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6 Life Hack Products for the New Baby

When I became a new mom, I learned quickly that you have to come up with some life hacks for the new baby to make it all work. For example, I had no idea that many snaps on baby clothing were so irritating, and I learned that zippers, for me, were the easier way to go. Learning life hacks for the baby was a learning process, and like many moms, I am still learning while I go.

Here are 6 baby hacks that make a new mom’s life easier:

1. Clothes that have feet and zippers:
Like I mentioned above, too many snaps annoy me. When I tried to put my first son in this cute little tiger outfit, I could not believe that there were like twenty snaps. I kept screwing up and could not figure out how those darn snaps worked on the legs. That is why I opted for zippers along the front – so much easier. It took me like five minutes less to get him dressed, and I am all about time saving.

Also, I love the outfits with the feet; this saved me from taking the time to find those itty bitty socks that disappear to another galaxy. I felt like an outfit with a zipper and feet gave me some of my life back, for real.

2. Plant a Bouncer in the bathroom
I never understood until I had children what mothers of young children meant when they said they didn’t have time to shower. For my first maternity leave, I pictured long baths while a baby slept contently in his crib. Ha! Hilarious. Once you leave that baby’s sight, even if he is sleeping, he will start to cry. I don’t know how, but babies know when their mother leaves them.

My fantasy long baths were just that – a fantasy. I found the best way to be able to clean myself was to bring a bouncer in the bathroom and set it up facing the shower. New moms quickly realize that it will be a long time before they shower or pee in privacy.

3. Don’t buy a changing table. Use a blanket on a changing pad.

I never bought a changing table. We used a bureau with a changing pad on top. I also received advice from a lady working at a baby thrift store to not even buy the changing pad covers. “Just use blankets,” she said, “don’t waste your money on the fancy covers, they poop all over them anyway, and blankets are not only cheaper, but they are easier to wash.” I wish I remembered this woman’s name because her advice about poop changed my life – poop, so much poop!

4. Use a click and connect stroller and car seat base
My click and connect stroller from Graco saved me. It was a life hack for my new baby that was key for me when traveling. Both of my boys always fell asleep in the car, and this product allowed me to easily lift the car seat out of the car, click it on my stroller, and be on my way without interrupting their sleep!

I also recommend the base that you strap into your car and then click this car seat into. This base made it so much easier for me when my second was born because I was able to just click the baby in while holding my toddler’s hand – instead of running around my car like a freak.

5. Make the swaddling madness easier by using SwaddleMes
Swaddling is a life hack in itself that quiets babies and helps them sleep. I always admired the nurses who so effortlessly swaddled my sons like perfect burritos, then I tried, and my swaddle resembled more of a piece of lettuce that was falling apart. I would even ask for tutorials, but I could never swaddle as well as those nurses. When I got home, and no nurses were in sight, I needed a baby hack and quick. That is when I discovered SwaddleMes that used velcro, and they were so fool proof that a chimp could use them. Just lay out the SwaddleMes like a blanket, then put your babes on top and velcro. No nurse needed.

6. Quiet your crying baby with the Shhh App
I was a huge fan of the book The Happiest Baby on the Block. In that book, one of the five major ways to quiet a baby was shushing over an over again. Sounds ridiculous – but it works. So I found myself shushing until I could barely breathe during long car rides. That’s why I was psyched to discover the shhh app. Press play, crank up the volume, and it does the shushing for you. This app has saved me valuable breathing time.

These are just some baby hacks that worked for me, and I learned some by accident, some out of desperation, and some from trial and error, because we mother’s find clever ways to make it work.

We want to hear from you. Please comment below about life hacks for your new baby that made your life easier.

Yes, Medically Speaking – You Are of “Advanced Maternal Age” Part 1

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Yes, during my second pregnancy I was what the medical field termed “advanced maternal age.” In other words: an old mom.

For those of you unfamiliar, in medical mommy world, you are considered of “advanced maternal age” when you reach the ripe old age of 35.

Now I was 34 when I got pregnant with my second child, and for three glorious months there was no mention of the above term; apparently, for those few months I was still just a typical mom, but as soon as my 35th birthday rolled around, I received much more than a cake. It was like I went from being an average mom to one who was old – literally overnight.

From then on at every appointment, I was reminded that I was of advanced maternal age.

All of a sudden, more appointments, tests, etc. were being added because of my age. It was almost as if the insurance wouldn’t cover anything extra until I hit this magical number, and once I hit 35, the extra appointments and tests were insane.

When I asked why I was receiving all of this sudden attention, the standard response was always – you are of advanced maternal age.

At least this is better than the older term (pun intended) “geriatric pregnancy”. That term makes me picture an elderly lady nursing who has a cane.

