Stop warning me I’ll miss something…

eWhen you have a baby, all the focus is on the firsts.  The first gassy smile.  The first time he looks you in the eye.  The first word (we’re not there yet, even though he mumbles “dada” a lot but L wants to be called Papa so that’s clearly not the same!) . Everyone is always focused on the firsts and all the questions are “has he done this yet” or “when did he start doing that?”

Let me tell you something that nobody warns you about…”the lasts.”  Already I have a long list of “lasts” that I wish I knew ahead of time were coming.  For example, the last time I would nurse him.  I hated nursing and we introduced the bottle to him while still in the hospital because I knew I didn’t want to nurse full-time. But now, almost 3 months after fully stopping to nurse, as I held him in my arms last night, a memory flashed across my mind of a sweet little boy falling asleep as I nursed him. Where did he go?  Who is this big kid finishing his bottle and self soothing himself to sleep now? When did that happen?

The last time I could leave the room without him crying because, well, now we’re in this really fun stage where if anyone leaves him alone he goes bonkers. When did he become so aware of us?  of himself? of this little world he knows?  How about the last time he slept in bed with us?  We got a little lazy and let V sleep with us when we were in Italy.  That continued for a few weeks after we got back and his sleep was so erratic and every little movement woke us up that my husband and I finally said enough is enough.  As cute and sweet as those cuddles were, we need our bed back! So, we re-sleep trained and now on week 3 of 12 hours sleeps at night…I miss him in bed with me.  I have always had bad insomnia and now on those nights I wake up while my husband sleeps soundly next to me, I wish V was still here in bed…but that’s another last that came and went.

The thing about “lasts” is that often times we don’t even know something is a “last” until much later, right?  The memory of what once was creeps into your mind and you wish you had enjoyed that last just a little bit better when you had it. I guess lasts and firsts are two sides of the same coin.  With every “first” comes another “last.” And I think it is designed this way so that we as parents learn to let go and let our kids grow!

One of the hardest things about parenting — for me, anyway — has been listening to this constant refrain, everywhere I go:

“Enjoy every minute. It goes so fast.” I roll my eyes even as I write it. But, just like telling someone who is upset to calm down DOESN’T work; telling someone to stop and enjoy every moment isn’t always what you want to hear. It is an odd side-effect of parenthood, the fact that each and every day you have multiple strangers and well meaning loved ones alerting you to a fact that you already know. That your child is growing up and there is nothing you can or should do to stop it.

image0 (1)I am aware that my son’s childhood is fleeting…I am with him daily, remember? I do not need help remembering this. As he started to roll I knew this fact, then he started to scooch and now he is spin cycling around my floor and I am oh so aware that this little creature is hell bent on growing up and exploring this world for himself.  As his babbles turn into words I know he is making sense of this strange little life and he will thrive and flourish on his own terms. What I need help with is remembering that him growing up is not a tragedy; it is the point of this whole journey we’re on together.

Sometimes I will say to him, “you can hold your own bottle, Amma doesn’t have to do it for you” and my mom will immediately chirp in to say don’t make him grow up too fast. And in those nights I wake up fighting every urge to sneak in to his room and bring him int bed with him those words creep in and make me wonder am I rushing him?  We have so many insecurities and worries as parents, and every comment made stays with us in those corners of the mind reserved for self-doubt and self-criticism. But the answer is always, NO! Everything is happening as it should be.

There is this perfection that moms especially are immediately asked to live up to and it’s unrealistic. You know what is nice to hear? Someone telling me that it’s okay not to think every single minute with them is the best thing ever, because it’s not. That it’s okay to be bored sometimes of the turning gears, crinkle books and spinning toys, and want your baby to go to sleep so you can watch The Real Housewives of whatever city. That it’s okay to just be with them, enjoy the moment and then put them down even if they are crying. That our job as parents is not to imprint every second into some memory scrapbook that lives only for us to cherish. That we as mothers do not have to be forced to live in constant terror that it will all be over too fast and somehow the experience itself is not the goal but rather we have to Pinterest board every milestone or it didn’t actually happen and will be lost forever.

image1 (2)So I don’t know who else needs to hear this, but I certainly need the reminder that yes, babies are special, but even more special is getting the chance to find out who they will ultimately become. And during this process you matter, your relationship with your partner matters, nights out matter, friendships matter and your identity is not only mom or dad. V will grow older, he will try new things and he will not need me as much and that is okay.  It is okay to not want to wipe his butt one day…I am waiting for that day and that doesn’t make this diaper change any less or more important. It is okay for me to think of him at preschool someday, making friends and developing his interests. It is also okay to miss him cuddling with me in bed. The thing is IT IS ALL OK…it is okay for it to just be ok.  We don’t have to create instagram worthy lives for it to have mattered and sometimes pictures like this where everyone looks over it is exactly how we all feel!

The gift of being a parent to me is not a gift of a handful of years when your children are small and completely dependent on you but rather the opportunity to watch — and help — them grow into who they are meant to be. To be an observer and cheerleader to encourage them to explore and become who and what they want to be in this life.

image2Stop letting society make us think we have to be the martyr mother myth; it’s not needed. I wish we would tell each other the truth more often . That is does get easier.  He will not need you as much. That you will get more confident as the days go by and *gasp* you will truly enjoy the time away from your kid too!

We should tell new moms the simple truth that being a parent is hard and nobody’s advice or experience will match what you’re going through exactly, so trust yourself. You’re doing a good job. And instead of making us feel guilty that between 100 diapers a day, weeks of colic filled sleepless nights, bleeding nipples, and stomachs that resemble water balloons left out on a hot day too long covered in stretch marks we are somehow not also truly “enjoying every single moment.” Maybe we should change the phrase to:

Take good care of yourself too as you parent because that is important so you can enjoy more of the moments.

Randomness to end the year…

randomPeople ask me if I just sit down and write these blogs in one shot.  I do not.  I keep an ongoing list of things that I observe or thoughts that come to me at random in my phone.  Sometimes I write something but it just doesn’t feel ready to share and so I will save it for later.  More often than not, I don’t publish 90% of what I write because it just feels too personal (even though lately i’ve been getting pretty personal on here) or it just isn’t substantial enough to warrant a post.  So here are a few such thoughts that have accumulate in my phone notes section that feel important enough to share with whomever is reading this.

 

Random observation #1:

bellyI LOVED being pregnant! No, not the whole feeling V inside me, or my body morphing into a giant exercise in stretchiness, or whatever other women assured me I’d miss about pregnancy.  I miss how people treated me when I was pregnant. It was honestly the FIRST time in my life I was allowed to express exactly how I was feeling at any given moment. And that was so refreshing and nice! I could openly say I was tired without fear of judgment or ridicule.  I felt every change in my body and the people who loved me encouraged me to take care of myself to the fullest. “Babe, my feet hurt!” Commence foot rub. “Guys, I can’t lift this bag.” 6 people jump up to carry it for me. “I don’t know why I am having these weird cramps in my neck” Appointment for chiropractor booked within days.

Of course we should cater to women when they are pregnant, pregnancy is a daunting experience and anything that can ease the process is appreciated.  But it’s not even how other people treated me, but rather I LOVED being pregnant because I finally felt agency over my own body and what I needed and people simply allowed me to do what was best for me.  Since I’ve had V, I have skipped 2 scheduled doctors appointments because something more important came up.  I’ve had a strained tendon in my right thumb for what is now 3 weeks and I only now was forced to make an appointment because a friend intervened on my behalf.  My PCP moved away and I desperately need to find a new one just to make sure everything is back to normal, but I have made zero effort to do so. I got a massage every other week, took the right vitamins and ensured I was hydrated and well fed with good nutritious meals.  My husband made me a fruit smoothie every morning, and other than the occasional Taco Bell craving, I ate veggies, fruits and balanced meals to nourish the life growing inside of me.

pay-attention-and-attend-to-your-body-1When I was pregnant, I paid attention to my body.  I listened to its cues.  I valued my body’s effort in growing this child and wanted to protect it.  I ran to the doctor when anything felt off because I was tasked with taking care of someone else.  Why don’t we treat ourselves this way all the time? We are tasked with taking care of our minds and bodies daily with or without a baby growing inside of us. If we are not well, we cannot provide good care for our babies, husband, or friends and family members. If our babies complained that they couldn’t cross their legs because their hips feel misaligned, how seriously and immediately would we respond?  I ask that because that was me up until a month ago, I complained to my husband, my sister, my mom but without the baby inside of me nobody responded with anything but “that’s normal” or “give it time to see if it gets better.”  I read somewhere online that it has to do with the weakness of your core, and started going to pilates 3 times a week and VOILA I feel human again.

MOMS…we have to come first!  Put your own oxygen mask on before you help others with theirs. In 2020, I urge women to put themselves first.  There is no “martyr mom” contest, so let’s stop neglecting ourselves for the sake of fake obligations to others.  We all do the best we can, but think how good our best can be if we actually felt our best. If we said to our husband, I need to sleep in today so you HAVE to get up with the baby.  Or asked for help not because we are at our breaking point but simply because we need a break?  Give yourself the go ahead to live your life as if you are pregnant.  Listen to your body, and trust it again.  Hasn’t your body proven to you yet that it deserves this respect, at minimum??

