Tag Archives: mothering

Bikini Body?

Ordering a bathing suit online is a ridiculous idea.  But when the company that makes the running shorts that make me feel hot, not just athletic, had a sale – I took the bait.

It is the time of the year that I have the Great Bikini Debate.  Last summer I tried to embrace the stretch marks. I gave it a solid effort.  I even tried to tan those mofos.  If I am 100% honest – the red bikini took a backseat to the trusty one piece the great majority of the time. And now here I am again, another year older, another year closer to the Year I Should Really Stop Wearing A Two Piece.  (I am not sure when that is, exactly, but I am certain it exists.)

Standing in my bathroom in the new two piece I could acknowledge that this summer’s bikini body is slightly more toned than last year’s.  I have run my ass off this year and it is starting to show.  Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.  Bend over.  Sit down.  Eh.  It is what it is but it is unlikely that it is gonna get better than it is right now, right? The fit is ok.  But the color?

Brown. The brown bikini was the only sale suit in my size.  I just don’t know about brown.

I called to Emily.  “Come here.  What do you think?”

She just stood there with her hand on her tiny little hip.   “Hmmm.  That’s a tricky question. I’m trying to decide what you want me to say.” Damn kid.

“The truth,” I answer.

“Well, you have really big boobs and that top is really big like a lot of fabric but weirdly it makes your boobs look not as noticeable. And I think it’s ok that your stomach is like, well, you know like that because you had two babies and you’re a great mom and you look pretty.” She paused to take a breath.  “Do you like it?”

I love her. I do.  I should have been more clear, I suppose.  “Do you like this color brown?” Sigh.

Back tattoo teapot

If the bikini makes its presence known this summer than the excitement will be two-fold.  My stomach and the stretch marks there really get all the press.  But it is high time that the wreckage on my hips and lower back get a little face time.  The 2014 new ink highlights them nicely.  Last summer’s motto seemed to be “if you can’t tone it, tan it.” This summer it is looking like I am embracing the “if you can’t tone it, tattoo it” philosophy.  Someday perhaps I will get to that level of peace where I don’t even have this conversation with myself. Maybe next spring when I am trying on bathing suits for my 39th summer I will only ask myself the question that my sweet Emily June asked me –  “Do I like it?” Maybe.  Someday.

The Secret Under My Sensible One Piece

It wouldn’t be easy to choose one word to define myself.  I like to think of myself as pretty multi-dimensional.  I am a lot of things.  Perhaps first and foremost I am your classic over-achieving liberal arts major, jack of all trades and master of none.  So, to choose one word, that is almost impossible.

But if I had to pick one  – I am a mother.

I am grateful that my journey to motherhood was easy.  It was not without tears and pain but I consider myself lucky. I grew two healthy, beautiful little girls.  I grew them.  Inside of me.  And I brought them in to the world.  And thus far I have lived to tell the tale.

I am a mother.

And I am beyond proud. And yet I keep this secret underneath my clothes.  It’s not really an issue nine months of the year, but the summer comes and I feel it.  Shame.

I have two girls.  I tell them both that they should be proud just exactly as they are.  But I don’t feel that way about myself.

I feel strong.  I am stronger than I have been in my lifetime.  I feel capable. Even with some sore muscles from overuse I am proud of the work I have done recently.  I am becoming an athlete.  My clothes feel good.  I stand up straight.  I am proud of this body that grew these two babies and continues to help me grow every day.  But I can’t seem to feel proud of my stretch marks.

Not long after Lucy was born I made peace with them, the tiger stripes I earned in my last pregnancy.  But peace making is a far cry from pride.

In the last month I have done this silly little song and dance.  Get the girls ready to go to the pool.   Put on the two piece.  Look in the mirror.  Take off the two piece and put the one piece on.  Go to the pool.  The other day Em walked in my bathroom while I had on a bikini. “Oh, I like that one, Mom.  You got that for your honeymoon. ”

That was all she said.  She left my bathroom and I stood there, stomach glowing white against the rest of my month long summer tan.  I tried to imagine what I would say when I came out in  my signature black one-piece and not the red bikini  she had just seen me wearing.  I came up empty.  There really wasn’t any good reason to change.  None at all.  Except the niggling shame surrounding my smushy stomach and aging stretchmarks.  And that just wasn’t a good enough reason.

