It’s Time To Talk About Maternal Mental Health, And Be Civilized About It

{Serious Post Alert}

I am not one to pretend I know everything about the way the mind, or the body, or the world for that matter, works. But if there is one thing I know based on factual research, history of our culture, observations in society, and my own, anecdotal experiences, it is this: having a baby seriously fucks you up. It fucks up your body. It fucks up your sleep patterns. It fucks up your life as you knew it. And it fucks up your head.

Sometimes it really really fucks up your head.

So much so that there is an entire array of postpartum mental health disorders that you can find yourself diagnosed with. Postpartum depression. Postpartum psychosis. Postpartum anxiety. I am sure the list goes on.

The question is: why won’t anyone do anything about it?

Shortly *before* I had my third little ball of perfect, I started having major problems with anxiety and panic attacks. I was approximately 8 months pregnant, 34 years old, and all of a sudden I couldn’t handle going to the doctor. I would worry – excessively – in the days that led up to whatever appointment I had. Something was going to be wrong, I just knew it. Then when I got to the office, with absolutely nothing wrong, I would have a full blown panic attack. On several occasions, it rocketed my blood pressure up higher than it has ever been.

If you know anything about pregnancy, you know that high blood pressure is bad news.

It got to the point where my OB started me on a mild sedative to make it through the duration of the pregnancy. It worked, a little. While in the hospital, they gave me something else that was safe in breastfeeding, then sent me home saying that the hormones with breastfeeding would likely fix everything. And if it didn’t, call my primary care physician.

Since then, I have lived in a constant state of anxiety. Constant. Not a day goes by that I am not worrying about things I cannot control, making myself sick to my stomach from the fight-or-flight adrenaline rushing through my body, being angry about things I am not entirely sure anger is an appropriate response to, and having about one full blown panic attack a week.

This has gone on for 21 months now.

At first, I tried to deal with it, patiently but also impatiently (as anxiety has a tendency to draw minutes out into agonizing years). I thought to myself: you know what, I am sure when the breastfeeding gets going, it’ll help like they said.

When I went in for my six week c-section follow up, I mentioned that the anxiety had not gone away, so my doctor gave me the card for a psychologist who specialized in postpartum mental health.

She wasn’t in network for my insurance.

So I called my primary care physician, who – in short – did very little. Six months later, she gave me a prescription for Xanax with the side note that no you really shouldn’t take Xanax while breastfeeding – but she finished breastfeeding at six months, so maybe this would give me the incentive to quit breastfeeding at six months too. Then I could deal with my anxiety.

By taking boatloads of Xanax.

When I said that the World Health Organization recommends a minimum of two years breastfeeding, she said that the AAP only recommended six months to a year. So think about it, here’s the Xanax if you decide to wean.

I changed doctors.

Unfortunately, over the course of the following months, it’s been more of the same. Either a doctor doesn’t support breastfeeding beyond a year, or they don’t support treating a woman with postpartum anxiety, or they don’t support either.

My most recent doctor finally said: you know, there just really aren’t many options, why not give therapy a shot with someone that is in network.

So I went on the search for a local therapist that supports breastfeeding, deals with postpartum anxiety, is in network with my insurance, and is taking new patients.

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Very few that meet all of that criteria exists.

So few, in fact, that it got down to one guy. One fucking guy. He called me back (which most of them didn’t even give me the courtesy of doing), he asked about what insurance I had, went over a little phone interview, then scheduled an appointment.

Here is how the appointment went, in a short list:

  1. {Appointment started 20 minutes late}
  2. “Oh hey – you said you have California Blue Shield? Yeah so…I’m out of network with them now. It’s August now, last week when we spoke it was July so… I’ll take your regular copay for now and then when I get the EOB in 90 days, we can just settle up whatever the difference ends up being for all the appointments. Cool?
  3. “So when do you plan to start weaning so you can take some medication? I just want a timeline to see what we are looking at here? OH you’re letting the baby decide? Huh…
  4. “Alright, if I have this straight, your husband works nights and you are alone with the kids…you say you get about 4 hours of sleep a night? Well you should do something about that, it’s probably making your anxiety worse.
  5. “I think you should consider this workbook about cognitive behavioral therapy…I mean it’s for teens but don’t think that means I think you are stupid. Well you are a stay at home mom HAHAHA, just kidding…it’s just a good workbook.
  6. {Appointment ended 10 minutes early, which – combined with the 20 minutes late, turned an hour into 30 minutes of paperwork and literally just the above comments}

So uncivilized.

I left horrified. And yet still I had scheduled a follow up visit, figuring I would give the guy another chance. I mean…I was at the point where he was literally the only therapist in a 50 mile radius that fit the bill.

But there was still that sticky insurance thing, so I called the insurance company and – long story short – out of network meant my weekly copay to see this pseudo-sexist quack was going to be $57 instead of the in network $10.

That would be $228 instead of $40 a month. An unreasonable difference that – honestly – was out of my copay budget and – frankly – not worth it. I’ll deal with the fucking worrying and upset stomachs for now. My baby – now a toddler – is 21 months old; it is very VERY likely this will begin to subside soon anyway. And if it doesn’t, by that point he will likely wean on his own and I can explore a safer non-narcotic medication approved for anxiety.

So I called the guy to cancel the appointment, explaining – what I thought politely – was that I had called the insurance and the copay was just going to be too high, and here was the TEXT MESSAGE he sent me, within minutes:

“Heather i will take you out of the book for friday. You are PPO fyi, and although you would likely pay some what more, it shouldn’t be exorbitant as you claimed.”

Okay.

At what point are we going to talk about maternal mental health, or mental health in general, and actually make the situation better? Or how about we just address the general lack of healthcare available for anything?

It is terrifying to think that so few doctors in my community want to actually doctor. It is even more terrifying to think that so few doctors in my community seem to be able to put their personal opinions and beliefs aside so they can assume their call of duty as practitioners of whatever specialty they chose.

