Behind the joy

So, I started this new life in England. I left my sons to do this course so that we can have a fresh start. So that Skye can live in a country where old grumpy women don’t shout at me to take him out of the park, where he can come with me into most stores and his favourite – where he can come to the pubs and never be discriminated against by the speciesist Trinis. As if people are better than animals, pffff. They wish. I made this move so Charlie can grow up in a place that is more open minded, where there are more opportunities, where he can have his own bedroom lol. And last but not least, so that I can feel fulfilment from my job and gain back my independence. Because nothing makes you feel less independent than bunking up with a baby and dog in one bedroom in your parents house.

But we all know that fresh starts are not easy.

Those 10 weeks were tough because I missed my boys who got so confused when we skyped that we had to take breaks for days in between because it was stressing them out too much. But the weeks were also wonderful because I was able to put all of my focus into work, into making friends, into living my own life again. I was afraid to say it at first but I think it’s always better to be honest… it was glorious having a life again. My life. All mine.

Life: SLAP.

Me: Crying on plane.

And that’s where I left off in the last post.

The 10 weeks wasn’t all fun and games, though a lot of it was fun. I came up to England in a relationship and very shortly after arriving, it ended. And I will not go into detail but I will say this. Fellas…women don’t need you. If a woman is with you, it’s because she wants to be with you. So please, don’t get confused. That woman will be perfectly fine after you’re gone just like she was before you arrived on the scene. Okay? Greaaaat.

Finding a house, a car, internet, phone, gas company, registering for council tax, starting a Dartford fricking charge account, getting fines for not paying your charges on time…and the list goes on. Figure out where the hell the grocery is and which one is the best (by best I mean second cheapest, or maybe 3rd cheapest – ASDA styles because the cheapest cheapest I just cannot cope it’s like they just fling things around the place into random piles and that’s okay maybe if you’re trying to find clothes on a very low budget m maybe but not when you’re doing groceries), where the nearest park is with the best playground, bank, train station, parking lot in town, baby store so you can buy pampers in bulk, pharmacy for cal pol and neurofen, hospital because you know someday you will have to end up there for some reason or other. THERE IS JUST SO MUCH TO DO. Furnish your house. All while working and adjusting to night shifts. It was a lot, but I was alone so it was no problem…Now I was on a plane to go home. I cried because I was afraid. So scared that I wasn’t ready for all of it to come. The first part of the move passed so fast and now the really hard part was coming. Also I get anxiety about going home because everyone is so damn out of timing with their comments which yes, you can ignore the first 5 but when it reaches 20 its gets overwhelming…”How you looking magga so?” “You look like you weigh 15 pounds” “Are you sick, you look sick” “You not eating?” “You want some food? You should eat some food.” *Side note did anyone know that’s how to spell ‘magga’? I didn’t*

Because no one cares to ask actual relevant questions like “How was the course? Did you learn a lot? Are you okay, how are you feeling?” Nope, none of that. Just “you look like shit”…thanks everyone. And if I went around telling people that they look fat imagine the bad talk I would get. Steups.

Well Skye cried and cried and Charlie ran up to the car screaming MUMMYYYYYY at the top of his little lungs (which is very loud) and then didn’t let me out of his sight for the next 3 days. He slept on top of me and literally held my hand and sat on my lap just like those new couples who are overly PDA-ing and you know it ain’t gonna last cause this is real life – like that but SO CUTE because it was real true love. I basked in it. And I felt joy. But we had one slight issue which was that Charlie STILL hadn’t gotten his visa back.

The entire week passed and still Charlie had no visa. The stress that it caused I cannot explain. I had to leave him again. But to be honest I wasn’t feeling ready as yet to have him and Skye alone. It gave me an opportunity to come back with Skye, fix up the house properly for when Charlie arrived and sort out my work schedule. It went step by step instead of all at once and it really eased off some of the stress in the end. There truly is a reason for everything.

Almost 2 weeks later my hero of a mother brought him up to England for me. He projectile vomited all over her in the airport. Then all over the back seat of my new car (lol not a big deal but I’ll admit that I was grateful that most of it was in the car seat) and he was so sick, miserable and jet lagged for the first few days. No one slept a wink and I was f-r-e-a-k-i-n-g out that this was just the new way of life. BUT a miracle happened and when we all recovered from the bug that he gave to us, he was even happier than normal. He loved his new bedroom. His own bedroom! A big boy bed, all of his books, his new toys, his new garden, swing, his new home. Mum changed her flight to stay longer because we had been worrying so much about how he would cope without her. But guess what? He did totally fine 🙂 Absolutely incredibly fine. Kids are so adaptable.

My veryyyy close friend from home moved in with me and is helping out with Charlie while she does renovations on her home and I am happy to announce that we are the new brown, hip, young, lesbian couple on our street – according to our neighbours. Someone actually asked us the other day whether we were a “cute little vegan family” to which we replied no only because Charlie was eating sausages and there was smoked salmon on my plate BUT we do feel like a couple haha and it’s wonderful. This is what a couple should be like. SHARED love, shared responsibility. It’s amazing.

Unfortunately though, most relationships with kids is not shared responsibility. It’s mostly the mothers responsibility even though in some cases the man may have wanted kids even more than the woman. It will always be more your responsibility, ladies. And to the single mothers in the world, from the bottom of my heart – You amaze me. No one will ever understand the strength it takes, the amount of tears you cry and just how flipping tired you are. No one. Not your friends, not your baby’s dad who may or may not be trying to also make your life a living hell just for fun, I don’t even think Mary knows because I feel like Jesus was pretty much a grown up right after he was born maybe I’m not sure. But the point is that I see you, and I appreciate you and you are awesome.

And here are a few points I wrote to myself because a distraction was necessary before I started hyperventilating on the train journey from Scotland to England to start the in-clinic block training:

Mum goals:

1- Make things EASIER for yourself – life’s hard enough girl

2- Think about ONE thing at a time – ain’t nobody got time for panic attacks

3- Be PATIENT – it’s very hard though (maybe have a glass of wine? or tequila…)

4- Give THANKS – to whoever/whatever you believe in; if that’s yourself, go you!

5- LOVE – yourself, your family, your pets, other people’s pets, all the pets, your friends

7- Practice MINDFULNESS – what is mindfulness? Well:

Mindfulness is understanding yourself, knowing your limits and taking care of your thoughts. Anxiety and depression can often get the better of us but we can avoid that by practicing mindfulness. You don’t have to sit down on a yoga mat and contort your body to do this. I certainly don’t. When you have a moment of free time (which may only be for about two and a half minutes per day) just take a moment to reflect on the way your brain is processing information. You might sit down for that moment and a sneaky negative thought might try to sabotage your peace. It may tell you that you aren’t enough, that your child is missing out on a proper family. But guess what? As that thought creeps in, you recognise that it is transient. You know that it isn’t true and you watch the thought pass right through your mind. In and out, that’s it. You don’t listen to it or take it personally because you have compassion for yourself – you know that you can accomplish anything. You are a woman, afterall. And don’t forget to breathe.

“When you’ve mastered the art of breathing, you will finally be at peace with yourself and the world” – Quoted by Dr. Danny Pelman in his book ‘The Art of Breathing.’

The manipulation of breath movement, also known as Pranayama in the yoga world has roots in ancient India and has been reported to reduce heart rate and blood pressure – apparently leading to an almost immediate reduction in stress and anxiety. There are many types of Pranayama but yoga really isn’t my thing, I just like the little science behind slow breathing exercises cause it makes sense. Practicing slow breathing exercises for 5 minutes induces dominance of the parasympathetic nervous system aka rest and digest, calming the body as it takes over from the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response. Parasympathetic dominance in turn allows the mind to calm down and starts your healing. Once you’re healthy this practice is safe and can be done daily or multiple times per day. You can also only do it when you feel like a panic attack is imminent (this is usually when I do it) and it will help you then, too. Take a slow, deep breath in for 4 seconds, pause, then exhale for 4 seconds, pause. Try it…right now 🙂 You can be in the shower, on a train, a plane – you can even do it while your child is rolling around on the floor throwing that tantrum. If you need someone to talk you through it, the lady on anxietycanada.com has a really nice voice lol.

