Category Archives: Canberra

The End of a Long Battle

Dear Mouse,

We met one chilly Sunday evening when I saw you out of the corner of my left eye. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was no match for your masterful skills of commanding my attention. In fact, your talents even peaked my husband’s interests. We tried to build a friendship that night, but you assaulted my leg and began to act irrationally. I don’t have room in my life for any more crazy,. I’m sorry if you felt trapped, we were just trying to set you free. Out in the great big world of trash bins and empty chip bags dropped by the people exiting the local buses.

You eluded me for several weeks, leaving little reminders of your unending presence in my kitchen cabinets. You ungratefully ate the peanut butter I laid out so carefully for you on special traps, er… I mean plates. Yes, special mouse plates. The tiny white house, with the very trendy red door wasn’t even good enough for you. It was not, I assure you, an outhouse. But thanks for pooping inside it to let me know you had visited. You never showed yourself to me again, only ate all the green pellets in the special box I laid out for you and continued to leave me little “presents”. I had to rearrange my kitchen storage thanks to you, all so you could have open, empty cupboards over which to reign. A reign which I am disheartened and elated at the same time to know has come to an end.

This morning you decided to seek out what I assume little critters like you call second breakfast, and in the process showed yourself to my sweet, animal loving daughter. “Oh cute mommy! A baby! It’s so cute!” I hear her sweet cherub voice coo from the kitchen. Immediately I knew it was you. Thanks for dragging your paralyzed rear end out from wherever you’ve been hiding and landing in front of my refrigerator. I’m not scarred from having to pick you up by your lint covered tail and give you an old plastic apple container/ gray shopping bag burial in my trash can. The bit where you looked up at me through the bag and the apple container was an extra special touch. Nothing will make a hormonal pregnant woman feel better about herself than a look like that. Rest in peace little mouse, you put up a good fight, but I’m still at the top of the chain.

Your Hostess,
CJ

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It’s My Party And You’ll Celebrate If I Want You To

It’s all about me. That’s why I coerce my Australian friends and family to participate in American holidays. I lure them to our house with Thanksgiving dinners and All-American Fourth of July feasts. I also appreciate how Pandora Radio has a Fourth of July station which I played all-day-long! The only thing that makes it seem like pretend to me is that it’s bloody cold during Independence Day, and hot as Hades on Thanksgiving. This Independence Day was also a first for me, not because it was my first abroad, but because my lovely sister-in-law brought me a present. It was Jack Daniels, she hit the perfect present bulls-eye with that one!

It’s also all about Charlie, that’s why I dressed her up in red, white, and blue courtesy of my friend Vanessa who got her this cute Stars and Stripes jumpsuit. I want her to feel connected to both countries because I know it’s not easy being a citizen of the world.

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She will hate me one day for this outfit but I don’t care!

I think we all want to feel like we belong somewhere, or to something. That’s why we are so patriotic, join clubs and groups, accept the “membership” cards for various stores, and never, ever actually cut ties with our families no matter how crazy they make us. We all crave community, and lucky for my people, they get fed. Maybe it’s just how mothers show love, but I think it’s how Americans show love as well. We feed. (Perhaps that’s why most of America is working on a new level for the BMI scale!) I know each time I have a get together with my American family I leave with a food baby. Keeping with tradition, I subjected my Independence Day guests to Ribs, Chicken Wings (and Teradactyle sized drumsticks), Tater Salad, Fruit Pizza, and some red, white, and blue strawberries I made. Check out my Pinterest for these recipes, I will attempt at remembering to post them on the Tasties page here as well.

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Yes, that’s the fruit pizza, similar to the one I made at Easter. Yum-O!

I originally planned on getting this amazing pulled pork from Costco but of course they didn’t have any, in any aisle, because believe you me I checked! I also had to trim the chicken bicep off the wings, who knows if that’s what they’re actually called but I’m running with it. And when I say trim, I mean I had to cut the wing skin, grab the joint and twist like the poor chicken had offended my grandmother and my name was Tony Soprano. (Side note, may James Gandolfini rest in peace.)

Earlier I was chatting with my friend Lauren who is also an American living in Oz, and we were discussing how sad it makes us to see the photos online of our favorite pastimes. She taught me a new phrase, FOMO, to which I was befuddled. Apparently it’s “Fear Of Missing Out”. That girl is a genius, because I’m cursed and she put a name on it. I have FOMO over things back in the US, and now I’ll have that about things happening in Australia. I’m visualizing summers here, and summers back in the US. Now THAT’S a dream come true!

