Episode 22: Sponsored by Therapy

This week’s episode comes from a long time blog reader who is now engaged. Hooray! She wrote to me way back in April about tips and tricks on figuring out how to fight with your partner.

Learning to fight is a constant work in progress in our house and, I think, in many houses. Being compassionate and being able to listen even while pissed is a skill that takes practice and patience with yourself and others. Fighting in general is exhausting. Fighting while engaged? That’s a whole other pile of poop.

How have you learned to fight with your partner? What works for you and what doesn’t? Did you fight more than usual during engagement? We did! I only know from my experiences, so any other points of view are definitely encouraged!

(Also, this is a very well timed episode as our 5 year wedding anniversary is on Saturday! LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!)

Better Than Real Life Advice: More Than One

Dear Lauren,
Congratulations on your pregnancy! I think about you and your family often and say quick prayers that this baby continues to be healthy. Did you and Kamel agree on having another baby and when to try for the next baby? I find that my husband and I disagree and I don’t know what to do. I really feel that we are meant to have another pregnancy. He says that if it weren’t for infertility, he would be 100% OK with having another baby. However, IVF is our only option and the $15,000 price tag is pretty hefty. I would like to commit about $20,000 more to the baby tries–that accounts for one “fresh” IVF cycle and one “frozen” (using up frozen embryos). My husband keeps flip-flopping on trying IVF again and I find myself heartbroken. I’m sure the heart of the matter is a question that many couples face and I would love your advice/words of wisdom on what happens when my husband and I disagree on the number of children we want. For the record, we discussed this before marriage and he wanted 2 while I wanted 3. Now he says he’s OK with our son being an only child and I am definitely not.

Thanks,
Not a One-Kid Mom.

 

Dear Not a One-Kid Mom,

A few weeks ago when I was lamenting and lamenting and tearing my hair out about the what-ifs of another boy vs a girl, whether or not we would shut down baby making forever after this one, or keep that window open, etc a friend of mine linked me to this article by Dear Sugar. A reader writes in worried he may regret not having kids, but doesn’t want that to be the only reason to have them. She says, why isn’t that a good enough reason to have them?

There is a ton of other amazing side stories and thought provoking moments in that article that stirred something up inside of me and won’t let me go. So, please do read it and please do share it with your husband.

Now as far as my own advice? I shared this with you personally, but I think I should share it publicly as well. This is a real life conversation Kamel and I had during one of our million zillion conversations about our possible future offspring:

Me: “What if I want 4 kids?”

K: “I want 2.”

Me: “But what if we have the second and i REALLY want a third?”

K: “Maybe.”

Me: “What if the second is a boy and I really want to try for a girl?”

K: “Ok.”

Me: “Then what if we have 3 and I don’t feel done and I want another one?”

K: “But I want 2.”

Me: “But what if I really want 4?”

K: “Ok, fine.”

The hardest part about marriage for me is sharing my life with someone else. Which seems ridiculous because isn’t that the whole of it? Well no. I mean, sharing my life as far as, “Let’s do this fun thing together. Yay memories!” is completely different than say, “Let’s make this completely irreversible life choice together, something we have to agree upon even though we are totally different people and have our own personal wants and desires.” That part sucks.

I think it very much depends on where your husband is with only wanting 1. Is he so overwhelmed with life that having another child would ruin him, break him, send him into misery? Then I think his mental health wins. If this would be so financially taxing that it would create unalterable damage on your current family, create immense stress and threaten you, your husband’s, or your child’s future, then I also think he wins.

Is he simply satisfied with the life you have and doesn’t feel like it is necessary to go forward with the hullabaloo that is getting pregnant a second time? Then I think you win.

I always err on the side of no regrets. Always. Life is too short to wonder and think back and feel bad about the things we never tried or didn’t do. If he is meh about a second child, that is not good enough for me, personally. And maybe the process of trying and going through IVF, whether it works or not, will be satisfying for you. To say, “ok, I tired, I gave it my best shot and this is the outcome,” may be enough. But to deny your family, your wife, yourself the opportunity to see if it is in the cards – I think that is too big of an ask.

