Saying Goodbye: A Store That Offered More Than Clothes

 

h2br

10 years ago in March I was about 4 months pregnant and looking for a job.

It’s not that I minded waiting tables, but the 5 am wake up call and smell of bacon was not helping my nausea.

I figured a maternity store might be a good fit (literally and figuratively) so I called up a small maternity boutique and asked if they were hiring.

When I went into the interview I had no idea that this job would mean so much more to me than a paycheck.

On the eve 2016, I worked my very last shift at Hip to be Round. This weekend the store will close it’s doors forever.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen the store through 5 locations, 2 owners, 1 name change and 4 babies of my own. I’ve worked part time and full time both as an associate and a manager.  I’ve seen brands come and go and families grow.

Most of all, while standing outside of the dressing room ready to get another size or color of a pair of pants, I’ve heard stories.

Being a person who loves stories, I’ve listened to them all.  Good stories and sad ones. Women who are excited to be pregnant and women who aren’t.  I’ve caught a woman as she fainted and found a dress for a funeral (she wasn’t pregnant, just swollen). I’ve dressed two men in maternity clothes feeling intensely protective of one of them who had clearly not been dress shopping before. I’ve helped a woman in labor with a nursing bra. I’ve been the neutral party when mother and daughter shopping tension arrises. I’ve brought tissues to the dressing room when reality hits.

I’ve talked to women who are afraid of birth.

I’ve talked to women who have lost their babies.

I’ve talked to women who are infertile.

I’ve talked to women who are surrogates.

I’ve gained pearls of wisdom from a mother of 6.

I’ve given out as much wisdom as I had to offer.

I’ve seen ultrasounds, kept gender secrets, and heard name picks before family members have.

I’ve listened to so many complaints.

I’ve met doulas and midwives and yoga instructors who have all taught me something. I’ve swapped tips with other mothers about sibling rivalry and potty training.  I attended monthly La Leche League meetings for 4 years and learned something new every time.

To say I am thankful for my experience with this little store is an understatement.   I have logged so many hours and learned so much. The women I have worked with have become some of my dearest friends and the customers I have interacted with have offered me so many new perspectives. It is not hyperbole to say that when it comes to motherhood this store helped raise me.

While the day to day of working in a store may not be the most prestigious of jobs I have been unbelievably honored to be a part of what Hip to be Round was.  Hip to be Round was so much more than clothes, it was a safe place for women at such a unique and rare time and I am so lucky to have been a part of that.

 

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Participating in the Big Latch On while working at Hip to be Round.

I Don’t Want to Know What You Think Causes Autism.

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Today this article popped up in my facebook feed.
I now suspect I will see it approximately 1,000 more times before the day is done, shared over and over and over again.

Read it if you want but I’ll sum it up for you: researchers found that of 100 kids with autism 16 of them had very high levels of folate at birth, and 15 had high levels of vitamin B12 at birth.

Folate often in the form of folic acid is recommended to pregnant mothers to prevent birth defects in the brain and spine.

The study shows a “plausible” link.

The study has not been peer reviewed.

And yet, if I google “folic acid autism link” I get a laundry list of articles from “news” sites citing this new study. Scroll down a little further and I get this one: Study links folic acid to lower autism risk.

To make matters worse Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shared this article (From Salon.com) on social media. If you’d really like to feel a special kind of rage read the comments (names removed but typos remain):

“autism is from vaccines injections………just like everyone who got bird flu or Swin flu were the only ones who GOT flu shots.”

“This is the kind of thing that happens when people use supplements to get their nutrition instead of healthful unprocessed foods. It isn’t just autism! Our food and water Supplies are tainted and damaging our bodies genetically.”

“Try looking at the levels of mercury our children are forced to eat, breathe, and drink. not to mention all of the other crap poisoning our environment.”

Stop. This is helping nobody, anywhere, so just stop.

Stop.

 

I am so tired of seeing this ridiculous bullshit.

Moms have guilt about everything but you haven’t MET a mom with guilt until you meet a parent who has a child with a disability the cause of which changes by the week.

The guilt is overwhelming.

You took too many vitamins, you vaccinated them on a doctor recommended schedule, you ate out of plastic tupperware, your lettuce wasn’t organic, you didn’t exercise enough, you took medication, you had postpartum depression, you didn’t breastfeed, you caught the flu from a co-worker… The list of things you probably did to screw up your child in one way or another is ENDLESS and when you’ve scheduled your 4th IEP meeting of the year wondering how you’re ever going to make it through the last month of school with your child let alone the next 12 YEARS the last thing you need to read is how your fucking multivitamin put you here.

*whew*

So autism moms (or pregnant moms), I say to you this:

 

You are not responsible for your child’s autism just like you are not responsible for which physical features your child gets from you or your partner.

