Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Yesterday I helped Giacomo come into the world. He was due a couple weeks from now, but they induced his mama at midnight on Sunday because he was pretty big already. I got home yesterday morning about 8:15 and called the hospital.
“I just called you,” she said. “My water broke about 20 minutes ago and the doctor came in right after that. I’m dilated to a two. And Joe isn’t feeling well, his head hurts and he’s laying down.”

I told her I was on my way and got down to St. John’s in about 25 minutes. She had just asked for her epidural and Joe was not just sleeping he was pretty much unconscious and burning up. I sat with her while she labored through the contractions which were regular, but not too big. I reminded her to breathe, but not too fast, in through the nose and out through the mouth. I thought to myself how annoying it must be to be in that kind of pain and have someone tell you what to do.

The anasthesiologist arrived. In my head Heart was singing "Magic Man." His name was Roger and he was a very tall asian doctor who looked like he was about, oh, maybe twenty years old. He put the epidural in and hung the bag. They do them on drip now and why anyone wouldn’t want something to take the edge off, I have no idea. In the middle of that procedure Joe’s parents and his sister and Ocelli arrived. They set up a waiting area in the hall which was not okay with the chirpy nurse who came in to tell us to do something about them.

St. John’s is an awesome place to have a baby. They have big, clean rooms with huge flat screen TVs. But I don’t like the nurses. They are not very nurturing. Not at all. Too many details to go into around that so I’ll just leave it there. Except to say that if you’re a nurse and you find yourself behaving passive aggressively with your patients, e.g. saying things like “That baby’s not very happy in there,” and then enigmatically leaving the room, well, maybe it’s time to find another line of work.

Anyway, once Joe’s parents got there and I got the nurse to take his temperature (which I bet they bill for) it was determined that they should take him home because it’s not cool to be in the room with your 102+ temperature and whatever virus is making you so hot when your baby is being born. I think this is why the nurse got passive aggressive because it was an incredibly stupid thing to do, but still, don’t freak mama out! She’s going to have to push a giant baby out of her vagina and her husband isn’t going to be there with her.

No. It was me and Aunt Mia and Ocelli who is four and promised to be very good and sit in a chair against the wall where she couldn’t see all the action. So after the room cleared we all sat around talking and put on some cartoons for Ocelli and settled in to wait. Thought it would be a long time. But mama was feeling some discomfort because of epidural light and thank God she got that because her contractions were coming almost on top of each other and they were HUGE! I was watching the tape and watching her and although she could feel them she was able to breathe through them. When she started shaking about 10:30 we thought it might be a reaction to the drug, but then it got more and more violent and the only other time I’d seen her shake like that was when she was ready to deliver Ocelli.

I went out to the nurse station where all eight of those ladies were sitting around having coffee talk and said, “Excuse me, she’s shaking like a junkie that needs a fix. Do you think this could be due to the epidural? Or is it possible she’s ready to go?” They all looked at each other like I was the biggest pain in the ass and allowed that it might be poassible that she was “complete,” and I stood there looking at them like, so is anyone going to come check? But no one moved so I went back to the room. A while later the nurse came in and checked her and said she was ready to start pushing.

Oh golly, that was fast and there were just two of us to do the helping and the filming. Luckily, one of Ocelli’s babysitters volunteers at the hospital so she was able to come and sit with her because we couldn’t leave her unattended, even with the mindsucking cartoons on TV because she could still hear her mama making the distressing sounds that women are wont to make when they’re pushing out a baby.
While Mia filmed, me and nurse Ratchett pushed mama’s legs up to her chest and as I counted to ten she pushed as hard as she could. Because her epidural was so light she could really feel to push so that baby came moving down pretty fast. Although if I had a 9lb. 1oz. baby coming out of me I would push pretty damn hard too. She had to stop so the doctor who arrived to catch could put on his gear. He's a funny guy who says things like, "Now we're cooking with gas." And "Wow, this kid's a linebacker!"

He is huge! And adorable! He has lots of curly dark hair that the nursery nurse parted down the side and combed over very debonairly. With his little sideburns and his big cheeks he looked a little like a very young Marlon Brando in the Godfather. I went with him to the nursery because after all that work his mama wanted to make sure that he didn’t get switched or stolen so I promised I would never take my eyes off of him

As I watched them do all the things that they do to babies I wondered what it must feel like. You’re in your own world and the next thing you know you’re laying naked on a table with a bright, warm, light shining down on you and people are looming over you poking you with needles and sticking a thermometer up your butt and you can’t really move… And I thought this is actually a lot like the stories people tell about alien abduction – being naked and unable to move on a metal table and getting the anal probe. What if those stories are only people’s latent birth memories?

