July is a Time for Friends

When the boys hit six months in June, I realized that several of our friends in the area still hadn’t met the babies. Embarrassingly, my world has become so insular, there are weeks when I am lucky to make it to the grocery store, much less have actual human interaction aside from work and home. So we decided to remedy that in early July and held a Sip ‘N’ See for some friends to formally meet the boys. It was great fun but this is the only pathetic picture I managed to take.


I swear, we had actual friends come who managed to drink those drinks that I arranged on our kitchen table.

When the boys then turned seven months, I felt less guilty with them having been formally, socially introduced. DSC_0037

A day after they reached seven months, I had a birthday that included a number seven as well. The boys gave me an ice cream maker, which David insisted they picked out. They certainly seemed to admire it…


Yes, they are wearing the same outfits on my birthday as in their seven month pictures because their Mommy forgot to take their seven months pictures the day before. I am not good at documenting these things.

We then headed off to Philadelphia for Mommy’s work conference where she had overcommitted herself with speaking engagements. While Mommy spent her time in the convention center, Daddy introduced the boys to some of Philly’s historic sights. These basically means the boys posed in the stroller in front of various historic buildings while Daddy talked at them about historic Philadelphia.


I was able to join the boys for a morning at Valley Forge which was enjoyable until it became five hundred degrees.


By the time we made it to Washington’s headquarters, the enthusiasm for history waned as the temperature took its toll.


This was the only family photo I managed to set with the timer, and Desmond’s face is completely obscured, but it was so hot standing in the sun, I gave up after one attempt.

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Here is Desmond looking very much the cynical teen before we got back in the car. He was trying to communicate, “Really, Mom? Enough with the history, let’s just go to the mall.”


So going to the mall at King of Prussia is what we did. After all, isn’t that what the Revolutionary War was all about? I mean, I am so glad we won our independence from Great Britain so that I can by my favorite British brands from American retailers.

Back in the city, we managed a few more morning walks before the heat got the better of us.



The best part of the trip was introducing the boys to some of my favorite people, other librarians I love who also made it to the conference.


The boys relished the attention and were so happy to make new friends.

We were also lucky enough to spend the night in DC on the way up to the conference and also on the way back down, which meant more time with friends and more play time in the ball pits of friends.


I leave you with the evening view of Philly’s town hall from our hotel room. This is the best view of Philly I got in the evenings.



Do me a favor. Before you proceed to read the rest of this post, please hit play on the following song.  You need to have the mood set properly for the subject matter. (I apologize if you have to skip an ad first.)

Okay, now that you are listening to the same song that I am mentally humming as I write this, you can view these pictures of my boys.

I am wise enough to know that my days of having any kind of relevance in terms of the fashion world are well over. I am entering my late thirties; I am still chubby; and my most recent monthly clothing purchases were comfortable oversized shirts from Me + Em. Yes, being a woman, once you have too many gray hairs and a C-section shelf belly, the fashion world does not care about you.

Because I still can’t break bad habits, I have taken to channeling my clothing shopping to the boys. It is bad. I do not want them to grow up shallow and materialistic. I don’t want them to care about these things. And yet, I can’t stop because they are adorable and I love finding them adorable things to wear to highlight their adorableness.

I have always considered myself an informal expert on male fashion. In college I had my rating scale for the clothing choices of my male classmates which most of them failed. Look, with the 754 ways I failed every rating that boys made of women at BYU, having a rigid clothing rating scale seemed at least an outlet for my own indignation, even it was similarly very shallow.

Many years later, I married David, and here he is on Father’s Day reminding the boys of the sartorial standards he himself sets.

Here are the boys modeling some of their more casual looks:


They get even more serious when showing off their Sunday looks:

Until Desmond is like, no, I want to do happy for this shot, while Calum demands another take with his serious, cold and penetrating stare:


Desmond tells his brother, “Come on, lighten up a little.”


“We are just a couple of little dandies.”**


**Note, in no way do I want my boys to grow up to be dandies. I want them to grow up and think, “Gosh Mom, you were so frivolous and ridiculous and shallow.”

