I’m having a baby…but not because you told me to.

As I told my friend Kerri yesterday, I’ve realized that I am whatever is the exact opposite of a people pleaser. Instead of that intense need to please, I have an obnoxious streak of, “Oh, you want me to do A? Well then, I’m 100% going to do B.” Immature? For sure. Human? Probably. But sometimes it scares me how much this stubbornness drives me.

Take yesterday’s lunch, for example. I hadn’t really seen my mom in about a month, which is odd for me. I wanted to see her, but I was also deep in avoidance mode because we are planning on telling her and my dad about the pregnancy on the weekend—and I was worried it might be hard not to crack if I saw her in person.

I needn’t have worried. We had a lovely time (truly). But the lunch took a turn (not for the first time) into baby territory. It’s subtle, this conversation. Subtle like a ton of bricks. And couched in terms of, “how annoying that all these people always ask me when you’re having a baby”.

I find this all supremely weird. I find it weird that people ask her about this in the first place, weirder that she tells me about it, and weirdest of all that she hasn’t just told these people to fuck off if it bothers her. But then, I’m the kind of person who has no qualms about telling people to fuck off when they’re being rude.

Nobody is owed an explanation for anyone else’s decision to have (or not have) children. Somebody’s boldness or –  let’s call a spade a spade – bad manners in asking the question doesn’t warrant the reward of an answer just because they feel entitled to one. A person and their spouse are the only two people who get a vote on the matter. End of story.

The last time my mom and I had a real conversation about the subject, I told her that I felt like I didn’t need kids to be happy. That Andrew and I were both content with our life together whether or not kids ever entered the picture. And that if things didn’t happen naturally, we wouldn’t go the fertility treatment route. Power to those who do, but it’s just not for us. Sorry Perry, but I meant it when I said that I’d rather spend $10,000 on a trip to Bora Bora than on IVF. I thought she believed me. Even agreed with me on many points. But…I suspect that most people who have children are kind of incapable of truly embracing a life without them. Try as they might.

Anyways, the upshot of the whole conversation was that instead of tempting me to spill the beans, it only steeled my resolve to keep my trap shut. I took such perverse pleasure in instructing her to simply tell anyone who asks that we will have a baby on the 10th of Never. And still, the thought that our good news will inadvertently make my mother’s nosy friends and relatives happy makes me crazy angry. Their satisfaction will actually mar my happiness. How fucked up is all that?

So yeah, I’m having a baby. But not because you want me to.

Nemo & Neglect

The other day Andrew said something like, “I’m kind of impressed that you haven’t been crazier than you have. You know, mentally.”

Instead of being offended I was like, I know, right? Because I’m well aware that I lean towards crazy at the best of times, and I too figured that a hormonal hurricane wouldn’t do me any favours.

Yet, for the most part, the ol’ mental keel has been pretty even.

But…there have been a couple of things that make me think I may not be 100% together. You know, mentally. Like, I can’t watch heartwarming animal rescue videos at work any more because we have an open concept office – which is just a fancy way of saying everybody sees you when you ugly cry at your desk. If my husband were reading this over my shoulder he’d urge me to talk about the lizard meltdown. But you know what? I won’t. Because that lizard was adorable and I didn’t mean to step on it, and I would sob over that any old time. ANY. TIME. That little guy had a family that loved him, you know?

I’m losing focus. What I want to talk about is Nemo. Gemma (our girly cat) loooves these two stuffed toys – Nemo and Bunny – and she brings them to us every night, because she loves us. Are you getting this? She wants so badly to make us happy that she hunts her favourite stuffies and delivers them to the foot of our bed, meowing to wake the dead. She’s so proud. It’s become a bit of a routine, hiding Nemo and Bunny somewhere downstairs and waiting for her to bring them up, so I can gush and praise her. But Andrew never reacts. Never praises. He just lays there, reading Sports Illustrated online or listening to a podcast.

Why does this matter? It doesn’t. I know that some people don’t believe in the vital importance of stroking their cat’s ego. I also know that this doesn’t necessarily mean he will ignore Perry’s efforts to please us. But in the twisted funhouse that is my brain, I can’t help but picture him slouched in an armchair, smoking a cigar, reading the paper and ignoring our daughter as she tugs on the sleeve of his sports jacket trying to show him her report card. Because it’s also 1952 in the brain funhouse.

Unable to get his attention and praise, her self-esteem chips away until junior high blow jobs lead to dropping out of high school, which leads to a stripper pole and smoking meth in a dingy basement apartment with her abusive welder boyfriend, Blade.

I’m not overreacting; this is just how life works. It’s like, science. Have you ever known a hot mess who didn’t have daddy issues? Exactly. Really Andrew, would it be so hard to just give our poor kitty the fatherly approval she desperately craves from you?

Sometimes I feel really sorry for my husband.