And if this is really purely just about the money expense of it, well… I’ve never regretted the money spent on a vacation. I’ve never regretted the money spent on my child for clothes or daycare or strollers. Ok, I shake my fist at daycare, but then I remember how good it is for him and me and how lucky we are that we can afford it. But if it wasn’t a real hardship to come up with that IVF money, if it was just more of an inconvenience? Lots of things are financial inconveniences… most of the time they provide you with that family event you had to attend or the necessary repair on the house or a surprise visit from the tax man. Rarely is the out come a brand new human of your own design.

Theoretically we only get this one shot at building our little worlds, we are only capable of having kids (Again, I guess, theoretically) up to a certain age. Now is the time. My advice is to be honest about how you’re feeling. Be brutally honest with yourself and your husband about what it would mean to you not to try for a second child, and encourage him to be brutally honest as well. Lay it all out there. I’m placing my bets that you married each other because you love and respect each other and you don’t want to deny one another major life experiences. Compromise is hard and doesn’t always feel awesome, but often when I’ve had to make a concession, the end result is actually pretty lovely. I’m hoping your husband gets to experience this sensation.

Better Than Real Life Advice: The YES and the NO

Dear BIRL,

I’m in a new relationship – well, fourteen months in, now – and in a few weeks, we’re moving in together. I love my girlfriend to bits and our relationship has been characterised by kindness, humour, amazing smart conversations and shared hopes and dreams. (And incredible sex. Very important.) We spend every night together anyway, all our friends love us together as a couple, and I think in most ways moving in together is a total no brainer. She’s amazing! I love her! It’s going to be the best house ever!

But there is a part of me, a big part, that is really scared about this move. Before this relationship, I was married, and that marriage broke down acrimoniously (to say the least). I lived with him for five years almost to the day, and those five years of cohabitation were characterised increasingly by distance, loneliness, being ignored, being yelled at and pushed away. I still can’t go back to the suburb we lived in because it upsets me so much to revisit it. Moving out of that apartment, leaving that relationship – they’re two of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. So now, when I think about moving in with my girlfriend, I can’t help thinking – what if it happens again? What if it all goes wrong? What if moving in together means that I get treated like this again, and I’m STUCK THERE? I know it’s the least likely thing – the two relationships are almost opposite – but I am still afraid.

The bond is paid, the contracts are signed, it’s set. We’re moving. I can’t delay it now, and I want us to have the house we are going to rent (which is our dream house). So how can I find ways to get my brain into a good place about this move – feel braver, recognise that this is a different thing, and embrace it? How do I start again and feel good doing it?

Now Emotionally Really Vulnerable Or Unacceptably Scared

 

Dear Emotionally Vulnerable,

What an amazing time for you! Exciting new adventures on the horizon! Taking a leap with someone who loves you! Your dream house! So many good things are coming at you at the same time. Good things can be scary because the loss of them hurts, so feeling trepidation at taking a big risk — AGAIN — is absolutely normal. But I have some things for you to keep in mind.

  1. Have faith in yourself that you are capable of learning and growing. You are not the same person who married your ex. Those warning signs are now apparent to you and you are a smart, emotionally stable lady. Trust yourself. The experience of your divorce was painful and awful. Past you would not let future you relive that again because you are awesome.
  2. Heartbreak does not mean failure. Heartbreak is about sussing out what works for you and what doesn’t and having to face that reality even when it is painful. There will always be rough roads to tread, even with your current love, even with all of these fantastic adventures. But you are a strong, amazing person and you will be ok.
  3. Taking risks make for a successful life. The best thing you can do for yourself is say YES. An enthusiastic YES. And experience everything that that YES brings into your world. The second best thing you can do for yourself is say NO. An enthusiastic, heartfelt NO. Which you have already done to the betterment of your life 1000 fold. You are living a full, exciting, heart breaking, love-filled life. You are successfully living, congratulations.