For those without kids, start the habit now so that if ever you do have kids it will be natural.  For our loved ones, please know that when women say they need help or need a break; the only appropriate response is “tell me how I can help and I’ll see if I can.” You are not obligated to fix our problems but allowing women to express their needs without judgment is more beneficial than all the #metoo conversations going on.  Change begins at home and with your loved ones first.

Random observation #2:

weddingMarriage is not the end of the search for LOVE. It’s the end of the search for a person to love and share our lives with. But after that, you have to search for ways to love them when you can’t find reasons to like them that day.  When I was younger, I dreamt of getting married, having a house, a baby, a dog and money left over to travel. Well, here I am and yet the same challenges and insecurities still sprout up in my life.  We do little girls an injustice in the way we elevate wife as the ultimate achievement and that the entrance of Prince Charming will mean the exit of drama. I used to think the perfect guy for me would let me be me to the fullest, but in this short time being married I’ve realized that when people say “marriage takes work” what they actually mean is you have to work on yourself first and foremost.

Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.

I can be a bit of a know-it-all. There, I said it. It’s really not my intention to be hurtful or brash with people I love. It’s just that a lifetime of experience has taught me that in most areas, at most times, I am right about most things.  I know how that reads, but I more often than not know the right thing to do in most situations.  What shocked me the most when L and I would fight, though, was the realization that the more “right” I was, the more discontented my husband and I were as a couple.  How is that possible?  L said to me recently, “white people don’t fight like you.”  It gave me pause.  What was that supposed to mean?  He was saying that because more often than not, in my assertions I use spirituality or mindfulness as evidence that my point of view was absolute.  How do you argue with someone who says things like “this is my truth and my experience”??

kissI am certain that my husband sometimes wants to yell “yeah ok it’s your truth and your life experience BUT my God I am still freaking mad at you about your actions, damnit!!” Namely, that when it comes to certain disagreements, there is no right or wrong — there is simply MY way of looking at things and my husband’s. I am hoping the more I get to know and appreciate my husband for who he is, the more I grow to respect his positions. That doesn’t mean I will always agree with him. But I can see the value in striking a balance that satisfies us both. I think when you fight, you don’t just raise your voices; you raise real — sometimes buried and pertinent — issues that challenge you to come to a clearer understanding of you, your man, and your relationship. But, my mom told me about this Japanese philosophy of life called Wabi-Sabi which is essentially Accepting the world as imperfect, unfinished, and transient, and then going deeper and celebrating that reality. So maybe find the 2-3 things that really annoy you about your partner and realize that is what makes them who they are and try to find way to fall in love with those qualities instead of the things that you already like about them?  Worth a try…

Observation #3:

avoBabies know what they are doing!!!! Imagine I pop out a kid who is smiling, cooing and laughing from day 1.  I would have been done at about week 4.  I know my kid is only 5 months old and he will change so I am not saying any of this as an expert but rather from my gut.  V was a helpless little nugget so no matter how tired we were we felt the need to take care of him those first few weeks.  But I think growth is structured the way it is because after 2 weeks even the sweetest baby becomes a task….and then he starts to make eye contact!  Boom, I am sucked back in for those promises of a few gazes here and there. Another two weeks, the smiles (mostly gas) but it is hella cute so again you forget that what you’re actually doing is getting elbow deep in someone else butt crack and are back in the baby game 100%.  This has continued like this for 5 months, just when I am at my breaking point V does one or two cute little NEW things and I am convinced this baby knows EXACTLY what he is doing.

To anyone reading who is in the throws of a day with their newborn that feels like its never going to stop, 2 weeks!  Stick it out for two weeks…it will somehow get better! Now that I finally have a little distance from the super-early days of parenthood, I can confirm that, indeed, it does get better. As it’s been frequently (and wisely) said about parenting: The days are long but the years are short….but since we haven’t had a year yet trust me when I say the days/weeks are long but the months are short! I look at V and he is a real boy now…with a personality and we get each other finally.  When a baby is waking you up at hourly intervals in the night to be fed or held, the only way to distinguish one day from the next is by your level of exhaustion. There are explosive poops to navigate and colic and reflux to soothe all the while trying to come to terms with your own new reality.  But now, V is sleeping 11+ hours at night…guys we’re only at 5 months I know, but we appreciate this respite and are fully taking advantage of the sleep.  We didn’t even know how tired we were because overall V has been a fairly easy baby, but man that first night of 8 hours felt like heaven!

I don’t think you’re ever sure that you’re qualified to care for an infant add onto that an immediate onslaught of a kind of tired nobody can explain to you. It’s this kind of tired that makes it hard to let comments and advice roll off your back. When you’re a newly minted parent, you don’t have that kind of confidence; you don’t even have the brainpower. I couldn’t stop dwelling on the comments of, “If you are calm, your baby will be calm,” and “Just wait until she’s mobile if you think life is tough now!” The useless phrases start the minute your swelling belly announces, against your wish, your apparent desperate need for advice from strangers.

So whomever is reading this, new parent…exhausted parent: instead of falling into the too-common traps of parenting advice, I simply offer completely candid two hands up and the only phrase I KNOW to be true

It gets easier. 

If we know each other, you can text me anytime and tell me anything. Just know that sometimes I will put you on speaker and just let you go on because getting it out is the only real need I had during those early months and I thank my tribe for doing this for me.  If we don’t know each other, know that I am rooting for you and you can do this! You feel inadequate and lost and would give anything for exactly four hours of sleep strung together. It is coming…They HAVE to sleep.  It will happen.

It gets eaesier. It gets better. It’ll start with the first smile, then the first laugh, then the first word, then the first steps…or so I am waiting. Every moment, every month, they get a little sturdier, a little more confident, a little less needy and a lot more fun. Sometimes, I look at V and think where did that tiny little human go, but then I see how hard he is working to make sense of this world and I just want to let him do it on his own knowing he can count on me and his dad at all times.  As it gets easier, he will know what he wants. You will too. It gets easier, just trust me on this one!

100 Days of motherhood without a letter board…

Plant-Quotes-and-Garden-Quotes-The-Gifted-Gabber-18

It’s been 100 days since I brought a human into this world, guys!  It’s still crazy to me that for the most part my life has resumed a sense of normalcy and routine.  My hips hurt, things crack when I stand or sit, and there’s now a lingering level of constant discomfort that reminds me of the amazing transformation my body went through since finding out I was pregnant on Nov. 9th 2018. I thought to be a mom these days you had to curate and create Instagram worthy posts showing how “real” motherhood is, but I am here to tell you motherhood can be done without letter boards and coordinated outfits!!

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All joking aside, one thing that was made immediately clear to me is that society expects us to, in the words of Beyonce, be “strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business” like ASAP!

Women are not really allowed to embrace and acknowledge our triumph and strength for long because almost immediately the pressures of motherhood, but more importantly society are thrust upon us.

A well meaning friend told me of all the creams and lotions she used to reduce the stretch marks TWO days after I came home from giving birth.  Someone in my family stated very causally that “this would be a great reset to getting into shape and lose some of the pre pregnancy weight also.” Endless remedies and potions were told to me freely about how to combat hair loss, brittle nails, bleeding nipples, bloated bellies and other more personal issues I will surely face that I will spare you here.

You see, in my opinion, as women our worth is boxed into two words for all of humanity to trivialize our existence.  These two words both define while at the same time limit us.  These words are what we are valued for being and yet often simultaneously considered inferior by society’s standards too. Words both misunderstood but comfortably used to make sense of most challenges we as females face.  So what are these words? Fertility and Femininity.  Fertility is boldly said to be THE moment when women realize their power and purpose. (I disagree wholeheartedly.) While Femininity is that which makes us desirable and cherishable by society.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, femininity  is defined as “qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of women” and right under that definition it is used in a sentence which ultimately says it all, if you ask me.  The DICTIONARY gives us this sentence: “she alternated between embracing her femininity and concealing it”

body

And THAT is my experience in these last 100 days.  From the minute you have your baby you are expected to conceal and hide all physical reminders of this miracle you (AND ONLY YOU) were wholly consumed by.  Cover up the stretch marks, buy the belly band, stop giving into your cravings still, there is a definite and finite amount of time allotted for your “snap back” to commence and past that window (which you did not get to define for yourself, by the way) well it will only get harder to lose the weight and regain your identity, apparently!!? Feminine, fertile, fierce, flirty, fun, fabulous female…thats a whole lot of F’s to give right now.

There’s this fantasy that your body is going to come back together. Your organs are going to be back in their original places. And it should all happen effortlessly while you care for and grow a brand new human. Sort of like a “curtain call” for your new life…and it is daunting and I feel the pressures of it daily.

