Category Archives: Simplicity

Thanks for the memories???

A post in honor of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month…

I was going through my pictures & came across one that made my heart do a little jump. It was of me & my son, T, cuddled together on the couch. He’s smiling sweetly. I’m also smiling, but I have a foggy look in my eye. My face is a bit puffy. 

One look at the date & time confirmed what I had guessed from the glazed look on my face: this picture had documented something I didn’t really want documented. My second miscarriage. 

Why had my partner wanted to take a picture of us that day? Why did I let him?

My smile looks like it was a compromise. As if, I was happy in that moment to be holding my son, but still overwhelmingly sad. 

Mine was a missed miscarriage, but the miscarriage had already happened by the time my partner snapped that little picture. I remember sitting on the couch that week a lot. I didn’t want to be in bed. I just wanted to sit, still & empty in our living room. 

Revisiting that time, prompted as I’ve been by that picture to contemplate my second miscarriage, has been emotional in its own right. 

It feels like it happened long ago & yet my memories are still vivid. I remember the time before, during & after the miscarriage itself. And strangely (thankfully), some of my most vivid memories are actually good ones. Like going to see the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie in 3-D (yes, we did) on Valentine’s Day with my partner & son. We also went to our favorite little restaurant & ran into dear friends. We quietly shared our news. They were sorry for us & sensitive. 

Yet, in revisiting the memories, the pain & grief bubble. The echos of emotions that are forever etched into my mind & heart. A lump comes to my throat as my eyes tear up. 

Those emotions are raw & have changed who I am today… The woman, mother, daughter, friend, sister, cousin I was has been transformed into someone more

I have my “rainbow” baby, but the depth of that hopelessness I felt (even in the moments I knew that was an irrational emotion in light of all that was good & whole in my life) cannot fail to leave scars. 

That second miscarriage challenged my understanding of the world, of myself. At the time, it was hard to believe that anything would turn out alright. 

Now, I know that I am not me without those emotional scars. I am here. I am strong.

Sometimes people remark on the age difference between my children. It’s a big gap. A gap where we thought someone else would be. But I know how these things go… If there were someone else, we wouldn’t be here. It’s easy to be okay with that now that we have the baby. But it was a painful journey nonetheless. 

If you are there now, in that hopelessness, know that you are not alone. The echoes that pain are all around you. 

Because one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. 

The commonality of the experience doesn’t make it any less painful (statistics rarely invoke emotional relief) but if one in four also speaks up, we can help ease the pain of our sisters. 

I have forced myself to be open & matter of fact about my miscarriages so that I can be a source for others. Carry the torch, my sisters. You are all strong & beautiful!

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Back to school blues

Day one; grade unknown.


I have a confession to make: I have not dropped off my son on his first day back to school for going on at least four years. I didn’t even do it when I was on maternity leave last year. 

This fact is another on my list of reasons I’m glad I’m not active on Facebook or Instagram. Because I know what it looked like a week or so ago: moms (almost always it’s moms, not dads) posting pictures of their well-dressed children, smiling & holding hand-drawn signs announcing the year their child is entering this year. 

It’s not that these photos make me feel guilty per se, it’s just that they announce, to me, a gulf in mom-ness that I will never bridge. 

Social media has entrenched a part of mom culture that I just have never connected with. It’s the sentimentality of firsts. The over sharing of our children’s images. 

This particular first (the first day of school) also has deep ties to commercialism & consumerism, which makes me run away screaming in a knee-jerk reaction. 

Don’t get me wrong, we do privately document the first day of the new school year. I’m indoctrinated at least that much. 

But also, the transition back to school is a big deal to our kid. Starting a new academic year. Getting back to his friends & not-so-much friends. His work & the structure & the routine. 

It’s such a big deal that it creates a lot of emotional upheaval at our house. 

And for that reason, I think, my son is usually not a willing participant in my attempts to capture the moment with a photo. I usually have to coax him to smile (while complaining that I’m going to be late for work). 

