Parenting

Elves

I love Christmastime.  I love the lights.  The joy.  The goodwill.  I love it even more through the eyes of my little guy.  He is SO excited.  Oh. MY. Goodness.

Everything about Christmas excites him.  Ho ho.  Baby Jesus.  Lights. Monsters. Trees.  Not to mention presents.

After we put up our tree, I wrapped a couple of gifts and put them under it right next to Massimo’s nativity play set.  Clearly, I didn’t think that part through.  As soon as he saw the presents, he ran to them saying:  “I so excited!  My presents!  Batman! Spiderman! All that!”

Uh oh.

I responded, very sweetly, “no baby, those aren’t for you and we can’t open presents until Ho Ho comes.”

And he wailed.  He cried and cried and didn’t understand.  His feelings were hurt because (1) those were not his presents–in fact none of the presents were his, and (2) I wouldn’t let him open them.

Oh the horror.

Then I made mistake number 2.  I left the room to attend to a biological need.  When I returned, I found Massimo and an unwrapped gift.

“Massimo,”  I said.  “That wasn’t for you.”

Again, he wailed.  He cried and cried and cried.  It was a great parenting moment.  I had sucked the joy of Christmas out of my two year old baby.

I also thought it was a teaching moment.  A moment to teach my two –almost three year old–a little bit about self control.

So, the next day–I wrapped more gifts.  Again, I put them under the tree next to his nativity set.  Again, he was confused.  He cried and wailed.  He wanted to open the new gift.  Which was either Batman or Batman’s house.  (Have I mentioned that my child wants Batman, Spiderman, Batman’s house, all that–and that up until right about now I’ve not been so sure about embracing the superhero theme at 2).

One thing quickly became clear, if I was going to teach him self control–I needed help.  And I needed help from someone Massimo loved and respected.

Luckily, we have our very own elf–Bobby Gi Gi.  It can be kind of a hassle trying to figure out new places to put him every nigh.  And, to be very honest, I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to remember to move him every night during Christmas until he no longer believes that Bobby is magical.  But for now, Bobby is magical.

So the next night, Bobby went to the North Pole and returned with a letter to Massimo from Ho Ho.  In the letter, Ho Ho asked Massimo not to open any more gifts until Mommy told him he could.  Ho Ho said he was busy working on Batman and Spiderman but if Massimo kept opening the gifts under the tree, he would have to give Batman and Spiderman to another little boy.

Massimo hasn’t opened any more gifts under the tree.

Thank you Bobby Gi Gi and Ho Ho.

Love,

J

 

 

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Fertility · Single Mom

Elderly Primigravida: Not for Virgin Marathon Runners

Massimo doesn’t know this but, when he was in his Mommy’s belly–I called him Baby Sue.  Two procedures, almost daily doctor visits, daily shots, blood tests every other day, and finally my little nugget was conceived.

Eight weeks later–I was back in the doctor’s office.  This time it was the normal OB/GYN.  I was pretty excited–but I had enough of doctors.  At that point, I would have been just fine if I’d never seen another doctor in my life.  Don’t get me wrong–I was incredibly grateful for the skills that they had used to create the life that was growing inside of me but I would have preferred to be grateful from afar.

I had a vision of a beautiful natural child-birth.  With candles and a bathtub.  There would have been music–maybe even chanting.  It would be painful but worth it.

I even picked the doctor’s office that was affiliated with the one and only midwifery center in my area.  The office had the highest natural childbirth rate in my state and the doctor I picked ran the midwifery center.

After my eight week exam, the doctor invited me into his office–where he discussed his vision of my child-birth.  We were not on the same page.  I’m not even sure we were reading the same book.

I explained to him that I was interested in learning more about the midwifery center and wanted to “register” to have my birth there.  The doctor, who appeared to be 78, scoffed!

“You wouldn’t run a marathon for the first time at 37, you can’t have natural childbirth for the first time at 37.  You will RUIN OUR NUMBERS!!!!!!!”

