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Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
I crack up sometimes thinking about my take on motherhood before and during pregnancy. I’d tell people, “I’m not going to change. I’m going to strap the baby on my back and go, just like I always have.” I was a world traveler before I became a mom. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Went to Fiji on a whim. Spent New Years in Timbuktu (sadly, overtaken this spring by Islamic Extremists). Now the most I do is look at a globe and thank my lucky stars I’m not globetrotting. For me, motherhood did what wanderlust couldn’t. It made me content. I would have never predicted the impact it would have on my whole way of life.
So I had to laugh — and cringe a little — when I read this week that Marissa Mayer, who was just named Yahoo’s chief executive, is pregnant, and — ya ready? — says, “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.” HAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
Clearly she has never had a baby before.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for working moms. And before I had kids, that quote would have made her my hero. But now? I think she’s being a tad naive. I can still be her biggest cheerleader, but first I think she needs to realize that today’s woman simply: Can’t.Have.It.All. Or at least not the first few weeks with a new baby. And why should she? You never get the birth of your baby back. And physically, a birth through the chute knocks you for a few days. A C-section? 2-3 weeks. Not to mention the emotional toll it takes on your entire being. I felt–and looked–like I had been hit by a bus. To run a $2-dollar company, much less a $20 billion dollar one? Impossible. Unless you want to fail. And right now, Yahoo isn’t the dreamboat. It’s a mess. This is no walk in the park.
Simply put, people who don’t have kids: Don’t.Get.It.
Even if she has a baby who comes out sleeping 12 hours a night and refuses the boob (so he can be exclusively bottle fed, which is fine, really. I don’t judge how women choose to feed their babies), I still think she will be so utterly turned upside down that she may have to eat her words.
There are a few things in her favor. Let’s face it: babies are blobs those first few months. I’m sure she’ll have lots of help. The baby will be cared for and loved, both by her, her husband, and her help. It will eat, sleep, and poop. And that’s about it.
But what’s not in her favor is Mother Nature — because unless you’re a zombie or a drug addict, she does kick in, swiftly and (hopefully) beautifully. No amount of money can keep her force at bay. She brings even the strongest women to their knees. The maternal instinct and motherly love is earth shattering. (If it’s not, then the postpartum depression is. These are the things you can’t predict.) I don’t think running a Fortune 500 company can compare to what a baby does. At least not initially.
So my question is, will Mayer battle the demons of guilt? Will she be too exhausted to care? Will she miss out on bonding with her baby while bonding with Yahoo? Or will she be the first woman to “have it all” and thus, will I be eating my words?
No doubt Yahoo is to be commended for hiring a pregnant CEO. But as blogger Julie Ryan Evans points out in her piece:
“I so wish she and Yahoo would set an example — that they would give her a full maternity leave, and that she would take it and still keep her position. Even just the minimum — 6-8 weeks, and show the world that it’s okay for women to have babies and then to care for them and themselves for more than just a few days. That they and their skills are important enough to the company that they’ll figure out something in a woman’s absence and welcome her and her expertise back with open arms.”
Maybe Yahoo did offer her the full maternity leave and Mayer is choosing to work through it. Regardless, it’s unrealistic and naive. I just don’t see how it’s humanly possible without letting something — or someone — suffer. Namely, her.
But I get it. Because you don’t get it until it happens to you.
Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps I’m being one of the “judgey” moms that my fellow blogger Heather Morgan Shott refers to in her very well-put piece on this issue. I’ll admit, she did make me pause when she wrote the following: “Instead of judging Marissa Mayer, and using her achievement as an excuse to rekindle the debate about whether women can have it all, why don’t we sit back and watch her work? I’m betting she’ll show us some magic–and probably teach us all a thing or two.”
I worry though, that Mayer could also send a message to the rest of the world that women can push through their maternity leave if they want; that all it takes is “a few weeks.” She could ultimately be hurting the case for the majority of us who actually want to enjoy our babies–and take care of them–before returning to the workforce.
Devon Corneal wrote a piece in the Huffington Post in which she says, “I don’t judge her for embracing her job — I hope she’s a success. I just want to make sure that her blithe decision to take a truncated, working “maternity leave” won’t be held up as the paradigm or used to pressure other women to follow suit. We all deserve better than that.”
Evans echoes that sentiment:
“Maybe she’s superwoman, but a few weeks is barely long enough for the epidural to wear off. To think that she’s going to be mentally and emotionally ready to go back and lead a company two or three weeks later and leave her baby is ambitious at the least; thinking that’s what a woman has to do to keep such a position of power is depressing.”
