Heavy Metal Uterus Firebomb

(or why pregnancy is truly brutal)

In information that no one wanted to know, but I am going to insist on sharing with you anyway, I recently immolated my uterus.

Well, some of it anyway. I paid many-many-many dollars to a now-very-wealthy surgeon to surgically destroy my endometrial lining with radiofrequency. Ablation is both the correct term AND a respectably gory name for a grindcore metal band.

I had good reasons, other than the sheer brutality of it. I have had 2 kids in the last few years, and it turns out they came with a bonus bunch of post-pregnancy medical issues. Pregnancy has destroyed my thyroid, cut my abdomen open (twice), and I now have at least 2 auto-immune conditions so that’s fun. But that’s not all, folks. I also got frequent heavy uterine bleeding (blood is very metal) to the point where I had severe fatigue and anaemia (not so metal, more pale and goth) and was in danger of fainting every time I tried to stand up (possibly emo?) and in permanent low-grade pain (yep, emo).

torysangryuterus
UTERUS OF FURY

We tried to fix it the easy way, but it turns out my stupid body doesn’t absorb iron in food because of course it doesn’t. I don’t know why. Perhaps I needed to chow down on a lump of iron, rather than eating copious serves of red meat. Perhaps I should have got it direct from the blood of my enemies. Perhaps iron is not heavy enough a metal and I should have gone for plutonium. Why should anything be easy? You’re never going to write an anthem called “Took my iron tablet once a day (got some constipation now I’m fine)” unless you are Fall Out Boy, who are very good but not metal as such. (I have very strong opinions on calling bands that are clearly rock “heavy metal” and WILL FIGHT YOU. Or anyone.)

After we tried the supplement/diet approach, I had a couple of iron infusions over a couple of years. This is where they literally inject the metal INTO YOUR VEINS. It both worked well and sounded hardcore. I felt way better, and my plan was to wait until my uterine lining died messily at menopause.

But then we decided to move to Ireland where apparently injecting yourself with metal is not a thing so my gynaecologist recommended just setting the whole bloody thing on fire and cackling madly. (Note: she did not use this phrasing, but I could tell behind the words “simple day surgery” and “controlled radiofrequencies” and “easy recovery”, she was dying to get her Stratocaster on and the old flamethrower out.)

They used radio signals to do the deed (fire-y nets are another option) and I like to imagine Dethklok screaming black metal murder in the depths of my uterus. This is the clinical description of what happened, and I think sounds pretty hardcore. “A flexible ablation transmits radiofrequency energy that vaporizes the endometrial tissue in under two minutes.” Under two minutes, people. If that’s not speed metal, what is?

metal

Generally it was a complete success; no more periods, no complications, and my iron level is inching back up slowly. There are some big consequences. Given we have firebombed my uterus – like that opening scene in Tropic Thunder – I can no longer have children. As I already have 2 – and am currently charging into my mid-40’s with nothing to show for my 30’s except for a host of medical issues, an expensive concert habit and some very nice boots – this is all good.

Having 2 kids already also makes it WAAAAAAY easier to get sterilised. As many medical professional inform you (often without you even asking!) women should really have some kids to persuade people they don’t want any. When you have none, it’s all “you may want them someday and how bad is chronic pain for 20 years, really”. As soon as you pop a couple they are all, “yeah, pregnancy is completely shit and will break your body and organs, and caring for toddlers is the worst, LETS TORCH THE BASTARD”. You are required to indicate your disinterest by sacrificing several years, most of your money and sleep, and – in my case – a functional thyroid and pancreas, before they will listen to your argument.

People do tell you – repeatedly, usually while spruiking various products – after having babies you won’t get your body back. You don’t, but not how you expected. It’s generally assumed this means putting on weight because society tells us that body fat on women is the WORST THING EVER. And it’s lies. I am the same size, but now have auto-immune issues I will be blood-testing for and medicating for until the day I die. And I got lucky. I avoided hemorrhages and infection, incontinence (fecal and/or urinary), depression and psychosis, pelvic trauma and prolapse, and also divorce and redundancy, which are very common and super-fun when you are already dealing with the bullshit above.

