The Chair

Crib, check. Changing station, check. Closet organizers, check. We went down the Babies R Us list line by line and scanned away with a determination that couldn’t be quantified. I am a checklist person and this was the ultimate experience. I had scoured the internet and collected advice on must-have’s and don’t-waste-your-money’s to create a comprehensive list of items we would register for. I checked out reviews and price matched on line. All that was left was to pick that final piece of furniture for her nursery.
Rocker or Glider? Ottoman or no?
I sat in at least ten different options, waddling my pregnant self down the row in the back of the store. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, imagining rocking that new bundle of joy. This one didn’t have enough head support. I put my legs up on the ottoman and glided back and forth. That one made my butt slide down when I used the foot rest. I sat in a large arm chair style glider and pretended I was holding a book. This one doesn’t have high enough arm rests. We ended up at a cream cushioned white glider with a rocking foot rest. I sat down, put my arms on the arm rests and imagined holding my sweet girl while nursing her. The arms were perfect. I could clearly see the nights I would stay up with her when she got hungry. The head rest allowed my head to lean to the side a tad in case I fell asleep rocking her. This was the one.
My parents so lovingly ordered our newly chosen glider online and set it up in the nursery as a surprise for us. It fit perfectly. We placed baskets of books on either side for bed time stories and we were ready. Everything we needed to welcome home baby was set up. We could do this.
In the following 2 months I would go into her room and sit in that glider. I spent so much time just relaxing, rocking, and looking around. I could perfectly see myself holding her; nursing her. This chair was going to hold such amazing memories. I was going to learn every tiny inch of her beautiful face and she would listen to my heart in this chair.
My Dr. suggested some classes, and I attended, notebook in hand. We went over all the benefits of breastfeeding and I learned so many tricks. We talked about freezing breast milk and how long you could store any extra.
They tell you all about how to handle an excess of production, but they never tell you what it’s like when your body simply won’t cooperate. I didn’t believe it when the lactation consultant, who had fought our pediatrician for 2 weeks so that I wouldn’t have to supplement, finally caved and told me it was time to break out the formula. This didn’t make sense. I was prepared. I went to the class, I knew all the secrets. I had the chair.
Rather than a relaxing and loving time in the glider to nurse baby, like you see in the ads, I had a routine that consisted of nursing for 15 minutes on each side, then pumping for another 20 minutes, while bottle feeding for the balance of her needed calories. I set up shop in the corner of our couch where I could watch TV and distract myself from what I considered my failings as a new mom. I had my pump, covers, extra flanges and bottles and some rags. This was business.
Whenever I would walk into her nursery, that chair was there. It stared at me. That damn cream cushioned glider that was supposed to hold so many sweet memories had now become a symbol of moments lost. I found myself avoiding even looking at it because of what it represented.
By the time I stopped pumping at 6 months, we were at about 25% breast milk per bottle with the balance being formula and I had exhausted all options, tips, and tricks. I had started using the glider to rock her at night with a bottle so she would be asleep before going into her crib. Slowly but surely I found myself more “in the moment” for her night-time bottle. I would watch her eye lids get heavy with each rock back and forth. I watched her little chest rise and fall as she drifted off toward the end of the bottle. I would brush the hair off her face after putting her pacifier in her mouth. I already knew every little inch of that amazing little girl’s face but I realized that there was still so much to notice and I hadn’t even started.
My husband and I unintentionally fell into a routine where I would hold her with a bottle and he would sit on the ottoman, my legs on his lap, and he would rock us both back and forth while he read a bed time story.
It must have been about two months into the routine that it hit me. She had almost finished her bottle, her daddy rocked us back and forth (bed time story finished) and I sang our night-time song. All of a sudden, my eyes filled with tears. I realized that this chair which had, for months, been a reminder and symbol of how I put my daughter at a disadvantage, had actually been intended for something completely different from the beginning. It was never meant for stolen moments in the middle of the night for the two of us. It was meant to bring our family together every evening before bed; to surround this precious little package with love and support on a daily basis; to let her know from the beginning that she would always have her mommy and daddy by her side.
I sit in that glider almost every day when I get home from work and I watch her play with the toys in her room. She brings me a book and shows me a stuffed rabbit. We make noises back and forth at each other. Sometimes we clap if one of the cats runs through and she gets excited. I spend as much time in that chair as I can because it is a different kind of reminder now. It is a reminder that my daughter’s life will not be dictated by the things that happen to her, but by the people that surround her. Her abilities in life will not be decided by the fact that she is a formula baby, but by the fact that she is loved and cared for from the bottom of our hearts. Her life will be shaped by the moments we spend rocking in her room.
I love that damn chair.
Disclaimer: I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of losing a child or the struggle of raising a child with mental and/or physical difficulties. I know that I am truly blessed to have a healthy little girl and that there are things MUCH harder as a mother than not begin able to breast feed. I am in no way insinuating that my struggles should even be cast in a similar light to those that many other mothers face.

