The Lessons I Learned as a New Mom

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When I was pregnant, I dreamed about becoming a certain kind of mother. She gave birth the old-fashioned way and brought her beautiful baby boy home where she magically transformed, Cinderella-style, into a domestic goddess, skilled Pinterest crafter, and champion breastfeeder. 

She constantly cooed at her baby, lied on the floor next to him during tummy time, happily carted him everywhere, and effortlessly floated from place to place. She had a smile practically tattooed on her face, and told all of her friends how amazing it was to be a mother. 

Here’s what really happened. 

Check out the article I wrote for Healthline HERE to read about the lessons I learned as a new mom with postpartum depression. 

Surviving Postpartum Depression After Finally Overcoming Infertility

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Written by Guest Poster, Megan C. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like to struggle with infertility.

For years, my life revolved around pregnancy tests, failed IUI’s, and two unsuccessful IVF cycles which got me no closer to motherhood. It seemed to be an uphill battle with no end in sight. My desperation to have a baby was growing every day.

Thankfully, our dream of becoming parents finally came true after undergoing a successful donor egg IVF. The three years of trial and error to conceive were at last behind us. We were immensely grateful - it felt like we’d finally reached the end of our challenging journey.

I never imagined the worst was yet to come.

When the Baby Blues Don’t Go Away

“You’re going to be an emotional wreck the first couple of weeks, but don’t worry – it’ll go away,” a close friend told me before the birth of my daughter.

I was prepared for the baby blues. My mother warned me, my friends warned me, and - most importantly - my doctor warned me.

The first time I laid eyes on my daughter, I felt such a rush of love and excitement that it took my breath away. I remember thinking, “How on Earth can a woman feel anything but joy right now?”

The child we’d fought so long to have was safely in my arms. It was incredible. There was a buzz inside our hospital room – nurses bustling about, family and friends oohing and awing, and my husband playing “Mr. Security Guard” to our tiny bundle of joy.

But then… it got quiet.

In the early hours of the next morning, the visitors were gone and my husband was home grabbing a quick shower. When our daughter started crying and wouldn’t stop no matter what I did to soothe her, I felt my inner turmoil starting to build.

After we got home, moments like this seemed to come nonstop, but I continuously chalked them up to baby blues. When weeks turned into months and the urgency to cry all day by myself didn’t fade, I knew something wasn’t right.

I was so happy to finally have my baby… but it terrified me to admit that when I looked at our daughter, she felt like a stranger.

Depression After Egg Donation

When we found out my eggs weren’t viable for pregnancy, donor egg IVF was the next logical choice for us.

While I took time to grieve the loss of a genetic connection to my child, I was certain nine months of pregnancy would help us forge a bond stronger than DNA.

However, I think my problems started before the embryo transfer had even taken place.

It’d been three heartbreaking years of constant failures, mental exhaustion, and physical tolls. I don’t care what fertility treatment you decide to undertake, they all have the power to break you down and leave you feeling depressed and anxious.

Our donor egg cycle was just one more period of injectable drugs, never-ending doctor’s appointments, and early morning visits for monitoring.

When our pregnancy test finally came back positive, though, I was ecstatic and forever indebted to the wonderful woman who selflessly gave her eggs to provide this extraordinary opportunity to us.

I loved being pregnant and feeling a little life growing within my belly. Unfortunately, after my daughter was born, the overwhelming emotions that accompany fertility treatments finally seemed to catch up with me.

My days became a blur of general sadness and questions about my ability to connect with my daughter. I would even find myself picking apart her features that didn’t resemble ours.

Her nose was unfamiliar.

Her tiny gestures seemed foreign.

Her hair color didn’t quite match the blonde of my own.

In moments of clarity, I knew this precious creature was every bit mine and that was the only mother she needed. After all, my body sustained her life throughout pregnancy, and my efforts brought her into the world. Sadly, postpartum depression was a dense fog of confusion that had settled thickly in my mind.

No matter how appreciative I was to finally be a mom and have the opportunity to raise my sweet girl, I couldn’t quiet the negative thoughts spinning in my head.

One evening when she was around six months old, my husband came home from work and found me quietly rocking her with tears streaming down my face. He gently took her from my arms and sweetly told me it was time to go and see someone.

Getting Help for My Postpartum Depression and Finding My Happily Ever After

At that moment, six months into my depression, it felt like there were no answers.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I called my OB and she put me in touch with a local psychologist specializing in postpartum depression. This godsend of a doctor put me on medication to help balance me back out and, week after week, we worked through my struggles until I finally began to feel like myself again.

It wasn’t an easy obstacle to overcome, but with time and medical assistance, I was given the chance to experience daily the love and connection to my daughter I’d initially felt the moment I saw her.

I never imagined I could feel such sadness after finally receiving the child we’d been trying to have for so long. In my darkest moments, I felt ashamed of my grief and wondered if we’d struggled all that time because I simply wasn’t supposed to be a mother.

I now realize these thoughts were merely my sickness clouding my better judgement.

Thanks to my counseling sessions, I’ve learned so much about how postpartum depression affects the way you think. The thoughts and feelings I experienced during my daughter’s first six months weren’t reality. They were simply a side effect of my illness and needed treatment like any other health issue.

I know it’s not always easy to talk to someone about dealing with postpartum depression, but I’m forever grateful my husband gave me the push I needed to seek support. It opened my eyes and finally allowed me to have a relationship with my daughter.

There’ll always be a part of me that regrets my state of mind throughout those initial months. However, I’ve come to accept that undergoing such difficult circumstances has not only allowed me to love my child more deeply, but has brought such profound realization as to how blessed we truly are.

#MyDream - MOTHERHOOD | UNDERSTOOD for Mogul, Inc.

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My dream is that with motherhood comes only empathy and connection, not judgment and shame. My dream is that all moms feel empowered to ask for help, receive it and realize that doing so doesn't make them failures. My dream is that all moms realize that taking care of themselves and their needs isn't selfish, but necessary. My dream is that all moms feel safe enough to be honest about their lives, even the scary parts. My dream is that all moms have access to affordable care for mental health issues such as postpartum depression and anxiety. My dream is that no mom ever feels alone as she struggles. My dream is that all moms recognize motherhood is not one-size-fits-all and no two journeys are the same. My dream is that all moms support each other's choices and embrace each other's differenes. My dream is that all moms lift one another up because they understand that we are all in this together.

Words That Are Basically A Mom Hug

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Four years ago, when my son was born, and I battled severe postpartum depression, I felt so alone. I wanted—no—I desperately craved meeting another mom like me. Another mom who would put her hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and say, “I’ve been there. I get it.”

I didn’t find these moms until I got better almost a year later when I started sharing my journey from postpartum depression to healthy, happy mommy. And most of them I met virtually. I was amazed by how many moms would respond to my story with those powerful words, “I’ve been there. I get it.” Where were these moms when I was suffering? Most likely, they were also suffering and too ashamed to come forward just like I was.

It was then I realized the power of those two little sentences and their importance and necessity when it comes to the struggles of motherhood. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, body image, relationship issues or something else, we all struggle as moms and we want to know we aren’t the only ones. We don’t always want advice. We want to feel normal. We want to know there are others out there who get it. Who get us. 

These two sentences are so powerful because they are loaded with empathy. They mean, I know what you’re feeling. They mean, I’ve walked in your shoes. They mean, you’re not alone in your fears. They mean, I see you. They mean, you don’t have to pretend anymore.

Six months ago, I met another mom, Brooke, through Instagram. We connected over the shared experience of surviving postpartum depression. She reached out to me after reading something I wrote for Motherlucker about my own postpartum depression journey. I became that mom for her. The one I had been searching for when I was sick. The one who, with her words, could say, "You're not alone."

As we talked more we wondered about how many moms could benefit from hearing those same words. We decided become two moms on a mission to help other moms feel less alone in their struggles and more empowered to be real as they continue on their journey to raise tiny humans.

Motherhood today comes with the pressure to be perfect. Facebook posts that only show the best pictures. Instagram memes that simply joke about the worst and absurd parts of our days. But these images on social media don’t tell the whole story. What’s missing from them are connection, empathy, support and understanding.

I don’t want any mom to ever feel as alone as I did when I battled postpartum depression. I want to help build a tribe of moms that lift each other up and help each other rise. I want to change the dialogue of motherhood to one grounded in empathy and sisterhood. I want to empower moms to be honest about the messy, scary stuff that no one likes to talk about.

And that's what Brooke and I are doing everyday, over at MOTHERHOOD | UNDERSTOOD. Come hang out with us!

Mom Code

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We all know it’s hard AF to be a mom. Sometimes, it’s even harder to tell the truth as one. In a world filled with opinions and judgments, we don’t always want to wear our truth on our spit-up or yogurt-stained sleeves.

I’ve accepted that not everyone will embrace calling her kid an asshole after multiple tantrums over not being allowed to have a second piece of candy. Or wanting every playdate (post-noon of course) to be accompanied by a glass of Pinot. Motherhood isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Over the past five years as a parent, I have learned that telling the truth makes motherhood easier. Pretending takes so much energy, something we moms are always running out of. Ask me anything about surviving postpartum depression and I will tell you. I’m an open book about having to take medication. I won’t lie and tell you I miss my family so much it hurts when I leave for a girl’s weekend. And I’m going to tell you that what I feel for my child doesn’t resemble appreciation or magic when he shows up at the side of my bed at three in the morning to ask me what he was dreaming about. 

