The Lies I Tell

My kids love hearing all about how “when they were babies”.  They often ask at bedtime for me to tell them the story of the day they were born. I snuggle up next to them and tell them each a beautiful story of how one day, after being in my tummy for a long time, they said “It’s time to come out!” and started kicking my belly.  Mommy & daddy headed to the hospital and the doctor took them out and we all were so happy! They both were pink round chunky little turkeys and they giggled as soon as we saw them.  Then, they cuddled up next to us for the rest of the day and cooed and smiled as all of our family came to meet them for the first time.   They were perfect and the cutest little things I had ever seen.  I tell them both that each day they were brought into this world were both the best day of my life.  The thing is, the only good thing that actually happened on either of those days for me was that we added them to our family. Each time I tell this story, I’m telling them a long, concocted LIE.  Truth be told, I love the fact that they were born, but I hate both of the days that they entered this world.

My youngest child turned three this week. At thirteen months apart, I’m now living with a full fledged three and four year old. They aren’t toddlers anymore, they aren’t babies. They’re preschoolers. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Their birthdays are always a mix of emotions for me; happy to celebrate a milestone for them and yet both their births were both such terrifying experiences  for me that I actually ended up having a panic attack the morning of my now three year old’s birthday. I started thinking what exactly was going on at this moment three years ago and as I then thought about my experience giving birth to my four year old (which was equally as chilling). I could feel my chest start to constrict and my body become clammy.  My breathing became short little breaths and my eyes were getting blurry. Sobbing, I called my mother, who helped me calm down.

I’ve written about this before, but the long and short of it is that  my first child was two weeks late.  After 31 hours of labor, I ended up with a horrendous emergency c-section.  My first act towards my sweet newborn baby was to push him away my because I was in the midst of the mother load of all panic attacks imaginable on the operating table. Instead of giving him a kiss, I literally pushed him away.  My experience resulted in me being drugged up for the entire first day he was born. He ended up in the NICU 24 hours later, due to irregular breathing.  In retrospect, I was so drugged up that first day that I realized I didn’t even attempt to feed him.  I had no maternal instincts. I didn’t even want to hold him, out of fear I’d drop him.  This fat 10 pound baby was probably starving, which caused him to hyperventilate. I failed him.  I waived my right as a post- op patient and joined my first baby in the NICU; sleeping in a chair in his room while recovering from major surgery and an exhausting and harrowing few days.

My husband and I were inexperienced and it’s so easy now to say what we should have done. We should have asked the nurses to feed him some formula, we should have had me transported separately to the hospital where the NICU was so that I was being taken care of as well as he. We should have never let this happen.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

With my second, the delivery went surprisingly well, but what followed did not. I couldn’t see over the sheet they put between mother and baby, but I could see my husband’s ashen face. My child was blue, the color of the summer sky before a torrential rainstorm begins. He was not healthy and he wasn’t crying. He wasn’t a chunky, pink fat baby. He was struggling to stay alive.  Something was very, very wrong.

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He was later diagnosed with a genetic issue: Respiratory Distress Disorder. Simply, if you can imagine blowing up a balloon, it’s tough at first, but then gets easier the bigger the balloon gets. He was born without the hormone that covers the lungs to help them expand. He was fighting to breathe, and we are lucky he didn’t end up with brain damage due to lack of oxygen. He was whisked out of the operating room before I could see him.  Meanwhile, I was in the midst of massive hemorrhaging. I had five nurses attending to me in recovery and I didn’t care… all I could think about was my baby who I couldn’t see or even help.

I was questioned humiliating questions by the NICU rep for the hospital in front of my husband, mother and mother in law ( while still hemorrhaging and basically spread eagle in my hospital bed.

  • Did I engage in illicit drugs during my pregnancy?
  • Did I smoke cigarettes while pregnant?
  • Did I drink alcohol while pregnant?

The answers were all  NO, but I could read between the lines : What did I do to cause this?  The weight of the guilt I felt was like holding up a 1,000lb rock above my head.  I couldn’t help it.   The first time I saw my sweet little baby, he was in a contraption that looked like a glass coffin to transfer him to the NICU.  He was sedated and all I could do was reach my hand into a little hole in this glass coffin and tell him I loved him.  It was four days before I was able to hold that precious peanut. These four days felt like four lifetimes.

Life is crazy. Life is hard. I am so thankful that they are both thriving, healthy children now, and I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I know people that may have had the perfect delivery but ended up with a child much more seriously sick than mine. I know people who have watched a child of theirs go through pediatric cancer treatments. In no way am I comparing my experience to anyone else’s, but mine is all I know. My story is all I can tell.

I selfishly can’t help but feel like I got handed the short stick both times. I was robbed of the first few weeks of my child’s life. I have no pictures of their first few moments. I have no happy pictures of us as a family on either day.  I have very few happy memories of their birthdays.  I wasn’t given the opportunity to create an immediate bond and connection with either child, and both experiences were so intense that four years later, I’m still suffering from PTSD.  I’m angry because this has partly effected our plans for any future children. I’m angry that I missed out on so much.  I’m angry that things were so much harder than I had ever planned on them being.  I’m angry over the amount of helplessness I felt in both situations. I’m angry with myself for feeling any of this at all.

I still Care

I’m hoping that one of these days, I’ll have told them each my fake version of the day they were born so many times that it will start to slowly sink into my brain; memories of the truth washed away, only to be replaced with my fairy tale that I have made up.  I lie and tell myself time heals all wounds, and one day, this will all be a distant memory.  I can only hope that this is true.

stronger

Who Is Actually In Charge?

