Hiding Place

Sometimes we have a conflicted personality.  We are happy inside but are energized by listening to the saddest music.  Though, in happiness might be the best time to listen to sad music.  I hope I do not bring people down with my conflicted emotions.

It is dark for what seems like most of the day.  We are getting closer to the shortest day in my part of the hemisphere, and I might have to throw a party to say “we did it, the day/night won” (whichever way you want to look at it).  Either, “I am so excited that we have a day full of darkness” or “thank goodness this is going to get better”.

Ah yes, focus on the positive.  Even if you are early in you child’s life and you are getting no sleep.  Things are going to get better.  A slightly thinner frozen lake you could be walking on could be if you are constantly fighting with your significant other.  Somehow, you can look to the future when you find love again.  Try not to fall in those frigid waters just yet.  It is hard to see the sunny side when all you have is darkness, exhaustion and lack of motivation.  Though, the sun also rises.

Just three months ago I began running.  I would run when my son was in class and I would run after my significant other came home from work.  Then the sun started to set earlier and even earlier making it unsafe to run in my neighborhood.  Men and women have been targeted to kidnapping and random punching in the face as soon as the sun sets.  It sounds scarier than it is, but it evokes enough fear to stop me from running around as a target when I have no real need to do so.  Though, I do have a need to do so.  I need my own time to listen to the Wu-tang loudly in my earphones while building up my endurance and stamina.  Especially when it is getting dark early and my internal clock wants to hibernate.  A conflicting situation.  I must run to give me what normal warm sunny daylight activities give me that I can not get during the dark cold gloomy days.

Maybe all things that test us, almost destroy us, make us treasure what we have so much more.  That may sound a little far fetched.  I know that I appreciate my full night sleep and take advantage of falling asleep “early” once in awhile without guilt that I am not taking advantage of the night.  I know that though I feel we grew apart a bit during all of those sleepless nights and confused days that I love my husband so very much and have no clue how I could make it through this new life without him.  Conflict.

I’ll continue to dance to and sing loudly with the sad music of my youth while I smile and awaken the hibernating self that hides in a dark corner with the sun.  Embrace winter, embrace exhaustion, embrace conflict.  Embrace all challenges and find the stronger self, the new self, the metamorphoses of your being.

I leave you with Ashes.  A strong female led song called Hiding Places that makes me sing, loudly and fills my heart with happiness.



Papa Don’t Preach

This week I learned that a young lady in my family is pregnant.  This has brought out many different opinions that I am sure this young lady is hearing.  Though maybe she is being shunned or is shunning away from hearing.  There are fears that she can no longer become the best that she can be, that her education is ruined and therefore her future and the future for the baby is ruined.

As a doula, I have attended a handful of teen births.  I find myself asking questions as I process the birth later about the future of the family.  I find myself shocked when the Aunt (it seems to always happen) asks mom the moment the baby comes when she plans to have her next.  I am human.  I write it off as cultural, though really, it is across cultures.  It might be that what you are given as guidance and motivation is what determines how far you can go in life (even with a perceived early procreation).

The young lady is not the first in the family to become pregnant at a young age, her age being 15.  In other generations we have had pregnancies as early as 14, maybe even earlier.  Some may have been terminated either by loss, medical necessity, or abortion.  Others went full-term and their lives unfolded.  Lives still unfold.

In my everyday I try to look for the positive in everything.  In cases of teenage pregnancy, we should find a way to focus on the positive, help the young parents recalculate their future, find their path, become all that they can.  Stop preaching and help them find their way.  The young mother still needs to be surrounded by good things as does a mom who is in her 30’s.  She should be given the opportunity to have childbirth education classes, breastfeeding classes, babywearing lessons, and a doula.  She should also be able to still be her young self.  She should be able to finish school and have the opportunity to go to college.  She should be able to find a nanny or daycare that coincides with her values of child-rearing.  She may not know where to find these things, and it is very possible that no one she knows has a clue how to help her grow.  This is where a doula can also help.  A doula can help her find help.  Family can help her find a doula, the cost is worth it and can be paid for with the help of many.

If you are young, in high school or even college, and find yourself pregnant and wondering how to manage having a child and still growing yourself, please know that we are all still growing and we all need to figure out how to still be ourselves and raise a baby.  Some of us are in a place where we can give our all, but some of us do not have all to give.  You can give your all when you get to that point, for now, stay positive, stay on track.  Don’t give up for you might have another 80 years left, why give up now?  APPLY TO COLLEGE/GRAD SCHOOL!  Apply for grants.  Find a group of other young parents who are also motivated to succeed in the same way you envision yourself succeeding.