But, there are still times when the truth isn’t the first thing to leave my mouth. Many times, it’s directed at my son (if you’re not lying to your kids, are you really a parent?). Others, towards my husband or friends in passing and usually because I’m just too damn tired to say much at all. Moms can’t be unicorns all the time! That’s why mom language is filled with hidden meanings, even when we consider ourselves to be some of the more real and honest ones.

Here are just a few examples. 

I’ll be there in a minute. Or, I’m coming.

I’m going to try to stretch this out for as long as humanly possible, so I don’t have to actually do what you want me to do and pray you forget. 

Because I Said So

I got nothing. I have no legit explanation or reason for why I am telling you what I am telling you to do. And for me to find the reason, I would have to ask around or do some research and I’m just not going to put that kind of effort in today. Mommy is just TOO tired! Welcome to childhood buddy. My parents said the same thing to me and now I’m saying it to you. I’m the adult. You’re the child. SO JUST DO IT! 

Things are great! Busy but great! 

I’m drowning with how much I have going on – growing a business, keeping up with deadlines, blogging, raising a needy, tiny human, and fighting daily exhaustion and what I’ve labeled as situational depression.

I’m too tired honey.

It’s great that you got to spend all day bossing around other people who actually HAVE to listen to you, followed by lunch with people who don’t throw food on the floor, at each other, or yell at you that they don’t eat foods that are green. And while you were in your office, alone, I got elbowed in the boobs, jumped on top of and kneed in the boobs, and pulled by my clothes as if they were a leash, all by a tiny human who also felt the need to climb on top of my head when we sat down on the couch to watch Boss Baby for the eighty second time. The LAST thing I want is to be touched right now. 

 

This article originally appeared at Motherlucker.

Parenting Horror Stories

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Happy Halloween, also known as the day where my four-year old dresses up in an overpriced costume that he doesn't let me choose for him anymore and collects candy from strangers' houses that his mommy and daddy will eat while he is sleeping. Today, I thought I would share some parenting horror stories from real parents because we all have them. And there is nothing more horrifying than explosive poop and projectile vomit! So get those baby wipes ready!

Ozzy, at two-and-a –half, was in the middle of potty-training. I was in the kitchen making dinner and he was happily playing in the living room when all of a sudden the smell wafted in. I turn around to find he had had the presence of mind to pull his pants and underwear down to do his poo. But instead of going in his potty, mere feet away, he shat on the fancy rug (from Harrods no less) in the middle of the living room. Knowing he'd been naughty, he went and found his toy Dyson vacuum and proceeded to "vacuum" up his poo…all over and into the posh rug. Into the toy Dyson. All over his feet. Poo footprints all over my house. I almost passed out with a heady combination of rage and hysterical laughter. Terrible twos indeed! -Jenn, Mom of Ozzy and Maddy

We always hire a college student to pick up my older daughter from school, do homework, and take her to activities. She's basically like her assistant, which is a demanding job in itself. We had just hired a new girl who is SUPER sweet and was just getting her bearings. On day two, my daughter fell asleep after school (which was odd) but it was week one so we chalked it up to exhaustion/excitement. The nanny woke her up to get her in the bath and I was leaving to do a radio show dressed in full makeup, hair, Spanx, etc. All of a sudden, she sprayed vomit ALL over her bedroom. I'm fucking talking all over. The floor, the TV, the dresser. It was like a deleted scene from The Exorcist. The sweet 23-year-old nanny froze in panic and as I moved into action to clean everything I just kept saying to myself, "Please don't quit, please don't quit, please don't quit!" Thankfully she didn't but I'm sure it was the most eventful first week at a job she's ever had. -Rachel, Mom of Ava and Sienna

One night around midnight, when my daughter was eight weeks old she needed a diaper change. I had her on my bed (which is very high) and was changing her. Luckily, my 21-year-old sister who lived with me was coming in from drinking about that same time and walked into my room. As I was taking the baby’s diaper off she proceeded to projectile poop into my face and hair and mouth and all over me. My sister was crying laughing and thankfully grabbed Ande as I ran to the bathroom, threw up and threw away my clothes. Ande is now 10 and thinks it’s the best story ever. -Amy, Mom of Ande, Mike, Nick and Joe

I'm a germ freak. Always have been. My oldest (Cole who Is now 18…OMG) jumped out of his crib and I caught him walking down the stairs chewing on the bottom of a plunger! I can still throw up at the thought! Wait ..I have another one! With my second (Lilly), I used to duck-tape her diaper shut because she dug in to her poop and painted her whole crib and the walls. No matter what I did she found a way to get poop everywhere. -Heidi, Mom of Cole, Lily, Montana and AJ

Judah had explosive diarrhea in my Ergo while I was checking out at Harris Teeter, then someone stole my groceries while I was cleaning him up in the bathroom. -Tamar, mom of Judah and Elijah

I took my four kids to Panera (ages 9,7,5 and 3). I go to order at the counter and the employee asks me if I would please use the "Quick Kiosks" instead. So, there I am attempting to place my order while trying to keep an eye on my kids. My middle two daughters start to get into a throw down about who is playing on the kiosk next to mine, so I grab my 5-year-old by the collar of her coat to keep her from gauging out her sister's eye. Meanwhile, I see my 3-year-old son about 10 feet away from me by the microwave, but didn't think anything of it as my order was almost complete (hallelujah). Next thing I know, two employees run out from behind the counter, one with a fire extinguisher. I see smoke billowing out of the microwave, smell melted plastic and see my son sheepishly stepping slowly away from the microwave. He had put one of those plastic buzzers into the microwave and turned it on!!! When I realized what he did, I went over to apologize to the Panera employee who promptly put her hand up in my face in annoyance. I got my order to go, put my kids in the car and proceeded to cry. I guess we all have those days. -Andrea, mom of Ellie, Lexie, Emma, JJ

My due date with H was January 19th and the stomach flu was going around so leading up to it I was really nervous someone was going to get it. And of course, after I put the kids to bed on my due date, Zach woke up puking all over his bed. Eric was out getting dinner and I was trying to avoid catching it, so I literally stood outside his room telling him it's okay and Daddy would be home soon to help as he sat covered in his own vomit. Anyway, this went on all night and Eric was a trooper and took care of it all. We essentially quarantined him in his room and Eric stayed home from work the next day and stayed with him so I could avoid contact. Of course, fast forward to two nights later and I start feeling crazy nauseous, realize I'm getting the stomach bug and within a half hour my contractions start. We go into the hospital and I am holding a bag in front of me because I know the vomit is coming at any point. We get to triage and they find out that I am definitely in labor, and surprise, he's breached (which we didn't know) so I would be having a C-section 45 minutes later. They start prepping me for the C-section and I start throwing up and it is the worst! Does not stop! Finally, they give me Zofran and wheel me into the OR as soon as I stop puking. They cut me open, baby is all good, and Eric is holding him in the OR while they stitch me up. All of the sudden, Eric screams, "SOMEONE NEEDS TO TAKE THE BABY" and he runs out of the OR because he suddenly gets sick. I am wheeled into recovery, throw up several times on my chest (I can't move my body since it is numb from chest down from surgery), the nurse wipes my chest with those hospital grade antiseptic wipes, and puts the baby on it. We finally go to my room and Eric gets sick all in my bathroom and then passes out on the couch. He sleeps through everything over the next few hours (it's about 2am), and finally wakes up at 6am and feels okay enough to drive home. He walks through the door at home and my mom is standing there with Levi's sheets in her hands because Levi puked all over his crib. They are both incredibly sick all day and my whole family is pretty much banned from visiting me in the hospital. Thank goodness I had a C-section so I stayed as long as I could to avoid my germy house. Seriously, I thought about checking into a hotel with the baby instead of going home. -Lauren, mom of Zack, Levi and Hank

Hayes had explosive diarrhea and was so awesome running to the bathroom and making it to the toilet before letting it fly. This story would have had a happier ending if only the toilet seat would have been up. -Kirstan, mom of Hayes,

I was a 22-year-old new mom with no baby experience. My husband was in the music biz and had to go on the road for a gig when baby T was five days old. His job booked him into the Clift House hotel when baby was five weeks old so I set off for San Francisco to meet him at his swanky digs with baby in tow. We arrive at his gorgeous room and have a blissful, relaxed evening with Daddy on baby duty. That room was worth the five-week wait and the daddy-daughter time was priceless. I wake up in the morning to my sweet hubby holding baby and I'm feeling refreshed for the first time in weeks. He is sitting on the fancy couch, wearing sweats, shirtless, and our babe on his lap. He knew I loved a bubble bath and hadn't taken one since he left, so he encouraged me to go relax in a bath, he's had things covered. I go prepare my bath with the bubbles and oil I brought with me. The bathroom is luxurious and as I step into the bath, before my tush hits the water,  I hear an odd sound from the room and then  "Oh s#*¢!" from my guy. I grab the plush robe and run to the room. My fab husband's chest, sweatpants and part of that fancy couch are covered in exploded, new baby poop. I'm talking our sweet angel went next level on the poop scale. She had on her diaper and footie jammies too. More poop than either of us had ever seen. There weren't enough towels to clean that up so we ended up with him getting in the shower, clothes, baby and all. Only a hose would have worked better. No bath for momma that day. -Lia, mom of Tasia and Jayla

I don't know about all of you, but we have gone through at least 1 million baby wipes since my son was born. Throw up, poop, pee, the kitchen counters, everything gets wiped up with baby wipes!