My three-year old very seriously told me this morning that he essentially could live on his own with his two-year old brother, if I’d only just let him.

I woke up to a button nose covered in frosting whispering in my ear “We just ate alllllll of the cupcakes except for one.”  He was quite impressed with himself and said it as if he was boasting.  “Did you hear what he just said??” I whined to my husband as I sheepishly rolled over and got out of bed.  Once in the kitchen, I realized that my button nosed child had not been lying. He and his two-year old brother had, in fact eaten all of the cupcakes I had pushed back way on the counter, covered up inside a plastic grocery bag.  A chair was pushed up against the  kitchen counter and before my eyes laid the practically empty cupcake container and a frosting covered pair of kitchen shears and chopped up Valentine’s Day construction paper hearts.

cupcakes

I was pissed. I am not a “health nut” by any means, but I make a point of not having any cookies, or anything too sugar filled around my house for the kids to snack on.  I offer fruit, cheese or crackers as snacks for the most part.  Do you want to know the truth? Yes, I care about their health, their teeth and their eating habits; but mainly, it is for my own sanity. They are already maniacs sober… add some sugar to the mix and I have two hyped up Tasmanian Devils. It had been Valentine’s Day so when I saw the mini cupcakes at the grocery store earlier in the week, I decided to spoil them and put one in their lunchbox a treat. BAD DECISION.

I didn’t even yell.  We all sat down and had an impromptu family meeting. I explained that they had broken a few rules:

  1. They knew those cupcakes were off-limits. I had told them that the evening prior.
  2. They knew that they aren’t allowed to reach up onto the kitchen counters; the stove could be on, there could be knives out, or something could fall on them.
  3. They knew they are absolutely not allowed to use “grown-up” scissors.

I winced as I reminded them that Mommy & Daddy were IN CHARGE, not them. I always feel ridiculous saying this.  Margaret Thatcher said “Being powerful is like being a lady.  If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”  We obviously weren’t.

Once I was done lecturing, my three-year old piped up and very seriously took the stage:

“I have a problem solving solution. If you buy us some kid scissors, we wouldn’t have to use the grown up ones” (OK kid, good point).  “Annnnnd if you buy us a kitchen, we could put it in my room and then we don’t have to eat all your food because we would have our own.” (Ummmm, OK….) He continued… “AND you can buy the kitchen on a day we don’t have school so we can pick it out. AND if you buy us a house, we can put the house in my room, put the kitchen in the house and use our kid scissors in there.” His little brother had little to add but nodded his head enthusiastically agreeing. My husband and I just looked at each other trying not to laugh.  Essentially, if we bought them all this stuff, they could just live on their own, in his room, without our help and the could eat their own cupcakes (presumably that we buy them, because we bought the kitchen and the house, right?) anytime they wanted and cut up paper all night with their mini scissors, in the little house that they live in. All I could think of was Shit, this parenting thing is hard.

This is Hard. 

That’s what I was thinking during labor. When my babies were in the NICU. When I was unsuccessfully trying to breastfeed. When I had a colicky baby who screamed all day. When I was barely surviving on 3 hours of sleep during those newborn weeks and then living on 2-4 hours of sleep back at work full-time. When my babies became mobile and suddenly the house appeared to be filled with danger at every turn. When my social life dwindled down to nothing because I was too tired to do anything and too many people at home needed me. While I sat through toddler speech therapy, while I waited for my baby to come out of surgery, read fifteen bedtime stories in a row and when I kissed each boo boo; I thought This Is Hard. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on this parenting thing, each child gets a little bit older, and the next stage presents me with a different challenge.

As soon as that fat little bundle of baby squish pops out, it is numero uno. You want to take a nap? Nope, baby is hungry again. You’d like to shower alone? Nope, your cling on two-year old needs to be in there with you, or he’s going to die. They each have their own little personality, which surprisingly starts to show up pretty early on. Intrinsically, they run the show.

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I feel like right now at this stage of the game, I am simultaneously running a marathon combined with some sort of insane obstacle course; all while trying to dodge someone who has a BB gun and spectacular aim.

Our family is composed of a concoction of what I can only describe as bonkers right now. Jerry Seinfeld hit the nail on the head when he said “Having a two-year old is like having a blender without a lid”. Throw in a Threenager, which, in case you didn’t know is described as “A person of the age of 3, who possesses the attitude, demeanor and general angst of a teenager”, add two tired parents who work full-time and you get US… the typical American family.

My two are so close in age and now almost the same height that there is not one time that I’m  asked if they are twins when I take them out in public together.  I always smile and say “No, but Almost Irish Twins” At thirteen months apart, it’s always been difficult to handle them because one was always a baby while the other one toddled around; both with different needs. Now, we’ve hit a distinct point where it’s a whole different ball game. Similar in size, they can swap clothes, punches and hugs.  They egg each other on and it’s become us vs. them.  Emotions run high in the house. In the course of 10 minutes, there could be screaming, laughing, crying, hugs, hitting, time outs, smiles and of course, lots of farts (which are hilarrrrrrrrious).

Let me give you a quick breakdown:

Symptoms of The Terrible Twos Include:

  • A lot of “I do it myself!” To the point where they will actually undo what was just done by you so they can do it themselves. “Their way” is always painfully slow and repetitive.  A tremendous amount of patience is required by the parent. (Pass the wine, please).
  • Potty training that doesn’t always go the way you want it to.  Tonight, my two-year old refused to wear anything but underwear, but also refused to use the toilet. To the point of fighting me when I brought him into the bathroom, or gave up and tried to just put a diaper on him.  (He kept the underwear on and I’ve got a load of laundry going right now if you are wondering how that turned out)
  • Screaming “You’re blocking the TV!” as you are literally in the middle of picking up their toys from the floor.
  • Occasional coloring on the wall, table and anything that isn’t paper.
  • Complete meltdowns over the most minute things.  Things to meltdown about may include but are not subject to “He put his socks on before I did!”, “There is a commercial on!”, “He took that piece of food I threw on the floor 10 minutes ago and said I didn’t want!”

