13 September, 2012

risk taking



your mother takes risks.

i just do. and it's not because i am brave. it's because really i just follow my gut and i do what it says. i leap before i consider the consequences. for me, taking the time to really work through the what ifs has always made me feel so uneasy. so i just do. and then i trust.

it's been that way as long as i can remember. and i'm not sure why. i'm not sure where it comes from. gradndpop and grandmom are the opposite of risky. so i didn't learn it from them. and i don't take risky risks. i never used drugs (well, the dangerous ones). i never smoked cigarettes. i didn't drink until i was (nearly) old enough. i never drove drunk.

the risks i'm talking about are the more exciting ones.

like deciding at age 19 to visit my dear friend in israel when it was almost a daily occurrence to see reports of bus bombs on the news. i booked the ticket and then i thought about it. and then i told grandmom. she was thrilled.

when i was in europe i slept in atm machines and on the side of railroad tracks. and when the friend i was with was driving me bananas, i split and finished the trip alone. and later that night when my head hit the pillow, i worried about how nervous it made me to travel alone.

i visited cuba even though it's "illegal" to do so.

i registered for my yoga teacher training course before really evaluating what it would mean to my life at the time. i just registered. paid in full. and then figured it out.

i registered for my childbirth educator program when i was eight months pregnant with you. and it ended up taking me over three years to complete the two year program. i hadn't thought it through. i just wanted to do it so i did.

the first birth i attended was because on a whim one day i thought i would like to be a doula. i asked my sweet friend if she would allow me to attend her birth and she welcomed me graciously. i signed up for the training program that day.

i quit my first teaching job after five years because i wasn't happy there. i left a tenured position without having another one lined up. because i figured i would work it out. and i did.

i met your dad and he moved in with me three months later. and we were engaged two months after that. we got pregnant with cooper on purpose before our wedding because we couldn't wait to be parents. i didn't worry about what that meant for us as teachers. or for me as a daughter or as a grand-daughter.

so i just do. and then figure it out.



that goes for this blog, as well. i write what i feel. i write what i believe needs to be said. sometimes i write to remind me of how challenging it was to be your mom and so that other moms will know they aren't alone. and sometimes i write for justice for birthing women and for mothers everywhere. and i truly hope that i accomplish even just a little bit of that.


but when i hit the "publish" button, especially after a couple of my riskier posts (you all know which ones i am talking about), i take a risk both personally and professionally.



and then i take another risk.

i keep the post public. and i check google again to see where my blog lands in the results.

28 May, 2012

thank you, mom and dad

i've been seeing a therapist to help me work through some of my "stuff". and though i try to hide it from you, i'm sure you are aware that i've got a lot of stuff. i feel like some of my sadness (she is working with me on calling it sadness instead of anger) revolving around losing your brother overflows into every area of my life. sometimes i am meaner to your dad than he deserves. and sometimes i lose patience with you more quickly than you deserve. sometimes i'm just too angry sad to really just enjoy life. and to enjoy you. the therapist has helped me to see why i do a lot of what i do, and to see that i really am stuck in my grief over the loss of your brother. so many good things have come out of losing him, and i try to always remember that, but i think i try so hard to make it positive that i have yet to deal with just being sad.

don't get me wrong. i was really sad for a really long time. and a lot of times i am still really sad. just in the course of a day, i can out of nowhere get really sad. and angry.

and that's just not fair to you.
or to your dad.
or to me.

believe me, i know that we have a lot to be thankful for. to be happy about. just the fact that we have you is a miracle to celebrate every second of every day. we have a cute little house and two cars that we can depend on. you have a lot of fun toys to play with and there is always food in the fridge. we are all healthy (unless you count my head). we have loving family members who adore you and shower you with love every day of your life. your uncle and cousins live just down the street and you get to see them and play with them whenever you want. your grandparents live close by and you see them all the time, too. (except for nana, but you still know she loves you all the time and i think that you think you see her more often than you do, which is good.)

i am so grateful to be able to be home with you every day. i was able to leave my full time job and to take on another career that allows me the flexibility to make some money while doing something i am passionate about, without having to be away from you all the time.

that being said, we are not rolling in income.

your dad is a teacher. he is a really great teacher. and he is lucky to have a good job in a nice district that pays well. he has great benefits. i am making some money, but that's really just enough to cover what gaps there are between the current income and output.

we were smart in our choice of a home. we knew that i would want to stay home when we had kids, so we bought a home that cost less than we could afford at the time. we are lucky to have very few college loans to repay. actually, i have none because grandmom and grandpop were able to pay for me to go to college (as long as i lived at home and stayed in state!). but even with all of those lucky and planned choices, we still struggle a bit with money. i don't mean that we can't pay our bills, but i do mean that we sacrifice a lot so that i can stay home with you. we don't go out to eat as often as we would like. daddy and i don't buy new clothes for ourselves. we do make sure that you get to experience a lot of fun things, but really, every penny is accounted for.

i'm really not trying to do a poor me post here. really. i know that i have way more than many people do. and i am grateful for every lucky thing i have received and for every penny that we have been able to earn. i wouldn't trade my decision to leave my teaching career for anything.

but here's the deal.

i think that it's starting to get to me. and i have so little sanity to work with sometimes that every little bit helps.

it's hard for me to be on such a tight budget. i'm not used to it. i was a teacher married to a teacher. and together we had very few bills to worry about. we had enough money that we lived without a budget, we spent what we wanted to spend within reason, and all of our bills were paid. and we still had some leftover. but now, every penny is allocated for bills and the extra goes to the really exciting stuff like groceries and gas and other essentials. there is really very little, if any, left for anything fun. i am so conscious of wanting to save money that being unable to do so makes me feel sick. and it makes me fear spending a penny on anything silly.

so the outcome here is that we don't really spend any money on anything fun for us. i mean for me and for daddy.

nothing.

so my therapist suggested that we take a family vacation. i shuddered at the thought of spending money on something so frivolous. even though travel is another one of my true passions. so i thought maybe we will go to cape may for a weekend. or go camping. or drive up to boston or something like that.

but really deep down i wanted to take you to disneyworld.

so when i mentioned to grandmom and grandpop that the therapist suggested a vacation and that i really wished that we could take you to disney, they said that i should look into how much it would cost.

so i did.

and when i did and told her, she said, "merry christmas". she said that i should tell your uncle, too and that they were sending us all to disney world.

holy bleep! can you believe it? can you believe how lucky we are? and i can't believe how much just this week of having something to look forward to has changed my mood. i forgot how fun it is to look forward to a vacation.

i'm not saying that life is all about the big stuff. it's not. and i know that going to cape may for a weekend would have been a blast. and i know that i can't take my worries and troubles away with a trip to disneyworld.

but i just wanted to say thank you to grandmom and grandpop. it means so much that now matter how much we sometimes fight or how much i might piss them off from time to time (to time to time), that they are always there for us. and they always want to make us happy.

they've always been that way. they've done so much for uncle and for me and i am pretty sure they have no idea that we appreciate it all.

so i hope that grandmom reads this and just gets a little feeling that everything that they do for us, not just the money stuff, but everything, has been noticed and appreciated. and that none of it has been taken for granted. and i hope that they know that someday, when we can afford to do these things for you and for your kids, we will. and i hope that they know that everything they do for us and have ever done for us, they do for you, too.

i think that sometimes because i am such a different parent than they were to me and to uncle, that they think i don't appreciate everything they've done and the people that they were and are. i think that they don't see that i am really not as different from them as they might think.

they loved me and uncle with all of their hearts and they did the best that they could at every second with the knowlegde and the power that they had.

and isn't that exactly what your dad and i do for you?

and i promise you that i will keep working with my therapist in order to get a hold of my feelings. so that i can learn to be more patient and to be less angry. i don't want you to grow up with an explosive mommy. i want you to see love and happiness and laughter all around you, so that you can grow up to be full of love and light.

18 May, 2012

dr. kimberly bridges-white and garden state obstetrical and gynecological associates -- a review



if you searched for dr. white or garden state ob/gyn and were led here, read some of my other posts.

and then decide for yourself if you want to choose this practice to be your "care providers".

maybe you will still go ahead and choose them or stay with them. maybe my story isn't quite personal enough for you.

but maybe instead you will find a practice with doctors who will take the time to listen to you...to try to figure out if something is wrong. maybe you will choose to find a practice with doctors who will remember that your baby died and subsequently will not ask you if you are breastfeeding him. maybe you will decide to google the "midwife model of care" and then because you like what you see, maybe you will look into home birth. maybe you will check out a a birth center. maybe you will try really hard to find an ob or a midwife who will take the time to know you and to listen to you. maybe you will take the time to build a strong birth team.

you don't know me, so i will just give you a little summary. i am cooper's mother. and mason's mother. i am a woman of childbearing age. and because of the loss of my first baby and my experience with garden state, i am a doula and a childbirth educator.

i matter. my experience matters. and i hope that my experience matters to you.

i want you to have a better experience.

this is important. it's your birth and you might only get one, or at least no more than a handful of them, in your lifetime. you deserve better. all women do. tell your friends to do the same. learn more about pregnancy and birth. demand more from your care providers. expect more. take responsibility.

take back your power.

