“Hmmm….Your symptoms don’t seem concurrent with your Crohn’s… let’s see what happens over the next couple weeks. It could actually be you adjusting to your new medication… if things are still acting up next month we’ll look at some more tests.”
The last 3 months of 2013 had been peppered with Crohn’s issues, and landed me in the hospital a few times. I’d had some new meds added to my already existing cocktail, and tried to focus on recovery.
Sometime close to Christmas I was having a hard time healing up. I’d lost a ton of weight, my cycle had been tripped up and randomized by steroids, and I felt torn between rest, my 4-year-old, and catching up with my client work. I was also feeling queasy and nauseous and my nerves were frayed.
Around the same time, Cap and I had a breakthrough conversation that gave me a new lease on life. With a lot of positive encouragement, I’d decided to leave my fertility fixation behind, and enjoy my life as it was.
It was easier than I thought.
I remember waking up early one morning with a kind of resolve that plunged me into swift action.
I bundled up all the baby clothes and gave them away.
I cleaned up the dusty baby gear and gave choice pieces to my friends and community day cares.
With a final sigh I packed up my maternity clothes and delivered the bundle to a woman’s shelter.
There. All done.
I thought I’d feel a glaring absence but there wasn’t one. I slowly realized that all of those things — the clothes, the useless gear — those were actually creating the emptiness within me, emphasizing the missing child element, and frankly, driving me nuts.
I felt liberated. As the weeks passed, the innate, loud, buzzing and whirring of my obsession slowly became muffled and then stifled all together. At times I’d stop in my tracks to see if its grating tone was still audible and exhaled in relief when I’d hear nothing.
It was like a spell had worn off. Well, mostly.
I still had an urge to pee on a stick every time my ‘roid-raging cycle decided to be almost 2 weeks off. Every single time I wiggled the pregnancy test out of its wrapper and reread the instructions for the thousandth time. I could have written them out blindfolded by now, but a ritual is a ritual I guess.
“You're nuts. You know you’re not pregnant. Between the Crohn’s and your meds and life in general there’s just no way. Why did you just spend another $20 on this stupid landfill artifact? That’s a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon you just peed on. Just saying.”
Like I had done in October, I took November’s test, turned the telltale box inside out and shoved it in the bottom of the recycling bin.
“I just needed to see the ‘negative.’ God, it’s not like I’m smoking crack or something. It’s the holiday season. I just don’t want to feel guilty or stressed out that if I have a glass of wine I’m potentially pickling my fetus.”
I was still nauseous and out of it after New Years but when my back starting cramping up and I bawled my eyes out during a Lou Ferrigno biography, I chalked everything up to PMS, holiday hangover, my new meds, and pushing myself a little too much.
"Yep. It’s definitely PMS. Because my last period would have been… um… when? Stupid meds."
I whipped out my iPhone calendar and looked at the last marked date — November 24th. It was now January 2nd.
Huh. That seems like a long time. The irrational terror of drowning a zygote in eggnog and bottomless flutes of sparkling brought a flush to my cheeks. “I’m going to the store. To get a test.” Cap was my confessional.
“Ok babe. You know it’s just the steroids still messing with you.” I nodded.
“There’s no way...” We said this in unison with added choruses of ‘JINX!’ and I rolled my eyes happily.
An hour later I was in the bathroom unwrapping yet another test. Cap was in the living room watching Star Trek Insurrection and nursing a Chinese Food hangover from the night before.
“This was the same cost of a crappy season of an 80s show on iTunes. Or brunch at the diner. Or a cheapie movie ticket. Or a pint of Guinness…” I chastised myself as I peed on the stick with a sigh.
I just needed to see the ‘no’ again. Then I could join Cap and the crew of the Enterprise and maybe start to make plans to go to Cuba or Mexico in the next couple months.
“Mmmm. Sun. Relaxation. Margaritas. Pregnant.” I looked down at the test dismissively and my eyes caught on the word again.
I felt the blood drain from my face and the world seemed to teeter. I grabbed at a towel and ended up sitting on the tile with my pants around my ankles. I sat there for a few minutes.
I looked at the test again like it was some kind of oracle that was about to speak. Without wanting to put it down, I somehow wriggled back into my pants and was about to burst out the door when I stopped short.
"What if this goes wrong too? Should I wait to tell Cap? What if I lose this baby and then… I don’t want him going through that… Should I wait like, another month before I tell him? Wait. That’s nuts, right?"
I slowly walked into the living room and sat down next to my amazing and unsuspecting Cap. I looked at our sweet dog, at the litter of toys under our tree and the clusters of little girl mess around the room. Patrick Stewart seemed to wink at me. Cap pulled me in close.
“I’m pregnant.” I said way more casually than I meant to. It was the first time I’d said it out loud.
“You’re WHAT?” The elation, shock and joy on his face sparked tears in both our eyes. We held each other tight and cried and laughed, unwilling to move beyond the unearthly thrill of the best surprise ever.
2014 was off to a beautiful start.