To be honest with you all: the thought of going back to the drawing board with this therapist situation seems to have straightened my anxious head right up, anyway. Every time I start worrying, I think to myself now: Heather, the last thing you want to do is have to go back to a quack like that jerk that called stay at home moms dumb. Panic: away!

It’s 2018. We should be able to talk about this shit, and for that matter to be civilized about it. Not everyone is so lucky to be able to redirect their thoughts so easily as I seem to have. It is for those people that we need to have this discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Time We Get This Out In the Open, and Just Have the Talk About Baby Showers

I’ve kept my mouth shut about this for SO. LONG. But I just can’t keep it shut anymore. I consider it to be hazardous to my health to hold this in any further.

If, through the course of this, I in some way hurt your feelings, I wish I could apologize. But I can’t. Instead I’m going to say as nicely as possible: if, through the course of this, I in some way hurt your feelings, you should probably take a look at your behaviors and adjust them to display a little more class and decorum when it comes to your baby showers. Or, in short: sometimes the truth hurts.

There, I said it. I started the ball rolling; no stopping now. It’s time we get this out in the open, and just have the talk about baby showers.

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I’ve been to a lot of baby showers, and parties about or for babies. Sometimes it feels as if this is a punishment we women in our 30s are given as some sort of universal, karmic retribution for our prior behavior. Every time I made out with my boyfriend while babysitting as a high schooler is paid back with a terrible, tacky, and – quite frankly – disgusting baby shower now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating my friends and family and their new additions. But as with many things in life, there is a right and a wrong way to handle it.

Wrong Way: Not Enough Food

I guess I’m becoming the minority on this point, because it happens more often. Granted, I typically can’t eat the food at any of the baby showers (or other events in general) that I attend, because I eat gluten free and people still don’t seem to grasp the concept that more and more people have dietary restrictions.

But I’ve witnessed it. I’ve seen the rage in people’s eyes when they see they’ve come to a baby shower, bearing a gift hovering around a $100 value mark, to find there was nothing being offered. They’ve taken their Sunday afternoon or Saturday morning, when they could have been doing something else entirely, and brought that gift, dressed up in a flowery dress and high heels – and in return there wasn’t even a decent deviled egg or potato chip with ranch dip to be found.

I recently went to a baby shower where everyone was saying they were doing appetizer-type food. Pick-me-up food, so they could avoid having to set up the sit-down tables usually required when you serve a sit down meal. This way people could mingle – it would be spectacular! All anyone would talk about for the months preceding the shower were these fucking appetizers they’d be serving – it would be the appetizer party to end all appetizer parties.

Well then the mom-to-be’s friends all flaked out at the last minute, and it morphed into mostly a family party. Which she had no interest in. So no one gave a shit about the appetizer party anymore, or mingling for that matter; and it turned into a “give me presents and get the fuck out of my house” kind of event.

Oh, it was so tacky.

By the time eating the appetizers actually happened, people quickly realized that all they had was a small plate of Costco sandwiches, a small plate of vegetables, and approximately 7 deviled eggs. The guys in the other part of the house even had better food than the actual baby shower had, and fire shot from the eyes of the family members in attendance when this came to light. They weren’t even going to have a cake, until someone donated one – all in all, it was tasteless, tacky, and – quite frankly – transparent as to what the party was all about.

Right Way: Party Within Your Means

Now I get it, not everyone can afford to throw a huge party with the caviar on the side.

Can’t afford anything more than a cake? Then you need to have a gender reveal party in lieu of a baby shower so people don’t come expecting more. (And by expecting, I don’t mean people have particular expectations; I mean that’s the status quo so people will come hungry.) People will still bring you gifts out of the kindness of their heart, but they won’t be set up to get the impression that everything is about just collecting as many presents as you can.

Don’t have anywhere to throw the party comfortably with the number of people you want to invite? Well…move it to a restaurant, but only if you can afford to provide the meal.

Just yesterday I was invited to a baby shower that included both a copy of the registry, as well as the prix fix meal menu card with my bill.

Yes, that’s right. If I were to attend, I’d have to select what I wanted and send my check to pay for my meal ahead of time. I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised to hear that the registry items started at $200.

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Honestly, if you are just interested in getting gifts, you shouldn’t have a party at all. Baby showers are supposed to be about a celebration, gifts are a side note – which is why the truly right way to handle a baby shower is to have one within your means, or don’t have one at all and just graciously tell people where you are registered if they ask about getting something for your new(est) little one.

Wrong Way: Being Gross

Everyone knows how you made the baby. We don’t need to talk about it.

Everyone knows baby diapers are gross and squishy. We don’t need to play games where you melt chocolate into diapers and make us taste it, as if we’re licking human feces out of an infant’s diaper.

And what is it with people’s more recent obsessions with talking about getting the baby out? I mean really. Everyone wants to talk about what their experience was squeezing their baby out of their v-hole. Baby cakes are now fashioned in the likeness of a woman birthing her baby, with words like “PUSH BABY PUSH” written in buttercream frosting around the trim.

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christina-aguilera-baby-shower-cakeAnd I think this giant vagina cake just says it all.

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Right Way: Be Compassionate, Tactful, and Thankful

Babies are a really sensitive subject for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. I think a lot of people have forgotten that.

Babies are also a really exciting time, which is why it’s a delicate balance. The bottom line is that no matter how well you think you know someone, there’s still a good chance that there’s something you don’t know.

One of your good friends may not be attending your baby shower because she just had a miscarriage. One of your family members may be struggling with infertility, and have a hard time doing much more than just coming, having a slice of your giant vagina cake, wishing you congrats, and leaving before the gift opening begins. The right thing to do is to be understanding of other people’s circumstances, even if you don’t know what those are.

But it goes beyond that.

You should never invite your ex-girlfriend or ex-husband to your baby shower.

You should never tell all of your family and friends of child-bearing age that your party to celebrate your future child is going to be “kid-free.”

And – this is a big one many people will disagree with me on – you should never have multiple parties.

