Disclaimer: I have never had proper poutine before. I have only been to Canada once, and I didn’t really eat anything. I just remember drinking. Cheap drinks up there, eh?
This week, Henry and I took our newly 2 month old, Graycen Olivia to California to see some Redwoods. And by “see some Redwoods,” I mean sleep or cry (but mostly sleep) through the entire car ride. On the way home, we stopped in Bandon, Oregon, for a much needed breast feeding sesh and coffee for mama. Desperately, I pulled into the first large-ish parking lot, Face Rock Creamery. I changed a diaper, and Henry went inside to scope the coffee. Diaper changed, Henry came out and told me they had ice cream, wine, and cheese. So of course, we all went in. What an amazing little place. We tasted so many awesome cheeses and I got enough coffee to sustain me for the rest of the drive home. We bought some cheese curds, just ’cause, and Henry suggested poutine. When we got home, neither of us wanted to go to the grocery store for what we needed to make proper poutine (which neither of us have had), and so Henry and and I came up with a breakfast poutine idea.
- Hand off baby so you can have a drink and cook dinner
- Take the drink your husband makes you and make it stronger
- Make sausage gravy
- Make hashbrowns
- Layer garlic cheese curds between hashbrowns and gravy.
I did my fair share of reading during my pregnancy. I hate surprises…I need to know what’s happening, why it’s happening, etc. I learned as much as I could and felt somewhat prepared for each step of the way. Each new pain, soreness, symptom, and movement within was welcomed because, for the most part, they were expected. I loved it, loved being pregnant. If I hadn’t been too fat to skip, I would have skipped with joy on a daily basis. Then the due date came. And went. The doctor told me I was 3cm dilated one day and three days later, 1cm dilated. We planned on inducing if nothing happened on its own. This was something I hadn’t planned for. What was worse, the doctor said I might need a C section because Graycen was projected to be between 8-10 pounds and he wasn’t certain her head would fit through my pelvis. Each day past my due date was the longest day of my life. I was no longer skipping and singing with the woodland creatures, ala Snow White. I was gnashing my teeth and terrorizing the neighborhood. What’s worse is that I was finishing my capstone class for my M.Ed. and my teacher told me that she didn’t care that I was pregnant and that I was just trying to get out of work. Six long days came and went and I finally felt labor pains. I finished my homework, submitted it, and started timing my contractions.
I went into labor around 3am Saturday morning and had my baby Saturday evening at 5:58, after 23 minutes of active pushing. It was the hardest, easiest thing I had ever done in my life.
There was so much about my experience that I expected and so much that blind-sided me. So I thought I’d compile a list of things that happened to me that no one prepared me for, just in case someone comes across my list and I share something with them that they hadn’t heard during their research sessions.
- Morning sickness can be triggered by sounds. Taylor Swift, in particular. Every morning, I was commuting 30 minutes to work, fighting nausea every stinking mile, hoping I wouldn’t have to pull over to puke. It was an exercise in willpower for sure. That winter, Taylor Swift’s song Blank Space played every morning at like 6:54 am. And then I would pull into my spot at work at 7 and throw up. Just hearing that song makes my stomach hurt, even today.
- You can leak milk way before you go into labor. I think I was leaving wet spots every where two weeks prior.
- After you get through your morning sickness phase, and get into your “I could eat everything” phase, the baby will have grown and started to press into your stomach, giving you your own personal temporary lapband procedure. I was starving, but couldn’t eat as much as I wanted to. It was torture.
- I lost 35 pounds overall after it was all said and done. It is awesome. I credit this to breast feeding and not having the same wine drinking habit I had prior to being pregnant. I haven’t been this skinny in like 10 years. Go me.
- Everyone talks about problems with pooping during and post pregnancy. I had no issues with that. I’m sure you needed that information. What I did struggle with was feeling like I needed to pee for four weeks post partum. I would accidentally go all day without peeing. I didn’t have any urge to go. Then, I would think that was odd, so I’d go to the bathroom. And pee for minutes and minutes and minutes. So I recommend making yourself go to the bathroom even if you don’t have the urge because you could definitely end up with a bladder infection.
