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Advice? Me?

Humour columnist remembers her own birthing experiences..and that she shouldn't offer advice on the matter. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

The New Year is always a good time to tell a story of beginnings. Goodness knows we need a fresh start right about now too. With that in mind, I wrote a little story on the birth of a child, since there’s nothing that leaves us with brighter expectation than the arrival of a baby.

This summer one of the teachers at my school had a baby. It was a privilege to work with her beforehand and chat about each stage of her pregnancy. Brought back a lot of memories too. Particularly when she was full term and jokingly asked if I had advice on how to get, “the ball rolling”. 

I did.

After my first child had been born two weeks overdue and at almost ten pounds, I decided I wouldn’t let that happen again. I’d lunged through two feet of snow, been driven over the worst bumps in the country and eaten enough spicy food to breathe fire, but nothing had worked to get things going for me. Second time round I began researching home remedies to induce labour.

Enter – castor oil.

Everything I read about it sounded safe, natural and effective and I’d reached my due date, so there were no worries there. Bring it on, I thought happily.

My friend Arthetta, henceforth referred to as accomplice, bar tender and secret shopper, made the purchase for me, since I felt a little self-conscious buying laxatives at the local pharmacy, lest they probe for details.

We met later that day at her house. This was long before the Internet, and pertinent information such as the possible and highly disagreeable outcome of such a deed, or the correct dosage for this foolish endeavor, was not readily available.

Arthetta glugged the entire, oily bottle into a glass, topped it off with orange juice, stirred briskly and handed it over with a winning smile.

I stared into the slimy depths. Doubts began to slither forward in my mind like the globules of fat that swirled unpleasantly in the tumbler before me. The oil had risen immediately to the top, and lay there like leftover grease floating in the dishwater of life.

I held my breath, put the rim to my lips, tilted my head and poured it back. Yuck!

 “You actually did it,” Arthetta muttered, shaking her head in amazement. Then she peered at me hopefully, waiting for something to happen. 

It didn’t.

“Okay,” my accomplice said, “I don’t think it’s working, but here’s the deal, I have another bottle of the stuff in my cupboard. It’s been there a while but – maybe we should have that too.” She looked at me expectantly.

“Whadya mean “we”,” I said, with lips still slick from the last allotment. She darted to the kitchen. Presently, I heard the tinkle of her spoon as she prepared a second cocktail.

I was halfway through before realizing it was RANCID!

“Argh!” I shouted, rushing into the bathroom to lean over the sink. Sweat had broken out on my forehead and I felt distinctly ill.

“Maybe you should call a prenatal nurse to ask how much is usually administered,” I said, clutching my rumbling stomach as I peered around the corner. “Not that I can change it now.”

Quickly my pal dialed, asked the question and then sat down abruptly, her face draining of all colour. “I see,” she finished, “thank you.”

Hanging up, Arthetta turned to me with a stricken look upon her face. “The nurse said to take one, maybe two tablespoons, but no more.”

“WHAT!” I hollered from her beautifully appointed potty, where I was to spend the next five hours. “I just swilled back two bottles of the junk! And the last one was ROTTEN!”

We can laugh about it now. Actually, we laughed about it then, but I’m really not the right person to give advice in this particular area. However, a beautiful, healthy baby girl was born that night and my heart was full of happiness and hope for her future.

And so, as we move into 2021 I truly wish the same for us all. May you all know happiness, love and hope for a bright new future this year. 

Helen Row Toews writes about the humour of everyday life.