Category Archives: Mama

Sitting With Her

February 16, 2017

A few months ago I gave birth to my last baby. In predictable fashion, the time has gone remarkably fast. One minute he was emerging through a ring of fire, and now he’s growing out of small white onesies and requesting beer with dinner instead of breastmilk (just kidding, he prefers wine).

It is easy to panic about this passing of time, especially when everyone tells you to soak in every minute before it’s gone. It’s like if someone told you to really enjoy your ice cream cone now so that next week when you’re craving one, all you’ll have to do is remember today and you’ll be satisfied.

I wish that’s how it worked. I wish that three or five or seventeen years from now when I’m craving that newborn smell and the weight of a baby on my chest, all I’ll have to do is close my eyes to experience it again.

Instead I’ll only feel the familiar ache.

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A few months ago a friend was crying over her daughter’s loose tooth. “Something is wrong with me,” she said. “There is nothing sad about a loose tooth.”

No, we said shaking our heads. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

This past fall, I took my first baby to Kindergarten. He was ready, I was ready, but when the time came to leave him at the door–he clung to my arm and asked me not to go.

“Stay with me,” he said, tears in his eyes. “I don’t want you to leave.”

“You’re going to be so brave,” I said to both of us.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Yesterday a friend wrote to me and said she was failing as a mother. It’s so overwhelming. I can’t be everything to everyone. I’m doing something wrong.

No, no, not at all. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

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For a long time I looked for some sort of cure for saying goodbye to this phase of life, hoping that when the time came, I’d be ready. Equipped with all the tools to manage and cope and not drive everyone crazy with my inability to let go. Mostly I hoped to simply feel ready to move on; happy to say goodbye to the stained highchair, tall stack of diapers, and bulky pack-and-play that never folds down quite right. Instead I am so relieved to learn the truth. That just because it is hard to say goodbye to these baby stages doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

I am and will be so many different kinds of mother in this life. A mother of babies, a mother of toddlers, a mother of pre-teens and teenagers and 30-year-old men. And when I look back at the mother I was to these small children and feel that familiar ache, I hope I sit with her. Let myself grieve what she lost in late night feedings and celebrate what she has become. Just as there is room for joy and gratitude and exhaustion in parenthood, there is also room for what comes with saying goodbye. And for me, that is a lot of sadness and emotions.

Please keep Austin in your thoughts.

The door is not closed, but it will close someday one way or another. And when I find my heart heavy, I know what to do. I will look to that mother, rocking her baby in that well worn chair, and I will sit with her.

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Birth Was Great But Now I Can’t Sit Down : Five Essentials For Postpartum Care

July 7, 2016

Hello from the other side, friends. A few weeks ago I had my third baby, officially graduating me to the postpartum phase. Since I’ve done this before, I knew to have low expectations and plenty of Senna Lax. It’s been okay. Basically I have three speeds postpartum: totally fine, totally overwhelmed, and totally dead inside. As long as I can keep the last one at bay for the majority of the time, we’ll be okay.

Physical recovery has been fine, too. Nothing can compare to the horror of the first baby, and I know better than to think my body will return to a teenager in five minutes (or ever). We’re taking our time. My advice to anyone about to go through this for the first time is this: Give yourself grace and ask for what you need. If you need someone to come hold the baby, ask for help. If you need your partner to stop watching Game Of Thrones on his iPhone because it’s making you nauseous, ask for help. If you need more of those ice pack pads from the hospital to take home so your vagina doesn’t fall out, buzz your nurse and ASK FOR HELP. You just had a baby, it’s okay to have needs.

It’s also a good idea to take time for self-care, especially if they help make your body (and your brain) feel a little more normal.

Today, five things I’ve found that help make this part a bit easier.

You got this.

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1. Thinx underwear.

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Is it just me or does the bleeding after baby seem to last forever? I’m on week three and still not able to walk around footloose and pad free. Even though I’ve long moved on from the diaper phase of postpartum recovery (praise Jesus), that light bleeding off and on all day and night just keeps on going.

