I’m Offended. Here’s Why You Should Care.

My birthday is coming up and the craziest thing has been happening: I’ve been telling people I’m turning a year older than I am actually turning. Either it’s the old age, or the fact that my husband just turned that age (he’s a year older than me). But I’ve been doing it.

The fact is: I was born in 1982, which makes me – what I like to call – a late stage millennial. I’m like an older millennial who can see some of the ridiculous shit us millennials are doing, all while doing it. And loving it.

Like avocado toast and blaming the financial problems we millennials face on the crippling behaviors of Baby Boomers. Or using mason jars for drink ware. Spending my time reading labels, and breastfeeding my kids well past two (and in public!).

There are also, though, a lot of millennial things I can’t get on board with.

Millennial men’s haircuts, I can’t stand. Right now my husband is sporting a hairstyle that makes him look less like a Nick-the-film-editor; and more like David, the wanna-be goth who wears black lipstick and works at my local Starbucks as a barista. (It’s awful, and sorry David – I hope you can forgive me.)

I also cannot do the whole MLM candles, essential oils, and workout programs thing. The thought of taking forty-five selfies of myself a day, and posting story after story on Instagram in which I just sit there and talk – all in an effort to sell something – is …undesirable to me. That isn’t to say there’s anything against people who do it (and in fact I find myself envious of the people that can take so many photos and videos of themselves while I have to take 537 shots before finding an angle that suits me).

It’s just not my jam.

The conflict I really have with myself as an older millennial is the being offended thing. It is so typical of me as a millennial to get offended by things to such the degree that I do. (And isn’t that just the mark of our era: to always find a reason to feel offense at something someone else said/did/posted?)

And yet… I completely get it (the being offended).

Yesterday someone’s post on Facebook so severely offended me that I told literally every person I talked to about it for the rest of the day.

Today I was at Target and found myself feeling offended no less than four times.

Then tonight I made the error of going online, and …well…

Basically, it happens a lot.

The thing is: if you spend any time scanning the comments sections of online, you’ll see that it is hot topic now to not only get offended by things, but also – on the flip side – call out anyone that takes anything personally. Honestly, it makes me a little sick (or maybe offended, how meta would that be?) to see how crass people can be about it.

I get it: some people have taken it way too far. Like over the edge of the cliff and halfway down the river in the ravine far.

But also, in other instances, I think a lot of people have missed the point.

Take today, for example. It’s April Fools day, and while there have been a myriad of dad jokes and corporate brands having a good time posting dumb shit on the Internet for us all to enjoy, there have also been some steadfast reminders going around about what is too far.

One of those things that goes beyond clever and turns into just, plain crass is the ever-predictable fake pregnancy announcement. What better way to fool your family and friends then by posting a faux memo for the entire world to see that you have a bun preparing itself to fly out your lady hole. Then on April 2nd you let the truth be known that your womb is, in fact, still childless, and everyone had a good laugh. Right?

No. Just no.

I guess if I’m in my 50s and everyone’s going through menopause, it has the potential to be silly. But I’m 36, almost 38 (scratch that, 37) and a fair number of people in my group of peers has lost a child, miscarried a pregnancy, or had a tremendously difficult time getting pregnant. And while those people may all have a sense of humor, I often wonder if for everyone that thinks it’s silly, there isn’t someone quietly hurting as a result of the insensitivity of the whole prank.

I’ve been saying this for years: fake a marriage, fake a gigantic Amazon delivery. One year we put candy melts on brussel sprouts and fooled my husband into thinking they were cake pops. Awesome!

But don’t fake a pregnancy.

The best equivalent I can think is going up to a friend whose Grandma died on March 31st, and saying “my grandma died – APRIL FOOLS SHE IS ALIVE!”

I’m not one to take life so seriously, but I know when the time for jokes is over and the time for compassion begins. It seems that others are starting to figure it out as well, because this time, I saw an article going around about this very topic: how not funny the April Fools pregnancy announcements can be to some people.

And as usual, the comments proved how awful humanity has become.

The comment that I read on one of the postings that stuck out the most for me summed up perfectly what is wrong with the our culture (or at least one of the things):

“When are people going to understand that it’s not my responsibility to worry about what everyone is offended by?”

Who the fuck said anything about being offended?

From there I got sucked down the comment hole, in which I read heinous reply after heinous reply, all from the likes of women named Candy and Monica, with big haired profile pictures and those stupid cause filters laid over the photographs, quite obviously meant to cover up their total and utter lack of humanity. Yeah you are really passionate about lupus, but don’t give a fuck about people’s feelings, Tiphani with a ‘ph.’

