Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I will help you

Laura Reeve Photography


I was going through my blog posts the other day, and stumbled upon this post about being a mom of two and how it was all okay despite my fears, and I was reassured of that fact because of a sweet moment between my two girls. I guess it came at the exact right time, because right now in this season of motherhood? I'm tired. I'm burnt out. I'm cranky. I'm not handling things well. I'm beating myself up for every mistake. I'm yelling too much. I'm overwhelmed. My kids are cranky, tired, misbehaving, testing boundaries, being kids and some days I just think...how does anyone do this, well? It's easy to become a parent (if you're lucky), its relatively easy to keep them alive (much easier now that Haddie has glasses and isn't falling and running into things all the time...here I thought she just inherited my gracefulness) but it's so freaking hard to parent them well. It's a lot of pressure. I'm feeling judged all the time. Maybe that's in my head (probably there with the unicorns and calorie free chocolate) but I feel like some people think I'm not strict enough, and some people think I'm too strict, which leads me to second guess myself and be inconsistent which obviously doesn't work for children who NEED THE SAME THINGS THE SAME ALL THE TIME LIKE WHY IS MY PINK CUP BLUE AND WHY ARE WE EATING BREAKFAST AT 7:35 INSTEAD OF 7:25?!?! I know it shouldn't matter to me what other people think, but it does. I'm trying to do this self-care thing, I really am, but I guess it's not enough right now for me to put on a pair of earrings four days a week and zumba to my heart's content.

In addition to all that, part of the reason we moved back to Alaska was because I didn't like the weather in Maryland. The spring and fall are nice, the summer is horrendous, and it's not like the winters in Maryland are warm - they're cold, but it's brown and gross and no snow to play in. OH WAIT, THAT'S ALASKA NOW. Go home mother nature, you're drunk. The snow normally brightens up our dark winters, and the last two winters without much snow, I have noticed my anxiety and depression spikes this time of year. Hence why I'm beating myself up over the wrong color cups and then overreacting about the wrong color cups and then beating myself up for the overreaction over stupid sippy cups. And continuing to write about sippy cups.

So despite what you may be thinking, this isn't really a venting blog post about sippy cups. It's about those moments. Those rare, sweet, special moments in the midst of all the sibling fights, refusal to put on coats in 15* weather resulting in stares from strangers, and bedtime battles and mommy sob fests into bags of chips broccoli, that remind you that YOU CAN DO THIS. You ARE doing this. (Right? Please someone say I'm right before I go take an 18 hour nap. I wish.)

We had one of those moments yesterday, thank you, God. So, it seems itty bitty Clara has become the "cute" little girl in the school that everyone wants to hug and pick up. I get it, I do, in my totally unbiased opinion she's adorable and sometimes has the personality to match (she normally saves that for other people, I get more of the "YOU'RE NOT MY MOM ANYMORE!!!" outbursts.) I try really hard to teach her she's in charge of her body and if she doesn't want to be hugged, kissed, tickled, high fived, or anything else, that's her choice but it's really difficult for me to reinforce when I'm not there to back her up. I trust her teachers, but 1) they aren't me and 2) they have lots of other kids to watch too, so Clara being hugged isn't at the top of their priority list when Joe is shoving marbles up Susie's nose (I KNOW, something I'm trying to wrap my brain around too.) She was telling me about how one of the boys hugged her and picked her up and how she didn't like it because he squeezes too tight, and she didn't want a hug. She told him no (go girl!) and he did it anyway (PLEASE TEACH YOUR SONS ABOUT CONSENT, KTHXBYE.) She told her teacher and she said she'd talk to him, but Clara was frustrated because this has been happening a lot with a lot of different kids. It's a hard line, trying to validate those feelings (I'm pretty good at that part), while also giving her tools to use when I'm not there (I'm ok at that part), while also trying to explain that her friend's intentions weren't bad but it was still never ok to hug someone who doesn't want to be hugged (I'm getting there with that part too.) While I was taking my time putting all of this into words, Haddie said "It's ok, Clara. I will help you! I will go to school with you. I will yell at him if he hugs you when you say no!" While the fact that Haddie said she was going to yell at someone for doing something wrong says something about my awesome parenting lately, I tried not to focus on that part but rather her sentiment and the look on Clara's face when she reached over to hold Haddie's hand as an unspoken thank you.

