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I did it again….

23 Jul

I found this old blog in my draft pile from NOVEMBER 2013.  I don’t know why I didn’t publish it.  Maybe it was hitting too close to home.  I am glad I saved it.  I remember this day well…


Well I did it again.  Another blog post.  Well, yes, but that’s not what I’m referring to.   Today, while sleepily walking through the soda aisle at Safeway, trying to find Ginger Ale in a can for my daughter, who threw up at 4:30 am, I found myself silently wishing I could trade places with someone that did not have children.

There.  I said it.  I’m awful.  I know.

I have been down this road a few times this year.  First, for some God awful reason, my children keep getting stomach bugs.  Why not colds? Seriously, why not.  No, its always the stomach bug, and I think, if I am counting properly, this is our third time around since January.  Sick kids always suck, but the stomach bug is the ninja of all bugs, and inevitably it goes from one kid to the other and then to me and/or Bob.  So, if we are keeping track: second worst thing ever is a sick kid, worst thing ever is a sick kid plus a sick parent. Oh and worst, worst thing infinity is sick parents and two sick kids.  Been there.

Then, as many of you know, I weathered more difficulties with Post Partum Depression this winter after having Gus.

“Oh the second one is soooo much easier!” they said.

“Your recovery will be so quick!” they said.

“You will wonder why you thought it was so hard the first time!”

“Breastfeeding will be a breeze this time around,” I heard.  Umm, no. Actually everything was fucking hard as shit, much harder than it was when I had Bea and further complicated by the fact that I now had a two year old and then got it in my head that it would be a much better experience with the second.  I should have known better. **Disclaimer: Every kid is different, if you are pregnant with or thinking of having #2, he/ she may very well be easier than your first.  Just wasn’t the case for me.

So, back to Safeway.  I had been up since 4:30 (or 5:30 or whatever you want to call it since the clocks “fell” back), I was exhausted, downtrodden, hungry and I had a headache.  I was getting Ginger Ale, popsicles and a few other things.  And then…they walked by.

That couple.  You know them.  They were about 26 or 27. They were in their workout clothes. Probably just came from the gym.  She was wearing tight yoga pants, long hair in a pony tail, hot pink Nikes and weighed about 110 pounds.  He was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, sneakers and clearly hadn’t shaved.  That familiar feeling waved over me as they passed me by (with their little basket–pffft).  Somewhere between envy and indignation that voice in my head said, “Man, you guys don’t know how good you have it.”

And let me tell you, that feeling–that feeling RIGHT there–is the kind of feeling that every mom has had at one point or another.  I don’t care who you are.  Sometimes we feel it with a side of wistful remembrance. Sometimes with a little jealousy. And sometimes with desperation–as in, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE build me a time machine so I can be you again for just one day!  That feeling of being trapped; of wanting to break away but not being able to.  Not that I wanted to go anywhere, but the principle of the fact that I was stuck in the house with these people, waiting for my insides to twist as it became my turn for the black death…. well, that feeling could easily have turned into resentfulness.  It’s a defeatist, useless way to think, but sometimes you have a bad day and your mind wanders over to that place.  Women with PPD or depression tend to do that to themselves. It’s called catastrophic thinking.

Anyway, as I kept walking in the grocery store, I made a conscious effort to stop myself from going down that road.  I asked myself, What is this girl going to do for the rest of the day, and how great is it, REALLY?

Well, it was Sunday.  So chances are, she and the boy were going to go home, shower and head off to their local watering hole to watch football.  They will meet other single friends there and some couples, too.  They will drink a good amount of beer, eat some wings and probably be home by 9:00.  Maybe they live together, maybe not. Maybe he spends the night, maybe not.

She will wake up tomorrow a little groggy because she had too much Miller Lite and shame herself for ordering the wings AND the burger (must hit gym hard tonight, she thinks). She will go to work and talk to her coworkers about her weekend.  She and the boy exchange a few texts and emails.   Maybe they are talking about what to do for dinner.  If they don’t live together, they are planning their next get together.  Who’s house will they sleep at?  Who’s friends will they hang out with?  If they do live together she might say she’s making something for dinner tonight (fair assumption since they were at the grocery store today).

I should pause the story for a moment and admit that I overheard the girl telling the checkout guy that they had been together three-and-a-half years.  No ring.  So this was obviously a committed relationship.  Ok. Unpause.

She probably has a pretty good job, but is at a point in her career where she is ready for a bigger challenge.  She may go back to school. She may have decided that she is in the wrong line of work.  She might be perfectly happy where she is, but she knows in the next year or two, she needs to go somewhere: Up, over or out.

