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24/7

At this point in my life, it felt like I’d been let down a lot. By many different people, in various situations as we all have but wasn’t sure just how much more I could handle. Waiting to start this new job had kept me alive all year and now it was August – that’s 8 effing months of playing the waiting game. I was so disappointed. My dad and I had the whole ‘everything happens for a reason’ discussion yet again, emotions running wild and I had to sweep myself up again. Sometimes you just need a pick-me-up pep talk. I finally got ‘poor’ Charlie into nursery much to ‘the commenters’ dismay as he was ‘only 3 months old’. The commenters are people who comment on everything you do but don’t even know you. There are lots of them inhabiting this small island.

I boldly went out to vet clinics asking if they’d hire me, trying not to sound too desperate even though I was, and got no bites. I just studied for so long, how is this possible? Should I beg? For God’s sake Steffi, do not beg and certainly do not cry. Crazy mother mode was raging. This place just hired someone…that place doesn’t have enough business to hire another vet etc etc. I felt screwed and now truly recognized the importance of written contracts as opposed to verbal agreements, but Trinidad ‘doh wuk so’.

Trinidad doh wuk full stop.

Fine then, I decided. You don’t want me? I’ll start my own business.

But it was a lot. Most days I was booked up and doing vet work from 8-4 which sounds totally normal and great…unless you also own a baby. Sucking snat out of your baby’s nose at 3am to then go empty dog’s anal glands at 8am – what was happening? Also when did I become a snat sucker? My aunt always said you’d do it for your own child and I solemnly pledged that I would never do such an absurd thing. My word, how times had changed. Trust me, you’ll be a snat sucker one day too if you have kids. And running on zero energy with a random salary each month wasn’t cutting it. Babies cost more than anything I’ve ever owned lol obviously. Like almost even more than a car, especially after the hospital bill which still hung over my head. Why didn’t my silly body just do its job, it would have been much cheaper – the horror of ‘labour day’ from getting hooked, to the Pitocin, to the bill, struck me often and it always made me feel a bit dizzy.

But thank you Jesus for saving my vagina.

Even though my scar is crooked.

Did you know that a baby t-shirt in the mall is $250? WHAT. Formula is $270 for the biggest size which lasts approximately 5 days if you have a shark baby. Then there’s nursery fees, toys, doctor visits…and the list goes on. And people think their pets are expensive, ha. The limitations of money brings a stress that it shouldn’t have the ability to. Quite like a Trini passport. It is so sadly limiting! And I get stopped, questioned and x-rayed every time I travel. Airport officials stop me to ask whether I know that drugs are illegal. What? Ugh.

Anyway – A few months after I launched MobiVet I was approached by a clinic with an offer to start working there as of January 2018. It was refreshing to start having some stability to life again but that meant MobiVet house calls before work, after work and then emergency calls and texts all night – oh yes and the motherhood situation. It was totally exhausting and I had no clue how to balance it. Vet life is a lot more work than I ever thought it would have been, physically and emotionally. And the salary does not equate the workload in any form or fashion. 

See the problem is that I’m a true hustler at heart. In Convent I used to burn DVD’s, make mini cheesecakes, brownies, cheese paste sandwiches, popcorn, you name it… to sell to classmates in form 5 Earth Sci. Before I knew it business had spread to Nat Sci, Modern and Business and I had a line up every lunchtime ready to barter. “I’ll give you $5 for that brownie…”

“I’ll Give you $7…”

Sold for $7! Thanks see you tomorrow I’m bringing cheesecake.

It was great, I loved it.

But we weren’t 16 anymore (unfortunately). I had to stop hustling, grow up and learn how to balance all of the weights and responsibilities that I now had in life – and it felt like I had a lot more than the average 28 year old. I had to make a conscious decision to make more time for the kids because I was getting too caught up with all the work. Work shouldn’t come before family. I was so determined to make money out of fear of depending on my parents – no one wants to be that child. No sir-ee. I needed to learn how to balance being the bread-winner, child carer, dog walker, exerciser and sometimes limer. And since the most important thing that anyone can give is your time… I needed to start giving more of it.

Below. My beautiful boys deserved more of me.

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There is also a deep fear engraved in most vets that you will not always be there for your clients, tarnishing your reputation slash having people think that you don’t care. But the reality is that you cannot please everyone. It takes a great deal of discipline to not accept phone calls after a certain hour. It causes massive anxiety and sleepless nights thinking that there may be a pet who needs you. And sleepless nights aren’t affordable when you already don’t sleep because your baby doesn’t let you! I would watch Netflix until 11pm to unwind, get woken up at 1am, then at 4am, then at 6am every day. Some days I’d cry until 11pm then repeat the rest. Why won’t he sleep, what am I doing wrong? I could feel the dark circles under my eyes drooping further downward.