I have had many, many, MANY broken hearts. One time I cried so much after a break up that under my eyes were stained for days. There were times where I gave far too much of myself, and had to take a lot of time to find those pieces and put me all back together again. Every man who I ever really REALLY loved broke up with me, except for 1. He stayed. But I have never regretted the many times I said YES and I have grown stronger and better with the NOs. Your fear is telling you there is something to lose. If there wasn’t then it wouldn’t be worth the risk, the leap! The adventure wouldn’t taste as sweet.

If you fall on your butt at the end of this you will be ok. You will brush yourself off and still be you. You have gone through worse. But living in a world where the possibility of something not working out is always on the horizon takes away from the goodness in the now. Trust yourself that you are smart and strong and fantastic. No matter what happens later that won’t change, and in the mean time look at this life you have. Such a good one.

Love,

Lauren

Better Than Real Life Advice: Plus… Parents?

Dear Lauren,

Two of my married friends recently had one of their parents move in with them.  At a recent dinner, it was noted that the parent expressed sadness at not being invited.  Did I inadvertently commit a social faux-pas by not inviting them to our couple-get-together event?  And, more importantly…would it be impolite to not invite them to our upcoming Christmas party, now that the ruffled sad feathers have been expressed?  I have no reason to dislike them, but I also don’t make it a habit to invite my friends’ various roommates to all of my events for the same reason: we just aren’t friends!

Is inviting them to the party going to set a weird precedent?  Or should I just roll with it?  Again, I don’t dislike them!  It just wasn’t a desire I expected would be expressed.  I am super anti-drama so either way is sort of whatever…I CAN roll with it, but I want a second opinion!

Sincerely,
Wanting to be polite and inviting, I swear.

**Note: I was supposed to get to this last week and I didn’t. I’m pretty sure that this Christmas Party has already transpired and I am very sorry for completely dropping the ball. But! In the spirit of the holidays I thought it would be pertinent to run it anyway. Perhaps the poster can share in comments what ended up happening if the party did in fact take place already.

Dear Wanting to be Polite,

Eeeshh…. parents crashing the party. This is an odd situation. It is an odd situation even if they weren’t parents of friends. It is weird for a friend of a friend or an acquaintance of a friend or anyone associated with one of your friends who are not one of your friends to express displeasure at being “left out.”

First, I must say it is not impolite to not invite them to your Christmas party. They are not your people. On the other hand, I find it incredibly impolite for them to guilt you into an invite.

That being said, maybe they are in a bad place? Maybe they are lonely? It is the holidays after all? The holidays are a hard time for people, especially parents who are having to move in with their grown children. I have the empathy.

My advice is to ask your friends kindly, but directly about the situation. Mention that you’ve been thinking about it and you aren’t sure what to do. Were they expecting to have their parent invited? You would offer, but worry it might be awkward and you don’t want to necessarily invite them to all the things … ha… ha… right, friends? Right?! But, in the spirit of the holidays, if they would like, their parent is more than welcome.

If your friends say, “No! They are just overstepping! Don’t let it keep you up at night!” Proceed as usual and let it be their needy parent problem.

If they say, “That would be fantastic, we don’t know what to do with them and would so appreciate having a social activity for them to participate in during this bumpy moment in time.” Then roll roll roll along with it. Hand them a drink when they walk in the door and a friendly, “Merrrrrrry Christmas!” And then feel absolutely NO obligation for any future hang outs. When you go over to their house you’ll have plenty of moments for friendly small talk with the parent. Nothing else is necessary and let your friends invite them to group things on their own turf from now on. Boom.

Please let me know how this turned out!! And if anyone else has had a similar situation pop up with room mates or friends of friends please comment your story/solution. Social things are hard.

Love,
Lauren

Better Than Real Life Advice: Friend Dating

Dear Lauren at Better In Real Life,

My husband and I recently got married and are settling down in a new to me area – a large east coast city. He’s been living here longer than I have and has a group of friends who are smart, good, nice people – he met most of them through work. I’ve been living here for about a year and a half but have yet to make any friends of my own.

Since I am an introvert with a capital “I”, I wasn’t really expecting to become super popular soon, or any time really.  But man, I have been really giving it a try this past year without results. I’ve signed up for meetup groups online, taken new classes, tried exploring all the free fun museums and other things, but haven’t really made any friends.