Natural Home Pesticides

Since we have an adventurous two and half year old, who likes to lick EVERYTHING, I have embraced more natural methods and solutions to resolving various pest invasions.

Thankfully, the internet is full of tried and true suggestions, with comments to boot.

Here is what worked for our fruit fly invasion:

We used the Apple Cider Vinegar solution featured on this blog.

For ants, we are trying a few various things, but a family member did the Powdered Sugar & Baking Soda solution featured on this blog.

On Being a Bad Feminist

Seven months ago I gave birth the most beautiful baby girl that has ever existed (maybe I’m a little biased…). I had an uneventful pregnancy where I gained less than 20 pounds, in a healthy fashion, was wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans with a “belly band” two days after coming home, and hit my pre-pregnancy weight at around 2 months without doing anything special (seriously… I am NOT an exerciser). My little girl was healthy, I was feeling good, and then it happened. The unthinkable. Today, a woman who sees me on a semi-regular basis exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! Are you pregnant with another one!?”

*Blink Blink*

I had no idea how to respond. The world froze and I just stood there for what seemed like forever. Thankfully my smart ass survival reflexes saved me and in what was actually a matter of seconds I replied, “Nope, this is still the last one… just hangin’ around.”

Did that just happen? Did another woman – another mother for God’s sake – just ask me the one thing that you are NEVER supposed to ask someone? Good Lord, do I look pregnant?

I spent the rest of the day feeling like a cloud was just sort of hanging over my head. All of sudden, this issue of baby weight which I thought I had skillfully eluded was following me like that cloud in an animated anti-depressant commercial. I reasonably decided that I simply wouldn’t eat more than 500 calories a day until it was obvious that I was, in fact, NOT pregnant. Thankfully the idiocy of that idea became very clear once lunch time rolled around and I was hungry. I went through the rest of the day fighting how I would deal with this. The feminist in me was screaming, “Why yes, my body has changed a little since having a baby and even though I weigh the same, my tummy hangs a bit now. And by the way, this body just built a human being. This body just spent nine months providing for and literally building another person. So I love this body and every flabby part of it!” Because that’s what you’re supposed to say, right? That’s what all the parenting magazines and mommy blogs and supportive articles tell you. Don’t stress about getting your body back right away; every stretch mark is a reminder of that bundle of joy; love each little thing that has changed about you after pregnancy because you were part of a miracle.

But is that really fair? Is it really that easy? We have spent  our entire pre-pregnancy lives being sold this idea of beauty. We are constantly taught what is good enough and what isn’t and even though we fight it, that image is programmed into us hundreds of times a day and after a full day of work and a baby, I’m just too damn tired to fight that image. The reality is that I’m simply not strong enough to love every stretch mark, value every pound, and revel in the new shape of my body. But my little girl deserves better. She deserves a mommy who can raise her with the example of something different. She deserves for me to find a way around this.

So as I stood in the shower contemplating how I would tackle this problem, I thought about all the things in my life that were different since having that beautiful bundle of joy: My body (as previously discussed), my marriage (stronger but still different than before), my sex life (very enjoyable, even if a little slower), and other countless things. I began to realize that all these things had something in common. They are in transition. None of them are stagnant. The bad, the good, the things that are neither – they are all transitioning to something different.

My body is different than before and that has nothing to do with what I eat or how often I do or don’t exercise. It has everything to do with the fact that I spent 9 months giving my daughter everything I had and then spent the last 7 months continuing to do that. My body is in transition; it is in recovery. I may not be able to look at myself in the mirror and be happy and in love with what I see, but I can recognize and understand what I see and that is an ever-changing, tired but happy, body in transition. My transition and recovery may take longer than yours, or it may be quicker – but it doesn’t matter. We all recover at our own pace. Right now I’m choosing to recover by spending my free moments with a laugh that melts my heart – and that’s a body I can love when I look in the mirror.

My little secret

I’m a very private person.

I’m not an introvert and I don’t find it hard to communicate my feelings (just ask my husband). But when it comes to the outside world, I’m a very private person. I don’t have a Twitter account, snap chat freaks me out, I have no idea how to ‘insta’ something, and my Facebook is void of check ins at restaurants, constant updates on my life, and has very few photos of my baby girl.

I’m a very private person, but there is something you need to know about me. There is something so personal that the thought of sharing it with the world makes me cringe, but I have to do it. It needs to be said.

I can’t breastfeed.