I promise you that it helps ❤

Sometimes you drive home and park your car to find that thing you had been looking for earlier…

BadMom.

And I was off. Sitting on a plane (praying and holding back the tears of fear as per usual- Jesus when will I get over this) wondering how the hell I am actually going to follow through with this new future I’ve created, wondering whether this was the best decision, wondering whether this was real life…just wondering. I already missed my angels but this was EXCITING so I snapped myself out of it. Wee! I would leave smarter (YAY) so it can never be the wrong choice because there is no better feeling than learning. I touched down in London Town (cue Kanye West), went to an LGBTQ event (woo!) and then went to Scotland to start my 10 week course in Emergency medicine. Am I smart enough? Am I good enough? OhmyGodwhatamIdoing. Breathe, girl you got this. Choke.

We arrived at these stunning little wooden lodges on Loch Leven in Scotland (if you haven’t been to Scotland you NEED to go – it is such a beautiful and unique place to visit, especially in August when it’s fake summer but the festival is popping so no one even cares that they are still in winter jackets). 13 strangers from different countries, ready to learn, ready to make new friends, just ready for it all. Looking back now, the first week was so funny – everyone was a bit awkward and overly studious…until we hosted the first dinner and drinks night at our lodge, 5 days in lol. It always amazes me the magic a little bit of alcohol can create. The ice shattered – suddenly we were besties, going on long amazing walks together, out for coffee, lodge dinners and drinks nights, out on the town in Edinburgh causing mischief lol. Friends for life. Felt like I was in “A Bad Moms Christmas” – literally I was Carla. The course days were long and they were hard BUT they were jam packed full of information and I could feel my brain exercising again, FINALLY. Bye bye mom-brain RIDE OUT. Hope I never see you again.

We got lectured by people I thought I’d never even meet, far less have the privilege of being taught by. I was one hundred percent being a nerdy bird and I’m not even afraid to say it. Glory. We had practicals in ultrasound, anatomy, surgery, CPR…and every step of the way it was fun. I didn’t realise tears of joy were a thing. They are. I wondered every night before bed how I managed to pull this off, how was I so lucky? Usually my life comprises of shit hitting fans more often than not. This was one of those times when you think “I feel blessed” and then your eyes pop open as you have flashbacks of when people write it as captions on their Facebook pics and it makes you absolutely cringe…hashtag tooblessedtobestressed… No, just no. So I slapped that statement out of my head as quickly as it jumped in. I worked hard for this. I deserve this. Aw yea, much better.

There were two girls in charge of taking care of all 13 of us, poor them lol. I am sure that we annoyed the living daylights out of them at the beginning and they would probably say throughout the entire time we were there 😛 But we got so close and we had so much fun with them – I don’t even understand how a company can employ so many amazing people. The last company I worked for was just so awful it still shocks me that this place can have these absolute gems of humans. A-MA-ZING.

We spent 4 weeks in lectures (and exploring, having way too much fun…drinking way too many coronas) and then we went out to work for 4 weeks in our clinics under supervision by our mentors (who were aweeeesome). It was scary, it was hard and it was challenging BUT let me tell you something, after those 15 hour night shifts you want to KISS the floor, hug everyone around you, put your hair in pigtails and SKIP all the way home because YOU ARE SO HAPPY THAT YOU ACTUALLY DID IT. You did it…you saved the animals, you stayed up all night, you did your best and now you are free to go home and sleep. Sometimes you even feel like maybe you should go to Church and thank God for helping you get through the strife, but you don’t. But you should, probably. At some point. Soon, you tell yourself.

And sometimes you get complaints and you feel genuinely upset like someone has just stabbed you through your heart – kind of like when you find out your boyfriend cheated on you – because the people who complain seem so nice to your face but then leave some awful complaint (usually about cost) – and you doubt yourself, feel like maybe you aren’t cut out for this, maybe you’re not strong enough for this line of work… and then you speak to your manager and colleagues and realise that you’re doing a fabulous job and some people are just “unpleaseable” and then you put those pigtails back in that hair and you skip right back to work.

After the in-clinic block of mentoring, we went back to those stunning Scottish lodges for 4 more weeks of glorious lectures. This time around we chose who we wanted to lodge with and BOY oh boy…it’s a lucky thing we weren’t together from the start because it was TOO good. I love my girls so much ❤ From our abs challenges to corona routines… speed dating LOL we bonded and it was wonderful and I’ll never forget those days. We also learned so much from each other too – don’t get me wrong, we worked our butts off.

The last week of the course we moved into a MANSION near by. I have never felt more like a kid (how am I a mother, when I’m actually a kid) – we jumped on the trampoline for far too long, played wii for far too long and giggled and laughed more than I had in years. And I have videos to prove it.

On the last day of the course the company had a little surprise graduation ceremony for us and (I don’t want to say too much more in case anyone reading this is thinking of doing the course we did and I ruin it for them but…) it was the sweetest, loveliest thing that happened and we will never forget how they made us all feel. We felt accomplished. Accepted. Supported. Excited. Excited to work for a company who values their employees. It is NOT easy to find. I want to shout from the hills to anyone considering participating in this course to come and speak to me so I can tell you all about it.

We hugged each other and said goodbye for the time being and all went our separate ways, already planning our next adventure together. Luckily one of the amazing girls on my course came with me and we drove back to England in my new ride (wee!) singing the best songs – it always amazes me how music brings people together, whether English is their first language or not. Alcohol and music…just magical.

I worked for a week and then hopped on a plane back to Trinidad to get my boys. I was so excited to see my them, my family, my friends…but I cried all the way home, uncontrollably. I swear it must have broken a record.

Scotland at 6am

Scotland at 7am the same day

A month to go.

Getting the visa somehow marked the end of the turbulence that began two years ago. As Bo hugged me after opening the package my mind flashed back to the day I found out I was pregnant… the turmoil…when I got fired, interrogated, made to leave the UK, got set up with my job in Trinidad. All those tears. But maybe its because I was focusing on the negatives. In any case, for those reasons it was great that I got the visa – a new chapter. There were so many positives too though – family, friends, support, sunshine! This meant that I’d have to start a new life again and leave everyone behind again. But:

“Comfort zones are where dreams go to die.” – Unknown

And I will never let my dreams die. So I decided it’s time to start milking the last few weeks at home before the new reality hits. Really unsure whether to laugh or cry that it was Carnival season and I left THREE DAYS before the absolute bliss of it all – but definitely took advantage of it. The fetes, the music, the pan, the vibe that emanates from the people. The excitement, the joy – it just can’t really be explained. It’s a feeling that you have to experience for yourself to truly understand it. Kind of like how everyone who hasn’t had a baby thinks that they need to do it au natural but those of you who have had a baby just know. USE. THE. DRUGS.

The experience begins from the time the Carnival season starts (December 25th, midnight) and basically this is your life for the next two months, until Carnival actually, finally arrives:

Step 1. Choose carnival fete

This decision is based on: Price, all inclusive/cooler fete, performers (Machel or no Machel), location, weekend/weekday and finally… night/morning fetes.

At this point you have either spent way too much money on an all-inclusive party and know that the rest of the outfit preparation has to be a borrows cause your pocket buss…OR you’re going to a cooler fete in which case you can buy a little (literally) mediocre priced outfit and good alcohol…OR you got a comp in which case you can spend the ticket equivalent on an outfit, wee! There’s some math involved. Or maybe you just have money to burn and you can do whatever you want…and I say props to you.

Step 2. Choose outfit

This decision is based again on who is performing, how much you want to drink and most importantly how badly you plan on behaving. Are you a Machel wine an fling it up hardcore carnival baby or are you more the Kes type? You describe all of this to the sales clerks at the clothes store, show them exactly how you would like to wine, along with a few other imperative details and no doubt they will choose the perfect outfit for you, girlfriend. Sometimes you will get your math wrong and realize you’re now in serious monetary deficit but you offer it up to the Carnival Gods and deal with it later – cause no one needs that negativity in their life.