My husband’s friends are lovely, nice, smart people and we do hang out with them occasionally.  Some are a few years older than me (to the point where it sort of makes a difference) and most of them have kids.  I honestly like hanging out with these families but it seems like their time is super limited because of the kiddos so we end up getting together with them once every 2-3 months.  As far as work, my coworkers are much older than me. Plus I’ve never been great at the work friends thing – I rather keep those two separate.

I have met a couple of nice people once or twice at random activities, but then it feels a little awkward setting up follow up activities.  The whole thing feels like I’m dating again, but now for friends.   Do you have any suggestions?  Is it always this hard to make friends as an adult? 

Thanks for the advice!

Not Single but Still Ready to Mingle

 

Oh dear, Not Single, this is a HARD one.

According to a Pew Research study, Millennials (those between 18 and 33) have a bit of a trust issue.

Millennials have emerged into adulthood with low levels of social trust. In response to a long-standing social science survey question, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people,” just 19% of Millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of Silents and 40% of Boomers.

It’s harder then ever to crack the code of someone’s inner friend circle. It’s hard to find people who share similar interests who are also interested in finding friends. How many times have any of us gone to a class or an event and everyone there is very purposefully there only for themselves and then they high tale it out of there? This happens to me all of the time.

I applaud you for taking classes and getting out there. That is a huge huge huge first step. And good job trying to continue to make plans with your husband’s couple friends with kids. That is hard. People with kids are impossible to make plans with. I feel like my social schedule is planned 3 months in advance. Even if they are not your forever people, they will probably fill a nice little social void every now and again. But I get you on being a little old and not being in the same lifestyle space as you. That is hard.

I wouldn’t be put off by the feeling that creating new friends is like dating, because it IS like dating. There is the initial meeting and then you get contact info, and maybe you make plans to go to a mutual interest event/activity, and then you see if there is a follow up. Adult relationships take work. There is no longer a school yard to be thrown into or a forever rotating class schedule. And we are all insanely busy with a thousand different things pulling at us. But in a way that cuts out the bullshit. The people who really want to try and make time for you, will. Everyone else is not worth it anyway.

I have gone through an ebb and flow of friends. There were years when I was TOO social. I felt like, WOAH I am popular! And then years after that I was in a friend drought. No one to play with. And it sucks, it can be lonely.

Until! I started doing stuff for ME, taking advantage of a world without social obligations, going on long walks, spending time with my hobbies, leisurely watching movies on the weekends in my pajamas!

…but it sounds like maybe you are over the me time. And maybe you just want some G-D friends!

First, don’t stop trying to date and reach out to the people you want to spend time with. People want to be around people who want to be around them! And more than that, most of the time people are just super busy and would way rather be hanging out with you but their lives SUCK them in and they forget to call or ask.

Second, join a book club. If you are an introvert, go find other introverts. In this environment you can scope out the people who seem to think a lot like you think, and then you can POUNCE on them. Not really. But it does pose a perfect set up to start a conversation and get the ball rolling. They are there to talk books and meet people. So are you. PERFECT!

Third, Is your husband on friend-finding missions with you? This could be a great opportunity to make new, non-kid-having couple friends! AND you could do some cute adventure-ing together while you’re at it. Kamel and I did rock climbing a few years ago. And we made some fun friends in the class. The 4 of us bonded over how insanely hard it was and how much we sucked at it. It was great!

Ultimately, stick with it. Friends will come along, it takes time. Social ebb and flow demands patience.

And if anyone else has any words of wisdom or stories about how they’ve successfully made adult friends, please speak up. This is a tough one.

Better Than Real Life Advice: Triple Threat

Dear Lauren,
I’m writing to ask about posting pictures of children online. I have a young daughter and I love to share new pictures and videos with family and friends. However, I know that her entire life will then be online. How do you strike a balance with this?

Sincerely,
Picture-happy Momma

Dear PHM,

It may not seem like it from the over-sharing that happens here and the amount of Gabe photos on Facebook/instagram, BUT! Kamel and I are actually very strategic in what we do and do not share about Gabe.

