Baby Number Three — Chapter 4

20131108-090107.jpgII was receiving cheques from the government. They had started to come again after my work at the emergency clinic, but they were about to run out. I had been applying to jobs and despite Bob’s insistence that I work; he was actively interfering with this process.

One company called to set up an interview. The job would have been in sales. Bob told the person that called that I was pregnant but that it would work out really well because I could take the baby with me to the sales calls. He explained to me afterwards that he had told the guy this. I was never interviewed for this position.

One job that I did get interviewed for was with the federal government. Not an ideal job but government jobs have a lot of benefits and security. On Thanksgiving weekend that year I got a call saying that I could start on the Tuesday. There were twelve weeks of training set up and if I could start right away, I could attend the training. If I could not start away I would not be able to start until they ran the training course again and that might be a year or so.

It was 12 weeks until the baby was due, so if all went well, I could work the twelve weeks and then the baby would be born. A woman that I had met through the playgroup said that she would take my youngest daughter for the twelve weeks. I explained that I would only need day care until the baby came. My daughter and her son were the same age and had gotten to know each other pretty well.

So, I took the job. When animals are being used for food, they are brought to slaughter plants. These places are more or less disassembly plants. The animal comes in one door and it is processed until all of the edible parts have been removed and all of the inedible parts have been disposed of.

Unfortunately, one of the known drawbacks to working in slaughter is that you become exposed to all of the bacteria that naturally occur on the animals. All of the caution about cooking your food before you eat it does not apply when you are not actually eating the animals. There is no way to protect yourself from exposure to these bacteria. They are in the air. You can inhale them on a water droplet.

All this to say that near the end of my pregnancy, I got a type of food poisoning from my initial exposure to these bacteria. When the smooth muscles of your digestive tract contract to aid in the removal of these pathogens from your body, it stimulates the contractions of your uterus. Some of the things that pregnant women are told to help bring on birth are based on this understanding. Eating spicy foods, for instance, can cause your digestive tract to become upset and have extra movement. This movement stimulates the uterus as well.

I can’t describe how awful it was not knowing which end to put closest to the toilet and having a contraction, each time my body tried to expel the toxins. I managed to call Bob at work and told him about the situation. He assured me that there was nothing that he could do about it and he was quite upset that I would not be able to pick my daughter up from day care. I guess I was not doing my part. There was no question that I was completely alone in the world.

As a veterinarian, we are in the slaughter plants representing the public and the farmer. We do not work for the company that owns the slaughter plant. Our job is to decide what can and cannot be eaten. So for instance, if an animal has some sort of illness or injury, it is our job to decide if the animal, or part of the animal, is safe to eat.

This is a factory setting with overhead machinery and loud noises. The carcasses go by on tracks that hang from the ceiling. I was on the vet stand, which was a raised part of the floor. It was composed of metal mesh that had ridges on it so that it would not be slippery. I had hearing protection on, a hardhat on and steel-toed rubber boots.

I was the only woman on the floor. These places are rough by their very nature. Most of the men carry large knives that they take pride in keeping very sharp. There is a code of conduct that can be felt in the air. Lots of teasing, lots of insults, lots of profanity.

It felt like an extreme contrast to standing there feeling a contraction wash over my abdomen knowing that I was going to give birth. The endorphins kicked in right away and it felt incongruous. Here I was in this dark, loud, aggressive place feeling all blissed-out and knowing that my third baby was coming. This was Friday, the last day of my training and the government had done me a favour by moving me to a plant within walking distance of where I lived.

My older two daughters were present for the birth. This is one of the many advantages of having babies at home. We had practised making the “power noises” that can aid in bringing the baby out and they were full participants. Hearing a five year old and a two year old grunting and making deep throaty guttural sounds while you are pushing a baby out is quite comical and really makes it more of a family event.

Keep Reading:  Back to Work

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Read the entire book.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Back To Work — Chapter 4

IMG_3467Now the pressure was on. I had no income, but I had a job. I could go back to the job whenever I “wanted,” so Bob was constantly explaining how much money we were wasting with me not back at work. He saw no value in me staying home with the girls. He knew that we could pay someone a fraction of what I made in order for me to go back to work.

I was not going back while I was still wholly breastfeeding. I completely ignored the baby books on this one. There is a lot of pressure to start feeding cereals and formula to babies. It comes at you from all directions. One of the ways that mothers are persuaded to feed cereal is with the promise of the baby sleeping through the night. Formula is marketed as a way that dad can help out. Even he can sit and hold a bottle to a baby’s mouth!! If someone was going to actually help, wouldn’t it be nicer to have them do some of the more unpleasant jobs like changing diapers or doing laundry?