It’s not that I don’t want to and it’s not that I haven’t tried. I have done everything I possibly can while (barely) maintaining my sanity, but I can’t breast feed and it’s none of your damn business.

But it needs to be said. Not enough people say it. Too many women hide in fear that they will be judged for pulling out a bottle in public and mixing up that forbidden powder.

I’m a very private person, and I don’t share a lot with people, but this needs to be said.

There are these magical women who seem to be blessed with enough milk that they could feed their own baby, plus mine, plus yours, and still have milk shooting across the room until they slap their breast to make it stop (like my own mother). And no matter how understanding those women may be (because not everyone is a judgy mc-judgerson), they will never be able to truly know what it feels like to open that circular plastic lid and peel back the foil seal for the first time, and know that you can’t provide for your child.

But I do.

They won’t ever have any idea how much time a person can spend researching different medications that may or may not be fda approved. They probably have no idea which Canadian pharmacies will ship to the US and if they require a prescription.

But I do.

While those lucky women might choose to pump so they can have a reserve of milk, they have no idea how much of a science experiment you can feel like when you have to hook up to that damn machine every time your alarm goes off just so you can maybe squeeze out 2/5 of what your child needs, only to add formula to it.

But I do.

They have no idea what it is like for a mom who can’t breastfeed when people ask how old your baby is only to follow it up with the very personal question of ‘And you’re breastfeeding, right?’. They will never understand how you truly contemplate lying because you don’t want to have to explain that you have a brain tumor which inhibits your milk production, or your baby’s latch was so bad you bawled every time she ate (which by the way, you put off for as long as you could because her hungry cry was nothing compared to the thought of that excruciating pain), or because she was in the NICU for a few weeks and your body didn’t respond to the pump, or any number of other reasons. They have no idea what’s it’s like to want to scream it’s none of your damn business.

But I do.

And some of you do too.

And it doesn’t put us in some special club of moms who are better because we struggle but keep going. It doesn’t make us more dedicated to our child than a mother who couldn’t keep trying to breastfeed and it certainly doesn’t make us more loving than a mother who chose formula from the start. It doesn’t mean that we need people to feel sorry for us. It simply means we can understand each others struggles. Not enough people talk about it, and that’s the only way to make it feel even a little bit better.

You are still a great mom.

Putting my feet up

Things got a little scarier with my pregnancy. Two or three weeks ago, after a frightening and stressful 24 hours where we thought we might have lost this baby girl (but we didn’t! whew!), we decided my feeble attempts at fumbling around trying not to lift RJ and trying to take things a little easier (and yet still somehow take care of the kid by myself 12 hours per day) were just not going to cut it. In swooped my AMAZING parents to help, as always. RJ and I are spending 3 (or more!) days a week at Nana & Pappy’s house, where I’m getting around-the-clock childcare, home-cooked meals and all sorts of love and support so that I can keep my feet up as much as possible. Mr. E is also working from home one day per week and has officially taken the role as “default parent” on the weekends. And we’ve hired a sitter to help me with the one remaining day in the week. I’m not on official bed rest, but I’m probably not on my feet for more than a combined hour per day. Are we being a little over cautious? Maybe. I really don’t know. But I do know that if we lost this baby I’d regret not doing everything we could to keep her here safely. So I’m going to proceed in a way that will leave no room for regrets. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband and parents who can help me do that.

And thus, my former, crazy, chaotic days watching a very energetic, almost-2 year old have given way to long, drawn-out, boring days laying around on the couch. It’s kind of a shock to the system! At first, I was a big ol’ cranky pants about the whole thing like: “ZOMG I’m soooo bored” and “Wahhhh! I can’t take care of my own son!!!! I feel so worthless!” and “Booohoooo, I can’t cook or clean or do dishes or — wait a minute — why am I complaining about this?” This is kind of a sweet deal. Mandatory vacation??? I can sit around and let everyone take care of me and I don’t have to feel guilty about it because it’s FOR THE BABY!?  Alright. Bring it. Mission Lazy-Pants has officially commenced! I got so lazy I even stopped posting on my blog. And then I realized I can do that from a semi-reclined position. So yeah, I’m back.

So what am I doing all day? I spend a lot of time (TOO MUCH TIME) on facebook and online forums, etc. I still manage some quality time reading books with RJ or lying on the floor while he whacks me with his toys. My parents are excellent at finding ways for me to still be productive. Last week I spent an hour or so in their La-Z-boy making mini pie crusts for some dessert my mom is preparing for Thanksgiving. And the week before that they had me laying on the couch shucking a bucket full of dried beans.


I know. This thrilling life I lead. It was so exciting I felt the need to document it with a photo.