If you are a parent, family member, or teacher of a young person who is pregnant please help them.  Against popular belief, the young lady does not grow up overnight just because a fetus is growing inside of her.  She may still be a child.  She still needs nurturing.  She still needs guidance.  Be positive and remember your role in her life.

At one of the teen births that I attended, the dad and his family was there.  The dad had recently turned 14.  It is hard to watch a 14 year old boy see his baby being born.  He looked lost and unsure of what was really happening, much like many first-time dads.  He needed guidance too and assurance that everything will be ok, if he let it be ok.  So, please don’t forget that there are multiple parties involved in all pregnancies.  He was terrified but told to “man up.”

In the end, we could do better at sex education.  We could have better programs in place for teen parents.  We could change the way we handle situations that many of us feel are unfortunate and look for the positive, look for a way to make things work.  Some people take their whole lives to find the right path, young parents might be forced to study harder to get their quicker.  They could be your next CEO.  Let them know that.

Some resources that might be beneficial to you:

  • Christopher House‘s Teen Parent Program- Our prenatal and parent education staff creates a strong support system for new parents through weekly home visits, support groups, and education workshops. Our parent educators, doulas (pregnancy and birth experts), and licensed clinical social workers teach parents to:
    • Prepare for the birth and the first months of their baby’s life.
    • Build parent-child relationships and assist with infant care.
    • Create a strong support system for new parents.
    • Educate parents about their role as their child’s “first teacher.”
  • Family Focus‘s teen parent programs offer comprehensive medical, educational, and support services that help teens both prepare for the demands of parenthood and nurture their own development by focusing on academic success and career.  By helping teens prepare for the future, they are better able to provide for their baby and less likely to have a second pregnancy.
  • Ounce of Prevention: In our evidence-based home visiting programs, parent coaches provide child-development and parenting information to help teen parents create safe, stimulating home environments; model positive and language-rich relationships; and ensure families are connected to medical, dental, mental-health and other supports.
  • Teen Parent Connection is a nonprofit agency serving teen parents in DuPage County as they navigate the challenges of both parenthood and adolescence. In addition, we offer school-based pregnancy prevention education programs in both middle schools and high schools to help reduce the risk of teen pregnancy.  We are a staff, board, and community dedicated to empowering young families and creating the best possible start for young mothers, young fathers, and their babies.
  • Aunt Martha’s is committed to supporting young mothers and their children. We make it easy for moms to make sure their babies get the care they need.  We’ll help you prepare your baby for a healthy life by getting them off to a Healthy Start! Our Healthy Start services are co-located with several of our women’s health centers, so their convenient. And once you and your baby are enrolled, Aunt Martha’s care coordinators will make it easy for you to connect with a wide range of support services.  But being a good parent doesn’t stop with taking care of your baby. It also means taking care of yourself! Aunt Martha’s can help with this, too.

Further reading:

On that thought, I leave you with the fabulous Madonna.

Isolation Burns

When I was in my twenties there was a moment that I worked at a preschool with babies and toddlers in the same room.  By the time Friday came, I was unable to talk like an adult.  I was too tired for band practice, but luckily pushed myself.  I was experiencing terrible migraines and started my journey into prescription medications, absenteeism from work, and fear that I might die.  I lost the ability to correctly identify certain objects by their name, word association skills were laughable, and my short term memory was shot.  Luckily, now, everything is better.  I have more control over my migraines and much more understanding of why they happen.  My brain does not constantly hurt and I can process information once again.

Though, sometimes, especially those first few weeks before and after baby came, I might still feel a little lost.  Disconnected with myself.  Yet, these times are not pain induced, they are exhaustion and isolation induced.  Almost bringing me back to the early preschool days, before the pain took over.  Some call it mommy brain.  Hormones are shifting, your body is changing, your brain is developing new neural pathways, and a life form is rapidly developing and you are the life source.  Oh, and let us not forget that life is about to change for both parents, whether this is their first baby or fifth.

I know a soon to be dad who can not remember anything you say to him.  Daddy Brain!  Though, not generally associated with weakness, like mommy brain is, fathers, or significant others, also have a lot going on.   Their brain changes, their life changes, their focus can change to.  As with the soon to be dad I am referring to.  He is completely focused on making everything perfect for when baby comes that it seems to be taking over his ability to take in new information.  He is exhausting himself before the real exhaustion sets in.  Thank goodness for postpartum doulas.

Isolation, social alienation, who are you?  Significant others do not generally have a lengthy family leave after baby comes, which can leave the mother home alone for several hours a day to sit in her thoughts with her new baby.  Fear, questioning, growing, becoming; yet, alone with no one to have a dialogue with.  No guidance.  So, at times we over extend and push so that there is no silence.  We push through the pain of feeling alone when we clearly have a baby with us; therefore, how are we alone?  Questioning, who am I now?

