After our fourth failed IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) we pivoted immediately to IVF. At the time of this post we received some not-so positive news: only 2 embryos out of 8 healthy ones survived to blastocyst stage. I am going to post a step by step walk through of what to expect when you’re navigating the IVF process, but I’m writing this post to send you to my Instagram. Follow along with my IVF Journey here and please send that link to anyone you know doing IVF so that they can have a better understanding of what the entire process looks like.
The story of how after a month of constant disruption, we regained control of our lives and got back to normal.
A month ago our lives were disrupted from the Woolsey Fire, travel and sickness. We had to rely on each other, our families and strangers to pull through and regain normalcy. While we were fortunate, many were not so lucky. Here is our account of what it’s like to escape a natural disaster and how we got our toddler to readjust to normalcy when we returned.
When the fire broke out I had a bunch of moms and kids from our Temple over for a big play date. My house was trashed with toys, crumbs and an impressive amount of stray clothing as the kids all went upstairs and disrobed before coming downstairs naked declaring it a naked party. 3 year olds, amirite?
One of the moms suddenly looks up from her phone and says something like “omg you guys my area is in voluntary evacuation from a fire!” Voluntary evacuation means you’re advised to go, but if you choose to stay you’re likely safe. Mandatory Evacuation means law enforcement believes there is a direct threat to your safety AND/OR they need to secure the area and have complete access to the area to fight the fire. As the sun is setting that night I see a big ball of a cloud of smoke rising above the mountain in my backyard. All the moms and their semi clothed children depart and I think I can speak for all of us at the time when I say we all thought the fire would be over by the morning.
The next morning while the air still smelled fine, I could see two large plumes over the mountains in two locations. I decided to keep #TheHandful home from school that morning, concerned we would be shifted to Mandatory Evacuation and I’d have to deal with chaos at the school. That would be my last intelligent decision throughout this process. From here on out I existed in a zombie state of disbelief alternating watching the news and watching the smoke plumes in the backyard expand. Somehow I knew to keep her home with me, but lacked the foresight to begin packing.
At this time, the 101 is closed at our exit. I begin to relentlessly text Baby Daddy (who is at work) with fire updates, which we were receiving via Twitter from LA County Fire, following the hashtag #WoolseyFire. There was a TON of misinformation and rumors flying around on local Facebook groups so it was extremely difficult to verify truth from rumor. My uncle is a producer for KTLA and I did not change the channel. They were a reliable source for tracking the movement of the fire. As more areas around us starting getting Mandatory Evac orders, our little pocket was considered safe. Until, it wasn’t.
Baby Daddy gets home from work and I tell him we need to start looking for a hotel. While our area was still not Mandatory Evac, we were surrounded by Mandatory Evac orders and the fire was 0% contained. In our backyard we could see the smoke growing and growing and then GLOWING. Planes flew over our house and disappeared into the dark smoke. These planes flew so low you could see the pilots. At this point we put a suitcase in the middle of the hallway upstairs and start putting in the VIP papers and the stuff #TheHandful can’t live without (sound machine, sleeping snuggle toy etc.). No hotels in the area can take us.
At this point I go from chill to worried. The whole time we were putting stuff in this suitcase I had a sense of disbelief like at any moment they’d lift orders and we wouldn’t have to leave. Computers, cords, cell phone chargers, jewelry and two pictures of our family that are not digital: Plop! In the bag. At this point I see via Twitter we are officially Mandatory Evac. Anticipating traffic and chaos and seeing the glowing clouds continuing to grow, I actually shout “Everyone in the car, NOW!”
We still have nowhere to go. As I look out our backyard before we leave, I see the smoke appears to have rolled up the hill and it’s glowing from the bottom a bright orange. If we had evacuated earlier we would have been able to been more strategic in our packing. Instead all of us had three days worth of clothing and few toiletries.
We take two cars so Baby Daddy can still get to work in the morning as his office is in West Hollywood and far from the flames. My car had no gas in it. Classic evacuation error. Keep your car gassed up during an emergency. We had to hit up a gas station ASAP which took us by a hill engulfed in flames near our Temple. It looked like something from Game of Thrones. I pick up the phone and start screaming at Baby Daddy that we should’ve left hours ago. Blaming him for my feelings. However, he doesn’t have time for my shit because he is trying to get us a hotel room. At this point State Farm steps up and helps us get a hotel room in West Hollywood at The Chamberlain who was literally the ONE hotel in the area that did not raise their rates. Can you believe you’re fleeing for your life from a fire and a hotel has the balls to raise rates to north of $700 a night. Disgusting.
We get to the hotel and immediately Baby Daddy realizes he left his computer at the house. Y’all we are SO LUCKY he did. He RUSHES back to Calabasas. When he gets there he is stopped by the Sheriff as he attempts to re-enter our neighborhood. The Sheriff tells him he has 10 minutes to grab what he can and then he can’t come back. He came home to see we left many windows open and we didn’t feed our fish. He closed all of our windows which was the single most important thing he did because all of our stuff would’ve been ruined by smoke if he did not. Then he went to the backyard and sprayed our house and the yard with water to reduce the dryness that was in the air and contributing to fire food. By turning off the air he saved our house from additional smoke damage. He dropped multi day feeding pellets in our fish tanks and then he locked up and took this final picture before he left.
I’d like to point out here how fortunate we are. I know of families who had to sleep in their cars, some with their pets and kids all crammed into the vehicle. I know of families who lost their entire homes. People died. We had insurance and the means to sustain ourselves throughout this ordeal something many families did not have. We are so grateful to Richard Lonnie at State Farm Insurance who stayed on the phone with us and talked us through how to proceed during rapidly deteriorating circumstances. Between him and the hospitality of our hotel The Chamberlain we felt and were protected in such a chaotic time.
