This is Real Life

Nobody knows just how real motherhood can be more than a mom with young children about to give birth. Despite my perpetual fog, these moments have not been lost on me the past week. These beautiful, humorous, and soul-screaming little nuggets encompass all the rawness of this life I have chosen.

Last week was filled with rain and I had hoped that the barometric pressure would help kickstart labor, but instead brought back the re-emergence of morning sickness, heartburn, and a pelvic pain that can only be described as a bowling ball clanging constantly against bone. My oldest has had a fever on and off for the past few days, so she’s been sleeping later than usual and Maddie spends the mornings following me around like a puppy missing her true owner, but settling for the companionship of a less fun squeak toy. As I am said unfun squeak toy, she gets to sit beside me while I start my morning spitting out spit-up while internally chanting, this is the last time, this is the last one. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been questioned about the contents and consistency of your throw up, but it definitely adds another layer to have a curious witness to your misery.

One afternoon while getting my girls from preschool, after successfully navigating the landmines of pick-up that include but are not limited to: just one more art project, I forgot my lunch box, I can’t find my shoes, and I need to hug my friend one last time—we were all buckled safely in our magical, cozy minivan when Charlotte announced that she needed to use the bathroom. The rain was pelting down heavily on the windshield and I quickly reviewed our options in this condition. Luckily, being a seasoned mom at this point we never go anywhere without a travel potty so I proceeded to place the potty next to the car in the parking lot while holding the umbrella over my squatting child like she was Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. This was ineffective at keeping me dry, but at least we didn’t have to start from square one with both kids back in the classroom. Charlotte began crying because drops were somehow pelting her in the eye and so I channeled my inner yogi and managed what could only be described as the birthing position in the rain, 39 weeks pregnant, holding an umbrella over my daughter while wiping her tush, as she held up her dress and Maddie serenaded us with A Whole New World. This is real life.

The hormones of pregnancy, especially in the end are no joke. I unabashedly cried at the park while Madeleine snuggled in my lap when I realized that she will only be my littlest baby for a limited time. Recently, after my trip to the doctor’s office, the only other place I spend more time these days than the bathroom, I picked up my girls from my moms and Charlotte’s fever had returned, so I tucked her into a blanket in the back seat. I was watching them carefully in the rearview and Charlotte extended her blanket so it draped lovingly across Madeleine and I noticed their eyes meet and fill with the compassion and tenderness that can only be expressed through the unspoken language of siblings and soon there will be one more adoring look to add in the mix. So while the spit-up, storm, and the squatting undeniably stink, it is absolutely nothing when compared to the sisterhood.


*this blog was written two weeks ago and am now 40 weeks and 4 days… but who’s counting.

How to Prep for Labor

Part I: First you are going to want to stand in front of a warm and cozy fire. Take about 30 seconds to write a “birth plan” and then go ahead and rip it into little shreds before placing it gently in the fire. If you want you can have your birth partner help with the ripping because this symbolically will be about as much as they can “help you through the pain” of actual labor. If you have a playlist, incense, a birthing ball, or other materials, those can be destroyed as well, because just like in parenthood, absolutely nothing will go according to plan and it’s best to recognize now that all of your preconceived expectations will go up in smoke.

Part II: Sleep like your life depends on it. You cannot afford to enter labor in a sleep deficit. If you have children already, you will naturally be about 3 or 4 years behind in the recommended 8 hours a night; so lock yourself in a hotel room or your favorite spot to hide while you eat dessert you don’t want to share and set up camp like a toddler in a sea of stuffed animals.

Part III: Don’t make any other major life choices during this time. These last few weeks shouldn’t determine the ultimate size of your family. If these decisions were final, the world would be filled with only children. The biggest decision you should allow yourself at this point is what color nail polish should go on your toes.

Part IV: Change your outgoing greeting to, “We haven’t had the baby yet, but you will be the first one notified when we do.” Also copy and paste a witty, yet sarcastic text to send out when your due date approaches and you aren’t even dilated yet. Make sure it’s still charming as you will want them to eventually bring food.

Part V: Make believe that on labor day you’ll be transformed into Ariel from the Little Mermaid and be forced to give up your voice as the ultimate sacrifice of love. Your birth partner's most important role will be for them to advocate your top 3 most important things.

Here’s my list for reference:

1). Do not let them tell me I am too far along for an epidural. I typically arrive during the “transition” phase which is aptly named since this is when you transition from a human being into Alien vs Predator. Name drop my beloved, dearly departed Grandpa who was the chief of anesthesiology for all of Northern California Kaisers if necessary and do not stop fighting for it until this is me:

2). Do not let them give me Pitocin. My average birth time is about 2 hours (I know I will lose friends by admitting this) so I do not need any help in the speed department.

3). Stay with the baby if it comes to that. I am a strong, independent, Bad-A Mama and I don’t want our little one to be alone.

Ultimately this is you and your baby’s first dance together, so take mental snapshots throughout the experience that you and only you can carry around for those challenging days to come. Mine, for both girls, was the moment I pulled them onto my chest. Today, when the going gets tough I hold them close, put them to my heart and immediately I’m transported back there; where we first met, fell in love, and they showed me how to be a mother.



The Girls are Alright

We had my husband’s holiday party last weekend and while I was dressed to the nines and looked as glamorous and sparkly as you can for being sick, exhausted, and 35 weeks pregnant--it was simply impossible for others not to ask the 3 basic questions: due date, gender, how are you feeling? This is always followed by that look of concern that I still have potentially 5 plus weeks to go. I promise, you will feel absolutely no pain and will have to do none of the hard work if in that moment I went into labor. It is nothing like the movies where strangers gather towels and use pocket knives in parking lots to cut the cord. The idea that 9 cms of labor will occur during that exact moment of our conversation is as ridiculous to me as the concept of, "trying one last time for a boy”.


This brings me to the topic of gender. We are having our third girl—cue the exploding glitter rainbows, other sexist gender stereotypes, as strangers grieve unnecessarily for my “poor husband” and encourage us to buy stock in tampons. Having three daughters is not a national tragedy, unlucky, or disappointing. Society no longer considers daughters to be a consolation prize that require a dowry with a marriage contract and mothers aren't beheaded for not producing a male heir to carry out the family name. I was not what you would call an easy-going teenager, so having three girls is my very own karmic retribution, which I pay for in full every morning my 4-year-old changes her outfit half a dozen times because the previous one was too “scratchy”, “stripy”, or my personal favorite, “too green”.

Would we have loved to have a boy? Sure. Since only boys love Legos, superheroes, and digging holes. Except my daughters love all those things because we don’t live in a bubble of pink princesses and My Little Ponies. Gender can and should be much more fluid. Millennials have coined the term “gender disappointment” as a means of grieving something that can and does hold meaning, but has much more to do with your family’s expectations and nothing to do with what's ultimately in your baby's diaper. Having all daughters will shape my husband and I forever and inevitably change who we are as people. The thing is, there can be no wrong combination, number, or gender because absolutely none of these things will ever affect a parent’s capacity to love our children.