It’s even more depressing if this is all Mayer’s choice. I’m hoping she just doesn’t know any better. Then again, maybe I should know better and hold back the judgement. We’ll see.
Photo courtesy of Google Images
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CEO, daycare, full time, Google, infant, Marissa Mayer, maternity leave, nanny, newborn, part time, pregnancy, pregnant, sahm, sleep, sleep training, working moms, Yahoo | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Before Phil and I had kids, we used to joke that with our combined genes we shouldn’t procreate. Depression runs on both sides. Autism runs on his. Bipolar and addiction are strong on mine. And we both suffer from mild depression/anxiety ourselves. But despite these “bad genes,” what we really meant was we didn’t want kids. It was our excuse to remain selfish over selfless.
Thank god we changed our minds, because being selfless is far more gratifying. Plus, we have still retained plenty of our selfish lifestyle. We do date nights. But instead of coming home to an empty house, we get to kiss our babies while they sleep. There is nothing finer. We still take trips–we just take them with us. And frankly it’s far more fun. We still hike. Only now we each have a baby on our back (probably a better workout anyway). The things Fia sees in nature and her delight in something as simple as a spider web makes it far more interesting. But I digress. That’s not the point of this post.
In a recent interview, Sarah Silverman said she doesn’t want to have children for fear of passing on the depressive/mentally ill gene. Some called her brave and responsible for this. I call it ridiculous. An article in Time pointed out, rightfully so, that, “the same genes that can cause depression may also encourage the sensitivity and sensibility that gives Silverman her creative talent.”
I caused a decent amount of controversy when I wrote about my decision to stay on antidepressants while pregnant. Some called me selfish. Others said I shouldn’t procreate. But far more people came to my defense. Many were relieved to find they weren’t alone in their decision to do the same. Plus, studies show the drugs I am/was on had no greater chance of causing birth defects than pregnant women who don’t take anything.
I hope Fia and Emmett don’t struggle from depression or addiction. If they do though, I have the resources and information to get them proper help. I also believe that raising a child in a loving, stable, and nurturing environment counts for something. In my early formative years, my home was all that. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that things got a little ugly. Even so, I still turned out fine (I think). I contribute to society (I think). In fact, I have often said I’m grateful for the hardships I experienced. It made me the person I am today.
I have no doubt my kids will make this world a better place. They already have. Whether they end up suffering from a “bad gene” is beside the point.
Here’s who I don’t think should procreate: Abusive, neglectful people. I believe they will become abusive, neglectful parents. I’ll add lazy and inept to the list. And those who have more kids than they can afford who keep procreating because they’re probably too lazy or inept to use birth control. But a smart, witty, compassionate person who happens to suffer from mental illness, like Sarah Silverman? I bet she’d make a great mom and raise interesting, well-adjusted kids. There are plenty of reasons to not have biological children. And plenty of good, noble reasons to adopt. Or to just stay childless. But don’t make it because of a mental gene. There are far better excuses one could come up with.
Photo of Human Body via Shutterstock
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addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, autism, bipolar, depression, drug addiction, drugs, gene, gene pool, pregnancy, pregnant, procreate, Sarah Silverman, selfish, taking antidepressants when pregnant | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Mom Situations, Must Read
Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
Today my heart broke a little bit. That’s because I took Fia to her gymnastics class. We go every week. But today was different. Today she went to the “big girl” class.
Coach Sam told me awhile back to get on the waiting list for the next level up. He said he thought she was ready. I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and I hated that woman. But in that moment, standing by the uneven bars with her swinging steadily, I got a glimpse of my inner Tiger. I beamed. I was so proud. I wanted to push her. Make her the best she could be. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my joy–yes joy–with Phil.
I bounded in, out of breath, “They want to move her up in gymnastics!” I exclaimed.
He looked at me, slightly puzzled, “Yeah, okay. Great. So??”
“But they want her in an advanced class! Advanced.”
He gently reminded me she was just over 2.
Yes, I know, we’re talking about a now 2 1/2 year old. But growing up, gymnastics was my love. I was never very good at it, but I persevered through high school. I always wished my parents had started me earlier. This is the only sport I can see myself being an overly pushy parent on, so I am acutely aware of the need to show restraint. Keep the Tiger on a leash.
