Thanks for the “mansplaining,” Rex Murphy. You shouldn’t have. No really, you shouldn’t have.

I know it’s a bit late to reflect on 2014. That is like sooooooo last year already. But there is something that’s still itching me about it, more than the stitches that recently fell out of my mooncup vessel. The irritant this time: Rex Murphy. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of that bald, big-eyed genius. But sometimes his hair-regenerating product penetrates his brain and he comes up with the fuckiest fuckery this side of Texas and the whole country goes WHUUUUUT? Like his year-end column in The National Post on feminism. Murphy seems to think 2014 was a terrible year for women. I seem to think… well, click below and hear what I think. (Typing is hard with a human dangling from my jugs.)

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24 Hours On the Maternity Ward

I gave birth to my baby girl on December 23rd. Luckily, things went well (UNLIKE LAST TIME, AMIRITE?) and I was discharged the next day, just in time to help my five-year-old hang his stocking for Santa.

So my stay on the maternity floor of the Health Sciences lasted the 24-hour minimum, almost to the minute. And since I was placed on a ward instead of in a private room, 24 hours was more than enough.

Below is the commentary I shared on CBC radio yesterday. Beneath that is a transcript of it, with one important addition highlighted in red. I don’t think I was being insensitive by this omission, given the anonymity of my ward-mate (I don’t know her name, I never saw her face). But I was most definitely unclearAs you should know, especially if you’ve seen the video I made a few weeks back (scroll down for Ward in a State), I’m advocating for privacy on the maternity floor largely because of the pain felt by mothers forced to share a space with other mothers and their healthy babies, while their babies receive care in the intensive care unit. I’m sorry I did not communicate that well on the air. Perhaps I can blame my baby brain for my toolishness.


 

Transcript:

When I was admitted in the case room, I put my name on the list for a private room in case one miraculously became available. The nurses chuckled, knowing how difficult securing a private room would be. I had heard the rooms set aside for gynaecology patients were vacant for the holidays, but apparently the doors were all shut – unavailable to obstetrics patients, like new mothers. I’m not sure why.

Sure enough, once I had my baby girl, I was transported to a ward. I was relieved to discover just one other patient in the room, and three empty beds. Small victories. Instead of a noisy, jam-packed ward of mothers, their partners, and their crying babies (which is precisely what I experienced when I had my first child five years ago), I’d be sharing a room with just one woman. I had no idea who she was, but within moments there were no secrets between us. Not because we talked, but because we both had ears. The nurse greeted me and gave me the standard postpartum rundown: “Keep an eye out for blood clots when you use the bathroom,” she said, among other things. And there it was. I had ‘revealed all’ in the case room downstairs (no time for modesty there!) and it was no different here now. Whatever was happening in my “land down under,” anyone within earshot would know about it. My roommate and I each occupied a corner of the room away from the door, our cramped quarters surrounded by thin, bluish-green curtains. I didn’t see her face, but I could hear everything about her situation, and she mine. Her baby was in the NICU, so every three hours a nurse clamoured in – not with her baby, but with a breast pump on wheels. I listened to the sound of her pumping milk every couple of hours, and I presume she listened to me soothe my baby as I struggled to get reacquainted with changing diapers and breastfeeding. I thought about how awful she must feel, to hear me feeding my baby in my arms while she was not yet holding hers.

The noise from the hall was much more disruptive than the noise from my roommate’s bedside. When you’re on a ward, the door to the room is always open . The floor is noisy, with new patients arriving, and babies and medical equipment being wheeled about. It’s like living next to the train tracks. Not great if you have high blood pressure, or if you desperately need rest because you’re being induced in the morning and about to face 20+ hours of labour. Unless you can trick an anesthesiologist into slipping you something, sleep may be a distant dream.