Meal Time for You my Finicky Friend

I have not at all been secretive about the fact that breastfeeding has been really, really hard for me. I don’t think I was adequately prepared for how painful it was going to be for me, how much time it was going to take, and how utterly exhausting it would be. It is funny how fifteen years ago, long before I contemplated having children of my own, I would have been completely judgmental about a mother like myself. The judgment of the 21 year-old version of myself is in part why the 36 year-old version of myself shed so many tears over so many months about my breastfeeding struggles. The 36 year-old version of me isn’t entirely free of the perfectionism that has permeated most of my life, and thus, the harder something is, the more I feel insistent upon mastering it instead of giving up.

Still, if you were to ask my opinion these days on these matters, you would find me singing the praises of writers like Gayle Tzemach Lemmon or Amy Sullivan who point out that the breastfeeding cult has gone so far in one direction as to become profoundly anti-feminist and anti-choice. Not to mention the fact that formulas have come so far (and continue to improve) that most researchers now conclude that in countries with access to safe drinking water, there really are few (if any) long term differences between breastfeed babies and formula fed babies. The 2014 long term study of sibling groups certainly went a long way to dispel the notion that breastfeeding versus formula feeding had any long term differences in outcomes.

In spite of these things, I am still feeling tremendous guilt in winding down my attempts at breastfeeding. My goal was to make it to 3 months, then six months, and now I have met that. I did it with lots of supplementation along the way, mind you. I had no milk at all for a week after the boys were born, and I worked really, really hard to get my supply up. I didn’t sleep much for several months and pumped and pumped at all hours of the day and night. I dealt with babies who were not enthusiastic nursers. At four months, Desmond would scream and scream when I would try to get him to nurse, so I assumed he was done and gave up. Then, a few weeks ago, when Calum started doing the same, I tried to nurse Desmond again, and he decided he wanted to nurse again. I felt like a failure and felt rejection in both instances when the boys appeared like they didn’t want to nurse anymore, by the way. It made me cry all over again.

The fact is my boys mostly have eaten pumped milk, with supplementation from formula as well as some time spent at the breast. That is just the way it has been. When you do a little bit of all three, it is a massive commitment of time. Yet, I haven’t wanted to give up one of the three because I get benefit from all of them – the pumped milk, knowing how much they were actually getting from me; the time at the breast, the bonding from that; the formula, the convenience and substance of it kept them sleeping a little longer, particularly when they started sleeping through the night.

Going back to work with my Mom gone and David back at his regular work travel schedule means that the insane amount of time all three take is not really workable anymore. Already, I have cut back to pumping just four times a day, and even that seems like a lot, particularly in the morning when I am trying to feed both boys as well. Yes, in addition to the pumped milk, at the breast, formula trifecta, I have now added solid foods to the mix as well, and well, feeding four different ways is just starting to be too much. Later in the summer, I will be away from the boys in South Africa, and I am not going to spend two weeks pumping and dumping milk. So, the days of pumping and breastfeeding are going to be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

I feel sad about it. Even though I am exhausted from trying to keep up with everything, I am sad that I am not going to have those bonding moments. There is part of me that feels terrible giving my boys formula for no reason other than how terrible it tastes relative to breast milk. I need to think about it in terms of having reached my goal and realizing that what I have done for them is the best that I can do, but I cannot turn off the part of my brain that still feels like my efforts aren’t as good as they could have been, and I could have done more. I really hate that I can never view myself as good enough.

So to try to give peace to that guilt, I am turning my efforts in regard to feeding them to solid foods. Before we had the boys, David mentioned he wanted to make homemade baby food for him, and I looked at him like he was crazy, and said something like “Have fun with that.” Now, this is the picture of my Saturday nights:
Meal time

Yes, now on Saturday mornings, you will find me at either the Carrboro or Durham Farmers’ Markets, and Saturday nights I spend the night steaming and pureeing in my Beaba Babycookpro2X. When my parents bring me fresh produce from their garden in Mississippi, I get even more excited about it. I scour the Internet for recipes to try, and have bought the accompanying cookbook.

It is shocking how seriously I, lover of McDonald’s cheeseburgers on holiday, have taken this whole food thing for my babies. I guess part of me hopes that if I can get them to be good, healthy eaters, then it will help me develop better eating habits too. So to that end I have also purchased and devoured the book Getting to Yum: The Seven Secrets to Raising Eager Eaters by Karen Le Billon. She also wrote the book French Kids Eat Everything, so maybe I trust her judgment about getting my kids to eat endive. Those French moms do a good job of getting their kids to eat lots of vegetables, and as Le Billon points out, their breastfeeding rates are the lowest in the Western world (so thanks French moms for helping me feel less guilty about something!).