280 

That is the number of days I grew a life inside my body. 280 days of being V’s only home. 280 days I shared my heartbeat with him. 280 days where nobody else knew the emotions I was experiencing fully.  280 days of transforming my body second by second to be ready to bring this sweet baby into this world.  280 days of knowing his movements, his patterns and preparing myself for this new phase of life.

100.  That is the day I am on today and I still eat way too much Nutella and ice cream.  I’ve always struggled with loving my body for most of my life and now when I look down and see the stretch marks and extra skin, I can’t help but wonder whether I should hide this new form of femininity caused by my fertility that stares back at me in the mirror.

BUMP

People freely ask me what I’m doing to ‘get my old body back’ (which is RUDE, by the way!) My old body? You mean the one I always criticized and treated so badly? The one that was never good enough, yet still somehow showed up and performed this incredible task and gifted me my son even though I did everything in my power to sabotage it for years? Back? What do you mean back? I have no intention in moving backwards in any aspect of my life, and truthfully I don’t think my body is ever going to be what it was before I pushed a 7-pound human being out of my vagina! That I grew in my womb for the better part of a year. And now I am solely taking on the responsibility for feeding – from my body, (and that is another intense experience for another day and another post!) No. My body will never be what it was before. These marks remind me of the months V and I spent just with each other.  Before I had to share him with everyone.  Before the world began trying to force me into picking just one box to fit into for the rest of my life: MOM! The real trickery about our society’s take on femininity is when we don’t know its actual power we are encouraged to flaunt it, but once we experience the strength of fertility, we are instantly told to hide our scars and cover our breasts. But maybe it’s ok to stop giving these two F’s so much control over our lives?

BIRTH

Dear postpartum body, first and foremost I don’t hate you, I promise.  But, loving you will take a lot of reconditioning and I am working on that. I am genuinely so proud of you. You grew my sweet boy inside you, kept him safe and healthy and then beautifully let him go with selfless bravery and unbelievable strength. You are not damaged or scarred.  You are my roadmap of the life we created together and every mark is a milestone of a time in my life only you and I can really know. So, what I am trying to say is, thank you.

Ok, for fear of getting too mushy enough about me, onto the bebe….Everyone told me also that when you see your baby, you will have this “omg, I am so in love with him” moment.  Can I tell you a secret?  I did not feel that way at all when L handed me the baby.  He was crying and covered in slime and L placed him on my chest and I don’t know what that “overwhelming love” is, but what I did feel was an overwhelming responsibility and desire to not put my past damages and insecurities onto this perfect blank slate.  I immediately felt like I had to protect him, he swiftly pooped on me and I also instantly knew this journey was not always going to be fun or rewarding, but one that L and I had to take seriously now.

We talked in depth about how we wanted to raise him to be curious, confident, trusting and loving.  That his only responsibility until the world fully got its hands on him would be to be kind and joyful.

FAM

That we wanted him to know our families and to enjoy their company.  We hoped our lives would make room for him and not change for him.  I am happy to say that for the most part this has been our reality.  We have had both mine and L’s family present during these first 100 days and V is loving all the attention and cuddles he gets from everyone.  L and I have transitioned into parenthood…it’s a real beast and we are in its mouth. There have been lots of hiccups, doubts, disagreements and uncertainties, but we decided early on that we would only confer with each other about what’s right and wrong for our little family and that has worked for us.

3

In these 100 days we’ve had family visit from Italy. We went to the mountains once and the beach twice and are flying for the first time with V to NYC tomorrow. I have gotten 4 massages and a full on spa day under my belt (thanks husband!). We have visited countless family members and have gone out to eat at least once a week since bringing baby home. I resigned my job (another story for another day) and will be starting a new job on Monday.  L submitted a huge NIH grant that could very well be the start of his research career and became a US citizen.  We don’t do things slowly in our household that’s for sure, but that’s also just how we like it.

I have to take a minute here to praise my husband one more time.  The way men so effortlessly fall into their role really amazes me.

L
We have those 9 months to bond, experience, prepare and develop a connection, but they go from empty hands to life placed in them within seconds.  Nobody asks them how they are feeling and for the most part the pressure of supporting their wife, child and family is felt immediately. Yet, somehow my husband has remained calm and kind even when I couldn’t. Cheers to you, Babe.  V’s demeanor is a testament to what we can be when we are given love and understanding from the very start! 

Lastly, these first 100 days showed me that new motherhood can be a reclusive and overwhelming time but you have to lean on your tribe but also listen to yourself.  There is no scenario where I am not V’s mom, nobody interacting with him or holding him or comforting him can take that away from me.  He is better off because I am able to be more myself when I have help. I do not feel “mom guilt” because I am genuinely doing the best I can and there is nothing more I could be doing for my boy. I am only sharing my experience here, not telling anyone else how to do motherhood or what to feel.  You have to figure out what works for yourself and shut out all the noise. But, for the rest of you reading…when you’re around a new mom, maybe just try telling her what a wonderful job she’s doing, how happy her baby seems to be, and how beautiful she looks; even if you don’t mean it, because that is really all we want to hear right now.

And to V….

ME

I prayed for you.  Not one of those soft, gentle, timid prayers, but an aching, explosive and soul-wrenching cry of a prayer. A pleading throughout several wrong relationships and bad timings with my face to the floor clenching a bathmat looking up to the heavens through swollen, tear-filled eyes kind of prayer.  Our children will never know under what circumstances they came to us or just how loved the idea of them was even before they themselves were a reality. But, I know I prayed deep and finally after having had enough I prayed raw, loudly and with anger straight to my God with absolute ownership and demand…and here you are!  The only thing I can promise you is that I will not be able to fix everything for you, but I will always be there to help you. I will teach you about this thing called prayer because at the end of the day it is God who gives us the reasons for prayer and also the answers to our prayers.  More than us, let Him be your guide through life.

On to the next 100 days…

V

 

Oh boy…

IMG_0846Pump. Measure. Store. Feed. Burp. Play. Cuddle. Change. Wash. Sing. Read. Clean. Laundry. Trash. Stretch. Kiss. Snuggle. Shower. Eat. Pump.

That is pretty much how life goes now.  I am now going to say the one thing you’re probably not supposed to say when you have the cutest, sweetest and most easy going 3-week old baby at home.  Wait. For. It….Motherhood is lonely and incredibly alienating.

Whew, that feels good to say it…err…write it.  It’s Saturday morning, I have been up 3 times already since this day started.  Which by the way, our day starts at 12 am now…that’s the full 24 hours cycle we now live by.  We had a friend in town so we went out to dinner last night and got back later than planned, so the baby didn’t go to bed until 10. My boy sleeps (woo hooooo) 4-5 hours, so around 2 he began to stir, but this was an easy diaper change and he was back to dreamland.  Again at 3am he was fussy but after a quick feed…this kid enjoys eating without much fuss…he went back to sleep by 3:45.  I on the other hand am not so lucky.  See, it’s time to pump and pump I did, while watching the Real Housewives of OC alone downstairs to the mind numbing sound of the breast pump in the background.  4:15am, I head back up to bed, but first one more check on the baby…homie is lights-out! IMG_0848.jpgDear God, this kid is adorable when he sleeps! <3.

Before I get the messages, I LOVE my son.  He is the center of our world, and not in some unrealistic I will drop everything for him kind of way.  But genuinely, we like this kid so much.  He’s a good baby.  Not fussy, and cries only when he needs us and is honestly the sweetest baby I have ever known. The one thing nobody tells you, and they really should, is that babies are born ready to survive. They come with all the tricks already planned and at their disposal.  They are stinkin’ cute and more often than not look like your partner and you combined in the most perfect way so you’re hooked!  They smell oh soooooo good that you’re often finding yourself weirdly smelling the baby’s head, which is slightly creepy.  But, hey I am alone with him all day so nobody has to know exactly how many times a day I smell his yummy little head, okay?!  And they are constantly making connections and learning little things every single day.  Babies are truly master manipulators.  They know who is the lady with the food source and they learn how to get you to just melt to their every beck and call within the first few hours of being here.  Ladies, let me be the first to tell you, because nobody told me, your baby knows what the heck he/she is doing from day 1.  Your job is to try to remain as you as you possibly can be while being completely wrapped around his/her little finger.  THAT is the mission we’ve all signed up for.