Our #nofilter back-to-school photo this year features my son frowning, dressed in his first-day best (picked by him after I gently explained the problem, generally, with pairing stripes & plaid…) set against a clear blue sky. I got him to smile only after reminding him how much his baby sister adores him. 

I should have foreseen this. The night before presented unexpected challenges for me as a parent. My big kid needed help. I fumbled & grasped for the right things to say, but felt like a complete failure. I could tell we weren’t connecting. 

Big kids have big problems. Some days, I have big hugs, but not big (or the right) words. Our kids of every age deserve & need our parental love, but figuring out how to deliver that love is not always self-explanatory. 

The truth is, my eight-year-old is changing so much that I am scrambling to keep up. Figuring out how he needs me is like chasing a moving target. But it’s not for a lack of trying. No. And I’ll keep trying. He needs me now more than ever. 

Whoever tells you this parenting gig gets easier as they get older is (pretty much) lying. Sure, I may not be hovering over his every move anymore, but it’s not “easier” to be his parent. 

The issues these days seem to be deeper. Which makes them more challenging in many ways. And the solutions to these deep problems require effort & planning. 

But I’m also still trying to convince him that a hug can help lessen the hurt. 

Because sometimes the right words & the solutions will take time. Hugs can help now. My partner helped me realize that. When I’m hurting, he always offers a hug, because in the absence of the right words, human contact with someone you love & trust is as close as we can get to making things better. But it’s hard to accept, even when we’re lucky enough to have someone like that available & willing to try to help ease our pain. 

Trying to convince an older child that your arms can still bring comfort, at a time when they’re starting to peel away from you as the central figures in their lives, is a tricky endeavor. I’m still trying both tactics: hugs and the right words. If I try hard enough, I have to get one right at least. Right?!

In the end, I think it’s also for this reason that I don’t participate publicly in the back-to-school frenzy (be it shopping or posting pictures on social media): My son does not need me to be an active participant in this annual upheaval. He needs me to be a stoic by-stander, ready to give him a hand as necessary. 

And so, I find this fall is the perfect time for me to reflect on how I can be a better, more gentle parent this academic year. 

P.S. We did succeed in finding the right words of support the day after the first day of school. Or, I should say, my partner plucked the right metaphor out of the air. T ended up really connecting with the image of his emotions being like a volcano, with the pressure building until they burst forth. It helped him understand that sometimes we have little control over these moments but that releasing the pressure will eventually help us to feel better. And he did feel a lot better & is now quickly readjusting to the new routine. 

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A gift of a different kind

I did finally make it out the door, laden, as usual with pumping equipment & snacks.


The morning started promisingly. I woke up just before my alarm & successfully snuck out of bed without waking the baby. 

For a second, as I descended the stairs to the kitchen, I thought to myself, “How great! I’ll get ready in no time, nurse the baby upon her waking, & be out the door early!” 

But it’s not every morning that I wake without the baby. 

My actual instinct upon entering the quiet kitchen was to tidy up. It’s the kind of productivity that’s impossible with a one-year-old on your hip or under foot. For example: an open dishwasher that invites climbing rather than emptying dishes. 

So I did what any sane working parent would do. Rather than get ready for work, I put away the clean dishes. 

Having accomplished that task & still no sign of small humans being awake, I made myself a well-deserved pot of coffee. I sat down with my steaming mug of coffee and a magazine. And I savored it all. The quiet, especially. (Incidentally, I read the new Harper’s & Seyward Darby’s new article, “The Rise of the Valkyries“, which is terrifying for any woman who has read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.)

A morning like this is a gift, and a rare one at that. 

Eventually, I gathered my things & actually started to prepare to leave for the day. Of course, at that point the baby was awake & on my lap as I tried to nurse, read M’s favorite book, and guzzle the last of my coffee. Oh, and catch up with my partner, who woke up with the baby. 

