Good Grief

Good grief is this saying my mom often uses.  I don’t really get it.  But she says a lot of weird shit, to be honest. Most of them I can make some sense of even though they’re not words.  For example, Gazinta.



Something that goes into something else.


“Did someone get the bill from the server? We need to do the gazintas to see what everyone owes.” (How many times does 5 gazinta 20?)

“Where’s the gazinta for the phone.  I need to plug it in.” (That charger gazinta the plug.)

This is just one of many.  My mom has so many non-words that my husband created a dictionary in his phone when he first started hanging out around my family to keep track of them. They’re epic.

Good grief is one I know is used by others but I have really only heard my mom use it regularly.  I looked it up and it is described as “an exclamation of surprise, alarm, dismay or some other usually negative emotion. For example Good Grief, he dropped the cake.” For some reason, this past month I’ve been mulling over this term because as a phrase it has taken on a certain meaning, that I understand.  Good grief, I’m going to be late again.  Good grief, he won’t stop talking.  But when you break down the words it got me thinking, what is good about grief?  When is grief actually good? Who decided this was going to be a phrase we use.

It’s hard to believe that just over 2 weeks ago we had the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing.  Not that this is a particularly fun read, but if you want the context of it when it happened check out this post from last spring. I actually just re-read it myself and cried, and laughed a littleso I guess that’s good.

As anniversaries often do, they cause you to reflect.  To look back on a period of time in a large scope, as a culmination, and think about the whole period of time.  On the one hand, I couldn’t believe a year had passed.  How had it been a WHOLE year since my dad died?  How did I have no dad for an entire year?  How did we all survive? The morning of the anniversary all the emotions came up again and it felt like it just happened.  And that is was so long ago.  SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED since then.

I had a positive pregnancy test the next day.  All of the details about those first few weeks have been shared already so I will spare you. But what a wild ride.  One that should be filled with joy, and probably some healthy level of anxiety. But what felt more like shock and terror. I had a baby.  6 weeks early.  In New York. I missed 3 baby showers. The Red Sox won the World Series and the Patriots were in the playoffs on their way to another Super Bowl. My mom moved into our house. My brother got engaged. So many things that my dad wasn’t here for.

So much happened. So much that I feel like I didn’t even have a second to breathe let alone grieve the loss of my dad. My dad was my homie. I would call him often on my drives home from work and just chit chat about sports and food and random crap. I went grocery shopping for him or with him often since grocery stores are the bain of my mother’s existence. My dad loved the grocery store, but it had become difficult to navigate with his constant foot/leg injuries and ultimate amputation.  He still liked going though, getting out of the house and eating grapes out of the bag while driving around like a mad man in his motorized cart.  Which was always super embarassing because YOU PAY FOR THOSE BY WEIGHT, DAD, SO YOU’RE BAAAAAAAASICALLY STEALING THEM. Whenever some wild stuff went down in the sports world, I would call to get his take…because, don’t worry, he always had a take.  He hated everyone who he considered a “punk”, which is basically everyone.  He hated the Boston haters.  But also hated the Boston homers who were obsessed with our teams and had no ability not to be biased. He definitely hated everyrandom dude who called into the sports radio stations thinking he knew something more than anyone else and his opinion was special.  But then essentially did the same thing in a non-radio setting. LOL

On the anniversary of his death, we went to Maine, everyone’s collective favorite place.  He always said he wanted his ashes spread at Nubble Lighthouse.  Which, fun fact, is illegal I guess?  But we’re “rule breakers” so we headed up there anyway, and definitely created a bunch of sneaky ways to spread them so that we didn’t get caught.  Mom always says she would never make a good criminal.  It was a chilly, beautiful, bright blue-sky day which was nice.  We drove up there, climbed down the rocks, gave a little toast and then laid dad to rest per his wishes.  We blared the Elvis version of “How Great Thou Art” from my car which was his JAM.  No one loved funeral music more than the Big Cat. Side note, who loves funeral music?

We decided to bring a little “cat” to Long Sands as well.  And made a little visit to the cottage itself to bring stuff to the tree we planted there-thanks for the generosity of some coworkers. Then we went to the restaurant we had gone to after my wedding to hash out all the fun details of the soiree.  At that restaurant, after ordering a HUGE spread of appetizers, my dad casually suggested we “get another round”…

You want another ROUND of appetizers, Dad?  Who does that?  We nixed that because that is NUTS.  But we went there and had a delish lunch and cocktail in honor of the big guy.  Mom described the spicy sauce that she wanted on the side as SIRASO ALLEY-OLI…known to most other people siracha aioli.  We all had a really good, and needed, laugh.  A bunch of them actually.  We decided Dad would have really enjoyed that day. It was a good day.

Grief is weird.  Everyone deals with it so differently.  I’ve done my fair share of denial and ignoring.  Pretending and distracting.  Certainly the big days make it hard to fake it.  You notice his presence missing on the holidays and birthdays and big happenings for sure.  But the things that really bring out the grief for me are the mundane things.  Grocery shopping.  I’ll never do it again without thinking of him.  And I definitely “test” a few grapes each time in his honor. Produce in general makes me think of him. A deliciously ripe canteloupe will always bring up memories of big cat. No one could appreciate a ripe melon like him. Corn.  He was the most excited, grossest eater of corn on the cob there ever was.  Him eating corn would clear off the deck in Maine. When I drive home from work, particularly after something notable in sports, I often reach for my phone looking to hash out the details. When I try to remember how long to roast a chicken or how long I can keep a random item in the fridge before it spoils.  Whenever I hear Motown, any soul music in general really, or Randy Travis (random I know).

People don’t know how to handle others’ grief.  I know I didn’t, still don’t most times, if I am being honest.  You want to say something or do something, but you don’t know what to say or do.  Sometimes what comes out of your mouth could end up being hurtful or insensitive when it’s not your intent.  Particularly if you haven’t lost someone super close to you, it is hard to relate. I know I have felt this way.

A friend of mine posted this graphic on Facebook.  It was perfect timing because I was working on this post and trying to figure out the best I guess, advice, to give. I think this is pretty on point.  Everyone grieves differently and needs different things at different times, so it is definitely not a one size fits all checklist. But I think this graphic definitely illustrates some things you can do when a person in your life is grieving.

In my mind, there are a few major things to consider:

  1. Grief doesn’t have an end date. I had a friend reach out a few weeks after my dad passed and checked in and said something along the lines of wanting to touch base but didn’t want to bother me. And I totally get that.  In fact I am pretty sure I have said that.  But, in my opinion. it is never bothersome to check in.  Even when I couldn’t respond or didn’t respond right away.  Or just said thanks or sent a heart emoji.  I still appreciated people checking in.  It never felt like a bother.  I think people feel this often though and it prevents them from reaching out.  The hardest thing for me was when it felt like people moved on living their lives and I was just going through the motions wondering how I would go on.  As the days went on the texts were fewer, the phone calls even less, the cards/notes/flowers non-existent. You realize, not that everyone has forgotten about you, but that their lives have gone on. Not that they don’t also miss your dad, but that he wasn’t their dad. Not that they don’t want to support you, but that they have other things to do, too. We can’t all be sad everyday. But your life will never be the same.  You can’t just go on doing the normal day-to-day things, because canteloupe makes you think of your dad. So, my advice: call, text, send cards.  On random days.  Check in two weeks later, 2 month later, 2 years later. On a random Tuesday. The first few days/week are a total blur.  The real smack in the face happens later.
  2. Don’t ask “Is there anything I can do?” or “Let me know if I can do anything”.  The answer is yes, and you can do something.  But, the idea of the grieving person having to decide what it is you can do, or ask for something or remember to let you know takes away the helping portion.  Like the graphic mentions below, being specific is amazing.  If you care about this person, it is likely you know them decently well.  Do something you know they’d like.  Also, for the record just a visit, a favor, something off of their plate would be appreciated-doesn’t need to be costly or grand. People in my life were kind of enough to send a text saying “two bags of groceries are on your back porch” or mail a gift card to our favorite restaurant.  Self care things like nails or hair or spa would be great. You know what’s not fun? Paying for a manicure for your dad’s funeral. Luckily, I had friends call ahead and take care of that for me and my mom. Dog walking. House Clearning.  I’m a big fan of grocery delivery gift cards and things that can be used later on too. Of course the food right away is great as well, but sometimes you get so much and there is only so much room in the freezer! Any of these kinds of things (or whatever that person likes) are helpful, thoughtful and appreciated. Just the idea that you do something instead of ask.  Or maybe give a list of three options.  I’d like to do something, which one of these is best…From personal experience when given the option I will usually say thank you, but we’re good. It’s a lot harder to turn down help when it isn’t optional!
  3. The parallel play one is so on point. Do you ever just not want to be alone but also not want to talk? Offering that is an amazing show of support and also understanding.  Reliving the trauma that led to the grief is exhausting, physically and emotionally. But being alone in it is also scary. Coming over to watch movies or netflix or garden (not for me lol) or whatever and not asking questions is an awesome idea.
  4. My experience is that when people are afraid they are going to say the wrong thing, they say nothing.  Guilty as charged, by the way.  But, don’t do that. Even if what you say is “I don’t know what to say” the person knows you’re thinking about them and that is definitely appreciated.


On the outside, this post has nothing to do with fertility or motherhood, or the purpose of this blog. But it does.  The thing about my dad’s passing was that it was in the public.  People expect you to be a disaster.  People know about it right away. They try and help you even when they don’t know what to do.  They give you things, send you things.  They understand when you’re not yourself. They don’t expect you to be OK.  Right away, or at all.

But the grief of losing a pregnancy, especially, early is a very lonely place.  The grief is still there, and all those after-effects are too.  The only difference is no one knows what you’re going through.  No one knows you’re not ok. No one tries to help you.  You suffer this grief alone.  Often more than once.

You know why women typically don’t share pregnancy news until after 12 weeks?  Because, statistically that’s the highest likelihood of something going wrong with the pregnancy. And it happens A LOT. The logic behind this is so faulty. There is a chance you will go through this horrible trauma, so you should definitely suffer in silence?  I understand a person choosing to do this for their own self-preservation (especially in the age of publishing pregnancy announcements via social media in grandiose sometimes obnoxious ways #alsoguiltyAF). But, if you really think about it; the sort of assumption/pressure/feeling is that you shouldn’t tell people because people shouldn’t know if this happens to you just adds to the shame and loneliness. Because it is something to hide. Like you did this.  Telling people your dad died is equally as expected as NOT telling something you lost a pregnancy. It’s weird.

This is the whole reason I wrote the blog.  I needed to put this out there so people knew I wasn’t ok.  I couldn’t pretend anymore.  I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t grieving.  I didn’t have to pretend I wasn’t grieving the loss of my father, so why should I have to act like my life is fine while grieving these other losses and going through immense pain internally? I hoped that putting this stuff out there would bring some sense of normalcy to it. Help people know they are not alone, even if they didn’t want to share publicly themselves.

Maybe people won’t want to tell the world about their pregnancies super early, and you should do and tell whoever you want about whatever you want!  But I do know that once people knew my story, they did want to talk about their losses and grief with someone who understood.  So, maybe the more we are open about these experiences, the more people won’t feel like they’re supposed to suffer in silence. And that they’re allowed to grieve these losses. And maybe we can get them a casserole or walk their dogs, because they need that too.

Good Grief.

All I Want for Christmas Is You…(and to not feel like a failure)

As you can tell by the title…this post has been in progress for a few weeks.  And I guess the fact that this is coming out so late is testament to the subheading of the post itself.