We spent four days in the hotel, during which the air quality in West Hollywood was no longer good. We wore N95 masks anytime we had to go outdoors to reduce the chances of inhaling all the particles in the air. It was Monday that I realized we might not be going back home before our Thanksgiving trip to Chicago. We were supposed to fly out on Saturday. Baby Daddy called the airlines and it turns out our change fee was only going to be like $25. Now we had a decision to make. We were out of clothes because we naively thought we would be back in our house in a day, two max. Calabasas was still under Mandatory Evac and the fire was still 0% contained. #TheHandful has been stuck in a one bedroom hotel room, barely allowed outside due to air quality.
After going back and forth about our options, we decided that #TheHandful and I should change our tickets and fly to Chicago on Tuesday – with just the clothes on our backs. We evacuated in pajamas and I packed mostly sweat pants for us because at the time we fled I thought we were going to come back with time to get Chicago clothes. I was glad I evacuated in my basketball sneakers and highly recommend sneakers as an evacuation shoe. I just also wish I packed anything else. However if you’re going to have one shoe a sneaker is your best bet.
Baby Daddy stayed behind in the hotel room because he had to keep going to work. During his stay he had to keep changing rooms as the hotel had to accommodate existing reservations while juggling #WoolseyFire evacuees. I cannot say enough good things about this hotel, they even put chocolate chip cookie trays in our rooms to raise everyone’s spirits a little.
My Mother-in-Law met us at the airport with winter coats and warm clothes. She had clothes, bathing products and food ready for us. She even got me a leopard crop top sweatshirt and a faux fur scarf to make it feel like I packed them myself! I could rest a little easier knowing #TheHandful was in a familiar place, she could breathe safe air and even though she was missing school with her friends, she would at least be with her young cousins and her Gaga. She even took us to get our nails done after I said jokingly “ugh and I even missed my pre-thanksgiving manicure” in a Valley Girl accent. She turned the morale of the situation around. We are so thankful for her.
Meanwhile back in California, Baby Daddy was not allowed back into our home until Friday evening. I AM SO GLAD WE FLED TO CHICAGO. I would’ve lost my mind with my 3 year old in that one bedroom hotel not being able to take her outside but Baby Daddy still leaving every day for work.
My girl is very brave and usually very chill. This fire rattled her. She needed to sleep with me every night because she was concerned the fire could come get her while she slept. This was another hard thing for me personally because I did not like seeing her in distress and I do not sleep well with anyone next to me.
When Baby Daddy was finally allowed back home he packed a suitcase of my stuff and #TheHandful’s stuff so that when he arrived in time for Thanksgiving we felt a little less displaced having some of our own stuff back. It was a return to normalcy to have the whole family together for a typical Goldman Thanksgiving.
When we finally got home home, Baby Daddy had to immediately fly to London to be a speaker on a huge panel at this super cool international TV conference. Our plan was to meet him there a few days later and get to see him speak and then go see the sights.
Buuuuut … #TheHandful is out of sorts now that we’re home, from the routine changes etc. She insists on sleeping with me that night even though we are home. She takes to complaining of a tummy ache multiple times during the night so I have to keep checking on her. Well. I should have known better because my girl is no liar. At about 1 am two days before we are supposed to leave for London she wakes up covered in puke. Cue the horrible mom guilt for not believing her. I clean her up and bring her to bed with me. She wakes up in the morning and seems fine. I chalk it up to travel stress and poor diet. We go to gymnastics and she has a great workout but looks very pale. That night she begs to sleep in my bed and I give in because I feel so awful about the night before.
The sun rises and she declares (like she does every time she sleeps with me) “The sun is awake so I am awake!” and pops up to open my shutters. She then grabs her stomach and goes “I have to puke Mommy”. Calmly walks herself to the toilet and pukes. I’m like omg what a calm puker. She repeated this every 45 minutes for 12 hours. By hour 12 I call the pediatrician who has me monitor her for dehydration. Throughout this process I’ve been updating Baby Daddy and it’s starting to become clear she can’t fly like this. I can’t put her on an international flight puking every 45 minutes.
She sleeps next to me and does not make it through the night without vomiting and in the morning has diarrhea. We speed to the pediatrician and get there 1 minute before they open. They quarantine us in a private room to reduce the spread of whatever we have. Then the doc comes in and confirms she is in no state to fly, prescribes Zofran for her and tons of pedialyte. London cancelled. Captain Zofran does her job and my girl is finally able to keep ice cubes and small sips of water down. Slowly my girl rebuilds her strength. By the time Baby Daddy returns home she is skinny and still a little tired but at least hungry and keeping food down.
After all of this chaos, the total time spent out of our normal routine wound up being about a month. My girl basically endured a month of disruption and sickness. While she was physically ready to be back in her bed at night, she was afraid to sleep on her own. It was confusing at first to experience the constant meltdowns because when we were on the road and in the throes of the chaos she was so chill. No tantrums, happy to roll with all punches. When we got home she had trouble going to bed and staying asleep and she had trouble with her emotions after school which was out of the ordinary.
Evacuating a fire is nothing like other natural disasters. You get barely any notice and the consequences are far reaching. My knowledge of early childhood development came in handy for parenting in the moment as we had to keep adjusting our plans and disrupting her routine. I knew routine was paramount to keeping her mentally resilient and so while we were in the hotel and then in Chicago, we did everything we could to keep her bedtime routine as identical to her home routine as possible. We recognized that there were factors that were outside of our control and worked to manipulate the situations we could control. We knew missing school was going to be the hardest thing for her outside of the general stress of not being able to go home. She’s an only child and so her schoolmates are extremely important to her. We made sure to set up activities for her in Chicago where she would be with other little kids or her cousins to put a band-aid on that.
When we returned it took over a week to get her adjusted to our normal night time routine. Every single night she complained that the room was too dark for her and that the fire was going to come again. This is when I had to get tough and adopt a non negotiation policy with my little bed time terrorist. As much as the mama bear in me wanted to cuddle her and tell her she can sleep with me because she’s scared, I know that if I don’t stick to the routine perfectly we are going to go down a slippery slope of her needing to sleep with me every night. Baby Daddy and I alternated re-tucking her in every time she woke up demanding to sleep with me. After about two weeks we returned to normal sleep habits.