There are a hundred awful moments I could be focusing on right now, in our country and in my home. I can't compare sibling fights and mommy time outs (I put myself in one on Saturday) to the bigger issues going on outside my home, but I'm weary from it all. It's my prayer that I can focus on that one moment. Haddie will help Clara, she said so. "I will help you." It will help me, too.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I quit.

If you haven't unfollowed me on social media by now, you're probably aware that I'm well into the 365 Grateful project right now. 324 days in, to be exact. I take a picture a day of something I'm grateful for. I post daily to instagram, and anywhere from 1-10 photos at a time to Facebook.

And I'm done.

You're likely wondering why. I'm SO close. It's a cool thing, to look back on a picture from every day of this year, and if I kept it up I could make a whole photo book of our year. Even as I type this, I'm wondering if I'm making a mistake.

I started this project after a really, really rough 2015. I thought it would give me something positive to focus on, remember small things to be grateful for, and try and be a glass half full kinda gal. The thing that I've learned is, there are a lot of things that I do struggle with, but being grateful is not one of them. I'm grateful for so many things. Even after the last few difficult years, I sometimes have to be reminded that my feelings over being sad and grieved over those tough times are valid, because I have so many other things that bring me joy.

I do struggle with being on my phone too much. I struggle with my patience level (as I snapped at my kid at the last two friends get together's we have had - I'm grateful for my friend's grace and my kids forgiveness.) I struggle with caring too much about what people think. About six months into the year. I started to wonder if this project was becoming more of a time suck, leading me to be on social media more and care more about the response to my pictures than the picture and meaning itself.

Not to mention, there are so many things a photo a day can't capture. It doesn't capture my youngest daughter's giggle; her laugh is contagious. An iPhone doesn't show the sparkle that comes to my oldest daughter's eyes when she's giving you one of her rare, full, genuine smiles. It doesn't capture Haddie's hugs, the feeling I got when I heard her say "I love you, dad" to her daddy for the first time because I knew how overwhelmed with emotion he was, the full belly laughs she gives me daily. It doesn't capture the hard conversations Ian and I have had, and my gratefulness at his willingness to have them. It doesn't show how much Clara has grown in her anxieties and understanding of herself and how to communicate well. I couldn't explain her excitement over having a girls night with mommy last month, with a picture or even with my words. It doesn't capture her prayers, or Haddie's jokes. It falls oh so short of my life and what I'm really grateful for.

Some moments are just too perfect to be ruined by bringing out a camera, or trying to explain them to other people. How many nights have I sat with friends after the kids went to bed and enjoyed food or wine or hot chocolate, and just talked? How many times this year have I texted my best friend or my family, all who live out of state, a picture I didn't want to share on social media, an inside joke, or a cry for help, and gotten just the response I needed? How many times have I gotten acupuncture from a friend (who happens to be a doctor, don't just let any friends stick you with needles, please), or had extra cash and picked up my favorite drink at my favorite coffee shop (skinny half sweet special latte...unless the special is fruit related, then skinny half sweet vanilla latte), how many times have I held my kids hands, kissed their owies, been proud of them, been proud of myself, been proud of Ian for how we all responded to things? How many times have I gone out dancing, or worked out, or hiked? How many friends have hugged me, fed me, loved me this year? I couldn't begin to count.

So instead, I would go searching for something a little more arbitrary to post. Or something that may not offend someone. Something that may not have been what I was truly grateful for, but fit the mold of what I thought I "should" post that day. I posted about coffee the other day, I thought. Or oops, too many pictures of this kid, I should use another kid's picture because it looks uneven. And if I'm being honest, I could post about leggings every single day and it still wouldn't get my point across...they're that soft.

