Skip the Babymoon & Take a Post-Baby Trip Instead

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01AT02I was so sick when I was pregnant with my almost-4-year-old son Mason that our plans to take a babymoon the spring before he was born never happened.

Four months later, a few days after I gave birth, my mom told me that she’d be back to New York in March to stay with Mason — and Chris and I were to go somewhere fabulous and relaxing…alone.

I looked down at my sweet baby boy and told her there was no way I was leaving his side. “You need it after this pregnancy, Heather,” she told me. “It’s been terribly stressful on you both.”

Chris agreed with my mom and that was that. I was outnumbered. I had about six months to prepare myself for the big split.

But it turns out that six months later, I wasn’t just ready for a little R&R with Chris — I was excited about the opportunity to take a trip and have some alone time with him. My pregnancy had included a list of hells, from hospitalizations to debilitating anxiety, and my mom was right; it had taken a toll on my marriage.

After that pregnancy and night after sleepless night with a new baby, Chris and I desperately needed to reconnect. The health of our marriage was at stake — not just for us but for our son. I believe that the best gift we can give Mason (and the baby girl we’re expecting this August) is parents who are happy together; as the child of divorced parents, I know how miserable life can be without a happy home life.

Chris and I booked a five-day, four-night trip to a gorgeous resort on Turks & Caicos, a destination that had been on our travel wish list, and packed our bags. Actually leaving Mason with my mom wasn’t easy, of course, but somehow Chris got me on the plane.

Once we got to the resort, our plan was to lie on the beach with cocktails and dine out in as many incredible restaurants as possible. And we did. We spent our afternoons sprawled out on lounge chairs, reading and sipping frozen cocktails. Occasionally we’d change things up and take a dip in the pool. At night, there was always some kind of decadent meal, some of the best food we’ve had in the Caribbean; we tried out the signature restaurant at Grace Bay Club, Coco Bistro, Hemingway’s, and so many more that I’m forgetting at this point.

More than anything, we just savored the freedom that we both felt for the first time in months. We were still adjusting to the all-consuming responsibility of parenting, and while we both loved our son more than anything in the world, the monumental responsibility of nurturing a little life was still incredibly overwhelming.

I called my mom twice a day (OK, maybe three times) to check on Mason. All was well every time I called and I never once heard a screaming baby.

By the time Chris and I returned to the city, we were happy, relaxed, and well-rested. We were up for any challenges that our baby boy had in store for us, and we were even more committed to being the best parents that we could be to him.

The trip was so good for us as a couple that we’re planning another post-babymoon next summer (our daughter is due in five weeks)! Although this pregnancy has been so much easier (I’m knocking on wood since I still have five weeks to go), Chris and I do need to reconnect. In addition to work and taking care of Mason, we’ve been incredibly crazed getting things ready for the baby and I’ve been napping a lot (since I’m up and down all night!) and maybe a bit cranky sometimes.

Did you take a babymoon or post-baby trip?

 

 

 

7 Stupid Things People Say When You’re Pregnant

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photo (10)I’m 30-weeks-pregnant with baby #2, a girl. And I’ll admit it: I’m way bigger with this baby than I was with my first, even though my weight gain has been completely normal (19 pounds and counting to date), according to my ob-gyn. When I was pregnant with Mason, I was so sick that I only gained seven pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. Decidedly NOT normal, but it also meant that I never had strangers on the street telling me that I looked like I was going to give birth at any second (and that’s not even the worst of what I’ve heard). Here, some doozies I’ve dealt with during my third trimester so far:

“You want that coffee decaf, right?” This irritating question was from a Starbucks barista after I had ordered a special treat: non-fat caramel frappuccino. And, yes, I absolutely wanted caffeine in it. My ob-gyn says it’s fine to have a cup of coffee a day, and this was it (with a healthy dose of sugar, which was the treat part). When I assured him that he had heard my original order correctly, he remarked that he was “just looking out for” my unborn child. Dick.

“That baby is going to come out!” I was stopped at the corner of my street, on my way to pick up Mason from school, when the weirdo standing next to me yelled this at me. I replied “Not today!” and then waddled away as quickly as I could. So creepy.

“You say you’re not due until August, but you are HUGE!” A nail technician at the salon down the street used to ask me when I was due every time I walked in. On my last — and final — trip to that salon, she had this gem to say. I haven’t been back…and I’ve found a new nail place where they focus on my nails, NOT my baby bump.