The holidays came in with a fury this year. All of a sudden it was December and I was like “HUH?” *Cue feverishly ordering mediocre gifts from a variety of online sources*

As Christmas was approaching all I could think about was last year and how I could have never envisioned the situation I would be in this year.  In November 2017 we had a surprise pregnancy that was our 5th total loss.  It took us by surprise and was very sad, of course, but I was also so numb from that particular type of pain that I was pretty stoic and emotionless about the whole thing.  The part that stood out, though, was seeing the picture on the ultrasound.  This was the first of the 5 pregnancies that we could actually SEE.  Even though what we saw showed us it was not viable, it was somewhat jarring to actually see something nonetheless.

After that, we decided to take some award money I won to book a trip to Paris. Something to look forward to and take our minds off the craziness.  You can read about all this in more detail in previous posts!  Another tactic I used to pretend this wasn’t sad was to buy my feelings in way too many Christmas decorations.  The justification: We have an adorable new house that we are hosting Christmas in, and we can’t just use my old, beat up decorations, right? I very much enjoyed my time in Target, Home Goods and Christmas Tree Shop buying adorable Christmas things that we probably couldn’t afford.

Of course the house looked cute AF when we hosted Christmas that year.  We had a great time having family over that day, but there was this pang of sadness, as there had been two Christmases prior, realizing I did not have the tiny person I hoped and prayed to buy useless gifts they wouldn’t care about for.

I could have never predicted what would happen less than a month later. And I also could not have predicted what would happen 8 months later. When I sat in my living room in a fog of exhaustion in early December I reflected on WHAT A FRIGGIN YEAR it has been and how my December 2017 self had no idea what I was in for-good or bad.

I think the holidays can come with mixed emotions in general.  Unreasonably high expectations, over-spending, over-extending, and all of that can lead to a tornado of emotions, for those who do celebrate.  For me, added to this, was the stomach bug.  Which Liam got the Friday before Christmas and caused fear and worry to rise up to 1000.  What if he is dehydrated? How many times is normal to take his temperature? What to feed him and when? And…what if/when am I getting this?  Welp, the answer was 10pm on December 23rd when I woke up to THAT feeling that said…oh yes, ma’am, make yourself at home in the bathroom.

I spent all night the 23rd and most of the day the 24th getting sick in the loveliest of ways but also adding on to that the newfound joys of parenthood whilst sick aka pumping with my head hanging over a bucket. Which, ironically, when you’d think that you wouldn’t want to give that milk to the baby you definitely DO because of all the antibodies your body is making fighthing that gross bug. Weird and cool, nature, well done.

Kenny spent all day the 24th cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting the house because we were hosting Christmas dinner with some family members and didn’t want anyone to enter the Vom dungeon and catch this nonsense.  Kenny, with his medical knowledge, let me know unless they actually touched said gross bodily fluids-me and Liam weren’t contagious. The only people who would be contagious were ones not yet showing symptoms, but Kenny and my mom seemed to be in the clear. Untilllllllllllllllllll December 26th when my mom came running into the house after an errand and another one bit the dust.  Then 4 more family members on the 27th, including my brother and his newly-proposed-to-fiance.  And basically Liam was patient 0 and my mom was walking around feeling fine but apparently “spreading the love” unknowingly.  ROUGH.

Needless to say, I had those high expectations of this adorable Christmas, with matching PJs and cute pictures and memories (for us because I know Liam has no idea what was going on). But, it just wasn’t quite what I envisioned.  I was stressed and weak from not eating for 24 hours and not prepared to host the group I was so excited to host earlier in the month.

On the whole, this holiday, and everyday really, was covered with this grey cloud of emotions I didn’t understand.  I had a happy, healthy (minus the short lived puke party) baby boy.  A baby I wanted my entire life.  A baby that took us three years, many heartbreaks, waves of hopelessness, periods of resilience, and an insane miracle to get. A baby who makes my heart explode every time he smiles, who has a devlish smirk that is definitely going to be a problem in his teenage years, who loves to cuddle and coo and kick and squirm. And yet, I just couldn’t shake this feeling.

When I thought about it, the three things I felt most besides the joy and love described above since his surprise arrival have been: Guilt, Shame, and Inadequacy. In basically every facet of life, I have been feeling like a failure. The idea that I FINALLY had what I always wanted, what I hoped, begged, wished and prayed for (even though I don’t really pray). What I stabbed myself in the stomach for, for weeks on end-twice.  What I truly thought, at many points in time, was not possible.  Here it was. Sliming on my shoulder, peeing on my hand, snuggling on my lap and smiling at my voice.  So, why was I not feeling only pure joy and elation?  Why did I feel like I sucked, at more or less everything? How dare I not ONLY relish in the fact that this happened for me.  And that others were still waiting for their miracle.

5 months into motherhood and I’ve felt more joy than I could imagine.  But I’ve also felt more guilt, more shame and more inadequacy.  This is quite hard to share.  More than some of the other posts, even the TMI ones.  Because I feel like if I was me, reading this a year and a half ago, I would want to punch myself in the face. I can hear myself thinking, “OK please complain about this perfect baby you have and how tired you are and how stressed you are making it all work when that is the only thing I want”.  I am POSITIVE I’ve said that or thought that a million times.

But, this is the truth.  I feel like shit. Most days, I feel like a bad mom.  Like everything that came natural to me as a kid and teenager when babysitting and playing with cousins, no longer applies. That I feel a little scared when I pick up the baby, realize Kenny and mom aren’t home and I am returning to an empty house because I am just not sure I can handle all the tasks that need to be done by myself.  I feel guilty when I realize how much Kenny does on a daily basis, but that I still feel overwhelmed nonetheless.  Or that my mom lives with us now and provides endless snuggles and kicking around an orange like a soccer ball on the kitchen counter that Liam loves. And that she holds him in the morning when he inevitably wakes up at 5am so I can sleep an extra hour since I’ve been up forever. That I have 2 grown adults, who both are or seem, more capable of taking care of my baby than I feel, and I STILL feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. I feel guilty and inadequate when everyone on the planet asks how Liam is sleeping or whether he is sleeping through the night and I laugh and say no! And then they immediately respond with their tips and tricks and things they read and what worked for them so I feel like I am not doing it right or not doing enough. Or when I see people post on social media about their magical sleeping babies who automatically slept for 8 or 10 hours. Or when I am annoyed we gave him a pacifier, when I originally didn’t want to because I knew it would be a pain down the line or he would get attached to it…but then he started sucking his thumb and we didn’t want that either. Or when the only time I can really snuggle with him is between 2 and 5am, since I am only home with him for maybe an hour or two a day when he is awake during the week, so when he cries or fusses I pick him up and we both fall asleep on the glider. Or when Kenny cuts his nails better than I do. Or gets him to settle faster than I do. Or I see videos of babies younger than him giggling when he hasn’t had that belly laugh yet, and wondering if we aren’t doing enough for his development.  I didn’t make him do tummy time enough. We didn’t set up some of his play gyms or bouncy toys fast enough. When Kenny grants me my “sleeping night” once a week on a weekend where I sleep for 8 actual hours (minus one pump session) even though he is also exhausted and doing an even longer commute each day, but that I don’t think I can do the same for him. My baby is happy, healthy, fed well, loved and cared for…and yet, I feel everyday that I am not doing a good job. Not living up to my, or others’, expectations.

I have similar feelings about the rest of my life as well.  I feel guilty at work when I have to pump three times a day, run out of meetings, duck out of retreats, rearrange schedules. Even though I am lucky to have a private office and access to a whole kitchen in my suite which I am super grateful for, and even though I am productive in the office with the door closed for a few minutes three times a day.  I still feel guilty and like I am not doing enough.  I feel guilty when I run out the door at 4:29 and 58 seconds because it takes me 10 minutes to get across campus to my car and then if I drive 5-10 mph over the speed limit and hit no traffic, I get to daycare 5 minutes before they close.  I feel guilty that I am not excited when I have to work night or weekend events, even if they are a thing that I actually like doing, because it’s more time away from the baby and I feel like I hardly see him as it is.  And I feel guilty when I do work those events, and have fun, but realize the baby has been without me for a long time.

I feel bad about my body and the way I look and feel physically.  I’ve struggled with body image and weight issues since puberty basically.  In my early thirties I had several years of a commitment to healthy habits both in fitness and nutrition that had great and longer lasting results than I’ve had in the past. But, the emotional rollercoaster of the fertility journey we were on, and my crutch of emotional eating coupled with long periods of time being put on a ‘no activty’ regiment due to fertility treatments or pregnancy concerns resulted in weight gain and long breaks in those habits.  When I was surprised with this pregnancy last January 18th, I was the heaviest I had been in 8 years. I was sick of feeling like crap, so Kenny and I had been doing 2.5 weeks of clean January and I became a dedicated spinner at my local gym.  But, once that test came back positive, even though I KNEW it would have the same result as all the others (but it didn’t!), I was put on pelvic rest for the remainder of the first trimester (aka no activity besides walking) and the only thing I seemed to be craving to eat was carbs. While I was lucky after the first trimester to have a remarkably pain-free, symptom-free pregnancy, I was always afraid and always more cautious than necessary-resulting in less activity than I wanted and less adventurous eating as well (Read: bagels and grilled cheeses mostly).  In my third trimester I had gained as much weight as they wanted me to gain with about 10 weeks left and was basically yelled at by an old, male doctor I was seeing because mine was out sick, with no compassion, to stop eating all carbs and sugar, drink only water, and eat about half as much as I had been OR ELSE I would have a HUGE baby and it would hurt. A lot. Luckily, I suppose, he came 6 weeks early and was a “comfortable” 4lbs 9oz so Dr Jerkface’s fearmongering was for not. But alas, his comments stuck with me.  And after several failed attempts at breastfeeding, but then some success post the 4th lactation consultant, I have been doing a combo of pumping/nursing 7+ times a day. An activity I was told would help lose weight due to the caloric output, but HA. Not really. In total, I’ve lost about 18 pounds since delivery. Not everything I gained over pregnancy, which was on top of a heavy version of me to begin with. Not to mention some dedicated stretch marks, that despite all the vitamin E and coconut oil and scrubs and cocoa butter, still made their way all over my lower abdomen and seem to be committed to staying for a while. Being a chubby, exhausted, stretch mark covered milk machine is not the sexiest I’ve ever felt.  And this leads me to my next area of inadeqacy.

Despite feeling all heart-eyes-emoji at how adorable Kenny is with Liam and how naturally he has taken to the whole fatherhood thing.  Albeit a little jealous.  There have been very few romantic inklings on my end.

On top of feeling like:

fat bastard

Mixed with:


And also:


You don’t quite feel like:

beyonce gif

And, that makes me feel bad too. Just logistically, we’re like two ships passing in the night. Literally and figuratively. We tag each other into shifts to be “on duty” in the overnight hours so each of us can get a few hours of uninerrupted sleep which is (a) awesome because I know a lot of nursing moms can’t do that and (b) means we’re never in the same place at the same time to even acknowledge each other’s presence nevermind give affection of any kind.  It makes me feel like a bad wife, on top of questioning my mothering abilities.  I am sure things in this arena will shift over time, and I know we won’t feel like our old selves per se, the relationship and family has changed in many good ways that are just different.  But while we won’t feel like our old selves, I am hoping for a day where I feel like some version of myself.

Then there’s just the overall feelings of failing at household and life tasks.  Before Liam, we pretty evenly split up all the household tasks and chores.  Now, almost all of the things that once were mine, fall on Kenny, because I just can’t ever seem to get to most of it.  And, he does all the dishes, laundry and most of the cleaning graciously and without making me feel bad.  But that doesn’t mean I still don’t feel bad.  Even the things I’ve always done, and continue to technically do, like manage the finances (or lack thereof, because daycare AM I RIGHT?) and do the grocery shopping/meal prep have taken a turn for the worse.  We’ve been eating out a lot because where is the time for this stuff.  Eating worse, and spending money we don’t have.  Vicious Cycle like whoa!