Now in my opinion, nothing compares to a morning party despite not being a morning person whatsoever. My eyes pop open at 2am excited for what is to come. Wee! From the ponging out of Soca on your phone while you shower to get in the mood, and then quietly wining in the dark singing in your head, so as to not wake up the child, it start. All this as you put on your new top and pum pum shorts that are specifically for Carnival fetes because they just wouldn’t be appropriate in any other setting. Then you have to prepare well by not taking anything important because everything gets stolen, so you designate one person to take a phone, some cash and organize the cooler with the labelled plastic bottles. Because you don’t want to mix up vodka and water. Or maybe you do. Then you stop for ice and chaser on the way to the fete so it’s now 3am, the roads are pumping, and the shop is rammed out full of people heading to the same party. The outfits are totally incredible and I always stare in awe at how some people got these things on, whether they will ever be able to get them back off, what will pop out when they wine… and when they see me staring I smile and they smile back because EVERYONE IS SO HAPPY. Why can’t it always be like this?! Because Carnival is magical.

Step 3. Choose next Carnival Fete.

It’s like a big reunion, you see people you haven’t seen in years, some who you finally get to see again and of course the ones you hoped you’d never see again but that’s Trinidad for you. You can’t escape anything. Not the people, not the rumors, not the terrible driving lol. Anyway! Nadia Batson couldn’t have said it any better in her song “So Long”…she put into words what you would usually feel in a Carnival fete but be unable to express. I guess that’s why she’s a song writer and we are not. Unfortunately I can’t describe too much more of the experience accurately because things begin to get a bit blurred a few hours in, but it literally can be one of the greatest times. So all I will say is to go for it. You won’t regret it once you understand that leaving the fete may bring an overwhelming sadness that can only be topped by the sadness at the end of Carnival Tuesday. Fortunately for me, I missed out on it all which isn’t as bad. Ish.

Anyway – the last month had some feting, lots of rushing and extensive amounts of worrying. Rushing to find flights and trains, rushing to organize my clients before I left, rushing to the bank to deposit tiny sums of cheques which I hoped somehow added up to something useful. Worrying about the future, about my son, about my dog, about whether I’m smart enough for this (mummy brain seems to have lingered on longer than expected). Worrying about lawyers fees because when you’re a single parent that’s an inevitable and very high bill that you will be faced with. But the day came and while I felt sad – sad to leave my kids, sad to leave my family – I finally felt a sense of purpose again.

And that’s what keeps me going.

Before we left, savoring the sun was crucial because of how depressing the weather can be in the UK so we were out and about, going up and down chancellor – which is like the best place to go if you’re ever feeling a little down and out – because guaranteed someone will make you feel good about yourself. There will also be the ones who you hear saying “we can’t let the girl with the pram beat us” in which case you run until your lungs burn to prove them wrong and end up feeling even better about yourself. I’m only competitive when someone else starts it, swear lol. We went to Tobago, watched sunsets on Maracas, explored the Caroni Swamp like some true tourists and had an amazing end to a tumultuous few years. Together 🙂 My dream team.

Flamingoes in Caroni Swamp in a very terribly zoomed in pixelated picture.


Sponge-bobs.

Children’s brains are incredible. They are like little sponges walking around in their own worlds seemingly not paying attention to you, all the while absorbing every single thing you say… good and bad, don’t forget it. And copying everything you do. You have to be so careful. I see my son babbling on pretend phones which encompass anything he can hold to his ear – a remote control, toy phone, real phone, a biscuit, a coaster – and performing hand gestures just like my mother and I. He starts hysterically fake laughing at various points in between his conversation and I wonder with genuine concern if thats how I look or sound. He’s so funny though, you can’t help but laugh. All of a sudden he’s this little fella…talking, singing, dancing, giving attitude, sweet eye, cut eye, doing this new shy mouth thing when he meets new aunties. Who is this little human man and how did he learn all of these things, and where on earth did he learn to be so naughty? It must be innate. That’s scary.

His ability to focus on performing a task amazes me every time. The precision, the determination of getting the correct blocks into their slots, to color within the pages, to scoop sand into the bucket, to find and collect bottle caps. But nothing, no amount of focus, lasts more than five minutes and before you know it, the coloring book, crayons, 1000 blocks, cars, puzzles, golf clubs…just EVERYTHING…is EVERYWHERE. And as “hurricane C” passes through the house he picks up the picture frames to name each person he sees then tries to put it back but it falls down and the glass shatters. Then he runs to Skye’s food bowl and pours the food out everywhere then he splashes in Skye’s water bowl, leaving water everywhere then grabs a handful of cat food, shoves it in his mouth and gobbles it down before I can get to him. Because I’m still in his wake, cleaning up the blocks and glass.

I sit on the floor feeling defeated and wonder – how did this happen so fast and why is he this destructive?

Why are my clothes in the bin?

Why is the comforter on the roof?

Why is there a diaper in the toilet?

JUST WHY.

So I kindly ask him to put the toys back, which he calls “Puddaba” and sometimes he helps but most times he doesn’t help and I have to force him and bribe him and he throws tantrums and screams and lays on the floor or jumps out his seat then bumps his head on the edge of the table. And I wonder why this had to happen in the middle of me trying to be a disciplinarian because now I have to comfort him and rub his head so he’s not going to understand that he’s actually in trouble. Then I wonder if he hit his head on purpose. Hmm, probably.

Then I get lost in a daydream as usual, wondering when the destruction will end. Will it ever end? Will he ever want to sit down and read a book or do his homework? Will he ever not want to break everything around him? I try to remember what it was like to be a child – not that far back obviously but from what I do remember, I really was a rude little terror – but didn’t break things. Besides dad’s windshield once with a stone by accident, but I blamed it on my brother so that doesn’t really truly count. And when I drove mum’s car into a wall. But I didn’t do that on purpose either. Okay maybe we all break things when are little. I do remember though, sitting down and making word searches with my friend in primary school haha we were about 10 years old. Christ, do I have to wait 8 more years for him to sit quietly? Please, no. We made so many word searches and mind puzzles and then sold them in St. Andrews to make money to buy food for the animals in the TTSPCA. We probably only made like $50 and the food was probably just donated anyway lol but we felt accomplished and the bags were as big as us so it seemed like a tonne. We were so proud! If your kids are old enough and enjoy word searches, and you need a minute (or an hour if you have a focused child with a good attention span) to sit down and breathe between the tantrums, chaos, exhaustion and total madness of life with a child/children (ohmyGod, props to you if you have more than one and if you have more than 2, you cray), then check out this website, print some of these out and somehow force them to sit and use their brains instead of breaking things lol. Or bribe them with ice cream, whatever works. Check below. Seeing as there’s no such thing as winter in Trinidad, they can learn winter words – so if they go to school abroad to a country with four seasons one day, they won’t mix up Spring and Autumn like I did for so many years haha.

This winter word scramble is the perfect way to keep kids busy this season! Be sure to check out Education.com for more great reading activities!

Anyway, the daydream is usually interrupted either by screaming, something breaking or extreme quiet. Because if it’s quiet enough for you to be able to daydream, something is seriously up. The broom for example will be up in the air, while the child tries to knock Grandma’s clay ornament from hanging in her potted plant. Your cell phone will be up in the air for a few seconds before it hits the floor, Skyler’s food never lagging too far behind – crumbs landing all over everything – and you see it happening in slow motion as you let out a sad, long sigh. You also see your child’s reaction in slow motion – that look of pure bliss for being so naughty, hoping that they will get away with it somehow.

Big, bright eyes with that all too familiar wicked little smirk, as he glances at me excitedly to see my reaction. And he thinks he’s won by getting my attention which he certainly now has, but sometimes maniac mummy comes out (kind of often) and puts him in his place which he hates and then the screaming fit begins again. And you wonder how much more of it you can take before all of your hair turns gray and falls out and your face gets all wrinkly from stress.