Most of what I write about involves my experiences with motherhood vs my relationship with Gabe in particular. With photos I am very aware of over loading the universe, so I try and respect the fact that Facebook is not my personal website.

On one hand I want to be mindful of image sharing, but on the other I am not afraid of the internet. I know there are bad people out there, but they are both online and in real life and I can’t really function if I am always living in fear of them. The internet community I have fostered is very important to me and I don’t want to shut myself off from that. But! If you are uncomfortable with sharing many photos at all on general social media, that is absolutely your choice and there is 0 things wrong with that.

Most of our Gabe-sharing (including videos/photos) are strictly family only. Because we have family all over the country we use the iCloud Photostream. It links up through i-devices and the people you invite into the sharing pool will get an alert whenever videos or photos are posted. This is where bath time photos go, random videos of Gabe dancing in our living room, and on and on and on.

Once Gabe is old enough to have an opinion I’ll ask him before posting anything, just like I ask Kamel before posting any photos of him or writing about him. Right now Gabe is just an adorable goober, baby photos are made to be lightly exploited for cuteness and future embarrassment. We live in the internet age, and I’m ok with it.

Love,
BIRL

Dear Lauren,

I swore that when I had children that I would maintain a balance in my life. I needed to be Me first, a wife second, and a mom third. If I lost balance with any of those, I knew I wouldn’t be good at the others. My question is how do I maintain the me-time balance? I’d like to work out regularly or even just have time to scroll through social media (how do you tweet, facebook, and instagram?!?). Any advice on how to strike that balance?

Sincerely,
Dying for a date with myself

Dear Dying for a Date,

First: masturbation is the underrated overlooked me time of mothers.

Second: You and your partner have to give each other’s “me” time weight and respect. For example, I know that a happy Kamel is a Kamel who has time to himself to watch his nerdy movies that I don’t particularly enjoy and play video games. I make a point to take the baby and allow Kamel alone time in the apartment some weekends, or he plays games at night after the rest of us have gone to bed, or he goes to a movie alone while I watch Gabe for the afternoon on a Saturday. This is just as important to me as it is to him. On the flip side, Kamel watches Gabe in the evenings a few times a week for an hour so that I can write, he  solo parents so that I can go to happy hour with my friends, and I get to enjoy morning time alone in the bed because Kamel agrees to work out first in the morning (we work out in the living room and take turns). These things keep me sane and they keep my marriage happy.

Third: I had to laser focus on what the important things are and let a lot of the other stuff go. As much as I would love to connect more with some new friends I’ve made through work, I know that my social availability is limited now, and I want to make that time as quality as possible, so I reserve it for my close group. I have let a lot of social media go. I am barely ever on twitter anymore, I just can’t keep up. The blogs I read regularly have been whittled down to a handful. My “me” time is precious! So I use it much more efficiently. I carve out my own small moments, 15 minutes of tea and quiet on a Saturday morning, waking up at 5:00am during the week so that I can work out and have some quiet time before the baby is up for the day, and so on.

Find the things that are meaningful to you. Is it a night out with your friends once a month? Is it going to a movie alone once in a while? Painting? Quilting? A bi-weekly pedicure? Make those things happen. I scroll through social media during my commute, I read on my lunch break, or I go for a 40 minute walk, or I write, or I run errands with Kamel. My evenings are 95% Gabriel, so I make sure to alert Kamel when I need an hour to myself. Make the things you need important and they will become important.

Love,

BIRL

Dear Lauren,

Let’s talk post-baby bodies. I still have quite a bit of stomach flub that needs to go. And it’s squishy. What are your tips for dressing the new shape? Also, what are your tips for accepting where you are while working to get back to the before?

Sincerely,

Not amused when my husband pokes my stomach fat

Dear Not Amused,

Ugh. The stomach flub. My tummy is also not the same as it was, even 1.5 years postpartum. (Ah! That seems like such a long time!) The squishyness is what gets me. Why do I suddenly have rolls when I sit? The worst! But, acceptance. It is there. My acceptance is here, it lives between the rolls of my tummy. Because you know what? Bodies change. I don’t look like I did when I was 14 and I am grateful. I don’t look or feel like I did when I was 18 and I am grateful. We change and grow because of our experiences and life adventures. We had babies!! That is spectacular! So our bodies changed. We will one day be old (Hopefully) and our bodies will be different then too. This flubby tummy is just one part of my experience, my story, it is just one part of who I am.

