There and Back Again — A Pasley Tale

It’s a lovely world

Up, over and under.

Same stars that we all call ours

To look upon and wonder

Good to see another point of view

Good to show my daughters

Courage can kick start a heart

Scared of crossing waters.

Still I think it serves us leaving what we know

Though there may be days when my heart gives way

To the pulling undertow…and I want to go home.

My sister wrote this song for me before we moved to Sydney.  I used to sing it to myself when I felt lonely or lost or on the wrong side of the road.  It was such a gift–such a comfort.  But Australia no longer feels  foreign to me.  It’s not just the birthplace of Crocodile Dundee and animals that want to kill me.  It’s where Chaylee learned to walk and talk, where Kenna learned to read and ride a bike, where our baby girl, Kiama took her first breath.  It’s home. Wild kangaroos and wombat roadkill, kookaburra wake up calls and startling cockatoo cries,  crushing waves and God painted sea shells, the seductive curves of the Opera House and the  iconic arch of the Harbour Bridge….they all  feel like my natural habitat now.

In fact, it has taken a while for the pointy evergreens of Washington to feel natural to me again. The mountain still takes my breath away, but the dark green waters have taken some getting used to.  The chill in the air doesn’t feel quite right yet either.   But, in the words of the great Australian singer, song writer and wise sage, Josh Pyke,”when the city that you’re from makes a stranger of you, you know you’ve been away too long.”

So, though I have avoided writing this final chapter, I think it time.

Many blog worthy stories from our journey never made it to cyberspace.

Like the time I slipped on a cruel patch  of seaweed at Mona Vale whilst wearing a bathing suit in front of the only man in all of Australia, other than Mike Pasley, that ever attempted to chat me up.  My landing was hard,  awkward  and painful–my ending pose, unfortunate.  I tried to put the gentleman at ease with my spill by making light of my injuries.  He was concerned for me. That made it worse. Much worse.  I was so glad to return to the arms of my husband who is more than happy to laugh with me when I bite it.

Then there was  the time  a young woman working the phones at ABC Carpet Cleaners made me cry when I nervously called with a customer service complaint.  She hated me and my stupid request for better service.  She told me to never call again. I called her a big jerk.  I think she worked at the Artarmon Post Office too.  Hey, blondie…if you are reading this, put your manners back in.

And we can’t leave out the infamous Roseville Public School Art Auction and Fundraiser where Mike was coaxed by a teary wife into purchasing an unsightly map of Australia decorated by Kenna and her fellow first graders for $350.   I was in charge of the project. My original vision involved, through the eyes of a child, style photography and some simple framing.  This concept soon evolved into a large map of Australia decorated with homemade post cards created by the students.  It devolved into a grotesquely large particle board collage of muted coloring pages pasted on a background of hard to read “hand-written post card” entries.  The night before the auction I attempted improve upon the deteriorating design by framing the individuals drawings with some exotic red sand we had collected from our journey inland to Dubbo.  I thought that would give the final product an, if you will, rustic motif.

What emerged was a humiliating hodge-podge of kid art in smeared dirt frames stuccoed onto a now irreparably contaminated canvas. It was a lost cause. My dirty map would have to go to auction. That’s when I started crying.

It really wasn’t that hideous if you considered it “child art”, but the other class pieces were definitely outsourced with only peripheral ankle biter involvement.  One class even constructed a 5’4 wishing well out of stones from the playground.  It sold for over one thousand dollars.  As it should have.  Thanks Mike for buying the dirty map of Australia.  I’m sorry it had to come to that.

On a side note, the fundraiser was amazing. Those Aussies really know how to invest in public education.  Among the door prizes;  a win your height in cases of beer raffle, and a vasectomy.

I don’t believe I blogged about my frightening encounter with an angry bird either.   I was walking to Jane’s house one sunny Sunfay afternoon when suddenly a deranged bird of prey repeatedly attacked the hair I had bundled on top of my head.  No one warned me to avoid nest like buns during magpie mating season.  After the assailant’s fourth sortie,  I was able to take up defensive position utilizing a book I had brought with me.  Unfortunately,  I dropped several creative expletives in front of Jane’s neighbors during the assault, thus bolstering my already tarnished reputation.  (See the Chicken Situation– https://heatherpasley.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/jane-says/ ).

Another favorite was the accidental bikini car wash drive-by on the way home from the hospital after having Kiama.  No woman wants to sit at a stop light observing scantily clad, childless women in their twenties caressing muscle cars just after she has given birth to her third child.  Mike and I got a good laugh of out the juxtaposition,  then I gave them the bird…in my heart.

And an honorable mention goes to Chaylee’s surprise performance of “poker face” at her final ballet lesson before an audience of puzzled parents.  The whole experience was a bit more subversive than I had anticipated.  The lyrics suddenly became crystal clear, as if I were hearing them for the first time.  What once sounded like gibberish, sounded downright inappropriate.