But you know your kid. You know how to distract them. Mine loves switches and fart sounds. So if he’s hysterical and I take him to a light switch, he is automatically healed. And if I make a fart noise he will guaranteed burst into fits of laughter. So you do these things, anything, to make the screaming stop so that you don’t totally lose your mind, and thankfully it does at some point. And then they are cute again and you love them so much even though they’ve just made a massive mess and tested your patience and given you so much extra work with cleaning up. I never thought in a billion years that fart sounds and light switches would be my saving grace, but there you go. I’ve never felt so thankful for the existence of farts.

You really just never know what life has in store for you.

Omg.

I drove to DHL because since the package arrived on a Friday it wouldn’t be delivered to me until Monday. And there is no way in hell I was about to wait an extra 2 days, my cortisol was through the roof and my tummy was over it. I handed over my license and caught a glimpse of my photo in the process. Jesus, I look like a criminal. No wonder they rejected me twice before lol, I’d probably reject me too. Then I sat down shaking, waiting to hear my name and receive the package. I jumped out my skin when he said my name. Like when you’re in class and the professor asks a question and you have absolutely no clue what the question even is, far less the answer – so you look down to avoid eye contact, yet still they always call on you.

The bright yellow envelope with my passport inside gave me butterflies and I gently put it to sit next to me in the passenger seat. I promised Bo I’d wait until we were together to open it. My stomach sank and I knew that if the traffic lasted more than 30 minutes I’d have to find some random shop along the highway and beg them to use their bathroom lol. Deep breaths Steffi.

I finally reached to Bo’s house and we made a promise that no matter what this paper said, we would do everything we can to make this work. He opened the envelope while I sat, stifling with anxiety.

.

.

.

.

.

I got the visa.

We hugged each other tight and my eyes flooded while a mixture of emotions twisted my now overworked tummy. I looked into his bloodshot eyes and felt the pain but I have confidence that we will figure out a plan that works for us. Because that’s what you do when you truly love someone. The best things in life aren’t easily attained but are worth every second of the sacrifices you make to get there.

Now, it’s time to get on with it … one month to sort out MobiVet, book flights, find a new home and find Bo a job!

The waiting game.

So I had already made the decision to move on from life in Trinidad before I lost Luna. Before I met this very special person, who my son calls “Bo”. The reasons were simple – my salary wasn’t matching the quantity of work, the cost of living was too high and I wanted more from the vet world. Most of all though, I really wanted this new job.

It would also be really nice to be able to move out of my parents’ house and to not share a room with a baby. Because MummaMummaMumma… CRASH, BANG while every single thing in the crib gets thrown onto the floor to make extra noise…every time they wake up whether its 2am or 5am – Well there’s only so much of that one can take before you start wondering how much money you think you can sell the child for. Then you start daydreaming about it in Stirling and US and making a mental list of all his attributes and how you’d advertise him. “Very intelligent for a 1 year old. Holds own bottle. Says a few words. Perfect age to learn multiple languages. Does squats on command and falls asleep easily. Oh and very very handsome.” We would leave out the parts about, “Hard to keep asleep for more then 5 hours. Throws tantrums when doesn’t get his way. The smell of his poop is fatal to men. Bites on occasion” Lol. Jokes, I’d never sell him. 

Unless the price was right. Ha ha.

I wanted MRI and CT, access to all of the drugs and toys, the continuing education courses, certificate opportunities, higher caseload, specialist opinions in person without having to call the US and wait and wait for advice or help. Just wanted MORE. I can’t stand mediocrity. So when Bo came along, I tried to resist at first. Ugh, men, who needs them. They always pretend to be nice at the start until they get what they want then they stop trying to be good to you, fall back into their old habits of cheating and lying and expect you to stick around. Then a Facebook status that someone sent me recently pops into my head that says “Having a boyfriend is like having a dumb son” and I crack up because it can be so true – depending on the boyfriend.

But this wasn’t that. We talked about life, about love, about heartbreak and relationships. I felt our minds connect. We shared similar interests and views on life and of course are still quite different in our own ways but the things we had in common were the important things. When you meet a truly thoughtful person… someone who tops up your phone for you when you’re running low on money lol, someone who goes out of their way to make sure that you’re happy, buys you flowers just because they wanted to…you wonder how you were ever with anyone else. And where did this person come from? And how on earth did this even happen? And how am I going to leave him? Is this a trick?

Then the questions start pouring in, along with the comments and it feels overwhelming for a second but then you remember that you live in Trinidad so you take everything with a pinch of salt and appreciate the nice things that people have to say instead of the not-so-nice things. “You move on quickly” being my personal favorite. LOL. Are there rules for that? Anyway, the key with the commenters is to remember that when they make negative remarks it’s usually because they are unhappy with themselves or insecure so don’t take it too personally. It isn’t easy though. For example, my future job entails a 10 week training course in Scotland in Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) before I actually start working in the clinic. That means I can’t take my son with me because I’d be working all day. Where would he go? Who would he stay with? It wouldn’t work, he wouldn’t be happy. So my special, precious, cute, naughty, scrumptious boy will have to stay with my parents in Trinidad until after the training ends in May. I already feel terrible about it but I’m so, so thankful for their help. Then the plan is to come home to collect him and Skyler then head back up to England. And it starts… “How can a mother leave her child for so long?” And then I get a flashback of primary school teachers shouting “Fingers on lips!” And I wish I could say that to these people.

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr Seuss.

And anyway… all of these future movements aren’t just up to me! Our future lies in the hands of UK Visas and Immigration. If they decide they don’t want me back in their country I’ll get that all too familiar letter of rejection any day now in the mail. That visa application process was painful..as usual. Mostly because it is so expensive. I guess that’s one way of deterring people. My car is basically worth the cost of the application. Now don’t get me wrong my car isn’t worth much, it’s old like the road, sounds like it’s about to explode, has the odor of dog mixed with child-who-throws-food-everywhere (which isn’t a good combination) and looks like it belongs to a drug dealer – but it’s still a car! That’s how expensive this process is. Then you have to go into the embassy to hand in all your documents on the one day per month that they hold these “interviews” and give your fingerprints and picture. And then, the most painful part of all…you WAIT. And wait, and wait. Even though you paid for 5 day priority service they make sure to say in their email that “it can still take up to 12 weeks” and “you will not be refunded” if its takes longer than the 5 business days. It has been about two weeks now of nervous tummy pain awaiting the arrival of my package to open it and see whether they decided whether this peasant is worthy of a UK visa. Sometimes I feel like I’m begging them to let me back in, which feels a bit sad. Like when you’re the younger sister and all you want to do is lime with your big sister and her cool friends and they are like… “NO.” So you tell your mom and she makes them be nice to you lol. Wish my mum could buff up immigration for me.

As time started drawing nearer to the visa-dependent move, the reality of the entire situation began hitting me. I’m going to move to England by myself with my two children. Hmmm. People ask “what are you going to do, how are you going to manage?” With big concerned eyes, “You are going to have no life!” Gee thanks – not helping! I am a grown woman, I can do anything – this is exciting, isn’t it? But then you start having mini panics because maybe they’re right, can I do this on my own?

Because they say it takes a village to raise a child but in my experience – at the very least it takes a country. It takes parents of course, siblings, girlfriends of siblings, aunts, uncles, sisters of uncles, cousins, friends, husbands of friends, friends’ parents, housekeepers, nurseries, camps. People in lines who you ask to keep an eye on the child in the pram while you run to get the thing you forgot while you were shopping. The gasman who you ask to keep an eye on the child in the car while they put gas in for you so you can run across the street to get money out of the ATM – because you are running late for work and owe money to the delivery man from the pharmaceutical company who is coming today to drop your stock and you need it desperately. Cashiers and sales clerks who play with the child while you try on clothes or run to switch an item before paying. Neighbors who make muffins for the child and thank God because that day you were running low on snacks to take to nursery so it came in perfect handy and they don’t even know how much it helped you out. The air hostesses and aunties who aren’t really your aunties but you happen to be on the same flights to Tobago and Barbados and help you hold all the crap and child and distract him to get you through the few hours of travel insanity. And through all of these experiences, although we live in such a messed up world with all of the terrorism, hatred, crime, injustices, corruption and total disaster, sometimes you sit back and think wow. People can be so great sometimes. What happened to the world?