The part that shocked me the most about my post-baby-body was my lack of strength. So, I’ve been focusing (hard!) on core strength and doing a lot of interval training with Jillian Michaels and other people via the kinect and XBox fitness. But you can buy any of these programs at Amazon or Target as well. I find working out in my living room in my underpants much more attainable than going to the gym. It takes less time and once the startup costs are covered, it is virtually free. I have seen a great improvement in the last 3 months since I have really been putting a greater focus on consistent fitness. That being said, be kind to yourself. It took me until I weaned to really be able to push myself physically, and even that was inconsistent until after Gabe was a year.

As far as clothing goes! Open cardigans are your best friend. This is me, less than a year postpartum, I have probably 5+ of these cardigans. Cozy, work appropriate, great over a blouse/target tshirt/maxi dress.

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Also blousy tops paired with structured jackets are very forgiving but still incredibly put together. This was the best example I could find, but I rock a structured jacket to work + a blouse at least once a week.

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Find a good trench that can pass as an interesting top. I wore this one a lot in the first year:

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And definitely don’t forget, the hot mom 1-piece. I will never go back to a 2-piece again. What is the point? To feel self-conscience and stressed about my mom tummy? No way! I would rather focus on swimming and playing in the sand.

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Ultimately if you wear clothes that make you happy, you’ll feel happy and confident. Oh! And don’t take pictures of yourself sitting. A little self preserving ignorance can be a very, very good thing. Be kind to yourself and remember: You made a human! That thing came out of YOUR body! That is phenomenal.

Love,

BIRL

Better Than Real Life Advice: Ch-Ch-Ch-Chaaaaanges

Dear BIRL,

Just between you and me (and you internet strangers, hi!) my husband and I are trying for a kid.  It feels like the right time, and I am happy and getting excited!!

Here’s the thing; as a childless person, every time I offer an opinion on raising a child (i.e. crying it out, cobedding, wanting to go back to work, time outs, etc) I get the verbal equivalent of a pat on the head and told “Oh, you’ll change your mind when it’s your child.”

I’ve ignored it for years but now that a baby is an actual possibility I am beginning to become more and more afraid that this will in fact happen.  The problem is, I don’t WANT to change my mind. I am afraid I will lose what I believe in the second I meet the grasshopper.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m prepared for things changing and I’m not pretending to know the love or bond that is created, but the things I’m hearing like “I found the true meaning of my life” and “this is what I was put on Earth for,” while perfectly true for some, are really freaking me out.

Is this truly an unavoidable thing that happens upon childbirth? Is it possible to have a baby but still be me? Will I still want to be?

(Ready But Still) Terrifically Terrified

 

Dear Terrifically Terrified,

It actually sounds like you have two questions wrapped into one.

  • I have some parenting beliefs and I want to have a plan before having a kid and I don’t want my thoughts on parenting techniques to go flying out the window the second a child shoots out of me even though that’s what everyone keeps saying will happen.

and

  • Overall I do not want to change into some “version” of myself post baby. That is scary, will this happen?

First, it seems you have fallen victim to the evil clutches of “You’ll see.” 

“You’ll see” is a terrible tick that many older people like to say to younger people and many moms like to say to non-moms. It’s shitty, but most of the time it’s word vomit and comes out of a special mix of condescension and well-meaning we all store deep down inside of us.

Both Kamel and I received tons and tons and TONS of this while I was pregnant (oh, and yes, unfortunately being pregnant is like holding up a sandwich board asking for free advice, so if you think it is bad now – brace-yo-self).

99% of the time I listened, smiled and nodded. Other people may tell you to be more aggressive and tell the poor sap who has the “You’ll see” tick to shove off. I prefer a kinder, less in-your-face method of ignoring everyone and silently giving them the finger.