She is happy, yes.  She is free. She is independent.  She is strong.  But, she is also that same girl that stares at my babies with googly lovey-dovey eyes when she sees them at the grocery store (on that rare occasion I let them out of their cages that I keep in the basement).  She walks by the wedding magazines at the checkout aisle and has to steel herself from staring too long at the cover.  I have to remind myself that I have what SHE wants… not the other way around.

Now, now… before all the single ladies, feminists and DINKS start yelling and posting nasty comments, allow me to explain.   I am not saying that a woman’s entire life is spent in pursuit of a husband and children.  I am not saying that you are not ‘complete’ without these things.  Nor am I saying that a woman isn’t truly happy until she achieves this stage in life.  On the contrary.  I loved my 20s.  But I knew I wanted to find a partner for life and have children one day, and there aren’t many young women that don’t want to have a family, too, eventually.  Note I said FAMILY.  It doesn’t have to mean a husband and/or kids.  It can be one or the other or neither (I have several friends with same-sex partners and dogs that are quite content, thankyouverymuch).  But most all of us want a family of our own in some capacity or another.

True, this young woman really doesn’t know how good she has it: sleeping in, ab muscles that still touch, the ability to go away for the weekend at a moments notice and the luxury of going out to eat whenever and wherever her wallet will allow.  But, she wants to have a family one day.  She has love within her that she knows is meant to go around.  She is tired of wondering if he is “the one.”   She already knows what shape diamond she wants in her engagement ring.  She wants to hear her babies giggle in her ear and smell their heads until they are too big to let her.

I walked out of the grocery store today and reminded myself that I live with no regrets, and have enjoyed and learned from every stage in my life.  I reminded myself that one day I will be called on to help guide my own children through their own life decisions.  And I reminded myself that I would much rather know what I am missing than fear that I somehow missed out.

…and I also reminded myself that my kids will have kids of their own one day and I will laugh at them.




19 Mar

I was talking with my Best Friend the other day about some bad news she had recently gotten. Many of you who know me know that she had a harrowing 2012, being diagnosed, treated for, and eventually overcoming, stage 2 breast cancer. It was triple negative. You can read about triple negative breast cancer here and learn why it is a scary diagnosis.  My friend was 36 when she got hers.

Anyway, said friend is doing great with a lovely new pair of boobs and a flatter tummy to boot.  But she has met and grown close with many other women during her journey, and learned that one friend had to have a hysterectomy because her cancer came back.  She was a newlywed and hoping to get pregnant.  😦

This made me think.  When we talk about being a SURVIVOR, what does that mean?  That one has escaped death?  I guess in the most literal sense, you are escaping death when you survive, but I think being a survivor is so much more.  My friend didn’t just survive breast cancer.  She endured despite (because of?) all she experienced while getting treatment.  When you survive something, you don’t just survive the event itself; you survive everyone else that didn’t.  You survive what you went through to come out of the other end, most likely very different than how you entered, if not just on the inside, maybe even on the outside.  You have battle scars and wounds that you wear proudly and you will never be the same again.

Her weekly trips to Hopkins were not exactly summer camp excursions.  She is likely to have more stories like this as time goes on, sad as that is.  But this makes her even more of a survivor to me.  I imagine the diagnosis of cancer is not nearly as scary as chemo, surgery, mastectomies, or the pain she feels when she hears of another fallen comrade.  Of these things, she is a survivor, too. I tended to think that after this surgery of hers (see “boobs” above), that it was pretty much over.  But she is now inextricably linked to this culture, and these other women that crossed her path on her journey.  And to endure the loss of another friend, well– that, to me, might be the worst part of being a survivor.

We are all survivors, though, aren’t we?  Everyone has a story.  Look at us.  Marriage. Relationships.  Breakups. Divorce. Fertility treatments.  Pregnancies that made us so sick we thought we’d never get out of bed or gain weight.  Painful births.  The scar of a c-section after 2 hours of pushing.  Mothers. Sisters. Wives. Daughters.  The decision to stay home with our children, or go back to work, either one an agonizing decision to make with equal downsides.  Caring for ailing relatives. Sacrificing. Dealing with illness. Admitting we need help.   We are all survivors.   As women, this is part of the hand we are dealt, and we all must survive. And every day, we grow stronger.

Being a “mom” before I had kids was so one dimensional to me. I only knew how to be a daughter.  Now I know that “mom” isn’t just a dictionary definition of a maternal parent, but a symbolic representation of the greatest and strongest type of survivor.   It is entry into a club that you can’t even fathom until you get there.  It is looking at life through a new and permanent kind of lens.  It is seeing every human being as somebody else’s baby.  It is truly understanding why God made Woman.  It is feeling connections with other mothers through a single look, because that’s all it takes to say the thousands of words we want to say to each other.