This week I plan to make homemade christmas ornaments. Stay tuned for photos of that! Hopefully they’ll be a little more exciting than the dried beans.

The great news is that there was already much improvement during my last ultrasound (after one full week of Mission Lazy-Pants) so I’m hoping these restrictions won’t last the entire pregnancy. It’s nice to take it easy for a bit, but it’s a challenge for everyone who’s had to pick up the slack for me. And it’s not easy on RJ either. Every time he yells “UP! UP! UP!” at me and starts crying when I tell him again that I can’t pick him up, I start to tear up myself. It’s indescribably frustrating to not be able to fulfill such a simple wish from my son that used to provide both of us such comfort.

I suppose it’s just the first of many sacrifices RJ will have to make for his new little sister. Poor kid. At least while we’re spending all this time at Nana & Pappy’s house, he’s learning some great new skills. Like how to drive Pappy crazy by turning on all the electric blankets in the house. And how to play to his grandparents’ heartstrings to get more time in front of the TV, or to get more catsup with his dinner. And how to use the doggy door to get in and out of the house.


Silver lining, you have been found!


Thanksgiving Baby

In April, I lost a baby that was due on Thanksgiving Day.

pregnancy loss ribbon

I’ve written a post about reaching a miscarried baby’s due date before. And I wrote about my first three miscarriages here. But I have never written about my most recent miscarriage, and I want to take a moment to do that as we hit its due date. This baby was conceived very quickly after my third miscarriage. It was conceived days after a potential diagnosis was made regarding my three previous miscarriages and after a solution had been discussed with my doctor to make sure we didn’t lose the next one. With that positive pregnancy test came so much hope. I was still grieving the tiny baby we’d buried less than two months earlier. But now that we had identified a problem, and come up with a solution, and become pregnant so quickly, with a baby due on Thanksgiving Day, no less, we were incredibly hopeful and even a little cautiously excited.

Less than three weeks later, at my first appointment, we were told the pregnancy was not viable. I lost it a few days after that, naturally, at home, as I had done with the others. I wasn’t far enough along to pass any visible remains, so there was no burial or closure as with the loss preceding this one. But as I’ve done with all of my lost pregnancies, I bought a charm to remember that tiny spark of hope that lived inside of me for a very short time.

This Thanksgiving Day, I can’t help but remember that pregnancy. The hope it brought us, and the devastation we felt when we lost it. I can’t help but remember how gutted I was that the diagnosis we’d thought we’d found was obviously not correct, since the solution had not kept our baby alive. I wondered what was wrong with me, and why the doctors couldn’t figure it out. I wondered if we’d ever bring another baby home.

I sobbed for hours after that doctor appointment. But my tears dried up surprisingly quickly. Within days I was back to normal life, mentally moving on to “what’s next”. I remember feeling that I’d somehow bounced back quickly compared with my other losses. I thought perhaps I was becoming accustomed to this pain, after so much experience with it. I was wrong. In the months following our fourth loss, I found more anger inside of me. More bitterness. I wasn’t getting “better” at dealing with this pain, I was just developing more unhealthy defense mechanisms against it. I didn’t cry as much as I used to over my situation. Instead, I held my emotions more closely. I was more guarded. I was more afraid to hope for another healthy child. Staying optimistic and positive seemed like a dangerous and careless choice.  I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to turn into someone whose pain made them a closed-off, angry, bitter human being. But that’s a process. It’s a constant fight against a very strong urge to close up to the world and hate every happily pregnant woman or new, love-sick parent.

On that baby’s due date I’m also reflecting how far we’ve come. A 100% for-sure diagnosis was made. Months of fertility treatments were endured in order to take advantage of a special testing that could give us a baby who would live. A healthy baby girl was conceived from that process. And now I’m just over a week away from carrying her into that elusive second trimester.

This Thanksgiving, yes, I am still a grieving Mama. I’ve lost four very wanted babies and that will always stay with me in some way. I fight daily against the pessimism that presses in on me, making me feel like the healthy pregnancy I’m carrying now can’t possibly last. But at the same time, I am filled with gratitude. I am appreciative of all six of my pregnancies. I am thankful for the miracle of science, PGD, that made this healthy baby girl I’m carrying possible. I’m grateful for the family and friends that supported us through this, for my husband and our strong marriage, for my son, for our privileged life, for our health, for the peace we live in as a country and the freedom we enjoy. This journey has given me an ugly bitterness to fight through. But it has also given me the gift to see our life and fortune more clearly. I see and feel every amazing thing in our lives more strongly now than ever before. There is something about loss, that reminds you of what you have and how easily it can be taken away from you. There is something about struggle, that makes you more grateful for the things given to you. This Thanksgiving, more than ever before, I’m overwhelmed with an appreciation for the life and love that surround me. So perhaps, through all this struggle, I’m growing, too.