It was also different after school. But here I didn’t take the hardline. While she was able to behave IN school, once school got out I had Meltdown Mary on my hands. At about the time the sleep regulated her moods chilled out too. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. I chose to respond to her meltdowns by asking her to use her words to tell me what is frustrating her (frustration = our number one cause of meltdown around here) and then ask if she needs a hug or her own space to find her words. She always asks for a hug. So we did lots of hugging those two weeks.
Now that we’re back and in the swing of things, I’ve been taking a TON of yoga to practice some #selfcare.
I hope you walk away from this post with this takeaway: start packing and planning EARLY for a disaster to avoid the last minute scramble. We were so lucky and you don’t want your safety or your ability to evacuate to come down to luck.
And, if you takeaway two things, allow your family to react in various ways during a crisis, recovery can take time and everyone needs compassion.
First, congrats to me for this being my 100thblog post. Thanks! It took me a few weeks to crank out a post because I was holding out hoping that my 100thpost would be a pregnancy announcement. Unfortunately I’m not with child – yet – but too much time has passed from my last post to where it’s getting weird. I had a few ideas in mind for what this post was going to be, and as I normally do, I was scrolling down my Facebook feed for some inspiration. After about the fifth shit show post on LA Mommies, including one (posting anonymously of course!) asking the 53,053 members if she should let her husband bang other chicks because she doesn’t want to bang him right now – I knew I had to write about this world of Mommy Groups on Facebook. Meanwhile a few days ago I read via one of my Doula Facebook groups that there’s a wacky movement called “Free Birthing” and that there’s a whole group of women actively discouraging members from seeking professional medical help while pregnant. And do not get me started on Sanctimommies, who can’t help but punctuate every comment with the word “cunt”. I’m serious, if you haven’t heard of them, go look them up on Facebook they’re a horrid bunch and use the C U Next Tuesday word too much for me. I left that group btw, too much aggression and craziness for me.
Anyway, I noticed I kept encountering the same types of moms in these groups and once I see a pattern, I latch on and BLOG baby! If you’re a member of any “mommy” groups on Facebook, you’ve likely encountered the following people:
1) The Regular. You probably have never met her in person, but because she posts sometimes twice or three times a day, you feel like you know more about her than you should. Posts of hers include requests for others to join in on a “game” like post a pic of your kid eating today and I’ll post mine too! Never reply to her. Never. She will blow up your comments as if she really does know you. And then she’ll friend request you despite never having met you.
2) The HypERchondriac.Easy to spot, constantly posting pics of her kids Hand Food and Mouth Disease rash asking if the fellow moms think she should take her kid to the doc. Posts pic of a kid with a nail in his hand asking if she should take him to the ER. Lady, drop the camera and start driving to the doc! Also, don’t comment on her post either, you’re just encouraging that nonsense! A slight subset of this type are the moms who post pics of pregnancy pee tests being like “Am I pregnant”. C’mon lady, there’s either a line or there’s not and regardless you gotta go to the doc to confirm it, random moms weighing in won’t confirm it!
3) The Sales Consultant. This Mom will always comment under any post “PM me, I have an oil for that”. Or, use my Detox Tea to lose that baby weight, that’s how I did it (pro tip, detox tea = gives you diarrhea so basically this mom sells diarrhea tea).
5) Meme Mom.She will flood your newsfeed with posts ending in “Share if U agree”. She is the most likely to use words like “U” instead of “you”, “2” instead of “to or too”. A full 85% of her content is random videos that literally no one has ever seen or would even know how to find and yet she finds them and shares them on the reg.
6) Angry Mom. Back in the day she would’ve ended every experience declaring “I am going to write them a letter”. Today she’s the one with a million negative Yelp reviews, posts complaints about establishments on the group pages and angrily Tweets at brands. We’ve all been her at random times, but she exists in this unsatisfied state and wants you to know about it.
7) Brag Mom.This mom tries to humble brag her kids accomplishments by framing her posts as a question to get other moms to comment about how great her kid is. Examples include a pic of a baby writing his name in crayon and the mom posting a video of it, asking the audience if she should purchase a new rug. And then she obsessively checks the comments to receive her compliments on her genius in real time. If you scroll over to her page she is likely to have a lot of selfies edited with FaceTune.
8) Know It All Mom.She rarely initiates a post, but she LIVES for the comments. She’s always right, has the articles to prove it already copied for speed pasting, and will get the last word. Does not like to be disagreed with, so for your sanity resist the urge to keep commenting. She will always comment last.
9) Boy Moms. You can always tell a mom is a boy mom even before she tells you because her posts are often cries for help regarding cleaning “there’s pee all over my kitchen floor, best way to clean urine off of wood?” or “I have a whole in my wall thanks to a home made wrestling ring”. I always scratch my head when I read these wondering what craziness it must be to be a boy mom. I imagine these moms IRL constantly chasing their kids with a roll of Bounty.
10) Your Friends.Doesn’t matter what your friend IRL posts you’re going to “like” it to show loyalty. Who cares that she shared the dumbest cat video ever (SIKE, there are NO dumb cat videos), or that she shared 600 photos individually, you’re going to “LIKE” that shit because she’s your friend and that is what friends do. If you don’t pity like her bad selfie are you even her friend? Trick question you’re not, a real friend picks up the phone and says “Felicia I can see food in your teeth in that pic”. Or at least text that.
I think I’ve covered it! What groups are you guys in, how do you stay connected with friends and how do you interact with your larger community online? Also, seriously check out those Sanctimommies if you’re not thin skinned, that was the craziest group I have ever witnessed and ultimately left because it was not in step with really anything I believe in. Also, what groups are you in that you think I should join?
Social Media is a blessing and a curse in that it connects you to your friends near and far, however that connection can be a version of everyone’s “best life” leaving out the real bits. Sometimes a highlight reel of everyone’s wins on the board can have an adverse affect on your ability to stay confident in your own life. In real life you see your friend’s vulnerability, their real moments … online you see headshots, promotions and baby announcements. Everyone is either: promoted, engaged, booked or fertile.