Our first attempt at nursing (& by first attempt, I mean the first conscious nursing, since we have an open milk bar all night long…) was distracted & so as I was saying my goodbyes, M unsurprisingly gave me the sign for mama milk. … Okay… Hike up my dress, adjust my non-nursing bra & we nurse. Quietly. Staring at each other in the sun-lit room. 

Then my work phone dings & buzzes. A reminder that the early birds in my office have started their work days already & a reality check that this mostly-blissful morning cannot last. Baby M wriggles in my lap, signaling she’s done nursing. I holler at my partner & I’m out the door. 

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Sarcasm in trouble 

Ancient rock for breakfast


I am snarky. IRL. On this blog. I’m irreverent & my sense of humor tends sharply toward sarcasm. 

Pro tip: kids do not get sarcasm. 

Even big kids. Like my 8 year old.

Kids (big & small) are busy making sense of this world every moment of every day. Their brains are categorizing, compartmentalizing, absorbing. It’s all so darn real & immediate. 

So sarcasm is usually lost on them. 

Except it’s not. 

Turns out my son has been observing my sarcasm quietly & taking me at my word. And I need to stop! I’ve known I need to stop forever

One recent morning, I was joking (or so I thought) with my partner, MFA Dad. I threatened to burn his toast in jest. I forgot the exchange all together, but my son did not. 

As we sat down to eat (MFA Dad’s toast perfectly done… or burned entirely by accident… I can’t remember which…) T asked me (all sincerity & seriousness) why people just can’t get along. 

Me: Huh?

T recalled for me my very recent threat to ruin his father’s breakfast. 

Me: Oh. 

So, because of my sarcasm, I’ve basically ruined my son’s sense of loving partnership & human relationships. Probably forever

I explained (& apologized for) my weird sense of humor. I tried to rehabilitate my foibles … 

Truth is, he’s 8 & he’s basically an anthropologist. He is observing human interactions. Testing the limits of love & acceptance. (He also tests this by being a complete jerk & seeking love at the same time… That’s a whole other topic…)

This morning, bleary-eyed with lack of sleep & caffeine, I almost let my snark slip as I made coffee. I caught myself. Instead, I thanked MFA Dad for helping me get ready for work. 

They both deserve more sincerity from me. Not that I’m not sincere. I have my sarcastic moments & I get more sarcastic the more I feel overwhelmed or stressed. It’s definitely a crutch. But I’m also a smother-you-with-love type of parent. Still, in the hustle & bustle of work & parenthood, I realize it is my partner who needs more random kind words. More thanks. 

I can thank T for forcing me to be more present with him & my partner.

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Life with a one-year-old (part two)

Cowgirl in motion, losing a diaper


I’ve decided to share what a couple random days in our house looks like. I mean these to be a glimpse into what attachment parenting might look like for a working* mom (or other parent, save for the nursing). I don’t think there’s any right way to be an attachment parent, so I wanted to share some of our experience, mistakes & all. 

Day #1 was actually a really nice day, despite being a bit over-busy. Day #2 looked quite different (& decidedly less idyllic), which is mainly why I decided to document a second day. 

Early morning: Baby wakes & MFA Dad takes her downstairs; apparently, he tries to wake me later, but I remember nothing…

7:30: I hear MFA Dad getting ready & realize it’s super late. I jump out of bed. It’s actually not such a big deal, because I’m working from home today & I’ll still get to work during my office’s core hours. I go downstairs & Baby M is happily playing with her big brother & Grandma, who is visiting to help with childcare. 

8:15: I’m logged in & getting to work, with coffee in hand, though I’m still in my PJs. MFA Dad is off to work. 

8:30: My mom leaves with the kids to drop my son off at summer camp. I dig in to my work & have a call with my boss about a particularly tricky case I’m advising on.

9:15: My mom returns. Baby M took a micro-nap & is really tired. I try to nurse her back down, but no dice. The hand-off to my mom is messy & baby is upset. I suggest distraction instead of fighting for the nap. She quiets down.