That’s when it hit me: it’s super cool to make fun of millennials for always being overly sensitive to people’s sensitivities; and yet a lot of the time, what we are talking about are actual matters of human compassion.

The same woman who says it’s not her responsibility to worry about what others feel (because that’s what that comment is saying) is the same person that will drive by a homeless veteran and call him a drunk. It’s a weak viewpoint, weakened mostly by narcissism.

This is where things get dicey. Because you don’t want to be one of those people who’s just up in arms about everything. But also, you need to be compassionate towards others: even if it doesn’t affect you. And it’s dicey only because there’s a fine line between the two, one that is incumbent on all of us to walk along carefully.

So I’m pretty offended, obviously, about this whole issue. April Fools. Fake pregnancy announcements. Being offended. People saying people are offended too easily. Millennials.

And you should care for the same reason I do: the world of Candys, Monicas, and Tiphanis lacks the thing that makes us who we are. Our humanity.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

So I Guess I Have Three Kids Now

For two weeks, now, I’ve had a shocking revelation rise to the surface of my brain at least once a day. I mean I’ll just be going about my business when suddenly it hits and I’m like OH MY GOD THIS IS REAL. Just now, I had it again. I was wrapping Christmas gifts, getting them under the tree. When suddenly I looked over to the little rocking-vibrating baby sleeper thing that has been on permanently for two weeks and I – genuinely surprised – thought to myself:

So I guess I have three kids now.

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It isn’t that I was unprepared. I knew I was soon to be a mother of three. From the minute I peed on the stick and immediately drove to tennis, where my husband (who works overnights) was sleeping in the car while the kids had their lessons; got in his car and woke him up, him surprised I drove over, and just blurted out “oh my God Nick I’m pregnant,” I knew.

For the months I did not have a lick of morning sickness, did not throw up once (take that, pregnancy!); but instead lost all appetite for anything but cream of chicken soup and cantaloupe, I knew.

On the day I went to get dressed, when it was about 95 degrees out in the heat of summer, and the only thing that fit me was a pair of sweatpants that I could barely tie, forcing me to spend the day at the mall sweating profusely as I looked desperately for maternity clothes, I knew.

And while pregnancy was relatively easy for me, it was still an ordeal. My back rarely hurt, as I said I didn’t get sick; no headaches, no pains in awkward places – for these reasons I was fortunate. But it’s pregnancy. You never know what’ll happen, so I did go a little bat shit crazy with seasoned-mom worry. At the end the acid reflux was like a constant volcano of terrible coming up my throat, and his breech position jammed his head into my left rib cage more times than I would have liked. So I knew. I knew the day was steadfastly coming that I was going to have three kids.

But it was also like I didn’t.

During the c-section, I stayed awake and calm for the entire time. Had I fully grasped what was truly happening, I would have been freaking out and panicking and going nuts – OH MY GOD I AM HAVING A THIRD CHILD THAT THIRD CHILD IS COMING OUT OF ME RIGHT NOW. THAT is who I am. Instead, as my OB shot staples into my gut, I laid there calmly as we had a nice conversation about a New York Times article we had both read about c-secion in the 14th century.

Oh. My. God. I have three kids now.

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There are so many jokes about three kids pushing you over the edge. In fact, on my first visit with my OB – who has been my lady bits doctor for over a decade now, and knows virtually every facet of my life – I was laughed at, scorned, and told “three will do you in.” Because three, apparently, did him in.

Oddly enough, there was a day when I told people I didn’t want to have any kids. None. Babies were gross and spat up and depended on you and I was just such an oh-so-cool hippie that I was going to spend my days childfree in trendy clothes with a glass of whatever flavor drink of the month permanently dangling from my well-rested, hands that had never – not ever – wiped a single ass, other than her own.

Then we had kids and all of those pipe dreams changed. I’m not saying that having kids was an unplanned or unexpected or unwanted thing. Just that the plans changed and we found ourselves with kids, so my husband and I figured – you know, why stop with one, let’s have twenty five.

Or three. Same difference.

In any case, I have three kids now.

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My oldest – Alexis, as many of you know, is 12, and snarky and basically a small version of me. Which is unfortunate because it means she’s well on her way to be a world class smart ass. She has had the great fortune of completely skipping over puberty, and is now a full blown, gorgeous woman with minimal awkwardness that makes me wring my hands in jealousy that my between years were not so easy. She likes to tell people that her name means “helper” (which it does), but at the same time she insists she will not be changing any baby diapers. (She has still changed several.)

