Friday, November 8, 2013

You Better Work


This morning I had a breakdown at my desk. Five minutes before the final bell rang, I saw the email asking me to cover a fellow teacher’s class. As I was hooked up to a breast pump.

I panicked, terrified that a group of 9th graders were sitting in a room unsupervised while I sat, the equivalent of a milked bovine, in my classroom with the door locked and the window covered.

I’m thankful that I have a job that affords me a place to pump in privacy. I cannot imagine making this decision to continue to feed my child with my body in a place where people are crammed into small cubicles, the only place of solace a restroom stall which doesn’t have handy access to electrical outlets. Granted, despite my “PLEASE do not disturb” sign, there are still students who take it upon themselves to knock, even pound on the door in the hopes that somehow their vehemence will magically open the door, summon me before them to tell them if there was homework or that YES there is a quiz today.

Since I’ve returned to work, I’ve felt myself pulled in a million directions as I’ve put off students asking to make up quizzes in the mornings and after school, as I’ve re-scheduled or shortened extra help sessions, as I’ve avoided the NINE parent requests for conferences. Because I have to pump. First thing when I arrive. Throughout the duration of my twenty-five minute lunch. Immediately after school before I rush out of the building to get back home to relieve my mother-in-law of what I know is a long day with my three-month-old.

And I feel guilty. Guilty because I have 156 students asking for my attention for eight to nine hours a day. Guilty because I have their parents requesting meetings because their child, for the first time ever, has a B and might not make it till the end of the school year, and I can’t meet before school. I have to pump. And I can’t meet after school. I have to pump and then leave. Guilty because I’m late for a meeting or can’t make a meeting AGAIN. Guilty because I haven’t yet responded to those sixteen emails that required my attention yesterday.  And sometimes hungry as shit because I didn’t have time to eat my lunch because I was making lunch for my child and didn’t make it to the microwave before my fourth period came in.

Then there’s the more significant guilt. Guilt that my child is getting at least two bottles of formula a day because I’m gone for more feedings than I can pump milk. The deeper guilt that I’m not his primary caretaker during the week and the irrational thoughts that he is going to forget me, think that I’m not his mother.

And the problem is that I cannot stop feeling how incredibly WRONG this is. Every morning as I rush out the door, bottles and pump and ac adapter packed and ready for the day, there is an inherent wrongness in leaving him behind, in rushing off to essentially mother other people’s children as they walk on shaky legs toward adult hood. Especially while mine is still learning to hold his head up.

So as I rush around, apologizing incessantly, people get angry, see me as someone not doing her job well enough. I want to scream at them that they don’t understand, that I’m doing the best that I can, that I’m a sleep-deprived, caffeine driven fiend barely hanging on to each hour with the tips of my fingers, but they won’t listen, won’t care.

And it’s this guilt that I can’t settle. How can I look at my superiors, the parents of my students and say no? How can I get by without finding myself reprimanded, reminded that this is part of my JOB, and if I can’t make it work, then I don’t need to work? And more importantly, I feel terrible because, quite frankly, I can’t bring myself to CARE.

Yes, my child is more important. Yes, my decisions regarding how I’m going to care for my child are more important. No, I’m not going to drop what I’m doing for my child in favor of the other million tasks that must be taken care of during the day.

And so I pump and leave as soon as I can. I skip the meetings and avoid unnecessary conferences. There is guilt that shouldn’t be there from a society that doesn’t seem to understand or care that I’ve chosen to continue to breastfeed AND work.

 I’m sad about it. Angry. Frustrated. But I’ll keep doing it. Because this is what I've decided as a mother.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Light

Yesterday, I did the thing I've been telling myself I would do for the past four months.

What I didn't expect was how I would feel when I left. Pure. Expunged. Clean and holy as childrens' fingers clutching at their mother.

There was the fear that had hollowed me out, burrowed so deep I wonder sometimes if it will ever leave, if the demons who've taken resident will unhook their talons and quietly slink away. The great fear that perhaps I had messed up by taking the actions I recently have. The even greater fear that I was right to take those actions and what that meant about my life.

Yesterday, I finally saw a therapist.