11:00: I have a conference call & have just finished nursing the baby. Now she’s really upset & screaming. Sometimes working from home makes things confusing for her, particularly when she’s overly tired, & today is one of those days. She screaming at her grandma, but I have to get on this call. She’s safe in my own mother’s loving & capble hands, I tell myself. I wish I could focus on her, but sometimes work has to take a priority. (That’s life for a working parent. I feel a twinge of guilt, but I know these individual moments don’t matter as much as the overall patterns of loving care this child receives from me, MFA Dad, & others.) Anyway, soon I hear my mom take the baby to her big brother’s room as a change of scenery & she immediately quiets down. I put on my headphones & dial into my conference call. 

12:15: By the time I’m off the call, the baby is sleeping. Which is a good thing, because I have a fire to put out in one of my cases. 

1:15: Baby is awake, my mom fetches her & she’s her happy self again. I nurse her, make myself some lunch, chat with my mom & get back to work. But I have to run to the kitchen for something & baby sees me & wants me again. I let my mom distract her & then I disappear. (I generally don’t like “disappearing” as a transitional tactic, but when I’m close by & ultimately available if things get rough, I think it’s ok. At least, it works for us.) 

2:30: It’s quiet & they’ve apparently left to pick up big brother from camp. They’ll run a couple errands, so I’m certain to work uninterrupted for a good stretch. I’ve been sort of productive today, but it’s a battle to be as organized & focused as possible when I’m at home—There are different distractions than there are at the office; and the distractions at home are more likely to knock me off my game if I’m not intentional about my goals & to-do list. 

5:15: Finally done working. Seems like it was a long day even though I was still in my PJs at the end. Baby is home & seems really tired, so I give her a little in-arms catnap to reconnect & decompress. 

6:00: Leftovers for dinner, thankfully! After baby wakes up, I let her play with her grandma & brother so I can shut down my work for the day. Pull together the leftovers & then MFA Dad is home! Family dinner. 

9:00: Both kids are having trouble settling down tonight. After I get baby to sleep, we have a family gathering in my son’s room as he’s having some worries about death (& what comes next). We end up distracting him by talking about the future, which he is certain will include flying cars. I lay down with him for a little while in the dark, but he crashes hard & fast. 

9:45: Baby is awake & unsettled again. She is working on walking & her sleep is disrupted & very physical these days, so it takes a while to get her back to sleep. I’m nodding off too…

Today was more challenging than yesterday. I love that I have the option to work from home a couple days each week, but I don’t like not leaving the house all day & not having a break to take care of myself (who would?!). It’s so great to be able to cut out my commute & have that extra time to spend with the kids. It also gives me the flexibility to nurse rather than pump during the work day, which is awesome! When I’m at work, though, I have a very well-honed routine to help me take good care of myself (drinking water, getting up to walk around or get a breath of “fresh” (city) air… you know, the simple things…). I’ve always been more organized at work than at home, generally, & I’m working on importing some of that structure into my (work at) home life.

* See my day #1 post for an explanation of the problems inherent with this term. For simplicity, I often use it anyway, which I don’t intend to diminish the real work primary caregivers do on a daily basis.

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What life with a one-year-old looks like in this house (part one)

Sweaty head hair flip


There aren’t too many examples out in the world of working* attachment parenting moms. At least, I think we’re woefully underrepresented in the blogosphere (do people say that anymore?!), parenting websites & books, social media, etc. So, I thought I’d post about some random days in our life. On AP mom’s play-by-play, so to speak…

Random day #1, which was pretty productive & sweet, was followed by random day #2, which was stressful & less productive. 

And that’s pretty much how we roll around here… The good & the bad, the dark & the light (for you Star Wars fans), the sweet & the challenging. In other words, (a fairly privileged, very lucky) life. Here’s a peek…

5:30/5:45-ish: Baby M wakes up, or at least starts to… She alternately flops around the bed & nurses, sometimes getting quiet & still. Foolishly, I think she might fall asleep again, but she’s awake awake. A little cranky, but sweet, too.