Now I understand that there are some risks when you become a mother later in life. And I feel that some of these tests were certainly necessary, but I also feel that they became a bit overly excessive at the end of my pregnancy.

I also admit that the constant reminders that I was of advanced maternal age made me irritable, and I still do not see the need to constantly throw around this semi-derogatory term. 

Additionally, I think that there are more factors to consider than just a woman’s age when it comes to pregnancy. I had a healthy first pregnancy, and every test during my second pregnancy I passed with flying colors.

There were no risks identified throughout; yet even up until the birth of my second child, I was barraged with extra appointments, tests, etc., and in spite of having insurance, I encountered numerous extra charges, and I could not help but wonder if it was all absolutely necessary.

So I did some digging, and it turns out that there are a lot of different takes on the subject.

I first stumbled upon these details on Evidence Based Birth.

It refers to previous studies that show having a baby with down syndrome at term increases from 1 in 939 at age 30, to 1 in 353 by age 35, and 1 in 85 by age 40.

Studies also found an increase in miscarriages in mothers who were 35 and older, but interestingly this number was not a significant increase from ages 30-35. At age 30 there is an 18% rate, and at 35, there is a 20% risk. At age 40, this doubles to a 40% rate.

Researchers point to the fact that most of these studies lump five years of women’s ages together.

So a 39-year-old-women’s risk factors were averaged with a 35-year-old-women’s risk factors. This is one reason why some experts are saying that not all advanced maternal pregnancies should be labeled as high risk and more factors should be considered than just age.

Science News explores this concept further in the article, “A Mother’s Age Doesn’t Matter, Studies Suggest.”

Laura Kenny, a mother who was labeled as a mother of advanced maternal age with her second pregnancy and also a writer for Self, experienced many of the same feelings I did and delved into the research too.

In her article, “Is Having a Baby Over 35 Really as Risky as We Thought?”, she stated this quote by Doctor Sarah K. Kilapatrick: “Age by itself should not be major criteria for a high-risk pregnancy. It’s really age plus whatever else is going on with that woman.”

After a little digging and reflection, my personal verdict is that some tests and screenings early on for pregnant women 35 and older can help identify risks and set up these women for healthier pregnancies, so I tend to be grateful for the extra care and attention I received during the first half of my pregnancy.

However, after numerous tests, and being deemed fine over and over again, I am still confused about the excessive appointments and tests towards the end of my pregnancy. For example, the non-stress test, which only resulted in extra stress that I didn’t need.

I will delve into this and more next week in Part 2 of Yes, Medically Speaking I am of “Advanced Maternal Age.”

Suggested Further Reading

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

What to Expect Before You’re Expecting: The Complete Guide to Getting Pregnant

Recommended Product:

The Velociraptor of Guilt Shows Its Head Again During Maternity Leave

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I have a difficult time relaxing.

Ever since I was a child, I had to be constantly doing something mental or physical. I have numerous memories of being on vacation with my parents, and they just wanted to take a justifiable breath and relax, but I always had other plans.

“What are we doing today? I’m bored. Let’s go!”
I was so so that kid.

My parents figured out how to keep me entertained with books, crafts, and an uncanny obsession with 3-2-1 Contact and The Wizard of Oz, but as a parent now, I can only imagine how much of an annoying little kid I must have been: intuitive or not.

I would have driven my own adult self – crazy.

This preface relates to my situation right now. For the last two months leading up to my second son’s birth, I was basically working double time as a teacher while writing approximately 12,000 words a week.

I felt that I had to do this in order to save for a month of maternity leave and because I was about to stop teaching to write and stay home with my two children.

Anyhow, I successfully was able to save for a month of maternity leave while also convincing my writing clients to give me this break and making sure I had more than enough ongoing work to help pay the bills after a month of leave.

It should be known that I worked my tail off to make this all possible, and it took tremendous determination, organization, and discipline to pull it all off.

Although it really shouldn’t be anyone’s business how I made it justifiably happen, I still find myself constantly feeling the need to defend myself even when people who genuinely know me know that I am intelligent and analytical when making life-changing decisions, and outsiders have no idea about the full context of my situation.

But again, I digress.

The point is that I am currently on a month leave, and just like that little redheaded girl on vacation, I am having a difficult time relaxing. I have felt tempted to write thousands of words again, and even though I have more than enough work for when my month ends, I find myself scouring Upwork for more writing jobs.

It is almost like I have an addiction to the challenge of obtaining them.

Many people in my life have told me that I need to learn to relax. My husband (also my complete balancing opposite) tells me to chill quite frequently. I apparently have issues with “chilling”.

Although I know how incredibly important it is to bond and relax with my newborn son, and although I am more than aware that I earned this time, I still feel like a restless little kid, and I also feel guilty.

Yes, the guilt always manages to shine through and peep its ugly velociraptor head through the door.