I am at the point where I actually think that this kind of food preparation is quite fun. It helps that I also purchased an Infantino Squeeze Station, which makes me giddy like a little kid when you transfer the food into the squeeze bags. Yes, I know I am terrible for using disposable squeeze bags and creating more waste for our planet for the sake of my own personal fun. I also try to use reusable freezer containers for some things, so I am not entirely wasteful. I am sure at some point in time, it is possible that my Saturday night cooking frenzy will stop feeling fun, and instead will become tedious, but right now, I am having fun trying out different things for my babies. The pinnacle so far is that yesterday they ate my homemade kale, leek, and potato creation and loved it. It makes me happy that they so far have eaten the following vegetables: carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, green beans, green peas, broccoli, squash of all kinds, kale, leeks, and spinach. They have eaten a fewer variety of fruits but I have made apple and pear, as well as given them mango, banana and prunes. So far, the only thing they haven’t really enjoyed (once Calum got over his initial reluctance with regard to the green stuff) is the puréed chicken. I can agree with them that meat probably isn’t something that is best puréed.

That is the great thing about parenthood, I think. Once you get over your guilt about doing one thing wrong, there is something entirely new to feel guilty about.

Here are the boys ready for their dinner:

The boys ready to eat

We are too young for manners lessons, so here is evidence of their lazy mom stripping them down to make cleanup after mealtime easier.

The Happiest Survelliance State on Earth

I have got to give it to Disney World. They are incredibly smart at getting vacationers to willingly surrender all of their personal privacy. I mean, yours truly was practically giddy with the convenience of the Magic Band. The magic band is a radio transmitter bracelet that 99% of park attendees willingly wear. If you stay at a Disney resort, the band is a key to your room, your park tickets, your meal plan tickets, your instant charge card, etc. It also is your way to store photographs that Disney photographers take of you. Basically, it is your wearable tracking device while on Disney property. They know everything about you.

But you don’t care about a corporation gathering millions of data points about you when posing with picture of a giant mouse do you?

Of course not! So just sit back and enjoy the convenience of it!


Thanks to that above photo, the mice of the Walt Disney World Corporation are now aware of how terrible my hair looks post pregnancy in the humidity of Florida, and just how little I care about it!


They are aware of just how difficult it is to get my babies to look at the camera when taking pictures.


They know that I am the kind of person that will insist on having a family photo taken in front of faux Parisian street scenes.

Or in front of giant fake baobab trees.

They know that Melissa is someone who takes games on rides very seriously.

And they know that we are the kind of people that will pose with our kids and Disney characters (but only the traditional ones).


Judging from my terrible hair, they probably know that I am the kind of person who will never be responsible for creating any sort of “viral” online craze, but if I were to surprise them and create some sort of online anything that goes viral, it would probably involve the cuteness of my niece.

Look at the spontaneous, uncoached knee pop, guys:
But nothing tops the adorableness of the pictures with Pluto:


They know that we are the kind of people who knows when the surprise photo is going to be taken on the roller coasters:


That is, except Harrison, who has no idea what is going on for some of the rides. On Dinosaur, when everyone else is looking at the giant tyrannosaurus jumping out on the right, Harrison is casually gazing to his left, like no big deal.


The last bit is the most terrifying bit of all. For the above photos, I had someone scan my wristband to have the photos linked to my account. For the newest ride, the Seven Dwarfs mine train, you have a couple of moments in the ride when the flash goes off, and you think, oh, they just took my picture. Then you get off the ride, and unlike all of the other rides, there is no place you walk through that is scanning through the pictures of people on the ride that you sync up to your magic band. Nope, you walk out of the ride and think, oh, I guess there weren’t pictures after all.