I would imagine that surviving cancer is like most things in life, in that you can’t understand it until you’ve gone through it.  I would never presume to.  And my friend is one of quiet contemplation, not a boisterous noisemaker like me, making it something even more individual, complex and unique.  The next time I see someone who has gone through cancer, I won’t just see someone that beat a disease, I will see someone that survived two lifetimes worth of battles.

I’m OK, You’re OK

1 Feb

So I have to thank my friend Lisa Dvorak at Housewife Hon for inspiring me to write again. Well, maybe the competitive edge in me came out. Lisa stays home all day, every day with her 2 1/2 year old and 7 month old. Lisa is hands on in every sense of the word, and makes all of us fellow playgroup moms look bad by making fun crafts and then having time to blog about it. She has managed to post like 10 times already in January. Her most recent post is about cleaning toddler poop up from the carpet, on her hands and knees, WHILE SHE BREASTFED HER INFANT AT THE SAME TIME IN THE ERGO CARRIER. You read that correctly. I would have been sobbing in a corner on the phone to my mother or husband, baby screaming from hunger. But I digress….

Where to pick up? Seeing as how I have both my kids parked in front of Dora the Explorer, I estimate I have three minutes to write. So, uh, yeah I got pregnant, was sick for three months (If Kate Middleton was a 10, I was a 9), lost my job, moved to the suburbs in the middle of a Baltimore summer (AGAIN) and had my cutie pie Gus William on December 1st. Okay, so you’re caught up.

Well, I guess not quite. This blog started out as something to discuss fertility, and slowly walk you through my journey of having Beatrice. Then I got pregnant again (not through fertility… oops!) What many people don’t know is that I suffered Post Partum Depression very badly with Beatrice and somewhat again with Gus.

Maybe this is a post for another time, but if you’ve had PPD, or even a touch of baby blues, you and I are sympatico and we share the war wounds. If not, you are one of the lucky ones that my friends and I secretly make fun of, because newborns are like ZERO fun on a good day. Just kidding, hahaha, seriously though you were lucky and probably have a sunny outlook on life all the time. So I won’t get into how it felt, how I got help, etc. That’s an important story but, again, for another time.

When going back to my Doctor for a check up recently she asked me if I would accompany her on an upcoming psychiatry lecture to med students. She was going to be discussing Post Partum Depression and wanted someone who had experienced it to be there with her to talk to the group and answer questions. She said she knew I would be “brutally honest.” LOL. I was more than happy to do this! I feel like everything happens for a reason, and if I could possibly help one person who will eventually become a doctor go on to help another person, then it was worth it. I mean it was worth it to have my kids and all, but you know what I mean.

It was an auditorium full of med students and my doctor and I basically walked through my history… having Beatrice, taking her home and feeling full on as though my life was over as I knew it. Getting help, getting better, having another baby…

But I wish I had talked about one other thing.  As a doctor treating someone with PPD, I think its important for them to understand, contextually, what it means to be a parent today.  And that is, that we are wayyyyy too hard on ourselves.  From the minute a woman gets pregnant, she wants to do it better than her own mother and instantly starts making mental notes of what she knows she’ll NEVER do as a parent (wink, wink).  And when we give birth, we immediately feel we aren’t doing enough, should be doing something better, bigger, more spectacular.   We don’t spend enough time with them, they watch too much TV, we haven’t done the baby book yet,  they haven’t learned to swim or missed out on immersion Mandarin classes. Why do we do this to ourselves?   Where does all the guilt come from?

I couldn’t articulate this any better than the blogger, Pregnant Chicken.  She wrote about Why You’re Never Failing as a Mother and a good friend passed it along.   Honestly this article sums it up for me, and I want every pregnant woman to read it!

Its important, I believe, when trying to understand a new mom’s feeling of depression, to know that she has just been thrust into this new competitive world of parenting. She’s been preparing for motherhood her whole life, and now that she’s finding its terribly hard, she feels like a failure.  She sees all these other super moms around her (who are actually feeling the same insecurities, she’ll later go on to find).  The pressure to breastfeed (breastmilk is best!), feed organically, to co-sleep or not to co-sleep, to make sure your child doesn’t lay eyes on a television screen  more than 10 minutes a month…. this new mom feels the pressure, and feels guilt for not enjoying EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of her newborn child as everyone says she should.

