January 14, 2015

First Born

I was terrified that Marlowe would die in utero. I'd get up every morning and drink ice cold orange juice and jiggle about until she kicked. I had three consecutive miscarriages in the year and a half before the "good pregnancy" and I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then a very dear friend lost a badly wanted pregnancy at six months. I could imagine nothing more crushing than a stillbirth---so as per my usual habit---I had to brace myself against the worst case scenario. After her loss, I had endless nightmares about my own pregnancy. Self-absorbed much? Yes, I have to make everything about me.

My husband was wonderful through out every moment and I had an angel of a doula. There were a couple of friends whose endless reassurance and advice were priceless. But as a whole, entering motherhood felt solitary.  No one can give birth for you. No one knows how you physically feel--- least of all that fucking Angelina Jolie who was at the time, publicly proclaiming that pregnancy makes her feel the most sexy she has ever felt. 

I was pretty sure I was doing it all wrong. For being the most natural thing in the world, it all felt very unnatural and miserably uncomfortable. In the last weeks I slept nearly upright; slumped over like a hobo on a park bench.

Delivery was ridiculous. I went in to be induced at 40 weeks because she was already "quite big", and I suspect also because the doctor could see Crazy written all over me. I go into the hospital and get some kind of cervical prep pill and then start on Pitocin. "Pit"---they call it, because they are old pals---does not work on me. My uterus immediately wigs out.  My contractions come too closely together. I imagine my uterus is hyperventilating. I could use a paper bag myself. They dial down the Pit, to "calm things down" but increasing it again creates the same results. 

The next day I had made no progress and the doc was about to break my water. She warned that I'd likely have a c-section, which  she knew I did not want. I was told that all vitals looked good, so I could go home for up to another week instead of having my water broken. So I LEFT the hospital. I left the hospital and went straight to the biggest bathtub in NYC, which fortuitously belongs to my bestie. I fully submerged my manatee shape into the warm water and cried.

After a week of employing every old wives tale that I had ever heard for natural labor induction, a week of a waddling tour of the malls of Long Island and non-stop Braxton Hix, I was still not in active labor. So back to the hospital I went for take two. Water broken. Pitocin again making me contract every minute but not at all productive. I eventually gave in and take the epidural in hopes that it would help my contractions be normal. I'm making no progress and under constant threat of c-section, when suddenly I am miraculously fully dilated. 

The epidural gets turned OFF and I push for three hours. It's a vacuum of time and space in which the pain comes in waves and is accompanied by my workout jams power songs playlist. "Can someone skip to the next song please?" my husband asks when The Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get Retarded" starts playing.

I'm allowed to push for three hours because the doc is busy delivering other babies. It's go time. I'm given the choice of c-section or forceps. I go with the forceps. An audience of med students is brought in (yes, seriously) to observe and learn the antiquated art of assisting childbirth via salad tongs. 

I hear a doctor say "ohmygodohmygodohmygod." And I scream out, "what's wrong?!!"

"That was just me. Nothing's wrong", my husband replies.

She's out. 

She's beautiful with huge dark eyes, but I'm physically shaking so hard that I'm can't hold her. She has lots of business to tend to anyway and so do I. In the corner of the delivery room, the baby is getting the tune up and detailing by her pit crew. At the same time I'm getting "fixed up". It takes forever. This is my first clue that I am tore up from the floor up.

It's the middle of the night and I'm now in my Soviet-era shared hospital room. I wind up on the "bad floor" of the hospital. The one that "will be renovated next year". The baby is in the nursery because I panicked and there are nurses there. I assume they know what to do and I'm certain that I do not. I'm all alone expect for my faceless comrade on the other side of the curtain. I get up to go to the bathroom, which is arm's length from my bed. It turns out that's a positive. I can't walk.

The nurse wheels her little plexibox into my room for feeding/ bonding/ staring at a sleeping baby. Her breathing is erratic. [It will be months later when I learn that all babies have erratic breathing.] 

Now I'm terrified that she will stop breathing. 

This is the first time the thought enters my mind. It will take several months, a Zoloft prescription and a motion detection monitor in order for the thought to release me. Til then, I have to watch her breathe. Everytime I wake up, I am in a panic. My constant vigil is the only thing keeping her alive.

It's the first time in my life that I'm holding an infant and not desperately waiting for its mother to rescue it (and me from it). There will be no rescue. This is mine. 