I don't like to give up, I don't like to quit things; but that's not really what I'm doing here, is it? Yes, I'm quitting the 365 grateful project, but I'm going to continue to be grateful. And this afternoon, as I baked, danced, and laughed with my kids, I didn't dare break out my phone to take a picture and ruin the perfect, messy, loud, moment.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

We won't stop either

I am writing this on October 16, 2016. I am purposefully waiting until the election season is over to post this, because I don't want it to get mixed up in the screwed up world of politics. This may be a hot topic right now, but it is an important one. 

Rape culture.

In a strange way, I'm grateful that the world heard Trump's sick words about sexual assault. He represents a culture, that has little to nothing to do with American politics (I know just as bad has been said and done within the Democratic Party too), that women have known about all along. But his comments getting blown into the media are forcing us to finally talk about it.

People want to know why his accusers didn't come forward before the election. Well, first off, BECAUSE YOU'RE ASKING THAT QUESTION. It's also for the same reasons a great deal of us haven't been vocal about this issue or our own experiences with sexual harassment or assault.

What if they think I'm crazy?

What if they don't believe me?

No one else has come forward...what if I have to do this all alone?

He's my boss.

He's my teacher.

He's my spouse.

He's my brother/uncle/dad.

It was only one time in an otherwise ok relationship.

Maybe he meant that comment as just a compliment. I'm overreacting.

They'll tell me I'm overreacting. 

I enjoyed the attention...at first.

I flirted with him. Maybe I gave him the wrong idea.

I shouldn't have walked home alone.

I have to continue to work with him/live with him/see him in another capacity.

At first I wanted to. If only I hadn't changed my mind.

I was drinking. I shouldn't have had that last drink.

Maybe my skirt *was* too short.

Maybe it's part of my wifely duties to be sexually available to my husband at all times.

What if he gets mad?

It's not worth the fight. It probably won't happen again. Right?

It was easier to give in than to fight. Since I didn't fight, it wasn't rape, right? 

None of these reasons are valid. There are no valid excuses for sexual harassment, assault, or rape. But these are all reasons women choose not to speak up, myself included in some of these.*

There are so many things we need to do, friends. So many things to change this culture where girls grow up being led to believe these things, even if inadvertently.

Let's teach our kids it's ok to get angry about this. It's ok to be loud and speak up.

For the love of God, please lets stop telling our daughters when a boy pushes you, it's "because he likes you." 

Let's teach them proper body parts and more importantly, body ownership. "We need to wash your armpits, belly, and vagina - do you want to do it or would you like my help?" And respect their answer. Ask before hugging, kissing, poking or tickling them and respect their answer.

Let's talk to our older kids and teens about sex. About STDs and preventing pregnancy, yes. About birth control, yes. But also about the good things about sex, and how those good things are only there when it's between loving and consenting adults.

And what consent means. If it is not an enthusiastic yes, it's a no.

I'll say that again - if it's not an enthusiastic yes, it's a no. Every.single.time. And either party can say no at any point. 

So much we need to teach our sons, too. About what it's like to grow up as a girl in this culture, and what that means for them as boyfriends and husbands (and brothers, dads, and friends.) That the media is telling them wrong - girls don't want to be pinned down and held to their lockers and kissed, even if it was in the movie you saw last week. 

I don't have all the answers, and I won't pretend to. What do we do about sexual harassment in the workplace, which is SO common? It was so common one place I worked, I didn't even realize what it was until I left...all part of being a woman, I thought. 

NO.

But how do we make changes there? When the offending party is responsible for your promotion? 

How do we make changes in the church, where far too often women are taught to submit to their husbands? Where sometimes martial rape is dismissed offhand? 

How do we be proactive when raising our sons, knowing that society is teaching them the wrong things about consent and women and it's up to us to counteract that?

The only answer I have, and (obviously lol) this is my answer to a lot of things, is to start talking about it. Start, and then don't stop stalking about it. We have to make the changes, now, while the world is finally listening to what used to be our silent cries.

We heard you, Donald Trump. We heard you too, Bill Clinton. And Brock Turner. We have heard, seen, felt and been hurt by you our whole lives. You didn't stop. You didn't stop when you weren't sure if we wanted it, you didn't stop when you thought it was a flattering us, you didn't stop bragging about it, you didn't stop when we said no. 