How to know when you have a Threenager:

  • They honestly think they are smarter than you are.
  • They’re always one step ahead of you.  They are cunning, conniving and smart.
  • They remember something you said four months ago and try to hold you to it.
  • They sulk when they don’t get their way,need their “alone time”, and demand their “privacy”.
  • They are expert negotiators.
  • They have enough verbal capacity to try to convince you to do something for them, using logic.  It’s like being in a preschool court room everyday.
  • They know how to use an iphone or ipad better than the average adult.

The unique combination of having both personalities in the house at the same time has proven harder than all of the stages that has come before this.  The sleepless nights, the crying babies, the breastfeeding; and yet, I intrinsically know that it is only going to get more difficult from here.  For the time being, I’m going to try to focus on the positive- the times they are getting along and the special and unbreakable bond they are creating with each other.  My husband and I will survive… we’re just going to have to make sure our liquor cabinet is stocked to be able to get through it all.

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Shame On Us: The Impossible Journey of a Working Mother

Let me tell you a story. A story that has me so angry on so many levels that I am not sure I’m going to be able to get this out without writing expletives on every other line, but I’ll try.

Meet Julia. Julia worked her ass off to put herself through business school. She took out a massive amount of student loans and commuted to Boston from her home, 60 miles south, in Rhode Island, every day for her first job.

Her first job was tough. She worked for a Hedge Fund company and the hours were long and the work was intense. She worked harder than she ever had before to prove herself and gave them her all. Her entire first year out of school was spent schlepping around the country for work. Practically living in airports, she was lucky she was dating a nice guy who understood her insane hours. Julia and Tom eventually got married and it took her two years before she realized that her current place of employment wasn’t jiving with her family plans. 

“You Can’t Have a Family” was practically written in their company handbook. Maybe not in ink, but it was made pretty clear by their expectations and the hours she was required to work. As she took a quick look around at the perpetually single and happily married but child-less co-workers who surrounded her, she knew that if she wanted to have children, she would need to change firms.

Julia moved onto greener pastures and found the perfect fit- a firm that was comprised of all women. It was everything she had been looking for: a place filled with strong working women, moms and wives who understood the daily struggle it is to be a woman in a man’s world. When she got pregnant shortly after starting there, they congratulated her and threw her an office baby shower. As her pregnancy progressed and her doctor appointments became more frequent, they understood; they too had been there at one time. She managed to fit her appointments in and made it through the calendar year without one sick day. Julia felt lucky to work in such a great working environment. She continued to pull her weight as a productive member of the team and earned the highest bonus in the company, while simultaneously preparing her home to welcome her much anticipated little bundle of joy. 

 She never slowed down and continued to work hard, even raking in one of the company’s biggest clients the week prior to her due date. Julia fully recognized that she was one of the lucky ones when she began her twelve week paid maternity leave when baby boy  arrived two days early.

Dylan was beautiful, even more perfect than Julia had imagined him being. Julia and Tom spent her maternity leave soaking up squishy baby cuddles and visiting local daycares. They enrolled Dylan in one of the top daycares in their area and Julia prepared to return to work. Twelve weeks flew by in a blink of an eye.

Julia had been back at work for two weeks before she had found herself in the same shoes as many other parents: exhausted from going back to work, continuously pumping and getting little to no sleep. Her immune system was down and she had caught a cold. She shipped Dylan off to her parents and told her boss that she would work from home. By Tuesday afternoon, she had spiked 102 fever and was diagnosed with strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. Julia was forced to take another sick day on Wednesday. She had been back at work for three weeks and had taken 2 sick days back to back , with one day working from home. 

Julia often worked from home prior to having the baby, but somehow, this time was different. Her phone didn’t ring once. No one from her office emailed her. Communication went dead. They were icing her out. Still sick as a dog Thursday morning, she knew something was up and she was going to have to go in to the office.

“We see that you are struggling Julia, and we want to help you out. We love you and we want to make you shine, but you are having a hard time and you are making yourself sick.” Julia’s boss explained, feigning a concerned tone. “We would like you to move to working as a consultant per diem. We have certain expectations of you now that you are mom, and simply put, you aren’t meeting them.”

“I wish someone did this for me, its sooo hard being a working mom. You know how much we love you, and we are doing this for you.” Some bitch, (obviously meant to be in the meeting as a witness) chirped. No one mentioned the fact that they had hired someone else while Julia was on maternity leave. “You will see this move as a gift, not as a punishment.”

“Yes,” Her boss interrupted, “I know this will be a big pay cut, but since you earned such a big raise last year, going per diem shouldn’t effect you so much. Think of all the money you will be saving on daycare now, too! We are doing you a favor.”

For Fuck’s Sake. Were these women for real? Had Julia had a streak of bad luck? Yes. She most certainly had, but she hadn’t even been back at work for 3 full weeks! Not only were they demoting her, but they were selling it to her like they were doing her a fucking favor. Shame on them. Julia sat there in silence, with a pounding headache and a sore throat, as she listened to these women feed her line after line of bullshit. 

