I Had Twins and it was Crazy! (and other embarrassing anecdotes)

Hello my poor, neglected blog! So where did we last leave off? Ah yes! More than a year ago now, when I was still pregnant with twins.

It was a hard pregnancy – or so I thought, until my 2 little boys came into the world and I realized that pregnancy was the easiest part. These days, when I see a woman bounding down the street with her round belly dressed in yoga gear, or with a bag of just-purchased baby clothes in hand, I think to myself, “Gal, you have no idea what’s coming to you.”

That said, my pregnancy included bed rest, hospital stays, and pre-term labour before the whole shebang kicked off at 37 weeks when I woke up from a nap, hemorrhaging.

Forty-eight hours after arriving at the hospital, which included induction, ruptured membranes (breaking of the water, not naturally), and labouring to 9cm, my little guys were hastily cut from my belly and arrived into this world (but not into my arms – I was frozen from the neck down) at 5:14 and 5:16pm on Sunday, January 19, 2014.

One day old

I was the last to see them, and the last to hold them, and even though I was pretty groggy from the meds, I was still ticked. When you give birth to twins, it always happens in the OR, with about 14 billion nurses, anesthesiologists, OBs and surgeons by your side, just in case.

So when Twin A was pulled from my belly my eyes got to behold his wrinkly, bloody butt for about a millisecond before he was cleaned and weighed. But when the nurses and midwives formed a semi-circle around the scale to “oohhh and ahhh” the precious little dude that I just gave birth to, I snapped a little. “Can you please get out of the way so I can see him?!”

I’m the kinda gal who has imagined giving birth over and over again, and it always makes me weepy. To think about groaning, crying, sweating, labouring – and then finally, something beautiful emerges! Isn’t that what life is?! While some are terrified of the thought of a natural birth, I was terrified of a c-section. I grew those boys in my belly. I nurtured them. I felt every kick, every hiccup. They kept me awake with their antics. Made me pee 5 times in a night. And then they were born, and I couldn’t see them or hold them.

I think that what made it so hard was that I hadn’t prepared myself for the fact that a c-section was a real possibility (something like 75% of twin births end in a c-section). Emotionally, physically…I had no idea what I would endure. And though I never pushed those boys out of my lady bits, I did labour to 8cm without an epidural, and I can say in all truthfulness that the pain of contractions (and believe me, they are painful!) didn’t hold a candle to the pain of a c-section recovery. Imagine getting stabbed with a knife every single time you move.

My first meltdown happened on Day 2, when I couldn’t put on my pants. I was in the bathroom in my hospital room, trying ever so hard to lean over and pull on my gosh-darn pants without falling on the floor and sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t. So I walked out of the bathroom pant-less in front on my husband, a nurse, a lactation consultant and a nurse-in-training trying not to burst into tears. I sat down on my bed and asked my husband Simon if he could put on my pants. And then I lost it.

“Are you crying because you can’t put your pants on?!” The lactation consultant asked me, in a tone that was just a bit too cheery. I gave her a look. Do NOT mess with me, woman. I tried to compose myself, and then I answered. “Yes.”

She responded with, “Well then! Let’s put on your pants!” And then followed up with, “Now take off your shirt!”

And thus began my postpartum journey of never wearing a shirt. Cuz you see, when you have to nurse two babies, there’s no time to think about lifting your shirt and unhooking your nursing bra clasps. Never mind the fact that newborns nurse around the clock!

Now normally, I don’t think my husband would have liked the fact that I was topless in front of other men. This only happened at breastfeeding clinics, and these men were the kind husbands, like mine, who accompanied their wives to said clinics for emotional support. But Simon is smart, and he realized about 4 days in that there ain’t nothing sexy about leaky boobs and cracked nipples getting gnawed on all day and all night. Nope. Nada. Nothin’.

I think that’s where I’ll end, because nap time is almost over and if I don’t click “publish” now this is never going to happen. Not for another 15 months at least.

Hope you’ve enjoyed!

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My Lunch Box

The following exercise is inspired by Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. In the chapter “School Lunches” Lamott tells writers if you don’t know where to start, write about school lunches. The purpose of the exercise is to take a short assignment and yield a shitty first draft of detailed memory…then see where it takes you.

Here is my shitty first draft of My Lunch Box.

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When I was a kid my mom used to make me peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches when I stayed for lunch at school – once a week tops. They were my favourite kind of sandwich because it was like eating a Reese Peanut Butter Cup melted and slathered on bread.

