Our Lost Week of Debauchery

Last Thursday Trombone and I wandered the ‘hood, laughing at flat Santas and feeling generally gleeful and Friday-like, as this was Saint Aardvark’s last day of work before vacation till January 2nd! At 9:54 that night, Pomodoro’s baby girl was finally born, rabid refreshing of geckobloggle ceased and I went to bed.

On Friday I woke up feeling kind of skeevy. Hmmm, I thought, guess I am not so good at wine after all however I had big plans for the day so set about them.

My big plans were: to take a co-op car and go to Superstore. What did I need at Superstore on the 22nd of December (and, as Saint Aardvark rightly asked, “are you out of your f8ing mind?”) ? Pecans. I planned to make pecan apple stuffing for Christmas turkey and I wanted bulk pecans and I wanted to go to Superstore to get them. Obviously, the point of the exercise was not Superstore, per se, but a baby-free adventure.

So dosed with ibuprofen and coffee and breakfast, I headed off to the bus to get to the co-op car.

1. There are a kwazillion co-op cars in Vancouver. In the West End, where we lived when we signed up with the co-op, we couldn’t drop the phat beat without hitting a co-op car. Sadly, as cars are positioned based on population of members, there are Two (2) co-op cars in New Westminster. Neither is located terribly conveniently to us. Unless a lot more people in New Westminster join the co-op soon, (thus perhaps increasing the number of cars out here) we may have to stop/stop/with/the co-op.
2. The car was there! This is not always the case with the New Westminster cars. Even though there are only 2 and they are at opposite ends of the city, it has been known to happen that someone reserves one and takes the other.
3. The car was intact! Once, I got to a New Westminster car and the driver’s side mirror was hanging by a thread. There was a note in the car from the previous co-op member acknowledging this, but no further action had been taken. (for those of you playing at home, the correct action would have been to call the office and let them know so they could have it fixed) We did that and then, at their request, duct taped it as an interim measure.
4. The car gets excellent reception for 100.3 The Q: The Island’s Best Rock, which is my favourite radio station of all time, ever since, years ago and at my request, they played “Blinded By the Light” (Manfred Mann version) in its entirety. When I turned on The Q, it was playing “Land of Confusion” by Genesis. Over the course of my travels, it would play “Jump,” (Van Halen) “12 Days of Christmas,” (Bob & Doug MacKenzie) a lot of other songs that make me go,
Oh! I love this song! and pound the steering wheel and absolutely no Paul McCartney. Sadly I cannot say the same for Superstore.

I always knew parenthood was an individual experience. No one else’s would be like mine and I shouldn’t expect mine to be like anyone else’s. But based on convention, I guess, and myth? I sort of expected that when I went out without the baby I would be walking around thinking about him all the time or wondering how he was doing or wishing he was with me. I don’t very often go out without him so when I do, I expect to feel something – a tug, or a yank, or an evisceration. Invariably, though, I get out of the house and it’s like the baby never happened. I have physical proof that the baby happened – there is no other reason why I have 17-odd pacifiers clogging valuable pocket-space, plus, on the bus, I can go to the back and sit in the corner like a surly teenager again – but emotionally I just leave him at home.

Perhaps this is because I know he is well cared-for. On Friday he was left with his dad to bond and play tiddly winks and whatever it is they do when I’m not there. (see? I don’t care! As long as I’m off doing something else, they can do what they want.)

Anyway, I had these blissful moments, driving down Lougheed Highway, listening to FM stereo, to think, I am still me. I can still do things like drive fast down the highway, go to the store, sing all the words to this dumb song that I hate. I am alone alone alone and it is wonderful.

It’s a good thing I enjoyed that little outing so much. I got home about noon, ate some peanut butter toast & went out to drop off the car, take the bus to the mall to pick up some last minute junk, then back home again. We walked over to the little mall to get some beer and sundries and then home again. Suddenly, I was so



And the great, leaden foot of the Flu Elephant was slowly lowered upon my head and all I could do was shake my fist at the sky (weakly,) whispering, why, why, why.

Then I sat, wrapped up in a blanket and tylenoled to the hilt, watching Saint Aardvark and Trombone play peek-a-boo, wishing I could muster the energy to move my head and participate. Where’s MOMMY? asked Saint Aardvark. Trombone looked worriedly at me. I lifted my hand like the old pope.

We all cheek-kissed goodnight because the only thing worse than mama with flu for Christmas is mama, baby and papa with flu for Christmas. I slept and slept and woke and woke and had my default “I’m sick and sleeping poorly” song in my head: Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie.” It was in my head almost the whole time I was in labour (except at the end when SA was kind enough to sing Armageddon softly in my ear) and the last time I had a fever with my cold. It just goes round and round and round. Torture.

Saturday. I dipped some dry toast in peppermint tea & sucked on it. I felt incredibly nauseous: hungry and queasy at the same time. And no, I’m not pregnant again.

Couldn’t move
the stairs too m
any stairs
oh god why
is this baby so
big? can’t
lift him!