Why am I sharing all this with you?

Maybe it’s because I like to overshare. Lordi knows I love a good rant. More likely it’s because I’m angry about how womens’ pain is routinely minimised and ignored. I know a lot of women in a lot of pain who have been told – for fucking years – it’s just period pain, deal with it and don’t talk about it. Be ready to have kids even if you don’t want them. Can’t you just suffer in silence? You know, you’d be prettier if you smiled more.

Well, screw being silent – shout. Howl it into the mic. Smash that guitar and go full scale metal on it. I’m listening and I’m ready to scream along with you.

Yeah, I’m pretty cantankerous. Must be all that fire in my uterus.

Fail to kale

Fuck kale

I am the youngest child in my family. By the time I was old enough to cook my Mum was past the “let us bake together, my angel children, never mind the mess” stage and into “get out of my way, are you trying to get burnt”. I haven’t really been taught to cook food basics. This can be an issue when I am faced with standard foods that I don’t care about enough to learn how to make them. I can do a mean butter chicken, for example, because butter chicken is delicious but fail every time at making vegetable soup because, ugh, vegetable soup tastes like used socks.

These days I have family of my own to feed – four people and a dog! – so obviously there’s only one solution; exploring the wonderful worlds of malnutrition and massive credit card debt simultaneously by ordering takeaway all the time! Hah, but seriously no (as my partner says to me ALL THE DAMN TIME). Most nights I try to put together a home-cooked meal to give the impression that we are a functional family unit and not a near-riot of hangry rodeo clowns held together by our shared mortgage and the promise of yogurt for dessert. I am super impatient and also have limited time between daycare pick-up and total toddler meltdown so speed and ease are of the essence.

I have been looking up a lot of “fast” recipes on the Internet which is always a quick way to cook up a boiling rage. You click on something like “simple ingredient 3 ingredient” whatever – expecting, you know, simplicity – and after a carpal-tunnel-inducing level of scrolling past prose and photos you eventually find the actual recipe right at the bloody end. It’s after 5,000 words of (completely unrelated) anecdotes and by the time you find it, it is too late to cook anything and your children have gone to the pub for dinner without you.

Adding to the carpal-twinge factor is the sheer amount of photos involved. Why do three ingredient recipes need 20 pictures? Who takes that many photos while cooking? My gastronomic adventures involve staggering around the kitchen with a screaming toddler on one leg, the dog underneath the other, and demands for attention from the four year old who will set the house on fire if I take my eyes off her for too long. The only reason for twenty photos in my kitchen will be in the insurance claim as evidence it was the four year old, and not my cooking, that burned the place down.

But anyway, food. One of the reasons I’ve been looking up a lot of recipes this week is that my fruit and veg co-op box (which I ordered in a fit of optimism, thinking we could be the sort of family actually used a veg box and not our local kebab shop on a daily basis) has delivered what I can only describe as small forest to me.

Fuck kale
Kale. Just say hell no.

It turned out that forest was made of kale. It is embarrassing that after ten years of living in Sydney’s most leftie latte-sipping suburbs, I still had to google it. Twice. The first search being “what does kale look like” and the second “how do you do you even eat it, ugh”.

This is definitely the sort of thing you don’t share at the neighbourhood parenting group meetings around here. People would spit their fair-trade eco-friendly hand-reared and grass-fed coffee right out at you. The inner west/eastern suburbs of Sydney are suburbs where they not only embrace the eating of “superfoods” like kale and quinoa, but also the naming of their children after them: Saffron, Sage, Kale, Quinoa and Gluten-Free.

On a sidenote, we all know that “superfood” is generally marketing-speak for “lesser known foreign fruit and vegetables that don’t always taste great but we can put a huge price mark-up on, because we’re not paying the people who grow them a living wage”, right? Just checking.