14 May, 2012

creepy sick weirdo

when i was a teacher if i heard a kid used the word "gay" or "retard", i would always address it. i would ask them if they knew what the word meant. and if they said yes, i would explain that they never knew who was listening and whose feelings were getting hurt. i would remind them that, "you don't know anything about me. what if i am a lesbian? what if my brother has downs syndrome? you have no idea who you might be hurting."

i hope that when you get bigger that you will always think about who might be listening when you speak and about who might get hurt by it.

i know that i have made my share of comments in the social media about topics i am passionate about. i know that i have hurt feelings. but it has never been intentional or out of ignorance or disgust or hate or anger or fear. i have spoken out against circumcision in defense of the babies. i have never called anyone a bad mother, or tried to make them feel bad for a decision that they made that they cannot change. i have posted links about the benefits of breastfeeding and about the many ways that society has failed so many women when they have attempted to nurse their babies. i have never said that women who do not nurse their babies are bad mothers. or harming their babies in any way. i have written from the child's personified perspective about being left alone to cry in their cribs. i have not called anyone a bad parent for doing this. i have shared information about natural birth, even though i have yet to have one of my own, without ever implying that a woman who gives birth without an epidural is any more of a woman than those who deliver their babies with epidurals or through surgical birth. i have always made it very clear that i believe that we are all doing the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time. all of my comments have been made out of love and out of a desire to help someone who might be interested. i have written and posted in the hopes that others would hear something that might help them somehow. i have encouraged people to hide my posts if they were offended or hurt. i started a separate page on facebook so that my friends who weren't interested didn't have to be bombarded with information that they didn't want. my intention has never been to hurt anyone. i have never intended to make anyone feel like less of a mother because of any decision that they have made.

though i know that at times i have done that unintentionally. and in those cases, when i have been made aware of it, i have apologized and tried to explain myself. and in most cases, the conversation ended with a hug...either a real one or a virtual one.

so can you imagine how it feels to read in the social media and in the news and to hear on tv over and over again that i am a pervert? a child molester? gross? a creepy sick weirdo?

on mother's day weekend.

i'm hearing this from strangers, but also from friends. imagine all of those mothers who are not even as outspoken or as confident as i am in my choices as a mother. imagine the woman who nurses her toddler to sleep without ever mentioning to anyone that she does so. imagine how it must feel for her to be called a child molester. me? i am pretty tough. and pretty aggressive. i can take it, but i have to admit, it's starting to really wear on me. i am really starting to just feel sad about it. i love you. i do what feels right for me and what seems to feel right for you. i have messed up a lot along the way. but i have always listened to my instincts. and when a mother listens to her instincts, no matter what they tell her, how can that be wrong?

i am not a child molester. i am not damaging you. i am not doing anything that is unusual in the scope of the world. and actually, in our little part of the world, among the people we see on a daily basis, nursing toddlers is very normal. most of your friends are still nursing, or just stopped nursing recently, or have mommies who stopped nursing early on but don't even bat an eye when one of you kids runs up to your mother and asks to nurse. it is normal in our circles. in the tight circle and even in the outer circles.

i understand that some people don't understand why i would still nurse you. but they just don't have the same information i have. i don't understand why some people do a lot of things. but unless they are actually abusing their child in some way, i have to respect that decision. i will be honest, as i have said before, i find it difficult to understand how a mother can listen to her baby cry in a crib alone without responding. but i know that she is doing it because she believes that is the best thing for her baby. i believe that she is making the decision out of love, and she is basing that decision on the information that she has. i am against circumcision. i find it hard to understand how a mother can allow her son to undergo unnecessary surgery that is painful. again, this is my point of view. i have come to this point of view based on the information that i have. i don't believe that any mother has her son circumcised because she wants to hurt him. i do not believe that any mother purposely harms her baby or her child. even the worst of the worst. the real child molester and abusers. i can even see from a point of compassion that they do not WANT to hurt their children. no mother does. we are all...all of us...doing the best we can with the knowledge that we have. and we are all doing it because we love our babies.

i am sure that there are a few people reading this saying that i have hurt people with my words. that now i can feel what it is like to be on the other end.

well, i am always on the other end. nearly every single parenting decision that i have made is one that is neither supported nor respected by the majority. i am always finding myself in a place of defense.

and again -- i am being completely honest here -- NONE OF WHAT I HAVE EVER SAID OR WRITTEN HAS BEEN SAID TO INTENTIONALLY HURT SOMEONE. IT HAS NEVER BEEN SAID OUT OF IGNORANCE OR DISGUST OR HATE OR ANGER OR FEAR.

this all being said, the last few days have been hell. i hate mother's day. i know. move on. get over it. i have you now who i can love and appreciate on mother's day. yes, i do. and i hope that someday i can love mother's day. but for now, i still hate it. it reminds me of mother's day in 2008 when i had no baby to kiss. when i was still mourning the loss of your brother and everywhere i looked i saw mothers and babies and pregnant bellies. it reminds me of the card i got from your dad reminding me that although i had no baby in my arms, that i was in fact a mother.

this mother's day sucked. even more than usual. for lots of reasons. one of those reasons being that because last week, time magazine released a photo of a mother nursing her toddler.

and the country went wild about it.

i love the photo.

i hate the title of the article. i hate the way it has successfully accomplished what it intended to accomplish. it has turned mothers against mothers.

and isn't that just the way to keep us women down? they give us something silly or irrelevant to focus on so we don't focus on important things like improving health care for our children or shattering that glass ceiling.

and we buy into it.

myself included.

and they released this at the beginning of mother's day weekend.

i still nurse you. and i love that i do. we nurse multiple times a day. standing up. sitting down. lying down. while i am cooking. sometimes while daddy is driving. and sometimes i nurse you in restaurants or in other public places if you really need it. and sometimes i tell you no and that you can wait. it all depends on your mood. and on mine.

you are two years and seven months old. you walk. you talk. you eat lots of solid food. you drink from a cup. and yes -- you ask for milkies and you even sometimes you lift up my shirt.

when you fall down, milkies help you feel better. when you are tired, milkies help you go to sleep. you love to nurse. you always have.

i never intended to be nursing a nearly three year old.

but here i am.

i nurse you because you are still really a baby. i do not nurse you because someone says i should in order to follow some set of rules in a parenting book. i nurse you because you need it. i do not nurse you because i have some weird need to keep you dependent on me. and let me be very clear here, i do not nurse you because i get some sort of sexual pleasure out of it. nope. i nurse you because i love you and because you are my baby. and because YOU need it and because it is normal.

do i think i am a better mom than anyone else because i am nursing my toddler? nope. do i think that other children are being damaged if they are not being nursed in their toddler years? nope.

but some people think that about me. they think that i think i am better. they think that i think that other moms are somehow damaging their kids.

they think i am a sick creepy weirdo. they think that i nurse you for my own pleasure and for some creepy need to hold on to you a little too tight. they think i am extreme.

that makes me sad. on so many levels.

when you get bigger, mason. i hope that before you speak, you try to have at least some information about what you are about to say. i hope that you are thirsty for information. i hope that you understand that the best way to win an argument is to have information about both sides of that argument. i hope that you think about who might be listening and whose feelings you might be hurting. and i do hope that you can learn to be more gentle with your words than i am. i know i have work to do there. i also hope that you know i do what i do and say what i say always out of love. and i try to always have compassion. and i try to always see things from both sides. i hope that you know that about me. and i hope that the world you bring your children into is better than this one.

i hope, like all mothers hope, that i don't screw you up too badly.

and as always, i hope, again, like all mothers do, that you know just how much i love you.