- Everyone says that if breast feeding hurts, you’re doing it wrong. They also say that the first three days after you come home from the hospital are hard in regards to breastfeeding and everything else that comes along with a newborn. I didn’t know that the baby would come out needing to learn how to eat. I knew that I’d have to learn, but for some reason, I thought she’d know how to breastfeed. Big. fat. nope. And it hurt for weeks. And I was sure I was doing it wrong. And I was sure I couldn’t make enough for her. We even started supplementing her with formula because she lost so much weight in the first 36 hours, waiting for my milk to come in. I hated every minute of breastfeeding. It was agonizing. Cracked and bleeding nipples are horrible…and that on top of a healing episiotomy…I was miserable. But one day, it didn’t hurt anymore. And she was eating and I wasn’t screaming on the inside anymore. Now, look forward to our private time together, and I never thought I would. I’m grateful I stuck it out. Trust me, it does get better. All of it gets better.
The apartment is clean. (The dishes still need to be done, but I’m a grown woman! Don’t tell me what to do!) The kiddos are here, watching “Nickey Mouse,” gleefully eyeballing the Christmas tree in the corner. I told the 5 year old that she could open presents tomorrow morning. “You mean after I go to bed tonight? And not any other night? Just one night?”
This Christmas season has felt strange. I found out two days ago that one of my former students died in a car accident. I’ve been really wrestling with this lately–and I wish that this was a situation that made sense to my brain so that I could rest and grieve and move on. But the poor girl thought she saw a spider in the cab of the car, panicked–then she crossed the centerline, hit an oncoming tow truck, and she died. She just flat out died. No reason for it. No negligence. No cautionary tale. No reason. Just a family without their daughter this Christmas.
So what does it all mean? I don’t want a religious answer. I don’t want some trite, even if it is well-meant, condolence or kind words that we pass along without truly thinking about what they mean. Some people die. And none of my own problems and stresses–and oh, how I have been stressing about Christmas–none of those things matter. A young girl died and I’m cranky about Christmas? I am pretty disgusted with myself. As I sit here, typing this, the computer animated “Nickey Mouse” a little too loud on the television, I take a deep breath and feel ashamed.
The beauty I have in my life is undeniable. I have a two year old sitting on my feet right now. He needs a haircut something fierce. He’s sticky from eating an enormous candy cane. His sticky fingerprints are all over the couch and he is transfixed by this “Nickey Mouse” show. The five year old is playing with her Monster High doll, and she was just sitting on my lap, snuggled with her face in the crook of my neck. She says: “I am just freaking out! I want to open my presents tonight!” I have a partner who loves me unconditionally and loves our family so much. Henry finds more joy in his children than I have ever seen anyone display. We have a warm apartment, more presents than we know what to do with, food, our health, and each other. I have a terrible tendency to magnify the bad things when the best parts of my life are truly the best parts of my entire life so far.
The small things suck sometimes. We all have those small things we wish we could change. But the good so outweighs the bad. It just all depends on your perspective.
I go from being super stressed with life to feeling supremely grateful. In this year, my 27th, I am finally growing into my own woman. I am starting to truly love myself, even if it is a slow and sometimes brutal process. On this day, in the spring of my adulthood, I started to more solidly accept myself. I have the same sad story as everyone else: negligent mother who drank and pill-ed herself to an early death, leather-handed father who failed as much as he succeeded, a doomed marriage built on codependency…I am not unique or terribly sad. My childhood was equal parts unconditional, story book love and shattered glass, fighting, and tears. It all makes me who I am. When I have a panic attack because of a dirty kitchen, I have my mother’s abusive personality to thank–and yet when I can whip out a mean meatloaf, I also have her to thank. What the hell kind of shit is that? It’s confusing. Contradictory. But it’s me. When I feel like I have to succeed at all costs and not disappoint, that’s my fear of rejection instilled by a cold mother who ignored me for days on end to teach me a lesson. When I strive to be excellent, that’s my mother in my ear, telling me that I am better than I was yesterday. Damn.
