Childbirth

Genevieve

Last night I watched one of those movies that included the typical childbirth scene that is intended to bring the expansion of the human race to a screeching halt. The mother- to- be writhed and screamed, changed colors on occasion, and fainted at least twice before welcoming her little one into the world. For the benefit of anyone thinking of becoming a first time time mother, I thought I would put my two cents on the subject out there.

1) There is no such thing as a typical birth experience – even if you have ten such experiences in your life, every one will be different and the offspring you bring forth will be totally different. It keeps life interesting.

2) If you waste your energy writhing, screaming, changing colors and fainting, you will never get the job done.

3) When your time comes, you will be so jacked up on excitement and adrenalin, you will not even notice most of the pain. Even if you do experience A LOT of pain, once that little one is placed in your arms NOTHING else matters.

I have had several birthing experiences to base my opinions on so thought I would share:

1) My mother often told of the painful deliveries she experienced. To be fair, my mother gave birth to six children. My sister Lorraine thought it would be fun to try to slide out sideways. From all accounts it was not. She gave us and all of our arrivals a bad rap.

2) When I was eighteen and totally naive on the subject of childbirth (and most other life altering events), I spent several months working as a nurse’s aide on the night shift at a small hospital. One night the charge nurse thought it would be amusing to assign me to the labour room to watch over a first time mother. Every few minutes she would scream. I would jump a foot and shriek. The resident paramedic came in, asked what idiot had sent me in there and booted me out. He stayed with the young mother until the doctor came to see her through a safe delivery. From what I heard it all went well.

3) I had three children by natural (?) childbirth. When I was pregnant with my son Mark I developed severe toxemia. By the the time he was born, I was so wasted on Valium and other medication to keep my blood pressure to a level where I would not stroke out that I did not even know I was pregnant much less giving birth. Mark slept for the first month of his life which helped me to get ample time to rest and recover.

4) My second birthing experience was the arrival of Danny. My husband and I were playing cards. Every so often my insides would turn to jelly, I would pass gas and experience an hysterical fit of giggles. At some point, I noticed this was happening regularly at closer and closer intervals. We headed to the hospital, where the nurses in emergency assumed I was having a psychotic meltdown, however they sent me up to maternity to be checked out. This was at 11:35 PM. The elevator was out of service and my husband was on crutches. I hauled myself and my suitcase up two flights of stairs. Danny leapt into the world at 12:05 AM. To this day, he still leaps into every day as if it is his first opportunity to see the world.

5) My third and final personal birthing experience was Jennifer. I awoke at 5:30AM to the unmistakable signs of impending birth. My husband was working away from home so I was alone with a three and a half year old and a one and a half year old. Thinking of Danny’s quick arrival, I called my in-laws to get me to the hospital. My husband arrived a few hours later. And we waited. At 5:30 PM we watched I Dream of Genie. Sometime in the next hour we moved to the delivery room where Jennifer finally made her entrance into the world. I remember two things. One she was absolutely beautiful. Two she was shrieking like a banshee. She still is and she still does. (39 years later)

6) Finally, my husband Dan and I were in the delivery room when my daughter Jennifer gave birth to her daughter Genie (Genevieve). It was WOW! It was bad. Jennifer did not scream or writhe but she definitely changed colors a few times and passed out several times. Genie was born five weeks early, tiny, and perfect. Jennifer recovered and went on to repeat the experience with Rory, Madison, and PrimRose. It never got easy for her – but it did get better.

If you are planning, or in the process of starting your family, go for it! I doubt if the birth will play out like the typical movie scene. I hope that it will be amazing, memorable and worth any pain involved.๐Ÿ’–

Keeper of the Stars

“It was no accident, me meeting you…”. Tracy Bird

It was 1994. With three teenagers to raise and provide for and a recent escape from unholy matrimony (as I referred to my first marriage), the last thing I wanted or needed in my life was a man. My life was good, happy and fulfilling.

For a couple of years things went along great. My kids and their friends filled our home with love and laughter. I filled it with groceries and other basic necessities. As the months went by, we were able to take my mother on an unforgettable family holiday. We moved from our little basement apartment to a much nicer and roomier duplex in a better part of the city. I traded in my battered and worn sedan for a sweet turbo charged convertible. Life was good.

The only downside to my life was that I was grieving the loss of my father who had recently passed away (although I always felt that he was very much with us through those years) and my health. I had lost an unhealthy amount of weight in previous years. I was working for a millwork company and was frequently in the warehouse, which was in the same building as our offices and showroom. I was, and am, asthmatic and seriously allergic to trees and everything tree related – wood, sawdust, wood smoke, feathers (birds have feathers and they live in trees). It still seems rediculous that I would put myself in such a situation but I loved the place and everyone in it.