Fortunately for women who hate wearing pads (all women), there is a new way to walk around with your flow. Thinx period panties replaces pantyliners with its built in miracle system and allows you to feel more like a normal human being postpartum. I don’t really understand how it works, but I do know that wearing these special underwears is 100x better than wearing a pad.

Official review: Comfy, convenient, not gross, NOT A PAD. 5/5 stars.

Q&A –> Yes, I’ve heard of the diva cup. No, I don’t want to try it (you can’t use it postpartum anyways). Yes, I’m going to use Thinx for my period. No, I won’t be able to just use them the whole cycle (my flow is too heavy). Yes, they are comfortable. No, it doesn’t feel wet. No, it doesn’t smell bad. No, it doesn’t feel like sitting in your own blood. Yes, you have to rinse them before you wash them. No, you don’t have to change them during the day. Yes, I actually really do love them.

10 bucks off your first pair.

Cheers.

PS: 100 million girls in the developing world fall behind in school just because of their periods, forcing many of them to drop off. See how every purchase of Thinx underwear helps here.

PPS: Their sister company makes pee panties and they were a lifesaver during pregnancy. You can find that review here.

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2. Miralax.

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Well hello old friend.

We’ve talked about that first postpartum poo before.

Look, I don’t need to ruin your day with my sad tales of anal fissures and crippling constipation–but I will say that for my friends out there who also have this problem after birth: solidarity, sister. The pain is so real and devastating.

This time, the troubles didn’t hit me until 3.5 weeks postpartum. I thought I had avoided it this time, but my body was just waiting to surprise me! All of a sudden the ass glass is back, and now every trip to the bathroom is like a second birth. Please excuse my screams.

Even if you don’t have fissures or hemorrhoids, most women experience some minor poo problems post delivery. Two things I’ve found that help soften things up: Miralax + Senna tablets. Both things help keep things moving without being too hard on your body.

Godspeed.

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3. Non-maternity clothes.

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My postpartum wardrobe the first two times consisted of ratty maternity clothes, unflattering XL t-shirts, and sweatpants. Not great for morale.

Postpartum wardrobe this time: kimonos, flowy tops, compression leggings (bless), and a few new nursing tanks from Target. Candis from The Jones Market also sent me this shirt, which feels like butter and is so roomy and forgiving.

Look, we all know that after you have a baby, your body feels like a bloated jellyfish. What I’ve learned this time around is that anything that helps you feel like a normal, healthy human being is worth the price. Don’t settle for your stretched out maternity tops that hug in all the wrong places. The morale boost is worth it.

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4. Peapod grocery delivery.

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A few years ago if you were getting your groceries delivered, you were either a wealthy hermit or Beyoncé. Now you can get them delivered fairly cheaply from your local grocery store. The grocery store that you were going to take two young kids and newborn to while you tried to shove bananas in the cart next to the car-seat (because that’s about all you’re going to fit in with that seat taking up most of the room).

This week I placed my first Peapod order and a day later, all my groceries were delivered to my door without me having to get three kids and myself out the door. Groceries that I took two days to slowly pick out and add to my cart while I looked up recipes and figured out what I want for breakfast. It’s magic, and I definitely ended up saving money because of all the stuff I didn’t get roaming the aisles. I also saved my sanity, which is worth its weight in gold. For new Peapod users, click here to get $20 dollars off your first order (what!) and free delivery for a month (there is literally no reason not to do this).

This is my life now.

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5. Dry shampoo.

Dry Shampoo

Self-care with kids means doing the most you can with the time you have. And what you don’t have a lot of during the postpartum phase is time. Dry shampoo cuts hair care in half by eliminating washes, dries, and styling (three things I’m hardly doing anyways). It’s especially great for those of us with long hair who only shampoo a few times a week.

