Monthly Archives

February 2018

Motherhood

You’re Not A Bad Mom Because You Didn’t Enjoy Pregnancy

February 15, 2018
Didn't Enjoy Pregnancy

The below photo is from one of several hospital visits for dehydration early in my pregnancy. Eventually the nurses started doing home visits to administer IV fluids so I could avoid the hospital.

Pregnancy isn’t easy. For some it might be, but, for many, it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong—pregnancy is beautiful, wondrous, and miraculous. Before I became a mother, I used to think someone really had to struggle for a baby for it to be considered a “miracle.”

But once I became a mom myself, I realized that every single human life is nothing short of miraculous.

It is a wonder to build a human life from scratch. It is powerful and transformative.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable.

Didn't Enjoy Your Pregnancy

And before you say it, I will: Pregnancy doesn’t have to be enjoyable. It’s a necessary sacrifice you undertake if you want to give birth to a child.

But, it’s still OK to admit that you don’t enjoy it if you don’t, and that doesn’t mean you love your children or value your pregnancy any less.

You wouldn’t always know that from some of the conversations mothers have with each other though—particularly on the Internet.

A lot of times, if a woman complains that she didn’t enjoy/doesn’t enjoy pregnancy, she’ll receive responses telling her to get over it, or reminding her how many women would kill to be in her shoes.

Or, someone will respond gushing over how much they enjoyed their own pregnancy—how wonderful it was and how they would do it all over again in a heartbeat, so clearly there must be something wrong with her if she’s not loving it.

None of this is helpful.

Didn't Enjoy Pregnancy

I respect and empathize with those who struggle to conceive. I couldn’t imagine the struggle, the sacrifice, and the pain. But one woman’s struggle doesn’t negate another woman’s struggle, and it’s time we stop this harmful game of comparison.

There are many reasons a woman might not love pregnancy.

Maybe she did struggle to get pregnant or has a history of loss, and never felt fully safe and at ease during her pregnancy.

Maybe she has a medical condition that makes pregnancy more difficult and anxiety-provoking.

Maybe, like me, she suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum and required IV meds and fluids just to survive.

Maybe the general anxieties and discomforts of pregnancy left her feeling completely unlike herself.

Or, maybe the problem is something else entirely. The physical, mental, and emotional strain of pregnancy can be difficult even under the best of circumstances.

A woman’s reasons for not enjoying pregnancy are personal and shouldn’t be fodder for someone else’s judgment.

So, if you didn’t love being pregnant, or are currently pregnant and struggling to enjoy it, don’t feel guilty.

You still are and will be an amazing mother. Your sacrifice is appreciated. Your struggle is seen. It’s not easy, but you’re doing it. You are doing a great job—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

This post originally appeared on The Mom at Law on Facebook.

Career

6 Qualities of People Who Are Confident But Not Cocky

February 12, 2018
confident not cocky

In a professional environment, it does little good to be a shrinking violet. When trying to grow and advance in your field, you want to put your best foot forward. You want your clients to trust you, you want your peers to respect you and, perhaps most importantly, you want to show your higher-ups why they hired you.

Whether it’s because you’re trying to overcompensate or you just want to be recognized for your achievements, it can be easy to bypass confidence and make a left turn into Smug Town. But being truly confident requires different qualities, ones that cocky people are simply lacking. Below are six traits exhibited by confident people that set them apart.

Confident but not cocky

1. They’re knowledgeable, but know that they don’t know everything.

Confident people are secure in their knowledge and abilities, but they accept their limitations.

Knowing that you don’t know everything is half the challenge of being a competent professional. People who are truly confident understand that their knowledge is limited.

On the other hand, cocky people are all about showing off what they know and tuning out anything else.

Confident people aren’t concerned with feigning the thin veneer of invincibility. They’re willing to share their strengths and their weaknesses. As a result, they are more likely to work collaboratively with others and be receptive to their colleagues’ thoughts, suggestions and constructive criticisms.

2. They welcome feedback.

Confident people welcome the feedback of others in their field. They listen. They engage. They know they don’t have to accept every piece of advice they receive, but they are appreciative of others’ insights and experiences.