And guess what? We aren't going to stop either. We won't stop talking, shouting, crying, and making changes...until you finally STOP.


*Nowhere near all of this. I am safe.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

What a non-running wogger thinks when they attempt to run

Wogger = jogger+walker. Heavy on the walk, in this case.

What pops into my head when I "run"? (Heavy on the quotation marks there, too.)


  • Ok, you can do this. One foot in front of the other. Just, a little faster than you were going. 
  • Pretend there are donuts being held in front of your nose.
  • No, cookies. Fresh chocolate chip cookies. There ya go. You're running.
  • And by running I mean I could walk briskly faster than this, but minor detail.
  • I wonder if they make sports bras for my butt. It's bouncing just as much as my boobs.
  • It feels like there's a lot of stretching going on. Does the bouncing create (more) stretch marks? Probably. Because, science.
  • I can't breathe. I'm going to have an asthma attack. Except I don't have asthma. Or do I? They discovered my brother's asthma when he was playing sports outside in the cold. Maybe I do have asthma. What will happen to my kids in the stroller if I collapse?
  • I should stop and walk, just for a bit. You know, for my kids safety. 
  • Are those kids yelling "Mommy, faster!!!" at me? Are they SERIOUS? Don't they know they are part of the reason my ass is bouncing as much as my boobs?
  • Ok, the chocolate chip cookies could have something to do with it. AGAIN WITH THE MINOR DETAILS.
  • If they keep yelling "faster" at me, I'm going to yell at them what I yelled at their father during their births. "YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!"
  • Good thing I can't catch my breath enough to say that. Or say much of anything, really.
  • Turns out there IS something that shuts me up! I have a few people who I should tell that to; they've wondered.
  • Ok, time to run again. Look, it's downhill. That will help...wait, the jiggling is different now. More of it. 
  • I wonder how many more calories I'm burning with the stroller, or how much endurance I'm building. I bet without the stroller I could run a half marathon, easy.
  • Ok yeah, I'm still going downhill, but whatever.
  • That downhill thing really helps pick up the pace. Maybe I can make it further up the next hill.
  • YES!
  • They say to stop if you feel pain. If I'm running, I'm in pain. Maybe I should stop? The doctor would probably advise me to. 
  • What if that pain is the good kind of pain? There's a good kind right, like it means you're improving?
  • Heck yes, I'm improving! Look at me go! 
  • Did that turtle just pass me?
  • Alaska has turtles?
  • My running would probably startle a moose or a bear if I ran by, I'm going so fast. Should probably stop for our safety. You never know. 
  • Don't turn that corner. Don't do it. You know if you do, you'll head straight home. Just keep going so you're forced to...just keep going. 
  • Huh, look at that - it's like my body was on auto pilot and just turned the corner by itself. Seems my body knows better than I do that I need to go home and rest.
  • Wouldn't want to overexert myself.
  • The bouncing takes a little bit to catch up with the fact that I'm walking and not running, huh? Residual bounce, it's probably called.
  • I wonder if an attacker came at me, if I'd be able to outrun them. Maybe if I pretended someone was coming at me, if that'd help push me to run through til the end.
  • Nope. Cookies still better motivation. Huh.
  • Better add that to the list of what I need to talk to my therapist about.
  • I'm such a good runner. Look at me. I'm going to go home and sign up for all the races. This time next year, I'll be in a marathon.
  • I MADE IT!
  • Ok, look up how far you went and how fast. It will be motivation to keep it up!
  • .....
  • That can't be right. Are "15 minute miles" even a thing?
  • Well there ya go, turns out I *was* going slower than that turtle.
  • Ok, time to eat chocolate chip cookies and google butt sports bras.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Mama, why is your belly so soft?

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a parent of small children, or you once were and can look back on these years with rose colored glasses (I’m jealous, when can I get me some of those?!) and so you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that I’m constantly answering questions. Constantly. Sometimes I even have the answer to those questions.

“Mom, are you peeing or pooping?” Always in a public restroom…Always.

