It's all about The Compromise
by Karla ° Friday, September 26, 2008
I never really got to finish the story of our five-year anniversary celebratory weekend sans toddler. It started with me spending the entire day Friday scrubbing this house from top to bottom. Somewhere in between scrubbing toilets and folding man socks, I got my hair did. The last time my hair saw the shears of a stylist was over nine months ago. Christmas of 2007, to be exact. I’ve been waiting, ok fine, procrastinating nine long months for this haircut, so even though Mark was hoping to come home to a lingerie-clad wife ready for a romp in bed, humans are able to gestate and birth their offspring faster than I get to the salon and you can bet your sweet ass I didn’t want to ruin my hair for a quickie. God, like, as if. Instead, I put on a super low cut shirt and while waiting for Mark to get home from work, I shampooed the carpets in my sexy mom van. Hot, I know. And because I am all about The Compromise, I left a cold bottle of beer on the hood of the van for Mark when he got home.

We cooked the most delish dinner I’ve eaten in months. Unfortunately Mark hated it, but whatev. I wanted to eat something grown up-ish for a change. Too bad that Mark thinks vegetables taste stupid. This reminds me of the last time I asked him bring me home a vanilla soy latte with no foam from Starbucks. He told that my request undermined his ability to be a heterosexual man and that I might as well be asking him to place an order for a great big giant froufrou rainbow.

We had a wild and crazy night doing all the kinky things that married couples with kids crave. Sleep. And after sleeping for 11 hours straight, that’s right, 11 glorious hours of coma-like uninterrupted sleep, my muscles came thisclose to completely atrophying.

We woke up the next day and set out for a mid-morning hike. After following the path for a while, Mark wanted to try my new Canon EF 24-70mm L USM f/2.8 lens, and I hemmed and hawed about it, because we all know what kind of pictures the man takes, but I made him promise that he had to take interesting pictures of nature-y things that did not include my ass. I have to hand it to him, he tried, he really did. He just needs to work on his angles. And by angles, I mean pointing the camera 180 degrees away from my ass.

And this is exactly what makes us such a perfect couple. He wants sex all the time, and I want him to pick up his fucking socks all the time. It’s a good thing we’re all about The Compromise, because if one of us always got our way, we’d either end up with like 400 kids, or, gasp, a clean house.

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Pneumonia
by Karla ° Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I’m pretty sure bringing my laptop to the hospital broke the cardinal rule of hospital law. You know the one that wants to make sure people have fuck all to do all day? I guess that's fine if you're allowed to wander the halls and keep entertained by flashing your bare ass in one of those hospital gowns shipped straight from Satan himself at his sewing machine in sartorial hell, but that doesn't quite work so well if you're trying to keep an intravenously wired and bed bound toddler confined in isolation occupied.

This is why I'm so thankful that god invented the PVR. Because having cartoon after cartoon after cartoon all the way into cartoon infinity available at your fingertips is so much easier than trying to explain to a not even two-year old the intricacies of colouring on a piece of paper and not all over the hospital bed sheets.

We have an appointment with a Pediatrician at the hospital later this morning to make sure Nate’s still on the road to recovery, but we’re home now. He’s better, but still ill and on enough airway-opening drugs that we’re thinking of starting our own online pharmacy.

We’ve even got steroids. So when he wakes up tomorrow with chest hair, a deep voice and a bushy man beard, I’m going to have to go ahead and update his resume and buy him a new suit so he can go and find a job to pay for all the dye I’m going to need to cover all these newly sprouted gray hairs on my head.


Thank you once again everyone for your concerned emails and well wishes. We’re so blessed and grateful for your support and kindness.

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Admitted
by Karla ° Monday, September 22, 2008
I’m home for a brief second to splash some water over the bleary purple sacks that are my eyes and pack my bags for an undetermined stay at the hospital.

After getting no sleep last night listening to the increasingly worsening sounds of Nate’s laboured breathing, I took him to the Emergency Room at 4:00 AM this morning. In the span of 12 hours, he has had seven ventolin mask treatments and the little veins in his hands still turn a frightening shade of purple-blue if his lungs are not being assisted with additional oxygen.

He’s in isolation right now; his struggling lungs being assisted with a haphazardly taped-to-the-face oxygen nose prong, his tiny body immobilized by the too-short tubes of an IV drip, and his face covered with a ventolin mask every hour, on the hour.

I never expected Motherhood to be easy by any stretch of the imagination, and there's a lot that I don't know, but the penetrating fear piercing through the clear blue innocence of Nate’s eyes is something that will haunt me forever. This I know for certain.

