Sorry about my absence…

but THIS happened.

My son, Tener Day, was born on the evening of June 10, 2014 at home in a birthing pool full of love (and some other stuff).

Birth story coming soon! Time is not of the essence right now, as my breasts are currently in VERY high demand and I want to do the experience justice.

For now, here’s a few pics of the little milk-slurper.

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Thanks to all who have given their support to our family during this time. All the love and meals sent our way have made the transition much easier than we (I) imagined!

A family I never knew I wanted

Five years ago, I came fumbling into the world of parenting. It wasn’t intentional and I thought about the possibility of not becoming one. In the end, my child altered my life for the better. If it hadn’t happened by accident, I never would’ve made the conscious choice to have kids.

Having children is restricting in so many ways. Early mornings take a lot of adjustment and I think the lack of sleep is still one of the most mind-numbingly hard things about it all.

But it’s more than that. It’s that feeling that you are no longer steering the ship of your own life because someone else is. And half the time you don’t know where you’re going or even if you’re going. You’re just along for the ride.

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Continue reading at Mamalode…

How DO YOU overcome postpartum struggles? Um…

I’m currently trying to respond to emails and tweets in response to my last HuffPost piece asking me “how I overcame” my postpartum struggles. This is so hard to answer because it’s such a loaded question. It’s really more like a book than a tweet or even a blog post. But I’m pacing around the upstairs of my house wondering what to write back. I don’t want to leave these women hanging. I don’t get emailed for expert advice all that often, after all. 

But I find myself wondering, did I? Overcome it, that is? The way I see it, postpartum changed me completely. It wasn’t exactly a phase that I one day awoke from. It was a momentous shift in my life and one that I could never turn back from. It was growing up, saying painful goodbyes, learning to look forward instead of back. Does that answer the question? Probably not. 

It was accepting that there was hard, and really hard, and excruciating things in front of me that I couldn’t run away from. That there were things that a shot of tequila and a couple of margs couldn’t fix. That there was an entire life dependent on me because I created it and that that was okay. That I could handle it. That it wasn’t beyond me. It was embracing things I was born with but had to uncover and letting them unfold within me. It was knowing that I was the mother, no longer the child and that I was capable and strong. That it was okay if I was misunderstood, that I had bigger fish to fry. That my life was divided in two, that my heart now lived in two places. 

I don’t know if these things are the right answer. I think you all might want something a bit more black and white or easily attainable, as I did. But there isn’t one answer. There is no cut and dry. It took me years to feel happy, good, centered, like I wasn’t failing all the time. But there are some things I couldn’t have done without.

Here are a few things that helped me that you can actually put your finger on.Image

 

  • Yoga. Not as much the physical practice but the learning to breathe, to let go, to be present (even in the rough moments because they are the ones that help us grow). 
  • A supportive spouse. Sometimes I felt I was teaching my husband how to support me and at the same time learning how to support him. If your partner has no paternity leave (ugh) this is really hard because time together to figure out how to give each other breaks is crucial. It took years and my husband switching jobs to be closer to home and a lot of practice to figure this one out. 
  • Realizing that every stage passes quickly and tomorrow the next stress will seem bigger, more important and likely it will be. Now that I have a four year old with more emotional struggles and awareness I find myself thinking, “oh things were so simple when I could pop her in the car and let her fall asleep.” I know they weren’t really so simple but the grass is always greener, eh? 
  • Babywearing for bonding, yes, but also moments of peace. 
  • Accepting and embracing my new normal. 
  • Learning to say no, a lot. “No, I can’t go to dinner. No, you can’t hold the baby. No, we aren’t coming for a visit.” This is a lot harder for some of us than others. The most assertive mothers I know are by far the more content ones. I’m a work in progress. 
  • Believing in yourself. Knowing that you aren’t screwing it all up, though every mother feels this way at some point. But it’s that insecurity that should really tell you how good of a mother you are because caring is the most important thing you can do. 
  • Finding friends, acquaintances, blogs, books, anyone who understands what you’re going through because feeling alone is the worst part. The truth is you are so not alone. Every day mothers struggle. Every day mothers don’t know how to ask for help. Be brave and start the conversation. 