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My now-middle – Ava – is 8 and she’s sweet but in a sweet way like candy. It’s delicious and wonderful but also rotting out your teeth and contributing to your genetically predisposed Type 2 diabetes. There’s always a motive to that sweetness. Nevertheless, when we told her she was going to have a baby brother, she immediately started promising she was going to change diapers and hold the baby and help with everything, and – so far – she actually has. She’s even changed a blow out.

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And now, there is the baby. He’s cute and a really good baby. His face is squishy and he’s definitely a holder, as in don’t stop holding me Mom. My dad says he looks like an old man. My husband seems to be disappointed that the baby’s cheeks are not skinny like his, but rather chubby like mine. And while we originally had a whole cadre of terribly atrocious names in consideration, I am certain that one day he will look at that list and be grateful that we stuck with a simpler, more traditional: Andrew.

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So there it is: three kids. All with the same initials. All with chubby cheeks and big, blue eyes. All with me for a mother. Snarky, independent, misanthropic me.

Heaven help us all.

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Let Me Tell You Just How Much I Want To Hear Your Pregnancy Complaints

I don’t.

163d41d3b961d3de983e1a4adcad67cbI don’t want to hear your pregnancy complaints.

I don’t want to hear about how you vomited six times because you smelled pineapple, which you used to love.

I don’t want to hear about your constipation.

I don’t want to hear about your spider veins.

I don’t want to hear about how you feel like an elephant. That you think you’re so fat. Yes, yes. You are so fat. Oh my God, you are like a beach ball. You are so huge. You can’t take this, I know. So big, so fat. Stick a fork in you, you’re done.

Nope – I don’t want to hear that shit. None of it.

I don’t want to hear about how the baby kicks – so precious and fluttery one minute, and so sharp and shocking another – keep you up at night.

I don’t want to hear about your indigestion. Or your insomnia. Or your mask of pregnancy. Or your hair during pregnancy. Or you prenatal gas. Or your swollen feet. Or the fact that your wedding ring doesn’t fit anymore. Or your painful boobs. Or your prenatal rhinitis.

None of it. I don’t want to hear any of it.

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I also don’t want to hear about how it took you one week and a bottle of gin to get pregnant.

I don’t want to hear about how it was a mistake.

I don’t want to hear about how you never wanted to have kids but – oh well – life has a way of messing with your plans.

I don’t want to hear your pithy responses to the fact that your unborn child was conceived during a one night stand.

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I think you should all know where I’m going at this point, which is that not everyone in this world is so lucky and fortunate – because believe you me, pregnancy is an absolute matter of chance and great, often unfair, fortune – to be blessed with the miracle of pregnancy.

I don’t mean to invalidate the plight of the ever-pregnant woman. It’s hard. It’s a labor; isn’t it called a labor of love? I’m sure that’s where they got the term labor and delivery, because nothing good comes without work. And if there is anything that ends in a lot of work, it’s a pregnancy.

But if for a moment through the bitching and the griping and the whining and the complaining and the pouting and the crying a pregnant woman put her hormones and feelings of insecurity behind for a nanosecond and considered that somewhere, somehow, she’s going to bitch and gripe and whine to someone that CANNOT get pregnant – no matter how hard she tries – …..well, that would seem a little self-centered and insensitive, now wouldn’t it?

Personally, I know a lot of women – more than I can count on two hands – who would consider it a complete and utter blessing to get nauseated at the sight of a formerly-loved snack.

That would consider prenatal constipation a thing to rejoice over.

That would relish in spider veins.

That would own the fat ass, the fat thighs, the gargantuan bowling ball of a belly, the eight chins, and the flabby arms of pregnancy. That would own that shit so hard you’d get sick of it.

That would thank her lucky stars for every single rib kick at two o’clock in the morning. That would honor the miracle of her pregnancy with a daily allotment of Tums. That would take the insomnia and the mask of pregnancy and the thinning hair and the prenatal gas and the swollen feet and the wedding ring that no longer fits and the painful boobs and the prenatal rhinitis – and all of it – and say “fuck it, this was a hard-fought battle and these things are a sign that in the end I was victorious.”

Victorious, because not every woman that gets pregnant did so easily.

It’s that plain and simple.

This month is Pregnancy Loss and Miscarriage Awareness month, and yet I hear hardly anyone talking about it. Instead, all I hear are a gaggle of friends and family members griping about their with-child bodies. In a feat that, yes, is difficult, they all seem to have forgotten that not everyone walks the same path.

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.