The next day, my roommate and I both had a handful of visitors, but at different times, so the room was never overcrowded. Still, the space inside my curtain was so limited, my mother and aunt could barely find a place to sit comfortably and hold the baby. The truth is, the ward is cramped even when only half occupied. Once the curtain is drawn, you have a couple feet of space around your bed. Add a food tray and a chair and a baby in a plastic crib bassinet and you’re going to have a tough time moving around safely. And don’t forget, you’re pregnant or still look like you are, so chances are your belly is going to reduce that space even more. You probably also have painful stitches which makes moving around uncomfortable in the roomiest of spaces. It’s not safe for you. It’s especially not safe for you to be handling an infant there.

Speaking of small spaces: the bathroom. Hard to believe it was built to be shared by up to four obstetrics patients. Wow. There was a small shelf above the sink on which to lay my things, and having just given birth, boy did I have things. I had things I wish I didn’t. I bled a little on the bathroom floor, so I had to bend down and clean it up for fear my ward-mate or her partner would see it, or, worse, slip on it. I could have notified the staff but I really didn’t want to draw more attention to it than necessary. I shudder at the thought of sharing that bathroom with three other women and their vaginas and their visitors for those 24 hours, let alone several days.

I took a walk down the hall, past the room I had stayed in when my son was born in 2009. The door of the room across from it was sealed off and had a caution sign that read “MOLD.” I wasn’t sure if I should feel grossed out by it, or relieved that they were fixing it. There was something super creepy about seeing a MOLD sign just a few feet from a room full of brand new humans, that’s for sure.

So how was my experience on the maternity ward, in a nutshell? The ward was noisy and cramped, even with just two occupants. Privacy was truly impossible. But it was clean, and the Registered Nurses and doctors were excellent. In fact, I imagine they could deliver an even higher level of care if they had rooms they could actually move around in properly. Rooms in which they could feel proud to care for new mothers and their babies.

Overall my experience on the maternity ward at the Health Sciences was good. Good, because it was brief.

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There’s a Baby Up in My Blog

My blogging and vlogging endeavours have been festering in the diaper pail these last couple of weeks, but for good reason I tell you! I’ve been busy generating new material for said blogging and vlogging material with this wee one right here.

Introducing the babester, Rae Alice Murphy. Born 8:12pm, December 23rd. 8lbs, 8oz of fantastic.

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And if you hurt her, Big Brother Max will open up a can of whoop ass on your face.

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Dental Damned

For fear that my next visit to the dentist is unknowingly to one of the 13 Dalhousie Dentistry Dick-smacks, I’ll pull my teeth out with a pair of rusty pliers instead. That’ll be way more fun.

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What I Hear When You Call My Unborn Daughter a “Drama Queen”

“Good luck with the little drama queen,” they say when they find out I’m expecting a girl.

It seems we gals have a rep right out of the womb — as dramatic, irrational whack-jobs. I hear it all around me, from both men and women. I’ve even said it myself. She’s a total psycho. His ex is a crazy bitch. My friend’s mom is nuts. And I’ve been the subject of such comments too, more than I care to remember.

When there’s an incident, nobody seems to need any further information about the other parties involved, because everyone already knows the human with the vagina is the one to point the finger at. Whatever happened, she caused it. She overreacted. ‘Cause she’s crazy. ‘Cause she’s a she.

To the male observer, we womenfolk must seem strange creatures, preoccupied with primping, preening, and obsessing about everything from our weight to our wallpaper. Our weak, shallow female minds can’t cope with the chaos of the real world so we lash out at poor, unsuspecting men. We get mad when they drink too much or flirt too much. We key their cars like Carrie Underwood in her “Before He Cheats” video. We boil their pet bunnies when they dump us like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction. Oh yes, these things happen all the time. We’ve been typecast as lunatics for hundreds of years. For crying out loud, the word “hysteria” comes from the Greek for “uterus.” Because hysteria — nowadays, more commonly called the crazy cakes — was thought to be exclusive to the ones with the wombs. And remember Jane Eyre? We’re all “crazy women in the attic.” Aren’t we lucky.

So, when one of us is assaulted and comes forward, many people instantly think: oh she’s exaggerating, seeking attention or revenge or a payday. It’s a pattern, after all. Obviously the fussing over our bodies is purely about seeking attention and not because we’ve been conditioned to be wholly insecure about ourselves throughout history. And clearly we’re going through daily life like balls of stress because we are imbalanced nut jobs, not because we actually do have a hundred things to do with most of the parenting and household tasks falling to us.