Do you have a parenting horror story you want to share? Comment below!

The Motherhood Edition of The Jewish Holidays

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By Jen Schwartz (The Medicated Mommy) & Rachel Sobel (Whine & Cheez – its)

Early fall is Jewish holiday season. That means going to temple, eating apples and honey in hopes of a sweet year ahead, family dinners filled with equal parts kvelling & kvetching, and a day of starvation fasting that culminates in the annual carb loading frenzy with bagels, lox, noodle kugel, and cookies. Lots of cookies. You know…a “light” meal.

And if your child attends a Jewish preschool/day school, you are basically screwed and they may as well close for the month of October with the amount of days you have off.

That’s right folks, we are currently living in the space between the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) where we ask forgiveness for our sins and hope to make it into the Book of Life for another year.

Lucky for us, Jews get to make New Years’ resolutions twice. You know, if for some reason you bailed on the ones you made in January for the non-secular New Year, here’s a second chance in October. I don’t know about you, but we’re still eating cake, ice cream and half-consumed bags of goldfish and desperately trying to fit into our skinny jeans because even though we get dressed in workout clothes every day, we don’t actually go work out every day. It’s kind of like our uniform for school drop off and the couple hours following. That is until we can pee and shower without a child opening the door a trillion times asking us to change the channel when the remote control is actually in their little sticky hands.

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Thinking about how you want to live in the Jewish New Year is both a blessing and a curse…because as you start to make promises to yourself about the year ahead, you are also going backwards to relive those times this past year you might not be so proud of. And as moms, there are definitely a few that come to mind. So, rather than focus on personal transgressions this year, we are confessing ours sins of motherhood. Let this be our atonement for:

  • Lying to our children (and maybe even setting the clocks forward) to convince them it’s bedtime so you have enough time to shower and settle in before Bachelor in Paradise.
  • Telling them a store is closed (at 3pm on a Thursday) because you just don’t feel like going to buy another pack of shopkins.
  • Having a salad for dinner but then polishing off the abandoned chicken-nuggets your child left on his or her plate.
  • Forgetting to wash a school uniform and digging a dirty one out of the hamper, spraying it with Febreze and sending them on their way.
  • Being so desperate to finish homework that you may have “led the witness” to arrive at the correct answer.
  • Letting your children watch back-to-back (and by back-to-back we mean 10) episodes of their favorite show just so you could put the finishing touches on your contributed article with the looming deadline.
  • Regifting a target gift card for a birthday party because you spaced and forgot to grab a gift.

In light of these confessions, here are our Jewish New Year’s resolutions– what we hope to do better or more of as moms in the coming year. And if we fail or don’t hit them all, January is right around the corner!

  • Telling the truth, as in when we inform our little ones that ice cream is not a dinner food, we also don’t eat ice cream for dinner or in other words, I will fit into those skinny jeans!
  • Not beating ourselves up when we need just one more hour of sleep so, without making any eye contact, we slip the iPad through the cracked door of our kids’ bedrooms.
  • Losing the guilt when our children watch ten episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in one sitting because binge watching is clearly a skill they will need when they get older.
  • Admitting that our kids are assholes sometimes because when they are lying face down on the floor screaming, kicking their legs, and shouting “NO” on repeat because they’re not ready to go to sleep or do anything you ask them to do, they are being assholes!
  • Not stressing about our kids still sleeping in pullups at night because let’s be real, who wants to start their morning cleaning up shit, changing sheets, and doing even more laundry?
  • Understanding that it’s okay to ask our husbands to do parent things like watch the kids, help with homework, feed them dinner, and handle bath time because they aren’t simply babysitters, they are dads and it’s their job too!
  • Realizing motherhood is effing hard and it’s okay to serve cereal for dinner (hey, it’s good enough for breakfast), put ourselves first, ask for what we want, leave the kids with a babysitter, and drink all the wine…because happy mommy equals happy everyone!

This post originally appeared on Suburban Misfit Mom.

You Heard Me: I Said I Was One and Done...

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I was once getting a manicure next to a woman who asked if I had children. At the time, I told her I had a one-year old boy. She then asked my favorite question most people follow that up with. “When are you having your next one?” I told her I wasn’t–that my husband and I decided one was enough and the right decision for our family–we were one and done. I don't even know why I felt like I had to justify my decision to a complete stranger. I guess I didn't want my response to be met with the usual, "You will change your mind." Or "What do your parents think? Don't they want lots of grandchildren?" "It's so much nicer for kids to have a sibling to play with." But she surprised me. She informed me she only had one son and that sometimes when you create a masterpiece, it doesn’t make any sense to paint over it. Thank you manicure lady for immediately accepting my choice and making me feel good about it! It doesn’t always happen like that.

In fact, most people respond with confusion, sometimes horror when they find out you are “one and done.” I love that phrase. It’s short and sweet and very blunt. It leaves no room for interpretation. Those people do not. Sometimes those people are strangers. Other times they are acquaintances and family members. All I can say, is that at the end of the day, you don’t know what it’s like to walk in my shoes–to live my life–to know what I need and what’s best for me. Only I know that, especially when it comes to motherhood. I also want to say that I am in no way promoting ”one and done” as the best or easiest parenthood choice. If you don’t want any kids or want to have two, three, even five kids, I think that’s incredible. Do it! It’s just not the right choice for me. And I have yet to come across any parenthood choice that is easy.

My closest friends know all the reasons why I’m not having any more children. It comes up in our conversations all the time. They never make me feel guilty. They never judge. They never try to convince me to change my mind. Sometimes, the remind me that one child suits me. Thank you all for that.

So now, three years after meeting the manicure lady,  I’m just going to put it all out there–because I think it’s so important for moms to feel empowered and confident in making the choices that are best for them–regardless of what others think and say–regardless of who the people are that are doing the thinking and saying.

I need more. This might be a controversial statement, but being a mom and a wife aren’t enough for me. I need more–something that is just mine, which I have found through writing and speaking about my experiences. My writing is my currency. It’s part of my identity outside of being a mom and wife. It has transformed me–makes me feel happier–connects me with amazing women and feeds my mind and spirit. Writing has become my second baby. I want to nurture that and give it the time it requires while enjoying, raising and being present for my first baby too.

Happy mom, happy baby. If mommy isn’t happy, there is no way baby is going to be happy. This is the reason I stopped breastfeeding on day 5. It’s the reason I went on and continue to take antidepressants. It’s why I have a part-time nanny, hire babysitters for date nights and girls’ nights and take solo trips occasionally. And it’s most definitely the biggest reason why I’m not having another child. I want to be the best mommy I can be to my son and part of that means taking care of my well-being. Therefore, I choose to give him a happy, healthy mommy rather than a sibling.

I want my marriage to last. I love my son to the moon and back, but he is not the sun in our marriage. My relationship with my husband comes first. We made a pact to live this way before we had Mason. Marriage is hard work and the work grows exponentially when you add kids to the mix. We have weekly date nights and take child-free vacations. I’m not going lie, child care is easier when there is only one tiny human to chase after. For us, we balance parenting and marriage by deciding to be a team of three. It’s just the dynamic that works for us.

I need consistent me time. I take mom breaks and I do so without guilt. I need to for my own sanity and survival. Every now and then I go away. Sometimes it’s for the night, other times for a long weekend. I usually go to New York City where I get to see my best friends, sisters, shop at my favorite stores, eat at my favorite restaurants, and take too many Soul Cycle classes. When I leave, my husband spends quality time with our son, is able to balance work and dad life, and I come back feeling renewed, recharged, and ready to be mommy again.

Airplanes fit us perfectly. Superficial I know, but an airplane row fits three people. In my world, that is mommy, daddy, and son. Mason goes in the middle with mommy and daddy on either side of him. iPads out, headphones on, and we are good to go.

I can’t start over again. When Mason turned one and I finally felt confident and happy as his mommy, I felt like I had come so far. I went through so much in that first year and I just knew I couldn’t go backwards. For me that meant no more pregnancies, no more infant stage, no more sleep training or bottles of formula. I just wanted to keep going forward, growing as Mason’s mommy as he continues to grow into a little person. I love to see and love on my mom friends’ new babies, but after about 30 minutes I’m over it and handing them back. I don’t have that feeling of “my uterus hurts” for more babies. My family feels complete.I still get anxiety when I find myself back at the maternity floor of the hospital visiting a friend who just gave birth. If that’s not a telling sign, I don’t know what is!

I battled postpartum depression. I’m putting this reason last on purpose. Many people assume this to be the number one reason why I choose not to have more children. While yes, I’m at a higher risk for having it again in future pregnancies, it’s a very small part of my decision. I am grateful for my PPD journey and who I am today because of it, but it is not something I want to experience again. It is not something I want to put my husband through again or my son especially now that he would be old enough to understand it more. I already missed so much of the first year of his life. I refuse to miss any more.

I’m sorry to everyone who might disagree with me here, doesn’t approve of my choices, or thinks I’m saying too much on the subject. Actually, thats a lie. It’s more like sorry, I’m not sorry. I can’t please everyone, just the most important one. Me! I’m just being real…and honest…and hoping it gives other moms the courage to do the same…no matter what choices they are making or struggling with.  And my baby who isn’t such a baby anymore isn’t going to just be fine. He’s developed into and independent, brave, strong, compassionate, opinionated, brilliant, and amazing little four-year old. Well duh! Of course he is–because I made him–and he is a masterpiece–and I’m his mommy!

