flat-out friday

Days Like Today

“I’m tired.”

I think that’s the standard response for any spouse going through a deployment with children when someone asks how you’re doing. There’s just no time to yourself. You sleep when they sleep (once you wrestle them to sleep), you work when they’re awake, and then when you get home, you get to be the sole adult. It’s hard, and it wears you out.

Today was a good example of that. Last night I was invited to something on behalf of the Regiment. I had a great time, and I was home by 8:30pm. I came home to my son still awake, lunches needing packed, dishes to do, and it was garbage night. Grunt didn’t fall asleep until after 10:30pm. And then I discovered my car had punctured a tire. Something had to give.

As you can see from the photo above, it was the tire. I pumped and drove on it to work, and then re-pumped it to drive home because I had to. I found a place close by that would fix it, left work early to drop the car, walked home from the shop to pick up MiniSir’s car, and then drove to get Grunt from daycare.

Things you don’t even think about when you’re the sole adult: no one will be able to come get you from the garage where you drop off your car. Tomorrow, I will have to walk back and pick it up. Sure, walking is good for me. But the entire operation required planning akin to a military move, and, already tired, the ol’ synapses felt a little sluggish while I tried to sort all this out in my head. I got there eventually; thank god we have an extra vehicle.

This week, we accepted a third conditional offer on the house. And I’ll let you in on a secret: they want the house in 4 weeks, and I haven’t even put an offer in on another place yet. Why? Because I’ve been here already, and I’m not devoting that time and energy until I know that it will be time and energy well spent. Sure, it’ll be harried if it all comes together, but life is sometimes. And yes, I’ll be even more tired afterward, but that’s life too.

Just know that, if you’re looking for a meaningful gift for a friend going through a deployment with children, coffee is always appreciated, and tiny baby tranquilizers may or may not also be accepted.

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Strong Women, Strong Words

Now that I’ve got a lot of time on my hands, albeit with a limited amount of mobility (a baby feeding or sleeping on you will do that), I’ve become addicted to Pinterest. So far I have discovered that there are a lot of really cool things and a lot of really awful things that people like to ‘pin’. The attached image is something that I came across late one night, and even though I usually just skim past things like these, this made me so incensed that I had to save it so I could blog about it.

The image comes from a blog dedicated to posting ‘girly girl’ quotations. If you do a Google search for ‘girly girl things’, I guarantee you’ll find at least a dozen of these sites. Apparently they post things that women say or think of that define what it means to be a ‘girly girl’. While I don’t like these sites on principle, it’s the images like this one that make me want to tear them down off the internet and exorcise the lot.

The first statement on the image reads: “Sometimes you’ve got to run away to see who will run after you.” Let me tell you this: if I care about you and you run away, I will not chase you. I will be hurt, I might cry, but under no circumstances will I come looking for you. You chose to leave. Have fun being alone.

“Sometimes you’ve got to talk quieter to see who’s really listening.” WTF does this even mean? Seriously. Bueller? Bueller?

“Sometimes you’ve got to step up to fight only to see who’s standing by your side.” You can be sure that if I pick a fight, I am going to make sure I am strong enough to fight it by myself. I am certainly not going to throw down and then look back at you passive-aggressively to see if you’re planning on joining me. It’s my fight, and you have every right to tell me to go to hell. Sure, help is nice in anything you take on, but there should not ever be an expectation that it is always going to appear. Don’t start something unless you, and only you, can see it through.

“Sometimes you’ve got to make the wrong decision only to see who’s there to help you fix it.” Maybe. After I stop laughing at your ass for making the wrong decision on purpose, moron.

And then we come to this: “Sometimes you’ve got to let go of the one you love just to see if they love you enough to come back to you.” NO. A thousand times NO. It was this statement that incensed me. It was this sentence that made me so mad I had to rage blog.

What does this sentence say that makes me so mad? Firstly, it tells girls that it’s perfectly all right to just let something they care about go without standing up for their right to care about it. And secondly (and more infuriatingly), it suggests that there are women just waiting around for the things they care about to come to them.

THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS, LADIES. It’s not how it works for everyone, in fact: girls or boys, straight or gay, black or white or green. If you want something, if you care about something, you better be prepared to get your hands dirty, skin your knees, hurt your feelings, and lose everything else, because sometimes that’s what it takes. And whether you succeed in getting it or not, you will have the battle scars and a hell of a story to tell, not to mention the respect of everyone who sees what you have gone through. This is called ‘life’. Get acquainted with it. No one is going to hand you a trophy just for participating in it. If you don’t get actively involved in the way your existence is headed, you aren’t going to be all that happy with anything that might happen to bump into you along the way.

If I hadn’t dropped everything I had and knew to move across the country, I wouldn’t be sitting here now with a husband who thinks the world revolves around me and a beautiful child that breaks my heart every moment I spend looking at him. Sure, along the way I was involved in some pretty life-altering medical stuff, and sure I almost died, but you know what? I didn’t. And not only that, I defied every single medical professional proving just how much I refused to be a spectator in my own life. I grabbed that giant bull by the horns and pushed and cried and definitely overdid it, but I am here and I am amazing. And you are too. Remember that, and for my sake, never ever believe anything a ‘girly girl’ blog tells you that you should be.

A Whole New World

After a hiatus enforced by yet another extended hospital stay (3 weeks this time) and subsequent concerns with my health, I am not only returning to blog another day, but also celebrating my promotion to Mummy! Charles Matthew Fenton Johns was born on April 11, 2014 at 5:20pm, weighing 6 lbs 6 oz. and measuring a whopping 18 inches long.

His measurements are important: there was a point in the pregnancy when I was happy he was over 2 lbs. Both his Daddy and I thought for sure he was going to be with us very early. At 28 weeks and during one of our busiest times of the last two years, I woke up in the night bleeding and having contractions. After rushing to the ER, I was admitted with a “placental abruption” to the antepartum ward and put on strict bed rest. That means my placenta had decided to start pulling away from the uterus much too early, which was in turn making my body think it was time to go into labour. Things had suddenly gone from being worry free to being quite worrisome. The doctor had to give me special, specific permission to be able to get up and use the washroom independently once I arrived on the floor, which cemented for me how serious this whole thing really was. But after we established I would be there for a while, it got really boring really fast. I will also admit to freaking out and having flashbacks to my days spent in the hospital post-accident; though the circumstances weren’t the same, it was most unsettling being stuck in bed all over again.

And because I like to do everything the hard way, the week I went in was the week we were taking possession of our new home and moving. I had appointments booked nearly every day for some reason or another: cleaners, movers, utilities, lawyers, builders… And I had to rely on my poor husband to be able to make them all now. We rescheduled what we could, and he was luckily able to leave work midday to attend a few, and somehow with all that as well as the added stress of me being hospitalized, he managed to finish packing our apartment and get us moved. I’m still not sure if he got any sleep while he did all this.

So while he was run ragged getting our new home ready for a family that was threatening to arrive at any moment, I was trapped in the hospital, watching the women around me experience their own complications and occasionally get whisked away to another ward in a big hurry. I was able to meet a couple other women who were hospitalized for the same reasons as myself – who were also both having boys – and tour the NICU to get a feel for where my baby might end up if he was born early. I was put on the fetal Doppler monitor 3 times a day, and since I could hear my baby’s heart beat strong and steady, I stayed much more calm than I normally would have, which in turn helped him stay put.

3 weeks passed as a handful of roommates came and went. For a while I was lucky enough to have the room to myself. When my weekly ultrasound finally showed the internal bleeding had stopped and begun to heal, the doctors decided that I could come home as long as I continued to follow the strict bed rest rules. I was ecstatic, and finally got to see our new house with all our things in it. We got the baby’s room set up as soon as we could – we were still on high alert to expect him early – and I spent my time resting and sorting tiny baby clothing. MiniSir had to go away for a week so my mum took some time off and came to stay with me, accompanying me to my many, many follow-up doctors appointments and making sure I ate.