They only make “Congratulations” cards for new moms, so that must mean I should be constantly feeling on cloud nine, right?  They don’t make cards that tell the truth: “You are about to fall in love like you never thought possible, but it may not happen for you right away and you are still a good mom if it doesn’t.  It is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and you will not get much gratification for your efforts at first.  I am here if you need a hug.  Oh yeah, and you will sleep again, just not for a few months.”

Take it easy on yourself, Mom.  You are doing great.  And, what your child needs most–more than breastmilk, a natural birth, organic carrots or violin lessons– is a happy, healthy, semi well-rested mom.

How to get Kicked out of Your Mommy Group

26 Jul

My playgroup friends and I were having a discussion recently about the topics that come up on a local listserv we all belong to. There seems to be a rotation of hot-button issues that come up every so often and are always sure to stir up strong reactions.  I often wonder if the poster realizes what a hot, messy shit storm he or she (usually a she) is about to start when they innocently ask a new mom question about breastfeeding, sleeping, pacifiers, behavior, eating, food choices, education and the like.

It usually goes something like this:

“My pediatrician/ mother/ friend/ nanny told me that Baby is having a reaction to cows milk/ formula/ a food/ my boob/ our shampoo/ sleeping next to me/ public education/ our pet/ our water supply/a recent vaccination/  his daycare/ his crib and I’m wondering if anyone has any advice on alternatives?”

*Sigh*  Poor Mom. She has no idea what questions like this to do the seasoned mothers on the other end of this message, just dying to opine on why what they did with their child was best, or what new research they uncovered from a study in the UK.   Of course, this is a broad generalization.  Most moms offer good, sound advice and keep their judgements to themselves.  But there are always a select few that start violently typing away, ready to explode with self-righteous indignancy.

Because of the latest crop of posts, I was inspired to develop a sure fire way for you moms to alienate your other mom friends.  Whether you are just tired of hanging around with them, or just feel like totally effing with someone that day, these are guaranteed to get you kicked out of your playgroup!  Trying just one or two is likely to get you a raised eyebrow here and there.  Three or four will get people whispering about you after you leave.  But if you incorporate at least five of these in the same playgroup, you are happily on your way to being black balled, and free to seek out other like-minded and enlightened moms such as yourself.

  1. “Why in the world would anyone use formula?  I mean, its absolute POISON.  Have you seen the ingredients in it?  Any mother that uses formula obviously hasn’t tried hard enough to breastfeed and doesn’t care about their baby. ”  Follow that up with a casual “I am planning on breastfeeding until Bobby is at LEAST three years old,” and you are instantly the judgemental hippie in the group.  Well done.
  2. “I just read an article in Canadian World Health weekly that said vaccinations are directly related to autism.  I have decided since everyone here is vaccinated, we are in no danger.  I’ve asked my pediatrician to send all of our health paperwork to my new Shaman, who will be my spiritual health advisor from now on.”  Throw on a dash of petchouli before you come to playgroup that day and you have nailed it.
  3. “What do you mean you still use a pacifier?  Don’t you know that hinders speech development and will cause buck teeth?  Get rid of that thing now!”
  4. Announce this just as one of your weary-eyed, sleep deprived mom friends is on her third cup of coffee, lamenting about how difficult its been to get her infant to sleep consistently “You should just let him sleep with you. Johnny still sleeps in our bed.  Its because letting a child cry is cruel and unusual. Studies have shown that children who are left alone to cry in their cribs develop psychological disorders in adulthood.  I don’t understand how any parent can willingly sleep train a child or Ferberize or whatever.  Its getting a little cramped now that he is four, but we make do.”
  5. And while that mom is pouring milk or cream into her coffee… “We’ve just decided to switch Julia to Almond milk.  Do you know we are the only species on Earth that drinks ANOTHER animal’s milk?  Our digestive systems were not made for that.  And soy milk causes cancer.  That’s what my Shaman told me.  If you’re feeding your toddler the right things anyway, he or she won’t even need the fat from Cow’s milk.”
  6. “My sister in Manhattan only got 8 weeks of maternity leave.  Can you IMAGINE? She has a nanny coming to take care of her baby. I mean, I give her credit.  I think its great that she is confident enough in herself as a woman to allow someone else to raise her child.  It must be so hard.  I don’t think I could ever do it.  We’ve had to cut back on a lot, but in the end, Brady’s well-being is what matters.”  Say this to the mom who is about to go back to work full-time and you have earned yourself a spot in the Bitch Hall of Fame!
  7. “Our public education system is so grossly out of touch with what our children need.  Sending your child to a public school is like sending them off to a germ factory.  And who can afford private school?  The Catholics all have an agenda.  What other choices do we have besides home schooling?  Socialization, shmocialization.  Look at the Japanese! They don’t care about socialization.  There is a reason their kids are way ahead of ours in all major subjects.”  Ooh, you’ve managed to insult three separate groups at once in this one–nice work.  And way to add insult to your country.
  8. After one mom talks about a late night run to the pharmacy to get Tylenol to bring a fever down: “Oh my God, you should try these homeopathic pills that I have.  I’ll give you some for next time.  They don’t have any dyes or carcinogens like Tylenol or other brand name drugs. Our children these days are over-medicated anyway.”  See: vaccination advice above.
  9. To the hostess:  “Wow, what kind of vacuum do you guys have?   You practically got up all the pet hair from the carpet!  Toby’s allergies are barely acting up, it must be a nice one. ” Conspicuously pull out the Nasal Spray and administer to child.
  10. And finally… “Are these carrots organic?”

