On tap today we’ve got the gigglelicious Paige Kellerman — blogger from There’s More Where That Came From , chronic Facebook status-updater and inveterate Tweeter. Paige says she “spends her time writing funny stories, taking care of kids, mixing the perfect gin-and-tonic and figuring out how to get people to stop calling her That Home-Schooled Girl.” Somehow between all that and birthing twins (a boy and girl, 3), and another boy (9 months old), she managed to write the pregnancy “momoir” At Least My Belly Hides My Cankles: Mostly-True Tales of An Impending Miracle published earlier this week by Amazon. She chatted with Norine about craving crazy foods, dreaming of sleep, loving The Big Bang Theory and wrangling those pesky cankles.
What a hilarious book title! I laughed through the chapter where the cankles — aka super-swollen ankles — attacked. Did you finally beat them back?
Thank you so much! A wild cankle is actually quite vicious and should be approached with extreme caution. The set I had while pregnant with the twins was extremely hostile and growled at me occasionally. They didn’t deflate until two weeks after I gave birth. No one tells you that part.
Your debut book is the story of your pregnancy. What inspired you to write it? Obviously, you were inspired by being pregnant. But lots of women get pregnant and don’t “birth” a book and a baby … or in your case, two babies. Most moms are happy enough just to get the kids fed and diapered and napping! What drove you to add “write a book” to your To Do list after your twins were born?
This is almost a love letter to the entire insane-yet-awesome experience that is pregnancy. Shortly after the twins were born, I remember sitting on the couch and thinking that no one really told me about just how hormonal a pregnant woman gets, or that morning sickness is really an all-day hangover. I decided then and there to write something that said, “It’s ok to weep uncontrollably in the shower after you have a baby.”
There are jokes and zingers aplenty in your book. Were you always considered “the funny one” in your family and among your friends? Or did pregnancy and motherhood bring out your inner snarkster?
I’m the oldest of ten kids, so growing up, I was viewed more as the responsible one. But I’ve always loved making people laugh, so among my friends, I think I got slapped with that label pretty early on. It’s probably why none of them took me seriously when I said I was writing a book.
Lots of pregnant women are astounded by the wholly inappropriate things complete strangers say to them. Did you encounter any of that? What was the most atrocious comment you heard?
There’s something about pregnant women that tends to turn people’s internal filters “Off” when they should clearly be “On.” For instance, if you spot a woman who’s having trouble fitting through a doorway, the appropriate comment is not, “Oh my gosh, you are so big.” Instead, you get a crowbar and some chocolate, and help a sister out.
Luckily, people weren’t too terribly insensitive while I was pregnant. But, as I talk about in the book, people did point out how huge my ankles were. One guy in my office asked another co-worker whether I was having one baby or two because I was “so big.”
What’s the one thing you wish someone had warned you about pregnancy/motherhood?
That, after you have the babies, they turn three and start climbing your cabinets. Also, that sleeping while pregnant can be a lot more difficult than some people make it out to be. By the time I was seven months along, I was so big, I could only sleep sitting upright on our couch. That poor, poor couch. After nine months, my husband was convinced I’d run away and a squatter had taken up residence in the living room.
What were you surprised that you liked about pregnancy?
The food. Food is glorious when you’re pregnant. Everything tastes better.
True story. I had the craziest cravings for foods I’d never eaten before or since — pudding, fried chicken, sunny-side-up eggs. I actually started my pregnancy vegan, but midway into my first trimester I was eating ribs at Tony Roma’s.
I craved cereal and grilled cheese and tomato soup. Not together though. I could eat those things at any point in the day.
I ate everything that wasn’t shoved down the disposal; if it was in the trash, I probably would have dug it back out and scarfed it down. When I was hungry, I was crazy hungry. I still remember the stack of pancakes I ordered from room service at 2 am one night while on vacation. There was nothing I wouldn’t eat.
The one thing I couldn’t stand was chicken. I love Buffalo Wild Wings so much, but, at some random moment in my first trimester, even the thought of chicken was horrific. Otherwise, I reveled in the madness that is satisfying a food craving … until they told me I had diabetes. Yay.