I get that people have different factions of family-, friend-, and work life. You have a work shower and a regular shower…I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about having so many different parties to celebrate your future child – a gender party, a baby shower for one side of the family, a baby shower for another side of the family, a work shower, an introduction of the new baby party… all of a sudden you’ve thrown four, five, maybe even six parties, crossed invites all over the place; and in all the hubbub, forgotten to invite people that should have been invited, and moreover you haven’t thanked those that came to each and all.

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Ultimately, I think that baby showers have become the new pre-wedding experience. It’s one last hurrah, one last fling, one last “it’s all about me.” But what people are failing to realize, here, is that once you’re pregnant, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about your family, the life you’re taking care of, and the community and system of values you’re bringing that child into.

 

I watched Ricki Lake poop out a baby tonight…

…didn’t see that one coming, did you guys? To be fair, neither did I.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me first tell you all about how I got into the position to see Ricki Lake poop out the baby to begin with.

Today began like any other Saturday. Of course my husband was off work, so we milled around – bullshitting each other and pretending to enjoy each other’s company; until that got old, and I decided to get in the shower. I was also pretty suspicious because he kept complimenting me. It was like three times in under an hour, which is highly dubious; in fact, I’m still wondering what he did.

After my shower, my husband’s shower, and all the arguing about everyone needing to stop playing Barbies for five minutes and put their fucking toothbrushes into their fucking mouths, we were ready for the day. Which we weren’t entirely sure what to do with, still.

So we headed over to my father’s house to do the housecleaning for his open house tomorrow. I’m not talking about a fancy party kind of open house, where he serves those little cucumber sandwiches to high class kind of friends. I’m talking about the kind of open house you have for the sale of a home. You know: where tons of strangers traipse through your home, fuck everything up, break shit, leave doors open, and then try to low ball you with offers more insulting than “I’ll give you three crayons and this carton of milk.”

Anyway, so we did the housecleaning, then we were at a total loss of what to do with the day. So we went home – stopping at the grocery store (of course) to pick up stuff for me to make dinner with. Once home, we did what we always do when we don’t know what to do: watched movies.

We watched Dallas Buyer’s Club. That was phenomenal. Then we watched The Hunger Games – finally, after all this time postponing for me to read the book, only for me to never get around to reading the book because I don’t like reading that Young Adult shit anyway.

Then The Hunger Games came to a finish and it was still early. Too early to go to bed; too late to go anywhere or do anything. So we scrolled through our Netflix Que for something relatively quick. Which is when we happened upon it: Ricki Lake’s documentary The Business of Birth.

Let me start by saying that I did enjoy the film. I thought it was very informative, and while a little too graphic and outdated for my tastes, it was – by and large – something that, at the very least, made me think. I like to think, so that’s good.

But I took issue with two things in particular.

Towards the end…

…the conclusion was made by an OB/Gyn, as well as the filmmakers and Ricki Lake, that if a woman does not experience the raw pain, intense emotion, natural induction of hormones, and vaginal-vaginal-out-the-vagina birth that she does not experience the bonding of motherhood, nor the love of being a mom.

To be clear: women who had to induce? Haven’t experienced the bonding and love of motherhood. Women who had caesarians? Haven’t experienced the bonding and love of motherhood.

If you are angry, you are with me.

And you should then be asking yourself: are you fucking kidding me? What kind of a horse’s ass opinion is that? The belief that a woman unable to birth naturally, or who chooses medical intervention (for whatever her reasons may be) DOES NOT EXPERIENCE THE LOVE OF MOTHERHOOD AND BONDING WITH HER BABY is the most horrendous, destructive, narrow-minded, and ignorant view of motherhood and, well, reality I may have ever heard.

Truly. Truly this infuriated me, which was unfortunate because (at least to me) it greatly discredited a lot of the other things said and discussed in the film. If they are that wrong about something so great as this, couldn’t they be wrong about a lot of the other things?

Documentaries always do this to me. They always fucking let me down like this.

…and documentaries always let me down in another way, which had to do with Ricki Lake’s vagina…

They show me more of something in particular than I really want to see. In this case, that thing in particular was Ricki Lake’s vagina.

Now I know what you are all thinking. If I watch a documentary about childbirth, I should expect to see at least something of women squeezing babies out of their v-holes. I get that, OK? It didn’t make me scream any less, or be any more horrified by all the nuances of childbirth I would like to keep in the deepest, darkest caverns of my brain – never to surface for fear of fainting. I just can’t take some of it, the majority of the time. (I can’t be the only mother that feels this way, right?)

Sorry if that bothers you. Maybe I too cannot experience the love and bonding of motherhood.

But what I really wasn’t expecting was to see Ricki Lake poop out her second baby in a bathtub with a bottle of Suave sitting on the shelf behind her. Nope, I really was not expecting that. Not one bit.

I feel so cold now. So very, very cold.

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The premise of the movie was essentially that home birth is better. I tend to disagree with this, mostly because of the fact that I’m a big, ol’ scaredy cat. I suppose if everything were in the woman’s favor, home birth is a perfectly safe and healthy option – with, of course, the help of an experienced midwife. Though at the very end of the film, the filmmaker went into labor (not Ricki Lake, thank God I’d had enough of that bullshit) and she had to rush to the hospital after all because her baby was breech. Long story short: the baby would have died had she naturally delivered at home. This raises some serious concerns that women face when deciding their birth plan, which I really don’t feel the film did even the slightest bit to address.

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I don’t know what all of your thoughts are on the topic, but I’ll just say when you’ve seen Ricki Lake squat a baby out of her vagina, with her bare boobs flopping all over the place, you just really start to see things a lot more skewed. Really, I don’t even know what to believe about anything after that.

Ways I Quietly Judge My New Mom Friends

Sad news for me, because I am sure if any of my new mom friends read this blog post (which I am sure most of them will not – they are too busy uploading 7,000 photographs of their new babies taking a crap – see #2, appropriately numbered…); well, I am sure if any of them actually do read this, they will cease to be my friends. It’s just that I have been quietly judging many of them for some time now. Pretty much since all of them started dropping babies out of their lady-holes… sometime around the beginning of this summer.