To the Mother with only One Child…

4 Feb

One of my playgroup friends (with two children) sent this link around last week.  It really resonated with me.  This blogger is a mom of NINE.  Yes, nine.   How many times have you marveled at what must be super-human patience, the ability to go on 5 hours sleep, and cook a meal for a family larger than four?  I do it constantly.  I only work part time, and I think to myself, “How do full time working moms do it?  How does anyone do it with more than one?”

I am constantly saying “Oomph, Bea, you are so heavy.” In my defense, 28 pounds…

But oh how she is light. This article made me think that maybe I’m doing a better job than I think.  And maybe I could handle one more?  We’ll see.  And NO I’m not pregnant.  LOL.

To the Mother With Only One Child

Out of the Loop and totally off topic

4 Jan

I must apologize for not writing much in the month of December. Bob and I decided to put our house on the market, Christmas came quicker than I could imagine, and the whole family spent the better part of two weeks back and forth between colds and one hell of a stomach bug.

I wish I had wonderful news to write about. I don’t. But I have to get this out.  Fertility brings life, and life brings death, and I’ve got death on the brain.  An acquaintance of mine, and the Godmother of my best friend’s son, suddenly passed away last week.  Claire. She was 35. She had an 8 year old boy and 5 year old girl. Heart attack apparently.

My brain needs some good news.  I need fairies, rainbows, marshmallows, hearts, sparkles and ribbons.

This is the second young person that I know that has left us way too soon this year. First, it was my friend Brooke. I met Brooke  through a mutual friend back in 2002 and ended up dating her brother for the better part of a year.

I suppose I’m lucky that in both cases I wasn’t super close to either of the deceased, but close enough that it shook me each time.

Brooke lived at home. She was 33. She came home from work with a splitting headache and went to bed. Her mother woke up later that evening to the sound of Brooke throwing up in bed. By the time she got to her bedroom, she was non responsive. Brain hemorrhage. She was gone like *that.*

In contemplating Brooke’s passing, I immediately felt for her parents. I guess it was lucky (?) that she wasn’t married or had children, because that would mean a few more broken-hearted souls in this world, but one can also argue that it’s a tragedy that she never had the chance to experience those things. At least that’s what I imagine her mother would feel.

Sometimes I catch myself looking at Bea, or playing with her, kissing her, dressing her… and I think “this was Brooke’s Mom 32 years ago.” She had joy and smiles and all the hope in the world for her daughter. She couldn’t wait to see her grow up, become a woman and have children of her own. She wanted nothing more than for her to be happy for all her waking moments. She was giving her kisses just like I’m giving Bea right now, having no idea how short her daughter’s life would be.

I have to tell you, it scares me. Stuff like that gives me a gut-wrenching, agonizingly painful fear. This is why I’m horrible in grief situations. I’m horrible at funerals, viewings and times of sorrow. You know why? Because to admit and speak about how sad the situation is means admitting that its something that can (and in the case of dying, will) happen to me. It’s just a matter of when. So I use humor and try to change the subject. If you’ve ever found me less than supportive in a time of need, this is why. I need to brush past the ugly stuff and move on or I’ll spiral into despair with you.

And then the news about Claire. A heart attack. Random. In this case, I didn’t think of Claire’s parents as I did with Brooke. I thought of her daughter, who will never get to share her prom, her graduation, her wedding day, her first child with her mother. And I think of Claire, who now has to miss out on so much. In the same room, kissing Bea at the very same moment, was Claire, kissing her daughter, worrying over her health, cutting up her Thanksgiving turkey. And now… she’s gone. And I look at Bea and think, “I don’t want you to live a day without me, and I don’t want to live a day without you.” But eventually, one of us will have to.