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Sealed with a kiss
by Karla ° Sunday, September 21, 2008
Five years of marriage sealed with a kiss under an orange and vermillion twilight sky.

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Five years
by Karla ° Friday, September 19, 2008
Tomorrow is Mark and my five-year anniversary. It’s the day I married my best friend. The man who I’ve known for more than half of my entire existence on this planet. And you know? After two years of inseparable friendship, seven years of dating, and five years of marriage, I can say without a doubt that we're both totally different people than those awkward 15 and 17-year-olds crossing the alcohol-enabled boundary line to kiss their best friend. But I also know, without a doubt, that friendship has been the glue that has kept us connected all these years.

Mark is my rock. My perpetually hot man rock that lets me warm my frozen toes against his legs every night and wrap my fingers through his burly man hands while drifting off to sleep. And this is how I know he’s a keeper; because even when I tell him that my vagina is too tired for sex. Again. I know. I’m so sorry honey. I can’t control these things, but here, let’s hold hands! He respects that. At least, until, you know, the next night. He’s patient. And clever. Because he totally knows that my vagina can’t possibly be tired forever.

We aren’t doing anything extravagant for our anniversary, unless you count sending our kid to visit his Grandparents for the weekend extravagant. We’ll probably stay in and cook an honest to goodness grown-up meal that isn’t made of pizza, peanut butter or French fries; practically the only food items that exist on planet earth that my kid will eat.

Incidentally, when Nate was in the hospital a few days ago the Pediatrician noted how skinny he is. And really, he is. The kid has no meat on his bones. But then again, I’m sporting clavicles so pronounced that gymnasts could balance on them, so his small frame comes as no surprise. But just to be sure, as part of the routine blood tests, various nutritional tests were also done, and LO! He may only weigh 22 lbs at 20 months, but somehow, somewhere, buried in the depth of my homemade wheat germ-infused whole wheat pizza crust; he’s getting all the nutrition he needs.

So, our kid is miles and miles away, and Mark and I have an entire house, sans toddler, to ourselves for the entire weekend. Mark’s still at work, and so far today, after dropping Nate off, I’ve vacuumed and shampooed the carpets, scrubbed two bathrooms from top to bottom, called my mom to talk to Nate, only to find out he was too busy having fun to care, cleaned dog snot and sticky peanut butter coated fingers prints from every glass surface in the house and washed and folded three loads of laundry.

And I know if Mark is reading this, his heart is sinking to unfathomable depths because the last time I cleaned this much it sent my vagina into a coma.

Don’t worry baby, I promise I'm still in tip top shape to perform the number one thing we wanted to do this weekend.

Sleep.

And because it’s a special weekend, seeing that it’s our anniversary and all, I promise to spoon with you instead of the dog. Just don't forget to bring home the vino, mmmkay?

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S(h)it
by Karla ° Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Nate's most favourite thing to do in the whole wide world right now is teach Samson how to shit.

All he wants do all day is feed Samson kibble and tell him to shit. And I can hardly say no. He’s happy. Samson’s happy. They’re both out of my hair. Shitting makes us all happy.

I know Mark hates it, but I like it when Samson shits in bed with us. I could do without the flatulent squawk of his butt trumpet though. I don’t know what’s wrong with that dog’s intestinal organs, but I’m pretty sure the fumes from his dog farts could be bottled and sold as the next generation of tear gas.

When he was a puppy, he used to love shitting in the bathtub, but these days, trying to shove his giant 90 lb dog torso in the tub is a job in and of itself, let alone expecting him to shit in there.

And despite the hairy mess he leaves behind, we do let Samson shit on the furniture.

Oh, and then there’s the van. OMFG! The van! That dog totally LOVES shitting in the van. He didn't have much room to shit when he had to share the back seat of our compact car with Nate's car seat, so he especially loves it now that he has the entire back row all to himself to shit on.

Sometimes Samson shits outside, but only if it's sunny and he can catch a tan, too. He mostly prefers to shit in the house and spend his time outdoors running and playing.

And even though Samson has his moments of riotous disobedience, he's mostly a good dog and shits on command. Especially if the fridge door is opened. You should see what a good shitter he is then. Also, whenever we're out for a run, I make him shit before he crosses the road, too. You know, for safety.

Our dog goes absolutely apeshit crazy when we take him anywhere, so we always have to work very hard at helping Samson to relax and shit at the front door before we ring the doorbell. I know our friends and family appreciate it.