I’ve reached that time where a lot of people my age are having babies. A few years back it was that everyone was getting married; and don’t get me wrong, quite a few are still on their way to wedded bliss. But the babies started coming and then this year it reached an all-time high. I think something like 50 or more people that I know squeezed one out, or plan to sometime in the next nine months.

Being a seasoned mother at this point, though, I have been all-the-while quietly judging my new mom friends. You know, we all do it as parents. I write blog posts all the time about how we – as parents and mothers – should support each other and stop judging one another, and all that other happy horse shit that sounds gloriously understanding and open-minded. But of course that is even a judgement in itself (the judgment that people are too judgmental), so finally a month or two ago (as I said, the beginning of this summer), I said “screw it” in my mind and decided to just join everyone in the chorus.

I don’t get all up in the mommy war debates or anything like that, though. And when all is said and done, I still could give two figs what anyone does as a parent. I will support others in what they want to do as a parent, even if I do not agree. Even if I do not agree vehemently. Nonetheless there are a few quintessential ways that I quietly judge my new mom friends. Do you?

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#1 I Think Their Pregnancy Announcements Are Lame

Granted, they seem to be getting more unique. More inventive. I saw one recently that involved a photograph of people wearing t-shirts; that was cute. But how many of you have read this – at one time or another – on your Facebook page:

“Blah blah blah and I are proud to announce that we are expecting a baby such and such on yada yada day month year. The first trimester has been rough, but mommy and daddy could not be more excited!”

Oh just can it. There were some days when there would be eight or nine of them in a day. It was all I could do not to make snarky comments, like: “wow, so many of you … that must have been one great group orgy!”

And as their pregnancy continues, I of course judge (in my own mind) just how glaringly awful each set of new mom friends acts, as if her pregnancy is the first pregnancy in the history of all humanity.

#2 I Feel Like They’ve Become Our Parents

I sometimes wonder if our kids are going to find us to be terribly guilty of overexposing them as babies to the Internet.

I’m not talking about online predators or perverts or anything. And honestly I’m not begrudging the occasional family shot, or the cute photos of baby at certain months, or whatever. I mean that when our kids are 14 or 15, they’ll have their own Facebook or whatever is popular at the time, and on our pages will be hundreds of thousands of photographs we have uploaded of them in the most humiliating and compromising positions imaginable.

Think of it. When we were teenagers, the worst thing that our parents could do was break out a humiliating photo album and show off pictures of us in the bathtub or on the toilet. “Look, that’s the first time little Jimmy took a growler on the big boy potty…” and your date to prom decided she’d be going with the kid that smelled like rotten asparagus instead.

I feel like my new mom friends have become our parents. They have exposed all of our children’s most humiliating, most mortifying, moments to the entire world. If I see one more photo of a baby taking a shit on Facebook, I’m going to scream. Every time a friend posts one of these photos, I quietly judge her for becoming exactly what we hated about our parents when we were younger.

#3 I Say Things Like…

… “Oh, I’m not sure how public school works … I homeschool …” Which, of course, I only realize after the fact that it might make a friend that has to work to make ends meet feel like shit because she knows all-too-well the ins and outs of all the horrors the public school system has to offer.

And then I have judged her for having her kids in public school. Because since I don’t really know how public school works, how can I even say to myself or imply that these “horrors” exist and that public school is so awful, in every case?

I could go on, but I won’t.

What I realized a while ago, as babies continued to pop out of others and it seemed that the baby-making time of our lives would never even take a break, is that it’s hard not to judge in any way at all. Because that would mean we have no opinions on anything at all. Of course we have opinions on being a parent or raising kids or being pregnant, or really just about anything – how else would we make decisions in the best interest of all these kids we’ve decided to have?

I think the important part is who you share those opinions with. Do you keep them to yourself, or do you wage wars on Dr. Phil?

3 People You Should Hide Your Early Pregnancy From

So I think I’m about to lose a lot of you as faithful blog followers. I say that because I’ve been thinking about the concept of the pregnancy announcement, and I think my feelings about it will hit way more home than some of you want.

Get over it. This is my blog. My opinions.

It seems like it’s pretty taboo to announce you are pregnant before the second trimester. This year has seen an unprecedented number of pregnancy announcements – from friends, family … people I didn’t even remember existed until suddenly their naked belly photos were splattered all over my Facebook Newsfeed. The underlying commonality of each, though, was that they waited until the second trimester to announce. Complications could come up. Miscarriage is most likely in the first trimester. Blaa blaa blaa. You know the drill – it’s taboo, because what if you lose the baby?!

Yes. What if you lose the baby? God forbid you have a networked support system to be there for you.

In my mind, there are three people in particular that you should hide your pregnancy from:

#1 Your Hot, Latin Pool Boy

Yes, I said it.

We have a joke in our family about my uncle: that he’s really the Mexican gardner’s son. My grandma used to be teased to no end about the fact that he looked completely different than the rest of the family. She’d respond with “OK, but you know the milk man was a possibility too.” You go girl.

We all know that the baby’s father may very well be your Latin pool boy anyway – the paternity test on Maury two years from now will be the decider of that. In the meantime, you can limit the drama and keep the fun going for a little bit longer. At least until you start to show.

#2 That Gossipy Family Member

Everyone has a family member that is overly gossipy. I am fairly certain that I am bordering on being her in my family; but besides that, you should definitely hide your pregnancy from her.

Don’t hide your pregnancy from me, though.

Gossipy ladies are so horrid. Really they should be called: shit-talkers. Back-stabbing shit-talkers whose entire personality revolves around the ability to fling crap like monkeys. They don’t just tell stories they should be keeping to themselves; or share secrets that  were told in confidence. They make shit up. They speculate. They exaggerate. Someone gets fired from their job as a part of a huge set of layoffs, and the gossipy lady turns it into a dramatic scenario where “you know, I heard he was bringing vodka to work in his water bottle.”