So, I’m scared of dying. I’m scared of Bea dying. I am scared of Bob dying.  The thought that my daughter has to eventually leave this earth is painfully devastating to me.  Even if it happens when I’m well below the ground… I get teary eyed at the thought of her missing out the way Brooke did… and even moreso when I imagine me missing out the way Claire did. But what can I do?  Here is where the common sense Carrie tells the crazy emotional Carrie to get it together.

What could Brooke and Claire have done to prevent their deaths? The answer is likely nothing. Short of getting a complete body scan every week since birth, there was nothing they could have done to prevent their passing. Scarier, even yet, but at the same time comforting.

Connor is understandably upset about his Godmother dying suddenly.  His mother told him that she is in heaven. I really, really want to believe that both Brooke and Claire are in Heaven.  But it scares me that maybe they’re not.  There are a ton of religions in this world that all believe different things… is it possible none of us is right?  Or all of us?  Or just one of us?  Hell, I’m not even very religious, where does that leave me?   So, yes, the long and short of it is: I’m scared of dying, because I don’t know if it means I’ll ever see Bea again.

This has to be scary for Connor, and for Claire’s children, if its scary for a grown up like me.  So, setting aside the question of what happens when we die, what would sensible Carrie say?  If Connor, or Bea, or Claire’s children came to me and asked if I was going to die soon, or when they were going to die, what would I say without being a complete phony??

Here goes:

  • Everyone dies eventually
  • For most of us, it will be when we are old, and have lived a long life, passing peacefully in our sleep.
  • For some, it will be sooner.   We don’t know what our fates are.
  • So, we do the best that we can to prevent the most obvious things: We wear helmets and seatbelts.  We get regular check ups.  We don’t smoke.  We eat our vegetables.  We wear sunscreen.  We look both ways before crossing the street.   We get our cholesterol checked.  We exercise and try not to become obese.  We don’t run with scissors.
  • Beyond these measures, there isn’t much we can do.  So do we wrap ourselves and our loved ones in bubble wrap and bathe in hand sanitizer every day?  Do we stay locked up in the house out of fear?  I suppose we could, and I’m sure some do.  But that’s not much of a life.
  • If it is your time, its your time (Heaven or not, I do believe this).   And you can’t change that.
  • What you can change is how full your days and nights are between now and that time.
  • So… laugh.  Treat others with kindness.  Worry about yourself, your friends and your family.  If everyone took care of their family and friends, this world would be a better place.  Think of how few homeless and lonely souls there would be.
  • Try new things (yes, kids, this means new FOOD too).  You’ll never be sorry that you tried something, but you darn sure will regret not trying it.  Most opportunities have small windows.
  • Treat yourself right.  In the end, you are your best advocate and caretaker.
  • Try to change someone’s life for the better.
  • Smile often.  You don’t know what sort of day someone else is having, and a kind smile or gesture could mean the world to them.
  • Love unabashedly.
  • Take at least one dance lesson in your life.
  • Don’t apologize for speaking your mind; just learn how to do it without insulting people.
  • Give.
  • Be smart with your money.  Start saving early and don’t carry debt other than student loans, a mortgage and one car payment (preferably not all at the same time).
  • Surround yourself with people that think differently.  You’re only seeing a part of the world if you are with like-minded people all the time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This is what I would honestly say to someone who asked me about death.  So this is what I have to tell myself, while I’m feeling scared and unsure of what lay ahead.   I can’t do anything but make each day a good one.  There will be bad days, sure… but they make the good ones all the more.

I went to Claire’s viewing yesterday.  I didn’t want to go at first.  But I did.  I’m glad I did.  I got to say goodbye to Claire and show her husband that we’re all in his corner.  If it were me, I would want to feel surrounded at a time like this.  And then I came home and gave Bea a big fat kiss and a smile.

Signs that you have a toddler, a baby no more

1 Jan

You experience a somewhat incident-free evening out at a restaurant with your child, and leave with the utmost confidence that you are now fully equipped to negotiate a lasting peace in the Middle East.

You go through 5 rolls of paper towels a week.

You actually look at mothers with newborns and sort of miss those days (REALLY!!???)

You start fantasizing about all day Kindergarten… its another 3 or 4 years away, but hey, its a goal.

A day when you’ve managed a half-ass tooth-brushing job on your child followed by a bath where you’re not even sure if you got all their parts clean is a successful day.  At least they HAD a bath.