Then, you go home and scan your Disney pictures and you realize, oh wait, there are pictures of me on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train right there on my picture account. THEY KNEW IT WAS ME THE ENTIRE TIME. That is when you realize there is no such thing as anonymity at Disney World and you FREAK OUT. Privacy is just a ruse in that place. Who knows how else they are tracking you with your magic band. Did they track every time I went to the bathroom too? Disney World is the place where dreams come true, unless your dream is to be anonymous and have your vacation not used for some corporation’s higher marketing purpose. Here is the picture when Melissa, David, and Harrison didn’t realize that their Dwarf Overlords knew it was them the entire time. (David and I went back to go on the mine train one night after the boys were in bed, and it was raining the entire time we were at the Magic Kingdom that night, and I have shared enough terrible pictures of myself to also share another terrible picture of me as a wet dog riding a children’s roller coaster.)


I am sad my children will grow up in a world where it is impossible to be anonymous on vacation.

A World of Faces

I took a copious amount of pictures of our family trip to Disney World. It was the boys first real vacation, and so I wanted to document it well, even though they won’t remember it. I will remember it. I will remember how fantastic of a trip it was, as the boys were both perfect travelers. They were great on the plane. They were great in their strollers walking around the parks on muggy Florida days. They were great on the kiddie rides and they were great in the pool. For the most part, they slept really well.

So it was all really great, and I have a few pictures of happy faces to share (and a few other great facial expressions).

Here is the boys’ first walk down Main Street with a view of Cinderella’s castle.


Of course, we headed back to Fantasy Land first thing, because that is what you do with young kids. You also take pictures of standing in line at various attractions, like, It’s a Small World. You take pictures of yourself and subsequently realize from looking at that picture, that some unidentifiable substance is all over your left arm. It was probably spit up. It is always spit up.


A small world is always a great place for good faces, because every time I go on that ride, I have to make up some new narrative to accompany what is otherwise an incredibly annoying experience. This time, the narrative was that clowns were launching an airborne attack against the children of the world who were coming together to fight them off. This narrative works very well on It’s A Small World, because at the end of the ride *spoiler alert* there are clowns descending from the ceiling in make-shift hot air balloons. And those clowns are scary. Here is Harrison trying not to be too scared.


We also took pictures in the line to the Winnie the Pooh ride. It was actually the first ride we went on. Doesn’t Calum look thrilled in anticipation?


Look at Phoebe’s enthusiasm:

Of course, the Magic Kingdom also meant we enjoyed some of those classic Disney treats like frozen Mickey Ears icecream:


And attempted family selfies on the Carousel with strange kids photobombing you in the background:


There was also Dumbo, which for Calum, meant making this face:


He was probably just annoyed that his mom forgot to work the lever to go up and down. So after, he took this picture with his Dad, a person who knows how to properly work a flying elephant.


Now I will just come right out and say this, people all over that place saw us and thought we were crazy and brave to bring two almost six month olds to Disney World. Those people are not in on this great secret. When your kids are six months you can still take lots of cute pictures and take them on cutesy rides which are fun, but even more fun is that you still get to determine the agenda. This means my kids aren’t old enough to complain if we want to spend an afternoon puttering around the World Showcase eating. Seven year olds will complain about that. But for me it is still the bliss of taking pictures in front of fake British high streets:


Or spending far too long eating delicious French pastries:


Or spending far too long hanging out in Club Cool, sponsored by Coca Cola, because I develop an addiction to the free Bibo DJ Kiwi Mango from South Africa in the absence of Stoney Tangawizi.

Oh no, older kids would not like their parents hanging out in Club Cool, in particular because Club Cool plays a techno soundtrack that makes their mother dance crazily while consuming far too much carbonated sugar in tiny paper cups at the free soda fountains. But with babies, they cannot object to that.

Of course, I was excited to take them on their first “safari” ride at the Animal Kingdom, which they didn’t like because it was too bumpy.


But they didn’t mind the wait in line for that ride.


Harrison didn’t mind posing for silly pictures at our lunch spot at the Animal Kingdom which was designed to look like an open air marketplace, eatery somewhere in East Africa, and I loved it.


No one objected or complained about my ridiculous getup on the Kali River Rapids either.


But we all laughed and smiled heartily when we all got soaked, with Melissa and Harrison getting the worst of it.


Of course, we enjoyed more splashes and fun at the pool at the Bay Lake Tower where we always stay now.

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Then of course there was the night we ate at the Chef Mickey’s buffet and met characters and the boys dressed up in gifted character outfits.


Harrison and I once again got silly.

Phoebe approached the characters tentatively at first, and then with greater enthusiasm as the trip went on.