Now, when it comes to sticking to your parenting guns – I’m not going to lie to you and say everything you imagine  right now as being THE WAY won’t change. Some things will change. I’m not going to pat you on the head about it, but I will be honest with you based on my experiences.

I, personally, had in my head a specific way I wanted to parent pre-Gabe. Most of that stuff still rings true. I was adament that we would maintain our ability to travel, maintain our home in such a way where the child does not TAKE OVER ALL THE PLACES, and I knew that we didn’t want to co-sleep. I also had thoughts on the amount of tech we would involve our kid in, and how we would discipline.

I was shocked to absolutely crave that my newborn be snuggled up right next to me while I slept. I craved it. It totally freaked Kamel out – he thought I would roll on top of him or knock him off the bed or something, so in the end I wasn’t able to sleep with him next to me, which was fine! It was what we had originally discussed and there are 2 parents here, not just 1 and that is all well. But, if Kamel had no insisted I would have absolutely changed my tune and had Gabe co-sleep with me from the get-go. What actually happened was he slept in a crib an arm-reach away and I could eye ball him whenever I needed.

Kamel became an expert at swaddling while I was pregnant. Practiced it all of the time pre-baby. And what happened? Gabe hated it, always escaped, his arms always finding their freedom. So we stopped doing that, got him a sleep sack and he slept great, no more fighting the swaddle.

Bottom line, your kid and how your kid fits into your family will dictate a lot of what you do, but this is also something that you have a lot of control over. You get to choose based on what you think is important and what is best for your kid. And your kid will let you know what works for them and what doesn’t, then you’ll adjust.

For so long we think of babies theoretically. “When I have a kid it will be like this, and I will do this and this and that. When I become a mom I will be this kind of mom, not that kind of mom.” But then, your baby comes and they are not theoretical. They are real. And they are immediately their own being with their own personalities and their own specific needs. Your job as a mom (and dad) is to figure out what those things are and how to fit them into your already established world and family.

Now for the second part of your question: Will you change after having a baby?

The quick answer: Yes and No.

We are always changing, right? That’s sort of the cop out response, but it’s true. I think you want me say you won’t change and you’ll still be you, and that would be super comforting, but it would be a shitty answer.

Did you change while you were in college? Did you change after you met your husband and went through all that was engagement and the wedding? Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? 5 years ago? (Sometimes Yes and sometimes No, right?)

When you are a mom it is harder to make time for the stuff that is just about YOU.

When you are a mom your priorities change. Your kid becomes a floating priority in the 1-3 category. Sometimes #1, sometimes fuck everything, stop the presses, my baby wins all the games. Sometimes #2! Sometimes your marriage and your husband are #1, but your kid is there being a close second. Sometimes in order to make time for the stuff that is JUST YOU, your kid is maybe #3. Maybe keeping them alive is the best you can do today, tomorrow they can be back to #1, but maybe for a day, an afternoon, a week, whatever – you are not the greatest mom in the world and the greatest wife, you are just you – and that’s ok.

When you are a mom you are no longer alive just to be alive and do your thing. You are now responsible for not completely fucking up another person. That is a big responsibility.

When you are a mom the things you have to do often outnumber the things you want to do.

When you are a mom you are absolutely the same person you were before and absolutely not the same.

It is ok to be Terrifically Terrified of this. It’s a big thing! If you didn’t change a little bit by going through all that is pregnancy and making a human and then having them come out of your body and then being allowed to just …. take them home and care for them! If that wasn’t a big deal, then what would be the point?

Another thought on your letter: There are no rules, Terrifically Terrified. If you want to talk about being pregnant before it has been 3 months, then talk about it. My only advice there: tell the people you would naturally go to if you miscarried. Tell the people you want along on the journey regardless of the (totally normal and common) outcome, just to keep yourself as emotionally safe as possible.

And one last thing. The best piece of advice Kamel and I ever got was from Kamel’s old boss: “Remember, everyone is going to tell you how to be a parent because everyone is their own expert, but the truth is the only expert on your child and your family is YOU. So fuck everyone else.”

In the end, Terrifically Terrified… fuck everyone else.

Love,

BIRL

 

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