You start thinking… yeah, I could do this all over again.  Something a year ago you swore you’d never do as you were investigating whether tubal ligation or vasectomy were better options.  Or maybe both?

The Story of Sarah and Abraham

23 Nov

I got a note this week that another blogger is following my blog.  I don’t know how they found me, but I’m truly honored.    This is the first (I think?) person that I don’t know personally that has signed on to follow me.   So this could mean that I’m actually entertaining and–gasp–poignant? (Insert flashback to that scene in “Julie and Julia” where Amy Adams innocently begins her blog journey by asking if anyone was there, and then flipping out when she got her first follower… could a book deal be in my future???)

Here is the link to THEIR blog…

The cutest things come out of petri dishes!

It looks like maybe they just started their blog, and are in the beginning stages of their fertility journey (and that I could REALLY use some blog design tips from them).   I wish them luck.  Everyone wants to hear that they will get pregnant, and that treatments will work.  But the reality is that not all of them do.   So, what do you tell someone, around the holidays (which, my good friend Dr. Jen D will tell you is actually a very depressing time of year, clinically speaking) surrounded by friends and family, hoping they’d have good news to share, but are faced with yet another negative test? Wishing, wishing, wishing for a child?

One of the best, most profound pieces of advice that I got during this process (and yes, I’m fast forwarding a bit in the story, a la “How I Met Your Mother”), was something that I clung tightly to, and got me through the very difficult first couple of months of pregnancy.  I have since re-told it countless times to others, furthering my reputation as a wise, yet youthful looking, modern sage.   So, I’m outing myself by revealing that this is not my own material.

That advice–no–that TRUTH is this:  Your child will choose their own path to you.  My husband (yes, of “Bobism” fame), was adopted, and so were his sisters.  My daughter was created in a petri dish.   My uncle was a pleasant ‘surprise’ to my 44 year old Grandmother. When all is said and done, no matter how you end up with your child or children in your life, you will look back and know that they are exactly who were meant to be yours.   And, yes, of course there are childless couples, and I can’t even begin to justify why or how that happens.  I’m wise and sage, not omnipotent.

So if you happen to read Sarah and Abraham’s story, tell them I said hello and to have a Happy Thanksgiving.  Their baby is finding his way as we speak.

You are Chopped Liver Now, Didn’t You Know?

5 Oct

One of many, many, many things that you are not told/ prepared for when you have a child is that you are not the favorite anymore. To anyone. LOL.  Not only are you not the favorite, you pretty much don’t matter. 

I am an only child. I am the first grandchild on my mother’s side. I am the only granddaughter on my father’s side. My family had nicknames for me like “loveliness.”

So, yeah, ok, I’m a little spoiled. I won’t deny it. But the CHANGE in people’s behaviors is just totally amusing.  Good thing I have a thick skin!

Take my Grandmother, Mom Mom. She is clasically known for her two end tables that feature her three grandchildren during various stages of cuteness and awkwardness. I actually had my own table, because my other two cousins are brother and sister. So they had to share. That’s what siblings do (I’m told?)

Anyway, the last time I was at Mom Mom’s house, I was shocked to look at my table and see, guess who?  Not me! Dearest Beatrice. And guess where my pictures were? Lined up behind the lampshade on the stairs! Not even hung… just teetering on the edge of the stairs, leaning against the railing. The child is only 13 months old… there aren’t that many photos of her around, how can she usurp me so quickly?  Oh, and I’m told she needs even more recent ones of Bea.

“Mom Mom, the most recent picture of me here is more than 14 years old!”  Well, I look almost the same, she says.  Bea changes so fast, you see.

Mom Mom is classic for things like “Oh watch the baby’s head, Carrie, don’t let it flop around,” “Make sure my baby is covered up, now, we don’t want her catching cold.” You know. Like I’m a dummy.

My mother doesn’t say stuff like that to me, but let’s just say Beatrice knows what side her bread is buttered on:

“Oh Bea didn’t want to go to sleep so I got her up and gave her a drink.”
“My baby is crying….” (Sad face)
“I gave her french fries for dinner.”

And you KNOW Bea knows my mother will give her whatever she wants. My daughter reaches for no one. She does not cry when I leave for work. She is fiercely independent and too busy with whatever she’s doing to be bothered to stop for a hug. But when she sees my mom, arms outstretch like “Please save me from these mean people that let me cry it out in my crib!”

Last night, we had dinner at my moms, and Mom Mom was there. I was moving Bea’s highchair to the table and accidentally bumped into the recliner Mom Mom was sitting in. She jumped.