Ysterday, when Mark got home from work, he asked Nate what he and Mom did all day. Nate said shit.

And that is exactly what my life as a Stay-at-Home Mom is like.

I stay home all day and do shit.

Such a good shitter.

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Better
by Karla ° Monday, September 15, 2008
While waiting for some test results, I went outside to make a few phone calls. And standing right there, in front of a No Smoking sign and puffing away on a cigarette, was the woman who I had seen when we first arrive at the ER. The same woman who, several hours earlier, I overheard saying she was concerned she hadn’t felt her baby move.

She glanced over in my direction and as our eyes locked, mine narrowed into disapproving slits and hers, clearly recognizing my disapproval, shifted towards the ground in obvious guilt-infused avoidance. My mouth opened to say something, the rage boiling through my blood was thick, but nothing came out. Feeling slightly faint as another wave of nausea welled from deep within my stomach, I lowered my gaze and concentrated on my phone.



When I returned to the hospital room, a Pediatrician was talking to Mark about sending Nate for an X-ray. God, the thought of yet another x-ray in his already less than two-year existence made me feel sick to my stomach all over again. I know x-rays are commonly used for so many things, but geez, there’s a reason the technician gets to hide behind tombstone-thick lead walls. AND IT’S CALLED RADIATION.



Entering the x-ray lab to hold Nate’s hand through the process, the technician asked if I minded if Mark stayed with him instead. “You never know if there’s a little brother or sister in there,” she said, gesturing towards my stomach.



As the night wore on, so did our worry. The doctors didn’t quite know what was wrong. X-rays for pneumonia were inconclusive. The Respiratory Therapist mentioned something about Croup, or Bronchiolitis. One nurse wondered about allergies. Another nurse seemed concerned about asthma. But no one knew anything for certain. There was blood work. Lots of blood work. And one frighteningly long q-tip swab up the nose.

Finally, the only thing left to do was wait. Turning out the lights, I wrapped Nate in his blanket and softly caressed the tension from his forehead until he fell asleep in my arms.



Eventually, after more inconclusive test results, we were sent home with a ventolin puffer and chamber attachment. The Respiratory Therapist showed us how to use it, and told us to administer it to Nate every three hours throughout the rest of the night. “Someone will call you in the morning with a follow up appointment to see the Pedatrician at his practice,” she said. And then, more seriously, “I’m sure everything is fine, but just in case, please don’t take your son into the waiting room. There are lots of babies and newborns there.” I said I understood. “And please.” she reiterated, "If his breathing deteriorates at all tonight, bring him back right away.”



We went home, weary and spent, too tired even to notice the dinnerless hollow of our stomachs. Tearing apart the storage room, I found Nate’s baby monitor, and after setting the alarm to wake me up in an hour for his next scheduled drug-assisted opening of the airways , I set the monitor on full and began drifting between islands of uneasy sleep while trying to concentrate on every single breath being taken by a sleeping toddler down the hall.



After a restless night of weary protests from being awakened to a forced drug-filled mask in his face every couple of hours, Nate woke up gasping and tugging for breath again. Nearly forgetting to switch off an untouched pot of coffee, we rushed back to the hospital. Navigating the morning rush hour traffic, I fought back yet another wave of nausea while Mark furiously pounded the too-tiny keyboard of his BlackBerry, cancelling meetings and notifying his team that he wouldn't be in the office.

We arrived at the ER shortly before 7:00 am, and let me just say, if you’re going to pick a time to fall off a roof, or have a heart attack, just make sure you do it first thing in the morning. Because I am so not kidding, the quiet was eerie. I have never seen an Emergency Room so empty.



After another mask treatment, we were sent home with reassurance that Nate’s lungs sounded much better, and because of that, pneumonia was unlikely, but we still needed to wait for the final verdict from the Pediatrician.



For the Love of Pete, as it turns out, Nate just has a really really bad cold, which, in kids under two, is called Bronchiolitis. I know? Bronchio WHAT? That’s what I asked, too. Bronchiolitis, although sharing many of the same symptoms as asthma, is really just a bad lung infection and because of that, hospitalization can be very common.

Sometimes though, this can actually be the beginning signs of asthma, or allergies, and it's something we need to be aware of, but as of this moment, Nate's fine. He’s on antibiotics, and we’re equipped with a puffer and a special toddler-friendly chamber attachment to use if something like this ever happens again.

And after all was said and done, I am so relieved that this entire ordeal only cost our family $21 in hospital parking fees.