Back to today: Fia and I arrived and went straight for the trampoline–her favorite. I noticed no other parents were chasing tots around on the mats. Just some coaches and kids quietly practicing skills. Wait, we were used to the free-for-all. We usually run in and bounce from one thing to the next, catching some mild structure and instruction in-between. This was different. Subdued. A coach approached me.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes,” I said. “We are here for my daughter’s advanced tots class.”
“Great. Wait behind the gate and at 11:45 we’ll call her in with the other girls.”
“But, what about the trampoline?”
“The advanced class isn’t free play. Parents sit and watch behind the gate. We work with the kids by themselves. You can come for the beginning though and see how she does since this is your first day.”
I gulped. She sat quietly on my lap, my arms holding her tight as we waited. When Fia was called in, I went too. But as soon as I sat down with the 6 other tots and 2 coaches, I realized she didn’t need me there. They told her to run and touch the cone. She did (I cheered loudly–then quickly shut up). Hop on one foot. She tried (didn’t realize what a skill that was). Then they were off to the trampoline. She and the others ran towards it with glee. I was left sitting on the mat. Alone. Realizing how quickly time is passing.
From afar, I watched her bounce happily and do seat drops. They moved onto the rings where my girl held on like the best of them. She waited patiently for her turn.
The balance beam was last and right in front of me. There she went walking confidently across. Then on the smaller one. All by herself.
From the moment they are born, it is our job to make them independent of us. It is primal. The baby feeds off you, then weans. She rolls towards you, then crawls away. She walks into your arms, then turns and runs. They still depend on us, but little by little they gain confidence to be okay on their own. It is a bitter and beautiful reality.
And it’s really f-cking hard.
Today I stood on the sidelines and cheered for Fia. Silently. I must remind myself to tread lightly. As she finds her footing, I must too find mine. It is a delicate balance between holding on and letting go. But this is my job–the one I signed up for when we decided to have kids. There’s a reason it’s the hardest one in the world.
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breastfeeding, crawling, dependence, gymnastics, independence, pregnancy, primal, running, toddler, walking | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Must Read
Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
I hate the book Bringing up Bebe. Not because it’s bad. Quite the opposite. I find it brilliant. And logical. And depressing. I’m only on chapter 6, but so far, every page has made complete sense to me.
I know it caused quite a stir when it came out. I wish I had read it then–before Emmett was born. I’m convinced he would be sleeping through the night by now. We might even be able to take Fia to restaurants. It makes me feel awful–like a lot of what I’m doing is now irreversible and insurmountable. Maybe the pregnancy hormones are still raging. Or maybe I’m just mad at myself for not putting down more ground rules with Cleo (nanny) about Emmett. Here’s where I’ve gone wrong:
The first few weeks of Emmett’s life, we all held him constantly. I get that. But then I started to notice if I didn’t hold him he often fussed a little in his swing/Moses basket/crib before putting himself to sleep. In the book Druckerman talks about, “The Pause.” In France, when a baby starts to fuss (not wail), the parents “pause” for a few minutes before doing anything. If it escalates into wailing, they pick them up, feed them, burp them, change them, whatever. But what they have found is that many babies fuss, then fall asleep. It’s their own way of self-soothing. Many do this out of the gate. In her book, Druckerman claims many babies sleep through the night at 2-3 weeks. But this “pause” window is finite. At around 4 months, if they haven’t learned to self-soothe, then you have to do hard-core sleep training.
I’m a Ferber fan, and we did it with Fia. But I am not excited to do it with Emmett. Unfortunately, our window is closing. He’s 4 months old this week.
He’s also on zero schedule. He naps when he’s tired. Usually when he’s being held. Or nursed. A lot of the naps are just 20-30 minutes.
Sleep? Some nights he goes down from 8:30 pm-5 a.m. Other nights he wakes up every 3 hours. There is no rhyme or reason.
Looking back, I realize that rather than capitalizing on his ability to put himself to sleep or get any semblance of a schedule, I just went with whatever happened each day. Still do. Cleo still picks him up when he fusses. I’ve asked her to give him a few minutes before rushing to him. Sometimes she does. Sometimes she doesn’t. I can’t blame her. I do the same thing. I’ve made us both inconsistent. I also nap with him on the weekends. I love his little body next to me. Every morning I put him in bed with me to nurse and get an extra hour of sleep. Should I stop?
