My life is harder than my husband’s. There, I said it. Sure he works, and has to deal with superiors and subordinates and the delicate nuances of military hierarchy. He sometimes gets caught in a tricky dental surgery that ends up taking double the time […]
By a few miracles and mostly luck, my husband and I were fortunate enough to plant our roots in a small town on the central coast of California. It’s incredibly safe and unbelievably beautiful. Quite frankly, it’s pretty darn magical. Sometimes I have to remind […]
After 9 months (let’s be real, it’s ten months; even longer if you go past your due date like many Mamas do) of growing this human, giving up alcohol, and becoming too fat for all your clothes, your little angel makes their grand entrance into the world…
My labor was intense to say the least…. I was in labor for almost 3 days, and the first night I was having contractions only 1 minute apart. By day 2, I was so over it, and by the beginning of day 3, my sassy little diva FINALLY arrived, kicking and screaming…I should’ve taken that as an indicator of her personality…
Of all the rushing thoughts a new Mama has after giving birth, here are 5 of the things you can’t help but think about…
1. Why Do I Still Look Pregnant?
I have to admit, as soon as I got from labor & delivery to my regular room, I took a shower and looked down…what the hell??? I just gave birth to a 9 1/2 pound baby, and I still look like I’m ready to pop at any moment. I mean, obviously I knew I wouldn’t be swimsuit ready right after birth but damn, I thought I’d look a little bit smaller to make myself feel better…My massive gut looked sexy as hell tucked into those mesh underwear though, I’ll tell you that!(Your stomach will go down, just be patient!)
2. I Need Food ASAP
One thing I didn’t know before going into labor, was that once you are in labor at the hospital, all you can eat is ice and liquids… Hell, had I known that, I would’ve eaten anything I could get my grubby little hands on before I had my husband take me in! After two days of labor and no real food of substance… Ugh… I was HANGRY… Add on top of that my frustration that my baby was taking FOREVER to enter the world… It was all bad.. my poor husband… He got the brunt of my aggression, that’s for sure!
3. I Am TERRIFIED To Go #2
After pushing for what felt like a lifetime, even peeing afterwards was a struggle…As soon as the nurses started pumping me with stool softeners, I became panicked for #2. Did they know something I didn’t? Was I doomed to have a tragic first #2 after birth experience??? Good Lord I was so terrified…And maybe it was my terror that told my body to chill the F out, but I did not go #2 for like a week after birth… But when I did, it was totally no big deal… I freaked out for nothing.. per the usual… So if you do think about this after birth, don’t panic, you’ll be fine…
4. I Am Never Doing This Again
After meeting my child, they took her to weigh her and check her out. During that short time, I looked at my husband who was smiling ear to ear and said, “WE ARE NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN.” Thinking about that moment actually still cracks me up to this day… All I remember thinking was, “F THAT”. One child is enough for me, thanks… Directly after birth you might think this, I totally did… But give it time to sink in… After a few months, I couldn’t even remember much about how labor felt.. I mean I DEFINITELY remember that it hurt like hell, but the memory is cloudy… it’s like your body has this defense mechanism to help shut those horrifying memories out so you will have another baby. It’s totally true, because I 100% want another baby….To be continued…
5. This Is Amazing
Above all else, the main thought you’ll have is how amazing the whole thing is… It is truly a miracle that you can’t even put into words… Yes, there is a laundry list full of gross, disgusting, and painful things that Mama’s must go through during the process, but after the grand finale; holding your sweet baby in your arms, and knowing that you created this life…ugh.. it still blows my mind… That must be why so many people have more than one child…. That little tiny human makes all that horrifying crap worth it…And it totally is worth it.
