How my quest for sleep turned me into George Costanza

I started my day by getting yelled at by my Friendly Neighborhood Pharmacist.

In my desperate attempt to find someone who would tell me Ambien was OK to take while pregnant, I was calling everyone I could think of. After three nights in a row of four hours of sleep, I realized I was going to go coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs if I didn’t find something, anything to help me sleep for the next seven months.

I put a call into Gary the Pharmacist.

“So Gary, what do you think of taking Ambien while pregnant?”

“WHAT? NO, NO, NO! You can’t take anything, nothing – NOTHING, do you hear me? You can’t take anything while you’re pregnant, only Tylenol. That’s it. That’s it, it, it!”

Oh my gosh, I thought, I am in a Seinfeld episode. Instead of the Soup Nazi, it’s the Pharmacist Nazi – “No Ambien for you!”

What do pharmacists know anyways, right? On to the next. I called my midwife, Diane. She also said negative to the Ambien, but at least she didn’t yell at me. She suggested alternatives – magnesium powder, Melatonin and eating some protein right before bed.

Strike two.

Next on the list was my OB/GYN. I wouldn’t be seeing them for this baby, but I still wanted the doctors’ medical opinion. I dialed the number and told the receptionist my question.

“Have you made an appointment yet?” was the first thing she asked me.

“No,” I told her, thinking to myself, “Hells no. I’d rather deliver my baby naturally at home like last time than let you guys cut me open again.”

“Do you plan on making an appointment soon?” she asked sternly, reminding me of a school teacher asking a delinquent student for his homework.

Uh-oh. Was their answer contingent on me making an appointment? I decided to be ambiguous.

“Umm, not now.”

She put me on hold. A few minutes later, she picked up the phone. “Ambien is Category B. It’s fine to take.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, the doctors said it was fine.”

I said thank you and hung up the phone. But now I was faced with a conundrum: do I take the doctors’ advice for face value, or were they just fucking with me because I wouldn’t make an appointment? This is how I imagined the conversation went between the doctor and the receptionist while I was on hold:

“So doc, some lady who went and got herself knocked up and now can’t sleep wants to know if she can take Ambien. But she won’t make an appointment.”

“Oh, then tell her it’s fine. What do we care if she has a baby with five heads if she’s not coming in here?”

And then the two laugh a Dr. Evil laugh while rubbing their hands together and plotting destruction of the Earth.

Back to square one. I tried the magnesium powder and the melatonin and pigging out on cheese before bed. No go. I was still up at 2 a.m. twiddling my thumbs and fantasizing about Ambien. I am totally fucked. I am going to be a zombie for the next year and won’t be able to drive my kids to school or hold a conversation or make a meal because I will probably light the house on fire.

And then, last night, I remembered we had some Yogi Bedtime Tea. I drank some an hour before bed, said a prayer, begged the Sleep Fairy to take mercy on my soul and went to sleep. I woke up at 4 am. Glorious! Even better, I went back to sleep and slept until 6 am! Hallelujah, there is a God!

I feel like a human today. I am thinking of calling Gary and yelling at him while I channel George Costanza: “I’m back, baby! I’m back!”



Good-bye Ambien & Kitty Litter, Hello Freak Out

So you know how when you are expecting to get your period any day, you start making preparations. You put a tampon in your purse. You wear that pair of old, torn underwear you’ve had since college that you keep for specials occasions like this. You make sure you put your mat in the back of yoga class in case Aunt Flow decides to arrive while you are bent over in a down dog with your butt sticking straight up in the air.

You feel the cramps and general ickyness. And so you wait. But it doesn’t come. So the next day, you put another tampon in your purse and dig deeper in the back of your drawer to find that other pair of stained panties that has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. By the third day of waiting, your purse has turned into a walking advertisement for Tampex.

And that’s when the realization starts to dawn on you: maybe it’s not coming. Maybe Old Reliable isn’t going to make a showing for another year. Or two years. Definitely not for nine months.