Worst flight ever

We went to a wedding in Florida, leaving when I was 6 weeks + 3 days and coming home at 7 weeks + 2 days. I hadn’t been experiencing any majorly annoying symptoms, other than hating most food, so I managed to enjoy the pool and beach time as much as possible without my beloved Miller Lites. I did have a glass of wine at the wedding though and it was undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Anyways, all was well until the day we were leaving. The pain started in the morning and ultimately lasted until around 11 pm. In the morning it wasn’t too bad and I just keep moving around to try to get relief. It was in my lower left abdomen (thank god I googled “gallbladder rupture” before we left and learned it was on the other side so I couldn’t panic about that). And it was intense. I thought maybe it was just gas pain because in early pregnancy your digestive system slows to a crawl and you can’t take a decent shit to save your life. But it was so localized and so intense that I wondered if something else was going on.

You are always looking out for one-sided pain in particular because of the risk of ectopic pregnancy, where the baby is growing somewhere other than the uterus – usually in a Fallopian tube. This not only means you’ll lose the baby, but it’s also life threatening for the mom, as when it eventually ruptures you bleed internally.

The trek home consisted of an hour and a half drive to the airport in Tampa, and a connection through Houston to Calgary. It all sucked, but the flight from Houston was really where I began to consider geography and wonder if I would have to make them make an emergency landing in Denver. I actually thought something was exploding near my left ovary. I was also throwing up on this leg of the trip, when I wasn’t curled up in a fetal position. My husband was worried and frozen, especially when I started crying. I’m an emotional cryer but not a physical pain one, preferring to curse my way through pain like a motherfucking sailor on shore leave. I didn’t cry when I broke bones, severely burned my hand or stabbed a knife through my palm trying to pit an avocado. Although of all these, I especially advise against breaking a rib. Sacrifice an arm if you must.

The pain was shy of excruciating, but by hour 7 or so I still just couldn’t take it anymore. I had resigned myself to going straight to the hospital when we got home, but then we landed and it started to ebb away. Exhausted, and knowing I had a doctors appointment already conveniently scheduled first thing the next morning, I went straight to bed and passed out.

After confirming that I was in fact pregnant (thanks doc) she made a call and got me in for a rush ultrasound, also fearing the possibility of an ectopic. Although the fact that my pain had disappeared was a good sign. Perry was snug in the uterus, flickering away (flickering is the magic word you want to hear at this point, since that is the heartbeat of the shapeless blob). So in a way, I was actually kind of lucky to have the chance to see Perry at just 7 weeks. All 12mm of him, which was bang on for dating the pregnancy at 7 weeks + 3 days.

Heartbeat was 143 bpm, “yup, that’s about what mine is right now too,” said Andrew.

What the pain was, we’ll never know. Could have been a rupturing cyst of some type, a gastrointestinal issue (your colon is in that quadrant of your abdomen) or just horrible gas. Google tells me that some women liken bad episodes of gas pains to labour pains, so I guess they can be pretty intense. Here’s hoping labour only has me in tears after 7 hours.

Do I have to?

I realize it’s wayyy too early to even be thinking about this stuff. But really, I always have, so why would it stop when I’m actually going to have to be a parent?

I’m talking about all those things that parents do – or let their little kids do – and all of the things these same parents complain about. Overblown birthday parties for two year olds. Letting your toddler play with (and smash) your phone or iPad. Trailing crumbs and juice spills all over the house. Watching that insufferable little Caillou brat. Listening to Raffi on a steady loop. Leaving a party at 7 pm because it’s baby’s bedtime. Being endlessly interrupted by a three-year old. Taking an hour to put baby down to sleep.

Channeling Carrie Bradshaw here: I can’t help but wonder…do I have to?

Can’t I skip throwing the parties the kid won’t even remember? Can’t a kid be taught that food and drinks are for the kitchen, not the couch, even if the rules are different for mom and dad? Can’t I simply refuse to hand my phone over to a two-year old? Can’t I tell him that Caillou is dead and Raffi is for suckers and make him listen to the Beastie Boys and watch Vanderpump Rules? Can’t I let the kid fall asleep on a pile of coats in a spare bedroom just like we all did when our parents went to parties when we were little? Can’t you teach a three-year old that they can say, “excuse me” when they want something and wait until mom acknowledges them before they speak?

In this moment of all-knowing-I-don’t-have-a-kid-yet wisdom, I think you can. I think I can. And I know it is at least possible, because every once in a while I see a mom who does these things and it looks fine. It looks better than fine, actually, it looks like a mom with non-sticky carpets and her friendships, identity, sanity and phone screen intact. In fact, it looks a lot like my own mom. And that, my friends, is mighty fine indeed.

The East Side Mario’s Incident

Picture yourself there. If you haven’t graced this particular establishment, simply replace it with another equally depressing, factory food hell hole. High chairs, unlimited breadsticks and mix ‘n’ match pastas are all good signs you’re on the right track. We were only there because we were catching a movie right after work and had to eat by the theatre to make it on time.

Now picture an endless stream of annoying, sticky, bratty children being seated all around you. Now imagine you’re 5 weeks pregnant and freaked right the fuck out by it.

So we’re sitting there, glaring at ignorant parents and rolling our eyes at the precocious little rugrat beside us, when my husband suddenly blurts out, “This is not good!”

“What? You mean how much neither of us likes kids?”

“God yes, what have we done?”

“I don’t know, but it’s a problem!”