Very soon, less than two weeks soon, we will be hopping on a few airplanes and will eventually land in Denver. I can hardly wait to see my family again, let them chase Charlie for a bit, because I’m a little worn out, and enjoy a nice cold Fat Tire. Look out America, I’m coming for you!

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Here I am in Vail last US summer, enjoying a Fat Tire.

xxOHM

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Not American Anymore?

On more than one occasion now I’ve been told I’m not American anymore. Or I’ve been told I’m an Aussie. While I’ll take the latter, I will not take the former. I had to conduct some personal research as to why I felt this way. Why, after each instance of someone attempting to strip away a piece of my evolving identity, I felt so defensive and ready to rumble like a back alley cat over the last scrap of chicken. I’ve narrowed it down to a few reasons.

I love my country. Sure, the US is a functionally dysfunctional shit show at times. But she’s also full of diversity and ingenuity. Sprawling cities and small towns, both of which are filled with incredible people. A plethora of nice neighbors, and acquaintances you love to hate. A smorgasbord of political ideas, religious differences, and people either seeking or running from enlightenment. There is a Miranda Lambert song I love, “All Kinds of Kinds”, and not just because Stoney Larue also sings on the track. My interpretation of the song is that this circus of a world wouldn’t go ’round if we didn’t have all kinds of kinds. People who work their whole life in the same grocery store, or people like me who go out into the world, take a leap of faith and hope it all doesn’t go pear-shaped. I didn’t leave the US because I didn’t like it there anymore, or I was tired of the glorious Colorado sunshine. I left because it was the best decision for my daughter. She could have the best life her father and I could offer her at the present time in Australia. In all of my One Hot Mess glory, I found myself making the hardest decision I’ve come across in my short 28 years, and while I put on a brave face, it was scarier than watching Freddy Kruger at age 7. Selling just about everything I owned and jumping on a plane at 5 months pregnant with two suitcases and saying goodbye to my family seems almost unreal to me now. Thankfully, I have been welcomed into this beautiful country by an incredible family and some amazing friends. Now, let’s get back on track and I’ll tell you about my second reason.

I used to know who I was. Then, the sweetest, screaming, squishiest, little miracle known as Charlie graced us with her presence. Anyone who has become a parent, and especially the moms know, your identity changes when that time and date is forever stamped in your memory. I say especially the moms because not only do people start referring to you as Mommy, (who me?), your clothes don’t fit anymore, and you don’t recognize that puffy faced woman with the bags under her eyes in the mirror. Not to fear, you do begin to look like yourself again but on the inside you’re totally different. Scary! There are risks I won’t take anymore that I wouldn’t have thought twice about in the past. For example, eating cookie batter is a no-no. Not only because I’m not about to have time to make cookies, but I’m not eating raw egg. Who will watch the baby and take care of me if I am calling dinosaurs? Last time I checked I was only married to one man and there’s no nanny! Ok, bad example but you get the gist. I also haven’t done some of the things that used to be staple activities in my life in quite a while. Part of leaving the US was leaving behind the cold steel of my firearms, and the cozy leather of my saddles. Luckily, I still have my yoga pants and mat. Phew! I will ride again, and soon, but even then I will have to take up a different style of riding. Change, a necessary evil.

My last reason is this: I do what I want, you’re not the boss of me, and as long as my passport is issued by the good ol’ US of A, and I have to file taxes, I’m an American! One day, hopefully, I will carry dual citizenship. It’s a long and expensive journey but worthwhile. Just as one day, Lucas will become a dual citizen. When I moved out of my parent’s home at the age of 18, y’all didn’t quit calling me a Huffaker (maiden name, have fun trying to pronounce it if you’re new here). I posed the question of renouncing citizenship to a group of Americans living in Oz and the large majority of them said they would never give it up. I deduced from their reasons this, being an American is something we are born with, we become, and we (hopefully) take pride in. Now if we could just get the government to do that… Oh wait, that’s a whole other topic. I see myself as a representative of our great nation. When I meet new people, the first thing they ask me is where I’m from. Just as your mother isn’t perfect, you still love her, and that’s how I feel about my country.

I have no doubt that my little family will live in the US in the future and when we do, I will have this rich experience under my belt. Hopefully, that will only stand as something even greater I can offer my homeland having lived abroad. It’s a great big world out there, and it’s a short life.

xxOHM

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How To Catch Baby Wee

They say it comes in threes. The bad stuff in life, the not so goods, the craptastrophies (yes you read that right, say it with me crap-tas-trophies) the stuff that makes you enjoy the good times. Alas, I begin my story of how I had to catch baby girl wee (Aussie speak for pee) in the tiniest of cups known to man. Or woman. Or child.

