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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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’m Sorry, Does My Infertility Make You Uncomfortable?

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It has been a well-kept secret that my husband and I cannot (apparently) have any more kids.

I say apparently because nothing has been confirmed beyond that we are both physically capable and healthy. It could just be a matter of timing that will work itself out eventually. And then again, we really could be one of those cases where after thirty things get really complicated in the baby-making department.

These questions would require a fertility specialist to answer, which we still haven’t come to terms with tackling. After three years of planning for the next one.

Nevertheless, as soon as we started revealing little bits and pieces of our well-guarded secret lives, it became overwhelmingly apparent to us just how uncomfortable our infertility issues make people.

There are several reasons why this could be the case.

It Could Be Because I Won’t Tolerate That Everything Happens For A Reason Bullshit

60379074I get it: a lot of people are fatalists. They like to think that everything really does have a reason and a place, and that when bad things happen to good people it’s because God – or whatever they believe in – has a plan.

For a while, I bit my tongue when people said to me that everything happens for a reason, then always, without fail, managed to turn the conversation into being about their own philosophical constitution regarding God’s plan.

Then I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I didn’t get into an argument, or anything like that. I just thought that if I had to listen to some random, drunk family friend I have met twice ramble and stumble over his own feelings about God’s plan and how everything works out in the end; at the very least I could be a part of the conversation. For once. So I said my own belief: that my uterus is in no way a part of God’s plan. That God has more important things to worry about than knocking me up. The conversation ended around there.

Was it something I said?

Maybe It’s Because the More We Open Up, the More I Share

My sister in law just recently had a baby, and my husband’s cousin is now closing in on the final months of her fourth.

Babies and birth and afterbirth and breastfeeding and dropping the baby out your pee hole and episiotomies that cut all the way from the V to the P – and all these delightful topics of conversation – are dominating the convo these days.

So, naturally, as time went on and we were more open about these infertility issues, I figured that it fits in with the general topic of having babies. All the articles say that you feel less isolated if you talk about it anyway, so I thought I’d share some of my own anecdotes.

They went over like a lead balloon.

Apparently, it’s much less uncomfortable to discuss the look and feel of the mucous plug than to hear about the day I peed all over my hand while sleepily taking my ovulation predictor test one morning last month.

I thought it was funny.

I Guess It Could Be Because I’m A Jaded Bitch

I mean, I made this:

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Go ahead and say it: everything happens for a reason, and the reason this whole infertility thing is happening is because I am a real asshole.

I’m Sure A Lot Of It Boils Down To Simply: People Don’t Know What To Say

There are a lot of situations in which people just don’t know what to say. At the news of the sudden death of a loved one by suicide. A divorce of two close friends. Hearing about a miscarriage. Infertility fits in there too – I think.

So I get it, people are uncomfortable because they just don’t know what to say. They don’t know if including you is going to hurt your feelings. Or, on the flip side, if excluding you is going to hurt your feelings. They don’t know if you want condolences or jokes (“you want more kids? Take mine!”) And I’m sure, on some level, it raises insecurities, past experiences, and fears within at least a fair amount of people. Sometimes it’s easier to just avoid the situation altogether.

I have read a lot of articles – countless articles – about what to say and what not to say to someone experiencing infertility issues. The end result of all of them – and I mean all of the articles – is this: you shouldn’t say a goddamned thing except for asking the question “is there anything I can do?”

That means no fatalistic comments about God’s plan.

That means no reminders to be grateful for the family we already have.

And it definitely means no unsolicited advice to just relax.

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I have no idea if this fertility problem is an actual problem; and I also don’t know if we’ll ever find out. What I do know is that there are 6.7 million people in America right now facing the same thing. I can’t be the only one feeling like the elephant in the room.

Life is about sharing your experiences with others. Not all the experiences are positive, upbeat ones. But not all the trials and tribulations need to be swept under the rug either. Moreover, for some people, the only answer to the question “is there anything I can do?” is easy. Let me tell my stories about peeing on my hand during the ovulation prediction test; or about explaining to our 11 year old why she found a bowl of uncooked rice under our bed (according to Eastern medicine, it channels fertile chi – though we didn’t tell her that).

Amidst all the talk about mucous plugs and baby heads crowning, it seems an innocuous way to let me be included, and to make light of an otherwise shitty situation. But then I don’t know if people are going to be able to get over the uncomfortable feeling of hearing about our not-so-successful adventures in expanding our family. I’m not the one who is dealing with a friend or family member suffering from infertility. I’m just living it.

 

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!!