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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Laughter or the Looney Bin

This post is part of the first Humor in Parenting (and Breastfeeding!) Blog Carnival inspired by the anthology "Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding", a collection edited by Rachel Epp Buller and published by Demeter Press in August 2013. The anthology looks at the lighter side of nursing. All of its contributors found something funny to say about their days as a non-stop milk shop, even if it was a tough job to have.

This carnival celebrates the craziness that is parenting and asks the question of how we use humor to get through our days, or minutes, or years. Just what's so funny about being a parent? And why is it soimportant to make life with kids funny even when it doesn't exactly seem hilarious?

Please share widely and connect us with other funny parents who are blogging and Tweeting. Use the hashtags #funnybreastfeeding and #humorcarnival along with whatever witty originals you come up with. Those ought to be worth some laughs, too!

See below for links to the other contributors. And, as you might have said to your nursling once upon a time, enjoy the buffet!


During my first pregnancy, a girlfriend sent me a link to an article on Parenting.com about preparing for breast feeding. Take a moment to click and read it for yourself (don't forget about me though! I'll still be here rambling away, pining over your virtual absence the whole time you're gone).  

Oh good, you're back.  The article was - and is - comic genius, am I right? Which really doesn't really explain why it made me cry.  The thing that does explain my tears is simple: hormones.  Hormones and anxiety.  They're essentially the two defining factors of a pregnant woman; the reasons you better watch you ass around those crazy, bloated, unpredictable lunatics.

My reaction was alarming though.  See, I happen to fancy myself a fun-loving, good-humored sorta chick.  Humorous snippets on the Internet are my wheelhouse.  I can frequently be found watching comics stream on my Netflix account or listening to them on Pandora.  My heroes are Tina Fay and Mindy Kahling.  Laughing is my thing.

Yet here I was weeping like a--for lack of a better analogy--baby, over an article that was meant to inspire it's readers to engage in chuckles and belly laughs and spit-takes (my thing dammit!).  Who was this weepy stranger who had suddenly invaded my ballooning body?

As my pregnancy progressed, I was generally able to generally keep those bastard hormones in check.  That is, until I reached 31 weeks and my water broke.  

I was sitting innocently at our dining room table, piecing a puzzle together with my neighbor's three-year-old during the St Patrick's Day/30th Birthday Party we were throwing in honor of my husband.  All of a sudden, my chair filled with a warm fluid which I initially mistook for urine (so I sat quietly contemplating my exit strategy for more than a couple of minutes). Eventually I clued myself in on the significance of what was happening, mainly because my neighbor (mom, not 3-year-old) was able to spot the look of panic on my face and then guide me out of denial.

Can I just say there's no more dramatic way to bust up a party than by sending a bawling pregnant woman and her drunk husband out the door to deal with the premature arrival of their first child?  To make matters even more dramatic, the only other truly sober party-goer was a very pregnant girlfriend of mine who sprung into action by inquiring about a hospital bag (which only made me cry harder...of course I didn't have a bag packed!) and herding us into the backseat of her shiny new mom-sized-SUV -- at least someone was prepared for parenthood.  It seems that between my tears, I was able to spout accurate directions to the hospital where I had planned to deliver.  Guess which one of us they wanted to plop in a wheelchair and roll over to maternity?  I'll give you a hint, it wasn't the one who looked like she'd just had one too many servings of corned beef. 

Upon further investigation (and the three cups of coffee ascertained by our preggo friend and her husband for the purposes of sobering up my husband) it was determined that my membrane had indeed ruptured and I would be admitted to the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy, which would ideally be at least a month, but turned out to be only 20 hours.  

The delivery of my first son was painful (vaginal delivery of a breech baby, no time for an epidural...my vagina still hasn't forgiven me), mercifully fast, and happened during the brief period after my husband and I had finally decided it was safe for him to sneak away for a real meal.  And also a brief but futile argument with the doctor as they were wheeling me to the delivery room and anther when they told me to push (but I never made it to the classes! I don't know what to do!)

Needless to say, there were more tears at this point.  

In the five weeks that followed, my husband and I bounced between work, our home, and the hospital's NICU and I discovered the devastating combination of hormones and sleep deprivation that provide new mothers with a foggy, tearful, blended sense of fatigue and bliss. 

I cried with my breast pump, in the car, as I decorated the nursery, while buying tiny preemie clothes that sagged off our tiny little man, and once when I ran into my poor, unsuspecting OB who was trying to get home from working a 36-hour shift but made the enormous mistake of asking how I was doing.  

Again, all these unprovoked tears were disturbing to both me and my husband -- who one time had to simply turn the radio off because every station seemed to be playing a song that made me cry harder than the last. 

I eventually leveled out as our son came home and we all learned to sleep better.  My husband and I adjusted our sense of 'normal' as all new parents do.  We settled in to witness all the tiny miracles that make up the first few months of human life; all the while, falling deeper and deeper in love with our amazing little creation.  Laughter began to once again outnumber my tears.

Then...BAM!  I was pregnant again.  
(Betcha didn't see that coming)

No one was happier than this guy. 

That's right ladies, I am a walking, talking, cautionary tale for woman who stupidly rely on nursing as their primarily form of birth control.  Don't get me wrong, we were both thrilled.  Maybe just a little freaked to learn that #2 was scheduled to arrive a mere 17 months after we had welcomed #1.  