The thing is though, the other kids didn’t seem to have the same excited response as I did to my most amazing meal. They would look at my sandwich in shock, then look back at their own with wilted lettuce and cheese, and ask, “You’re eating that for lunch?!”

At first I didn’t understand what was so wrong with my meal. Hello! It tastes good! My mom wants me to eat my food at lunch, duh!? But after a while I started to wonder if maybe they were jealous of my chocolate bar on a bun. And then I got a little embarassed.

I’d open up my lunch bag, peer at the contents between two slices of whole wheat (never white!) bread, and exclaim, “Peanut butter and Nutella again!” And then I’d sigh, as though I’d had it up to here with eating roasted hazelnuts and skim milk with smooth and creamy peanut butter. But secretly, inwardly, I’d be filled with glee that my mom packed me my favourite lunch yet again.

Thanks, Mom.

I Made it to The Wall!

There’s a wall in my parents’ house with 3 large photos framed and hung proudly in the great room. They are photos of my brother and his family. The photos of me – until very recently – were small and placed on a table nearby.

I’m not the only one who has noticed this arrangement. When friends come to visit they often comment how my brother is “dominating the wall.”

This, in turn, has led to the phrase, “One day I’ll make it to The Wall!” One day…when I’m married…when I have children. One day I’ll make it to The Wall. For now I’ll take my place on a side table. I can live with that. I aspire to The Wall.

Well, as of this past Friday night, I made it to The Wall.

And no, I’m married, or even engaged, or with child. But maybe my parents jumped the gun a little now that I have a boyfriend.

I made it to The Wall!

Regardless, I’m just happy to be up there. Now I don’t have to try to explain to my friends that my parents love my brother more than they love me (just kidding). Thanks Mom and Dad!

Destination: Hope

I had just pulled on to the highway during the tail-end of rush hour traffic when I noticed “it” on my dashboard.

“Mother,” I said, clearly agitated, “is that a parking ticket?!

I wasn’t in the mood for a parking ticket. Not when I was struggling to keep my bank account out of the red. Not when I had received my first speeding ticket 2 weeks prior. And definitely not when that speeding ticket came just 2 days after my friend Jess and I accidentally caused $300 worth of damage at the inn at our friends’ wedding.

And we were the sober ones.

“Yeah.” She said, sympathetically. “I just hope you don’t have to use the windshield wipers!”

It might have been my mood that caused dark clouds to come rolling in. Less than two minutes later droplets of water splashed on the windshield.

“How about you take the wheel while I try to reach outside the window?” I asked my mom, trying to make light of a situation that was both humorous and annoying.

“How about you take the next exit,” she suggested, as the rain began to pour.

As I navigated carefully to the off ramp my mind became engulfed with anxiety concerning upcoming rent, tuition, my expensive series of unfortunate events, and the money I didn’t have to cover it. “You know,” I said, teetering dangerously close to a pity party, “it’s stuff like this that makes me feel like a failure.”

“Oh please!” she retorted. “Do you know many parking tickets your brother’s gotten over the years? I even got summoned to court once because he forgot to pay a fine he got driving my car!”

I laughed at the memory, but it wasn’t the parking ticket per say that was causing insecurity. It was the growing doubt that I should be renting an apartment and going back to school when my finances were looking so bleak. It was the confusion I began to feel as soon as I returned to Canada and took a realistic look at this course I’m about to chart. It was how all of these things conjured up the same feelings I had when I was living with my parents.

“We journey in hope,” my mom said, as I pulled into a parking lot to turn around.

“Okay…”

She repeated herself, “‘We journey in hope.’ Look.” She pointed to the message on a signboard and I realized I had driven into a church parking lot.

I put the car in park and ran outside to grab the ticket from the dashboard. With my vision no longer impaired from the raindrops on the windshield, I saw the sign clearly.

“I’ll take some hope, please!” I said.

As I settled back into the car and pulled on to the road I was reminded (as I have been many times since coming home) how much I do not want to go back to that pre-Bangkok mindset, where jobs were scarce, living with my parents was never-ending, and hope was something I struggled to grasp every day.

Instead, I’m going to work my butt off to be financially responsible and maintain a budget (thank God for a brother obsessed with financial planning), kick those almost-pity parties to the curb, and choose to journey in hope – because even when it’s raining outside and I can’t see what’s ahead, this truth remains the same: God’s love is strong and I can trust Him with my life.

The End.

Post Bangkok Conversations

On Affection

Sitting on the deck with my dad sipping our morning java.

