The One-Up Game

Thursday, October 22, 2009
Some of my girl-friends and I like to play "The One-Up Game". When we were Master's students at CU (the only school that feeds it's mascot to it's students - Go Buffs!) I invented this game because it seemed like whenever we got together at happy hour, everyone wanted to vent about something but was too polite to do it.

The rules are simple - everyone vents with the intention of having the worst story. And the beauty of the game? Everyone wins. If your story isn't as bad as another, then lucky could have been worse. If your story is the champion? Then yea, you win. And there are some hilarious tales. Previous winner? Having a student who still shits his pants in 3rd grade.


This conversation had been brewing for days and I finally caved because you know what? Fuck it. I deserved some cheap entertainment, even if it was a little cruel. Yes, I know better. I would never compare natural birth to a cesarian. I don't like to compare. I don't like to compare kids, I don't like to compare incomes, I don't like to compare, as E would say, no anything. Period. There are too many factors and too many variables.

So don't come to me and try to tell me about how natural birth is sooo much worse than a cesarean when you have never had a c-section. And if you want to keep pushing the subject, hormones are spastic, physically I've never felt worse in my life, and while I couldn't be happier to have a healthy baby who sleeps and a 2 yr old who is doing his best to accomodate her, I can't help but take the bait. But prepare to be used for my personal entertainment. That's all I'm saying.

Anyway, here's the conversation as close to accurate as possible:

"You know, natural birth is so much worse than a c-section. You really should consider yourself blessed." (Yeah, blessed.)
"You think? How so?"
"Well, besides the hours of labor and pushing, I had (gasp) hemorrhoids."
"Oh. Well, isn't Percocet great? I mean, I'm sure they gave you narcotics for that."
"Well, no."
"Did you have a horrible reaction to the anesthesia? Isn't it heart-breaking to spend the whole first day of your baby's life puking and passing out?"
"Well, they didn't have to give me anesthesia."
"Oh, so you never felt like your ribs and lungs were caught between two steel plates? That's good."
"Well, I was out of breath going up and down stairs. But I guess that was just while I was pregnant...and just at the end."
"So how do you get rid of the hemorrhoids? Didn't they have to do surgery?"
"Well, no they go away on their own."
"I'm sure it sucked not to be able to drive for a couple of weeks, though. I know that's going to be really hard for me."
"Um, I could drive just fine. Well, I did have to sit on a pillow."
"What did you do for your edema?"
"What's edema?"
"Oh, you know. When your ankles swelled up from all the iv fluids they had to give you."
"I didn't get an iv."
"How long did it take for your digestive system to get back on track?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know, when did it stop hurting know...have bowel movements and pass gas?"
"Oh. Um, I never had that problem. I mean, it hurt when I had um, bowel movements but only because of the hemorrhoids."
"Yikes. That's gotta suck. Well, it's so hard not to be able to go home and pick up your first born, isn't it? It tears my heart to pieces. E so desperately needs to be picked up and snuggled and I can't do it, not to mention how inconvenient it is."
Clears her throat. "I was able to pick up Tom (not his real name) by the time I got home. I didn't realize you couldn't pick E up."
"Yeah, and it's when he needs it the most. Well, how did your veins do for your blood transfusion? My veins held up ok but a week later I'm still symptomatic. I'm always short of breath and my heart is racing - it's like a perpetual adrenaline response. I needed 4 bags of blood, but they agreed to give me only two because of the risks. It sucked, huh?"
"Really? I didn't have to have a blood transfusion. I didn't realize..."
"Didn't you lose a lot of blood with your hemorrhoids?"
"Um, no. I mean...I mean, they are blood clots. But they didn't bleed. They just hurt a lot. They gave me medicated wipes for them and that helped."

Ok, so sidenote. At this point, I'm laughing pretty hard on the inside. Like I said, I feel guilty for taking advantage of this person, especially since she is not a Charter Member of The One-Up Club. To her this isn't a fun, win-win-win game between friends. But I reminded myself that she means well and that her beliefs are based on ignorance.

I mean, this is the person who frantically forwards every urban legend email that comes her way. Using your Swiffer causes cancer!?! Send! Gang members drive without headlights on and kill anyone who flashes them!?! Send! Some brands of cat litter are radioactive!?! Send! Send!!! SEND!!! If I didn't intervene on a regular basis, she'd be a Nigerian millionaire by now. Her house would be full to the rafters with Sham-wows and space-saving hangers and she'd be walking around her living room wearing a Snuggie.