Tuesday, I asked my sister to come over to stay with the baby so I could go into work for a few hours.  I needed to be around other humans, hear about work stress maybe and just feel like an adult for a few hours.  Boy, was I wrong.  See, I made the mistake of going into work WITHOUT my baby.  Nobody wanted to see me.  “Oh, you didn’t bring the baby?” was the first question the receptionist blurted out when I walked in the door.  Uh, no…no Cathy it’s just me, I thought, it’s always only ever been me coming into this building before, remember? IMG_0898 Person after person wanted to know when I’d bring the baby by and how he was doing.  It was very sweet, but wait a minute, what about me!? I was suddenly not just Shivi but V’s mom from this day forward even to my coworkers.  To be clear, I am actually also okay with that…that’s not my point here.  My point is that motherhood is intensely alienating.  You do this incredible thing called childbirth that really deserves an entire lifetime of celebration for each and every woman who goes through it.  You are then given this innocent baby and in a matter of seconds your entire identity changes for everyone around you to “MOM”

IMG_0887.jpgAt the end of every day, when I crawl into bed next to my husband, I find there is a part of me that continues to stay alert, a little corner of my brain I save just for my son in case he needs it — a tiny, stoic, tired, watchdog like creature who never fully sleeps (not like I used to be able to) and guards her post alone… knowing the difference between a hunger and diaper change cry even at 3 am.  I know this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship — but I also know this will be one that promises to be a much more one-sided role of caring for, worrying about, and trying to protect someone without ever being asked to.  That’s just what moms and dads do, right?

I spend all my day with a little being who fully needs me and responds to my every sound and touch.  It is something I have never experienced to be needed so completely by someone else, so how can I feel so lonely? There isn’t much in-depth research on new parents and loneliness (I searched to see if this was common….it might be but nobody is talking about it)  but a recent UK survey of more than 2,000 mothers by the online mothers’ networking group Channel Mums found that 90 percent of mothers feel lonely since having children and 54 percent felt “friendless” after giving birth.  Think about that!!  90 percent!!!  I know it’s a one survey but perhaps selfishly I feel it is so spot on.

I have felt lonely before, but this new experience of prolonged loneliness coincides with a time in which I am rarely ever actually on my own, either in public or in private. There is a human attached to me wherever I go. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the most isolating period of my life is being spent with the human I love most in the world literally acting as an extension of my limbs. New motherhood can be so incredibly isolating that it feels like you’re plunged into a kind of disconnected inertia. I imagined that my maternity leave would be spent “bonding and hanging out” with my baby. And in truth, we are hanging. I lay on the couch and he on his bouncy chair watching Netflix, we plop together on the floor reading books and laughing.  He coos, I swoon.  He has gas, I think he’s smiling just at me. It’s a freakin’ Disney romance over here, trust me . But what we don’t do—what we can’t do—is actually have a conversation. This, I am discovering, can drive you right up to the edge of sanity.  I miss talking…not talking to a baby….but just TALKING!!

IMG_0889.JPGI have this fear, that is quickly becoming a reality that I would no longer be the most important person in my own life, and that is how it should be. Who needs “me” anymore when I should derive all my interests, priorities and ambitions from a 8-pound bald male with zero bowel control? The answer is I NEED ME.  I need to be me still in order to do all the things this little creature needs from me. My body, my mind, my marriage, my career—all of it is not suddenly up for renegotiation simply because my son entered this world.

New parenthood, in its most transformative sense, happens mostly to women. Sorry guys, but even with the most supportive partner, I am the one with the milk factory and therefore I am the one that is most needed right now! It happens to us at the very moment in our lives when we are expected to set our own needs aside for the well-being of a child. It makes us vulnerable at the moment when we’ve proven to be the most powerful, both physically and emotionally. I dare anyone who’s witnessed childbirth to argue this one. Motherhood strips us of our fought for and earned place in society while endowing us with a whole new social status we didn’t actually ask for and not many in our society fully respect or understand, if we’re being honest. It makes us privately important but somehow publicly invisible. In short, it’s the most astonishing thing that could ever happen to a person while also being perceived as almost too basic to even talk about in sophisticated company. At least not in any sort of perceived negative connotations associated with motherhood without being immediately shut down or made to feel like a monster or people dismissing you by simply saying “Oh there she goes talking about being a mommy, again.”  Or my personal trigger, “but it is truly the most rewarding thing in life.”  uhh…

And I will say it once more in case you missed it… it IS lonely and you can say it out loud without judgment. There is a lack of social support and sense community surrounding new moms which is so desperately needed during these first few days, weeks, months years of motherhood.  There is plenty of unsolicited advice but no real coming together.  And, no…you don’t just have to be only mom from here onwards.  You can continue be whomever and whatever you want to be…and that includes needing a break from being a mom sometimes. It is okay to ask that people talk about the not so pleasant realities of motherhood without being labeled ungrateful.  I wonder what our mothers did when they felt this loneliness and society wouldn’t allow them to even acknowledge it?  What about our grandmothers who had no voice or role outside the home? What were their tricks and coping skills to combat these feelings?

How strange that we so rarely talk about it openly?  Maybe we should…

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Why thank you, Babe!

image2“This is why all those other things never fully felt right or worked out.”  This was the thought that went through my head as I changed my son’s diaper for the first time on Wednesday…5 days after he was born!  It is always said that the mom is the first to comfort and hold the baby.  But, in our family this was not the case.  The last hour of labor is such a blur to me, but I do remember constantly looking over at L and him encouraging me to keep going.  I didn’t even know what I was doing or why at that point, but I could see on his face that something was happening as it should be.  He would raise his eyebrows and smile and continued to say encouraging and loving things to both of myself and to our son.  The first set of eyes cast on our boy would be his, the first words of encouragement and kindness he would hear would be that coming out of his dad’s mouth. First tears shed for his well-being were Lorenzo’s and the first hopes and wishes formed for his future were made by my husband because my brain was in a fog, to be honest.

image3The days following have been nothing but blissful….for me.  L literally only gets 5 days of paternity leave, and while that seems absolutely ridiculous, the way he has used these days to make sure that those 5 days are HIS days with our son is exactly what and who he said he would be in this journey into parenthood.  We came home late Sunday night, and I went straight to bed.  I was exhausted and honestly my body could not do one more thing if God himself came down and asked me.  We decided at the hospital and on the drive home that apart from nursing and pumping on a recommended schedule, I do not want to commit to doing much else. We also didn’t want a bunch of people coming and going with different ways of doing things, so as much as possible let’s have a week of getting to know this new dynamic as a family of three.   L gallantly said, ” babe, I will handle everything else, you just need to rest and trust me.”

image1I have to admit, there was a part of me that was skeptical…like really?  You will handle everything?  We don’t even know what everything is yet…let’s just see how long it is before he is equally tired and we are bickering about who’s going to change the baby’s diaper.  I won’t go into the details, but I will say this: I have more admiration and love for this man than I ever thought was possible today.  He has not missed a beat.  From making me fresh meals daily to washing bottles and prepping the breast pump for each session to changing every diaper to walking our dog; he has done EVERYTHING. The thing is, this post is not to say omg what an amazing thing that he’s doing (yes its amazing, but stay with me here).   The point that dawned on me when I was finally allowed to change my first diaper for our son is that you cannot rush the importance of finding the right partner. Ladies, take as long as you need to find someone who allows you to be exactly who you are. Someone you can talk openly with about your strengths and weaknesses. A person who will let you take a break just because you say you need one, and supports you through it all. And then make sure you are all those things for him too!

Nothing that my husband did deserves a goal medal, he is our son’s father. image4 I physically needed the time to rest because next week I am on my own, so I do not feel 1% guilty laying down and watching L work himself to the bone caring for our son.  We both decided that we want to create a home where our son feels nurtured, safe, comforted and encouraged.  We never said it would be dependent on ME doing that alone.  In a lot of ways my husband’s energy is MUCH more chill and neutral than mine. SHOCKING, I know!!  So, I really feel like these first few days, my son has been influenced by that energy so much. There are so many studies that state it is vitally important for a father to interact and bond with his newborn to help the infant’s development and to reduce the risk of paternal postpartum depression. That’s correct. Postpartum depression is not exclusive to new moms. Delayed bonding over the course of the first couple of months can increase the risk of paternal postpartum depression.

According to a study published in Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, when fathers delay bonding with their newborns, they risk altering the long-term course of paternal involvement as the infant progresses throughout his other life. Many men say they feel left out of pregnancy altogether and only really feel the impact only once the baby is here. image5.jpeg Even then, it is often the burden of medical bills, car seat and safety obligations and the overall “provider” role immediately being thrust upon them, and not  the emotional and subtle bonds needing to be established with their newborn, which takes time and effort form.

When I look back on the last 6 days, the first 3 are a blur.  Between my physical pain and mental fuzziness, I do not know how I could have possibly done any of the things my son needed to feel safe and comfortable with what is likely a traumatic transition into this big new world.  My husband held him, spoke kindly to him, loved on him and attended to his every need allowing our son to understand that he is cared for and ultimately helped forge trust between him and us….Just because my husband provided this doesn’t mean I don’t also benefit from it.

When I could interact with our son, I was 100% connected.  I was not exhausted and sleep deprived, but the opposite.  I was calm, eager and excited for my turn with him.  I was craving diaper changes, and play time.  I wanted desperately to see my first gas smile and experience the unexpected stream of pee spray everywhere myself. image1“Allowing” L to lead this week gave me the chance to be the kind of mom I hoped I would be to our son.  Not a stress ball who was anxious and irritable, but someone who was enjoying motherhood and I know my son could feel that.