But here’s the thing. You took a pregnancy test a few days earlier and it was negative. You even had the talk with your husband that his swimmers missed the goal post, maybe it was time to stop wearing the spandex and tight jeans. So the next morning, three days after you were supposed to get your period, you take another pregnancy test. And the line on the left that is supposed to turn a dark blue if you are pregnant turns a faint, light blue. Leaving you asking one question: WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN???????? DID I OR DIDN”T I GET KNOCKED UP?

You are in preggers limbo.

But by the end of the day, still no period. You are now almost 4 days late. Slowly, slowly, the realization starts to dawn on you: HOLY SHIT, I AM FUCKING PREGNANT AND AM GOING TO HAVE THREE CHILDREN! But there is an even more shocking realization going on in your head: You are going to have to give up the Ambien.

No, anything but the Ambien! Please. You’ll give up chocolate and wine and parties and your body, those cute pair of jeans you can finally fit in, skiing and snowboarding, but not your sleeping pills! But you have no choice. With grave solemnity, you hand the bottle of pills over to your husband. “Hide them,” you say in a hushed voice. “Hide them somewhere I won’t ever find them.”

Two days later, at 5 in the morning after being up all night, you are desperately searching for the Ambien. You rummage through kitchen drawers, look under the couch, feel around coat pockets and contemplate a run outside to the garage if it weren’t snowing. Finally, you have to accept the fact that you are SOL. Dam husband! Who knew he was so good at following directions.

Seven more months to go, plus a year of breastfeeding. That’s almost two years before you can pop a sleeping pill again.

But at least you got one thing going for you – you don’t have to change the kitty litter for nine months.


Setting a bad example in the classroom

appleYou try to be a good mom. You try to practice patience and understanding. You buy your kids presents, give them candy, let them talk you into buying them a treat every time you go to the store. You kiss them and hug them and love them when they are sick. You put up with them hitting you and yelling at you and screaming and throwing tantrums and whining.

And this is what you get:

“Mom, Mrs. Randall never yells, she never even gets mad,” Kaiden tells me about his kindergarten teacher.

“Really?” I ask, quite shocked at this revelation. Wow, she must be a saint. Twenty-five kids and she never so much as raises her voice?

“I wish Mrs. Randall was my mom.”

OUCH! A straight punch to the gut. That one hurt.

My first reaction, however, was to laugh. “What? You’d rather have Mrs. Randall as your mom than me?”

“Yeah,” he says in a voice that really meant, “Duh. What do you think?”

I don’t know if this Mrs. Randall has kids or not. I’ll have to find out. But I bet you a gazillion, billion dollars – as Kaiden would say – that if she does has kids she yelled at them once or twice during their 18 years at home.

“What about Mrs. Beye? I ask Kaiden about his other team teacher, searching for something to make me feel better. “Does she yell?”

“Yeah, she gets mad. I like Mrs. Randall better.”

Aha!, I thought, I know which teacher I’m giving an apple to: Mrs. Beye. At least she’s not making me look bad.

I tried one more thing to convince Kaiden that he still wants me as his mother.

“Well, Kaiden, you know, if Mrs. Randall was your mom you’d have to do homework all the time. Like every single night. And on weekends.”

“Oh, then never mind. I guess I’ll keep you.”

Yes! I win!

I think I deserve an A+ for creativity. And deceit. We all gotta be good at something, other than yelling.


Prince Charming is really gay

princesYesterday my mother-n-law took me and Kaya to Disney Princesses on Ice. Three generations of women attending GirlFest 2009 – and loving it. As far as the eye could see, there were little girls dressed in princess costumes – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Snow White. Kaya, whose Cinderella dress is a little big on her, refused to wear it, opting for a frilly, hand-me-down flower girl dress that she calls her “Rapunzel Dress.” Whatever works, right?

The icecapade was a girl’s fantasy come true. All the princesses come to life, and Tinkerbell too. All wearing beautiful, poofy dresses. And all, of course, rescued by men.

This got me thinking. In 2000, a Disney exec had the bright idea of packaging all the princesses and selling princess paraphernalia – costumes, shoes, tiaras, books, stickers, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. They can slap the Disney Princess logo, which pictures any of the various five princess together, on just about anything and it suddenly becomes more marketable to little girls. Kaya even has a pink Tupperware box with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Belle on it. Believe me, the container would not have been very exciting to her except for the fact that a) it’s pink ,and b) it has the princesses on it.