Side note – A typical morning: Up at 1am for a bottle, up at 4am for a bottle, up at 6 am to start the day. Mix Charlie a bottle, on the way back upstairs he throws bottle on floor. We are both covered in milk, as is the staircase while the milk trickles downward. Skye never too far behind, standing in the way as I try to pick up the bottle and go back down the stairs to clean up the mess almost tripping over him, 30 pound Charlie in hand. Bathe Charlie. Charlie poops in the shower and refuses to get out. Have to clean up the poop and force him out of the shower so he’s now screaming and crying and kicking me on my tummy with karate master precision right onto my c-section scar which hurts like a bitch. I eventually am able to dress and send him to nursery after breakfast which sometimes he eats, sometimes he throws everywhere and most times he feeds to Skye. Thankfully he goes to nursery like a champ – the easiest part of our lives. Go to work until 4/6pm  depending on the day then fly home to relieve him from mum. Go running with Skye and Charlie. Feed him, bathe him, play time, entertain him. Bed at 7:30pm but sometimes 8:30, sometimes 9. He gets overtired and barbaric, biting me, pulling my hair, digging my skin. Plop him into crib with his ‘Beppm’ (bottle) and most times leave him to fuss until he falls asleep because I just can’t do any more. I am totally exhausted by 10pm and wish I could go see my human friends but my face looks unrecognizable and I tell myself I cannot go out into the world looking like this. Also I have to be up at 1am for the next feeding. And if I’m on call I cannot go anywhere. My computer is allowed to see my face briefly and then I lay in bed worrying about pets, cases, life, what even happened today and then eventually knock out. No joke, this job is 24/7.

But back to where I left off – Around the same time that I started the new job in January, I had rekindled an old flame with someone I never imagined I’d even speak to again. But as they say, it’s all about timing. Sometimes you need certain people without realizing it and you open yourself up to experiences and emotions that you never ever thought you would. And it can be so great.

If it lasts.

*Disclaimer! – Snat/snot sucking only occurs when your child is sick with the flu and they cannot breathe so you zip into instinct mode and try to get the cold out before they suffocate. If it not for fun, it is not enjoyable and I certainly do not recommend it…unless you truly think they cannot breathe.*

 

“Out there things can happen, and frequently do,
To people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.
Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

The hunchback of Fairways

Under a heavy daze I held the baby to my breast-implant-lookalikes, and like I’d seen on tv started to feed him. If we lived in caveman days (and I wasn’t a vet) I definitely would not have known what to do. But he knew exactly what to do (thankfully) and gulped down his colostrum while I was high as a kite falling asleep and waking up shocked each time that he was still in my arms. How did he not fall yet? I was literally just completely knocked out. It was a miracle that he didn’t fall that night but has since fallen many, many times (not my fault though, he’s a beast).

The next morning I started to feel a bit more alive, but with life came all of the pain. Visual pain too, when you see the compression stockings you have to wear to prevent blood clots, oh and your stomach…just don’t look down. The only thing I can compare it to is a balls sac. Imagine your entire stomach looks like one big balls sac. Again, looking into the mirror should be avoided at all costs no matter what because hot mess doesn’t even begin to describe your situation at that point in time. Unless it’s just me, in which case I am glad I didn’t leave the house for a while after those sad struggles. I called my doctor the day after the c-section who said that I had to stay another night in hospital. I said no thanks, I’m going home now, and we left. Friends came over and I could see the look of dread on their faces when they saw my condition. Secretly I thought, I cannot wait for their turn muhaha.

I made Quasimodo look like an eligible bachelor for longer than I’d like to admit and genuinely thought I’d never leave the house again. The hunchback was here to stay and couldn’t even sit to weewee alone – you have to have someone hold you and you plop down onto the toilet seat BAM, ouch, every single time. Oh and wiping is a serious struggle too so make sure your man/woman/whoever isn’t too scornful. Those awful diapers become your bestest friends only second to those pain relief tablets that don’t even work that well but are better than nothing. Laughing hurts so much that you almost forget how to do it after the first few weeks while your uterus tries to figure out what the hell just happened, your brain is in shock (influenced no doubt by those terrible hormones) and then the baby…well the baby cries, which also doesn’t contribute to your sanity.

In fact, you may go quite insane.