12 May, 2012

how AP found ME

in my twenties i can recall saying at least once that i would have a cesarean if i could, because "it was just easier". but that was probably before i even thought i would ever have a baby. through most of my early twenties i swore i wouldn't have kids. not until i was at least forty, anyway. even during my first marriage, i always said we would start trying "in two years"...i mean i said that every year. the two year time span never got any shorter. i was present at the birth of my second nephew. it was a planned cesarean. my then sister-in-law's third planned cesarean. and even at that, i didn't really think that planning a cesarean might not be a great idea. she couldn't walk afterwards. she looked awful. but i guess i figured that was just part of birth. before my ex-SIL had my first nephew, i remember asking her if she would breastfeed. she was appalled and said, "no way! why would you?" and even then, as a woman (a very immature late twenty-something woman) who would have chosen a cesarean over natural birth, i said "yes. of course." she responded with disdain, "ewwww...you would let some kid suck on your tit?" i said, well not any kid, but my kid, yes. so even then, for some reason, i knew that i would nurse my babies. i have no idea where it came from. no one in my family nursed. my friends fed formula. that was normal for me. i had never seen anyone breastfeed. so when i was pregnant with cooper, i read 'what to expect when you're expecting'. i got my babycenter emails and was fascinated with my weekly updates. i looked forward to my doctor's appointments so that i could hear the heartbeat and hope for a random ultrasound. i looked forward to pushing my baby in a stroller while walking the dogs. i imagined the baby sleeping peacefully in his nursery (yes, i always imagined having boys). i never thought about breastfeeding. i didn't think about anything related to parenting at all. i thought about stuff. and how neat it would be to finally be a mother. and how great your dad would be as a dad. i think i thought i would have a natural birth, but when i lost cooper at 22 weeks, i still hadn't researched it. so i probably would have been one of those moms who showed up in labor and freaking out in pain completely unprepared and begging for the epidural. that's just how it is, i guess. in a formula feeding, epidural giving, stroller pushing kind of world. we don't think about it. and then it just becomes what it is. i imagine that if i had had cooper at term, i would've ended up with an epidural. i would have tried to breastfeed, but it's very likely i would have failed. i would have believed the myth that i wasn't making enough milk and then i would have gone on to spread that myth to others. i would have had another baby and likely i would have planned the epidural and then planned to feed formula. i may never have heard of an ergo baby carrier and i would probably be sitting on facebook tonight talking about how nasty it is that some women breastfeed their three year olds. but here i am. writing. to you. about your brother who isn't here. i just got done nursing you to sleep in our family bed. on my to-do list is to write a blog entry for the birthworks blog about the value of a doula. i am waiting to hear back from a client about what day we will meet next week for her our first prenatal appointment. i just send an email to my reviewer checking to see if she has been able to go voer my essay questions because i can't wait to start teaching my childbirth preparation series. today i have both looked at you in awe and cried about losing your brother. so how did i get here? how did i become this mother? cooper was born. and when i lost him, i went crazy with grief. literally. and i read everything i could get my hands on to find the answers about what happened to him. that led me to birthworks. i walked into my first class asking about water birth...i was told that the only place around here was in elmer, nj. i figured that was too far away. she said you could always birth at home. WHAT? are you crazy? i told her i was way too scared to ever do that...what if something happened? by the end of the eight week series, there was no way i would ever give birth in a hospital. i didn't want an epidural. i knew all of the interventions to avoid unless they were absolutely necessary so as to avoid an unnecessary cesarean. i was prepared with information about breastfeeding. i had seen this woman's bedroom...she had two queen sized beds in one room -- her daughters slept on one and she and her husband slept on the other (though she did admit that most of the time her husband slept on the couch. that was so weird to me.) i made my registry with the help of a friend i met in that birthworks class. i registered for a stroller that i figured i'd use as you got older, but i also registered for a sling and a wrap, so that i could wear you close to me. i couldn't wait to carry you around. i learned about the benefits of babywearing as i searched online for which carriers to register for. it was so exciting. there were so many to choose from. i still hadn't even heard of dr. sears at this point. i'll confess. i'm lazy. super lazy. most of my parenting decisions have come from that. of course i would breastfeed, who the hell wants to wake up in the middle of the night and make a bottle? who can remember to pack all of that gear in the diaper bag when you want to leave the house? and who wants to carry that gigantic diaper bag around, anyway? not me, not me, not me. we planned a homebirth, which as you know, ended up as a cesarean birth. but it was a family centered cesarean, thanks to the knowledge i had gained from reading and reading and preparing and through choosing an amazing midwife who had even more information to share. and i worked closely with my OB and my midwife to make the best of the situation. we attempted to nurse right there on the operating table while dr. salvatore stitched me back up, but i was just too tired, cold and out of it. but you never left me. and once i was awake and in the recovery room, you were on my chest naked and within a very short time, you were nursing. you basically stayed there for three or four months. i fed you when you were hungry, i nursed you when you needed comfort. which was all the time. i remember going for a walk with meredith (our midwife) sometime when you were about five or six months old. i had you wrapped up in my Moby wrap and mer and i were talking about how long you and i struggled with getting nursing on track because of our months of back and forth thrush transmission. she said, "these are the kids you hope will nurse for a really long time." and in my head i had no idea what she meant. oh! she must mean nursing past one? weird. (i used to think nursing past infancy was weird. but you just kept getting bigger.) you cried a lot. i know, you know this. i mention it all the time. but i mean seriously, kid. you cried all the time. and i guess i will never know for sure why you cried all the time, but i can only imagine that it had something to do with your birth experience, your highly spirited personality, your desire to communicate, or something else or everything else. i have no idea. but what i do know is that i spent hours and hours nursing you and bouncing you and rocking you and walking you and shhhh-ing you and singing to you and begging you to please stop crying. but what i didn't do was ignore your cries. i knew you needed something. and even if that something was something i could never provide or something as simple as letting you suckle at my breast, i didn't ignore you. no matter how tired i was or how frustrated i was, i always responded to you and almost all of the time it was with sensitivity. i must admit there were a few times when i just put you down and went into my room and screamed. or when i bounced on that yoga ball a little bit faster and harder than usual while saying a little bit louder than usual, "JUST STOP CRYING!" but i responded because i knew you needed me to. and you always needed me to. i nursed you every two hours or more for over two years of our lives. you slept on my chest your first night in the hospital and every night afterwards. when you got bigger, you would roll off and sleep next to me. i loved snuggling with you and having you so close. but again. i'm lazy. of course i kept you in bed with me. who the hell wants to get out of bed at night and go to a bassinet or to another room to sit in a rocker and nurse? not me. so there you have it. we share sleep. you and me and your dad, all snuggle in bed every night. well, some nights your dad has slept on the couch. weird, right? i planned to go back to work when you were six months old. those six months turned to twelve. and the twelve turned to eighteen. and then two years. and then i resigned. i didn't want to leave you. and once i figured out that i didn't have to leave you, i stayed home. i wanted to watch you grow up. i wanted to watch you learn. i didn't want to miss it. and i didn't love work enough to miss it. i didn't love money enough to miss it. and even though you were going to be home with grandmom and grandpop only a half a mile away from my work, i couldn't stomach the thought of missing so much. and while all of this was going on...while i was learning from you about how to be your mom, i was reading everything i could get my hands on about parenting and breastfeeding. after all, i was spending hours and hours on the couch nursing you. i might as well learn something. i read a lot. the natural parenting book. mothering magazine. the continuum concept. and yes, the baby book. good old dr. sears. i bought that one before you were born. i don't know why. but i didn't open it until you were already a week old or so. after you were already sleeping in my bed on top of me. after i had already been gifted multiple babywearing devices. after i had already spent countless hours nursing and rocking and shhhhh-ing you. my point is that i had already found attachment parenting on my own. i had found it inside of me. it's what my instincts told me to do. and reading the baby book was refreshing. it was nice to know that there was a name for what i had been doing. but what it really meant was that i couldn't be the only mom in the new jersey who wasn't feeding formula, putting their baby down in the crib on a schedule and pushing a snap-n-go. so thank you dr. sears. thank you for helping me stick with it. thank you for helping me to believe that i wasn't a weirdo crazy person. or at least if i was, i wasn't alone. so i went to some la leche meetings. and i met people. people who were like me. moms who breastfed their babies, even after six months. moms who had homebirths. moms who slept in bed with their kids and who never used their strollers. it was such a relief to have met these moms, because until then, i felt like such a weirdo. i felt like even though there was this giant book telling me that i was normal, i really felt like i was the only one in the world who was parenting this way. i was being told that i nursed too much, that i should let my baby cry so he would learn to sleep. i was seeing facebook statuses from friends all the time about how they had been listening to their babies cry for an hour and seeing the comments about how it was good for that baby to be ignored because he had to learn. i was getting bad information about breastfeeding from pediatricians. i was watching my friends in their neat houses bake cookies with make-up on and blown out hair and thinking what is wrong with me? i hadn't showered in a week. i was tired from not sleeping. i had hairy legs. my baby was attached to my boob. i hadn't had any time alone, not even to sit on the toilet, in months. but here i was. an attachment mom. accidentally. or out of laziness. or naturally. i guess there was something inside of me that remembered about those monkeys. you know the ones. the ones you learned about in your sociology and psychology classes that died or couldn't interact with other monkeys as they got older because they had been isolated as babies. and the other monkeys who chose to snuggle with their surrogate wire mothers who were covered in cloth when they were frightened. the monkeys that developed normally were the ones who had an attachment with a mother -- even a surrogate wire mother covered in cloth. it had nothing to do with food. it had to do with them feeling a sense of security in those early months of life. i guess maybe deep down that had something do do with it. but more than that, i guess i just listened to me. and to you. and i guess i was also listening to your brother. he wasn't here. but i listened. i always do. he is still teaching me things. every day. most of all, he taught me that i really wanted to be a mother. more than i ever knew or could have imagined. i wanted it deep down into the depths of my soul. and that i should never take motherhood for granted. so i became an attachment mom. not because dr. sears gave me rules to follow. or because i thought i was better than anyone else. just because it felt right and natural for me. and it was what worked. it still works. i struggled a bit for a while with finding balance, but i'm getting there. the first two years or so were rough at time. the very early months were hell. but i wouldn't do anything different. i just watched you the other day walk a long walkway all by yourself to go down a big wooden slide all by yourself. you had to ask a stranger to fix your burlap bag for you to sit on. you waved "bye by mommy" as you walked away. you learned to go pee on the potty all by yourself. you go to grandmom's and tell me to go and to have fun when i leave. you have gone on water slides and ordered your own ice cream. you walk away from me at the park or in the mall and don't look back because you know i'm behind you. you have grown so much in these thirty one months. you are confident. and smart. and funny. and so many other wonderful things. and i'm still nursing you. and i see no signs of you stopping. do i love it? no. lots of the time i don't. so why do i do it? because you need it. you are still a baby. thirty one months is still a really short time to have been human. and i'll do it until you don't need it anymore. do i hope that's sooner rather than later? yes, i do, but for now, i'm willing to wait it out. again, i'm not doing it because some book says i should, or because the world health organization thinks i should. i am doing it because that's what i do. i respond to you. to what you need. you are my baby. i love you. i am your mother. this just all came naturally to me. i found AP on my own. or it found me. i didn't plan any of it. or follow some list of rules. one thing just led to the next and before i knew it was was "practicing" attachment parenting. and i have no guru. except for you. and cooper.