On the one hand I understand the desire to post the best pic of yourself when posting: because it’s the one you like and are confident with. On the other hand, I understand how damaging it is to constantly be exposed to “perfect” images of all of your friends. When I’m feeling bad about myself it’s harder to not compare myself to my friends, many of whom are innocently posting their best pic, no harm intended. I am also guilty when I post the one pic where you can’t see the bags under my eyes because the lighting was flattering – withholding the Gollum pictures taken at the exact same time.
I felt so confident about my body in February when this picture was taken: However, now that I’m juggling hormones and fertility treatments, I look like this:
I hate these pictures. I hate them, but they’re honest. This is what I look like in a bathing suit these days, and as you have probably noticed: it’s less six-packy than it used to be. That’s because I’m on these hormones to get me with-child. The annoying thing is all the other things the pill is supposed to do are working, everything except give me a baby. Side effects include: tender breasts (check), bloating(triple check), cramping (yep) … and then you get knocked up! Except, no. If a baby was in this tummy, I would love this picture. Instead its just my bloated, infertile body. Oh, also this lovely med is not taken orally …
IUI failed again. For the last time. I’m done with the IUI and ready for the IVF. Some people have success with the IUI, I myself am over it, it feels like one big tease. IUI is when the doctor takes frozen sperm and injects it into your uterus with a catheter while you ovulate. Fourteen days later you take a pregnancy test – that is, if your period hasn’t arrived. If Aunt Flow show, you know no.
This time we were assured the sperm sample was strong and that my cervix was “flowering” (the doc’s term for super ripe?). Due to all the IUI failures before, I planned to lay down on the table after the procedure until they kicked me out. My goal was met when 20 mins later they did a knock on the door to encourage me to get a move on. Check. Next, I begged the front desk ladies to include me in their fertility prayers, and hi fived the gay couple I made friends with in the lobby as they nervously waited to interview surrogates. Then I smashed the rear view mirror on my car trying to reverse because I’m terrible at driving in reverse, well … driving in general.
Dr Knock Us Up said I can’t play basketball during treatments so I emailed my team to update them on my recent insemination. My Bulls pulled through and offered support and encouragement as I began the interminable wait for a positive test.
To pass the time I elevated my HelicopTiger Mom status from a comfortable 10 to a distract-me-please 12. I Amy Poehler’d at #TheHandful’s theater rehearsal and offered several times to demonstrate cartwheels at gymnastics. Surprisingly everyone declined my help.
We pass day 14 post IUI without a period + super swol boobies. I’m like this is it y’all, we got one!! I take a pregnancy test that day and it skyrockets to negative. Too soon, I’m pregnant I say to myself. I tell Baby Daddy I have a good feeling! And for the next three days I was so happy. Every morning I woke up bloodless felt like safety.
On day 14 I depart on a trip to visit one of my sorority sisters. Us Kappas are sisters for life. We are family. My Kappa Sister had just given birth and I needed to go love on them as they navigated the aftermath.
I’m on a 747 to Dallas and need to pee. Immediately I see the evidence: there is no baby in this tummy. Ducking* Aunt Flow always crashing the party lately. I am disappointed, I am sad. I can’t call or text BD so I just sit on the plane and feel sorry for myself.
Which was probably for the best because by the time we landed I had sufficiently mourned the situation and was ready to go to work. A house guest I am not, when I know there’s a baby I come in like a mercenary ready to work.
To some women, babies bring out fertility frustrations. Not me. I’m one of the ones who feeds off the baby’s energy. Not knowing I was experiencing a setback in the moment, my Kappa Sister hands me her JOY. This girl was such a ball of love and so intelligent, I was thrilled to get to spend time with her and my friends. Baby Girl did not disappoint, she was intelligent and adorable the entire visit. She was the perfect antidote to my Empty Womb Blues.
The transformation from Me to Mom and Dude to Dad happens instantly in the delivery room, but the DISCOVERY of who your Mama Bear is happens over time. It was thrilling and healing to support and encourage my sister in this transitional period. Watching her natural instincts and creative problem solving brought me back to when I was a new mom. I remembered feeling scared and unsure in the first few months and I got to watch my Kappa Sister navigate this with (seemingly) much more confidence.
Kappa Daughter spit up on me right away and that was it, we were bonded. Life long friends now. This girl is pushing up to crawl and engaging meaningfully in her coos, she is going to be a STAR. Even typing this I feel my smile when I think about this sweet girl.
To their credit the family pulled off MANY delicious meals during my stay and I left full and probably even a few pounds heavier. When #TheHandful was born we were not capable of cooking meals for people, I truly don’t know how they pulled that off not just once, but a few times. The love of longtime friends, a new baby and the feeling of a good meal in your tummy can make anything better. Visiting my people revived my soul and reminded me that love and friendship remain constant despite life’s hiccups and setbacks. I left them feeling full in my heart, proud of my Kappa Sister for becoming the Rockstar Mom I knew she would be, and grateful to get to see it firsthand. Turns out real life connection once again is the antidote to online woes. Hugs > Likes.
My family picked me up at LAX and on the ride home we dialed up Dr Knock Us Up. He informed us that after our family vacation in August, we can begin the IVF. First up, MORE HORMONES! Yayyyyy I get to be bloated and emotional for even more time! And this time, I get to inject myself with needles!!! Awesome. Regardless of what it looks like, I will absolutely be transparent about this journey. In the age of photo-editing apps, my hormone bloats will remain untouched. If Cool Mom Jamie is anything, she’s real.
And again, I ask you to consider posting the less flattering pic in hopes of connecting to a friend feeling the same way. I love your white teeth and lack of wrinkles, trust me, but we’re not Kardashians, we’re friends and friends can be vulnerable.
Every time I feel confident in my parenting, a new situation that I never anticipated pops up and rattles my game. Recently there was an incident at a pool party that left me questioning the etiquette behind handling other people’s kids.