I cannot say that I've found the road that will lead me absolutely to a place of healing and redemption, but coming out of the building into the cold fall morning, it was the first honest breath of air I have taken since July. Despite the hard, hard things that are ahead, there was a rightness to the words I'd shared that morning, an honesty that was like stretching after a long, long sleep.

And that honesty is the thing that has been chasing me my entire life. How incredibly difficult to finally admit, after twenty some odd years, that the thing that should be the one constant in your life is damaged, flawed beyond repair, a source of sadness and hurt that goes deeper than I've ever allowed myself to look. Because if there is poison there, how could it not have slowly seeped into me?

When the therapist said the word, I winced even though there is a part of me, a part I keep pushed deep, deep down, that knew she was right. "So I'd say she was abusive, too" she said, and I slowed, opened my mouth to backpedal, to quickly correct her assumption, but as she continued to speak, I found that there was nothing to correct, nothing more to say in defense, and so I was quiet, dazzled in the face of what was finally honest, what was finally truth despite my best attempts to hide it from myself.

In the coming weeks, there is hard work that must be done. But I'm not afraid, not confused, or bewildered, or sad, or hopeless any more. That power that she had is slowly diminishing. I can't say that I won't fall into that confusion or fear or sadness ever again, but for the first time in a long time, the blinders have been loosened, and I can see.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

American Horror Story Recap:"Boy Parts"


“Boy Parts”

Watch out, y’all. There’s gators in them waters!

We’re back with the second episode of American Horror Story, and this one is a doozy. Lots of focus on birth and death in this episode, so the title is rather apt.

In the Louisiana Swamplands, two crumbly-toothed yokels are hunting gators with handguns like a bunch of yellow-bellied cowards. Those rich ladies gotta have their fancy shoes, I guess.

When the men ride up to their camp, newest gator in tow, Fleetwood Mac is softly playing in the background and a mysterious blonde girl is walking about. And my little heart goes pitter patter because I can only hope that it’s who I think it is, and then she comes into focus and YES! It is Misty Day! Oh, I’m so glad AHS didn’t just kill off Lily Rabe in the first episode. She’s back, gentlemen, and I’d recommend you didn’t go threatening her the way that you do because good ole Misty has a thing about seeing animals suffering and well…you two probably didn’t graduate the eighth grade, so you are unaware of the definition of resurgence. Those alligators strung up in the trees don’t have their chompy jaws bound up, and Misty is angry that you’ve killed god’s innocent creatures.  Bitches should have been like



Cordelia wakes the girls for morning gathering, but Madison and Zoe are taking their sweet time. Zoe is still mooning over Kyle, but Madison, hardened teenager that she is, advises Zoe to get the hell over him already because he was more than likely just as awful as his fraternity brothers and has she forgotten her little problem? But Zoe is in full out Snow White mode and is convinced he was Prince Charming because she’s found an article on the internet that says he did volunteer work. I forget how easy it is to become some besotted, bleeding heart when you’re a teenager.

Meanwhile, Fiona has Madame tied up in her room and apparently she smells like shit warmed over. But Fiona doesn’t care because she wants what Madame has—the secret to immortality. Kathy Bates is stellar in this role. Her face when she hears a cell phone ringing for the first time is genuine. Girl, better WORK.

We flash to Detroit in 2012, and Sidibe KILLS this scene. I want Queenie in my corner whenever someone starts giving me shit. While working at a fast food joint, she teaches a greedy customer a lesson. Remember that Queenie can inflict pain on others by doing it to herself, and let’s just say that those fryers don’t fry just chicken.

So this is how Queenie ended up in the school. She didn’t know there were black witches and grew up on “Sabrina the Teenage Cracker.” Nice line, AHS.

It seems that Queenie descends from none other than Tituba, and if you don’t know who that is go crack a history book. And when Madison starts in on her, we get this little gem.




The sass! I love it!

A group of detectives interrupt the morning session with questions about the party and the bus. Madison is a steel trap, but poor Zoe is a babbling fool and lets it all slip out. Thank Goddess Mama Goode is here to clean up the mess. After all, what’s a little mind control among friends? All it takes is a little spit in a glass of water and all is right in witch land.

Upstairs, the girls are flipping their shit, but in flies Fiona to remind them that when Johnny Law comes a calling, they keep their fool mouths shut. Oh yeah. And that when it comes to things to fear in this great big world, she is numero uno.