Dear New Boyfriend, There are some things I want you to know. It’s important you know. Dating after an abusive relationship is hard. Its uncomfortable and rigid. My muscles get tense when you surpise me with physical touch because I don’t know what’s going to happen next. […]
Every morning, I carry my 4-year-old son into preschool. The truth is, I still carry him a lot of places. When he asks to be picked up, I happily oblige. And yes, we get some funny looks. Sometimes comments: “Looks like you got your hands […]
The first time I heard “can’t your wife take care of that?” was while waiting tables. I was 24, a college student, and the father of a one-year-old son. A co-worker asked if I could cover a shift, and I told him I had to take my son to his one-year check-up with our pediatrician. He rolled his eyes as though that sort of thing was a mother’s job, made the comment about my wife doing it instead, and then pressed me to cover the shift for him.
At the time, I didn’t think much of it. In fact, part of me expected it. Even though no one had ever said something like that outright to me as a father, I’d assumed people felt it. My father never went to doctor visits. That was my mother’s job, along with grocery shopping and meal preparation. Those antiquated and patriarchal ideas still lingered.
As a grad student, when I left early from class to take my daughter to urgent care, I was questioned about my dedication. When I took paternity leave after the birth of my third child, my supervisor pulled me aside and explained that, since my wife was a stay-at-home mom, I really didn’t need to take all that time off. He said the students I worked with would really struggle without me around. I had been working at the job for less than a year, and wanted to make a good impression in my new career, so I caved to the pressure. I only took two weeks off when my daughter was born, even though I could (and should) have taken more. It wasn’t until much later that I realized what my supervisor had done was unethical, if not illegal.
I could go on with other examples, but over the years, I’ve been faced with a lot of stigma when it comes to my career and parenting, especially when it comes to taking time off for my kids.
And when I haven’t received criticism, I have received praise. Just a couple weeks ago, I stayed home with my oldest daughter because she had a fever. Mel and I both work full time now. She stayed home the time before, so it was my turn. I emailed my coworkers to let them know that I wasn’t going to be in, and I received a reply letting me know that I’m a great father.
Look, of course, the positive feedback was appreciated. Heck, any time a parent receives praise it’s appreciated, but I know for a fact when a mother stays home in my office with a sick child no one sends her a note. Nobody tells her she’s a “great mother.” So what is so unique about me doing the same thing?
But ultimately, that is the problem. Although they may want to, many fathers don’t stay home with their children when they are ill. They don’t leave work during the day for parent-teacher conferences (something I have received comments for, as well). While I know that many fathers are stepping up as parents, being more involved and engaged, and striving for an egalitarian relationship, in my workplace, most people still assume that mothers take time off for children, fathers do not.
And this is a problem for many reasons — not only because it puts additional strain on all mothers (working or not), but it also can cause supervisors to question hiring women because they might be asking for time off to care for their children, a responsibility that should be shared by both parents (and should not deter employers from hiring qualified candidates).
Not to mention that many dads want to be there for their kids. Every time I stay home with a sick child, I learn more about them and our relationship grows. I learn a lot about my kids by going to their parent-teacher conferences. Last time, for instance, I saw a whole new side to my son. I even found out that he had a nickname (Little T). When I stay home with my kids, I am more invested in my marriage and my family. I feel closer to them, and I show my kids that marriage and family works best when it’s an equal partnership.
So if you are an employer, realize that fathers are parents too. They have an equal responsibility to take care of children outside the workplace. If you are a co-worker, realize the same. And fathers, please don’t be fearful to ask for time off to care for your child. I know that not all jobs allow this, but for those with jobs that do, please step up. It really is the only way this stigma is going to change.
“Love you.” It was a text I received at 10:30 p.m. from my brother’s girlfriend. It was an unusual time for me to receive a text. Most people who are close to me give up on text messages by 9 p.m.. Knowing that I have […]
I often get irritated when my kids ask to see the photo I’ve just taken with my phone. Instant gratification, I huff under by breath. They will never know the feeling of dropping off a roll of film at the local pharmacy, checking the box […]
When I was first diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the age of 44, my primary concern (after myself) was for my three daughters, ages 11, 11, and 14. Immediately, I worried about dying and leaving them without a mom. That concern is still there, but ten months into this journey, I feel much more optimistic about my long-term survival.