A tip from my friend Heather: Apply dry shampoo the night before and wake up with volume and a more even cover.

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Oh Novi: A Birth Story

June 17, 2016

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My sweet baby boy Novi was born on a cool June night after 21 hours of labor.

Things people told me about delivering third babies:
1) The baby will come early.
2) Labor will be quick.
3) It will be easiest one yet.

(Nope on all accounts)

My contractions started the morning before around 5am, two days after my due date. Because we weren’t sure if it was the real thing, Austin still went into work at 6 but promised to be back in a few hours if things didn’t slow down. They didn’t. They also didn’t speed up. Just like my other two labors, things moved slowly. For eight more hours my contractions were 7 to 10 minutes apart. In that time, Austin came home from his last day of intern year, my parents drove in from Philly, and Waylon and Eva ran around like drunk college kids asking WHERE IS THE BABY and CAN I HAVE A POPSICLE.

Meanwhile I never sat down because whenever I did, the contractions slowed down and I was determined to make this happen. And so I walked and rocked, rocked and walked. For a while I tried to walk outside, but it was so hot that I only drenched myself in sweat. At one point I was so desperate to stop walking circles in my kitchen that I drove myself to KMart to walk around in the air conditioning while my family sent threatening texts from the living room. It was a special time.

Once the evening came, I stopped timing contractions and started the work of really breathing through them. By 6pm, they were close enough together that I knew we needed to leave for the hospital soon. When I called the nurse and said my contractions were around three minutes apart, she said, “You need to come now. I don’t want you to have this baby in the car.” I laughed and waited 40 more minutes. I knew better. My body takes forever to dilate, and I wanted to be home as long as I could.

Things Austin did while I labored at home:
1) Napped.
2) Showered.
3) Light gardening.
4) Craigslist.
5) Instagram memes.

Things I wanted him to be doing once the pain reached an 8/10:
1) NONE OF THOSE THINGS.

Finally around seven, we loaded our bags into the car and left. On the way we stopped at the diner where my parents had taken the kids and said goodbye. It was hard to look at Eva. I felt overwhelmed with love for her, but also excited and focused on the night ahead. I had one contraction outside the restaurant, ran in to kiss my babies goodnight, and then shuffled back outside to have another contraction. Things were starting to pick up.

Once we checked into triage, I felt a tiredness wash over me. I’d been up since 5, in labor for fifteen hours, and on my feet the whole time. This is when I said to the nurse, “Just to let you know, I’d like an epidural.” She gave the thumbs up, and four days later (two long hours later)–they finally gave me one.

Things I don’t want to be doing when the pain is a 10/10:
1) Watching Friends reruns.
2) Peeing.
3) Lying down.
4) Holding my gown together.
5) Waiting for an anesthesiologist.

This is the part of the story that, for me, usually ends in a calm, peaceful birth. Just like with Waylon, I’d been in labor for 17 hours before getting the drugs, and I was ready to rest before pushing a baby out. Instead, the medicine wore off twice–and before they could try to fix it one more time, my water broke and I went from 8 centimeters dilated to 10 in about five minutes.

I wish I could describe what it’s like to have a drug free birth when you are not prepared to have a drug free birth. Have you ever been on a leisurely walk and then tripped and fallen onto a bed of hot nails? It’s kind of like that, except you’re exhausted and the walk wasn’t ever that leisurely to begin with.

In a very short time, my water broke, the drugs disappeared completely, and I felt the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Twice I tried to ask if anyone was going to fix the meds, but no one answered me. Instead they just avoided eye contact and tried to act busy. That’s when I knew things were about to get real.

Truth: delivering Novi into this world is the hardest thing I’ve ever physically done. At one point his shoulders got stuck (shoulder dystocia), prompting a doctor to press down as hard as he could on my abdomen to help push the baby out. Austin said he pressed so hard that you could hear an audible crunch. Luckily I couldn’t hear it over my very audible scream.