Once again, Trombone and Saint Aardvark hung out, played bridge, talked world politics, whatever. I was in bed. All day. Except when I got out to feed the baby. Sadly we had used our last frozen packet of breast milk the day before when I was off on my big adventure to Superstore. And no I couldn’t just stay in bed to feed the baby because our room isn’t dark enough and if he isn’t in a dark room he doesn’t eat. That’s why his bedroom has blankets on the windows. Glad we didn’t expend too much energy decorating that room – we may never see it in daylight again.

Saturday evening I started to perk up a little. I ate some chicken soup but it tasted like ass. This was my first clue that it might not be flu after all. My next clue was scatalogic in nature.

Sunday. Achy weakness fever: gone. Contents of intestines large and small: gone. Respiratory distress: non-existent. Symptoms exhibited by family members: none.

So, not flu, but either food poisoning or gastroentiritis! Fabulous because a recovery would be imminent and I was not contagious. Hell, I might even feel like eating again by the following day, it being Christmas and my mother making tiramisu for pete’s sake I needed to eat that tiramisu. Wracked brains for what might have poisoned me. Maybe the luncheon on Wednesday? Maybe a fruit roll-up on Friday?

More dry
toast to eat mmm
and more

Late in the afternoon Trombone begain boycotting my left breast.

By his last feed of the day, before bed, he was screaming at the right breast because it was empty and screaming at the left breast because it was Communist? I don’t know. All I know is the screaming was loud and hungry and nerve-shattering and I wanted to be back on that highway in the co-op car listening to anything, even Shakira, rather than trying to wrestle this giant screaming baby when I had no strength, having not eaten anything for 2 days.

Well of COURSE my milk supply was dwindling. Let’s see, what did I eat for 3 days? There were the 2 pieces of dry toast on Friday night at about 11. Then there was an orange. Then there was some more dry toast mid-day Saturday. Oh, and the chicken soup. Plus, on Sunday? Some dry toast. Then, of course, the full colon-cleanse (and it was free! no kits necessary!) for which I was attempting to compensate with as much water and herbal tea as I could drink but, apparently, to no avail. My boobs were flaccid, pathetic and empty.

On Christmas Eve.
At 7:30 pm.
Safeway is not.
But the rain
feels nice on your
hot, tearstained

Luckily we had rented a car for 3 days over the holidays – Christmas Eve through the 27th – so Saint Aardvark got in it and went in search of emergency formula. Trombone cried and cried and cried, eventually slept a bit, then woke up more relaxed and managed to elicit a let-down of some more milk from Trusted Righty, enough to get him to sleep until 2 or so.

And thusly, buffeted by infant formulae Good Start and Ensure, we did wrap our final presents, prepare apple pecan stuffing, listen to the CBC choral Christmas concert and feel ever so slightly festive.

Christmas was gorgeous. There was our little family, my parents, my cousin who recently moved here and her partner whom she recently married. Trombone loved it all, especially all the licking. Imagine, he seemed to be saying, a day when they let you sit around naked and lick things!

He ate sweet potatoes, chewed on a turkey leg and brushed his own teeth with his new toothbrush.

Meanwhile, in my mother’s kitchen, a spoon sat in a bowl, some traces of apple pecan stuffing clingly coyly to it. Saint Aardvark, unable to resist his wife’s apple pecan stuffing and being his son’s father, gave it a hearty swipe with his tongue and then, instantly realizing his error, ran to the bathroom to wash his mouth out with soap. Because, of course, the spoon had been used to stuff the stuffing into the turkey, the raw turkey, the turkey teeming with salmonella. (But it was free-range salmonella, at least.)

12 hours later.
mama sleeping peacefully
at last
babe restless
due to incomplete
digestion of
papa feels
tummy rumble

Boxing Day. Saint Aardvark’s turn to lie in bed all day, aching and sweating and feeling queasy. My turn to amuse the baby with my newly returned energy and hunger. This is a NANAIMO BAR, Trombone. Can you say NANAIMO BAR? Oh! WHERE did it GO? Look, here’s another one. Oh! Where did IT go?

My attempts to pump my left breast in order to keep it “in the game,” as it were, had been fairly unsuccessful. Without demand, its supply was vanishing. Without supply, Trombone was uninterested in it. It’s kind of the opposite of successful lactation, really. So once again, at 4 pm, I offered the left, which was met with screams, then the right, which was as empty as the phrase “moving forward” and also met with screams, then his first bottle of formula, which was met with glugging and then sleep.

Later I managed to pump 3 oz from the left and today it seems to be back on track. Ish. Sorta.

Later still, Trombone had his first, certifiable freak-out (almost vacuum-cleaner worthy) in a very long time. We blame the terrorists. We think they may have won, at least at our house.

Later later still, I had my first beer of the Christmas season and went to bed.

And now, the bright side of spending a week with various ailments of the gastrointestinal variety:

– the chocolate lasts longer
– the beer lasts longer
– hey, we got jalapeno microwave popcorn for Christmas. THAT’s going to be around a while.
– our illnesses are fleeting
– our family is healthy
– we are blessed
– and for this, we are grateful.

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