Now I’ll ask you all the same questions. What were your postpartum struggles? And, who/what helped you? How did you move forward and what can you tell other mothers about this sacred time? I’d love to hear from you! There is so much more to be said and written… 

What Postpartum Moms Really Need

When I became a parent at the ripe old age of 24, I was glad to kiss a difficult pregnancy goodbye and embrace the joys of new motherhood. But while the joys were many, so were the challenges. I thought I had been adequately prepared to reach a whole new level of sleeplessness, to feed someone from my own body more than I fed myself, to answer every beck and call and do it effortlessly.

Now the word “prepared” seems laughable to use in the context of becoming a parent — literally, becoming a whole new version of yourself, shedding your old skin and giving birth to the mother in you from the moment you give birth to your child. There is no way to prepare for motherhood and I wish I’d known that. But I also wish I’d known how to ask for help.

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Continue reading at HuffPost… 

7 Reasons Pregnant Women Make Terrible Party Guests

I’ll be the first one to admit that I am the worst kind of pregnant woman there is. For starters, I get sick to the point of wishing I was dead and find myself spewing complaints about the entire magical process at every opportunity. At the same time, I’m completely awestruck by pregnancy and birth and can’t seem to stop talking about placentas and colostrum and the awesomeness that is the female body. My husband is a lucky man, I know.

Thankfully for everyone else, I also become an anti-social sloth who would prefer to binge-watch medical dramas for the better part of a year to offset the acute anxiety of baby-making than all of the above. While some women may glow and ooze prenatal perkiness, I sweat. I wretch. I complain and meticulously count down the days until my belly returns to being a flabby sack of flesh. And then, I forget to buy groceries or make dinner and I’m all “Teehee, oops! Honey, can you pick something up?”

 

Continue reading at HuffPost… 

20 Reasons I’m Not a Cool Mom

Before I was a mom, I was convinced I’d be a cool one. I suppose I had big aspirations to not sweat the small stuff, wear cute outfits and be fun pretty much all of the time. But what I didn’t realize was that some of the small stuff is actually bigger than I thought when it comes to molding tiny humans. And some of the seemingly fun stuff is not all that fun. At this point in my parental journey, I don’t even know what it means to be a “cool mom,” and I’d certainly never attempt to try and be one. It seems far too… problematic. Though my priorities as a parent are constantly evolving as our family does, being laid-back or “cool” will likely never be near the top of my list.

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Here are 20 reasons (to name a few) why I’m so not a cool mom:

1. I don’t do different dinners for picky eaters. You are eating what we are having or nothing at all. Really big breakfasts are always an option.

Continue reading at HuffPost… 

How can I get my kids to eat their veggies?

If your kids willingly eat their veggies, kudos to you. But let’s get real; Most of us aren’t raising a posse of natural born broccoli-biters like the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world. For most families, maybe there are a few “safe” vegetables. You know, the ones you can serve without having them fly at your head, but the rest is really a toss-up.

Even if we make an honest effort to have a variety of healthy food on the table most nights, kids aren’t always the easiest bunch to please. And it doesn’t help that when they decide they actually do like something one week, it could be totally out of the question the next. It’s incredibly frustrating, but it happens to the best of us.

If you’re in major freakout mode about the nutrition your child isn’t getting, stay calm. All is not lost. Instead of slamming your head against the kitchen table night after night, try some of these surefire ways to get them to eat their veggies, no questions asked (except maybe “can I have seconds?”).

Continue reading at Scary Mommy… 

The gut-wrenching anxiety of growing your family

There are so many things to worry about as a parent. I sometimes feel as if I’m struggling with a new one each and every day and sometimes I wonder if this new kid will just push me over the edge. Like, will I just give up all together and say “I can’t take it anymore! You kids have to fend for yourselves! Pour me another.”

Probably not. But I really don’t want to let worry get me down either. It’s one of those things about parenting that I didn’t fully expect- how much I’d worry, how much I’d care, the sleep I’d lose over what is going on in my daughter’s life or what I am perceiving at that point in time.

I used to think having an infant, a baby, was the hardest part and once I got through that everything would be gravy. Those times are surely filled with anxiety and adjustment and sleeplessness. But the older my daughter gets, the more emotional needs she has and I often find myself wondering if I’m handling them appropriately. And that, to me, is harder in a lot of ways.