This week I did something that made me uncomfortable. I wore that damn bikini all week.  And I chased my little Lucy back and forth.  And I sat in the baby pool.  And I ate an ice cream cone.  And I dove for plastic rings with the big kids.  In my bikini.  And you know what?  My stretch marks didn’t actually have anything to do with any of it.

I can’t quite say that I am proud of them yet.  But I am not ashamed.  And that is a step in the right direction.


The Ongoing Saga of My Innards or Five Fun Facts about My New IUD

You havent heard enough about my innards, have you?  When I showed you a picture of my IUD moments after it was removed, that wasn’t enough.  When I took a picture of the view from my colposcopy I know I really left you wanting more.  And I know that when I gave you the play by play of Lucy’s birth I left out a lot of details.

So, that is why I feel compelled to give you some more deets about Lady Town.

Five Fun Facts About My Choice to Have My Paragard Replaced With a Mirena 

1.  Fact:  I love my kids. I was blessed to fall in love with each of them the moment they were born.  Moments after Emily was born I knew I would do it again.  And the moment after Lucy was born and Emily said “It’s a sister” I knew that I was done. These were my children.  We were complete.

2.  Fact: I have good intentions.  And grand plans.  Eat a healthy snack every day becomes eat peanut M&Ms on occasion.  Stop wearing yoga pants unless I am exercising becomes wear yoga pants when you are planning on staying home for the day.  Make sure I have planned our dinners in such a way that I do not have to throw away a single leftover easily turns in to I totally I forgot I bought this cilantro but we ate everything else! Go, me!

Small things.  A single bag of M&Ms, cozy yoga pants when it is cold outside and a $2 bag of fresh cilantro won’t change  the course of history.  But take this pill every single day at the same time or you might get pregnant. Another baby? A baby changes you.  Forever.

It took me 36 years to like me just fine.  This Life, the one where I forgive myself for a bag of M&Ms or some wasted cilantro, I want this Life.  And the “Yes, actually I was on birth control pills but aren’t we Blessed to have this baby” baby just doesn’t fit in this Life.

3.  Fact: Nursing my babies is important to me.  It might even be more than important.  It goes well beyond nutrition and it is the cornerstone to my parenting philosophy.  Many of the decisions that I have made about how to be the best mother that I can be center around continuing the mother-baby nursing relationship for as long as it is mutually desired.

I am not denying that other women can be wonderful mothers and not breastfeed. (Nor am I telling you that daily M&Ms, a wardrobe made up solely of yoga pants and regular take-out because you forgot to pull chicken breasts out to thaw signals the imminent failure of your family foundation.  But it doesn’t add up to the Life that I want.  For me.)

So, I breastfeed.  And I avoid things that can have a negative impact on that relationship, things like hormonal birth control.

I shared here about how I had Big Plans for getting back in the marital saddle as soon as I got my IUD last February. I had a copper IUD after Emily was born and it worked well for me for years. There is an adjustment period, pardon the pun.  But it is worth it.

4.  Fact: I am not a squeamish gal when it comes to my own body.  I sing the praises of the menstrual cup loud and proud.  Who wants to think about their period all of the time? Not me.  Twice a day you can empty a menstrual cup and chances are your periods will be shorter in length!  The Diva Cup is awesome.  The other day a friend asked me if she could talk to me about it.  I laughed.  I sat in my living room and showed her how it works, folded it, talked about the magical twist and release that creates a perfect seal.  Ordinarily someone has to ask me to not talk about my menstrual cup.  I am what one might call a huge fan.

But that doesn’t mean I want to wear it every day.  The Diva Cup is not intended to be an everyday accessory.  You see where I am going with this, right? This is when I try to find a clever way to explain that I have had my period on average for 14 days out of every 21 since I got it back (at three months post-partum!!) Umm.  I don’t need a separate paragraph to include the Fact that that is some bullshit right there.

5.  Fact: Every women is different.  Every body is different.  And evidently every woman’s body isn’t even the same year after year.  My beloved hormone-free Paragard isn’t working for me this time.  After much research and soul searching I am having it removed and replaced with the levonorgestrel-releasing Mirena. Many women have had a Mirena with no impact on their milk supply at all.