Why Breast Isn't Always Best

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Today wraps up National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. I hope your social media feeds weren't over-flooded with articles and photos about the joy and benefits of breastfeeding. Lactivists telling you why breastmilk is the only way to ensure a healthy, happy baby. Studies claiming that breastmilk will make your baby more intelligent and have less ear infections and allergies. Then there’s my all-time favorite claim: Breastfeeding can reduce a mom’s stress level and risk for postpartum depression. Um, yeah, not so much…have they met me? And let us not forget about the infamous mom-shamers criticizing anyone who chooses the alternative or not to breastfeed for as long as they have ruled acceptable. I mean, can’t we all just get along. I’m here to tell you, breast is not always best. Also, formula is not always best. You know what’s best? What works for you, makes you happy and keeps your baby’s belly full. Moms have all different reasons for how they choose to feed their babies and they are none of your business.

When I had my son, I thought I would be a breastfeeding master. He would latch easily and we would be unbreakably bonded. I would breastfeed at least until the baby weight melted off. (Why shouldn’t I reap the benefits too?) Full disclosure, I had always planned to supplement with formula because I wanted to be able to sleep and let my husband help with feedings, but I never thought I would suck at breastfeeding. And It never occurred to me that I might hate it too.

My son latched like a champ and ate for 45 minutes right after I delivered him. After that, he just couldn’t find the nipple. And when he did, he couldn’t hold on. Latching was just not his thing. Breastfeeding stressed me out very quickly and I didn’t feel anything resembling a bond to this tiny little boy who constantly screamed because he was starving and couldn’t properly get on my boob. I tried to pump, but that just stressed me out even more and it hurt and I was exhausted after an almost 24 hour labor followed by C-section.

I left the hospital determined to win at breastfeeding. What did it say about me as a mother if I couldn’t? Instead, I became a breastfeeding quitter. I only lasted five days. Breastfeeding didn’t reduce this mom’s risk for postpartum depression, which began to make its presence known somewhere in those five days as I lost my sanity and needed someone else to be able to feed my son because I decided I would never be leaving my bed for the rest of my life. I could barely keep my shit together let alone follow a strict pumping and feeding schedule. And in the midst of feeling all those horrible feelings, I still didn’t want to let go of my breastfeeding dream. To this day, I don’t even know why it was so important for me to be a breastfeeding champion.

What became more important than how I fed my son was figuring out how to get healthy and happy for my son. I needed medicine more than he needed breastmilk. I needed sleep. I needed weekly therapy appointments. I needed a village to help take care of my son. I needed to not have to stop every three hours and hook myself up to a milking machine. Spoiler Alert: In my son's four years of life, he knows all his letters, colors, numbers, shapes, Shabbat prayers, has had no allergies and only one ear infection.

Using the phrase “breast is best” robs moms of choice. Moms should be allowed to choose how they feed their little ones without feeling any sort of stigma or judgment when they don’t exclusively breastfeed. They should be able to receive the support they need whether they choose formula or breastmilk. I can’t tell you how many moms I know who were made to feel as if they had to breastfeed by lactation consultants and nurses at the hospitals where they delivered. Professionals who rolled their eyes or dragged their feet when a mom asked for formula. That’s just wrong, insensitive, and does nothing to give a new mom confidence.

Motherhood is not one size fits all. Whoever came up with “breast is best” doesn’t know what’s best for every single mom. Only you know what's best for you. Some moms don’t have the option of breastfeeding. How do you think those moms feel when they hear, “breast is best” and it’s not something they are capable of doing? They are immediately set up to feel guilty from the beginning. And what about the moms who feel the overwhelming pressure of “breast is best” and make themselves crazy trying to breastfeed, only to discover they aren’t producing enough and by then, it’s too late. Yes, these are extreme cases, but even one case is too many, especially when it could have been prevented with some formula.

Breastfeeding is hard. It doesn’t come naturally for all moms. Not all babies latch easily. Nipples get sore and cracked, sometimes even infected. Milk leaks through that new blouse you’re wearing on date night. Date night ends with pumping in the bathroom. Your designer bag has been replaced with a large black canvas one carrying your breast pump, milk bags, and ice packs. A mom who wants to stick with it needs support and to know that it’s normal to struggle. They don’t need your “breast is best” judgments if they decide to stop or supplement.

Social media hasn’t done new moms any favors when it comes to breastfeeding. The reality of breastfeeding is not Gisele holding her naked baby on her boob with one hand while she adorns a white robe, gets her hair blown out, make up done, and free hand manicured. At least Olivia Wilde let us know her baby peed all over her gorgeous sequin gown while staging her breastfeeding photo and Yael Braun keeps it real by showing us her breast pump that accompanies her to The Grammys.

At least Olivia Wilde let us know her baby peed all over her gorgeous sequin gown while staging her breastfeeding photo.

And Yael Braun keeps it real by showing us her breast pump that accompanies her to The Grammys.

 

When a mom sees those Gisele-like images and that’s not her reality, she might wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I breastfeed like that? Why don't I have that look of bliss on my face? Why isn’t this easier for me?” The breast is best culture accompanied with these photos contributes to the idea of the perfect mother. And when a mom fails to reach this level of perfect, which doesn’t exist, she will ultimately feel like a failure. 

To all the new moms out there: Do what’s best for you. If you love breastfeeding, more power to you. If you prefer formula, that’s awesome too. Every mom is different and that should be cause for celebration, not shame. Most days it’s about survival, sanity, and sleep (if you’re one of the lucky ones). There is no wrong way to feed your baby. Fed is best. Choice is best. What works for you is best.

And the next time you are about to criticize a mom’s decision, remember what your own mom taught you when you were young. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Or tell her she’s doing an incredible job and let her know you’re there for her if she needs help. Now repeat after me just so I know you got it: “Fed is best.”

My Second Favorite F-Word

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of the F-word. It’s extremely versatile and can be used in so many different situations. As a writer, I love that it can be a noun, verb, adjective, and more. As a mom, it comes in very handy when I’m frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed or I feel the need to be dramatic about all the above. You step on a Lego and scream, “FUCK!” Your kid wakes up four times in the middle of the night and you quietly pray each time, “Stay the fuck asleep.” You get projectile vomited on and blurt out, “Fuck me!” And when you can’t take it anymore you dramatically declare that if anyone needs you, you can be found hiding in your closet with that pint of Haagen Dazs chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream because you are frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed “As Fuck” (AF). I’ve even recently heard it used to describe the phase my son just entered: “The Fucking Fours.”

When I gave birth to my son almost four years ago (before I made regular use of the F-word in everyday motherhood), I discovered my second favorite F word. Formula. Yes, you heard me correctly. Formula. Let me say now that this is not an anti-breastfeeding, pro-formula-feeding post, nor am I exclusively in support of one food source over the other. I am exclusively for feeding your baby, however that works best for you. Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

During my pregnancy, I had always believed I would breastfeed my son and supplement with formula if necessary. But really, I would just breastfeed him and be a breastfeeding superstar— because breastfeeding would simply be that easy for me… like it was for all the moms I knew (they must have forgot to mention the struggles they experienced while going on about how much they loved it). And it was easy that first time my son latched right after being evicted from my stomach. Then it wasn’t.

After that first feeding, he repeatedly struggled to latch and would cry out in frustration. I just wanted to give him a bottle because I was exhausted. My mind and body shattered from 24 hours of labor, pushing for two of them, and having a C-section after all that. I wanted him to be fed and I wanted to be sleeping. Also at that time, the beginnings of postpartum depression were beginning to slowly creep into my brain. I just didn’t know it yet.

I refused to admit defeat. I did everything you are supposed to do. I saw lactation consultants in the hospital. They tried to fix our latching issues and helped me pump. I made an appointment to see the one at his pediatrician the week after we got home from the hospital. My son continued to struggle with latching so I continued pumping. I started to hate pumping because it took too much effort and I just wanted to go to sleep and never get out of bed. That was the postpartum depression making its entrance.

Even as the postpartum depression symptoms made themselves more visible in those first few days home from the hospital, I still thought I had to breastfeed. Even when I didn’t want to. I remained determined to be that breastfeeding superstar. Yes, I had been supplementing with formula, but what would it say about me as a mother if I couldn’t make breastfeeding in any capacity work? I was already failing at wanting to be a mom and feeling close to my son. At least I could succeed at feeding him the way I believed he needed to be fed.

A few days later at my son’s bris, a group of New York Jewish Grandmothers (mostly friends of my mother-in-law) saw the despair in my eyes when I asked them how their kids chose to feed their babies. And just like Jewish Grandmothers do, they told ordered me to “F**k breastfeeding!” Their kids were formula-fed, and now, most of their grandchildren were too. I needed to do what was best for me and that would be the best way to take care of my new baby. It was then I discovered my second favorite F-word, which also sounded pretty awesome used in conjunction with my other favorite F-word.

The next morning at my appointment with the lactation consultant, I immediately informed her, “I’m not doing this anymore. Tell me how to make the milk go away.” And so, after a week of being a mom, I quit breastfeeding and began exclusively formula feeding my son. My son and I were not destined to share the experience of breastfeeding together and I came to accept that. Today if you ask me if I breastfed my son when he was a baby, I would tell you without any guilt, “I sucked at breastfeeding. I quit after a week.” The reality is I had to take care of my health so I could get to a place where I could love and take care of my baby. My second favorite F-word, formula, allowed me to do that.