Although everyone else at work was male, I didn’t really think anything of it and I didn’t really think anyone considered me as anything but one of the guys (who happened to always wear skirts, heels and makeup). A couple of years in, my bosses hired an autocad guy to work in the office. Since said bosses were busy on Dave’s first day, I took him out for lunch to welcome him to the team. He took the opportunity to hit on me. I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not date, would not date and dropped it. He did not, but he was not there long and he just never got anywhere with me. He did however, tell his friend Dan about the company. Dan had years of experience working for industrial steel companies. With a downturn in the economy, the company he had been working for went out of business and he had found himself unemployed.

Soon after, Dan walked into the office and asked to speak to Ken, one of my bosses. I took one look at him and ran to the other side of the warehouse to find Ken and to tell him that there was “a BIG native man there to see him”. (In my defence, I knew very few natives, had never seen a Hungarian before – and I was very sleep deprived at the time).

After a short interview, Ken hired Dan. Dan went home and was to start work in a couple of days. The day before he was scheduled to start, his mother passed away suddenly. He came to the office to explain the situation and his pain was obvious. He was very close to his mother. She was, to him and to all who knew her, a very special woman.

A few days later, Dan returned to start work. He was introduced to everyone and announced to the rest of the guys that he was there to work and marry the receptionist – me. Nobody told me of his plans or that he was Hungarian (which was totally irrelevant but it was hilarious that I was oblivious to the fact until a year later, after we had been living together for a month).  I did however learn that he worked hard, took pride in his work, and that he stood up for himself and supported his fellow workers. 

On July 31st, 1999 we were married. Our family and friends were there to support us. We had a beautiful wedding. We both agreed that as heaven’s gates opened for his mother, my father had been there to welcome her. Together they had conspired to bring us to each other.

By that point our economy had improved, Dan had gone to work at the pipe plant of our local steel factory and I had moved on to a healthier environment. We moved in to Dan’s house (an ongoing project) and we built a good life together. We have definitely had great times together, good times together and faced difficult and heart wrenching challenges together. We have come to love, respect and and admire each other. We have definitely learned to annoy each other and at times to take each other for granted.

This week, I realized how very much I love Dan, appreciate him and how perfectly suited we are for this life that we share. This week, Dan had a few days off between shifts. On Tuesday, I called him from work to tell him I was was very sick and struggling to breathe. He rushed over to pick me up and took me to the hospital emergency ward. He stayed by my side for six hours, on his last day off this week, to support me. When we got back home, he went to get my medication and pick up supper. The next evening, when he returned home from work, he told me some silly anecdote from work that made me laugh until my sides hurt. Last night we started talking about people winning large lotteries. I said my biggest concern, if we ever won, was that we would want such different things that it would be hard to find workable compromises. Dan agreed. Then we started talking about what each of us would want and our thoughts on the matter were almost identical. We had even both always thought of how important it was for us to show our appreciation to two special doctors. A few years ago Dan went to the emergency department with a blinding headache. A young doctor looked up from from his paperwork, yelled “get that man on a stretcher – he is septic” and proceeded to save Dan’s life. He was fantastic. My special doctor, went above and beyond to take care of me and keep Dan fully informed of what he was doing, after my lung collapsed and no one could repair it. He saved my lung (without surgery) for which I will always be grateful. Both of these men were such gifted physicians and such dedicated humanitarians – and they were both high on both of our lists of ‘lottery win’ priorities. (In the guise of their dream medical equipment I would expect).

I know – I had no want or need of a man in my life. Until he met me, Dan was quite content with his sports and his cat Hank. I am however, eternally grateful that my father and his mother felt otherwise.

‘I tip my hat to the keeper of our stars. They sure knew what they were when they joined these two hearts.’

Health Care

More Functional Than Pretty But These Curtains and Tracks are Supplied by
KM Burgess Agencies Ltd.  ๐Ÿ™‚

This week I made a trip down the rabbit hole into the world of emergency health care. Fortunately, my distress was caused by nothing more than a case of pneumonia and bronchial spasms. After ekg’s, x-rays, blood tests and a treatment of brochial-dilaters, I was on my way with a couple of effective prescriptions and orders to have follow up x-rays next week.

My husband and I are very fortunate that we seldom have any reason to visit our local hospitals. On those rare occasions when we do make one of these visits, it is such an eye opening experience that I decided to share.

1) Say what you will about public healthcare, we have always been really well treated. Our facilities are aged and definitely in need of upgrading, but for the most part, our doctors, nurses, technicians, lab techs and everyone else on staff are amazing. They make the best of anything they have to work with and do a great job keeping up with the tremendous workload that they have to deal with. I cannot imagine how we are blessed to get and keep such amazing people in our little backwoods city hospitals.