“You should at least try to have a VBAC.” A mom at the park was appalled that I was having a second C-Section. (And, yes, the first one was medically necessary; it’s not like I just didn’t feel like pushing a baby out.) I thanked her for her suggestion…and then called my ob-gyn to schedule my C-Section. Here’s the thing, nosy mom: What you do with your vagina is your business; what I do with mine is mine.

“My friends are all dancers and they’re WAY smaller than you are.” I was glowing from my fabulous new haircut…and the receptionist said this while I was paying for it. He was shocked (shocked!) that I wasn’t due until August. I laughed, even though I felt like saying, “Oh yeah? Well this is what regular women look like pregnant. Dickhead.”

“Hopefully you’ll be able to breastfeed this time around.” The source on this one doesn’t matter; it was a pointed remark because I struggled to breastfeed Mason for about five weeks before finally switching over to formula full-time after talking to his pediatrician. I was dealing with serious postpartum anxiety, and something had to give. I ignored this remark, but what I would tell anyone is that it’s most important to do what’s best for you and your baby. I will try my best to breastfeed this child, just like I tried to breastfeed Mason. But I’m not going to lose it if we go the formula route instead.

“You must be ready!” A well-meaning dad from daycare made this comment the other day while I was picking Mason up. Then he laughed manically when I said “Sure, but this baby needs to stay put until she’s due in August!” I’m sure he was just trying to make conversation, but talk about adding insult to injury. It’s 90 degrees out and I’m 30-weeks-pregnant. Of course I’m ready!

Want more? Check out my post 9 Shockingly Rude Things People Say When You’re Pregnant on Momtastic.com.

 

OMG, I’m Having a Girl!

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104821551 I am thrilled to announce that I’m pregnant again! After my heartbreaking miscarriage last summer, and a stressful first trimester of ultrasounds and genetic testing, we got a thumbs up from our doctor on Valentine’s Day. But in addition to the good news that our tests were normal so far (knock on wood!), the geneticist who called us delivered some shocking news:

You’re having a girl!

WHAT?

I was so caught off guard I screamed into the phone, Are you SURE?! I’m so surprised!! Nobody in our family ever has girls, the grandchildren are four boys between the ages of 5 and 18 months right now, I babbled.

My husband, who was sulking in the kitchen because we were out of coffee filters, stared across the room at me like I had lost my mind. Be quiet, he hissed. You’re going to wake up the entire building!

Mason was just confused. I imagine him thinking: Why is Curious George on pause? Why is mommy screaming into the phone like a crazy person? Will somebody please give me a juice box?

I’m sure the poor doctor was just dying to get off the phone with me. She wasn’t even my doctor; she was just the amazing geneticist that we had met with because I’m “advanced maternal age” at 36 and my ob-gyn had wanted us to go over our first trimester test results with her just in case we needed additional testing. And here she had to listen to me rant about how nobody in our family ever has girls.

Despite my shock, I am excited to have a girl, if a little nervous — I never imagined I would have a daughter. I have a three-year-old son. The baby I lost last summer was a boy. And this pregnancy seems just like my pregnancy with Mason…although I’m less sick.  So I had told everyone who had listened that I was positive I was carrying a boy. Also, Chris’ family is filled with boys. My sister-in-law was the first girl to be born in decades and decades.

A mother knows her body and her baby, right? Clearly not this time.

Were you surprised when you learned your baby’s gender?

 

 

 

 

Crazy Conversations With My Toddler

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meatI think 3 is my favorite age. Why? I love the stuff that Mason comes up with — it’s so random, so hysterical you just can’t make it up. (I also love the crazy outfits he puts together…he loves accessories and he’s not afraid to wear ‘em, from Christmas socks in January to a too-big baseball cap.) Here, a snapshot of some convos we’ve had recently. Feel free to share some gems from your tot in the comments section!

Me: Mason, is that pizza grease in your hair?

Mason: No, mommy. It’s pancakes.

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Me: Mason, no playing with Play-Doh until after your nap.

Mason: Why are you being bad with me, mommy?

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Me: Mason, it’s bedtime!

Mason: Are you kidding me?!

Me: Um, no. It’s bedtime. Now.

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Me: I missed you so much last night, Mason! (We were out and Mason was with a babysitter.)

Mason: I missed daddy.

 

4 More Ways Parenthood Has Changed My Focus

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HalloweenI was recently invited to be a guest blogger for What to Expect (how exciting is that?!), and I wrote about how motherhood had actually made me less of a worrier. When I was pregnant (and, to be honest, before I was ever pregnant) I stressed about everything, from my boss’ tone in her e-mails to the size of my baby bump. Now that I have a three-year-old, I simply don’t have the luxury of indulging my anxious tendencies.