I soon discovered that my previous OB had scaled her practice back (possibly because she was tired of evoking tears in her patients with common niceties exchanged in hallways) and therefore I had to choose a new doctor to guide us through the chaos of my second pregnancy.  The new OB was very matter-of-fact and reassuring, but that didn't stop me from lying awake at night, reading up on the odds of delivering a second preemie.

Sure enough, a little beyond the halfway point of my pregnancy, we began watching my cervix slowly thin out on biweekly and then weekly ultrasounds. Eventually we also discovered that unbeknownst to me, I was having contractions as well.  By the 30th week of my second pregnancy, I was admitted to the hospital with an official diagnosis of preterm labor.  My cervix had basically sacked out, I was beginning to dilate, and my contractions had become even more persistent and evasive to the medication I had been taking regularly, though they were still barely detectable.

I remember feeling a particular sense of foreboding as I sulked my way across the parking lot that separated my OB's office from the hospital, nervously clenching the 32-ounce water bottle that I had foolishly hoped would be my salvation and desperately breathing in the warm spring air like I imagine a prison inmate might do in the precious last minutes before being incarcerated.

The next five days were a bit surreal.  I was admitted, gouged with an IV and pumped so full of magnesium sulfate that I could barely walk straight.  And of course, I once again morphed into my alter ego: Weepy McBasket-Case, who is summoned to deal with any pregnancy-related crises that might arise.  

Despite the best efforts of the medical team assigned to my case, Ms. McBasket-Case delivered her second son at 31 weeks and 2 days, just one day shy of the gestational age achieved by his brother (that kid is clearly a competitor). 

And so we suited up and jumped back in the ring for round two of the NICU challenge.  The walls had been repainted and the security doors had been replaced, but much of the staff was the same and they were just as bewildered as we were to learn of our encore appearance so soon after #1 (a 17 month age difference had suddenly become only 15).  Round 2 was a bit more chaotic than Round 1 had been, what with adding that additional 15-month-old into the mix.  But the stay was a bit shorter and a bit less stressful by virtue of the fact that we had been there and done that.  

The thing we didn't anticipate was a 10-day face-off with viral meningitis, earning us a PICU stay and a ventilator a mere week and a half after discharging home.  (It's possible our health insurance provider has decided to just put a hit out on our entire family so we don't end up tanking the whole system). You can imagine that ol Weepy McB was there for every step of that road.  

We now reside in a far less dramatic and chaotic world.  My oldest is nearly 20 months old now and the little guy is 4.5 months (making them respectively 18 and 2.5 months 'age adjusted').  Much of the medical side-show we had created is now a vague memory and it all feels a bit like a dream where the details are fuzzy, but the feelings it evoked are still fresh.  The tears have subsided some, but as a mom, I think I will always be putty in the hands of the marketing team over at Johnson & Johnson (those bastards know just how to trigger an ugly cry).

It was in the days after being admitted with my second son that I began composing my blog; thus joining the ranks of the bazillion and ten mommy- bloggers on the planet (you're welcome, world...).   In writing blog entries, I was able to both vent and find perspective; also, two imperative things became abundantly clear:

1) The tears were an important part of my coping strategy; Weepy McBasket-Case was indeed a necessary evil.  


2) Without my usual identification as a fun-loving, good-natured kinda gal, I might have lost my mind completely.  

I am so lucky to have married a man who fills my chuckle bucket (that didn't sound right, now did it?) and makes me laugh with such ease.  In that shiny new SUV after my water broke, he held my hand and cracked more than a couple of zingers to lighten the mood.  He brought nothing but smiles into the delivery room even after missing the arrival of his first-born (though he did comment on the bloody state of the room, noting later that it resembled a crime scene).  It was his quick wit and my need to laugh that got us through the chaos of my failing mommy-parts and eventual early delivery of our second son.  

Laughter has most definitely kept us both afloat in the past 20 months, it helped chase away the tears in a delicate process necessary to cleanse my anxiety.  Laughter has kept us strong as a couple and grounded as parents.  Our toddler loves nothing more than to make us laugh and sometimes just flings himself into our arms, all giggles and dimples for no apparent reason.  Even the littlest guy is suddenly cracking smiles and melting hearts like a true professional. 


I am so grateful for smiles and giggles and quick wit.  I am so lucky to have my boys and the joy they all bring.  Even if it means there might have been some tears along the way as well.

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Please check out these the other submissions to our humor carnival:

I will sleep when I'm dead:
Zoie at TouchstoneZ needs some sleep but her kids have other ideas.

Boobs are in the House
 Jenny of Half Crunchy Mom shares how her love affair with her nursing breasts was hindered only by the act of pumping, but she found a way to party with the pump.

Send in the Nipple Clowns
Pickle Me This shares a story in which a mother who hasn't slept more than three hours in a row for six months reflects back on the comedy of her breastfeeding life.

And, from Have Milk contributors:

The importance of laughter
Jessica Claire Haney of Crunchy-Chewy Mama gets serious about looking for humor with her kids where her own parents didn't.

Underwater and Excuse Me Adriann Cocker of Cockerchat muses on the absurdity of parenting while leading a hip loft lifestyle in downtown Los Angeles.

To learn more about Have Milk, Will Travel, or to buy a copy for your favorite mom

(or the people who love her), visit the Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding site


  1. Laughter of Looney Bin is right! What an amazing experience with both children. Thank you for inspiring love through laughter.