“And you know what the worst part is Leis? This is the kind of restaurant we’re going to have to eat in now. Fuck.”

This is of course when we began throwing around lies to justify our situation. Ours will be different…we’ll have lots of babysitters so we can go out alone…we’ll only have the one, it’s got to be way easier…

Please let it all come true.

Drinking for two

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t drink much, or isn’t wearing a Fernie Brewing Co. branded tank top as she writes in her pregnancy (and CATS!) blog, this post won’t be very useful to you. For the rest of you lushes, I envision it as the definitive guide to faking it through the first trimester. Because if you’re a drinker, the hardest part of keeping the first 12 weeks of pregnancy a secret is hiding the fact that you’ve suddenly gone teetotal.

The key is almost stupendously simple. The key to not drinking is to just keep on drinking. 

Relax. I only mean that the quickest way to get busted is to start outright refusing drinks – like this one girl I worked with who I knew was pregnant from the get-go.

It helps to understand that I work at an advertising agency, and while it’s not really like Mad Men, it’s not that unlike it either. Example: we have a 40 of vodka in our freezer at all times. And a keg in our board room. We also have something called Thirsty Thursday, which is a kind of casual, “what’s everybody working on and what’s going on” get-together every second Thursday at 4 pm. Of course, we also sometimes have May As Well Drink Mondays, Tie One On Tuesdays and Fuck It, It’s Fridays. Drinks are just part of the culture.

So when this girl whom I’d never known to turn down a drink suddenly reacted to my offer of a beer like a vampire to sunlight – I knew. And that’s when it dawned on me…if you want people to think you’re drinking…just take the damn drink. You don’t actually have to drink it.

So that’s the basic philosophy. Here is a more detailed strategic breakdown of the various ploys that can be used to execute on it.

The sneaky sipper

To be fair, this one works best if you’re wiling to take the occasional real sip between totally fake sips. It can be teeny, but every once in a while you’ll want to swallow or it loses authenticity. Otherwise, just fake sip away and take any chance you can to dump a bit out of your glass so the level goes down. Red solo cups, dark beer bottles, cans and beer cozies all provide excellent camouflage for your exact drink level.

The switcheroo

Take your drink and make the alcohol disappear altogether, and then drink with abandon. I once dumped and refilled a beer bottle with water and guzzled away. Another time I refilled a rum and coke with just coke and downed it. At a party, I took my white wine sangria and stealthily dumped the liquid, refilling it with gingerale but keeping all the fruity shit. Looked totally legit. Plus the boozy peaches tasted delicious. Just don’t get caught doing the dumping.

The partner in crime

This is by far the best (and funnest) strategy. You need another willing drinker who is inside your circle of lies and bullshit and you need to drink the same thing. So you both get, say, glasses of chardonnay and you fake sip, while they for-realsies sip. Then at regular intervals, you switch glasses. This works best if you occasionally put your glasses down and then just pick each others’ drink up. This way the level of both glasses goes down at roughly the same rate. And getting away with it is actually fun. You will both be giggling like drunk idiots. But only one of you really will be.

The I’m so hungover I may die

Just as it says. Pretend you can’t even handle hair of the dog. You can execute this move at least once or twice with any one person or group of people before they are likely to stage an intervention for you. It’s also super easy to pull off when you are legitimately vomiting and looking like shit.

The bartender is your homeboy. Or girl.

This is where you bring the bartender into the circle of lies and bullshit. You’ll want to arrive early to talk to them or pull them aside. Then you just fill them in, “I need you to help me look like I’m drinking but I can’t actually drink.” They will know what’s up and will gladly help you out. I’ve done it for customers myself. Suddenly, you’re drinking a “vodka/water” or “gin & tonic” all night long – served in a short glass, with heavy ice and a twist. Or an O’Doulls that’s been pre-poured into a glass out of sight of your companions. Tip them like you’re drunk.

The final word of advice is to just be cool, man. A couple days ago a friend announced her pregnancy (at 12 weeks) and confessed that she had been worried she’d get caught for totally fake drinking at her husband’s birthday party a few weeks prior. I laughed and said, “don’t worry about it, people are not nearly as observant as you think they are.” I know this because I was also fake drinking at that very same party…and I’m really looking forward to telling her this in a few more weeks.

Not useless

In a previous post I may have indicated that my husband is “useless” right now. Surprisingly, he didn’t love that characterization. I maintain that it is my prerogative so long as I am manufacturing a human and he is drinking beer on the golf course. But let’s move on, shall we?

He has not actually been useless. He’s been an excellent dinner maker and cracker dealer. Carrying around baggies like any good dealer. And making dinner is an utterly thankless job right now when absolutely nothing sounds or tastes good and I proceed to gag over three bites of a delicious lamb chop feast like he’s feeding me three day old gruel. He even read a baby book on holiday, and argued about attending my first doctors appointment with me.

Him: I should go. The book says I have to go to ALL the appointments. I should go.

Me: I will literally just be peeing in a cup and standing on a scale. I can do both those things for you right here, and save you the trip.

Spoiler alert: He didn’t go, and the appointment was as boring as I predicted.

But – not useless. Hopefully he will still make me dinner tonight.