Saturday, September 10, 2016

Survival of the Soccer


I have four biological children. And I have fostered kids from infants to teens. If I had to fill out an application for the job of parenting, I'd feel CONFIDENT putting seven years of INTENSE experience. But I have to be honest here. Today? I felt WAY out of my league.

I suppose I'm not an "over-achiever" in the scheduling department. I am 100% in compliance with "not over-scheduling" my children. (Or myself).  I don't like the stress. I don't like the driving. And I don't like the psycho-crazy person I turn into when I have to be at THREE places at ONCE.

I have a rule in my home. Each child can be in ONE sport at a time. ONLY ONE! None of this- t-ball, soccer, gymnastics, karate, swim team, pole dancing business that these super moms running around in capes do. I can't even get all four kids to church on time. And that's in the same PLACE! No, no, no.  No way am I signing up to be a full time taxi driver.

Over the summer, my three kids did gymnastics. This fall, they asked to play soccer. In my head, I thought, "THIS IS GREAT! Think of the money I will save! I have all but given the gym my kidneys in exchange for what? (Have you SEEN my children try to do a cart wheel)???"

So I signed up THREE kids to play soccer. With a 4 month old. And a Starling. (If you are thinking my judgment is lacking, I concur. To the tenth degree of concur-ment).

First soccer practice on a Tuesday. Went fantastic! I only had to take Brooklyn and Squishy (that's the 4 month old) to the YMCA for a little indoor soccer fun.  

With all the false confidence of a delusional person that thinks, "I got this!" I went to the second practice on a Thursday where TWO of my children were practicing at Tatum (aka the maze from Hell), both at 6p.m. (As was at LEAST half of Hattiesburg). After driving around for, oh TWENTY minutes to find a place to PARK, I headed on another twenty minute HIKE carrying a 15 pound ball of baby, a diaper bag filled with water bottles, 2 soccer balls, all the while being followed by three complaining children asking, "Why are we walking so far?"

"Why are we walking in circles?"

 "Where is my team?"

Before they FINALLY came to the conclusion, "Ummm... I don't think Mom knows where she's going." (To which comment, I mildly LOST IT).

I finally interrogated every short person team I saw, and finally found Boeing's spot. I called Brighton's couch who was on the other side of the universe, and marched him to his position so I could finally enjoy (that's sarcasm) running laps in between the two fields seeing a bunch of NONE of their practice, just ATTEMPTING to supervise- sort of kind of. Their practices were ending at the same time so I finally left Brooklyn in charge of Brighton (Yeah. Brooklyn is a very mature SEVEN year old. Don't judge me. I was DESPERATE) while I hauled off to get Boeing.

My shoes rubbed blisters on my feet and my arms had long since turned to Jello.

And just when I THOUGHT we'd survived the practice, I lost my car.

Do you KNOW how many people drive WHITE MINI VANS at a SOCCER field? Is that a soccer mom requirement. "Don't forget to bring your white van?" I must have said, "FINALLY. THAT's our car!" at least seven times.

Needless to say, when I got home and Starling inquired about said practice, with his usual delightful, jovial personality- all smiles and happiness, I all but chewed his head up into little bits of fro and spit it back out. I sent him to Sam's to buy a wagon, and forbade him from EVER, and I mean EVER sending me ANYWHERE NEAR Tatum with four kids by myself again.

"I learned my lesson," I thought. "I'm going PREPARED," I proclaimed.

I arrived at the fields at 8:30 this morning, even though games didn't start until 9. I parked by a sign. I memorized the sign. I would NOT lose my car twice. I downsized my diaper bag to actually a bag with a diaper. I put squishy in the wagon.

But where was Starling? Coming. He was coming. He just "had to" (we disagree on the "have to" and "want to"'s in our marriage) buy another jet ski "real quick." He got there "on time"-ish. Which means late. Because I'd already deposited kids on two different fields, and he had to find a parking spot and then find us. Oh. And the temperature had already reached 812 degrees.