6:15: I’m making coffee & breakfast while she explores the pantry & tries her hand at unloading the dishwasher. No broken dishes but I shut down the operation before it gets dangerous. She’s not happy with the fact that I’ve thwarted her two preferred activities this morning. I’m half-listening to the news on the radio & for some reason keep missing the weather report. I enjoy a few sips of warm-ish coffee & quickly eat breakfast while packing up my lunch & work-related things. Mentally, I’m planning what I’ll wear since I finally caught the weather report. 

7:00: My mom is visiting & she wakes up. Then my partner, MFA Dad. I take my coffee & baby to the living room to nurse one more time. I wake up my son, show him how to use hair gel (a new experiment for him) & get myself ready. 

7:30: I’m off. I get a nice morning walk in to the train. I plug into my music (TV on the Radio today) & work on my blog. 

8:20: I arrive at work. Meetings. Email. A few minutes of meal-planning before MFA Dad heads to the grocery store. 

11:00: I pump. I’m trying to slowly cut out pumping at work now that baby is one. I have a private office & I can work while I pump, which makes me incredibly lucky, but I don’t like being unavailable for those solid chunks of the day. M is eating a lot of solid food & loves water, so we’re at a good point, I think, to transition away from bottles of mama milk. I was down to once a day; however, I just had a run-in with a clogged duct (seriously?!) & so I’m rethinking things. Extra pumping today to make sure I empty out enough since I’m just recovering from the plugged duct & still experiencing some pain. 

12:30: I’m getting over a stomach bug, too (double whammy!) & the lunch I packed is decidedly unappetizing. I usually don’t eat out (especially following gastro illness) but I need to eat. I find a place that makes broth in-house for their soups. Yum. 

1:00: It’s an afternoon of collaborating with colleagues, working with legal interns, & meeting with my clients. And some legal research. With another short pumping session mixed in.  

5:00: I’m able to punch out on time today. More blogging on the train. I didn’t bring an umbrella & it’s raining when I get off the train (so much for that weather report…) Luckily, I catch a bus. 

5:45: I’m home. M greets me outside with a big smile, a hearty wave, & so many kicks. We nurse a ton. My work dress is not nursing friendly, so I have to strip down so that we can reconnect. She’s at the acrobatic stage of toddler nursing, which is both interactive & exhausting & uncomfortable. … Dinner! MFA Dad has prepared some curried chicken in our electric pressure cooker, which my son amazingly eats with arugula & without ketchup. Baby eats it up, too, but mostly whines because we can’t get her water fast enough. 

7:00: Clean-up & our big boy accidentally knocks our precarious pile of recycling down the stairs. We laugh & stare for a few moments, because what else can you do?! He gamely helps to pick it up & I take it out to the bin. I notice the grass is long & the garden overgrown but it’s too late to do anything about it today. My mom, still visiting to help us with a patch of childcare, leaves to visit her elderly mother—definitely a sandwich generation moment for her. 

7:15: M’s short bedtime routine. A bath is nice but unnecessary every night. Our abbreviated routine consists of a couple songs, diaper change on the bed & nursing in the rocking chair. Baby seems a little unsettled tonight but she drifts off. 

7:45: I lay her down in her crib & join my partner & our oldest child for a few rounds of Pandemic, a cooperative board game. Our son goes to get ready for bed while I load my pumping gear into the dishwasher & catch up with MFA Dad for a few minutes. I read Harry Potter (Book 6!) to my son & snuggle & chat with him about his day at drama camp. He proudly tells me how he wrote a couple jokes for the script they’re preparing. We talk about the roles that might be a good fit (to help prepare him for casting excitement & possible disappointments). Lights out!

9:00: I get myself ready for bed. Oops! Baby’s awake. I rush to get through my routine. MFA Dad has her. She’s quiet but I know she’ll likely want to nurse. Sure enough, I walk in & her head pops up from his arms. We swap. She’s all over the place. Wet diaper. Still unable to settle. Some more active movement & she settles down. I try to write this blog post but fade as I rock with baby in my arms. 