Then we waited.

I was told that, if I passed 34 weeks, little Grunt wouldn’t have to go into the NICU. I passed it. Then I was told that if I passed 36 weeks I would be in the clear to have a c-section done safely. I passed that too. And then I spent an entire night in the hospital being observed because, in the words of the resident, “Your baby is doing great, but your uterus is not”, and that was the last straw. We scheduled the birth 18 days before my actual due date and hoped I’d make it until then.

I did. He was delivered under ideal conditions, his mummy and daddy were mentally and physically prepared, and the surgery went without a hitch.  I was extremely lucky to have an OB that was kind and understanding about my limitations, and an OR team that wasn’t phased by a mother with a broken back and pelvis.

As if the lives of several people hadn’t just changed forever, within moments of being born Grunt had found his thumb and was sucking away at it happily. MiniSir watched his every move with tears in his eyes. When they brought him over to me, he nuzzled right in to my neck. And that’s when my whole new world started turning.

Flat-Out Friday: Baby Shaming

Stop me if you’ve done this before: You’ve just dressed to go out, and you turn and look in the mirror. “Well, I guess it won’t ever look like it did on the mannequin,” you think with a sigh before heading out the door. With me so far? We all know that’s body shaming, and we ALL know that it’s wrong, that we shouldn’t do it to ourselves, and that it isn’t healthy.

I have a confession to make: since I got pregnant, I’ve reverted back to doing it. Except now, it’s more like “baby shaming”.

It started innocently enough. I was trying on clothes in a maternity store in November when the sales lady asked me how far along I was. “15 weeks”, I declared with a smile. And for that, I got an “Oh.” Oh? Who says OH? People who are judging you based on how you look, that’s who. And with that seed planted in my mind, it has been a daily battle ever since. I even made a face and excuses when my own mother asked me for belly photos so she can see the baby’s progress from three provinces away.

Does it matter that I’m not 5’9″ and skinny to begin with so that my perfectly round belly can be seen above the waistline of my designer lowcut jeans that still fit me? According to the lady who works in an industry where she sees pregnant women every single day, it does. Does it matter that my belly isn’t actually perfectly round at all, but kinda slopes out from underneath my heart until it gets all wibbly down around my belly button? Oh, you bet it does because it isn’t shaped like the little pillow they give you for trying clothes on.

All right then. Find me the pillow that’s been run over by an armoured car. Find me the pants that will take away the swelling that just gets bigger as I grow, and will even out the places where my abdominal tissue has been eaten away by lumps of injured and calcified flesh. Find my the shirt that, at 6 months pregnant, will make me look like the classically pregnant lady and not just like someone trying to cram themselves into whatever they have in the closet. Betcha you can’t, because it doesn’t exist.

At my check-up two weeks ago I finally hit the weight I was when I first got pregnant. That’s GAINING IT BACK, folks. I lost weight consistently until I hit the 4 month mark. Constant sickness and an sudden aversion to many foods will do that to you. So you would think that in my head I would know that I’m gaining weight safely, naturally, and that if anything, my baby might be a bit on the small side.

You would think that. But no.

I have to go in for the Glucose Tolerance Test on Monday – the stage 2 one with the waiting and the fasting and all that jazz. Apparently my sister and my mother both had to do this test, so it’s probably just genetic that we were all a little elevated in our blood sugars during pregnancy. The way I broke down and cried when I found out, though – well, I thought I was a monster, that I couldn’t even grow a baby properly, that I was a general waste of humanity. None of my logic – my previous injuries, my healthy weight gain, my genetics – helped at all. I was baby shaming in the highest degree.

THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Inside me right now is growing a beautiful baby boy, and he will be loved and cherished. So his mum should feel the same way while she helps him grow, social norms and expectations be damned.