Successful father-infant bonding during the immediate postpartum period has been shown to have several benefits for the infant: it reduces cognitive delay, promotes weight gain in preterm infants, and improves breastfeeding rates. image6.jpegI am not saying that we have it figured out, it’s DAY 6 for goodness sake, but I am so pleased with how these first days have transpired and I honestly would not change one single minute of any of it.

I have used the time to understand what my body needs, to better prepare for next week when I am going to be alone most of the day with V, and yes even check work email and set better expectations with my job for this transition also.  I do not feel guilty about being away from obsessively staring at my son all day long (which I can easily do), I like the routine my husband has established and I am thankful that I waited to find the right partner with whom I can build the right life with together.

Even as I write this, V is sleeping but starting to fuss and I heard what sounded like pooping coming from his direction.  L is figuring out some ceiling storage project for our garage that of course must be done today! (Sarcasm is my friend) Music is playing rather loudly from the garage, Sofia goes between barking at everything and sleeping in her bed, the sun is shinning and I should use this time to either sleep myself or maybe put away baby bottles and clean up toys in the living room.  I could be, but taking a minute to write down just how thankful I am to have waited to create this exact life with this exact man for this exact little boy seems like the best use of my time for right now.

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I need to woozahhhh

Image result for pregnant and miserable memeThis week has been hard.  No, this week has been unbearable.  I feel like I am getting kicked (both metaphorically and physically) from all angles.  But, more importantly my objective reasoning and resolution abilities are considerably altered from being 35 weeks pregnant, working 50+ hours running a national sales team, while having my entire company’s board of directors in town for the whole week for a mid-year review.  I feel judged, critiqued and questioned at every turn and if I am being honest all I want to do is stay home and enjoy the remaining few weeks of having VT all to myself.

I have a habit of listening to shows while I drive, so the other day I pulled up Netflix on my drive to a meeting and listened to David Letterman interview Kanye West.  I personally am a fan of Kanye’s way of thinking.  I enjoy his interviews, yes he’s all over the place, but I appreciate his conviction in his truths and his belief that we are all entitled tour own journey and we should not criticize or judge each other but live in our truth and our lanes unapologetically.  There was a concept he briefly talked about during the interview that caught my attention, it was this notion of Force vs Power.  Kanye brushes over it quickly, but I did a little bit more digging and found a book by Dr. David R. Hawkins entitled Power Vs Force: The Hidden Determinants of human Behavior. You can get it on Audible easily and if you have the time I highly suggest a listen.  Hawkins explores, what to me is, an interesting  concept regarding motive, paradigms, and power. He suggests that the way we view and interact with the world relates to a specific level of consciousness. He believes we often stay within the same consciousness level most of our lives.  My hope after reading the book (well, listening to it) is that we switch between these levels based on our individual needs and the more we are in tune with ourselves the more we can notice when we shift from a higher level of consciousness to lower levels that don’t assist in our growth, peace or development.

I love when authors of spiritual concepts use more scientific methods to explain their message.  For me, science and spirituality are not dueling concepts, but rather perfect pairing to support each other’s goals.  According to Hawkins, there are 17 levels of consciousness that we can operate from.  The levels in coral depict those which use power. Operating from one of these levels creates an effortless pull of good things, situations, and opportunities to you.  PowerVsForceConciousnessLevelsWhen we are aligned in the coral levels, the pull of good things becomes effortless.  Meanwhile, the levels in gray demonstrate the levels of force, which requires you to go out there and ‘take’ the good things, situations, and opportunities that you’d like. These levels require effort from your part, and is not always readily avaialble.

It all boils down to embracing power and not forcing “it”.  This is a concept that many of us I think struggle with.  Can you be powerful without being forceful?  We are taught that force and power can be interchangeable but according to Hawkins’ ideas that is not the case at all.

As for this week, when I looked deeper into the conflicts and issues I was having I could pinpoint almost ALL of them to one of the words listed in gray.  I was afraid that if I didn’t perform exactly to the standards of “pre-pregnant” Shivi, my company would use the time I’m on maternity leave to find other solutions for the tasks I am tied to.  Fear was leading me to be more irritable and uncooperative. If I am truly honest, my power comes in my willingness to be flexible during my transition into motherhood. I don’t want 3 full months at home, I want to find a way to work and bond with my baby.  My company’s power comes from their ability accept the modified leave proposal I sent over for the next 3 months, which they’ve agreed to with no push back at all.  Our collective power comes from the acceptance that things will change, I will need to delegate, and they will need to involve me in less low level projects so that my team can step into those roles.  Once I realized which level of consciousness I’d like to approach it from (reason and acceptance), I could step back without fear of being replaced because let’s be honest thinking about myself as that irrelevant or invaluable to a company I’ve helped restructure does nobody any good ultimately.

Suddenly,  I had a way of identifying my own roadblocks and levels of consciousness and I found it so liberating to hold myself accountable. If I’m having a conflict, I’m generally sure that I am looking at the circumstances from a gray, forceful level and in turn coming up with solutions for the problem on the same, or nearby gray level, leaving me ultimately frustrated and at a standstill. However, when I pause and ask myself:

“At what level would I need to look at this situation in order to find peace and a new solution?”

… A new way of being, thinking, and feeling emerges…Hopefully.  Look, I am not saying this is the secret sauce, but it’s something, right? Image result for genie aladdin L and I went to watch Aladdin the other day because…well, I’m obsessed with all things Disney and did I mention I’m huge right now so any activity where I can lounge and possibly have snacks at my disposal is a huge plus.  Here again this concept of Power vs Force showed itself.  (On a side note: when you are truly a seeker of good things and/or intentionally looking to better yourself, the universe will be so damn clear with you that you will get the messages are meant for you everywhere!)

Aladdin was powerful on his own, he didn’t need the Genie, Jasmine was all about it from the jump.  But, he was operating from a place of shame and desire which prolonged his ultimate rise because he was forcing that shit!  The Genie is perceived to have phenomenal cosmic powers beyond measure, but why?  The Genie comes with acceptance, he is aware that his life is in servitude of a master, he has the sole goal of fulfilling his masters’ wishes, and once he accepts that as his level of consciousness…he is able to enjoy that experience. Masters come and go, but he makes jokes, adapts to each master and embraces his life fully.  In the lamp or out of the lamp…the genie is living his best damn life, y’all!  I see the back row rolling its eyes collectively…I know sometimes this spirituality stuff seems cookey, but we have to invest in ourselves more.  In our growth and in our progress.  Wherever the opportunities lie to learn a new way of existence, we have to start to apply them on some level to our experiences so that we can learn, evolve and do it through process and intention.

Image result for pregnant and miserable memeSo, what now?  I’m still stressed, huge, uncomfortable and feeling overwhelmed, but I feel slightly better equipped to not feel powerless.  I can assess the why, and then try to shift my behavior to match a level of consciousness that could lead me to a better state of mind.  Yes, I am clueless about motherhood and what’s about to happen.  But, I am choosing now to operate from a place of power.  My power comes from my ability to always use reason versus emotions in my life decisions. I want to accept these changes and allow my consciousness to not be led by fear or desire.  I want to be in the moment, identify my intentions and adjust my behavior accordingly.

Lofty goals, but have you ever achieved anything in your life without explicitly stating your final outcome?  I didn’t go to college saying maybe I will get a degree one day.  I declared psychology as my major, followed what my counselor told me each semester and walked away with a degree.  So often, we don’t put that same effort into our personal growth and well-being that we do into external accomplishments.  There is nothing wrong with understanding and choosing to embrace your power. The immediate application of this is maybe during childbirth…which is coming!!!  Trust me, I am DONE being pregnant, but there is no amount of force that can get this baby out until the power of this process allows for it occur on its own. I want to remain in a place of joy and reason and trust that there is a plan and it will manifest! There is no scenario in which he gets to live his life in his current place of occupancy…EVICTION day is coming!

Power gives life and energy. Force takes these away. Force always moves against something, whereas power does not move against anything, it is simply something that just IS.

