Thursday, May 29, 2014

Moving Forward

There was a time in my life, quite recently and somewhat well documented on this blog (maybe even the catalyst for this blog), where I pretty much had nothing.  No job, no home of my own, no direction.  I am relatively confident in saying that the reasons for my stalling out were mostly beyond my control and I am 100% confident in saying that I have never worked harder in my life than I did while I was trying to dig myself out of that hole.  I am still recovering in some ways, but for the most part, I am in a period of stability and I love it.

If I could pin point the hardest part of those years, which happened to cover my mid-to-late twenties, it would be to say that I was overwhelmed with feelings of failure and lack of motivation.  I was constantly working to find a full-time job and working several nanny jobs to make ends meet.  I was barely keeping my head above water.  My family supported me by giving me a place to live and feeding me and trying their best to keep me sane.  Even when I found a full-time job, it paid me just enough to pay my bills on time.  I was moving constantly, but I was getting nowhere.

There's a certain amount of luck that comes into play when you are in this situation (or others like it).  You have to work as hard as you possibly can, physically and mentally, to keep on top of things and to try to move forward.  For a (seemingly impossible) long time, you will feel like you are stuck and there will be no end in sight.  But if you are doing everything you can possibly do to make things better, and if you are paying attention and willing to accept help, a little bit of luck can set things back in motion.

For me, luck came in the form of my lowest point.  At the height of my anxiety.  At the time, it was the most emotional and physically taxing experience.  I felt like I had finally lost all control over the decisions in my life.  My mom told me to quit my job and move home.  After spending two and a half years searching for a full-time job, quitting that job seemed like the worst possible decision to make.  It was made worse by the prospect of moving back in with my parents.  There's nothing more uplifting than admitting defeat and moving back into your childhood home.  Right?  The thing is, once I moved back, I was offered an even better job.  A job that paid enough to get ahead of my bills and where I was surrounded by co-workers I liked and respected.

Now, two years after making that change, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I can move forward and happily put those years behind me.  I can make plans and have fun without feeling guilty or stressed about money.  I can see (and expect) more good things in my future, even though I also know there will also be more bad things along the way.  I'm happiest when I'm moving forward, but now I can find some gratitude for the time I was standing still. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

On Raising a Son

I've been raising girls for five years now, and I'm often discouraged by the blatant discrimination between boys and girls.

When we found out we were having a boy, I was beyond elated. I was going to have daughters, and a son. I was going to be able to have that special bond between a mother and her son, and I was going to be able to watch my husband raise a boy. However, it didn't take long to become defensive when people would make comments to me or my husband, such as:

"You are finally giving Adam a boy!"
"Wow! I bet Adam is so happy!" 
"Real men have boys!" 
and the absolute worst:
"Way to go, Adam! You did it!" 
(Which is horrific on so many levels)

As I prepare to meet my boy, I've been pondering some of the things I want to teach him about being a boy, that sometimes deviate from the things I've observed in society. According to Brene Brown's research on our cultural ideals for men, men are expected to always win, be in emotional control, take risks, assert dominance, be competently self-reliant, have power over women, and pursue status. I want my son to know that cultural expectations don't determine his masculinity.

1) Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. There is real strength in being open and honest, rather than pretending everything is under control all the time. Because it's not going to be okay all the time. You will be scared, hurt, and lonely, and learning to appropriately express and process these emotions will give you a balance and power that will allow you to thrive. Developing this skill will serve you well in adulthood.

2) Learn to control your thoughts. Your actions are ultimately dictated by your thoughts.Nobody else is responsible for the way you think or act. Becoming accountable for your own thoughts will teach you responsibility and control.

3) Learn to apologize. Nobody is perfect, and I don't expect you to be. I do expect you to own up to your mistakes, and recognize when you've done something wrong.

4) Honor women. I expect you to respect all people, but just as I want your sisters to learn to have respect for men, I expect you to respect women. Sometimes they will be difficult to understand, and that's okay.

5) I expect you to do the dishes, make meals, fold laundry, and vacuum the house. There is no such thing as "women's work" vs "men's work." As a member of this household, you are expected to pitch in and help out with whatever needs getting done.

