Focusing on the best

“Loving”—A reminder of my son

A mere 4 1/2 years ago (oh, where does the time go?!), I shared the parenting motivation that helps to keep me on my game. That motivation comes from Scott Noelle at The Daily Groove. Noelle’s format has changed a bit since then, but he still sends out nuggets of gold a couple-few times a week. Sometimes, I’m too lazy or busy to read the emails, but thankfully my partner (MFA Dad) will forward to me the ones that are resonating with our current parenting challenges. 

This morning he sent me one called “The Power of Attraction.” In it, Noelle suggested writing a reminder on your hand of one characteristic of your child that you “really, really adore and appreciate.” I chose “loving” because my son’s big heart is so endearing. At least, it is when I stop to allow him to fully express his loving nature, including both his capacity & need for love. 

The idea of Noelle’s experiment is to think about this particular attribute often throughout the day & observe how it affects your interactions. Noelle writes:

“Psychologically, attraction means you can focus on certain things, and your mind will ‘pull’ matching thoughts and conditions into your awareness and experience. …

“Can you see how, through your intentional focus, you created (attracted) that experience?”

I enjoyed thinking about T’s loving nature throughout the day, especially as we were apart for most of it. These days I have to admit that I am often rushed with him, as the baby’s needs are so urgent & ever-present. This experiment has forced me to (re-)create some space for him, which he deserves. 

And guess what? It worked! We had a delightful & playful evening. 

I find myself wanting to do this for MFA Dad, too! And even baby M. 

Try it!

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Filed under Attachment Parenting, Gentle Discipline, Living, Mothering, Parenting, Partnership, Read, Simplicity, Working

Sick days & teething 

I hate having to take sick leave. I usually have my next day planned (at least mentally) before I leave work. (I am much more organized at work than at home…) So to take unplanned leave means that the momentum of the work week comes to a screeching halt. I don’t like it!

Not to mention being sick. Or caring for a sick, miserable child. 

But I’ve had to call in sick at least three times since coming back to work from my maternity leave. (Can we come up with another name for “maternity leave” when it’s unpaid by either government or employer?! “Self-funded maternity leave” sounds a little too posh when you’re using your own hoarded vacation & sick leave plus unpaid FMLA leave…) 

Sleeplessness does not a strong immune system make. 

But after a busy birthday weekend with out of town visitors, a sleepover, merrily screaming boys, and a teething baby nursing all night, getting a little bug was weirdly just what I needed. 

I was forced to rest. To lay around and do nothing but nurse the baby as necessary. To sit & watch her roll & scoot around the floor. To lay down for bed at 7:30 pm. 

I haven’t slowed down like that in a long time. Since just after giving birth? 

I needed that. Even if I was feeling icky. Even if I am now once again standing on a crowded train on my way to work. Even if there will be a lot of catching up to do at work. 

But baby is still wanting to nurse all night. Maybe I’ll try to go to bed at 7:30 again tonight! Yeah, right…

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Life after loss & the “rainbow” baby

What might have been…


I had a dream the other night about losing a small infant. It was not a sad or scary dream, though it was bizarre & jarring. 

I feel certain this dream was about “Twin A,” who we lost over a year ago during my pregnancy with M (who is thriving!). Both of my kids were in my dream, so the loss was of someone else entirely. 

And suddenly, I find myself emotional about that loss again. It’s a grief I haven’t let myself feel since we found out what had happened. But now, over a year later, a beautiful rainbow baby in my life, I am again sad that my twin pregnancy ended up as a singleton pregnancy. 

I often tell people (when it comes up…) that I had 3 miscarriages. Truth is, it was really 4. It’s just that the last one was, thankfully, hidden in an otherwise healthy pregnancy. It’s weird that I’m just now realizing that or, at least, doing the math.

And perhaps because of the successful singleton pregnancy, I didn’t get the closure I’d had with my other miscarriages. There was no physical sign. Nothing to bury in the small memorial garden. I was, for good reason, preoccupied with the health of “Twin B,” aka M. 

But now it’s as if my soul (or my subconscious, at least) is crying out. It’s telling me with this dream that I am in a safe place now & I can grieve what might have been. 

The truth is that for me, the twin loss was in some way more difficult than the others. Whereas with the singleton losses I hadn’t done any mental planning beyond the vague dreaming of early pregnancy, it took a lot of mental effort to just wrap my brain around the fact that I was pregnant with twins at the beginning. 

I thought about birth. I thought about three car seats in a Toyota Corolla. I thought about sleeping arrangements. Breastfeeding. School expenses. 