Breastfeeding is supposed to be this incredibly important bonding experience for your baby etc etc…but I don’t think that includes if your baby is a shark. Mine was a great white. The pain of breastfeeding was doing quite the opposite of bonding for me. I avoided it like the plague. Nah he’s not hungry, he just needs a change…he just needs to burp…okay maybe he just needs a hug? A kiss? PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME FEED HIM AGAIN. I cried every single time he came close to my boobs and I felt so guilty. Why does it hurt this much? Bleeding, scabbing, it was God awful. My mum squeezed my hand (have you seen her biceps?) every time I had to feed him to try to divert the pain but nothing worked, yes, nipple creams included. We got a very lovely lady to come over to help make sure he was latching correctly because that apparently a thing too and he was, but like I said…baby shark (do do da do do do). Also, when you breastfeed, your uterus contracts so its double-trouble pain wise. Not what you see on tv, unfortunately. And I couldn’t help the anger I felt that no one had warned me of this before hand. My mom now decided to tell me, “Oh yes I’m writing a book about pregnancy called ‘Did they tell you about the hemmorhoids?’…” Now you tell me? Bit late.

A few days of total exhaustion, abdominal pain, boob pain and guilty thoughts passed by and then one night I started to shake. I had fever, a headache, was shaking beyond my control and was in severe pain. Back to the hospital we went and I thought, who will I have to sell my soul to, to ever pay this off? I had a uterine infection and had to stay in the hospital overnight for IV fluids and antibiotics. I missed Charlie so much and thought what will he eat? Will he starve as his fat deposits deplete? But my boobs breathed a sigh of relief and I wondered if they were up to all this. A nurse came in somewhere in the night to administer my antibiotics and I felt ‘gloop gloop gloop’ where the catheter was inserted into my vein. My eyes shot to the IV line and it was filled with air bubbles. I quickly pinched the line, this was a no entry for air on my watch. WHY IS THERE AIR IN THE LINE? FLUSH THIS LINE RIGHT NOW PLEASE. “Oh gosh darlin it takes like 30 ml of air to die from an embolism you know!” Now I don’t know if that’s right, nor do I care, but I did fail a practical exam in vet school once because I had THE TINIEST air bubble in my line by accident, and I never made that mistake again. I don’t CARE. FLUSH THE LINE NOW LADY.

I spent the entire rest of the night bawling that Charlie would grow up motherless, and for that matter parentless, because they were definitely gonna kill me one way or another in this hospital. Every time someone entered the room I flew up to check exactly what they were doing. I wasn’t going down like this. After another sleepless night, I returned home to the little man who was now happily drinking formula from a bottle. I whispered goodbye to my short lived boobs. I looked at him drinking from the bottle and felt that love again…never thought I could love plastic that much.

As the weeks passed by, my balls sac stomach started to decrease in size and the cabin fever had reached the point where if I didn’t go out into the world I’d enter another spiral. It felt nice to finally be out and about again like the old pre-baby days, only a lot more stressful in case Charlie got hungry, did a stinky poop among the coffee drinkers or the burst-your-eardrum squeal for no apparent reason. How was such a small creature capable of reaching such decibels? But it beat staying home. Bullseye left for good after a particularly unpleasant event and exactly what I thought would happen, happened.

I was officially a single mother.

Charlie was almost 3 months old by then and I was dying to go back to work to feel some sense of purpose. Except, on the day that I was supposed to start my new job that I’d been discussing with the employer for 6 months prior, I was told that they can no longer hire me. It hit me like a brick wall. This was the thing I was looking forward to. This was the thing that kept me going. The excitement of starting a new job, finally being able to practice again. I was dying to be back in a clinic. I wept.

This can’t be happening.

At least I had my kids. Below.

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“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Really, God?

The man has an orgasm. You end up pregnant…probably orgasmless. Tell me how is this fair? God, what were you thinking?

In primary school I thought sex was something adults did to have kids, I didn’t realize they did it for fun. And then I thought that it would be great if you only got pregnant from sex when you were ready for kids. But then actually I don’t think the human race would sustain itself cause WHO on earth is ever truly ready for this?

We went for the last ultrasound before the due date. “Aw look the baby has hair, how precious!” My obgyn was so into it and I most certainly was not. The thought of something growing inside my body that has HAIR, oh God. An awful memory of my sister chasing me around with a hand full of hair popped into my head and I felt my salivary glands contract, ready to throw up. It reminds me of spiders, GYAD. I couldn’t cope.

Again, his head was like those big swirly lollipops so we had to make a plan of action. I started losing confidence in the whole situation and the image of the Rottweiler-Chihuahua wouldn’t leave my brain. Why not do a planned c-section? I mean, I didn’t want one purely because it cost $30,000. Why didn’t I become a human doctor? And that was just for the surgery! Deep down I knew it wasn’t coming out on its own, no way Jose and I wished my doctor had known that too. The plan was to sweep membranes today. If no labour overnight, meet in hospital the next day for 8 am where we will do another membrane sweep and surely labour will begin. Yes, surely.

