The first and last time I watched “Hoarders” was when TLC ran a marathon. 3 episodes back to back resulted in a desire to gouge my eyes out and scrub them. This past weekend while I cleaned out my garage of old knick knacks, I recited, “I will not be a hoarder. I am not a hoarder.” I also thought about how painful and wasteful the process was. I spent time buying useless crap, just so I can waste more time eventually sorting through it all so I can throw it away to make room to buy more crap.
Where I live, it’s the norm to create a baby registry. In fact, Amazon.com makes it so easy to make one because they have a pre-set category list of all the glorious baby contraptions people have invented over the years. They practically force you into adding all these products you never even thought of. What they don’t tell you is that many of these items are either unnecessary or can be purchased second hand. OR if you’re like me you’ll get as many hand-me-downs as possible.
Products that are great 2nd hand:
- Baby items made of fabric like baby clothing, burp cloths, blankets, towels, bibs, even gently used cloth diapers! These items can be used over and over again as long as you wash them. If you want to naturally stain remove, leave the cloth out in the sun after a wash. Reusing clothing helps the environment. The production of fabric and clothing in our society has one of the biggest footprints of all commodities. According to the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information, cotton, one of the most versatile fibers used in clothing accounts for a quarter of all pesticides used in the U.S. In fact, pesticides used for cotton in the south is the main reason why inorganic arsenic is found in our white and brown rice. Aside from the environmental impact of cotton cultivation and the financial implications of sustaining cotton government subsidies, labor practices to keep clothing costs low often force workers in developing nations into difficult conditions with low wages.
In addition, all the transportation back and forth to produce cotton into thread, then thread into fabric, then fabric into clothing, and eventually clothing for the consumer, wastes so much coal and oil! Reuse cloth as much as possible. It’s cheaper for you and better for the planet.
- Glass drinking bottles for babies. Simply sanitize by washing and boiling them. Then they’re like new! You will, however probably want to buy new baby nipples.
- Infant accessories like shoes, coats, hats. These products are pretty much just for looks on a baby so they are typically gently used and like-new even 2nd hand.
- Baby toys and books. Babies outgrow toys and books so fast. Most toys you can wipe down and sanitize easily for reuse. Many old, classic baby books are the best!
- Playpens. These are great 2nd hand. However, first look up the model number for any recalls. Make sure there are no dangling cords, all fabric is intact, and there are no tears or holes.
- Baby furniture and decor like mobiles. Baby furniture can be expensive. Plus, you don’t need to buy furniture made exclusively for babies when it comes to dressers and a nice cushiony sitting chair. Remember to check for recalls and check the integrity of 2nd hand purchases to ensure baby safety.
- Baby bathtubs. Just make sure there is no mildew or smell.
- Baby rockers. They’re great to place baby in occasionally when you need a break. However, they don’t need to be new as long as there are no recalls and the products is still in good working condition. Typically the seats can be washed to get rid of any stains.
- Baby carriers. Again, check for recalls and make sure the product is in good working condition. Make sure all seams are intact and so on.
- Diaper pail. You can actually just use a garbage pail with a lid. You may be curious about poo smell. First of all, once toddlers make their nasty poos, no “magic genie” diaper pail will mask the odor. It will STINK. The World Health Organization actually suggests poo be shaken into the toilet even from disposable diapers to reduce the risk of spreading disease from human waste. So start shaken them poos into the toilet! If you’re like me and use cloth diapers, you can use a regular waste bin with a reusable cloth liner for absolutely zero waste. Then once the baby is out of diapers you won’t be stuck with a baby diaper pail but a regular garbage pail you can use around the house.
Re-using and repurposing baby items helps keep money in your wallet and breaks the chains of consumerism. (Baby product companies will hate me but oh well..that’s why I don’t have ads on my site). Our small changes collectively can make huge changes world wide that ultimately help protect our environment from dirt to air. So the next time you’re at target just think about this image
and repeat after me: “I will not be a hoarder. I am not a hoarder.”
At 8:30am on February 7, 2014, I was face down in my master bedroom with very strong contractions. My midwives had me in an inverted position to encourage baby to turn. His heart rate went down during several pushes indicating he was not in an optimal position.
In the midst of so many unknowns, I had to remain calm. If I stressed I would release cortisol into my body which could cause baby to stress and could also stall labor. I needed be at ease and allow my oxytocin to flow naturally so that my cervix would continue to open up and baby would come out peacefully. In the most vulnerable moment of my life, my doula came over with a wet towel with peppermint essential oils on it. I inhaled and immediately I was able to breathe more deeply and I refocused my energy to the positive affirmations from hypnobabies. My baby was born just a few hours afterwards.
Combined with a healthy diet, mental and physical preparation, and a loving birthing team, essential oils can be a powerful aid during labor. You may have heard of oils like frankincense which were used in the biblical times. Essential Oils can cause hormonal and enzyme responses making the body more sedated, stimulated or relaxed depending on the type of oil. Pain can be relieved, wounds can heal, inflammation and spasms can cease. They are used aromatically, topically, and for some high quality grade oils, they can be ingested. Oils like lavender and neroli can help ease anxiety, calm the mind and body, and oils like lemon and mint can help energize and boost energy.