The funny thing is that I see a lot less of this velociraptor lately.

I used to see him everywhere: creeping in the shower, on my morning commutes, on my computer, etc.

He used to be all around, but I do feel I have somewhat tamed the beast, even though he is still there, drooling with his sharp fangs – beckoning me to come closer.

The truth is that although my children are my world, It’s hard being a mom in today’s world.

You are damned if you work and damned if you don’t and damned if you compromise.

You are damned if you breastfeed or use formula.

You are damned if you go a mile a minute or move at a slower pace.

Everyone seems to be an “expert” and everywhere you look you seem to be damned.

The question I ask myself now is how come I feel so damned after I found a way to take care of me?

Here lies the problem.

Part of this is my own fault. I am still that restless little kid who always needs something to do, but the unrealistic societal expectations are also contributors.

Why is it that so many women feel that whatever they choose, they just can’t win?

I, for one, don’t get it.

Here is my take: Do what works for you and your family. After all, you know yourself and them best.

As long as you are doing your best, loving yourself and your family, and causing no pain, who am I to judge?

Even I have had to accept that there is more than one right way to raise a child.

So today I am going to send my two-year-old to daycare (we have in him there for another month), and I am going to lie on the couch, kick my feet up, and put my newborn on my chest, and I am going to binge watch Girl Boss on Netflix.

I do not care to hear any opinions on this decision, and when the snarling velociraptor peers at me from my living room corner, I am going to chuck a rattle at him and watch as he temporarily disappears for a couple of hours.

I am going to force myself to relax until the urge to do the laundry, clean the kitchen, and search for more writing jobs takes over again.

Further Suggested Reading

Maternity Leave: A Novel

The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave: Avoid Burnout, “Bad Mom Syndrome,” and Other Common Pitfalls of Motherhood

 Leave Guilt (thisbrightonmum.com)

 

Second Birth: More Like Being Plowed with a Bike Instead of a Mack Truck

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It’s now been nine days since I gave birth to my second son, Liam. Although it has not been long, my experience so far has been much different than I anticipated.

For one, I was terrified how my older son would react to Liam, as explained in my last post. I feared my older son, Parker, would have major freak outs, meltdowns, and jealous tantrums, but I have lucked out so far, and Parker has been more of a helper, fetching blankets and diapers and making me more than aware when the baby cries for even two seconds. He also kisses Liam’s head and pats his back to burp him.

I feel like I lucked out, but yes, there are also moments when Parker wants me to hold him while I am nursing Liam: this, of course, is an impossible feat. Sometimes Parker also tells me to put Liam in the Rock ‘n Play so he can play with me, and he gives me the lip curl of sadness if I do not abide.

These moments do tug at my heartstrings because although Parker is adjusting much better than I could have anticipated, he is still adjusting. And even though he undoubtedly cares deeply for this new little human in the family, he also is dealing with a loss of the way life once was. So yes, I feel lucky that Parker seems to be excited about his new baby brother, but I also know that there are a lot of emotions that he probably doesn’t understand about the whole situation.

I also want to mention that Parker doesn’t quite understand that he can’t pick up the baby on his own. He needs to be constantly supervised around Liam or else he tries to feed him pizza, offer him his toy cars, or give him a pillow (I no longer turn my back for even 10 seconds). None of these behaviors are malicious, in fact, they are actually endearing, for Parker doesn’t understand that the last things Liam needs right now are a slice of pizza and a pillow. 

But overall, I am blessed and incredibly fortunate for my little family. This time around I feel more rested, less anxiety, and more of a sense of calmness than I did the first time around. I was not expecting this.

I was a train wreck after Parker was born. This was not his fault; I just had no idea what I was getting into after the birth of my first child. Everything was new, uncertain, and somewhat terrifying. I mean I used to sometimes poke the poor kid in the middle of the night just to make sure he was breathing; I do not do this with Liam. I am just more relaxed, and my demeanor is more peaceful (for now).

Don’t get me wrong, I am tired, and my first outing with a newborn and toddler in the car (outnumbering me) was a bit terrifying, but I have a tendency to always prepare myself for the worst, and so far, I am grateful that I actually do not feel like I have been hit by a Mack Truck and spewed out onto the highway. 

I just feel like I have been plowed over by a bike, and this I can deal with, but I am also well aware that variables rarely stay constant with parenting, so check-in with me again next week.

Further Suggested Reading

SECOND LABOR: Mothers Share POST-Birth Stories: Twenty-Four Mothers Write Bold, Honest Accounts About Life with a Newborn 

The Second Baby Survival Guide

Why Having Babies Close Together is not as Hard as You Think

Dear Liam: A Letter to My Unborn Son

Dear Liam,

I am not going to lie to you son,
the world is in rough shape
and there are many conflicts that I cannot explain or fathom. I would like to be able to say that I will shield you from all the indecencies of it all, but truth has always been a constant of my nature.