And Desmond was like, no, I am having none of your ridiculousness Mom and Dad. This is so absurd you dressed me up like a Duck and then thought it was so funny for him to meet me.


After the fact, he was like, look at what you have done to me!


But that is what we do when we are new parents in Disney World. And now, we close with a picture of me and David on top of the Contemporary at the California Grill our last night at Disney World. It has become our date night place at Disney World, as we have eaten there our past five trips. We have taken a picture before in the same spot and here you get another, with all of my post-partum hair loss fully on display!


Yes, bad hair for me and Disney World have become one and the same. These are things that you just accept when you are the crazy person pushing around two six month old infants.




I know my last post was about my mom leaving to go back to Mississippi after being with us for these past months. But, I am on this topic again because last Thursday, when we arrived back at our house after a successful Disney trip with the boys, I was wrecked. I burst into tears crying, because I missed my Mom being there. I know it sounds ridiculous, because I am a woman in my mid (to late) thirties with children of my own, but there I was crying because I wanted my Mommy.

I guess it is for several reasons. Having my mom there gave me confidence in my own skills as a mother. The moment she wasn’t there, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it on my own, particularly when I knew David would be traveling for work the following week and I would really have to be doing it on my own. I cried because I was nervous having someone else other than my mom taking care of my boys during the day when I am not home. And also, I was just once again crying because I love my mom and I miss her already.

This week we are making it. I am lucky the boys are such good babies. Of course we have our moments, and when it is just me I cannot always please both of them at the same time, but I am just trying to relax, cross the things of the list of the routine we follow, and smile with them instead of crying too. I think we will be okay, even when it is just me.

I promise, the next post will be about something different.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

Today is the last day my mom will be with us watching the boys. She has been working to train our new nanny this week.

I cannot express with words how grateful I am that my mom was willing to sacrifice her life to come up and help mine for the past few months since the boys were born. It was so incredibly reassuring that she was home with the boys when I went back to work. I don’t think I could have coped with that transition with any other person. Now that the boys are almost six months old, I feel more comfortable making the transition to having a fulltime nanny, but it definitely took me a while to get there.

I know my little boys will love their Mimi for life. They may not remember the first six months of their lives consciously, but I know that somewhere in their unconscious they will recall the care she gave them and the love she showed them. DSC_0315DSC02415DSC_0529

Real Life or Why Congress Should Just Shut Up Already

I wasn’t planning on ever discussing this on the blog. Last summer, I vague-blogged about a particularly challenging time during my pregnancy.  I didn’t want to write in too much detail about what I was experiencing because it was so very difficult and personal.  Unfortunately, we still live in a country where for women, so much that is so difficult and personal is often political. People keep thinking they should legislate about these things, in part, because women don’t want to talk about these difficult, personal challenges. It is easy to talk in platitudes when the people negatively affected are silent for justifiable reasons of self-preservation. So politicians have a VERY warped view about the real number of women who are affected by their “pro-life” rhetoric.  Recently, the House of Representatives passed a universal 20-week abortion ban, with a couple of insanely hassling opt-out clauses for rape victims. (Because every rape victim I am sure wants a 48 hour waiting period wherein they must be subjected to “counseling.” Also sidenote, can someone explain to me the logic behind the “waiting period” if time is of the essence in having a legal abortion? It is like they want women to have a 20 week waiting period befor being allowed to have an abortion, but then a ban on abortion after the 20th week.)

Although I considered myself a feminist, based partially on my own religious background, I generally have been ambivalent towards abortion issues.  I considered myself nominally pro-choice, but never thought to much about what that meant or how women are affected by these issues.  It probably doesn’t seem logical that someone who has spent several years in a battle with infertility would have, during that time, come to understand the need for choice in a more personal and real way.  I blogged a few years ago about an early suspected ectopic pregnancy (my first pregnancy) that had to be terminated with methotrexate. That experience was the first that made me realize that these real decisions that women face are not as straightforward as people simply espousing pro-life dogma would have others belief and as a result, I wanted to be more empathetic and understanding of women who have to make difficult choices about their lives.