Confident people are secure in their personal and professional identities because they are active participants in their own growth. They are constantly looking to sharpen their skillset, bolster their productivity and turn their weaknesses into strengths.

This means that confident people are comfortable with taking an honest look inward and taking stock of where they’ve been, where they are and where they’d like to go.

No one finds success in a vacuum and confident people know this. Because of this, confident people frequently gain a loyal tribe of positive mentors, trusted colleagues and other individuals whose counsel they trust.

Remember: no one wants to collaborate with a blowhard.

3. They lead from behind.

As leaders, confident people aren’t afraid to let those under their leadership shine. Whereas cocky people may cling fiercely to the front of the pack, showing off their status as frontrunner, confident people are okay letting others take the reins for a bit.

But don’t mistake this willingness to momentarily take a backseat as passivity or idleness. Confident leaders know there is value in letting others forge their own paths, build their strengths and make decisions for the team.

As opposed to the brash racket of a cocky figurehead, people secure in their role as leader lead with a cool confidence.

They aren’t threatened by the ambitions or talents of others. In fact, they thrive in the company of driven individuals and want to see them succeed. As a result, groups and organizations led by confident individuals are happier, more productive and more successful.

4. They give credit where it’s due — and they’re not afraid to share the spotlight.

Because confident people are secure in their identities, they aren’t afraid of being one-upped or overshadowed. Of course, being human, they want to see their efforts acknowledged and their hard work come to fruition.  However, they aren’t obsessed with their own success — and that’s what makes them successful.

If another person comes up with an amazing idea or proposal, confident people don’t put a negative spin on it. They aren’t idea killers. They aren’t worried that someone else’s success will take away from their own. They don’t dull others’ shine.

Rather, they know that there is more than enough shine to go around and that everyone’s lives will be brighter because of it.

5. They pick their battles.

Another difference between confident and cocky individuals is that confident people choose their battles wisely. Even the most casually confident person isn’t immune to getting annoyed or intimidated from time to time, particularly in the company of someone whose goal may be to elicit those exact feelings.

Still, confident people pick their battles. They don’t get riled at the first sign of trouble. They aren’t immediately reactive. They think before they speak. They remain calm and measured. They don’t throw their weight around in the pursuit of justice. Instead, they reach into their diplomatic toolbelt and utilize a frequently underused weapon — tact.

Confident people are thoughtful and careful. They don’t let pride get the best of them, and they understand that while we’re all sometimes inclined toward fits of ego, we don’t need to indulge it at every turn.

6. They’re stealthy.

Quietly confident people truly are the ninjas of the professional world. Because they don’t need the constant approval of others, they aren’t interested in broadcasting their every move. While cocky people are busy telling you how good they are and what they can do, a confident person will show up and just show you without showing off.

A version of this article originally appeared on Fairygodboss. You can view the original piece in its entirety here.

You might also enjoy How to Find a Great Mentor Early in Your Career and 5 Reasons Mothers are Workplace Rockstars.

Motherhood Self-Care

11 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Having A Baby

February 8, 2018
having a baby

Welcoming a baby is a joyous occasion, but it can be a stressful time as well.

Between the demands of pregnancy, the unpredictable nature of labor and delivery, and the haze of the early newborn days, it’s easy to lose sight of your own needs.

The nine months of pregnancy aren’t just a gestation period; they’re a countdown to the expiration of a previous life. That might sound a little dramatic, but it’s true.

Have a baby and your life will be forever changed. There are few things in life with such sudden and permanent consequences.

I’m a firm believer in the importance of self-care–particularly during pregnancy and postpartum. I also believe there are some things that every woman should do before having a baby.

I’m not talking about things like traveling the world, saving a certain amount of money, or going to graduate school. Those choices are personal and the pieces that shape our lives will look different depending on who we are, our background, and our interests.

What I am referring to are small acts of self-care you can perform for yourself during pregnancy in preparation for the big life changes that await you.

Whether you are a first time mom or beyond, here are the 11 things you should do before having a baby.

Having a Baby

1. Get a massage.

Go for a prenatal massage. If you have the time and disposable income, go for more than one.

What our bodies go through during pregnancy is insane when you think about it. You deserve (more than) a little pampering.