I would like to say I could melt away all the injustices, but again, deception is not the answer.

However, my dearest unborn son,

I can tell you this: Although darkness resonates, there are still glorious patches of sunlight that we must explore. It will be up to you to seek that light and revel in its beauty, for you must never forget that it does exist.

I only hope that you learn to find the rays amid the mist
and faith within the blackened sea.

I can only expose you to people who love, tolerate, encourage and believe in those tracts of hope that you will walk upon.

I can only show you peaceful rivers, majestic mountains, fields of sunflowers, and calm skies as reminders that beauty does, indeed, prevail.

I can only teach you to be kind, respectful, empathetic, and faithful.

I can only do my best to magnify the good. To relish the importance of a handshake, a shared meal, a quest towards peace, a stranger’s act of charity.

I can only hold your hand and guide you to the rays of a sunrise—where we will someday sit and gaze at the overwhelming beauty of it all, and I will be reassured as sprinkles of light dance among your forehead.

Suggested Reading:

Dear Child: Letters to My Unborn Child Journals for the Soul

A Letter to My Unborn Son: Here’s What I Promise You by Laura Marie Meyers

I Surrender: How A Mother’s Second Pregnancy Taught Her To Relax a Little With Her First Born

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It was seven months into my second pregnancy when I chose moments to surrender.

It occurred one evening when I was feeling quite ill, achy, irritated, and hormonal.

My second pregnancy had been much more difficult than my first, and although it was healthy and could have been much worst, running after my two-year-old while pregnant was something I still do not have a proper comparison for, but I will try:

A marshmallow man trying to put out fires for hours on end, a penguin chasing a gazelle, a blob of slime being asked to transform into an energetic princess. .. okay, you get the idea.

I was always on my son. If he was throwing blocks, I told him to stop, if he was drawing on his hands, I redirected him, if he was emptying his toy box, I was right behind him telling him to clean up.

I was on it: always.

And then this one evening my son climbed up on his chair and began throwing Christmas cards on the floor.

I had just finally lain down on the couch and getting up was becoming quite a chore.

I looked at him and was about to get up to stop him; but instead, I didn’t.

I didn’t say one word. I didn’t attempt to interject. I just lay there…motionless and ignored him.

You heard me right. This was a moment, keyword: moment–when I chose to surrender.

He wasn’t in danger, he wasn’t hurting anyone, and I didn’t think he would turn into an evil being because I didn’t stop him from throwing cards on the floor.

In fact, he got bored once he noticed I wasn’t paying attention to him and switched gears to build a tower.

And then the next day, when he was outside playing, I let him step into his wet sandbox—shoes on and all.

I didn’t run to stop him. I didn’t yell at him. Again, I had a moment of surrender.

He eventually realized the shoes were uncomfortable and requested to go inside and change them.

Now I chose these moments carefully, and mind you, that in those two days there were probably hundreds of moments when I did interject.

It wasn’t like I was letting my kid flail around knives, tip over candles, or eat lightbulbs (all of which I have prevented in the past), but I did let him throw cards and get his shoes wet.

I had a couple moments of surrender, and I feel that this is okay.

Now I know that some may disagree with me. I can hear the comments now, but most probably relate.

I needed a few moments of surrender–now and then–to preserve my sanity.

Like many pregnant mothers with toddlers, I was exhausted, guilt-stricken, and achy.

I was lacking the mobility, patience, and energy that I had before.

Because of this, I admit, I loosened up a bit.

Now I don’t want you thinking that I just let my kid run haywire. Not at all.

I just let go of the idea of perfection.

I let go of being able to correct every little thing.

I began to give my firstborn a little more space.

And instead of viewing this as negative, I viewed the positivity in allowing moments of surrender.

Being pregnant while chasing after my toddler provided me the realization that my firstborn was going to have to figure some stuff out for himself.

I knew that once my second child arrived, there was no way I would be able to be on my first born like I had been for the last two-and-a-half years.

So sometimes when my son was clawing at me and demanding apple juice after I just gave him a full cup of milk, I would tell him, “Sorry, little man, not right now. Mommy needs a little downtime. Now would be a good time for you play with your trains. Give mommy fifteen minutes.”

Sometimes this amount of time was not possible and if my son somehow found the superglue that I did not even know existed, obviously my time was cut short, but after trying this a few times, he soon got the idea, and I ended up getting less peanut butter handprints on my shirt and more time on the couch.

Being pregnant while chasing a toddler also made me realize that daddy needed to step up more. I couldn’t swing my toddler around like I used to, I couldn’t run after him like I used to, and I knew I needed to get some rest before baby #2 arrived.

