Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For Reals, the Letdown Is No Joke

Last night in class, our professor was lecturing to us about gestation, birth and breastfeeding. He acknowledged that he was male, and apologized for the fact that his junk prevented him from doing any of the things he was chatting about. And that we probably knew a lot more about this stuff than he did, being that the majority of our class is female.

I thought that was polite, but unnecessary. I don't subscribe to the rom-com notion of birth as something that men can only be a part of on the slapstick periphery. No, they can't push babies out of their hormone-relaxed pelvises. No, they don't have to deal with labor or stitches or lochia or sore nipples. (Or hemorrhaging after a c-section and having a team of health care workers beating upon their just opened-up abdomens.)

But that doesn't mean they can't be involved.

I subscribe to the notion that they can pay their dues in the still, dark night. You know, when the baby wakes every 15 minutes for the next 6 months of life. For those men who didn't pull their nighttime weight, I think you will have to pay for a bit in the afterlife. And don't try that "but my wife was breastfeeding" line. You have legs to walk, and arms to rock, so get moving son!

Anyway, when he wrapped up talking about breastfeeding -- the hormones involved, the colostrum giving way to early milk, and the milk-ejection reflex -- he did ask if we had anything to contribute.

I considered raising my hand and saying, "About that milk-ejection reflex...that's no joke. Once I shot milk from the couch to the landing in my old house. Once I was picking up apples in my neighborhood produce store and before I knew it, I had two hamburger bun-sized wet spots on my shirt. Good thing it was still jacket weather! And once, after a shower, it was like sprinkler city up in my bathroom. My advice is to get used to wearing a towel around your neck like a decorative scarf."

But I thought better of it and kept those little gems inside.

I'm going to be giving birth soon, to a child that I will name Nursing School. I got into my second first-choice school, and have found a happy medium between insane cost and a truncated timeline. I am extremely excited, finally seeing my goal within reach. And I have spoken with several women who went through the program with children, and though challenging, it appears to be doable with ample support.

But I confess that it's the 'ample support' part that worries me. Not that everyone isn't supportive. Everyone is TOTALLY supportive.


But the things that typically fall by the wayside anyway will be FALLING COMPLETELY BY THE WAYSIDE. Laundry, meal-planning, grocery shopping, cleaning the Italian hair rug off our bathroom floor, making sure everyone is dressed and comfortable and homework is done, addressing the random sticky spots everywhere...

Who will do these things?

And don't point to my husband, who will be working a full-time job and wrangling children in my absence. And though he does have a burgeoning spirit of domestic helpfulness, it is unlikely that he will become St. David, Holy Replacement of the Woman Who Completes All Things Sacramental, But Unsung, in the General House Vicinity, Occasionally Half-Assed But With Good Intentions.

Take last night, for example. I know playoff hockey is on, but goodness, just do the dishes when I'm at school. It's all evidence that it's going to be a messy 14-months around these parts.

Maybe not. Maybe everything will all just fall into place in some sort of miracle on par with the raising of Lazarus.

So, I'm going to nursing school! The world around me will likely fall completely to shreds, but we'll all make it through. And one of these days, in the not-so-distant future, I will be making my L&D rounds. Perhaps that's when I can share my thoughts on the milk-ejection reflex. Any new mom would find that incredibly valuable and helpful. Right?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Letter To A Wet Blanket

Dear Funk,

It's been a while. A few months, at least. I can't say I'm exactly glad to see you, but at least we're highly familiar with one another, and so there's no great adjustment that needs to take place during your visit.

You're a bit like a wet blanket. Or maybe one with thorns? Or maybe one that's been set aflame.

Ah...I don't know a good metaphor for you. You're an empty bird feeder. Rancid milk. A Twinkie without the filling.

So, why did you swing by? How long will you be hanging out? I'm thinking you may have sensed a dropping, that sad oocyte that has nowhere to go, sticking around and waiting for company, ultimately to be discarded like an egg shell. It can be bad around these parts when that happens.

Or maybe it's the stress of school, the loss of a job that was supposed to be temporary (but not this temporary), or the need to get away, to a place that requires sandals and short cocktail dresses and staying up until 3am until passing out on a beach.

Funk, when you're around, I don't clean the peanut butter remnants out of the jar so I can put it, nice and clean, in the recycling. I just throw that shit out. Alright, who am I kidding? I throw that shit out all the time. Little 1 surrounded by a triangle be damned. But honestly, it's only the peanut butter jars. I'm fastidious about recycling everything else.

So let me amend that. Funk, when you're around, I don't wash out Ziploc bags to reuse them. That's the truth right there. They all go into the garbage, as if I can spite the whole gray-cast world by adding one more item to a landfill. I know you don't care. You'd be the character in a Carl Hiassen novel that discards all her fast food detritus out her car window.

You used to come around more often, and I'm grateful that you're too busy to show up. The last time you visited, you stayed so long I began to worry, in that way that I've mastered, that you were going to stay forever.

Kelly and Funk, BFFs.

I worried that I'd have to make that trip...that sad, lonely trip for a pharmaceutical to tweak those pesky neurotransmitters. Serotonin, that pill would say, stop your re-uptake! Funk, sometimes I crack myself up.

You departed just as I thought you had hung up your greasy coat to stay. So long, you said. And then, just for good measure, See you later, alligator!

Funk, I'm sad to say this, because I'm generally unfailingly nice and polite. I gave you the finger on your way out the door. Of course, I did this when your back was turned.

I should be studying for a test right now, Funk, but you have me all consumed right now. Your presence makes me apathetic. And itchy. And bitchy. And tired.

I'm going to ask you to stay here for a while, so I can go out to my neighborhood cafe and read about metabolism, the urinary system, and fluid and electrolyte balance. Maybe you'll listen to me for once and not follow me, so I can sip some decaf and compose an essay in my head of how blood plasma turns into urine. It all starts out in the renal corpuscle. But I know you don't give a crap.

Do me that one favor. We have a pretty solid history together. Maybe not a good one, but tried and true.

See you later, alligator.

Your not-a-friend,


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