Last summer was truly moment in time when I realized how it possibly would feel to make these agonizing decisions later on in the second trimester of pregnancy. Pro-life politicians would have you believe that at 20 weeks of pregnancy, fetuses are nearly viable and can feel pain. Most medical research dispute the pain claim, but 100% of doctors will tell you no fetus is viable at 20 weeks. Although it is possible at 22 weeks that a handful of babies born may survive, most experts do not consider viability until 24 weeks, and even then many babies will die and most who survive will have lifelong disabilities from being born that early. I know the statistics because last year when I was pregnant, I insanely tracked week by week survival rates and long term effect rates for premature babies because I was carrying twins.

But the reality is, for women who are considering second trimester abortions, it has nothing to do with statistics. The large majority of women who are considering abortion after 20 weeks are doing so because of severe fetal abnormalities. Most of these abnormalities cannot be detected until later in the second trimester.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about what they would do in this situation. But that is just it; it is YOUR OWN opinion about what YOU would do, not what someone else should do. This became very real to me last summer, when one day shy of hitting 12 weeks of pregnancy at our Nuchal Translucency screening, we were told one of the much wanted fetuses in my belly had a cystic hygroma measuring 5.8 mm. We were told that with that measurement, it was more than 2/3 likely that one of our babies had a severe, chromosomal defect. It also put that fetus at a higher risk for other birth defects and a higher risk for spontaneous miscarriage.  When the doctor delivered the devastating news that day (and the doctor who delivered the news did it in a completely unempathetic, shock-provoking way, meaning when going to the MFM appointments from that point forward, I always made sure she wasn’t the doctor I would have to see), I broke down entirely.  It was unexpected. Immediately, that day they did a follow-up blood test that was over 90% accurate in determining the three most common types of chromosomal abnormalities – trisonomy 13, 18, 21. We would have the results in a week.  I also would schedule a CVS (chronic villus sampling) test.  We received this news the day before I was leaving to go spend a week in Mississippi with my family. It was a lot to process.

The days that followed were awful. I couldn’t get out of bed some mornings. I cried uncontrollably. I was terrified.  I kept thinking that I had this one fetus that was potentially a ticking time bomb, that carried the potential to take the other seemingly healthy fetus down with it.  That was also something I had to consider, as I had two little ones growing inside of me. I digested study after study, all that seemed to indicate carrying one karyotypically normal fetus on own karyotypically abnormal fetus would be the risk of spontaneous abortion much higher, potentially resulting in the loss of both fetuses.  I also imagined what it would be like to carry both babies to term only to have one baby with severe birth defects that would take all of my time and energy and I wouldn’t have enough left in the tank to parent the other one. I also thought to myself, I have no paid maternity leave. How could I make this work? All of the potential scenarios and outcomes ran through my brain leaving me terrified and exhausted emotionally. I didn’t see how I could cope.

Those days were probably some of the worst of my life, if not the worst; worse than coping with the ectopic pregnancy; worse than the other miscarriages. They were so terrible because these fetuses had made it far enough for me to sense their living potential in a way that I had to grieve with the possible loss of that potential as well as what it would practically mean if there were serious birth defects.  I have never been so grateful for my family and the few close friends who saw me through those days of grief, letting me know they would support me and whatever I chose regardless of outcome. This was really important to me because not everyone in my life agreed with me as I worked through possibilities and choices. There was conflict that only made those days more painful for me as I realized that potential decisions would result in irretrievably broken relationships in some instances. In those days, I concluded that I could never, would never tell someone else to do in a situation like this.  It would never be my place to tell someone else what they could or couldn’t handle. It would never be my place to tell someone else that based on their own experiences that they were making the right or wrong decision.

As the days slipped by, I charted out when I would know more information in terms of the time I had left according to North Carolina state law to consider selective reduction as an option. North Carolina, you see is a state where abortion is banned after 20 weeks. I had up until the day the fetuses were 21 weeks according to my due date.  The blood tests results came back one week after that initial dreadful day while I was still in Mississippi.  They were negative for chromosomal defects, but because they were not failproof (and with carrying twins, they have a somewhat higher failure to detect rate), I scheduled the CVS for the first day when I was back in North Carolina when I would be 13 weeks and 2 days pregnant.