This is why my husband needed to take on more responsibilities. Two months before my due date, my husband became responsible for all of my son’s wakeups. My toddler was going through a nightmare stage, and I had always been the one who took care of the majority of these nighttime wakes.

I knew from previous experience, that once the new baby arrived, I would be taking care of all of the nighttime wakings for a newborn. This was due to a lot of breastfeeding and the fact that I tend to wake up anyway when I hear a newborn whimper.

So I knew that in a short matter of time, there would be no way I was going to wake up with both of them. Daddy should start preparing now–and he did. 

Daddy also received a little less time in the garage and was responsible for more meals. He even took on some laundry. These changes needed to be implemented before the new baby came home, and these changes made a world of difference.

Still, there were a few moments of surrender that had not happened before I was pregnant, but again, these moments were okay.

As you can see from above, these moments of surrender resulted in a few epiphanies and a lot of good.

So the next time you have a moment of surrender, I want you to not beat yourself up. I want you to know that you are amazing. I want you to know that you need a breather every once in a while, and as long as your child is safe and doing no harm, now and then, it’s okay to sit back and let him throw a few cards on the floor. . .

just try to make sure that he picks them up later.

Suggested further reading:

Check out another blog I wrote for peacequarters.com called Why I Was Fearfully Uncertain to Give Birth to my Second Child.

Twice Blessed: Everything You Need To Know About Having A Second Child– Preparing Yourself, Your Marriage, And Your Firstborn For A New Family Of Four by Joan Leonard

The Second Baby Survival Guide: How to stay calm and enjoy life with a new baby and a toddler by Naia Edwards

Did You Really Just Say That? 8 Crazy Questions and Comments that I have Encountered while being Pregnant

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When I became pregnant with my first child, I was not prepared for the unsolicited advice, inappropriate comments, and awkward questions that I would receive.

I had no idea that being pregnant would cause some people to think that my sexuality, body, and personal convictions were up for discussion, even with strangers.

I admit, it caught me totally off guard. It seems that everyone has an opinion: my closest friends, neighbors, strangers in the grocery line, etc.

It is a topic that I now know is quite common (see here), but at the time when I was pregnant with my first child, it was a startling learning experience.

Now I am pregnant with my second child and nothing seems to surprise me. Still, I feel that others should be cognizant of the comments and questions they ask pregnant women.

After all, I am fully aware that a lot of this unsolicited advice and curiosity comes from a very innocent place, but I also feel that there needs to more tact and consideration.

That is why I feel that it is important to share my story so that maybe others can learn and be thoughtful when you see that next pregnant lady in the grocery line.

These are the top crazy questions and comments that I have encountered while being pregnant:

1. Well, if you are having a girl, don’t feel like you have to get an abortion.

I am going to start off with the craziest, most inappropriate comment I ever received while being pregnant. It took place in a thrift shop when I was perusing baby clothes.

This random lady came up to me and looked at the cute little pair of newborn blue jeans I was holding, as well as my ever-expanding belly, and asked, “What are you having?”

“I am not sure yet,” I responded.

“Well, if you are having a girl, don’t feel like you have to get an abortion.”

My mouth dropped.

“So many people get an abortion nowadays because it’s a girl, and in other countries…”

This is when I stopped listening. No expansion needed.

2. Was it planned?

This next question was quite common, but it still took me by surprise. The main reason it annoyed me was because even though our baby had been planned, what if the opposite had been true?

Would I answer nope, not planned at all? It also seemed a bit more personal than I felt comfortable with.

Or what if I answered, “Yes, it was planned, we got it on for months before it happened.” I am well aware of the attitude in this last phrase, but the was it planned question got to me.

I guess I just didn’t feel that that information should be important to others. What was important is that we were having a baby.

The future was what I wanted to focus on.

My standard answer to this question ended up being, “We are very excited for this baby.” And then I would change the subject.

So many times I did want to be a wise ass and say comments like the following: “Oh, you are supposed to plan these things? Or, “Yes, and it was fantastic!

Here are some more hilarious responses to that question from a BabyCenter blog by Katherine Martin.

I wish I said them all.

3. You are drinking a Coffee!

This is another comment that did not come from an evil place.

It has been important for me to recognize that a lot of people say inappropriate comments because they actually care about you.

Still, I encountered freak outs when having my one latte for the day.

You’re going to end up with a caffeine-induced baby.” Or, “What are you thinking? That is so bad for the baby!”

You get the picture.

My response was always something to the effect,”The baby is doing great, thank you. My doctor said that actually, a couple cups of coffee a day is fine, but thanks for your concern.”

Moving on.

4. Are you really sure there is only one in there?

This is usually said in a humorous way, but it is still irritating. Yes, I am getting fat; I am pregnant.