The first of my not so fun three was Lucas getting his shoulder repaired Bankhart style, after a year of dislocations, pain, and agony. Second was sending my dear mother-in-law to the same hospital for surgery to remove an ulcer that everyone was afraid had the big C hiding in it, but it’s all clear. Yay! After visiting her the first day I drove away thinking, “It comes in threes. But maybe not, maybe this is the third thing and I just can’t remember the first.” Yah. Fat chance. When a few nights later I was kept up all night by a cranky baby, it hadn’t quite dawned on me this was the third thing. Perhaps my head was too cloudy because I was rudely awoken every thirty minutes just when I had begun to drift off again. Then the barf came.

Oh the joys of being a parent. Your instincts tell you to cuddle them and fight your own gag reflex as they’re ruining your pyjamas. Especially as a first timer at this baby barf business, you don’t really know what to do. Just catch it with your t-shirt? Flip them on their belly and hold their head out of it? Make a run for the sink? (Oh Lord think of the carpet!) Whatever you have to do, be grateful if your child doesn’t have a full head of hair down the middle of her back, which could possibly be record setting but that’s another story. Be grateful of this my friends, because when they barf in bed with all that hair, it’s ten times worse. Now, when one is covered in spew and her baby is also covered in spew the shower is the first place to go. Charlie doesn’t particularly like the shower but I figured since she was already crying I just had to bite the bullet.

The next few hours of my morning were filled with multiple outfit changes, for baby and me, calls to the doctor, and the fastest pile of laundry ever created. Once we arrived at the doctor’s surgery (Aussie speak for doctor’s office) Charlie “Barfy Pants McGee” decided to let everyone know she really was sick by spewing yet again. You’d think that would keep the lady next to me from cutting the line but no. Eventually we were seen and sent to a private room to wait for wee. For comparison sake for this part of the story, let me tell you that 50c pieces are pretty similar in Australia and America. And apparently that’s the popular circumference for a teeny, tiny plastic cup some genius decided a baby could leave a sample in. I suppose we’re all just overdoing it with those massive diapers we put on babies these days.

Two hours of waiting, several little syringes full of water to hydrate the baby, my husband arrives to offer his one armed support. Then the doctor sends us to the Emergency Department. At this point I’m not sure why she’s sending us to the hospital but I go along with it as she’s the medical professional and I’d rather be safe than sorry. We pack up the tiny wee collection cup, a spare they so generously provided us with, and one cranky baby.

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This is my very first time at a public hospital here in Australia, and it’s not too dissimilar to the emergency areas I’ve been to in America. There is however, a woman who is traipsing around in her gown, robe, and legs that would make Bigfoot feel emasculated. When we finally get in to see the doctor, I have an Asian Doogie Howser moment. This poor kid doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself, and he too, hands me a wee receptacle smaller than the compact mirror in my handbag. When he goes to leave I have to ask him if he wants us to just let her wee all over the bed or if he has some sort of pad we can lay down under her. This question is followed with more uncomfortable weight shifting and he scurries off to find something suitable. When he returns and pulls back the curtain to our little area, I think I caused him a slight stroke with my nursing baby. Momma CJ six months ago probably would have felt just as uncomfortable as he did in that moment but Momma CJ today couldn’t care less. If I hadn’t have been so stressed about Charlie, I probably would’ve giggled at poor Asian Doogie’s expense. Finally, we are left in peace and I can attempt yet again, to collect some baby wee. After five hours of waiting, it finally comes! Do I catch it in the cup? Of course not! Do I catch the second stream that follows it? Nope. Does it go all over the bed? Yup.

At this point Charlie has had a couple doses of baby Tylenol, called Panadol here, and she is perking up a bit. They cut us loose and we are sent home to try and catch the next wee. I’m getting really tired of this wee business, but Momma’s gotta do what Momma’s gotta do! At least the nurse sent us home with a kidney shaped dish that was much bigger. Cheers for all the nurses who do an amazing job everyday!

20130428-211945.jpg A side by side comparison of our two receptacles. Fun!

In the end Charlie only improved and we didn’t have to go back to the doctor. Thank goodness! We happily made it an entire year before having to take her the the hospital and we will happily put as much time between now and any future visits.

xxOHM

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Oh No She Didn’t!