You didn’t GIVE your child autism.

Your child is perfect. Your child is flawed. Just like we are perfect, and we are flawed.  It’s just that some of our flaws are easily seen and some of them aren’t.

 

Articles like these, a “plausible link” between something an autism aren’t helping the 1 in 68 children diagnosed with autism.  They are not helping families who are looking for guidance on how to support their child with autism. In fact, these click-bait-y articles do more harm than good.

Not only do they add insult to injury because parents who do so much to support their children also feel guilty for having caused it; but now if you’re pregnant do you take your folic acid or not? Prevent spina bifida and risk autism or prevent autism and risk spina bifida?

I’m not suggesting researchers don’t look into the cause of autism.

But until you have actual data that actually means something…

Don’t publish it…. and for God’s sake stop sharing it.

 

Supporting the Mama

 

Supporting the Mama caring for the journey of motherhood from pregnancy through birth and postpartum

A friend asked me recently if I had ever thought about being a doula.  I get this question a lot.

When I had my first two kids, I didn’t know any other mothers except for my own, my mother in law, and a friend who lived a couple time zones away. Many of my friends had recently graduated from college and moved away. Suffice to say it was an isolating time.

One of the things that saved me during this time was working at a small maternity boutique where I was able to interact with mothers daily. Over the next 10 years, I had many conversations with many different women at a unique time in their lives. I connected with some clients more than others; mother-to-mother conversations get very personal very quickly.  Over maternity clothes we discussed fears of birth and parenting, excitement, surprises, good outcomes and bad ones, sex, big decisions, breastfeeding troubles, sibling rivalry, birth control, periods… you get the idea. One day I found myself giving an impassioned speech to a couple while holding nursing bras after the pregnant mother said something about birth being terrifying and icky.  Fearing I had gone a bit far, I looked at her husband who had a look on his face that could only be described as jealousy. I wasn’t sure about her, but he was totally ready to give birth.

These hundreds of conversations, along with my own journey of becoming a mother, fascinated me, not just with birth, but with the transition from pregnancy into motherhood.  Not just the several hours of labor, or the birth experience itself (which I love), but the entire journey, from pregnancy through the postpartum.

By the time Marlowe was born, 7 years after my first, things were completely different. I had much more confidence as a mother but also so much support from close friends. While only a couple of them had children of their own, my friends supported me through the pregnancy and postpartum with their presence, humor and, in the postpartum time with meals.  There wasn’t a step of the way from pregnancy through my first year with Marlowe that I didn’t feel supported and thankful for that support.

The experience of having children with this network of support was so vastly different from my experience in my first two pregnancies it was overwhelming. It was as though I had not realized how isolated I was before until I had something to compare it to.
Perhaps one of the reasons being a birth doula doesn’t appeal to me is that I think of birth as a unique rite of passage similar your wedding day. Yes, it’s important. Yes, it’s magical. Yes, you will remember it forever. But it’s one (albeit huge) part of the story of your relationship. So much happens before, and so much will continue after.  This whole journey is what I love so much about women.  But what do I do with that?

As I figure out how to make use of this, in addition to my usual postings about Stitch Fix, crafty stuff, random thoughts, my kitchen , etc, I’ll include a series of posts under the theme of Supporting the Mama.

There will be no more births for me and my time at my beloved little boutique ended with 2015.  I am not sure what I want to do with this energy in the long run, but I feel very lucky to have several expecting friends, and while for some people that means snuggling newborn babies, for me it means I get to do one of my favorite things: lending support to moms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Childbirth and The Mommy Wars

As it becomes more and more obvious that my due date is somewhat imminent, I have been asked several times where I am going to deliver.No Wonderwoman

It always takes me a moment to decide whether or not I am going to tell the truth, because it’s fodder for The Mommy Wars and I hate that.

I usually go with truth. Hudson was born at home and I plan on giving birth at home this time too.  And to further confuse people, I am very much looking forward to the birth. Not the baby being born (although that is also exciting) but the actual birthing of the baby.

The question I get after that is “what are you going to do about the pain?” and the answer to that I guess is “feel it.” because there aren’t many options for pain relief in your home. (And quite frankly, anything in your medicine cabinet isn’t going to cut it.) After that I usually hear “wow, you’re brave.”

And while I appreciate that very much, it’s not exactly true.  I am not really that brave at all.

I think they are the brave ones that trust a relatively new medical intervention and a virtual stranger with a really intense looking needle, where as I’m just going about it the old-fashioned way.