It seems though, that the girls aren't quite ready to settle into their rooms with their school books. Madison has a surprise for Zoe. Using some fucked up logic, Madison decides to repay Zoe for her attempted protection by taking her to the hospital's morgue and playing Dr. Frankenstein. A little resurrection spell, a little stitching together of shredded boy parts, and WHAM! Insta-boyfriend. And thank you, AHS, for showing the body parts in all of their dismembered glory. Evan Peters head in a bag. Glorious.

Oh, and I love the way Madison says, "Find me a saw" so flippantly. As if she'd just asked for a bottle of nail polish. Roberts has me coming around on her character. Obviously, this is a girl who still has an idea of compassion. It's just immensely screwed up.

I love the flip on Sarah Paulson's character. Last season, her womb was the receptacle of serial killer seed that she tried to rid herself of in a scene that I'm certain AHS fans won't forget any time soon. This season, she sits in a doctor's office and learns that it's unlikely she'll be able to have the child she desperately wants. Her husband encourages her to use her magic to help with the baby making, but Cordelia is hesitant. The magic of life and death is very powerful, very dark. And ahaaaa, we are seeing a theme begin to develop here.

Back at the school, Fiona attempts to coerce Madame Delphine with a platter of fried chicken. Something tells me witch chicken is better than the Colonel's.

The Madame relates what happened to her once she woke up from the potion given to her by Marie Laveau. Outside of her home, Laveau waited with an army of her own making. It seems that while Delphine slept, Laveau took some vengeance of her own and hanged the Madame's family. But Madame LaLaurie's punishment is much, much worse. "Immortality was in that bottle," and she will never know the release of death, always alone in her box as the world goes on around her.

And then we get to see JESSICA LANGE EATING FRIED CHICKEN.


How the woman can ooze sexuality while eating a chicken leg is beyond me. Whenever I eat fried chicken, I'm all



Okay, that's enough of that. We're back in the hospital as the girls play doctor with what looks like some kitchen twine and a crocheting needle. Honestly, I'm surprised how good the the skin on these corpses look.

The girls perform their ritual, and we know this because there's enough strobe light to make you stroke out and a shaky camera. And that fish eye lens again. JEEEESSSUUUS.

I'm fully anticipating that it won't work at first, because isn't this what always happens when apprentice witches try a spell beyond their means? Sure enough, poor Ken doll Kyle is inert on the table, and Madison takes off without a second glance.

But poor Zoe. All she wants is a goodbye kiss. Because when you're sad...NECROPHILIA. Always necrophilia.

And of course this is the moment for a security guard to enter because like some macabre Sleeping Beauty, Kyle wakes up and proceeds to beat the shit out of him. I mean, we all saw this coming, right? That it would take a kiss from her to awaken her love?

And here's Misty Day again. I get the feeling she and Zoe are going to meet very, very soon.

Fiona has a hair appointment because when you look this good, you need to stay on top of your hair game. And lo and behold, the salon she's managed to book an appointment in belongs to none other than Ms. Laveau. Because Fiona has some questions. And it ain't about her hair.

Poor Nan. The voices in the house that have accompanied Madame LaLaurie are too loud apparently, so in the efforts of quieting them, Nan releases her. Something tells me Fiona will be none too pleased.

Back in the hair salon, we have a meeting of two queens. I thought my television was going to erupt in a fiery blaze of diabolical glamor. Fiona wants what she's always wanted, but Laveau isn't willing to give in. Seems there has been something of a disagreement between voodoo and witchcraft when it comes to the origins of magic. Laveau reminds Fiona that it's her magic that was taught to Fiona's ancestors, that Tituba taught those girls the power of necromancy, and look how they repaid her.

I cannot WAIT for the match up between these two. It is going to be EPIC.

Not one for vanilla sex scenes are we, AHS? I guess Cordelia decided to use her magic after all because we are treated to some freaky snake blood fire sex. Because apparently that's how you make a baby when you don't want to use IVF.

As I was watching this, I was all



Because. WOW.

So Kyle is awake and like any half pieced together, previously dead guy he's supremely confused and convulsing because...well...he's a massive Raggedy Andy. A DEAD RAGGEDY ANDY. I think I know what I'll be for Halloween now.

