Prologue: How This All Started

I can’t remember when my last confession was, but I’m sure it was over 10 years ago.

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I can’t remember when my last confession was, but I’m sure it’s over 10 years ago.” So started this year’s New Year’s resolution of self-preservation and maximizing tax benefits. I needed to secure my place in heaven, should there actually be one when this was all over. But I also needed to maximize savings should I be around for human’s typical life span…80 years or so. I am convinced that living life is purgatory. Some times it’s a good life, other times it’s bad. We’ve already lived one life, and the one that you are live now is penance for what you did in the last one. Life is like groundhog day. The more lives you have, the more time and penance you have to endure before going up or down on the elevator. Life gets easier than the one before; more modern conveniences and liberties, but you pay or get back daily for what you did the life before. Call it good Karma. Call it Hell. I’m was certain from where I was parked in the pre-school drop off line in front of St. Paul’s Catholic Church that rainy January morning, it was either blissful or very hot. It must be the only reason why children die at such a young age. Purgatory ends when you die. Some never have to suffer.

My life’s entire existence is to complete this final penance. I had to endure the odyssey of motherhood.

My resolution this year is to attempt to self-preserve my space in heaven should there actually be one when this was all over. Then my ultimate goal would be achieved. I had been on a religious sabbatical since my second child, Ashton was born. This January morning, I now have three children, 4, almost 3, and six months old. Jack, Ashton, and Mignonne…I also have a very tall husband.  John.

One phase of my life, before I knew what reality really was, or even before I could comprehend what life was really all about, I had this vision of my life. It’s blurry now, kind of like the day after a drinking binge when you don’t really quite remember what happened or how you actually got home. Sometimes I would sit and try to go back to that place that I thought would be perfection and try to see if I was there yet.

If I knew then where I would be now, there are so many things I would have done differently, or taken less seriously at the time. I would have spent less nights worrying about some shit of a boss with an ego trip or my desire to succeed in my career at my social life or love life’s expense.

I certainly would not have wasted my weekends trying to move ahead in my career.

I know now looking at the fine lines on my forehead achieved “BK”, before Kids, that what I did achieve was meeting and keeping the best man that I could have dreamed of, John. How I accomplished this feat is still vague, and that I would never change.

My husband John and I are best friends. We like each other’s company, laugh about the same things, and there is no one I would rather spend my day doing nothing with than him. I love him, trust him, and look forward to the next time he’s with me.

We dated several years before getting married, but I was committed to him the moment I met him. My aspirations were high. If I had been asked what I wanted to achieve, I would have said to be on the cover of a magazine. My private women’s college set me up for those aspirations.  And I believed it.

As I got older, the magazine title changed, but the goal remained. Instead of a fashion or pop-culture title, it moved to Business Week or Entrepreneurial titles. I enjoyed what I did, I became successful doing it, and I could actually see the outcome of my work. I was paid handsomely for my work, and I was proud of myself.

Regardless of what I thought of myself, I always had the nagging of parental approval and control hanging over me, whispering “you need to worry less about your career and start having a family”, or the always present mention of some cousin that had given birth to yet another baby.

My least favorite time became Christmas when I had to stomach my mother purchasing countless presents for children of cousins that I didn’t even know, and then the pricking jab of a comment like, “well, you don’t want to have children, so I’ll just buy for them”. I wasn’t jealous, I was 28.  I really did have my own timetable and I wasn’t going to be forced into doing something for anyone other than me or my husband.

Once we got married, I stopped taking the pill and we bought a dog. We named her Lille, she was a miniature schnauzer. John and I poured all of our parenting skills into this creature. For Christmas that year we got a video camera. We have hours of footage of the dog, and we actually used to watch the movies. Lille became a pest, a “teenager”, and our last animal.

The dog grew to hate me, and my goal in life metamorphosized into ensuring that my children didn’t end up the same way.

John and I were both working on our brilliant careers as well as our bodies. A year into marriage, convinced that my clock was ticking and tired of my mother’s nagging, I decided in my gunner personality to implement the business of having kids, instead of just winging it. I started to entertain the idea of leaving my full-time travel consulting career in order to work somewhere locally and with less travel. I had just quit my job and was in between companies. I bought a BMW 528i to reward myself for my new job title of “Vice President”. The same day, I also purchased three home ovulation kits and began the science project of trying to pee on a stick three to four times a day to determine if “the time was right”.

Day after day the stick never showed that it was the night.

It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. John’s mother, Bea, had come to Tampa to spend Thanksgiving with us. I had invited my parents as well as my grandparents to join us for Thanksgiving Dinner as well. It was not as I had dreamed it would be. Both of our families together during the holidays was like chewing glass.