Mom groups flood the internet, and a few parent groups who allow for dads to be part of the parent conversation are there too.  Blogs filled with advise to complement the abundance of parenting books.  Now you can fill your head with words from an expert or words from the 100 other moms that give conflicting advice on the mom group.  Maybe isolation sounds better, but who can hear you?  Real people.  Friends, family, and new friends.  Reach out and find your tribe.  Unless you truly grow better alone, you might find yourself, your words, your brain, with the help of real people; through real verbal communication.  Just like your brain is reshaping, so is everything around you.  It is ok, life is fluid, let it take you.  Grow!

A little motivation from Spitboy:

Tell Me So

I might linger a bit on self-identity.  I am a rocker, an artist, a drummer, a writer, a photographer, a feminist, a doula, a mom and a lover.  Though, when I came home from the hospital with my cute little baby, I became only a mom in the mind of so many.  My name was erased.  Pediatricians did not look me in the eyes.  Parents and leaders at parent baby/tot classes did not ask my name, ever.  I would introduce myself with a strong presence and was ignored.  I didn’t stop though, I kept on to myself.  I mean, heck, I had practice for so many years of being introduced to people as the girlfriend of some guy in some band, let alone, I was in my own band, and of course I was my own person.  The meek.  The weak.  The forgotten.  No, we need self-identity to be strong, to be heard, to be happy.

Moms, I can only relate to you on this topic because I am not a dad.  I do not know what they are going through, but it appears a bit different.  Sorry dads.  Also, maybe some of you didn’t care or notice the erasing of self by the people around you.  Personally, I lost friends.  I had heard this would happen, but I did not believe it.  People did not want to hang out with me because I was in a different place in life.  All of a sudden, I was surrounded by other parents and before I became a mom, I had only known two sets of parents.  Though, it was super helpful to have support from other parents at 2 am when I was up breastfeeding and feeling completely exhausted but had to stay up, this was before I learned about side-lying.

I also lost the confidence to go out by myself.  I was so tired and foggy that I wasn’t sure how to do it anymore.  Going to my favorite hangout should have been easy.  I should have been able to show up, grab a drink and chat with the people around me.  I think that all of the shaming that I felt and disconnection to my self led me to feeling like a ghost drifting in in out of life, no one seeing me as me, me not seeing me.  Broken.

This is when I added classes for myself.  I was able to go out, and focus on developing a new skill with people who only knew me as Lisa.  They had no clue I was a mom, though they did know I was a doula as I did have to leave for a birth in the middle of class a few times.  I started to meet even more people that were not in my normal social circle.  I traveled with my son and learned how to cope with being a mom, a new Lisa, in unfamiliar territory.  We survived.  We heard what you said I am, and I shouted back, no, I am more than you see.  Ask me who I am.

My only advice is to remember yourself.  Introduce yourself and stop the erasing, both moms and dads.  You are still you.  You can still do the things you love, you are also allowed to change what you love.  There are no rules.  We are fluid.

Bikini Kill can always help:)

Let The Children Lead Us

I just dropped my 3 year old off at preschool.  He has been going for two weeks but is still completely upset about it.  My intention never was to start him in school so early in life, but he asked to go.  Of course, I knew he did not know what it entailed.  He saw that some of his friends were going to school and he knew that he would meet even more kids there.  It looked like fun.  I think deep in him mind he thought I would be there too.

I let my son lead.  He knows what he is ready for.  He does not know everything that is out there and needs guidance, but I will offer him everything in the world and let him make choices.  (Of course I say this now).  His father and I have been allowing him to lead us since he was born.  We did not have a parenting plan written out and we did not base our parenting style on a parenting book.  When friends ask us which parenting philosophy we were planning to follow, we answered with the Lisa and Trevor Parenting Style.  Of course, now it is the Shelley de Brauw Parenting Style as Demian is most certainly a huge part in how we work as a family.

Each child is different.  Each child has different interests.  Each child has different needs.  I’ll talk a lot about children being different in my writing.  I work with so many children from birth through elementary school on a weekly bases and it is uncanny how different they can be; which can be hard on a child in a school setting where the teacher might have to make the school day uniform for everyone.  Upon reflection, this could be why my son who is generally always willing to try new things and always a major participant in all activities is vocally upset about me leaving him at school (plus his best friend who goes to school with him has been in France for 2 lovely weeks).  He might feel abandoned by his family and friends and he could feel like his teachers do not know his interests and needs yet, but that will come.  If it doesn’t come by the end of this season, we will rewrite our plan.