Would I have stuck with breastfeeding if I hadn’t been hit with severe postpartum depression one week into motherhood? I don’t know. What I do know is that choosing formula was the best decision for me and allowed me to hold on to some peace of mind while the rest of it surrendered to what would be a year-long battle with postpartum depression.

My new favorite F-word provided me with a way to feed my son so I could take care of myself. Formula also allowed others to feed my son while I focused on my health and fought my illness until I won. Some might call that selfish, but I would argue that a happy, healthy mommy is the best gift we can give to our babies. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the F-club like me or you rock the breastfeeding thing like I could never do. Some moms don’t ever get the luxury of choosing.

Whatever the reason is behind a mom’s decision for how she feeds her baby, we need to remember, fed is fed and we are all on this rollercoaster ride together. And if someone ever tries to shame you for choosing formula, I give you permission to use my other favorite F-word for some extra emphasis when you tell them you don’t remember asking for- nor do you give a f**k about- their opinion.

This post originally appeared at Motherlucker.

Q&A with Suzanne Barston, The Fearless Formula Feeder (Part Two)

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Welcome back to my Q&A with Suzanne Barston, The Fearless Formula Feeder. Let’s dive right in because she has some very wise words to share about how moms choose to feed their babies.    The Pressure to Breastfeed Because they are told that it's the most important thing they can do for their babies; that it's the healthy thing; the RIGHT thing. They see celebrities and role models and their peers celebrating their breastfeeding success, which they have every right to be doing - but we hear more about breastfeeding than any other aspect of new motherhood, so it becomes this measuring stick, this way to compare yourself to others and gauge how you're doing at this scary new job. Plus, there are some overzealous physicians and lactation professionals out there who really do make it seem like life or death.

The Problem with “Breast is Best” It's problematic, because it's NOT. Breast is the biological way to feed a baby. It is normal, and healthy, and every woman's right. And yes, breastmilk is a biologically phenomenal substance. But that does not make it best - it makes it great. Best is a subjective term - because what does that even mean? Best nutritionally? Sure, unless your baby is reacting to something in your milk, or you don't have enough to feed him. Best emotionally? No, not unless it's what makes you happy and helps you bond, because for some women, the opposite is true.

What About “Fed is Best?” I know the term "fed is best" is popular now, and I think I used this myself many years back, but I'm not sure using that phrase helps, either. The point is, we shouldn't be using absolutes or superlatives to describe the very basic act of feeding a baby. Breastfeeding is not a super power. Formula feeding isn't either. We all need to feed our babies - can't we just shut up about what is best and focus on the important work of making sure every baby - and every mother - has the nutrition, love, and resources she needs?

Changing the Conversation We can start by ending the fear tactics. Your baby is not going to be stupid, sick or obese if you formula feed. Likewise, your baby is not going to be brain damaged or starving if you breastfeed. There are always going to be horror stories, and downsides to every feeding method. Babies die while nursing. Babies die from contaminated formula. Those are freak incidents, not the norm.

Let’s Start Over I think we need to start from the beginning. Give parents neutral information from a neutral source - not breastfeeding advocates, and not formula companies - long before the emotional landmine of the delivery room. Let them know they will be supported and given evidence-based information for any safe feeding method. Stop making it all or nothing, so that moms can combo feed if they want and not feel like they are torn between two dueling sides. Let parents change their minds, and adapt, and not feel as if the way they feed has anything to do with how they will love and nurture this child.

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me That the first few years are hard because of how YOU are growing up, and the rest is hard because of how THEY are growing up. What I mean is that while I find parenting harder the older my kids get, the roughest part for me was transitioning from "me" to "mother". That identity shift can be so hard- and since babies don't do much except eat, sleep, and poop, it's easy to fixate on these things as the litmus test of your ability to parent. I promise you, it isn't.

The Future of The Fearless Formula Feeder That's a tough question for me because in many ways, I've been slowly weaning (ha) myself from this world. I still feel a responsibility to be on the periphery of the conversation, because I have the advantage of a long-term perspective that most of the people arguing about these issues don't have. On the other hand, I don't have the energy or passion for the cause that I used to, because my kids are older, and I've moved on to another stage in life and in my career. But I'd like to think I'll always be here as a resource for new champions of choice - there are great groups like Fed is Best and the I Support You Movement (which I started with Kim Simon five years ago, and has been resurrected by an incredible group of women in the UK), that are doing stellar work in this area. I will always be there to support them as needed. And who knows - maybe I'll write a sequel to Bottled Up. It can be called Bottled Down: Why the Way We Feed Babies Means Nothing Once They are Ornery Teenagers. Or something like that. :)

More From The Fearless Formula Feeder My book, Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't (University of California Press, 2012) is available on Amazon. You can also visit the archived website, which has a ton of resources for formula feeding and stories from fellow FFFs at FearlessFormulaFeeder.com, or follow me at Facebook.com/TheFearlessFormulaFeeder.

 In case you missed it, you can find Part One here.

 

BIO: Suzanne Barston is the author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t and the creator of the “Fearless Formula Feeder” website and community. Barston was raised just outside of Boston and earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University. A former freelance writer, she now lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with her husband and children, and works as a corporate content producer. Her writing and work with FFF has been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, SheKnows, Babble, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Parenting, Babytalk, OhBaby!, Fit Pregnancy, The Observer, Yahoo Shine!, Australia’s Good Weekend magazine, and on a variety of radio programs including KPCC’s “Take Two”, numerous NPR affiliates, “Parenting Unplugged”, “Positive Parenting”, “Mom Enough”, “For Crying Out Loud”, “Voice of Russia”, and more.

Q&A with Suzanne Barston, The Fearless Formula Feeder (Part One)

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August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, which means our social media feeds will likely be filled with articles and photos about the joys and benefits of breastfeeding. So, I wanted to talk to someone who could share more about the joys and benefits of simply feeding your baby, because there are alternatives and breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. And shouldn’t that be okay? Meet Suzanne Barston, also known as The Fearless Formula Feeder and author of the book, Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't. After experiencing many breastfeeding complications with her son, having postpartum depression and switching to formula (the best decision for her family) only to realize that there was a severe lack of information and way too much judgment when it came to formula feeding, she decided to create a support network for moms who also went the formula route.

Suzanne’s judgement-free advice and determination to change the conversation about how moms choose to feed their babies and the support they should receive are a breath of fresh air. Her work is a testament to the fact that whether a mom chooses breastmilk, formula, or both has everything to do with the right choice for her and nothing to do with how much she loves her baby.

Becoming The Fearless Formula Feeder When I had my first child, I was fully expecting to breastfeed - although truth be told, I had a very romantic notion of what that meant, and what motherhood meant in the first place. We had a slew of problems right off the bat - he couldn't latch, I had nerve damage in one breast that made nursing excruciatingly painful, he had a milk allergy, etc., etc. I pumped for a while, but was suffering from postpartum depression and all the drama with feeding exacerbated it. So, I switched to formula, and while I knew it was the best thing for my family, I still felt the judgment from doctors, friends, fellow moms, and society. Worst of all, whenever I searched for information on formula or bottle feeding, the only things that popped up were admonishments - warnings about the dangers of not breastfeeding instead of practical information on safe formula feeding. I wanted to change that, and to provide a resource for parents like me who wanted support and evidence-based information on infant feeding. I also wanted to explain the reality of news headlines about research - I knew how to read and interpret scientific studies, so I felt like I could help mitigate some of the fear-mongering.

Reception of The Fearless Formula Feeder It was surprisingly positive at first. I got a lot of traffic right away, which just made me sad - because I was some random, new blogger on the internet and all these women were writing to me in desperate need of support and advice. I didn't really feel equipped to give it, so I made it my goal to become worthy of that responsibility. I decided to write a book that would examine both the sociological and scientific implications of the breast vs. bottle debate, and I basically read everything I could on lactation and the science behind infant formula development. I realized that there weren't really any formula experts out there, so I thought, “I better become one quickly - because there were a lot of parents needing solid, non-judgmental info.”  

The Haters Of course, as soon as people started becoming aware of my blog, the name Fearless Formula Feeder drew a lot of critical eyes. People were NOT happy that someone was encouraging people to be fearless about formula, especially when they were trying to scare moms out of even the smallest amount of supplementation. Reading hate mail became a daily event - but for every angry, mean email came five more from parents needing support, so I just focused on those instead.

Why So Much Controversy You know, I used to think I knew the answer. Heck, I wrote a whole book about it. But as I've been doing this for 8 years now, I've seen the controversy ebb and flow - and I'm not sure things are as simple as I once believed them to be. I do think it mostly comes down to history - formula companies made some terrible errors in the past, and continue to do some pretty tone-deaf things in resource-poor countries - and deep-rooted ideas about motherhood. I also think the rise of the natural parenting movement has made food a moral issue for some groups, something that starts with breastmilk and continues into later childhood with orthorexia behaviors. But in the end, I think it comes down to this erroneous belief that there can only be one "right" way to feed a baby. There are so many things that factor into what makes a choice "right".

The Importance of Choice Choice is imperative, because every family has its own specific needs. We can't take what happens in a tribal society and impose it on a mother living in suburban Illinois, and vice versa. Heck, we can't take what happens to the mom in one room of a hospital and impose that on the mom in the next room over. There has NEVER been a time in history when every baby was fed solely on breastmilk for 6 months. There have always been mothers with issues breastfeeding and babies who were too weak to suck. There have always been pre-lacteal feeds and supplementary foods used prior to this magical, made-up 6-month mark.