I won’t tell you that I love you, kiss and hug you

Cause I’m bluffin with my muffin…

What the?

It was like Little Miss Sunshine but with  improvisational, and if you ask me, superior choreography.

Another gem worth a nod came by way of the International moving company that packed and loaded all our worldly possessions.  Evidently our belongings were not very impressive.  “You sure you want to bring this?” “This is garbage”  “You need three barbeques?”  ” Why you have this?”  His choppy English  cut deep.

There are many more stories that deserve a paragraph or two but the time for closure has drawn nigh.

I never knew when my sister shared that song with me nearly four years ago that home would become more of a feeling than a place.  Perhaps she knew that would be my fate…that one day I would long for the Southern cross as much as I once longed for the Fourth of July.

Feelings they come

Then they go like a dream slept by

Can’t remember why I cried so hard

Staring up at the sun swept sky

Another day of finding love

Forming bonds and virtue

Fighting fear and finding recompense

F0r all the things that hurt you

Still I think it serves us leaving what we know

Though there may be days when my heart gives way to the pulling undertow

And I want to go home

Final Poll

What does home mean to you?

Aussie word of the day:

Australia:  The land derived it’s name from the Latin term Terra Australis which means unknown land of the south.   The original Spanish name for the Land Down Under was La Australia del Espíritu Santo which means, “the southern land of the Holy Spirit”.  That is perhaps my favorite.
Family Trivia

I went indoor skydiving in August to celebrate my dear friend Michelle’s birthday. I came away with a shoulder injury.  After a month of continuous discomfort I decided to go to the doctor.  I knew he would want an x ray so I went ahead and took a pregnancy test to satisfy my conscience when I confidently checked the “not pregnant” box.

It’s a boy.

When Harry met Pasley

I should have known better.

Apologizing in this country is futile.   In fact, it is seen as a sign of weakness.  Instead, Australians say “no worries” when they do you wrong.  Somehow this is supposed to prevent the wronged party from worrying about the transgression.  Mike has embarked on  many a comical  tirade on this very issue .   And yet, I have continue to employ my Americana apologetic strategies when dealing with Aussies.  It’s in my nature.  At least, it was.  Then I met Harry.

We  accidentally booked the wrong dates for our Easter/Anzac road trip.  Worse yet, we paid the full balance when making our reservation at the Wharf Apartments in Narooma. I apologized profusely to Harry, the Property Manager, when attempting to cancel the reservation.   When I suggested that the cancellation protocol was a bit unclear and requested 50% of our deposit back,  in accordance with the policy, Harry got personal.

He used aggressive CAPS and emotionally loaded punctuation!!!!  I am surprised he didn’t throw in a emoticon with devil horns just to twist the knife.  He hated us and our stupid mistake and let us know that we were incompetent, irresponsible and unworthy of reimbursement!

I am not sure why Harry was so angry.  Maybe it was because he “wrote the policy” and felt like I was insulting his knowledge of contractual language.  Perhaps he didn’t take kindly to foreigners.  Or maybe he went on a bad date with Sally and failed to have what she was having.

Whatever the cause, I was dumbfounded by his  rage at our request to be partially reimbursed.  All I could think to respond with was, “I don’t like the tone you are taking with me”  so I handed off the task of negotiating with Dirty Harry to Mike.  And he delivered.   The man whipped up a retort that made him sound like he practices contract law on the side just for pleasure.  He used legal bonus words like, clause, tariff and restitution.   We got our deposit back, but not before being cyber bullied for weeks thereafter by Harry the scorned Apartment Manager. Maybe he and Eileen should go bowling?

Australia Rock-Narooma

Words of the Day

Have a Blue: Have a fight.

Mean As Cat’s piss: MEAN!!!!!!

We had a blue with Harry who was as mean as cat’s piss!

Fun Facts

We never actually got to stay at the Wharf Apartments. Or any other fancy apartment for that matter. Instead we stayed at the Tree Motel which included free instant coffees, an ash tray, 80’s VHS rentals and a parking spot near the “lobby”.  Read Crouching Tiger, Hidden Baby for further details.

Poll

Have you ever had a customer service representative take your cancellation policy questions personally?

Since My Baby Left Me…

Some things seem like a good idea at the time.

Speeding.

Chocolate.

Reorganizing your sock drawer.

Exercising with your children…

———————————————————————————

Kiama lights up a room.  She smiles on command. She sleeps like a teenager.  She has a healthy appetite.  She even waits in her bouncer politely while I finish the dishes without making me feel guilty.  In other words, she is the ideal baby.  Her only flaw is that she turned my abdomen into a deflated pool toy.  She also caused instability in my pelvis. As a result, my hips don’t lie they just  hurt like hell most of the time.

Fortunately, I got onto the problem early thanks to repeated visits to the physio (Physical Therapist) shortly after giving birth. Lately, I have been feeling great.  Which is why I thought it would be a wonderful time to try and get rid of the pool toy.