So yes, I feel bad for letting the conversation go this far. But like a ninja using the attacker's momentum against him, I was taking this opportunity to help her debunk her own myths. Remember, I didn't want to have this conversation in the first place. I'd been side-stepping it for days. But I digress...

"I didn't realize that you'd had it so rough. I mean, I heard about the blood loss and poor B losing so much weight - that must have been soooo scary! - but I didn't realize..."
"Yeah, well..." And this is where I resisted the urge to say "Well, your hemorrhoids sounded horrible." No, instead, I did as I usually do.
"Yeah,'s amazing what we do for a tiny little human being who poops and pees and cries all the time, huh?"
I could hear the relief in her voice.
"Yeah, it is amazing. And B is beautiful. I still can't believe how much hair she has. Did you have terrible heartburn?"
"Actually, it wasn't that bad till the very end."
"Really? You're so lucky. Because I had the worst heartburn ever..."

You're doubtful, aren't you? You can't believe that after all that, she wanted to play The One-Up Game with our pregnancies. Well, she did. She went on to tell me how much worse her pregnancy was than mine, even though she knew very little about my experience. But I just nodded along with feigned interest and hoped against all hope that even a tiny little bit of our conversation made an impression on her. And if it didn't? Fuck it. I got some cheap entertainment and for a few minutes, I'd forgotten that my ankles looked like two hams with vienna sausages for toes and that I was a hideous shade of yellow. And anyway, I'm pretty sure I would won the game with this one.* Yeah. Pretty sure.

- Have a magnet on your fridge that says "Ignorance is Bliss"
- Are male and related to me
- Have not had children yet

On tonight's broadcast...

Saturday, October 17, 2009
I know. I know. You want answers. You want to know how it went and if the rumors are true. And I'm working on it. But until then, I'll give you this:

I was touched by many self-less acts of love, like my mom and sister both so naively and earnestly offering to donate blood for my transfusion right there on the spot, as if the nurses could just run a line from their veins to mine, like jumper-cables for sick moms.

I was also touched by acts of love that lie on the opposite end of the spectrum. The ones that are not so selfless but if you cup them in your hands and rub them really hard with the hem of your shirt, they shine a little. Who says you can't polish a turd?

Speaking of turds, here's an excerpt from an email I received while in the hospital:

On my way to work yesterday, I purposely stepped in dog crap, with flip flops on, and tried to have a bird shit on my head. Both are supposed to bring you good luck, which i then sent telepathically to you. And you thought you were the only one working hard.

I mean, how selfless is that? Dog shit? In flip flops?!? And can you picture someone negotiating with pigeons, "Please??? Aw, come on. Shit on me! It's not even for's for a friend." The image just kept cracking me up. Hands in the air, fist a'shaking, pleading with idiot birds while dog poop squashed between his toes. Seriously. Undeniably the sign of a true friend.

The email was signed Brian Williams, but for the life of me, I can't picture Brain William walking through the city with poop squeezing out between his toes. Come to think of it, I can't picture Mr. Williams in flips flops. But as much as I love me some Brian, he's been officially knocked down a peg. It was good while it lasted.

It's only in the morning

Friday, October 9, 2009
Dear Mr. Roof Shingle Installer Man,

I am writing to inform you that at 7 am this morning, when you spent upwards of 15 minutes trying to start your jalopy truck, I was trying to sleep. I am very pregnant and very tired and very restless and all-around very useless. My uselessness is compounded by the lack of sleep I have suffered in the last few days. I only have a few more days to go, and then all hell will break loose. My son, whom you admired yesterday as he rode his scooter past you and waved a big hello, did not sleep through the night (and by through the night, I mean, longer than a three hour stretch) till he was 14 months and 4 days old. I don't know if this baby will wreak the same havoc, but I am trying to save my strength, just in case.