I thought, happily, how we’d be thrust into life as a family of five. I’ve secretly wanted three children for a long time & this was my way to achieve that without having to get my partner’s consent. I was secretly overjoyed. 

Now, I’m certain that ship has sailed. And perhaps as a mental safety mechanism, I didn’t really allow myself to think about that until now. I had to remain focused on growing & then caring for the one healthy baby who would become my sweet M. 

So, no more babies. No more miscarriages. 

I have to say, while I find myself occupying a space of unexpected sadness & disappointment right now, I am relieved that we will not walk in that heartache again. At least, not in the present. I still feel scarred & that is quite enough. My whole family would agree, I’m sure. MFA Dad is still touched in his quiet way. T knew about one miscarriage & is still emotional about it at unexpected times. 

The truth is, even though I might idealize a third child, another full-term pregnancy, another birth-day, getting there might include the sort of life-shattering heartache that we experienced in getting to baby #2. I don’t think I’m willing to walk that road again, as joyful as all the rest is. There is something to be said for being happy with what one has. And I am. 

So, I will allow myself to grieve. To get teary-eyed at unexpected moments. To be an enigma to my partner while I talk about Twin A again after a year’s silence. 

And then, when I am ready, I will find a way to commemorate that loss—all of my losses—& compartmentalize that phase of my life. I will “move on.” (I’ll also probably write about it!)

I don’t know what “moving on” looks like beyond not dwelling. Perhaps “moving on” is not the right term because moving on is literally impossible. I am a changed, deeper, better person. All I can do is pick up from a new starting point… allow the pain of loss & miscarriage to fade softly. 

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Mother-Anniversary #8

Sorta-still-life with a seven year old & an infant


I try to contemplate my journey as a mother every year around the time of my son’s birthday. I had a two-week wait between his guess date & the day he actually arrived. I spent those two weeks in quiet contemplation. A lot of solo (& very slow) walks. I thought about birth & I thought about impending motherhood. I like to think of those two weeks as my slow transformation to motherhood before the wild awakening. 

This is the first year I get to write this annual post as a mother of two. 

I’m letting that sink in (for myself), as I wasn’t so sure a year ago or two years ago that I’d ever get to say that. And three years ago, I was pregnant for just the second time, though that pregnancy would end in a missed miscarriage. 

But here I am. Here we are. Eight years after I crossed over in that so-sudden way from not-mother to mother. And the not-mother in me is starting to fade from my memory & my identity. I still have my own independent identity, but as my son grows & ventures more & more into the world, it seems that I identify more strongly as his mother, not less. 

Of course, he’s less physically attached to me (though I relish the brief moments he slows down enough to cuddle with me) but he is still very much attached emotionally, in a way that requires me to be ever more keen to his needs. 

And so, the mother-me keeps growing & changing & trying to adapt. I still fail often. But I am confident in this little family that we have all worked so hard to build. There are moments where I glimpse its vulnerabilities. And I realize how much work there is still to do. 

My own independent actions & words seem to carry even more weight these days. Children are sponges from infancy, but now my eldest consciously understands so much more. 

The baby has made a big difference in my parenting. I enjoy parenting her almost every moment. I’m not as nervous as I was when T was a baby & I was new to it all. And, so, I know I can enjoy parenting my older son almost always. The baby reminds me of that. 

His challenges are opportunities for me to reflect on what it means to be a child. We are now firmly in the age of my own memories. I know what it was like being 7 going on 8. I remember the joys & the difficulties & the weirdness & the excitement.

We are together. Now.

He deserves to be happy being who he is today. My daughter, too. Me, too. 

We’re not always happy. Sometimes I lose my shit. After our latest confrontation, I was sulking (angry-guilty) & my son excitedly told me what he does after he’s upset. He just forgets about it, he said. He throws it out of his mind & moves on. It’s true—He does this often & it’s remarkable. He takes the bad thoughts out of his mind like Dumbledore & his penseive. 

I tried it & it works. 

Of course it does. Children have this whole “being alive today” thing figured out. So, what have I learned in these eight years of mothering? Sometimes I need to shut up & listen to my kids. 

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Filed under Attachment Parenting, Gentle Discipline, Living, Miscarriage, Mothering, Parenting, Simplicity

Miscarriage issues in the news

The New York Times has just published a lovely visual story on miscarriage. Everything Jessica Zucker writes in the piece rings true to my own experience with pregnancy loss, from her description of the deep grief to the more mundane (“On top of losing a baby, now I have to lose weight, too.”)