What’s everyone’s go-to for when a friend’s kid roundhouse kicks your kid in the head, or pushes your kid into the pool? Personally, I’m a freezer. I do a deer in headlights before I respond. I don’t consider myself a natural parent, I’m more studied, so when situations arise, I have to draw upon what I’ve read vs instinctively knowing what to do. We were just at a pool party with a bunch of preschoolers when my nightmare occurred: a good-swimmer pulled my non-swimmer underwater …
I have a rule that if my kid is in the water, I’m in the water – for situations exactly like this. In this instance #TheHandful was using a pool noodle, so I let her drift further than arms reach away from me feeling safer knowing she had a flotation device. I’m about five strokes from my daughter. Out of the corner of my eye, I see her friend jump in the water and swim out to her. When Swimmer reaches #TheHandful, Swimmer goes underwater and pulls #TheHandful under water too, ripping her off her flotation device. Holy shit.
Of course I swim out to my kid, but as I do, I’m mentally scanning everything I know in my brain about how three year oldsprocess the world. I realized that this was not malice, this was a breakdown in communication. Of course a kid who can swim thinks being pulled under water is fun – while the kid who can’t swim is terrified at the thought of going underwater. The swimmer thinks this is fun, Swimmer likes going underwater and wants to include everyone in the fun. #TheHandful meanwhile is obviously terrified, and she’s angry at her friend too. I grab both kids and swim them over to the steps and then explain/translate the situation for them both.
I tell Swimmer: “Hey I know you’re trying to have fun together in the water, but #TheHandful can’t swim and for kids who can’t swim that’s not fun that’s scary and dangerous. I know you didn’t mean to scare her but can you see that she’s upset and scared?” Swimmer nods.
I turn to #TheHandful: “I know that was scary and you’re upset right now but I want you to know that Swimmer did not mean to scare you, to Swimmer swimming is fun and exciting and Swimmer was trying to play with you, not trying to scare you. Mommy will always swim out to save you, I’m always going to get you. ” My kid stops crying when she understands that Swimmer didn’t mean to scare her.
I pause. I look around. I then notice Swimmer’s mom and I panic. I’m getting nervous that Swimmer’s mom is going to disagree with how I handled the situation because I realize that while we’re friends I have no idea how discipline works for them in their house. Like, I know I’m an over-explainer but what if that doesn’t fly with them? What if she thinks I crossed the line and shouldn’t have spoken to her kid at all? Thankfully though, Swimmer’s mom was grateful that I took that one for the team because she said she was horrified and didn’t know what to do!
What about you guys? What do you do when your friend’s kids break a rule or hurt someone and you’re the adult on the scene? Anyone ever yell at someone else’s kid? Do you go get the parent and have them handle it? Drop me a note, I’d really love personal experiences relating to this one!
The Final Installment of the Chronicles of UriNarnia: Lights For Days
Alternate Title: How We Rid Our House of Diapers for Good
I won’t bury the lead: we are a diaper free house. Three years to the day we brought our #TheHandful home and we are not buying diapers – unless these fertility visits work and we are blessed with another Future Leader.
My Dears, it’s been a while since I’ve posted and that’s because we’ve been really busy lately with: birthdays, TV appearances and volunteer work. I know I left everyone hanging with that #infertility post, but nothings’ changed on that front other than three rounds of failed IUI. Which brings me back to the real news and that is: WE ARE A DIAPER FREE HOUSE!
We are also the most lit house I’ve ever been in and by that I mean we have tap lights stickering the wall from her bed to the toilet. At each touch she lights her path to the potty. All the lights are below the doorknob, making for a very bright and odd-looking potty path. Lookin’ like the movie Trolls in our hallway.
In the weeks approaching her birthday we reminded her every single night that by her third birthday we wouldn’t be buying any more diapers. We then showed her the remaining diapers left and then every night we were closer to Diaper Free, we showed her the count so she could see for herself. On the final night the night we had our last diaper, Baby Daddy tried to chicken out, but I Tiger Mom’d my way through the disagreement. I said NO MORE DIAPERS SLEEPING IN THE BED.
That settled it, the next night it would be ON.
All day during the day on DF-Night I found reasons to remind her that there would be no diapers that night. If she asked me to play dolls with her, I worked the night sleep into our imaginative play. When she wanted water at lunch, I explained how water is in our pee. During dinner we reminded her about paying attention to our bodies for early signs we need to use the toilet.
We reduced her fluids after 6 pm in preparation for a 7:30 pm bedtime. And then began our normal routine: Baby Daddy brushing her teeth; me reading her stories; Baby Daddy coming in for their nightly dance. And then, it was time to roll the dice.
We turned the lights out in her room to make it very dark and then did two practice walks from her bed to the bathroom. Her stool, the toddler potty ring and a few more tap lights were all in position to make this an easy process. Then we tucked her in and kept our door wide open all night. Total silence.
All seems well. Our old asses try to watch a show before bed but get tired. Obviously we crash at 7:55pm.
I get up for my 2 am pee – if you’ve ever texted me after 8pm and received a 2am response, that’s because I use my phone to flashlight me to the bathroom – I check our NEST camera and see that she’s been asleep this whole time. Ok. Great. I go back to bed.
Next thing I know I hear “I HAVE TO PEE!!!!” being shouted down the hallway. Baby Daddy and I bolt out of bed to outside her door. He coaches her out of bed and to open her door and then we take her to the toilet. While he takes her to the potty, I rush to the bed to check if it’s dry. She has gray bedding so it was easy to see that bed was completely DRY. I look at my phone and see that it’s 7 am. I couldn’t believe it, it worked!!
The next night same thing. We had an accident the following night, night 3 of diaper free. It was after that accident I learned we should have put a pee pad over her mattress. Live and learn, or better yet read my blog and learn from all my mistakes! She woke up covered and I mean covered in pee. Drenched. I gave her a big pee hug and told her we would try again that night before throwing her in the tub to clean the 700 gallons of urine off of her.
After a quick Target run to pick up some new bedding and a few pee pads, we didn’t skip a beat – this time we left folded blankets and a clean pee pad next to her bed so if we had to do another total bedroom makeover at midnight we could be quick.
So far the blankets and peepad have remained at the foot of her bed, she’s been calling out to us in the middle of the night to come help her pee!
