Friday, June 4, 2010

Moving on up...

I am pleased to announce that my new blog is up and running! I'm now on Wordpress at

All of my blog posts from this blog, Mama's Mouth, and Inexact Science: Raising Healthy Families have been migrated over. They are currently all on the main page. Eventually I will break them out so that all the recipe and food entries go under "Healthy Eating," all the entries about writing and art go under "The Arts," etc. This is all explained on the "About" page (which also has a link to my new writer's site, which is not up yet). Right now the only way to find stuff is just to use the tag categories.

I also don't have up any links, or buttons, or ways to help readers subscribe or anything savvy and smart in terms of social networking. I had help with the design and migration and am just now going to try to log in myself to post something. I anticipate I won't write again here except to announce the move is official and complete. But if I can't figure out what I'm doing right away, I'll keep posting here until I do!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Read me in a book!

I'm pleased to announce that an essay of mine is going to be published in From the Heart: A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting, an anthology that's just about to be published by a group called Write for Charity. Proceeds will benefit Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Foundation.

The book is now available for pre-sale. Details about the book's contents and about how to order a pre-sale (discounted) copy are available at

My essay, originally published online in 2008 at the Mothering Heights Second Mother's Day Online Anthology, compares my first year teaching high school to my first year as a mom. It's called "The First Time Around." I can't wait to see it in a volume!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

American Idol 2010 -- not a mom

How bad does it sound to say that because she is a mom, I'm glad Crystal Bowersox didn't win American Idol? That's not completely true. I just wondered how bad it would sound to say it.

Make no mistake, I was and am a Crystal fan. I think she's amazingly talented, so damn centered, and really someone I would love to have a beer with (metaphorically anyway. My best drinking days days were winding down when she was still a preschooler). But I'm kind of relieved for her that she didn't win, the same way I was relieved for Adam Lambert. As Lisa deMoraes of the Washington Post put it this article, Crystal "escapes the whole 'American Idol' beauty pageant syndrome -- shilling for Ford, etc." She will still go out on the summer concert and have the backing of the AI machine, but there's a bunch of stuff she won't have to do since she's not the winner. For someone as clear about who she is as Crystal (same goes for Adam Lambert), I think it sounds like a relief to have a lighter load of product endorsements and the like, especially since she's got a young son.

I don't think her career or her ego needed for her to win, and it sounds like she agrees from the "don't cry for me" comments she made after Lee Dewyze won the competition.

Read the rest of this entry at DC Metro Moms Blog.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Now I'm the know-it-all

The other day, I took a prenatal yoga class for the third or fourth time. Amid all the cute bellies on first-time moms, I felt compelled to offer a dash of perspective from the side of motherhood -- the one that's been there already.

Read more in "Reality Check for New Moms" at DC Metro Moms.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I dreamed a dream Part II: Background

I wanted to stay in the moment in my post the other day about my dream that my baby might have Down Syndrome. But there are a couple of other background factors I'd like to acknowledge.

First of all, we didn't do any early fetal testing, so who knows. I didn't even look into all the options that are out there. My feeling about prenatal testing is similar to my feeling about intervention with in labor: they both often serves mostly to lead to more interventions and more worries.

But I also know at least two folks who learned at their 20-week sonograms that their babies were not going to make it to delivery or more than a few hours after. That's pretty important information to have, I think. I wasn't up for skipping this one diagnostic.

The report -- now two months ago -- said that everything with our baby was, "unremarkable" except for bilateral choroid plexus cysts, which, in the presence of other indications, might point toward Trisomy 18. A few articles suggested a link between the cysts and Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), but it sounds from this one like the likelihood of a problem with no other issues is slim.

We went with the cheapest ultrasound place we could find since everything is out of pocket. I felt like the tech was plenty competent, but you just never know, and it does feel a little weird that the cyst remark was on the written report but that the tech said to our faces that everything was fine.

We could get another sonogram to see if the cysts disappeared in the third trimester as they usually do or if there is anything else that looks possibly suspicious, like closed, clenched hands. I just checked, and two of the sono images from 20 weeks show hands that look pretty open to me. I've read that some folks just have these cysts their whole lives and there's no problem. They don't always disappear. I didn't learn until a few years ago from an MRI that I have a Rathke cleft cyst.