I love this best: 

After miscarriage, the body grieves. Depending on the length of pregnancy the body may continue to look pregnant after it’s not. Living in a no-longer-pregnant body —longing to be, looking like you are—is a complex aspect of pregnancy loss that gets lost in conversations surrounding grief.

This was definitely part of my experience. While I was not at the point where my pregnancy was outwardly obvious when I lost my pregnancies, my body already looked pregnant to me. Body image issues were confusing & confounding. 

Also, be sure to find Jessica Zucker on Instagram (@ihadamiscarriage) to see other brace women share their stories of loss & infertility. 

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Loving my job(s)

(NB: I don’t usually get political on this blog & I don’t intend to go on any lengthy political rants that don’t relate to parenting or maternity leave, but I have to say… I wrote this post 2 weeks ago & since the inauguration, the current administration has made my day-to-day job very challenging & frustrating. What a difference a day makes! Still, the sentiment in this post is generally still true, so I’ve decided to publish it as is. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up…)

I’ve returned to work. But with the winter holidays, I’ve actually only had a couple of full weeks back on the job. 

There’s no doubt about it, it’s hard to be away for these long days. Commuting + a full day’s work… The hours add up. But…

I’m glad to be back to my work as an attorney. 

There. I said it. 

I am an attachment parenting mom & I don’t feel guilty about leaving my baby to pursue my career. 

Oh, sure, I have worries, but those are limited to the day to day sort. Will I pump enough milk? (Yes, Baby M is taking a bottle!) Will MFA Dad overbundle her in her car seat? Will the babysitter drop her? (There I have to be honest… She’s fallen once from a low chair & that was on my watch.) Will Grandma give her too much milk?

I don’t worry about the long term… Will she somehow be damaged because I left her for the office? Will we not be attached? 

No, those worries are silly. Not only is there no use in worrying about those things (my return to work was inevitable for a number of reasons, not least of which is because I love it), they are simply unfounded. But the main reason I think worrying too much is uncalled for is this:

Babies are remarkably adaptable. 

If they are safe & surrounded by at least one loving adult, they can thrive. If this weren’t the case, adoption would always be a failure. All children with working moms would be damaged because their mothers work. This simply isn’t the case. 

I read the lovely book Our Babies, Ourselves while I was on leave & one of the interesting findings that Meredith Small discusses is that while for many mammals immediate attachment to the mother is necessary for the infant’s survival, that is apparently not the case for human infants. Sure, there’s oxytocin, the famed “love hormone,” that can help facilitate a connection between mother & child, but babies have wily ways of convincing just about any adult to form an on-going attachment with him or her. Because survival. Maybe because historically childbirth was dangerous enough that our species planned for maternal death in infancy. 

Whatever the reason, the point is that babies are adaptable. 

We should be gentle with them. Easy with transitions. Meet their (prehistoric but very real) needs. But they are adaptable & forgiving. 

Women subject themselves to far too much hand-wringing on account of the working mom “dilemma.” It should not be a dilemma. Work if you need to or want to. Stay home if you want to & can. No matter what, make sure your child is attached to his or her caregiver, even if that’s not you at the moment. 

Now, there are many things to get in our way & that’s where the focus should be. 

Affordable, quality childcare is hard to come by. Many families do not have access to quality care outside of the family. 

Maternity leave is non-existent for most women, forcing new mothers to return to work before they’ve physically recovered, let alone bonded fully with baby. 

I was lucky by American standards. 

Eeking out a 5-month maternity leave as an attorney in the USA was no small feat & I appreciated every moment I spent with my new daughter. Forgoing vacation for 3 years to squirrel away every possible hour (in itself a luxury & lucky choice) & tightening the budget so I could supplement with unpaid leave was worth it for me. It shouldn’t be this way, but, America. I didn’t have to go back to work at 3 weeks postpartum (which should literally be a crime).

I’m not trying to be Polyanna-ish about working with an infant at home. There are challenges. My brain is fried by the end of a work day. I have zero time to take care of myself during the week. (Some would say showering is relaxing, but let’s be honest… I only take micro showers these days so my clients & coworkers won’t fear being near me!) When I have to be in the office, I barely get to see Baby M: I leave as she’s waking & come home just in time for bed, more or less. And that doesn’t feel good. 

But overall, it’s good to be back. And I’m ok with having two jobs again!

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My dream workplace…

I realize that breast milk storage bags likely have space for a name for use in hospitals, but I can’t help imagining a workplace where there are a bunch of bright, working moms supporting each other in work & in life. Having intellectual conversations & political discussions & chatter about babies. And coming together to take care of business collaboratively. And pumping. Lots of pumping. With a fridge full of pumped breast milk… requiring use of that name line, naturally. 

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