6) In our house, there is no "Boys vs. Girls." As you get older, you'll notice lots of comparisons being made between boys and girls. Some people might even try to tell you that boys are better than girls. You'll know how silly that is. You'll know that every individual person is inherently born with qualities which allow them to contribute in significant ways to society.

7) Always be polite. Manners are important. I've raised your sisters to say please, thank you, and excuse me. I expect you to do the same. Just because you are a boy it doesn't mean you can get away with being crude. Not in my house, buster.

8) Don't feel like you have to be macho. Some people will define masculinity based on certain ideals, activities, or attributes. You're inherent manliness is not defined by how good you are at sports, or how well you can barbecue. You may be an excellent baseball player, and that will be wonderful. Or, you may be a tech nerd like your father, which will be just as wonderful, and just as manly.

9) Be loving. Serve others. Hug your sisters. Kiss your mommy. Did you know there isn't a single conversation that my brother, your uncle Sean, doesn't tell me that he loves me? It's always appreciated.

10) Be smart. Studies show that in the earlier school years, girls far surpass boys academically. Did you know that a large part of this is due to the fact that parents often place different expectations on girls academically than boys? Did you also know that parents read to their daughters more than twice as much as they read to their sons? Fortunately for you, your mother places an extreme emphasis on reading, and you'll have the benefit of many stories.

Bonus: We'll get our share of Cars, Planes, Monsters Inc, and Toy Story, but you are also going to be watching Frozen, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. Good storytelling is good storytelling, and you shouldn't discriminate because someone tells you that something is a "girl" movie.

Of course, there are hundreds of things I want to teach my son, and I'm sure hundreds more he'll learn from his father. One thing I never want is to discourage him from being who he innately is, and to be able to find joy and happiness in life.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Just Stop Already: Article Headlines that Tease

I’m old for someone my age, and that sometimes makes me grumbly. I know it. When reading a news story, or one that is supposed to resemble a news story (usually online), I find myself growing more and more irritated. Why? I learned a long time ago that the best news stories present the most important information first. I really can't handle it when an article doesn't adhere to this practice (I almost had to walk away from this post while researching headlines because I was so frustrated). Examples:
  • Something Weird Happens When Three Master Fencers Battle Fifty Novices: It doesn't play out the way you probably think it does (Really, IO9?!)
Any headline from Upworthy (these are all real):

  • He's Counting Down from 21, And By The Time He Reaches 15, My Stomach Is In Knots (First: can we please talk about capitalization rules in titles? Second: I couldn't agree more, commenter Lynn Shuck.)
  • Think The Internet's Kinda Awful Sometimes? Well, You're Right. Here's Why.
  • They're Trying To Censor Her -- So She Made A Video To Tell You What's Happening Instead
  • Do You Like Drinking Beer? Here's A Video You'll Want To Pay Close Attention To.
  • I Hate Sushi, But This Has Got To Be One Of The Most Engaging Videos I've Ever Seen
  • 4 Minutes That Are Better Than Any Self-Help Book I've Ever Read
(Again, capitalization rules...and inconsistent punctuation, please.)

I'm not saying the information they present isn't inspirational or interesting. I've shared my fair share of articles with headlines that tease, but at some point I just had to step away. I think I've reached teasing headline saturation. Just provide the necessary information, or I'll get really irritated. I know it is supposed to entice us to click through onto the link, but so often it’s just a story that hijacks another story, waters it down into fluff, and then (maybe) provides a link back to the original.

Can you imagine having an in-person conversation in this style with someone? It would be like an extended, less informative, Perd Hapley interview.

(Walks up to acquaintance, sitting at a picnic table outdoors) 

Hey! How's it going?

On a day like today, with weather like this, you won't believe your eyes when you see just how today is going. Ask me again, but be sure you're sitting down! You'll never look at today the same way again!

So...Okay... I'm going to guess today is going well. Does it have something to do with that awesome-looking sandwich sitting in front of you? What kind of sandwich is that anyway?

What's in between these two slices of bread is better than anything you've ever had before. Take off the sandwich lid to see more. You won't regret it! It just might change your life!

Ummm, well, I haven't really washed my hands lately, so I probably shouldn't be touching other people's food. Germs and all. Plus it's a little weird for you to tell me to take apart your sandwich. I don't really know you that well...But, hey. Enjoy it, I guess. 