When You Take Choice Away When you take away choice, you force a woman into using her body in a way that may not feel right to her. You force a baby into eating in a way that could hurt her chances of thriving. You create a perfect storm for postpartum depression and a prison sentence for moms who don't respond to a pump, but need to work to feed the rest of their families. Choice is something we are lucky to have - the fact that babies can be fed and healthy no matter what the lactation status is of the primary caregiver is something we should celebrate, not restrict.

On The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative There are many good aspects of BFHI, but I have trouble with positioning a breastfeeding initiative as "baby friendly", First of all, it should be "family friendly" - babies thrive with happy, functional caregivers. Also, it is not friendly to starve a baby, and making a mother jump through hoops in order to give formula isn't helping to get that baby fed. If we could take the part of BFHI that ensures formula isn't forced on moms, and that they are given good lactation support, but do away with the rest of it, I think it could be something really fantastic. But as it stands, the program is judged on the number of babies who leave exclusively breastfeeding - and that should not be the goal, in my opinion. The goal should be parents and babies leaving the hospital with the resources they need to safely feed their babies, and mothers leaving with support in place for all the challenges of new motherhood and the postpartum period.

Amen to that! Come back tomorrow for part two of my Q&A with the amazing Fearless Formula Feeder. Suzanne will be talking about the pressures new moms feel when it comes to breastfeeding, the problems with the catchphrase “Breast is best” and more.

BIO: Suzanne Barston is the author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t and the creator of the “Fearless Formula Feeder” website and community. Barston was raised just outside of Boston and earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University. A former freelance writer, she now lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with her husband and children, and works as a corporate content producer. Her writing and work with FFF has been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, SheKnows, Babble, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Parenting, Babytalk, OhBaby!, Fit Pregnancy, The Observer, Yahoo Shine!, Australia’s Good Weekend magazine, and on a variety of radio programs including KPCC’s “Take Two”, numerous NPR affiliates, “Parenting Unplugged”, “Positive Parenting”, “Mom Enough”, “For Crying Out Loud”, “Voice of Russia”, and more.

How Mommy-Friendly Is The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative?

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A mom delivers her second child at a local hospital and decides to try formula after her baby girl struggles to latch. She informs the lactation consultant about her decision to feed her baby half a bottle of formula and asks for a remedy for her sore nipples. When the lactation consultant suggests coconut oil, the mom expresses concern over her baby ingesting it while she breastfeeds. The lactation consultants responds, “You already destroyed her gut by feeding her formula. What’s it matter if she has some coconut oil?” The same mom, who has now been up for over 24 hours, later begs the nurses to take her newborn to the nursery so she can get a few hours of rest. They tell her no, hardly check in on her, and as a result, she falls asleep while breastfeeding her baby. Thankfully, no harm comes to the child. I’m not saying the two are linked, but this mom is diagnosed with postpartum depression shortly after going home from the hospital.

Another mom delivers her first son at the same hospital. During her pregnancy, she makes the decision to both pump and formula feed because she will return to work (her own business) soon after delivery. While getting ready to feed her new baby, the nurse drops off a breast pump and tells her she probably won’t be successful with it, gives her a log and some diapers, and tells her to write down when she changes and feeds him. The mom repeatedly asks for formula and is met with an eye roll from the nurse who tells her she will bring it when she can get to it.

Mom is in tears when her sister arrives at the hospital two hours later. She is so overwhelmed from the lack of care and the harsh treatment she experiences after requesting formula that she requests early release because she would rather fend for herself at home than stay at the hospital any longer. She tells me: “As soon as I told them I wasn’t breastfeeding they pretty much wrote me off. The nurse told me that since I was supplementing, I should feed him every 4-5 hours. The first night home, he screamed the entire night because he was starving. When our baby nurse came, she told me he was supposed to eat every 2-3 hours. I felt like I was set up to fail before I even left the hospital.”

Not all nurses at this hospital greet their patients with eye rolls and judgement. Another mom delivers her third son at this same hospital via C-section. After delivery, her baby refuses to latch so mom, with the help of her nurse, decides to pump and supplement with formula. Her nurse is compassionate, supportive, and helps the baby latch better than anyone else. She tries to be helpful and find what works for this mom of three no matter what method of feeding that might be. At night, mom asks the nurse to take her son to the nursery so she can rest, the nurse agrees and even feeds him some formula.

But the following morning, after a shift change, a new nurse comes in looking annoyed to see mom pumping. The nurse tells her that no lactation consultant would have suggested giving as much formula as she did because it would make the baby extremely fussy. Mom speaks up and tells the nurse her son is the happiest he’s been since his arrival because he isn’t starving anymore. That she is doing what she needs to do because she has no interest in fighting with a screaming baby to latch when she has two other boys at home to take care of as well. The same nurse proceeds to take away his pacifier because if the baby wants to suck on something, it should be on mom’s breast. Mom assertively asks the nurse to leave.

What do these three moms all have in common? They delivered their most recent children at a hospital that has adopted the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by UNICEF and the World Health Organization in 1991 to promote breastfeeding as the normal way for infants to be nourished and encourage mother-baby bonding. While the initiative has been around for almost 20 years, it has gained momentum in the last several years with more hospitals adopting its 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding that include: on demand breastfeeding, no pacifiers or artificial nipples, and rooming in where mothers are no longer allowed to send their newborns to the nursery so they can get some much needed rest and recovery.

I delivered my son at this same hospital almost four years ago, before they fully adopted the initiative. I breastfed my son right after he was born following an extremely long labor that ultimately resulted in a C-section. He latched so easily and ate for almost 45 minutes. I thought in that moment, “Wow, this breastfeeding thing is going to be so easy.” It wasn’t. I tried pumping in the hospital but supplemented with formula often. I used a pacifier when he got fussy. I sent my baby to the nursery for a few hours during each day and every night where the nurses fed him formula so I could sleep. They did so willingly, without judgment and checked in on me often.

Clearly, I do not fit the “Baby-Friendly” criteria, so does this make me and all moms who choose to formula feed, use pacifiers, and send their babies to the nursery horrible mothers? Does this mean we are not “Baby-Friendly” mommies? 403 hospitals across the United States might argue yes. I also quit breastfeeding and went the exclusively formula route after five days when I was hit with a severe case of postpartum depression. What would the lactation consultants say about that? I chose to take care of my health as the best way to take care of my baby. And he never starved.

Why are we judging and shaming moms before they even step foot outside the hospital? Shouldn’t the care and support of the mother, her health, and that of her baby combined be the first priority rather than the immediate and obsessive promotion of breastfeeding? The best way to take care of a new baby is to take care of his or her mother too. It seems that the more “Baby-Friendly” hospitals become, the less “Mommy-Friendly” they tend to be.

The mom above who fell asleep while breastfeeding her infant daughter could have rolled over and suffocated her. The baby could have fallen out of the bed. This new mom was beyond exhausted and the simple solution of taking the baby to the nursery for a few hours could have prevented an almost-tragedy and the guilt she suffered from ever occurring. How many other moms have experienced the same or even fell while holding their babies because they were given no opportunity to rest and recover after the depleting, mind and body-shattering experience of labor?

New moms are tired, have been awake for hours upon hours, are taking strong pain medication, and many have undergone major surgery. Then they’re, “Hey, I hope you’re ready to stay up even longer because your baby will be in this room with you 24-7 and if you’re not kept awake from the crying, you will be from obsessing over every noise, breath, and movement your new little one makes.”

While you do all this, try to ignore the excruciating pain you might be feeling from those stitches holding your stomach together. And by the way, we are doing this so you have the best possible chance to bond with, breastfeed and learn the cues of your new little one because that is what our hospital believes makes you a good mother. Good mothers would never send their babies to the nursery. If you send them to the nursery, you will have trouble bonding. You won’t pick up on their cues that let you know when they’re hungry.

Say goodbye to your confidence if you can’t seem to make this work and hello to the guilt you will now feel from believing you are a shitty mother, a view that you will probably follow you home from the hospital and shape your early experiences as a mother.

The mom who asked for her third son to go to the nursery overnight and talked back to the nurse who judged her for pumping and pacifier use knew how to advocate for herself. This was her third go around. What about first time moms who don’t and take what they are told by their nurses and lactations consultants to be the right and only acceptable way to feed and care for their babies? Hospitals and their staff should be cultivating an environment of support and choice, rather than one that makes women feel ashamed or like failures when they struggle to meet the unfair expectation that “good mothers are the ones who exclusively breastfeed and want their babies by their sides at all times.” They need to empower new moms to make their health and recovery a priority.

Having a little bit of rest and knowing your baby is safe and well-cared for in the nursery can make a world of difference for a new mom. Moms who feel well-rested and cared for have more energy to make the effort to breastfeed even when it’s a struggle. They are more awake and alert and can fully engage in bonding with their babies when they aren’t fighting off the overwhelming exhaustion from not being able to recover after giving birth.