True power is similar to surrender in its quality. Power is effortless, and it’s about looking inwards, standing still, not trying, not forcing, and not needing. It is really only necessary to recognize that power is that which makes you go strong and have clarity, while force makes you go weak and feel lost. Try to notice these changes in your daily life, live more aware of your own needs and don’t apologize for taking time for yourself. Force always creates counter-force, whereas power should stabilize you and create a sense of calm understanding.  When we begin to operate from a place of power, maybe then,Image result for genie aladdin as Kafka said, “The world will freely offer itself to you unmasked. It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” (Yes, I quoted KAKFAAAAA……who the F am I, sorry guys?!?!?).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So real talk…

motherhoodBeing a mother is not the most important job in the world. There, I said it. Nor should it be the toughest and most rewarding thing you do with your life.  I have prayed many nights for this period of my life that I’m currently enjoying so intensely.  I have an amazing partner who I am still getting to know better each day, we are newlyweds and expecting our son in July.  Life is beautiful and magical, but at every turn I am met with women who insist on dumping their fears, struggles and unsolicited advice on me.  I love talking with smart, intelligent women who have life experiences to share and usually my experience with these conversations are that they are powerful messages of perseverance and always leave me feeling inspired but for some reason when it comes to motherhood it always seems so gloomy to me.  It starts with the struggles of pregnancy.  Quickly turns to the horrors of childbirth only to end with the emotional rollercoaster that is motherhood.  Basically my takeaway is that we women are supposed to live in some constant state of existence between inexplicable guilt, unconditional love, and never-ending responsibility.

momI’m also slightly confused as to what makes you a mother. Is it the actual birth?  Is it caring for a child?  Before I met my husband, I made a conscious decision that if I was not able to have the family unit I desired, I would still enjoy the joys of being involved in my niece and nephew’s lives, I know I am not their mother, but I would say that the relationship we have developed allows me to feel the same fears, joys and love that their mom feels for them. I have been in tune with my mothering side almost my whole life, but more so after having nieces and nephews because the expression of love flows so freely from them.  I know they turn to me for guidance and a nurturing female energy that I am happy to provide. But, I guess in the way we use the term “Mother” it is a job or title you receive only after birthing or having a child of your own? But, honestly, if being a mother were a job there should be a selection process, some kind of pay, maybe some holidays, a superior to report to, performance assessments, and you could resign from your job and get another one because you didn’t like the people you were working with. My point is, from where I sit, motherhood is not a vocation – being a mother is a relationship; one you enter into willingly, but also jointly with a partner (in the most ideal scenario) and with excitement and optimism.

I guess I just want to take a minute and write down my own thoughts on this new phase of OUR lives, and I say our lives because for thwaite first time it’s not just me who is affected by the things that happen to me, around me or because of me. The goal is not to “mom shame,” point fingers or draw comparisons to anyone else’s experience or desires, but more to just be able to go back in a year, between feedings and sleepless delirium, and read this to see how much is still relevant and how much was complete nonsense because maybe I really didn’t know shit after all!?!

  1. I don’t believe my son’s big secret plan is to catch me completely off guard turn my life upside down and off its axis.  I am 35, and while I always knew I wanted children, for a long time I was with men who were in some way, shape or form not ready for the responsibility.  As time went on, many of my close girlfriends began to have kids, as did my sisters and I made a conscious decision that if my own life couldn’t get on track towards the house, kids and 2 dogs I so wanted, then I would do what I could to be the best aunt, friend, or support system to those whom I loved with kids. Before you point out the obvious, of course having a kid is going to change our lives, I travel almost weekly for work and I am not stupid enough to think that I can continue to expect to do that and be the kind of mom AND wife I would like to be. kidsWhen my husband and I met, one of the first, if not THE first, conversations we had was what did we want from this relationship longterm.  We both expressed that we had focused a lot on our careers, made many mistakes in picking partners in the past and spent a lot of time getting our lives right for ourselves. He’s a physician with three board certifications and a PHD to top it off and I have spent the last 10 years really leapfrogging from job to job with the goal of running my own national sales team and that is exactly what I am doing now, so we weren’t young and idealistic but rather seasoned and somewhat sure where the bullseye was for ourselves.  We both stated very clearly that if marriage and children were not in the near future then were we not interested in investing much more energy into even getting to know each other.  I think my exact line to him was ” I have my circle of friends and I am not looking to add to that a confusing and undefined male relationship no mater how good the chemistry is between us.” So, while our relationship was fast, we spent it really asking each other the tough questions.  We travelled together right away to see if we would be compatible in those situations because travel was important to both of our lifestyles.  We met each other’s families quickly because we both were very passionate about our cultures and family was at the center of how we saw our own future family developing.so We discussed our views on everything from politics to parenting almost immediately.  So, when I say our son is not going to uproot our lives, I certainly am not naive enough to believe nothing is going to change but that we really have thought about how things could change and still wanted to go on this journey together.  I’ve been working for over 10 years on a career I am really pleased with while my husband is on year 2 of a career that I know he’s equally passionate about.  We both know that for our family to work  how we envision it should, it will require little bit of me stepping back from the corporate world so he can step further into his academic and clinical career but all while still being a family first and foremost.  I am not expecting 12 hours of sleep by 12 weeks, as our most recent bedtime reading promises, but like everything else in our lives we are preparing.  We are reading everything we can from the Danish way of parenting to GI Dad’s survival guide to a newborn.  Every documentary Netflix has to offer on parenting is being watched and a constant stream of memes or Instagram stories are on repeat so we can truly know what is to really come. (sarcasm) One thing we both agree on fully is that we will lean on our village completely.  We have strong relationships with our parents and trust their experience.  We both have an abundance of aunts who have each balanced careers and raising children, and while its not the most common thing to say, we want to defer to those on the end of the cycle than those going through child rearing. We feel that their experience and observations are more valuable than anything we can find in a book. Beyond this, we don’t know and that is okay for right now.
  2. My husband will not need to figure out how to give me breaks or help me where he can when it comes to parenting because he will be too busy being a father to our son because that’s what he said he wanted to be. dad If I wanted to have a kid without a partner, I had several opportunities in my life to do so.  My goal was to always create a family where we could all contribute and learn from each other.  We do men such a disservice in how we allow them to participate in the upbringing of their offsprings. I find myself on a mission now.  That mission is to help my husband confidently be the father he also dreamed of being for so many years.  He has so many wishes and dreams of his own for this phase of our lives.  We always talk about the huge, life-changing responsibility of becoming a mother, but what about fathers?  Lately, I have been drawn to his reactions to these little milestones that happen mostly to and inside me.  I have been observing how delicately he approaches my needs knowing it affects our sons wellbeing too.  While I have always known he cared about me, I see how much he cares for BOTH of us now.  He is already showing me his style of parenting and his ability to support me without really even understanding everything that is happening fully. I never noticed those moments when he started to fall in love with me, it sort of happened mutually and organically, I think.  But during my pregnancy, I am moved by how beautifully he is falling in love with our son.  I have him with me all day, I feel every movement and my conversations with him have developed into full on poetic discourse over the last 28 weeks.
    My husband, on the other hand, only experiences our son during appointments, or when I point out something that is happening yet he is so in love and it is beautiful to witness. Image result for fathers loveI want to empower him to be the father he wants to be without inadvertently making my role as our son’s mother more valuable just because my body is capable of physically going through this process while his is not. Our emotions are the same, and I would argue his ability to feel the same intense love I feel without the constant, daily, physical reminders is something truly incredible.  We both chose to be parents.  We discussed it over many months before deciding to consciously try to conceive.  We were both together when we first heard his heartbeat and we intend to be together in all decisions and challenges going forward.  I am not driving this bus alone, and while only I can do the physical act of birthing him I know that from the moment he is here we will balance the needs of our growing family together.
  3. I am not expecting to be the pre-mom version of myself but I am not interested in taking on the labels society uses to describe women post childbirth. I am really ready for this transition, but I am not accepting that this new version of me will just be this exhausted, harried, overwhelmed, kid obsessed mom. I can be a mother and… other things. Image result for working momNot once has ANYONE asked my husband this question that I know ALL women get asked during their pregnancy: “Do you plan to return to work after the baby?” He’s also having a baby, his life is also changing in ways he cannot anticipate, he will also be sharing a home with a crying baby experiencing sleepless nights, he will also have to feel the pangs of separation BUT not once do we question the fact that a man will return to work after having a baby.  Yes, we are BOTH having a baby and we both plan to keep working.

Somehow having a kid makes it impossible for you to be anything but a MOTHER….

I have a job, but you don’t have to call me a “working mom.” I’m simply a human who works.  I have worked since I was 16 and as of now plan to continue to work as long as I feel it works for my family.  You better now if that lottery ticket hits, I will not be waking up Monday morning and heading to the office! But in the interim, I have lifestyle I love and it requires money to be able to do the things I love doing.  So yes, I will continue to be a working human who also happens to be a mother.

Image result for redefine stay at home momIf at some point I choose to quit working and stay home full-time, I don’t immediately become a “stay-at-home mom.”  Thats just sounds depressing and untrue.  I don’t know one person who makes the choice to raise their kids full time who actually stays AT home all day long.  They are always on the go and manage 10,000 different things every single day.  These titles and labels should of course reflect the  

I like to travel, but suddenly people start becoming #TravelingMom.  Or lets just say I like to workout (which I don’t) then I guess I’m a #FitMom.  Somehow after having a baby you have to lose human status and simply strap on the mom badge through the rest of your existence.  I am a human striving to be healthier, happier, and a better version of myself daily and plan to continue to be that even post baby.

