All posts tagged: Motherhood

Childbirth Is No Place for a Fever — or Fear

“Are you feeling ok?” my ob/gyn asks me. I’ve been in labor for 26 hours with my first child. My water has broken in dramatic fashion and I’m preparing myself to start pushing. “Am I feeling OK?” I ask myself. “What does ‘OK’ even mean in this context?” I am tired in every sense of the word. But I guess I feel OK. She keeps asking, though, and I don’t understand why. “You have a fever of 103.5. Are you sure you’re OK?” I emerge from my epidural haze and finally register what she is saying. I arrived at this hospital fever-free. I had had a normal pregnancy. Actually, it wasn’t normal — it was very easy. No vomiting, minimal nausea. The labor has taken a long time, but that’s not unusual. Now all of a sudden my temperature is rising and alarming everyone around me. This moment in 2009 is the very peak of the swine flu pandemic; by the time it run its course, it will claim nearly 15,000 lives around the world. …

Am I Allowed to Be Happy Even If My Kids Are Not?

I was raised to believe that happiness and motherhood were inherently incompatible, if not irreconcilable. I learned from my mother’s example. Mothers did not live to be happy. Mothers lived to be useful. Mothers lived to be productive. I don’t remember my mother ever talking about being happy. I do remember her always working, laboring, being useful to others. My mother’s hands seemed like they never stopped moving. If she wasn’t pulling strings off string beans or picking worms off tomatoes in her garden, she was peeling apples for a pie or peaches for a cobbler. Or, she was sewing us or herself a new outfit, or turning our old outgrown clothes into quilts. Over time, arthritis made sewing too difficult, but she kept cooking and gardening until the day she took her last breath. As infants, my children were born pushy, in that way that is socially acceptable only for babies and cats. My daughter came out stubborn, demanding and unapologetic. My son, on the other hand, used his fat cheeks, bright eyes and …

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Mother of One: The Fertility Choice That Changed My Life

I got married late compared to others I know. At 34, after several rejected proposals and broken engagements, it was finally time. We both wanted children, and, after a year or so, we began trying to conceive. I’d always thought I’d be a mother of three. Before I ever wanted to get married, I wanted to be a mom and three was the magic number in my head. We came up with first and middle names for both boys and girls. We quickly agreed on a boy name: Daniel Patrick*. The others took discussion. We settled on Zoe June and Luke Bradford. Thus began our four-year conception journey — and it was terrible. As a young woman, I was sick with ulcerative colitis and, after five years of illness, underwent a multi-stage, major surgery that left me with an abdomen full of scar tissue. As a result, nothing worked to get us pregnant. We went from “not trying” to “trying” to “charting and temping” to fertility doctors. We threw more money, time and science at …

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Non-Traumatic Motherhood: A Non-Traumatic Manual

I come at life like a blunt instrument. I throw myself head first into whatever is coming and ask questions later. This strategy has had mixed success — sometimes it’s exhausting, sometimes frustrating, but mostly it has forced me to move forward, no matter what. It’s a pattern that has been hardened and rewarded through some pretty rough years, but I’ll get to that. Professionally, I’m a proud civic-tech nerd, veteran of Obama ’08 and founding tech director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (yes, the one with Elizabeth Warren – another blunt instrument). Personally, I’ve moved cross-country several times in my life, most recently after leaving my awesome CFPB gig to get married. Then we up and moved to London, where I threw myself into a new city, job and life. The ad hoc, impulse, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants life was working for me. Until I got pregnant. MOTHER? FUCK! You can’t be a blunt instrument with a baby. Those things are delicate. But then again, people have been having kids for centuries, right? I married a …

My Kids’ Camp Re-Entry Period

My baby, Max, is 15. Well, almost 16. When he asked to go to leadership camp for five weeks this summer, we agreed, with the caveat that he pay a portion of the tuition. After all, we all appreciate things more when we have skin in the game, right? We drove him five hours north to Lake Como, Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains. He’d packed a huge duffel bag, a sleeping bag, some stamps and stationery. The teens learned how to lead meetings, how to communicate with parents and community, how to lead social action. They learned how to motivate their peers. They bonded. My son had an amazing, all encompassing and life-changing experience — so much so that he did not have time to write home. Did I mention there was no cell service? I did not hear from my child for five weeks. Five weeks! [pullquote]The camp smell is definitely not a smell that translates to home. It needs to be eradicated.[/pullquote] It was a little odd being so out of touch, I …

The “Golden Ninja”: My Best Mom Hack Ever

Mom Hacking is a part of everyday life for a parent. Kids expect us to know how to do everything, period. And when we don’t, it can be painfully confusing to them. There was a point after I had my first child when I realized two things:  What I thought I knew about parenting was mostly going to be based on instinct, and through observing other parents. Then I learned the most important lesson of all: kids are the worthiest of adversaries. They’re smart, wily and born with the innate knowledge to outwit, exasperate and frustrate you. Something I didn’t know until I had crafty kids of my own. Babies and toddlers are more of a physical challenge. They seem difficult at first, but in hindsight, are relatively easy to please. You feed them, burp them, bathe them, let them sleep, then repeat all over again. Sleep deprivation is largely conceptual until Baby No. 1 comes along. It’s almost as if nature is toughening you up for what’s to come. The transition to toddlerhood naturally …

Why I Can’t Watch Natalie Portman in The Professional Anymore

I swore this would never happen, but I think I’ve turned into a prude. The other night, my husband turned on the TV and the movie The Professional was on. We both jumped up. “Oh, yeah, this is a great movie. Let’s watch this!” About three minutes later, I stood up and said, “I can’t watch this anymore. I hate this. I hate watching Natalie Portman.” He asked me why and I went off on a minor rant, sounding like some sort of next-generation Tipper Gore. “I’m looking at this girl in ways that aren’t about the story line. The camera is lingering on her. There’s something creepy going on here.” He nodded amiably, shrugged and changed the channel. But this little outrage continued firing up, smoldering… I’ve been thinking about why I had such an unusually knee-jerk reaction. I LIKED that movie. When I first saw it in the late 90s — just having graduated with an MFA in Theater — I wanted to be Natalie Portman; I was jealous of her getting such …

Park Slope, Brooklyn: A Mom’s Defense

I never intended to be here. I mean, I explicitly did not want to be here. When my husband and I were looking for apartments, we instructed our real estate agent to show us any neighborhood near downtown Brooklyn: Carrol Gardens, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Ft. Greene, DUMBO, basically anything but Park Slope. There’s a ‘Park Slope’ neighborhood in most cities with hip, urban centers, but the birthplace — the ur-destination — of obnoxious, yuppie parenthood is this neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. Picture expensive SUV-style strollers blocking the sidewalk. Picture mommy bloggers with yoga mats drinking imported teas. Toddlers named Henry and Sophia taking advanced Mandarin classes. That’s the rep. No individually minded person with street cred would get anywhere near it. And yet what happened next is that I moved to Park Slope. My husband and I have two children. We both work full-time jobs. We spend more than a firefighter’s annual salary on childcare. (This is true.) And I have become a Park Slope Mom. When my husband, my 1 1/2-yr-old daughter and I moved to our …