Anyway, kale as a food. Sorry, just trying to get into the waffling spirit of cooking blogs here. Having googled, my number one tip for eating kale is – just don’t. It’s not worth it. Kale is 80% inedible stalks and 20% disgusting malodorous crimped leaves. It is the man-spreading of vegetables; it arrives, unwanted, to take up a load of space and goes off fast with unpleasantly organic smell. Unlike man-spreaders, you can at least put kale in your refrigerator to make it last longer but then it is taking up all the space for actual edible food. When you finally do get around to cooking it the first thing you have to do is remove most of it to get at the bits that are marginally more edible.

Seriously, fuck kale. Chuck the whole lot in the green bin and you’ll be saving yourself an awful lot of effort. Go buy some broccoli or cabbage or bok choy or any actual edible green instead.

Kale in the bin
GET IN THE BIN KALE

But suppose you have decided not to throw all the kale in the bin. I don’t know why you would do this when supermarkets are full of actual bloody food. Maybe, like me, you’ve been trapped into purchasing it and your Irish famine mentality is preventing you throwing it in the fire or the sea or Mount Doom or wherever is handiest. I’m not judging you; I’m just reminding you that ordering delivery from KFC, or walking out the door and never coming back is an option. You could also just let the four year old set the place on fire. Dinners out, guilt-free, for MONTHS that way.

Maybe you feel you should try it or you really shouldn’t waste food. In that case, there’s a recipe for kale that I strongly recommend. Hahahahahah nope, just kidding, I would never recommend a recipe with kale as a star ingredient. But in the name of using it up, here is one that will do so and also eliminate any sweet potato hanging around your cupboards taking up the space for perfectly good regular potatoes or better yet, vodka, which is basically fermented potato salad and therefore doubly good for you. Mmm. Probiotic salad in a glass. With a bag of cheese and onion crisps.

2018-07-11 20.36.30-2
Exeunt, pursued by kale

I feel I have managed to waffle enough so here is the recipe for a kale and sweet potato curry. Finally. Basically everything in this can be substituted apart from the sweet potato because that is all you can actually taste. A core component of most of the recipes I saw for kale had sweet potato in them, probably because they are one of the only things that can drown out the taste of kale.

Ugh, fucking kale curry

  • Some oil, coconut if you have it
  • An onion
  • Some grated ginger
  • Minced garlic
  • Curry paste (red would be best, or you could order a curry and eat that instead, just saying)
  • A sweet potato
  • Can of coconut milk or cream
  • Some turmeric
  • Ugh-loads of fucking chopped kale
  • Some protein-y thing; I used red lentils (soak first). Chickpeas, beans or cashew nuts would probably also be nice.
  • Lemon juice
2018-07-05 18.23.13
Edible. Honest.

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and pepper. Let the onions get a bit translucent.
  2. Add the curry paste, give it a minute to heat up and get fragrant.
  3. Add the sweet potato, stir in well, and cook for a bit minutes more.
  4. Add the coconut milk, turmeric, and a pinch of salt and stir. Add water to just about cover the sweet potato and bring to a simmer.
  5. Once simmering, add the protein-y thing.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften the potato.
  7. Once the potatoes are softened, add the kale and lemon juice, and cover. Cook for at least 5 mins, or you can sod off and leave alone in a slow-cooker if you like. I went off for a few hours. The sweet potato etc will break down to mush but the kale DOES NOT GO AWAY because it can’t take a bloody hint already.
  8. Serve, salted, with rice/quinoa and the hope that the health and smugness benefits of actually using up your kale will make the dish taste better.

To really get into the whole cooking-bloggery thing, I did intend to take some photos. Unfortunately I only rememberred at the end when the resulting curry was complete and looked like it had been ingested, digested and then barfed back up into the pot. It tasted pretty reasonable, in the end, for all that it looked pre-eaten. You can’t really mess up a red curry too much. Not even with kale.