I have dreams and goals for myself that both relate to motherhood and have nothing to do with motherhood at all, but you don’t have to label me a “mom boss” or now if I have an opinion or am passionate about a topic it’s called “mom-splaining” or “momRants.”  I Image result for mom jeans mememean there are even MOM-JEANS!!  C’mon…I’m sorry but you’re just out of shape and probably need a stylist, Sis!! I told a friend I was thinking about cutting my hair and her response was ” oh like a mom-bob?”  Really??  I have cut my hair so many times overt the last 35 years, from age 6 to 16 I basically sported some version of a bowl-cut for girls…so why now is it suddenly called a mom-bob??  I’m just a human who wants to achieve certain things in life and maybe thats all it is?!  I’ll figure out the mom I need to be at each stage of our lives and we’ll figure out who we are exactly, as a family. Spoiler alert: It’s going to take time. And it’s going to keep changing. And we’ll be growing but more importantly I’ll grow on my own a lot through this process too.  The only hope is to keep learning and unearthing the newer versions of myself first, which will lead to newer versions of our evolving family over the course of our lives — right alongside our baby…babies (by the way that’s the next blog topic, I mean can I have this one first please?!?!)

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Stop telling us we’re damaged…

It seems like society is only comfortable with women if they can define us on a very narrow one dimensional way…generally with some type of damaged undertone associated with us. From as early as I can remember, I was told, in no uncertain terms, what things socially coded as feminine were and what things coded as “masculine” were off-limits to me.  My little brother was rambunctious and precocious, while I was stubborn and unruly .  My cousin was naughty and curious, while I was disobedient and disruptive.

Related imageThroughout my life, behaviors I displayed that mirrored those of my male friends and family members would always be labeled negatively while my male counterparts would be praised. The current buzzwords of feminism – choice, self-expression, freedom, self-care, equality – are being conveniently reframed in subliminally negative packages to the average unassuming female.

One such example is a show I recently stumbled upon on Netflix called, Workin Moms. This show follow 4 (and why is it ALWAYS 4??) fictional women who are recent mothers copping with the struggles and changes that motherhood brings.  I thought, maybe this female driven subject matter would lend itself to witty humor and realistically show the issues facing most women, and maybe it would be somewhat warm and uplifting with cute babies strategically placed in scenes?  UMM…NO, that is not what I got myself into.

Lets start with each character as described by the Netflix blurb about this show, shall we?

Image result for workin momsWarm, loyal PR executive Kate, first of all this character is not what I would describe as warm.  She is highly passionate at her work, uncomfortably awkward in her mannerisms and frankly completely emotionless towards the needs of her family, newborn son and friends alike.  Then we have her longtime friend, no-nonsense psychiatrist Anne, who is full of nonsensical prejudices and unfriendly towards everyone, including her adolescent daughter whom she cannot seen to connect with.  Anne is the kind of one dimensional character that makes you think the writers typed in “neurotic psychiatrist characteristics” into the google search box and then developed a fictional character based on these results. Now let’s meet timid IT tech Jenny and blindly optimistic real estate agent Frankie.  First of off Jenny is a nut job!  She is hyper sexual and confused after having had a baby recently and her life is falling apart which includes everything from sexually harassing her boss to getting a belly button piercing in a back alley that gets infected….and how is she timid exactly?? and Frankie is insane, she is the exact opposite of optimistic, she literally tries to kill herself by jumping out a tree in episode 3!  I can only assume that the synopsis of this show was written as a joke because the writers and producers are conducting a larger user behavior research study on how Netflix users choose shows to watch.

I got through episode 4 before my fiancé came home to find me in a deeply disturbed mood.  I explained to him that I started this show and now I’m wondering do all women go from well rounded, knowledgeable, competent individuals to blabbering, angry, emotionally exaggerated versions of themselves after having children?  You see my biggest issue was that of all the women I know not one of them is this limited, but somehow this is the version of women tv, movies and media in general wants to shove down our throats.Image result for is this all?  You’re either a Carrie or a Samantha, except I know either one of these ridiculous fictional characters in real life.  In Workin Moms, for example the career driven PR executive decides to take a job in Montreal away from her 6 month old baby simply because she doesn’t want a male colleague to get that position, with no discussion with her husband or consideration for the wellbeing of her child.  Now, I love my job.  I don’t yet have a baby, but L and I take frequently about what we are both willing to change or give up in order to make a family work.  I am fiercely protective of my career because only I know I have worked really hard to get to where I am now and do not plan on walking away from anything. But, I also know I will have to change the pace and intensity with which I currently approach my work life should I want a happy home life one day. And that is a discussion I welcome in our home.

My biggest problem is the fact that these writers want to make viewers believe that women are either overly emotional or emotionless; ambitious or left behind; sexually driven or saintly mothers; fully nurturing or borderline suicidal is insulting to me as woman.  But, it is not the fault of the show. We women have accepted and allowed this to be our representation in the media. Today pole-dancing classes are sold as empowering Image result for stripper polefun for liberated women, but shouldn’t it just be listed as an alternative cardio-driven form of exercise using a long vertical metal apparatus for support available to any woman?  Can’t the church going mom of two proudly take this class with the stripper trying to get an extra tip too?

What is even more bothersome is the common uneasiness that is accepted about what mainstream media is doing to women in the name of feminism, or choice, or freedom; that continues to go on ignored by all of us. They give us these characters like Carmela Soprano or Abby Donovan who are forced on us under the mask of strong matriarch when in reality they are annoying, nagging bored housewives who tolerate their husbands criminal behaviors until it starts to bleed into their home life and resembles fawned disrespect.  Girl please, your husband is a “fixer” who physically solves “issues” for his clients and now you’re shocked when he cannot emotionally connect with you during intimacy? Pardon me while I clutch my pearls in horror…

Image result for representation mattersAnd then there are my “artistic” friends.  I love you guys, but you sit on your art is representation soapbox and say absurd things like even having this character on a show like Ray Donovan is step towards something.  No, it’s not.  I do not need to see another example of a simple character who struggles to find her voice only so that when she does she can use it to breakdown the institutions in our society that actually stand for something like marriage, family, and religion.  Representation matters, yes….but accurate representation matters more!

So what’s my point?  I just think we deserve better examples on tv of what women are truly dealing with.  I see my sisters balance passions, careers and children and while I am not at every insecure moment I can only hope we can lean on each other and get through it. A woman can be smart, strong, and successful, works to upkeep a certain physical aesthetic, and is the epitome of sociability in the city¬–without being labeled excessive or a show off. It is as if women must choose, by some arbitrary timeline…let’s say graduation into early adulthood, which universe they will live in. The one that is stern, serious, and professional, or the one that is adventurous, fun, and embraces all things beautiful. That is all we can wrap our brains around, I guess…happy girls or bitchy girls!

This perception exists on a false understanding of gender and what it is supposed to be.

The truth is that the universes of men and women are not separate; they are fluid and creativity exists in the overlappings of both. Pick and choose freely amongst your traits equally like a paint palette and create a masterpiece. Use all the shades of red, yellow, blue, green, orange, or purple and mix them together in every way the rules told you not to. Except in our case our colors are your creativity, your beauty, your willpower, your humor, your confidence, your work ethic, your determination, your vulnerability and so much more.

I beg our writers, creatives and artists  to develop content, books, tv shows and movies that shock us…because it shows finally a true depiction of real women.

Shock the society that has made it taboo for a woman to be both smart and beautiful.

Shock the society that wants us to uphold femininity (which nobody can still fully define, mind you) all the time and be headstrong and goal-oriented only when convenient or allowed by male counterparts.

Shock them, shock all of us in fact, until it is no longer shocking. Until multidimensionality is embraced as naturally as it feels, by all of society and hopefully generations to come.

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When the darkness has no end…

I stopped writing. Actually I stopped posting my writing. I’ve always felt like writing was my way of exploring and understanding my experiences through each period of my life and finding the commonalities that weaved through seemingly disconnected issues. The India years, the Cary days, the DC period, the New York City phase, the depressed days, the abusive period, the insecure era, the destructive period…but I hadn’t really had the happy and grateful portion of my life yet.

When that finally came, I found myself with less I wanted to actually post from my writings. Would I jinx it? Would my friends or family judge it or worse roll their eyes and simply not even bother to read it? Can you be content and grateful while still wanting more out of life?? How is that fair? Was I being greedy? Should I share this joy with others who are genuinely trying to carve their own unpleasant truth into this world?

This week has been hard. The foundations of my reality have been shaken and I was lost in my own mind with no way out. L and I came to Italy to attend his brother’s wedding and begin planning our own. It should have been some of the happiest days, but there is a cloud of sadness and deep rooted emotional pain that follows me. The stories of countless women and their lifetime of allowing fear and trauma to control or limit their decisions haunts me each time I open my phone. As each woman I have ever known in every friend group began to share a story or incident I felt sick knowing its likely not an isolated instance and if it was it has impacted her in a way that the wound still remains fresh today.

I look for those women who have a different experience. I need to know it’s not like this for everyone. Having traveled the world I reached out to friends in other countries, but sadly the experiences and stories are eerily the same. The fear is the same in Australia as it is in India. The precautions taken are the same in Italy as they are in Indonesia. The stigma and shame is the same in the US as it is in the isolated islands of the Maldives. How can that be?