The coach asked Boeing if he wanted to play. "Um, naw," he said, upon seeing his daddy arrive with snacks. He brought the family favorite- Starling's own "beefed up" version of Peanut Butter trail mix. (This means he buys a back of trail mix and dumps a huge bag of m&m's in it. And who doesn't like a handful of chocolate with a pretzel and peanut)? Unless you are talking about the debbie-downer MOM who's eyes are twitching at DAD mentally screaming, "SERIOUSLY. You brought CHOCOLATE? To a soccer game? In MISSISSIPPI?" Boeing's hands were covered in brown goo in about two seconds, which he stealthily cleaned on his white jersey.

"Boeing you have to play. It's your turn."

"Ugh. I don't want to. It's too hot."

I ran back to Brooklyn to take her some water just in time to see her melting down, "Mom. It's SOO hot... and I'm just DYING!!"

I cut her off with an impromptu pep-talk through gritted teeth, because I mentally screaming, "SUCK IT UP."

Starling and I switched back and forth between Brooklyn and Boeing's fields because he wanted to "help them" with their soccer. On game day. (He isn't a procrastinator. At. All).

Brighton's game started in the middle of Brooklyn and Boeing's game so we got to enter the "be in three places at once" warp zone. It was truly enchanting.

I left Brooklyn just long enough to run Brighton to another field, prepping him along the way. "Kid. Your brother and sister are melting down. Team Johnson is falling fast. We have to have one kid that can hold it together and that HAS to be you, bud. You got this."  I left him with a huge thermos of water and bee lined it back to Brooklyn.

The ball was coming straight to her. "Stop the ball!" someone shouted. And she did. She reached RIGHT down and grabbed it. And then she remembered she wasn't the goalie. The mortification was too much for her to bear.  She broke down in sobs. The coach carried her off the field.  

I had VERY little pep left in me, but I mustered what I could and told her ALL about MY sports days. (Which is pretty limited. I quit playing basketball after one year in middle school because our practice was 2nd period and I didn't like getting sweaty). I didn't mention that part... I told her how people accidently kick balls in the wrong net, (on Boeing's team in the wrong net on the wrong field...). 

Between her first and second game, (what genius thought it was a good idea to make parents suffer through TWO games a KID EVERY SATURDAY?!), we ran to watch Brighton. Boeing's game was done, FINALLY, so Starling met us over there, too. Amazingly...Brighton was loving it. He made a friend and kept giving him fives and patting him on the head when he did something good. (Like a dog. We really need to work on that kids social skills). Starling told Brighton he would give him a Butterfinger if he scored a goal, and that's when he kicked into gear. And score, he did. I mean he told me he did. I didn't get to SEE it, of course. I had to be on another field trying to keep up Brooklyn's morale.

We said a prayer together on the way back over to her field that she would be brave and endure to the end of her next game. She said, "I can't let my team down, Mom. I can DO this!"

And boy, she umm... well... she tried, bless her heart. She ran AFTER the ball. She touched it once and stopped to give me a thumbs up and it was gone. She finished the second game with a smile. (EVEN though the other team stomped them and kicked them while they were down).
Boeing was a broken record of "it's hot" and "let's go"s by the time Brooklyn and Brighton were done. Since Boeing plays for the Bops team and since the owner is his coach, (get real- we went for me. Let's call a duck a duck- I wanted a snow cone), we went to Bop's. (Here's a Bop's plug. A REGULAR snow cone- which I have never been able to finish- is $2.19. What snow cone stand sells something you can't finish for THAT price? One feeds all three kids).

Apparently it was the thing to do because every seat was filled with soccer players. (Guess the word's out that if you go wearing your uniform you get an extra scoop of ice cream).

We got back in the car and I cranked up the air. It was stifling hot. I cranked it up some more. I had a sinking feeling as I stuck my hand to the air vent and the air was HOT. My A/C was out.

Oh wait. NO. It was just turned onto the heater. WHY?? Because Brighton was cold from his snow cone and turned on the heat. Without saying anything to the rest of us who were slowly melting to death from a heat stroke. (This is the same kid that tied wire all over our fire place Christmas Eve when he got to thinking about things and decided he didn't want Santa coming down HIS chimney).

