There was no mention of this absurd hazing ritual in those first two chapters of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" – those two chapters I read just before I freaked out and went on a nine month folic acid trip of denial. Was I supposed to pick out the good stuff, like the cheese nips and peanuts before passing it back, all full of stale Shreddies and placenta.
When the nurse kindly suggested that some mothers take the afterbirth home and plant it in the garden, I realized I was not only totally out of my league, I was screwed for life. I hated kids, and gardening, and having just delivered a child with the biggest head I've seen since Charlie Brown, I wasn't in the mood for much, other than maybe a chilly glass of champagne, a bubble bath, a decent pillow and some shut eye.
Thirteen years later, I haven't slept through the night since my 10-pound money pit hit the delivery table clutching my heart strings in his chubby little fist. 'Serves me right. I had passed on babysitting, prenatal classes and delivery room tours. Grossly ill-prepared for impending motherhood, I did however manage to step over what I now know was my mucus plug, long enough to grab a bottle of champagne on my way out the door. I was already multi-tasking and my water hadn't even broken yet.
In hindsight, I maybe should have probed through the afterbirth a wee bit. Wiser now, I am convinced, in addition to a portion of my brain and my free spirit, the afterbirth actually contains the keys to your cage. By not poking through the sloppy mess, you are essentially fucked for life.
I thought about all of this, while gridlocked in traffic last week. How my wings are clipped, and how breastfeeding – while painful as hell – meant fewer trips to the grocery store for food you wouldn't normally eat in a million years. Like Pogos. And maybe there's a pre-election buzz in the air, but every street in this city has some underpaid moron waving a construction stop sign, back and forth, preventing anyone from going anywhere but insane. Add hungover freshmen and an influx of geriatric cruise ship passengers – and you've got a constipated traffic flow, the likes of which I haven't seen my post-partum speed bump of a hemorrhoid.
Stuck ironically at the corner of Young Ave., I was frothing at the mouth, turning the steering wheel left, then right, trying to get a better look at whatever it was standing in the way of my destination, when much to my surprise I heard the radio newscaster talking about me. Me, on the CBC! I caught the words, "emotionally distraught.... often banging her head against walls... terrible psychological problems when unable to roam freely... stands stationary much of the time, or rocks back and forth in distress." Holy shit, I was on the radio! How did they know? They went on to say that even William Shatner had sent in a letter demanding I be released into the wild, so I could live out my days in peace. I was overjoyed and started honking my horn and flipping boxes of Kraft dinner out the window like it was a post-war ticker tape parade.
Midway between my freedom cry of a woo followed by a hoo, I realized they weren't talking about me. They were talking about Lucy, the resident elephant at the Edmonton Zoo. Like me, Lucy is not coping well in captivity, some arguing Lucy's isolated existence is tantamount to torture.
Apparently, aside from banging her head against the arena wall, Lucy's been drinking, and has packed on a few hundred pounds. She hasn't been for a pedicure in so long, her toenails look like Howard Hughes' did, just before he pulled the rip cord. And, she hasn't had sex since Curious George became bi-curious George. Even her closest friends say she's not the witty, vivacious elephant she used to be. She's just another elephant in the room.
Well, move over Captain Kirk, I know exactly what Lucy needs and it's not a booty call from Babar. Lucy needs a plane ticket. Something to look forward to. Those of us who were born to be wild need a travel itinerary at all times just to survive the day-to-day dreariness of captivity. My freedom flight of the month would be Maritime Travel's Botswana Untouched Mobile Safari. 14 days of 4x4-ing through Botswana's National Parks and hangin' with the wild ones: giraffes, zebras, elephants, and my personal favourite, the wildebeest. The price isn't bad considering the ground you cover – from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls – and it's way cheaper than therapy.
Sure, Lucy's having a tough time right now, but she'll be okay. It's hard carrying a baby for 22-months only to watch him grow up and pull away from the herd. Someone ought to write a book called "What to Expect When the Little Bastards Reach Puberty".
Besides, I hear the watering holes in Botswana are wild. Even a middle-aged warthog with baggage can get laid.
Book your ticket out of captivity by calling Maritime Travel at 1.800.593.3334 or find an agent online at www.maritimetravel.ca.