Julia had a perfect record working in this company up until this point, and the fact that they escalated things so quickly after her coming back seems a little more than unfair. I have more issue with the fact that they pretended this was in her best interest than the actual fact that they demoted her. They planted the seed in her head that not only was she failing as a new mother, but also as a working mother. If she wasn’t able to handle one baby and work, how was she ever going to think about adding any additional children to her family? Her confidence immediately  plummeted the more they continued to talk. She left the meeting feeling emotionally exhausted, defeated, and like a piece of shit. Her self worth, both as a mother and a working woman had been attacked, and her psyche had been severely screwed with.

I’m all for gender equality, and I am all for having a solid work ethic and what is expected from employees in a professional setting.  All that being said, I question if this conversation would have occurred at all if Julia was a man. I severely doubt it. I have heard story after story of working women being considered a sub-par employee once they have children. I have seen it and lived it. I’ll admit it; It’s almost impossible to give 100% at work and at home. I spend the most time I can during work hours with clients, only to race to pick up my children from pre-school and daycare, make dinner, give baths, read books, cuddle and put them to bed.  Once I pickup the house after everyone has gone to bed, I pull out my lap top and get BACK to work. Ask any of my clients or co-workers. They’ve received an email or finalized documents at 12:35am in the morning from me.

The chips are stacked against us women. I’m not a man-hater, I’m just stating the facts. If Julia was a man, she wouldn’t have been on maternity leave in the first place. This is something that no one can control. Men are simply not equipped by nature to give birth, and therefore, this honor falls on our shoulders. 

 If Julia was a man, she would have not only been the target of such an attack, but I also firmly believe that if the bosses in this scenario were men, such personal issues wouldn’t have been brought into what should have been a business conversation in the first place. 

Fine, you don’t think I’m doing the job I should be? Demote me. Fire me, even. That’s fair. Don’t insult me by telling me you care about me and are doing me a favor. Why do women always feel the need to bring personal issues into business related material?

So, on some level, this story is made worse for me because her bosses are fucking women. They should know better. They should know that it takes some time for adjustment going back to work after having a baby, and getting sick is especially something that you cannot control. 

Julia is a perfect example of all that is wrong with the way the United States views new mothers and maternity leave. I have discussed the Glass Ceiling in previous posts, and this is a prime example of why it is virtually impossible for mothers to excel in the workplace. Working and managing a family, especially living with a newborn is not easy. Julia was set up to fail from the moment her FLMA leave time expired. 12 weeks is not enough time to spend at home with your new baby and adjust to your new “normal”. At 12 weeks old, Dylan had just started to wake up from his “newborn slumber” and was starting to become pretty fun as he became aware of the world around him. He was beginning to respond to Julia and Tom and his social smiles were more frequent now. Parenting had just begun to become more rewarding, and Julia watched as Dylan grew leaps and bounds both mentally and physically as each day went by.  Despite this exciting time, Julia was still exhausted; she was breast feeding and pumping every four hours and Dylan was still waking up three to four times a night. She hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in months. 

 At 12 weeks, your baby still needs you just as much as the day it was born and yet, some political genius out there thought that 12 short weeks all the time you needed to bond with your child before shipping them off into someone else’s care and heading back to the work force- not to mention that it’s not mandatory for your employer to pay you while you’re on maternity leave. I took the maximum 16 weeks I could when my second baby was born sick. I lost out on a quarter of my salary that year, not to mention the potential commission I lost because I work in sales and missed meeting with clients.

Unless you are blessed with available family, your child will spend their time with a stranger at a daycare, as you get a collective four hours of (non-consecutive) sleep a night and are expected to function like normal human being at work.

Shame on these women, shame on this broken system, and shame on us for allowing this sort of thing to continue in the United States. Turn the news on and all you will hear are politicians preaching about job reform, employment rates, and making sure that our economy grows. It’s never going to happen if we can’t address this glaring issue within our society. THINGS NEED TO CHANGE. We are living in 2017, not 1955. We are drastically behind on the times, and it’s embarrassing. Don’t kid yourself, this issue does not just effect women, it’s effecting everyone. 

Like mine, Julia’s  entire family’s income changed overnight, adding stress to her and her husband, and with the increased costs a child presents to their family, you can bet your bottom dollar they are going to be contributing less to the economy. The single guy working at the local restaurant that Julia and Tom frequent is now going to be out a few extra dollars since they won’t be in as often. The owner of that restaurant has lost two customers for the time being, and the person who supplies that restaurant’s produce has just received a slightly smaller order for this week. You may not think that this effects you, but it does. It trickles down to everyone. For being the most “powerful country in the world”, it’s deplorable that we haven’t figured out a better way to handle maternity leave and working mothers in a better way.

Let’s do something to change this. Start with Julia’s story and be inspired. Don’t let this happen to your family or someone you know, but the sad reality is that it probably already has.

And simply because I didn’t get to use enough profanity as I had hoped to in this point, let me close with offering those two ladies a big FUCK YOU on behalf of Julia and all the other working mothers and families out there.

Parents: Tell Everyone Else to STFU

I’ve got some Mommy Issues.  Issues with other parents, and issues with some strangers out there.  There are important things going on in the world right now politically, globally, nationally and right in your backyard that need actual attention. The amount of bitching I’ve seen about the following issues makes me question what kind of people I’m coexisting with in this world.

There’s quite a few things that people are complaining about in real life and online that need to stop. 