Me: Dad, can I have a hug?

Dad: Are you stressed out or something?

Me: I’m sad. Can I have a hug?

My dad doesn’t budge from his chair. He unenthusiastically extends his left arm toward me. There’s still about 2 feet between us.

Me: [Mildly annoyed] What is that!? You call that a hug?!

Dad: Natalie, you have to understand that my culture and my generation does not hug.

Me: Dad, you’ve been hugging me my whole life. Give. Me. A. Hug.

On Driving

Dad: So how are you getting to Amy’s house? (in Toronto)

Me: The 401.*

Dad: Are you kidding me? You’re taking the 401 to downtown Toronto? Natalie, you haven’t driven in 6 months!

Me: Dad! I’m 27 years old. That means I’m almost 30. I can drive the 401!

It’s a wonder they let me go to Thailand…

*According to Wikipedia, the segment of Highway 401 passing through Toronto is the busiest highway in North America and one of the widest and busiest in the world.

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My parents are helping me pack my car for a mini road trip.

Dad: Natalie, these are the high beams. High beam on. High beam off. Don’t drive with the high beams on.

Me: Dad, this is my car. And I know all about high beams.

Dad: Ok, good. Do you want me to back out of the garage for you?

Me: No.

I close the door and turn on the engine. My mom taps on the window and speaks loudly, exaggerating the movement of her mouth so that I can read her lips, just in case I can’t hear her.

Mom: DO YOU REMEMBER HOW TO PUMP GAS?

My eyes widen in disbelief. I force a smile, because I know she’s just being a mom.

Me: I remember. Goodbye!

My parents stand in the driveway and wave until I am out of sight.

On Money

Watching the news. Catch the last 30 seconds of a segment on gold.

Me: So why is the price of gold going up?

Dad: Because the whole world is having financial problems. Not just Natalie. The whole world!

Me: [Laughing].

Dad: Greece is in a much worse state than you are, Nat.

Conversations from the “Other Side”

I made it to the other side – and I’m still alive! The other side of 26, that is.

Last Monday, December 6, I celebrated my 27th birthday. Wow. I opened one of my birthday cards  a week early and when I saw, “Happy 27th Birthday” I almost fell over. I never thought I would get so old. Not that I’m that old. But when I was in high school I could never imagine being in university. And when I was in university I could never imagine being a graduate, and so on and so forth. Now I’m 27. Twenty-seven. Wow.

The scary thing about 27 is that it’s suspended between 25 and 30. When I was 26 I was still close enough to 25. But now that I’m 27 I feel like I can’t go back. Thirty is coming for me, and it’s probably coming fast!

Soon I’m going to have to change around the “About Me” section of my blog. “My name is Natalie, I’m 27, and I live with my parents.”

I'm not a little girl anymore!

Of course, this blog will have to go on a brief hiatus during my time in Thailand, but when I come home I’ll most likely be living with mom and dad again, and heck, might even be able to accomplish, “My name is Natalie, I’m 28, and I live with my parents.”

Alas, this birthday wouldn’t be complete without some quotations. Here we go again!

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Back in the summer (during my unemployment funk) my mom and I were out for a drive. I was having a pity party, lamenting about how I thought I would never get a job, that no one wanted to hire me (blah blah blah blah), when Bruno Mars’ song “Just the Way You Are” came on the radio. My mom started singing along: “Natalie! Don’t you know you’re amazinnnnnnnnnng, just the way you areeeeeeee.”

She’s told me that (or sang it to me, rather) often during the past few months. And then on my birthday she told me this:

Mom: I was going to call the radio station and get them to dedicate that song to you for your birthday, but then I listened to the lyrics more closely. I didn’t think that part about “Her lips” was an appropriate message for a mother to send to her daughter.

(FYI, the lyrics are “Her lips, her lips, I could kiss them all day if she’d let me.”)

True! Though it didn’t stop Finn from singing that same song to Kurt during the recent Glee wedding episode…

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Opening my birthday cards over coffee. I open a card from my parents.

Me: That’s such a nice card! Thanks guys.

Mom: It’s true. That’s why we got it for you.

Me: Awww…

Dad: This is a Hallmark moment.

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My parents treat me to dinner at the Keg. I guess my dad thought it was necessary to gift his 27 year old unmarried daughter with some guy advice:

Me: You know, I should have flirted with that guy at the booth, (at an event I attended a week prior) even if I didn’t like him. Just for practice.