As I stood there pondering this, a new father whose wife had just had a baby girl came in with her, and looking a tad shell shocked he said, “There’s a lot they don’t tell you about the whole thing.” I looked at him. “You know in Lamaze class, they don’t tell you everything, you know?” He looked a little green. Happy, but a little green. “You mean about all the blood and goosh?” I asked. “Yeah. Man, they don’t tell you about that.”

And he’s right. There’s no way you can know what it’s like unless you’re there to see it. Not even the movie they showed in 7th grade health class which featured an episiotomy, an image I will have seared on my retina forever, showed exactly how much um, stuff, is involved. It is nothing like birth in the movies or on TV. It is incredible. What it takes to get here into this world down that birth canal is messy, and primal and bloody. And powerful. That’s probably the best word to describe it because once the head and shoulders come out the rest is just a whoosh and then there’s crying and laughing and awe. And a lot of goop.

As soon as Giacomo came out I picked up Ocelli who was standing to the side but edging to the nether regions to get a better look and lifted her up to see her brother and to see that her mama was okay. The doctor was great because he explained everything he was doing, cutting the cord, delivering the afterbirth – or baby’s apartment – and then sewing mama up because that baby's huge head made her tear a little. And thankfully explanation was enough and she didn’t want visuals to go along with it.

Aunt Mia got the whole thing on tape to show daddy and it all took less than 10 minutes. But just like when Ocelli was born and I saw her huge head and the miracle of her birth I think that adoption is an excellent choice for me. It’s a miracle that women can grow babies and give birth, but if my vagina has a vote, it votes no on the whole pushing out of the watermelon sized object.

Birth is a miracle, but there is a lot they don't tell you.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Since I've been laid off I've been focusing on the writing, as much as I can focus on any one thing. Today the words are coming easy, but I can't sit still for more than a half hour at a time. Luckily for me my house is a mess from 2 and a half weeks of being sick and spending an inordinate amount of time at A's house. So when I get that antsy feeling I just get up and go dust, or clean the microwave, or do a load of laundry. By the end of today I should have the broad strokes of my treatment finished AND a sparkling clean house.

On another note - the crazy lady who lives upstairs hacked all my scented geranium, hydrangea and lavender into bits. She wore gardening gloves while she did it. I sat and watched her out the window. I was afraid to go out and stop her because she was wielding large, sharp shears and I'm scared of her. So consequently all that's left out there is the dead undergrowth. Ran into her ex-boyfriend at Trader Joe's not long after, you know, the guy that moved out and left us here with a psychotic drug addict? He asked how things were going and I told him about the hedge hacking incident. He acted surprised and said he'd discuss it with her. I told him not to bother. He's been "discussing" things with her for a long time and nothing changes. I took pictures of the carnage and will show them to the landlord as he is basically waiting for just one more occasion of aberrant behavior as grounds to evict them both. He said, "Oh, okay then."

On a more positive note I have succeeded in growing corn! The green beans, tomatoes and strawberries are easy, but getting corn to pollenate? No so much. But a few days ago I saw actual ears with silk sprouting from my corn stalks. I am so excited. I wonder if I lived on a farm would I run out to the fields everyday and check to see how things are progressing like I do with my 6'x6' plot of dirt behind the building? Yeah, most likely I would. But I would probaby wear overalls instead of my pajamas.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Yesterday A. and I walked down the street to get some lunch. We walked into a little bakery and he made a bee line to this guy that was sitting there eating and reading the paper. A stunningly good looking guy with dark hair and piercing blue eyes, who apparently works there because A. was giving him shit about who was going to wait on us. He tells me that this guy is great. He’s had a baby and just got married and he’s an actor.

Well, of course he is because he is one of those surreally good looking men that seems to drop from the trees in this town.

So I jump in and tell him that his agent should be getting him out there since all the new shows are in production. He should be guest starring in something! As I’m talking he’s really focusing on me, and when I’m done he gives me this long look and says my name.

Like he knows me.

I am completely discomfitted because, as I stand there frantically grasping, I have no recollection of doing anything to deserve that look from this guy.

At least not lately.

Then he smiles and as he’s saying his name I know exactly who he is and he jumps up and we hug and kiss and…

OH MY GOD! It’s Ryan!!!

And this is a totally great story.

A long, long time ago my friend Jeri and I went to Las Vegas and this is one of those times when what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. It was Saturday night, our last night before we made the long drive home on Sunday and we were bouncing through the casino at the Tropicana about 3 am. Quite buzzed but on the way down, not the way up. We always stayed at the Trop because we liked going “old school” and we could get poolside rooms for cheap. I have always felt incredibly weird riding on elevators in my bathing suit – it’s just wrong.

