Monday, August 31, 2009

It’s all about the Pelvis, Baby

Like old war stories and legendary football game tales, for we women, the births of our children represent something to be proud of-- a battle we’ve fought and won. I pull out my childbirth memories for certain circumstances, such as when a “First Time Preggo” needs advice...or to embarrass my husband by using graphic, textbook names for things. All I have to do is say, “Episiotomy,” and Fred cowers. Episiotomy is a good power-word to to get him to leave the room so I can paint-on my mustache removing cream in privacy.

Today is my son Jon’s 20th birthday. As an additional birthday gift, I promised him that this year, I would not remind him, at certain important times of the day, what it was like in my “Labor and Delivery” room 20 years ago. I might have gone a bit overboard last year, when at 8:30 pm, I said, “You’re crowning!” He didn’t like that much, but I enjoy reminding him that I went through Hell to get him into this world. It’s all part of the mother-guilt continuum. In my defense, as the mother of two boys, I still consider it my duty to “out-gross” them now and then.

There’s a world-wide, centuries-old, sisterhood for women--where the only joiner fee is to have actual birth experience to share. Each birth is different and special. Each birth has its “Slasher Movie” elements, too. In fact, I think some thriller movies must record actual women in their 2nd stages of labor.

My birthing story begins with a claim... that the “Giving Birth Act” simply has to do with getting an oblong peg through a round hole. The complexities enter into the picture based on the size differential.

I’ve been told all my life that I had wide hips. A doctor even congratulated me once for my hip breadth, saying that I should have no problem delivering children. It turns out he was snorting too much K-Y Jelly. For birthing---it’s ALL ABOUT THE PELVIS...and mine is the size of a cheeto.

As for the oblong peg...a successful vaginal birth also depends on the circumference of your baby’s head (Fred are you still with me?). With Jon, he decided to stay in the womb an extra 2 weeks past his due date for the sole purpose, apparently, of enlarging his head. Ultra-sound images suggested I was either about to deliver a nearing 12-pound baby...or a manatee.

My August 30th, 1989 performance of “Pushing a Manatee through a Cheeto” was one for the record books. At one point I was on all FOURS, feeling more like a mare in a barn stall than a woman, praying for death. Unnatural sounds came out of all orifices. My eyeballs bulged, my ears and nose grew. I even think I pushed a unicorn-horn out my forehead. When Jon finally emerged, after 8 hours, I expected him to be hideous, a side-ways-football-headed “Stewie” from “Family Guy.” But he was an 8 lb. 12 oz. adorable doll with a perfectly normal head. No explanation from the doctor, no, “I’m so sorry, Heidi, for scaring the unicorn-horn out of you...our ultrasound machine must be on the fritz.”

Oh well, I got a good story out of it. And a wonderful son.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Semi-Annual Violation

My dentist’s office ceiling is exceptionally clean. I know this because I spent 45 minutes looking at every visible millimeter of it while I was having my teeth cleaned--no cobwebs, no dusty light fixtures—it was beautiful.

I was trying hard to ignore what was happening to my mouth.

I AM truly grateful for modern dentistry, but that still doesn’t mean I enjoy going to the dentist. It’s just...

the odors of disinfectant, hot inner tooth-core and sweet laughing gas,

the sounds of high-pitched drills,

the taste of “latex glove,”

the sight of masked, goggled people and

the unpleasant spray of dry air on my teeth

...that upsets and disturbs all five of my senses. And that’s just from a cleaning. I don’t know anyone who enjoys their bi-yearly “mouth invasion” even with a plastic toy surprise at the end.

I think my problem is that I don’t like watching someone mess with me. If my mouth was on my back and not right below my nose, I’m sure I could read a magazine through the whole procedure. Headphones are offered in some offices along with drop down television sets to amuse and distract patients. That doesn’t work for me, and I sometimes miss critical commands like, “Turn towards me,” “Spit” “Bite” and “Don’t Bite."

Yet, how fortunate we are to have the ability to sit and do nothing but count dots on dentist office ceilings. If you believe what my father used to tell me, that, as a boy, the dentist made him power the dental drill himself like a bicycle, you’re be especially thankful. Dad said the drill was so slow you could count the revolutions. I always figured it was just another, “when I was a boy” story—full of well-meaning deception.

As it turns out...Dad was only half lying. Dentists in the late 19th century acquired the ‘newest’ tool—a ‘modern’ foot operated drill. The dentist himself would pump his foot to operate the machine. All day long, push, push...and push. And people back then had LOUSY teeth too. I’ll bet those dentists had some enviable calve muscles.

Teeth are in much better condition now than when I was a kid, thanks to better toothpaste and fluorinated water. My children, for example, have never had a cavity--and it’s certainly not because they’re superior brushers. Yet, dentists still want to see them twice a year. I think it’s because they just like to see teeth. Dentists are also addicted to interpreting “Wide-Open Mouth” language. That’s why they always ask you open-ended questions during the process:

“How are the kids?” Dentist Mark asks during a recent appointment.