“What are you eating?”

“Why do you like coffee?” BECAUSE SURVIVAL, KID.

“Mom, how did I get out of your belly?” 

“Will I see Meme again in Heaven?”

“When you met Daddy, was I already in your belly?”

“Where does God live? I know in our hearts, but where can I see Him?”

Always at bedtime…what is it about bedtime that turns our little ones into theologians and philosophers?!

And then, sometimes a lot of times, I don’t have the answers.

“What do hyenas eat?” Thank God for google.

“How does gas make the car go?”

“How do you do a cartwheel?” Ugh, don’t remind my 4th grade self, I never did learn.

“Mom, why is your belly so full and soft?”

Wait. What? 

Gulp.

I know what I would have told her a few years ago. I know what answer came to my mind first, and it wasn’t pretty. Thankfully, and my only guess is by the Grace of God, I was gifted a rare moment of reflection and thought before I spoke. (Seriously. Rare. I far too often speak before I think. I’m working on it.)

And so, I answered her: Because I’m lucky, C. I have lots of friends and family to celebrate with cake and ice cream, and our family has enough healthy food to eat.

Almost 5 year old C responded: I want a soft belly!

Me: You may get one, because you eat lots of healthy food to fuel your body to grow and move, and you have lots of friends to eat and celebrate with. One of the best things about being a girl is that we can be soft and strong. We are strong enough to dance and hike but soft enough to cuddle. Want to know the other reason I like my soft belly? Because it reminds me of you and your sister. You both grew in there, and my belly stretched out super far and when it shrunk back down it went to being soft. Isn’t that cool?!

C: Yeah, that is cool! Will you read me this book?

And so we went on with our day, my daughter hopefully blissfully unaware of the significance of our conversation. I say blissfully unaware because she doesn’t know…she doesn’t know my lifetime struggles with my weight, PCOS, depression, and anxiety. She doesn’t know that I have not yet come to love my stomach, but I have come a long way from the years I spent hating it. She doesn’t know all the times I’ve been asked if I was pregnant, only to hold back tears and say no. She doesn’t know that this is the first summer in my life I’ve worked up the nerve to not only wear a bikini, but post a picture of myself in it. 

She doesn’t yet know the pressure the world, social media, our culture, her peers and mentors may put on her to look a certain way, and only that way. She doesn’t know that some people exercise to be skinny, instead of strong and fast as we talk about. My daughters don’t know these things because I have worked very hard at sheltering them from it, but I can’t shelter them forever. One day, this great, big, wonderful, fascinating, ugly, scary, world we live in will send her the message that she isn’t good enough, thin enough, big chested enough, tall enough. And then, that’s when I want her to know - I want her to know that her mother loves her own body, that being soft AND being strong is beautiful, that eating both ice cream and spinach (maybe not together, but hey, to each their own) is good, and that our culture, that message, is wrong. We are beautiful because our wombs have grown life, our breasts have nourished babies, our arms have hugged children, spouses, and friends, our lips have kissed skinned knees, and our eyes have filled with tears of joy and pain, love and sadness. So that, mamas, is what makes us beautiful, and please let’s teach our children that. Wear that bikini. Hike that mountain. Eat that double scoop sundae. Wear that mascara. Or don’t. Do whatever makes you feel soft, strong, and beautiful and that…that is what they will know.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Is there life outside of old nursing bras?

I've been having lots of these mom moments lately.

Not the cutesy ones with the perfect memories with my kids. I actually have been having lots of those lately too, which is nice because it makes the crazy mom moments not as hard. It's a lot more difficult to be mad at my 2 year old when she poops on my hand when its after she's made me laugh hysterically rather than after she's stayed awake and hyper on a cross country flight.

But those moments where you wonder if this is all you are anymore...a mom. And when I say it like that, it sounds bad, right? Because being a parent is THE most important job in the world, and incredible, and a gift...which makes you then feel guilty (MOM GUILT IS THE MOST REAL THING EVER IN LIFE, EVER) for questioning it.