BREAST FEEDING IN PUBLIC 

img_2097For all of you against public breast feeding, I’m going to throw you a bone and assume that we can agree that these children at least need to eat. They are human, after all. So we can agree that they do have to eat… you just don’t want to see it. Your suggestion of making it private is not only insulting, but pretty ridiculous. Many of these mothers and their children are being socially pressured into feeding their child in places like public bathrooms.img_2100Have you spent any time in a public bathroom lately? And if so, how long did you want to just “hang out in there” for the 25-40 minutes it may take a mother to feed her baby? Next time you pick up your own lunch, I suggest you take your meal to the nearest public restroom  and soak up the lovely stench and atmosphere it offers you while you eat…. then tell me how you feel about it.

Is there something about women’s breast that offends you? I hate to burst your bubble; but whatever creation story you believe in whether it be religious or evolutionary; I can tell you that the breast was made for one thing and one thing only: to feed our young. It is the media and our own selves who have sensationalized mammary glands into sexual pieces of anatomy.  Any issue you may have with public breastfeeding is your issue, not anyone else’s.

Also, News flash, there is a 99.99% chance that the woman you’re seeing feed in public looks like the lady on the right here… I have yet to see Miss. Porn star to the left whipping out her boobs in public to feed her child.  The typical mother is tired, disheveled, overwhelmed and has a hungry, crying baby looking for nourishment.  img_2104That being said, if you do ever see the lady on the left out in public breast feeding… contact me ASAP. I am honestly curious as to how this would even work.

MOMMY SHAMING
Now that I’ve stated my pro stance on breast feeding, I do have to admit I have one small issue.

It’s the simple quote “Breast Is Best”.  This three word sentence offends me more than I can explain. I see fellow moms and mom friends use the hashtag #breastisbest while proudly displaying their breastfeeding on social media.  There are a multitude of studies showing that breast milk is the absolute best option for your child.  Some studies have quoted that it protects against diseases and allergies, lowers the risk of SIDS and obesity, infants are less stressed, and I’ve even read that it heightens children’s IQ.

I am not disagreeing with any of these claims, but guess what? Some of us mothers aren’t able to supply our babies with breast milk. For one reason or another, due to medical reasons or preference, breast feeding doesn’t work for some of us.  For those of us who cannot breastfeed, we have had to turn to exclusively pumping or taking out a separate mortgage to pay for formula. Are you aware how much formula costs?  Believe me, when my baby is crying in the middle of the night, it would be much easier for me to snuggle up to him and soothe him with my own nipple.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have that option… I had to endure listening to a wailing child in one arm, while I prepared and warmed up a formula made bottle.  I’ve pumped, and I get it: if you’ve ever cried over “spilled milk”, so have I.  If the baby spits up or you spill a bottle, hours of hard work pumping goes down the drain. When your child spits up formula, or you spill it, it is similar… it’s like seeing dollar bills fly out the window.

While Breast MAY be Best, it is offensive to some to see other mothers say this, as if we “bottle mommies” are subpar. Please do us the favor of stop using this sentence. It’s hurtful and makes us feel inadequate as mothers. Mother to Mother, please adopt this new slogan:fed-is-best

On the topic of Mommy Shaming, we honestly need to come together as parents and respect each other’s decisions when it comes to raising our own children. You want to raise your child without screen time or TV? Go for it. You want to serve your child a strict vegan organic diet? Be my guest. Please just don’t raise an eyebrow when my child is watching Paw Patrol, while eating a heated up frozen waffle for breakfast, as I get ready for work. Let’s all agree that we are trying our best to do survive and raise respectful, productive members of society, however we get there.

Speaking of feeding my kids waffles while I get ready for work:  Working Mothers vs. Stay at Home Mothers. I am a working mother. It is tough as shit. I feel like I can never get enough done and there is never enough time in the day.  In regards to Stay at Home Mothers, HOW DO YOU DO IT?!  I was raised by a stay at home mom, who had four children in a tiny apartment and I have great memories from this time in my life.  In retrospect, she was probably going insane, however, if she was, she never let on to any of us. I always imagined I would do the same, stay at home, living a blissful life with my children while my husband worked.  I’d have a clean house and dinner on the table each evening when he returned from work and we would all sit happily eating, discussing our day. I have two children and barely survived this past holiday week while they were off from school.  My house looks like a bomb blew up and I am pretty sure my kids ate frozen fish sticks, hot dogs and frozen pizza for many of their meals.

I give Stay at Home Mothers all the credit in the world.  You guys are saints. While it is hard juggling work and home life for me, I am not sure I could hack it. For one, my family needs a duel income to survive. It is not possible for one of us to stay home with the children. Secondly, contrary to what I thought life would be with children prior to having them, I am not sure I could maintain my sanity being with them 24 hours a day.  I’d lose it for sure.

I was recently verbally attacked (and yes, I am using the word “attacked”) by a member of my own family for being a working mother. I’m not naming names, but if you’ve followed previous blogs, you may have a guess at who this person is.  Regardless, I ran into this person unexpectedly one evening and it was unavoidable to say hello and sit down to talk.  We were in a bar, so I expected a bullshit  “what’s new” yada yada conversation.

Many things were discussed over the hour I was forced to speak with him, including how disappointed he was in me and what a great disservice I was doing my family by working. According to him, my children are supposedly suffering being stuck with strangers all day, and I am not living up to his standards as to what a mother and wife should be, by his interpretation of how life goes.  I should be catering to my husband more and not putting so much stress on him; having him to drop off the kids in the morning and expecting him to participate in an active 50/50 parenting partnership. A chilled cocktail should be waiting for my husband upon his return from work, and a homemade dinner should be awaiting on the table.  He made it clear that in my house, my husband should be the King, my children should be my Princes and I, essentially their Housemaid and Cook; all the while keeping a smile on my face.