I’ve been called a lot of things in my short life, but not being compassionate isn’t an old favorite. Today an article was passed under my nose regarding immigration and Australia. It also included the name of the particular type of Visa I hold in the title. Of course my interest was peaked! After making a dispassionate (Merriam-Webster defines this as cool, composed, unbiased), remark on said article, I was clobbered with a follow up comment which was an obvious reaction to a misinterpretation of my original thought. Now, I don’t tend to argue with people. Not in person and certainly not online. There is far too much lost in translation to ever have a proper debate in the land of cyber geniuses. A woman (I’m sure she’s a nice lady) who I have never met and isn’t privy to my political leanings, or even my view on humanity assumed I was being a meanie poo-poo head about refugees who come to Australia on risky boat trips. I can’t blame her, we live in a highly politicized society, one where many believe one party is a totally different than the other.

20130428-202714.jpg This photo, courtesy of the Herald Sun is of some Boat People.

Normally, I don’t give a rat’s pahtoody (like my creative spelling on that?) what people think of me. But in this instance, I needed to stand up for myself, and make it clear to those who don’t know me in all of my crazy pants glory, that I DO care about my fellow man. More so now than ever before. Why?, you ask. Because a little person came from my body and changed me forever. It’s a little sad to realize we live in a world where this is a normal assumption, and I have to defend myself, but that’s the next point to my little rant.

I wouldn’t say that prior to becoming a parent I didn’t care about people, or shelter animals, or whether or not my wine bottles in the recycle bin actually were recycled. I would say that after becoming a parent, I am keenly aware of the horrific goings on of our world. Tragic stories, crimes against humanity, acts of war, all violently thrash at my heart strings. I know there will not be peace in my lifetime, as there has never been peace in anyone’s lifetime. I know that I, one woman who has stood up for her rights and won, one mother who would go to the end of the earth to ensure a better future for my daughter’s world, will not make a big difference but I can make a small difference. I can nurture that difference, teach her to do things in the name of peace, not to harm others. To embark upon this world with an open heart and mind, a wisdom to know the right battles to fight when necessary, and a compassion for her fellow human and the nature that surrounds us all.

xxOHM

p.s. I know this was a bit of a “deep” post and not in my normal comedic fashion, but I promise to post something funny very soon! For now, here is a funny photo to satisfy your insatiable appetite for a laugh…

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Sad Mommy

When being a parent is one of the greatest joys you’ll ever know, how can you be sad? Watch them grow up, that’s how. I know now why my parents begrudgingly at times allowed me to gain my independence. From the first sleepover at a friend’s house to getting my driver’s license, they were simply sad to watch it all slip away. At least that’s my theory. Who knows, maybe they were just happy to get my sassy self out of the house so they could have some peace and quiet!

The first year of Charlie’s life has been such an overwhelming time of joy and celebration over the tiniest of things. Yet, as I pack away the rear-facing baby seat, among other things, I feel a little choked up. Like I did when the last episode of Friends aired. Something I had become very attached to was now going away. At least I have the car seat in storage and I can go visit it at anytime, and Friends does rerun everyday. But somehow, it’s just not the same.

20130404-200105.jpg She squealed with delight every time she rode around in this new seat today.

Perhaps I’m a little mental, ok, ok, maybe slightly more than “a little mental” but I still have friends so it mustn’t be that bad. I get the same sad panda feeling when Charlie grows out of clothes, or needs the next size up in nappies. (Aussie speak for diapers- I believed it’s derived from napkin, which is bizarre. Why would you put a napkin on a baby? Yes I know napkin is also used to refer to feminine hygiene products but still! Ah, the great quandaries of life.) How on earth did we go from nostalgic, sad panda mommy to feminine hygiene? Back that truck up sister!

In all seriousness, the time does fly by and if you aren’t soaking in every second of it, you’re wasting it. Forget high school, forget college, forget youthful days of reckless abandon. These are the best days of your life. At no other point will you have something so fleeting. It’s faster than child-propelled cell phone hurtling toward the pavement. It’s more heart stopping than the last five seconds of that eBay auction of the original (insert your material guilty pleasure here).

Perhaps it’s a combination of things. Perhaps it’s a reminder that you’re getting older, that your parents are getting older. That you’re closer to that milestone birthday and further from that dream home than you planned. Yet, when Charlie looks at me, none of that matters. She doesn’t care if my forehead has ever so quietly begun to whisper for Botox. Or that I can’t shop in certain stores anymore because I’m someone’s mother and those tiny outfits aren’t kneeling-in-the-park-rubber-mulch friendly. Or maybe it’s that I’m too shocked at the lyrics of mainstream music to play it in the car and now Classic Country on Pandora is my go to. That is, until little yells from the backseat start requesting The Wiggles.