We finally made it home and the best part of my day happened. BOEING took a nap.

 I now know why people decorate their vans in things that say, "Soccer Mom!" and plaster their kid's soccer numbers all over their car. It's like a rite of passage, a certificate of completion, a beacon of light to all other moms out there. "I DID IT. I SURVIVED SOCCER! YOU CAN, TOO!"  

Monday, September 5, 2016

Threats To the Community


I've been accused of being a bit dramatic. (At least by my parents who had the glorious blessing of raising me as a teenager). SO- I don't know if this should burn my cookies or not. As I have a different scale by which I measure INSANITY, I don't know if this is actually INSANE or local politics as normal. DO TELL ME YOUR OPINION. (But keep it PG because I don't like potty words and I would rather not excite any homicidal thoughts that I must repent for later).

Firstly, I would like to issue a public apology for threatening our community.

Secondly, let me be clear:  (in case I wasn't during my previous blog, The Zika). My husband is OVER the illness and HAS been before he was even TESTED. (And took all necessary precautions when the health community took none). He is no longer a THREAT. The virus is no longer active in him. Mosquitoes can chew him up, spit him out, turn him into a walking polka dot, and they will no longer catch Zika from him.  BUT none- the less...

We just received, by certified mail, (for a dramatic flare and to give me a twitch)? a letter from the Lamar County Board of Supervisors declaring our parcel of land to be (and I QUOTE),  "a threat to neighboring parcels as well the health, welfare, and safety of the community." (YowZERS! What blatant honesty)!

"Pursuant to a complaint, an investigation was conducted of the parcel in questions, there was observed to be several derelict vehicles, multiple miscellaneous items which can store and hold water, which can cause over creating a habitat for mosquitoes to breed."   (Wait. You lost me with "Can cause over creating a habitat"? Is that grammatically correct? Sorry- I got distracted.  Back to being threatened. Cars can store and hold water? Even when they have their windows up and none are convertibles? And to what miscellaneous items would they be referring? We just did a walk around. Unless you are talking about grass, everything else is covered where rain cannot even reach it. I'm a little confused right now).  

"Pursuant to Statue 19-5-105, failure to gain compliance will result in Lamar County Board of Supervisors voting to declare the parcel meeting the guidelines to be deemed unclean, unsafe, and a public health concern, and further will begin formal notice as provided in said statute. If notice shall be given by Lamar County Board of Supervisors, then said parcel will be put out to bid, the efforts needed to remedy the issues and lien the parcel not in excess of $20,000 to be placed on your taxes and payable when taxes are due.

Furthermore, Lamar County Board of Supervisors also retains the ability to file additional violations against you as the owner under any other ordinances which may pertain to this parcel as it is situated in the county." (Curious... will you file violations for too many bats once we put up bat houses to combat the mosquitoes? I hear they poop. I don't know what that has to do with anything, but I don't know what cars have to do with mosquitoes, either). 

I'm INSANELY curious. How many other residents of Lamar County have been given similar notices? I have this ODD feeling that we are being targeted. Hmmm...

 We rent to a car dealership AND to a mechanic shop... SOOOOO, pray tell,  Lamar County Board of Supervisors, are our renters not allowed to have CARS on the property?? Especially since they... FIX  and sale- oh yeah- CARS???

I was completely unaware that The Board of Supervisors had ANY say so as to what I put on MY property. Or what my RENTERS put on MY property. (Apparently I was wrong. VERY wrong).

While I would love a glorious white picket fence lined with begonias and daffodils- (and either an ice cream or snow cone stand- depending on which day you ask me- so I don't have to make midnight runs to Wal Mart on account of my over active sweet-tooth)- THAT's not what pays the rent. And when you start threatening my livelihood and that of my family's... I take it a wee bit personal. (We will chalk it up to over-active hormones).  So I ask again, "WHO else has been given thirty days to comply with some statue (statute?) that I've never heard of?" Are they also harassing our neighbors? And at what point does this become a matter of local government overstep?