White Girls

As a blonde, white, green eyed woman, the term “white girl” drives me a little batty.  Those lists of basic white girl characteristics or top 10 white people lists get under my skin.  I hate being put into a teeny, tiny check box.  So, if that little categorization of my “type” hits a nerve, imagine what decades or centuries of unflattering characteristics or generalizations does to your psyche.

I am a little anxious about putting this all out there as likely there are still areas I need to improve my own biases and judgments. But, if we want to have a conversation as a society about racism, let’s put it all out there… What I am about to write about is uncomfortable, provocative and offensive but I am putting it out there to put the light on what goes on behind closed doors when white people think they are amidst like minded folk. Often these people are our family members or extensions of our families, so it makes it next to impossible to drop them like a hot potato when they utter such disgusting remarks or beliefs.  They have no concept of white privilege.  They will argue with you until they’re blue in the face that they aren’t racist.  Yet, they don’t see the very undertone of their beliefs is the very definition of racism.  I don’t want my daughter to live in a world where we all just keep our mouths shut when Uncle Fred (not a real person in my family) says some utterly profane racist remark and everyone at the table snickers or remains awkwardly silent.  But, what is more unsettling are the comments or beliefs that have the hint of racism but unless you know what you are hearing or looking at, you can’t really define it as racism.  When questioned, it can be turned into “oh, you misunderstood me, I am not racist, I have black friends.”

No one wants to believe they are biased or racist, but even I have caught myself approaching a racist moment due to my own unjustified fear or ignorance on a cultural difference.  The difference is, I am willing to embrace my faults and improve upon them because at the very core of who I am, I don’t believe anyone is lesser than me or any less deserving of opportunity to live, pursue happiness and relish liberty.  I know I cannot be informed on all cultural differences but I want to learn.  I love traveling the country and the world to push myself out of my comfort zone, forcing myself to grow as a human and experience all that the world has to offer, regardless of the color of skin.  Let me give an example of a moment that my ignorance nearly resulted in an ignorant and potential racist Facebook post.  The recent events regarding the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson resulted in many characters and personalities on the news channels.  I listen to the news on Sirius XM radio while driving so I don’t see faces or identifying characteristics of the speaker.  Sure, I can impose my imagination based on accents, genders, names, etc… but overall, I have no idea what someone looks like as they speak.  Michael Brown’s family has a few lawyers.  I could assume due to the racial tension of this case that all of the lawyers involved with the family are African American, but what credence or bearing does that have on them being lawyers.  Anyway, during interviews and press conferences, a specific lawyer would say “queRstion” instead of the pronunciation “question.”  I found that pronunciation was very distracting to me.  I was seconds from posting on Facebook, “WHAT in the world is Missouri teaching in school that “querstion” is a word?!??!”  Then a little alarm went off in the depths of my mind, you better double check that word.  A quick google search revealed, that querstion is indeed a cultural/regional pronunciation.  Google also suggested links that had inquiries, of what I can only assume as white people, asking yahoo groups “why do black people say “aks” or “querstion?” If there is one thing I have learned from traveling, it’s that if someone doesn’t speak the same language as you, whether that be quite literally a completely different language, or a differing dialect of the same language you speak, it does NOT equate to them being stupid or lesser as a human being.  Hell, this particular example I am giving is a lawyer saying the word.  He obviously is a successful lawyer at that and let’s be honest here, I dropped out of law school, so who the hell am I to judge his pronunciation?!?!  If we want to get technical, many white people who live in the SAME region that querstion is a pronunciation for question, say waRSHing machines.  My point is, my lack of cultural knowledge led to a judgmental belief about the person saying a word.  A word… triggered that.

There are camps of white people who say things like “well I am sick of having to be politically correct” or “why should I have to be so careful with my words??”  Because, OUR white ancestors enslaved and exploited a race, or really, let’s be honest, MULTIPLE races. (Native Americans, Chinese, African Americans, etc…).  The beliefs that provoked The Civil War are still embedded throughout the country.  Just because Mr. White American and his family moved from Anytown, Midwest America to the Southwest in the 50s or 60s, doesn’t make the beliefs he grew up with and subsequently passed onto his offspring, any less offensive.  Sure, there are white people who are informed and acknowledge white privilege, but the vast majority of white America needs to take a deep, hard look in the mirror.  So here goes a long list of moments that I recall growing up in either Missouri or Southern California.  Even in college and my adulthood there have been incidents I have witnessed that if had they seen the light of day, would prove to be visceral fears of races and cultures.  This post is to put it out there as a white child, the moments where a conversation with me explaining racism and cultural differences could have guided me down different paths.  I am someone, who by nature questions everything, so I was eventually able to make up my own mind, but how many white children are raised in racist environments or maybe are unaware of how others’ treatment of different races/cultures is disgusting and unacceptable so these white children then grow up to exude the same attitudes and beliefs as those before them.