Yep, that’s Christmas Daleks and the TARDIS on my shirt

To the lady at the maternity store: I am creating life and I am magnificent. 
To all the pictures on the internet: I have strength and courage beyond imagination.
To all pregnant ladies and mothers: My beauty will shine through every time my child smiles.
To myself I will add: I will remember this every single day.

Flat-Out Friday: 7 Things About This Week

If you haven’t seen it, you’re lucky. Facebook has a meme going around right now to get people to share little-known facts about themselves. I’ve gotten tagged to do it, so I am, but with a twist. Since it’s been such an amazing week (I wrote ‘amazing’ as I rolled my eyes heavily), my list is:

7 Things About This Week

  1. It has been snowing since last Friday. I don’t say this so you can pity Edmonton and its residents, but  rather so that you can understand: the average cummulative snowfall for November (the entire month) is 18 centimetres. This week alone it has snowed over 50 centimetres. That’s nearly 2 feet of snow in a week, people. This is a thing.
  2. MiniSir went back to work last Thursday and Friday after being in Wainwright, and since one of the senior captains went on leave and left no instructions or delegations, MiniSir spent two days sorting out his own stuff as well as this completely different full-time job. Which wasn’t a big deal at home except for the Blackberry going off all weekend and through into this week, because even though the other captain is back now no one is getting any direction from him still so they are continually asking my husband. No private time with my love after he’s been gone for months because ARMY? This is a thing.
  3. My new car Watson suffered injury when the block heater cord completely fell apart in my hands last week. Luckily, the temperatures this week only went down to -30C at night. I took him for an assessment so they could order a part, and then back again this week so they could fix him. That is an entire day of driving/being driven around the city because the dealership is in St. Albert and I refuse to be pregnant and waiting for hours in the waiting room at the garage. Add on the amazing traffic because of the continuous snow? This is a thing.
  4. Yesterday I was so happy for a day that I didn’t have to leave the house because I was just done (slept til noon, crying, etc.) that I completely missed my appointment with my psychiatrist. When you’re so overtired and depressed that you miss the appointment with the one person who can help you? That is a thing.
  5. Every single nice thing I can wear to cover my legs stopped fitting this week. I don’t blame Sonic, but I mean really – hurray for yoga pants. Yep, that’s a thing.
  6. My step-children’s new step-father decided to send my husband insulting passive-aggressive text messages about how he was a bad father, and when MiniSir didn’t kowtow and instead stood up for himself, said step-father told him he must be drunk and to go “sleep it off, tiger”. On a Wednesday evening at 8pm. This is a rage-making thing.
  7. I actually feel good enough to post this list. And that, my friends, is probably the biggest thing of all.

 

Flat-Out Friday: Red is for Remembrance

Monday is Remembrance Day. Before I met MiniSir this meant a few different things, none of which have the slightest bit of importance to me now. It’s sobering to think of how little this day mattered until I fell in love with a soldier.

When I chose to be with MiniSir , I chose to be in the military too. Not as an active service member, of course, but the military isn’t just made up of the men and women who serve our country without question every single day. It’s also made up of the spouses that stand behind their soldiers, the children, the support staff, the service workers… Like the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”, it takes a village to keep a soldier in service.

So if it helps, think of us all as one great big village. And every year on this day, our village puts aside the internal differences that divide us and comes together to honour the memory of every single person who has given the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe. It is the one day where it doesn’t matter if your beret is blue or green or black. We don’t care what your rank, or your spouse’s rank, or your parent’s rank is. We can all find common ground on which to stand and be grateful.

And no, I haven’t been with MiniSir for a long-term deployment, but I’ve felt the effects of not knowing if he’s okay and where he is through the domestic operation for the Alberta floods. I haven’t been out of touch for days at a time, but I have been unable to see him for months while he is on yet another training operation. And I wasn’t around when the horrible things he experienced in Afghanistan were fresh on his mind, but in the quiet of the night when he’s had a bit too much to drink I have heard about them, cried with him about them.