(Walks away quickly with confused look on face)

Here are some headlines I like (not because of the content, because the news can be quite sad) because they tell me what I need to know without teasing me:

Mouse Experiments Hint at Fountain of Youth in Young Blood (Nova Next & PBS)
De Blasio Outlines Affordable Housing Plan for City (NY Times)
Nigerian Insurgency Leader Says He Has Taken Abducted Girls as Slaves (Wall Street Journal)
Netflix's 'Orange Is the New Black' Renewed for Third Season (Hollywood Reporter)

So how does all of my complaining translate to real life? Here's me getting to the point (I know, I'm not practicing what I preach by putting this at the end): Say what you mean; mean what you say. Sometimes it can be helpful to cushion the message (i.e. "let's sit down and talk about this" situations), but sometimes it can just get in the way (i.e. situations where a firm, clear message is needed).

Anyone else out there feel this way? Just me? Alright then...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Being Grateful During Cruddy Circumstances

My little family just got back from a really fun trip to the San Francisco/Oakland area. My husband had a video production job there for one day and we decided we'd just add an extra plane ticket and have a last hurrah before our toddler turns two and doesn't fly for free any more, because at that point we figure we'll probably never fly again.

On the last day of our trip, we loaded up our rental car with all of our stuff because we were going to do a little more sightseeing and then we were going to go down to San Jose to stay with my friend for the night so that we didn't have to wake up at 2 am to make our 6:00 flight (plus we had borrowed some bedding from friends that we didn't want to return at 2 am, because that seems like a bad way to thank someone for lending you their stuff). We found a great parking spot just behind Ghirardelli Square and had a really fun four hours, then we trudged back to the car happy and exhausted, sure our toddler was about to fall asleep in the car while we drove around a bit more before we headed out.

Only when we got there, there was something funny about the back window of our rental van. At first we thought it was a shadow from some trees - then we realized that the window was broken.

We rushed to look in, because the van was FULL of stuff, including quite a bit of equipment my husband brought with him for his job - a backpack full of soundboards and cameras and video equipment, plus a laptop bag with two laptops in it.

The backpack was gone.

My husband went down the street to the hotel on the corner to ask them what the number was for the police, and the security guards told us that our car was actually parked right under a security camera - and that there were similar break-ins on this street all the time. A homeless guy would walk up to a car, wave at the security camera, break the window and walk off with people's stuff, and no one would do anything.

Since we were in a rental, we had to make a police report even though we were sure they wouldn't do anything. The concierge at the hotel called them and told us that it would be two hours before anyone could get there. We realized at this point that we hadn't paid for the insurance for the rental, and the very limited insurance we carry for our clunker car wasn't going to help either, so we would also get to pay for the window.

There we sat with our exhausted grumpy toddler, stewing about our stupidity and bad luck, feeling robbed of stuff and our vacation. After 2.5 hours we called the police again to check on things, and they had no record of the previous call, but also they said we could make that report over the phone. So . . . great. We made a report, put our little girl in her pajamas and drove off to my friend's house to put her to bed (plus my husband had to go to the rental car place to fill out a report about the window issue, since they wouldn't be available when we went back at 4:30 the next morning).

So to sum up, the last day of our vacation went like this:

  • We got robbed, and the thief made off with about $2000 worth of equipment (most of which he probably won't get anything out of because he won't know what it's worth). 
  • We didn't get the rental car insurance, so we would be paying for the window he broke out of our own pockets.
  • We had to sit in the car for three hours with a tired toddler waiting for police who were never coming, thanks to faulty information from the dispatcher.
  • We didn't get to do any of the other fun things we wanted to do in our last few hours of vacation. 
However, my husband is incessantly positive once he gets over his initial frustration, and some of it has rubbed off on me. As we were sitting there in the car--and in the days following-- we've realized a few other things. 
  • Right next to the backpack was a laptop bag containing two MacBook Pros and a piece of equipment that for no reason I understand is worth $1400 (a piece that had been in the backpack on our way down, I might add). If the thief would have picked that bag, the loss to us and the company would have been more like $8000 - plus the laptops had the job my husband had just done but hadn't delivered yet on them. It could have been a lot worse. 
  • We weren't anywhere nearby when we got robbed. We were never in danger, we just came back to a broken window.
  • The window was the only damage to the car - probably the least expensive fix for us.
  • We're in a place now where this kind of loss doesn't equal total devastation to our bank account. It's certainly not ideal and we don't have a lot of extra money to throw around, but after a year of hard work and insane budgeting and some good luck, we have an actual emergency fund. 
  • We found out a couple of days later that our Visa card (which we used for the car rental) actually has insurance for collision and theft for car rentals, a thing I would never have thought to check but which my brother did, so we shouldn't have to pay for the window after all. 
  • We had friends who put us up for the night after it all happened and who were offering support throughout the experience. It was so nice to come back to a home with friendly faces and offered leftovers instead of to a hotel, and it was nice that we had options for rides if things had worked out differently with the rental car. 
It would be easy to look back on this trip with frustration and anger and let those last few hours of our last day ruin the whole thing. But the truth is, we had a lot to be grateful for once we started looking for it, a fact that I think is almost always true, no matter the circumstances. So instead of remembering this vacation angrily for years to come, I'll remember it like this: 