10:45: Finally in bed, just in time for a lightning & thunderstorm to keep me awake. 

Fairly typical day. Non-stop, though I feel I moved only incrementally, if at all, in my work & home to-do lists. I generally find life & responsibility to be overwhelming & today was no different. But the day, as all those before it, is done. Goodnight!

* I am sometimes reminded of the rhetorical clash of language in discussions of mothers, specifically the reality that many of us get a salary from an employer & many of us get no paycheck but engage primarily in the labor of a functioning family. Others manage to arrive at a mix of the two. As many (most?) writers do, I use the term “working mom” as shorthand for those of us engaged in “outside jobbing” (even if we sometimes or always telework from home). This isn’t to suggest that those engaged in family labors do not work. It’s just that our language doesn’t have a great way to sort all this activity out. 

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Baby M is one!

Time capsule.


What a whirlwind this past year has been! I feel like Baby M has sent our lives into a tailspin. Not a scary one, but one of those controlled tailspins… Think stunt airplanes at an air show. We haven’t quite pulled up & out of the tailspin yet, but it’s coming. It’s thrilling & scary & hard & fun, all at once.  This next year will hopefully bring with it walking, less nursing, less pumping at work (!), more communication, more sleep, more laughs, more love. 

Despite the utter chaos (seriously… you should see our home…), this past year has brought so much undeserved joy. Even while I feel utterly exhausted most of the time (& sometimes completely brain dead), I know I am very lucky. Even now, sitting in bed, sick, on a Monday that would have otherwise been full of meetings & work, with M napping next to me. 

Despite the exhaustion & hard work, M’s first year has flown by. It seems like just yesterday, I went to work, a little uncomfortable with “Braxton Hicks” throughout the day, unaware of the fact that my body was gearing up for birthing the next day. Whereas my son was a full two weeks “late,” Baby M was just shy of a week “early.” So, I was surprised, to say the least, early the next morning (after telling my boss I’d probably work from home instead of coming into the office) when the midwife told me on the phone that it seemed like I was in labor (… I then told my boss nevermind… no work, just labor…)!

I still recall the details of Baby M’s birthing day so vividly. I recall my son’s tears upon seeing his baby sister for the first time. I recall her napping peacefully in my arms, so tiny. I recall remembering (so meta!) the unreal exhaustion of that first night with a newborn after having given birth. I recall my favorite outfit we dressed her in often last summer, hot in the shade of our house. I recall my my mom & mother-in-law chatting with me in our bedroom, as I recovered after the birth. 

I recall my first outing with the baby, after the grandmothers had returned home & we were alone. I remember our crazy camping trip when she was just one month old. (“We can handle this!” we told ourselves.) I remember a fall of picking up my son from school when I was on maternity leave. I remember savoring the last days of my leave, not doing anything special, but knowing those days were indeed special in their own way. 

It’s all still so fresh… How is it possible that a year has passed already?

And I’ve been back to work for over six months. (And we’ve gently moved past the back-to-work worries like bottle feeding & naps without nursing.) And I’m exercising every once in a while. And I’m still not sleeping. And I’m still not back to my beloved yoga. And maybe my partner could get baby to bed one night & I could be out with a friend. Maybe. Maybe not yet. 

My linea negra still graces my lower abdomen (albeit faintly), a reminder that my body still retains some internal memory of pregnancy & birth. Does this mean I’m still postpartum, I wonder?

The first year is in some ways the hardest & the scariest. Your former life vanishes in the blink of an eye. Replaced by a life in which you manage all you did before, just with the responsibility of caring 24-7 for the emotional & physical needs of a new person. Sometimes there’s more time, sometimes less (my days have certainly been shorter since M joined our family!), but there’s almost always more love, more joy, more heartache, more cuteness. 

Baby M has helped me to refocus on the joys of parenthood, even with my eldest. If even changing the nastiest diaper can bring some joy, why can’t all the rest? It’s not every day that your child sees the moon for the first time, but there is some of that wonder every day, especially during those first 365 days.

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