Free Helmet with Purchase of Baby

“The first time I dropped my daughter Sonya on her head from a great height, she was about eight months old.”    Abby Sher, The Good Mother Myth

When the opening essay of The Good Mother Myth began with the above quote, I knew I made a good purchase. Parenting fails are not necessarily things we tend to share with one another and suddenly, I felt a bit better about the handful of parenting fails P.J. and I have made thus far.

The first fail I can recall occurred when she was just a couple of months old. I propped her up in the corner of the couch so I could get a “big girl” picture of her. After making sure she was tightly wedged in between the back of the couch and the arm, I turned to reach for my phone. I had my eye off of her for no more than a second, but by the time I turned back to her, she had already fallen forward and face planted right into the couch. Whew, the nice, soft, cushy couch. Of course she wasn’t injured but it scared the crap out of her and she was bawling her eyes out. I felt like joining her. This was the first time (though definitely not the last) I had done something boneheaded that could have injured her and I punished myself for days.

Five or six months later, P.J., Ruby and I took a holiday to London and were staying with one of P.J.’s colleagues. With no crib or pack-n-play, Ruby’s sleeping situation was far from ideal. For naps, we used the bed to created a cocoon surrounded by heavy pillows. Bad idea, you say? You see where this is going, you say? Yeah, we probably should have seen it coming, but you don’t always know what your child is capable of until it’s too late. P.J. and I were downstairs most likely surfing the interwebs when we heard it. THUD. WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! We raced up the stairs two at a time, burst into the room and found her on the hard wood floor wailing. When all was said and done, she had a small red mark on her head and we felt like the worst and dumbest parents in the world. She hit her head no less than five additional times while we were gone. And plenty more since then.

Confession feels good. So does empathy. If you are a new parent reading this, trust me when I say that you will do something (or fail to do something) at some point that will lead to your child being startled or injured. Maybe you already have. Also trust me when I say that THIS DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PARENT! You will ruminate and rehash your mistakes, but you will learn from them and eventually you will forgive yourself. The part where you feel like a piece of shit? Yeah, that’s what sets you apart from the actual bad parents.

I’m Not That Mom – Part 1

P.J. and I picked Ruby up from daycare today and found a paper bag with her name on it. We thought it had something to do with a finger painting project the babes did so I didn’t think much of it. When we arrived home, I opened the bag expecting to find some kick-ass toddler art. Nope – I found valentines. A crocheted heart, cookies, fruit snacks, a bath toy and a couple of basic valentine cards, one of which was hilariously suggestive, “Throw me a bone.” I snickered when I read it. A few parents clearly put some effort into the gesture which was really sweet. 

Ruby is 14 months old. The kids in her room range from about one to two years old. Despite being given a name list prior to Valentine’s Day (hint, hint), it never actually occurred to me to bring in valentines for babies. 

Many of you reading this have likely bought Ruby or me or P.J. a present at some point. There is a very high likelihood that you did not receive a thank you card. Not because I am ungrateful. I have the best intentions. There’s a beautiful box of thank you cards sitting about three feet from me which were purchased after an event that occurred nearly a year ago. I ordered a super cute design (there’s a bird on it!) hoping that would motivate me to write them out. But at that point, i had a four month old and a dissertating husband, so it just never happened. Instead, we had clean clothes. Ruby has since received a handful of just-because gifts and she had a birthday a couple months ago, yet no thank you cards have left this house. I still plan to make that happen, but I digress.

Do you know why I never began sending out holiday cards? Because I know myself well enough to be certain that I could not maintain that project year after year. Obviously I realize that at some point I will need to send Ruby to school with valentines. But one year olds can’t read and they don’t need sugary snacks. When the time comes, will the valentines be in the form of a crocheted heart? Highly unlikely. I’m not that mom. 

(Though I bet that mom is pretty awesome.) 

 

* I’m Not That Mom will likely be a recurring theme on the blog. Stay tuned for further posts in the series. 

Trying (and Trying and Trying) To Conceive

We spent twelve years trying our best to NOT conceive a child.  The first time we were intimate with a purpose was one of the most surreal and terrifying (in a good way) moments of my life. “Oh shit, did that really just happen?” Of course we were going to get pregnant immediately, from that first attempt.  I did my homework. I knew ovulation occurred about 14 days before the start of the next menstrual cycle which was 28 days long according to all the experts. We were only 31 so age wouldn’t be an issue. But when two months went by with no positive test, I was worried.  Yes, after only two teensy little months of trying, I was worried. (Fair warning: this post is mildly explicit and possibly TMI for some.)

Of course, I did what I always do, I read and searched and obsessed, trying to find the fail-proof way to make a baby. Did you know that many women don’t have 28 day cycles? I didn’t. Nor did I know that ovulation doesn’t always occur 14 days before the next cycle. Then I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF) and realized that most of those “experts” didn’t have a freaking clue what they were talking about. Thus began the use of super sexy ovulation test strips and charting of my fertility signs (basal body temperature and cervical fluid, bow-chicka-bow-wow).

It didn’t take terribly long to discover that my cycles were far from typical and far from consistent. Thirteen years of hormonal birth control will do that to you. Even after several months off of the pill, my cycle never truly regulated, but with the charting process I learned from TCOYF, I knew I was ovulating every month. So we kept at it, negative test after negative test. I was way too obsessed to just wait for my next period. Lucky for our budget, I found these ovulation and pregnancy tests lovingly referred to as “Internet Cheapies” by the online fertility bulletin board community. $10 for 50 strips? Yes please.