Membrane sweep. Sounds pretty basic, I can do that…um not what I expected. It’s like if you were blindfolded and testing chocolate but someone switched it for a sausage. Not. What. You. Expected. The doctor’s fingers go up inside of your once precious, once personal zone, prodding the baby’s head then they rip the amniotic sac apart from the uterine wall (Doctors, is that right?). This stimulates prostaglandin (a hormone) to induce labour, open the cervix and stimulate contractions. Annnnnd….nothin. All night, still nothing. Baby still high up, right under my brand new boobs that I truly loved and wished they’d never leave.

8am the next day we reached the hospital, more scared than ever. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything besides ice. Ice? Really! Steups. Anyway…we did membrane sweep number 2. I felt like I was in rigor mortis, my body stiff, holding my breath. “Breathe and relax!” Said my doctor. HA! Relax? Easy for you to say, lady. We were no longer friends. It hurt too much. My paparazzi emphasized the importance of breathing while I rolled my eyes.

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Above. My last pregnant outfit. Couldn’t they have something a bit more flattering, jees.

Time was passing with no progress and it was now time to break the ‘bag’ of amniotic fluid. Great. Feeling myself starting to hyperventilate as she approached me with a HOOK. A long, skinny plastic HOOK measuring approximately 1 foot long, I think. Jesus Lord what the actual F is happening here? Um can one of the 1,000 family members in the room please save me from this barbarian?

She hooked me, ripping the sac. I felt warmth all around me. Okay no problem, the baby was going to come soon and it will all be over and done with. And will never happen again. Mom, remember those diapers I laughed at and vowed to the gods that I would never wear? Can you please bring them for me NOW? 

And….nothing, again. It was now time for the big guns. They attached me to a fluid bag spiked with Pitocin (Oxytocin) to stimulate uterine contractions. One of my aunts came to massage my feet to help calm me down (and I will forever be grateful for that) while all the rest of my family limed in the room. Support, yes. Kind of weird, also yes.

“Lucky us, we got the biggest room in the hospital!”

umm.

The nurse strapped a band around my tummy that connects to a magical machine which measures the intensity of contractions. It was in the 20’s and I felt nothing, yay! “When it’s in the 80’s that’s labour strength contractions” the doctor said. Gosh us women are built so strong! If I was at 25 and feeling nothing then at 80 I’d maybe just feel a pinch and the baby will fly out and then it will be over for good.

A few more hours passed and I felt a pinch. Then a swirl. Then a swirling pinching swirl. Okay I’m up to 50 so makes sense that I’m feeling it now, no problem here we go. I used to get real bad period cramps, I can definitely do labour cramps.

Ha.

Still only allowed ice. Ice IS water! How am I not allowed water? What about coke, can I please have a coke? “No.” Can I have some pain killers? “Nope.” Please? Sniff sniff.

The numbers climbed rapidly. 75…89…140. My boobs were still resting on my tummy, the baby hadn’t dropped even a little and I was only 4 cm dilated. The fact that I was dilated at all though, gave me some hope that he was coming. You know on tv how people scream? They scream and cuss and cuff their husbands. I was so excited to do that. I was going to cuss and shout about how dare he do this to me and then the baby would come out and I’d be all lovely and euphoric and forget I even had any pain at all! But I couldn’t make a peep. I was passing out from the pain. I could barely have even moved and only had about 20 seconds in between each contraction to catch myself and remember I was alive. My doctor came (again) and prodded me. FOR GOD’S SAKE LADY WHAT’S YOUR OBSESSION WITH MY VAGINA. I was angry and she was as calm as a lake. “Steffi, the baby’s head is swelling and I am concerned for his safety. He hasn’t dropped into your pelvis, it’s been 10 hours and you still haven’t dilated. We need to perform an emergency c-section.”

OH, NOW YOU WANNA DO A C-SECTION? WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS.

“But the anesthetist cannot be here for another hour.”

.Let’s back track a bit.

So in Port of Spain there are 2 options for private hospitals that my doctor uses. The reason I chose this particular hospital is because she assured me that this hospital always has an anesthetist on site. And I knew there would be a complication, so felt more comfortable knowing there was always staff in case I needed a c-section. So what the hell was she even on about? Of course there was an anesthetist, she guaranteed me of that and thats why we were here! Alas, no anesthetist.

So I had to sit tight, no food, drinks, pain relief, nothing until he arrived. 1 hour of induced labour feels like 1,000 years of torture. And 1,000 years later the anesthetist arrived with a book of paperwork Don Quixote style thick, I think. For. Me. To. Sign. Really?

In between contractions he read it to me. “Would you like general or local anesthesia?” Local. “Do you understand that the risks of an epidural are paralysis, seizure, infection bla, bla…” and his voice faded away each time I was hit with the next crunch. I could barely get the words out…yes damn it I understand just GET IT OUT OF ME. I had to then sign paper after paper…after paper. Another 1,000 years passed and they wheeled me into the OR. The last thing I remember was the most worried eyes I’d ever seen on a human being (besides in movies) and I thought, oh my God dad am I dying?