Did I say the right thing? Did I help her in a positive way? Did I give her enough space to let her figure it out (whatever it is)? Did she get her feelings hurt? Does she feel heard? How will she adjust to her new sibling? Will there be enough of me to go around? Am I doing it all wrong?

Sometimes I feel stretched so thin with one kid. How can I possibly have enough love and compassion and concern for a whole other being? I know that I will. I know I will find it, that it will be yet another soul-wrenching, heart-wrenching turning point in my life, literally bringing this new person into creation, making them from scratch and then having no choice but to give a shit about them every day for the rest of their life. I know that.

I know I will step up because motherhood forces you to over and over again. But this fear is partially why I kept my family the way it was for four years. And now here it is. In my body and almost in our lives forever and ever.

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But I don’t know this person yet. He’s not totally real to me even when he pushes on my ribs so hard it wakes me from a deep sleep or stretches out so wide across my torso I feel like my entire body has been hijacked. Like there’s no way he’s only 4.25 lbs and the size of a pineapple like the BabyBump emails say. He’s everywhere. And soon he will be here.

It’s so hard to imagine but for a mother when it comes it’s like meeting someone you’ve always known; that’s been with you your whole life. For my daughter, it might not feel the same. It might feel like a betrayal, a jealousy she’s never known, sadness, anger, and yes, hopefully, love. So many big feelings for such a small person. And while I know it’s “normal” it’s also still very frightening because it’s very, very real and it will change us all.

I know it will make her a better person, it will shape her life in a lot of ways and help her to grow. To move into that role of big sister, to learn to be mama’s helper and one of two, instead of our one and only. But if I said there was no fear, only joy, I’d be lying.

Making a family is totally worth it. Watching love grow where it needs to grow is amazing. I’ve done it once before and I have no regrets. But it’s also scary as hell because nothing will ever be the same. And you have to learn to believe good things will come, to grow and simply, to breathe.

On imaginary bunnies and other lies we tell

When you’re a parent, holidays mean a lot more than eggnog and bloody marys all day. Don’t get me wrong, they can mean that, too. But they also mean one thing for sure- that you will most definitely lie your ass off to your kids for the sake of holiday spirit. Or tradition. Or some other reason. I’m really not quite clear on it yet.

This past weekend was Easter and though I didn’t go all out giving gifts or hiding eggs everywhere or making bunny crafts (don’t worry the obscene number of grandparents and great-grandparents my daughter has tend to take care of all that anyway) I did get her a good old chocolate Easter bunny who appeared in her basket Sunday morning. (Okay, so it was some time around 10 am when she came up from watching cartoons and I remembered it was Easter and popped it on the kitchen table with a handful of plastic grass. Give me a break, I’m more and more pregnant all the time).

So she walked in and I casually said, “oh looks like the Easter bunny left you a little something.” She was ecstatic and joyous and carried the chocolate bunny around like she had just won first prize in a dawdling contest (or something else my daughter would equally rock at). But it wasn’t long before her questions started rolling in. She wanted to know how the Easter bunny got into our house, where he got the green plastic grass and also how he made it. She asked why he brought it to her in the first place and who else was he going around giving chocolate bunnies to and she also seemed to find it very unfair that he had left nothing for her father and I. Though she got over feeling sorry for us quickly when she realized we had already eaten half the reeses peanut butter cups and peanut m&m’s her grandfather gave her. Okay, fine. I ate them.

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I answered her questions to the best of my ability, trying to keep it a bit vague and also not blurt out “it’s all a lie! We’re lying to you, there’s no bunny! Get with the program!” But the questions kept coming. She didn’t want to let me off the hook. She was too intrigued by this mysterious bunny going into people’s homes and leaving chocolate because let’s face it- that’s pretty freaking weird and also mildly terrifying, no?

The same was true at Christmas this past year, the first year she even really bothered paying much attention to the whole Santa thing. Like, what the hell was this guy’s deal and how do reindeer fly and are you really, really sure about all this? Like “for real? Not really, though, right?” or “Let me get this straight…” was how she liked to put it.