But I am afraid.

The rest of the ill side-effects that are possible: hellacious acne, migraines and depression, I won’t be able to ignore them. It won’t sneak up on me.  I will never sit down at the end of the day and say “Damn, I have had a debilitating headache all day, I didn’t even realize it.”

But I don’t know what low milk supply feels like.  I don’t know how to know that it is happening.  I know I do not want my baby (and yes, she turned one last week, but she is a baby) to wean.  I don’t even know what weaning a baby looks like.  And more than that – I do not know how to mother a toddler without nursing.

I am, as I always am, nursing Lucy while I type.  And I am, as I sometimes am, crying.  If the Mirena works for us I will be happy.  And if it doesn’t, if my mik supply dips and I can’t get it back up quickly, I will be having it removed “even though” my baby is over a year old.

I struggled with this decision.  Above all else I struggled with admitting that I was making choices about my birth control largely based on my ability to breastfeed my twelve month old.  And I shouldn’t have to struggle to admit that.  It’s how I choose to parent.  And it works for me.  And for my kids.  And when I put it like that it doesn’t sound so complicated.

If you find this because you are struggling with your own decision, feel free to contact me.  If you want to share your experience because it will be helpful to you, please do.  If you want to tell me about your sister-in-law with a Mirena that breastfed her entire neighborhood until they graduated from high school or warn me that my insides will likely turn inside out I can assure that I have weighed both the risks and the benefits and made a choice.

In the coming weeks I can promise to keep y’all posted about my milk supply.  More boobs, less uterus! Now that’s a campaign platform if ever there was one.

Update: What did my seven-year-old think of watching me get my IUD? Find out!

It is understandably difficult to comprehend why I do not want any more of these.  It is even hard for me to wrap my mind around.

It is understandably difficult to comprehend why I do not want any more of these. It is even hard for me to wrap my mind around.

Lucy Goose is ONE!

Dear Lucy,

20130120-133802.jpgLast year I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to love a baby as much as I loved your big sister. Lucky for you – you turned out to be a Lucy, not just a baby. And in one short year my heart has tripled in size.

I am crazy about you, little girl. And the bonus that I never saw coming? I love your sister twice as much as I used to and your dad, too. You are the icing on my cake, sweet girl. Life was sweet before you arrived, but now that you are here – I just can’t imagine our family without you.


So. You’re one. We made it.


I keep writing and writing and deleting. I don’t have words for you, Lucy Goose. You are sleeping in my lap right now. And I can’t wait for you to wake up. I have spent nearly every minute of the last year with you. And all I want is more.

You are a funny little thing. You make me laugh all of the time.


One year ago we left the birthing center in the dark hours of the morning and we came home, the four of us. I’ve never looked back. You have been a sweet and smushy little baby. You nurse like a champ and you hold my hand while you sleep. You are a cuddler. But you are also so independent in your own little way. You have been just a perfect little baby.


In the last few weeks I have started to see the little girl you are going to be. And Lucy Goose, you are trouble. You are funny. Your sister and I are funny, but you? You are a nut. Your squinchy little smile. Your gonna give me a run for my money, I am afraid. There is a reason you didn’t come to me until I had figured this mothering stuff out a little bit.

Happy birthday, Lucy Goosey.  I love you so much I can’t stand it.



I gotta be cleeeean!!

I have jars all over my kitchen with gross stuff in them.  Three jars of kefir right now are growing on top of my fridge.  Two large jars of kombucha scobys are sleeping peacefully in my cabinets.  I like the process of watching something sort of disgusting become something else sort of disgusting.  If that something disgusting means that something good is happening, too, even better. If that something good is even possibly contributing to the health of my family in a positive way than I enjoy it even more.

Oddly, I can not muster up any excitement while watching the snot roll out of Lucy’s face.  I can’t feel awe for the gloopy crust that accumulates in her eyes by morning.  I know that it is her little body pushing out the funk.  Intellectually, I know this.  Maternally, I just want it to stop.

We aren’t sleeping.  Instead we are sitting up in bed at night trying to keep the snot from sitting in her chest.  We are running the humidifier and using saline spray.  I am shooting breast milk up her nose and in her eyes.  I am pushing rest and fluids.