No, it does not mean that I am octomom; it just means that my body made space for a watermelon that was not there before.

How about rephrasing this question to a compliment, “You look vibrant today.” That’s a comment that would have been welcomed as I waddled to the checkout line.

5. You need to gain more weight!

On the opposite end, I also received this comment: You need to gain more weight!

I did not know everyone was a doctor.

I was told many times that I needed to eat more, I was not big enough, etc. Now, this is different than the comment, “You do not look (insert amount of months) pregnant.”

This did not bother me but telling me that I had to gain weight was an entirely different story.

My response to this one was “At my recent appointment, my doctor said I was measuring perfectly.”

I have learned that people seem to respond quite well when you quote doctors.

6. How long did you try to get pregnant?

Again, personal. We are talking about sex here, and it’s one thing for my dearest girlfriends to ask this question, but another for a random stranger.

Yes, strangers asked me this question. . . a couple times.

I do not feel like having small talk about how often my husband and I tried to conceive.

Next topic, please.

7. You’ll never sleep again.

Again, this is usually said with the best of intentions, but it drove me nuts!

I am having insomnia every night, I wake up to pee every hour, and my bowling ball of a stomach is making it difficult to even sleep comfortably on my side.

I do not need to hear that it gets worst.

Now truth be told, it does, but I didn’t need to hear that at the time.

How about asking, “How are you feeling? Have you been getting any rest?”

I would have appreciated these questions.

8. You are planning on a natural childbirth, that is not going to happen honey.

This comment also caught me off guard. My goal was to have a natural childbirth for personal reasons that should not matter to anyone else.

But when some people found out that was what I was planning, the responses were anything from scowls to flat out telling me that it wasn’t going to happen.

A woman who has chosen to try to have a natural childbirth needs encouragement. She needs others to believe in her. She needs support.

She does not need the opposite.

Yes, a natural birth is difficult. . . VERY DIFFICULT. But it is possible, and support is key. After all, our species did survive for centuries before epidurals, and just like the decision to use medication during childbirth, a natural approach is a personal choice.

It’s important that I reiterate that I know a lot of these comments and questions were not malicious in nature. In fact, quite the contrary, but I do feel that all of us need to have a little more self-awareness when speaking to a pregnant woman.

This goes for me as well. Before I became pregnant, I am sure I probably said at least a couple of these comments and questions.

But being the receiver changes things, and I also recognize that a pregnant woman’s hormones can sometimes make already sensitive topics even more so.

I think it’s important to really think about the comment you are making and the question you are asking.

Does it feel inappropriate?

Would you ask a person this who was not pregnant?

Is this question too personal?

Would I feel comfortable responding to this comment or question?

These are the questions we should be asking ourselves before pouncing on that pregnant lady who really just wants her one latte, some ice cream, a good night’s sleep, and your support.

Suggestions for further reading:

Pregnancy is not an Invitation to Comment on My Body by Jessica N. Turner

8 Compliments Every Pregnant Woman Wants to Hear by Devan McGuinness

Here’s to All the Mothers Out There

mother-429158_960_720Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who do their best each day
Who stay at home, who go to work, who meditate, who pray.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who with the sun do rise
Who watch TV, who read books, who sing constant lullabies.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who do what works for them
Who co-sleep, don’t sleep, or enjoy a crib.

Here’s to all the mothers out there who nourish how they decide
Who use a bottle who use a boob,
Who take each for a ride.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who deal with a shrieking cry

Who wait a bit, who jump right in, who pause a moment and sigh.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who compare themselves to others
Who look in on friends, relatives,
and especially their own mothers.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who have just had a rough day
Who took it out on the ones they love, who let it sink in and stay.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who reevaluate the concept of time
Who now treasure it so dearly, who pack away the rhymes.

Here’s to all the mothers who
Will do whatever they can
To make sure that little baby
Grows up into a decent woman or a man

Here’s to all the mothers out there who know that they are all different too
Who recognize, that despite these differences,
They still have
The right to choose.

But, you see, there is another great lesson that motherhood has taught me,
And I will take with me above

We all have one universal truth in common
and that, of course, is
love.

Suggested Further Reading:

Brave New Mama by Vicki Revard

 

 

Yes, Medically Speaking, I am of “Advanced Maternal Age” Part 2

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This post is continued from last week, and you can read Part 1 here

The non-stress test

The non-stress test was a weekly test that began around 32 weeks into my pregnancy; they put a strap on me that monitored fetal movement by recording my baby’s heartbeat as he moved. I was told that I needed to have this done because of my advanced maternal age, and there was an increased risk of stillbirth. I found out later, that there are contradicting views about this test, that I will discuss later.

