Retail Therapy by Jennifer McKenzie

Retail Therapy by Jennifer McKenzie

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When the new baby arrives, you might think sleepless nights are preventable. I’m here to tell you that in fact they are not. Sleep deprivation affects parents every day, and sometimes, said sleep deprivation requires a little therapy. Need an example?

So here’s the scene: it’s 1:27 am and I’m sitting in my bedroom holding our 5-week-old baby boy in my arms. It’s feeding time. My husband passes me a warm bottle and then climbs back into bed, and I have every intention of crawling back under the warm blankets within the hour.

I’m exhausted.

Hubby and I had a colourful discussion earlier about our finances. My husband is so cheap he goes to the pond to have ducks throw bread at him. (Haha. In my state of mind this shit is funny.) Money is tight right now because I am on maternity leave and I’m not getting a full pay cheque. Babies are expensive. As the result of our discussion, we decided I am to start following a strict budget.


My eyelids are heavy and I drift off to the rhythmic sounds of my rocking chair. The soft purring sounds my son is making as he breathes turn into a sort of crackling sound. My eyelids fly open and I am suddenly very alert. Sweet mother of Pearl, he is congested and it sounds like his lungs are full of phlegm.

A few days ago we were at the doctor’s office where another child dared to sneeze within a ten foot radius of my child, and now my poor baby has a cold. Well that’s it, I’ve just managed to tack another hour onto my feeding shift. I have to stay awake to make sure our baby can breathe properly. How can I put him down in his crib knowing that the cold symptoms could worsen overnight?

2:35 am  I’m still holding onto my son and I am watching him very intently. Am I dreaming or do his breaths sound a little irregular? And is it just me or is his chest moving faster and faster? I grab my phone and Google these symptoms just to make sure it’s nothing serious.

Okay, rapid breathing can be a sign of something more serious. One website leads to another and before I know it I am on a page that describes a virus that “is highly contagious and spreads through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes”, can “cause infection of the lungs”, and “affects the heart and the immune system, and can lead to other more serious illnesses.” The reasonable, well-rested version of me would understand that there is no chance my baby has contracted this virus, but don’t forget he is five weeks old and sleep deprivation is making me very irrational right now.

2:59 am  “Pssst….pssssssssst….hey Mark….MARK!  WAKE UP!” I am standing at my husband’s side cradling our child. I tell him our baby has contracted a serious virus. My voice cracks and sounds a little strained when I tell him we have to see a doctor as soon as possible. I am a little frantic and I remind him about the nurse at the hospital who said we could call her any time, day or night.

I would like to tell you there are no tears streaming down my face at this moment but my Mama taught me that nice girls don’t lie. My patient husband opens his eyes long enough to remind me that “Google Diagnosing” is prohibited in our household between the hours of 12 and 6 am, and that our son is just fine. He calmly tells me to put the baby back into his crib and if he is still fussy in the morning we will call our family doctor. He’s right. My husband keeps me grounded. He always knows the right thing to say when I am like this.  He is my rock. I love my husband.

3:34 am  I hate my husband. Look at him lying comfortably in bed. And he’s snoring.

Zzzzzzz SNORT

What the crap!?! Doesn’t he know that this is a POTENTIAL HEALTH EMERGENCY and he should WANT to stay awake with me?

Zzzzzzz SNORT

I hate that sound. It’s so loud! Lord love a duck his snoring just woke the baby. Time to get a bottle, it’s feeding time again.

4:05 am The glow of my phone is calling me back. I’m still awake and I’m holding my sleeping baby (I have to make sure he is breathing) and I need a little retail therapy. My hips are a little wider now, and my pouch is a little pouchier, so maybe I should buy some clothes to fit my new mom bod. I decide to do a little online shopping. I find some nice t-shirts and a couple of soft hoodies.

Add to cart? Yes, please! Click.

Since everything is online and I’m not able to try anything on, I should probably buy those pants in large and extra-large just to be on the safe side. Click. Half an hour later I have to stop shopping because my total is closing in on the two hundred dollar mark. But those boots are cute, so I’ll add those too. Click. I look at all the items in my virtual shopping cart and my mouse hovers over the checkout button. Should I spend that much money?  We did just have an argument about our financial woes. Maybe I should just cancel my order.

Zzzzzzz SNORT.

Click. Thank you for your order.

4:59 am  Must get some sleep. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe my baby doesn’t have a cold after all. He’s been sleeping in my arms this entire time. He’s not fussing and his breathing is just fine. I’ll just put him down in his crib to let him sleep. For the love of Pete, he just woke up. He must be hungry. I’ll get him a bottle because it’s feeding time (again).

5:27 am  I think I am finally ready for some shut-eye. The baby is fed, he’s sleeping in his crib, and the house is quiet. Maybe I can catch a few winks before my toddler wakes up for the day.

6:45 am  A loud noise makes me sit up in bed. From our home office I hear an angry voice shout, “Jennifer McKenzie, get out of bed!  What did you just charge to our credit card?!?”

“THERAPY!” I yell back as my head hits the pillow.


Jennifer McKenzie lives in Elmwood, PEI. She is a Kindergarten teacher who is presently on maternity leave and happy to hang out with her daughter and newborn son. She has agreed to follow her monthly budget so she can stay married to her ever-so-patient husband, Mark.


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