But as usual, I’ve now gone way off topic.

Things escalated with Bo and I.

The zoo was our first public excursion and it took days to prepare myself for it. I felt nervous about whether people would see us. Nervous about what they would say…but why did I care? I was happy. I think its because when you’re a mother people suddenly have different expectations of you. They expect that you stay home with the child instead of going out. They expect that you should put ‘dating’ on the back burner because the child is the most important thing in your life. They expect that you should want to spend all of your time with the child. But that’s not entirely fair. Also, it isn’t expected for men, so I don’t understand why it’s expected of women. If you follow those rules you will end up lonely and potentially resenting your child because they’ve taken away every single piece of your freedom. So I guess I was feeling self conscious about whether people would think I was a bad mother by exposing my son to a new man. But how can it be bad when our first ‘date’ is to the zoo, with my son? Haha. This was already different. It already felt right. So I decided to ignore everyone else and went on my merry way. Soon we progressed to going to the movies promising to walk a few feet apart each time lol. He made it a joke and soon I was over it all. We went to a party together and I could feel the looks of confusion but we were in another zone. It was fabulous.

It has been surreal. We feel like a family. Gees I can’t believe I just typed that. Which freaks me out because I don’t want to lose it. It has made the whole parenting experience more fun, more positive… just better. It’s so nice having him there. Every single day I’m shocked at the connection that the four of us share, and I start to panic, but Bo has a special way of calming me down and bringing me back to the earth that I forget exists. He knows how much this job means to me and supports my decision to leave.

Bo, if your’e reading this I hope you know that you are very, very special to me. You’ve shown me what it’s like to be in a supportive, caring relationship. You pick me up on the days I can’t pick myself back up, and when I feel good, you make the good even better. We have been making plans for our future no matter what the outcome of this visa application is – and whatever it is, I’m confident that we will find ways of making it work. I love you.

Andddd… today we find out what the future holds.

FLOWERS.


Oh, life.

Why is it that just when you think you’re getting your life back into some sort of order… when you’ve made a plan that may actually stick (moving to England) and not explode into a million pieces…some event comes along and throws you totally off track? This event may be a person. And this person may actually throw you off your current track and get you onto an even better one, which you will realize after a bit of denial. And as usual… impeccable timing, life.

It started with a dog. A very beautiful doggie as a matter of fact.

I got an emergency call that she was vomiting masses of green fluid constantly, suddenly not eating and drinking, lethargic – just totally not herself – definitely an emergency case that needed stabilizing – so I met the owners at the clinic. Not like the ones who call you just to have a chat about their pet at 11 pm. We took her into the clinic that evening and put her onto fluids, antibiotics and pain relief until the next morning when I did radiography and ultrasound. The owner was convinced that she had eaten a piece of carpet. But this definitely looked like a cob of corn on the x-ray and on ultrasound I saw the swirling fluids rolling back and forth in the intestine, blocked from flowing through by this stupid piece of corn.

That stupid, stupid corn on the cob.

We performed a full hematology and biochemistry blood test to ensure no concurrent issues and took her straight into surgery. Foreign bodies can be fun to operate on because usually it’s just a small incision into the intestine and you remove the silly thing they ate, put it into a bag to excitedly show the owner, close them up and that’s that. I’ve seen mango seeds, toothbrushes, metal cloths, my friend got a rubber duckie recently… But this case wasn’t that simple. Because it was an entire cob lodged in there, her intestine was compromised (it looked an unhealthy purple colour) which meant that we would have to perform a resection and anastomosis. Remove a portion of the intestine and close back the two healthy ends. This was after much debate and even trying laser therapy to bring the unhealthy tissue back to life – to no avail. We ligated the vessels that fed that portion of intestine, removed it, sutured the healthy ends together, leak tested it and made a beautiful omental wrap. We then moved on to the stomach which was dilated at least 3 times its normal size, made a tiny incision about 3cm long and suctioned over 1000ml of green foul smelling watery fluid out of it. We sutured it closed, double checked all of her abdominal organs and went through (again) the entire length of intestine from stomach to colon to make triple sure that we got everything out and to check the integrity of the sutures, all of which were A-okay. I closed her up and that was that. Or so I thought.

The owners have no idea how she got this piece of corn.

She recovered from surgery really well, started eating little by little and seemed to be doing fine. The first 48 hours are the most critical and I’m a paranoid freak so I kept her in for four days before sending her home. Because the surgery was a biggie, I asked the owner to keep a really close eye on her as there are many potential complications, and they updated me constantly Some complications included shock, leakage, ileus, dehiscence, peritonitis, adhesions, stenosis, recurrence, intussusception, and ultimately death. Gosh it sounded like those adds on TV for drugs that are supposed to help you but actually you’ll die from some other random complication. “Take this pill to lower your cholesterol, but watch out as it may actually make your cholesterol higher and give you a heart attack, cause severe depression and kill you from a blood clot.” And they say it in the happiest voices too, it confuses me every time. The owner said she pooped at home which was like music to my ears, and although she wasn’t back to her normal self as yet, clinically was doing fine. I wasn’t worried. Until the next morning when I got a frantic call that fluid was aggressively leaking out of her incision and she looked like she was dying.

It was Sunday. I flung Charlie into my mum’s arms and flew to the clinic to meet the owners – my stomach sank when I saw her condition. She was very obviously in shock with bloody fluid flowing out of her incision which seemed to have opened up a little bit cranially. Her mucous membranes were pale, she was tachycardic and almost totally unresponsive. I felt sick and I felt my eyes tear up. Get it together Steffi.

At this point there wasn’t much stabilization that could have been done so the vet-on-call and I made a clinical decision to get straight back into surgery. Differentials were now post operative peritonitis from wound dehiscence, DIC secondary to sepsis… We thought that going back into surgery and finding it would at least give her a chance of survival. We couldn’t find a source of bleeding, the intestinal and gastric tissue didn’t look necrotic or dehisced, the abdomen just kept filling up with blood. We removed over 1 litre of bloody abdominal fluid that had no clotting and under the microscope all we saw were red blood cells and the occasional white blood cell. During the surgical exploration her heart stopped and we administered epinephrine and dopram to try to get her back up and running but just couldn’t. My stomach twisted and I was in total shock myself. I stayed for ages looking, searching for a cause of the bleeding to at least have an answer for the owner but I just couldn’t find anything. The vet-on-call spoke to them as I wasn’t in any condition to do it at that moment, and I was so grateful. I spoke to them after a little while of sitting down and trying to figure out what the hell just happened. We took biopsies of every organ and sent samples of fluid from her abdomen to the lab but they were all inconclusive.

You always feel extremely upset when you lose a patient but this was different. I felt a deep sadness and couldn’t figure out whether it was because it was the first case that I had personally lost post-surgery so I felt totally responsible and like a terrible vet. Or if it was because she was just such a lovely sweet beautiful dog or if it was because I’ve known the owner for most of my life. We weren’t ‘friends’, but we knew each other. Probably a combination of all three. I found myself randomly crying about losing her and was feeling waves of guilt intermittently for a few weeks after it all happened. I took the sympathy card along with a photo of her for the owner. It was tragic seeing someone lose a pet that they cherished so much and I kept imagining the mess I’d be in if it was happening to me. I also felt responsible for her death because she was my case and thought, God he must hate me. I hugged him tight.

…and that’s how we started getting to know each other.

🙂

Who on earth would have thought that a beautiful relationship would come out of such a heart-breaking situation?

Luna.

Some troubles are shallow, while others are deep. Just try to stay focused and stand on your feet.

Keep reaching.

And carry on we do, sometimes kicking and screaming…most times trying to stop the child from kicking and screaming…but sometimes there really is nothing you can do to stop them besides maybe give them your car key. But try to avoid that.