13 March, 2012

AP, among other things

attachment parenting has gotten a lot of buzz lately in the mainstream world. mayim bialik (blossom) has writtten a book about it and has been on a media blitzkreig touting the benefits of AP. mainly, she is forced to defend it's weirdness. they ask her such things as, "your kids sleep in bed with you?", "you never put them down when they were babies?" OH MY! how strange. what a weird new age concept.

new? no. attachment parenting is not new. it's how parents parented before "experts" started telling them how to do it. before super nannny and the baby whisperer decided to put their two cents out there and start telling everyone how they could do it better. (just to be clear so that everyone knows, that baby wise dude has been responsible for failure to thrive in countless babies with that ludicrous baby schedule that he promotes.)

holding your baby and sleeping with your baby are not new concepts. they are as old as humans themselves. i can't imagine the paleolithic woman placing her baby down behind a bush while she went to get some rest in the cave a few yards away. that would be weird.

so if she didn't do that, then what would she do?

she would sleep with her baby. breast feed her baby. and hold him when he cried. oh, and hold him most of the rest of the day, too, while she went about her business.

am i saying that this is how all parents should parent? no. it's not my business how anyone else raises her baby. do i think the world would be a better place if more parents were attached to their babes? yes. i do. but that's just my opinion. i'm allowed to have one.

but here's why i am writing right now. because tomorrow i am about to co-lead the first attachment parenting international support group for our area and right at this moment, i hate AP.

yes. i said it.

i am jealous of those moms who have two and a half year olds who have been sleeping alone through the night for a good two and a half years now. i am jealous of the moms whose toddlers eat lots of solid foods throughout the day and have blankies and binkies and lovies to cling to when they are upset. i want a clean house. i want to pee alone. i want to shave my legs.

i am tired. exhausted. you have been on a three week mission to drive me absolutely insane. you demand impossible things. you want me to pick you up and carry you even when you don't want to go anywehere. you are nursing throughout the night like a newborn. you are napping on my lap like a newborn. i am really considering putting a fork in my eye simply so i will have to be hospitalized. just to get a break.

i sometimes feel like i just can't do it anymore.

though here i am, at the library, supposed to be working on my childbirth educator exam, but i can't think straight. i left you screaming in daddy's arms just because i needed a break. i needed to get away from the torment you have been causing me. i needed to just have some time alone.

so here i am at a precipice. about to host this meeting where we sing the praises of AP, but i am feeling at the end of my rope because of it.

the principles of AP are here, for those of you who aren't familiar with it...

that last one. number 8. balance. that's the one i suck at. i think that's the one that gets a lot of us.

i get out now. but for a long time i didn't. for a long time, i never left you. i didn't want to. your dad and i don't spend any time alone together, except when i am already exhausted after getting you to sleep. i put people before things. well, not all people, just you. i have an amazing support network, but most of them mommy just like i do, so all we do is encourage each other to continue living out of balance. it's okay, we tell each other, because i do it, too. i struggle with it just like you do. you are not alone. that's nice to hear, but it doesn't force me to find more balance. i don't take time to care for myself. i don't put lotion on after a shower, so my skin is dry. my hair is nasty and needs a trim and a wash with some good shampoo. i need to take some care of myself so i feel like looking in the mirror. and so that when i do look in the mirror, i don't cringe at what i see. i need to take more yoga classes. because right now, my emotional health is at stake.

i know this is a phase. i know that you are going through something. you have another bad cold. maybe you are on the cusp of learning some new skill, so maybe that's why you are sleeping worse than ever and why you are so clingy and demanding. whatever it is, i am trying to have the patience to work through it with you. but it's hard. it's really hard.

there are days like today, when i just want to hop on a plane get the hell out of my life. i want to forget my mommy side and worry about me for a few hours.

and remember why i wanted this so badly.

you are amazing to me. every day you melt my heart and make me laugh and drive me out of my mind over and over again. i wouldn't trade my life for anything. and i wouldn't change anything that i've done.

but starting now, i am going to make more time for me. i'm sure that won't make things any easier when i'm in the moment with you when you are having one of your moments, but i do know that i need to let someone else take up some of the slack sometimes. i don't want to be...i can't be...the only one who deals with your rage and your exhilaration. it's best for me, for you and for everyone else if you know that i am not the only one who can make you feel better.

i love you. and i am proud to be the kind of mom i am for you. and i am proud of you for facing these twos with such bravery and ferocity. the first half of your third year was so easy. you were so easy. but now is another story. your twos have become terrible...for both of us.

it must be so hard for you to comprehend what's going on. you are learning now that the world does not revolve around you. that "no" is a fun word to say, but not a fun word to hear. you are figuring out who you are and you are pretty sure that you and i are separate beings, and not one as you once believed. but that dopesn't make perfect sense to you yet.

it's hard for both of us. and we will get through it. we will be a stronger attached pair in the end than we have ever been.

but for now, imagining that plane ride be my reprieve.

17 February, 2012

pediatricians

before you were born your dad and i interviewed a pediatrician. she was nice enough and was willing to allow us to follow a selective vaccination schedule. so we went with her. she was with kressville pediatrics.

when you were born, we went to her and i told her how often you cried and how often you nursed. she said that i should not be nursing you so often. she said no more than ten minutes per side no more often than every three hours. you were six weeks old.

thank god i knew better or we would failed at breastfeeding.

we went back another time because you were congested. i was told by another doc in the practice that you had an ear infection. i filled the script, gave you a dose of it, and then learned that i was probably doing more harm than good with that antibiotic. i trashed it. i gave you hylands ear ache tablets and used garlic oil in your ear. you never developed any other problems. i am not convinced you had an ear infection and if you did, your body healed it and you have never had another one. you were three months old.

at six months we went in for a well-visit, which i have now come to see as a total waste of time and money. you were scheduled for a vaccine or two. the doc stabbed you so hard in the leg i went home and researched the crap out of vaccine safety. i learned so much that i decided we were done with vaccines.

and with that practice altogether.

we switched to CHOP peds. they were okay with me not vaccinating "until you were two", which is what i lied to them when they asked. they were okay there but in the end, no one really cared or even bothered to know us. and we waited forever every time we went in.

so we switched again. to dr. bryan levey at kidswell peds. he has a lot going for him. he is okay with me not vaccinating (though he does do his best to convince me that i should). he is a homeopath. he doesn't (in my experience) jump to antibiotics first. he is solo so he really knows me and he knows you. and he cares about us both. i called once when you were stung by a bee. he told me to let him know if you were okay. i never called because i didn't think he really card. but he called me two days later to check and to let me know that he really wanted me to call him with an update. i thought that was awesome.

but beyond that, i have my concerns. as a doula and child birth educator, and as a mom and friend, i have recommended him to a lot of people. and i keep hearing that he is giving out incorrect advice about introducing solids, about nursing, about sleep, etc. i already had to talk with him about his circumcision information and it seems he has gotten better at communicating the truth about it since then. so here is my disclaimer for everyone who has switched to him or to who may someday choose him.

dr. levey is a great guy. he is caring and trusts parents. he does tend to jump to the worst-case scenario real fast, which is great if something is really wrong (like with your hydrocele) but not so great of there is nothing wrong (it can be terrifying). he is a pediatrician. he studied medicine for kids. he is not an international board certified lactation consultant, he never nursed a kid or birthed a baby. he is not a sleep expert or a behavioral therapist. as with all docs, use them for what they know and look to someone else for the other stuff. if you want a question answered about nursing or solid food introduction, go to a la leche meeting or call a LLL leader or an IBCLC. if you have questions about sleep or discipline, ask moms you admire who align with your values. look into attachment parenting related books. read something by dr. sears. trust your instincts.

i know this post isn't the most interesting one, but i just want everyone to know that although i do recommend him, i was not with him when you were a baby, and i also don't ask advice from him. i like what i like and so far he is the best option around here for the more natural-minded parents. that's it.

in the end what i really hope is that we all start to trust our guts and to learn and become informed so that we can care for our babies without asking the help of a guy in a white coat. they are there for when we really need them. but deep down, we really already know how to be moms. and what we don't know, we can learn.

as my friend michelle once reminded me, "tiff, you are mason's pediatrician." i try to always remember that. and so far, it's working out for us pretty well.