Truthfully, I am just struggling. Even with lots of help and support.  Even though my husband is a super involved and helpful dad who has arguably taken to the job better than I have. Even though my work is flexible. I want to be happy.  I want to savor every moment because he’s already growing so fast.  I can’t believe he is 5 months old, and we’ve had to pack away three sizes of clothes already.  I can’t believe he can magically hold his own bottle and sit up in a chair and rolled over the other day. I don’t want to miss anything and I don’t want to regret not enjoying things because I am too busy feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and and just, well, shitty.

While the rest of this post was written over the last few weeks in chunks, this next part was added after listening to a fellow Quinnipiac Alum (Go Bobcats!) podcast, Ali on the Run.  Ali is a writer, blogger and podcaster.  She talks about running, which is not my thing, but she is honest and funny and I love her style.  You should check it out. She recently had a baby, and while our experiences were different, we do have some things in common including issues with breastfeeding and turning to pumping primarily or exclusively and our babies being small and arriving in a flurry.  I love reading her IG posts and following her story because it’s always real and full of humor, but I don’t typically listen to the podcast since it is a lot about running and running is just not my jam.  But, the episode this week was just Ali talking about her experience as a mother the past few months and I found myself nodding a lot and saying ‘omg yes’ a bunch. Not everything is the same, but I felt a lot of solidarity in her comments.

The biggest one being…I have not been to a doctor, yet, but I do think I may have post partum depression.  It’s really hard to admit and even harder to type in a public forum.  I always thought of PPD being women who felt disconnected, hurt their babies, or worse. And I didn’t relate to that at all. But, I’ve had a couple moments of the last few months where I was drawn to look it up on my phone and see if any of the other symptoms resonated. And, many of them did. has a list of symptoms which include: Worrying or feeling overly anxtious, crying more often than usual (which is a lot for me anyway lol), frequent feelings of anger, having trouble concentrating and the two most resonant ones: feeling moody, irritable or restless and presistently doubting your ability to care for your baby.

When I went for my follow up appointments at my OBGYN right after birth (since I gave birth out of state) and 6 weeks after, they had me fill out the generic PPD questionnaires which I answered honestly.  Do you think you will harm your baby? No. Do you cry more than usual? Yes. But nothing on there triggered any concerns from the doctor at the time because they never mentioned the surveys again. Truth is, the biggest hurdle we had while I was on leave was breastfeeding issues.  Once I figured out a system that worked and came to terms with mostly pumping that was ok.  I was exhausted but I was home most of the time and could take naps and get some other things done from time to time.  Going out was a whole thing, but I enjoyed the chance to get out once in a while.

The real struggle came when I went back to work, and that’s when I started to notice the symptoms even more.  The stress has just grown exponentially, and the sleep has been even less because there are no chances during the day to catch up on what you missed overnight. Plus just the logistics of going back to work, child care, etc., have thrown many more things on my plate when my plate already looked something like this:


I remember reading about Chrissy Tiegen having PPD after her first child because I’ve been mildly obsessed with her since she started dating my first-husband-in-my-head John Legend. (Also, as an aside our babies look remarkably alike so, sorry Kenny, this one might be a Legend!). Knowing she had IVF, thinking how hard it must be to feel that way  going through that when you put yourself through this crazy science experiment for weeks/months because you wanted a baby THAT bad.  But, here I am.  And, now, I can relate.

It’s pretty scary to put this all out there.  But I know hearing from Ali, I felt a little reassured that there are others who are madly in love with their little ones and still struggling more than the regular new mom stress and exhaustion. And I don’t want anyone to be worried about me!  I am always reflecting and working on things and even when I feel like I simply can’t, I somehow do. With a lot of help.  There are also a bunch of things I’ve already started doing:

-I called the doctor to set up an appt and hopefully get referred to a therapist that specializes in new moms so I can work through some things, potentially confirm what I already think, and figure out a plan of action

-I joined Weight Watchers.  I’ve had success with the program before, mostly because I am always more mindful about what I put in my body when I am tracking it and because I need reminders to pay attention to portions.  I have the appetite of an offensive lineman, always have. I typically ate 7 hot dogs as a 7-10 year old on St Patricks Day at the Irish Club like it was nothing.  And was a twig.  So on the WW train for a little while now. So far, so good.  Just want to prioritize treating my body well, which has not always been the case!

-I’ve gotten back to the gym the last couple of weeks, even if it is only a couple of times a week for now, and I feel like I’ve never seen a gym before, it still feels good

-I’ve been doing some guided meditiations for stress relief and anxiety

-And…I’m trying to be nicer to Kenny.  He bares the brunt of my anger and irritability. And, while I find his reactions to my freak outs sometimes, well, irritating, he has constantly supported me, attempted to take things off my plate and tried to reassure me that I am doing a good job even when I am too upset to believe him.  It’s not his fault that I feel like crap and can’t make sense of it.  And, it’s not my fault either.

I love my little family.  I am soaking up all the smiles and all the snuggles (even at 3am) and all the milestones. I’m trying not to compare me or us to others. And trying to enjoy the moment.

But, people should talk about this stuff.  The same way I felt as though I wished I knew before I struggled with fertility about the folks in my circle who had as well.  I feel the same way now.  So, I am hoping someone out there can relate to this, even though this is the scariest thing I’ve put on the internet thus far.


Someone’s Praying for Your Chaos

Have you ever heard something, or read something, that just punches you directly in this face?  That was me this morning.  I’ve been reading Girl, Wash Your Face.  And by reading, I mean listening to while pumping/driving/nursing, etc., because God knows I don’t have time to read.  If I am being honest, it is a little Jesusy for me…but there are some gems in there, even if you’re not religious.  I hadn’t listened to it in weeks, but this morning as I was weepily driving to work for the millionth time I started to listed to one of my favorite distraction podcasts: All Fantasy Everything (which if you are looking for a laugh about absolute nonsense I highly recommend), but then I got a weird urge to pick up where I left off on audible and after a few minutes of random “you can do it girl!” advice she said “Just remember, someone is praying for your chaos” and it legit felt like a blow to the face. In a good way.  If that is a thing that exists.

The truth is, to say I have been struggling since going back to work would be the understatement of the century.  I cry literally every day, multiple times a day. I’ve always given parents who work another job (and yes that is how I word it because to say working parents or working moms assumes the parenting part is not also a job) a ton of credit.  Always seemed like so much to manage and juggle on a daily basis.  But I could have never imagined how much, and could have never given as much credit as deserved.

I’ve been told in the past that I seem put together or organized. That I am intimidating, mostly at work. That my house looks perfect.  I’ve never thought any of these things were true, but I guess that has been the perception by some.  Everything I have felt in the past almost 4 months has been the complete antithesis to those descriptions, even if they were ever true.  I am a complete hot mess disaster of a human being who is barely getting up/dressed/eating/talking/thinking. I’ve never been so tired in my entire life.  I’ve never been so overwhelmed. I’ve felt at many moments like I was drowning. I’ve thought to myself: How the fuck has anyone ever done this? I’m not cut out for this. I’m going to disappoint so many people. What am I doing? Who even am I?

I’m the person people go to for help.  I’m the organized one. I am the get shit done person.  I am the over achiever at home and at work.  I am the planner. I am the perfect gifts are perfectly wrapped and coordinated under the tree person. The let me make that call, send that email, take that off your plate person.

Current Situation: Where even are my plates? What is a plate?  What is the meaning of plates? Can we even afford plates?  You don’t need plates if you don’t ever cook right? Person.

I feel completely lost.  The only thing I feel like I have a handle on IS the baby.  Which I guess is a good thing?  I’ve had like 1838492 partial blog posts written in my head in the past few weeks about this, on some version of this, topic and I just couldn’t quite find the time or inspiration to get it started.  Or the cojones to be this open.  I am not on the struggle bus.  I am the CEO and President of the Struggle Bus Corporation.

Kenny and my mom are consistently finding me in some sad ball of tears.  I feel guilty about EVERYTHING.  I feel guilty being at work and being so tired I can’t say words properly.  I feel guilty about running out of the office exactly on time so I can then barely make it “on time” to relieve my baby sitters.  I feel bad when I have to work late and the people watching the baby have to stay at my house for over 12 hours.  I feel guilty that I have missed bath time and bed time (lol as if there is a bed time but you get it) when I have to work late. I feel guilty that my only snuggle time is when I am up with him in the middle of the night and I would rather snuggle than sleep but I am also so tired. I feel guilty that my mom is also overwhelmed with everything going on in her life but is still helping us all the time.  I feel guilty that the baby announcement cards slash thank you card (because when your babe shows up 6 weeks early they become the same thing) are 100 years late and have been sitting on my dining room table waiting to be written and addressed and now they are basically also Christmas Cards.  So, Happy Holidays and Introducing my 4 Month Old and Thanks for your gifts, everyone, you’ll get them…eventually. And the handwriting will be trash, but that’s not because I’m tired or stressed, it’s just because my handwriting is trash.

New baby is a whole thing.  Going back to work is a whole other thing. If anyone were to ask me, I would tell them hold off on the casseroles and meal deliveries, etc., at the beginning-although those are helpful too.  Send food or grocery deliveries or whatever during the first month new parents are back to work.  That’s when you really need it (IMHO).

On top of that, there’s all the other things that just happen in life which somehow seem to all pile on together with us.  Three major life changes at a time is usually how we roll, and not usually on purpose.  My dad’s birthday is in just over a week, and the anniversary of his sudden passing is in a month.  These are our first holidays without him and he LOVED holiday celebrations.  Particularly, the planning and organizing of the food logistics and extreme overuse of tacky decorations. 🙂  So, this season, while filled with joy and excitement with our new bundle, is also filled with loss and grief of not having my dad to experience it all with us.  We are also accidentally house hunting.  We bought our adorable house in June 2016, and love it.  It would be impossible for me to put into words how much I hated the house hunting and house buying process.  It is very competitive where we live, we saw a million houses and lost a million minus 1.  And while I think the one we got was great for us, the process took a toll on me because I get emotionally invested in these things and crushed at every “no” phone call.  And writing bomb ass “please sell us this house” letters is draining AF. I wrote a bunch.

Now, we are in that boat again because we had always envisioned my parents living with us in some capacity in the future: in law suite, two family set up, or side car as my mom calls it.  But, we thought it would be a little more down the road when we would’ve upgraded into a bigger place.  Cut to now, where my dad left us earlier and more suddenly then we could have imagined, and my mom is paying way more than she should for a “luxury apartment” that they only lived in for 4 weeks together and she hates.  We looked into adding on and it just doesn’t make sense financially with our tiny lot size, so here we are in the middle of the holidays, with a newborn and me one month back at work, trampling around open houses all weekend and private showings on weeknights. As if we have time for that.  But once you start getting listings, you can’t help but look! Especially since we now are looking for something pretty specific, with space for mom to deep dive into Animal Planet and Hershey Kisses without being bothered. Of course after one of my MANY emotional breakdowns we decided to take a break from looking until January, but of course fell in love with the last place we saw before said break, offered on it, were told we were the only offer, then lost to another offer that was less money but didn’t need to sell their place. CRUSHED. So, we’re back on a break.  Take me off those goddamn MLS emails, my heart and mind can’t handle it.