Is the “Baby-Friendly Initiative” successful in its endeavor to increase the number of moms who wish to exclusively breastfeed or is it only acting to increase the pressure on the ones who can’t or don’t want to? Why are lactation consultants and nurses, who should be there to educate and help new moms in a loving, supportive manor judging and shaming them instead? Do pacifiers actually get in the way of successful breastfeeding? Does rooming in really increase the likelihood of new moms to exclusively breastfeed? Or does the initiative simply shame moms for choosing alternative methods of feeding as well as decrease the level of safe care for infants by not having a nursery to send them to?

What is the opposite of baby-friendly? Does using the term “Baby-Friendly” imply that any mother who doesn’t follow the initiative’s guidelines is not? How do we think that will make a new mom feel? No mom deserves to be accused of not being “baby-friendly” because of how she chooses to feed and bond with her new baby.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to motherhood. I wasn’t breastfed. My husband wasn’t breastfed. Together we made a pretty incredible baby boy, who was breastfed for only five days before he lived exclusively on formula. Did I mention how intelligent, funny, and compassionate he is? He also has no food allergies, doesn’t get sick very often, and has had one ear infection in his four-year life.

My good friend, Jennifer Bronsnick, a social worker on a mission to redefine what it means to be a “good mom” by inspiring mothers to make make mindful living, self-care and pleasure a daily habit, sums it up perfectly. “The purpose of Baby-Friendly Hospitals is to encourage bonding and breastfeeding, which as long as it allows mothers to rest before going home is a fantastic thing. However, breastfeeding can be wonderful OR it can be torture and lead to moms feeling inadequate and exhausted. As a mom of three and a licensed professional, I can say with certainty that it should be the mother’s choice whether she wants to breastfeed, bottle feed, co-sleep, send the baby to the nursery, have visitors, use a swaddle, use a pacifier and any other non-medical decision regarding infant care. In the hospital, mothers need to be empowered with accurate information about postpartum mood and anxiety, the benefits of breastfeeding and given adequate support so she has all she needs to heal her mind, body, and spirit after giving birth. All you have to do to be a ‘good mom’ is to feed your baby.”

The Medicated Mommy Mondays Part 4: What Gets Me Fired Up?

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Today will be the last of The Medicated Mommy Mondays series. On this last Monday of July, I want to tell you about what fires me up.

  • 1 in 7 moms will have a postpartum mood disorder, but most of us don't know that.
  • Only 15% of these moms receive treatment.
  • Many moms still feel as if they have to pretend motherhood is easy and amazing all the time. 
  • The lack of education about postpartum depression and its risk factors.
  • Moms feeling isolated and alone.
  • Moms feeling guilty for taking care of themselves.
  • Moms feeling like they have to be anyone but their authentic selves.
  • Anything other than acceptance of a mom's choice for how she feeds her baby.
  • Moms making other moms feel bad or judged.
  • Any form of mom-shaming.

Everything above constantly motivates me to continue doing what I do. I'm not stopping until no mom ever feels as if she needs to struggle or suffer in silence.

What fires you up?

If you missed any of The Medicated Mommy Mondays Series:

Part 1: Why I Do What I Do...

Part 2: Who Am I Here For?

Part 3: What Are My Values?

The Medicated Mommy Mondays Part 3: What Are My Values?

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Happy Monday! Last week I shared all about who I am here for. Spoiler alert: I'm here for you moms! Today I want to talk about my values. Here is what you can expect when you read or hear anything from me, you're favorite Medicated Mommy. The Medicated Mommy promises to always be:

AUTHENTIC The Medicated Mommy doesn’t pretend to be anything other than who she is: imperfect, exhausted, deeply flawed, and a mom who kicked postpartum depression’s ass, pops an antidepressant every morning, sucks at Pinterest, and feels like she is “killing it” on some days while on others hides in her closet crying, binging on cookies, and asking herself, “WTF?“ She’s here to give you the real dirt on everything motherhood, including postpartum depression.

UNFILTERED The Medicated Mommy is the best mom friend everyone wishes they had, always saying out loud what other moms are thinking but might be too afraid to admit. She always tells it like it is, no sugar-coating, no pretending, and maybe with some f-bombs thrown in.

UNAPOLOGETIC The Medicated Mommy boldly owns her story, who she is as a mom, and talks honestly about her struggles, postpartum depression, and other taboo subjects of motherhood without worrying what others think, without fear, and without apology.

FUNNY The Medicated Mommy injects some much-needed humor, wit, and sometimes snark into her writing about the serious topic of postpartum depression and has no issues laughing at herself and the missteps she often takes on the road of motherhood.

SUPPORTIVE The Medicated Mommy is always here for you every step of the way. She’s here to remind you, you’re not alone and help you feel understood as you navigate the ups and downs of motherhood and the confusing, overwhelming, heart-wrenching experience of postpartum depression.

RELATABLE The Medicated Mommy is trying to survive motherhood one day at a time while keeping her sense of humor and sanity intact. She has awesome days and awful days. The Medicated Mommy is all of us. She gets it and she gets you.

The Medicated Mommy believes: 

YOU’RE NOT ALONE 1 in 7 women experience some form of a postpartum mood disorder. If you have postpartum depression, you are in good company, the company of hundreds of thousands of new moms each year. You need to know there is nothing wrong with you, you are not a horrible mother, and you will get better with the proper treatment. The Medicated Mommy wants all women to feel comfortable speaking up and asking for help so they can receive the treatment they need. No one should ever have to suffer in silence.

NO MORE PRETENDING The Medicated Mommy doesn’t believe in pretending motherhood is easy or that she is the perfect mother who never struggles. She’s here to tell you the moms who do are lying. She would rather spend her valuable time being herself and not worrying or caring about what others think.

GUILT HAS NO PLACE WHEN IT COMES TO MOM’S SELF-CARE AND HAPPINESS You can’t give your children what you don’t have. Just like on an airplane when they instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first before you help secure your child’s, The Medicated Mommy believes you must make time to take care of yourself, find what brings you joy, and nurture it. A happy, healthy mommy is the best gift you can give to your little ones and there is never any reason to feel guilty about that.

IT’S TIME TO END THE STIGMA It’s 2017, but many moms still feel the stigma from having a postpartum mood disorder following the birth of their babies. The Medicated Mommy believes it’s time to dial down the shame by openly sharing our stories, reassuring moms that there is nothing wrong with them, being real about the messy parts of motherhood, and treating postpartum depression as a common illness just like any other that requires treatment to get better.

EVERYONE CAN HELP Many moms experience postpartum depression and other struggles in isolation, without the positive, ongoing support of people around them. Everyone can help during this traumatic time: from family and friends to medical professionals, businesses and services. The Medicated Mommy is committed to offering advice and content for how family and friends can support mom while also advocating for professionals to educate women about postpartum depression and its risk factors and create a safe, judgement-free environment for moms to seek the help they need to get better and ease the path forward for all.

Next week will be the final Medicated Mommy Monday so come back to learn all about what fires me up!

The Medicated Mommy Mondays Part 2: Who Am I Here For?

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I'm back! Today I'm sharing all about who I'm here for. I'm here for any mom or mom-to-be who wants a real, honest, refreshing, relatable, laugh out loud perspective on the rollercoaster of motherhood. I want to be your best mom friend, the one who tells you the truth. The one who makes you feel like you can share your truth. The one who holds your hand while you struggle. The one who helps you find the path to happy and healthy if you get sick.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of new moms suffer from postpartum depression and feel as if they are crazy and the only ones. Even if you’re not one of these moms, you will still often feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and extremely unqualified for this job. You will sometimes find yourself wishing for your old life back and searching for your lost sense of humor. The secret is, so does every other mom, but most of them never admit it. Many of them fill your social media feeds with picture perfect images that make motherhood look easy and fun all day long. Motherhood is hard for everyone and anyone who says otherwise is full of shit. I'm here for all of these moms. For every mom.

And if you’re not a mom or never had postpartum depression, I'm here for you too. We all need useful advice and tips for how to help and support the moms in our lives who are struggling.

Check back next week to learn more about The Medicated Mommy's values!

 

 

The Medicated Mommy Mondays Part 1: Why I Do What I Do...

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I know it's summer. If you're kids are home with you, you're verging on braindead. You probably don't want to read anything that makes you have to think to much. There's a reason they call those books we've been downloading "beach reads." If you're like me, it's hard to motivate for much of anything besides sitting on the couch, sitting at the pool, sitting in the playroom watching my son play airport. Lots of sitting. I thought I would take this opportunity to share more about your favorite Medicated Mommy!

For the next four Mondays, I'm going to be sharing more about who I am and why I write this blog and talk so openly and honestly about motherhood and postpartum depression. I promise to keep it really short. You don't feel like reading too much. I don't feel like writing too much. Because...summer...and I have a four-year old to keep busy...

Here's why I do what I do. Why I write and speak to candidly about the struggles of motherhood and my postpartum depression journey. 

I'm on a mission is to normalize the struggles of motherhood and the experience of postpartum depression so no mom feels alone or as if she ever needs to pretend of suffer in silence. I'm here to reassure all moms they are not alone and give them permission to accept themselves as the amazing moms they already are, not the ones society says they should be. I want to help all moms suffering from postpartum depression and any mom who is struggling know they are normal, not alone, and will get better with treatment because I did. I want to be someone who says to other moms suffering, “I know it’s dark down there. I know how you feel. I’ve been there too. You’re not alone.” I want to share the lessons I’ve learned from fighting and surviving postpartum depression – the importance of self-care, the importance of accepting the mom I am, not the one I thought I would be (based on social media and the current culture of motherhood that says you must do it all, be everything, and strive for perfection), and the importance of surrounding myself with authentic people who accept me for me. I want to continue to share my story and speak out about postpartum depression with the goal of helping to eliminating the stigma surrounding maternal mental health. I believe honesty and courage are contagious and when I share, you feel like you can share too, without the fear of being judged or shamed. 