Losing a baby is hard, but to have the gossipy lady talking all kinds of shit behind your back is just unnecessary. For this reason we will never be able to tell a single member of my husband’s family about any future pregnancies, until the baby is on its way out. Those people gossip like there’s no tomorrow, and you know what they say – someone who will talk shit to you, will talk shit about you.

#3 Your Starbucks barista and/or bartender

I’m just kidding about the bartender thing. I mean I know the pendulum swings on whether or not it is safe to drink any alcohol while pregnant, and right now a lot more people are having the occasional glass of wine after the approval of their doctor; but I’m still kidding.

Okay I’m not.

Nothing brings out the judgy-mcjudgers more like early pregnancy. “I made this decaf for you since you shouldn’t be drinking caffeine” they say. “You’re pregnant? Oh, I’ll hold off on bringing edamame to your table” they defy. “Can I show you photographs of babies with fetal alcohol syndrome while you drink your half a glass of wine that your doctor said you should go ahead and drink, because I disagree with him and my associates degree in mixology is so much more valid than his many years in medical school?”

The only person who has a right to give food and beverage advice to a new, budding pregnant lady is her doctor. And Web MD. And maybe What To Expect When Expecting, but I’m going to err on the side of just her doctor. Keeping it mum when you are trying to weave your way through your daily pattern of eating and drinking is perfectly fine for your own ease.

Now did you all notice something? I didn’t say that you should be keeping your pregnancy hidden from your closest family and friends, now did I? I know this is a touchy subject for a lot of people. Perhaps they miscarried or had to terminate the pregnancy due to complications. Maybe that was the hardest thing – and how could I ever understand what they went through. I’m such a fucking insensitive asshole that doesn’t know shit.

Or am I?

Little known fact: about two and a half years ago, in spite of the chastity belt lined with razors I keep close to my lady parts every night, Poor Nick successfully shot one in the hole, so to speak. I know, I know – who knew? It was a horrible time for us to have a baby, though; I had just left graduate school and was having a hard time even getting out of bed after doing so. We already had Pookies running around too, so he acted like a jerk about it from the minute I said “oh shit…” All the drama and stress and secrecy and “how are we going to do this” about it was for naught, though, because “God’s plan” took care of everything, and before the sixth week I was again not pregnant. To be clear: of no fault of my own. (Duh, I’m Catholic.)

Flash forward to now, and I am living through the deaths of two people very close to me. A suicide and the natural one of my grandfather. Had I had the love and support of the family and friends around me then as I do now, maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long to feel normal again. People say it’s different, but it isn’t. There’s always someone there waiting to say something stupid – in both situations. There will constantly be people pitying you, or avoiding you because they don’t know what to say. But in the middle of all of that are a group of people that are there for you, and support you. Unconditionally.

I see no reason to keep your pregnancy a secret from any of those people – for any amount of time. Because having to tell them about it is a path to being less alone if something goes wrong. Culturally, I think we need to get beyond this taboo – we need to learn to do things together again, rather than always isolating ourselves from each other at the worst times.

And of course to once again embrace the love of our hot and sexy, Latin pool boys. Because pool boys need love too.

That’s just my opinion, though. What’s yours?

How To Avoid Pregnancy In 6 Steps

I’m at that time in the month when I really want to have a baby. My period just stopped. The hormones have yet to get back to normal, though, because it’s really the last day of the cycle – so I’m weepy about it too. My ovaries are getting ramped up to fire out another egg faster than an AK-47 at target practice. And by next Friday it’ll be like Ovulation Central Station in the nether region of my womanhood.

It also doesn’t help that each day sees another pregnancy announcement. Yesterday I learned that a friend from when I worked in the pharmacy during undergraduate is now expecting. She’s 11 weeks along the line, and getting pregnant has been no small feat for these love birds. As I congratulated her, though, I realized that she is now the 28th person I know that will be giving birth some time this year. (Update: while writing this post, another friend messaged me on Facebook … no jokes, now we’re at 29.)

In the words of Joey from Blossom: WOAH.

So today is also a really big day for not only my baby dreams, but also my blog. This is my 400th post, and on that 400th post I was planning to make my own big announcement and feature a giveaway to celebrate the occasion. Am I having a baby too? No, that’s quite obvious given my conversation about my little red sister, up above in paragraph one. Am I quitting the blog now that I’ve hit the 400th mark? Absolutely not. That would be dumb.

Nope, the news is that I’m publishing a new book. It’s a book of articles on adulthood, marriage, and parenting; very much in the same vein as this blog – entitled My Wife’s a Bitch. It isn’t just for women or parents, it’s really for people like me. (If you are reading this blog, you are likely one of them.) The book is scheduled to release on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013, and the really exciting thing is that I’ll be doing book signings for this one – both around my home in the LA suburbs, and in the Chicagoland area this summer. Are you shouting “yay!” yet? I am.

To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway of my last book, the very short and very quirky tragic comedy that is my childhood story – Surviving on Cynicism and Misanthropy. Details on the giveaway are at the end of this post.

So while vomiting in the morning, hormones added to my baseline level of crazy, and peeing in my pants every time I laugh is actually my norm, it’s quite obvious that pregnancy is probably not the thing to do these next few months as My Wife’s a Bitch hits the shelves.  Fortunately, I’ve devised my six, surefire steps to avoiding pregnancy. Birth control, tubal ligation, and the old ever-failing pull out method are for sissies.

1. Rarely (if ever) see your spouse.

If you never see your spouse, you never have sex. If you never have sex, you have no pregnancy.

2. Visit all your friends with new babies on the days they’ve had no sleep. Not on the days the baby slept a whopping seven hours uninterrupted.