But how?

Kiama isn’t a huge fan of the pram (stroller) nor is she quite old enough to enjoy a creche (childcare) hence power walking or attending an aerobic class is not an option.

So what does one do?

The answer came to me in a moment of great distress. Kenna and Chaylee were careening through the house at top speed running into walls and furniture.  Despite my cries to cease and desist, they continued using our home furnishings as leverage and each other as inspiration.

And then it occurred to me–if you can’t beat them, join them!

No one has more energy and stamina than young children. If I could tap into that power source, perhaps I could not only get the exercise I desperately needed but I could quench their desire to destroy property while simultaneously being an engaged parent void of rage.

It seemed like a really, really good idea.

We each chose two high energy songs a piece.  We then took turns leading one another in aerobic activity for the duration of our selected song.

Chaylee was first to lead.  She started by holding herself up off the ground with one hand while jutting her right leg at a 90 degree angle in the air, and from there it got worse- high speed jumping jacks, ergonomically incorrect push ups, extreme lunging and summersaults off the couch.  I knew it was  high impact–dangerous even, but I was committed. I mimicked her every move with precision.

Kenna’s routine was slightly less crazed but equally challenging. Her approach was more like a bitter PE Coach that always wanted to go pro but instead ended up in a multi-purpose room berating 8th graders who were unable to do the backwards roll in tumbling class.

I can’t tumble okay!  You happy now Kenna?

When it was my turn to lead I gave the girls a taste of their own medicine. My moves were fierce, repetitive and complicated. They required skill and rhythm and adult size appendages.

What’s up now kid…huh?  What now son?

We ended with some collective stretching and breathing exercises.  All in all it was a success. I had some minor aches and pains, but I was proud of the sweat on my brow and the time I spent with my kids.

Because of the success of my first aerobic endeavor with the girls, we decided to have another go the next day.  But, this time Kiama’s legacy became apparent.

Chaylee, once again, started her routine with her extreme one armed power stance, but this time my pelvis turned into a heartbreak hotel. I was in agony from the downbeat.  Every move was a challenge. Every haphazard sit up seemed ill advised.  I felt like an old woman. But, still I pressed on. I begged Kenna to go easy on me but she was merciless.  Soon, the pain was too much and I had to give up the fight and put my pelvis to rest.

As a result of my awesome idea, I am now disabled. I am unable to walk normally.  I cannot sit, stand or roll over with out guttural utterances. I am no longer capable of picking up any of my children without a shriek or grunt.  I currently sit on an ice pack when I drive and moan when I put on pants.

It really did seem like a good idea at the time.

Words of the Day:

Good Oil: Good Idea

Old Girl: Mother

It seemed like good oil, but this old girl just can’t keep up with her ankle biters.

Family Trivia:

Mike did warn me that my awesome idea might end badly.

Poll:

What was your best idea gone wrong? Tell me.  I really do want to know.

Australian fact that has nothing to do with pelvises or exercise.

If an Aussie asks you if they can nurse your baby do not be dismayed. They merely want to cuddle the child, not breast feed them.  I wish someone would have let me in on that little gem a bit sooner.

Me, Myself, and Eilene

It was January 3rd.  I laid in bed wide awake for what seemed like hours. In the morning I would face the tenuous task of pushing a human being out of my body. I felt like the playground bully had put me on his calendar for a good ass kicking after morning tea. The idea of scheduled agony made me feel uncomfortable and nervous, like the opening bars of Mama Mia.

I tried to empower myself with prayer and victorious thoughts. I pictured myself as a heavy-weight boxer before a title fight.

And in the pink corner, wearing a floral moo moo…

The Doctor

We arrived at the hospital at 8:30am and met with Dr. Gill to finalize the plan.

“Well, we’ll go ahead and…(muffled whisper)…..water! I think he said they would break my water, but due to his curious quirk of trailing off mid sentence, only to exclaim the final words, I could not be sure.

“And if that doesn’t work, we can put some gel on your…..(more muffled whispering)…to get things moving!” I assumed that the aforementioned gel would be placed near the baby exit, but only time would tell.

“And if that doesn’t do the trick,” he said strongly, “we can…(muffled whispering continued)…and she’ll be right out!” No idea on that one. I looked to mom for some sort of interpretation, but my intended subtle inquiry was met with an uncontrolled guffaw. I realized then, that mom and I would have to avoid eye contact during all future meetings with Dr. Gill.

Despite the shocking volume of unintelligible speech, I was comforted by Gill. He had an excellent reputation and a certainty about him that made me feel safe in his care. He also had a Fonzie quality during physical examinations —an effortlessness that made it seem like checking a cervix was as easy and checkin the oil on a Camaro—like he could catch babies blind folded—but, I’ll get back to that…

The Ward

I held Mom’s hand tightly on the way down while Mike rubbed my back like any good coach before a big fight. I had my hair tied back, my soundtrack ready to blaze and my moo moo on deck. It was game time and I was ready to represent not only my family, but my country. I even shouted Team USA (not kidding) as I left the lift and headed toward the maternity wing.