2) Regardless of the urgency of our visit (and we have made a few seriously urgent visits), I am overwhelmed by the other patients and their loved ones – especially the ones whose issues are obviously chronic, long term or terminal. We visit this world once every 5 to 10 years. For so many, this is a regular part of their life. These patients, who are in such dire straights are, for the most part,  so patient, kind and grateful. It is incredible to experience such grace under pressure.

3) I have spent a fair amount of time at hospitals with family members – parents, children, and grandchildren. (I am supposed to be there as support, not the main attraction๐Ÿ™„). It blows me away to see this part of life from their side – the side of pain and suffering. I do not think I will ever make a good patient. I am a trainwreck in those places. My previously last visit, I arrived by ambulance with a totally collapsed lung. Within fifteen minutes, I was like “Give me a shot of morphine and I am good to go. Just get me out of here”. Long story short, I went home a month later with nightmares for a year. I am pretty sure there were some staff members (if not all) who were glad to see me gone – especially the head of radiology. In my defence, I had really big bandages taped to my back to protect my drainage tubes and when he whipped them off it hurt – like hell. There are probably still claw mark straight up the wall. ๐Ÿฅบ

4) How do hospitals, who are caring for such desperately ill and uncomfortable patients, find a way to destroy every bit of food that comes their way? I was at the hospital for about six hours on Tuesday and had not eaten anything before I got there. Three or four hours in, my husband asked if he could get me a sandwich from the onsite coffee shop as I was feeling pretty weak and shaky. The nurse said she would get me something. Which she did! With all she had to do, getting me something to eat became a priority. I should be grateful. I was grateful. But how the hell do you screw up jello? I realize I was only there for a few hours and was not going to starve with or without jello – but this was not an isolated incident. When I was in the hospital for a month, the only edible food came from the cafeteria or coffee shop. The kitchen sent me a quivering pile of yellow (pudding?) one time that was so hideous I still get nauseous every time I think of it. I may be wrong but it seems to me, sick people would heal faster with say homemade chicken soup. Alas, our hospital dieticians are trained to believe that the road to health is paved with ‘Fish Surprise’ , dry tasteless bread and yellow slime. ๐Ÿคข.  It just seems so mean to feed that to sick, helpless patients.

5) Finally, hospitals are so strangely unreal with their total absense of real world time and order as we know it. Five minutes becomes five hours and hours become minutes. Orderlies whip in and out to take you places and bring you back, random lab techs pop in unexpectedly to take tubes full of your blood, nurses show up to take your vital signs or stick IV’s in you. There are ongoing announcements, bells and whistles, and random clattering and clanging.  It is so bizarre and far removed from any regular day in the life of.  It is definitely an out of life experience, if not an actual out of body experience.

I am so glad that we have the healthcare that we do in Canada.  I am grateful that we have such dedicated people working in our hospitals – doctors, nurses, administrators, facility management, technicians, volunteers – everyone who devotes their days and nights to operating these facilities and providing their capable and compassionate care.  Finally, I am so grateful that my husband and I seldom have to take advantage of the health care that is provided in these facilities.  We are so blessed to generally have a  reasonable level of health and well-being.   I cannot imagine anyone resenting paying taxes to support this care that  is available to all Canadians who require it.    Especially, those of us who seldom require it.

Freedom

This year, I have chosen to focus on PEACE. Each morning I write out a number of affirmations relative to peace. Every night, I try to fall asleep with peaceful thoughts and feelings. Throughout the day I try to make peace my priority.

Typically, the harder I try to focus on improving one aspect of my life, the more obstacles life throws in my path. This year has proven no different. There is virtually no area of my life that has been easy and peaceful. Personally, there have been health issues, financial issues, family issues, work issues and of course technical issues. In a broader sense, our city, province, country, and world seem to be going to hell in a handbasket.

It would be easy to give up, but I have endeavoured to keep focussing on peace. On the fiftieth day of 2020, I have finally made a significant breakthrough. By making peace my priority, I have released the overwhelming urge to control everything in and around my life. This alone has brought me the peace I desire.

As humans, we all have the power to choose. The first thing we need to choose is where our priorities lie. Life is dicey and insecure, more so now than ever, in my mind. We are reminded daily that there is little to no security for ourselves and our loved ones. It is easy to become so insecure that we move into survival mode. We try to control everyone and everything around us. We justify becoming aggressive and trying to deprive others of their right to choose. This never ends well for anyone.

The only path to personal peace and growth is to focus on our own priorities, while respecting and allowing others to focus on their’s. There are any number of ways to accomplish this.  Here are a few of my suggestions:

1) If there are issues at work, focus on your task at hand. Ignore the office politics, the gloom and doom of company rumors, employers and co-workers who are being unreasonable or ignorant. You are there to do your job, you are being paid to do your job. Just do it. Focus on doing it well. Regardless of anything else that happens, you will gain confidence from a job well done and it will help you to develop an exit strategy, if leaving your position becomes inevitable.