As time passed I was juggling two vet jobs (plus a few outside jobs here and there), and it was just becoming all-encompassing. I was starting to feel crazy with the lack of sleep. By the time I got home I’d be too tired to want to play with my son and dog. The goal became to get my son to bed asap. How terrible am I? Not to mention that as a younger vet you tend to take on the weight of each and every case. Each and every complaint. It all comes home with you. I would start doubting my abilities and go to work looking all distressed with my drama-queen self, then co-workers would stop to ask “gyul what happen to you, you only been working here a few weeks”…and for some reason the way that Trinis speak makes you feel instantly better and you can’t help but laugh.

And just when you feel like you can’t endure administering another vaccine and you need something to spice up your life, you get an interesting case. YES. This was a 10 year old Rottweiler who presented in lateral recumbency, body condition score 2 out of 5, paralyzed in his hindlimbs with severe muscle wasting and no deep pain on one side and of course the pressure-sore-turned-maggot-wound in his perineal area. Maggot wounds are about as common as the totally-made-up gossip is in Trinidad. So we see them very often. He had been treated 3 months previously with AmoxyClav for a bite wound on his back from another dog and never fully recovered. He would seem to be walking fine one day and then regress. He was given steroids which always seemed to perk him up but the same cycle would repeat itself. Steroids are like Ben and Jerry’s after a bad break up. It helps in the moment but when the ice cream tub is finished honey, those tears come straight back. Although steroids can obviously be useful in certain cases like severe skin issues or certain types of inflammatory reactions, I avoid them. They trick you into believing that your pet is cured. And no one likes a tricker.

Anyway so the owner of this very lucky dog named Max is a lovely man who just doesn’t know what else to do to help his beloved dog child so he brought him for me to give him one last go. He would come in to feed him delicious rotisserie chicken for lunch and allowed me to do any diagnostics that I felt were necessary to help him. It isn’t often you get a case where the owner gives you that luxury, so I was like a kid in a candy shop. I did radiographs and found that there was some mottling in his lumbar vertebra consistent with osteomyelitis. He got IV fluids for his dehydration and IV antibiotics (Zinacef) for the bone infection, Gabapentin and Tramadol for the pain (we don’t get good opioids easily in Trinidad) and laser therapy along his entire spine twice per day. During his third night of hospitalization I casually checked the cameras to see what he was doing after hours and my “paralyzed” dog had managed to get out of his kennel and drag himself half way across the room! It was extremely exciting. But I did have to go back into work and put him back into his kennel – with great difficulty because he was aggressive and heavy… not without help from my brother and his girlfriend (thank God for them). But it was a fantastic feeling to see some progress.

Of course, he started getting urinary tract infections because he was immobile and he wasn’t able to urinate properly – it would just leak out at random times. Kind of like those men you see at random times in random inappropriate places, just peeing. So we had to express his bladder multiple times throughout the day (up to 1200ml at any given time) which wasn’t helping my prognosis. If he couldn’t control his bladder on top of his inability to walk, his quality of life wasn’t high enough on my scale to keep going. It wouldn’t have been fair to him. Doctors are allowed to try everything under the sun to keep their patients alive…Vets on the other hand are usually restricted by cost concerns and frequently have to put animals to sleep for various reasons. Ending an animals life, even when they are suffering isn’t easy. It sticks with you. I always feel so guilty, like a murderer, and to be remembered as the vet-who-put-your-pet-to-sleep isn’t the best feeling. But sometimes it does feel good to end an animal’s suffering. That’s what keeps us from getting too depressed about euthanasias. At least it does for me.

A week of tossing and turning trying to figure out what I’m missing, what else can I do for him – and my Max was still not walking, although he did sit up fully on his forelimbs and was able to drag himself around. Progress, but not nearly good enough. He needed to walk again. I started questioning my judgement…should I not have put him through all of this? Should I have recommended euthanasia? Am I making a poor clinical decision? Jesus this bill is high. I filled out my trusty quality of life form daily and it reassured me that he was still well enough to keep trying, although the people around me also seemed to be questioning my judgement. Gotta go with your gut.

Another week later while outside trying to get Max to weewee, he WALKED. He took a few steps. It was miraculous and amazing and I wanted to cry of joy. The next day, the lady who had brought him into the clinic initially, came back to pick him up. She brought the stretcher inside and asked us to help her put him onto it. The look on her face when I told her we didn’t need the stretcher went from confusion to tears when I brought him out, walking. She hugged me tight and we celebrated quietly in that moment. And these are the cases that reignite my love for the job.

Meanwhile, I had been chatting with a recruitment agent from a very well known and respected Veterinary company in the UK. Since Charlie was 3 months old I had been in touch with her about working for them as a vet. I told her my entire life story (because I think being open is key) and she was so supportive and kind through it all…it shocked me. Especially because of my previous, scarring experience working for a big company in England. Charlie was now a year and 4 months old. Or as some mothers like to say, 16 months…which, who the hell knows what that means? It always baffled me why people say that and I thought maybe when I’m a mother I’ll understand. Nope, don’t understand. 

“Hi Steffi, how old are you?”

“354 months”

…it’s just weird, man.

Anyway, now that Charlie was over a year old and I felt confident that I can keep him alive all on my own, I decided to go for it. Apply for the job, it can’t hurt. So I did. Then I had to do a timed test online before getting an interview. The day after the interview they called to say that I got the job which starts on March 4th. Which we all know is…DUN DUN DUN. Carnival Monday. Naturally.

I was elated, ecstatic, smiled all day, felt euphoric and was so excited to tell my parents. Dad congratulated me and was so happy and excited for this next step.

Mum said…”What job?” The one I had to do the test for, the one I’ve been telling you about all year, the one I had the Skype interview for yesterday, mom. Then she cried. Lol.

I was given a choice of clinics based on location and went up to England the month after I got the job to scope them out – see which one seemed most doable with a baby and dog on my own. I chose one… and I felt my life change a little. Of course this was after I was detained in the airport for 2 hours for questioning. Every single pocket, paper in my diary, piece of clothing, dollar bill… was searched, taken for inspection and then brought back to me. Literally all they didn’t do was ask to have a peek inside my you-know-what. Then a Trini angel appeared. An officer strolled up to me casually in true Trini fashion with the biggest smile on his face exposing a gap where a tooth once lived. “You from Trinidad?” He asked. Yes, I am. “Ey me too!” And the conversation started. I thanked my lucky stars for Calvin that day who managed to take the devil out of the immigration officer and make him human again. The officer apologized for how he treated me explaining that it was just part of his job, while his trainee who couldn’t get the gloves on over her long stuck-on sparkly nails apologized for searching my bag so thoroughly after Calvin told them that I’m from a “rich” part of Trinidad. LOL. This isn’t true whatsoever but I needed to get the hell out of that airport and go for a drink so I entertained the silliness, accepted the apologies and off I went.

Max sitting up for the first time, 3 days into hospitalisation

“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!


VetMom first tip

  1. Do not ever give the child your car key.

This may result in finding your key in a totally inappropriate place, like a garbage bin, along with other items like shoes, and shampoo. Worse yet, it can result in your child locking themselves and your dog in the car as they bite the alarm button…click …lock ….click …lock…. Because somehow they will never bite on the unlock button. Only on the lock button. Your mother will get hysterical and want to break the window but you will remain calm yet very concerned for the safety of your dog because he has long fur and the car is obviously too hot for him to cope. The baby will be fine as they think it’s a game. Hopefully you are able to talk your dad into going home and bringing the spare key before your mother who is almost hyperventilating breaks the glass – and then all will be okay. But you would have learned an invaluable lesson which is to NEVER GIVE YOUR BABY THE CAR KEYS.

Although sometimes I give in, to distract him for a second, but then I remember the incident and usually take it back. Depends on how desperately you need the distraction. Screaming fits in public usually warrant giving them the bloody keys.