The sun rises and sets and I'm 100% discombobulated. I cannot get her to latch onto my frighteningly massive boob. The nurse shows me all kinds of tips, none of which I can put into practice. "You want her mouth to completely cover your areola." That's not going to happen. She is 16 hours old and my areola is the size of a vinyl record. I'm able to express a little bit into a thimble sized cup. And then I pump. [For the next two months: I try to get her to latch. She gets a bottle. I pump. Repeat. One day it works and she stays on the boob for a year.]

The next day I manage my first shower. It feels like the best shower ever. It looks like a crime scene. I can still barely walk. But I'm packing up to go home. That's when I'm informed that I'm cleared to go home, but Marlowe is not. She has to stay in the hospital because she has severe Jaundice. 

Almost as an after thought the nurse adds: P.S. Your baby has failed the hearing screening. She hands me a pamphlet called "Can your baby hear you?". The nurse tells me that "it's probably nothing, likely just fluid". In that moment my heart sinks to the pit of my stomach and I know that my baby is deaf.

July 9, 2014

A Mom's Summer Reading List

*The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner

This book is the summer read for the book club that I was recently invited to join. I'm so excited! I always join every third book club to which I am invited. Of course we're all really busy, but it's just so important to make time to meet up with intelligent, like-minded women and discuss literature that I wouldn't otherwise necessarily pick to read on my own. I'm totally looking forward to reading this book. I haven't started it yet, but I hear it's outstanding. 

*Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris 

I love, love, love everything Sedaris writes. I keep meaning to get back to reading this gem. Come to think of it, there's a possibility that I have misplaced this book. I know I started reading it on the subway on the way to work one morning. Anyway, the first chapter is hysterical. I can't wait to read the rest of it. 

*Think Like a Freak, by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner 

This is the third book written by the guys who brought us Freakonomics. Do you like Malcolm Gladwell? Do you like Daniel Gilbert? Do you like pop economics? If so, I would (more likely than not) recommend this book to you. I plan to check it out from the library just as soon as I find that Sedaris book, read it, return it and pay what is no doubt an enormous library fine. I'm a big fan of Levitt & Dubner. Huge. Can't wait.

I'm seriously crazy about this book, on which the Netflix Original Series is based. I know I will be crazy about it. I'm going to read it just soon as I finish watching the series. I keep falling asleep before the episodes end, but that is not a critique of the show. It's something that I've been doing lately, since I became pregnant with my five year old. Anyway, what I've seen of the tv show is tremendous. Do not tell me how it ends! 

This is a book I can unequivocally recommend. I read this one, cover to cover, every night. Every single night. This timeless tale is about a little boy who wants to go to bed, but must first find his roving teddy. The boy simply "can't go to bed without him. It's much too dark and creepy." Night after night, the sneaky bastard bear hides while the boy once again embarks on the same odyssey. [*Spoiler alert* The bear is always the last place you would expect--- the kid's own goddamn bed.] Some critics argue that Huggle Buggle is not actually lost, but that it is instead a clever ruse on the part of the protagonist to avoid the inevitable bedtime. One could argue that the author is paying an homage to Herman Melville in that Huggle Buggle's major themes are also defiance, friendship, duty and ultimately death. If you're looking for more of a fun beachy summer read, I can also recommend: Knuffle Bunny; Knuffle Bunny Too; and Knuffle Bunny Free, all by Mo Willams. It's a modern coming of age trilogy in which Bunny gets lost, Bunny gets found, Bunny gets lost, Bunny gets found, Bunny gets lost....but I won't ruin the ending for you. 

July 1, 2014

Heavy Petting

Hi, there. Today, Lola (world's best Golden Retriever) and I would like to take the opportunity to talk to you about something very serious. Every year, millions of stray cats and dogs end up in shelters and are euthanized because there are simply not enough loving homes for all of them. 

Some people will tell you that the best way to prevent this senseless tragedy is to spay or neuter your cats and dogs. Lola and I are here to tell you that there is a better way. 

Talk to your dog or cat. Tell them that they can choose abstinence. Explain to them that God is their loving creator. Explain that He made them in love and to love one another...but that sex is for dirty birds.

Teach Pet Abstinence. Just because you're an animal, doesn't mean you have to act like one.