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw our (mine and the baby’s) pediatrician standing in the OR waiting for us. He emanated good vibes. He was gentle and kind and reassured me that I can sit upright through the pain and stay still for the needle that was about to puncture into my spine (the same one that can paralyze me). His aura was overbearing and I felt calm for the first time since I set foot in the hospital. It was done in 2 seconds and I couldn’t feel the ice anywhere from midway down my chest to my feet. I was ready for surgery.

The anesthetist asked permission to push from the top of my chest to get the baby out as he was basically taking up my whole entire body. Soon after that, the baby was out and in my face. Well his little balls were in my face, to show me that it was a boy. It’s a boy? Wait, it’s a real human? He looked a strange hint of blue and they took him away while the doctor stitched my wound closed. I felt weird. I wanted to meet him.

She finished suturing me and they removed the drape that they had previously hung up between my face and my punkie. My legs were spread eagled, everything exposed to all 6 strangers in the room and for a second I felt mortified. Couldn’t they have the decency to close them for me? I was paralyzed over here! It was almost inhumane. Then I remembered that they had just safely removed a baby human from my body and I felt thankful instead.

The morphine was like how I imagine crack is (probably really good lol) and put me into a total daze. I finally got that delicious coke and was rolled to see the baby (after everyone else…again, where’s the fairness). I felt love. Real, true, I’d-kill-anyone-who-tries-to-harm-you-or-makes-you-sad type of love that you can’t really explain. I held him close and everyone tried to explain how to breast feed. I felt like a war had just come to an end, emotionally and physically now that the pregnancy was finally over.

Little did I know, the war had only just begun.

Below. Mister Charlie Roy

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“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Over the pond we go

.Before we left Ireland.

Friends and family are truly the most important things of life. They got me through the first 7 months of pregnancy using comedy, my personal favourite being “what will the baby look like” given the combination of genes…

Bahaha.

I packed up my mountain of crap. Why do we own so much crap? And stuffed it into his attic. 4 years of text books, notes, pictures, memories. Not to mention the brand new furnishings I had just bought for my apartment – but those things weren’t nearly as important. I miss my notes, we spent so much time together.

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Above. My angel.

I kissed him goodbye right in the middle of his soft precious deliciously smelling forehead, my tummy had butterflies as I left the kennel. It was clean and the humans were kind which provided a hint of relief but a piece of me shattered. Please God keep him safe on this long, turbulent flight.

Some parts of me felt excited for family, friends, the accent, the food, going by grams&gramps on Fridays – but couldn’t fight the embarrassment I felt. People can be cruel, especially on this small island. So my plan would be to stay inside as much as possible and avoid seeing anyone but close family and friends for the rest of my life. Yes good plan, said my brain. We made it to England again, had a last hoorah with friends and hopped nervously aboard British Airways, doctor’s letter in hand confirming my 27th week of pregnancy. We both sat in silence.

Imagine if I give birth on the flight…will I die?

Will the baby die? 

Is Skye okay?

Is the plane going to crash? I hate flying. Hatehatehate. Landing I’m okay with.

I always wondered – How come people don’t mind being driven into the middle of the sky by a total stranger for hours and hours on a massive machine, which kind of resembles a penis, with only two engines? Haven’t they watched Flight? What about 9/11? Maybe there are extra engines.

Also, I better get the curry dish because BA’s pasta is gross and if this is my last meal it needs to be decent. I wished my brain would chill out but that’s not a thing it does.

Then the flight attendant reassured me that not any and everyone can just go and open an emergency exit at any point during the flight. I wondered if she was fibbing. Every flight is a near death experience (yes I’m dramatic, take it or leave it) so landing felt euphoric as usual. I felt my hair frizz…yep right on cue, but the relief was immediate. 3 tortuous hours later I got Skye back from customs corruption. I bartered bitchily with the officer about the fact that my dog had no testicles (ew of course not) and I wasn’t making money off of him. That he was my first born and I wasn’t about to pay another $600 just because she felt to call that number for some unknown reason. I dodged bullets from my dad’s eyes and took a dread buff when she left, but she came back and asked for like $80 instead. So...I win ha. Silly woman.

The corruption here is despicable.

It felt so good to see everyone I cared about and as the weeks went by I gained a little bit more confidence in the pregnancy – although I still wasn’t able to look at baby clothes, or shoes…or anything babyish really. Thank God again that friends and family were there to do it for me else the poor child would have been naked for a few days well. To my dismay, they organized me a baby shower and I begged to please not open the gifts in front of everyone. I couldn’t pretend to find they were cute. I couldn’t pretend to be excited for a baby to come flying out of my vagina. I’m not a pretender.