I envisioned the following response: “I burst out in tears, lunged across the desk, grabbed his lab coat and shouted at him.  Don’t you understand!  I’ve had enough of your type!  I just want to have this baby and be left alone!  And you, you crotchety old man!  Its 2014.  Not 1914.  Put me on the list for the midwifery center and I’ll show you a marathon!”

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I didn’t do any of that.  I did nearly burst out in tears but I got up and left.

I was scared.  Pregnancy is scary.  Exciting but scary.  I think the medical field does a good job of making it even more scary.

Three years later and I’m STILL scared. Does that ever go away?  I have my doubts.

After the doctor’s appointment, I went home dejected but did NOT give up the hope of having a natural childbirth.

I soon received an email from my doctor with the notes from that day’s appointment.

It contained the following diagnosis: Elderly Primigravida.

Love,

 

J

 

 

 

Parenting · Single Mom

The Child is Just Fine, Thank You Very Much.

Before you judge me, make sure your life is perfect.–Clint Eastwood

Older women can utter the most judgmental words ever spoken to younger women.  Especially, when it comes to parenting, lifestyle choices, and appearances.

It is possible that other demographics (older men, younger women, and younger men) harbor the same thoughts but they do not dare speak them aloud.

Older women do not care.  They seem to think that they can–indeed that it is their God given obligation to –tell younger women exactly what they think.  No holds barred.  I have considered that maybe I’m not being fair here.  I could be too quick to stereotype.  We all make judgments based on our own personal experiences–and that’s what I’m doing here.  I’ll explain.

Two years ago, I traveled to a conference for work and took 3 month old Massimo.  During the conference, I attended–with Massimo in tow–a BBQ held at the home of one of the “leaders” of our organization.  Massimo wasn’t the only baby there–in fact–another attorney and her husband attended with their baby who was several months older than Massimo.

Oh, how they swooned.  Massimo was a very handsome baby.  We compared the two babies–their size.  Massimo was larger even though younger–which (by the way) meant exactly nothing.  Everything was going pretty well.  Massimo was well-behaved and there were no major accidents. . . . . at least until one of the older female “leaders” of our organization accidentally opened her mouth.

She asked me about my husband.  I told her I wasn’t married.  Although I’m sure it was quite obvious to her that the fact that I had no husband was not all that important to me–it was to her– and she continued to pry.

“Well, what about his father? Where is he?”

“He isn’t around,”  I responded and then quickly tried to change the subject.  Having none of it, she persisted.

“Well, that’s not good for the baby!” Awkward silent moment.  I walked away.

To be fair, I am not sure she would characterize her interaction with me as an accident.

I was at a work function, with a “leader” of my organization–who by the way–I had never met until that  moment.  Of course, her opinion of my life did not matter to me but no mother –particularly a new mother–wants ANYONE to tell her that the choices that she makes aren’t “good for the baby.”

Here’s the thing, this lady literally had no business telling me what her opinion of my life choices were.  They were quite simply none of her business.  But she hit a nerve.

The story line that single parenting (particularly single motherhood) is bad for children is a time-honored tale.  “Single mothers” have their own demographic–beside which appears higher rates of poverty, school failure, and other “problems” with the children as they grow up.  Indeed, the children of single mothers are destined to fail.  At least that’s what we’ve been told.

In fact, that story is not exactly true–and it does not have to be.

Mathilde Brewaeys from VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam conducted a study comparing the well-being of children growing up in single-mother-by-choice and heterosexual two-parent families and found no differences in terms of parent-child relationship or child development.

According to her, “the assumption that growing up in a family without a father is not good for the child is based mainly on research into children whose parents are divorced and who thus have experienced parental conflict.”  Ms. Brewaeys explained “however, it seems likely that any negative influence on child development depends more on a troubled parent-child relationship and not on the absence of a father. Single-mothers-by-choice knowingly make the decision to raise their child alone, in contrast to unintended single mothers. Little research has been done on the specific features of these single-mothers-by-choice families and whether there are differences between them and heterosexual two-parent families in terms of parent-child relationship, parental social support and well-being of the children.”

The study was a comparison of the well-being of children between 18 months and 6 years old.  69 of the children were raised by women who had knowingly chosen to raise their child alone and 59 were raised by mothers from heterosexual two-parent families.

