Lauren Wellbank

One mom and her struggle to survive until bedtime


Tag: Rant

Pregnancy and the horse latitudes, what the last weeks and sailing have in common

Have you ever heard the phrase horse latitudes before?  If you haven’t, don’t worry, it’s an outdated term with several different interpretations that the average person would have no call to know. The origins of the saying have absolutely no baring on what I’m about to tell you.  That is, other than to briefly explain what it is so that you can better understand where I’m at right now.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my

The horse latitudes is an old sailing phrase that indicated that a ship had reached a location with calm waters and no crosswinds.  Of course, this was prior to the days of two and four stroke engines.  Are you impressed that I know that terminology, because you should be?  With no prevailing winds, large ships would find themselves stalled out in the middle of the ocean.  Supplies would begin to run short and sailors would start to panic.

The inhumane (and insane) fix for this often began with water rationing.  The animals on board, specifically the horses, would bear the brunt of this solution.  When the ships remained moored in the middle of the sea they would begin unloading their least precious cargo, the horses. This would both lighten their load and reduce the use of their finite resources.

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A Letter to AARP on Behalf of my Old Uterus

Dear AARP,

I am writing to you today on behalf of my uterus.  Or maybe I’m writing on behalf of my ovaries, hell, how about you just accept this letter on behalf of the whole kit-n-caboodle. You see, I have been informed by my OB that due to the fact that I will be over 35 when I give birth, I am something called “of Advanced Maternal Age”.

Please, dear people of AARP, allow me to explain.

Apparently my lady bits have aged in dog years because the American Medical Association just called my multigravida elderly.  And the definition of multigravida is even worse than being called “elderly”, it means a woman (or female animal) that has become pregnant for the second time.  Yeah, esteemed board of AARP members, I said WTF, too. 

While I was busy enjoying my 30’s, and deriving great enjoyment from the fruits of the efforts of my twenties, my vagina was withering away. Unbeknownst to me, my entire reproductive system was growing older by the moment.  Basically the plot of the movie Jack was playing out in my underpants zone.  Every second I spent on winery tours or dates with my fiancé (now husband) my vagina was inching closer and closer to needing a daily nap and asking for the menu that features the early bird specials.

Nobody ever told me that on the eve of your 35th birthday your fallopian tubes would give a dramatic shudder, cough up some dust, and ask for an afghan and a large print crossword puzzle.

My OB sat there smiling encouragingly at me as all of this sank in.  She was more than happy to explain everything in great detail, making sure that I understood all the accompanying risks and requirements.

Having a baby at the ripe old age of 35 or older (or older… but by god, if you’re older than 35 how do your ancient eggs manage to get where they need to be while lugging around their oversized purse and walker?!  What is the logistics there?) pushes you into a “special” new category of mom. Special.

“Don’t worry,” she assured me when she saw the look of horror on my face as the words Advanced Maternal Age once more left her lips “it just means you are special. You’ll get some extra attention, but it’s really not that bad.”  There’s that word again, fellow AARP friends, special.

After a while of going back and forth she laughed and told me that now a days people don’t even begin their families until their 30’s and that being of AMA isn’t all that big of a deal.

It felt like a big deal.  It also felt like I needed to rush home and get my Medicare and Social Security paperwork in order.

Before I was permitted to hobble out to my car (head down watching where I was going so that I didn’t fall and break my hip), she issued me more reassurances and a referral for a specialist.  A geneticist, because old eggs have a tendency to produce babies with chromosomal defects (which of course was the exact reassurance that this wasn’t that big of a deal that I needed).

The genetic counselor was also full of words of encouragement and laughed at me during our appointment.  Telling me I was still just a spring chicken (something that, ironically, my grandmother’s doctor used to say to her when she would complain about the aches and pains of her 80’s).

“35 is just an arbitrary line they drew in the sand.” She said while I pointed accusingly at my paperwork where the words “elderly” glared back at me.

Elderly?!  Elderly my ass! Well… I guess more accurately that would be, “Elderly?!  Elderly my vagina!”wp-1478524388622.jpg

So, it is for this reason that I am requesting early admission. I would like to begin taking advantage of all of the discounts and benefits that are available to women (and their junk) of a certain age.

While clearly, I am still a spring chicken in the eyes of the world (and kindly, if somewhat patronizing, genetic councilors), the baby growing in the complete tear down that is my uterus would have you believe otherwise.