It’s those stories I remember every November 11. Those things that happened while the world was fighting in a place most of us had never found on a map. The things that make a grown man cry while you hold him. The stories that no one should have to have bottled up inside them. I remember those and I stand with my village, supporting my soldier and all the others, remembering with them that they are the reason we can stand together in peace, and feel love, sadness, and solemnity openly. All these things were why, one month fresh from the hospital after my accident, I stood on the open prairie in the relentless wind beside my soldier and shivered. Why last year, even though it fell on a weekend, we held our own quiet ceremony together and toasted the memories.

This year, as MiniSir goes with a few other soldiers to a grave on the outskirts of Edmonton to remember a good and brave man, I will be standing with members of my village remembering him and all the others who can no longer stand there with us. I will hold my head high, my poppy pinned next to my heart, and recite “In Flanders Fields” with the crowd until I start to cry.

And my poppy will be red.

Flat-Out Friday: My Official Title is "Lady Who Lunches"

Ah, Friday. When I’m all wound up I can always count on you to be so cathartic. And after my “buying a mom-mobile” experience this week, I can use catharsis.

So MiniSir and I had already planned to get a second vehicle once the time was closer for Sonic to move from being an on-board passenger to a party of one. And I have said since the beginning of our “if we ever have kids” dreamtime that, if it happens, my ultimate Mommy vehicle is a Honda Element. So reliable, so roomy, so durably lined with hard plastic. Even though they don’t make them new anymore, I have had my eye on them for ages.

This week, a 2008 in mint condition with every imaginable feature came up for sale at a dealership, so we went to go look. The colour is officially “root beer”, and even though I hate root beer, I was hooked as soon as I got in for the test drive. Which leads us back at the dealership, deciding how we want to pay for it. Since it was used, there were a few things I wanted to ensure were included, like a Bluetooth capable hands-free phone device and an extended comprehensive warranty. No problem – the dealership took care of both of those for me. MiniSir and I discussed a few options for payment, but since my settlement money was covering this, we decided to be prudent and not just buy it outright. The cost of putting that money into a used car instead of making interest in our investments was too much for us to justify. So we decided to put a chunk down and finance the rest. SEE THAT? That’s us being responsible with our finances. And because we were…

My car suddenly stopped being MY car.

Because, even though I am perfectly well off by myself, I don’t have a job. And banks don’t let you finance anything if you don’t have a job. So MiniSir’s name had to go on the bill of sale as well. I didn’t really mind this, but it was a little irksome, particularly when the financial guy showed us our credit ratings and mine was higher. But whatever. I had a car.

My husband is nice enough to let me drive his Mom-mobile

MiniSir called his insurance company and had them create a policy for me so I could drive it home as soon as possible, so we arranged to pick it up the next day. While he was at work I went down to the Registry to get my plate and register my car, all excited about being a new car owner.

Did you know that if there are two names on the bill of sale the Registry will not let you register the car in just one? Neither did I until I got there. Defeated, I went home to wait for MiniSir so we could go together and register my new car. He was allowed to come home a little early to sort this all out before he left for Wainwright the next day, and together we went back to the Registry to register my new car.

Did you also know that if the insurance policy is under one person’s name, even though the car is listed as the other spouse being the primary driver, the car can only be registered in the name of the person listed on the policy? NEITHER DID I UNTIL THEN.

I had to sign an affidavit letting my husband register MY car in HIS name so that I could go get MY car off the lot. And thus I was no longer the proud owner of a car; I was just the person allowed to drive my husband’s second vehicle.

Here’s what really really REALLY gets my goat. If I had had a job, MiniSir’s name wouldn’t have been on the bill of sale, which would have let me register the car myself as long as I had my own insurance as well. Which I take from society to mean the following: Get a job, keep a job, don’t get married, and don’t have kids. Well done. As one of the declining number of couples who decide to have children, I want to thank you for supporting my husband and I. When your failing public works systems are collapsing, remember all those people that wanted to contribute to the economy but couldn’t because you were just too judgmental.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna go stick girly decals on my husband’s new Element. Excuse me.