When Jian Ghomeshi was accused of sexual violence a few weeks ago, over a hundred thousand people — many of them women — immediately jumped to support him and his Facebook post claiming it was all the plot of jilted lovers. A male friend of mine heard the news and quipped, “yeah, after five or six times of getting slapped around they decided they didn’t like it anymore.” He said that out loud, without doing an ounce of research or thinking. Because clearly any woman accusing Ghomeshi, or Bill Cosby, or any beloved man, was a crazy bitch bent on revenge. There was no other possibility.

I mean, of course we women are the ones with the reputation as the jealous lovers who’ll go to any length to destroy our rejectors. That makes total sense. It’s not like 85 per cent of domestic abuse in Canada involves men against women, invariably driven by anger and jealously. It’s not like the vast majority of stalking is done by men, targeting women. Someone must have made up the news story about the man who shot his ex, Julianne Hibbs, and her partner in CBS last year with an AK-47. The cops must have got it wrong yesterday when they found the body of Canadian actress Stephanie Moseley, slain by her husband. Maybe some crazy chick invented all these stats to make things go her way. Perhaps some loony seamstress made Big Ears Teddy and planted him in Ghomeshi’s room to frame him for trading her in for a younger model.

How horribly, horribly difficult it is for us to come forward when we’ve been assaulted. No wonder we swallow the pain and go back to our primping and preening and being seen not heard. In some cases, like that of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia who was raped and bullied for months, we see no way out and just can’t live with the pain. We just can’t win, not in this world. Because anything resembling drama — no matter how warranted that drama is, though it may just be the plain and ugly truth — is synonymous with deceit.

There is power in numbers, thankfully, and sadly. When a slew of totally unconnected, respected women share similar accounts of their encounters with Ghomeshi, or Cosby, logic dictates they’re telling the truth. But one average woman’s story is rarely enough. One ordinary woman must certainly be out to ruin the life of a great man when he stops calling, or when she decides she needs some drama in her little, female life. And god forbid she be a prostitute or — dear god no — a woman who likes to have sex. Then nobody listens at all. Because she’s the epitome of crazy, straight from the attic. If she really was assaulted, surely she’s at least partly to blame.

I think the world is changing, slowly, because we’re finally talking about these things, pushing them out into the light and, hopefully, handing down consequences so young people can better understand what’s simply not acceptable. I just hope the world has changed enough by the time my little girl is a young woman, so she can escape the stereotype into which she’ll be born. So she can feel safe and hopeful and equal and brave in the world, no matter how much of a drama queen she is.

 

This article was previously published on The Huffington Post and commented on by a bunch of misogynist a-holes.

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Ward in a State

Just when I thought I couldn’t be anymore thrilled to squeeze a human skull out of my widdle wookiee bush, I discover the conditions on the local hospital’s maternity floor are just tremendous. With few private rooms available, women are forced to share a room with up to three other gals and their screaming babies and bleeding vaginas and leaking chesticles and laughing visitors who also poop in your bathroom. God I’m excited. Here’s my latest vlog post, expressing just how very excited I am.

 

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V is for Vicki, Vagina, and VLOG.

13 days till I calf. Moo.

I reckon once the baby comes, vlogging will be easier than blogging. One hand to hold the baby + one hand to hold the wine = no hands to type. Plus, with vlogging you people get to criticize not only what I write but how I look, how I sound, etc. So much to work with!

So here’s my very first vlog post. It’s all downhill from here.

all the babies

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How to Save Money on Toys

Christmas. The birth of Jesus (supposedly). And the crucifixion of your credit card (most certainly).

In spite of these uncertain economic times, we’re spending more than ever on crap for our little crappers. But why? Forget our desperate need for “stuff” and thoughtless overspending, our kids have NO TASTE. In fact, most tots are downright tacky! Think about it. You give your youngster a big, expensive gift only to watch him toss it aside to play with the wrapping paper. And when your poor, deprived offspring has opened his skyward heap of gifts, the first toy he wants to play with is the one from the dollar store. I know mine does. Max is straight from the trailer park.