I started going down this path, and I quickly found myself in a familiar dark place. I felt sad. I felt lost. I felt hopeless. I saw the fighting on social media between loved ones. I felt betrayed by people I loved who failed to say anything at all. I felt enraged by those who said too much…on both sides! Private matters aired as public spectacle for strangers to ridicule and console seems to be a sick new perversion debilitating our society as a whole. The darkness was taking control. I’ve been here before. It wasn’t pretty. I can’t allow myself to go back, but I feel paralyzed to stop it. It’s growing legs. I wake up to check Facebook. Why did I care to follow this dialogue when it’s clearly affecting my happiness? My fiancé is bored of the topic; he has his dad to worry about. His mom to spend time with. He needs to recharge for the months spent away from Italy and his loved ones here and to soak up all that family goodness and love that lives only here with just a week to do it. What can I grasp on to in order to pull myself out of this spiral??

GRATITUDE!!!

It is all that will save any of us. So here are a few things I’m grateful for today:

1. For all the women who have experienced fear in their day to day existence but still we persist! I’m glad you’re here. Even if you don’t share your story, I am grateful for the presence of your female energy in our world. You matter. We matter. It matters!

2. My family. We are not perfect. We have our demons. We fail each other daily, but God knew what he was doing putting us together. You make me better and we push the right buttons needed for self-discovery.

3. Men! Those of you unable to see why we should simply believe victims without question, I thank you for inspiring a generation of men who see how ridiculous that is. Men who otherwise wouldn’t have heard the absurdity of this line of questioning now are experiencing it and questioning their own believes. I see men asking the question “would it be so bad for men to be guided by knowing there is a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault towards women?” And THAT makes me breath a sigh of relief in an otherwise suffocating time.

4. Men! To the thousands and millions of men who hear us, stand with us, and support us…thank you. You play a vital role in this process. I have always had more male friends than female friends. In my life the most pain has always been incurred by the woman I surrounded myself with. I have been drunker than I should ever have been, acted foolish more times than I can count, taken unnecessary risks in new places more times than I’d like to admit. (Sorry, Mom!!) But I’ve never been betrayed by or felt threatened by a familiar man or someone I considered a friend and for THAT I thank each of my males friends, colleagues and acquaintances for letting me know that good guys do exist and I know a hell of a lot of them!!

Lastly, for this post at least, I am grateful for finding a partner who is part of the “good-guy gang!” He allows me to vent (sometimes nonstop), he questions my thinking and expects me to question his. He listens. Like really listens to my truth and while he doesn’t always agree or understand it he always validates it as mine and gives it a place in our shared life together. He respects the women in his life and truly believes in raising our family with values of equality, respect, love and kindness.

As I sit here looking at the mountains of Sora, writing this with limited internet and an amazing espresso in hand…the darkness lessens. There’s a chill in the air and it’s Monday morning here. The streets are alive, kids in their uniforms heading to school and adults rushing to work and I am reminded once again that all I can do is live in gratitude for as long as I am allowed to be on this earth.

Have an amazing week!! Your pain does not define you…you were born through the greatness of our creator (whom ever you want that to be is irrelevant), out of the awesomeness of Mother Nature and the beautiful expression of love! We are all here because we are meant to be here…there are no mistakes walking amongst us just truths waiting to be understood! 💞

But you’re not supposed to actually change…

Image result for change is not allowedThese days everything seems so final.  You have to choose, at every turn, what you believe, what your stand for, and define it to the world in some way.  What’s more crazy is the you cannot change your mind.  We somehow have to decide who we are and no matter what facts emerge or events occur we must stick to what we once said or believed, period.

According to a recent book I finished called The Principles of Psychology by William James publishing in 1890, “In most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again,” and it seems that we as a society stand by this sentiment today.  When I see cases of racism or intolerance, my first thought is how were they raised?  By that I mean, in what climate was the government in at that time, what social constructs existed then, who were the leaders people looked up to, what were young people fighting for during these days? I ask this because our upbringing plays a big part in defining who we are, and while change is possible it comes only when one can realize the limitations of our upbringing and choose to change our beliefs accordingly.

Almost all research, not to mention common sense, suggests that though we change and grow a lot in adolescence and our early twenties, these changes slow down once we enter adulthood. Image result for 30'sI guess in this case I am calling my 30’s adulthood, but I also think we can also choose to act against our natures. Our basic personality traits don’t really change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change and behave in ways that are opposite to our true selves, when the situation calls for it.

When psychologists talk about personality, they are usually referring to what are called the Big Five traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These are our core characteristics, which generally don’t fluctuate depending on the particular mood we’re in.

We act as if it were a bad thing to have moved on, to have changed opinion, evolved a new mindset and become interested in the fruits of other trees. When someone close changes direction, it can feel as if we are losing a part of them that defines a part of us, but what if that someone is actually you?  Here are three big things I have shifted my thinking around that when I run into anyone who knew me at some other phase of my life, almost always remark something to the effect of  “wow, you’ve certainly changed!”

  1. Religion is unnecessary in our daily lives.  While I have always had a constant dialogue with God, I have never understood why people organize and choose to pray together.  Why is it necessary to gather and share a common faith in something bigger than yourself?  I still don’t like the rigid parameters of organized religion and any belief that suggests God is anything but kind and loving is simply ludicrous to me.  Image result for unity of faithBut, the days of avoiding a temple, a puja or a church are definitely behind me.  Today I find myself actually interested in learning more about all the religions that exist. I find myself seriously asking why not?  Why not attend bhajan on Thursdays at the Sai Baba temple? I’ve always really enjoyed the process of singing bhajans in that format and its truly such a calming experience.  What about having weekly Shabbat dinner?  My understanding is that Shabbat is a dedicated time each week to stop working and focus more on the pleasures of life. Um, sign me up, I see nothing wrong with this!!  Why not also attend mass on Sundays? My boyfriend is Catholic and grew up in a very traditional Italian-Catholic household, so why not try and understand some of what that life was like?  This isn’t all too far from how my parents raised us, they always exposed us to all religions with the firm understanding that we were ultimately Hindu, and as I get older I find myself less resistant and more accepting of any environment that helps me to find my inner voice and a sense of peace through positive activities like prayer, worship, song or discussion.
  2. Image result for written in stonePolitical opinions and beliefs are not set in stone. There’s a reason the constitution wasn’t originally etched in stone…same goes for any political doctrine around the world! Shivi 5 years ago was staunch republican who believed very vocally in small government and social programs.  I did not vote for Obama either term; a fact that haunts me today actually. I believed in the dangers “out there” and that we had little responsibility to those who were “too lazy” to strive for their best lives.  The events of my mom’s accident, but more importantly the outpouring of support, both financially and emotionally, by a global community of people who felt compelled to lift us up during this dark time made me realize the importance of supporting each other.  Today, I feel strongly that cosset has a responsibility to ensure inclusion, acceptance and cultivate a safe environment in which our weakest are valued and lifted up to achieve their potential. I believe that the purpose of government is to be as big as needed to support its citizens every need.  I believe that those of us who today can say we are successful have a duty to give back to others.  Call it socialism, call it communism, or whatever new -ism is out there now, but what really is so wrong with holding each others hand through this journey and making sure that everyone else can also go just as far as we are able to go?
  3. Forgiveness is secret to happiness.  I don’t believe in unconditional love, but I do know that there can be conditioned love and forgiveness. As I look back at the last 34 years and as 35 creeps up sooner than I’d like; I see faces of friends I miss desperately; boys I could do without remembering, as well as, those few who will always cause me to smirk to myself silently.  Mentors who believed in me fiercely and bosses who stressed me the F out. Image result for just let it goEach of these people have a beginning and an end to their frame of reference in the story of my life, but there are also 6 people who are in every chapter, not saying they are always in the best light but they are always there in the background. As time goes on, I realize life is not about love alone, but about more often than not it is about forgiveness.  Forgiving those you love gives you the capacity to start to forgive yourself too. Ultimately, nobody is perfect.  It’s not what Disney wants us to think, but real relationships and happiness that is built to last involves a constant element of forgiveness. When you can see the people in your life as humans who will make mistakes and who will let you down at some point, you can stop expecting perfection and start enjoying the chaos. Closure is unnecessary.  When someone wrongs you, just forgive them…this shift in my thinking has given me back so many hours in the day.  Don’t expect the apology, for what? You’ve already forgiven them, so it shouldn’t matter.  I realize now the value of being less rigid in whats right and wrong and leading more with “why not?”  Why not just let all that little shit go…

I find it so strange when I hear people proudly say something like “she’s always been that way, for as long as I can remember!” it’s like we would rathe sacrifice self-evolvement in order to remain the person we think they want us to be, the person they recognize with such fond memories. Well, who are “they?”  Who cares…

Image result for is it kind is it necessaryLike it or not we do change. That’s life. It’s inevitable and healthy to embrace. As time passes we see the world differently, we outgrow those teenage ignorances, we discover new pastures, we nurture hidden talents, we expand our horizons. Were all have our own unique mission in life that only we are capable of accomplishing. Can we allow each other to grow and change without the guilt, judgment or criticism.