But Zoe is driving him away and trying to explain what happened to him. And then Misty Day pops up in the backseat, and poor Zoe. All she's trying to do is keep the car on the damn road, and instead it's about to be all



Misty has Zoe bring Kyle to her hut in the woods. She can heal him by smearing swamp shit on him. No, literally. Swamp shit as in shit from the swamp. I guess it has healing properties.

Then Misty gets all fangirl about Stevie Nicks and there looks to be something like a crush developing on Zoe. Or maybe it's just her fascination that she has finally found someone who is like her.

But Zoe has to get back to the school, and Misty agrees to keep Kyle with her and heal him. And kudos to Evan Peters for acting his dick off. The way he clings to Zoe's hand before she leaves is nothing short of heartbreaking. I mean look at this.



And there's that bull man creature again. Laveau is pissed.

Finally, we have a rather touching scene between Madame Delphine and Fiona. There is certainly no love lost between the two of them, but they need something from each other. Lange--life. LaLaurie--death.

I give this episode four broomsticks out of five. An improvement after last week's rather shaky start.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

American Horror Story: Coven Episode 1 Recap "Bitchcraft"


Bitchcraft

I’ve been dying, dying for this show to return. So when the teaser trailers began to surface, I spent far too much time on Youtube playing them over and over. The subject matter is rich, the setting is rich, and the added actresses are stellar, so I’ve gone into this season with high hopes. Perhaps they were too high.

We open with Kathy Bates, here known as Madame Delphine, smearing blood on her face with a shaving brush after a rather unsuccessful dinner party. A shaving brush? Really? Doesn’t home girl know that the hands are the best way to apply a beauty treatment? Like a Cajun Countess Bathory, she hopes the blood will bring back vitality to her aging flesh. This seems to be a motif that will repeat throughout the season and one that AHS has visited before. Seems like someone over there has a thing about aging. Anyway, the blood isn’t as fresh as she’d like, and her problems are about to be exacerbated.

Because uh oh. Baby girl is attempting to sex up the help. And you better believe that Mama Delphine isn’t gonna let that shit fly and has the poor put upon man taken away despite her daughter’s protesting “You can’t tell me what to do, Mother.” When Mama has her own special torture chamber where she likes to keep her so-called “pets,” you learn to shut up and obey. And what a treasure trove it is to behold. From men with their eyes and lips stitched shut to my personal favorite of a man whose skin had been flayed back from his face. Let's just say that open meat attracts certain... Creepy crawlies.

Mama Delphine calls in a little boy carrying a hollowed out bull’s head and instructs him to place it on the offensive’s head. She's wanted a Minotaur since she was a wee girl on her Daddy's lap, and now, "I have one of my very own." A nod at the bull creature from the teaser trailers?

But let me get this straight… she’s opened men up and stitched them shut in all kinds of horrific ways and this man—the man who supposedly defiled her daughter—this man’s punishment is to wear a bull head? Smelly and sticky, sure, but a terrible punishment it is not.

Zoe is just another girl with parents who aren't home and a boy who is surprisingly considerate of her virgin status. Are guys usually this considerate? Too bad he doesn't last long. And I don’t mean his virility. You see, Zoe's a witch with a very special power. Apparently, she's been gifted a vagina of doom that destroys any man unlucky enough to poke his pecker in there. More on this later, but I guffawed when I learned that this was her unique gift. You're fucking with me right? That is just so... sad. Witches are symbols of female power. Feared beings who were slaughtered often for simply being female. I think of the Margaret Atwood poem “Half-Hanged Mary” and how she was hanged for her breasts and the “sweet pear” hidden in her body. A succubi who tempted god-fearing men and was verily punished for not the man’s lust but her bewitching ways.

And now we have a girl who continues to be punished for using her sex. Even later in the episode when she uses it as a source of vengeance, I winced. Are we saying that sex is only an episode of blood and pain? That her desire should be met with sorrow or doled out in anger? Maybe I'm looking too deeply into it. So instead I'll say that if I'd just learned I was a witch, I'd be pretty pissed to discover that my magic was that my vagina was the equivalent of the little shop of horrors. I mean seriously? Not levitation, or telepathy, or healing, or something cool? Ain’t that some shit.