With Fia, I had a lot more confidence in sleep training. She woke up at 3:33 every single morning. So I knew it was just a habit. Emmett is all over the place, so I’m not convinced that he’s not hungry or gassy. Plus, he is such a good baby 90% of the time. He rarely wails. He likes to sit in his carseat or swing and entertain himself. He laughs and coos. I hate to think about CIO with my little guy.
I might take off next week and just let Cleo do things with Fia while I tackle the schedule. Maybe getting the days down will help with the nights. But how? Even with naps, I get confused, then I give up. Am I supposed to do it every 2 hours? What if he sleeps for 20 minutes? Then do I keep him awake for 2 more hours until the next nap? There’s no way. Especially if there is a feeding involved. He’ll fall asleep on the boob. Guaranteed. But probably just for 20 minutes again. By that time, I know I’ll just say screw it and throw the attempted schedule out the window. I’ll continue to be consistently inconsistent. Unless….I really decide to commit.
But then does that mean he can’t nap with me on the weekends? What about the mornings? Can I have my cake and eat it too? I don’t think the French do (which is why they’re all so skinny–as also pointed out in the book).
He is my last baby so the heart part of me says “F-ck the schedule.” But then my brain part says, “Yes, it’s time to get some order back.” And I know most babies thrive on a schedule.
I can’t even tackle the restaurant ordeal in this blog post. Suffice it to say, eating out with Fia is an exercise in misery/exhaustion. In France, toddlers apparently sit quietly and eat.
I hate this book.
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Bringing Up Bebe, CIO, Druckerman, Ferber, french parenting, pregnancy, pregnant, schedule, sleep, sleep training, The Pause | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Newborn Care
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
A Rare Moment of Quiet
I got up a few nights ago to pump (Phil does the late night feed). Nothing came out. I was alarmed. I can typically get 5 oz in a matter of minutes. But I knew deep down what was happening. My body was giving me an ultimatum. Slow down or else…
For weeks I’ve been running myself ragged. Actually, ever since before Emmett was born. I’ve been catering to company and overbooking everything from play dates to mom dates.
I woke up today and realized Emmett is almost three months old. He’s my last baby. I want to enjoy him, to soak in and savor his existence.
I’ve been so concerned with Fia not feeling my attention shift and so overwhelmed by the constant stream of guests, that I haven’t been taking proper care of myself–mentally, emotionally, or physically. Or him. I have missed feeds (he is given a bottle if I’m not around) and it doesn’t help that I hate pumping–partially due to my boob wound. It tends to open back up if I’m on the pump too long.
What it comes down to is this: I have basically blown off the most basic needs of my newborn and put everyone else–including myself–ahead of him. I’m not proud.
It’s tricky because on the one hand, you love your friends and family. I want them to meet the babes and I want to spend quality time with them. But let’s face it, even if people are here to “help,” there is a level of “entertaining” involved: cooking meals, cleaning up, showing the sights, etc. I want to be a gracious host. But at what expense? With a new baby, I can barely pull off a routine as it is.
I know a lot of life is running errands, grocery shopping, and yes, having loved ones visit. But when our last round of visitors left, I exhaled for the first time in ages. Company=work. No matter who it is. Inevitably any semblance of a schedule goes out the window.
Tell me I’m not alone in this quandary.
Looking back at the past 6 months, I also realize how exhausted I am from moving our family across the country when hugely pregnant and setting up a life for us in LA– also when hugely pregnant. Then…I had a baby. Yes, a baby! That small, earth-shattering event that rocks your world.
Oh, and it was a C-section, with some recovery involved–but I blew that off too. I was dust-busting my floors two days out of the hospital because I couldn’t take the mess. As a result, I kept bleeding. A friend finally gave me a similar ultimatum that my boobs did: if you don’t stay off your feet, you will not heal. It’s that simple. I finally listened.
Now I’m listening again. And luckily, the body forgives.
For the past two days I have relaxed, meditated and breathed. I have been drinking Mother’s Milk tea constantly. I’ve gotten our feedings back on track and have spent some serene, quiet moments with my sweet son. I have kissed, smelled and nuzzled him like a mama cat.
As I type, he is sleeping next to me. He peeps and coos and smiles as he dreams. He is joy.
Forgive me baby boy. I’m back now. And our “Inn” on Ames Street is CLOSED until further notice.
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anxiety, breastmilk, company, infant, letdown, newborn, nursing, pregnancy, pregnant, stress, supply, toddler, vacancy, visitors | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read, Newborn Care