The way I was living my life was simply not to his approval. Sorry bud, this isn’t the 1950’s.  (I should mention that he is currently divorced, sitting at a bar alone during this conversation, which only proves how far his life expectations and attitude has gotten him).   This, from a man who taught “auto mechanics for women” during college, you’d think he would appear to be somewhat more liberated.  Apparently not.  I’m pretty sure he was describing the life that he wanted while married, because there was sure as hell no cocktail waiting for him when he returned from work each day.  I believe the best way to describe that scenario was that he came home, ate a prepared dinner, and went to “nap” in bed while my mother continued to do the rest: aka cleaning up, bedtimes, making lunches, etc.   But I digress.

1950

I explained that in this economy; for our family in particular, it was not possible for us to live off of one income and continue to live the lifestyle that we want to live.  Furthermore, our children were not with strangers all day, but cared for by responsible adults that they have cultivated a deep bond and relationship with, and whom my husband and I trust. During their time in daycare and preschool, they have learned more social skills and gained more educational content than I could ever provide for them at home.  My three year old was writing his own name within a week of starting preschool, and three months later, I can dictate a Thank You note to him, assist with the spelling, and he can basically write an entire letter to an adult with minimal assistance.

I made sure to mention to my bar guest that he deserved no explanation for how my husband and I chose to live our lives and raise our children, and if anything, I was actively attempting to do anything in my power NOT to raise my children like he did.  I kept the conversation light on my end, but essentially wanted to punch him in the gut, instead of giving him a good bye hug at the end of the night.  The only good part that came out of that conversation was that he paid my bar tab. If you ask me, he owed me at least that after what he said.  It was that evening that I decided that I wouldn’t be having any more conversations with him- he isn’t worth my time and hasn’t a shit clue as to what my life is like.

For what it’s worth, I hope you don’t have assholes in your life like this one. Keep on movin’ on mama, do what’s best for you and your family and have NO REGRETS.  Do not let other people’s opinions and choices make you feel guilty or any less of the parent you are.  Only you know what works for you and your children. If you want to openly breast feed in the middle of the fanciest restaurant in your town, do it.  If you want to pack a bottle of formula, do it.  If you want to co-sleep with your children, do it.  Trust your gut and don’t listen to anyone out there telling you that you aren’t doing the best possible job you can.  At the end of the day, if you and your kids are alive, you’ve succeed.

It’s an exhausting, often thankless job, but remember PARENTS:

YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB.

Tell everyone else to STFU.

xo,

Coastal Mama

 

2017: Secrets and Resolutions 

We are here! 2017!  2016 wasn’t SO BAD, but it was difficult- for a lot of us. I have to say that  I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2017.

2016: It all started with a child, a gorilla and a zoo and just went downhill from there. This election year has torn apart the country and sadly, even torn apart friendships. 

My two year old had a second set of ear tubes in earlier last week- he also had his adenoids out. After a rough reaction to the anesthesia, he seemed out of the woods and was back to normal. Fast forward to two days later  where I realized it had been a full 24hours since he had eaten or drank much more than a sip of anything and off to the Emergency Room we went. My husband took my oldest to a college basketball game to keep him busy while I waited in the ER. I emerged six hours later with a prescription that needed to be immediately filled and directions to offer him syringes of water every hour, on the hour overnight, including a new dose of this new medication. I didn’t sleep that evening, and my husband and I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since then.Just chalk it up to #parentlife. 

Our three year old has asthma and every so often has bad attacks that leads to doctor visits and it’s bad enough that we own our own our own hospital grade nebulizer. Of course this had to happen in the middle of the two year old’s recovery and the holidays. 

I’ve always promised to be honest on my blogs, so here’s a secret I’ve never told you: Coastal Mama is certainly NOT PERFECT.  I smoke. Cigarettes. Never in front of my children and I doubt they even know at this age but it haunts me everyday. How can I have a child who is asthmatic and still smoke? I quit with both pregnancies as soon as I peed on those sticks and I never cheated  once which gives me some solace because both kids were born with breathing issues, completely unrelated to this but I would have never been able to forgive myself if I did. All that said, it doesn’t matter because I picked it back up afterwards. I know: it’s stupid. It’s killing me. It’s not good for my kids. But I’m selfish and I am not perfect.  I’m embarrassed. No one in my family smokes, my husband doesn’t and my parents didn’t while I grew up. WHY DID I START? Why do I like it so much??

Maybe 2017 will be my year to come to my senses and stop. Maybe it won’t: It’s been 20 years of this now, and I’m ashamed. I’m a closet smoker. 

Now that you know my secret, are there any secrets you’re willing to admit to yourself that you want to give up for the New Year? We all have our demons; lose weight, be less judgmental, smoking too much weed, cut down on alcohol intake, have more patience,  love more. SHOW love more. If there something you’ve been waiting on to do, do it. You want to propose to your girlfriend? Do it before it’s too late. You want to leave a dangerous relationship? Do it. You deserve to be treated the best, and if you’re receiving anything less, let it go.

There were a lot of highlights in 2016: I had friends give birth and announce pregnancies. Job promotions and the simplest of all; living a life that you’re happy with and proud to be living.

I’m no expert, but if you’re living a life that makes you happy, do all you can to hang on to that. Nothing is guaranteed in this world: health, money, happiness. You, and you alone are in charge of your destiny. 

Happy 2017, my friends- make this the best year yet!

Xo,

Coastal Mama

Throwing Modesty Out the Window: Things No One Tells You Before and After You Give Birth

Congratulations! You’re pregnant? 

SAY GOODBYE TO ANY SHRED OF MODESTY YOU HAD.