But. The other day I was folding laundry and I realized the nicest and sexiest underwear I own are my new Thinx PERIOD PANTIES. Period fucking panties. I mean yeah, there's lace on them and they're black. They don't look like period panties. They're pretty cute, actually. OK. Ok. This is not self care, my friends. Even better is I have about six bras, one of which fits properly, and three of them are nursing bras. NURSING BRAS. Haddie is 3 in December and she was weaned at 13.5 months. I mean, come ON. Though, I will say, one of the best things about nursing bras and tanks that I didn't realize until just recently (which is ironic, considering how insatiable your appetite is when breastfeeding) is if you drop crumbs down your tank or bra, all you have to do is undo those little clips and stand over a trash can and you're good to go!

IS THIS WHAT MY LIFE HAS COME TO? Excitement over a removable shelf bra that doesn't even fit properly? Plus I'm pretty sure my neighbors think I have some weird fetish about standing with what looks like a shirt up to my boobs over my trash can and bouncing a bit.

Yesterday after I dropped my kindergartner (How is she in kinder already? Wasn't it just yesterday I was wearing nursing bras? OH WAIT. Yes, yes it was.) off at school, one of the other moms and I were having a conversation when she really kindly commented on "how beautiful" I looked that day. I said "Oh thanks, I showered." I didn't just think it, I said it. Like that's a normal response.

I love my kids. I love being a mom. But there has to be more to me, right? Is there? Heck, even this blog, where I come to write every 2.68 months, all I write about is motherhood. Which is great and lovely and fulfilling and to be honest, really good material because kids are crazy and I live in a nuthouse, but I'm not even sure what my interests are anymore. I'm starting to realize, in order to be a more patient, happy, present mama, I need to take care of ME too. I just need to figure out who that person is, outside of my role as mommy. When my kids are old enough to have a more "equal" relationship (I'm assuming in 20 years they won't be calling for me from the toilet to wipe their butts but NEVER SAY NEVER, I know!), I want there to be a person for them to have a relationship with...not just a shell wondering why I'm not sure what to do with myself outside of packing those lunches and planning those play dates.

So I have some goals for the rest of 2016 and I need you all, my average of 8.6 readers, to 1) hold me accountable, 2) tell me what your self care/discovery goals are, and 3) tell me who I am and I guess that's it because I think this is crap I have to figure out for myself.

1. Get properly fitted for some bras and throw away the ones stabbing me or with weird removal systems...unless the weird removal systems is some kind of cool, kinky thing I'm totally ignorant to and it's unrelated to nursing.
2. Wear earrings at least four days a week. FOUR DAYS A WEEK. Earrings make me feel pretty.
3. Read a book that isn't related to motherhood.
4. Plan or attend at least one girls night out a month, even if I have to hire a sitter. But no way in hell I'm promising not to talk about our kids, because hello...baby steps. I can't even go to a non-kid party and find something outside of poop and ballet classes to discuss.
5. Continue to exercise 3-5 days a week.
6. Clean out my car. It's gross and there's a film covering everything...with goldfish stuck to it.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

You may not remember me...

Dear Monica,

You may not remember me, but I will never forget you.

As excited and expectant new parents, we took the advice of many friends and interviewed and hired Dr. Gvozden in 2011. On August 14, 2011 our first daughter, Clara Hope, was born. Dr. Gvozden was out of town so we saw another doctor in the hospital. Clara and I were having breastfeeding difficulties, but I had done a ton of research and was very reassured by the nurses, Doctor, and lactation consultant that while we were off to a rough start, things were on track. When she was 4 days old, Kim Knight IBCLC came to our house per my request as I wanted to be assured we were doing all we could to make this work and have Clara thrive. I knew between my PCOS, her tongue tie, and the use of a nipple shield that we had an uphill battle so I wanted as much support in place as possible. Kim and I made a plan, she watched me nurse Clara and told me she had never seen a new mom so comfortable nursing - I was lounging and walking around while feeding her and she reiterated how impressed she was with me. I didn't know that I was doing anything special but it was certainly nice to have the reassurance of a professional that I was doing it right.