Let's be frank, shall we? Are you, Lamar County Board of Supervisors, truly concerned about the cars for sale on our property OR are you singling out my husband because he HAD (as in past tense- no longer a threat. In fact, he's now immune and can never be a threat again) Zika?  And in doing so, are you not discouraging others who MAY in the future find themselves to have a virus, rather due to mosquitoes or something else, from coming forward and being transparent, working to ensure proper health precautions are taken? Do you think, for one moment, that people are going to put themselves out for the sake of the community, if they themselves are to become ostracized and began receiving certified (let's call it what it is) THREATS? Becoming a pariah to the community? Call me a pessimist, but I have my doubts.

We do NOT live in a gated community. We do NOT live within the city limits. We do not have a mile long list of covenants (or DO WE???)?  And I assure you, the "cars and misc" things on the property are NOT the breeding ground for mosquitoes that the Lamar County Board of Supervisors should be concerned with. If mosquito breeding IS your main concern, ye all knowing supervisors, there are two HUGE not so well maintained by the county- draining ditches on the frontage. You could start there. OH. AND there is a huge SWAMP behind our house. THERE lies the mosquito problem. (But it isn't our property, so I guess you can't threaten us with that)? We also have five acres. Yikes. What should we do about the grass? Oh and the fact that this is Mississippi?  AND it still rains... Eeeks... You think moving a car (which doesn't collect water- what in the HECK are you talking about?) is going to solve the mosquito problem?? Think again.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Zika

The Zika

You've heard about it on the news. The horror stories. The travel warnings. But thank goodness it's only travel related right? And thank goodness only the Aedes mosquito spreads it. And thank goodness we don't have THAT kind of squeeter in the States. Oh, wait. The news just reported that Miami has them. And they are spreading the virus to non- travelers. Stay away from Miami, people.

Well. I have bad news. One of our renters came over to tell us that someone from the health department stopped by his house right here in Lamar County in Hattiesburg, MS to give him a pamphlet on Zika, and informed him that one of his neighbors has contracted Zika.

More bad news. My dear husband responded with, "That neighbor would be ME."

After the man nearly broke his ankle trying to flee, Starling assured him he is no longer contagious. (Or is he? Bum... Bum... Bum...)...

What is the likelihood, you might ask, that Starling Johnson has had Dengue Fever (when he was serving a mission in Honduras), Chikungunya, last year while in Cozumel, and now Zika?? Well, I absolutely hated Stats class in college, so you're guess is as good as mine, but apparently he has extremely tasty blood (which I contribute to the fact that his blood is probably congealed corn syrup from all the sweets and sodas he consumes).

Since you are behind the safety of your computer screen and nowhere NEAR the local man with Zika- would you like to know HOW he got it?

From a mosquito bite, duh. (Sorry. I couldn't resist).

Starling traveled to Mexico and, naturally, brought back the souvenir from Hell. (I mean- couldn't he have just brought us back some sea glass)?  Luckily, because he has already had Dengue and Chikungunya (which have symptoms quite similar to Zika), he recognized his symptoms almost immediately. And I say ALMOST, because when the only symptoms were joint pain, I had ALMOST convinced him that he had gout from drinking too much soda and that the only cure was to never drink soda again. (Stupid Google and Zika ruining my plans to cleanse my house of Coca-Cola).

Starling prides himself (or at least annoys the mess out of me) with his online Google degree in Medicine. He had himself diagnosed with Zika within an hour of his first symptoms.

"Impossible." I said. (Really a word that should never come out of anyone's mouth when in the presence of a Johnson).

Like the health conscious man he is, (so long as it doesn't encroach on his sweet tooth), he quarantined himself to my house. (Lovely).

But not to fear. Zika isn't airborne (though you'd think so by people's reactions when they discover he's had it). Nor will it rub off on you. Research claims  it can only be passed by the Aedes Egypti and Aedes Albopictus mosquitos, which only carry Zika from one Zika infested person to an innocent, unsuspecting person.