They found out about my cancer diagnosis at the same moment I did, and we all sat on the green sectional at our family cabin and cried together. Even our Labradoodle, Louise, seemed heartbroken. I am sure that memory will be etched in their brains forever. I think the whole experience has been more difficult for my eldest, Grace, than the twins, Lauren and Avery, because she “gets” it and understands the seriousness of the situation.
Now that we are almost ten months into dealing with cancer, I think I have learned a bit about helping kids navigate this tender time in a family.
1. Be honest with them.
We were honest from day one, and didn’t sugarcoat the situation. We told them it was serious, but that my chances looked pretty good. We never promised anything. We shared what was happening every step of the way. We found some age-appropriate books for them which they perused on occasion.
2. Get them involved in the process.
We all went together as a family when I got my head shaved few weeks into chemotherapy, and we all went wig shopping. (I never wore that darn wig, though.) Lauren and Avery went with me to a make-up session for cancer patients, which reminded us of a TV sitcom and pretty much cracked us up. We all did the Susan G. Komen walk together, and Grace was there when I spoke at our local Volley for the Cure. She also really wanted to be with Doug, my BFF and husband, when I had my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. I had thought it would be better for her to be with my mom and dad, but she just needed to “be there” and see what was happening as it happened.
3. In as much as humanly possible, you have to still be THE MOM.
Sometimes others want to protect you from fighting kids and parental stress, but your kids still need to know that you are in control. They need the routine of you tucking them in and helping them pack for their three days at the school forest or the cross-country meet. They need to know that they can still share their problems with you, and that you aren’t too fragile for that.
4. Let them know what they can do to help the family.
One of the best things we did as a family was walk. I told them that exercise would really help me, and that their support in walking with me was HUGE. So we walked and we talked and we laughed. Sometimes, we had some complaining, but we still always finished our walks.
5. Keep the routine because kids need routine (and so do adults).
Many folks, especially my mom and dad, helped with keeping our normal routine. Doug and I let them know that even though things were a little bit bonkers at times, bedtime was still bedtime and homework still needed to be done. Cancer wasn’t an excuse for things they didn’t want to do.
6. Keep others in the loop.
At the beginning of the year, I let the girls’ guidance counselors know what was happening in our family. Grace’s guidance counselor called her down to the office and said (according to Grace), “I understand your mother is not well.” To which Grace responded, “She has cancer.” The kind woman asked, “Would you like to talk about it?” To which Grace responded, “Nope.” And the wise woman sent her back to class, but at least Grace knew that the support was there if she needed it. I asked the counselors to let me know if anything came up with behavior/grades/friendships.
7. Let them know that other kids (especially high-school kids) might not know how to react and might not be able to give them the support they want.
Interestingly, it seemed like Lauren and Avery’s friends found it easier to ask them about the cancer than Grace’s friends. I surmise that older kids worry more about saying the wrong thing.
8. Remember that even though you might be in the fight of your life, your kids are still kids.
They will still fight over who gets to wear what or who folded more of the clothes in the one load you asked them to fold. They will still forget their instruments at home or need you to bring their track bag to school. They will still cry over a friendship struggle or whack each other over the last piece of gum.
9. Have fun whenever you can.
In our case, we were able to do bit of traveling during my treatment and celebrated reaching milestones like the end of chemo, a post-surgery trip, etc. I am now doing six months of oral chemo, and we have a road-trip to Colorado planned when that is done in July. We make lots of boob and foob (fake boob) jokes at our house, and I think that has lessened the seriousness of the experience a bit.
10. Sometimes, you have to just pull in a little and be with each other and love on each other.
All of us have experienced that “butterflies in the stomach” sensation when something fills us with stress or apprehension. Sometimes those flutters are even associated with something positive, like falling in love or an exciting upcoming event. Others of us feel that certain emotions just […]