Thankfully my friend loves a performance (usually as Gaza Slim, in pum pum shorts and ending in a split) but took one for the team, kept it PG and unwrapped all of the gifts while I sat, face hot next to her. She joked and laughed and everyone oohd and awed while I shrank into my seat. I wanted to hug her and cry and explain how much it meant to me but she already knew. Afterwards I was truly grateful and happy for the support and wished I was more into it. But I was too afraid to be excited.

I had a deep fear of being a mother, especially a single one and every day that passed, it seemed to become the harsh reality that I wasn’t ready for. My relationship with Bullseye bent more acutely as his desire to be in Ireland grew just as much as my need to be home. Both of our lives had been uprooted and we started growing apart. He went home for 2 weeks and my cortisol dropped. It was a lot to deal with and I wasn’t a mother just yet. There was enough on my plate and I was already eating for two. But I still tried. While he was gone I went to a friends surprise birthday – everyone was so wasted and so happy. Except me. I walked into the bathroom and bawled my eyes out. Then waited until the glassy coating faded and I looked less terrible, to go back outside. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d be doing this baby thing alone.

The ultrasounds which cost a damn fortune began showing that the baby’s head was measuring 40 weeks at 37 weeks. It also didn’t show a penis which made me concerned for the child if it was a boy, ha. We had no idea of the gender and didn’t need to know because a baby is a baby. It cries always, it poops sometimes and it “sleeps” every now and again. Full stop. And I got into trouble from my obgyn every single time for calling it an “it”. But again, I digress.

Now in vet medicine, if a Rottweiler gets a chihuahua pregnant (these things can happen but my God I hope that’s never a combination that I have to treat – can you imagine the aggression slash a Rottie on 5 inch legs haha!) we perform a planned c-section at the due date because we KNOW that puppy aint comin’ out. If the owner says they wanted their dog to have a natural birth I would say…hell to the no. The puppy is not going to fit into her pelvis, she will get dystocia and she will need an emergency c-section which is a lot more dangerous for everyone…obviously. And that will be that because I studied for 8 years to give the best care possible to your pets. And no, I am not trying to make more money off of you. If you knew vet salaries you’d understand. Anyway it must work differently in human medicine because this chihuahua waited to full term as advised by my doctor. And if anyone has seen my child’s head you will agree that it probably wasn’t a good idea. A week before my due date I went running as much as possible but my feet would swell like water balloons and the vagrant around the Savannah would say “oh gor darlin ya belly scratching yuh” and I thought enough was enough. GET THIS BABY OUT!

But that was the longest, scariest, most excruciatingly painful day of my life so far and I am so so sorry for anyone who is reading this and pregnant but I feel a duty to be honest with you about labour. Prepare yourself… for nothing to go as planned.

And think twice before you decide to have a natural birth in a pond somewhere with no drugs or doctors around.

“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Another move

The fire was warm and crackly and the view from the house was beautiful but the sky understood me and we cried together most days. I had somehow been convinced to get a lawyer to fight the losing battle of ‘wrongful dismissal’ and the ‘right to stay’ in the UK. I knew that it was a lost cause but the doctor strongly advised against going back to Trinidad thanks to Zika – and just like that the 2 week trip to Ireland turned into indefinitely in Ireland. And I definitely didn’t like it.

Zika Shmika, that shit was the last thing on my mind. I’d done a project on the Zika virus in uni and wasn’t convinced that it was directly linked to microcephaly anyway but my nightmares were vivid and I woke up breathless. We took the letter and went to the lawyer.

The Home Office was getting antsy and required me to check into the police station every 2 weeks so they could keep track of me, as if I was some sort of terrorist. I was just a pregnant girl, Jesus. They then took away my right to drive my car, refused to give me my license (even though I’d passed the test – third time’s a charm ha) and disallowed me from even volunteering in the vet clinic, all while keeping my passports and vet certificates. Everything that I had left, really.

We tried to make the best of our situation. We went on countless beautiful walks, trips around Ireland guiltily sampling a Guinness every now and then (it truly is better in Ireland) – “Very high in iron, great for pregnancy” the Irish mothers would urge. We had some great times together but as the bump grew bigger so did our stresses.

.Side note.

…Then one day, appendages start poking out of your stomach in the most unfathomable way and you wake up to this:

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If you are not creeped out by it my guess is that you probably aren’t creeped out by spiders either, ya weirdo. So scary! I had a constant fear that something had happened to the baby, especially when the alien body parts jutted out all over the place. But once I pushed the appendage it would move and that always brought relief. You know that ‘flutter’ that people talk about when the baby moves in your tummy? That must only be for girls. Charlie did par cor and especially loved 3am training sessions.

And that was when I kissed my sleep goodbye forever.

It isn’t easy watching your body expand uncontrollably, painting marks so that you never forget how massively you’ve stretched (no matter how much cocoa butter or bio oil you use). Oh and the big black line that presents itself all the way down the middle of your tummy, right where your abdominal muscles are torn apart as your stomach grows, doesn’t add much good to the pregnant look.