Whatever it is, I’ll use it as a reminder that I can feel joy, I can be grateful each day when I wake up that wonderful this life is mine and I get to live it.

xx OHM

Family Holiday and Poop in the Tub

Contrary to popular belief there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. There is also, of course, too much of a bad thing. This weekend was filled with both. I am happy to tell you though, it was much more the former.

We had a lovely four day weekend, filled with family visiting from Sydney, copious amounts of wine and chocolate, and way too much poop in the bath tub. I’ll get to that last part in a minute. Let’s start from the top.

I am very lucky to have married into a tight knit family who visit each other often. Lucas’ brother came down to Canberra with his four girls- his wife, two daughters, and the family dog, Rosie. I suppose it’s his lot in life to be surrounded by beautiful women. Tough gig.

As with any of our family get togethers we tend to cram as much food and wine into our bodies as humanly possible. I’m not sure why we do this but it sure is fun when you’re having a picnic Easter lunch on a hillside instead of any of the flat surfaces available in the park. It’s even more fun when an entire bottle of Pinot Gris gets shared with your sister-in-law who just so happens to be wearing black suede stilettos. Yes, you read that right, half drunk, on a hill, in a park, in heels. She did borrow her daughter’s “runners” (Aussie speak for running shoes), when it was time to visit “Grandma Jones” (CJ speak for the toilet). I am not above admitting that I also had on some fabulous footwear and while my boots were black and heeled, they were not stilettos, perhaps I’m just not that brave. Matter of fact, there was quite a bit of borrowing going on, I never felt as old nor as cool as I did when my 13 year-old niece borrowed my jeans.

Aside from our hillside shenanigans, we had much more fun. Like decorating Easter baskets, which my sister-in-law and I somehow ended up doing by ourselves when the kids ditched us. It was also rib-stitchingly good when we were out for a coffee in the city and a runner “stacked it” (Aussie speak for crash or fall down). It was the “stack that kept on stacking” according to Lucas. This poor woman was just out for a run, in a Phoebe from Friends fashion I might add, when she brought us to tears. Just as she turned to take the sidewalk in front of our little cafe area, the curb jumped up and tripped her. Her feet shot out like duck paddles and she was horizontal for at least three slaps of the asphalt. It was like she was training for the next Matrix movie and had to nail the scene where the bullets come at your back but you can’t touch the ground with your hands. When she finally recovered she gave a thumbs up to another table and kept running, yet again nearly stacking in on a newly installed rail lining the path. We were dying of laughter. Almost as much laughter as when it was footy pyjama time!

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My niece and I rocking the onesie look.

As with every holiday I try to inject some of my own family traditions, it keeps me from feeling too homesick. This holiday for me is always marked by fruit pizza, which is my stepmom’s specialty. I’ll post the recipe in the Tasties section of the blog. Check it out, it is so yum.

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I’d say the highlight for me during the whole weekend was when we all jumped in our cars and drove down the road to the new Cajun restaurant. An American guy (I’m sold just on that), is from New Orleans and has opened a few restaurants around Australia, along with being a celebrity chef. He’s a big personality and I’ve seen him a few times at the markets peddling his chicken wings. Had I known then how unbelievably delicious these wings are, I would’ve been partaking in them for a much longer period of time. But, I was hesitant to buy wings from a sidewalk vendor. We have been stalking his restaurant for weeks now, waiting for it to open and fortunately, we called, learned he finally opened and we made a booking for Saturday night. Why on earth we thought it was a good idea to take Charlie to a restaurant I have no idea. We’re optimists I guess! We even packed her high chair in the car and trucked it in the restaurant with us as we learned they didn’t have high chairs there. She didn’t even sit in it once. An overstimulated baby just won’t nap and then they fall asleep on uncle Simon at the dinner table.

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I hungrily jammed as much ribs, jambalaya, shrimp creole, gumbo, chicken wings, and cornbread in my face as I could before Charlie had a full on meltdown. That kid had great timing because I am now addicted to the Soulfood Kitchen in Erindale thanks to her mini nap. I wanted to tell the people looking at the menu on the door as I exited with a crying baby that it was awesome and they should totally stay but I think Charlie would've nullified any uptalk I could give the place.