I was two weeks overdue with my first child and took a week off prior to my due date (in case he was early) and ended up sitting around for three weeks as a hormonal mess. 

I kept wondering if this baby was ever going to come out of me. Finally, the day before I was about to be induced, I went into labor. I waited nine hours before actually going to the hospital. 

One of the fun parts of labor they don’t tell you about is that your stomach muscles are contracting so much, you’ll probably end up shitting yourself at some point. Everyone is so worried about doing it while pushing the baby out, no one thinks to worry about what happens before the baby comes out. As soon as I arrived, the nurse gave me a hospital gown to change into and I headed to the bathroom. The toilet seat was obviously made for a NBA basketball player and was way too high. I hoisted myself up onto the seat and was sitting there, buck naked, 8,000 months pregnant, feet dangling 5 inches from the floor, literally going to the bathroom when the nurse casually came in to have a little “chat” with me. It was as if this was completely normal. I was a gigantic  naked, fat whale, having a complete coversation with a stranger while I was actually pooping at the same time. There were literally audible sounds coming from the bathroom that neither came from her or my mouth. She didn’t seem the least bit phased, and as I sat there in all my beluga whale glory, I answered her questions . I walked out of that bathroom in my cotton hospital gown and knew in that instant that any privacy I was used to was soon to change, very quickly. 

For the last nine months, as my belly grew,  I had been having external and internal exams by my OBGYN.  It’s like your yearly OB exam on crack- a super pleasant experience where as a bonus you get to weigh in every.single.time– reminding you that size 4 dress in your closet will forever haunt you as what could be considered “your former self, before children.”  You might as well use that tiny piece of fabric as a burp cloth, because your fat ass isn’t going to fit into it again for a loooooong time; if ever.

During the holiday season while I was out shopping, I was asked by no fewer than five strangers if I was “due any day now” or “carrying twins.” I was 3 months away from my due date at that point and my only answer was that I was carrying an enormous beast in my belly- but thanks for asking anyway.

I had come to the point where I just wanted to wear a tee shirt that said: 

“Yes, I am pregnant. No, I’m not having twins. It is a boy. We do not have a name picked out and if you even try to go near my belly with your grubby hand I will back hand you… have a great day!”

I started growing out of my maternity clothes and refused to buy new ones because I was just so sick of wearing them in the first place. I’d sit in weekly board meetings with my staff, 2 inches of my bare belly hanging out of my shirt, in spandex and wearing slippers because my feet were so swollen. I had given up. 

In this world, there are “hot” pregnant ladies and then there are…. the rest of us. My wedding photographer begged me to take maternity pictures to commemorate this time. I should have done it at 3 months along- because that was pretty much the only time I looked like a “hot pregnant lady”

By the time my first child decided to make an entrance into this word, I had been in labor for 31 hours and my 10lb pork roll child was born via emergency c-section because his fat head couldn’t fit for a regular vaginal delivery. My delivery was documented in a previous post so I won’t go over that again, but this was the first time I really valued how incredible modern medicine is. I counted my blessings because if this had been 100+ years ago, I probably wouldn’t have lived through that delivery, and neither would my child. Without that c-section, he was not coming out.

There were quite a few post-partum moments that my modesty just flew out the window again. The first time my nurse took out my catheter so I could pee normally, she insisted it was her job to  “monitor me”. At this point I couldn’t give two shits about what was happening, so I sat on the toilet, I watched her squat down in front of me and spray warm water onto my nether regions. I swear, if I could have kissed this lady, I would have. Nurses deserve a lot more credit for what they do. After carrying a gigantic human inside of me, EVERYTHING was swollen. As this nurse helped me out, I almost cried because it felt so good. There needs to be a tip jar in your hospital room. 

Four glorious months later of living with a colicky, screaming baby, I found myself miraculously pregnant again. We had talked about having more children, but certainly not this soon. I always joke that I got pregnant with my second baby alone. My husband had gone out for the night with friends and I decided to drink and entire bottle of wine alone to celebrate my child  finally sleeping through the night. My husband came home as I was throwing the bottle in the recycling bin, and the rest is history. 

I ended up having two c-sections,13 months apart. My second c-section was planned. For months, I hadn’t been able to see my feet, never mind anything else below my gigantic belly.  I had an infant to take care of, while waddling around pregnant with my second child and maintaining my lady parts was last on my list of priorities. As I was being prepped for surgery, the nurse asked if a student doctor could shave the area of the surgery site. I was in a good mood and replied “Sure, as long as she brought a weed whacker with her. ” My husband almost fell off the chair in embarrassment. I was a million months pregnant at this point and was happy at least someone was taking care of what I had been neglecting down there for so long.

I started some new medication earlier this summer and one of the side effects is weight gain. It had been 2.5 years since having my last baby and I remember wailing to my doctor “but I just lost all my baby weight!!!!” 

He assured me this medication caused the least amount of weight gain… and to some extent he was right- my ass stayed the same, my face stayed the same and my legs and arms look fine. Those lovely  extra few pounds have taken up shop in my gut and I look essentially early first trimester pregnant. I’ve been asked 4 times over the past 2 months if I’m expecting baby #3, resulting in a meltdown in my office one day that startled every one of my co-workers, including the Vice President of my company, who just stood there, wide eyed.  Like a crazy lady, I randomly screamed  “Attention! I have an important message for you all!  In case you’re wondering- I AM NOT PREGANT- THERE IS NO BABY IN HERE, just FAT, most likely caused by wine and hard ciders that I use to nurse myself to sleep each night, so spread the news, THERE IS NO FREAKING BABY IN THERE, suckers!” 

