With summer well underway I want to take a moment to highlight best practices for water safety. In the last few weeks I’ve seen some unsafe choices around the water and I have to remind myself not everyone is trained in water safety. As you may remember I worked on the waterfront staff at Camp Pontiac – what you probably don’t know is that we had an EXCELLENT water safety protocol. After my interview on Lifehacker about being a former camp counselor, I was inspired to reach out to my former bosses to pick their brains about what we can do as parents to be safe this summer, inspired by their vast experiences at Camp Pontiac and in their hometowns where they also work in the water.
I wanted to know as parents what their specific pool rules were – for example in our house the rule is #TheHandful is not allowed in the water unless me or Baby Daddy have two feet in the pool. Let’s see what the masters of the waterfront have to say about best pool practices this summer. Here are some lifeguard approved rules for water safety for your family this summer.
Panel of Experts:
Steve Fein Camp Pontiac Waterfront Director for 10 summers. Trails End Camp- one summer as lake director, Certified Lifeguard
Jill Christiansen Lifeguard for 15+ years (pool and lakefront); 3 year head coach of high school boys and girls swimming. Teacher for 17 years, Masters in Special Education
Joan Warner Lifeguard and WSI at Camp Pontiac from 2002-2006, then WSI through 2008 from infancy through adults.
7 LIFEGUARD APPROVED RULES FOR WATER SAFETY 2019:
1) DO NOT OVER ESTIMATE YOUR SWIMMER’S ABILITIES AND DO NOT PUSH SWIMMERS FURTHER THAN THEIR LIMITS– unanimously agreed upon by my experts.There was a reason we swim tested EVERY person at camp at the beginning of the summer, regardless of how great they did last summer: kids forget during the school year. Do not assume your 7 year old who can swim is water safe enough for you to be on your phone or otherwise distracted. Advanced swimmers can drown too. Per Jo: “Adults get comfortable and comfort leads to laxed watches. Drowning can happen in as little as 30 seconds, which is less time than it takes for you to grab your cell phone, open Instagram, and scroll through a few stories.”
2) “NO HORSEPLAY” akaDO NOT PUSH PEOPLE IN THE POOLthis one came from Steve our head of Waterfront. This sounds like common sense, however it bears repeating as every year someone thinks it’s funny to push a person in the pool. They can hit their head, they can break their necks, they can lose their expensive iPhones … the list goes on. NO PUSHING PEOPLE IN THE POOL, it’s never funny and often times has serious consequences.
3) DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN UNDER AGE 16 INSIDE THE POOL GATE UNLESS AN ADULT IS THERE TO SUPERVISE. Why 16? At age 16 many can drive and therefore transport a friend to the hospital. Under age 16 they would have to find an adult, which wastes rescue time. I recently saw a 7 year old open a pool gate and allow three children under age 5 into the pool and all the adults were inside. I was hobbling behind on my boot screaming NO ADULTS ARE IN THE POOL and the parents all looked at me like I was crazy because they rationalized that the 7 year old can swim. COOL, what about the other three and what happens if he slips and hits his head? If he hits his head and slips into the pool, can 4 year old #TheHandful even reach the gate to open it to call for help? I just felt my adrenaline pump recounting that.
4) SURVEY THE POOL PRIOR TO ENTRY – per Jill. “ I always look at the water before entering. If I can’t see the bottom of the pool, neither can the lifeguard. The chemicals are off and I don’t get in, period! When visiting a pool with or without a lifeguard, I always look for lifesaving equipment (shepherds crook, tubes, and a phone), I also look to see who is swimming and who is not. I always go into lifeguard mode no matter where I am at or whom I am with” says Christiansen.
5) ADULTS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GET COMPLACENT NEAR THE WATER. When we are at the pool, we are all engaged (no phones, no magazines) and paying attention to what’s happening in the water – Warner advises. And our boss, Steve reminded us how he kept us vigilant at the waterfront “if all else fails, spray them with a hose” to keep their attention sharp. Fein says “constant scanning is a must”. (For the record neither Jo, Jill or I ever got sprayed for failing to pay attention.)
6) DISCUSS WATER SAFETY RULES AHEAD OF TIME: Jill and Jo both said this. Tell your kids what the rules are, tell your guests what the rules are and manage everyone’s expectations ahead of time.
7) USE SUNSCREEN: all three stressed this. In the word’s of Steve Fein “you don’t want your kid to become a s’more”.
We had amazing, safe summers at camp thanks to these rules. One rule I left out because it really pertained to a camp setting, but is still worth mentioning is the constant buddy-checks we did at camp. Every so often Steve would blow his whistle and everyone had to exit the pool and sound off on a buddy check. This was done to ensure all children were accounted for. Steve did this as often as he felt necessary to keep us all vigilant. At home, perhaps during a pool party, consider emptying the pool every 30 minutes to give swimmers a break and water watchers a chance to refresh themselves to stay vigilant.