Since this blog post went live I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from other moms, but one comment still has me thinking two weeks later:

“I think I’ve heard men say something similar to this. IE having a kid gives them perspective as to what they are working so hard for and to maximize their time. Very, very cool that you’ve had this experience too.”

I believe this What to Expect reader is talking more about work-life balance and the ways in which parenthood helps you prioritize your time  — which circles back to me realizing that I was wasting too much time worrying. Here are four more ways parenthood has changed my focus:

1. I quit trying to be a perfectionist and now I embrace good enough. I still always do my best — but sometimes as a busy mom I recognize that good enough is, well, good enough.

2. I don’t force things to work anymore. I put up with a miserable job for a year, and then I just decided to stop. I quit that job, became a freelancer, and it was the best possible decision I could have made.

3. Having it all isn’t important anymore. I’m completely content to have what we need, nothing more, nothing less.

4. Being the best isn’t necessary either. (See #1 and #3)

How has parenthood changed your focus?

 

Gisele Bundchen: Inspiring Mom or Obnoxious Bragger?

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giseleSupermodel Gisele Bundchen took the opportunity, once again, to prove what an amazing mom she is by showing off a photo on Instagram of herself breastfeeding her daughter Vivian while getting glam for a photo shoot.

“What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours flying and only three hours of sleep #multitasking #gettingready,” she wrote as the caption. For all of her admirers who don’t speak English, she was even kind enough to translate the caption into Portuguese.

Is she the ultimate multi-tasking mom, or just a completely obnoxious bragger? Based on her past remarks about parenthood I’m saying obnoxious bragger. And it’s unfortunate because she’s in the position to be a positive role model (C’mon, Gisele, ALL moms struggle with something…give up the holier than thou attitude!)

As one mom noted on Bundchen’s Instagram account, in response to the photo:

“While it is an ideal image, I had an incredibly hard time breastfeeding both of my children. What I would give for an experience like this picture… Not the extra help, just the baby easily nursing in the midst of everything. I hope you know how lucky you are @giseleofficial. Maybe sometime you can share your experiences if they were ever difficult to give hope to those who have had a more difficult time. Breastfeeding isn’t just a choice, it’s a process.”

In honor of her latest show-offy move, here are a few of her previous “gems” on motherhood:

Natural childbirth doesn’t hurt! “It wasn’t painful, not even a little bit,” the supermodel also the Brazilian TV show Fantastico of giving birth to her children Benjamin and Vivian in her bathtub at home. “The second day, I was walking, I was washing dishes, I was making pancakes in the kitchen.”

There should be a law that all moms have to breastfeed.  “Some people here (in the U.S.) think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?’” she told Harper’s Bazaar UK in 2010 after having her son, Benjamin. “I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.” Nevermind those moms who can’t breastfeed — if Gisele can do, everyone must!

Her two-year-old son was the best-ever eater!  “When Benjamin eats broccoli, he thinks it’s dessert!” she told Vogue during an interview in 2011. (Just wait, next Halloween she’ll send out a press release declaring that her kids hate candy…)

A lot of women become “garbage disposals” when they’re pregnant, Bundchen told Vogue. She, on the the other hand, practiced kung fu until two weeks before her son’s birth and only gained 30 pounds. (Newsflash, Gisele, 30 pounds that, while pregnant with Benjamin, she did yoga and was practicing kung fu “up until two weeks” before giving birth.

 

7 Rude Things People Have Said in Response to My Miscarriage

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I’ve been really open about my miscarriage. I wrote a letter on this blog to the son I lost. I admitted on Momtastic.com that I’m jealous of pregnant women. And I have another article coming out shortly on another parenting site with tips for coping after a miscarriage, based on my own personal experience.

Why? I hoped that simply sharing my story would help other moms who had miscarried — and I hoped to hear from other moms who had been through it. Honestly, I desperately needed the support. I don’t regret my decision; the love and outreach I’ve received has been tremendous. And the truth is that I’ll keep sharing my story if it helps other people.

But here’s the thing:  I never imagined some of the awful things people would say to me once they found out I had miscarried.  I don’t think any of these people thought they were being malicious…I think they just didn’t think. Here’s a round-up of a few of the, er, gems I’ve heard — plus what I felt like saying in response but didn’t.

“Don’t be sad. You can try again!” Are you fucking kidding me?

“The next one will be the good one!” <Speechless>

“I can’t even relate to people who have trouble staying pregnant.” I can’t even relate to someone who would say that to a woman who just lost a baby.