Zoe's mom explains that her grandmother was a witch, and it skips a generation, and blah blah blah here are some scary dudes jacked up on roids and hair bleach to carry you off to a special school in NOLA. Kiss, kiss, sweetums!

Then the story gets all expositiony which I really don't care for, and we get a short history lesson on the Salem Witch Trials. I'm insulted AHS. You've never before assumed your audience was a mass of drooling morons, but you've proved otherwise with the quick reminder of something everyone with half a brain should remember from high school.

Zoe arrives at the school, and it appears completely empty when she enters. But of course we are given the scene where the old girls screw with the new girl and the wise teacher tells them all to scat before explaining everything. There are three other students--Queenie (Sidibe), Madison the movie star (Roberts), and Nan (Brewer). We got some common story telling stereotypes here, so again, I was a little disappointed.

Then there is more fucking exposition. I mean, I get it AHS. You've got to set up some back story, but good grief this is a lot, and it's a snooze fest.

Ms. Cordelia Foxx, the headmistress, informs Zoe that they are a dying breed and that she teaches young witches to control their gifts. It seems that Misty Day (are you kidding me with that name?) was burned for her power of resurgence. So they must be careful with their powers lest they eat fire like good old Misty. Too bad that’s the end of Lily Rabe. I really enjoyed her last season.

On another note, she reveals that in each generation there is a Supreme, a witch who has a mix of all witch powers. And I already know. Oh yes, we all know who this will be.

And then, she's here. With the appearance of one black stilletoed foot, her royal goddess Jessica Lange is onscreen and all is right with the world. Oh, Ms. Lange! Save us from unnecessary back-story! Wave away my doubts about this episode with the plumes of your cigarette smoke and dismiss my criticisms with a perfectly arched brow and lipsticked sneer!

Inside a rather scientific facility, Dr. David presents Jessica, Fiona Goode, with information regarding a youth serum that is being developed. It's been tested successfully on a monkey, and Fiona wants that goddam medicine. Dr. David says nuh-uh. Oh, sweetie no. Does he know who he's dealing with? Cut to Fiona in a lush apartment shoving nose candy up her schnoz while "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" plays. He should know better than to fuck with HER ROYAL GODDESS because girlfriend don't play. 

And when Dr. David refuses her requests for an upped dosage, shit gets real awfully fast. NO ONE tells her goddess no.

Because Fiona isn't just a witch. She is THE witch and sucks the life right out of good old Dr. David. Should have given her what you gave the monkey. Looking good, babe.

Back at school, the girls are having dinner. Movie star Madison is giving the butler (fabulous Denis O’Hare) a hard time, and I have to tell you that if she's going to be a snotty bitch all season, it's going to get real boring real fast. Feels as if the writers have done a mash up of LohanBynesHiltonSpears, and it's tired and old. I seriously hope they make her more dimensional than the one sided washed up, oversexed young Hollywood actress. Sidibe and Brewer on the other hand are wonderful and so fun to watch. Maybe it's just that while Emma Roberts is a great actress, there's only one way to play a stuck up bitch, and well it's been done. To death.

Madison reveals that she was sent to the school after killing a director for well...directing her, and she and Queenie get into one epic fight because Queenie is a human voodoo doll, and in stabbing her own hand with a fork, actually inflicts the wound on Madison.  Holy. Shit. What an amazing power and amazing reaction. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to stab some bitch with a fork.

Queenie pulls a knife, and Ana breaks up the fight. Madison recovers rather quickly when a tweet comes in about a "frat" party. Oh, Jesus H. Christ. More on this later.

Apparently Mrs. Cordelia Foxx is the embittered daughter of one Fiona Goode. And Ms. Supreme is here to stay despite her daughter’s protestations. Fiona decides to bring her daughter’s students out of the shadows and into the light. In the age of Twitter, a girl witch can't be too careful. How easy to Vine that shit and then she's on a stake writhing before that fifteen-second clip can end. Looks like Mama Goode is here to stay.

Oh Gawd. We're on a frat bus. And I love Peters, playing Kyle Spencer, but I don't like him in this role. He’s playing fraternity the best way he knows how given the lines he’s been written. And who dressed all of them in those god-awful jackets? Attention AHS, 1957 called and they want their fraternity jackets back. The only step left is for him to give Zoe his pin and be done with it.