The child will also suck the alarm so much that you may as well have just dropped it in a bucket of water. It becomes totally submerged in spit over time since their existence. Soon, you will see the light on the key alarm start to fade. You will notice that you have to click it an average of 3 times for it to work. You ignore all the signs because you forget about it once it actually works. But it catches up on you and one day it stops working totally. And you feel grief. A deep sadness because now you have to walk all the way around the car, stick the damn key into the car while holding the child, bag, lunch kit… and turn it over and over until you do it the right way to mean OPEN which again usually takes 3 tries… and then walk back around the car to put the child into the seat.

Then the seatbelt gets stuck and you look ridiculous sticking your bottom out of the door for ever and ever, as you have to put the seat belt all the way back to the top so it releases, then you can pull and wrap it around the car seat after it sticks 10 times and buckle it into the furthest away possible buckle because the child undoes it while driving and escapes. Then you go back and sit in the car and cannot find the keys for a few minutes until something tells you to check the car door. So you have to get back out of the car to get the key because you cannot reach it if you stay sitting (even though you try to every single time). And THEN when you finally get it you can turn your car on and go about your day. And approximately 2 seconds later you forget that whole episode even happened… and that entire cycle reoccurs. 

I have been doing this shit for a good few weeks now. I really must get the battery changed. But where even sells those little round weird batteries for car key alarms? I wonder how much they cost? It’s fine surely I dont even really need it anyway… I mean, this is what they did in the olden days, not so? Small thing. Don’t need it. 

Then you hop out of the car and have to walk around it to get the child back out then walk around to the front again with the baby, bag, bottle and snack, stop to pick up the shoe that just fell off…somehow manage to stick the friggin key into the friggin hole and turn it 3 times then triple check that the door is locked while the baby is falling out of your arms but doesn’t actually fall out….and then you cuss and cuss because WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST BUY THE DAMN BATTERY.

Tomorrow for sure, you say to yourself.

Ha.

Sinful expectations.

Being in Trinidad can sometimes feel like being in a very bad soap opera. Like The Young and The Restless, for example – it lasts your whole entire lifetime, people don’t seem to grow up or out of the dramas, there’s no getting away from it, the bacchanal is both unimaginably silly and  totally hysterical, and people get away with murder …literally.

Oh and gossip spreads like wildfire.

And the gossip although a lot of the time has 0.5% truth to it…a lot of the time also has 0% truth to it. I think this is what happens when there are lots of bored people all in one place.

Because sometimes it seems as though everyone is waiting for you to make a mistake, have a slip-up, do something, anything that they can talk about. As if you aren’t under enough pressure as it is to stay fit and look sexy, work hard but not too hard, always have a waxed vagina and a mani-pedi, make plenty money, play punkie-val (eh ehm, I mean Carnival), go out every weekend, go to Miami to shop every few months, get engaged and have a massive expensive wedding, have kids…and stay married whether you’re happy, horning or otherwise. What?

And why are there so many expectations?

As a mother you are expected to be the carer, cook, cleaner, bread-winner, nurse, diaper changer, entertainer, night shifter, never-shouting-always-soft-gentle-and-loving MILF – but such a person does not exist. Although my mum is pretty close. And we know this yet we still feel guilty. Guilty that we aren’t doing enough, guilty to take a break, guilty to take time for yourself, guilty for eating McFlurrys a few times a week. What does it even mean to take care of yourself and not be selfish? This is another battle you must learn how to balance, which I haven’t learned yet either. Am I being selfish by going out? Or by wanting alone time? By spending money on myself? It’s not just mine anymore…I own a whole human now. And he’s very, very expensive. But I’m losing my shit. Must. Go. Out. Must. Have. Drink.

And as if this isn’t enough to make you lose the plot…your responsibilities as a vet are just as plentiful.

As a vet you are expected to be a miracle worker, free laborer, therapist, dog trainer, surgeon, imager, anesthetist, dentist, pathologist, available at all seconds of the days and nights…oh and perfect. Because we aren’t allowed to make mistakes!

And then a lightbulb goes off in my overworked, overthinking brain. With all of these expectations pinned on me, I can see a little more clearly – how could I have expected people in the past to have lived up to my expectations? They weren’t big ones mind you, they were actually quite simple. I expected honesty and faithfulness. But as my therapist said that time, I have to take some blame for what happened, and now I understand where she was coming from (I think).

“Expectations are premeditated resentments” – Dawn Sinnott.

Anyway enough of that – now close your eyes and imagine now that you have a screaming baby and two emergency calls coming in at 11pm and 10 WhatsApp messages about pets and a few from some friends…where do you even begin! I always get buffed for taking ages to get back to people and I feel so guilty but messages get lost along the way between running around like a headless chicken, trying to sleep for a few hours a night, working always, bathing occasionally (just kidding, I bathe each and every day) and trying to keep an entire human being alive (it’s hard, they do a lot of silly things like free fall down the stairs or eat a stone). Sometimes I feel dizzy and overwhelmed and I just want to sit down in a dark room by myself for a while. Or run away. Far, far away.

But that would be the easy way out. And what’s wrong with the easy way out, you may ask yourself. Well I’m not sure yet but my dad says that no one has it easy and that everything will pay off and be totally fine one day and lots of other people have it a lot worse. Yes, I know this –  we all know this. But when you’re being irrational you aren’t really thinking of anyone else are you? And that’s the problem right there! When we are being irrational, we might be being a little bit selfish by thinking that we have it the worst and that no one understands what we are going through, and that your whole entire world is ending. And though that may seem to be true at that moment, that’s just life. So we pick ourselves up, we keep calm and we carry on. Or we remain totally off our heads and carry on (yours truly). But the point is that we carry on, and that’s the most important thing. We can do this. We are women, we can do anything.

And this is the conversation that I have with myself daily. 

And then I wonder if maybe I have a lesion in my brain because this cannot be normal behavior.

It doesn’t stop.

Even at work. In the middle of a consultation – Charlie pops into my head. Gosh he has been coughing for over a week now. I wonder if he ate at nursery today, or if he got bitten by a kid again, or if he sat on any of them. “Sorry, how long did you say your dog has been vomiting for…?” My mind is all over the place.

Then I sit for approximately 4 minutes to eat lunch (If I’m lucky – most days there’s no sitting involved), open LinkedIn and see that it’s “World pneumonia day” on the WHO’s account which says that almost 1 million children under 5 died in 2015 from pneumonia, and my stomach sinks. Jesus, does Charlie have pneumonia? But the doctor said once he’s getting better, which he is, that he should be fine. And I reassure myself that all is ok…after I call the nursery to ask whether he ate and whether he’s still alive. You never stop worrying.

Yet the day goes on. Some fly by and others seem never-ending…until a case comes in that shakes and wakes you right back up. An owner comes in with a dog who has been chopped with a cutlass, by accident. The owner was hunting and the dog jumped in front of the cutlass at the last second directly in the line of fire…right along her face. Her eyeball was dangling, jaw broken, sliced all the way from the top of her head to the tip of her nose. The first thing you usually feel in brutal cases like this is of course, anger. I was angry, upset, horrified, sad. Up until I sat down and spoke to the owners and realized that they are truly genuine, kind people who actually really adore their pets and brought her all the way from the other side of the country to get help for her. I still get a shiver when I look at the ‘before’ photo – which I will not post because it is just a bit too much.

And because I know certain people who would buff me cause their tummy’s can’t handle it.

You see, when you decide to become a vet it’s usually because you love animals more than people, you feel like you were strategically placed on this planet to help them, you feel an inexplicable level of anger that channels your inner virago when people mistreat them, and you cannot explain its depth. Because they are innocent and pure and amazing. Why can’t we be more like them? Things change though, when you actually start working because you realize that it’s just as much about helping the animals as it is about helping the people who own and love them. Your job is about the human and the animal as a whole…one unit, it’s a cycle. By helping one you help the other and vice versa- a unique symbiosis. It’s more responsibility than you ever thought it would be and not something you were fully prepared for, but theres no escaping now.