The Disney Princess brand is now a $4 billion industry. And I believe it. At the ice show, vendors were selling plastic tiaras, flashing wands and cheap plastic cups – all with princesses on it – for $20 each. Talk about a royal rip-off! But of course, grandma wanted to buy our little princess something, and she walked out with a pink, flashing-light tiara.  Because a girl can never have enough crowns.

Back to my Big Idea. As I was watching the ice skaters twirl and leap on the ice, I had a realization. If Disney could package all the princesses, why couldn’t they do the same for the princes? Sleeping Beauty has Prince Phillip, Ariel has Prince Eric, Cinderella has Prince…..Prince…Prince Charming? Snow White’s dude is nameless as well. Or just goes by the generic Charming. I started to see the problem. All of these guys, except for maybe Aladdin (who’s not even a real prince anyways) and the Beast, have ZERO personality. They are just background figures whose only job is to act studly, defeat the evil witch and kiss the princess.

So I thought, maybe it’s time they did have a back story of their own. People are making a fortune writing books about secondary characters that were never fully developed. There’s “Wicked,” which tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from “Wizard of Oz” and was turned into a Broadway musical, and “March,” a Pulitzer-prize winning tale of Mr. March from “Little Women.” Why not me?

I think I would start with Phillip and Eric, because for one they have names. You know one of them was definitely gay and forced to pursue the princess by his domineering father as a prerequisite to inheriting the throne. I mean, do straight men really sing that like? And wear tights? Or maybe it was Snow White’s Charming who was the gay prince. He was really after the dwarfs, but decided to do them a favor and kiss the Fair One and wake her up to win the little guys’ hearts. Especially Dopey. He was hot.

As for Eric, I think he was a terrible sailor but was made captain simply because he was the prince, and it was his fault they sailed into a storm and the boat was destroyed. He didn’t fall overboard, he jumped, because he was so destitute that he had failed at his job and these men drowned because of him. Ariel rescued him and he begged her to turn him into a Merman, a la “Splash,” so he wouldn’t have to face his father, who was a military hero and brave captain. Ariel refused. You fill in the blanks.

But the more I think about it, would little boys go for the princes like girls are drawn to the princesses? There has to be a lot more violence for boys to be interested. Sad but true. Maybe all the princes should be part of a gang roaming the countryside, and they are really aliens who can transform into…….princesses!

Excuse me while I go play “Beauty and the Beast” with Kaya. I have to be the Beast. I think I’ll pretend he’s a hairy, transvestite cross-dresser.

Why I yell at Tupperware, and other tales of frustration

tupperwareThere are certain things in life I don’t understand. I’m not talking about how television works or how rockets can fly to the moon or why men get intense pleasure out of watching football. I’m talking about more mundane, every-day-life stuff that sometimes just plain stumps me. And frustrates the shit out of me.

Like for instance, why can I never find a matching lid for the Tupperware? I have them all in one drawer, and I’ll pull out a plastic container and what looks like the matching top, pour food into the container and go to put the lid on and – BAM! – it doesn’t fit. Like Cinderella’s evil stepsisters trying to squeeze their big ass feet in that little glass slipper, I try with all my might to make that lid fit. I plead, I beg, I make promises: “I’ll never putt Brussel sprouts in you again if you just fit!”  But it never works. I try three more tops, all the while getting more and more worked up, swearing and cussing under my breath (and sometimes not so quietly) until I finally find the right one, or I just get so fed up I put tin foil on the dam Tupperware and  throw it in the fridge with a “That’ll show you!”

Another thing I don’t understand is why, oh why, is there that maddening space between the front seats in a car and the middle console? I refer to this area as the Black Hole. Once you drop something down there, you will never see it again. I have dropped food, money, pens, keys, credit cards and even my Blackberry. It’s like some kind of weird purgatory – you can see the items in that shadowy realm, but you can’t reach them. I’ve tried using magazines, pens and straws – anything that is skinny – to try and push the lost items toward the pedals, but it rarely works. So now when I get in my car, I can gaze down at that cemetary of forgotten things, sometimes with longing. Like when I see a Hershey’s Kiss that I can’t get my paws on. Damn it! You’d think if we can make cars that can tell you where you are going, if you have a flat tire or if you are about to back up into something, they could seal up the Black Hole. Well, a girl can dream.