A maternity massage isn’t just a relaxing indulgence–it can also be a way to keep your body from completely falling apart. Go.

2. Buy yourself a present.

During your pregnancy, think ahead to post-partum you.

The you who might struggle to find time to shower. The you who won’t fit into any of her old clothes. The you whose eyes will burn from sleep deprivation.

Buy that future you a present now–something that won’t require much effort to wear or enjoy during those early days with a new baby.

No, a sunny scarf or simple pair of earrings won’t make the old you come back any faster, but they will be a reminder of that old you and can help you feel put together while you’re living in leggings and t-shirts.

3. Perform acts of micro self-care.

Stretch. Burn scented candles or diffuse lavender. Take long showers.

You know that aisle in Target with the face masks and fancy soaps? You live there now.

Pregnancy can be super uncomfortable. Performing small acts of self-care to combat that discomfort can make you feel human and relaxed.

4. Try not to worry about sleep.

It can be difficult to get a good night sleep during pregnancy, which can be made worse by everyone telling you to “sleep while you can.”

Try to sleep as much as your body and schedule allows, but also don’t worry about “banking” sleep for the future. That’s not a thing, and it’s definitely not something you should stress over. You’ll cross the no sleep bridge when you get there.

5. Stock up on snacks.

Life with a new baby will be hectic. Don’t wait until your new bundle arrives to build your snack stash, which you will definitely need during those rushed early days.

Do it while you’re unencumbered and clearheaded enough to remember that you don’t like raisins.

6. Rest.

Put your feet up and don’t feel guilty about it. Lie on the couch when you need a break. Choose to do nothing instead of doing something.

It will be much easier to follow this advice if you’re a first-time mom, but even if you’re a second-time mom or beyond, try to steal these quiet moments when you can.

It won’t suddenly become easier to do so later, that’s for sure.

7. Feel all the feelings.

Whatever you feel–and you will feel a lot of things–feel it without guilt.

Don’t worry about how you “should” be feeling, or how other people you know allegedly felt.

With surging hormones, mental and physical changes, and a major life transition ahead, it’s completely normal to feel everything from pure joy to abject fear.

Embrace your feelings and work through them. No guilt.

8. Enjoy date nights and family time.

Enjoy those nights with your husband or afternoons out as whatever family size you currently are.

You will eventually adjust to life with your newest family member, but never again will it be just the two of you (or three of you, or four, etc. if you already have kids).

9. Savor a moment.

Piggy-backing off that last tip, be sure to savor a moment from your pregnancy and/or your life during this time.

I’m not going tell you to “enjoy every minute” because that’s an unrealistic expectation for anyone, particularly if you were sick much of your pregnancy or struggled in other ways.

But, at some point, take a mental snapshot of a moment that makes you happy and remember it going forward.

Soon life will change in dramatic fashion, and it’s OK to celebrate the things you’ll miss.

10. Satisfy a pregnancy craving.

I’m not going to tell you how or what to eat. That’s between you, your doctor, and the Taco Bell drive-thru.

Try to eat a healthy and varied diet, of course, but don’t beat yourself up for indulging in less virtuous cravings every now and then.

11. Get in the picture.

No matter how you feel about your appearance during pregnancy, be sure to capture at least some photos of your pregnant self.

Whether it’s a few quick snapshots on your phone, or an elaborate unicorn-themed maternity photo shoot, be sure to leave your pregnancy with at least some photographic evidence that it happened.

Even if you don’t love the pics during pregnancy, you’ll cherish them for the rest of your life thereafter–and your little one will too.

Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself.

Twin Life

5 Things You Should Never Say To A Mom Expecting Twins

February 5, 2018
Expecting Twins

Any woman who has been pregnant is well aware that people lose their filter around pregnant women. Comments span the gamut from those that are intrusive, shocking, and inappropriate, to those that are downright hurtful.

It’s a bizarre phenomenon I won’t soon understand. In my opinion, anything that would be inappropriate to say to or ask of a non-pregnant person remains inappropriate if or when that person becomes pregnant.