But how sweet is it to see the two of them back together? I will forever cheer for this couple.

It's obvious the writers have a single view of fraternity life, and they learned it from the movies. This party is all pulsing light and house music and ice sculptures built into a shot luge. Yeah. Because fraternity parties have those. At the fraternity parties I’ve been to you’re lucky to get a Natty Lite and a shot of Everclear. And let’s not forget the luxury known as hunch punch. But NO. This party has a real DJ on the ones and twos and a fucking ice luge. Give me a break.

Oh and at THIS party there are roofie coladas and gang rape. And, y’all. I’m so tired of this mentality. With the discussions regarding rape culture in America, it’s so easy to delegate rape to the athletic meatheads and drunken frat guys. There is rape in other arenas, by other sorts of men. But Hollywood cannot seem to get over the idea of the douchebag football player or frat guy slipping a little something into the unsuspecting girl’s drink. Set this elsewhere AHS, and I’d feel that you were making a more authentic statement.

And before people get all butt hurt and start screaming that fraternities promote group think and that they encourage each other to do stupid things, yes, you are right. Yes, that does often happen. Yes, fraternity guys have raped, athletes have raped, but so have other men from a plethora of different classifications. I just hate that THIS is the fall back, that THIS is where we go when we want an audience to shake their heads in disgust and say, “Of course it’s the frat guy. What a DOUCHE.”

Back to the recap. Zoe and Kyle have a meet cute where they stare at each other through the ice sculpture. Very Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet meeting through the fish tank.

Of course it’s instant fireworks, and they are actually able to TALK despite the pounding music in the background, and he proves he is more than just a frat boy because, you know, he has a SCHOLARSHIP. I’m sorry, but what does that even mean? That his ability to acquire a scholarship immediately negates any chances that he is a supreme ass hat? Because I doubt it. But they chat, and of course Zoe is convinced that he hung the stars. You can tell by her eyes. The way they go all dreamy and fogged over. As if she hadn’t just heard him say that he is different because he has a scholarship. Girl…Don’t forget you have a murderous vagina, and he is prime vulva bait.

And then the drugging happens, and things get supremely icky for poor Madison, and in this moment I feel for her character. Here’s a girl whose insecurities have her begging for the world to fall down at her feet, and she’s become a bag of skin to be used by the very worst sorts of people.

On a side note, can we stop using a fish eye lens to depict characters that have been drugged?

Zoe realizes she hasn’t seen Madison in a while, and she and Kyle begin a hunt for her that ends with Kyle stumbling upon his fellow brothers mid act and chasing them from the room as Madison remains on the bed in a drugged stupor.

Zoe isn’t far behind and when she realizes what’s happened she chases them out seeking her own revenge for what they’ve done. But it’s Madison who does the deed, flipping the bus with a flick of the wrist. All while Zoe, and we, wonder what’s happened to Kyle. Surely, surely AHS wouldn’t go the route of every HBO show and kill off a main character in the first episode? Right? RIIIIGHHHTTT???!!!

The next morning, the girls are back at the school while the news relays the fraternity bus accident and ensuing demise of all but two of the occupants. There’s hope for Kyle after all!

Fiona enters and schools a mouthy Madison on whose the baddest bitch in the place and tells them to get ready for a field trip. "Wear something black," she tells them. I swear every moment she is on the screen is a diamond among less glittery jewels. I adore her.

In what looks like a darker version of Madeline, the girls follow Lange single file through NOLA and we get more exposition. Please let this be the last episode this happens in, AHS.

Following Nan, the girls find themselves in Madame Delphine's home as a tour explains the horrors she committed there. We're treated to a little flashback and disemboweling along with the story of how Delphine ultimately met her demise.  

And give me a minute here because Angela Bassett. Dayummm gurl. She came onto the screen like a hot whirlwind, and she looked GOOD. Ike is still kicking himself for that one.

Seems that Madame Delphine messed with the wrong witch because Bassett is Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen, and soon enough Madame is sprawled across the floor. Looks as if bull boy is Laveau's special somebody, and you don't play with Laveau's toys.

Back in the present, Fiona takes a seat beside a pensive Nan. "What do you hear?" she asks.

"The lady of the house." Oh shit! Looks like Madame ain't so dead after all.