The non-stress test certainly stressed me out the first time, but luckily my baby was like a Mexican jumping bean, so I relaxed a little in the future. Still, these weekly appointments took a lot of time, If I failed this test, there would be a concern (even though the baby could just be sleeping), and I would have to stay for longer.

I was teaching at the time and told them I had to schedule these in the afternoon although they encouraged me to schedule them during my first teaching period when the baby was usually more active. Like I said before, I was lucky my baby was acrobatic. I never failed one of these time-consuming things. And I had to wonder were they necessary? I would have been okay with even every other week, but weekly?

Interestingly enough experts don’t seem to agree on this procedure for advanced maternal age mothers. Some hospitals do them based on age, and some hospitals don’t. Helpful, I know.

According to High-Risk Pregnancy 101, “although the non-stress test is readily available and used by many providers, it is not really backed up by robust evidence as interpretations can vary by a great extent between providers, and the predictive value (reassurance it provides) is not as good as some of the other tests available.”

I even asked a friend who was an OBGYN about this, and he said that every week non-stress tests just because a patient is 35  seemed excessive … Still, I did what I was told even though my insurance did not even cover all of these weekly tests.

As a mother, I want to do what is best for my children, and I place a lot of trust in my providers, even though I had an inkling that some of these tests were unnecessary. I am also very aware that I am not a doctor. Where I got confused was when the different doctors couldn’t even agree.

I also was told at my 38 week check up that there was a new policy that had been in place for all of the mothers who were of advanced maternal age, and I needed to have a full profile done that would take a couple of hours.

“Is this really necessary?” I asked. Especially since it apparently hadn’t been until up to two weeks ago.

Of course, I received another yes.

And so I went to this appointment too. When I arrived at the imaging facility, the nurse asked why I was having the profile done, which consisted of another detailed ultrasound, even though I already had an anatomy one and a couple of others that all looked wonderful. She asked if there had been risk factors, etc. I could only respond, “I am 35.”

She didn’t respond. It appeared she was not even familiar with this new “necessary” procedure.

I was 38 weeks pregnant. Why the heck was I even here, I wondered. But again, I did it because I was told and then received a bill for almost $300!

Again, I will pay anything if I think it is necessary for the health of my child, but at 38 weeks, what was the point of another ultrasound? I was going to have this baby, just leave me alone already and let me have it. That is the way I felt at the end.

It was then reminded of one of my earlier doctor appointments. It was after I had found out that everything with my genetic screening test had come back perfectly. According to the results, I had one healthy baby boy.

Of course, this made me ecstatic because I had been reminded endless times of how I was a high-risk pregnancy, but the results were clear, and I was happy.

This, unfortunately, did not last long. A doctor whom I had never met before, sat on her stool and said the following, “I know you received your screening results, and it said that there was nothing wrong, but I want you to know that you are of advanced maternal age, and you could still have a child with issues. The tests do not tell us everything, and you are at risk because of your age, so I want you to be aware.”

Geez! I thought. Is this woman for real? It was at that appointment when I began to question what the point in telling me over and over again that I am of advanced maternal age was?

I was pregnant, and I was going to have that baby, all these reminders were doing were stressing the crap out of me. And what good was constantly telling me that I was of advanced maternal age doing for me? What positive was coming from it?

Honestly, it was just pissing me off and stressing me out.

Since I turned 35, the term advanced maternal age popped up at EVERY appointment. I wanted to throw my shoe at anyone who said it towards the end or beat them to the punch and say, “Yes! I know I am of advanced maternal age!”

One thing’s for sure, I have learned a lot about being of advanced maternal age this year, and I want to be frank and say that I do not have all of the answers about what should and should not be done. However, I do think there needs to be more discussions and education about all of the excessive tests instead of just telling a woman she needs them because she is of advanced maternal age.

I also think that age is just one of many factors, and although it should be considered, I think that a pregnant woman should be viewed as a whole and there should be a more individualistic approach. Lastly, just tell pregnant women who are age 35 and over that they are of advanced maternal age once. Seriously, take us into your office, give us some details, introduce the term, and be done with it.

Believe me, we women of advanced maternal age only need to hear it once.

Just Go With It (Concerned about Your Firstborn as You Are About to Pop with Your Second Little Bean)

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Note: Soon after writing this post, I did, indeed, pop. Liam was born two days ago, and we are doing splendidly. He will meet Parker this afternoon. More updates to come, but for now, let’s go back in time:

As I write this, I am 39 weeks pregnant and feeling like I am about to pop any day now. I have been taking advantage of the extra time I was able to spend with my two-year-old son, Parker before baby Liam makes his appearance into this world.

I treasure the moments my first born son says, “Mommy hold me,” or when he hands me rocks on our morning walks.

Lately, as I watch Parker, I frequently wonder how he is going to react to a new baby brother. He is such a mama’s boy, and I sometimes feel that he understands more about what is going on than we give him credit for.