And this: 

And this:

How has gratitude helped you feel better about a bad situation?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect

Growing up, I always felt like I'd been passed up on the talent department. One of my biggest pains and sorrows as a teen, was that as much as I wanted to preform and be on stage, I didn't have the voice to be a star. I couldn't paint. I couldn't do much of anything. So I just said that I wasn't creative, and that was that. 

Except that it wasn't, because as talent-less as I am, I still have always felt this need to create, and to be creative.

Recently I came across something beautiful written by artist Nicholas Wilton: 

“I always felt that someone, a long time ago, organized the affairs of the world into areas that made sense – categories of stuff that is perfectible, things that fit neatly in perfect bundles.  The world of business, for example, is this way – line items, spreadsheets , things that add up, that can be perfected. The legal system – not always perfect. but nonetheless a mind-numbing effort to actually write down all kinds of laws and instructions that cover all aspects of being human, a kind of umbrella code of conduct we should all  follow.
Perfection is crucial in building an aircraft, a bridge, or a high-speed train.  The code and mathematics residing just below the surface of the Internet is also this way.  Things are either perfectly right or they will not work.  So much of the world we work and live in is based upon being correct, being perfect.
But after this someone got through organizing everything just perfectly, he (or probably a she) was left with a bunch of stuff that didn’t fit anywhere – things in a shoe box that had to go somewhere. So in desperation this person threw up her arms and said “OK! Fine.  All the rest of this stuff that isn’t perfectible, that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else, will just have to  be piled into this last, rather large, tattered box that we can sort of push behind the couch.  Maybe later we can come back and figure where it all is supposed to fit in.  Let’s label the box ART.
The problem was thankfully never fixed, and in time the box overflowed as more and more art piled up.  I think the dilemma exists because art, among all the other tidy categories, most closely resembles what it is like to be human. To be alive.  It is our nature to be imperfect. To have uncategorized feelings and emotions. To make or do things that don’t sometimes necessarily make sense.
Art is all just perfectly imperfect.
Once the word Art enters the description of what you’re up to, it is almost like getting a hall pass from perfection.  It thankfully releases us from any expectation of perfection. In relation to my own work not being perfect, I just always point to the tattered box behind the couch and mention the word Art, and people seem to understand and let you off the hook about being perfect and go back to their business.”

Creating art isn't about being the most talented, or most admired. It's an experience between you, and your art. Last year, I participated in a local art class. It was simple enough, They provided the paint, the canvas, and the instructor, who walked us through, step by step, as we all created the same piece of (admittedly poor to mediocre art). I was shocked at the sense of achievement I felt, the freeing sense of creating, even though it wasn't even that spectacular. I was amazed I was even able to follow instructions. It was peaceful, relaxing, and FUN. It was, as Wilton said, perfectly imperfect. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Things I Sometimes Need to Be Reminded Of

Things I sometimes need to be reminded of, and my guess is that you might too:

  • It’s okay to start a book and not finish it. 
  • The dishes really can wait. (Until they really can’t.)
  • Live in the moment, but plan for the future.
  • Put down your phone already. 
  • Much of the time, the latest internet post isn’t as important as your time. 
  • Accept praise.
  • Accept failure.
  • Dance
  • Just because everyone feels this way at some point in their life, that doesn’t lessen the truth of your experience. 
  • Embrace it all, but keep striving for more. 
  • Practice patience with others. 
  • Practice patience with yourself (this is harder than being patient with others).
  • You don’t always have to be strong. 
  • You don’t always have to have the answers.
  • Keep your expectations high. It’s worth it. 
  • Don’t forget sunscreen. You’ll regret it if you do. 
  • Know your limits and embrace them. 
  • It's okay to be wrong sometimes.
  • Be careful about how/where/when you roll your eyes. 
  • Compromise in various situations (it’s necessary), but don’t compromise to the point of losing sight of the big picture.
  • In due time.
  • Just go for a walk. 
  • Comfortable shoes are worth it. 
  • Simplify.
  • Show appreciation for the little things, the big things, and the people that make them possible.
  • Breathe.
I know I’m missing some (see “You don’t always have to have the answers” and "It's okay to be wrong sometimes"), so what are some of the things you say to yourself to help you step back and reflect?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Being a mom without being a mom

I've blogged before, a few years ago, about my perspective of motherhood through being an aunt.  I feel like I have a unique situation that is often undervalued or under-minded by people who might not fully understand.  I'm not just an aunt.  I have dealt with the good and the bad.  I've spent sleepless nights with a sick child and I've spent days on the couch just trying to make it to bedtime.  I have more experience with children than a lot of people I know who actually have children.  But I'm not a mother. 

This brings me to my nephew, JD.  

Seriously though. He is the cutest.

I can't even begin to explain this kid to you.  He's funny and smart and so cute. He talks ALL THE TIME and he says the strangest, funniest things.  

Last weekend, my mom and dad went to my sister's house to stay with her boys while my sister and her husband attended a conference.  My sister had the boys paint wooden spoons as a Mother's Day gift for my mom.  JD got the spoons and gave them to my mom and, unprompted, said, "These are for Mother's Day. There are two for you and two for Zizi!"  I'm Zizi.  My mom came home and told me this and I just about lost it.  I had to text my sister immediately and thank her for sharing him with me.

Mother's Day isn't my favorite.  It reminds me of my Grandmother who passed away.  It reminds me that there are things in this life that I have always wanted that I don't yet have and that I have very little (if any) control over whether I will ever get those things.  

But then JD comes along.  He always thinks of me.  Not because someone else has prompted him, but because he loves me and because, through some stroke of luck, he and I just get each other.  This all sounds so sappy, but it's important.  It's important and meaningful for me to see that I have actually impacted his life, and the lives of my other nephews and niece, the way he has impacted mine.  It's important to feel this connection, which is so close to feeling like a mother without actually being a mother, and helps me feel like I am doing something good in my life.  It validates the time and energy I devote to helping raise my sister's kids.  It makes me feel so good.

JD is proof that you can be a mom without being a mom.  There are people out there, not just children, who need the kind of love and support only a mother can provide, even if it's just for a short while.  Unconditional love, a shoulder to cry on, a place to turn during good times and bad times.  That's what a mom is there for and that is something everyone is capable of providing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On Dealing With Pregnancy Loss

I'm here to talk about what no one wants to talk about. Or hear about. Or think about. But it's Mother's Day time, we've been talking about pregnancy and childbirth and it would be naive not to say anything about the other side of pregnancy. The side where pregnancy doesn't end with bringing a baby home from the hospital. The side that ends with a broken heart instead.

Did you know that 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage? That is a lot of women out there who are walking around with broken hearts. Often silently and alone. Why are we suffering in silence when it feels so good to comfort each other? Why are we so afraid to share our experience when nothing makes us feel better than hearing someone's story? Why can we talk about the babies that live but not about the babies that don't?

I lost a baby. Apparently 1 in 5 of my friends have too. My heart aches not just for myself but for anyone that has experienced miscarriage, at 4 weeks or at 40, your first child or your seventh, a planned pregnancy or a surprise, it is always a heart break. Here are some things I learned when dealing with my own loss. Everyone handles things differently and these are not rules of how you're supposed to handle your grief. These are mere suggestions to help you, my way to offer you comfort and to tell you I've been there.