I decided that the information from our society had been so wrong about birth that it was probably wrong about how to feed a baby as well. When I look around now and see how many children and adults are afflicted with food allergies, I have to wonder how much of this is created by the way we are taught to take care of our babies. So I decided that we were probably designed perfectly. I would breast feed completely, until the baby was able to pick up food and put it into her mouth herself.

This worked quite well for me. Not only did I never sit and spoon goop into a child’s mouth, but I was putting her in complete control of what she ate, what went into her mouth and when it went in. I had been given a baby grinder from some friends so I would mush up whatever we were eating into particles that were not smooth but were too small to choke the baby.

These are the sort of details that you cannot control if you go back to work. I can feel the anger as I write this because this was very important to me and I had to fight with Bob about it. None of my children have any chronic diseases or allergies at all. This may have just been luck, but I did my best to ensure that they received the best care that was available.

By nine months, he had me worn down. They placed me in a slaughter plant that was in another city 60 miles or 100 kilometers from where I lived, driving into a large city. Every time it snowed, the highway would slow to a crawl or a complete stop. It was relentless. We had more single snow falls that winter than I ever remember. One day it took me over three hours to get into work.

I was beside myself. I almost ditched the car on the way to work one morning because I had to leave before the plows were on the highway. I was miserable. My entire life seemed to be fighting traffic to get to a job in a slaughter plant. I started to apply to other jobs within the government that were closer to where I lived.

I got screened into a job that was in a town 18 miles (30 km) from where I lived. I had an interview set up. It was a job interview that required a lot of studying. It was a program that I did not know and the way that the interview was conducted was more like an oral exam. I sat on my breaks at work and studied for this exam. The person organizing the interviews explained that I would receive a document before the exam and I was to read it and to be able to comment on it for the interview.

It was arranged that the document would be faxed to the house. We did not have a fax machine, but Bob’s computer could receive faxes electronically and then they could be printed out or read on the computer screen. The fax never came.

I went into the interview knowing that if they had not sent the fax, it was their oversight and that once I explained that then something would be worked out. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the fourth time that Bob had actively interfered with my career. He had “lost” the fax and was amazed that he had actually received it. He apologized. Everyone can make a mistake right? As I said, individually these all seemed like unfortunate accidents. It was not until hindsight that I realized that they were part of a larger pattern of sabotage.

The universe was still protecting me though. I made a decision one morning while fighting traffic that I would rather be unemployed. I would face Bob and just tell him that there was more to life than driving all day to a job that I didn’t like. I knew that I would be the target of his anger and his need to control me. I knew that it would make things tense at home. I knew that he would be verbally abusive and would let me know how useless I was, but it was my life and I wasn’t going to spend it this way.

I had three children under six at home and I intended to be there. I made the decision to quit. Before I had the opportunity to discuss this with Bob, something strange happened. The slaughter plant that I was hired to work in decided to close permanently. This interesting fact meant that I was “surplussed”. Surplussed is one of my favourite words.

As a government employee there are all kinds of regulations about job loss. If there is a job available, it has to go to someone that is already employed. So, by being surplussed, it meant that if any job became available it was mine. It also meant that I was eligible for a cash-out. How convenient. They would pay me the equivalent of sixty percent of a single year’s income to just walk away from my job. Done.

Keep Reading:  My Sister Vicki

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No Leg to Stand On — Chapter 3

http://www.dairymoos.com/
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What was initially a great job with a lot of accomplishments and room for me to contribute positively to how the calves were raised and their general care had disintegrated into a political battle with a pseudo-veterinarian. This man had been masquerading as the go-to man with health care issues even though he did not have any formal training. I can hear half of the audience sighing.

Our popular media often glorifies the people that have learned by experience, that have hit the ground running and know so much more than the ‘educated’ people. This may apply in some instances but definitively did not apply to this individual. He saw me as a threat and often contradicted my advice to people.

There was one particularly unfortunate calf that bore the brunt of our disharmony. The calf had caught it’s leg while jumping out of a pen and had tore the nerves that served the leg. Nerves are important. Not only do they allow the animal to flex the muscles of the leg, a requirement of standing, but they are also there to help protect the leg. If an animal cannot feel pain in one of its limbs it will not take care of it.

I was called in early when the calf was discovered. I did a simple test to see if the nerves were intact. They were not. The calf could not feel anything in the leg. I recommended to the farmer that the calf be immediately sent to slaughter. There would be some loss because of bruising, but once you treat an animal with any kind of drug a withdrawal time must be respected before the animal can go to slaughter so it was best to do it right away.

The other fella pressured the farmer to keep the animal alive arguing that the animal was worth a fraction of what it would be worth when it was fully grown. The farmer followed the advice of the other guy and kept the calf alive. As the calf grew larger and larger it became apparent that it could not get up on its own. The farmer had to get into the pen and lift the animal up so that it could reach its food. It would lie on its leg and not recognize that it was cutting off all of the blood flow. Sores began to develop which meant that the calf needed to be put on antibiotics. While on antibiotics the calf cannot go to slaughter. The meat would get thrown out if it did. The calf never did go to slaughter and died a few weeks later from infections that began in the sores of its leg.