You see, much to the dismay of some, I’m not having a home birth or a natural birth because I’m braver or stronger than a mother who chooses the whole hospital epidural route.  Because I talk to a lot of first time moms who feel the full on pressures of “The Mommy Wars”, I feel like this is incredibly important to say:

My birth choice is unique to me and has absolutely no reflection on anyone else’s choices.
The reverse is also true. Your birth will be your story. You have complete ownership over your choices (so long as you feel you are the one making them), and that in and of itself is empowering.

The truth is, I find an epidural creepy (and I don’t epi well– I’ve had one) and a c-section terrifying.
Now, someone who has had one or both of those might say to me “But there is nothing to be worried about!” or “I had one and it was fine”
And to you I can say the same about birthing in tub of warm water in your bedroom.

You see, many women who give birth naturally will admit to being terrified of a c-section.  Oh yes, there is an amazing sense of empowerment, of bonding and of strength that comes with a natural birth… and that’s fabulous, but really not my point. My point is, we all have fears and we all have concerns and we are all guided by them in one way or another.  I am not afraid of natural birth… but I am afraid of an epidural (and you can put c-sections in the killer clown nightmare category.)  On the flip side, you might be afraid of the pain, but not at all afraid of surgery. Those fears come from your experiences and the narrative you grew up with (another post for another day) and they are for you to either let guide you or to choose to conquer based on whether or not you think the payoff is worth it.

I, being a weenie, am deciding not only not to conquer my fears but to go so far as to avoid even the possibility of conquering my fear by birthing at home.  It has the added benefit of being a rather comfortable place to be with a fridge full of my own food and nobody tells me I can’t eat.

So yes, while I’m in labor I will be telling myself that I have the strength of a thousand women.  That I am brave, and powerful, and a complete badass.  And I’ll need to believe that to make it through.
But we both know, I’m not any stronger than my friends, or my mother, or grandmother, or any other mother for that matter regardless of their birth.  There is nothing special or unique about me or my body. I’m not smarter or better educated. I’m just a wuss who is guided by my own set of fears, my perhaps overly romantic view of birth, and the narrative I’ve grown to believe.

Pregnancy and Body Image

I had a completely different piece in mind to mark my 30th week of pregnancy.
But something else popped up and I’m going to have to address it.

I helped someone today that said this to me “how come other people look cute pregnant and me… and you… just look huge?”

I’ll let that soak in for a minute.

This isn’t the first time a customer has said something to me that couldn’t be interpreted as anything other than an insult.  When I was pregnant with Hudson a customer actually scoffed when I mentioned my pre-pregnancy size.

Even pregnant women can manage to say the wrong thing to other pregnant women.30weeksweight

Now, what was my hormone-charged reaction to this woman telling me I look huge instead of cute?

Well, I laughed. Because it was funny. And I told her that other people looked cute because they were the one who is pregnant and not you and that we always judge ourselves (and apparently sales people) differently.

I’m 30 weeks pregnant. I’m quickly on my way to outweighing my husband, I have dimples in places that aren’t cute, and just holding up a pair of jeans two sizes larger than my regular size I can already tell they’d be too tight.

Compared to non-pregnant me, I am huge.

And you know what? I’m totally okay with that.  I feel great about how I look, which is why what she said really didn’t bother me.

I work with a lot of women, and I am always shocked how many women seem to truly hate their pregnant bodies.  It seems that at least once a day I hear someone say “I’m just so fat”.

To which I usually say “Stop.”

Just stop.  This will not help you. And besides, you’re completely missing the point.

Now there are extremes on either end, some people who gain too much and people who gain too little, but for the average pregnant lady (who always seem to be the most critical) I look at it like this:

athletes04largeSwimmers have long bodies and broad shoulders because they need strong arms and a strong back to perform strokes like the butterfly.

Marathon runners are much less broad, they are lean and spindly, they need to be light and muscular to carry their weight for long distances.

Olympic weight lifters have very biceps of course but also large quads to stabilize themselves as they lift over 500lbs of weight.

And you’re going to need a few extra dimples on your butt to grow a strong and healthy baby.

This process and the day you give birth, what you and your body will be nothing short of an Olympic feat. So take it easy on the self-criticism –at least temporarily.

So, no I won’t be winning any bikini contests any time soon (never won one not pregnant so it’s not a hard loss). And, yeah, it’s a bummer when even your pajama pants are tight.  But I’m not about to be the one turning to the person next to me on the climb up Mt. Everest asking “Does this snow suit make my butt look big?”.

Because I’ll miss the view from the mountain.

And I’ll ruin the journey.

And I’ll stop myself from enjoying something that most people only get to do a few times in their life– if they are lucky. Some people never get to do it at all.

And who knows… Maybe being able to accept (maybe even love) your pregnant body… you might be able to make a few steps in forgiving that non-pregnant body too.