To say this experience has been disappointing would be an understatement. If it wasn’t for my Facebook IVF Support groups, I think I might have lost my mind. If you’re going through IVF right now, go join those groups on Facebook, I got the BEST tips from those warriors – from injections to side effects to emotional support, they were more helpful than my doctor on a few occasions.
I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll start at the beginning. Immediately after getting my period following our final IUI (intrauterine insemination) my doctor’s partner (so the one I don’t see regularly) writes out a prescription for the needles and tells me I begin that Friday. I found this abrupt.
For some reason I thought there was more time between Aunt Flo and the needle show. I am also terrified of injecting myself. I ask the nurse if she can inject me that Friday and she tells me yes, but then tells me I’m still going to have to do it myself on Saturday and Sunday at the very least. Dilemma.
So I go in that Friday and have her draw circles on my body for where to inject and have her do the first one for me. SHE MIXES THE MEDS IN FRONT OF ME. At this point I am fully about to panic because I did NOT know I would be mixing THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS worth of medicine into a small vial to then inject into myself with a needle – as if I went to professional chemistry and needle jabbing school to acquire these skills. She shows me on a ball how to insert the needle into my own skin. She then injects me for real with my needle. It burns a little but it’s nothing compared to the mounting anxiety I’m experiencing about the next injection because I’ll be doing it myself. That night I couldn’t sleep because I was so anxious.
All day the next day I had a knot in my stomach. I kept staring at the clock knowing at 5pm I would have to stick two needles into my stomach. At game time I was not ready. I was very scared.
My hands were shaking too much to mix the meds so mercifully Baby Daddy stepped in to do the Walter White part. Then I did what I had to to make myself do it: I had Baby Daddy film me on my Instagram story so that I would have no choice but to follow through with it. I know that’s so weird but something about having an audience made me focus on the task and step out of the fear. So thank you because without knowing you were watching I might have totally bailed out. I stuck it in, you can hear #TheHandful say “You can do it Mommy” in the video of it. It sucked naturally but I did it. Now repeat. I won’t bore you with a week by week recap of ALL the injections I’ll just say this: you do different ones on different days and the side effects increase each day.
So step one of IVF is to harvest your eggs. I was injecting myself with a drug called Follistem to make my follicles swell. I also had to take Estrogen which gave me gnarly headaches. Once you get a good crop of follicles they knock you out and retrieve them one by one with a scary looking probe that looks like the one they do the transvaginal ultrasounds with but with a HUGE needle on top. DO NOT LOOK AT THE EQUIPMENT YOU DUMB IDIOT. After looking at the thing, I grabbed the anesthesiologist and said NO ONE IS TO TOUCH ME UNTIL I STOP TALKING and proceed to sing the ABC’s terrified that they were going to start before I was unconscious.
They didn’t. I woke up with the worst cramps of my entire life. I was pissed the doctor didn’t tell me I would be in so much pain, he told me many women go back to work after – when I had been warned via Facebook groups that this was a days long recovery. They got 14 eggs. I was bed ridden for two days and it hurt to cough or laugh or move for a week after that.
But fuck recovery, I had MORE shots to do. Now this is where things take a dip for the bad. When I was pregnant with #TheHandful I had hyperemesis gravidarum, meaning I puked all day everyday for the entire pregnancy. I begged my doctor to find any other way to do this without using Progesterone as me and Progesterone have never gotten along (one year I did birth control that was progesterone based and puked every morning that year).
I don’t last three injections. After my second dose, I begin to vomit.
I am supposed to take a ton of pills orally in the days leading up to the blastocyst transfer — AKA the day they put the embryo in me and I’d be considered pregnant until proven otherwise. I don’t stop vomiting for 7 days. Day 2 of not being able to even keep water down we call a mobile IV service to get me hydrated as I can’t even get out of bed.
We call the clinic’s emergency line and they say if I can’t get the pills down the procedure is cancelled.
Weeks of injections, pills, exams, side effects, overall discomfort to find out we can’t do the final step. And, based off of my reaction, I am truly unsure if I’ll ever do that again knowing that two injections of progesterone resulted in a week of non stop vomit.
I’m laying in bed with the IV drip thinking the worst of it’s over because they put some Zofran in my drip. Hours after the nurse leaves, the vomiting comes back. I continue to vomit continuously for days, Baby Daddy is calling out of work to care for our daughter and we wind up driving to the ER to get some Zofran.
It’s June, the transfer was scheduled for April 4th. I haven’t taken any hormones or meds since and I am still recovering from the shots. I’m still bloated, my periods are still off and I still have that “super smell” I got when I was pregnant where I can smell EVERYTHING.
If you had to do this to get pregnant you are nothing short of a warrior.
So now you know why I’ve been radio silent these past few weeks. I’ve literally been coping. I feel better now, I’m still disappointed in the outcome and the overall experience.