Next Monday I will be sharing all about who I'm here for!

My First Video Interview: Does Balance Really Exist?

Hey mommas! I'm so honored to share my first video interview with you. Please ignore the messy hair and lack of makeup, but I didn't have much time to get ready. Four-year olds don't give a shit about their mom's appointments and mine decided to move at a sloth-like pace that morning before school. At least I was able to shower so that was a win! I think the lesson the here is that it's better to show up as you are and accept yourself as you are. Plus, pretending to always be so put together is just way too much effort. And I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted enough as it is. I just don't have the energy for that. Anyway, on to the interview. I had the honor of talking to mompreneur Bree Whitlock, founder of The Easy Breezy Way, about achieving balance as a mom and entrepreneur.

I'm not sure balance even exists. Are you? How do you achieve balance as a mom? Let me know in the comments!

Why I Want You To Know My Son Goes To An Occupational Therapist

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I knew I wanted to write this post immediately after leaving my son’s occupational therapy evaluation, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted anyone to read it. Since I’m a mom who owns her flaws and believes in sharing my mistakes and what I’ve learned from them (thank you postpartum depression), here it goes. Maybe I can save you the time of repeating this one and you can move straight to the lesson learned part. At the end of 2016, I met with my son’s preschool teacher for the mid-year conference. I always go into these things excited. My son loves school. He is so curious. He loves to discover new things. His imagination blows me away. I always want to learn more about what he does all day at preschool and the progress he is making.

I also go in nervous because we live in a world where we have become obsessed about our children’s development. Don’t try to tell me you’ve never obsessed. I’m guilty of it too. Before a parent teacher conference, even at his young age of four, there are always the thoughts of, “What if he isn’t making progress? What if he isn’t hitting the milestones appropriate for his age? What if he isn’t socializing with the other kids? What if he finds certain tasks more difficult than his classmates? And what will I do if his teacher expresses concern about any of these issues?"

During this conference, his teacher informed me that he could successfully say the alphabet, count to ten, and recognize all numbers, letters, and shapes. Additionally, he loved playing with the other kids in his class and had no problem playing independently or joining a group, asking with such good manners, “Can I play with you?”  Then she brought up his focus and struggle to write with a pencil and cut with scissors. His grip was delayed. He had trouble following directions that were more than one step. Certain hand motions that accompanied songs such as criss-crossing his hands over his knees were a challenge for him.

Of course, I forgot about all the growth he had made and the fact that he was barely four and walked out of the meeting feeling upset by this news. Why was this happening? Why can other kids his age do these things with more ease than my child? Does he recognize this? Are we not doing enough at home? Did I fail him in some way? How do I fix this?

I immediately called the one person who calms my crazy: my husband. He reminded me that there were so many amazing things our son could already do and comparing him to other kids his age wouldn’t help anyone. He has always hit milestones on his own schedule. Why should this time be any different? I still decided to explore occupational therapy to see if it would help him catch up. And it never hurts to just see…And because I was still obsessing just a little bit…

We learned after the first session that he did in fact show some fine motor delays linked to some sensory issues. I’m still not sure what the sensory part really means. He could still be successful but might have to work harder than someone who was a natural. The therapist also told us that our son is smart enough to know when something is hard for him, which is why he likes to be silly and make jokes when someone asks him to do something that seems difficult. This broke my heart, because I always just thought he was a comedian. While he has an incredible sense of humor, I now realize that he compensates for what’s hard for him by trying to make others laugh. I felt a bit of mom failure because I didn’t pick up on it. Shouldn’t I have noticed? I left feeling slightly defeated.

I also remember telling my son before his appointment that we were going to see my new friend to play with her toys. I don’t know why I said that. Why didn’t I just tell him we were going to visit an occupational therapist who could help him with some of the tasks he finds hard at school? Maybe I was worried about how he would feel if he knew he needed some extra help. Most likely, I was projecting my own feelings. Perhaps I didn’t want to admit to myself that my child needed that extra help. I am his mom and I don’t want my son to ever struggle with anything (not realistic I know).

On the drive home after telling those feelings of defeat and failure to shut up, I had an epiphany. Why did it matter that my son sees an occupational therapist once a week? In fact, since I’ve written this, he has started seeing a speech therapist too. And why shouldn’t I be upfront with him about what these sessions are about? I’m not ashamed about the early interventions we are doing for him and I would never want him to be either. I want him to be proud of who he is and how hard he works. I want him to know that needing help and accepting it make you strong. And so what if he has to work harder at a particular skill? There is value in hard work and not having everything be handed to you. I can’t hand everything to him. I get that now. Mommy can’t fix everything and I shouldn’t even If I could.

That’s why I’ve decided to tell you my son goes to an occupational therapist and now, a speech therapist too. I have chosen to embrace my son’s differences, celebrate them, and focus on the amazing things he can do, while helping him understand it’s okay to need help doing others. When he expresses frustration that he “can’t cut very fast” with scissors, we talk about how therapy will help him and we can also practice at home together. That sometimes, other people will be better or faster at something than him and that’s okay. There are things he is better and faster at too. I tell him that I still need help in certain areas. I mean, I see a therapist and have a coach—I'm getting help with life!

Somebody important once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s true. My son clapped late, crawled late, walked late, and started speaking in full sentences late. I’ve stopped worrying. He just likes to do everything on his own time frame. He is stubborn like that, just like his mommy and daddy.

Pretending everything is perfect and refusing to acknowledge my son might actually need help in a certain area only does a disservice to him. Rather than thinking the world is going to end because he can’t follow three step directions and hold a pencil between his pointer finger and thumb, getting an evaluation to get to the bottom of the issue certainly can’t hurt. It can only help and give him more confidence once he starts to excel at the things he knows are hard for him. And talking to him honestly about it demonstrates that there is nothing to be embarrassed about from needing a little help or having to work a little harder. While I never want him to feel different or be teased because I’m his mom, it’s also my job as his mom to teach him that our differences make us who we are, and it’s worth it to own them.

I would like to leave you with these words (ones I’m trying to live by) from the wise parenting guru Janet Lansbury:

Trusting a child means having faith in his or her capabilities from the very beginning, and wholeheartedly accepting our child for all she is…and isn’t. And that means allowing our baby to show us what she is learning, rather than the other way around. She doesn’t have to perform to grab our attention or approval. What she chooses to do while she plays is enough. A secure and trusted child is any teacher’s dream. She has the self-confidence to raise her hand and say, “I don’t understand.” She doesn’t crumble when she makes mistakes. She is persistent in her struggle to grasp something challenging. She is her own person – an enthusiastic learner with a unique point of view that she is eager to share. Because she is secure, and likes who she is, she is kind to others. She is never afraid to be herself, a ‘self’ that has been honored and encouraged since she was born. And eventually, she’ll learn to use scissors like the best of them...

This post originally appeared on Suburban Misfit Mom.

6 Reasons Why I Think My Kid’s Birthday Is My Birthday Too

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My son turned four this past weekend. For his first birthday, I went big. As a mom who sucks at crafting, I found my inspiration on Pinterest and paid people on Etsy to execute my vision of Mason’s little man birthday bash complete with bowties, mustaches, musical entertainment, photo booth, and of course, signature cocktails served in mason jars. Everyone knows a child’s first birthday party is actually for the parents to celebrate surviving the first year of parenthood, where they have successfully kept the tiny human they are now responsible for alive. They have figured out how to fit showers into their daily routines, become accustomed to regularly getting spit up on, peed on, shit on, caught throw up with their bare hands, and if they’re lucky, the accomplished the amazing and life-changing task of getting their child to sleep through the night.

I didn’t stop celebrating myself after Mason’s first birthday. Why should I? I never take any attention away from him. I don’t get presents. It’s his birthday. His party. But there are little things I do each year for me too, because his parties always serve as a reminder of the first one, where I can remember stopping to think that “Wow. I’m a mom--Mason’s mom, and I got this whole motherhood thing.”

Here are five reasons why I think my son’s birthday is my birthday too.

  1. The day my son was born was also the day I became a mother. It’s my birth day into the world of motherhood.
  1. I always choose that day as one to break with whatever diet I happen to be on at that time to binge on cake—lots of cake.
  1. It might be the day of his birth, but it’s also the day I labored with him for 24 hours, tried to push him out of my vagina for two of them, and ultimately had my stomach sliced open so he could come into the world. That deserves at least a very large piece of cake.
  1. What I wear is almost just as important as what he wears. Each year I buy myself a brand new outfit, something fabulous that matches the theme of his party if there is one. Thorough research is done and approval is sought from best mom friends who do the same. Last year’s purchase? A Marcus Lupfer sequined Mickey Mouse sweater (on sale thank god) for his Mickey Mouse Clubhouse bash and a tutu.
  1. I serve alcohol at his birthday parties. I sip on a cocktail or wine while his friends and he sip on their organic juice boxes. Parents, you’re welcome for this.
  1. I take a moment to pause, look around at my son with all of our family and friends, and feel grateful for him and that I get to be his mother. That it’s been another year since I got healthy. Another year since I fought to overcome the postpartum depression that convinced me I didn’t even want to be a mother.