Divorced and dating? Here's how to introduce your child to your new partner. Wondering if your fertility is turning into an obsession? Read this.
Want to know what secrets are in my tech playbook to make parenting a little more user-friendly?
Here are my top 10 picks.
Why watch reality TV when you could be watching your kid every minute of every day? So much more comfortable than hovering by the door and listening to see if they’re still breathing (super creepy and we’ve all done it), monitors now let you do everything from play soothing sounds and tunes, to control room temperature. Dedicated frequencies make image and sound crystal clear (no more pretending your neighbours are Daleks), and you can even plug in extra cameras—including your smartphone, so you can totally stalk your kid at all times.
You can call it Skype, Facetime, or Google chat, but we’ve all called it “Mom, my kid has a gross rash and it looks like this…” or “Quick put your pants back on.” Whatever you use it for, screen time is like living in science fact. Long distance relationships, business trips taken by mom or dad, grandparents on the other side of the world—it is so much easier to deal with “when am I going to see you” mom guilt when you are kind of sort of seeing her already. Now if only we could all find a way to stop doing our hair and checking ourselves out while we’re trying to catch up.
Whether you’re using your phone’s GPS or you have one in your car, as a parent you are going to need one of these suckers, because thanks to sleep deprivation you won’t ever know where you’re going. For real. Even when you think you do. Even when it’s to a place you’ve been a million times. Possibly even in your own home.
Arguably more important and nourishing than breast milk (what? I said arguably…) WIFI is like the air that your entire wireless network breathes, and let’s face it, your wireless network is the only thing between your life and constant interruption (aka your children). Without WIFI, you can’t print that important thing, you can’t compulsively refresh your email, you can’t complain on line about not being able to print that important thing, and you can’t binge watch House of Cards on Netflix.
Your baby is going to need some wheels, and like any good vehicle they’re going to have to come with cup holders and then some. And relax. You don't need to feel like you’re rebuilding an Ikea bookshelf every time you heft your stroller out of the car and put it together for the trip ahead. Strollers like the Origami collapse and unfold by themselves. I know. They also have flat screen panels that track your distance, the weather, and probably how your investments are doing, as well as optional phone chargers so you never have to have a ‘1 bar left’ panic attack again. So yes. They are basically transformers.
Between managing your entire family’s schedule with calendars, apps to help with um... everything, the ability to check your email, use your browser to find out that actor’s name from that movie, and of course your camera — your phone is like a lifeline to sanity, tweeting and your BFF on speed dial. And the best part is that if you’re covered in puke and your children are both sleeping on you, you really only need one finger to text. Autocorrect will do the rest. And it always does.
What better way to parent than through crowdsourcing? Twitter and Facebook are perfect for asking for advice from strangers you trust and friends you haven’t talked to in years, your blog is perfect for telling the story of what you actually did to get through it, and Instagram and Vines are for showing off victorious moments and of course what you are about to eat. #dontforgethehashtags
The secret to getting through car rides and long wait times in any office is a tablet. Watch your touch screen get slathered with all kinds of goober and still act semi-responsive to Angry Birds. Let them watch that movie they’ve already watched 5000 times, doodle, or read as they wait happily for your pap smear to be over. Yep. Awkward. And also funny. Because it's true.
Ok. As of yet there are no replicators, but you can order food and groceries on line. And you should totally do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re housebound with a new infant, quarantined with the plague, or just plain shell-shocked from a bad week — online delivery is the best thing in the universe. You don’t have to talk to anyone. You don’t have to worry about which version of the menu you have (what do you mean number 33 is Happy Squid Surprise?!). You just pick, click, and eat. Best. Ingredients. Ever.
If you’re a Shaw Premier TV subscriber, all you need is your smartphone or tablet (goober optional) to mesmerize kids from tot to teen with on-the-go shows from Treehouse and YTV, and now Family Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior — for free.
Your tweens will be glued to their iPhone, iPad mini, or iPod Touch with their favourite Disney XD and Family shows, and Disney Junior will mollify even the most ferocious pre-schooler, just as soon as you download the 3 new Shaw Go apps for them from the Apple store.
Of course, you too are welcome to feast on primetime shows, sports, and movies, any time you have a minute to yourself, lock yourself in the bathroom, or hide under the bed.
Modern moms know that tech can be a lifesaver when it comes to parenting. Now thanks to Shaw Go kids apps your kids can watch their favourite shows anytime, anywhere.
Older kids will love Shaw Go Disney XD and Shaw Go Family and your little ones can take all their favourite cartoon characters on the go with them using Shaw Go Disney Junior. Best of all, the apps are free for Shaw Cable/Shaw Direct customers who subscribe to Shaw Premier.
Somebody please tell me why we can’t take peanut butter to school, but sending a highly infectious kid is totally fine?
I get why we introduce policies in schools, and I totally understand the ‘no peanut’ rule. Just so we’re clear this isn’t an attack on any existing policies or the policy makers. This is a plea to the common sense that I think falls through the cracks of harried daily parenting.