“Oops, sorry Mom Mom.”
Gasping, “Oh no, I thought the baby hit her head!’
“No, it was just me.”
“Oh, ok.” Sits back down, visibly relieved.

Umm.. I think I sort of stubbed my toe a little? Anyone? Hello?

Just when you think you’re having a bad day

16 Sep

So, its been a trying week here in the Flora household. We’ve had poop issues (not enough, too much, can’t find a happy medium), bottle issues, whining, tantrums, etc. And that’s just Bob. hahahahha

No, but seriously, so far the 12 month milestone isn’t necessarily making me do backflips.

So I go to the doctor yesterday afternoon. Its the clinic I go to about 4-5 times a year to make sure I haven’t gone completely crazy.  Sidebar, ladies, if you are dealing with Post Partum Depression, or know of any women dealing with a mood disorder, this little known clinic at Hopkins is regionally renowned and highly recommended by doctors in its field.  I found out about it from a friend of mine who was a Psychiatry resident at Georgetown, and her mentor told her about it.

Anyway, this clinic comes with a couple of pains in the arse.  For one, they only meet on Thursdays at 2:00.  Two, it’s a bit of a long wait.  I’m usually there for about two hours, including my visit and consultation.  So, I’m sitting in the waiting room, playing Bubble Burst on my phone, when this girl walks in, out of breath like she’s been running.  She signs in, and mumbles something to the secretary about being late.  The secretary, Elaine, says not to worry and I make a comment that the residents haven’t arrived yet so she’s ok.

But she is quickly starting to become on the verge of hyperventilation.   I’m no doctor, but she sounded like she was doing lamaze breathing or something.  Elaine asks her if she needs a doctor.  She says she needs to see Dr. Payne (Dr. Payne runs the clinic).  So Elaine calls the doctor and says that she will be in in a minute.  She then invites the girl into her area and says “let’s get you some air,” and opens a window.  She is crying hysterically at this point, and kept saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” and sobbing.  Elaine is trying to calm her, and tells her to take a deep breath, it will be ok, etc etc.

Meanwhile, there are like 7 other people waiting with me.  I have been coming here for a year and never seen anyone in this bad of shape.  Elaine tells her to sit down and Dr. Payne will be there in a minute. The girl says she can’t sit, she just needs to stand, her anxiety level is too high.

So, she leans against the wall right in front of me, slides down the wall, curls up into a ball, hugs her knees and starts sobbing again.  I sort of look around without being obvious.  No one is doing anything.  I mean, I’m not sure what I expected anyone to do.  But the poor thing was in pain.

I get up, walk into the bathroom and put water on a paper towel.  I walk over, lean down and hand it to her.  “Here,” I said.  “Thank you,” she sniffs.

“Let’s take a walk,” I say. “Come on, get up, take a breath.  Let’s walk.”  She gets up and I take her arm.  We walk down the hall.

Still crying, “I’m sorry….I’m so sorry….”

I am rubbing her back.  “Its ok, hon, we’re all here for the same thing.”  She starts telling me how she just got fired from her job today and she was a good worker.  They found out she was a former addict and told her they’d no longer be needing her.   Said she worked for a thrift shop.  Being face to face with her, I can see how using has ravaged her face.  She couldn’t have been more than 25, but had acne scars and red bumps.

I just said, “I’m so sorry.”  We stopped and turned around and I spotted Dr. Payne in the hallway.  “Oh there’s Dr. Payne.” The girl reached up and hugged me.

“Thank you,” she said.

“Its ok,” I said.  And she went back to see Dr. Payne.

That was the last I saw of her.  Come to find out, she’s prone to these dramatic outbursts, but still… I felt for the girl.  After having a baby, that’s the only way I can see the world, now.  Everyone is somebody’s baby.   And if my baby were slumped over against a wall, sobbing hysterically, I’d want someone to give her a hug too.  Sometimes that’s just what you need.

So, after seeing this gal, it reminded me of how far I’ve come.  I’d been having some stress and anxiety the past few weeks because there is a lot on my plate at the moment (when my ‘to-do’ list starts to get more than 5 deep, it makes me a little tense!)  But this was a gentle reminder, I believe, that things with me are just fine.

When things are getting us down, its so easy to lose perspective.  And here I was stressing about writing thank you notes for my daughter’s birthday, who is so loved and surrounded by such generous friends and family. That’s not a problem!  This girl at the clinic, she had problems.

So, it will take me a while to get these thank you notes out, and to get my pants hemmed, and to clean out Beatrice’s closet, and to find someone to re-do our kitchen floor, but these are problems I guess we should all be glad to have  🙂

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