Sponsored by:

June 28, 2014

Dear Tintin, Snowy & Good People of Belgium,

Here in America, we're getting pretty amped up to play your "football" team in the next round of the World Cup this Tuesday. I'd like to apologize for any unsportsmanlike hostility aimed at you by my fellow countrymen. Thankfully, criticism will not be scathing as Americans generally know nothing about you except that you are the New Jersey of France. 

In fact, Americans know so little about you that when we were mad at France (for being a smart ally), we boycotted French Fries. Because that's how dumb we are. 

As a little girl, I spent summers at my Grandmere's house in Brussels. Frankly, it sucked. It seemed like the skies were always overcast. The highlight of my fun and adventure was going to the place where nuns make lace.

Belgian Disney World

As an adult I see that I didn't properly appreciate you. You really deserve more respect from the world. But do yourself a favor and fire your public relations team. Take the pictures of Avenue Louise out of your guide books. No one cares.

Replace this:

With this:
and this:

and this:

Quit keeping these a secret. They are little pillows from heaven:

For Christ sake, make everyone taste Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo. They're incredible that way.

You're too nice! Quit letting everyone steal your best shit without a fight!
Jacques Brel was not French.
Stromae is bad ass. 
Also yours.
Smurfs?! Mais oui, Smurfs are Belgian.

Can you imagine the merde storm if France invented these and the world called them "Belgian Fries"?

Til we meet again, best of luck at the World Cup. I hope we crush you, but best of luck.

Gros Bisou,

June 20, 2014

Looking For Your First NYC Apartment?

The Scene: Interior of an empty, insanely overpriced Brooklyn apartment. It's the third apartment that the real estate agent has shown you and by far the nicest. It's no accident that this exceeds the low expectations set by the first dungeon she showed you. The second was a spacious & newly remodeled apartment, conveniently located directly between the BQE overpass and a live chicken store. This is your third time with the agent; this is when she will try to fuck you. 

You: I'll take it! Here's the security deposit, first month's rent and your completely reasonable, well-earned locator's fee which I do not begrudge you, as I recognize that you have provided a legitimate service and are in no way a snake oil salesman whose mission is to con unsuspecting rubes into believing Greenwood Heights isn't a euphemism for "next door to a sprawling Gothic cemetery". 

Real Estate Agent: Fantastic! Just sign both copies of the lease, as well as the standard rider stating that you are not allowed to sublet, touch the fire escape, install a washing machine, run a brothel, put anything in the hallway, sit on the stoop, cook methamphetamine, open the windows after Labor Day or own a Ferret.

You: This is amazing. I can't believe my luck in finding this apartment. It's so perfect and only $500/month more than I can afford. It almost seems too good to be true. Wait... This isn't a murder house, is it???

Agent: Haaaaahaha! 
You: Hahhahahahaaaa! 
Together: Hahahaaaaahajajjajaja!

Agent: That's not something that we are allowed to disclose.

You: HA!!! ...Oh, shit. You're serious. 

[End Scene]

FUN FACT: New York real estate law (N.Y. Real Prop. Law section 443a-1) states that, "it is not a material defect… that the property is, or is suspected to have been, the site of a homicide, suicide or other death by accidental or natural causes, or any crime punishable as a felony."  

The truth is, I've been a New Yorker for 14 years now and my standards have changed so drastically that if you offer me all stainless steel kitchen appliances, I'm not even going to worry if they might have previously contained a human head. If it was in my budget, had washer/dryer hook up and was zoned to P.S. 321, I'd rent the Amityville Horror. Ok fine, the walls bleed... does it include backyard access? 

May 18, 2014

After These Messages...We'll Be Riiiiiiight Back.

I had quite the moral dilemma at Old Navy yesterday. Nope, it wasn't about whether I should support the manufacturing of clothing that was stitched together by a slave-wage earning Bangladeshi six year old. THAT would actually be a legitimate debate to have with myself... but hey, labels go on the inside for a reason! Amirite?

My first thought when I saw this G.I. Joe t-shirt was that my husband would LOOOOVE it. The irony is that we are Liberal, gun-hating, Kale-eating, pacifist, Brooklyn would-be hipsters (if we had a little more disposable income and a lot more style).

Should I buy what is arguably a bizarre, pro gun-culture message for our toddler to wear? Or could I convince myself that I was purchasing a shirt (for a child who cannot yet read) that primarily serves as a Bat-signal to other Park Slope parents who also know that Saturday mornings in the 1980s were the shit?