So this year, I’m taking advantage of his poor taste and giving him just one gift for Christmas: a telescope. And by telescope I mean an empty paper towel roll.

Here are a few other classic — and I mean really classic — toys for your tweedle-dummies. Each one fosters imagination and creativity, and guess what? They’re all free! So you can save your money for booze. Or college, whatever.

1. The Cardboard Box. A classic among children everywhere. It comes with a built-in, saloon-style door, and windows can be installed custom. (Well, more like cut-out than put-in. Even easier.) The cardboard box is incredibly multifunctional. It can be a house, a cave, a hospital, or a totally pimped out go-cart. For entrepreneurial kids, it makes a kick-ass lemonade stand. People spend a fortune on these child-size kitchens, but why? Just toss a few pots and pans in the box and your pint-size chef is good to go, money saved. For easy storage, the cardboard box can be folded flat and stored under the couch or bed. Sizes may vary. A refrigerator box equals a swagadelic luxury hotel.

2. The Blunt Stick. Please note: this is different from the Sharp Stick, which is a toy for nimbler kids over seven. The ancestor of the Swiss Army Knife, the Blunt Stick is mega multifunctional. Is it a hockey stick, a golf club, a baseball bat, a fishing rod, or a javelin? All of the above, sports star. It’s also a light-saber for a young Jedi knight. It’s a sword, if your youngster wants to get medieval on another kid’s ass. (Please note: I endorse chivalry and theatre, not bullying.) It’s a baton for your future gymnast, and, for the big-boned child, it’s a trusty roaster of marshmallows. (Oh wait, that’s the Sharp Stick, nevermind.) Best of all, the Blunt Stick is eco-friendly, as long as you don’t snap it from the endangered St. Helena Gumwood.

3. The Empty Pill Bottle with Macaroni Inside. Note: I said macaroni, not pills. Take an empty, plastic pill bottle – preferably one of those chunky, bulk-size vitamin jars – and toss in a few rotini. Whatcha got? Instant maracas! Shake that baby booty! I recommend making a new label for the bottle so others don’t think your kid’s toy-box doubles as a medicine cabinet.

4. The Wooden Spoon. A mere spoon? To the sadly unimaginative, perhaps. This common kitchen utensil is actually a magic wand. Seriously – bang anything with it and that thing magically transforms into a drum. Throw in a stainless steel mixing bowl and it’s a percussionist’s starter set. At Long and McQuade, something like this would cost major coin. But lucky for you, the elves that live in your cupboard dish out this playtime fun for free. Comes with free microphone setting.

5. The Pet Rock. A knockoff of the 70s fad. (Yes, this really was a huge novelty in that era. Probably on account of the rampant drug use.) Create your own 21st-century model by going no further than your own backyard, preferably un-landscaped. Fat ones or skinny ones, bumpy ones or smooth ones, sedimentary or igneous, your child can choose the pet that he or she wants, not necessarily the one that doesn’t shed. Disclaimer: If you live in a glass house, get a cat.

6. The Empty Paper Towel Roll. There’s pirate treasure on your countertop, between your toaster and your microwave. When the last paper towel is pulled from the roll, BAM – you got yourself a telescope, matey. Arrrrrgh you ready to sail the high seas of awesomesauce? For a miniature telescope, head on over to the bathroom.

7. The Imaginary Friend. The success of this toy depends on your level of commitment. Start talking to the empty space next to your child. For example, when I first asked Max, “Would you like to read a book?”, I then moved my head 20 degrees to the right or left and asked the same question again. At first, Max looked confused. But within days he started to realize – there is someone there. A friend! In two to three weeks, your child will be enjoying the constant companionship of a kid you never actually have to feed. Or give birth to.

This piece was adapted from my book, MotherFumbler (breakwater booka, 2013)

 

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Christmas Needs a Sanity Clause

Our kids are selfish assholes. Sending wish lists to Santa seven miles long while children in Honduras scavenge for food in garbage dumps.