Things I yelled during labor that I don’t remember yelling:
1) NO
2) I’M NOT DOING THIS
3) I CAN’T DO THIS
4) JUST PULL IT OUT
5) IT BURNS (hey ring of fire)

It was all very loud and fast, slow and silent at the same time. Once he finally slid out, I was so emotionally and physically spent that I just closed my eyes and wept. I never saw them hold him up or heard Austin say, “It’s a boy!” Instead I felt it all. I felt the weight of him on my chest, the relief of it being over, and the surge of immediate love for someone I just met.

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We named him Novi Fox because we are the kind of parents who name their kid Novi Fox. Since Novi isn’t a real name, it doesn’t have an official meaning which means I can give it one all its own. So far I’m thinking “child who never complains,” but we’ll see.

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It’s been five days since I delivered my sweet boy into this world, and while it was difficult and unexpected– his birth story has already started to feel less like hard jolt and more like an amazing and beautiful feat. I’m so glad I got to do this one more time.

Oh Novi. We’re so glad you’re here. You are everything I dreamed you could be.

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// hello novi video //

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The Last Post

June 1, 2016

This will be the last blog post before I give birth to one more human. Just like last time, if you’re wondering if I’ve had the baby yet, you can always check this site or use social media. I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat. I had my other kids on their due dates, so I don’t really anticipate going early or late. My official prediction is that I will have a baby sometime in June. Please send your thoughts, prayers, and magical healing auras to my special place.

Grocery store checkout questions answered:

1) Do you know what you’re having? (no)

2) Did you find out with the other two? (yes)

3) Do you have a guess? (yes, though my guessing powers have proven to be 0% correct in the past)

4) Do you have names picked out? (yes, same name for either sex)

5) Are you due soon? (oh did you think I was pregnant? I just had a large lunch)

You know my thoughts on the third trimester and this final pregnancy. We’ve had a good run. Thinking about saying goodbye to this stage of my life, giving birth one last time, and holding a fresh newborn again all make me cry into my cereal (but so does that Lean Cuisine commercial with the night nurse and the macaroni and cheese–so take it with a grain of salt).

The kids are excited. I am excited. Austin is excited. Ever since Eva was born, we’ve talked about what our family would look like as a family of four but it never felt quite right. Someone was missing. I can’t wait until we’re all here.

See you soon.

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Last post with Eva

The Third Trimester: Goodbye Valentine

May 19, 2016

Third baby, third trimester, third time I’m googling “really thirsty + early sign of labor?”

We made it.

It’s strange, really. Wasn’t it just last week that I was telling Austin I was pregnant and then throwing up into the trashcan? Time flies when you’re having fun.

This has been the physically hardest but the best pregnancy out of the three. The only way I can explain it is this: Everything is easier when you’re saying goodbye. These months mark the end of a chapter in my life I have really enjoyed–and I’ve been aware each day how lucky I am to do it one more time. If I had to compare it with my other pregnancies, it is most similar to Waylon’s, but there have been differences too. For example, out of all the babies I have carried, this one has moved the most and slept the least in utero. Let’s pretend it means nothing.

The third trimester has been fine. The sickness came back, but I’ve been able to sleep at night. And if there’s anything I need in pregnancy, it’s a full night of rest. Other symptoms include round ligament pain, emotional outbursts over kindergarten registration, and the incessant need to organize the kitchen drawers.

Of course there’s the third trimester and then there’s the third trimester. Two very different things. So far this week I’ve made Paula Deen’s potato salad twice and eaten it all by myself like a sea monster. I’ve also asked Austin to do about 52 things I can no longer physically do, like carry boxes up and down three flights of stairs and vacuum behind the desks and dressers. Pray for him.

A few months ago an older and wiser mother of three said this to me about that last baby: “Oh, that one goes so fast. They are born and then they’re running across the graduation stage. Hold tight.” Got me good.

37 weeks and counting. Let’s do this.

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