My earliest memory of racial conversations was when I expressed a crush on Eddie Murphy as a six year old, I was told that if I ever married and had a child with a black man, our children would be ridiculed and experience a difficult life, called names like “oreo” and “mulatto.”  Granted, at the time I was living in Missouri, so perhaps there is/was truth to that concern for future offspring, and knowing who it came from, I don’t believe that person has ill will toward any races, but it set the stage for future racial conversations and responses. I immediately had concern as a child over who I found myself attracted to or interested in as I grew older. I don’t remember much over the next few years as it relates to race, with the exception of two memories.

During this time, I had moved back and forth from California and Missouri, where racial makeup was markedly different.  In Southern California, I was often close to a minority in my school, my friends typically were White, Asian or Hispanic. But, when I was in Missouri, it never failed that I was almost completely entombed with white friends.  In Elsberry, MO, we were a very poor family, living in a house that would be condemned and torn down shortly after we moved away.  The town was a typical small town in America, everyone knew everyone and there was an “other side of the tracks” neighborhood.  I didn’t really know what that meant until I became friends with a black girl in my class.  She was a sweet girl who made me laugh and welcomed me, making me feel less like an outsider, since we were relatively new to the town and living in the ubiquitous Humpty Dumpty House.  (Don’t ask… ) I would walk home with her some days and then walk to my house.  She was the ONLY black girl in our class (the 2010 Census shows 2.4% as African American in Elsberry).  I soon found out she was teased and called horrible names.  One day, when we were walking to her home, someone yelled out at me, asking why I was walking with “that *******” (you know the word).  I hadn’t really heard that word previously and the look on her face when it happened still is unsettling to me.  I wish I could remember what I said to her or if I did say anything… the only thing I can remember after that is trying to be overly nice to her so she somehow subconsciously knew I wasn’t like those other people.  In my little kid mentality, I wanted to convey to her that I didn’t care that she was a different color, but instead I did treat her differently than other people.  Sure, it wasn’t a negative difference per se, but I wasn’t treating her like I would my white friends.  I don’t remember anything else but that blurb.  I wish I did.  I don’t even know if I was an asshole to her after that and stopped hanging out or if I said goodbye when we were going to move away… hell for all I know, she remembers (if she remembers me at all) this story completely differently.

Fast forward to Junior High… I had a crush on Mr. Seventh grade Iranian.  God, I thought he was the dreamiest of dreamies.  I was in seventh grade puppy love like nobody’s business.  I scribbled his name on my folders and prayed he would get paired up with me in class.  A family member caught wind of this and scolded me for liking a sand******.   They insisted and ranted that I would be disrespected and beaten should I ever marry someone like this man.  (As I write this I have to wonder, how were all of the childhood crushes always equating to marriage??  Don’t these adults know how childhood crushes work!??! But I digress…)  As a seventh grader, I didn’t understand the Middle East, and really had no concept of where my lovebug was from or what cultural differences we might have.  All I cared about were those dreamy eyes of his.  But, after multiple scoldings and being told my crush was unacceptable, I tried to give up my interest.  I suppose the summer helped give some distance and who knows, maybe I saw another dreamy Mcdreamerson, but I distinctly remember this crush and feeling so confused about my attraction to him once it was deemed dirty and unacceptable by multiple family members.  (I googled my dreamy lovebug, and he’s very successful these days, at least according to his Linkedin page ;P) These family members STILL say awful things about various cultures and races.  This is Uncle Fred level awfulness.

I remained in Southern California from seventh grade on, but would go back to Missouri for visits to see family.  I don’t distinctly remember any one event or moment, but I know I’ve heard some awful words about African Americans, insinuations that if I ever brought a “black man” to visit with me, various family members would disown me.  When I had a Korean BFF around the same time I loved Mr. Iranian lovebug, I was quizzed on how smelly their house was when I would come home after spending the night.  In reality, her family taught me a few Korean words, fed me amazing food and treated me with complete respect.  I dated a couple of Asian guys in High School and early college, at least one elderly person in my family professed “if you two have babies, you will have to put toothpicks in their eyes to keep them open.”  A couple of elderly people eventually changed their tune of “colored” and “oriental” after much ado.  But this leads to my last childhood moment that I will list, and it doesn’t reflect well on me whatsoever.  It came out of fear and ignorance, and all I can say is I am very thankful I have grown as a person to not feel this way anymore.