05 February, 2012

losses

last night i slept six hours straight for i believe the first time in your life. only to be tortured by that with insomnia for about two hours.

so i did some thinking. about sleep. and losses.

i thought back to the night that my water broke when your brother was in my belly. i feel asleep with such a positive belief that everything would be okay.

and i woke up to contractions. and then morphine. and then being moved to l&d. and then to pitocin and an epidural. and then to delivering your tiny brother and holding him while he took his few breaths.

and that night i slept in the hospital bed clinging to your dad. waking every hour or so and reliving again what had happened. realizing that there was no baby in my belly anymore. that he was downstairs in the basement, alone and cold. every time i woke i sobbed again as if i had just learned the news. i dreaded sleep as much as i welcomed it.

i had lost your brother. lost the hopes and dreams that i had imagined for him. i felt as though my heart had literally been ripped out of my chest. and that i had been beaten with it.

i felt ashamed. embarrassed. angry. alone. empty. guilty. the negative emotions that overcame me on a minute by minute basis were so powerful. so depleting. so frightening. i'm not really sure it's possible to communicate the depth of the emptiness i felt.

that all mothers feel when they lose a baby.

some mothers lose them late in a pregnancy like i did. and some very early on. some just after the baby is born or even during the labor. and some when their baby has grown up. either a little or a lot.

i can't imagine there is anything worse than losing your baby. i just can't imagine it. maybe that seems self-centered, but really, i can't imagine it. i truly believe that i would choose any form of suffering over losing another baby.

and i guess that's why i am so emotionally attached to protecting you. when you cry because you are hurt or sad, it pains me. it literally hurts me inside and in my heart. holding your brother as he passed through this world while i knew there was nothing i could do to help him has made such an imprint on my psyche. it has literally changed my genetic make-up, i believe.

i am a new person because of him. because of that experience. because of those minutes with him.

i hope that i can be brave for you. i hope that i can stand to see you hurt and sad. you will get hurt. and you will be sad. and i can't always stop that. and i don't need to. i know this. and i know it's okay.

but you are my baby. and i can't imagine a minute of my life without you.

31 January, 2012

my big little boy

you were not an average baby. i have mentioned this many times before, but you hated things that babies are supposed to love. the stroller. the car seat. the swing. you needed to be held all the time. and to nurse all the time. you had to bounce. not in the bouncy seat, but in our arms. i couldn't pee without you. most days i still can't. i couldn't take more than a 30 second shower. and that was on the days that i could. many days now i still can't. you don't want me out of your sight. you never have.

i guess some people believe that i have spoiled you -- or even worse -- ruined you.

i always picked you up when you wanted to be picked up. i still do. i kept you with me while we slept. i still do. you are ninteen and a half months old. it's only been the past couple of months that i have been able to sneak away from you during your naps. and it's been maybe about six or seven months since i could get away consistently at night. the time that i am able to stay away varies, but it really is nice to get some time to myself. to be able to pee alone. and cook dinner. and clean the kitchen floor. but i gotta admit. i already miss those hours of just laying on the bed with you. i can only imagine how much i will miss those times when another baby comes along someday. or when you are all grown up and are only napping because you stayed out too late with your friends the night before.

but the point is, you are becoming a big boy already. right before my eyes. all by yourself. on your own terms. you come up to me and tell me when you pooped. you say, "poop" and point to your diaper and say, "off". you say "thank you" to people when they give you something (most of the time it's after we walk away from them, but i still think it's pretty awesome). it's mostly awesome because i never say to you, "say thank you". you say it just because you hear me say it. you amaze me every day. you are becoming such a good sleeper and i am so happy that i never left you to cry alone. i trusted that you would learn to do it by yourself. and you are learning. same with the bath. you hated it unless daddy or i were in there with you. until a few months ago you wouldn't bathe alone. and aside from a couple of weeks in which you refused a bath altogether because of a stupid thing i did, you love baths all by yourself now. you ask for them. i still can't really leave you without a mojor fit. but the truth is, i hate to leave you. yes, it would probably be nice to be able to go anywhere and see you waving to me at the door with daddy holding you -- or even better -- to go somewhere with daddy and see you waving with uncle chris and your cousins. but i have to trust that someday, there will be someplace that i really want to go bad enough that it will be worth it to put us both through the separation and we will do it. and we will both be smiling and waving and blowing kisses. but for now, it's just something we are not ready for. and someday, just like with anything, i will miss the time when you were attached to my hip. you will be out with your friends and i will miss your presence. and someday you will move out of the house. and go to college. get married. or just take off with a backpack and explore the world. and i will miss the hell out of you and look back to the days when i couldn't leave because you wouldn't let me. and i'll miss the hell out of that.

birthing babies

i was so lucky to be able to be there for our super awesome friend when her beutiful baby entered this world a few weeks ago. to watch her for eight hours labor naturally and deliver her baby while squatting and being held by her loving hubby was truly a profound and life-altering experience. it was the first birth i had witnessed. and now i sit here waiting for you to wake up so we can join our other super awesome friend as her second baby is born.

i have a whole new perspective on birth than i had three years ago when your brother was born. i remember being sick with pneumonia and hospitalized when cooper was just ten weeks in the belly. i stayed home in bed taking tylenol every four hours as the doctor suggested. i went to three doctor visits. your dad made a million calls to the OB. no one seemed worried. finally we went to the ER on a saturday and they said i had pneumonia and that i would be admitted.

cooper survived that experience and so did i. but it did not cause me to take any responsibility for my own health. i look back at that person and want to slap her. tell her to drink more water. to take healing herbs. to see a naturopath. to sleep. to drink garlic lemonade. that person is a stranger to me now.

this is all coming up for me because although i mothered you natuarally while you were in my womb, i still ended up getting screwed out of the experience of birthing you naturally. we all know the story so i won't go into it again here. but even though i can live with my decision to have the surgery, it doesn't mean i won't mourn the loss of the birthing experience i had hoped for.

seeing my friends getting to labor naturally, seeing everything happen at its own pace, the way nature intended really brings up mixed feelings for me. i look so forward to being able to experience it all. the anticipation of the due date. the first minor cramping. the contractions spaced far apart. then close together. then more intense. the exhaustion. the excitement. the burning. and the feeling when that baby's head finally makes its way out into the world. and then to be able to reach down and scoop that baby up into my arms and hold that baby to my chest. and kiss him (or her). and sharing all of this with your dad. i want to feel it all.

with cooper i had an epidural. and morphine. i could feel nothing. i couldn't move my legs. i was shaky and cold. and sad.

with you i was cut open. you were taken out. i couldn't hold you. i passed out from the shaking and from the pain. it sucked.

and though my two personal birthing experiences were in fact life-altering for me, as well as i guess for many others people, i still am begging the universe for a different story the next time. a story with a different ending.

to whom it may concern

January 31, 2012

Garden State Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates
2401 Evesham Rd.
Suite A
Voorhees, NJ 08043

To Whom It May Concern:

On this date four years ago, my water broke while I was teaching a class of twenty-six sixth graders. I was twenty-two weeks and two days pregnant. I called your office immediately, but was put on hold. I called back. Again, I was put on hold. I had just been to your office the night before for the fourth time in about eight weeks complaining of the same brown discharge. I had been given a prescription again to control my “yeast infection”. I talked myself into believing that everything was okay and I went back to teach my last class of the day.

An hour later, I called again and was put on hold. Finally someone picked up and I was instructed to come in immediately. When I got there, I was ushered in to the waiting room. Well, one of your multiple waiting rooms. I was finally seen by Dr. Swift who after a vaginal exam diagnosed that my amniotic sac had ruptured. She also calmly let me know that it had nothing to do with the medication that I had been prescribed by Dr. White.

I went directly to the hospital where I was given multiple vaginal exams by at least two different doctors on your staff. Needless to say, the next day I ended up spiking a fever. I was induced by Dr. Steighner. And five or so hours later, my little son was born. Dr. White was there for the delivery. She asked me at one of my follow-up appointments if I was breastfeeding. Each time I returned to your office, I had to tell at least two people during the course of my visit that my baby had died.

I encourage you to look through my records. The perinatologist’s report came very close to stating that I had bacterial vaginosis. Your practice failed to diagnose that. Because of my lack of knowledge, my trust in your doctors, and the lack of concern on the part of your doctors (I cannot use the term care providers), my baby died.

Four years have passed and the pain still weaves itself into every thread of my life. I am now, however, empowered with knowledge. I have become certified to teach childbirth education classes and am in the process of becoming a labor doula. I am co-leader of the local ICAN chapter and am in the process of starting an Attachment Parenting chapter, as well. I am in touch on a personal level with many, many informed parents. And they are always interested in hearing the story of my baby boy.

I urge you to change your ways. Spend time with the mothers who choose you to care for them. I implore you to care; to listen; to pay attention. Read the charts.

In writing this letter I hope to heal just a little bit more of my self. I need to let you and your practitioners know how much pain I am in and that this pain could have been avoided if someone had just cared…listened….paid attention. And read my chart.

The other reason for this letter, however, is to let you know that as a professional, I cannot recommend your practice to anyone. If a woman hires me as her doula, and is using your for her care, I will support and inform her, but I will not hesitate to share my story. I believe that it is part of my life’s work…my calling, if you may…to help mothers make the best choices when it comes to their prenatal care. And in good conscience, I could never encourage anyone to choose Garden State OB/GYN for that purpose.