And we are showering.  Like as a hobby.


Lucy used to be really jazzed in the shower. She loved it. It’s losing the appeal now that we are in there all of the time.  Now I have to spit water at her to get a smile.

In this morning’s shower I had to resort to wowing her with my lyrical stylings. To the tune of Suzanne Vega’s “Left of Center” I sang to her this little number –

If you want me, you can find me, With my baby in the shower!! No more crying, no more whining,We’ve been giving Snot too much POWER!

It’s a first draft.  And I am running on empty.  Stick around for more nudity and a snazzy rendition of Sammy Davis, Jr’s “I’ve Gotta Be Me!”

Whether it’s a cold, or even the flu! Makes no difference to me, the end result is the same, I gotta be clean, I’ve gotta be cleeeean!!!


I’m so complicated. Really. I am.

I can’t recall who started it. It was trending not just in my twitter feed and on facebook. It was in my house, too. Em didn’t want to go back to school after her long break. MQD was not particularly interested in going back to work. It seemed like no one wanted to “go back.”

I have adopted a silence when people start hemming and hawing on Sunday in the late afternoon about “going back to work.” When you stay home you don’t have much to add to that conversation. Either you crack a joke at your own expense quickly or you start pointing out that you don’t get days off at all.

I usually just fall quiet. I am not trying to get pelted with bon bons from the stay at home mom crowd for saying this out loud. But staying home with my kids is so far the best job I have ever had. I make my own hours. I love the people that I work for. And I wear whatever I want. The same things that make it awful are the things that make it wonderful. I spend all my time with my co-workers. All of it.

This particular Monday I had a tougher time falling back in to the swing of things. My house is clean. My refrigerator is full of left overs. My laundry is done. A long weekend with family and  I had plenty of extra hands on deck. Christmas is more than a month away. I am not ready to start that. So, what exactly am I to do?

Lucy and I had a lazy morning. We stayed in our pajamas. We did some yoga. We chatted with a friend when she stopped by with our eggs. Late morning became afternoon and before I knew it Emily’s bus was going to be home and we weren’t even dressed. For all intents and purposes I did not “go to work” today. Sure, I kept the kiddo alive and happy all day. And on a good day that is enough for me. She is my “primary job.” But on the days when I sit back and watch her and I disengage and I wonder if “this” is “enough” – it makes my heart hurt.

Sitting on the floor in our bedroom by the window I could feel the lonely settling down in to my bones. I was trying to be light hearted when I called him. “Every one is back to work and school and I am just here. It’s so quiet. It’s like I don’t know what to do.”

He was joking.    “You should clean something.”

I wanted to hang up.  I wanted to not cry.  I wanted to not make mountains out of molehills and rail against the Universe that cleaning things is a waste of time when it will all be a mess again tomorrow.  He was kidding.

But damn that man of mine.  Even his jokes can see through me.  Surely he could hear the blue.  I don’t wear it well.


Not even ten minutes had passed before I ripped the covers off of the couch and put them in the washing machine.  He might have been joking, but I feel pretty fantastic. Sometimes I do need to feel like I “did” something.  And by sometimes I mean all of the time.  The washing machine will be done in four minutes.  In a little over an hour I will pull clean cushion covers out of my dryer and wrestle them back on to the couch.  And I will feel like I conquered the world.  Or at the very least I will feel like I beat back the blue for yet another day.

But it is not just because I cleaned something.  I can’t have you or MQD thinking my life is really that simple.

I also put on lipstick.  And in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due I must thank my mother (presumably) for losing a lipstick in my couch.  Because apparently it takes more than just a shower and a completed chore to make my heart sing.  It takes lipstick, y’all.


Every breath matters.

The shittiest five seconds – I wrote about that once. But the most terrifying ten seconds? I am not sure I can write about that yet. But I feel like I should try.

First, a couple of facts.

Fact: I practice baby-led weaning. Contrary to what you might think this has nothing to do with stopping breastfeeding. Baby-led weaning is, at its simplest, following your baby’s cues and skipping pureed foods. Lucy has been eating solid food since she showed signs of readiness: ability to sit up unassisted, an effective pincer grasp and a loss of the tongue-thrust reflex. A crucial part of embracing baby-led weaning is making peace with the fact that your baby will gag. Gagging is a human’s reflex that prevents them from choking. As long as your baby is gagging they aren’t choking. It’s frightening at first. But by the second baby I was sure. I was sure that she was okay, her body was preventing her from choking and forcing the pieces of food that were too big back up to the front of her mouth. I am not afraid when Lucy gags.