“Finally you’re here! I called your mobile and your home phone!” She said firmly. Her name was Eilene and already we could tell that she was an angry elf. She was older with wise gray hair and a phlegmatic expression.

We explained that we were told to see Gill first and that we headed straight down after conferencing with him. She seemed unmoved.

“Well, you’re here now.”

We hoped that her cool demeanor was just an Aussie thing. Sydneysiders (unlike most Aussie populations) are notoriously curt, so it wasn’t entirely odd to have such a shrill exchange right off the bat.

We all threw comedy and kindness at her to get her back on our side, but our valiant efforts were quickly laid waist by her infectious charm.

“So what were your previous labors like?” She asked.

“A little rough. Both girls were posterior. I had about 24 hours of back labor with my first and 2 ½ hours of pushing. The second was hit and miss for a couple of days followed by about 12-14 hours of back labor with Pitossin about 8 hours in.”

“That’s average,” she said smugly. “Mine were longer than that and they weren’t posterior.”

Who was this woman? Had she not read the manual? Page 46 clearly states that all women want a pat on the back or at a least a “good on ya” in response to their laborious tales of woe. And all midwives know that back labor is a special sort of hell reserved for those of us with unique birth canals, odd pelvic layouts, and/or stubborn babies. Come on woman! Work with me!

The Meltdown

In an attempt to document the sacred birth experience, Mom took out her fancy ipod video camera and begin to roll tape. Eilene, who had been attaching fetal monitors to my belly stopped abruptly.

“I am just going to tell you this now. I do NOT want my picture taken and YOU DID NOT ask me for my permission! I DO NOT wish to have any photos taken of me! You should have asked!” My eyes immediately filled with tears. Nurse Ratchet was going to deliver our baby.

I wanted to tell her that she was not allowed to speak to my mother in that tone, but every bad-ass bone in my body broke and I crumbled. I rolled onto my side, hiding my tears from the woman I now viewed as my opponent, rather than my advocate.

And in the black and blue corner wearing surgical gloves and a “no flash photography sign…”

I wanted to stop the fight. I felt like I had already lost. My coaching staff had not given up on me though. Mike begin to stroke my head and pray quietly in my ear. Mom, in a display of unparalleled restraint, apologized profusely and calmly attempted to clarify Eilene’s terms and conditions for filming the momentous event.

Eilene escorted Mike out of the room to show him around the ward. Mom and I hugged and processed what had occurred and soon Eilene and Mike returned. She seemed different. She had not warmed up, but she had clearly called off the attack.

After a hellacious examination lasting at least 5-10 minutes, my water had still not broken, so the three of us played cards and waited for the tide to turn. Contractions came and went without form or pattern. Occasionally Eilene would come in quietly and stare at me for a bit, but her presence was infrequent and aloof.

“What do you think happened?” I asked.

“I had a word with her.” Mike answered calmly.

I was completely destroyed by love for him in that moment. He had taken back my lunch money.

From then on, the three of us created a impenetrable realm where Naomi Cambell and her paparazzi paranoia could not injure me, at least not for a while.

Enter Pitossin (a.k.a. Syntocinon in Australia)

Despite my frequent though irregular contractions, Eilene made it clear that labor had not begun. Of course, this is exactly the kind of encouragement that I needed. I mean really, what woman doesn’t’ want to feel like a sputtering hooptie holding up traffic.

It was time for the drip.

As the contractions strengthened the back labor materialized. Yet another Pasley girl was posterior and loving it. We tried various and sundry methods of coping including “gas” and a hot shower, but the gas mask was making me nauseous (which Eilene said was basically all in my head) and the shower which started out feeling amazing soon became like Chinese water torture. Mom helped me find comfortable positions and Mike manhandled my lower back to ease the pressure.  All I needed was some Vaseline around my eyes and a mouth guard to get me back in the ring. GO TEAM USA….

But, I was no match for the drip.  The contractions were not coming in waves they were violent and sudden and without pause.  The only time they eased was when Eilene would come in the room and ask how far apart they were.  It was as if my body seized up in her presence.  Contractions that were 1 minute apart instantly became 3 minutes apart.  I felt like a liar–like perhaps I wasn’t pregnant at all, just really front-loaded.

She turned up the pitocin.

I was in the pit of despair battling COUS’s (Contractions of Unusual Size). I could not move without feeling like my back was breaking.  My only source of solace was the certainty that I must be nearing transition if not already there.

The final exam

“Looks like you are only at a 4 or 4.5.  Wish I could tell you different but I would be lying.”

Read the damn manual Eilene!!!  Page 132:  How To Offer Hope to the Stagnant Uterus.

I wept uncontrollably.  Mike and mom showered me with praise and comfort but all I wanted was relief and progress…and there was only one man who could give me that.  His first name was Epi, and his last name Dural.