In the meantime my little nugget gets super sick.  Coughing, crying, waking himself up because he can’t breath.  Then getting a steroid and having to do the nebulizer every 4 hours so he looks like a tiny, sad darth vader.  It makes your heart ache. I have no PTO time, because I needed to take it all to be paid for the second half of my maternity leave. So that just becomes an additional stressor in a stressful scenario. Despite us trying to protect him as much as possible as a vulnerable preemie in the winter, he’s not in a bubble, still got sick and we’ve all been suffering. No one could have ever prepared me for how gut wrenching it is to watch your infant be sick and not be able to help them.

The emotional rollercoaster of life for me for the past few months has basically been Disney’s Rock n’ Roller Coaster if it didn’t have Aerosmith and didn’t have the fun part but did have the speed and fear and some nausea.


Someone is praying for my chaos.  Actually, I prayed for my chaos.  Not exactly prayed because I am not exactly religious.  But, I wished and hoped and begged for “this chaos”. And this is what punched me in the face this morning.  As I’ve been writing posts since Liam arrived, and even since we found out Liam existed, I’ve had this other post looming in my head titled something like “These posts are a bummer”. I’ve had in my mind all my fertility warriors who read this blog, and those who don’t even know it exists, and how it is probably a lot to read this. I’m sure some people find hope and comfort when those struggling with fertility issues finally get their miracle baby.  But for me, it just hurt.  I didn’t find it comforting.  I found it sad.  People’s success stories didn’t inspire me.  Maybe they should have?  But, they didn’t.  I knew if I was reading my blog before, and then started reading it now, I would be excited for future me, but also just sad.  And jealous. With all that in my head this line from the audio book was a light bulb.  Someone is praying for this chaos.  All of it.  I remember being so annoyed at coworkers or acquaintances complaining about packing lunches or preschool shows or soccer practice or whatever and being like I would KILL to have to do that stuff. And while my blog is supposed to be honest and transparent and vulnerable, but not complaining per se, STILL. Someone is praying for this chaos.  In fact I know some of those someones.

Now, this doesn’t negate the stress, the guilt, the feeling of being completely overwhelmed.  Having perspective doesn’t mean those feelings completely disappear and don’t exist. I am still a disaster.  I am still struggling going back to work. I don’t actually see that change, ever, or anytime soon. But last time I checked, until or unless I magically become independently wealthy (or I am able to turn this blog into a dope ass book…any publishers reading this right now????  Hook me UP), not working is not really an option.  So, I’m going to have to figure this shit out somehow.

But I’ve come to realize that I can be completely and totally grateful, in awe and blessed that we have this adorable, smirky little squish that I never could have imagined.  And comepletely and totally overwhelmed to have to figure out how to manage this new life, and this new self, that I don’t understand at all.  And as my friend Ashley from Feel.Fire.Flow told me (check it out, she’s amazing) said: You can’t give 100% to everything, you only have ONE 100%.  A friend posted this meme the other day and it resonated so much for me:


Society puts a lot of pressure on us and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. But my current goal is to remember: balance isn’t a thingsomeone is praying for my chaos AND I only have one 100%. And whenever a day feels like it is just too much, my baby is cute AF and I can just stare at him if I want. ❤





Maternity Leave is Trash

With just a few days left of my leave, I have a lot of feelings. About maternity leave as a concept. About this country’s view on maternity leave. And just the expectations of new mothers in general.  I’ve written a lot in the past year and a half, and been pretty honest.  But, this one will probably be my most honest yet.

***Note: This is not an attack on my employer. I love where I work and I think it has a lot of family-friendly and flexible policies on the whole. It doesn’t have the worst leave benefits I’ve heard of, but it also doesn’t have the best.  I am grateful to have been able to be off for 12 weeks with my little guy. But, this post is more about the way maternity leave is looked at in the big picture, and how it is in fact, trash.

US vs Everybody

If you look at other “wealthy countries”, the U.S. is, by a LONG SHOT, the worst country for maternity leave benefits offering a whopping ZERO weeks of paid leave. Yes, that is a big fat 0. See this chart for comparison:

Maternity Leave chart
Credit: Washington Post

Former President Bill Clinton signed the Family Medical Leave Act which requires employers to protect the jobs of pregnant mothers for 12 weeks.  But, doesn’t require them to pay. It just means you can’t get fired for getting pregnant.  Gee, how generous. Basically, the philosophy from the US is that it should be up to the employer because paying for leave would be a substantial burden especially for small businesses, so each should get to choose how they want to handle it.

When’s the last time you gave businesses in a capitalist society a choice on how they want to handle their money and on a large scale they were like, yeah we should pay people for a substantial period of time while they aren’t working?

I agree that I am sure paying people for leave would be/is a burden, but it also doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do both morally, but also economically.  In the same Washington Post article I referenced above, the author writes Research has shown that paid maternity leave is associated with better job performance and retention among mothers, increased family incomes, and increased economic growth.” So, if we looked at the big picture, I think it would actually be beneficial.

Currently, as I understand it, you are required to be able to take your 12 weeks without being fired.  And, as part of FMLA, you can qualify as “disabled” for either 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery or 8 weeks for a cesarian section delivery.  Since you are “disabled” you can get 60% of your pay for those 6 or 8 weeks. And the rest…well, that depends.  Some employers offer some portion of your salary and for some of the time.  Some give nothing. Some are ‘so kind’ as to let you take your own earned vacation/sick/PTO time so that you can get paid while you’re out.  Others let you take your leave and then let you add on the PTO time afterwards. But those amounts obviously vary and depend on whether you got pregnant in a convenient time of your life after accruing enough time to get paid for most or all of what is left of your unpaid leave.  That sometimes means, for people who are planning or trying to get pregnant, or for people who find out they are pregnant early on, skipping vacations or coming to work while sick in order to save that time to use while they’re on leave.  This seems BANANAS to me. It also leaves mothers returning from leave quite vulnerable because they often have no days they could take in the case of sickness or emergency for them or their child(ren). But alas.

I sit in a privileged place where I knew I had enough PTO time to get paid for most of my leave.  And I knew I could stretch some pennies to be able to deal with the 60% for a couple weeks. I was determined to take as much time off as I could.  But there are many women who get no pay at all.  Or can’t survive with only 60% of their pay for any period of time.  Those women are forced to go back to work a few days after giving birth or cut any leave time very short. And that to me is devastating. As I sit here in my feelings about going back now, I always have that on my mind as well.  At least I got my full 12 weeks, even if it meant saving sheckles for a bit to make it happen.

I also had the monkey wrench of my child showing up 6 weeks early and being hospitalized for the first two weeks of his life.  I reached out to HR asking if there were any accomodations given those circumstances and the response was that the leave is based on the condition of the mother, not the condition of the child.  Again, this is not an employer specific opinion but a philosophical component of parental leave in the US as a whole

If mothers who give birth are considered disabled, and that is how they “earn” a percentage of pay for a percentage of the leave time they’re required to be offered, then they are as I have always suspected superhuman.  Because I have never done more with my body or my mind than I did in those first 6 weeks of my child’s life.

There are so many women who want, and those who need, to be home to care for their new babies and they simply cannot because they cannot survive financially.  My mom wanted to stay home so she did, and worked nights at a restaurant to make ends meet.  Legit.  HOW.  I think about that often now and I have no clue how she did that. When talking about equaltiy in pay for women this is a huge factor. Don’t even get me started on parental leave for partners who didn’t give birth or those who adopted.  That is even more of a joke, most places.  But it is all based on the fact that federally leave is based on the birth mother being disabled.  If we started looking at leave for what it is, caring for young children who need a lot of care and attention, then I think policies would change.  But, then again, it’s all about the dolla dolla billz y’all. Sure there are some progressive companies who offer a much more generous leave than they are required to (High five to those like Google and Apple, and others).  There are few enough of them that can be named in a relatively short list.

Every child is different, but how many parents would say their brain is functioning at top speed when they are three months? How many are getting even close to a normal amount of sleep? Shout out to those babies who do sleep through the night early on though; mine is def NOT one of those. He has reflux, and is uncomfortable and often in pain in his sleep. Sometimes he spits up, shoots milk out of his nose or chokes while sleeping on his back (as medically recommended). So, where does he sleep most soundly and comfortably…with his face smushed into the side of my neck (see exhibit A below). Which definitely results in me getting rejuvenating sleep too. Oh WAIT. Most doctors will say longer sleep periods come after babies reach 10 lbs. For most full term babies this may happen after a month or so.  For early or small ones it takes longer, mine is 11 weeks and just crossing that 10 lb threshold. Yes, this can be common in preemies, but I def didnt opt in to having him make an early appearance. But still, consistent sleep for longer chunks than 4-5 hours takes a while, usually longer than the 12 week leave.


Me vs. Myself

To say I have enjoyed my maternity leave I think would be a stretch.  That actually pains me to write but in the interest of honesty.  There you go.  The first few weeks were spent in New York, living out of a bag, driving almost an hour each way to a hospital and spending 9 hours a day there.  The next several weeks were spent in pain and tears attempting to breastfeed unsuccessfully.  And all of those weeks were spent somewhat trapped inside my home without visitors since he was on a strict no visitors policy due to his premature age and immune system.  I was lonely and isolated for the first half of leave.  The second half was much better.  We got the hang of breastfeeding (mostly), we (kind of) figured out his cries and sounds and how to sooth him. We also got the OK from the doctor to do some limited errands (with restrictions) and have some healthy adult visitors, occasionally. So, I got out of the house a little and got to have a few family and friends come meet him finally. The first half was particularly rough.  I just wanted to snuggle and love on him, but we had lots of extra doctor’s appointments and our fair share of challenges.

When they say “sleep when the baby sleeps” I want to punch them in the face. Sure, this is great in theory.  But when you are doing the breastfeed-bottle feed-pump trio and hold him up for 30 minutes (see my post called Groundhog Day for a more detailed timeline).  The amount of time one COULD sleep whilst he is sleeping was like 20 minutes.  Not to mention eventually you will run out of bras and bottles and burpcloths, etc.  So, as much as I love the idea of just snuggling and sleeping and feeding…sometimes the house shit does eventually have to get done.  And when your partner is gone 11+ hours out of the day, even though they are INCREDIBLY helpful, you do have to do some of that stuff to keep rolling.

I laugh when I think about the list I kept on my phone of all the TV shows I was going to binge watch while on leave.  I watched exactly 0 of them.  That would require having the time or energy to get the Apple TV remote or change the channel on the TV.  Instead I became intimately connected to the people who work at NBC because that was just on 90% of the time.  Don’t get me wrong I did my fair share of staring at my baby’s face in awe wondering how he exists or how any human could be THAT CUTE.  And I did tons of snuggling and bonding and making weird noises and faces. But the fact is, 12 weeks goes by in a FLASH when you’re on 3 hour cycles and I don’t want to speak for all moms, but I wonder how many feel like they really got to cherish that extremely brief time with their new babe. When I ask most of my mom friends how they felt when they went back to work the common descriptions were heartbroken, crushed, and too soon.

That being said, I don’t think the stay at home mom life is for me.  I should say, I don’t think I’d be at my best long term. I also couldn’t afford to do it-despite the outrageous costs of child care.  I think the last 12 weeks have been hard AF.  I believe I will be a better mom while working and being involved in things I am passionate about outside of the house.  I give ALL the credit in the world to moms who stay at home and do the hardest job that exists (in my opinion) 24/7.  But, the bottom line is…I am just not ready. I’m not.  I’ll be at work next week, and I will be professional. I’ll be excited to see my students, reconnect with colleagues and work on projects that have been waiting for me. But, I’m just not ready.

So, there’s my hot take.  I’ve always felt our country’s (and most employer’s) policies on leave were hot garbage.  But obviously finally being in the current position I’m in now, those are certainly exacerbated.