Dad: Natalie, if you want to talk to a guy, you just have to pretend he’s a tree.

Me: A tree?! [I laugh so hard that I blow out the candle in the centre of the table.]  Can you please explain your logic in pretending that a guy is a tree?

Dad: You can say anything! You can say something stupid, something good, something bad. It doesn’t matter. The tree won’t talk back.

Me: But that’s not the point. I want the guy to respond!

Dad: [Said matter-of-factly, as he takes a bite of his steak] Most guys won’t.

Mom: [Puts her utensils down and looks at me soberly] I’m married to a tree.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

My dad is a bit of a contradiction. He’s one of the silliest people I know, but he won’t admit to being silly. And whenever I’m acting silly in his presence he’s adamant that I cut it out – or else! Or else what?

A few weeks ago I was doing a little jig in the kitchen. My friend and former co-worker Rosanna taught me the art of the jig. She used to walk down the hallway, stop at the doorway of the office I shared with Erin, dance a little jig, and be on her way. It was always fun to watch. I miss Rosanna.

Mid-jig my dad looks up from the paper he’s reading and says, “Don’t do that! Stop it!” I wonder why this little dance – which I thought incorporated some pretty sweet moves – was so wrong.

“Don’t? Stop?” I ask. My mom and I share one of those looks that says, “What a weirdo.” I turn to my dad and ask, “Why?”

“If you dance like that you’re going to make Olivia silly!”

“Huh?” I’m clearly confused. Olivia is my 15 month old niece, and at the time of this conversation she was at home asleep in her crib.

“Okay, dad. I didn’t know that dancing made people silly. And when I have a family we’re going to dance all the time! We’re going to be the silliest bunch on the block!”

“No!” he says, and goes back to his paper. (I think no is one of his favourite words.)

Just a day later we’re at my brother and sister-in-law’s house for dinner. My dad is showing Olivia his pinky finger – the one that was cut off mid-joint when he was a little boy. He pretends to shove it up his nose, in his ear…all sorts of “silly” things.

“Hey dad,” I say. “Dad! Dad!” I’m trying to get his attention but he’s not listening to me. “Dad! Stop! No! Stop! You’re being silly!

He doesn’t look up. He doesn’t acknowledge me. His eyes are shining. Olivia’s squealing with laughter. He’s too engrossed in his granddaughter to notice anything else.

Fast forward to last night. I was sitting in the Great Room with my mom, acting like my alternate personality, “Cindy.” (As a coping mechanism for road life with BUG, each of us girls developed an alter ego complete with a name and “unique” characteristics). My dad walked in the room and I gave him my best “Cindy smile.” (Picture the ugliest smile you’ve ever seen).

“You’re never going to get a man if you act like that,” he says.

I immediately snap out of my smile. “Dad, you do realize that there are some things you are never supposed to say to your daughter, right?”

“No.”

NO?

“I didn’t realize that.”

I shake my head and let it drop. And then I start to chuckle. The truth is, I’m not offended at all. I know he didn’t mean it. And I know he thinks I’m funny. And beautiful. And gifted. Had he made that comment in reference to something I’m insecure about, then the story probably would have ended differently. But my dad would never do that. He tells me that he’s proud of me all the time. Besides, I’m not insecure about being silly. I love being silly. And I wouldn’t want to be with someone who didn’t love and embrace and engage in my silliness.

I like the fact that I jumped on a stack of fertilizer in the middle of Canadian Tire.

And a pile of pillows in a busy Ikea.

And that I like to hide amongst the curtains in the display at Home Depot so I can jump out and scare my mom. (Yes, even now).

And that I’m known for breaking out into song in public places…or in my basement, right after I met my friend’s boyfriend for the first time and decided to act out “Defying Gravity” from Wicked using a makeshift stage and spotlights.

And how one time Rosanna and I bolted from Erin’s car on a late night drive back from Fort Langley, running down a hill, through a field, and onto a movie set. (They wouldn’t tell us what it was but we think it was New Moon.)

Yep, I like being silly. And my dad can’t deny his silliness. Even strangers comment on it. Like the guy at the Brick the other day.

“He’s a funny guy,” the associate said to my mom. “Bet he’s a riot with a couple drinks in him.”

“Oh…” my mom replied, “He’s a riot without the drinks.”

Well, like father like daughter. But I can’t end this post without saying that my mom is pretty silly herself. In fact, I think she’s in a league all her own!

Dad does a Jig

Mama the Chatterbox

Walter Matthau Look-A-Like