Our plan is always being rewritten by the interests and needs of my son.  I was certain that he would not have solids until he was 6 months.  At 4 months he was grabbing my spoon and at 5 months I gave in.  He was so interested in food, and he still is.  He is an amazing eater.  The only changes we had to make to my cooking style is to use less hot peppers.  Though, I am now starting to incorporate them again.  He has been helping cut fruits vegetables since he was about 1 1/2 years old and mix batters and sauces since he could stand up on his own.  He has been completely involved with meal preparation; yet when he started eating solids, I had no idea how i wanted to feed him.

I knew I was not going to feed him store bought “baby food.”  I thought I would puree all of his meals and I even let myself buy the most amazing blender on this excuse (though, I just needed the excuse to allow my money saving brain allow me to make the plunge).  I pureed his first meal of carrots and that was the last time I did that.  Purred food did not make sense to me. He was not able to hold a spoon so how would it work in developmentally appropriate eating for all of humankind?  Then I read about baby led weaning.  I should retract that and say, I saw the phrase baby led weaning but could not find much information on it but was able to take a class taught by a nurse on the topic.  She helped alleviate my fears, fear that I did not know how to describe.  Possibly more fears of the unknown.  The next meals I roasted beets.  I cut them so that he could pick them up with his own hands and put them into his own mouth.  The saving grace of all of this was that I was still breastfeeding and I knew he was getting all of the nutrition he needed.  I recited the phrase “food before one is just for fun” in my mind to remind me that we would get through this.  Though, he was clearing his plate so really we had no worries.

Baby led weaning is it’s own topic and I will discus it more in depth in the future.  Also, children leading us goes far beyond food and starting school.  It happens during every stage of development and every hot parent topic like sleep, potty, security, sleep again, and everything that makes you as a parent stop for a moment to say, how do we do this?

There is this one song that is in my karaoke repertoire that means a lot to me.  When I sing it I belt it.  My class sung it for our 6th grade graduation and I was super impressed that it was chosen by our chorus teacher.  It made me feel like she understood us, that she was empowering us.  In closing, I leave you Whitney.

Why Keep Secrets

Hiding behind shadows
Hiding behind shadows

Walking through Target with a pregnancy test is kind of a peculiar feeling.  I can’t even think of another item that they could have there that could be so taboo; though, maybe they sell paternal tests or maybe they have over the counter HIV tests.  Yet, the slim pink or blue box that is right next to the condoms and maxi-pads seems a bit unmistakable.  The box goes on the conveyer belt and there you have it, everyone in line can see it.  I suppose other people buy more than one item when they are at Target, but I am a woman with a mission and I do not like to get distracted (I get distracted all of the time).  I also suppose other people want their newly purchased item in a bag.  So, when I ask for the cashier not to put it in one she asks if I am sure.  The first, no it was the second or third time I bought one but it was when I was pregnant with my son, the cashier somehow blessed me and said good luck.  She also recently told me that I was trying to get my “baby making on” when I purchased a drab white and green hippie style summer nightgown.

So here I am, spending the day wondering why I have been spotting for 5 days with no period.  Hastily, I squat over my toilet with stick in hand and dribble.  I couldn’t even find the stream for there was no stream to find.  There goes 4 dollars, at least there is another stick in the box, another 4 dollars to waste or to help me feel a little less concerned.  The concern here is not being pregnant.  The concern is that I have an IUD and when you get an IUD the person inserting it tells you the risks of an ectopic pregnancy. The dribble of pee was enough to help me get through the day.  I saw a negative on my stick and though I know that there is indeed something going on, I can rest my mind for now.  Of course, it could be the opposite of pregnancy.  I could be entering menopause.  Would entering menopause be a secret too?

Most women and their significant others are encouraged not to tell anyone for the first 3 months of pregnancy.  I did tell a few close people.  I need to talk to people about my experiences.  I was called out by others and the worst was that my OBGYN office told my workmates when they called my office for who knows why.  I had specifically asked them not to call that number.  When I had a miscarriage the first time I was pregnant, to my knowledge, it was hard.  I told people I had one and they sort of ignored me.  I know they didn’t know what to say; but also, I think people thought that it was not a big deal since it happens all the time.  I deal with the miscarriage a lot.  I have known several women in my life who talk about it, they are processing it because damn it, no one really let’s us talk about it and talking helps us get closure and acceptance.

I dealt with the miscarriage all last night as I lay beside my son and thought about why I was spotting with no period.  That was when it occurred to me that I could be pregnant.  Which then led me to think that I could miscarry or have an ectopic pregnancy.

That was last night and tonight is different.  I have a client in labor and now my time is devoted to her.  I await her call for me to go to her and I will leave my personal worries in my room.  Of course, after I am home again I will go back to my room and call my best lady friend and catch her up on what is going on.  I’ll also take another pregnancy test.