2) Having health issues can easily become overwhelming. However, they can be made tolerable for yourself and those around you. The first step is to accept and acknowledge your health issues. The second step is to deal with your health issues with professional help you can trust, informing yourself about your condition, and doing everything you can to minimize the effects of your health issues – be it with diet, exercise or lifestyle changes and focussing on any improvement you can make. I am amazed at the accomplishments and legacies of people who have been affected or are affected by overwhelming health issues.

3) Financial issues are another of life’s challenges that can easily become overwhelming. I have been there. I know how difficult it can be. I have sold pop bottles to buy milk for my babies and have worked multiple jobs to provide for my teenagers. I have lived so close to the edge that an unanticipated car repair was virtually catastrophic. I survived – somehow you do, as long as you have faith that you will and you keep working towards financial stability. Once again the first step is to acknowledge and accept your situation. The second is to get  professional help if you need it and make the changes you need to make. Keep working towards increasing your income and cutting your expenses and you will slowly start to get ahead. It isn’t easy, there are times when it seems your efforts are totally futile, but if you keep working at it, it will happen. I have reached a point in my life where major unexpected expenses are frustrating, but I have to keep it in perspective and be grateful that we have the means to cover them.

4) Relationships can be particularly challenging. There are times when one must admit that a relationship is unhealthy, unsafe and the right thing to do is to terminate it. If every relationship starts out great, is great, and ends up in termination and anger, the problem is probably you. The thing with relationships is that they take respect, consideration, compromise, and trust. You cannot always be right. You cannot always be in control, you cannot always be ‘the winner’. No one else can give you the perfect relationship. You have to do your part.

5) No matter how much you love anyone – even your own children, you must allow them to make their own choices and suffer the consequences of poor choices. Inevitably, you will be forced to, so they can learn and grow. You can offer them a hand up if they are legitimately making the good choices – to a point. They are still the ones who need to put in the hard work. To encourage them to make poor choices or to pave every road for them is enabling them, undermining them, keeping them dependent on you, and serves neither of you in the long run. You have to step back and trust that your children will learn, grow, and live the life that they are meant to.

6) Regardless of how passionate you are about any cause or point of view, others are equally passionate about theirs – and have every right to be. In Canada, there is currently and increasingly, a divide between those who are passionate about the environment and those who are passionate about the economy. The two sides become further apart as they fight for control and an overwhelming win. The harder they fight, the less likely it is that anyone will . Regardless of which side we support, we need to be open to compromise, respect and mutual concern for both the economy and the environment. We need to work together to ensure that those who drive the economy, respect the environment. We need to recognize the importance of a strong vibrant economy and recognize the efforts that industries make to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. It works both ways or it does not work at all.

Regardless of what the issues are, or whether they are personal, global, or anywhere in between, the solution is the same. We need to get our priorities in order, focus on what is important to us, release control of what is not, and approach the issues with peaceful hearts and minds. ๐Ÿ•Š๏ธ

Auto-Correct

It started out innocently enough.  I would write a simple text to my sister. “Hey! How are you feeling today?” And hit send.   Moments later she would receive a text that said “Harry, have you been falling today?”. To which she would reply “Are you furry drunk?”

Within months, these obnoxious auto-corrects had taken over my Google searches – no I did not mean how to skin a fox in Yugoslavia! (What would possess you to think I would want to skin a fox anywhere?) Then it infiltrated the body of my emails – “OMG! I am so sorry, I typed ‘shutters‘. I have no idea why auto-correct changed the ‘u’ to an ‘i’.”

Next, auto-correct took to questioning my choice of email recipients. I would choose ‘Bob Smith’ from my menu of contacts and I would get a message “Did you mean Joe Brown?”. “No, I meant BOB SMITH”. ๐Ÿคฏ

Now this has gone too far. I think “Cason” and I write “Dominic”. I think “Genie” and I say “Jennifer”. I even do it with inanimate objects. I point to the television and I say “table”. Frankly, I thought I was just getting senile. But no, I was speaking to my perfectly normal sister Elaine last night and the same thing has been happening to her. Artificial intelligence has taken over our brains and inserted an auto-correct function.

I would be fine with this, if auto-correct ever got it right. If this was actually a helpful tool. But no, that is not the case. Auto-correct shirts it up every time.

Winter 19/20

I Feel Like This

I am having a spectacularly unproductive winter this year. I started the season with shingles, rested and relaxed over Christmas break and went back to work with a flu/cold that has hung around for weeks. My biggest accomplishment over the past three months was to buy myself a box of eight jigsaw puzzles for Christmas and finish every one of them. ๐Ÿ˜Š

They were pretty small as jigsaw puzzles go, 300 to 1000 pieces, but I found them surprisingly challenging.

I hope that now that I have that project complete, I will start feeling a bit more ambitious. It is not that I do not have things to do. I am just stuck in hibernation mode. ๐Ÿ˜ด