You look like a nice man, and I'm sure you can understand where I am coming from. Now, I understand that you couldn't possibly know that I was sleeping just mere feet away from where your turd on wheels truck was parked and that the thunderous engine that barely powers your crapmobile truck would resonate throughout our entire neighborhood like a jackhammer screwing a diesel engine and cause me to literally jump out of bed in a panic, throw on my robe, yank up my blackout shades and glower up and down our street in a crazed, desperate attempt to locate and halt the attack on my elusive and much-needed slumber. And while I understand that you're doing the best you can with what you've got, for heaven's sake. It's 7 o'clock in the morning. Do you really need to kick-start a dying piece of shit truck this early in the morning? The sun isn't even fully awake, why should I be?

In closing, I would like to ask that if you will be working in our neighborhood in the future, that you refrain from causing such a racket.


p.s. Please disregard the above letter if this was retribution for what happened the other morning. I'm not sure if you saw me or if I was able to close the bathroom shades in time, but I had no idea there was someone on our neighbor's roof. I know that the last thing anyone wants to see is a pregnant woman peeing, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart if I scarred you in any way. If this was your revenge, I have to say...well played, sir. Well played.

Take five

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I am not your stereotypical woman. I don't get manis and pedis. I don't subscribe to People or Us Weekly or any other gossip magazine, although I will peruse one in the doctor's office should it beckon to me from the coffee table as I wait for my name to be called, even though I always feel guilty for indulging. I don't care about whatsherface who married that one guy from that movie and what they're wearing or what they ate or who they slept with. I don't often cry and lucky for everyone, I don't have mood swings.* I think it's perfectly ok for a woman to jump on a snowboard, tennis court, the Supreme Court or whathaveyou and kick some ass. I don't go to the mall for fun. I don't like to compete. At least not with my friends. And I don't wear something because everyone else is wearing it. Hell, in my opinion, that's the best reason not to wear something. Especially if that something is white-rimmed sunglasses. Because I don't care how trendy they are, you look like a toolbag in them. Sorry, but you do. And I like shoes, but I don't loooove shoes - although I suspect that this is because I already owned The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes Ever.

Picture it, Madrid, 1993. The softest, must supple leather in a deep, rich chocolate brown. Stacked cork heel. A spanish version of the classic Mary Jane. Women would stop me wherever I went to compliment The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes Ever. Gay men would scream in elevators over how gorgeous my shoes were. And I loved it. I've never really been one to brag, but boy you better believe that when someone stopped me and asked me where I got those shoes, I would jut my long and skinny leg out like some sort of awkward shoe model and proudly declare, "Oh, I got them last time I was in Spain. I just couldn't resist." Yup, just like the stereotypical woman in your stereotypical chick flick. I might have even tossed my hair for effect or shooed with my hand as if all I needed was a tennis racket under one arm and a toy poodle under the other. The last time I was in Spain? Oh, you mean the only time I was in Spain. Yeah, that just doesn't have the same ring to it.

These shoes went with everything, and on my feet, they went everywhere. They went to parties. They went to clubs. They went to school and work and everything in between...Until that horrible day. I can still smell the air. We went to TCBY (remember TCBY?!?) Not sure if we were skipping school or if it was a legitimate lunch trip, but all of a sudden...splatter! Tiny little flecks of paint fell from the sky above, and in slow-motion they landed on the toes of The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes Ever. I was devastated. And because I was naive to the ways of the world, because I was in high school and didn't know any better, I stood in that TCBY parking lot and hung my head in defeat. I knew right away that they were through. Had it happened now, I would have politely asked the painter man to come down off the roof so that we could discuss how he was going to remedy the situation. But that's neither here nor there.

Something else happened that day. I said a sad goodbye to The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes EVER but I also realized that love is funny. I had beat the crap out of those shoes and as much as I loved them, they should probably have been retired long before that afternoon. But I couldn't see that. Until that paint splattered those shoes, to me they looked as beautiful as they had the day I bought them.

But like I said, I march to the beat of my own drummer. I wore a shirt all through high school that made me look like a "lampshade" because a) I loved it and b) on more than one occasion, a 20-something uber-cool semi-adult had complimented me on it. Ok, so on two occasions. But it was on two separate occasions. And I bought the shirt at this chic little vintage store on South Beach and paid good money for it. So what if my peers thought I looked stupid in it? And while I listened to The Smiths and Rage and Counting Crows just like everyone else, my favorite CD for a while was Moondance. And while I loved going to the meat-packing district in NYC and catching up-and-coming bands, I had just as much fun watching Dave Brubeck perform Time Out in this gorgeous old church in Morristown, NJ.