Don’t get me wrong: all of the sleepless nights, the midnight feedings, the baby in the bed just to get 30 minutes … it’s all worth it. And it is temporary. IT IS. But nothing reminds you how difficult having a brand new baby around can be more than seeing a friend that is in the middle of it. They’ve got dark circles under their eyes, they forgot to eat their last three meals, and their hair looks like it hasn’t been washed in a week (because it hasn’t); those are the times to visit.

3. Spend some time with someone after they’ve been in the hospital.

This is one I’m going through right now, and it has nothing to do with a baby (but my dad with his hip). Hospitals are miserable, which means that if you have a baby – unless you are one of those adventurous new age people that has them at home – you are going to have some sort of a stay in the hospital. That means crappy food, nasty nurses, and even less sleep than when you are home with the baby.

4. Let your kid(s) have free range of the house for a few hours.

If you are like me, you already have at least one wee one running around the house. That means that you have a built-in anti-pregnancy device. Sure, you may have forgotten the sleepless nights and the problems that came up early on; but what you will never forget is how much damage to your home kids can cause when they multiply. Imagine the mess your kid(s) make multiplied by another (or MORE!) after letting them have free range of the house for just a few hours. Do you want to clean up even more than you already do? I don’t think so.

5. Pay all your bills on the same day each month.

No matter how much money you make; no matter how good of a financial position you are in; nothing says “now is not the time to get pregnant” like paying out a lot of money in one swoop. I do this monthly – I pay all of our bills in one day. It takes an entire paycheck to do so, which stresses my husband and I out way more than it would if it were paid out in smaller increments over the month. All the amount of common sense and logic doesn’t overrule the feeling of thousands of dollars going with a simple click of your mouse.

6. Take up a hobby that involves thinking about things other than pregnancy. Like drinking.

Maybe you want to get pregnant because you are bored. Best to try taking up a hobby, particularly one you can’t do while pregnant – like drinking. Or sky-diving. Or something that’s really expensive you won’t be able to afford after having a baby, like international traveling. That’ll remind you of everything you can’t have if you have a bun in the oven (typed while enjoying my wine o’clock).

Follow my six steps, and you are sure to avoid any ol’ pregnancy you’ve been trying to run away from for years.

41pefmS6JPL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-79,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_So now about the giveaway. The situation is that I’m afraid my last book Surviving on Cynicism and Misanthropy (click the link for more details on Amazon) is going to get a little jealous when My Wife’s a Bitch comes out. I would. In an effort to ease that jealousy, I thought I’d host a little giveaway to make the ol’ gal feel a little more at ease. Between now and Monday, June 3rd, “like” this post, share this post, Facebook it, Tweet it – whatever … and post a comment. The most important part is the comment, although the sharing is really nice too. On the day before the release date of My Wife’s a Bitch, I’ll be randomly selecting five lucky bloggies to receive a free, signed copy of Surviving on Cynicism and Misanthropy. And the more shares and comments you make, the more chances you have to win. Happy post #400 faithful blog followers. Here’s to another 400 of awesome to come!!

STFU Fridays: Party Season Is Over Just In Time For Bridal/Baby Season

So in the last six months we have celebrated: two birthdays (that I baked my eight hour cake for); an anniversary (that I baked another eight hour cake for); Halloween (homemade costumes); Thanksgiving (handcrafted party to avoid having to do much on Thanksgiving, only to be expected to do much on Thanksgiving anyway); one birthday (that extended into two parties); Christmas (three required family events, plus brunch hosted by me); another birthday (made a birthday dinner); yet another birthday (that extended into three parties); my mom’s birthday (that I didn’t plan on celebrating, but turned into me hosting 12 people for dinner when they all just showed up); and my dad’s 70th (surprise party, thrown by me). In the month of December, I contracted Influenza A (the H3 that was so nasty), and was sick for an entire month. In October my husband caused a car accident; in December he bought me a used car with the meager settlement and took my nicely running Yaris; in January I had to buy myself a rebuilt transmission for said used car after it broke down; last week I had to get a new cooling pump as well. On October 24th a very good friend of mine committed suicide (never got invited to the memorial, though); in January my husband’s uncle died (memorial was in February); and after three days of being in hospice with pneumonia, my first sweetheart – my grandpa – passed away peacefully (resulting in two weeks of funerary activities, culminated in two wakes, one burial, two memorials, a $500 trip to just south of Yosemite where he is buried, and at least five different times that I cooked a meal for a large group of family).

To say that I’m done entertaining and cooking for other people – amidst all the other common bullshit life has thrown at me –  is a gross understatement. I won’t even get started on the fact that my birthday is coming up, and my dad is having  hip replacement surgery – so either my birthday has to be celebrated next weekend when the kid’s home, or it’s not being celebrated at all. I’ll save the “I did all this for everyone else, and they didn’t do shit for me yet another year” rant for when/if it actually happens.

The annual clusterfuck party season is over in this house. I’m done making decorations. I’m done putting together costumes. I’m over baking cakes. And if one more person walks into my house with their shoes on – traipsing dirt all over my carpet – they will be receiving a visit to the throat with my five-fingered friend named Fist.

So it would appear, though, party season has ended just in time for bridal and baby season to begin. Let’s spend this Shut the Fuck Up Friday examining the evidence:

Weddings Are Being Talked About Everywhere

I have three weddings coming up this summer of close family members. Please don’t get me wrong: I am super duper excited for all of them. They are each cousins, and having been an only child, they were more like brothers and sisters growing up. They still are (to me, at least). And each of them couldn’t have found better partners in crime – I love all of them and am so happy for them.

But goddamn does wedding talk get on my nerves sometimes. For one, my wedding was the most bare-bones, low-key wedding ever. I still have mixed feelings about that, which means that sometimes when I see a Bridal Expo sign, or drive by the bridal shop down the street from my house, I cry. There was very little “what the bride wants – this is her day” at our affair. Again, I did enjoy the time with my friends and what family was there. There was a lot of specialness in it all, and yeah – it’s not about the wedding, but the marriage. But there may be a little jealousy there, because as with many things in our lives, a lot of our situation (beyond the wedding, itself) was just dysfunctional.