Starling went straight to the doctor and told her, "I traveled out of the country and believe I have Zika." Upon examination, the doctor said, "It is possible...your eyes are red and the symptoms match, but we don't have a test for that here in our clinic. Go to the Health Department."

MORE bad news. People, I fear for the lives of Mississippians if ever we have a medical emergency in which our health department becomes vital for our survival.

Starling's visit went as follows:

After approaching the front counter, he told the individual at the front desk that he believed he had Zika. The young lady looked at him oddly, darted into the back, and returned with the response, "We don't test for that here."

Starling, wanting to be extra thorough, waited in a twenty minute line to see a nurse and set up an appointment to get a tetanus shot, (which has absolutely nothing to do with Zika, but apparently he was craving a shot).

Upon being called up to the window, he asked the lady about the tetanus shot and then reiterated, "I also believe I have the Zika Virus," and the lady leapt from her chair, yelling, "Don't be bringin that mess up in here!"

Another lady piped in with a more kosher response. "Ooooh Wee! I hope you get better!"

"But aren't you supposed to be keeping up with the disease? For statistic purposes or to warn people in case it comes to the area?"

"Naw. We ain't doin' no testin for dat."

Baffled, Starling asked, "So if I were to contact dateline NBC and have them follow me into this health department of Forrest County, MS, have them record your response to someone telling you he may have a rare mosquito born illness, you would be pleased with your answer?" She just shrugged.

Starling came home and told me defeated, "Well, I tried."

Dear people of Hattiesburg. OH MY GOSH. I didn't even think Starling had the dang Zika, but my blood got a little stuffy, what with the boiling it was doing, over the fact that the news is going bezerko that we are all gonna DIE from Zika and our friggin HEALTH DEPARTMENT is telling people, "We don't test for that."

Starling continued to quarantine himself, despite the complete disregard for safety exhibited from the very people in CHARGE of our local public health. After he was completely clear of symptoms, his doctor called him and asked how he was. He informed her that he was symptom free and felt fine. She, ten days AFTER his appointment, said that she had received Zika testing instruction and wanted to see if he was indeed Zika positive. (Zika can be detected from a blood and urine test up to 12 weeks after being symptomatic).

The call came. Bad news. "Mr. Johnson we have evaluated your urine sample, and you are Zika positive."

 Competence FINALLY emerged from somewhere, (I'm doubting from anywhere local) and the calls began. Where did you travel? How long were you there? When did your symptoms emerge? What WERE your symptoms? Did you die? (Just kidding- they didn't ask that last one, but seriously- they were a little over the top with their concern for his health considering they didn't bother caring until AFTER he was BETTER).

Where did Starling travel? Mexico. When did his symptoms emerge? A day or so after he returned home. What WERE his symptoms? At first, a sore big toe. (You can imagine my level of sympathy after Starling returned from a TEN DAY trip, leaving me home ALONE with FOUR kids under the age of SEVEN, and all he could do was whine and complain about a SORE big TOE). (And if you read my last blog entry on the sympathy I received during my non medicated BIRTHING of a HUMAN BEING- you'll understand my lack of give-a-dang).

Then he began complaining about joint pain. And then his eyes turned red like he'd caught the pink eye. And he felt really tired. (I, of course, blamed it on too much Coke consumption and told him to drink some water, get up, and take out the trash).

 When he broke out with a rash.... well... that's when we knew. Last year Starling and I bonded over a month of couples Chikungunya, and a rash was the dead give-away that it was a mosquito virus.  BUT, it's like chicken-pox; they say you only get it once, (which is appropriate because there are so many other fun and exciting diseases to catch from mosquitoes. Why not try them all)? And unlike Chikungunya, which was utterly horrific and forever lasting, that was it. The rash left after a day and he felt fine again. A very mild, 8 day from start to finish virus. One, that if you didn't recognize the symptoms, wouldn't even go to the doctor about. You'd just take Advil and grab a nap.