“I don’t see any problems. I want to poke at your teeth anyway. How’s life?”

“Jane, a little air here. Read any good books lately?”


Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Adventure in Heidi’s Office: TYPIST battles The Ant Army

I hesitated before documenting my recent encounter with ants. Having already written 2 blogs about them, I thought the subject might be “hum-drum.” But then I realized...ants are my nemesis. Ants are:

Plankton” to my “Mr. Krabs”

The Joker” to my “Batman.”

Comic book characters repeatedly meet the same rivals. There were 3 Alien movies weren’t there? The battles never cease. The enemy never truly dies...

...until this time.

Mild-mannered Heidi enters her front-room office one Sunday morning, after severe storms blasted through the small town of Suamico. The storms brought with them a new climate and the heat baked the sidewalks, causing steam to rise and swirl. As she sits on her soft seated, black chair, she notices something is amiss. Ants, her evil foes, are crawling in mass numbers all over her desk. They had “summited” via her computer cords, which are now ‘alive,’ like clover-leaf exits on an Ant Highway at rush hour, with hundreds of determined nasty, menacing insects.


The Ants are in a frenzied state, appearing and scattering hear and there. The entire Ant Army, agitated by the forces of nature, was entering Heidi’s office from underneath the baseboards. Thousands have made it as far as the door, just a few feet from the entrance to her bedroom.

Heidi, stimulated by the crisis at hand, zips into the bathroom. A LIGHTNING flash of light exits from under the door and out jumps...TYPIST- The Masked Hero of 3077! She unleashes her superpowers: Fantastic Spray and Terro Liquid.

The ants on the floor are rained on by 3-foot showers of Fantastic Spray. KAPOW!! “OOOOFF!!!” cried the ants as they stiffen. The tiny crawlers begin using their super powers ...Sicken and Gross. Typist is caught in an unexpected cloud of disgust and lets out an, “OH, YUK!!” and staggers back. Shaken, she fights herself out of Sicken’s grasp and gives Gross a BAM! with the heel of her foot.

Typist gets her Super Vacuum and sucks up the damp, dead ants. Then, backing the ants into a was time to finish them! Typist globs Terro on an old Sears gift card and leaves the offering for them to feast on. Terro will put them to sleep...PERMANENTLY!! KAPLOP!! Swirling around on her desk chair, Typist sprays a protective circle around her...and begins to type. And wait.

Hours later...

Ants heaped like coffee grounds lay dead in the corner, in a long line under the baseboard and on the Sears card itself. Typist, victorious. Nemesis, defeated...

...until next time. Create your own superhero!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It’s My Bedside Table’s 44th Birthday

Dedicated to Bev

When my parents were in their 30s and 40s, I started to think they were old. They would get up at 6:00 am in the morning, even on weekends. Dad listened to talk radio. Mom sanded the bottoms of her feet with sandpaper. Youth had me in its grip then--sleeping until noon, blaring my radio and never being tempted to do newspaper entertainment puzzles.

I recently turned 44. It’s not a celebrated age, like 16, 18, 21 or even 40. They don’t write songs like Rick James’ “17” or the Rogers and Hammerstein hit “16 going on 17” for 44 year olds. In fact, the only song about ‘44’ is a blues song written about 44…caliber gun.

I rolled my 44-year-old body over in bed this morning--early because my ‘body clock’ wakes me at sunrise every day--and for the first time, noticed what was on top of my bedside table. From the looks of it--my bedside table recently turned 44 too. There were 5 things on it: dry-eye drops, my ankle brace, a pot of lotion for very dry hands, an economy bottle of Motrin, and my bifocals. Am I one step away from a table decorated with ointments, a 7-day pill container and teeth in a cup? This present-day end table is a near-replica of the one I remember next to my Mom’s side of her bed.

I know the rest of the story: Fridges and cupboards filled with bran cereal, skim milk and prune juice. My medicine cabinets will be stocked with Metamucil, Geritol and Centrum “Silver.” My bathroom equipped with a magazine stand, a stand-up assist bar, and non-skid flowers adhered to the bottom of the tub so I don’t slip and fall.

I could fight it. I could put the age related items in another spot and decorate my table with fresh cut flowers, scented hand-lotion, photographs of my family and clever books. I’d probably feel younger. But when I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night (another fun age-appropriate habit I’ve developed), and search for those things, without my glasses on, I could end up with muscle cream on my toothbrush. It’s just too risky.

I could buy a new end table, assemble it and place it next to my bed, hoping the fresh smell of pressed wood and galvanized screws will turn the clock back. But I have a feeling those ‘new-fangled’ end tables aren’t as sturdy as my middle-aged one. Those ‘whipper-snapper,’ put-together tables aren’t level enough to hold a lamp without shifting side to side. Tables these days...why, when I was a kid...

A crossword puzzle book on a store end-aisle actually winked at me I bought it...and put it on my table.

The transformation into my mother is now complete.