Zoe heads to the hospital to see if Kyle is one of the survivors. And as she rounds the curtained bed, my heart was dancing the Macarena because YES he's alive, and they'll figure out a way to be together despite her black widow of a cooter. YESSSSSS!!

And then she looks at the bed. It. Isn't. Him. Instead, lead raper boy has made it out alive, and Zoe is one pissed off witch, and she's got an ironic little trick up her sleeve.

Although I have to say, the image of her...ahem...prepping him was ewwwww. Oh well. Just desserts.

Our final scene is of Fiona back in the garden as she instructs two men to forget what they've done. And what they've done is unearth a coffin with the body of one Madame Delphine. Who is very much alive. Something tells me she and Lange have MUCH to discuss.

Overall, I give this episode three and a half broomsticks out of five. Not bad but not blown away. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gray Area- A Birth Story


Jackson,

As I sit typing this, you are lying next to me having only just drifted off to sleep after an afternoon of feeding, changing, and fussing. Yes, there was some alert tummy time mixed in, but for the most part, you have been not much more than a tiny, howling creature for the better part of the afternoon. Despite my sleep deprived haze, I can’t help but look at you in absolute awe and love as I pick you up to feed or change you yet again. The dirty diapers, Jackson. I never would have imagined.

For such a long time, I was so sad. Sad because before there was you, there were two other babies who were not meant to be. For long hours and long days, I sat with the knowledge that for some reason my body was supremely broken, that I was less than the woman I was supposed to be. And then, two days before Christmas, I called your father because something just didn’t feel right. I’d felt that way before, and as I sat and waited for your father to come home, the exhilaration that I’d felt the first and then the second time I’d sat quietly waiting was replaced with dread. I couldn’t go through another loss, knew that if it were to happen again, that my grip on sanity would come slowly unfurled.

But then the wait was over, and your father and I looked in disbelief at the starkest second pink line we had seen yet. And I knew then that you were already telling me how strong you were, that you were already filling the hole that I’d carried with me for the year prior. And you ARE strong, Jackson. I know it when I watch you lift your head despite the rules that say you shouldn’t be able to sustain such an activity yet. I know it when you kick and punch with little arms as I try to change your diaper. I know it when you fight to get your arms beneath you and push up when on your tummy. Your father will tell you that you get your stubbornness from me, but I can tell you that you got the best of both of us, and I see it everyday as you fight to make yourself known.

And you are already forging ahead, doing things ahead of time and on your own schedule. Tonight, you are still technically five days away from what would have been your due date, but you are here and already two weeks old.

It was a routine 36 week checkup, and for the first time since your ultrasound, your father was able to go with me. I’d just gone back to work, was preparing for the first two weeks of school before a planned maternity leave, and I’d driven to the appointment from the school, rushed even, because I was running late (or as your father would put it, late to be early). All was normal as the nurse weighed me and slapped the blood pressure cuff on my arm, and I waited as the machine did its work. But the cuff didn’t release as soon as it had in the past, and it grew tighter and tighter before finally releasing. The tech frowned at the number. “Let’s try the other arm,” she said and switched the cuff. Before she did, I peeked at the reading. 166/80. I was confused. I’d always had stellar blood pressure. I focused on taking some deep breaths, forced myself to calm down, but when the machine released once more, the number had changed, but not for the better. 168/82.
“My blood pressure is high,” I told your father as we sat in the waiting room before seeing the midwife. I tried not to worry about it, tried to dismiss it as a fluke, a one time event that could be regulated by taking a few more deep breaths, maybe by going home and putting my feet up while guzzling water.

“I want to send you down to triage to monitor your pressure,” the midwife said after checking your heartbeat. “If it stays high, there’s a good possibility you’ll be having this baby very soon. And I don’t want to scare you, but it may even be as early as tonight.”

Your father and I looked at each other. Nothing was ready. We weren’t ready. There was no car seat installed yet, your nursery was almost but not quite finished, and there were an assortment of baby items left to purchase. Mentally, we weren’t prepared for you to be here just quite yet. I thought back to the faculty luncheon just the day prior where I had joked with colleagues that I wouldn’t mind if you came just a wee bit early. Now, facing the distinct possibility that you were going to make an early entrance, I was terrified. I’d had nine months to wrap my mind around the idea of being someone’s mother, but somehow I’d accepted that you would surely go past your due date and that I had three or four more weeks to prepare myself. Already you were telling us that when it came to your place in the world, we would need to stay on our toes, poised and ready for whatever curve ball you were going to hurl at us.

I’d asked the midwife if she could determine your position, and as she pressed against the hard round mound that for weeks I’d thought was your bum, she admitted, “I can’t tell if that’s his bottom or his head. Let’s get an ultrasound before you head down to triage.”

“This baby is breech,” the ultrasound tech said, and the daily struggle I’d been having concerning epidurals and natural childbirth were whisked away in the face of a c-section. Your father held my hand while I cried. This was not what I’d wanted. This was not the dream I’d had about your birth. How could I possibly want my child snatched from my body, removed three weeks before it was even time? How could I justify the interventions so frowned upon in the birthing community?

In triage, the nurses hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff, a heart monitor, and started an IV hep lock that would remain in my hand for the next week and a half. And I laid on that uncomfortable bed listening to your heart beat as the blood pressure cuff turned my arm purple, my fingers numb and tingling. I timed my breathing to your heart, desperately counted those beats between my breaths as the nurses flurried around me drawing vials of blood and my blood pressure climbed.

Thus began a week of gray area. My liver counts were just high enough to be concerned but not high enough to merit delivering you that night. My blood pressure was high but was slowly coming down. I was checked into the hospital for the weekend, diagnosed with pregnancy induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
Over the weekend, your father and I settled into that gray area as test after test came back with results that were not terrible but not ideal. “We aren’t quite sure what we want to do yet,” the doctors told us, and your father and I daydreamed about going home, getting out of that hospital with its terrible, lukewarm cafeteria cuisine and uncomfortable beds.

But there you were with your own plans, and as the doctors came in that Sunday and told us that I would remain in the hospital for the week to be delivered that Thursday, I knew that despite my fear and sadness over the best laid plans that often go awry, I was ready to meet you. And from deep within me, you were already telling me you were ready to meet me, too.

So the waiting began and your father scrambled to finish last minute things here at our home while I watched far too much Food Network and tried not to pass the time by peeling paint off of the walls. Bed rest, in theory, sounds lovely until it is imposed upon you, and you are the subject of scowls and tsking when you venture to do something as daring as go to the restroom.

On Wednesday night, your father satisfied a final request and brought me guacamole before I was no longer allowed to eat or drink. As midnight approached, we sat together quietly. He rubbed my back, and you kicked and punched vigorously as if to let us know that you were ready, that you were strong enough, that we were strong enough.

The next morning didn’t afford time to think as doctors and nurses scurried in and out with various bits of information and directives. My surgery was scheduled for noon, and as the hour approached, my anxiety and fear and excitement threatened to drown me. I was in overload and asked your father to see our well-meaning visitors out.

And then the nurses were wheeling me down the hallway to the OR, and your father waited in the hallway while the anesthesiologist prepped me for a spinal block. I was terrified and hated that your dad couldn’t be there with me, hated that as they wheeled me in a terrible Rhianna song was playing over the speakers, hated that the nurse I held on to as the needle entered my spine had on far too much mascara, hated that cold, antiseptic smell of the room.

Your father came in, and the doctor tried his best to distract me as the nurses put up the curtain. And then everything began, a blurred, rushed ticking of seconds as I squeezed your father’s hand, and the pressure as the doctor took you from me, the sound of your first cries echoing throughout that cold room, and my heart hurting with the need to touch you, to feel your skin against mine.

And then you were there. My hands trembling from the magnesium coursing through my blood stream as I touched your tiny hands, your hair, and you reached back for me already acknowledging that even though this wasn’t what I wanted, that you were there, and you were everything that I needed.

The first 24 hours are a medication-induced haze. The magnesium they’d given me left me incoherent, a babbling, uncontrolled imitation of myself, and I hated that in those first few hours I was less than myself, but despite the obstacles placed before us, you thrived.

And now, as the scar on my body is healing, the scar on my heart is gone. One day, you’ll read this and think I’m weird and sappy and be embarrassed of your crazy mother, but right now, as you sleep, I know that you gave me strength when I most needed it.

I love you forever,

Mama