When Epi finally arrived he asked for my status.  Eilene, gave him a glowing report.  She is at a 4.5…maybe a 5.  Glad she had an extra centimeter of cervix to spare for the anesthesiologist. 

At 8:00pm, Eilene handed her keys to the night crew and a glorious new midwife greeted us warmly.  And with little more than a goodbye, my she was gone.  Mom took the opportunity to shout out what we had wished to say all evening long. “Goodnight Eilene!”

In a Pinch

Mike departed to forage for food in a land where everything closes at 5:00pm, including the hospital coffee shop.  Dr. Gill also headed out for sustenance with his wife, when suddenly an appalling pressure paralyzed me. I needed to push.  She wanted out and I wanted to help her evacuate expeditiously.

Mom and Mike informed the midwife of my insatiable urge.  She passed the news onto Gill who was just about to take his first bit of dinner. I didn’t know how long I could wait.  Suddenly, the little girl who I thought would never leave her womb, decided to try and sneak out unsupervised.

The midwife told me I could give little pushes but that I should try and hold on until Gill arrived unless I wanted her to  catch the baby.  I had come too far and been through too much to not let Fonzie deliver the goods, so I held on for dear life.

“What do I do? I don’t know what to do.”  I said, grasping the side rails of my hospital bed, whilst doing gold medal worthy kagels.  Even Eilene would have been obliged to give me a 9.5.  I could almost hear the Star Spangled Banner play…

“I need to push! What do I do?”

“Pinch it!” Said Mike.

“Call an audible.” Suggested Mom.

I was shaking like a frost bitten climber.  I could see the summit. I could almost touch the top. But my  Sherpa was still en route so I listened to my team…and pinched it.

The Delivery

Dr. Gill walked in just in time, kind of like how Fonzie used to enter just when Richie Cunningham needed him most.  Happy Days were here again.

Mom called Kirsten and sat the phone next to me on the bed.

“I love you sissy,” I said. “I can feel you with me.”

We cried…hard.

It was time to meet our girl.

The offspring was crowning.  Mike held my hand.  Mom rolled tape.  I panted wildly.  The Fonz put on his gloves one at a time in what felt like slow motion.  I was certain he was going to give me two thumbs up before getting underway.  Instead he gave me gentle and shockingly clear instructions to slowly, very slowly …push…

Every fiber of my body wanted to push with primal abandon. To show them what an American Woman could do!  But, Gill urged me to be controlled and deliberate.  And although it felt counter intuitive, who was I to question him. Gill knows the cervix like Bo knows baseball…like Fonzie knows women and motorcycles,.  So with pelvic control like that of a matronly ninja, I gently pushed…

They Meet

As he placed her on my chest, it all made sense.  It was not the pregnancy, the labor, or the birth that bonded me to her. It was the knowledge that we belonged together, that our life stories were inextricably intertwined.  This beautiful little body would be a permanent character in my story from here to eternity.

Kiama Joelle Pasley
January 4, 2011
8:32pm
3340 gms
49.5 cms
Sydney, Australia
Pop Quiz
Can you translate this beautiful piece of Aussie jargon?
We may have had a bodgy midwife who made me as mad as a cut snake but in the end we had ourselves a fair dinkum Aussie Ankle Biter!
Family Trivia
Kiama was born on her Great Grandma Betty’s 75th birthday!
More Family Triva
Mike wrote a beautiful letter to the hospital about our experience. Once I find said letter, I will insert a paragraph or two here.  It will make all you lady readers swoon.  God Bless Him!
Yet More Family Trivia
Mikey got a promotion!  We’re coming home!

T minus 3 Days and Counting

It was my last painting class and I was running behind schedule.  We were supposed to be doing an all white painting, using color to suggest change in tone. I was excited. It sounded fun.  Instead I walked into the art room 40 minutes late only to find myself face to face with a naked man standing on a pedestal in the center of the room, legs akimbo, wearing only a beaded rainbow bracelet.  This was not the all white painting I had in mind.

I tried to set up my work-space without disrupting the nude dude or the students who were attempting to capture his likeness.  I quietly found a spot near the exit, but kept nervously dropping my supplies.  Picking up my fallen items was no picnic either as third trimester bending is like doing yoga in stilettos.  It’s a challenge.  Not only was the situation awkward for me but, the rest of the room seemed to be uncomfortable on my behalf.  They kept giving me sympathetic glances, but seemed afraid to leave the comfort of their dirty drawings for fear someone would see what they had done.

I also made the mistake of texting Mike about what was occurring. He then proceeded to send me endless text messages full of phallic wordplay.

Then came the painting.  I could not seem to make sense of his form.  All of my attempts were futile verging on humorous. He was in his sixties, with a curious gaunt,almost feminine  build punctuated by a modest pot-belly and sparse muscle tone.  I could not seem to make him look masculine on canvas and I did not have the balls to paint his manhood. So in the end, I painted something that looked more like a misshapen eunuch.  He didn’t seem impressed.  