My doctor worried I had gestational diabetes too. Turned out I didn’t, but I still had to go through the glucose tolerance test to determine that. That is a particularly tortuous test because you can’t eat before doing it. And a pregnant gal always wants to eat. I ended up passing out in the lab waiting room when my blood sugar dropped too low. That certainly makes everyone hop to! Pregnant lady down!
I managed to make it through my glucose tests, but there were a couple times when I waited too long to eat, and I thought I was going to pass out. I remember attacking a bagel at the last possible moment and feeling like someone who just barely crossed the finish line of some sort of strange race. Diabetes and I are not friends.
What do you love about motherhood?
If there’s any better feeling than having your newborn fall asleep on your chest while you have your morning coffee, I have yet to find it.
What were you most disgusted by? Most delighted by?
Getting my ankles back delighted me to no end. As far as disgusting goes … postpartum bleeding. Enough said.
Do you ever get any sleep?
No. I run purely on Diet Coke. I write sonnets about what I think sleep might feel like.
What’s it really like to have three kids under five? How do you stay sane since they’ve got you outnumbered?
All I know is, if I didn’t blog, I wouldn’t remember the last few years. It’s been a whirlwind. They’re all pretty darn cute, but they do occasionally make me wonder whether I’d like a single padded cell or a double to accommodate my husband too.
Have you jumped on the attachment parenting bandwagon? It seems like these days everyone’s co-sleeping and breastfeeding their kids through middle school.
As much as I ardently admire that bandwagon, I’ve never jumped on. Because of diabetes complications, I was too sick to take care of them for the first four days after they were born, so my babies were bottle-fed. And the only co-sleeping we’ve ever done is when the twins learned how to get out of bed, break into our room and shove me to the middle of the bed at 3 am.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Finishing the first draft of anything is fairly exhilarating for me. Even though the editing hasn’t started yet, having a complete body of work already etched out gives me a sense of accomplishment. Still, writer’s block frustrates me. I’ve been known to slam my coffee cup down dramatically and yell at the cat about being a frustrated artist.
How do you make time to write when you’ve got three children to care for?
It’s a balancing act, for sure. And the crazy got upped a little after we had our third baby last September. Something’s got to give, and it’s usually TV. Before I was writing on a regular basis, I watched two-to-four hours of TV a night after the kids went to bed. It’s amazing what you can get done with that time. Some nights though I’ll collapse and just watch The Big Bang Theory until midnight.
I’m with you! I adore The Big Bang Theory!
I’m seriously in love with The Big Bang Theory. There are very few shows that can make me laugh all the way through, and the writing on this one is impeccable. I don’t have a favorite episode, but what’s not to love? The cast? Sheldon’s inability to comprehend sarcasm? The smoking monkey? All fantastic.
Is there a follow-up book in the works?
There is! As soon as Cankles comes out, I’m right back at work on the next installment, The Beer’s Folded and the Laundry’s Cold. It’s about my transition from cubicle to housewife and how to fake it until you make it. In my case, I’m still faking it.
You self-published At Least My Belly Hides My Cankles. Which platform did you go with?
I published with Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle platforms, and also with Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press. I’ve been extremely happy with the services. But I had my manuscript professionally edited, and an extremely talented person designed my cover. I also had the manuscript professionally formatted because I’m technologically challenged.
Any advice for other mom bloggers who want to write their own books?
Just sit down and do it. Don’t worry about the time it takes. You don’t have to get it all done in a month. I started blogging a couple of months after the twins were born in 2010. I posted sporadically for a year before I got more serious about writing, and then started my book while posting more regularly. Sometimes I would only write a page a day; other times it was a paragraph. But slowly I found my voice. Work consistently, and you’ll have a manuscript. I worked on Cankles for two years before I did anything with it. Now here I am … and the crowd goes wild.
Yes, it does. Any else you’d like to add?
Invest in those giant, two-pound tubs of coffee. I haven’t had a clear thought without that stuff since 2010.