My baby, my son, although better now, and resting safe and sound in the comfort of his own bed, keeps telling me that he’s shad (sad), and that he wants to go home. And even though we are home, something tells me what he’s really trying to say is that he’s still haunted by the memories of the florescent tomb of bleached-white lab coats and forced oxygen masks and that he wants to go back to the way things used to be: to a time when he didn’t know so intimately how it feels to be so afraid.

Thank you, everyone, for your incredible outpouring of support. The heartfelt emails, the sincerity of your comments. It all means the world to me. I'm humbled and eternally grateful.

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Breathless
by Karla ° Friday, September 12, 2008
The sun was just beginning to set behind a rusty terracotta sky as I nervously paced the sterile white-walled hospital halls of a bustling Emergency Room. There was one person in line in front of me, a woman, anxiously answering the questions of a seemingly impatient nurse before standard procedure dictated she was to be sent to wait an undetermined amount of time for medical help in an already overcrowded waiting room.

I could overhear their conversation; she was seven months pregnant and hadn’t felt her baby move since early that morning. My heart, already full of worry, shattered into a million tiny pieces for her. This was the same hospital where a cold-hearted x-ray technician stepped all over my already bruised and grieving heart one week after Ava died, and it’s also where, one year later, I waited six hours to be seen before finding out that I was, in fact, having a miscarriage. I silently hoped that woman would be seen quickly and that her baby was ok.

I wasn’t at my hospital of choice, but the tiny human draped in my arms could not fill his lungs with air and I didn’t have any other options. My only saving grace from not having to wait an unforeseeable able amount of time for medical care was a hastily scribbled piece of paper carefully tucked in my purse from a Pediatrician saying that Nate needed to be seen immediately.



Earlier that afternoon I received a call from Nate’s daycare provider. “He’s not feeling very well.” I could hear the concern, deep and genuine, in her voice. “He’s got a fever, and he needs his Mommy.” “I’ll be right there,” I said as I grabbed my car keys and headed out the door.



As I was strapping Nate into his car seat I could hear his sharp intakes of breath, but I knew he had a cold and figured his nose was just stuffy. But on the car ride home, while listening to his tiny body breathe, I realized something wasn’t right.



I took Nate to a nearby walk-in clinic staffed by Pediatricians. Asking me to raise his shirt, the doctor observed quietly for a moment and then showed me how, whenever Nate breathed, his little chest struggled as it tugged in deeply, creating a concave hollow just below his rib cage. Nate needed oxygen and needed to go to the hospital right away.

My body immediately started shaking and I felt like I was going to throw up. Glancing down at Nate, a tear softly rolled off my cheek and I watched as it landed on his forehead. Sensing it, Nate lifted his head and focused his ocean-blue eyes inquisitively on mine. Feeling helpless, I forced a smile, kissed his forehead and whispered a promise that everything was going to be OK.



I don’t think I’ve ever seen Nate so scared. He needed to wear an oxygen mask and required several treatments of ventolin to help him breathe. My poor child could do nothing but watch with confused horror as a flurry of people hovered around him, held down his hands and forced a vaporous mist against his face. Between treatments he sat defeated and lifeless, giving up on even trying to pump his tiny fists in protest, and just kept saying “car, “ and “home.” And as my heart shattered into a million tiny shards of worry and concern, all I could do was place his hand in mine, gently stroke his furrowed brow and tell him that we couldn’t go just home yet.





The past few days have been mentally and physically draining. My eyes are heavy, my stomach is still queasy and I feel like I’ve been smacked in the chest with a cosmic 2x4. I think, for now, I need to stop here.

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Untangling Knots
by Karla ° Wednesday, September 10, 2008
If things have seemed rather quiet on the posting front lately, it’s all been for a good reason.

I GOT A BOOB JOB.

Haha. Just kidding. We all know that you can’t make something out of nothing. This totally explains why I’m such a terrible cook. My fridge is always in a state of perpetual recipe-sabotaging hollowness.

Behind the scenes though, things have been busy. It all started a few weeks back when Mark mentioned that he wanted to get back into blogging. And I was all “Really? What would you write about? Because my readers already know that our home is littered with your stinky socks and that you like to throw your dirty underwear at my head.” And Mark was all, “Maybe I’ll do a live video blog in the nude.” And then I got all excited because just think about all the laundry I wouldn’t have to do. In the end we compromised on a fitness blog because his journey from fat to fit has not been an easy one.