I have some other things going on right now that are blog worthy like being 9 months pregnant.  I just haven’t felt inspired to write too much about it. After all, the prenatal blog market is saturated.

There are the super-mom bloggers who start nesting in week six.  They are household CEO’s;  familiar with cutting edge infant technology, up on where to find the latest and greatest in nursery décor, and generally knowledgeable about all things fetal.

There are the neophyte bloggers, irritated by the horror stories they have been inundated with. Little do they know that before long, they too shall mercilessly terrorize soon-to-be parents with their own tales of insidious contractions, tearing flesh, bleeding nipples and sleepless nights.

There are the granola bloggers, who intend to rid the world of all things synthetic.  They are well educated in the ways of the ancients and ready to apply pressure , perhaps even employ sanctions on those who do not utilize their local diaper service.

There are the maternal bloggers who believe in frequent anatomical updates. They are not afraid to use words like “vulva”, “discharge” and “hemorrhoids”. All words I hate!

I do not fit into any of these categories.  I am a cheap skate, sub standard consumer who uses whatever is on hand to tend to infant need even if it is made in China. I also prefer to use euphemisms to describe the human body and it’s functions.

I have spent most of this pregnancy, as a happy mother of two and a reluctant mother of three.  When asked if I am excited about being pregnant, I have answered with self absorbed diatribes about how much this is gonna suck.  Or in the words of Louis CK, how a human is about to burrow out of my body and step on my dreams.  No one wants to hear someone complain about a blessing or whine about a gift. I know that. So, early on I decided not to write about being pregnant, so as not reveal my cynical and downright inappropriate response to the turn of events in my life.

The truth is, I am just scared. I am scared of a mid life crisis hitting me mid diaper change.  I am afraid of returning to the classroom after a ten-year hiatus and using nomenclature that is dated.  I am afraid of loving another person as much as I love my girls–of worrying about another human being to the degree that I worry about them.  I fear not having enough hands to reach them if there is danger, or a big enough lap for them all to fit on…or too big of a lap because I am in my thirties now and let’s be realistic, I’m more Oprah than Gayle.

And then there is labor.  In an effort to prepare myself for what lies ahead, I watched a youtube clip the other day called, The Miracle of Life – A Vaginal Birth.  It was a bad idea.

But, today something happened.  I pictured her. I saw her clearly in my arms and I saw the look on my face when our eyes met.  I was not scared.  I was not reluctant or regretful, and I heard myself say, “Momma’s here.”  “Momma loves you.”.   And I meant it.

FAQ’s

How many days to go: 4+

Got a name: We think so.

Any action: Lots of contractions lately but nothing consistent.

Will she be an Australian Citizen: No.  One of us would need to be Australian or a

Permanent Resident to make that happen.  This will be her home away from home though.

Do you like your Midwife?  I have a male OBGYN.  He is great, but I am still a little nervous about being “examined” so thoroughly by a male physician. He is a smallish man with puffy gray hair, three daughters and a broad Stralian accent. He is kind, humorous, warm and comes highly recommended.  He does have an unusual habit worth noting though. He begins each sentence very abruptly, then trails off leaving the listener unsure of what just happened.  As a result, I usually only understand about 25% of what is said.  Hopefully this will not impede his ability to instruct me when it counts…”So, Heather, go ahead and puiusidjkfjdklajdfjld…..”

What have you enjoyed about pregnancy:  Mostly how uncomfortable I make smokers feel.  They hide their heads in shame when I pass.  Sometimes I throw in a delicate cough on top of my waddle to twist the knife. I also enjoy the special treatment I receive in public places. The varicose vein that has decided to add texture and color to my right thigh is nice too. I always wanted one of those.

Suffering Sycophant

A vicious parasite had taken over the house.  It was clear upon entry to our home that we were not well.  The abode was a mess and an aroma of illness had become entrenched. No room was spared. It was my day to stay in bed.  Mike was doing his best under great duress to man the offspring in the TV room. Well, actually the television was doing most of the work, but he was in charge of the remote.

Chaylee had not yet fallen victim to the pending affliction but was showing signs of weakness.  Her temperature was on the rise and her demeanor was in decline.  We could tell her demise was eminent.

I laid in bed in nauseous agony feeling sorry for myself. Not only had I become host to a cruel and unusual parasite but, I was still in the throws of morning sickness and mild to moderate depression as a result of rabid hormones, homesickness and baby shock.  All I could think about was my two arms.  TWO.  Only two arms had I–one for Chay and one for Kenna.  I could hear the baby cry already.  I could hear her desperation and desire to feed and be changed.   All I could see was need all around me– need and my lack of a third arm.