In the early to mid 1990s, in north Orange County, California, Buddhist temples were sprouting up.  Whether they were transforming homes in various neighborhoods or erecting large compounds juxtaposed to the strip malls strewn all over the area, it seemed like the area was being flooded by temples.  I heard at home, lots of awful rhetoric about “those Orientals.”  It was hard to compartmentalize what I heard at home since one of my two BFFs in high school was Vietnamese.  Her family welcomed me with open arms and to this day are lovely, amazing people to me.  But somehow they were different Vietnamese because they had “assimilated to American culture.”  Whatever the hell that means… I recall driving down a busy street, with my Vietnamese friend in the car, and I flipped off one of the new temples.  She immediately questioned me, “WTF are you doing?!?!  Why do you care???  Do you understand the meaning of that temple???  How is it different from a church???”  Initially, I rebuffed her questions with silence, but what Ms. Vietnamese BFF didn’t know is that she was the catalyst that led to me questioning it all.  By “it all” I mean, all of this build up of underlying prejudices and ignorance.

Sure, I am quick to correct or call out someone who uses a term like “oriental” or God, forbid other horrific racial inferences, but often I sit silently with my stomach in knots as I read or hear words of acquaintances, friends, and family saying things like “those people” or the use of “they” when referring to a race, creating an us v. them thought process.  When I asked a white tween why she doesn’t like Obama, and she responded “because he’s bla…” and I just looked at her in disbelief instead of quizzing the parents why their child has a blanket hatred for our President because of his color.  Within our white communities, we have to shed light on these moments, we have to face the vanilla frosted inferences for what they are… racism and bias.  Often born out of fear and ignorance.  It’s not scary to me to put blatant racists on notice, but it’s the types like Mrs. Old White Lady Who Bakes Cookies Every Holiday who means well but clutches her purse when a black man approaches, that I find myself struggling to find the courage to point out her fear and ignorance.  It’s the subtleties of our bosses and customers, that make for cringe worthy moments, but the fear of saying the wrong thing often outweighs calling it out.  It’s the Facebook posts and comments that highlight the very fabric of racism, but yet when I argue the very need to rethink said position is then debated over and over again with no room for growth or open-mindedness. It’s my amazingly intelligent female African American neighbor (she’s a rocket engineer!) who was tormented by the white neighbor across from her.  The one time the police came to Ms. Amazing’s house was because she had left to go to the airport and her alarm went off, the police and the alarm company ensured her home was safe before allowing her back into the home, but how did the other neighbor perceive it… Ms. Amazing neighbor was arrested for bad conduct and is a horrible person.  (The person actually wrote a letter to our HOA board to attempt to persuade the board to reconsider when they found out Ms. Amazing was newly appointed to our HOA).

As I wrap up this post, it is scary to put this all out there.  I kept many components as vague as possible to protect various family members, but maybe that in and of itself is part of the problem, I don’t know.  What I do know, is that if we want our children to grow up in a better society, we have to start somewhere, so here is my attempt at starting a conversation.



Pregnancy After Loss

So I’m 8 weeks pregnant. I don’t really know who exactly reads this blog and how many regular followers we have yet, so I don’t know who exactly I’m announcing this to. But I’m having major writer’s block because I have been trying to keep myself from writing about the biggest thing going on in my life at the moment. This thing that I carry in the back of my mind during every minute of every day and that has made the last month an extremely challenging one. Most everyone in my life (at least those I talk to on a regular basis) know about my pregnancy by now, so it’s not like I’m keeping it a secret. But I guess I haven’t felt like announcing it on social media yet because, well, pregnancy announcements are supposed to be happy, exciting things. And I’ll be honest: I don’t feel happy or excited about it at all right now. I’ve been pregnant for a month, and all I can think, because I know this fact all too well, is that this baby could be taken away from me at any moment.

The baby is doing well so far. We have seen her heartbeat twice and she’s growing on track. There is one complication of the pregnancy that has caused some bleeding and I’m being regularly monitored for it. It’s called a subchorionic hemorrhage and it’s an evil bastard and I just want it to go away and stop wreaking emotional havoc on me. Most pregnancies with these bleeds usually turn out fine, with no harm to mom or baby. But, when you’ve heard so many times about how “most pregnancies” turn out, but haven’t found yourself in that happy boat with all the other “most pregnancies” and instead have been in the sinking titanic over and over and over again…. it’s really hard for statistics and medical professionals’ optimism to put any sort of dent in your fear and anxiety.

And by the way, if one more person tells me to “think more positively,” or “just relax” I might punch them in the face. Truly. Pregnancy hormones combined with the stress and anxiety that I’m dealing with just may turn me into a very violent person and I just might break your nose.  Or burst into uncontrollable tears. It’s a toss-up. Probably not a risk you should take, either way.