Here are my 5 tips for finally ridding your house of the diapers:
5) Seems obvious, but don’t attempt night training if you’re not 100% confident with daytime potty use. There’s no point in challenging your kid to wake themselves up for a pee if they can’t figure it out when they’re awake to begin with.
4) Count down the days to Diaper Free together. This allows the child to warm up to the idea, thinking about it when it’s less scary and it allows the child to come up with questions for you about the process.
3) Count down the diapers. I showed her every night before DF night that her diaper supply was decreasing. She knew her last night of having a diaper was her last night and even said “after this no more diapers”. This let me know she understood what was happening.
2) PEE PAD. We’re a few weeks in to DF now but I still keep the pee pad on her bed because I know kids bed wet at all ages and drying her mattress out the first time was fragrant and took forever.
1) Collaborate. Work with your kid on their fears. Mickey expressed a significant fear of the dark when we were practicing walking to the potty. We asked her if night lights would help with that and she agreed that the would help. Then we put up the hallway of lights together so that she was physically part of the process. This relieved her anxiety and empowered her to be her own hero.
That’s what I got folks. Oh and something my mom told me which I feel the need to pass along: keep a FEW emergency diapers handy in the event of stomach flu. She warned me projectile diarrhea can only be contained in a diaper. Words to live by.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my period. Single me was happy to see her like “hey girl dodged a bullet this month” – however for the past two years I’ve developed a genuine hatred of this monthly reminder that here I am not pregnant. Again. Because #TheHandful was a surprise coupled with one of my favorite shows being MTV’s TEEN MOM OG, I naively thought getting knocked up was easy. Turns out like most things on this journey, I was wrong …
It all started when my friend showed up to Mommy & Me Class with her months-old baby and announced that she was pregnant with number two. I remember feeling a surge of excitement and a twinge jealousy. For me mentally whenever I feel jealous that’s a cue for me to pay attention to myself and do a check in. I said self, what’s this jealousy about? Self said it was because it was time for us to have another one too. I brought up my feelings to Baby Daddy who was, to put it bluntly, horrified. Baby making is a team sport and my teammate was not down for child creation at this time, arguing that our five month old was a handful for us as it was.
While the discussion was tabled, I tried many different ways to coerce my partner into relations. Eventually he came around and things turned consensual. And then things turned into work. Tracking, peeing on sticks, praying, and doing the deed. That’s why it’s called “the deed” btw, because it’s a damn job when you’re not making a baby. All around us while our friends’ bellies grew so did our concerns.
After a particularly emotional menstruation, I begged Baby Daddy to visit a fertility specialist with me. Ignorantly I thought that we were having trouble because Baby Daddy is approaching 40. That’s it. They’ll wash his sperm and the magic will happen. Just no, me, no.
The first thing they do at a fertility clinic is give you a vaginal ultrasound to check your follicles. Not your pubes (bc you laser, obvs), but your egg follicles. When you ovulate, your body releases an egg from the follicles. You want healthy ones. I have those I learned thanks to this test. Ok great. Next they take your blood.
They also ask your partner to “deposit a sample” which means get their sperms in a cup. Then they run you through a fertility lecture that covers anything you might have forgotten from Mr. Pane’s 7th Grade Bio Class. My youth (a spritely 32 years) and relatively healthy prior pregnancy were clocked and by the end of our visit my doctor was feeling optimistic about our situation.
He devised a fertility plan for us and told me to get some ovulation pee sticks and to call him when I’m ripe. The plan was to do two rounds of IUI, which is intrauterine insemination … or for you crass folk, it’s turkey basting time. Easy enough.
Then he got my blood work back.
Your girl has an autoimmune disease: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Guess whose body can’t carry a baby? Olympic gold sperm ain’t no match for a hostile uterus.
Slow down, whaaaaa? I know, I do amazing back flips and am super skinny – completely not your stereotypical hypothyroid patient. I do have freaky cold hands and feet and am tired a lot, but also I’ve always been that way so I never knew it was something to investigate. Typically a woman with my condition seeks help because she has unexplained weight gain and that gets her into the doc.
Anyway, I’m on meds now for life, currently on 100 mcg of Synthroid if you must know. I hate taking Advil and vitamins, I legit can’t believe I’m on daily meds for my life now.
So they tell me once this big bad Thyroid gland is regulated that I might have a better chance of getting pregnant. Yay. However that does involve having to go through IVF …
Anyway this Suckfest is apparently pretty common. I could’ve told you that based off the packed, standing-room only waiting room at the Western Fertility office but I confirmed it with my case manager Femma. Femma said yep, this is very common.
And then there’s the social aspect of it … your friends start to NOT tell you when they’re pregnant. I have to say that is the shit moment for me right there, the moment when I realize I’m the last to know about a pregnancy because the mom is afraid the news will upset me. That’s embarrassment overload for me. Because the truth is, I’m so fucking happy for my pregnant friends. So happy for them – their pregnancies have nothing to do with my hostile womb. I love babies, I love their families and I’m a doula for the love of love. Doulas love babies and mommies and daddies.
And the other side of the coin, the relentless: when are you having another baby questions. I find responding with honesty and transparency just kinda opens up the dialogue and eventually makes you closer to the person, but that’s me. I know other women who are embarrassed about their fertility problems and don’t want to discuss them. Actually, if anything I try to talk about our fertility problems as much as possible because I’m hoping I’ll find that mom who breathes a sigh of relief and says “me too”.
For now we’re tabling the fertility treatments and just trying to manage my Thyroid. But for all of my fans who lovingly ask me when we plan on having another and for my beautiful daughter who asks for a sibling constantly: we’re trying, it’s hard and disappointing, but we’re trying!
How a Rule in Improv Comedy is the Ultimate Parenting Hack.
Improv Comedy is all about reacting to information and using it to keep the scene alive – much in the way that parenting is reacting to information and using it to keep your kids alive!
When I first moved to LA, I was truly torn between becoming a Vince or an Ari. While I was interviewing at talent agencies for a desk, I was also taking improv comedy classes at UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade). I continued taking improv comedy classes after I started working at a talent agency (answering phones, fetching coffee and reading scripts) using it as a creative outlet in my otherwise busy but routine life.