If nothing else, let me appeal to our country’s “we’re the best” sensability: Currently what we offer is the WORST of all other wealthy countries. The actual worst. So, maybe we should look into this? If we were talking football, we would be getting the first round draft pick for going 0 and 16.

So, the question is…is anyone interested in moving to Bulgaria?

***Acknowledgement: Maternity leave is also likely trash for the people left at the office.  Those who don’t have kids (by choice or not) or don’t need medical leaves end up doing a butt load of extra work while those on leave are out.  Totally valid. I just think many countries, and some companies in the US, have figured out a way to balance the two so I believe it is possible!


Came Through Drippin’

No one tells you shit about breastfeeding.  It’s all “natural” and you’ll just figure it out, except you just don’t.

You picture this:


But instead you get this:

IMG_8576 (2)
(I laughed so hard at this gif I cried.  I probably was also just crying at the accuracy. But it’s so damn funny).

I always pictured myself breastfeeding my baby.  Maybe because I was breastfed, not sure really, but it was just what I pictured.  I had this vision that the baby would be born, they’d put them on my chest and voila the baby eats.  I’m sure a tad naiive, but you don’t really hear about people’s trials and tribulations until you’re in the trenches having them yourself.

I also had the added challenge of having a preemie and one that was in the NICU, so that does throw a monkey wrench in things. I am sure I would have learned some of what to expect had I taken a lactation class.  Oh wait, I signed up for one but it ended up being was AFTER the baby was born while we were still in NY.  Not exactly helpful.

Still.  Aside from knowing I needed to get a breast pump through my insurance (which I thought I would only use when I went back to work-HA). That was basically all I knew. I had what they called “meet and greets” in the NICU where Liam would test out breastfeeding for about 5 minutes or so a couple times a day just to kind of get the hang of it.  You had a specialist there helping you position and giving you tips.  But it was more important that he ate so he mostly had expressed breastmilk from a bottle.

When we got home though, I was supposed to work our way up to breastfeeding by adding duration and frequency each day. Well, instead of that, we had mostly episodes of us both sobbing-him in starvation and me in failure and disappointment.  We just couldn’t get it no matter how hard we tried.  But, I didn’t want to give up, I felt that for us, breastmilk would be the best nutrition for him if we could make it work.  Some choose not to breastfeed at all, and luckily there are some great formula alternatives out there.  But I can see why some who do want to breastfeed end up stopping for so many reasons.  It has not been easy for me.  It has not been fun.  It’s not some warm and fuzzy bonding experience for us. It just isnt. Some people do have this magically easy breastfeeding journey.  Baby gets right on there, knows what to do, supply is good and they’re off and running. But, nay, not I.

For those of us who didn’t/don’t have that, here are some of the things I experienced so we know we’re not alone.

  • Supply and Demand
    • After I gave birth, the NICU sent a lactation specialist to my room to explain the pump they were lending me.  They ran through the parts, how to use it, how to clean and sanitize, how often to pump (every 1-3 hours) to get your supply up since I didn’t have the baby with me to creat the supply. When you start breastfeeding with a full term baby or one not in NICU, every time they eat your body makes more milk.  But if you don’t have the baby with you, you have to fake that by using the pump very often.  I was “allowed” one 4 hour break at night (YAAAAY) but otherwise 1-3 hours and I needed to get hooked up to the machine and watch as after 30 minutes only tiny droplets came out. But I still filled out the labels and brought them down the hall because something is better than nothing.  But 30 minutes, 8 times a day for DAYS on end to get drops into a tiny bottle was brutal and felt fruitless.
  • Manual Expression
    • This is when you give yourself a handcramp “massaging” the milk out of your breasts.  In the hospital I had more luck with this than I did with the ginormous pump machine.  When you’re only getting drops, every drop matters, so watching as they painstakingly drip into a mini bottle was exhausting and satisfying at the same time. Plus, bonus, my hands are ripped now.
  • Hospital Grade Pumps
    • Because I was going to have a delay on actual breastfeeding the nurses recommended I get a hospital grade pump so that I could have a stronger machine to get the supply up. But you have to rent them weekly or monthly, they legit are not for sale, it’s so strange.  Felt strange paying $80 a month to rent a pump when I already got one for free.  But, when I returned my NY rental and drove home with my own small pump and had to wait several days to get a MA rental, I learned why.  My supply dipped significantly and it was so frustrating. Pumping the same amount of time for the same number of times a day and getting half as much was so maddening that I actually lost my mind on the phone with a durable medical equipment company who was the 5th from the list I received FROM MY INSURANCE company to tell me they don’t rent those. After many phone calls we finally found one nearby and I (thanks to my mom’s quick thinking) called my cousin who lived around the corner begging her to run over there before they closed at 4:30.  Life. Saver. This thing is a beast but I kind of don’t want to return it so I’m still paying the monthly rental fee. I’m afraid, if I am being honest, that the other one just won’t do the trick.
  • Fenuwhattttt?
    • When you’re trying to breastfeed directly, and your supply isn’t enough to feed your baby, your baby gets very frustrated. On top of any mechanical issues that might be present, a supply problem will leave the baby hungry and frustrated.  The only way to get it up, feed more and pump more.  But sometimes that just doesn’t cut it.  In comes Lactation “treats”: Cookies, bites, smoothies, tea, supplements.  And I’ve tried them all.  The teat tastes like garbage, FYI. Turns out the magic trio is oatmeal, flaxseed and brewer’s yeast.  All of these lactation snacks have the three of these ingredients camouflaged by other things to make them taste good. You can also take herbal supplements like Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle.  What are they you might ask?  I have no freaking idea.  But I am taking 3 of each 3 times a day like a champ anyway. If you want a good cookie recipe tho, hit me up.
  • Lactation Consultants are Angels
    • They are weird experts in breastfeeding that totally deserve the $300+ a pop per visit (most are covered by insurance thank GOD).  I went to three appointments in an office in the first couple weeks we were home.  Problem is, apparently Liam is a performer.  Every time we went he would somehow eat a full feed with basically no issues whatsoever.  The consultant was like, boom, you’re good to go.  Send me home with confidence only to have him snap his jaw down on my nipple like a crocodile or just root around like a weirdo while crying but definitely not eating.  Then I got one to come to my house and thank goodness for her.  Her expectations were realistic and she focused on my comfort first, because if you’re miserable you’re likely not going to want to keep doing it.
  • Nipple Shields
    • These things.  Thank goodness for them.  Some people are anti.  And I can say it is difficult to transition off of them.  But when my in home consultant came over she gave me absolution for trying them and they worked wonders. Especially when you’re in so much pain!
  • PAIN
    • Everything you see or read says breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it right.  Cool.  But what if it does hurt?  What if you get excited he finally latches, but it hurts so bad you cry, but also don’t want to stop because it took so long to get there. What if you cry in the shower when the water hits you or if you accidentally graze your boob with your elbow.  When I went to my 6 week appointment I pointed out the cracked redness and she said “yeah it kind of just comes with the territory”. GREAT. Highly recommend coconut oil before pumping btw.
  • APNO
    • Luckily the same day as my 6 week appt the lactation consultant came to the house, took one look at my milk devices and said those are infected, you need APNO (All Purpose Nipple Ointment).  I was so annoyed my doctor didn’t pay attention to me, but so grateful she did. You have to get it done at a compounding pharmarcy.  Won’t get into the annoying-ness that is my insurance trying to tell me I had to get it done at a send away pharmacy only to find it wouldn’t be covered regardless.  Luckily I could swing the $44 because it saved me.  Within a few days I learned I could actually not want to chop my nips clear off.  What a novel concept!  APNO 4 LYFE.
  • Flanges
    • What the eff is a flange you ask?  The cone-like things that act as a funnel for your milk and simultaneously make you look like 80s Madonna.  There are different sizes and a super vague description of how to tell if they fit properly. Even if it hurts you do kind of get numb to it, so it was weeks of using the wrong size before I was corrected and given the right ones. Amazing.  If you’re interested, check out Pumpin Pals, they’ve worked much better for me than the ones that come with the pump.
  • Let Down
    • The feeling you get when you try to breastfeed again and it doesn’t work.  Or…when the milk comes down from your glands and gets ready to come out.  I use the former definition more often, but you know, to each their own.
  • Latch
    • Before this when I heard the word latch, I thought of a good jam feat. Sam Smith.  But now the word latch was the bane of my existence.  The consultants have you form your nipple/areola area into a “sandwich” and then super quickly push the baby towards it all while holding the baby horizontally with knee, hip and shoulder in alignment, making sure your hand isn’t too close to their mouth, that their nostrils are exposed (cuz, you know, breathing), that their tongue is down and the nipple is facing towards the roof of their mouth.  And while you’re doing this you should be relaxed and enjoy this 1 on 1 time with your baby.  Wait, where in this itinerary is the relaxation supposed to be?  Picture this line up of tasks for 45 minutes while never latching.  That was the first few weeks of our breastfeeding attempts
  • Leakage
    • You will drip milk all over things.  Also, breastmilk is very fatty aka oily aka it stains things.  Also things that stain, Lanolin (the cream you can put on for comfort post feeding). You should just know this, exhibit A:
    • IMG_8402
  •  Storage
    • Two months into pumping I found out there are storage bags you can pump directly into.  Legit life changing.  I had been washing and sanitizing 16 bottles a day NOT including the ones I was using to feed the baby. Pumping directly into storage bags has honestly improved my quality of life. 10/10 Highly recommend.

This list is kind of all over the place, but it boils down to this: Breastfeeding is nothing like what I pictured.  The nurses in the hospital kept complimenting me for being dedicated to it, but I never felt like I had a choice. If you don’t get your supply up right away, you kind of can’t. So, I guess I was dedicated?

We’re still working very hard at this.  There is nothing that feels natural or relaxed about it, even though we’ve gotten much more of the hang of things, especially as Liam’s gotten older and his muscles are developing.  I envy the women and babies for whom this comes naturally. And I completely understand the women who decide not to keep doing it.  It is a whole damn thing. And people need to know it is not all gumdrops and rainbows.  For me, it was mostly tears and, well, tears.

Also, if you don’t get the title of this blog post, please look up Cardi B.


Groundhog Day

Bill Murray

Over the first week or two of being home with the baby all I could think of was the movie Groundhog Day.  Funny enough, several friends later on used the same term to describe the days after bringing baby home.  I’d say it is a pretty on point term, except for the fact that in the movie he sleeps in between reliving the same day over and over.  And in this sequel, sleep is not in the cast. LOL.  Except it’s not funny because you’re too tired to laugh.

I’m not sure anyone can really prepare you for what this is like. I’d want to be mad at my friends for not really prepping me, but I don’t think they could have. Obviously all of these things are specific to baby.  I’m sure some of them sleep more (JEALOUS), plus there are feeding factors (breast, formula, pumping).  But I think many can relate to this groundhog day feeling.

The days just merge and blend together when your baby is eating about every 3 hours.  There is no day or night.  There is no usual “wake up” routine because that would require actually sleeping.  The big question is…if there is no bedtime or morning time, and no meal times but you’re constantly starving then…when do I brush my teeth???  This is a serious question. This has really been stressing me out.

