To top
7 May

Bad Mother Down

The Husband and I are currently making arrangements for life insurance, because, you know, babies make you go all mature like that, such that those creepy TV ads for wills and insurance (you know, the shot-on-video ones with the stilted dialogue spoken by non-union actors: “What is it that you are doing, Honey?” “I am working on our will.” “Why?” “So that little Johnny will be taken care of if we die in a horrific car crash or are crushed by a herd of stampeding buffalo.” “That is good thinking, Honey.” “Yes, and that is why I called 1-800-Dial-A-Will, where phone operators with mail-in paralegal diplomas were waiting to take my call”) suddenly seem like profound cinéma vérité. Because, ohmigod we too could be crushed by a herd of stampeding buffalo and WonderBaby would be abandoned to our extended family whereupon she would very probably be doomed to a childhood in which she did not have an overfunctioning mother reading her Dr Seuss in Latin and teaching her to play the viola oh the horror the horror!

(Yes, the above is classist. I feel terrible about resorting to stereotypes just to make a point and get a laugh. [Sips chardonnay.] Just terrible.)

Buffalo? Oh dear. Well then we really must summer at West Egg, mother. There won’t be buffalo at West Egg this season, will there, mother?

So this morning, in the service of the above, a nurse comes to our house to do the necessary medical examinations: take blood pressure, urine samples, blood. BLOOD.

I am famously (among friends and family) squeamish. And terrified of needles. Terrified. Bad Husband has, in the past, accompanied me to dentist and doctor appointments to hold my hand while medical professionals stick me, because I’m given to crying and, occasionally, bolting when a needle heaves into view. But I’m a mother now. I endured 10 months of blood test after blood test after blood test AND an epidural and I didn’t cry, bolt or pass out once.

So, I figured, a little needle-waving and blood-letting in my dining room would be No Big Deal. Nurse Needlepoke spread her equipment out on the table while I, cool as a freaking cucumber, tapped away at my laptop, working on a post in one window and surfing blogs in another. I had just abandoned my post-in-process during a brain fart and was about to read Christina’s latest post when Nurse Needlepoke indicated that I should give her my arm and roll up my sleeve.

No problem. Extend arm, squeeze hand.

She asks me if I’m comfortable with giving blood.

(This is actually a translation. What she says is, “Like blood?” But there’s a whole English-as-second-language thing going on here and I assume that she doesn’t intend the reference to vampirism.)

No oh god no am terrified of needles but just had the baby 6 months ago and went through lots of blood tests during the pregnancy so totally used to it now and it’s no problem and I’ll be fine…


‘cuz when you go through all those tests and the glucose screenings and the needle in the spine you get over your fears really fast, you know, and…

Fade to black.

I come to and am doubled over in the chair and the Husband and Nurse Needlepoke are lifting me back into a sitting position. The first thing that I see is my laptop screen and all I can think is must blog about passing out…

“You okay? You need juice.”

The Husband fetches juice and I sit up straight and insist upon my wellness. Am fine am fine am totally fine totally dizzy but fine.

Nurse Needlepoke puts needles away and sets about preparing her little blood pressure machine and I turn back to the laptop to reopen the Blogger window to create a new post.

Never mind un-ranting the Unrant today… passed out, OMG!… must post about passing out…

Nurse Needlepoke motions for my arm again and unravels the blood pressure armband. She slips it on and the machine starts pumping.

“You okay?”

Yes, totally fine, totally fine, it was just the fasting and the breastfeeding, got me light-headed, is all, am totally…

Fade to black.

Where am I? Where’s my laptop?
Husband: You’re here. You really have to lie down.
Fine. But where’s my laptop?
It’s clear that despite 10 months of pregnancy, countless needles, an epidural that didn’t work and 36 hours of active labour, I am still a world-class wuss. Fine. I can accept that. What I am having trouble wrapping my around is the obvious mental imbalance that attends such a twisted reaction to something like, say, losing consciousness at your dining room table: must blog must blog must blog.
It seems to me that I’ve crossed some sort of line – and this may be a line that is, eventually, crossed by anyone who devotes a portion of their life to storytelling in some form or another – in moving, almost instantly, from the experience of something to the impulse to tell a story about that thing. I was constructing my narration of the story of passing out before Husband and Nurse had picked me up off of the floor. And when I passed out again? Jackpot! A second climax that reveals the dramatic action and seeming climactic moment of fainting as merely part of the rising action of the story! Woo hoo!
Is this just overly-attentive but totally normal writerly devotion to the details of the stories of my life? Or is it Barthesian confusion of the self and the text? Such that one day, when I’m walking the streets of Paris and am struck by a laundry truck, my final thoughts will be, is this how my story ends? Is this ending writerly enough? Whither the text whither the text?!
Or am I just losing my mind?

Stampeding buffalo intruding upon F. Scott Fitzgerald fantasies? Imagining that you’re a dead Post-Structuralist? Obsessive blogging? May be signs of madness.

Turning to the Internet or your 6-month-old baby for psychiatric assessment? Proof positive.