If I’m being honest (ha) the whole thing is totally weird to me and I don’t know why I keep up with these lies. My daughter has enough imagination to fuel the world without me making up freaky bunnies and bearded men. I kind of can’t wait until the day (which at this rate, I’m guessing is rapidly approaching) when I can say, “yeah… I’m the Easter bunny. And Santa. And your goldfish did not turn into a mermaid when we flushed him down the toilet. He’s dead as a doornail but his life was complete and utter crap swimming around in that mucky water that I never bothered to clean so, it’s all good. But, please don’t hate me.”

10 Reasons I’m planning a natural birth that have nothing to do with “something to prove”

Let me begin by saying I don’t care what kind of birth anyone else in the whole wide world has. I don’t care if a woman plans for an epidural or ends up getting one when the pain is more than she believes she can take. I don’t care if she gets induced or plans her c-section months in advance. I don’t care if her birth experience is a series of interventions (as long as everyone comes out safe in the end). Her body, her prerogative. Right? Right. 

I do however believe that the way we birth is a choice and in recent years that choice has been taken away from us in an often frightening and forceful way. But as long a woman’s choices are informed and not being forced upon her then it’s really no one’s business but her own what kind of birth she has. Hopefully, that much we can agree on. 

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Me and Pipes, Spring 2010

But with that being said, people these days, specifically women, really don’t seem to like the idea of unmedicated or “natural” birth as we’ve come to call it. Mention you are planning one and you will no doubt be met with eyerolls and “what if”s and “what are you trying to prove”s? Or simply “why?” Or even the forceful “why in God’s name would you ever want to experience that kind of pain!? Are you some kind of martyr?”

Having an unmedicated birth can be about a lot more than just trying to prove to the world how strong you are. You grew a human so we already know that anyway. There are all kinds of reasons that birth remains important to many women and we shouldn’t feel badly about that. Of all the things we are taught to feel badly about as women, this really, really should not be one of them. 

Here are ten reasons why I’m planning a natural birth that have nothing to do with something to prove.  

1. Because I want to feel my baby entering the world. Yes, I want to feel it and not because I’m a martyr but because, well, how is that not an incredible thing to feel? It’s a once or twice or maybe three times in a lifetime chance and as long as nature intends, I’m going to take it.

2. Because having a baby is nothing like going to the dentist. It’s not the same as getting a root-canal without being numb (as I’ve heard many argue). It’s just not because where are the perks to that!? I pretty much avoid going to the dentist (when I can) but birth on the other hand, I’m looking forward to. And I’ve done it once before and it basically sucked altogether so that’s saying something.

3. Because I believe the experience has value and is one that every woman should get the opportunity to experience (if she wants it). I believe the experience can be life-changing and I’m a sucker for feeling (and writing about) the real, painfully beautiful parts of life.

4. Pure curiosity. I don’t know about anyone else but unmedicated birth is a huge point of curiosity in my life. It’s something women and mammals have done for centuries and yet it evaded me once, multiplying my intrigue by about a million.

5. Because needles in my spine and other interventions take longer to heal from, both physically and emotionally. The battle scars from my first birth were all from the interventions that occurred, not from the natural course of things. Pain in my back where the epidural went in for about two years, an unnecessary episiotomy that took months to heal properly, not to mention feelings of distrust towards medical professionals who seem to undermine women’s choices (and sometimes health) for the sake of their own agenda.

6. To create the ultimate bonding experience with my child. To feel the oxytocin running through me, the hormone rush, the body’s natural response to childbirth. To not be numb to those things like I was once before. To have that “golden hour” with my offspring to begin our journey together.

7. Because at the heart of it, I’m not really afraid of birth. I have nerves about the pain of birth, yes but most of that comes from the lack of control I had during my first birth. I wasn’t scared before that and so I know that is where my fear comes from. When I really look deep down, I have far more confidence about birth than I do fear.

8. Because I was built for it. I can read all the books that Amazon has to offer, but when it comes down to it, my body knows so much more about birth than my brain and it always will. It has literally been preparing for it since before I was born. I don’t doubt what it can do when nature takes it’s course.

9. Because pain is beauty. I believe that sometimes we have to go through difficult things in life to reap the rewards.

10. Because it just feels right. In my head, in my heart and in my body (here’s hoping). They might not agree on much, but they’re all aligned on this one.