So what's my point? I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because as you may or may not know, I am soon going to be a mother to a little girl. And I've been having lots of conversations with B in my head lately. They've evolved from "You're the size of a kumquot," to
"Ok, look, I know you're running out of room, but other than not breathe, there's nothing I can do for you," to
"Holy cow. What if you don't like me?"

I used to make mean jokes about how I never wanted a daughter because it seems stupid to put all that energy into raising someone who is just going to end up hating you anyway. I know that I joked because part of me is afraid that I don't know how to be a good mother to a girl. I grew up without a substantial mother-daughter model. I saw my mother a couple of times a year and that didn't really afford either of us the opportunity to develop an authentic relationship. Not to mention the handful of step-mothers I had. So out of fear, I joke. But now, it's real. Now I'm going to have to step up to the plate and be a mother. To a daughter. And I think one of the first steps to loving someone else is loving yourself. And you can't really love yourself if you don't accept who you are.

So while I might not be your stereotypical woman, I am who I am. And sometimes I'm the girl in The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes Ever. And sometimes I'm the girl in the lampshade shirt. Sometimes I'm the girl who could be pretty if I just put a little makeup on. And sometimes I'm the girl who gets the nod from some tweener who saw me grab my board as I sailed off of a jump because for an old lady, I'm not that bad.

But love is funny. And my hope is that B will some day be able to look at me and love me for who I am, beat-up soles, paint specks and all. Because I plan on loving the crap out of her, no matter what drum she marches to. Unless it's country, and then all bets are off.

* Caveat: If I am pregnant, nursing or sleep-deprived, this statement could not be further from the truth.


I'm 38 and 1/2 weeks pregnant. I haven't slept in two nights. But tonight...tonight I'm going to sleep. I drank my TeePee Dreams. I took two Calms Forte. I swallowed three dropperfuls of Sleepytime drops. I am tinctured, tabbed and tea-ed to the hilt.

And it works. Until the pain hits. Oh god. I can't believe this is happening. There's no way. Could this? Nooooo. But...At first I fight it. You see, I've never felt these pains before. I'm 32 years old and I've never felt anything like this so I'm not sure that this is really it, you know? So I lay in bed. I flip from one side to the other, which is not an easy feat at this point. I straighten my bottom leg. I bend both legs. I put my arm up over my head. I drape my other arm over an extra pillow. I sigh. I flip back over to the side I was on. I readjust my pillows once again. And finally, I concede. Holy shit. This is it. These pains can only mean one thing...

Yup. For the first time in my life, I am about to go downstairs and have ... a midnight snack. I have never had a midnight snack before. Now, I'm not saying that I've never eaten this late before. No, I have stood in a drunk-ass pizza line at 3am with the best of them. I have sat around and munched on cold and congealed cheese dip while playing Cranium well into the night. But I have never in my life gotten up out of bed to eat because the hunger was so much that I couldn't bear it. Hunger has never interrupted what otherwise promised to be a good night's sleep. Nope. Never.

I know what you were thinking. You thought I was going into labor. Yeah, wouldn't that be nice? But alas, for reasons I am not ready to discuss, I am scheduled for my second and last C-section on Sunday. No VBAC for me. And now that I've had a few days to process it, I'm as ok as I can be. I'm terribly disappointed. I'm heartbroken. I cried my eyes out the day I found out and I still get a little choked up thinking about it. But in the end, when it comes down to it, like any good mother, I can't make the selfish choice. I can't make the choice that would make me happy, knowing that there's any potential for harm to my child. Like any mother will tell you, the sacrifices you make for your baby begin before she's even born, and you make these sacrifices so often and so willingly, that they become second nature.

"Mama, I want more." On this chilly fall morning, I looked down at my bowl of oatmeal, the perfect consistency with just the right amount of butter - the last of the butter. And like the half-full bowl of oatmeal I passed across the table to a still-hungry E, I pass this across the table to B. Without a second thought. This is just the first of a lifetime of sacrifices I will make on her behalf. And as hard as some of those sacrifices will be, as much as they will tear me up inside, each and every time, I will do it with love and without remorse. Although sometimes I might not be able to keep from thinking, "Oh, for Pete's Sake. You've got two legs. Get your own oatmeal."