That one Saturday afternoon, my heart stopped. There it was, the sign that I was ovulating. Bea left to drive back to Baton Rouge and before she was pulling out of our neighborhood, R couldn’t get his clothes off fast enough. It was the most surreal sexual experience of my life. I laid there on the queen size sleigh bed with my ass up on a pillow so that none of his sperm would leave before one had successfully reached the destination. Damnit, we were going to have a baby and I was going to be a mom.

Three days later I started my new “stay in town” job as a Vice President for an Internet Consulting Company from hell and began puking my guts out from the stress of the job. I would literally vomit in the front seat of my new BMW, all over my Ellen Tracy suit that I had just picked up from the cleaners. I thought I was just miserable. I was angry at myself for leaving what was a great job with wonderful security to work for a fad consulting company in a popular high-tech sector so that I wouldn’t have to travel full time and might actually get to spend some quality time with my husband of one year. I thought I could achieve the work life balance of family and career.

There was this girl that was assigned to work for me, and from the moment I walked through the doors of the company, she became a demon from hell. It was a daily battle to get through the day, and I was powerless to fire her. I should have known better, the Wing nuts running the company wore pinstriped double breasted suits and two tones shoes. Immediately I was informed by the company’s public relations director that the most shady of them all, the guy that would disappear quite often and really didn’t have much of a job to do was under watch my the FBI for suspicion of murder of a fellow business partner, and the other two were ex-used car salesmen. So there I was, the pinnacle of my brilliant career and I was on the fast track to a fiery crash…plus I was now pregnant.

So long magazine cover.  So long career ambition.  So long to my Brilliant Career.

Three weeks into the job, I felt like something was missing in my life. Another week passed, and I stopped by the drugstore and purchased my first home pregnancy test. I peed again on the stick, and there it was. We had successfully produced a miracle and my life changed direction. The next day at work, I attempted to secretly find the name of a doctor that would treat me in my state. I called someone on my health insurance plan, “Dr. Angel”. When I spoke to the receptionist, she asked, “Are you high risk?” I didn’t understand. She said, “We’re perinatologists” Not knowing what that meant, I whispered into my phone while drawing my blinds closed and shut the door, “I think I’m pregnant”.

Long Pause.  She said, “Have you taken a pregnancy test?” “Yes”. “Okay ma’am, we see patients that are high risk”, I then went into this garbled explanation of how Dr. Angel was highly recommended and that I was in a highly stressful work environment and that I had moved from New Orleans and I wasn’t familiar with the Tampa physician network, but I really wanted to see a doctor that went to a real medical school and that spoke English, and was close to where I lived on my way to work, and that Dr. Angel fell into that description. She took my information, and then called me a few hours later and said, “we usually don’t take non-high risk patients, but Dr. Angel agreed to see you, so we’ll see you in two weeks.” I was in! I immediately went to the executive restroom and barfed.

Nine months of weigh gain and bizarre battles with the bitch from hell, my stomach stretched and I swear I would lose feeling in my coochie if the baby fell any lower. I gained 45 pounds, but I didn’t care. Always trying to find the bright side to any punishment, I was mistakenly optimistic that the company that I was working for would either be sold or go public, and that I could cash out and never go back again.

I should have known better. The major investors in the company were the Boys from what we’ll call Fastpace Steakhouse. Millions had been invested in the company in hopes of an IPO or cash out. As a vice president in the company, undeniably the top woman in the company and undoubtably one of the top eight key employees, I never met the Boys.  Instead of smelling of steak, it smelled of sushi.

The rumors with the other executives continued to come in. Each time a political or government official would stop by the office, the supposed ex-con would disappear for a few hours. Another former executive with the company was in federal penitentiary for tax evasion. Two of the employees I suspected of being the drug dealers for the used car salesman CEO. They were always flying off or boating off to the Caribbean. The bitch was living with one of the lead developers, both original employees of the company.

There were stories of bringing air conditioners to Cuba by boat. There were ex-strippers designing web sites, answering phones, fake boobs on all of the wives, and there I was now in my Pea in the Pod Maternity wardrobe, a knocked up prisoner of my own now failed aspirations. I might as well have been in handcuffs myself. With a belly the size of an award winning watermelon, there was little way that I would be hired to work for another company or go back to my old company, India Y2K Outsourcing.

I couldn’t hide the fact that I was pregnant; I showed my pregnancy like a show girl shows her plastic surgery.

Betting that a woman will really return to work after birth is like placing a suckers bet on a fight between Paris Hilton and Mike Tyson. You can place a bet, but the odds aren’t in your favor. Not only that, but I couldn’t quit either. Health insurance is a hard thing to get when the “pre-existing condition” is pregnancy. Working at Freeport Media was like being sent to purgatory after death. I was sent there to make up for my sins and to prepare me for the next level of punishment, becoming a Mother.

Had I only known…

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