Be gentle with yourself
We are our own worst critics and harshest judges, but this fragile time is a time to put that aside. Please, please be gentle with yourself. I was beating myself up about all sorts of things. Why hadn't I started trying earlier? What if I caused this by taking a particular medication or eating a certain food? Am I ruining my son's childhood because I'm not giving him the ideal sibling spacing that I wanted? Am I a failure as a mother if I can't give my son a sibling? At one point I imagined that it was my best friend who had gone through this and I was the one comforting her. None of these negative thoughts of blame would ever cross my mind, I would be nothing but compassionate and gentle to her. So why couldn't I treat myself the same way? No matter how much support from others we get, the biggest support we need is from ourselves.

Be honest about what you need
A few days after my miscarriage I had two friends approach me about watching their kids while they attended their obstetrician appointments. It was nothing I hadn't done before and I love helping out my friends, but it hurt. It hurt to see people going on with their pregnancies right when mine had ended. My wise husband knew I was upset and gently told me that no one could give me what I needed if they didn't know what that was. I could have told my friends what I was going through and that it was too hard right now and they would have understood. The people in your life want to help you, they want to ease your burdens, but they can't if you don't tell them what they are.

Give yourself time
Life's tragedies seem to happen at the worst possible times. For example when your husband is about to go out of town for three days and you have a toddler boy who strangers frequently describe as "very active" to chase after. But you need time, physically and mentally. It won't do anyone any good if you jump back into life too fast, you need time to start healing.

Become closer to your partner
The way I see it, everything that happens in life can either bring you closer together with your partner or further apart, no matter what it is. Let this bring you closer. Help your partner and let your partner help you. Men are different than women. Men grieve differently. Men see pregnancy differently. Men react differently to loss. This doesn't mean he isn't heart broken too. Keep communicating, keep leaning on each other, keep being honest and open with your feelings.

So to those heart broken women out there, may you be gentle with yourselves this Mother's Day. May you have the courage to ask for help. May you be strong enough to allow yourself to grieve. May you love yourself enough to put yourself first. May you find healing, not the healing that makes you forget the past, but the healing that gives you hope for the future. May each day bring a little less tears and a few more smiles. May you be unafraid to talk about your loss, to open your heart up to the love that others are waiting to pour in. May you be patient with the time it takes to start feeling yourself again. May you embrace the new you, for you will never be the same again but you can still be great.

Monday, May 5, 2014

That's Normal

*Nothing in this is meant to be given as medical advice or information. Do not take my word as a reasonable idea or treatment for anything in pregnancy. I have no formal education about obstetrics, and do not intend to sound as though I know anything about it. Seriously, this is not medical advice or even useful medical information, do not take it as so*

I can't tell you how many times I have heard "That's normal," in my 3 pregnancies.  A symptom I am so certain could not possibly be considered normal, and my doctor or nurse calmly explains "many pregnant women experience that, it's normal".  My real question is, how does one define normal in an experience that we are told is never the same and is completely different for every single person who experiences it?  I believe it is an excuse to try and avoid dealing with crazy, hormonal pregnant women.  i understand, I mean I often find myself thinking that they way I am acting is indeed certifiable, however, I also cannot seem to stop myself.  Here are some of the stranger/more annoying side effects I have come across.

-Not only did my feet swell into misshapen hippopotamuses in my first pregnancy (thanks to a transcontinental flight) but my feet actually grew.  As in after my son was born I couldn't fit into my favorite shoes anymore. It's one thing to have to work your way back into your wardrobe, expected even, but how am I supposed to work my feet into being smaller?!!

-Nose bleeds. All the time.  I never had a nose bleed in my life until I was pregnant.  And of course, as with any (seemingly) large amount of blood coming out of your body, I totally freaked out at first.  I thought I must have a brain tumor or a sinus infection or that I would loose so much blood it would hurt the baby.  All for naught, it's completely "normal". Increase blood flow and overly dry sinus create this wonderful side effect.

-Aching fingers.  Alright, I suppose I can accept the aching back, and extremely sore hips from hormones meant to stretch and open your pelvis (called relaxin, interestingly enough) but my fingers?  I mean come on! Why do I suddenly have to worry about typing or playing the piano (not that I had time for it) and the pain it could cause to yet another part of my body.