NOW, if Zika is as mild as I say it is, why are people FREAKING out so bad? Well, because Zika is a HUMONGOUS deal if you are pregnant or become pregnant. It causes severe birth defects such as microcephaly. The virus lasts longest in sperm so it is advised that a person that has Zika use precautions so as not to infect partners who are or may become pregnant. (What a blessing for us that Starling isn't pregnant and I'll beat him with a stick wrapped in barbed wire if he even THINKS of getting me pregnant again).  

SO- after several phone interviews, (that took HOURS of precious Honey- Do list time),  The State Health Department sent a mosquito specialist from Jackson to evaluate our property where she conducted a mosquito study to determine the species and landing rates in our area. She gave Starling a handy dandy Zika kit backpack complete with bug spray, pesticides, condoms, and several other goodies. (A "congrats on your new disease" package).  She took him to our closest neighbor and Starling was given the awkward responsibility of briefing him on the situation, and asking for access to the back of his property that joins our land.

"Whatever it takes!" he quickly complied, and returned indoors where he probably still sits to this day.

The specialist later knocked on our door covered in mosquito bites to give us- YOU GUESSED IT- (you are catching on). BAD NEWS.

"The Aedes Albopictus mosquito is present on your property." (And from the looks of the welts on the lady, FLOURISHINg).  Right HERE, people! In Lamar County.

That's when it got serious. The mosquito artillery unit was sent to bomb us. And they did. They went on bombing raids (via golf cart)  4 times the first day and 3 times a day afterward for the next week. Zika pamphlets were dispersed to neighbors. Panic spread like wild fire.  

That's when the shunning started. (Okay, people have actually been really nice to Starling so long as he doesn't come anywhere near them).

SO, while the news is having you steer clear of Miami because of the "discovery" of Aedes mosquitoes, you might want to be more concerned with the fact that they are probably in EVERY state in the US. And while you think, "Well no one around HERE has Zika or West Nile...," you may have people in your area that don't report it, OR you may, like us, have a government-run over achieving Health Department that sends people HOME.

SO- as a matter of public health- PEOPLE wear bug spray! And don't expect the news to know what's going on around YOUR house. Our health department doesn't even know what's going on in their own office.

The one good thing that has come out of this, is Starling's new nickname, replacing PePe. He now goes by Zeke.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Birthing Squishy- All NAT-UR-AL

I have seriously been trying to record this birth account for a week now. (It's amazing how little free time I have with four children and a Starling). But FINALLY- I'm DONE!

Birthing Squishy
(aka Belize Analie Johnson)

I was all set to give birth via induction on Friday the 13th of May. (A promising omen, wouldn't you say)? That would have jammed my little pumpkin between Brighton turning five on May 12 and Brooklyn turning seven on May 14. (If you are wondering about Boeing- he turned three on Christmas Eve- amazingly my only child to successfully evade our family birthing month). The scheduled induction would have been only a few days before her due date on May 18.

Perhaps patience is something I should work on, amongst just a few other things, but pregnancy is, and I mean this with all the gratitude for the ability to carry a child into this world, the single most excruciating physical ailment I've endured in my life. (At least I thought so, anyway).

All of my pregnancies have been equally agonizing, what with the fifty pound weight gains, nine months of puking, and sciatic nerve issues that made me feel like I was walking around with a knife stuck in my left buttock, but this last pregnancy was an over-achiever in the torture department.

It's never a good idea to start out a pregnancy with Chikungunya, a mosquito spread virus that put me bed ridden for... well that's a good question since I have no idea when it's wretched symptoms passed and pregnancy started... but it definitely took a toll on me. And despite the fact that I got no magical Zofran to assist with my vomiting, I still gained my normal 50 pounds. Maybe even more. (You understand my lack of zealousness in mounting the scale to know the "true" number. After gaining fifty, I figured I didn't WANT to know). To put it simply, I was miserable in my own skin. (And my husband tried to tell me lots of people are miserable in their own skin, at which point I had to clarify that lots of people don't have a baby trying to KICK themselves free through their bellybutton. And the women who DO completely empathize with my excessive whining).