I remember my first day of class very specifically because I was so nervous and had an amazing pedicure. Joel Spence was my teacher and predictably everyone in the class wanted to be an actor*.
I learned you should always wear closed toed shoes to do improv because it’s a full contact sport after Joel chose me to demonstrate the First Rule of Improv. The First Rule of Improv Comedy is: you always reply or agree to what your partner said and then expand upon what they said with the phrase “Yes, and …”.
In our example, Joel opened the scene with: “It’s so nice to finally get out of the house without the kids, shall we dance before the bride & groom cut the cake?”. That’s an amazing opening statement because he is telling me, his partner as well as the audience who we are, where we are and what we are doing. My job as his partner was to agree that we were indeed at a wedding and are a married couple with kids etc, with a statement of “yes” and then I have to help move the scene along with some other helpful information: the “and”.
So I flung myself at him for a spin, which he was not expecting (such an enthusiastic interpretation of the “Yes And” rule). He fumbled and stomped on my poor pedicured Birkenstocked tootsies. I took it like a champ and kept attempting to Elaine it as if we were at a wedding and even threw in some “And” dialogue working in the clumsiness: “Looks like we’re out of practice since our own wedding honey”.
And that was all I needed to do.
That line kept the scene moving and basically gave the ball back to him to keep going which is the main challenge of improv: don’t let the scene die. To explain “yes and” full circle imagine this scenario: Joel invites me on stage, uses his above dialogue, but this time I reply: “No we’re not this is Election Day and we’re at the polls.” That kinda kills the scene, doesn’t it? Now we have nowhere to go and everyone (including the audience) is confused. Fail.
The rule is helpful to remind the participants that every line does not have to be the punchline and that the most helpful way to contribute to a scene is to just keep the ball in the air and agree with your scene-mates.
What in the hell does this have to do with parenting? Well in my opinion, kinda everything. Before #TheHandful could communicate with sign language and words, she used babbling and cooing to try to talk. I used my improv “yes and” training to basically echo her cooing and coo back to her with similar and then different sounds. I was agreeing with her that she was telling me something. I was treating her coos seriuosly and trying to communicate back with her, basically making her Joel and letting her set the rules that I would then agree to and expand upon.
When she became verbal and was able to use words this turned into repeating words back to her and giving her new words. When she could use sentences, this became letting her write the rules to the games and then helping her form these arbitrary rules into a fun game we can play together. Because again, if I kept replying to her babbles with “No, we say BOOK” then that shuts her down and ends the communication.
Yes And is also a great technique to use to get your kid talking in the car after school. You can reply with “and then what happened” to get them to open up when they stall on a story they’re starting to tell. Agree with what they’re saying, don’t challenge it just agree and then ask for more. Of course tall tales will be told but sometimes the tall tales give you insight into their minds – sometimes details will change because their little memories process things differently at different times – but the ability to get them chattering is definitely enhanced with some Improv Comedy hacking.
Wanna be popular with the kids at birthday parties and playdates? “Yes And” helps here too, turns out all the kids love being agreed with! Get on their level with the yes and then help them make their games more fun with the “and.” Simple? Yes. If you see them all bouncing a ball, you can agree that bouncing is fun and then maybe help them try to dribble it like a basketball.
I actually can’t say enough good things about taking an Improv Comedy class yourself, I found it to be an amazing experience. But if getting up on stage is not your thing, then consider using some Improv Comedy principles to help make play time with your kids a little more fun!
* Everyone in the class wanted to be an actor except for one girl who was and still is an attorney and we have stayed friends – and I know she reads this blog and will be annoyed I lumped her into the actor category so she gets this asterisk of acknowledgment.
Alright MON, I’m back from Jamaica and tan AF. While frolicking in the ocean, I had time to digest all the information I’ve had thrown at me in recent weeks and the result is this little informational snack I made for you.
I’ve been to seven conferences, panels and lectures since the beginning of the year and while it was tiring (esp on the doubleheader day) I learned a LOT. And, I’m fired up!
5 ways to up your parenting game with the most current information in the game:
5) Neuroplasticity is so hot right now. What’s that? In short it’s a concept that the brain is malleable and always changing. Much like what you eat affects your weight, what you experience affects your brain, constantly. What’s that mean for you? A few things, for starters: talking, reading and singing to your children even as they move through the “Terrible 3’s” can do wonders for you child’s vocabulary and their intrapersonal skills. Explain their environment to them, tell them how you’re cooking their eggs, point out the Fireman and talk about Fire trucks. Narrating their big feelings for them is VITAL: “I can see you are frustrated that Billy took the doll from you, that would make me upset too, can we find a new toy? Or do you want to ask Billy if we can all take turns” while they cry after a toy is taken from them. You’re helping them put words to their feelings and move through tantrums into more productive action steps. When they get that help, their brains are able to self soothe through the tantrum and refocus on problem solving. That gets encoded into their brains as a way to solve conflict. And, the best part is because of our good buddy Neuroplasticity this tactic can (and really should) be employed at all ages because even if you start at age 5 you can still cover ground. The concept is that most issues can be over come with therapy and parenting adjustments AND that problems (for example trauma) can develop if there are adverse experiences or neglectful care.
4) Screen Time: so NOT hot right now. Remember our buddy neuroplasticity? Ol Buddy Ol Pal also works against things. This is where the ever confusing screen time topic gets science-y. There are well-funded studies correlating increased behavior problems, attention issues and increased rates of depression with exposure to lots of screen time. Yikes. We no likey. But also we all KINDA knew that, we’ve heard it before. So what’s so bad about the alphabet game with Elmo? Basically the brain is tricked into instant gratification, it gets bright colors, stimulating sounds and fun characters (aka BRAIN SUGAR) for no work at all. Even if the child is playing an “educational” game, the brain isn’t getting its workout. What does this do? Well it causes the brain to get frustrated and have a hard time with things that aren’t instantly gratifying aka being social, sitting in a classroom, eating out a restaurant etc. If it’s not fun noises and bright colors then they’re not interested.