The other day I was talking to my aunt and mentioned that I had asked my cousin when her bridal shower/bachelorette stuff was going to be. She said “oh, she won’t know – that’s supposed to be a surprise!” I had no idea that a bridal shower or bachelorette party was supposed to be a surprise. Why don’t I know? Because no one ever threw me one. The closest thing I had to a bachelorette party was shortly after I got engaged, we went on a girl’s night out. Everyone said “this is your last night of freedom!” but it didn’t feel like it. There was no drinking. There was no dancing debauchery. There would be no tittie flashing and screaming “wooooo – bachelorette party!!” at my affair. No, we sat in a bar, awkwardly sober, while one of my friends (that I no longer speak to) dry humped a complete stranger on one side of our booth. I was home by 10:15.

We had our Catholic wedding a few weeks before my brother in law and Hello Kitty Toaster had their “Celebration of Marriage” and she was thrown a huge bridal shower by my husband’s extended family. After my girl’s night out, the closest thing I came to a bridal shower was being allowed to take notes on what gifts she had received.

Baby Belly Photos Are Showing Up In My Newsfeed

487659_10200438668384263_1494975773_nAnother set of people I am unequivocally happy for: the twenty-two good friends I have giving birth between the months of May and July (and the number keeps growing). Let’s start with a note: I didn’t even know that I had twenty-two friends. No shit. Now I do because they’re all pregnant – and again, I am so excited for them. I’m thinking about planning a day at the end of July to just go and visit every, single one of them. I already know what cute little outfits I want to get each of them. And I am super excited to throw a baby shower for one of them (the only party that I actually *want* to throw).

But dammit, ladies – cover up. I am very familiar with pregnancy. It makes me nervous. Childbirth makes me feel faint. Every time I watch those Discovery baby shows, I get short of breath. I don’t need to see naked belly photo updates. I’ll take the clothed ones – we can see your bump nicely under your Motherhood top. We don’t need the stretch marks and the belly button popped out. I further don’t need commentary on your constipation, or your milk leakage. I will celebrate your baby in all the ways you want me to – at your pretentious “gender reveal party;” at your ultrasound where eight of us are crammed in the room. I will “like” and comment on photo after photo of your many, many ultrasounds. I will even hold your leg for you, or hold ice chips to your mouth in the delivery room – I am that committed of a friend. But I can’t take the uglier side of pregnancy and childbirth. I won’t look at your vagina as it gives birth to life. I will not discuss your fire-y hemorrhoids that started as soon as the baby dropped. And I will not enjoy your gargantuan stretch mark belly pics.

Entertaining season, or party season, has officially come to a close in our house. But it looks like the party is just getting started. Do you have a party season in your house faithful blog followers? Ours this time around was particularly arduous, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that after it has all come to an end I am still left feeling that the world is completely off its axis since some very important people were lost during all of it. As bridal and baby season ramps up, we should all keep in mind that not everyone has the same experience as us. Some are better, some are worse. Being modest and happy for each other seems the best course of action.

But just know: if your pregnancy talk gets too detailed, or your wedding jargon is reminding me just how hard mine was for me, I reserve the right to tell you to shut the fuck up.

“I’m Pregnant!”

Hah! Man … did I fool you suckers.

There would be so many terrible, terrible; horrific things about me saying those words in earnest. For one, that would have necessarily required me to experience an awkward 30 seconds with my husband some time in the last month. Yes, that’s right: Poor Nick and I would have had sex. Ick, we’re married – I prefer bickering until we fall asleep, thank you very much. For two, the poor kid would have come out with some major fetal alcohol issues, because Mama Bear’s been sucking back the ol’ box -o- Franzia pretty hard this month.

So, sorry to announce, but there will be no more Pookies added to the clan. At least not this month. (Unless shit gets immaculate conception, in which case we are all screwed.)

It’s amazing, though, how those two words change over the course of our lives. In the last few weeks, I’ve had a whopping total of four friends – count them, FOUR – inform me that they are withchild. Each is in a much different situation than the next, too. So while I’ve sucked back my Franzia and shoved my tropical flavored marshmallows down my gullet in celebration, I’ve done a lot of thinking about just what the appropriate responses have been over time.

Teens – “I’m Pregnant!”

I think the only response to a teenager winding up pregnant is “oh fuck.” Or “oh shit” – or some variant of either. I had a few friends in high school that ended up having babies by the end of our senior year. It wasn’t pretty for any of them, and they were each amazing young women to deal with it all if you ask me.

Nonetheless, when a teenager winds up pregnant it’s one of two scenarios. Either it was an accident and she is terrified. Or she’s psychotic, in which case the dude should run and hide. I’ll never forget that episode of Jerry Springer with the teenage girls that wanted to get pregnant. During his final thought, he mentioned how “not right in the head” they all were.

20s – “I’m Pregnant!”

This could go one of two ways, and sadly the majority of the people in their 20s that I have known have been in the latter. Either it is someone that got married and had babies early. Or it’s another accidental pregnancy, although not necessarily a bad thing in the end.

Because of the uncertainty of just what “I’m pregnant” coming from a 20-something (especially earlier 20s) means, I have always considered that the most important time to tread lightly. One friend who got pregnant on a one night stand when we were only 22 dealt with it rather well; and she is now one of the greatest mothers I know. Another who had been married for a few years sobbed uncontrollably for three days.

Tread lightly.

30s – “I’m Pregnant!”

Here is where I am now and I’ll tell you: it makes me feel old.

No matter what situation anyone is in, when you are in your 30s, your clock is ticking and finding out that you are pregnant is going to bring nothing but a lot of congratulations. It’s going to bring on baby showers. It’s going to bring on excitement.

And if it isn’t, you are in a position in life where everyone around you knows exactly what will go down. And you are all mature enough to handle it maturely.