Sincerely,

The mother of Cooper Thomas Hare, born prematurely on February 1, 2008

27 January, 2012

it's that time of year again

this wednesday will be the fourth anniversary of your brother's birth. and death. it's an overall crappy time of year since your dad is deep into wrestling season so you and i are alone a lot. and it's cold and dark. but on top of it, the thoughts of your brother are always jumping around in my head.

the thoughts vary from day to day. from year to year. but mostly this year during this time, the thoughts have been visions of holding him in my arms while he took those labored breaths. of sobbing and of your dad stroking his tiny head with all of his hair. of asking good old dr. kimberly bridges-white with that oh so very popular practice garden state ob/gyn if he was in pain. and of her telling me 'no, i don't think so'. and of the memory that i did not really believe her.

he was in pain. i know he was.

but now on top of those images and memories, i find myself placing more blame on myself for knowing so little.

for a while i forgave myself for knowing nothing. but these days, these weeks, i have really been hard on myself. i wish i had known to hire a doula who would have known more than i did. i wish i had known anything. i let them induce me because i had gotten a fever (because so many of their grimy fingers had been in my vagina because i didn't know to tell them not to do that) and i didn't even know that the pitocin contractions would be harder than natural ones. so i got the epidural because why should i suffer with this pain when i he wasn't even going to live? and of course i was on my back and tied to a monitor. and i was thirsty. so effing (see i am trying really hard to lay off of the foul language) thirsty. but i could only have ice chips. wtf? so stupid...me and all of their policies and procedures. i wish i had known what i know now.

i am not saying that your brother would have lived. but things would have been different. very different.

had i used a midwife...i mean a home birth midwife who took an hour with me at every appointment to listen to me and to really care about what was happening with me and with my body and my baby, i would have been cared for in a way that both cooper and i deserved. my midwife would have checked me for bv and treated it. and even if she didn't, and my water had still broken, she would have had me stay at home and rest and drink fluids and monitor my temps. and then had i gotten an infection and cooper had to be born, he would have been born quietly and peacefully at home. but let's say i did go to the hospital. and let's say i didn't have a midwife. if i had at least known something. anything other than what i had learned on that g-d baby story, i would have known to tell them not to do vaginal exams on me after my water had broken. why didn't they know that? why? i will never never understand that as long as i live. never. and even if they had done exams and i did spike that fever, and i did have to get induced, i would have known how to deal with those contractions. and at least my little tiny one pound, six ounce baby boy would not have been pumped full of drugs when he was born. maybe he would have had a little bit of fight in him. maybe. and maybe not. but at least if i weren't so drugged up i could have gotten up out of bed and carried him after he died and given him his only bath and dressed him in his tiny little baby doll clothes myself instead of having some strangers do it.

but intead i knew nothing. i had no support from anyone who cared or knew anything, except from your dad who knew nothing, too. all we knew was that we were scared. and our baby was about to die.

and we trusted our doctors.

we didn't know shit.

11 January, 2012

tiger mom

when i was in my twenties i woke up one day with some bumps on the side of my neck. they itched like hell. i scratched and scratched at them. i went to the doctor and she told me i had swollen glands. wtf? are you serious? i went back after a few days without an appointment when the bumps were worse and asked if the doctor could just look at my neck again. she came out and told me that her office was not mcdonald's and that i needed an appointment if i wanted her to look at my neck again.

i switched doctors and the new doc asked me why i waited so long to get the bumps looked at.
i had shingles.

this new doc was the one who told me years later, when i was ten weeks pregnant with your brother that my fever of 105 that was not going away even with four hour doses of tylenol and advil alternating for ONE WEEK was just a virus and i had to wait it out. i eventually went to the ER and was admitted to the hospital for a week with pneumonia.

you know the story of your brother. misdiagnosed yeast infection. multiple vaginal exams at 22 weeks after water had broken. doctor asking if i was breastfeeding your dead brother at my six-week appointment.

when you were a couple of months old the first ped we were seeing said you were cranky because you had an ear infection. he gave me a script which we never completed and you were the same. you didn't have an ear infection. you were just cranky.

even your doc now who we love told me you had intestinal worms because i was curious about some stringy things in your poop. he gave me a script. i never completed it. you didn't have worms.

you can understand why i don't trust doctors.

so last week when you had a swollen testicle, i was hesitant to call the doctor. i finally did and took you in and was told i needed to take you to the ER immediately because it was possible that you could lose that testicle. i am beating myself up now about not calling sooner. so, lesson from mason learned.

luckily the worst case scenario did not come true this time. you do, however, likely need surgery. you have a hydrocele.

today we have to take you to the pediatric urologist to go over the details.

i am terrified of handing you over to some doctors while you scream and reach for me. i can only imagine the intensity at which you will protest as they try to get you under general anesthesia. you are so young. so little. i am terrified of all of the ways they could screw up.

you are my baby. you are everything for me. everything.

i am putting this in writing. if you have to have the surgery and they screw up in the worst way imaginable, i will have absolutely nothing to lose. i won't be able to live with losing you. i will kill someone. i will.

so today when we meet with this doctor i will be exploring all possible options. and if it turns out that surgery is the only choice, i will make it clear to this doctor how and why i feel the way i do. i am sure your dad will be embarrassed a few times by the end of the appointment. but this guy has to know that you are all i have and that i am a crazy woman when it comes to protecting you.

fuck amy chua. i am the tiger mom.

21 December, 2011

memories

i realized tonight while i was getting you to sleep that aside from your dad and your grandmom and grandpop, i spoke to no adults today.

i guess that happens more often than i realize.

it doesn't bother. me

when i told your dad about that he said that you are actually smarter than some adults he knows. and i said totally...and way more interesting.

you are the coolest and most amazing person in the world to me. everything you do, you do with wonder and excitement. you are proud of yourself and you are the most important person in the world to you.

you always amaze me.

you decided a few weeks ago to stop peeing in your diaper. you woke up dry, and i let you have a naked butt all day. you told me every time you had to pee. and since then, you sleep with a pull-up at night (just in case...you have only peed in one twice i think) and other than that, you are diaper-free.

i was totally prepared to have you in diapers at age four. i never planned on "potty training" you. i figured you would do it when you were ready.

and you did.

you still poop in a diaper when i can get one on fast enough. but i know you will do that on the potty when you are ready, too.

just like you will someday sleep through the night when you are ready. (it's awesome that people have stopped asking that question, since i guess they assume all two-year-olds sleep through.)

so here's the thing. so often i am writing a post about something big that's on my mind. i forget to write about the small things like this. there is so much of you that i have never mentioned here. i guess a part of me likes to keep a part of you to myself. but i guess a part of it is that i know everyone knows that their own kid is amazing, so i assume people don't want to hear it.

but part of why i wanted to write a blog was so that i would have a record of our life together.

there is so much i have already forgotten. and that really stinks.

i want to remember everything. like all of the funny things you say and do, all of the times that i literally laugh out loud at something you've said. i want to remember the times you were scared or hurt and told me, "milky other side -- feel better mommy", the times when you left the house in the most ridiculous outfits because you wouldn't have it any other way. i want to remember the foods you love and the ones you won't even try, the way you mispronounce words like slippery and instead say "zippity", the way you scream at our blow up snowman, "SNOWMAN! WAKE UP!" to get it to stand up even though you know that when you flip the switch it happens, the way you resist getting into your car seat nearly every single time, the way you ask me to "do something else" as we go through yoga pose after pose, the way you say, "more again" if you want me to do something again, the things i am not allowed to do because, "no, grandpop do that!" and i guess i could go on and on.

it breaks my heart to think of all the things i have already forgotten and the things i will forget. if only i could record every moment of your life so that i could watch it when you are all grown up and want to be with your friends more than you want to be with me, when you are embarrassed to hear that you were still nursing when you were "that old", or when the idea of snuggling up next to me in bed is just creepy to you.

i never thought i would be such a sap. i never thought i would cling to something so much that it hurts just to think about it slipping away.

you are only a little over two. but these months since you were born have gone so fast. and the fact that i am 38 years old and have been out of high school for nearly 20 years just proves how fast time goes. i fear growing old now like i never did before. i wonder if i will even be around to meet your children.

time scares me.
my intense love for you terrifies me and invigorates me at the same time.
i loved who i was before your dad and before you. i loved my life. even when i was a mess and my life was messy.
but i had no idea how much better you could make me. and it.

this is the first time in a long time that christmas has been exciting for me. you make everything better.

we skipped the memorial for your brother on monday night. we went the first year, but that was it. the next year you were here and crying all the time. last year you and i both still had separation anxiety. and this year i really planned to go. but at the last minute i bailed. your dad had practice and could have gotten home on time. but i didn't push it. i just felt like things are so happy right now, i didn't want to be there and be sad.

i think of your brother all the time. i wonder what he would be like. i look at you and i wonder how much like you he would have looked. i imagine him being excited for santa. and it makes me really sad to know everything that he has missed. just as i told him while he was dying in my arms...he got so screwed.

i cherish those ten minutes i had with him.

and even though i can't remember everything that you do or say, always know that i cherish every single minute that i have with you.

i love you, little boy, and i thank you.