I never wanted kids. For many reasons–but the one that is especially on my heart tonight is the fact that I didn’t know how to mother because I wasn’t mothered. My mom quilted the pattern of my life and it’s crooked and missing some squares. There are patches that would amaze you–precise and clean stitches…beautiful pattern…but the next few sections are stained and misshapen.
“You talk too much. You’re annoying. You’re lazy. You’re a great cook. You’re too fat. What’s with that purple eye shadow? Out of all of my children, I am most proud of you.”
And here I am. With step kiddos. A career that I am excelling at. I love and am loved.
I am kinda lazy, but tonight I mopped and made muffins. I am learning that this is ok. I didn’t have a roadmap or example of what it meant to be a 27 year old divorcee, step mom, teacher, and fiance. I didn’t have any roadmap of any kind, and I have begun to learn to stop punishing myself for that.
I am me. And that’s nothing to apologize for.
Here are my muffins. Pumpkin banana. No recipe for you. Too lazy to type it out.
I got a lot done today. Kids up, fed french toast, clothed, and sent to church. Grocery shopping and battling every senior citizen in Eugene at Winco. Three homework assignments for my Master’s program. All of the laundry (with lots of help from Henry). And a roast chicken, sausage cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy dinner. And I still have work to do before Breaking Bad. I think I have some journals to grade.
The chicken was roasted with a mixture of whole grain mustard, honey, garlic, butter, and salt and pepper slathered all over it. It was good–but next time, I’ll do something differently. Be careful to not burn the bird–that honey colors the skin FAST.
Cornbread stuffing mix + onion + celery + fresh Italian sausage…it was perfect and homey. The potatoes were of the red variety. Mashed, simply. The gravy was thrown together without the pan drippings from the chicken. The mustard/honey was a little strong.
Anyway. Whew. There’s nothing like a Sunday dinner.
A couple days ago, Henry and I went to our local beer-making supply store and bought a kit for making wine and hard cider. We had researched the process and it seemed pretty simple. This is what a website suggested:
- Apples (about 20 lbs, preferably of several varieties) (We just bought cider)
- Champagne yeast
- Yeast nutrient (Oops. Forgot)
- Campden tablets (optional) (We didn’t use it, but we had it)
- 1 cup Brown sugar (Didn’t use sugar at all)
- 1 cup White sugar
- Glass Carboy
- Plastic bucket as a fermentation tank
- Vapor lock
- Rubber stopper
- rubber hose
We’ve already strayed from the simplest recipe and method we could find. We researched some more when we felt a bit out of our depth and that made us feel even more overwhelmed.
So, I told Henry to Google “ghetto hard apple cider.” We may stoop to hooch level. As of right now, our cider is hanging out in our bedroom, in a plastic bucket with some yeast. It’ll be in there until Monday night when we put it into the carboy. Yeah. Hooch.
I started yoga this week at Eugene Yoga and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. It’s several miles away, clear on the other side of town, but it seems worth it somehow. I am looking forward to doing this for two whole months before starting work again in late August, and then I hope I will be able to find classes suitable for my schedule.
After saying all of that, I have a confession to make. I played hooky today. Henry and I were up late last night and when his alarm clock screamed this morning, it was all I could do to roll over, put a pillow over my head, and burrow deeper. I ended getting around 10:30, when Henry came home for lunch. I am trying to find the energy to be productive today, but I just can’t seem to get a handle on it. I need to do laundry, homework, clean the kitchen, and sort through six boxes I had stored in a friend’s attic and retrieved yesterday.
Another confession: I went to McDonalds and got an iced coffee. So, in my shame, lethargy, soreness, and sloth, here is what I will likely end up doing: drinking coffee and reading. Oh, well. It is summer vacation, after all.