On the day of my CVS, I showed up to the MFM clinic and first sat while the ultrasound tech and the doctor reconfirmed the presence of the cystic hygroma. They then continued scanning my belly to look for a way they could get the needle for the CVS to the placenta without having to cross the amniotic fluid for the twin who needed the procedure. They couldn’t find one. An hour later, after talking to the doctor, we were walking out of the clinic because the conclusion was that the CVS couldn’t successfully be performed without increasing my risk of a spontaneous miscarriage. The placenta for the twin was simply not in a good place.  The other twin was on top. There was too much amniotic fluid. In any case, we were once again on the clock waiting, as now we had to wait for another few weeks for when an amniocentesis could safely be performed.  So we had more agonizing weeks of waiting.

In the fifteenth week of pregnancy, it was now safe enough to perform the amniocentesis. The accompanying ultrasound confirmed the continuing presence of the cystic hygroma.  Two days later we received the initial results regarding the three most common chromosomal abnormalities, confirming that there was no trisonomy 13, 18, or 21. Then, we had to wait two agonizing weeks again for the results of the microarray testing, a more complex genetic test that looked forup to 200 other chromosomal and genetic abnormalities (not: none of these tests come cheap, but fortunately, my crappy state health plan insurance did cover these).  It was only after the microarray testing came back without having identified any genetic problems, that I finally began to breathe a sigh of relief. Certainly, with a cystic hygroma still present, we were not out of the woods as there could be other birth defects, like a heart defect or Noonan Syndrome. Those were not issues though, that I felt like would warrant me considering selective reduction. We ruled out Noonan syndrome with another genetic test in the 18th week of pregnancy. It wasn’t until the 20th week that a fetal echocardiogram could be completed where it appeared likely that particular fetus’s heart was performing well. It was also during that 20th week that we were finally able to do a more complete anatomy scan of both fetus’s to rule out other major birth defects. That was the week that our time would have been up. Could you imagine what it would have been like to have discovered something significant during that week, something that could have potentially put the other healthy fetus at risk and then have to make an immediate decision about what to do? I could not. It is too devastating for me to even contemplate, because I know how terrible it is to have to consider such things.

My point for all of this rambling is that all of these stupid Representatives that are so flippant about a 20 week ban have no clue what it is like to be in a position where you are considering a termination of pregnancy in the second trimester. They have no clue what it is like to be a woman trying to imagine what it would be like to have to deliver a child that you know is not going to survive birth or infancy. They have no clue what kind of strain it puts on someone who is also thinking, wow, I have a job, I have NO paid maternity leave, and now I might have an infant who needs round the clock care, and I have to be sad thinking about what kind of quality of life that infant might have and whether I can afford the kind of that infant will need, and whether I can be a parent to that child and also parent another child who also needs me, and whether the fact that one fetus has severe defects puts another healthy fetus at risk of early labor which could in turn subject that child to a lifelong disability or health issue by virtue of being born severely premature, etc. They have no clue. They just get to claim some kind of FALSE statement about fetal pain and then subject real people and real families to a lot of sadness and grief because they think they know more than them and they never have to deal with the real world effects of their flippancy in the name of scoring cheap political points. It is very, very upsetting to me.

In looking back on my experience, I wouldn’t want anyone to live through that. I cannot tell you how every day of this experience after being initially thrust into despair with the first bad news, my heart slowly was lifted back up with each positive test result. The day the ultrasound tech no longer spotted the hygroma on the ultrasound, was so happy. The fact that I have two healthy boys makes me so, so happy. I feel so lucky, because I know that statistics and odds are real. Some people don’t get the good news. With our initial bad news, we were in the minority of those who did get the good news. I can imagine how it feels to ultimately get bad news. I had planned for its possibility in my mind. I wanted my babies so badly, we spent tens of thousands of dollars to get them. These in no way were unwanted. Yet, I can understand why people would chose to terminate pregnancies in the second trimester. I was there. If the results had been different for me, I would have faced difficult choices, but I would have made them with no regard for what some stupid politician thought about me.

So Congress, I know asking your members to be empathetic to anyone other than the plight of billionaires like the Koch brothers might be asking too much, but just for a moment, admit that you stepped to far here. Admit that life is more complicated than your simplistic, one-size fits all 20 week ban could possibly fit. Don’t bring more sadness on people who are already in despair. Let that woman choose what is best for her and her family. I promise you, her choice will be the best for all of us. I am talking about this, because you should realize that these policies affect real people in really significant ways.