We don’t buy anything except peanut-free foods if I know for fact it’s going in Baby Girl’s snack. We simply don’t take any chances. Yes, part of me still marvels at the differences in schools between my childhood and hers now, but I also have friends with severe allergies, and I know, respect, and understand how they can be terrifying.
An episode where there is exposure to an allergen (peanuts, let's say) for someone with severe allergies is downright traumatic not just for them, but for the whole family.
There are days taken off work, potential hospital stays — the whole family unit is thrown into living with the fear of what just happened, the pressure of the chronicity of the condition, and the potential for it to happen all over again. The ‘what if’s themselves can be devastating.
And that’s why we have that no-peanut policy in place. To protect the children who do have allergies; stop gifts or shared snacks with allergens making their way into homes where a sibling may have a severe allergy; to protect the families that have to jump into crisis mode at any given moment at the best of times; and to ensure that classrooms are happier and have lower risk factors looming at snack time and any time for that matter.
That policy also protects kids who don’t know if they have allergies, because on the off-chance that an allergen is introduced for the first time at school, the results could be disastrous. And nobody wants that call.
That’s why we don’t risk exposure.
If it doesn’t have that ‘no-peanut’ symbol on it, or swears up and down that it’s nut free, and it’s not a piece of fruit wearing nothing but a sticker, it simply doesn’t make it into the lunch bag. Case closed.
That makes sense. Right?
Well, my kid this year — has had bronchitis, pneumonia, impetigo, and ‘hand, foot and mouth’ and I’m not counting colds and stomach flus.
And I get it. Kids get sick. But we don’t need to be avid supporters of viral incubation and gladly supply our kids as hosts. There’s a difference.
Being an active parent in my community means that I have actually seen firsthand kids dropped off for school and programs and even at playgrounds and parties who are clearly infectious.
Not ‘oh it’s a sniffle’ infectious. But ‘glassy-eyed-red-cheeked-coated-tongue-green-snot-congested-listless-cranky-crying’ sick. If you had a kid with allergies that would be like seeing the Planters Peanuts guy show up with bags of free samples. It would be a red flag. Alarms would sound. People would spontaneously combust. The No-Peanut Police would come out of the woodwork and asses would be kicked.
But all I can do is stand there staring at the neon green gob slide slowly down this little kid’s lip as he sets his droopy feverish eyes on my child, coughs juicily into his hand, and then plants a big hug and kiss on her.
And there’s more than just that one kid. There are about 6 of them and some of the parents anecdotally mention that there’s ‘something going around’ and then feebly amend their goodbyes to soft requests to call them if their ‘little sickie’ need to be picked up earlier.
Wait. What? You know your kid is sick and they’re staying?
Another parent is clearly frustrated and prying a snotty, weeping, smaller version of themselves off their leg. “I’m going to be late for my meeting,” he says but is drowned out by an ardent “But I don’t feeeeeeeeeeeeel well….”
I look helplessly at the staff and they meet my eyes knowingly and respond with resigned, empathetic shrugs. One of them rolls their eyes and mouths the word ‘disinfectant’ at me jokingly.
I laugh uneasily. Am I overreacting?
There are no alarms. No authoritarian disinfection protocols, no pointing fingers, no mass hysteria. But there are also no policies to help get the sick kids get better faster, the healthy kids stay healthy, or to protect their families. No one is sent home. There is not. One. Peep.
For the next few days I am bracing myself for the first telltale symptoms on my kid, and battling the fear of knowing that I will inevitably get sick too.
And I will, because I didn’t win the genetic lottery when it came to immune systems, and at this point I’m starting to think, neither did my kid. It’s the same story every time. She gets sick. She stays home. I have to take time off to care for her and work into the wee hours of the morning to juggle everything. She goes back to school. I get sick, and the ridiculous, cycle continues.
And I get it. No one wants to have their kid be sick. Because I’ve been that parent who’s late to the important meeting and oh my god do I understand how it can also be super tempting to preserve our own sanity, work schedules, and give that client pitch and I’ve thought “maybe just maybe it’s ok if she goes to school. I’m pretty sure she’s not contagious. Pretty sure…”
But to me that’s like being pretty sure there’s no peanuts in that granola mix.
And as much as I feel like I can’t afford to take another day off, and as stressful as rescheduling that meeting or taking the sick day is, ‘pretty sure’ is just not worth taking the risk that someone might get seriously sick.
Because a sniffle and low energy and fatigue could just be a case of ‘I don’t want to go to school-itis’ or it could be the equivalent of taking a peanut butter sandwich to school.
And I just couldn’t live with myself if I ended up hurting someone by risking their exposure. Whether that exposure is to a trace of peanuts, or my sick kid.
Do you think parents should be more sensitive to keeping their sick kids home from school? Do you ever feel torn between going to work and staying home to care for you kid? Let's talk about it.
Read more about daycare germs here and let Dr. Kim Foster teach you the difference between colds and flus, and how to treat them.
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