When you are in your 30s, there’s no more “oh shit … what are you going to do?” There isn’t any more gossip or shit talk. If a woman has a baby in her 30s and doesn’t have a boyfriend or husband, everyone just assumes she did it through IVF or some other donorship arrangement. If a woman has a baby in her 30s and has a boyfriend or husband, no one ever jumps to Maury or randomized state paternity testing to make sure the baby daddy is accurately identified.

In your 30s, a baby is pretty much the status quo.

40s and 50s – “I’m Pregnant!”

My opinion is that when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s and announces to the world that she is pregnant, that she gets a little more scrutiny such as she would have in her 20s.

This doesn’t mean I think there is anything necessarily wrong with it.

This isn’t to say that I am saying people are bad for doing it.

I just mean that a lot of people in society question people’s decision to have babies so late. Is it safe? Why wait so long? And so on. Although I don’t really know because I haven’t encountered anyone that has had babies that late in the game.

Yet.

60s – “I’m Pregnant!”

You, old bitty, are off your fucking rocker. Or you’re one of those weirdos that gives birth to their grandkids since their daughter or daughter-in-law is drier than the Sahara Desert.

I won’t even go there.

So am I reading too much into this? Perhaps I am. Perhaps I am thinking too much about it in an effort to justify the excitedness with which I approached the pregnancy announcements of all four of my friends this last week. Or maybe I’m trying to just over-think things to silence the noise of my own biological clock ticking slower and slower each passing year.

But ick. That would mean an awkward 30 seconds with Poor Nick. And while it would only be about 30 seconds, there are plenty of other things I could do with that time. Like suck back some more of my box -o- Franzia. Or do some 1-click purchases on Amazon with all that baby money being saved.

Congratulations to all my friends that have successfully inseminated and recently given birth!! You are all the greatest moms this Mama Bear could ever be lucky enough to know!

Am I A Ticking, Biological Time-Bomb? Short answer? Yes. Long answer…

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Today one of my very dear friends (and an instrumental participant in nicknaming me ‘B(itch)’) texted me. He told me to watch a video he had just posted on his Facebook page after we got home from swimming lessons and all the other random stuff that keeps me so busy all the time. With most friends I would probably sluff it off; maybe watch it in a few days if I remembered and got a chance. But with this friend, I usually follow suit. Okay, I always follow suit – I think he has me whipped.

So I got home and watched this video immediately. It’s called 29/31 and he saw it at the Attack of the Show panel at Comic-con last weekend. The video, itself, is hilarious – it is the perspective of the same woman at ages 29 and 31. Being smack-dab in the center of this at 30 years old, I can empathize completely, moreso with 31. While I was never as sweet and optimistic as that 29 year old is, I definitely can feel the transition to ticking, biological time-bomb coming on.

Even for a married mother such as myself, the truth to this video is a little disturbing. In fact, I think that single or married doesn’t matter – a woman still feels many of these very things at this point in her life.

Or maybe it’s just me.

The B(itch)’s Transition to Ticking, Biological Time-bomb: Exhibit A

31 is right: there is no one left and we are all alone. At this point in time, most of my friends have gotten married or are well on their way. I’m married too so this should be no big deal, right? Except for the fact that now everyone is in a varied phase of these relationships, so have all pretty much disappeared from the universe outside.

Some friends are in new relationships that are getting serious on hyper-drive, and have absolutely no time for anything other than their significant other.

Other friends just got married, and everything has become a “we” this and a “we” that. Translation = fucking annoying to have any kind of conversation with them.

Then there are friends that have been married or in serious relationships for a while and have become these mommy-types that have absolutely no lives outside of said relationships and children.

I sometimes feel as though I am the only person that wants regular “me” time; and that can be away from my husband without having to check in regularly, without texting excessively, and talking about nothing but … well, my husband. The last Girl’s Night Out I went on was just like that – a bunch of girls sitting around, texting and talking about their men. Lame if you ask me.

The B(itch)’s Transition to Ticking, Biological Time-bomb: Exhibit B

29 is a fucking bitch that deserves a nagging case of jungle rot. Won’t settle for anything less than perfect, you say? I’ll give you perfect: perfect is a day that you don’t actually have to clean up toast crumbs off the counter, piss off the side of the toilet, or spread your legs for the 30 most awkward seconds of your day.

Surrounded by love and peace? The only place that love and peace exists in this world is in the naive and vaguely narcissistic dreamworlds that immature 20 year olds create for themselves. Negative you say? How about realistic.

Every year that goes by, I become evermore aware of how ugly this world can be. There are definitely good things about it – moments that make it all worth it, innocence undisturbed in a child and all that. But man is there a lot of crap too.

The B(itch)’s Transition to Ticking, Biological Time-bomb: Exhibit C

31 may be off base a little bit about the whole “ovaries shrinking”-thing. I mean, didn’t Madonna have a baby close to 50? But just because people do it doesn’t mean they should. Where she does hit the mark is in the biological reality of it all.

My husband and I were just talking about this the other night. When we met – years ago – I made it explicitly clear that were I to have any babies with him they would all be before 32; 33 max. I want to enjoy my retirement. I also don’t want to deal with the health complications that come with pregnancy later in your 30s, 40s, etc.

So it’s do-or-die time for us and to stand firm to my belief, I’m planning on looking into getting my tubes tied and his nuts clipped if 31 comes and goes. So in a way, I guess my ovaries are shrinking; or at least the “window of opportunity” is, in fact, about to shut forever.

Can you hear that clock ticking? Tick tock. Tick tock.

Ultimately, 29 is exactly what 31 calls her: an arrogant c-u-next-time. I sometimes wonder if I was that arrogant at 29. Who am I kidding? I’ve never been that arrogantly optimistic. It’s funny how time and change and your 30s make you so much more aware of the realities of age, though. Today I realized that my new vacuum cleaner is being delivered tomorrow – something that excited me to no end before I went completely bipolar and grew depressed over the fact that my excitement over a cleaning product is a sign of my age. My biological reality. Clearly I have already become a ticking, biological time-bomb. Next stop is screaming with 31.