Amidst my despair I could hear the pitter patter of footy jammies approaching.  It was my daughter. My beautiful little girl, Chaylee, was coming to me in search of comfort.  Her prominent, kind eyes hovered above the crest of the bed.  I picked her up and pulled her in close. It gave me great pleasure to console her.  Perspective had been restored.  Motherhood felt, once again, like a great blessing; a reward in itself.

“Oh Chay, Momma loves you…You okay honey?”  My mouth was agape with words of love and affection.

***************

He could hear the screaming over the television and through two shut doors. He rushed in to find us both covered in an obscene amount of vomit and me scrubbing my tongue furiously with a quilt, tears cascading down my face.

“It’s in my mouff…..(sob)….she threw up in my mouff (sob, sob) I can feel some in my froat…(sob, heave, wail)”  The muffled cries were barely audible through the blanket that I had shoved in my mouth.

Chaylee was sitting beside me cloaked in her own vomit. Her hair was matted with partially digested food. None of it was identifiable which meant it had been sitting in there a while just waiting for the perfect moment to re emerge.

As with the leech incident, my ability to effectively cope in an emergency situation was once again brought into question.  Did I seek to comfort Chaylee? No. She seemed happy enough to be rid of the ruminating remnants of dinner. Did I stand up and set aside the soiled bedding and clothing for stain treatment before calmly accessing the showering facilities? No. I just sat there weeping, stupefied…rhythmically scraping my tongue with a small patch of vomit free bedding.

Mike took the reigns and helped Chaylee and I out of bed and into the bathroom as I continued to cry.  I collected myself and took Chay into the shower with me.  I washed her hair while simultanously gulping as much water as I could.  About every two minutes I would gag involuntarily in rememberance.  What I really wanted to do sit on the cool tile under the hot water rocking back and forth in the fetal position. But, a little girl needed me to wash her hair.  And that need prevented me from wallowing in my own despair.

Sure, I will be living with yet another human who is incapable of controlling her bodily functions for a period of time. Yes, another little soul will need me and my breasts in the wee hours of the night when I would rather be sleeping.  Perhaps the danger of me choking on someone else’s vomit will increase with her birth. But this little someone needs me and it’s time to get out of the fetal position and step up to the challenge which has been placed before me. I may not have enough arms for the job, but I think I have a big enough heart for the task at hand.

So, welcome to the family sister.  Momma’s here!

Aussie Words of the Day

Chunder: To vomit (usually from being drunk)

Sook: A weak-willed person who is likely to burst into tears at the slightest provocation. Also called a cry-baby.

Sickie: A sick person.

“You too might turn into a right sook if a sickie ankle biter chundered in your mouth.

Family Trivia

Yes, we are having another little girl. Mike will be selecting a male dog to live with us upon our return to the United States.

Health Tip

  1. If you are interested in becoming bulimic, have someone regurgitate INTO your mouth.  You will never need to stick your finger down your throat again. All you will need to do is reminisce about the experience and gagging will come naturally.
  2. Do not snuggle face to face with a host of a parasite. Instead, point the infected party in the opposite direction of your face.

Poll

Would you rather:

a. Expose your buttox to a park full of picnickers  (See I Just Couldn’t Swing It )

b. Fall victim to accidental nudity due to a freak thunderstorm  (See Nuddy in a Southerly Buster )

c. Be attacked by blood sucking leeches (See Man Vs. Wild)

d. Have your child vomit in your mouth?

FAQ’s

How far along are you? — 23 weeks

Feeling any better about it all? — Yes, I think so.

Any names picked out? — A few ideas, but still undecided.. Feel free to post suggestions.

Where are you having the baby? — Northshore Private Hospital here in Sydney.

Will she be considered an Aussie? In our hearts, but technically she will be an American Citizen.

Man v. Wild

We were in search of Beach Access. We thought we had found it…

It had to be right. Sure there was a locked gate and no beach access sign, but according to the map it was the correct spot and there was clearly a trail. The rickety old gate was probably just a relic of some kind. An artifact the caravan park felt some affection for and was unwilling to part with. After all, if it was intended to keep out the general public it wouldn’t have the attractive grassy knoll beside it luring tourists onto the mildly overgrown path it guarded.

As we set out, we could hear the roar of the ocean on our right. Sure it was girded by gum trees and thick brush but, we knew it was there; Emerald Beach, the final destination on our Dubbo to Byron Bay Caravan of Courage. We trudged along through the occasional puddle of mud and stagnant water in our summer flip flops eagerly anticipating the imminent waves that would refresh them.

We walked and walked and walked…and walked…and yet the droning sound of waves was abating making the path we chose increasingly questionable. The quality of the trail was diminishing as well, making the beach seem less and less accessible with each step. Wildlife also started to emerge as a concern.

In the distance Mike spotted a striking and vaguely menacing wild kangaroo blocking our path. It glared at us as if to say, “You shall not pass!” before jumping into the bush. He was big. Not like the kangaroos at the zoo. He was clearly eating more than Koala Park cheerios.