Thank you for your consideration,

The Brains Behind This Old Uterus

PS – Are there AARP meetings?  Is that where I get to meet Luke Perry?  I’d like to meet Luke Perry. 

Thirty-Five is the New Thirty-Five

On the 19th I will turn 35, making these my last few dying days in my early thirties.  I thought I’d approach this day with sadness at the loss of my blush of youth, regret for the things that I didn’t do with my life (still haven’t written that Great American Novel, have I?), and dread because now I’m staring down the barrel of 40 (40??!?  How did that happen?!).

That didn’t end up being the case.  Instead, I am spending these last few days making demands (after all, 35 is a big birthday and deserves all the fuss that my close friends and family can muster), and enjoying any extra attention that I can get.

Guys, I’m going to be 35 and my life is pretty awesome.  Granted, I’m not running through the house singing while tiny cartoon birds change my toddler’s diaper (good god how I wish), but this life is better than any life I could have imagined in my twenties.

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When you turn 35, you get excited about getting new dish towels as gifts (thanks, mom!)

Plus, at 35 when people ask you what you want for your birthday, you actually get it.  That’s probably because you are no longer asking for things like a trip to Cabo or a new car (not that I ever asked for those things).  My big wish this year was a writing workshop (thanks hubby) and a fancy bottle of salad dressing from a winery in the Finger Lakes that my parents visited last year (thanks parents).  Literally, all of my wildest dreams are coming true.

***Oh, and I keep telling anyone that will listen how awesome an edible arrangement would be.  Seriously people, one with the pineapples cut to look like flowers… maybe some chocolate covered strawberries… I mean, come on, I’m almost 40.***

This is a much different approach than the one I took five years ago.  The Lauren of my 20’s was a completely different beast.  I am a few years older than my husband and on my 30th birthday I declared that I would spend the next few birthdays aging backwards until my husband and I were the same age, and then we could proceed forward together, as equals (because that’s how aging works).  I think I stuck with it for two years.  By then the reality of being in my 30’s had sunk in and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Actually, it was way better than I ever could have imagined.

Gone were many of the insecurities, struggles, and trials of my twenties.  Financially, I was secure.  I had put my time in as a bastion of light in the dark recesses of the mortgage industry.  Most of what had happened in the early 2000’s had started to rebuild and I had found stability in my corner of the market.  And things worked out perfectly for me to be able to leave said mortgage industry and stay home and wipe butts full time.

Gone are the days of wondering how my ass looks in my jeans or what size dress I’m wearing.  My body is what it is.  Sure, I happen to think I look terrific (thanks mainly to awesome genes and a non-sedentary lifestyle).  I am also not far enough removed from my teen years to remember how I felt about my looks back then.  When I look back at old pictures, I realize that I was perfect.  Same goes for every other period of life.  In the moment, there was so much I wished was different, but when I look back I wish that I still looked the way I did then, as opposed to how I look now.  I assume that trend will continue for the rest of my life.  So I’m going to go ahead and embrace how I look now and save myself the regret in five years when I think, “If only I looked as young, well rested, and fit as I did at 35.  Youth is wasted on the young, waaaaah.”

Obviously, I assume that I won’t embrace 40 with the same devil may care attitude that I have for turning 35.

And I love, and am loved, without insecurity.  My husband and I have a solid foundation that I no longer question (except, you know, when we move because that shit is for the birds).  I don’t have to worry if I’ll ever find love, if I’ll die alone, how many cats I can reasonably have before I begin the descent into madness, I know the answers to all of those things now (six, six is the maximum number of cats that I can handle at one time).

And now I’m wondering what the next five years will bring, and what the years beyond will bring.  Will I continue to feel the same way about my life that I do about wine, that it’s better with food it gets better with age?  Will I continue to embrace my flabby backside as much as my crow’s feet?

Who knows?

Who cares?

Another perk of being closer to 40 than to 30, you just don’t give a shit.

So, happy almost birthday to me.  And here’s hoping that I still feel this way in the harsh light of Thursday morning.  When I’m sure to wake up with a few new grays, a cake hangover, and tiny fingers feeling around inside of my ear canal.

35 is the new 35, because screw every other age. 