So, my weird blurred days included breastmilk (a post specifically about the wild rollercoaster of breastfeeding is coming next). But, since Liam was a NICU baby, he was a little immature to really take to breastfeeding directly which means I was primarily pumping and then feeding it to him via bottle. But, they also wanted me to do some breastfeeding trials at most feedings so he could get “used to it”.  So, this added an additional factor vs those who are exclusively formula feeding or breastfeeding.  But still.  Here is a sample of what a day in the life looked like (slash mostly still looks like now):


  • 5 minute diaper change paying close attention to avoid getting peed on or allowing him to pee on his own face. Only 50% successful on either end of that goal regardless of speed.
  • 10 minutes of attempted breastfeeding which is basically just him crying in frustration and starvation while I cry from feeling bad that it didn’t work.
  • 25 minutes of infant led bottle feeding (aka holding him sideways on my knee and feeding him with the bottle horizontally.  Totally not what I was used to). Meanwhile he aggressively resists burping by screaming like I am throwing him out the window. Don’t you know this will make you feel better, bro!
  • 5 minute diaper change because inevitably he decides to take a giant poop whilst he is eating even though I just changed his diaper. Gotta make room, you know.
  • 30 Minutes of holding him upright because he has reflux and we are trying to avoid choking in combination with milk shooting out of his nose which is VERY unpleasant for all involved.
  • 5 Minutes of swaddling him and putting him down to sleep. This part is actually pretty easy…most of the time.
  • 30 Minutes of pumping since he isn’t breastfeeding successfully I need to make sure I get out as much as possible to stash in the fridge.
  • 15 minutes of cleaning and sanitizing bottles and pump parts to get ready for the next time.
  • 15 minutes collecting diapers, burp cloths, poopy clothes and setting up laundry.
  • 15 minutes of staring at him sleeping in disbelief of his extistence and also putting my hand under his nose to make sure he is still breathing
  • And that leaves 25 minutes to sleep OR shower.




SAME but also give him his vitamins and iron because #preemielife











Annnnnnnnnnnnd it’s the next day. My friend and former student who had a baby a few weeks after me posted a collage that pretty accurately depicts the line up I just described and she gave me permission to post it here:

groundhog kelly

How cute is her little nugget?!?! When I saw this on IG I laughed so hard because of the relatability and this post was almost complete so I had to throw it in there.

So, this is not a complaint post, believe it or not.  How can I complain when I’ve been waiting to be in this zombie fog for years?  But this is a level of walking coma I could have never imagined. I don’t know what day it is. I can’t remember whether I changed my clothes today or yesterday. Taking care of this little miracle is the most amazing, insane, exhausting thing I could ever think of. I’m sure many of my mom/parent/caregiver friends can relate to this and replace some of my things with whatever their own cyclical tasks are.

Thank goodness for getting through those first few weeks where it is 97% trial and error.  What is that noise? What does this mean?  Should we try this contraption where we suck snot out of his nose using our mouths? The answer is yes, it is so gross in theory but works wonders. And for me I was starting at week two given his NICU stay delayed our “start time” a bit. We also have made some strides in feedings and streamlined the cleaning process which has helped immensely. But, we didn’t even attempt to get the hang of things until about a month in.  And by get the hang I mean just being cool with being dirty, tired and confused 80% of the time.


All about milk post coming next!

Adventures in the NICU

I feel weird writing this one, but for anyone who hasn’t had a child in the NICU or a family member, it is really hard to understand that experience. I should also preface that in the general scheme of things we were EXTREMELY lucky.  There were babies in the NICU that were very sick and required a lot more care and intervention than Liam did.  But all the families and parents in there can relate to the overall experience. I think the biggest feeling I experienced in there was that this was just not what I pictured.  I pictured going to the hospital with my hospital bag packed.  I pictured the baby being born and put on my chest for bonding time and having him sleep in my room.  And having visitors to the hospital to meet him bringing balloons or flowers. And leaving the hospital two days later totally not ready to take this show on the road.

I did not picture driving feverishly to the hospital with nothing that I needed, or having him be born only to have the nurse hold him up in front of me and then wisk him away or sleeping (somewhat soundly) in the hospital room with only the sounds of other people’s babies down the hallway to wake me up. Or leaving the hospital in a wheelchair with an “It’s a Boy Balloon” but with no baby in my arms and random people asking me where the baby is…

It’s just not what you imagine and it is so emotionally taxing. Even for those of us lucky enough to have a relatively short stay and relatively few complications.  My friend who had a daughter born with a health condition called CDH and had surgery at just a couple days old, posted this video on Facebook from Motherly Media that shows a little about what it is like to have your babe in the NICU.

I sort of compiled a list of some of the craziness related to having your little one in the NICU.  I’m sure it doesn’t include everything, and I wish I took more pictures, but this was the general gist of our experience for the first 10 days of Li’l LJ’s life.

  • What is That Noise?
    • It is incredibly scary to see your baby hooked up to a million wires.  And like I said, we had a relatively “unplugged” baby compared to a lot of others.  But there are beeps and bells and things going off all the time and his leads kept falling off so all of a sudden it would be like RED ALERT no pulse, no heartbeat and I would panic and then a nurse would come over nonchalantly and just reattach them.  It would happen a couple times per hour at least.  The best is when it would happen when you’re feeding or burping him and you think you blocked the airway or something.  Mildly Terrifying.
First Pic
So many cords.  But look at that little butt chin!
  • Your Phone Is Disgusting
    • The NICU unit was like Fort Knox.  For good reason, but you’d have to buzz yourself in and then sign in and ask if you could see your baby.  You go into a super intense handwashing station, which, not gonna lie, I kind of wanted to buy to have at my house.  And there are signs everywhere telling you that your phone is dirtier than a public toilet-not surprised, but still.  Wipe that Shit Off ( literally).  They’re gross.  When you’re in the hospital you kind of just stroll down the hallway whenever you want, but once you get released you have to get a visitors pass and go through this whole process.  Glad it was secure but also felt like a whole thing to see your own child.  After a few days visiting , they start to recognize you.  You still feel like you’re trying to get into the hottest club and hoping they’ll let you past the velvet rope.HottestClub
  • No, You Can’t Come See the Baby
    • One of the hardest things is being so excited about your new arrival and not being able to share it with people.  The more visitors you have, the higher likelihood of infection so you have to keep it pretty tight.  You want to share this exciting moment with family and friends but you really can’t.  It definitely feels a little lonely and isolating.  You feel like you’re missing out on part of the new baby experience.
  • Bili-What?
    • When Liam was born, he didn’t need CPAP or a feeding tube which was great news.  I expected him to be in an incubator when we went to see him for the first time but he was just out in the open.  It was so exciting.  My mom and brother came down so we were excited to introduce him, but when we got back to the NICU he was in a NICU with a tiny eye mask under these bright blue lights.  It was kind of shocking because he wasn’t originally like that.  We were told his biliruben levels were high and he needed to be “under the lights” to keep the numbers low and prevent liver damage and worse. I was thrown off since he was out and we could hold him and then all of a sudden he’s in this tiny tanning bed sort of locked away from us.  I never even heard of biliruben but a lot of babies need this treatment, even when they’re not early. It was very scary to go from having full access to the baby to having them in glass.
I just needed a little tan!
  • Tiny Diapers
    • Do you know how small a preemie diaper is?  About the size of a maxi pad.  About half the size of the pad they give you after birth, lol. When the first nurse asked if I wanted to change the diaper, I was like umm sure. Then she just handed it to me.  Now, I’ve changed lots of diapers but none this small and not through two tiny holes in an incubator.  Needless to say, I failed miserably at this task.  I kind of thought she’d give me a lesson, but nay. She did not.  She was like sink or swim mama.  I sank.  But I got the hang of it eventually. Also, yes, boy babies will pee all over an incubator if you don’t go fast enough. Fun fact.
Very challengin to change a diaper through this hole!
  • Pump Station
    • When you have a preemie, if you plan to or want to breasfteed, they give you a hospital grade pump while you’re there.  If you have an on time baby, your milk supply is usually created by the demand of the baby itself.  But when the baby is in the NICU, there is no demand to be created so you need to essentially fake it and a regular pump you get through insurance just won’t cut it.  They had a lactation team that would come give you a lesson and it is brutal.  When you first start you are legit getting droplets.  Spending half an hour doing manual compression (yes it’s exactly as fun as you think) then strapping yourself up to the cones and getting hardly anything.  But the nurses want you to deliver it anyway because it’s full of antibodies and good stuff so they feed it to your baby in a syringe until you start making enough for a bottle.  It is emotionally and physically exhausting.  Kenny was doing late night deliveries from labor and delivery of thimble size milk drops.  Luckily the supply came in eventually and we were driving our little cooler of “the goods” to and from the hospital for the next week. The NICU even has a pumping room with little stations since most of the moms there need to pump every 1-3 hours. You’d walk by and hear a symphony of suction every hour of the day.
  • No Food Allowed
    • There was a tiny waiting room for family.  It was surprisingly small to me, but then again we weren’t supposed to have visitors.  But for us who weren’t from there, we basically treated it like a job, it was sort of our home away from home…away from home.  We were there from about 9am until 6pm every day.  That way we could participate in the feedings every three hours, change him, do skin to skin, soak in all the bonding time possible within the rigid schedule they were all on. You weren’t allowed to eat in there.  I was like wait, we are here all day and we can’t even have snacks?  Seemed outrageous to me.  There was a cafeteria and Au Bon Pain in the hospital on a different floor.  But when you’re pumping and cleaning parts and feeding and changing the baby by the time you’re done all that you have like 15 minutes to eat.  We broke the rules a few times.  I know, this is shocking.
  • NICU Nurses are Superheroes
    • Legit.  These nurses are amazing.  They had so many tiny nuggets to take care of with all kinds of issues, tubing, cords, specific needs.  They were throwing around these tiny beings so calmly and confidently, and providing emotional support and coaching to the parents.  They honestly got us through this ordeal. High five a NICU nurse if you know one.  They are the shit.
  • Infant CPR
    • In the waiting room, there were signs for support groups and classes and all kinds of resources.  They offered, sort of required, you to take an infant CPR class before discharge.  I’ve taken CPR a bunch of times for teaching fitness classes, but never with the intent to use on my own child.  I know a lot of people will take this class on their own before they have a baby. But the fact that it was kind of required was a scary wake up call to me.  As was the mom in the waiting room, awaiting discharge of her baby, who told us she took her little one home and then she stopped breathing due to infection and had to be readmitted.  “Good thing I took the class” she said.  Ok, lemme go sign up right now…
  • PUPP
    • The day or two after I got discharged I had this little rash around my waistline.  I thought it was just an irritation from the sexy mesh underwear the hospital gives you but over the next few hours the rash covered my whole body from shoulders down to my knee caps.  It was unbelievably itchy.  We thought it was an allergic reaction maybe but to what?  Everything I’m using is not my normal stuff so who knows.  It was AWFUL.  Sitting in the hospital for 9 hours a day wanting to rip my skin off.  Finally had to go to the doctor and was givin steroids, took 5 days but eventually went away.  I thought it might not ever go away.  Thanks to Kenny’s sleuthing online we ended up figuring out it was this thing called PUPP, a rash that often develops in pregnant women in the third trimester and can last until birth.  But sometimes it develops after birth, lucky me. Picture skin to skin or pumping on top of a full body rash. Hot.  Literally. If you’re feeling brave, look PUPP up on Google Image.
  • Just give it to me straight
    • I like information. I know that medical things change, and not everything can be predicted to the T, but we got all sorts of crazy info in Labor and Delivery and then different information in the NICU.  And then different information every time we got an update.  When you’re more than 4 hours from home, don’t have any of your stuff, dealing with hormones and fear and confusion, you just want to know what you’re in for.  Am I here for a few days? Weeks? Longer?  We were told on Friday, if he passes the carseat test you can probably leave Monday, then we were told mid week, then end of week, then we’ll have to see.  All based on whether or not he was eating enough, what his biliruben levels were, etc.  I know those things can change but the pushing back process was rough for my mental state.  I just wished they told me the longest time possible and then anything sooner would have been great.  I walked in one morning thinking we were leaving in a day or two and the nurse nonchalantly says maybe this weekend and I lost my shit.  Kenny was parking the car so I was alone.  It just through me over the edge to have it pushed back again.  We didn’t have clothes, we had to buy underwear at Target, like what the hell.  Then the nurse told me he can sense that I’m upset.  OK LADY, That is not helping me feel better either! Ugh.  All the staff was great, but I was like don’t tell me a date until it is a HIGH likelihood that is happening.  For the love of God.