“Maybe you were only meant to have one child.” Oh yeah? Maybe you weren’t meant to have any.

“You should probably just adopt.” You should probably just stop talking.

Does this mean you’re too old to have a healthy baby?” Stay out of my uterus.

It’s a blessing; your baby was probably really messed up. No, you’re the one who’s really messed up.

Got any shockers you heard after your miscarriage that you’d like to share?

 

Is Your Toddler Son Obsessed With You?

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We’ve having some serious Oedipal complex issues in our household.

A few weeks ago Mason was sitting on my lap (without pants on), sobbing with his face pressed against my shoulder, because he stubbed his toe while getting undressed for the shower. And then we had this weird convo:

Me: “It’s OK, boo boo,” rubbing his back and kissing his sore toe. “Come on, let’s finished getting you undressed so you can take your shower.”

Mason: Looking up at me, with a tear-streaked face, “Take your clothes off, mommy.”

Me: “What?! No!” Then, trying to sound less horrified, “Er, it’s time for Mason’s bath, not mommy’s.”

Whoaaaa.

He dropped the issue, and we got him in the shower and clean without any more talk of me getting undressed. Then, last week, this:

Mason: Screaming hysterically and yelling, “I need mommy to take a shower with me!”

Me: “Mason, daddy’s helping you take your shower tonight.”

Mason: “Then I need to sleep with mommy!”

He took his shower by himself and slept by himself.

Is anyone else experiencing these strange little moments? The pediatrician says it’s normal, but it’s still kind of weird, right?

 

My Amazing Dad Friend: The Photographer Behind Today’s Viral Zach Braff Photobomb

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If you’ve read Buzzfeed or HuffPo this morning (and, really, who hasn’t?) then you’ve already seen this viral photo captured by my friend Sascha Reinking, a Long Island City-based photographer. He was photographing a newlywed couple on vacation from Germany when Zach Braff photobombed them in the middle of Times Square. Sascha was so busy focusing on the couple that he didn’t notice the former “Scrubs’” star’s cameo until he was editing his work later that evening.

To confirm that his photobomber was really Zac Braff, Sascha Tweeted the image to Zac, with the note  “Sir, I think you photobombed my newlywed couple the other day in New York. :) Well played…” Zach Retweeted it, noting that it was his best photobomb ever…and now the photo is viral!  (More here…)

I’m so excited that Sascha is getting the recognition that he deserves. In addition to being incredibly talented, Sascha’s a great guy…a hardworking dad who’s building a business doing something that he loves. And you can tell how much he enjoys his craft — and cares for the people he’s photographing when you watch him work. We used to live in Long Island City and I’d see him out and about photographing families and they all looked like they were having so much fun. That spirit comes through in Sascha’s gorgeous photos!

 

How Do You Get Your Toddler to Sleep in His (or Her) Own Bed?

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Our big move finally happened on Halloween. Poor Chris was up working until 6 a.m. the next morning (no joke). Honestly, I don’t know how much longer we could have stayed there. We had grown out of it pretty much the minute Mason was born and it just took us a while to find a place in which we wanted to invest.

By the time we left our old apartment, a one-bedroom, Chris and I were literally sleeping on the couch. Every night we’d give Mason our bed and pull out the sofa in the living room for us to sleep on. I don’t believe in sharing a bed with Mason, as I wrote in a recent article for YourTango.com; I think the bed should be our sacred place, something that helps us keep our marriage strong..so that was really our only alternative.

Mason didn’t have his own bed in our old place because we planned to just transition him to his big boy bed in the new place. His toddler bed was all boxed up, we reasoned. It’d be so much easier to move the bed and assemble it in the new place versus assembling it, disassembling it and then assembling it again. Then the move got delayed due to our bathroom renovation and the poor kid insisted that 3 was too old to sleep in a crib. Of course he was right; after all, the big kid excuse is how I got him to give up his pacifier.

Now that we’ve moved and Mason finally has his own room (New Yorkers, you totally get why it took so long), Mason has been pretty happy to sleep in his own bed. I wish I had some genius trick to share. I honestly think he’s just so happy to have his own space, a big boy bed, and Lightening McQueen sheets that he actually wants to sleep there. Of course sometimes getting him down is a struggle; he tends to whine and call us back in a time or two.

But here’s the thing: I’m positive our luck is going to run out and in a few weeks, once all the excitement wears off, we’re going to be battling a toddler who wants to sleep with us. Any tips on how we can keep him excited about his new big boy bed?