After our Happy Easter it was the first official Geelong Cats game of the year. To say Lucas is a fan would be an understatement. He's a fanatic. This morning, he woke up and told me he was nervous about the game. You'd think he was playing his debut game for the Cats. I have to say, he comes by it honestly, his dad and brothers are all huge Cats fans. Biting their nails, pacing nervously, and making Corona (the best beer available in Oz) disappear at rapid rates is all normal behaviour to be expected from the Copeland male during a game. I am happy to report they won, and none of us women have to deal with sulky males. Phew!

Following the game, the Sydney Copeland Clan headed back north and we began to settle in for the evening which is where poop in the bath tub comes in. Charlie has her dinner, followed by her bath, and then goes to bed almost every night. This routine of ours helps the little miss settle down and drift off to leave mommy and daddy in peace until we are too tired to keep our own eyes open. This evening we had a first. Charlie actually pooed in the the tub. It's not the first instance in which there was poo and Charlie in a tub at once as I did neglect to check her diaper before yanking it off and dunking her in the tub. But it was the first time she actually added floaties to the water. She was making her "poo face" and I thought she was acting funny but it wasn't until I saw the friendly fire that I grabbed her up out of the water and Lucas made a mad dash for reconnaissance materials. We almost made it a whole year. Here's hoping we make it to the next visit by the Easter bunny before we deal with any more pootastraphies.

xx OHM

p.s. I know teenage Charlie is mortified I wrote this.

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Good Friday? How about Best Friday Ever.

Sorry y’all, this isn’t a post about religion or the recognition of any Christian holiday. It’s about the day, or more like, really early morning that changed this little world of mine forever.

I haven’t shared Charlie’s birth story in writing, just verbal recounts of the massive event. It seems fitting to write it all down now that it’s nearly a year later and Good Friday will forever be an extra, extra special day in my book.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to share any disgusting details, or take you on a journey of incense and chanting. I’m an all American girl who gave birth in a foreign country, buckle your seat belts.

Let me start with the visit to the hospital a couple of months before D-Day. We had no choice but to go to the private hospital here as I am not an Australian citizen, nor do I have permanent residency. Yet. And we also had no choice, as I refused to share a room in the public hospital. I mean, who SHARES rooms anymore? This is something that baffles me with Australian healthcare. All in all, I had pretty standard expectations of this hospital as my nephew spent a night in the surgical wing after having his tonsils removed. I found his accommodation to be pleasant and up to date. Boy was I in for a surprise when we walked into the maternity ward.

Lucas and I waddled into the reception area, well Lucas didn’t really waddle so much, and we were greeted by plastic covered sofas and chairs in the waiting area that looked like they were from the 1980s. I wasn’t put off by this immediately as I was distracted by the competition. The other preggos. Who was going to deliver first in this group? I’m positive this morbid curiosity is only present in the warped minds of first time moms who have yet to embark on the highly anticipated journey of child birth.

As we collectively waddled and shuffled around the maternity ward, and shoved women who were much bigger than their real size and their husbands into little hospital rooms and delivery suites it became apparent to me this whole ward was out of date. When we were told that the husbands, “are only allowed to stay one night during your stay.” I realized the mentality was also a little out of date. Perhaps it just wasn’t what I expected but, I’ll be damned if I will be left alone with a new baby, in a hospital that has furniture older than the American Constitution while my husband chews his fingernails at home. In one room that we crammed our sweaty, pregnant selves into, I saw a television that I kid you not, was on a metal arm that pulled away from the wall. Where the hell is the plasma screen tv and double bed?! I kept pent up my concerns as I didn’t want to seem like the arrogant, loud American, who nothing was good enough for. Thankfully a little distraction came when a woman who brought her husband and toddler on a leash asked if she could stay longer than the maximum of six nights. Six nights?! And she wants to stay longer in this time capsule? I nearly laughed out loud. At the end of the tour, I couldn’t exit that building fast enough. The fear of the general unknown and difference of my expectations and what we were met with nearly proved too much for me. I soothed myself with the knowledge that aforementioned nephew had been born there and I was absolutely checking out after one or two nights. No exceptions.

It also didn’t hurt that my mother came to Australia the week before Charlie was born. We spent the next six days touring Canberra a little bit, as much as my hippo self could get around. On the Wednesday before Charlie was born I took mom and Dave to the Botanic Gardens. We walked through the rainforest exhibit as it was shady and cool, really nice for my giant swollen feet, and well, everything else.

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This is what pre-labor looks like. If I had only known!