When You’re a Mom, Nobody Cares That You’re Sick

Once, when I was about fifteen, I got very sick.  I had been feeling poorly for a few days before I finally told my mother that I probably needed to go to the doctor.  It was there that we received the diagnosis of a sinus infection coupled with bronchitis.  I was given a prescription and strict instructions to go home and take it easy.  And take it easy I did.  My mother spent her days making sure that I had plenty of OJ and watermelon (don’t ask me why, but I always want watermelon when I’m sick).  She ran out and bought me the good tissues, the ones that were two-ply and had lotion on them.  The absolute best part was that she made, from scratch, my favorite soup and served it to me in bed and with a side of saltines.

I got worse before I got better, but I did get better.  And I got better in the lap of luxury because she let me stay in her bed since my room was always drafty, and because that’s the kind of stuff mom’s do for their sick kids.

That was about twenty (Jesus Christ, twenty?!) years ago.  Oh, the good old days, when being sick meant a vacation from your life and a mom sized butler.

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Thanks to snapchat filters I don’t even look like I have strep throat and have had very little sleep.  I just look like a really sad panda instead.

Now, I find myself having to sit down and try and catch my breath because I just stood for fifteen minutes (apparently the absolute maximum effort I can expend).  I had to make myself chicken noodle soup because somehow I ended up with strep throat.  Strep throat which, by the way, I’ve had for about a week already and didn’t do anything about except suffer in silence, because I thought that what I was experiencing was jaw pain from grinding my teeth during the two to four hours of sleep that my tyrannical toddler allows me each night.

A toddler who, by the way, just does not give a single solitary shit that I’m sick.  She is too busy pulling my pants down while trying to get me to give her one of the carrots that I’m cutting up for the soup.  Not so that she can eat it, noooooooo, she wants to take a bite out of it and then hide the rest somewhere in the house for me to find later*.

If my mother were here she would be telling me to lay down, take a nap, or at least snuggle up under the covers and rest.

Instead I am with my daughter, and if she so much as sees me look at a couch/chair/anything that could be used to rest, she immediately asks me for something; milk, a cookie, a snuggle (alright, I gladly give into the last one).  But no, there is no rest for the weary… or the mother.

Being sick as a child relieves you of all responsibility.  You don’t go to school, you don’t go to your afterschool activities, you don’t really even have to do homework if you don’t send someone to pick it up for you (like a nerd).  You just lay around and let someone (mom) hand you whatever you need to eat, drink, and make sure the remote and tissues are within your reach.  You know what being sick is like when you’re a mom? It’s like every other day except you feel like you actually might die while you’re making everyone’s lunch.  And don’t get me wrong, you can ask your husband for help, and if he’s not sick he may actually give you some, but chances are that your kid is going to behave like an asshole and demand mom anyway because that’s what kids do.

When you’re sick as a child your mom usually calls and makes your doctor’s appointment, drives you there while you’re all safely snuggled up in the back seat wrapped in your favorite blanket, and she sits in the waiting room alternating putting the back of her hand on your forehead or cheeks and giving you kisses.  In other words, it’s all about you.  When you’re a mom, chances are you had to lock yourself in the bathroom to even make the phone call to the doctor (which hurt because you had to yell a little bit to be heard over the sound of your child frantically pounding on the door and screaming, “Mommy!”).  You have to get both yourself and your toddler dressed and into the car so that you can drive to the doctor’s office, where you spend the entire time comforting your damn kid who is now convinced that you are there for them and that they are about to get a shot.  If your child is anything like mine, you also have to hold them and bounce them throughout your entire exam as they scream at the top of their lungs while you get poked and prodded in all your sore spots.  Then, as a bonus, maybe they will scream the whole time you’re in line at the pharmacy window to pick up your prescription because they want crunchies.

And the number one thing the doctor wants you to do (right after drink lots of extra fluids), is now and always has been, to get lots of rest.  I’m assuming that he was able to hear my laughter above the sound of the screaming child.  Okay, doc, I’ll get right on top of that.  What part of this five minute glimpse into my life indicates that I’m going to be going home and taking it easy?

I guess the moral of this story is don’t grow up.  Stay young and cared for forever.  Also, thank your moms.  Because at some point they most likely had to take you to the doctor’s office when they were sick.  And like the saying goes, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

I love you mom.  Please come take care of me.

*I found the carrot three days later under the crib.