Fact: I do not like to ask for help. I have spent too long changing my own tire because I was sure I could do it myself.

That’s the back story. This morning – the most terrifying ten seconds happened. My hands are still shaking. My face still swollen with tears. Lucy is asleep in my lap.

I knew she wasn’t gagging. I know what that looks like. When I turned around and I saw her sitting on the floor in the living room her eyes were wide. She was silent. Her face was red. It has been no longer than five seconds since I had looked at her. Long enough to have found a minuscule something on the floor and eaten it: a Barbie shoe, a leaf, a piece of paper.

A finger sweep produced nothing. I smacked her on the back. Nothing. Her face grew redder. I needed help. I did not hesitate.

I calmly picked up my phone and called 911. The phone was ringing and I sat cross-legged with my baby on the floor in front of me. I tipped her head back and checked her airway. As the dispatcher answered the phone I was prepared for what would happen next. A-B-C. I had checked her airway. Breathing would be next. The 911 dispatcher would talk me through infant cpr while I waited for the ambulance.

I called for help. As I said earlier, I have seen her gag. I always know she will be fine. But today I didn’t know that. She was silent.

I did not panic.

Before I could finish identifying myself “My name is Kelly. My 8 month old daughter, Lucy, is not breathing. It has been less than a minute. I live at…” she threw up. If you’ve ever been a runner you’ve seen it. The snot rocket. A ball of mucous the size of a golf ball. And she was fine. She deeply inhaled and rolled over and crawled away.

“She’s fine. Umm… I guess I just needed to call you. She is fine…” And she is.

And so am I. I called my husband and said “Lucy is fine, I just need to cry.” I told him what had happened. He was quiet. “Say something,” I said.

“You did everything you were supposed to do. Good job, Mom.”

I was calm. I was prepared. Because I have taken an Infant CPR and First Aid class. I didn’t need it today. I hope I never do.

I use this space to share my life, to reflect, to create and record a history of my own growth. Very occasionally do I use it as a soap box. Today I will.

Take a CPR class. Soon. Don’t wait. Murphy’s Law – if you take it than you won’t need it.

Go hug someone that you love. Because if you think you love them now, I dare you to spend ten seconds imagining your life without them. Then think about how much you love them again. And then call your local American Red Cross and register to take a class.



Dear Emily June,

Seven.  I remember being seven.  My best friend when I was seven is still one of my best friends.  Seven is kind of a big deal.

I asked you last night while we ate your birthday dinner (pizza from I Love NY Pizza) what you would tell someone if they were turning six.  Your advice for all those about to be six “You’re gonna have a great time.  You will love school!” You are a happy girl.  You’re emotional and dramatic like your mother but for the most part you are joyous.

I worried when you were little.  I was not in the best place in my head and heart and you were a screamy baby.  I worried that your screaminess was my fault.  You and I were always together and I feared you would absorb my sensitive nature and my general state of unhappiness.

Your screamy days passed as the winter turned to spring but you were still so very serious.  You were kind of an intense little person.  I took a series  of headshots of you once in an effort to get a picture of your elusive smile.  Someday you will appreciate how much they resembled Nick Nolte’s famous mug shot.

It didn’t take long before your seriousness faded.  Once you could walk (at a precocious  ten months) you started to dance.  And once you could dance you never stopped.  You were in constant motion.  Your teeny little bird frame became a toddler’s body and your smile was overwhelming.

You became a tiny little lady, my sidekick, my playmate.  The time between your first and third birthdays was hard for me.  You gave me strength.  And so very many laughs.

And now you are seven.  Seven going on seventeen, they say.  But like so many trite sayings I fear it may be true.  I tried to get your picture yesterday morning. You were smiling at me and then assumed the position of “fed up pre-teen” as soon as I pointed the camera your way.

I had hoped to say something clever to you on your birthday.  True to form I had no plan as I ran up the stairs to your bedroom yesterday morning.  Something would come to me.