13 December, 2011

sometimes there is no happy ending

i recently had a friend endure a pretty traumatic birthing experience.

and i didn't know what to say to her.

so it got me thinking about all of the things people said to me along this road that just were not helpful at all.

when you were born via cesarean instead of at home like your dad and i had hoped, people said, "well at least the baby is here and healthy." "c-section babies are prettier with their nice, round heads." "why does it matter so much?""don;t be an octomom!" "just drink a bottle of wine and relax." "my friend decided to adopt and then she got pregnant."

when we were dealing with infertility, it was, "well can't you just adopt?" and now that we want a sibling for you, it's, "well at least you have one."

and when cooper died, there was a flurry of comments that made my blood boil, such as, "well now you have an angel in heaven to look over you" or "you can always have another one" or "at least you didn't know him" or "it was meant to be". there were plenty more and if you want to know what you should not say to someone who has lost a baby, no matter at what stage, just google it.

i know i probably said lots of things that were less than helpful prior to my loss. and probably now, too. most times now i just try to acknowledge and offer a hug.

our dear friend colleen said to me after we lost cooper that people in our world tend to look for happy endings...then she said that sometimes, there just is no happy ending.

yes, having a healthy baby is important, but we need to learn to be okay with losses and to acknowledge them so that the people who have lost know that their feelings are okay. we need to validate, rather than try to make the bad feelings go away.

14 November, 2011

gritting teeth

you hit your friends. and you bite them. well, not all of them, just a select few. you hit the dogs. and pull their ears and tails. you have hit me. and your dad. and uncle. and your cousins. and you grit your teeth when you do it. i know it's all normal, but i can't help but blame myself a little bit.

from when you were born those dogs have tested my patience every single day. i lost my love for them the first night i was home from the hospital with you. i know. i know. how awful.

i remember a dear friend who gave her cat away after her baby was born. i could not believe someone could do that. i saw lady and the tramp. it made no sense to me. i remember sitting home and missing events because one of my dogs had separation anxiety. i had always thought that my dogs were just like my babies.

but they are not. and now i totally understand that friend and her cat. and lady and the tramp makes perfect sense.

the dogs are hairy. and smelly. and usually bark at all the wrong times. the clicking of their nails on the wood floors drives me literally insane. they take my food. and yours. and they chew on your toys. and you get super upset when they do.

poor pathetic beasts. they don't do it on purpose. they are just dogs.

and i try. i try to accept them and have compassion. but as soon as i have set my mind on trying, one of them does something to make me...

yes. grit my teeth. and yell at them with such frustration. and (gasp)i have even given a few smacks on the rear to the really annoying one. i try not to let you see or to do it around you. but you know. you are sensitive to all of my feelings, even when you aren't looking. you are a toddler.

i lose patience with those dogs. i lose patience with your dad. i lose patience with strangers. i lose patience with myself. and i have even lost patience with you. when you were little and crying all the time, i would sometimes hold you and yell' "stop crying!"

i have rubbed off on you. you have learned it from me. and yes, i know that part of it is normal toddler behavior. and i mean, i don't bite you or hit you or anyone else, so that you figured out on your own. and i know all of that will pass.

what bothers me, though, is the gritting of the teeth and the pent up anger and frustration that you feel.

maybe i never let you cry enough.

i don't know.

all i know is that i need to work on this. i need to breathe and learn to be more like the way i used to be. the way i was when your dad met me. the way i was before things started going wrong. i need to go back to letting things roll.

and then maybe you can learn that, too. because that is one link in a long chain of teeth gritting that i would really like to break.

grandpop grits his teeth and is really angry at a lot of people a lot of the time. he spent a pretty big part of my childhood being angry with me and with uncle and with grandmom. he loved us, sure. but he had never learned patience from his mother.

his mother was one of the meanest people i have known. she was horrible to him. so horrible that i hate to even call her a mother. i went to her funeral only because i had to. i invited her to my wedding only because i had to. and when she declined the invitation i sent her check back.

the apples don't fall far from the trees.

but that stops here. i will not pass it on to you. i promise. we will be different.

02 November, 2011

explaining myself

it always seems i have to explain myself. this letter to you started out nice and clean. i used the first letter of a "bad" word instead of the whole word. now it seems i have the worst potty-mouth in south jersey...and that is saying a lot. so let me explain myself. to me, words are just words. and they are only as powerful as you allow them to be. don't misunderstand me. i don't plan to let you run around saying nasty words as you grow up and i will do my best not to say those words around you. but when you are all grown up and i share this letter...or now i guess it's more like a story...with you, i would hope that you would have learned, too, that words are just words.

that being said, the other day after posting my last entry, i thought for a moment that grandmom may someday read this. and that then she would have such mixed feelings about me and my beliefs. my life. and then i shivered at the thought that maybe nana (daddy's mom) and pop-pop (daddy's daddy) would read it and have an altogether new opinion of me. and then i have potential clients who may not hire me because they think i am too over-the-top, or too obscene. and then there are the parents of students i have taught in the past. what will they think? and daddy's students or their parents may somehow come across this and what will that mean for him?

one thing i forgot to mention about your mother -- i am impulsive. i don't think things through. ever. and if someone asks me to think it through i have even more resistance.

so here i am. with this blog out there in the world. for anyone to read. and i am just out there. exposed. out there. i use bad words. i admitted to smoking pot. i admitted to drinking too much. i have cursed people i know. people i love and care about. and i expect everyone to just grin and go along with it. and to think it's okay.

so no, actually, i don't. i don't apologize for who i am. that is something that has grown on me over time. i used to apologize for me all of the time. and i would try to mold myself into a person that whoever i was with would accept. i am so over that now. i like the bad words. to me they sound really nice. they sound convincing. not offensive. i did smoke pot. and i enjoyed it. and honestly i believe that everyone should try it at least once or twice. it gives you a whole new perspective. and when you are older and ask me about it, i will tell you the truth. and i drank my twenties away. and it was fun. and i hope you aren't as dumb as i was in some of the decisions i made, but whatever i did made me me. and i like me. and as for grandmom, she loves me. and she will see past the bad stuff. she might blame herself for screwing me up a little. or she will blame me for missing her lessons. but either way, in the end, no matter how screwed up i was or how many mistakes i was making, she was always there in the end, loving me just the same.

daddy's parents -- that's a bit more complicated. i would hope that if it was just too much for them that they would just stop reading and close the page. but maybe not. maybe they can look past it all, too, and think it's kind of cool to get a glimpse into my brain.

maybe a potential client will turn away, but in the end we have to click, so i want all of my clients to be able to see and know the real me. they story of me. maybe it will resonate with them. and maybe not. but either way, it's brutal honesty and it's okay.

the parents of the students from the past...well i think the ones that know me can appreciate what i write about. they are all humans just like i am and i am sure that what i see when i talk to them is not exactly as it always seems. we all wear different hats and play different roles throughout our days. there are many layers to each of us.

i guess i may never get another teaching job, but i don't think i will ever want one anyway. but i do hope that what i say never reflects poorly on your dad. he is so good and so accepting. and so peaceful and generally level-headed. he thinks things through. he is sensitive. and every entry i make in this long letter to you affects him in a different way. it's therapy for me. i hope that in some way it is also for him.

i never write with the intention of hurting anyone. i never write in a passive-aggressive way of getting my point across to one particular person. i write what is in my head and in my heart. i rarely re-read what i write and i often click "publish post" without even skimming over what has just erupted from my brain.

so sometimes after i publish a post, i feel this little twinge of fear in my belly. i wonder who might get offended. and i sometimes have an urge to put a little disclaimer at the end. a blanket apology.

but then i settle on the belief that there is nothing to be sorry about. for any of us. we are all on our path and we are all learning our lessons. i know i am offensive and abrasive. and i tend to hurt feelings. but i am just being honest. and real about the way i feel. it's not personal.

it's just me being me. i write because it makes me feel good. and because i am trying to figure me out a little bit more. and because i hope that along the way someone else may figure out a little something about themselves, too. and because people have told me that they have felt a connection and felt a little less alone in their head in knowing that someone else feels a little bit like they do. i write because it helps me figure out more and more about this person i am becoming.

and hopefully everything i figure out about me will help you to someday be a more complete and healthy you.