I won't be shy about the fact that I was QUITE disappointed when my doctor told me the EARLIEST she could induce was a mere five days early. I wanted my adorable, precious KONG FU kicking Ninja OUT of me. As I lay in my bed night after night AWAKE (because who can sleep when your insides are trying to escape) watching my stomach stand up, twist, and slam into my bladder, while several other bumps jerked to a fro leaving me with the sweet sensation of mutilated innards, I took it upon myself to progress my labor. Against my very sympathetic (that is sarcasm in its purest form) husband's wishes, I procured a bottle of castor oil.

I selected a Friday, so as not to put out my Mom who would need to assist with my three already-out-of-me children.  I poured two ounces of oil into some cold grape juice, plugged my nose, and chugged.

If you want to know how castor oil tastes, next time you're frying chicken, take a nice long swig of your GREESE, and tell me what you think.

At that point, labor or no labor, no way was I going to drink more. (I am actually gagging just remembering the delectable consistency).

Even though I made excuses to save myself trips from having to walk to the other side of my house, that Friday night (May 6th) I waddled out of my front door around 9 p.m. in my walking shorts. I was on a mission. I secured my gut firmly in both hands and sped walked up and down the road by my house (which is no short walk on a NON- prego day), up and down the hills, back and forth until I figured I was so tired, I'd sleep through the next few weeks of pregnancy.  

Frustrated that neither the castor oil nor the walking caused me to have so much as a contraction, I sauntered to the shower, then fell into bed, my emphatic woes meeting Starling's snoring. (Which cheered me up immensely).

 At some point during the night I woke up with mild, but consistent contractions. I jumped up (after several attempts, of course) with glee, recognizing that I was going into labor. I bounced to the bathroom and shaved my legs, painted my fingers and toes... cleaned both bathrooms and the kitchen, all the while smiling ear to ear.

Then I realized that I hadn't felt the baby move in a bit. As I thought about it, I realized she hadn't even moved when I'd shaved my legs which was simply impossible because anytime I attempted even the slightest bend the baby would protest and stretch her body until I would eventually give up. (It had been so long since I'd attempted a good shave, I almost needed to secure a mower to get through the hair growth on my legs). So I drank some cold juice. (That usually sent her to squirming). Nothing. I had a mild panic attack and started whacking Starling awake.

"The baby isn't moving and I need them to check her. NOW!" Then, "Don't wake the kids. It's too early and I've got awhile before I'm going to HAVE her... Just I need to go. When it's daylight we can get my mom to get the kids and you can come."

While I filled out paper work at the hospital, the baby turned a summersault, enough to kick the paper from my hands.

"You said your baby isn't moving?" The lady checking me in asked.

"Oh! She moved! Okay. I'm good. I'll come back in a few hours once I put some make up on and fix my hair."

"Well, let's just check while you're here. You said you are having contractions."

"I am. But I have awhile before the "REAL" bad ones start."

But I rode a wheelchair, by direct order, feeling absolutely ridiculous, upstairs to a room to be "checked." (That's code for denouncing your dignity and handing over your self-respect).

Two massive elastic bands were strapped around my waist (or what once resembled a waist) and I was left for dead. For hours. (Well probably like 30 minutes, but the REAL contractions started almost simultaneously with being left and there was no one around to tell. So I laid there. In agony. But I knew they still weren't the REAL, REAL ones).

A doctor finally arrived, prepared to send me home, judging by the nurses introduction of, "but the contractions aren't very..."

"Yes! Yes they are-" I breathed. "I'd like an epidural now!"  The nurse scrunched her face and re-adjusted the bands that the baby had kicked loose moments after she'd fastened them into place.
"OH! Oh wow... okay. Sorry. The contractions weren't registering on the monitor."

The doctor checked me and said, "Let's get her to a room. She's about to have this baby."
I texted Starling to tell him they were moving me to a room and NOT to send the cavalry until AFTER I'd received my epidural. (I was entering HOT MESS status and barely holding it together).
I was barely admitted when Starling showed up with my mom and kids on his heels. (Meet my family. We excel in the "listening" department).  