.Back to the story.

He paid the expensive-as-hell yearly fee for me to use the spa at the fancy, stunning hotel down the road and I was deeply grateful. Thank God, something to occupy my time as he left again for work, and I went there most days. Spin, swim, sauna, repeat. Luxury. Until you leave the warmth and delicious scent of massage oils to endure the elements and head back home. Alone. And so painfully bored.

Being a couch potato makes me feel filthy. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes binge watching a show is totally necessary (The Alienist, Alias Grace, Sisters) but by no means should it be done daily! That would send anybody’s brain into airplane mode. I felt like my brain cells were shriveling up, like my head was becoming dead space. And the boredom gave me a lot of time to criticize myself.

The 8 years of studying was for nothing. My parents wasted their money. They must be so disappointed. I’m such a failure. An embarrassment. A waste. I’m also so fat. OhmyGod am I a loser? Negative Nancy and her drama-queen-self was overstaying her welcome.

My mind was a tornado. Destructive, unpredictable and uncontrollable. My mental health was slipping away.

Thank the good Lord for great friends (and Skye but that’s obvious). They came and visited and comforted (and have no idea just how much it meant) and we all felt the love that weekend… But I was hanging on by threads and when they left I plummeted back into that spiral. Not to mention the ongoing relationship struggles.

No way in hell was I going to stay in Ireland without family and with a baby. It was time to leave. So I waddled back to Trinidad big and pregnant, the anxiety never lagging too far behind.

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Above. Who needs yoga when there’s cows? So relaxing.

“When you’re in a Slump,

you’re not in for much fun.

Un-slumping yourself

is not easily done.”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

The unexpected move

.Let’s go back in time to just before I was fired…well, let go.

After the naked-sitting-on-toilet-sobbing phone call to my boyfriend, he came straight off of the oil rig to my rescue. I must have also sounded like I had lost the plot. He lifted me up and hugged me for ages. I felt calm and comforted, finally.

Flowers. A TV. Food. Candles. He made my home cozy and I felt loved. The next few days were spent coming to terms with it all. The support that my parents offered gave me confidence that I could do this. False confidence maybe.

Some days during surgery I was dizzy and nauseous being around the isoflurane gas, the blood etc and people at work seemed to be getting suspicious (maybe it was in my head). To be fair I wasn’t very discreet rushing to hide behind concrete walls during x rays (one practice I worked at had no door to the x ray room) and making sudden formal complaints about radiation safety. I felt obligated to tell a handful of people at work. No Trinis. Too much gossip.

“Are you keeping it?” Usually accompanied by big concerned eyes and a tiny hint of ooh this is good gossip, was the most frequently asked question of 2016 and for some reason I felt a little bit offended when people asked. Not sure why – Abortion was definitely an option, just one I didn’t want to take. It’s just such a personal decision and I thought it odd that people asked so openly. Or maybe I was the odd one.

I felt defensive for a baby that wasn’t even a baby as yet. Motherly instinct? He was still a ball of cells probably just looking like a baby fish at this point, right? And I still kind of didn’t even believe it anyway.

Until we went for an ultrasound.

I sat half-expecting to be told “No, you aren’t pregnant silly!” And we would all sit together and laugh and laugh. I crossed my fingers. Then suddenly, I jumped out of my daydream at the sound of the rapid heart beat and wondered why on earth she felt the need to crank up the volume that high. Almost gave me a bloody heart attack. Couldn’t she tell we were freaking out? Jesus. My stomach sank. It was true. We both sat stunned and motionless.

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Above. OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod. It has a head.

Denial is a hell of a thing. Truly, the brain is incredible the way its coping mechanisms kick in to get you through struggles. I actually believed that the pregnancy tests were wrong. This wasn’t the first time my brain had done this and I quickly reminisced on the past, am I crazy? The last time this happened my brain managed to convince itself that my boyfriend wasn’t cheating on me. Even though Steffi knew he was. But I digress. We will talk about that another time, maybe.

A few days later I started getting messages from my close friends who I was too nervous to tell just yet. “Stef you aren’t pregnant right?” How on earth did people know? I only told my parents. I called my mum.

“Stef I have to tell you something.” Oh Christ. Was she pregnant too? Did someone die? There wasn’t much more that I could take. TELL ME NOW… “I accidentally sent everyone on my WhatsApp your ultrasound picture.”

… uhmyGod.

Now I don’t even know how this is a thing that can happen because I still can’t figure out how to WhatsApp a mass message but my mum is special, she can do anything...clearly. Not to mention the whole “mouth open, story jump out” situation from my dad’s end. Again, Trinis cannot keep secrets but everyone knows that.