I can’t recall how far into the process it occurred, but at one point, I got the slightest hint of a line. I couldn’t replicate it with another test and to this day, I don’t know if it was a chemical pregnancy or a faulty test. It’s probably better that I didn’t know. I never grieved it like a miscarriage.

Evening primrose oil, vitex, red raspberry leaf, CoQ10, I can’t recall all the remedies we tried. The months ticked by and each time I heard that a friend or family member was pregnant, my heart dropped into my stomach.

Let me tell you how sexy scheduled sex makes you feel. Not in the mood? Too bad. I’ll *probably* be ovulating soon. Hey honey, I didn’t actually ovulate yet so we should probably get another round in. Maybe P.J. will want to offer his experience at some point, but I think I can speak for the both of us in saying it really wore us down.

Maybe ten or so months in, I began seeing an acupuncturist. She was expensive, didn’t know the difference between fertilization and implantation and kept pushing these pricey whole foods-based supplements on me. Soon, I found another acupuncturist who was also a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine and he actually seemed to know a bit about acupuncture for fertility. I really enjoyed the sessions and the ritual of drinking the herbal concoctions, but after a few months of treatments, I grew weary of his attempts to get me on a gluten free diet. He was a die-hard believer of the Blood Type Diet and after doing my own research, I wasn’t convinced that the science backed it up. I don’t have Celiac Disease, I don’t have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, I am NOT giving up beer or bread or any of the other wonderful gluten-containing treats. The money was becoming an issue, so I decided to move on.

Phil and I finally reached the big twelve month mark.  Anyone who has been there knows the significance of trying unsuccessfully for twelve months. A clinical infertility diagnosis. We knew it was time to go in for testing, but decided to give it one more month. Our first two cycles were poorly timed and during a couple other cycles, we really didn’t give it our “all,” so one more try sounded reasonable. One morning, close to when I was expecting my period, I gave in and for the 1000th time, peed on a stick. OH. MY. GOD. Is that a LINE?! That looks like a line. Let’s try another one, this must be a fluke. ANOTHER LINE?! And yes, we did it. Finally.

Going in to wake Phil up that morning was weird because I wasn’t prepared to get overly excited. Eventually the reality set in and once I got the digital PREGNANT a few days later, I felt ready to relax and celebrate.

Would I change anything about our journey? Hell no. When that particular sperm met that specific egg, our perfect sweet little monkey was created. In a year or so, we may start thinking about another child and I haven’t a clue what to expect. I’ll be that much closer to “advanced maternal age” and maybe we’ll struggle all over again. We were spared from the testing, hormone treatments and costly procedures on which so many infertile couples rely. But we’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it. For now, we’ll enjoy what we have.

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Welcome

Ruby is sleeping. Several choices are on the table. A nap sounds heavenly. I could zone out in front of TV with some Olympic hockey. Or I could finally compose my first blog post. Clearly writing won out, but only by a hair.  

Just about three years ago, P.J. and I decided it was time to expand our family. I really hate the phrase “start a family.” The implication is that a family doesn’t exist without children. That’s bullshit. But we did want children to be a part of OUR family so we started trying to make that happen. It was a much longer journey than we anticipated, one that I will share eventually, but it was during that journey that I realized I might actually have something to contribute to the world through writing. 

The fear of possible infertility, the joy of pregnancy and birth planning, the beautifully primal nature of childbirth, the exhaustion of the first days of parenthood, there were so many incredible experiences to share but it never seemed like a convenient time. Self-doubt and fear held me back for a long time. How many projects have I failed to see through to the end? Who really wants to hear what I have to say? The topic of parenthood, and all the personal choices it entails, is so very polarizing and to be honest, the idea of putting myself out there for the world to troll was inconceivable. Until it wasn’t. 

A few months ago, a new book came out that changed it all for me. The Good Mother Myth contains a few dozen essays by some truly inspirational writers who happen to also be moms. I had been following two of them on their personal blogs for a couple of years (linked below). From institutionalized sexism to popular culture to our consumerist society, there are so many influences trying to convince us that motherhood is a competition and if we just purchase the right book or toy or cleaning product, we’ll win the contest. This book breaks down that myth for what it is. We all make different choices throughout our parenting journey, from family planning to birth location to parenting styles, but in the end, we are all trying to make the best choices for our family. We are good enough.

I share my experiences not to convince you to make the same decisions as me but to further the idea that there is no “right” way to mother. Should you choose to stick with me, expect to read about our attempts to navigate raising a feminist daughter in a male-privileged society, our long road to becoming parents, our occasional parenting fails, our somewhat unique path to Ruby’s birth, our breastfeeding struggles and successes, and various other feminist ramblings. Note my use of the word “our” rather than “my.” Yes, I hope to provide a realistic picture of motherhood, but raising Ruby Jane is a team effort.  If he feels so inclined or inspired, maybe my dear partner will grace us with his presence via a guest post or two. 

Aaaand, queue the grumping. Baby’s up so it’s time to say goodbye for now. Stay tuned. 

 

*I have no financial interest in The Good Mother Myth. Just a fan!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Good-Mother-Myth-Redefining/dp/1580055028

http://birthingbeautifulideas.com/

http://thefeministbreeder.com/