Based on the results of the study, Ms. Brewaeys reported that children growing up with single-mothers-by-choice appeared to enjoy a similar parent-child relationship as those in heterosexual two-parent families.  She also said “a strong social network is of crucial importance.”

I am certain that she’s right about this last point.  It is hard enough being a parent.  Its super stressful to know that you are entirely responsible for the well-being of another human.  That’s why a support network is important.  It is allows a single mom (or dad) to have someone to reach to for help.  It also allows the single parent an opportunity to have conversations and participate in activities apart from their children.

Of course, it is always possible that some of the choices that I make not be “good for the baby.”  But, I think it’s that way with any parent–married or single.  We all try to make the best choices we can make and make those decisions based on enough information.  Inevitably, we will, on occasion, make bad ones but that’s all a part of life–and they are our choices.  Not anyone else’s.

At the end of the day, I know that the child is going to be just fine and I have to hope that whatever bad choices that I make will be just enough to make him an interesting adult.  If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please be sure to like, comment and share.

Love,

 

J

 

#singlemombychoice #singleparenting #singlemom

Fertility

Big Bellies

About five years ago, I began to realize that I needed more in my life.  At the time, I was in the middle of a 200 hour yoga teacher training.  Sure, I enjoyed the ability to do whatever I wanted.  I was quite focused on myself.  I had an active social life.  But I needed more.

I saw my friends and family with children.  I needed that.  There was one little problem.  My life did not support that need.

I meditated a LOT and practiced a LOT of yoga, even more than ever because I was in training. In other words, when I say that I needed to have children–I can tell you that my heart and I had long conversations about it—and a heart knows what it needs.

Around the same time, I had an appointment with my doctor.  I was concerned that I’d never tried to have children (in fact–I’d tried real hard not to) and that my ability to have children would be compromised by my age.  I was also concerned that, because I was single, I would not be able to adopt–should I be unable to have children of my own.

My doctor was supportive and suggested that I meet with a reproductive endocrinologist (a fertility doc).  She thought that a specialist might have a test to determine if I had anything to worry about regarding my reproductive potential.

I immediately made an appointment with the recommended specialist.  The specialist did, in fact, have such a test.  The test is called the Anti-Mullerian Hormone Test (AMH).

It is a simple blood test that determines something called “ovarian reserve.”  Women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs.  Both the quality and the quantity of those eggs decrease with age.  The Anti-Mullerian Hormone is a hormone secreted by cells in developing egg sacs (follicles).   “Ovarian reserve” then is the estimated number of follicles that you have left. . . . or something like that.

At my appointment with the specialist, she took a sample of my blood and a lab performed that test.  That part was easy enough.  About a week later, I received a phone call from the specialist’s receptionist advising me of the results of the test.

According to the receptionist, the test revealed that I had a diminished ovarian reserve.  My reserve was so low, in fact, that I should anticipate menopause within the next five years.

My entire heart sank.  How was that possible?  I was nowhere near the age where I should be worried about menopause.  I had squandered my youth.  I had abused my fertility potential.  I was never going to have children.  I cried.  A lot.  Never mind the fact that I was receiving this information on the phone from a receptionist who could not answer any of the questions that I had.  I hung up the phone.  My heart was broken.

No kidding–after that phone call–EVERY single woman I saw was pregnant.  Or so it seemed.  They all had these big beautiful bellies.  Bellies that I knew then I’d never experience.  Bellies that I’d never known that I wanted until I found out I could never have one.

Just this week, I read an article published by VOX.  It reported a study that was first published in JAMA.  According to that study, diminished ovarian reserve (as determined by the AMH test) is not associated with infertility among women attempting to conceive naturally.  According to JAMA, women should be cautioned against using AMH levels to assess their current fertility.  Imagine that.  On the other hand, it is a good indicator of the number of eggs that can be retrieved either for the purpose of freezing or in-vitro fertilization.

Regardless of the new study, I am glad I took the test.

Love,

 

J

#AMH #anti-mullerian #ovarianreserve