Quaking, I thought to myself it’s fine. Everyone was going to find out at some point so whatever – at least I didn’t have to be the one telling my friends. The words “I’m pregnant” had never even had to leave my mouth which was good because I wasn’t ready to say it myself as yet. Bullseye went back to work and I was alone again.

As the flowers shriveled, so did my composure and most days I bawled for my entire drive home from work. For approximately 2 hours per day I made a conscious effort to not drive my car off the road. It would have been quick, just one swerve to the left and it would all be over. But that was the easy way out and I was strong –  or so I tried to convince myself. So I gripped the steering wheel tightly and through the tears I kept focused on the road ahead… all the while blasting Queen (I cannot wait for the musical to come out).

I went to work like normal and felt relieved to have just finished a bitch spay when I got that phone call (from previous post) to leave work forever and move out in a week. Ouch.

.This is where the last post ended.

For the second time now, I called Bullseye with an emergency but this time no tears. Just shock. Again, he reassured me that it will all be okay and I felt safe again. I needed to go home to be with my family, to cry to my mum…be hugged by my friends. But in the mean time we had to move all my stuff to Ireland (Bullseye’s house) until I booked a flight home.

In Northern Ireland I felt especially isolated, especially given my circumstances, and I was counting down the days to go home. Only I didn’t end up going home until 5 months later and that’s when I realized that the relationship was over for good.

Below. Skye loved his Irish walks.

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“And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance

you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,

that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Losing the plot – Trini style

When I first heard the term “she’s lost the plot” I died in laughter. I love how the British had found a polite way of saying “bitch be crazy”. It resonated with me… because unfortunately I myself was losing the plot and when I repeated it, it made me feel less ‘looney’ and more ‘just a bit confused about life’. Here goes.

.2016.

I had just graduated from uni as a vet (a very proud Dick vet, but most people won’t know what that means) and started working for a company in England. Eight years of working my ass off (…traveling, partying, drinking too) and finally I had the life I dreamed of. Living in England with my cute new VW Polo and my first born – I could hear that Drake song playing in the background … “Started from the bottom now we’re here)

Lol I was only there for like 5 minutes.

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Above: The perfection of my first born. The reason I still exist.

Turns out my life was about to become “deeply unsettled” as my one-off therapist later described.

I was pregnant.

Never did I ever think that this would happen to me. Children were not in my life plan (ever) and I was usually quite a responsible person. But as they say, it only takes one time – and boy were they right. Literally one time. The first time in fact. It’s almost funny now (not then) how impeccable the timing was, especially since I had taken a morning after pill a few hours after you-know-what took place. This was also a fella who I had massive respect for. We spoke daily for months leading up to this and 6 weeks later I had to call him and tell him the result of my pregnancy test. It was NOT fun. I don’t recommend it.

I thought it was negative. Sometimes you see what you want to see. I sighed in relief as I threw the test into the bin thanking God it was a false alarm. Then I back tracked – actually…did I mix up positive and negative? Hands starting to shake, I took it back out of the bin along with the paper to re-compare them. No no no no no. What, how could I be pregnant? I did another test. Same result. I was hysterical. Frantically, I picked up my phone and took a picture of the test just in case I was seeing it wrong in real life. The picture was (obviously) the same. A rush of nausea came over me as I called my new (brand spankin’ new) boyfriend.

He was working offshore and unexpectedly, cool as a cucumber while I sobbed on the phone. Thank God he was with me when we bought the morning after pill and I took it in front of him. He could have thought I was a maniac sneaking a pregnancy! (Do people do that?) Why was this even one of the first things I thought? Phew, anyway at least there was that. He was so supportive, as were my parents, and I thought – I got this.

One week later, BAM! I was slapped with a letter from the home office stating that my work visa application had been rejected.

Is this real life or pregnancy brain?

What even is pregnancy brain?

What even is being pregnant?

Months before, the company I was working for made a mistake on my first visa application (they weren’t paying me enough) so it was rejected. They had paid for me to reapply as it was their error but it managed to get rejected again just after I told the company I was pregnant. Something about health surcharge which I had already in fact paid. Coincidence, Maybe?

Maybe not.

The day I got the second rejection letter I got a phone call around 2 pm just as I’d come out of surgery. “Hi this is ‘whatever the hell her name was’ from the head office, you need to leave work now and move out of our flat by next week. You can’t work for us anymore.”

Umm. Ha ha?

And so the spiral began, unfortunately heading downhill. I thought I was strong. The only time I really cried was during a euthanasia or Love Actually. Sometimes I wondered whether I had any feelings at all (my mum wondered too). I thought after my last tumultuous relationship of deceit and total heart break I could handle anything life threw at me. Turns out life had never truly thrown me a curved enough ball to warrant me losing the plot but this girl went cray cray.

And this blog is my very raw, very honest story.