Wednesday, January 27, 2016


While advances in technology make some areas of our lives easier, good old-fashioned child rearing has become more complicated.

In our grandparent's day, it was a simpler time. They didn't have the luxury of worrying about play dates and preschool applications.

I have a motto that has become a guiding principle for applying "old school" methods to present day parenting.

What would nana do?

I'm barely awake, preparing breakfast while holding the baby, trying to sip on day old coffee when my toddler asks me to cut her bread into shapes.

WWND? In nana's day, a square slice was the only shape you were going to get.

It's 4:30 pm, the witching hour. Despite the baby screaming all day, I've proudly set the table and prepared a healthy dinner. My toddler takes one look at her plate and breaks down in tears because she wants ice cream for dinner.

WWND? Nana had five kids and didn't put up with that sh#@. You ate what was on your plate or you went to bed hungry. PUNTO!

It's Sunday and we finally make it out of the house for a nice walk to the park. Our four year old wants to ride her bike so we dig it out of the garage and suit her up with helmet and all. Just as I breathe in the fresh air and begin to enjoy my walk, I hear a small voice scream at me to push her bike to the park because it's too difficult to pedal.

WWND? I think in this scenario nana would have either continued walking and ignored the cries while lighting a much deserved cigarette or she would have knocked on the neighbors door and handed them a brand new bike.

By today's standards, nana would be considered a mean mom and I strive to be like her. There's a message in the "meanness". The real world isn't going to cater to our children's every desire and we need to be teaching this sooner than later.

Nana didn't love her children any less just because she didn't buy them a toy every time they left a store. She loved them so much that she prepared them for life without her.

For the moms that make cute shapes with bread and push their kid's bike all the way to the park, I applaud you. You have more patience than I do.

But when it gets too much, fear not, for our nanas died to wash away our parental sins of hovering.

In the name of the grandmother, the mother and the blessed aunt, Amen!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Zoe's birth story

The word for life in Greek is zoe (ζωή). Here is the story of how our Zoe came to life.

It all started while on vacation on the island of Cyprus, also known as the birthplace of the Ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Once back in the US, my husband and my daughter recovered from their jet lag while mine seemed to get worse.

This pregnancy would be nothing like the first. The first time around you have time to ponder what your baby will look like and sound like. You open your eyes in the morning before getting up for work just to rub your belly and smile with ease and anticipation. Every pregnancy symptom and movement is recorded and discussed. With the second, you are so busy caring for your first child, you sometimes forget you're even pregnant unless you are constantly sick.

My first trimester was brutal. I was constantly nauseas and would tire myself out so much with every day chores that my body would shake uncontrollably. I was in bed all the time or I was vomiting. There was an ER visit and finally I demanded an ultrasound even though I was only 10 weeks along. I wanted to make sure the baby was developing alright.

My husband and I held hands while the ultrasound tech talked to us and did her thing, but then came the dreaded silence. She was quiet. You just know. A roller coaster of emotions like I've never experienced before was about to take us on a two week ride of uncertainty and pain.

The baby wasn't developing normally and the OBGYN kept saying we would need to make some "decisions." Subconsciously I had already decided to choose life but that didn't ease my anxiety or stop the tears. I reached out to the three most powerful women I know when it comes to confronting life's obstacles, my mother, my aunt and my cousin. My husband was also my rock. I was very worried about his emotional state but he truly is brave and strong and he stayed calm for us both.

Apparently the ultrasound at 10 weeks showed chromosomal abnormalities that could be fatal. I've always been a religious God fearing person so I got down on my knees and I prayed. I pleaded and I cried and prayed some more. I asked for a miracle. I also made an appointment to see our priest. Together we all prayed for acceptance and strength.

Future ultrasounds with the specialist would show that our baby girl was developing right on target and that there were no concerns or abnormalities. Was it a miracle? Or was it just error on the part of the original ultrasound tech? It doesn't matter really. What matters is that we were reminded how fragile life can be. I knew the only name and the best name for this baby conceived on the island of love would be Zoe.

My goal was to deliver Zoe all natural. With our first daughter, I tried but opted for an epidural at 8cm. That's usually when most women request assistance with the pain. So I figured I needed help this time around and we hired a doula. It was the best decision I ever made. Zoe, like her older sister was a week over due. My labor stated at 5am on Monday June 8, 2015. Coincidentally June 8th is also my aunt's birthday, the same aunt I had confided in earlier in the pregnancy.

I labored at home as long as I could and the doula, Sarah, arrived at my house around 9:45. We left for the hospital at 12:45. Once in my hospital room, she put on soothing music, helped my husband get me out of the bath, walked the halls with us, and reassured us things were progressing normally. Then at 8cm dilated, her true talents came to play. The pain was almost unbearable and I was exhausted after 15 hours of natural labor. I asked for an epidural. At every contraction she had me visualize a wave that was bringing me closer and closer to my baby who awaited me on shore. The mind is powerful and it worked. We also had to play a game of "let's pretend the anesthesiologist is coming with an epidural" just to pass the time. During active labor there are really only two things you are aware of, your body and the people at your bedside helping you. I remember my husband being on my left by my head. I remember Sarah the doula next to him, the nurse on my right, the midwife in front and someone else on my right. According to my husband, there were only four people in the room yet I felt and saw a fifth helper, a woman.

I think it was my grandmother who gave birth on June 8 albeit many years before. My grandmother died before I was born and though I never met her, I'm named after her and she has always been a part of my life.

Natural child birth is full of all the same aspects as medicated child birth. There's excitement, anxiety, pain, fear, wonderment, and pure joy. It was my goal to start Zoe's life all natural and I was able to realize that goal thanks to my mom watching our four year old at home, my husband supporting me, my doula's talents, the amazing midwifery team at the hospital and the spirit of my grandmother. The day Zoe was born, the entire maternity floor was bursting with life. Every room was full with laboring moms and the staff was running back and forth to catch the babies.

Our Zoe has no chromosomal abnormalities that we know of. She is a love bug and she and her amazing big sister are the best things that have ever happened to us.


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