Consent

Before I begin, I want to issue two warnings.  First, I’m going to talk about rape.  Second, I’m going to use some adult language.  I want to offer a preemptive apology to my mother and mother-in-law before we go any further.  For anyone that doesn’t want to see me getting super liberal with the F-word then avert your eyes, because shit is about to get real. 

So by now I think the entire world knows about the fucking shit dick in California that raped a young woman just outside of a fraternity party early last year.  He was mid-assault when he was discovered and stopped by two passing cyclists.  The woman was bloody and unconscious behind a dumpster.  The shit dick in question took off on foot and was later apprehended by authorities.  The woman woke up in a hospital room and had to be informed by deputies that she had been assaulted.  And this is just where her nightmare began.

If you don’t know anything about the American legal system, you are not alone.  In fact, you probably know just as much as somebody that is actually practicing law in California right now.

Let me start over, I’m not here to rehash the details of what happened in the courtroom, or to pretend that I had four years of law school for breakfast.  Let’s just say that there was a major fuck up somewhere along the lines.  I suspect sincerely hope we will be subjected to at least one, “I’ve decided to step down to spend more time with my family” statement in the coming months.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done, and the consequences may be more far reaching than we will ever know.

Because even though the rapist was convicted he will only serve a slight sentence.  A paltry six months, (not even the “mandatory minimum”) in prison with just three years of probation.  That is with two witnesses, damning evidence, and a conviction.  I guess they couldn’t produce the golden unicorn that is required for to meet the sentencing requirements.

And, again, I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t the point of mandatory minimum sentencing so that crimes have… well a fucking mandatory minimum sentence?  And so that affluent white males with “bright futures” can’t get away with shit for being affluent white males who are being sentenced by other affluent white males?  Or is my female brain too small to understand the complexities of the law?

Even this dick wad’s dad was defending his crime calling it “twenty minutes of action”.  You know, instead of a sexual assault.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, ignorance begets ignorance. It sounds like consent isn’t something that was taught at home.

Now, what came out of that California courtroom alongside that abysmal sentencing and subsequent justification for it, was a message to the world.

It says that rape isn’t that big of a deal.

That, yeah, while it’s technically illegal, it’s just not that big of a deal.  It’s nothing that should ruin a rapists life or that he should let get in the way of his hopes and dreams.  Come the fuck on.

It also sends a message to the victims, don’t bother coming forward.  You’ll just clog up the legal system with your complaint and in the end your rapist will only get a slap on the wrist.  That is if you can survive the questioning and invasive evidence collection to press charges in the first place.

This is unacceptable.  It is 2016.  Women have rights and the reasonable expectation that men aren’t going to put their dicks where they aren’t wanted.  No matter what they are wearing, what they have had to drink, or what time of day it is.

So how do we change this?  How do we protect our sons and daughters and make sure that things like this don’t keep happening?

We educate them.  We teach them about consent.  We teach them, right alongside of their Sex Ed classes, who has the ability to consent and that not being able to say “yes” is the same as saying “no”.  We remind them that actions have consequences.  We offer support, love, and understanding to victims of sexual assault and show them that we believe them.  And we fucking apologize that we’re even in this boat because of years of covering it up, lying about it, and letting it be the dark family secret.

We offer justice and education and a promise that we will try and do better.  And we treat it like the devastating crime that it is instead of a mild inconvenience.

I want to leave you with these facts.  A sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds.  That’s just in the US.  You know, our industrialized-forward-thinking-super-awesome country.

68% of all sexual assaults are never reported to the authorities and 98% of rapists will never see the inside of a jail cell.  Let that sink in for a moment, because that’s just appalling.

These statistics are real and they are devastating.  As a mother, as a daughter, a sister, a friend, shit, as a human being, they terrify me.  So I ask you, beg of you, talk to your children.  Teach them about consent.

 

Thank you, I’ll put the soap box away now.

 

You can read the amazing and courageous letter that the victim read to her attacker in the courtroom here.  Wherever you are, I am thinking of you and your class, bravery, and grace.  https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra

For education, support, and information on how you can help other victims and survivors, please visit www.RAINN.org

And to make your voice heard and to request the sentencing judge be removed from both the bench and the upcoming election ballot please visit https://www.change.org/p/california-state-house-recall-judge-aaron-persky and https://www.change.org/p/update-join-official-brock-turner-rape-judge-recall-movement

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