Overall, like I said, we were incredibly lucky.  There were moms who went back to work because their babies were in the NICU for so long.  They would come in as we were leaving with their cooler of milk dressed in their work clothes.  There was another baby in our nursery who coded while taking his vitamins. After a couple of minutes of chaos, we hear the nurse say “Well, welcome back sir.”  Terrifying.  Can’t imagine what that mom was going through.  Another baby was readmitted after her and her twin were released, and the parents didn’t listen to the no visitors rule, ended up being treated for meningitis.  All in all our NICU experience was positive and on the low scale of risky.

But for first time parents, especially after everything we had been through to get to this point, that shit was scary as hell anyway.  As was taking him out of the hospital right into a 4+ hour drive back to Massachusetts.  NOT the chillest road trip I’ve ever been on.  But an amazing feeling to be wheeled out of the hospital 10 days later with baby in the baby carrier and headed home.  Who knew when we picked the name Liam, that the meaning Strong Willed Warrior would be so on point!

Up next on the blog, the first few weeks home, or as I like to call it Groundhog Day.

Strong-Willed Warrior Part II: “Practice Push”

Alright, so life with a newborn is, well, a whole thing.  It has taken me a while to have a hot second to write part II of this post. And, truth be told, I am hoping Little Liam decides to not make any weird noises while I am writing this so I can get through it!

So, where did we leave off…clear liquid diet.  So after hours of taking meds, not being able to eat or get up, and no food.  They finally let me have chicken broth, jello and gingerale. It tasted like the best thing I have ever eaten in my life.

I got admitted into the hospital around 7:30am on Sunday, it was now Tuesday around 12:30pm.  24 hours of cytotek every two hours, no dilation.  I was going a little stir crazy.  Everyone there was super helpful and nice except this one POS Doctor.  We’ll call him Dr. Shhmerens.  He decides its a good idea to come into the room and say “Betcha wish you knew before now it was a bad idea to drive down here for your shower, huh?” amongst other annoying comments including telling me I might be sitting here for several more DAYS.

BRO.  Definitely joking with a lady having her baby 6 weeks early in a hospital she’s never been to 4 hours away from home see.  You should certainly joke about how she shouldn’t have come.  That ought to elicit a great response. After he made me sob, the nurse felt bad, went to tell him, he comes back in to “apologize” aka patronize me for another 10 minutes. “Some patients like to lighten the mood with humor, I can see you’re not one of them.  I don’t want to set unrealisic expectations, so how about we just don’t tell you any timeframes at all from now on.” Then he starts talking about intelligence and some people have some kind of intelligence and others have “medical intelligence”.  AKA you’re stupid and didn’t understand what the doctors told you which is why you’re upset now. A-HOLE.

Luckily his shift was almost over so I didn’t have to deal with him again.  But, I was able to write a nice little note in my hospital evaluation form explaining my lack of satisfaction with his bedide manner. 🙂

When my doses of oral cytotek were complete, they decided to use the suppository version aka they put the medicine directly on your cervix…PLEASANT. Now I would have this joy every two hours until something, hopefully, happened.

My mom and brother drove down thinking we would have our little bundle by now, but instead they are in my room playing rummy and watching me sip broth whilst hiding eating delicious treats. About 3:30 the contractions finally started happening.  I had felt tiny glimpses while on the other meds, but now things felt like they were kicking into gear.  I got nervous and excited.  Over the next few hours they got more intense and quicker…Yay this means stuff, right?

NOPE.  They kept checking me and still NOTHING.  How do you break a window to get out of a place and then hide in a corner for days not leaving.  What the heck.  So, now I am in a ton of pain, but not dilated and just miserable. And, I’ve had two episodes where I’ve had a big contraction and every medical professional on the floor come running in.  Baby’s heart rate dropped on the monitor and it’s panic mode.  They lie me down, put me on oxygen, move me to my side and hope they get things going again.  Luckily they did and they were somewhat false alarms.  But they left me feeling TOTALLY CALM and Chill.  WAIT.

I started thinking I might need a C section.  I just felt like with no movement, two days of drugs plus these episodes, can’t be good.  I was ok with that, I had no “birth plan” because…as we found out…you can’t really plan for something outside of your control. But, if we could avoid surgery that would be ideal.

After about 3-4 hours of intense pain, my mom and brother left, I told them obviously nothing was happening until tomorrow so they should at least get some rest. Meanwhile, I think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so people tell me anyway.  But, this ish was crazy.  In my head, before all this craziness, I would get an epidural if I needed one. And, let me tell you, I needed it. I was asking the doctors, but they didn’t want to give it to me too early and around 7 I still wasn’t dilated so they said no dice.  I was trying to tough it out, listening to meditations, whatever I could, but it got to a point where I asked for the doctor and said I needed it.  If this wasn’t happening until tomorrow, I at least needed to sleep.

They finally okayed it and the Mr. Magic Sandman arrived shortly thereafter.  Since you can’t get up, they give you a catheter (YIKES).  But I finally felt some relief and decided to try and get some rest.

A couple hours later, I woke up and asked Kenny for some ice chips.  But something felt funky.  The epidural was feeling like it was wearing off and I felt a ton of pressure, it was the weirdest sensation.  It was around midnight, and we called the nurse in to check.  All of a sudden shit got real.  I told the nurse I felt like I had to pee which made no sense since–the catheter.  And then I was like I need to push and she was like “NOOOOOOOOOOOO.  Don’t do that. I’ll call the doctor.”

The doctor came in, checks me out and says “8cm and 90% effaced. Wow that went fast. Call in the team”. Meanwhile I was like I legit have to push.  All the doctors in the world came in, counting tools, changing the bed around, it was all a blur.  The nurse said ok let’s do a “practice push”. Inhale and when you get a contraction bear down. Well I did and well, it was not practice.  Three contractions later this little bugger came flying out. They said “It’s a boy!” and I was like wait what happened. That was fast.

The whole thing was just wait, rush, wait, rush, wait, rush.  But there he was. 3 contractions and about 8 pushes he was (finally) here.  What an insane experience, the whole damn thing. Since he was a preemie, they let me give him a little smooch and then swept him off to NICU to be checked out.

The doctors checked me out (and gave me a few stitches even though he was tiny-ugh!) and then quickly wheeled me to recovery.  Where they got to press incredibly hard down on my uterus (FUN) but they also gave me honey nut cheerios which was the first thing I got to chew in days, so I’d say we were even.

Kenny got to go to NICU and see the little guy.  We had already decided on names, years ago, so we knew it would be Liam.  But we had decided to make one small change, John as the middle name, in honor of his Papa, The Big Cat. So, after all this, we have our little guy: Liam John Lubin aka LJ aka LL aka Li’l Cat.

The next chapter will be about adventures in the NICU including this fun task called Manual Expression, learning what the heck biliruben is, and how to change a tiny diaper through incubator holes!


Strong-Willed Warrior Part I: Ice Chips and Your Imagination

Ok. So, here we go.  I’m splitting this story up into two parts because basically ish is bananas (B-A-N-A-N-A-S). As I tend to do from time to time, I’ll start at the end.

Liam John Lubin aka LJ aka LL Cool J aka Li’l Cat aka “El” aka bug (that’s what Kenny calls him) was born at 12:46am weighing in at 4lbs 9oz on Wednesday, August 15th. A casual 6 weeks before he was supposed to arrive.


Welcome to the World!

Now, let’s go back to how we got here. If you’re a reader of my blog you know that we have had quite the bumpy road to get here. I, honestly, really didn’t know if we’d ever get here. So, not surprisingly, the people in our lives were super excited for us but everyone was also quite cautious, as was I.  This caution led to baby shower and/or non-shower like celebrations to be planned a little later than is typical. And, as much as I like to plan and set things up. I was ok with that. Because having a shower made me a little nervous too.  It’s hard to picture yourself being showered with gifts for a baby you weren’t sure you could ever have.

We were slated to have a NY celebration with Kenny’s family and our NY area friends one weekend and then an official non-shower part in MA the following weekend with our people up here.  I got some super cute bump accentuating dresses for the occasion, because having been someone who has always struggled with weight/body image issues, I was kind of loving the chance to celebrate having a belly!

We were invited to a good friend’s wedding in MA on Saturday and then the shower in NY was Sunday so our original plan was to drive down early Sunday morning, get ready down there and then come back to MA on Monday. Earlier that week Kenny through out the idea of having the car packed up at the wedding and deciding if we wanted to get a head start and drive down that night.  That way I could sleep most of the way, and we wouldn’t have to worry about traffic the next day.  I thought it was a great idea, as long as he was awake enough, since I wasn’t the one driving.

I went to the doctor the Tuesday before for my every 2 week check up. My doctor was on vacation so I saw someone else in the practice.  He was fine, the appointment was quick and I had an ultrasound scheduled for the Monday after the MA shower. *Truth be told, I actually called and had the ultrasound moved up to the Thursday before the MA shower because I just wanted that visual reassurance that everything was fine before enjoying the celebration. Everything at the appointment looked good, but I was about 2 weeks earlier than they usually check you out physically.And then fate laughed at me in my face.  LOL

Saturday I went and got my nails done at my regular place, went with a nice neutral color to go with things for the wedding that night and both showers. Irony continued.  We packed up and got ready for the wedding.  It was a lot of fun, although I was super tired and just large, so I wasn’t busting a move the way I typically would at such festivities.  Around 10:30 we decided we would hit the road so we took off, stopped at a rest stop close by to change into driving clothes and I snuggled up with my big @$$ pregnancy pillow and passed out for most of it.

We got to Long Island around 2:30am, made great time, moved into Kenny’s sisters guest room for the night and went to sleep.  This is where things started to get interesting.  Mind you, I am the doom and gloom, panic dramatic to the extreme one, and Kenny is the so calm he doesn’t event things that are an actual thing are a thing one.  We would be better off with one of us as a middle person.  Anyway, around 5am I woke up to (sorry for the description) a little squirting that felt like I had to pee really bad and didn’t make it in time.  It was pretty minimal but still felt very weird.  I had been for weeks having very urgent pee feelings so having to rush wasn’t that crazy.  And I was having a weird water based dream, so I thought that was definitely strange, but maybe it was just a 8+ month pee incident.  I woke up Kenny anyway, knowing he was just going to say you’re paranoid it was nothing.  Which he did. And he is level headed so I changed and went back to sleep.

~I did have in my head the story of a friend’s water breaking very early with her twins in bed and her trying to convince her husband that is what it was that kept lingering~

About 2 hours later I was awoken again, this time it was pretty clear it was not just a not getting up in time to go to the bathroom incident. The wetness was extreme and I waddled quickly to the bathroom to see my whole pant leg wet and also blood.  CUE EXTREME PANIC MODE.

I waddled back into the bedroom somewhat huffing and puffing woke up Kenny pointed to my pants to which he definitely realized this was not nothing and he ran into his sister’s room.  Luckily we were staying with a Nurse Practitioner and a Radiologist, so of all places to be that weren’t home, this was a good one.  His sister comes in takes a look and calmly says “Ok Colleen your water broke, Matthew is going to drive you to the hospital now.”