Perhaps it was all the walking, or maybe just the fact that I had been cooking that little turkey long enough that the timer went off. We picked up Lucas from work that evening for dinner and a movie. He will tell you that I was a whole new shade of white and very quiet. At dinner, I started having the biggest Braxton Hicks contractions, and my stomach was like a rock. I felt a bit off but not like I was in labor certainly. After dinner we headed up to the movie theater to catch a showing of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Luckily for me it was sold out. All I wanted to do was go home and eat a Popsicle. All that evening the fun times started to roll. I couldn’t get comfortable to save my life and at 4:30am I shot upright in bed with a real, big girl, call your momma, the big show is a startin’ contraction. Game on.

13 hours, one breakfast burrito, one deli sandwich, a dozen soaks in the tub, and one of Dave’s (my soon to be stepdad- yay!) spicy burritos, I felt it was time to go time traveling. Now, at the ante-natal classes (Aussie speak for pre-natal) they told us to call the hospital before we came so they could gauge by the sound of my voice the gravity of the situation. Apparently, nurse midwives have a sixth sense and it is the ability to hear a woman’s voice and determine how soon a baby will come out of said woman. Apparently. I did as I was told, called the hospital and in normal OHM fashion, I made light of the situation.

“Hello, labor and delivery, how can I help you?” super nurse asks,
“Yes, hello. My name is CJ, my doctor is blah blah and I am in labor.” I tell the nurse.
“Oh ok, how are you feeling?”
“Well, haha. I feel like my baby is trying to escape my body.”
“Ok then, you can come in anytime but you might want to wait a few more hours.”
“Yeah ok.”
We left five minutes later. Just because a girl can joke about it doesn’t mean it’s not happening!

When we arrived we were escorted to a delivery suite and discovered that there was ONE nurse on staff. Another woman was already in heavy labor and going to deliver soon. The nurse called me “Petal” about 89 times and I was in too much pain to tell her that I didn’t know why she insisted on calling me part of a flower, or a car accelerator as I suppose it could’ve been either, but that she could stop. I donned my ever so flash hospital gown and proceeded to labor away. Every Ingrid Michaelson song ever recorded played in shuffle mode on my iPod and i couldn’t have pre-planned a better playlist for the time. About an hour later the nurse came back and asked if she could check the baby’s heart rate, and told me I’d have to get on the bed. I obeyed and she said she was concerned about the heart rate and wanted to continue to monitor it. Then she left.

Holy back labor.

Can I get an epidural now? Can we turn on the gas? Can I have ANY drugs?

Hello? Anybody?

My dear husband was such a trooper, he kept hunting down the lone nurse and begging her to call the anaesthesiologist for us. My in-laws arrived from Singapore before the anaesthesiologist showed up.

While waiting for the $1000 doctor to arrive and relieve my agony, I did use the F word. I am proud to say it only happened once the whole time and it was mid-contraction when I thought the flood gates had opened and both my mother and Lucas decided it would be a great time to let go of my death grip hands and take a little look. “What the F are you doing!?!?” I growled. They both promptly dropped the covers and resumed their posts.

After the drugs, and two and a half hours of pushing, some suction cup action, and some full on dragging my baby out the doctor proudly proclaimed, “Oh look! They’re shaking my hand! Look! look!” To which I replied, “I don’t have time to look! Just Get It Out!” Turns out, little Charlie was pushing back every time I pushed and she needed some extra assistance to make her debut. When her little face was visible my third birth partner and sister-in-law, let us all know, “It’s a girl!” Even though the “girl bits” weren’t even showing yet. Apparently my child was born with a very feminine face. Awwwwww.

At 3:58 on Good Friday morning, as “The Chain” played in the background, our sweet baby Charlotte Josephine was born. It was unlike I expected, and a little as I thought it might be. 24 hours of actual labor was quite enough for me and I am so grateful we had a perfect little girl. It was a flood of relief and joy like I had never known. Each day has been a steep learning curve but we are getting the hang of this thing. I venture to say we might have parenthood figured out in about 18 years. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had, being this little girl’s mom. Happy sort of birthday my darling girl. Good Friday indeed.