I do have tips and pointers for people going through IVF and I’ll post that in a more up beat post, but I know I left everyone hanging will all those injection videos on Instagram, so I wanted you all to know why they stopped.
Now that we are finally out of the closet about some of the mental health challenges we experience in our house, as well as the time #BabyDaddy needed some in-patient treatment for his OCD, I can give you all my tips!
If you are about to drop a loved one off at in-patient treatment, here are some things I have learned from this somewhat uncommon – and definitely more common than you think – experience. Your emotions might be all over the place like mine were, but perseverance is the way. One foot in front of the other, day by day and you will get there. It gets better.
5 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU DROP A LOVED ONE OFF FOR IN-PATIENT TREATMENT
5) Go. Once you’ve made the decision someone is seeking treatment, be it you or your loved one, do not delay seeking treatment. I say this from firsthand experience. Our therapist suggested he seek in-patient treatment in April, but he put off the actual start date until August. So while we were confirmed with dates, paid and everything we were still about 12 weeks out from treatment when we decided it was right for him to go. What happened between April and August nearly ended us as his anxiety and fear about actually going to treatment escalated every day we got closer to the start date.
4) Tell key people about your circumstance. You will need support especially if you are a parent. #TheHandful was about 23 months old when he went away and if wasn’t for my basketball team keeping some normalcy for me, the lonliness and isolation got very hard at times. You don’t want to white knuckle this on your own like I tried to for so long, it was very lonely and it was very annoying trying to cover up his absence with flippant “work” excuses. And from a labor stand point taking care of even one kid 24hrs a day with no break for 6 weeks is labor intensive.
3) Do NOT expect everyone you tell to react well. The night before #BabyDaddy went to treatment, we told two friends. They were the only people who knew for a while and they did not reach out to me once, did not come offer to babysit nothing, dropped like a hot potato the entire 6 weeks. That further discouraged me from asking for help. Don’t be me. Don’t let idiots pee in your lemonade, keep telling people, the right people step up and help. Hoop Star on my basketball team called me up directly and said “what is going on”. This was effective in making me brave enough to tell someone again. The second my basketball team knew about my situation I had a babysitter sent to my house the next night, paid for by my team so I could play in the game that night. I will never forget that. And sometimes chasing a ball getting bumped by sweaty, Millennial, Hollywood execs is exactly what you need to feel normal.
2) Educate yourself and know every single detail about your family member’s condition. Become the expert. I cannot stress this enough. Not all therapists know all disorders, not all styles of therapy are going to work, you need to be able to vet the therapy to see if it’s working or not and if you don’t know ERP from CBT to DBT, then how are you going to challenge the therapist when it’s not working. How will you know when to move on and when to persevere. Become.The.Expert.
1) Don’t expect the facility to be perfect OR to educate you. I was shocked on family weekend when I came to visit #BabyDaddy that the entire experience was about his condition all while telling me I’m the most vital component to his recovery. HOW ABOUT A MANUAL FOR ME THEN?! Nope sorry we only treat the “identified patient”. What’s that? That’s #BabyDaddy in this instance. Don’t go in there expecting them to do anything other than further explain what the identified patient is experiencing. They did not to sit there and point out the ways in which I enable him, they just told me not to enable him. In our case OCD was the minority of cases at the treatment center, the majority were people experiencing various forms of BPD, so the focus on all the lectures was BPD not OCD so much. Another frustrating thing as his advocate and partner. See #2 about making yourself the expert, this was very useful during visiting day.
This may have read as kind of a downer but here is what I can tell you. IT CHANGED OUR LIVES. Treatment works and here is how I know this. One of the most stressful life experiences is moving and they warned us not to make any changes to his life for the next year post treatment. A week after he left treatment and might have even still been in out-patient treatment, our landlord wanted his house for repairs so when our lease ended which was that month, we had to find a new place. A week out of treatment and we need to move and while that normally would have sent him into a spiral, he was able to use his skills from the center to keep everything together and do what it took for the move. This never would have happened without the treatment center.
Further proof treatment works is he came out on a podcast and told everyone in the universe that he has OCD, Tourettes Syndrome and some ADHD. This was something he was deeply ashamed of prior to treatment, something he took great pains to hide. Now he’s an advocate, speaker and activist for OCD. The change would not have been possible without treatment. His courage inspires me and reminds me everyday I made the right call when I dropped him off at the residence and drove off in tears not knowing what the future would look like.
The people who step up will surprise you, the people who disappear will too, but you will forge through because this is something you can actually attack. I am your safe space if you want to tell me your stories and I am your advocate if you need help getting treatment. I am here, I’ve been there and I promise the future can be happier. And, if you know someone who is in my shoes, acts of service go a long way to making them feel less isolated and alone. They may not feel like talking about things but they definitely could use help.
Los Angeles readers, we will be walking to support the IOCDF, the International OCD Foundation on June 1stat De Anza Park. We would love to see you there! Austen, see you in a few weeks for the IOCDF Convention!
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!