Along those same lines, I don’t understand why I can never find my phone in my purse. There’s  hardly anything in my bag – check book, wallet, chapstick, tampon, a pen, and my phone. But whenever  my Blackberry starts wringing, fuhgettaboutit. My little hands will not discover it. Especially when I am driving. The phone will be buzzing and I’ll be frantically digging around in my bag for it while trying to stay on the road and yell at my children to be quiet, and it will just not be there. I think there are secret compartments in my purse that I’m not aware of. When I need my phone, it scampers off into these dark recesses of my bag and hides from me. I know it. But one day, I’m going to get you my pretty!

Pink Gorillas and Beer

gorillaSometimes, you just got to wonder why God made beer.

Or, rather, why the Oh Wise One would give men such an affinity for Bud.  Because the results really make you go “hmmmm.”

The day after Halloween, Siig got up early in the morning to make a 9 am tee time with the Pink Gorilla, a.k.a. our friend Matt, who had dressed in a bright magenta gorilla suit for trick-or-treating. At noon, Siig called me from the bar of the golf course, definitely well into a few bloody marys. Matt had invited us all to a bar-b-que at his house. I told him I’d get the kids ready and we’d wait to eat lunch.

“I’ll come pick you up,” he said.

Famous last words when bloodies and beer are involved.

An hour later, still no Siigo. My stomach was rumbling. I picked up the phone and called my delinquent husband. “Where are you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Ummm, you said you would come pick us up. We’ve been waiting.”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. We started having this rad conversation about back in the day and….oh, never mind. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

Twenty minutes later and Siigo shows up, happy as a drunk clam. He tells us to hurry up and get in the car. And then he starts wrestling with the children. Forty-five minutes later, we are finally on our way to Matt and Donya’s house. Now I am really hungry. Luckily, I bring two apples and string cheese with us, which the kids gobble up. I, of course, being a mom, eat nothing.

We arrive at Matt’s house close to 3 pm. This time, Matt is in a black gorilla costume. I’m starting to wonder what’s with this guy and monkeys.  The party congregates in the front yard, where the guys – happy with their cans of Bud, Matt’s homemade brew, skateboards and guitars in the ‘band room’ – have long since forgotten about eating. I, on the other hand, have not. I sneak a peek into Donya’s fridge – there are several packages of sausages waiting to be cooked. I try to rest easy knowing that at least there is food in the house. I stare at my car, contemplating a covert run to the store. Finally, someone puts some chips and salsa out. I’m saved.

Around 4 pm, Donya – who did not know that she was going to be hosting a party at her house until her husband informed her later that day – asks Matt to start the bar-b-que, which apparently has some trick to it that only he holds the secret to. An hour goes by. The bar-b-que remains unlit. The boys, helped along by shots of vodka, have now turned into 8 year olds. They skate up and down the hill, play guitar, watch the football game at a neighbor’s house.  They don’t have a care in the world. Finally, the women realize that if we want to eat, and feed our kids, we are going to have to take matters into our own hands.

Somehow, the bar-b-que gets going. Sausages are cooked. Macaroni and cheese gets made. Kids get fed. And then finally, finally, at around 5:00, I eat lunch. Or is it dunch? Or linner? The men, however, deep into their beers and regression, do not even notice there’s food on the table until two hours later. Nor do they notice 10 kids jumping on a trampoline that is sitting precariously close to a pile of rocks. I step into manage the situation – only 3 kids on a at a time – and stand in between the trampoline and the death pile. When I can’t take it anymore, I tell the kids there’s candy inside. They go screaming inside the house. I breathe a sigh of relief. Better rotten teeth than crushed skulls.

So what is it about drinking that makes men throw all responsibility out the window? If you have the answer, I got a cold one for you. Unless, of course, you’re a man. Then you just get a pink gorilla suit.