Once you’ve had kids, apparently these are the things you have to yell in your office to get the point across. I’m pretty sure no one talked to me for the rest of the day in fear I may bite their heads off.

Bottom line. Prepare for the unexpected. Prepare to be embarrassed, but know that no one else is. They’re professionals and see this stuff all the time. Having a baby changes things; I’m just glad I was married before going through all of this, because I knew my husband was bound to me, even after seeing what he saw, he legally couldn’t run away.

Prepare yourself to feel your heart burst with something that is unexplainable; a love that you never knew existed until you see those little eyes looking up at you and you realize you made this tiny human.

Once you get over the initial endorphin high, If you want to talk REAL FUN, we can discuss post-partum adult diapers and the dreaded first post partum poop sometime. I’ve got some great stories.

Until next time,

Coastal Mama 😘

Bah Fucking Humbug  

Christmas is ruined. For the first time since having children, I’m not sending a Christmas card out this year. My mother in-law is devastated. 


I honestly meant to! I would have, except we didn’t have a professional photshoot this year and I simply couldn’t get my 2&3 year old to corporate and look at the freaking camera at the same time; I tried when we visited Santa, I tried impromptu shots and then dressed them up in Santa pjs and attempted a half-assed photo shoot with some Christmas lights and my iPhone. I finally said FUCK IT, this isn’t happening. I’m too tired to put anymore effort into this. Actually, while I’m on a roll using profanity, I can’t wait for 2017 because I don’t know about you, but in all honesty, 2016 fucking blew. 

I’ve been in such a bah humbug mood lately, I actually sent this ridiculous text to my mother the other day:


I actually cursed out a patch of snow on my driveway. 

If you were a beloved celebrity, this year was especially cruel. We lost legends in 2016. David Bowie. Dave Mirra. Harper Lee.  Prince. Morley Safer.  Muhammad Ali. Gene Wilder. Arnold Palmer. Janet Reno. Florence Henderson. Peter Vaughn. …Just to name a few.

Donald Trump is our President Elect and people are legit freaking out. Who in a million years would have fathomed this? Our country has become racially divided and despite having a black president for the past eight years, there has been more racial tension and violence in this country during his tenure since the 1950’s. We are living in scary times. 

Work has been insane. At home, I’m dealing with one child in the midst of the terrible twos and the other is a complete threenager. It’s an emotional rollercoaster; one minute they’re angels and the next it’s WWIII in my house. If you’ve followed my previous blogs, I make no proclamation to have one damn idea how to parent. This is all new. Every phase is new. Let me make this clear: I have no idea what I’m doing. There is pressure on my marriage (because who is in a good mood after fighting two mini terrorists to go to bed for 2hrs each night?) and I’m pretty much ready to throw in the towel and run off to a tropical island ALONE and not return.

I’m not going to rehash my issues.  I was thinking about all these celebrities passing and my insignificant issues at home that pretty much anyone who has had young children at some point or are dealing with them now, have and are experiencing the same thing and there’s simply no words to describe dealing with a young family. The pressure to be a perfect parent, the work it takes to maintain your marriage, and oh yeah, I work full time too. I’m pretty sure anyone reading this who has or is currently experiencing this complete debacle of what I like to call “life with little kids” understands. 

As I was sitting at my home work computer tonight at 10:30pm, finishing some things I wasn’t able to complete in the office, something clicked. Maybe it was the Pandora station I was listening to, but I finished my work and got out some greeting cards. I realized I was giving myself some sort of stupid pity party, when in reality, there are so many other people out there that are actually suffering this time of year. 

There are children living in my area that won’t have presents under the tree this year because their parents can’t afford it. There are women (and men) bravely fleeing abusive relationships with their children everyday, going to secluded safe houses. I know friends  who have been trying and trying and then trying some more to get pregnant with out success and feel hopeless. I have friends who have spent more time in the NICU than I did, combined.

I know someone who is dying and in desperate need of a kidney transplant. I know someone else who I grew up with, living out his final days at home with his family, on hospice care. He’s in his 60’s. This is not his time to go. My friend recently said that he is having trouble maintaining faith and is angry with God. This has been a church going gentleman his entire life and yet he’s struggling with his relationship with God during his last days on earth.  I have family members who just lost their mother this past weekend after a long and tough fight against cancer, leaving 2 children, 4 grandchildren and one on the she way who she will never meet. It makes  you question WHY. Why is life not more merciful? It’s not fair.

I made a list. We have toys going to toys for Tots this weekend. One of our toddler beds got donated to a battered woman’s safe home and it gives me great joy to know that some three year old is sleeping in that bed tonight, without fear of his mother or he being beaten. He is safe… and he’s sleeping in our toddler bed. 

My mood suddenly started to change.

I grabbed my cards and wrote some traditional & proper hand written notes to some people that deserve to know how much I admire them before their time in this  world expires. Three full pages later, my letter to my hospice friend was complete. I knew that this may be the last time I will be writing to him and I wanted him to know what an impact he made on my life.  My letter to my friend in need of a transplant is now done and everything is ready to be mailed out tomorrow. 

WHY DON’T we do this sooner? Why do we have to wait until someone is dying until we say good bye and let them know how much we care about them? Shame on us. We should be telling everyone we love that we LOVE THEM every freaking chance we get.

If there is anything I’m going to learn this Christmas season, it is going to embrace my family more and try to be more appreciative of what I have. No more bah humbugs. My children and husband deserve better than this- and I deserve to be the best I can be; for them and for me. 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to you all

Xo,

Coastal Mama