And finally, a word of thanks to all of the good doctors we had who kept us apprised of our options and kept us informed along the way. These were the only outsiders that I wanted weighing in during this time in my life. Without their compassionate care, I don’t know how I would have coped either.

Working Mom: The Reprise


This post could be titled appropriately Mishaps in Breast Pumping.  Last week I had an overnight trip to Washington, DC.  It was the kind of overnight work-related trip that I have managed successfully dozens of times before without incident.  Of course now, the simplest tasks, even traveling without children, suddenly have become laboriously intensive in a way that I never predicted.  Thus, when I arrived at my hotel to unpack my breastpumping gear, imagine my shock when I realized that I had failed to pack essential parts of my breast pumping apparatus.  In DC, there is no convenient Buy Buy Baby or Babies R Us to Union Station, so I found myself in an Uber during rush hour for a trip out to the suburbs to get the needed parts.  It took two and a half hours.  Sitting in DC traffic when one needs to pump and is in a particular kind of pain isn’t something that I would wish on anyone, the least of all my poor hapless Uber driver stuck with me and my far too detailed description of my predicament.  He waited for me when I dashed into the Babies R Us in the pouring rain and took me back into DC when I finally had what I needed. After all of the time we spent together in the car, I was expecting my Uber bill to be over $100. Nope. It was $60.  Worse still, I didn’t have cash to tip for all of that trouble. So on top of all my breastfeeding related pain, I had considerable capitalist guilt-related pain for how ridiculously little this poor guy was getting paid to put up with my breast-pumping related drama.

After arriving back at my hotel, I was supposed to go to the Nats game that evening with friends.  But after that unexpected afternoon detour to the Northern Virginia ‘burbs, I still had a presentation that I needed to work on. So, I had to call and cancel the game with friends. While I was talking to my friend, I tripped and fell in the middle of the sidewalk, resulting in that great busted up knee you see on the above photo.  It was a lovely end to a hectic day.

The next day, I assumed my day would go much better.  I was going to be at the Georgetown Law Library for the day, then I would be returning home on a direct flight from DCA. Easy enough, right? Well, during my “pumping break” in the middle of the day, I forgot to attach a bottle to my pump and didn’t realize it until all of my milk was all over the brand new work suit I had purchased for the occasion. This meant I had to spend all afternoon covered in my own milk and pretending like I didn’t notice it. That wasn’t awkward at all…

I made it to the airport in plenty of time to pump before boarding my flight, so I assumed I could find some nice, out of the way spot to pump.  It turns out all of those discreet locales were populated with businessmen charging up their iPhones. (Note: One day, when I am in charge of airport administration, I am going to come up with a hierarchal structure for who is allowed to use available plugs in the library and breastpumping mothers is going to come directly under life sustaining medical devices. Businessmen charging iPhones is going to be last on the list, even below other kinds of mobile devices.) Nonetheless, I persevered and found a plug; it was just located in the middle of a gate boarding area. I didn’t care at that point. I covered up as best as I could and pumped, probably only flashing a couple of dozen World War II veterans waiting to board their flight back to Kansas City.

It was all much more stressful than I would have predicted, and many times during the course of that quick trip I questioned, why am I doing this? Why does any Mom do this when we still have crap like the extreme gender wage gap in this country and no recognition by our country of how tough it is to be a working Mom because we still don’t have widely accepted support structures like paid maternity leave?

Making it home to my sweetly slumbering boys I felt nothing but relief. These little boys are worth it. I look at them and I am glad I am trying to figure out how to make it work. I would be lying if I didn’t say they are hard to leave but they are a joy to return home to. This was them the morning that I flew out:


I just have to take that sweetness with me when I go. I would like to believe that their sweetness makes me a nicer person when dealing with the new challenges of being a working Mom.


When I am away, even at work for the day, I know I have their happy faces to look forward to when I get home. They then are able to show off to me all of their looks for the day.


Or here is Desmond’s Blue Steel:


It is a rare occasion that I travel and David stays at home, but when that rare occasion happens, like last week, I know the boys are in good hands (also because we still have my Mom with us for another few weeks).


Yes, life has changed very quickly, but as embarrassing as it may be to unwittingly flash World War II veterans in wheelchairs, these faces are worth it.