In the battle of principles vs. nostalgia, I know that letting nostalgia win sometimes might make us hypocrites, but it also keeps us from being completely insufferable self-righteous douchebags... and knowing is half the battle.

May 15, 2014

Can I ask you a question?

I've been having the same conversation with a lot of 30-Somethings lately, women as well as men. 

Gen Y: "Hey, umm...Veronica...Can I ask you a question?"

Me: "Yep, I know. You're thinking about babies. Yes. Have a baby now even though you're "not ready". You can't ever truly be ready. A larger apartment will not prepare you. You'll figure it. You'll figure it all out. And yes, it's normal to be terrified. You're terrified because you are an intelligent person and your brainy brain is sharp enough to recognize that it is, in fact, utterly fucking terrifying to create a whole new human being and to be responsible for him/her til the day you die. I promise you that it's all worth it in a way that no one can really explain. You'll just have to wait and see it's more awesome than you can imagine. Chemicals will melt your brain when you see YOUR kid. The love that you currently have for your sweetie-pie Nephew, your dog that's "like your baby" and your best friend's *perfect* toddler will seem like garbage compared to your kid... Oddly, that's the really comforting part of my pep-talk. Also, you will still get to be you. Everyone's argument is that they aren't ready and they're too selfish. You will still get to be selfish (much MUCH less so than now) but you will still be YOU. Don't wait. Don't think that just because you *might* biologically be able to wait ten years that it's a better idea. It's really not going to be less scary "later". Having 20K more in your 401k will not be any comfort when the Geneticist calmly shows you on the graph that you are 2 years past the age where there's a data spike in the rate of Fire Babies. Get some Folic Acid. Go home now. Get your Mommy/Daddy swirl on."

Gen Y: ".......I was just going to ask if your internet connection seems slow today."

August 17, 2013

Bananas are Magic

I'm on week 3 of training to run the NYC marathon and I still can't say it without adding disclaimers----

The scene: The interior of a Midtown boutique named "SBR". It's the "Swim Bike Run" store for hardcore Ironman types.

Me [Enters sheepishly. Avoids making eye contact with the Salesperson.]: Hi.

SBR Salesperson [Little wiry dude, cut from granite. Bald. Probably 100% hairless by choice, because of wind resistance or whatever]: Good afternoon, how can I help you?

Me: [blurts out] I'm training to run a marathon, but my goal is just to finish it because I'm not a real athlete and I understand that it's too soon to train properly to run 26.2 miles but I'm doing it for a charity that's very important to me and they just got spots for runners on August 1st which means only 13 weeks to train and I haven't even been inside a gym in close to a year and every marathon training website says that I should already be fit and running easily for 30 minutes at a time BEFORE I start training for at least 16 weeks, but I can't turn back the calendar so it is what it is and I'm going to do what I can even if I finish the damn thing last.

SBR Salesperson: M'kay.....

Me: Do you sell fanny packs?

SMASH CUT TO TRAINING MONTAGE VIDEO. What? You were expecting Rocky? Karate Kid?? Come on. Why would I fantasize that my thighs are going to look like Ralph Macchio's?

I've learned a couple of things in the last few weeks:

1.  Bananas are magic. Every day that I come into work after getting up and running at the crack of dawn and I feel like a lifeless sack of wet laundry, I eat a banana. Sure enough it feels like coming back to life. MAGIC. Or maybe Potassium. Whatever, I'm not a scientist.

2. Before I started running, I believed that this:

was just one of these:

for one of those:

And I still do. But now after a few miles, I'll drink out of it and really not care. And that is called perspective.

August 2, 2013

True Story

True Story: Years ago, a personal trainer fired me as his client for not being "serious". But today? Well today I'm still not what anyone would call an "athlete" or a "good runner". I actually only technically qualify as a "runner". What do I like best about running? When it's over.

This November 3rd, I'm running the NYC Marathon. [Yes, really.] When I first asked Hearing Health Foundation to apply to be a 2013 NYC Marathon Charity Partner, I had one reason in mind: my daughter, Marlowe.

When Marlowe was one day old, a hospital nurse handed me a pamphlet titled "Can your baby hear you?" She then informed my husband, Brandon, and me that our baby had failed the newborn hearing screening.

In a state of shock, for three months we had her tested and retested. Each time we were reassured that she did in fact have fluid in her ears. We slammed doors. We encouraged the dog to bark. We were overjoyed when a fire truck's blaring siren woke her from a nap. We were sure it meant her hearing was fine.