Don’t get me wrong here with all this negativity. I’m grateful for this pregnancy. This baby is special and I’m already in love with it. The things we’ve gone through to get to this point have been impossibly difficult, and there were times that things were not looking good, and I thought we might never have another healthy child. I’m so incredibly lucky to have made it this far. The women I’ve met online through this journey have been my cheerleaders through it all and I couldn’t have been as strong through it all without them by my side. My family, especially my parents, have been an incredible support. They helped us by caring for RJ whenever I couldn’t and they helped us monetarily as well as just being THERE and loving us. My husband is eternally patient and supportive of me through all of it. I’m so amazingly lucky to have the opportunity to carry this pregnancy, and no matter how down and negative I get, I never forget all those wonderful things.

But some days, okay most days, those things are dwarfed by my utter exhaustion and physical misery. This is my sixth time going through the fun, fun first trimester. My third time going through it with a child to take care of. Granted, the last two times I went through it, earlier this year, were abbreviated. But I’ve been here before. I’ve been slightly sick-feeling and so unbelievably tired and still trying to deal with my toddler’s never-ending desire for constant attention and love. Add onto this a 4-week long sickness for RJ, and a cold for me a few weeks ago, and now possibly a second cold (I woke up with a sore throat this morning) and heaps and heaps of anxiety around my pregnancy, and what you’ve got is a Mama who is stretched paper-thin and doesn’t have any emotional energy left over for putting optimism and cheer out to the world.

Oh and did I mention I’m on pelvic rest because of the bleed complication? That means no sex, no exercise and no lifting. The first two are fine, because who’s got energy for that stuff right now, anyway, amiright? But no lifting??? When my sweet baby boy looks up at me those big, precious, blue eyes and says “Up, mama! up!” I have to tell him “No sweetie, I can’t pick you up right now”?  When he pulls away from me in a parking lot or a crowded store, I can’t pick him up and take him where we need to go? I can’t lift him into his crib or his high chair or onto his changing table or into the car? I can’t pick up up to carry him up and down the stairs with me (because YOU KNOW how long it takes to get up and down those stairs when he’s navigating them on his own!)? I can’t lift him into a grocery cart in order to do our shopping trip or carry him home from the neighborhood park when he’s tired? The answer to all of these questions from my Reproductive Endocrinologist was “If there’s any way you can avoid it, then no.” So that has added a ridiculously challenging element to our already long and difficult days.

We are coping though. We are muddling through. My parents are helping when they can. Mr. E came home early from work one day this week to do grocery shopping and cook dinner. I’ve gotten creative. RJ has a little blue step stool now that goes everywhere for us so that he can climb into and onto things all by himself. I’ve wrung out all the extra energy from my weary body to funnel it into convincing RJ’s stubborn toddler-self to do things and go places he doesn’t necessarily want to do and go to since I can’t drag him there myself anymore. I even got him to push the laundry basket into the laundry room for me the other day, since I can’t take it there myself (note also the random stray legos that seem to be taking over our house these days):

ryker laundry

Thanks, toddler-servant!

And so, life keeps going, and I just try to take it one day at a time, and hope, each day, that my new little baby’s heartbeat is still fluttering away in there, and that we will get to bring her home with us in June.


We live in California. There hasn’t been a lot of rain here in the past year or two. When it *does* rain, it is a really big deal. For RJ. (Oh, and because of the drought thing, of course, too.)

Yesterday was Halloween and RJ’s first time trick-or-treating. Yesterday we also got a visit from Grandma & Grandpa E to celebrate Mr E.’s birthday and to see RJ. But those two normally very exciting things were both trumped by the fact that it rained, and so RJ got to wear his new raincoat and rain boots and splash around in the puddles.


He had an incredible time. We eventually had to drag him crying back inside because we were cold and soaked through.  Hopefully it will rain again soon for RJ! (And for the drought too.)

I bought his rain gear a couple of weeks ago at our local consignment shop. (Because I’m totally not paying full price for rain gear when it’s only rained like 5 times in the last 5 years). (I might be exaggerating a little). Both his boots and jacket are way too big for him. But that just means the jacket covers him better, right?? And the big boots are helping him work on balance and stability. Those things totally make up for my cheapness and inability to find the right sizes used.

We have both been looking forward to a rainy day since the purchase was made:


On that same consignment store trip, I found a cute little Elmo basket, which just happened to go perfectly with his Halloween costume this year, which I spent way TOO MUCH money on. I’m not consistent. Sorry. Cheap one day, indulgent the next. But come on, was this picture, totally worth it, or what?


Happy Halloween, and happy rainy season, y’all!!!