So, eat and enjoy! Or just set the kale on fire and go to the pub. I know what I will be doing.

Kale and sweetpotato curry looks pre-eaten
Looks like all that difficult predigesting has been done for you!

So you’re pregnant! Wow. Crap. Wow.

A guide for the panicking-Mum-to-be who has just remembered after 6 months of trying that she doesn’t like kids that much.

Hey,  congratulations! You planned to be pregnant and now you are! And now you are hyperventilating with terror, because having a baby seemed like a good idea at the time but you have remembered you have no idea how to deal with children and you don’t know anything about them and newborns all look wrinkled and weird to you.

My first reaction to my positive pregnancy test was a full-on panic attack so it’s safe to say I was a bit worried. Would I love my baby? Would I even like it? What do you actually do with one once you have it? Wait, am I not allowed have any cheese now? (Yes, yes, still working this one out, and sadly yes.)

Anyway, turns out I was hyperventilating over all the wrong things. In the hope that I can put your over-anxious mind and thumping-heart at rest, here are the things that I was terrified of that actually turned out not to be a thing at all.

You’re not a “baby” person.

You don’t really like babies and kids that much, certainly not to the extent of squealing about how cute newborns are and how much you want to eat them. (Note: don’t do this, this is fucking creepy. When someone tells me they want to eat my kids, I am all “give them back and have a sandwich instead they took ages to make YOU FUCKING WEIRDO”.)

You will probably still not like all babies, but you will like your baby. Trite but true. There’s a host of biological stuff going  on and babies are basically terrible at everything except persuading you to take care of them and watch over their flailings with interest and buy their tiny impractical shit (kind of like the Kardashians, I guess) so, much like a weakened pelvic floor, loving your baby is kind of inevitable.*

Your baby will look like a tiny shaved and boiled animatronic monkey but you will still love it. Some mums get the overwhelming bond of love, others are seized by a protective instinct similar to that of a coked-up grizzly but love takes a bit longer to grow. In time, you will even start liking other babies because they remind you of your baby and before you know it you will actually want to have a cuddle of other people’s newborns.

It may take a while to kick in but by the time they are toddling, you will love them enough to spend approximately eleventy million hours a day needed to stopping them from injuring themselves. (Toddlers are basically tiny suicidal drunks.) Then it’s a few years of more straight-forward love until they are teenagers and you debate freezing them in carbonite or tossing them in Hannibal-Lector-restraints until they hit 25 or so.

You don’t know anything about babies

HandsThe good news is YOUR BABY KNOWS EVEN LESS THAN YOU and doesn’t have a developed brain to boot. They can’t even make their hands grasp things, for feck’s sake. So, not only are you competing against someone who knows the same amount as you at the start, they have NO HOPE of learning as fast as you and keeping up.

Basically, you have just challenged a sea cucumber to an arse-kicking contest. GO KICK ARSE.

And if you decide to have more than one, by the time you have them you will have racked up serious parenting mileage (if it’s 10,000 hours to make an expert, which is about three years of 9 hours a day or just over one year in your case because you are getting NO FUCKING SLEEP) and you will look like a shit hot expert at this stuff.

But I’ll have to do all this Mum’s-group socialising stuff and baby-talk doesn’t interest me

You will end up spending a lot of other time with parents, as they are the only people who will put up with your sleep-deprived over-caffeinated haven’t-showered flaky-ass shit now you literally can’t arrange more than one social thing in a day without a complete meltdown.

So, you will talk about kids a lot, but it’s actually helpful. You will develop a professional interest in comparing and contrasting their baby to yours. Other people’s children will remind you a little of your own and your newfound parent-narcissism will make them interesting to you, not as individuals but as reflections of your own child.

Also, who doesn’t love that moment in the supermarket where you hear a child go on a full-scale kicking-and-screaming-and-shitting-themselves-tantrum. You tense up, and then you realise it’s not your child and therefore not your problem. It’s great. Like taking off a too-tight bra or slipping off heels at the end of a day.