Blogging is such a strange thing, isn’t it? We can live on opposite sides of the world, and yet there is still this unmistakable sense of community. It’s a place full of honest and true friendships, support, validation and acceptance. I'm constantly inspired and moved by the stories and creativity expressed on this online collective, and, wanting to build on that sense of community, have brought together a small but ever growing group of talented writers to share their experiences in this amazing journey called life.

Authored by a first time father and funny man extraordinaire Rich, Untangling Fatherhood shines a spotlight on the adventures of family from a man’s perspective, and over at Untangling Relationships, Dawn dishes the dirt about starting a new life in a new city and the juggling act of maintaining the relationships she left behind while trying to build new ones, which you know, means she gets to do things like date three guys at the same time.

And then there’s Untangling Fitness. Although a total nudist at heart, I’ve forbidden my perpetually sarcastic and in shape husband from posting any pictures that resemble, expressed or implied, full frontal nudity, including, but not limited to, suggestive photos of me struggling to pull one of those stupid effing wrappers off of a cucumber. Seriously. Go ahead and try and convince me that plastic-wrapped nuisance doesn’t hail from a failed condom campaign of testosterone-infused wishful thinking.

In the weeks to come even more fabulous bloggers will be featured, but in the meantime I’ve added all these new sites to my feed reader and I hope their stories will entertain and inspire you as much as they do me.
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Hypothetically speaking
by Karla ° Sunday, September 7, 2008
If I was a man, and I had a penis, then I just bought an extension for it.

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A sister named Ava
by Karla ° Thursday, September 4, 2008
As a parent, I have a natural inclination to want to protect and shield Nate from experiencing the tumultuous emotions of pain. Not necessarily superficial pain. He’s a kid. He needs to explore. He needs to fall, and tumble and rediscover the symmetry of balance between unsteady feet and too-fast toddler legs. This sort of pain is easy to handle. The uncomplicated sting of a scraped knee can easily be forgotten in the silliness of laughter and a face first fall and mouth full of carpet fibres can easily be fixed with the comforting security of a blankie and the magic of spot-healing Mom kisses.

But explaining death to a child; an inescapable fact of life that we all have to deal with at some point in time, is not quite as easy. I’ve never hid from Nate the fact that he has a sister. We’ve mentioned Ava to him before, and showed him pictures of her, but we’ve never actually told him that she died.

Children seem to have an intuitive nature about them, and on a deeper level, I’m certain Nate senses and picks up on my emotions. Maybe it’s my own narcissism, but if I’m sad on the inside and force a smile on the outside, something in his eyes tells me that he sees right through the façade.

I want Nate to know about his sister, and I want him to know that it’s ok to talk about her, but he’s not at an age where he’s ready to carry the weight of death on his shoulders. There’s a delicate balance, I believe, between the truth and protecting his innocence.

And just to complicate matters, considering death is one of life’s greatest certainties, it’s also one of life’s greatest uncertainties. Some of us believe in an afterlife. Some of don’t. Some of us believe in Heaven. Some of don’t.

As a kid, whenever someone died, I was told that they were with God in Heaven. I remember being fearful for a very long time that God might come and take me away from my family, too.

And although religion can be an instrumental beacon of strength and hope, it’s not something that Mark or I practice. This is where it can get tricky too, because there are many religious euphemisms that are actually quite hurtful to hear. And although death and religion tend to go hand in hand, I never planned to raise Nate under the teachings of one religion, and instead hope to expose him to a wide range of beliefs so that he can explore and figure out for himself what religion and spiriturality mean to him.

I also have to imagine that telling Nate his sister is in a better place, or that she is happier now would only cause some very mixed and confusing feelings when this message is coupled with the obvious sadness of her passing. If Ava is in a better place, why aren’t we happier about it?

And wouldn’t telling Nate that Ava is resting in peace just perpetuate the confusion of death and cause unnecessary anxiety for him about falling asleep and never waking up again?

Obviously, just telling Nate that Ava is “gone” isn’t ok either, because family doesn’t just go away never to come back. Tell me that's not a trust issue waiting to happen.

I don’t have all the answers today.

But it won't be long before he starts to wonder where all the flowers went, and I'll have to tell him that eventually flowers stop growing and blooming. And that one day insects stop crawling and eating.

Eventually well have to explain that his sister does not breathe or eat either. And that she doesn’t smell flowers or run and play.

Eventually, Nate will understand that different people believe in different things, and that’s ok.

Eventually he’ll be old enough to fully grasp the concept of death, and I pledge to help him navigate that journey through the sombre trenches of humanity as openly and honestly as possible while making him feel safe, loved and secure.

But for now, Nate has a sister. And her name is Ava.

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