-Morning sickness, I know this is not a surprise to anyone, but I think the actual meaning can be.  Turns out, it's not just in the morning. It's non stop, all the time. Anytime you could be struck down with a fit of nausea and desires to never eat again. When I was pregnant with my daughter I couldn't stand french fries. Those delicious, crispy, salty, wonderful treat that goes so well with a burger? They were inedible trash.  And, if you are prone to bad morning sickness, meaning you can't eat for several days, well that's alright too.  As long as you can drink a little bit (8 oz in 24 hours) of water and are still urinating then you just have to wait it out.  Your doctor can give you recommendations for medication and other remedies, but it is not cureable.

-I have worn glasses most of my life, since I learned to drive and discovered that I was only seeing half of the world.  But, pregnancy actually made my eye sight worse.  I really wanted to spend that several hundred dollars replacing my otherwise fine glasses and sunglasses. Thanks.

-Headaches.  Another wonderful thing I experienced. You see I was a migraine neophyte. I had, of course, had the occasional head ache. I had slept strangely, or knocked my head, but nothing like this.  And I must say, I have great respect for anyone who suffers regularly from migraines. How they live every day and function is miraculous. My husband had to take several sick days from work so I could hide in the dark with heating pads and regular doses of tylenol.

Despite all of these strange and obnoxious side effects, I must leave you on a positive note.  I love my children.  Being a mom is my favorite thing, and I wouldn't trade it ever.  I am just not one of those gleefully happy pregnant women who flow through all 9 months without so much as a stretch mark (don't even get me started on those).   Even still, I would go through 9 months of strange side effects and uncomfortable-ness for each of my children again.  Even knowing the possible horrors that would arise.   Let's just remember, the next time someone tells you "Oh, that's normal, you're pregnant" it is perfectly alright to mentally slap them and think "normal my foot!". We won't judge you.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Taking Back C-Sections

Sometimes I read articles floating around in the blogging world about c-sections and I cry a little inside. I cry for any woman reading them that might end up having a c-section or has already had one. I cry for the women who have friends who delivered via c-section. I cry for myself because those articles make me feel like a big, fat, loser.

I'm a c-section mama.

I didn't spend my pregnancy eating brownie sundaes for breakfast and living on the couch. I spent my pregnancy choking down kale smoothies and plopping my fat cankles down on the treadmill every night.

I didn't spend my doctor's appointments asking what sort of unnecessary medical interventions we could perform so that I could increase my chance of having a c-section. I spent my doctor's appointments discussing the best options for my baby's health.

I didn't spend my delivery day "trying to take the easy way out." I spent my delivery day in 15 hours of labor, 2 hours of pushing, and then undergoing major abdominal surgery while awake and terrified.

I am a c-section mama and I gave birth to a beautiful baby.

Every woman deserves to feel like a powerful warrior after she gives birth, whether that's vaginally, surgically, or in a kiddie pool in your living room.

So let's talk about some ways we can celebrate our births, c-section style:

Birth photography:
A c-section birth story is still a birth story. It's beautiful, magical and powerful, and deserves to be documented. You might not be able to take pictures in the actual operating room but you can get plenty of beautiful shots of your new baby. Plus if you're having a scheduled c-section, how easy is it going to be to schedule a photographer?

Birth plan:
Birth plans aren't just for vaginal births. Believe it or not there are certain choices you can make about your c-section. *Most will depend on your particular hospital so be sure to research their individual rules. Some hospitals will let you have music playing as you give birth.  Some hospitals will let you use your hands to assist your baby out. You can write down that you'd like immediate chest to chest contact with your baby if possible. And you can ask the medical staff to keep personal conversation during the birth to a minimum. There are lots of choices you can make to make your c section feel more like a birth and less like a surgery and having them written down in a birth plan will help you communicate your needs.

Talk about your birth story:
So maybe your water didn't break in the middle of the grocery store and maybe you didn't give birth in the back of your minivan on the way to the hospital. Your birth story is still exciting. Tell it, share it, write about it, celebrate it, love it.

Having a c section doesn't mean you are less strong, less of a woman, less healthy, less capable, less anything. You are a mother and you brought a baby into the world. So next time you read an article that says c-sections are only for women who ate one too many cookies while they were pregnant, know that that's not true. Be proud of your c-section, it is a gift that gave you your baby, and maybe little by little that pride can help change some of the stigma out there.