But newborns look weird

They really, really fucking do. But it passes. You’ll probably be on drugs for most of it anyway. Wheeeee!

 

* Postnatal depression is a thing and a very common thing (and can hit Mums or Dads), and this blog is written by someone who was calling her vulva a vagina well into her late 20’s so please, if you are struggling, have a frank and honest chat with a medical professional you trust instead of reading random stranger’s sweary bullshit. Good luck.

Winning Hearts (Without Losing Your Mind)

The Australian same sex marriage postal vote is underway and, if you’re anything like me, your fitness tracker thinks you’ve been working out approximately 40 times a day due to your heart rate and blood pressure spiking every time you get on the Internet.

So, stepping away from the venom in the comments, what’s going to actually help in the longer-term?

What result do you really want?

YESRemember the goal. There always the temptation to try to beat an opponent into the ground, but is this actually what you want?

There is an excellent conflict resolution book called Crucial Conversations and their advice is to keep thinking about the outcome you want, not just winning the fight.

In the short-term it might feel rewarding to flame and crush but chances are it’s not actually helping you achieve your goal. Well, that’s if that goal is a strong positive result voted in with as little vitriol spewed as possible at the rainbow and wider community. If you are in it for a fight, stop reading now because oh boy there is so much fighting to do.

Pick your battles

While it feels good to go in all guns blazing against that relation’s friend on Facebook, chances you’re not actually going to change their mind. What may happen is that the arguing, and tangents created, can change the point and confuse other readers to the point of listening when someone claims that you’re bullying them for their “opinion”*.

We’ve already seen lots of lies trying to turn what is a simple vote on equal treatment into a rat king of fear. We can’t beat them by endlessly arguing with their points because their points are MAD AS BALLS. Don’t waste your time on trolls and don’t waste your time on people who’ve already made up their mind. If you’re not going to do any good: state your disagreement clearly and calmly, point people in the direction of some accurate information, and move on.

Get offline

On that note, lots of people aren’t actually online all the time. 1 million Australian’s have never been online , and 34% are not active Facebook users. Spending 5 minutes on a(nother) comment on Facebook probably won’t win people over but a conversation or a phone call from someone they know and like might. Phone your family and start a conversation.

Not sure how to begin? Ask them for a favour (“I know there is a lot going on, but could you do me a favour? I’d like to tell you about me/my friend’s family and how this vote affects them.”) as research suggests that we like people for whom we’ve done favors and are more likely to listen to them and help again in the future.

Get the mail

At this point, most of the hardcore voters have voted but it is likely that many people will just not get around to posting their envelope in time. Remind people, remind them again, and offer to take it to the post office. Put your feet where your mouth is.

Use tactics that work

Insulting peoples’ logic, intelligence and morals is never going change their mind. But often it’s not about sharing the argument you find the most persuasive. Tailor your argument to the audience.

For example, some studies have found that conservatives are more likely to accept policies such as same-sex marriage if they’re framed in terms of conservative values like patriotism and moral justice. So, emphasising that same sex couples and families are already out there, and should be treated the same way in the law to cut legal confusion, costs, and tying up the courts may be more effective than appealing to empathy in some cases.

Set an example

One last way you can make your vote really count is by being public about what you are doing and how happy it makes you.

People assume the actions of others reflect the correct behaviour, especially in ambiguous social situations where they are unable to determine the “correct” course of action. In one large-scale Facebook experiment (over 61 million people) it was found people who were shown their friends have voted are significantly more likely to vote.

So get out there and vote loud, vote proud.

Just remember; no glitter, use a dark pen, don’t change the question and don’t post your ballot’s barcode in any pictures. Vote proud, but stay safe online.

 

* Tea vs coffee is an opinion, btw. It affects no one elses’ choices. Voting to deny people a right to exercise their own choice is actively imposing your opinion on others. Important difference. I don’t deny your right to an opinion, what I do oppose is the idea that you have a right to impose that belief on other consenting adults via our country’s legal system.