Watching this calf suffer, when I was there with the intention of making sure that these animals were well cared for and treated properly, was heartbreaking for me. This was only one example, but it did show that I had no power in this job and that made it unpleasant for me.

I had been actively applying to other jobs. On one particular day I got a call from a human resources person to set up a job interview. My daughter was in her crib upstairs when the call came in and Bob was in the house. During this conversation about the job and when I could set up an appointment to go in for an interview my daughter started to cry. Bob brought her down and stood right next to the phone so that the person that was booking the appointment was being drowned out by the crying.

Bob explained that he did not know how to calm her down and was holding her there to let me know that I needed to hurry up and get off of the phone. There is no question in my mind at all that “has a young baby” was written on my application. The truth was that this was the second time that he had purposely tried to interfere with my success. Let’s not forget that he left before I was able to finish veterinary medicine. Individually they both seemed unrelated but they became part of a pattern.

So, when my second pregnancy was difficult and my doctor said that if I did not take time off from work he was going to hospitalize me, I did not hesitate to quit my job. I was eligible for money from the government if I left because I was pregnant and I wanted to take some time to stay at home with this baby. I had learned the hard way with my first daughter that going right back to having a full time obligation was not ideal.

Did I mention that I got pregnant right away?

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Begin With a Move

www.wendypowell.ca

No Leg to Stand On — Chapter 3

http://www.dairymoos.com/
http://www.dairymoos.com/

What was initially a great job with a lot of accomplishments and room for me to contribute positively to how the calves were raised and their general care had disintegrated into a political battle with a pseudo-veterinarian. This man had been masquerading as the go-to man with health care issues even though he did not have any formal training. I can hear half of the audience sighing.

Our popular media often glorifies the people that have learned by experience, that have hit the ground running and know so much more than the ‘educated’ people. This may apply in some instances but definitively did not apply to this individual. He saw me as a threat and often contradicted my advice to people.

There was one particularly unfortunate calf that bore the brunt of our disharmony. The calf had caught it’s leg while jumping out of a pen and had tore the nerves that served the leg. Nerves are important. Not only do they allow the animal to flex the muscles of the leg, a requirement of standing, but they are also there to help protect the leg. If an animal cannot feel pain in one of its limbs it will not take care of it.

I was called in early when the calf was discovered. I did a simple test to see if the nerves were intact. They were not. The calf could not feel anything in the leg. I recommended to the farmer that the calf be immediately sent to slaughter. There would be some loss because of bruising, but once you treat an animal with any kind of drug a withdrawal time must be respected before the animal can go to slaughter so it was best to do it right away.

The other fella pressured the farmer to keep the animal alive arguing that the animal was worth a fraction of what it would be worth when it was fully grown. The farmer followed the advice of the other guy and kept the calf alive. As the calf grew larger and larger it became apparent that it could not get up on its own. The farmer had to get into the pen and lift the animal up so that it could reach its food. It would lie on its leg and not recognize that it was cutting off all of the blood flow. Sores began to develop which meant that the calf needed to be put on antibiotics. While on antibiotics the calf cannot go to slaughter. The meat would get thrown out if it did. The calf never did go to slaughter and died a few weeks later from infections that began in the sores of its leg.

Watching this calf suffer, when I was there with the intention of making sure that these animals were well cared for and treated properly, was heartbreaking for me. This was only one example, but it did show that I had no power in this job and that made it unpleasant for me.

I had been actively applying to other jobs. On one particular day I got a call from a human resources person to set up a job interview. My daughter was in her crib upstairs when the call came in and Bob was in the house. During this conversation about the job and when I could set up an appointment to go in for an interview my daughter started to cry. Bob brought her down and stood right next to the phone so that the person that was booking the appointment was being drowned out by the crying.

Bob explained that he did not know how to calm her down and was holding her there to let me know that I needed to hurry up and get off of the phone. There is no question in my mind at all that “has a young baby” was written on my application. The truth was that this was the second time that he had purposely tried to interfere with my success. Let’s not forget that he left before I was able to finish veterinary medicine. Individually they both seemed unrelated but they became part of a pattern.

So, when my second pregnancy was difficult and my doctor said that if I did not take time off from work he was going to hospitalize me, I did not hesitate to quit my job. I was eligible for money from the government if I left because I was pregnant and I wanted to take some time to stay at home with this baby. I had learned the hard way with my first daughter that going right back to having a full time obligation was not ideal.

Did I mention that I got pregnant right away?

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Begin With a Move

www.wendypowell.ca