We felt like we were on the discovery channel. Not in a good way. The kangaroo was a reminder of sorts. A warning that we were in a notoriously wild and dangerous land. He was a symbol of what could go wrong. Like a gazelle on the discovery channel. They don’t do specials on gazelles. They do specials on the lions that eat the gazelles.

“You know, this is probably the wrong country in which to take the road less traveled,” I said. Mike laughed in agreement, having been skeptical of our judgment from the start.

We turned around and begin our hike back to camp, this time motivated by a quiet fear rather than the spirit of adventure and anticipation we had set out with. It was a good thing we headed back too because Chaylee no longer wanted to walk on her own. Even when I held her she complained that her feet were bothering her. I hadn’t realized how far we had actually trekked into the bush until I was forced to carry the complaining toddler. We were approaching “the gate”. The gate which no longer seemed like a mere monument but a well placed deterrent.

As we emerged from the “the trail” Kenna called out curiously,”Mom? Dad? What’s on the back of my leg? It looks like a worm?” Mike had his hands full having relieved me from kid courier duty. It would be up to me to handle the worm, or dirt, or whatever it was.

I approached her sun kissed calf and batted at the culprit gently, assuming it would submit without a fight. But it did not come off. I begin to slap at it wildly this time with vocals. It wouldn’t come off. Kenna started to panic as I relentlessly beat her leg silly. I just wanted it off!!! I wailed and swatted at the little bastard like I was in a cat fight. If it had hair, I would have pulled it! Anything to get it off my girl. It finally succumbed and fell to the ground, leaving a trail of blood behind. Her blood.

A better woman would have consoled her daughter. A better mother would have offered her a hug. Instead I just stared blankly at the lifeblood trickling down her little leg and cried out in horror, “THEY”RE BLOOD SUCKING LEEEEEECHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“What? Blood? I’m bleeding? What? Blood Sucking? What?” Kenna’s eyes begin to fill with tears. She was looking to me for comfort and found only hysteria. I was no use to her or any of us.

Meanwhile, Mike began frantically searching for the sinister little suckers. Having remembered Chaylee’s declared discomfort, he took off her shoe. At least four leeches had attached themselves to her fleshy little appendage. I broke down. All I could hear was her sweet little voice…”Mommy, my foot is boddering me. Mommy, my foot is boddering me.”

I was out of the running for Mother of the Year.

They were everywhere. On our legs, in between our toes, feeding on us like we were the other white meat. Mike was bent in nervous, uncontrollable laughter frantically searching for foes as his wife, his partner, spun the children into a frenzy. The other campers did not appear moved by our plight. Or perhaps they were afraid of the crazy lady who was tossing shoes and expendable apparel into the air with abandon in search of black vampire worms.

We finally made it back to Maui (our camper) where more carnage ensued. Mike, God Bless Him, had the presence of mind to methodically search each one of us we before entered the camper so as not to let the leeches into our lair. Unfortunately, one particularly persistent leech made it through the blockade by hiding out on the bottom of my foot. Upon discovering the stow away I, as is customary, began to flail and swipe at my foot recklessly and with no regard for where the flying leech would land. Mike gently chastised me like a 911 operator trying to calm a panicked caller. I took a deep breath and attempted to recapture my maternal instincts. But, my confidence as a caregiver was dismantled once again when we found another leech on the back of Chaylee’s knee. I recognized this one. He was the the free loading sycophant that used my ped to pry his way into our caravan. That means it was me and my savage fear that led to her discomfort. I embraced her and whispered apologies and affection in her ear. Somehow, she held no grudge.

When it was all said and done, we sat on at the caravan kitchen table, emotionally drained, half naked and covered in band-aids. Finally…it had gotten funny.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

WORDS OF THE DAY

# sponger

noun:- a free loader, or one who lives of the good graces of another.

# she’ll be apples

misc:- everything will be OK, there is no need to worry.

# clod hoppers

noun:- your feet

“Once we get the spongers off our clod hoppers she’ll be apples.”

AUSSIE TRIVIA/LEECH FACTS

http://www.wettropics.gov.au/st/rainforest_explorer/Resources/Documents/factsheets/Leeches.pdf

POLL: How would you respond to a leech situation?

SHOUT OUT: My hilarious friend CK pointed out that living in Australia is like being in a video game. Level 1- Driving on the wrong side of the road.

Level 2- Huntsmen Spiders

Level 3- Blue Bottle Jellyfish

Level 4- Rip tides

Level 5- Blood sucking leeches

Chaylee post leech attack

FAMILY FUN FACT: A leech wasn’t the only sponger I picked up on our journey. Shortly after arriving home, I discovered that I was hosting yet another free loader. That’s right. In a surprise twist we are expecting our third Pasley offspring.

FAQ’S-

Was this planned? No

How far along? I am fifteen weeks

Where will the baby be born- Sydney

Are you going to find out if it is a boy or a girl? Yes

Do I need a hug? Yes