If only the support continued when we took Clara into your office that afternoon. You immediately told me she was dehydrated, grabbed her from me, grilled me, and told me you were going to get formula for her to eat in the office. Before I could ask questions, before I could understand what the concern was. You didn't know I had done all my research. You didn't know I was aware of possible slow weight gain or low supply. You didn't know because you didn't ask. Luckily, my husband and I were able to gather our thoughts as you were grabbing nipples for the formula bottles enough that I could say "Wait, I don't think I want to introduce formula this early. It could hurt my supply." You very, very hesitantly said I didn't have to feed her the formula but insisted I bring it home and make an appointment for a weight check in two days. When I brought up her tongue tie, you denied that was an issue. The only concern you showed was when I started crying, you asked if we had support. Because obviously a mom at 4 days post partum whose breastfeeding goals are being stomped on isn't reason enough to cry, it must be because I don't have enough support at home. Because a mom getting emotional when someone she's never met but is supposed to trust with her daughters care is running around frantic acting like my newborn was knocking on deaths door, but that went against everything every nurse, pediatrician, and lactation consultant said, shouldn't be crying. Something must be wrong with the mom, right?

Well that is certainly how you and the front office staff made me feel. When I called back to cancel the weight check because I immediately found a new pediatrician (after taking her to Annapolos ENT who confirmed that yes, she did have a tongue tie), the office told me if I didn't bring Clara back in, it was "illegal." I had no idea what that meant so I brought her back in. It wasn't until years later when discussing awful post partum medical care with a friend, that I came to the realization that you were going to report me to CPS if I didn't come. Because maybe you thought I was starving my baby? That thought never even entered my mind, ever, which I was I was so confused as to why you were acting so harsh. Which is why when I talked to Kim (a lot - I worked with her for the first month of Clara's life), who said she saw you over the weekend and you mentioned you were concerned about me and "that baby", I legitimately had no idea why.

I'm almost five years and another child into motherhood now so I know now that you see awful things. You must see newborns starve, sometimes at the hands of their own parents. You didn't want that to happen to Clara; I get that now. But do you want to know what else happens a lot? New moms are loving, hormonal, scared, excited, determined, confused, knowledgeable, and vulnerable. You were probably concerned I had post partum depression, but what you don't know is that you triggered post partum depression in me. You, as a pediatric nurse practitioner, have the ability to support and learn from and guide new families, but acting out of fear, you did the opposite. And I've talked to friends who have had similar experiences with you.

I didn't manage to breastfeed Clara past 6 weeks. I couldn't get over feeling like I might be starving her, because you had put that thought into my mind, and rather than offer support, you offered condemnation. And my next child? We are back home living in Alaska now, and my children see the same pediatrician I saw as a child. I worked with midwives, lactation consultants, and that amazing pediatrician and I nursed her until she was 14 months. It was hard. It was extra work for everyone involved. And when that pediatrician looked me in my eyes that were welling with tears because I was worried history would repeat itself and said "I trust you, we want you to breastfeed, keep doing what you're doing." My heart swelled, and yet - a voice in the back of my head said "what if he doesn't trust you? What if he treats you the way Monica did?"

I know that you can't help that I was predisposed to get post partum depression and anxiety. It's not your fault that I wasn't able to continue to breastfeed Clara. But you triggered fears in me I didn't even know I had, and you have the ability and opportunities to do so much better.

I know there's a good chance you'll read this letter, roll your eyes, and throw it away. I know there's a better chance you'll write me back and passively apologize that "I had a hard time" but defend your actions and insist Clara was sicker than I realized (and maybe she was - but you still didn't handle it appropriately), and the thought of getting a response like that is what's kept me from writing this letter for nearly five years. I don't want to open up old wounds that I've worked so hard on healing for myself. But you know what? There's a chance, albeit small, that maybe the next time you see something other than the typical newborn or new mom who breastfeed a perfectly or goes straight to formula, that you'll ask questions, hold hands, provide proper support, or refer her to someone who can. And if this letter makes you think twice next time that mom of a 4 day old comes in, wearing s nursing tank covered in spit up, then I can't regret sending this.

Sincerely,

Erynne