So we’ve had our poolside room all weekend and we’ve been partying non-stop and we were ready to go to sleep. The night before had been a very late night and involved broken bathroom fixtures and the query, “so do you hunt?” Being that we were still a little buzzed and basically didn’t give a shit about what people thought, we were tangoing together through the casino. She’s blond and six feet tall and I was, at the time, a red head and 5’9” – and we were wearing high heels and very short dresses.

Which is probably why two young men peeled off from the the pack they were with to chase us down the hall. Make that halls because we were moving pretty fast. When they finally caught up with us as we were making our way toward our room turning over the signs that people leave on their doors from “do not disturb” to “maid service please.” I know it sounds like we were in high school, but we weren’t. We were closer to Sex in the City, which is why when these boys caught up to us to exhort us to go gambling with them and be their “lucky ladies,” we actually chatted them up. Because they were both very cute. The tall, dark haired one with the piercing blue eyes and the earnest look on his face as he held my hand and implored me to go with him was Ryan. His friend with the golden skin, blonde hair and green eyes was Shane. Just by the names alone it was clear that they had not been born until sometime in the mid to late 70s. But still, they were very cute and very sweet and they claimed to be 21 when I suggested that they were still in high school.

So, we didn’t end up going gambling with them and it got all Penthouse Forum like after that and those details will remain between the four of us and you can pretty much make up anything you like to fill in the blank, because it won’t be anywhere near as fun or funny as it actually was. In any case the next morning I opened my eyes when I heard Ryan say, “Dude, I could really go for some Lucky Charms.” I didn’t know if he was talking to me, and it turns out he was talking to Shane who replied, “I know dude, totally.” And then Jeri and I started to laugh hysterically and we all went out to breakfast where I learned that Ryan is allergic to milk and so traveled with his own stash of whatever people used before rice milk in a box.

Our friendship continued even after we returned from Vegas. I still have the sun/moon mirror he gave me for my birthday hanging in an alcove in my house. I was the second woman he ever had sex with and his sweetness was the real deal. We continued our affair for a little while longer, but it evolved into more of a lovely friendship, because it turned out that they did lie to us about their age. And no matter how sweet and handsome a man is, I ultimately need someone with wisdom and experience to keep me interested.

Ryan moved to the L.A. area to be a model-slash-actor and took up with a woman older than I was for a while and then moved on to the woman whom he just married. She’s only ten years older than him, but still it’s clear that this is one sweet and sexy man who appreciates experience and wisdom himself. He is completely in love with his daughter and likes working at the bakery so he can go home and spend most of his time with his family.

We lost touch and I was so happy to see him again and to know that he is the same lovely person that I met all those years ago. After we ordered lunch A. left me to my walk down memory lane and was sitting outside reading the paper at our table when I joined him. He loved the story and it brought back all of his fond memories of the older women in his life. At the end of the day I think that every young man and every older woman should make some lovely memories together. Because all these years later it still made us smile big shit eating grins.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

When A. was gone in Serbia we stayed in touch by e-mail, but one I got an e-mail from him telling me to call anytime I felt like it. He had an international cell phone that he'd purchased so he could stay in touch with the office. I was feeling blue about pending unemployment and so I called just to say a quick hello. I must have caught him in a moment of chattiness, or maybe he was just missing me, but after about 5 minutes I said I needed to hang up because, you know I was about to be unemployed and now needed to think about things like long distance charges.

He said, "Don't worry baby, I'll pay for the call. I miss you I. I want to be there for you, let's talk." I'm thinking it can't cost more than a dollar a minute which is the rate that I pay to call London. This is how I rationalized picking up the phone in the first place. Five minutes = five dollars. I can swing that right? However, times have changed in the world of telephone communication. Apparently now you have to pay the long distance carrier in EACH COUNTRY, unless you have an international plan that covers the world.

So yesterday when I got my bill and opened it all the blood drained from my head when I saw that this one forty minute phone call cost $188. 94! Because not only did I get charged the $4.40 a minute tariff rate that currently applies in Serbia Montenegro, there was also an additional charge per minute because I was calling his cell phone! And then there are taxes and surcharges and regulatory fees up the ying yang based on the total call charge of $143.60.

So much for spontaneity. I will never place another international call without first finding out what that country charges. I guess it makes sense that it would be expensive over there considering that their infrastructure had to have been somewhat affected by war.

I feel vaguely guilty, like I should take responsibility for this because I'm like that, but I know that he won't let me pay for it. He will however kvetch and oy and I just hope that he remembers that the last thing he said to me before we hung up on that call was, "I love you."