Completely the wrong sort of cow

Many new mums complain breastfeeding in public makes them feel like a cow. I recently had the opposite problem on a family trip to a petting farm. My eldest, Childzilla, was having a lovely time feeding the farm animals. Unfortunately my youngest, Bubzilla, was not having such a good time as he also needed feeding.

6c8bf58a70c737d7d2c1fed4fefa35b6_mad-cow-mad-cow-meme_640-492 (2)I considered sitting down to breastfeed on one of the provided hay-bales but closer inspection revealed a truly copious amount of chicken and/or goat poo on all of them and, with 2 kids, a dog and the state of Australian politics, I currently have quite enough shite in my life already, thank you.

So, leaving Childzilla with her Dad, I wandered off to a working-dairy exhibition area nearby. There were lots of empty seats as no show was on or scheduled. Perfect, I thought, as I sat down, whipped out my boob, and plonked the Bubzilla on.

But it’s not just cows and One Nation voters who blindly follow a leader. I must have walked with too much purpose because some people had followed me, and some other people had followed them and so on. Before long there was a full auditorium of people milling about, sitting down to chew the cud, and all staring impatiently at a bunch of idle milking machines waiting for something to happen.

I had decided to sit at the end of a row as I thought I’d have the place to myself – as there was nothing on – so I was now blocking off all those seats. As the space between rows was quite small, people couldn’t easily squeeze by me and Bubzilla. I tried angling myself but most people gave up and headed to another – and far more crowded – row.

Eventually one woman snapped at me to stand up and move. I told her I couldn’t managed it as I was breastfeeding and so she went stomping past me, all huffing and puffing and giving out about me to her friend.

So, yeah, that’s how I got chewed out of it for being the only working dairy-exhibit in a working-dairy exhibition.

The adventures of the g-string fairy

Me: Childzilla was going on and on about fairies so Nana bought her a generic fairy doll

Himself: *patient look*

Me: It looks like reject Barbie and is shedding glitter everywhere and has a bodice and petal skirt and a g-string thong on for some reason

Me: When Childzilla’s first job is as an exotic dancer called Sparkles we know what happened

Himself: *patient but slightly strained look*

gnome
Why the inexplicable lack of proper pants?

Me: Anyway, Childzilla wanted a name for it

Himself: *enquiring look*

Me: And the only one I could think of was Twunterbell

Himself: At least it didn’t start with C

Me: Oh, it did, but I changed it

Me: So fairy is now called Billie

Himself: *cautious*

Me: Because she looks like Billie Piper

Himself: *mild approval*

Me: After half a bag of coke*

…I am really not sure who thought it was a good idea to leave me in charge of a child. And the dog. Or anything really.

 

*Have a listen to Horse Outside by the Rubberbandits. Partly as it might illuminate the joke but mainly because I like it.

 

 

 

The problem with listening to nursery rhymes

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
That’s not how you spell farm.
And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O
One cow, huh? Some farm.
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there
Is he feeding the cow? It seems to want some attention.
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo
I don’t know a lot about farming, but that cow sounds pretty upset.
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
Yes, you said.
And on his farm he had a pig, E-I-E-I-O.
Why does he have a pig? Why doesn’t he get another cow? What is he expecting the cow and pig to do, get together and breed horses*?
With a oink oink here and a oink oink there
Oh come on, MacDonald.
Here a oink, there a oink, everywhere a oink oink
Feed your goddamn animals!
Old MacDonald had a farm
Until he got reported by the RSPCA and now he’s barred from keeping animals for life.

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop, when the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall…
Okay, this whole thing is clearly a terrible idea. I have a better version.
Rockabye baby, never you fear,social services are on their way here
Your parents, quite frankly, need straight-jackets hugs, as we strongly suspect they’re on hardcore drugs.

Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon…
You know what? You guys are way too high for me. I’m out.

* If you get this, you too have watched too much Red Dwarf and we should be friends.