Still, that doesn’t stop the stream of insensitive remarks from flowing whenever a pregnant woman steps outside. It’s bad when a woman is pregnant with a singleton, and, in my experience, it’s even worse when you’re pregnant with twins.

I had always heard that parents of twins are inundated with invasive and oftentimes rude comments and that pregnancy is no exception for this. As someone nearing the end of her own twin pregnancy, I can confirm that this is 100% true.

I can list the number of thoughtless remarks I received during my singleton pregnancy three years ago, but I’ve already lost count of the ones I’ve gotten this time around.

I’m not the first one who has encountered this, and I certainly won’t be the last. So, as a public service, here are five of the things you should never say to a woman who is pregnant with twins.

Expecting Twins

1. “Oh no!”

Oh yes, this is something someone actually said to me this pregnancy when they asked what I was having. When I responded that I was having a “boy and a girl,” the kind person responded “oh no! Not twins.” Ouch.

It’s not exactly the chit-chat you expect when you’re in for a dental cleaning, but alas, such is life as an expectant mother of twins.

Look, I don’t expect everyone to be as excited about my growing family as my husband and I, but I also don’t expect your condolences when I respond to your inquiry about our healthy impending arrivals.

If you wouldn’t say it to someone expecting one baby, don’t say it to someone expecting two.

2. “That’s my worst nightmare.”

Oh, really? Because I could think of things a lot worse.

Yes, I’m aware that having two babies will be way more work than having one. Carrying two has already been a feat beyond imagination.

You don’t have to tell me. I can assure you I’ve thought about this enough for the both of us. I’m definitely daunted by the challenge before me, but guess what? I’m also overjoyed, amazed, humbled by, and hopeful for the changes ahead.

So, once again, you (hopefully) wouldn’t tell a woman expecting a singleton that she’s living your “worst nightmare”—so don’t say it to a woman expecting twins.

3. “No baby yet?”

Whether she is weeks before or days after her due date, no pregnant woman likes to hear this. Guess when else she doesn’t like to hear it? When she is literally months away from her due date.

This happened to me one day when I walked into physical therapy (another thing that sometimes happens when you’re expecting two). As I lumbered in, the receptionist glanced up at me forlornly and sighed, “no baby yet?”.

I was six-and-a-half months pregnant. So, yeah. No baby yet.

I explained that I was actually pregnant with two and still (hopefully) a couple months away from welcoming them, but should I really have had to explain this?

Should anyone be assuming a woman is due any minute?

No. So, please don’t, and definitely don’t say it.

4. “You’re huge.”

This one has flowed so freely you’d think people were offering it as a compliment.

Yes, being pregnant with twins means you’re going to be a bit larger than you’d be during a singleton pregnancy. Doctors know this. Society knows this. The lady pregnant with twins knows it. But, that doesn’t mean she has to be reminded of it every second.

5. “You definitely won’t be able to do XYZ.”

Granted, expectant parents of singletons get this a lot, too, but I’ve heard this much more this pregnancy than I ever did with my son.

“You definitely won’t be able to write again.”

“You definitely won’t be able to exercise anymore.”

“You definitely won’t be able to work ever again.”

Are these predictions true? I have no idea—but they’re certainly not helpful.

Moreover, I’ve heard these remarks from people who have no idea what my plans are or what my support system looks like.

Hopefully you wouldn’t go all doomsday on an expectant mother of one, so don’t do it to an expectant mother of two.

She knows her life is about to be flipped upside down, and she’s preparing herself for the changes ahead the best she knows how.

So, what should you say when someone tells you they’re expecting twins? Simple: Congratulations.

What’s the worst thing someone said to you when you were expecting (whether singleton or multiples)?

Do you have anything you would add to this list?

Humor Motherhood

A First Time Mom’s 4 Best (Technological) Friends

February 1, 2018
First Time Mom

First time moms get a lot of advice about the gadgets and gear they’ll need after their babies are born. This is not that type of list.

Sure, you may be interested in the latest advancements in baby swing technology, but, for at least the first several weeks, your little bundle will likely be more interested in the innovative crook of your arm than whatever new flying saucer 4moms has on the market.