The second problem with screen time is HOW the screen time is used. If the parent is next to the child and participating in the activity together, some of the detrimental affects can be neutralized. If you’re driving in the car and hand your kid the phone or the iPad because you don’t want to deal with them, then you’re saying to your child “you’re not important, please be quiet and invisible” and guess what, they shut up. So instead of interacting in the car and talking about their day, processing their feelings and increasing their vocabularies, they are disappearing into bright lights and fun noises and tuning out completely. Often times having dinner at a restaurant is challenging because the child demands an iPad to be quiet and the parents are too tired to fight with the child so they give in and now the child is not having a conversation at the dinner table. They’re not watching how all the adults and other children interact and picking up on social cues, they’re not increasing their vocabularies by hearing other adults talk. In short they’re being told again to disappear. The problem with this of course is, it’s harder for them to break away from the tech and back into reality and thus the cycle cycles.
That said, when you are flying you can 100% break out the iPad, whatever it takes to get through the flight! And, if you keep the iPad fresh and rarely used, it’s a great “special treat” to look forward to on flights. I’m literally typing this on the plane while my Future President is tracing letters with Elmo on our iPad Mini. And if our previous layovers are any indicator, I’ll have a nice little fight on my hands to get this iPad back from her. FML.
Concerned about screen time in your house? Take this REALLY comprehensive quiz to see if it’s a problem and then work on ways to cut back if it’s a thing. I like this quiz because it breaks down the level of ESS you might be dealing with and gives you steps to help cut back.
“In short, recognizing and addressing overstimulation and ESS from screen time can have a profound impact on mood, focus, and behavior in children, teens—and even young adults—in a matter of weeks, while restoring peace and harmony in the home.” – PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.com
3) Early Intervention: SMOKING hot right now.
It has now been proven that 90% of a child’s brain is developed BEFORE age 3. The days of “wait and see” are officially gone thanks to our friend Neuroplasticity. “Wait and see” was a popular approach of physicians up until very recently and that was a philosophy that in early childhood, most issues sort themselves out and there’s very little to be concerned about. Think: everyone is normal. What the recent groundbreaking studies have shown however, is it’s the exact opposite. Notice something that makes you question your child’s development? Get them checked ASAP. Children diagnosed with Autism for example can make remarkable gains when they receive intervention at age 2 instead of later in childhood. Gross motor concerns? Get into the physical therapist asap: the recovery is much faster and the ability to overcome the obstacle is increased significantly the earlier the child receives the therapy. This goes 700% for a child who has experienced trauma or has a high ACE score. Any foster or adoptive moms want to be on the look out for signs of trauma so they can get the kids into therapy asap. Neuroplasticity and time are our friends in all these cases.
2) Parental Mental Health: getting hotter!
For the most part the parenting community is embracing the concept of “Happy family, thriving child” and thus taking steps to ensure the family is happy. In the LA area I’ve seen an increase in child education classes, seminars and programs aimed at teaching parents skills to be effective parents. On my way to Jamaica I read an incredible book “How Children Succeed” and a fascinating study was reported on in the book. Infant rats whose moms gave them plenty of cuddles after a stressful experience were as able as their non-stressed counterparts to solve mazes and interact normally. The infant rats whose mothers were not nurturing after a stressful experience were unable to adventure out into the mazes and presented as extremely anxious. The scientists learned that the ability of the mother to soothe her offspring was a direct indicator of future “success” (I mean they’re rats so like yay successful completion of your maze!). In humans they’re finding that children who are able to connect emotionally to their caregivers in extremely stressful situations are better able to overcome future obstacles such as poor education or multiple ACE’s (adverse childhood experiences) than the children who had to experience such negative things by themselves without support. As moms and dads our role to comfort our children might actually turn out to be the most important thing we can do for them. Happy parents do this well. Stressed and overwhelmed parents obviously have a harder time being able to be emotionally available. As a Doula part of my job is to refer clients to specialists and I’ve noticed a big increase in the demand for therapists. Often times these moms and dads just want professional guidance on how to help their families thrive and their marriages remain strong. But the fact remains that helping parents be their best allows the children to operate at their maximum potential.
1) Mindfulness: so hot right now.
If you pop into any therapy office in LA right now you’re bound to hear the term “mindful” thrown around. In my experience people have a few different definitions of the term, I’ve seen it mean “to consciously check in with the world around you [ie get off the iPhone]” and I’ve seen therapists use it as a parenting philosophy wherein the parents empathize with the child first and react as adults second and then I’ve seen it thrown around the yoga studio as a lifestyle choice looking like a lot of meditating. That said, all those definitions kinda fit together anyway and regardless of which one you’re using, you’re hearing it in the LA area right now. But basically the concept is that as parents we need to be present to teach our children and connect to with them – and we simply cannot do that if we’re tagging each other in memes and watching RHOBH. And off that, mindfulness is a concept of self care – in that we as moms and dads need to be operating at our best if we’re to parent at our best and the only way to do that is to drop the phone. And if you need another reason to unplug, my chiropractor said her business is booming thanks to “Tech Neck” … yikes!
That’s what I can report back for us from my research and conferences so far this year – also don’t forget that this information grows and changes daily as more and more research is done. I can never get enough information so rest assured I’ll be attending every event I am invited to (and can find). Now if you’ll excuse me I need to find some aloe for my shoulders.
I am incredibly passionate about parents doing their own research, therefore my sources are listed below so you can have the information for your own research.
I’m always looking for ways to keep #TheHandful engaged OFF screen. Research shows children need quality time away from the screens for healthy development. I reached out to my girl at Education.com for some ideas on how to work on her fine motor skills offline. My girl came through with these great mazes that I copy/pasted for you below. Just print them out and let your Future Leader try to trace a path with a crayon or pencil. By showing them how to solve the maze you get to work collaboratively together and strengthen your connection to each other. The ones below aren’t the only mazes, just head to their website for other brain building activities for your Little CEO.
Enjoy staying warm with you children as you celebrate the snow with this Snowman Maze. For more captivating preschool activities, go to Education.com!