We were wrong. At three months old, Marlowe was diagnosed with severe permanent hearing loss.

A week later, she was fitted with hearing aids and immediately started speech therapy (which is more like listening therapy at that age). We were determined that she would live in the hearing world and learn to speak rather than use sign language.

That was four years ago. Today our little chatterbox attends the Auditory Oral School of New York and will be mainstreamed starting with Kindergarten.

Why have I chosen to run for Hearing Health Foundation? Because we are close to a CURE to permanent hearing loss and Hearing Health Foundation funds scientific research with the goal of finding the cure within the next ten years. That would be by the time Marlowe is a teenager. That's also a pretty amazing thing for the rest of us who were born with normal hearing, but have been wearing it away via concerts, clubs and ear buds since adolescence. 

Please click here to give what you can to support this cause that means enough to me to run, walk, cry and swear for 26.2 New York City miles on November 3, 2013.

June 23, 2013

How to Apologize. (What Paula Deen Should Have Said.)

Yes, we're all a little jaded. But we've earned it. It seems like there's a newsworthy apology every other week from the latest disgraced public figure. Mostly it's crocodile tears and bullshit under the watchful eye of an effective and soulless Attorney.

If YOU (Famous Person reading my blog) are the next person who must go down on his knees in front of the camera (likely because you got caught down on your knees in front of a camera) please take some time to consult with a professional first. Not a Lawyer, a Comedy Writer.

Sure, you need a Lawyer to help you cover your ass. His job is to tell you what to not say. The last thing he wants you to do is to admit any culpability. That's his job.  So here's the rub: DO NOT attempt to apologize to the horde of torch-wielding villagers, until you are ready to admit what you did. Now, listen carefully. "Hurt people" is not what you did. "Hurt Matt Lauer" is not what you did. (It actually may be one of the things you did, but just send the man a fruit basket privately. I hear he likes a nice Mango.) Do not make any sudden moves. Do not make eye contact. Do not say a word on camera until you are ready to give a better apology than a toddler being fed his lines by Mommy.

So why do you need a Comedy Writer? Should you take the heat off the situation by opening your apology with levity? NO. What a Comedian is good for is isolating the bullshit. His or her (yeah, I said it.) job is pinpointing what the Internet will be saying about you. THAT is what you have to address. BE SPECIFIC. Ideally, you should have Jon Stewart vet every major business or life decision you make.

In summary, Paula Deen admitted under oath that she has, in the past, casually used the N-word.  Additionally she imagined how charming it would be to host a true Southern wedding featuring a full staff of tap dancing Uncle Ben waiters, but had sense enough to know that the media would misinterpret her warm-fuzzy feels of nostalgia for slavery. You know, the good ol' days.

What Paula Deen Should Have Said

"Hi Ya'll. I'm Paula Deen. Earlier this week I got busted big time. The first thing I was going to say is to apologize to Matt Lauer because I stood him up this morning, but then Jon Stewart told me it would made me look out of touch with reality. That and also my idea for Bojangles themed events, would make me look out of touch. So, Matt, I'll say nothing more to you at this time. Mango basket's in the mail.

So against the best advice of my smart Jew Lawyers, what I came here to say to Y'all is this:

I am sorry that I am so unbelievably stupid. For real, Y'all. I am just an old lady who grew up in the South and despite building a multi-million dollar empire, never once read a newspaper or turned on the television set in the last 40 years. Honestly. I don't read! I didn't know that using the N-word in a happy joking way in the modern era still made me into a Southern inbred pig-effer caricature. Bless my heart!

I'm here today to beg for Y'all's forgiveness for a lifetime of racism. Not "mean on purpose" racism.  But racism none-the-less.

I know that some of you think I'm disgusting for teaching people to get Diabetes with one hand and then selling Diabetes medication with the other. But have you considered that I was dumb enough to ruin my own health at the same time, so maybe it wasn't the grand scheme of an evil genius?

See, I am actually not smart. Not at all. Like borderline retarded, Y'all. Now, I've been told I'm not supposed to use that word either, but I looked it up. And I'm using it with a little "r", not like a mean nickname. It actually means "slow". Did Y'all know that? See, I'm learning. I want to change, but I need Y'alls help. Please teach me. I want to learn from not just my African-American friends, but the Mexicans and the Orientals too.

God Bless Y'all. And PLEASE eat less butter."