The other day, he put his hand on my stomach and said, “Baby coming soon,” which is what I have been telling him, but afterward, I swear I heard him say, “Don’t have him.” It was so quick that I am thinking maybe I misinterpreted his toddler jargon…or not. Either way, Liam is coming soon, and I am aware that our well-constructed routine is about to go haywire.

Although I am so excited about the upcoming birth of my second son, I also know that our worlds will never be the same and so much is about to change.

I think these thoughts as Parker crawls upon me and says, “I’m your monkey,” which quickly changes to him lying in my arms and saying, “I’m your baby.” This is a comment that he only started around a month ago, and again, I wonder if he is just being a funny little boy or if he knows something more.

I have heard various stories about how siblings react to a new baby. My mom loves telling the story about how I used to throw toys at my baby brother while he was nursing. Now I was only 18 months old, but this image of me, as a red-headed toddler, chucking toys at a baby’s head is an interesting one.

On the other hand, I have heard stories about children who loved their new sibling from the start and never wanted to leave their new sibling’s side.

The truth is, I have no idea how Mr. Parker is going to react, and this is just another aspect of motherhood that is beyond my control.

We do the best we can to love our children and do what we feel is best for them, and sometimes we just have to go with the flow and catch the pieces as they fall.

Lately, I have felt incredibly blessed. I can say, without a doubt, that I am happy. I am able to spend more time with my children while also maintaining my sense of self through writing and editing.

It is a time in my life when I took a leap, and things seemed to fall into place; however, I am well aware that I am in for a change, and it is going to be a crazy balancing act with two children in tow, while also working from home. I am well aware that it is not going to be all fairies and unicorns.

No one ever said it was ever going to be easy.

I have made my life simpler, and I have finally looked out for my own well-being more than I have in the past, but I am still aware that there are some adjustments to come, and only so many preparations can be made until you have to wait and let the chips fall where they may.

When Parker was born, my life changed in the most profound way, and I cannot even describe that change with words.

I have a feeling the arrival of Liam will feel the same on many levels, and my husband and I will adjust to this new, blessed life, just like we did before. It may take some time, but eventually, Parker will adjust too.

Like I mentioned before, sometimes you just have to go with it and let the chips fall where they may.

Suggestions for further reading:

Here is a blog post I wrote for Peace Quarters on how to raise resilient children.

Twice Blessed:Everything You Need to Know About Having a Second Child. Preparing Yourself, Your Marriage, and Your First Born for a Family of Four by Joan Leanard–This book is the best book I read about how to prepare for a second child.

I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole–This is the book we read to Parker about adding a baby to the family.

Cruise Control

The decision to quit my teaching job and stay home was one of the most thought out and analyzed decisions I have ever made in my 35 years of life. With one week left until I begin working at home part-time and being a stay-at-home mother, I reflect on leaving a career I love and a job I am good at, while still reaffirming that this is what is best for me.

I have trouble with uncertainty. I am one of those people who always seems to have a plan. But teaching has taught me that sometimes plans can go awry, and there are many times you have to just go with your gut. In many ways, teaching has made me a better person and enriched my life. My students have taught me more than many adults ever could.

One day, I may indeed return to this incredible yet intense career, but for now, I have to take a leap. I am excited to say that this leap has already resulted in some amazing writing opportunities for me, and we are going to be just fine.

But this poem occurred before all of this. This poem is about the personal epiphany that I needed to make a change. It was when I realized that I just was not a person who could strike a healthy balance with what I currently had on my plate.

It is about a moment that was flooded with emotions: recognition, fear, uncertainty…But it was also a freeing moment, in which I had an immense amount of faith. Deep in my gut, I knew it would work out. Deep in my gut, I knew I could create options.

It was a scary, yet freeing moment when I had to push aside the thoughts and views of others and put my personal well-being first, and it all occurred on a drive home.

I was, indeed, coasting along in cruise control. This poem is about figuring out that if I didn’t start paying attention soon, I was going to keep on missing the miles.

I hope you enjoy the poem and please share and comment below.

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Cruise Control

There are spans of time when we are on cruise control.

We weave around corners; we follow the line.
We rarely gaze out the window at the mountainous edges below.

We wander the speed zones;
we relish the mode.

Sometimes–
we even forget we are driving.

Then, one morning, the pattern transpires:
a silhouette across the road, a bellowing horn, a flickering headlight.

We are immediately jerked into a wakeful oblivion.

We slam on the brakes and begin questioning everything.

We contemplate the loss of time, like trickling sand through clenched fists.

And the epiphany becomes very real, although we have been harboring it all along.

Suddenly, we notice more:
the streaks of sunset in the rearview mirror,
the ocean-
on our way home.

More suggested readings:

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe