend of mine who is a mother of two boys. She was telling me about all the hospital trips she has made with her sons, and she seemed really to think her situation was fairly unusual. I could sympathize with her, and so I began to tell her my battle stories of er moments with my children. By the time, I was finished, she just looked at me in amazement and said, "I don't know how you are not out of your mind."
The truth is, of course, that most days, I am out of mind with the five kids, but in a good way. I am so busy with all of them that I can't get caught in my own mind and my own thoughts. Gone are the days, when I had one or two, and I would ponder the what ifs for hours and hours on end, until I was truly crazy. Strange as it may sound, having five kids has actually made me a lot more sane, if a lot less sober- if that makes sense?
Today, however, was an exception to the rule. After the oldest left, I didn't have much time to dwell on the sadness I mentioned above. There was lunch to make, and lunch to clean up. There was a nap to be given. Laundry, dishes and dinner needed to be started. The floor needed to be swept, and we were going to attempt a trip to the pool, which meant I had to: shower, shave, remove my toenail polish, what little there is left of it from the pedicure I had nearly two months ago, apply sunscreen, put bathing suits on, wash,dry and fold beach towels, and blow up a set of "swimmies".
Midway through this routine the phone rang, and it was another friend of mine on the phone that I hadn't talked to since school was out of session. It was a simple conversation of catch-up- how's your summer going? what are the kids up to? Are you ready for September?
The baby was sleeping, the boys were, presumably, getting swimsuits on, and Isabelle was dressed appropriately, as usual because she actually likes to change her clothes, when all of the sudden, and yet again, the water started to rise.
I am still on the phone when I hear the boys come crashing down the steps. They are both screaming, but I am not alarmed, initially. This happens, at least, three times a day. As the younger one opens his mouth, I figure that he is about to tell me how his older brother teased or hurt him, but instead the words, Checkers died, come out of his mouth.
I'm sorry, I tell my friend, but I have to go.
The two of you who read this blog may remember my story of Jeff the frog and how he met his demise earlier this spring. That was sad, but the death of Checkers was catastrophic. Checkers, our found baby snapper turtle, was a real pet.
My older son, who is ten, is very philosophical and also somewhat of a pessimist,and again I am to blame for both of these things, and so again I feel guilty. This turtle was "his". He found it at the creek- its mother was dead next to it, and he brought it home a couple of months ago to save it. I knew that he really liked it, but I didn't know to what extent he loved this animal.
As he and his brother sobbed uncontrollably, I did, however, begin to understand. "Checkers was like my best friend, I could tell him all of my secrets", he said, in broken breaths.
It reminded me of the summer when my cat Pumpkin died, right after she gave birth to a litter of six kittens. She didn't die in child birth, but on her first trip back outside after having her kittens, she got hit by a car crossing the road. I loved that cat. I used to lay her down to sleep at night in a little cat bed and she would stay. I bought her with my own money that I had made at my mom's yard sale.
The morning after she was killed by a car, I knew nothing of her death. I was outside calling her, because I knew that she must be around somewhere. My dad soon came and told me the news. Both my brother and I were so sad. My mom's reaction was that she was "just a cat". Needless to say, this did not make me feel better. When a child's pet dies, I think that they mourn not just the loss of that life, but the loss of life in general. They mourn what it means to be mortal; they appreciate for real what death means, and they come to understand that all of life's surprises are not sweet.
I thought of all of this as I watched my son bury his tiny turtle tonight. I wanted to pull him away as he held it up to his face. The germs, ughhhh!!!! but I knew it was more important to let him have his moment. I let him lay with me tonight, and I tried to cheer him up. We watched a movie in my bed and I even let him drink a Sprite- but nothing made him smile. "I think I'm going to be depressed for a while, mom", he said.
Any moment now, my daughter will land safely in California, and I know that she will have a great vacation. Some time tomorrow, my son will laugh, in spite of himself, at some ridiculous cartoon, or bodily function, or quite possibly, at his brother or sister. We will all go on from this day, and maybe even forget it. Tonight, however, I realize, that as my children grow up and realize the truth about this world and this life, they will feel sorrow and pain and sadness that I will not be able to heal. Even the noise of five kids can not distract me from this reality.

Motherhood becomes a lot tougher when mommy can't just make it all better. It as if some of my magic is wearing away, and all I have left to give is my wish, that if I could, I would, make everything better, always and forever-and I hope that is enough. And I hope that tomorrow is a better day, and that I lose my mind again in the chaos of raising children so that I don't really go crazy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My little firecracker is turning seven!

Seven years ago tonight at around this time, it is now ten minutes until eleven, I was falling asleep to the television, flanked, on either side, by children. I was 391/2 weeks pregnant, and had earlier that afternoon resolved that, by no means, would I again leave the house, unless I was going to hospital to have my baby. I was having trouble falling asleep. I was having contractions, but I knew that this meant nothing; it never meant anything. Both of my children that I was sleeping with that night had come into the world with the help of pitocin. I had twice been induced, as I was certain I would be with baby number three. I was at the Doctor's mercy now. I could contract and contract night and day, and it would never go anywhere, until the Doctor would decide enough of all of this, and let's get on with it- but who knew when that would be?

It was a Sunday night, the conclusion of what seemed to be the longest weekend of my life. It all started on Friday morning. I was pushing myself to get through the week, and I wasn't doing well. I had a six year old, and a three year old who wanted to spend every waking moment at my Aunt's house, which was next door to our house at the time, because she had a pool. Sounds like the life doesn't it? Except that the three year old was a crazy boy who couldn't swim and so I would have to constantly chase him around the pool, and sit on the edge, and from time to time, actually get in the pool with him. This was not a pretty sight. I was not happy about any of it. I was a freaking whale, and I felt like I could barely move, much less chase two little kids in the hot summer sun all day long. If only I would have the baby...

The baby was supposed to be early, according to the doctor, who examined me at thirty six weeks and said, "Oh, you'll never go full term, I'd be surprised if I don't see you in the hospital this week. Well, surprise, surprise, at thirty nine weeks and counting, I was still around. Which, by the way, on a side note, is the most obnoxious question anyone can ask of an extremely pregnant woman. Are you still around? Don't ever say this to pregnant woman. It is unnecessary cruelty.

At the beginning of the weekend, on Friday morning, however, I thought that end had arrived. Or the beginning. Whatever. I thought I was in true labor. Why, you ask? Because that little plug thing popped out, and within an hour, I was having hard contractions. My Aunt from next door came over. She is a nurse and the mother of five children. "Oh this has got to be it", she said. "I'll take the kids" and you call Mark.

As soon as she left, I did just that. My husband, however, has "thing" that makes him never believe that babies are going to come out.
"Oh", he said, without a change in tone, "that's good."
"Aren't you going to come home?", I said. "Well, what did the doctor say?"
"Well, I called you first."
"Well, call the doctor and then call me back."

I hung up the phone, dejected. What was his problem? Couldn't he tell I was in labor? This was the first sign, and because of my two prior inductions I had never seen this first sign before, but I knew this was it. I called the Doctor. They were as impressed as he was. "Call us when the contractions are five minutes apart." Yeah, yeah, yeah, I thought, anybody who watched the Cosby show could say that.

The contractions were getting worse, until, they just sort of stopped. WTF????!!!
Oh, I had plenty of experience with false labor, but not after the first sign. The first sign had come. Who dared take it back? I WAS IN LABOR.

I fell asleep for about two hours, thinking I should rest in preparation for labor. Also, I was extremely tired because I'd had been having trouble sleeping from all the false labor pains. Every time I laid down, it would start. At that moment, however, it was stopped and I was so sleepy. Two hours later, I woke up and nothing. I was sooo depressed. I went to my Aunt's to get the kids.

She sympathized with my plight and offered me a barium enema in a fourth of July gift bag. She even offered to "help me" use it. I wondered if labor could be causing me to hallucinate. NO, the bag was real. I turned the kids and said, we have to go, Daddy is waiting. I was ready, but not that ready.

When Mark arrived home, he asked what are we going to do for dinner? I gave him a very mean look that conveyed the message, if you don't go and get some takeout right now I am going to kill you. This look involves a crinkled nose and narrowed eyes, in case you ever want to use a look to convey that same message. He left immediately. We ate Chinese and went to bed. And as I lay my head down on the pillow, it started again...

The next morning, I was again fine. My cousin, Jessica, came to take me out for Mexican food, which she swore worked when she had her girls. I was willing to try anything. After lunch, we spent the afternoon walking around a hot farmers market. I was lifting every watermelon in sight. A lovely farmer asked me if I'd like lie down with his cows and give birth because I looked ready. Again, I gave a look, but I think that it was lost on this gentlemen, who clearly was able to find entertainment in harassing a pregnant woman. If I had to guess, his ability to read a woman's face- not so good.

I came home. We went to dinner at my moms. She offered to go with me to take the kids to the movies. Since all "labor" had stopped, I figured, I'd go. I was better when I was out and not thinking about it. As soon as I sat in the movie chair, the contractions started, and this time, I was sure the time had come. By the time we left the theater, I was panting and my stomach was as hard as rock. Ten minutes later, I was back at home, and again, miraculously the contractions stopped. It seemed like a cruel joke.

And on the third day, I arose again. Sunday. The day of my cousin's graduation party. I did not want to go. I looked superfat, all of my clothes were ugly, I felt miserable, and the baby was never coming out, so why should I go out? Yes, I was starting to go insane. I was irrational and emotional, and hormonal, and I did not want to go to yet another swimming pool for an afternoon of point at the pregnant woman and laugh as she tries to corral a three year old monkey boy. I felt like the main attraction at some sick rodeo event.

There was a huge buffet, and though I was really nauseous and not hungry, Mark suggested I try to eat something. As I approached the buffet, one of my male cousins said, "look out, Laurie is going to eat everything." Such a sense of humor on that boy, and timing, impeccable. Again, another look, again a wasted effort.

On the way home, we passed the local dairy, and I told Mark I wanted ice cream. "We just left a picnic", he said. Ugly look number four actually makes a difference and we pull into the parking lot. What I want is a chocolate ice cream soda. I stand in the long line of people and an older lady approaches me. It is super hot this first day of July. It's probably like 95 degrees. Sympathetically, she looks at me and says, "this has to be the worst time to be pregnant." And now I'm done. I get my ice cream soda and we ride home.

After the kids are changed and occupied, I pull my husband aside and say, I am not leaving this house again until this baby is born. I don't care if its weeks or months, I will not leave. I am yelling this at him because, of course, this entire situation is his fault, in more ways than I can count, and I'm trying very hard to count them all. Calmly, he tells me I should go upstairs and lie down.

He comes up and puts American Pie on the dvd player in our bedroom. It does make feel a little better, and I figure that if I am going to be pregnant for the rest of my life, I may as well laugh, a little. After the movie, I take a bath and get ready for bed. Just as I am getting ready to doze, two sleepwalkers enter my room. "Mom, can I sleep with you?"

When Mark comes to bed, he puts the kids back in their own beds, but I don't know this because I am sound asleep. I am dreaming that I am back at my cousin's house and monkey boy is climbing in and out of the pool and no one will help me get him, but rather they are all sitting, staring, and laughing. Its hot, and where is Mark? I start swatting at him, in my dream, and in real life. The motion wakes me from my dream, and now I realize THIS IS IT. People ask how do you when its real. Oh, you know, because it hurts like a mother humhum.

"Mark, wake up, I am in labor!"
"You're not in labor", he says still asleep. Do you want me to get some Tylenol and I'll rub you back."

I am very annoyed. I jump out of bed, mumbling something about do I have to do everything myself, and my water breaks all over the floor. Alas, Mark awakens. Good morning, sleepyhead- its about 1am- call the doctor now! Call my mother before now! Let's go the hospital!

My mother comes, and even though I am writing on the kitchen floor, she asks Mark if he can turn the air conditioning down, give her the remote control, polish her toenails...again, I must take control of the situation. Everyone around me is a moron.

The hospital is five minutes away. We go to the admission desk in the er and they immediately call up to l&d for a wheelchair. In the delivery room, the nurse discovers I am 10 cm. No epidural. The doctor comes in and asks me how I am doing?

Oh, I'm fucking great. Natural childbirth is a dream come true for me.
I turn to Mark and tell him that I can't do it and he should take me home.
You'll be fine, just breathe.
I am delirious with pain. That breathing shit doesn't work, I say. That's a bunch of shit. Why do they waste people's time and money with that shit?
The nurse is stretching me with her fingers. I can feel her stretching me down under- its like she's rocking a boat as hard she can with a couple of fingers. Oh and by the way the boat happens to be my crotch. I want to sit further up and punch her in the face, but then I hear this baby cry, and the down under feels like the fat kid just got off its chest and it can breathe again.
Also, the kid that she handed me, pretty damn cute. Another little monkey boy....
On second thought, maybe I wouldn't be leaving the house again ever.
At least, I wasn't still pregnant.