20130329-225057.jpg She’s named after my grandmother, Estella Josephine, aka Granny Jo.

xx OHM

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Baby Brain

We’ve all done some pretty stupid things. I will shamelessly tell you, the dumbest thing I did pre-baby, but I won’t tell you the dumbest post-baby thing because I probably can’t even remember. That’s the crap thing about Baby Brain, you can’t even remember what it is you forgot.
Pre-baby, when I was 18, I arrived at my boyfriend’s house after a long, gruelling evening
at the Jewlery store, preceded by a tough day at school. (I wish sarcasm had its own font, but I trust you, my readers, to pick up on what I’m laying down.) It was winter in Colorado and anyone with a brain knows its cold! Especially at night. So here I am, yakking away on my cell phone, in my car. The flip kind of cell phone mind you, this was pre-BlackBerry days, post-Nokia brick days for you kiddies. I have gathered my purse, my coat, and car keys but I tell my friend on the phone, “Ahg! I can’t find my phone anywhere!” To which she responds, “Where did you have it last?”

Wow. We were a couple of geniuses. I blame being 110 percent self-involved on that one.

Ok, I do remember my golden moment as a mother thus far. It was a warm Spring day and I was taking Charlie to the paediatrician (Aussie spelling) for a check up. I had her buckled into the car when I remembered I needed her Blue Book. The Blue Book is all her medical records from birth FYI. So, I run back into the house to retrieve this. But, before I leave my precious child in the driveway, I think to myself, “Hmmm, better lock the car so no crazies steal her while I’m in the house for 15 seconds.” Beep. Done. I race inside, grab the book and race back outside. Just as I pull the front door shut and hear the lock click, I realize, “Holy mother, I left the car and house keys on the table.” Now my baby is locked in the car, and I am locked out of both car and house. This is the moment when you envision the authorities ripping your child away from you, telling you you’re unfit. Or if you are like me, you say screw the authorities, I’ll smash a brick through a window before that happens! Luckily, I have my cell phone in my pocket and I dial Lucas 42 times before he FINALLY picks up and I can breathlessly tell him to, “Please come home I’m locked out and I’m the worst mother in the world!” The next seven minutes were the most paced, anxiety filled minutes my driveway has ever seen. Charlie, slept the entire time.

I remember these little gems of moments in my life every time I do something incredibly mindless or witness one of my friends fall into this misfortune. This past Saturday, I’m waiting at Zumba for my lovely friend Beck who I met at Mother’s Group and I adore to the end of the earth. She comes in and uses what is normally my line, “Oh my gosh,you aren’t going to believe what I did!” She goes on to tell me that she accidentally followed the car in front of her into the car park without getting her own ticket. Wait, wait, wait. What the heck is a car park? Ah yes my American friends, here is where I can show off my awesome Australian to American translation skills. A car park is a parking lot, or a parking garage, or a parking space. Pretty much anywhere that is legal for you to shimmy your SUV into. In this instance, Beck was referring to the parking garage near the gym we go to and you can park free for the first two hours. Now, having Baby Brain starts when you’re pregnant and it never goes away. Ever. Baby Brain is at times a debilitating condition, especially when you have five free, peaceful minutes and you can’t remember why the hell you’re in the kitchen. Or, you’re so zoned out you sneak into the car park like my friend Beck, the hardened criminal who dragged me down to the ranks of Canberra outlaw with her.

Prior to the Zumba class starting we were devising ways to get her car out without getting caught by the authorities and not having the giant yellow arm come smashing down on her upon exit. Suffering from my own Baby Brain, it took me until half way through the class to get my lightbulb moment. By this time in the class, I’m looking more like a drunken woman in yoga pants who thinks her moves are the best this world has ever seen. Being distracted by my ever-so-clever idea is not helping my coordination.

When class ends I inform Beck that we CAN get her car out and I am 99 percent positive it will work. She will follow me out, I will zoom as soon as the arm lifts and she can just zip out behind me. As we near the exit, my pulse attempts to quicken but it’s still elevated since my out of shape derrière just finished a semi-difficult workout. I think to myself, “It’ll be fine, and if its not, well, I just won’t think about that.” We get to the exit and I hesitate, not knowing which one to take, there are two lanes, I decide on the one that has more room for two cars to line up so we can maximise our acceleration. I push in my ticket, don’t take time to read out loud the, “Have a lovely day!” message that I usually mock, and hammer the accelerator. My father would be so proud. I even put the Touareg in “sport” mode to prepare for such a drag race moment. I check the curb with my left rear tire, don’t tell Lucas, and Beck squeaks out behind me. We did it! I’m sure the cars at the stoplight think we’ve lost our marbles when we both do a happy dance, but I don’t know them so who cares?! Lesson learned, sometimes you’re so preoccupied and/or brain dead from motherhood you have to resort to criminal activity. I don’t recommend it, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

xxOHM

p.s. Feel free to share your “Baby Brain” moments, it’s good to know we’re not alone!