30 October, 2011

your mother's life in a nutshell

things were always easy for me and went pretty much however i wanted them to go.

i grew up in a house with two parents in a nice little neighborhood. we lived in the same house all of my life. it was grandmom, grandpop, me and then uncle chris. we always had a dog. and new cars. and a pool in the yard. things were easy. i pretty much got what i wanted. but i wasn't spoiled. we got our clothes at k-mart with scattered in jordache jeans...never guess or benetton anything like that. we took day trips to the beach. we went to disney a few times. i never felt like i was missing out on anything.

i hated high school. a lot. i was a shitty student. and a cheerleader. the captain. i only mention this because anyone who knows me now always gets a kick out of hearing that. most people don't believe it.

but as for school, i would have quit if it weren't for my guidance counselor who let me cut class and hang out with him most of the day almost every day. he was pretty awesome. and there was tera and pam and karis and "velezzie". my partners in crime. i loved those chicks and if it weren't for them i would have a lot less fun stories to tell about my high school years. they got me through it.

i was a total asshole in high school. so ignorant. and even mean. i would have hated that girl if i met her now. thank god for the people who changed me the most. jason was uncle chris' friend. and amit. he was jason's friend who was from israel and living here for a few years. jason made me realize (though he never said it) that i talked to much and was too much about me. and amit made me see how small i was in this huge world. he made me want to travel. to really travel, not just to go to disney world and the bahamas.

after i graduated there was no way in hell i was going to college. i hated school. so i went to this four month travel program in miami beach. i wanted to be a travel agent. i wanted to get out. to see it all.

so grandmom and grandpop paid for me to go down there and learn some stuff about how to enter things into a computer and to search for airfares and blah blah blah. i learned all of that stuff but more importantly i met kendra. she taught me how to be a good student. she taught me to love to learn.

after coming home from that school, i got a job as a travel agent. i hated it. i wasn't going anywhere with that job except to disney world and the bahamas.

so i quit.

and i started to work at the disney store (yes, the disney store).

and i bought a plane ticket to isreal. i informed your grandmother of this when she came home from work one day. i told her i was going and she said i wasn't and i said i already bought the ticket. i was 19. israel was in the news a lot at the time. buses were getting blown up. and i was going to visit my friend while he was on his leave form the israeli army. grandmom wanted to kill me. and i couldn't wait.

it was amazing two weeks. i came home with a feeling of smallness, but of greatness all at once.

i enrolled in county college. i took three and a half years to get out of there. i loved every minute of it. lots of times i showed up to class still hungover. and lots of times i was high while i was there. but i learned so much more than i ever thought i could care about.

i worked two jobs and saved all of my pennies. i was super lucky to have college paid for and to live at home rent free. so i saved and i traveled.

my girl caryn and i backpacked around europe together. we spent two and a half months romping around, relaxing outside of the louvre, wondering what it was like inside because we would rather spend our money on beer than on a ticket to get in.

we slept in atm machines. on the side of rail road tracks. we bought pot from cafe windows and saw bulls run through the streets of pamplona. we went canyoning in switzerland and rode milk trains along the coast of italy. it was eye-opening. and fun as shit.

so after europe, i spent another summer roaming around central america. (god i miss my backpack.) three of those weeks were spent on a beach in belize. drinking coconut rum and eating lobster tacos.

i pretty much alternated travel with work and school for those five and a half years. i was on a plane at least twice a year. and when i was home i was out partying and being a twenty-something. doing things i hope you never do but i am pretty sure you will. but hopefully you will be smarter than i was. and have more confidence. and feel like you belong everywhere you go.

i never felt that way. that's why the beer and the pot. i never ever in my life felt as if i fit in or belonged where i was. i hope that i can give that gift to you. i hope that you always feel as if you belong where ever it is you want to be.

i finally transferred to rowan university and decided to be a teacher. i knew i could do a better job teaching than any of the teachers i ever had. except for mrs. lyons. she was awesome. and i wanted to teach history because i figured that if i was going to see the world, i might as well learn about the places i was going to go.

i remember telling my favorite professor in the world that i would teach in cherry hill someday. he kind of laughed at me and said that it was a really tough district to get into. (see, easy.)

i met my first husband at rowan. we backpacked around cuba for our honeymoon.

i know it will probably be really weird for you to know that i was married before. but even that went well. we were just friends. and after about a year we realized that. we even drove to our divorce hearing together and laughed and joked. the people around us asked why we were getting divorced. we're still friends today.

so it is weird and i guess you could say that was the first big mistake of my life. but i don't know if it can be called a mistake. because everything in my life has brought me to you.

after i got divorced i did some of that traveling i said i would never do. i got an actual suitcase and stayed at resorts in the caribbean and never came into contact with locals unless they were serving my drinks or making my bed. blech. that shit i regret.

i was teaching at maple shade high school. i taught there for five years. i had some really awesome students...like bre, who we all love today and are so happy to have as a little part of our family. but that place wasn't for me. and i was feeling burnt out of teaching. so i resigned from my tenured position even though everyone said i was nuts.

i remember my last day. i went straight to the bus station and went to nyc for a kids yoga teacher training with the amazing jodi komitor. see, while i was married and feeling lost, i found yoga. and i became certified to teach yoga (with my teacher, flossie, another one of those people who helped me see the light) but i wasn't really into teaching adults yoga. i wanted to teach kids yoga. so i did. i got a bunch of certifications and eventually opened a yoga studio just for kids. it was the only one in south jersey. there still hasn't been another one. we made some mistakes and financially we couldn't cut it, but for a while dawn and tiff of yoga clubhouse were the go-to people for kids yoga in this area. it was a really exciting time. full of lots of learning and life lessons.

overlapping with that i ended up teaching at carusi middle school. back in cherry hill. where i grew up. where i had hate and swore i would never live. that's where we live. and that's where i was teaching (even though dr. m made it seem so hard). and that's where i met your dad.

we met in august of 2006. he moved in with me in november. we were engaged in january of 2007. pregnant with your brother cooper in september and married in november. things went so fast. we were super in love. it was kind of sickening sweet like a fairy tale. i never thought i would have met anyone that made me feel the way he did. he was perfect for me.

here is where it stopped being easy.

i got pneumonia on our honeymoon. at a resort. in the carribbean.

when i came home i ended up in the hospital. cooper and i both survived it. but that was the first of many absolutely shitty events in my life. up until then, my life had been pretty damn easy. no school loans. i went where i pleased. things had pretty much always gone my way.

until then.

in february 2008 your brother was born too soon. i was devastated. babies were not supposed to die. not my baby. bad things never happend to me. i was so unprepared. i cried for weeks. i looked like i had the shit beaten out of me my eyes were so black. your dad was amazing through it all. it was so fucking hard for both of us. but we stuck together. we made it through the most horrendous experience that any couple can live through. together.

once we had gotten back on our feet we wanted to try for another baby.

we tried for months. infertility. more shit.

we ended up having to go through ivf to have you. we wanted you so badly we would have done anything.

we were so lucky that it worked on our first try. maybe things were turning around for us. my pregnancy was awesome.

but then you were breech. home birth turned c-section. more shit.

and then you were you. as much as i love you, my perfect little boy, you were not easy. you rocked my world more than i had ever imagined you could. you demanded constant rocking and holding and nursing. you never slept unless you were on my boob. you barely accepted help form your dad. and you still don't most of the time. it's just me. me. me. me. you demanded that i learn how to take care of you in the way that you needed. and so i did. i was consumed by it. and i still am. everything else takes a back seat. me. your dad. the dogs. the house. everything.

and now that we feel ready, we want another baby. a failed ivf cycle. more. shit.

i guess sometimes i sound like a real whiner. or complainer. or a martyr. or just a miserable bitch. but what the fuck? i just wish that some shit would go right for your dad and me. for us it's been so hard. so fucking hard.

and it used to be so fucking easy.

21 October, 2011

positive

ok, so now that i have vented some anger, let me see if i can really let all of the positive things sink in.

mason is still so little. now we get more alone time. and maybe he will wean himself while i am pregnant next time since he will be older. deep down i guess i really did want him to be older before i had another baby.

i just have to get rid of the jealousy when i see friends having their seconds and thirds. or when i hear about really shitty people i know having more and more babies. i have to let it go and just focus on me and what's right for us.

don't get me wrong, i do want another baby. i really want three more babies, and maybe that will still happen. whatever happens is exactly what is meant to happen. i just have to remember that.

we won't try again for another ivf treatment until mason is done nursing because of all of the medications i will have to take. maybe we can get pregnant on our own in the meantime and i won't ever have to go back to the fertility center again.

i will be able to actually finish my childbirth education certificate. i was afraid that if i were pregnant i would never get it done. so i have only three more papers to write and then i can start offering my eight-week courses. i am really excited for that.

i can take on more doula clients and maybe finish that certification, too.

i can drink beer.

josh will be higher up on the pay scale when we do have another baby and maybe he will be able to take a few weeks off with us.

so there are good things. it doesn't take away from the fact that all of the negatives are there. and after some time passes, i know i will believe that these good things are really good. i am just really shocked. i never thought this was where this would end up, i really believed this would work.

negative

i hate shitty parents
i hate that i am sickeningly jealous of people who get pregnant easily
i hate that there are people who get pregnant accidentally
i hate people who don't take care of themselves while they are pregnant
i hate that so many people don't appreciate the miracle that a baby is
i hate people who take their birthing experiences for granted
i hate that i paid over $1600 in embryo storage over the past three years
i hate that i spent hundreds of dollars on acupuncture treatments
i hate that i paid hundreds of dollars for medicines that i pumped into my body
i hate that my son may have taken in some of those medicines
i hate that i had to take two courses of antibiotics
i hate that i had josh bring all of my maternity clothes down from the attic
i hate the embryologist at my doctor's office because she is a miserable bitch
i hate the voice of the woman on my meditation cds
i hate that my doctors just got richer
i hate that i waited all day to get bad news
i hate that i was worried about having twins and i won't even have one
i hate that i am mourning the loss of three embryos
i hate that i am now afraid i will never have another baby
i hate that i lost a baby at 22 weeks
i hate that i had to deal with infertility after losing my baby at 22 weeks
i hate that i had to have a c-section
i hate that i did not get my home birth
i hate that i can't try again to have another baby until mason is done nursing
i hate that this shit can't just be fucking easy for us