Starling took the moment to teach our children about childbirth, as any astounding home-school parent would. "See how mommy is hurting so bad? So bad she can't talk? What is happening inside her is called a contraction... When-"

 I was gripping the hand rail so tight, I'm surprised I didn't rip it off. That was nothing compared to what I wanted to do to Starling's vocal chords at that moment. "Seriously Starling?!?"

And then piped up my mother.  APOLOGIES to the staff.  "She's a little bit dramatic. She has no pain tolerance. She gets that from her dad."

Yes. It's true. I am a drama queen. There I was in the hospital ACTING as if I was in LABOR or something.

I should've silently DIED with more composure.

"When is the epidural coming?" I winced, trying very hard to NOT sound dramatic. With all my effort, it still came across like the final plea before one gives up the ghost. (And if I'm being honest... The whole giving up the ghost thing was sounding like a viable option. That or taking some ghosts from some people in the room).  

"We are getting everything ready. Just a few more minutes," the nurse chirped merrily.

She gave me a dose of Stadol, which does zilch for pain, but is supposed to dope you up enough to not care. (Umm... I still cared. I just sounding like a drunk person trying to wine about it).

The nurse walked out and only my husband, mother, and three chatting children remained. Though I'd tried very hard to keep my teeth clenched and muffle my moans, I gave up and screamed, 
"SOMETHING IS HAPPENING!!!!!"  when I felt intense pressure- like a car trying to exit a garage with the door closed. I WAS THE GARAGE DOOR.  I screamed as I heard, yes HEARD and FELT a loud POP. It was my water breaking. It thoroughly FREAKED me out. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING compared to the fear that consumed me when the nurse ran in and said, "Uh oh. We don't have time for an epidural. This baby is coming out."

No epidural? NO EPIDURAL?!?!?!

Women train for natural child birth like they train for marathons. Have you ever heard of someone who has never jogged up and run a marathon??? NO! OF COURSE NOT!

Sure, women HAVE babies without drugs and have for years. SOME women CHOOSE to do it! They learn how to breath, take those Lamaze classes, practice hee-hee-hooing.

I didn't do ANY of that because I didn't NEED to. I have epidurals. I don't LIKE pain. Epidurals are little miracles. They take all the pain away and I just smile and talk and watch a baby pop out. That's MY choice.

I have since been congratulated on my "natural" childbirth. "I'm so glad you got to experience that!", "Isn't it the most beautiful thing?"

Ummm.... they must have trained for their marathon.

My experience was more like-, "I felt like I was being sacrificed!"

And that's exactly what I sounded like. A wild animal being sacrificed. I've never heard such a horrific sound, especially out of my own self. I didn't even know a human could MAKE that noise.
The sound coming out of me wasn't a scream. It was the guttural wail of a dying cat... Being burned alive. And for all the holding it in I'd done in the beginning... I made up for it by letting it ALL out at the end. Nothing can describe the pain. The only word that comes to mind? Excruciating. But that seems a rather mild adjective for such a NOT mild event.

 I hollered all the way until the doctor, who heard me in another part of the hospital, ran in to tell me to stop screaming (RUDE. AND IMPOSSIBLE) and while my mother grabbed my three, now wide eyed, mouth a gaped children and shooed them out of the room, and on until the doctor finally said, "She's out!"

I couldn't even compute the little baby, now out of me. I was still trying to understand how I was still alive.

Then the doctor said, "I need you to push one more time."

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?" I yelled at him. No. He wasn't kidding. Once all the gross was out of me, I got stitched up, which, amazingly... STILL HURT.

How bad was it really? A total exaggeration on my part? Well... Starling asked the nurse after I had regained my composure, "On a scale of 1 to 10 on screams... was she like an 8 or a 9?" The nurse didn't hesitate. "Oh a definite ten. Yeah. Ten for sure."

Though my husband describes the event as, "the most beautiful, excruciating thing I've ever seen; the most exhilarating experience of my life!", if any mom- to- be asks for my humble opinion about having a life-altering, incredible, magical NATURAL child birth.... My response is simple.