Anyway – The whole situation was totally depressing until I had an epiphany. Of course, the owner must be devastated. Of course the owner is feeling a guilt that we cannot imagine. What is wrong with me, why am I so angry? I quickly realized that they were in a much worse position than I was and snapped myself back into professional mode. No judging. They were humble and kind and didn’t complain about the cost of the surgery and after care, which is a rarity. I felt guilty but thankful to be reminded that you should give people the benefit of the doubt in certain circumstances. Like this one.

We were in surgery for about 4 hours. I enucleated her almost already fully detached eyeball and we wired her jaw back together. Her soft palate and nasal cavity were torn apart, as was her gum from her jaw, and we sutured her face back together from the frontalis muscle to the orbicularis oculi to the levator nasolabialis. When she woke up I felt relief and shock. How on earth did she survive this? It had happened the night before and she hadn’t even tried to bite, snap, she didn’t even cry…she just sat there, helplessly waiting for us to fix it. She woke up all stitched up in dreamland and I imagined that she felt like I did after my c-section…high as a happy kite. I didn’t expect her to recover that quickly from surgery and sure as hell didn’t expect her to heal that well. I sent her home with a few different medications which were color coded so that the owner wouldn’t be too overwhelmed- various antibiotics and pain medications. A few weeks later the owner sent us pictures on WhatsApp and my stomach sank, fully expecting her to say that her wound dehisced, or she had an infection, or she didn’t pull through… but nope. She was totally back to normal, back to hunting, her good old self. I sat for a second, reminded of why I chose this profession. Medicine is truly incredible. Oh how I love it.

*Of course, the owner gave me full permission to post a picture of her lovely pet-child, and tell her story 🙂 *

Then the day which was initially taking decades to pass has suddenly turned into night and I fly home at inappropriate speeds to get Charlie from my mum. Hug, feed, bathe, play, sleep. Exhaustion. Netflix, wind-down and eat. Then bedtime – the time I’ve been waiting for all day. So tired I excitedly think that tonight I will knock out in a millisecond, yes. Then I toss and turn for hours on end contemplating life, Charlie wakes up for a beppm, Skye cries to go weewee outside, I run to weewee after that, then sneak back to bed wondering how many hours I can get in before it’s time to start another day and force myself not to check the phone. I lie down, heart racing, trying to work out what time it could possibly be then sorely give in, click my phone and it’s 4am. I lie back down distracted by all of the things to remember to do tomorrow, check that Charlie is still breathing 1,000 times using my phone light and swear to myself that one day things will get easier…then I must have fallen asleep because I wake up to “MummaMummaMummaMUMMA” at 6am. Here we go again! Another day.

Here she is, the super trooper, right after surgery. Girl power.

And this is her a few weeks ago.

“When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad…
you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more…
oh, ever so much more…
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!”

-“Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” Dr. Seuss

Broken, not bent

…But most times it doesn’t last.

No matter how hard you try or how much it bends, before the relationship breaks.

Being a new single mother had been scary. I felt so alone. Like I had so much baggage and who the hell wants that? I was going to be alone forever. Strangely I never cared about being alone before, why did I suddenly care now? Baby brain? Insecurity? Lost the plot? Yes, yes and probably yes.

So this felt like a fresh start, a new chance at a once retired relationship. I had a lot to get over from the past and still not 100% sure why I put myself through it all, but I did. Mentally, it’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do (even worse than labour) and I won’t do it again. I guess when you truly think that a person is meant for you, you go the extra mile for them, which is beautiful. But theres a difference between going the extra mile and driving yourself straight off of a cliff.

Therapy seemed like the only resort. Why though, is it that the woman is always to blame? “You need to take responsibility for part of the cheating and lying because you knew he had a bad reputation yet you still got together with him.” Yes, you’re right its definitely my fault. A few weeks later I thought back to that comment and how the therapist made me feel that day. And how absolutely wrong she was for doing that. Then I felt livid that I paid her so much of my hard earned money to just make me feel worse about myself. I am never, EVER going back to therapy. Or at least not to her. It’s kind of like when people ask about what happened with Bullseye and then say “Oh gosh poor fella it was too much for him”…and I’m like :O POOR HIM? The world has gone absolutely mad. Men get away with too much.

Now I’m no neuroscientist but I’ve looked this up before in the moments of shock when I’ve been baffled at the extent some fibs can reach – there is a part of your brain called the amygdala, which is a region associated with emotions. Apparently, when someone tells a lie their amygdala shows activity, suggesting that they feel some sort of guilt. But as time passes and more lies are told, the amygdala shows less and less activity suggesting that the person feels less guilty and ultimately the person becomes more and more dishonest. Especially if they are personally benefitting from whatever lies they decide to tell.

That’s what happens to the liar. But when someone lies to you, at first you accept it as a true statement… then you process it more and decide whether you believe it or not. As sad as it sounds, if you hear the lie often enough it starts to sound true even when you  know better. Your brain feels like a battlefield, because you can become convinced that you are “crazy.” You become insecure, confused, unhappy. You wonder, am I making this up? After a while your brain becomes so exhausted from the mental confusion of being lied to that it can’t take anymore and your brain gives up. You unknowingly accept the lies as the truth.

Just as the Thai elephants lose their spirits to the Phajaan, your spirit is broken. Until one day you have an epiphany and realize your worth. Usually triggered by a particularly unpleasant event.

You know that saying “If you love someone let them go”…it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If you love yourself, let them go. Because life is too short to fight up or force things to work. If someone cannot give you what you want, be kind to yourself and recognize that it’s simply just… time to go.

And just like that Charlie, Skye and I were a trio again and I felt a new sense of self and womanly independence who don’t-need-no-man-for-nothing. Even at 6 am when I’m trying to weewee and read my myriad of texts from my beloved clients about their beloved pets, Skye is crying to go outside and Charlie picks up the garbage bin and bangs it on my shin then drops it on my toe. Then pulls his pamper off to put it into the bin, and pees on the floor. Then steps in it and leaves peeprints everywhere. Ah yes, my sweet sweet trio.

We even go for runs as a trio. Thankfully though I usually have help now and no longer get drivers passing by shouting “All you missing is de man!” Again, the commenters are here to stay. My mum helps a lot, thank God. Typically, the pram contains:

  • Water and poop bags for Skye
  • Water for Charlie, extra water for Charlie, milk, Apple Jacks, spare pamper, some sort of distracting toy
  • Water for mum and I
  • Phones and keys
  • Everyone else’s phone, water and keys, who come on the run 🙂

Overall, Charlie included, the loaded pram weighs no less than 60 pounds, swear to God. My arms sometimes feel like they might fall of and sometimes I imagine that I look like hulk from behind which freaks me out and I wonder if I should discontinue the running. But my mind needs it, so hulk I shall be. Skye runs to poop and you have to stop and pick it up so that the dog haters don’t have reason to cuss you and also because imagine how gross it would be if you didn’t. Somewhere along the line Charlie stops to feed people Apple Jacks and have a drink then he throws his bottle onto the ground, it gets caught in the wheel and I almost trip but don’t actually thank God – I already look like a hot mess imagine if I also tripped? Pheuf. Then mum takes over for a turn and I breathe a sigh of relief in remembrance of how easy running is when you don’t have a bandwagon attached to you. Then I feel like it’s too easy and ask for the pram back please. It’s a vicious cycle, this motherhood business.

One second you just want them to go to sleep. Then they go to sleep and you love them extra because they look so cute and innocent and they are so quiet. You wonder for a flashing moment if you should go and kiss those lucious cheeks but then you feel dread as you realize that there is a risk of waking them up so you quickly run away after blowing a kiss as silently as possible. Do not wake the beast. Then they wake up screaming (most times) and you just want a vacation. Then you go on vacation without them for a week and you go to a bar, excited to have no responsibilities for 5 seconds and your friend shows you a picture of your son from someone at home. And instead of being the fun, drunk-and-disorderly-twenty-something-year-old that you thought you still were, you feel a lump in your throat and need to go home because the tears are coming because you miss the little terror so much. Vicious. Cycle.

Below. This is why you silently blow kisses at night and then run like the wind, out the bedroom door. Love him.

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“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

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 every time I had to feed him to try to divert the pain but nothing worked, 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.