I then proceeded to lose my ever loving shit:  This is too early. Why is this happening.  I am supposed to have my shower today.  We are so far from home.  I am 33 weeks and 6 days.  What if the baby is not ok.  After all we’ve been through, and then a smooth pregnancy, why why why. How far is the hospital.  Will my insurance pay for this.  How long will we be here.  What if the baby isn’t ok. I don’t have anymore underwear.  I don’t have any of my stuff with me. How far is the hospital.  What do I bring. Oh my god. I want my mom.

We hopped in the car, Kenny’s sister called her friend who is an ER Doctor and her husband called his brother who is also an ER Doctor.  Doctors are so calm, duh, but it is funny when you are in a full blown panic to have someone on the phone say in the calmest tone ever “So, Colleen, it looks like you’re going to have this baby. Congratulations”.

We were then accidentally driven us to the wrong hospital. I did NOT handle this well.  Apparently almost every medical facility in Long Island has the same name, sooooo.  Luckily we were only about 10 minutes from the right one.  We were sent to the hospital where my nieces were born because it had the best NICU in the area.  Assuming we were going to have a 34 week preterm baby, we wanted to go there.  Once we got in they made me stand there LEAKING FLUID EVERYWHERE while they created me as a patient because I obviously didn’t exist.  Then wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery triage where everyone proceeded to be in no rush whatsoever.  This is a theme.

I just wanted a medical professional to hook me up to some things and tell me everything was OK.  The finally brought me in to triage and did that and once I heard the baby’s heart beat I felt a slight bit of relief. I wasn’t in any pain, no contractions, but just emotionally a disaster.  The doctor came in and checked me out and confirmed I did in fact rupture my membrane.  Then she said, “you’re going to be admitted.  We are going to put you on steroids for 24 hours to promote lung maturity and the tomorrow once you’re 34 weeks we will induce you.  Because you’re far enough along, it’s actually riskier to leave the baby in for longer and potentially get an infection than to take the baby out.”

Alright, WELP.  Guess we’re not going to the shower?  Guess we should call my mom?  So, Kenny called her and started with “Everything is ok, but you might want to come to NY.  Also, can you stop by our house and pick up a carseat?” WHAT.

The nurses and doctors thought this story was HILARIOUS.  You came down to NY for 24 hours for your baby shower and you’re going to have your baby instead.  Can they bring the gifts here?  We love food, have them bring some here.  LOL  They did not seem worried about the baby’s health or wellbeing which calmed me down significantly, given the circumstances.

Eventually I was moved to a hallway for people who weren’t delivering yet.  It was a low key floor, not a lot of hooking up to machines (a blessing and a curse since I liked to hear things).  My mom came down after a million hour drive and a friend brought us a pizza which tasted like magic after all this.  I was able to shower and rest a little while taking antibiotics to prevent infecitons and the steroids to help baby’s lungs develop.

On Monday around noon they moved me over to labor and delivery.  Mind you, I knew an induction would take a while.  They had said it could be 24 hours depending on how my body responded to the meds.  But, I was not prepared for the torture that was to come. When I got over there I asked to pee and the nurse said I don’t  have orders to let you go to the bathroom, I will give you a bed pan and I was like oh hell naw, I’ll wait.  Luckily the doc came in soon after and gave orders to pee.  But, they also didn’t tell me that once I got over there I would be NPO aka Nothing by Mouth (but in Latin).  Excuse me, what?  I am going to be here for 24 hours at least and I can’t eat and no one warned me.

Kenny told me afterwards that this was his only concern about me.  I handle pain pretty well but I don’t handle hunger well.  So the nurse said you get “ice chips and your imagination“.  I was now put on Cytotek orally every two hours at increased doses to help soften the cervix.  It doesn’t cause contractions per se, but the softened cervix can eventually help you contract.  It works slowly and it is less aggressive than Pitocin which was the only induction drug I had ever heard of.  Since I was early and the baby was showing no signs of distress, or of labor, they didn’t want to use Pitocin unless necessary.  So here I was NPO, ice chips, imagination, and swigging cytotek every two hours.

And LITERALLY NOTHING WAS HAPPENING.  FOR HOURS.  A MILLION OF THEM.  It was the most extreme version of hurry up and wait I’ve ever experienced.

Just when I thought I was going to lose my mind and pass out from starvation they decided to let me have a clear diet.  That gingerale, broth and jello was arguably the best food I’ve ever had.

Part II coming soon.

How Are You Feeling? And Other Dumb Sh*t People Say to Pregnant People.

For some reason, I think being pregnant makes people feel like they have free license to do or say whatever they want.  It’s rather fascinating to be honest.  I experienced it to a certain degree while we were trying to conceive or being open about our trials and tribulations.  But there is something about a tiny alien life form taking over your midsection that makes people say “Hey, it’s the Wild West out here now. Let it rip!”

So, I thought I’d make a list of things people have said or done to me, or to some of my close friends, that are just weird, strange, off-putting, unique, or just plain rude. But, mostly funny.

  1. How Are You Feeeeeeeeling?
  • This one is actually not a weird question.  It totally makes sense that people would ask how you are feeling.  The funny part to me is that this is the ONLY question you get.  As soon as I announced I was expecting, this replaced any other pleasantry-type question I would normally get.  And now it was only this one.  It just struck me funny.  Especially because most people don’t actually want to know.  It’s just the pregnant version of How Are You?  Your close people might want to know the real answer, but most just want you to say “Pretty good, thanks for asking.” They don’t typically want you to describe your constipation, weird sleeping habits or the fact that you can’t bend over or move your ankles anymore due to swelling.  But, sometimes I tell them anyway.  My standard answer for this has been “Hot and swollen, but overall pretty good!”  Which is half honest, half polite, and a smidge sassy.

2.    What are you having?

  • Welp. I’d say it is likely a baby!  There are many variations of this.  Are you finding out what you’re having? Do you know what you’re having? You AREN’T finding out what you’re HAVING! How? The funny part to me is not the question per se, it’s the assumption from most that you obviously would find out of the sex of the baby in advance and they couldn’t comprehend why or how you wouldn’t. My typical joking answer has really been “Yes!  A Baby.” But that’s only when I’m in the mood to be a twit, because I clearly know what they mean. The best is when the question is asked “Are you finding out the gender?” and I say “No we aren’t finding out the sex of the baby.” (Because biological sex and gender aren’t the same thing). And then they say “Wow. I don’t know how you can do that, you’re such a planner!” And, not trying to be a jerk here, I get it.  The science is there, why not use it. I understand why people would want to find out and be curious if we are too. If you are someone who would want to theme out a nursery specifically based on the sex or have a mostly pink or blue wardrobe, then yes it would actually effect your planning.  But, that’s just not our vibe.  We’d go grey, white and mint with a splash of chevron and elephants regardless anyway (I know SO CUTE, right? lol) So how does it change the plan? And, to be honest, if you want to get me a tutu or a pair of suspenders, go for it! I’ll totally put them to use! Luckily I know about 5 other couples expecting right now who also aren’t finding out so we have a little posse of outliers.

3.    I KNOW what you’re having.

  • Basically the opposite of the previous one.  Because you don’t know, other people think they do know.  I actually quite enjoy it because the various reasons are so funny.  You’re carrying low. Your skin is nice. I had a dream.  I had a premonition. It’s just a vibe I have. Your butt is or is not poking out (but why you looking my butt tho?). Our friends and family are weighing very heavily in one direction, for different reasons, which I do find interesting.  But, the odds are pretty high it is one of two major options.  So, I’d take those odds.

4. I know what you’re having based on your current ugliness level.

  • This is the one that throws me for a loop more than the rest.  Why would you comment on a pregnant person’s beauty (or WORSE lack thereof)? We already feel like big swollen cows, even if we are THRILLED to be pregnant.  Luckily, I guess, the version of this I have gotten is something like “I think you’re having a boy because you still look pretty” or as blunt as “You’re having a boy because you aren’t ugly”. Yes…I heard this in real life. But all I am thinking when I get these is what would you say to me if you thought I was having a girl?  Which means you think that IS making me ugly?  Well, I happen to know the answer because someone said the statement to my mom when she was pregnant with me: “You must be having a girl because she is stealing all your beauty.” WHO SAYS THAT HONESTLY.  And I am 2 weeks shy of 36 and my mom remembers this vividly. Also, some of my already beautiful friends were equally as beautiful while carrying girls so potench that theory is flawed? So, maybe give the person your biological sex guess if you feel inclined, but perhaps leave out how that is related to how ugly or how beautiful you think they are at the moment.  That would be cool.

5. WOW. You look like you’re about to POP!

  • Let me tell you about how many people like to hear this statement…0.  Approximately 0 people want to hear this.  Whether or not you think it.  Whether or not it is true.  No one wants to hear that.  The translation in a pregnant woman’s head when she hears this is “LAWD JESUS YOU ARE HUMONGOUS. That baby must be falling out of you any damn second now”.  This is another one that is just, why? What compels you to say this out loud to someone?  I know this happens because it happened to me last week, while I was 30 weeks.  So, needless to say my response was snarky…”Nope. About 10 weeks left, but thanks.” Because I have decided I am not just going to hold onto the discomfort your comments make me feel, I’m going to send just a little bit back to you. It’s not open season on body commentary.

6. Can I rub your belly?  (Or worse, not asking).

  • Can you imagine, in 2018, walking up to a woman who you do not know or think is pregnant and just rubbing her? Or asking to rub her? Hopefully your answer is no of course not that would be CRAZY, So, what the EFF. For some reason, when you are growing a tiny human, the rules just don’t apply?  There is exactly one person at work who I let rub my belly, and she knows who she is and that doesn’t bother me at all.  But, in general, just go ahead and don’t do that.  It’s so weird. People told me that would happen and I kind of didn’t believe them.  I am also not a big “random touch” fan in general. I like hugging people I am actually close with but not randos. If we are actually tight, and the baby is moving, and I ask you if you want to feel it, that is a totally different story.  That is an invitation, and a rare one at that.  I’m just referencing the random compulsion or even entitlement people seem to feel to have free range body touching because you’re pregnant. It’s weird AF, cut it out.

7. You are glowing.

  • You might wonder, what is wrong with this?  It’s a compliment, right? Yes. Definitely.  You have an energy, aura, or whatever about you as a pregnant person that people can sense or feel. To me, glowing feels like someone is saying you look Shiny and Round.  LOL.  Because that is how I actually feel.   It’s the summer and I am currently 31 weeks pregnant so I am literally shiny from sweat most of the time.  And I feel like a ginormous swollen orb.  It is very nice for people to compliment you and mean that your skin is nice, which, is sometimes a pleasant side effect of the pregnancy hormones and/or vitamins.  But I think it is one of those funny things that is almost always only said to pregnant people.  Like, does anyone else ever have a glow to them?  I’m just wondering.

8. Just one piece of unsolicited advice…

  • The way it is phrased, you know the people saying it already know it is kind of annoying.  LOL.  Like, I know you didn’t ask but I am just going to tell you this one thing. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a few gems in there that I’ve stored for later use. But most things are very specific to that family or that child and I’ve learned to just smile and nod.  I’m sure I will reach out to some specific people with specific questions at one time or another.  But it’s as if once someone thinks or knows you are pregnant, they feel compelled to tell you some piece of advice.  Something that worked for them. Anything. There’s like a word vomit thing that happens that I find very intriguing.

These are just a few I’ve thought of or collected over the past almost 8 months. This is not a hater post, either.  I have done or said some of these things myself.  It’s habit, or culture, or societal norms in some cases.  And I know most of it comes from either a good place or a place of not knowing what to say and people just fill the void with something weird. But next time you come across a pregnant lady, just consider, would I say or do this to someone who wasn’t pregnant?  And if the answer is no, you should probz just skip it…