When I told Max we’d be stuffing a shoebox for a child in need, his eyes widened with worry that I’d fill it with his things, or blow the holiday budget on Javier instead of him. So I made him put down his Lego bricks and watch videos of children in India making actual bricks under the scorching hot sun.

It’s our stupid fault. We created the little assholes by overgiving, overspending, and underthinking. When my mom was a child growing up in Cape Freels, every year she asked Santa for a monkey. What she got was a pair of knitted socks or mitts, an apple and an orange, and if she was really lucky, a few grapes – a rare treat. She was happy with this humble haul because she expected nothing more (except maybe the monkey).

When I was a kid, I got significantly more: dolls, board games, and clothes. But it was nothing like nowadays. Today, Christmas trees are barely visible behind an Everest of presents. Beyond the fire hazard, something else is very wrong with this picture, yet we shamelessly post it on social media so the kids in the Congo can see it and die a little more. Oh wait, silly me, those kids don’t have computers. Unlike our kids who have computers, tablets, and gaming consoles before they’ve learned to stop using their pants as a toilet.

And it’s not just Christmastime when we get nutty as fruitcakes. It’s every occasion. 500-dollar birthday parties at the pool or bowling alley for four-year-olds who’d be just as thrilled to watch a movie and share a lopsided cake with a couple friends in the living room. And nothing says Easter quite like a new bicycle. Thanks for the rad wheels, zombie Jesus!

So why do we give them so damn much? Because we want them to have everything we didn’t. Because the worst thing in the world is the disappointed face of your own child on Christmas morning. Because we just gotta keep up with the Joneses. Because we just like to bloody shop. And because we have our heads firmly jammed up our asses. Pretty sure we’d spend a little less on holiday chocolate if we knew it was made with cocoa beans harvested by a six-year-old slave on Cote d’Ivoire. Or would we?

Boy, have we lost touch with simple. Whatever happened to the jolly elf bringing one gift per child? Where’d the humble birthday party go, with the ham and cheese sandwiches and pin the tail on the donkey? Our kids wouldn’t expect gifts galore and 3-tiered ice cream cakes if we created a different narrative. But we continue to give them the world and ruin everything, including our bank accounts. Since when were we all filthy rich anyway? Last time I checked, we were up to our tits in debt with the high cost of housing, daycare, gas, and milk. If we’re so determined to drop mad stacks at Christmas, how about we drop it into a college fund instead, so at least we can give our children something they’ll actually need in a few years – a break.

Suckiest of all, what are we teaching them? Overstimulation, excess, and greed. That they can have everything they desire by doing next to nothing, which is not how the world works at all. So ironically, while we’re giving them all the things they want, we’re also giving them the shaft by preparing them piss-poorly for the big, cruel world. And that, Moms and Dads, is not very nice. We should all be on the naughty list.

This article appeared in the December edition of The Overcast. TheOvercast.ca

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Guys and Dolls

The toy store is a zoo this time of year as we all impatiently line up to drop major coin on crap for our kids. A zoo is a fitting analogy because we’re all robot monkey parents with shit for brains. This diagram that’s been popping up in my Facebook newsfeed a lot lately points out why. It captures, in the simplest possible way, the absolute absurdity of gender specific toys.

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Now, technically the wording in the yellow circle should read: “It is for both boys and girls.” Using “either/or” implies it’s one or the other, not both, which is exactly the opposite of what this meme is trying to encourage. But whatever. I get it. And I can’t tell you how much it rots my balls to see that the vast majority of parents are still subscribing to this gender specific bullshit. I talk about this topic a lot because it truly baffles me that in 2014 we can all be so gullible to the marketing machine and, in turn, be so unfair to our children.

If you’ve managed to train your son to recoil from dolls and all things pink like it’s a bag of deadly viruses, well done. I mean, not only might dolls turn your manly prince into a flaming homosexual; they might also make him a good father. For the love of god, let’s not let that happen. Let’s keep the women in the kitchen pureeing the baby food, and the men in the garage shining their weapons for the battlefield.