I opened your bedroom door expecting to see you getting dressed.  Your light was already on.  You were crouched on the floor by your Legos.  “Whatcha doing?” I asked you.


I knelt down next to you and took you in my arms.  And the tears came.  “Just playing, huh? Happy birthday, baby girl.  You can be my baby for one more year, right?”

Ever indulgent, you hugged me tight. “When I am not a baby anymore, Mom, Lucy will still be your baby.”

I didn’t answer you.  I do my level best not to pick fights with you in the morning before school.  But make no mistake, kiddo.  You will always, always be my baby girl.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.  Keep smiling.





Everything you need to know about Parenting you can learn in AA

Time and again I chuckle about the similarities.  This business of raising children is not too dissimilar to that of being a recovering alcoholic.

Yesterday morning  I allowed myself to be overwhelmed with the changes that are happening too rapidly for my tastes. But later in the afternoon I pulled it together and reminded myself that I needed to live today, “one day at a time.”  And furthermore, I needed to accept the things I cannot change.

With the Serenity Prayer going around and around in my head I set off to the store.  If my tiny little baby insisted upon crawling it was time for a gate at the bottom of the stairs.  My compulsion to keep all things kid and baby out of the adult living spaces at night is challenged by the baby gate’s addition.  However I think I succeeded in making it not stick out like a sore thumb.  With the addition of a square baluster I stained to match my hand railing and a round piece of wood I painted to match my trim I was able to get around the uneven surface issues presented by my trim molding and my handrail.  I am available via email for How To Make My Baby Gate Less Ugly consulting services.  I can be reached at IHaveTooMuchFreeTime@stayathomemom.com.

It’s hard to swallow.  This tiny little baby is almost seven months old and army crawling all over the place.  She will be standing at the gate hollering for her sister in a matter of moments.  But today, today is she is still my baby.  Because today I woke to a nursling in footie pajamas.

Years from now you will be able to spot her in a group picture from middle school.  “Which one is Lucy?” someone will ask. “She is the one in the footie pajamas” another mom will answer. And she will lower her voice to a whisper and mouth “Last baby, the poor mother, she has issues…”  You think I am kidding?


Missing it

There is  hard stuff. The conversations that sneak in between the giggling in bed at night.

He rose up on his forearm and said “I’d have one more if you wanted.” He was watching her sleep, her teeny body taking up half of our king size bed.

My throat got itchy and my nose started tingling. I needed to not cry. I’ve thought this through not just with my heart and my hormones but with my head.

I don’t want to struggle. We are making it now. MQD and me and the girls. And I’m home. Where I know I belong. I don’t want to push Lucy to grow up faster. I want her to have what Emily had, her mom all to herself for years to come.

“I know.” And he kept watching her. “She’s just growing so fast.”

I took his hand in mine. “Another baby would grow up, too. And we can’t just keep having more.”

And he smiled. Looked at me. Took his eyes off of her for a moment. “Sure we could.”

This morning as he left for work I walked to the door and kissed him. Like I did when he would leave my apartment years ago. “Thank you for talking to me. Just because I don’t want more babies doesn’t mean I don’t cry several times a day over how fast this one is growing. There is absolutely nothing like loving a baby. I just want to be present for the one that we have.”

He kissed me back.

She is sleeping in my lap and I have my hand curled around the back of her head. Her bald little head. And I let the tears roll down my face. She has five long hairs right now. In just a couple of years she will get a hair cut and those sweet wispy baby hairs will be gone. Those hairs I soaked in tears, the hair she smeared with avocado.

I let myself cry for a few and then I stopped and took a breath. Emily always says “I wish Lucy could talk to us” or “I wish Lucy could walk” and I tell her “I don’t! I’m not wishing away our baby!! We won’t get it back!”

I think and talk a lot about how much it means to me to be present. To be here so I don’t miss it. But it’s not just wishing it away I need to be wary of. I can’t let myself get consumed with how fast they’re growing up. While I am weeping over the haircut my six month old will have in two years? I’m missing right now.

It’s so hard. To feel every second. In order to be fully present I like to hold on. But if I hold on too tight before I realize it I’m holding on to the past. And these damn kids, their present turns in to ancient history in seconds.