I wouldn’t deny any new parent the latest bouncer, Boppy, or bottle warmer—it is a rite of passage for new parents to fill their abodes with twelve different lounging pillows, forty-five new swaddle blankets, and six variations of what essentially amounts to a basket on wheels before finally realizing their child will sleep in anything and anywhere as long as it is directly on top of them.

That said, brand new moms definitely need help during those early days. Thankfully, technological innovation is a first time mom’s best friend.

God only knows what parents did in the days before pay-at-the pump gas stations and drive-thru Starbucks (no, seriously, what did parents do?).

New parenthood is tiring. It helps to let the machines do the work for you. These are a first time mom’s four best (technological) friends.

First Time Mom

Amazon Prime

First Time Mom

Can you hear it? That’s the sound of a chorus of angels singing.

Or at least that is how it will feel when you’re one week postpartum, haven’t left your house since you returned home from the hospital (there may have been a pediatrician visit or two thrown in there, but that could have been a fever dream), can’t remember your last hot meal, haven’t peeled your baby off of you since the doctor announced “it’s a boy,” just realized your nesting instincts didn’t remind you to buy baby wipes and toothpaste, and you hear the glorious THUD of a Prime package arriving on your porch.

Amazon Prime is a life saver. Can’t find that tube of lip balm you threw into your hospital bag a month ago? Prime it.

Everyone lied and your little one actually does need those newborn size diapers after all? Prime it?

Lost your sanity? Prime it. Err, you get the picture.

You will leave your house eventually after having a baby (promise!), but in the meantime, having the essentials sent to your home at the push of a button will make you feel as though you aren’t a grizzly recluse cast away from society.

Opening a postpartum Prime package is like opening a mystical time capsule from 48 hours ago, only better, because a postpartum Prime package has snacks and fresh t-shirts.

Netflix

First Time Mom

In addition to your friend Amazon Prime, you will get up close and personal with your other best friend, Netflix.

Newborn babies eat and sleep a lot, most of the time while tethered to, or at least very close to, their moms.

There won’t be a whole lot of opportunities for interpretive dance during those early weeks, and regardless of whether your nature is up and at ‘em or couch potato, you will likely spend a lot of time hanging out in bed, on your couch, or on that expensive glider in the nursery while your baby eats…and eats…and eats, and maybe sleeps.

You will, of course, spend hours staring lovingly at your little cherub, and rightfully so.

But, eventually, you will look up, and unless you like staring at the wall, you will likely end up catching a few (hundred) episodes of your favorite show.

Voice Texting

First Time Mom

Do you have three hands? No? Then you may want to consider using voice text if you don’t already.

I had never used my phone’s voice texting feature before I had my son.

What can I say? I’m old fashioned and don’t like to speak into my phone unless it’s directly into someone’s voice mailbox when I call at a time I know they won’t pick up.

You will spend approximately one-hundred-and-seven percent of your day cradling, feeding, or snuggling your baby, which will occupy at least one of your arms.

Your remaining arm will be used to eat or drink, and, of course, hold your phone so you can text friends and gawk/recoil/gaze whimsically at social media.

At some point, you’ll want to type more than a single word to those friends and unless you possess Gumby-like dexterity, texting with one hand will get old.

Your baby will also appreciate you not dropping your phone on their head as you passionately argue on your mommy board about the relative merits of cloth-diapers versus regular and co-sleeping versus never sleeping again.

Smartphones in General

First Time Mom

In addition to kindly storing access to Amazon Prime, Netflix, voice text, and all your friends, smartphones offer several other features helpful to new moms.

Need to check your baby’s weekly milestones? There’s an app for that. Need to track feedings? There’s an app for that, too.

You could buy a sheep-shaped sound machine to play gentle ocean waves so your baby can sleep, or you can download the same thing on your phone and carry it with you all throughout your house, your friends’ houses, your car, and the grocery store.

Don’t want to throw on the lights for a midnight feeding and the nightlight is in the nursery where your baby still doesn’t sleep? Use your phone’s handy dandy flashlight while you stumble around and change diapers.

In sum: your smartphone will save your sanity. So, try to keep it charged.

New moms receive a lot of advice about what to buy before the baby comes.

These four technological innovations are the only thing a mom absolutely needs. Prime will take care of the rest.