My Postpartum Body

There is no good way to get a baby out of a body. That a woman goes through childbirth and then has to immediately collect the loose bag of marbles that is her body and begin the exhaustive, relentless work of taking care of a helpless newborn is bonkers. This is true even for the best, easiest births (I did not have one of those).

The state of my postpartum body felt (and was) irrelevant compared to the health of my daughter, and as correct as this was I sometimes resented it. Every time I log rolled out of bed, winced my way down the stairs, and chided my husband to slow down as I shuffled around the block, I was reminded of just how secondary I was. (read more…)

The Word “Mom” Didn’t Feel Like Me

A year ago, the label mom meant something very different to me. For whatever reason, it conjured images of a woman defined solely by her role caring for another, and that meant messy hair, unflattering mom jeans, and sunken eyes from constant fatigue. I had known for years I wanted to have a baby. But to become a mom – I wasn’t so sure, or frankly excited, to assume that title and everything that I figured came with it. When friends asked me how I felt about the transition to becoming a mom, I shied away – it didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel like me, and it didn’t feel like something to be desired. I couldn’t quite identify why I had this reaction, and so I brushed it aside and focused on what I was looking forward to – how I was excited to be having a baby! (read more…)

Mothering Without a Mother

One of the hardest things about being a mom is dealing with my own expectations of motherhood. I find myself unsure of what I’m doing and certain there is a right way to raise my son. A right way to soothe and nurture him. A right way to attach. I anticipated that transitioning to motherhood would be smooth, but it’s been anything but. The experience has me reflecting on how I’ve navigated other life transitions and thinking about my own mother.

When I got married two and a half years ago a friend asked me what I thought my mom would have been like leading up to and during the wedding. I was sad to discover I didn’t have an answer. I couldn’t conjure an image, a sound, or a vibe. I’m starting to forget her. (read more…)

Trying to Get Pregnant: All Work, No Fun

I thought I’d be an easy IVF patient: healthy, young (at least among this subset of women), with no apparent fertility problems. My husband Lars and I were undertaking in vitro fertilization to avoid conceiving a child with muscular dystrophy, a harrowing disease caused by a gene I carry.

When we first started treatment I felt like an A+ student. Every night I did my homework: I measured and mixed medications in syringes, swabbed my stomach with alcohol, overrode the brain alarm that says do not stab yourself, and injected hormones under my skin. Every other morning I went to the doctor to collect my gold star. They drew my blood and stuck a probe up my body to scan my ovaries, and the results kept coming back great! Unlike those women whose struggles I’d read on the infertility message boards, I was growing follicles at a steady clip and was on track for success. (read more…)

Pumping in Penn Station

I have pumped in every bathroom in Penn Station. NJ Transit is too rushed and there aren’t enough stalls. The LIRR has ample room but is NEVER clean. My bathroom of choice these days is the newly renovated Amtrak area. Not too much of a wait, lots of stalls so people aren’t banging on the door, and it’s typically the cleanest of the bunch. When I commute into the city, I have to plan my entire day around when and where I’m going to pump. I bring my small, manual pump that fits in my tote, usually concealed in an old plastic bag from Target. (read more…)