So if I get another sono and the baby's cysts are still there, do I worry more? What is the point of another $170 or the $500 most other places charge? Besides, when the baby is bigger, it's harder to see things. I remember being disappointed in a sonogram around 35 weeks to confirm that my son was breech; it was much less fun and dramatic than at 20 weeks when you could see the whole baby. My husband and I both felt like he was just a mess of parts and walked away not only disappointed about the breech position but significantly less giddy for having "seen" our kid than we'd been months earlier. So I don't think I really want to go there.

And even if I do and the cysts are still there, what is the point? I guess I could start doing some reading. My sister lent me Expecting Adam a while back, and maybe Waiting for Birdy would be a good read as well. But I don't want to scare myself into expecting something that probably won't happen. I've already decided not to finish reading Knocked Up, Knocked Down, because I know from her blog (and writings elsewhere) how that story turns out, and I am just not up for reading about the journey from the happy expectant phase through to the stillbirth right now. My mother-in-law had a stillbirth, and it's been my main worry throughout this pregnancy. (Many Trisomy babies are stillborn, and most don't live past age one).

I think my body, mind, and spirit will be better served by active preparation for birth that looks at the event/experience as something powerful and sacred and that holds the space open for whatever comes after to be whatever it is and not be already layered on with a ton of meaning I've spun for weeks in the prenatal period.

The second piece of background is that I realized much later the day after the dream that it might have been spurred by reading this Carolyn Hax "Tell Me About It" column in the Washington Post that day. A reader whose family was not supportive of her plans to become a single mom via artificial insemination was asking for feedback, and another mom of a special needs child wrote in that despite having a supportive co-parent, she'd had to give up everything to care for her child. If you don't have a ton of money, she suggested, or a "village," -- and if you're writing to an advice columnist! -- maybe it's time to re-think. Kids are not made to order, she reminded.

I really liked Carolyn's response: "'re posing a question every prospective parent should answer: Am I ready to get what I want, or am I ready to get what I get? The former is dreaming, the latter is parenthood."

We will get what we get, and I will do my best to enjoy this pregnancy for the experience that it is, right now, in this moment. And while I'm at it, to just enjoy life with my family as it is now.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I dreamed a dream (Part I)

As I slept the other night, a vision came into my head of a child with a crowded mouth of ill-fitting teeth. Then I heard the words, "She has Down's."

My eyes popped open. It was the middle of the night, and my 4-year-old son lay sleeping next to me, with my husband on the other side, oblivious to the pronouncement I'd just heard in my head.

Oh my God. I asked my baby -- using the name we have recently warmed to but reserve the right to change our minds about -- "Does that mean you? Do you have special needs?"

Previously asleep, she started moving right away. And she replied: "We will be fine, Mommy. I am the perfect child for you to have. We will be fine."

At first I remained concerned and wide-eyed, my heart racing. But I kept listening. What should I do? "Trust. Love. Breathe."

Um, okay. Pretty wise for a 28-week-old fetus. But then again, who knows how long that soul has been around. It would appear that it has an edge on mine!

Lately when I've woken up at this time of night -- without any alarming warning, just with alertness -- I have to get up. There's just no use staying in bed. I make a snack or do a little yoga, or read, or all three. But this night I could tell my baby just wanted me to rest.

So I did. And I thought about her words. I fell back asleep.

The next day, I wasn't shaken or upset. I felt peaceful. Accepting. It's not up to me what child is going to come into our lives. There is no script of how things should be unless I make it up in my head and cling to it, which does no one any good.

So, for the moment, I am less anxious or worried (or avoidingly distant) than I've been much of this pregnancy and more of the mind that whatever is the right experience for me to have will be the one I will have.

Whatever life looks like, however hard the challenges we face, we can always choose to believe that things are, in fact, fine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mama needs a massage

So get one -- for free! Massage Envy is running a contest that closes Sunday, May 16 just before midnight. Tell -- in 140 characters or fewer! -- how you told your partner you were expecting. You could win a free three-month membership to Massage Envy. Sounds good to me!

Participants tweet to @massageenvydc or email to enter. More information and contest rules are available at Massage Envy on Facebook. And more info about this prenatal massage is available at Mummy's Product Reviews (thanks for the reminder, Victoria!)