We all know girls are getting shortchanged in the toy department. They have “Legos for girls” now, for god’s sake. I mean obviously we gals don’t want to build fire trucks or dinosaurs (ew). We just want curvy little Lego chicks with pink and purple houses to decorate and pink and purple beauty shops to visit. But boys are getting the shaft too. With no dolls on the “boy side” of the store, and drone-like parents never questioning the way the world is laid out for them by marketing dicks – “girl stuff over here, boy stuff over there” – we’re doing our sons a disservice. Did you know that as recently as the 1920s, pink was for baby boys? True story. Look it up. Pink is arsenic to boys now, of course. And good luck finding a doll on the “boy side”. I mean, a replica of a small child to be held and changed and fed by a little boy who might be a dad someday? That’s just absurd. Give this child a sword!

Bitch please. This is not Leave It To Beaver. The world has changed. Dad is folding the laundry and feeding the baby and frying the bacon that Mom just brought home. Or maybe he’s doing all these things because Mom didn’t come home at all, because there is no mom, or Mom lives on the other side of town. When it comes to the modern family, anything goes. There is no normal. Every kid needs nurturing, to learn how to nurture. And that’s not just Mom’s job anymore.

His name is Dustin Nolan: The Cabbage Patch Kid I gave Max for his second Christmas. He ripped off the giftwrap and gave Dustin a once-over like he was scanning for motors, wheels, switches, and levers. Within the hour, poor Dustin was facedown in the dog dish. It was too late for CPR (Cabbage Patch Resuscitation). But he is still in Max’s toy-box, having survived several toy purges and trips to the donation centre. Dustin doesn’t come out to play much, but he often gets a role in the bedtime puppet show. Mostly he just lies there facedown in the toy-box, his powder-fresh sutured buttocks sticking up from a sea of superheroes and monster trucks. But his presence there is an important message: It’s perfectly okay to have a doll in your big blue toy-box.

And it’s perfectly okay for my son to choose not to play with him – but for the right reasons. To reject a doll because it’s “girly” – something typically enjoyed by the girls – is not cool. Are we girls really that repulsive? In this house, “girly” is right up there with the F word. Statements like “Don’t be such a girl” imply that being a girl is bad. It’s contempt. And we all know what contempt leads to: violence. Dudes. With all the rape happening these days (fuck you, Bill Cosby), maybe we should be teaching our boys how great it is to be a girl, how girls and boys are more alike than different, and how we should maybe, oh I don’t know, stop raping them?

Knowing the world is laid out for my son in every shade of blue and all kinds of messed up, it’s on me to make sure he understands that blue is for all of us. And so is pink. And so are Legos, and sparkles, and tractors, and dolls. No matter what the people around us have been hypnotized into thinking, everything is for everyone. I will keep pouring his juice into a pink cup as long as I can, because pink is just a colour, and a cup is just a cup. I will keep showing him, in as many ways as I possibly can, that the world is his oyster – and he can harvest the pearl with a hockey stick or a princess wand. Whatever he wants to do.

There’s a campaign happening right now called No Gender December, calling on parents to pledge that “stereotypes have no place under my Christmas tree.” It’s in Australia unfortunately. But hey, social media bridges oceans, so make the pledge anyway, in your own brain if nothing else. If your son wants an Easy Bake Oven, put it at the top of the shopping list. He could be the next Jamie Oliver. Or he might just learn to bake and, oh I dunno, take on at least half of the household responsibilities when he grows up. If your daughter wants a toy airplane, get her one and, screw it, get her a helicopter too. She could be the next Amelia Earhart. If they haven’t asked for things outside the expected scope of their gender, ask yourself if you’ve really introduced them to these other things… Are they so caught up in the bullshit themselves they’re afraid to ask for something that might get them teased on the playground… Have you been a robot monkey parent with shit for brains? It’s never too late to wise up.

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Adapted from "Guys and Dolls", page 96 in my book 
MotherFumbler.

 

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