Here are a few uses for essential oils for labor and pregnancy:
- Nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy- You might notice that your sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy. That whiff of garlic or strong cologne might send you to the toilet to hurl. Whatever it is, you can utilize an aromatic diffuser or even a drop of oil in a bowl of water to help bring a good, natural scent in your living space. If you diffuse antiseptic oils like tea tree, lemon, and lavender they will also cleanse your environment of harmful airborne bacteria. For nausea, add 7 drops of lemon to 1 ounce of a carrier oil like coconut oil, and massage it over the abdomen.
- Headaches-Lavender and peppermint are great for headaches. At the first sign of headache, place a drop on your temple and use a cool compress on your forehead.
- Night terrors and insomnia- I had some of the craziest, most vivid dreams while pregnant. I also had a fort of pillows around me to help cushion my uncomfortable, growing body. Neroli blossom or sandalwood can soothe the mind and emotions.
- Difficulty breathing-Peppermint is used as an inhalant to open respiratory passages. It’s also used to calm an upset digestive tract and when used on muscle spasms will tend to release those as well.
- So much more! There are a ton of different types of essential oils for so many various uses.
You can purchase essential oils through a variety of sources. You want to make sure you find a high grade oil that does not have synthetic additives. Here are a few reputable sources:
You will want to make sure you use the oils correctly. For instance, during a time in your labor if you need energy and are feeling lethargic, don’t use a calming oil like lavender. You would want to use lemon or peppermint to help revitalize and energize your body. Do your research and try the oils out before your labor so you know how your body reacts to them!
If I ever decided to start a career as an identity thief, I would be fired immediately. Any plans to use a stolen credit card would be foiled not by a terrible forgery or an awful disguise, but just by the clerk simply asking for my name.
“I can’t remember,” I would tell him after an uncomfortable silence.
I can’t remember names, and a face to me is even worse. Even my own. Every morning I look into the mirror and think, “Hey, what’s Josh Groban doing in my bathroom?” (In case my wife was wondering, that’s why you hear “You Raise Me Up” coming from the shower every day).
This is why I don’t take it personally when someone forgets my own name. Frankly, the world is a much friendlier place when you apparently have an early onset case of Alzheimer’s.
“Do I know that guy?” says every person I encounter on the street. Answer: No, you don’t. You were just waving at the person behind me and I decided we must have been old buddies from high school and gave you a hug.
I don’t make many friends that way, and there are probably a few warrants for my arrest because of it, but the friends that I do make I be sure to remember.
PREVIOUSLY: The Newcott Scoop: We’re here to party
On Monday I celebrated my 27th birthday, which is really an unremarkable number. I don’t think even IHOP bothers sending you a coupon for a free “Rooty Tooty” when you turn 27, so I was surprised to hear a knock on my front door.
“Is that my surprise party?!” I asked my wife, again, for the sixth time that day.
After she answered me with only a blank stare, I decided I should probably tone down my excitement a bit.
Little did I know that a surprise party was indeed in store for this big day in the form of my father-in-law unexpectedly arriving to spend the night.
Beth and I usually have an open-door policy with anyone who is willing to enter our slightly litter-box scented home, so the visit wasn’t unwelcomed. Although, I usually do appreciate a little notification beforehand to deal with said litter-box scent. I was informed that he did call an hour ahead of time, but that really isn’t much of a heads-up considering it’s a three hour drive from SLO.
“Wow, I can’t believe you came all the way here for my birthday,” I said to him.
“It’s your birthday?” he replied.
Although this man was partly responsible for my wife existing, I must admit I have only really spoken to him a handful of times. I knew him in a way that was different than anyone else I had ever met, in that I did have his name and his face memorized, but not much of anything else.
Thankfully this time I got to know him a little bit better. I suppose that’s bound to happen when your father-in-law needs to wash the only pair of pants he brought and your wife forgets that the dryer is broken.
As he stood in our living room in his boxers, watching through the window his pants fluttering in the breeze, I briefly considered taking mine off as well to talk to him on his own level.
I decided against it.
People are more than just faces and names, they come with experiences, with baggage. Sometimes they have lots of baggage, and sometimes only one pair of pants.
My father-in-law has only one pair of pants.
Somehow, just knowing this made me feel like I knew him far more intimately, maybe too intimately. I really couldn’t wait for his pants to dry.
On his way out the door he stopped to write me a check for my birthday. I told him it was unnecessary, but he insisted and wrote one anyway.
Gratefully, I accepted it, and only once he was gone did I realize who it was made out to: Mr. Zac Northcott.
So maybe when it comes to names, I’m not the only one.
With that in mind, maybe I should formerly introduce myself to you, the reader. My name is Zachary Newcott, and you’re reading the Newcott Scoop.
Zachary Newcott is a multimedia reporter for the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register.
Find the original article here.
We hear news about a mother who killed her 7 babies or a pregnant mom who drove her car full of children into the ocean and respond with “WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE PSYCHOS?” It’s easy to dismiss their stories as simply shock-value news, however the largest postpartum depression screening in the US, published in 2013, reveals that 14% of women in the US have clinical depression postpartum, and 19.3% of those women consider harming themselves.
Mental illness is a taboo topic for some and 30% of people have a hard time even admitting they’ve experienced mental illness. This NY Times article, “Thinking of Ways to Harm Her” paints a vivid, painful picture of women suffering from postpartum depression in the US. They suffer from disgusting thoughts of hurting their children. Watch video segments here.
People who have no connection to mental illness may have the misconception that there are 2 different types of people in this world: the psychos and the sane-os. However, I believe there are psychos in all of us! Haha, (kidding but not kidding). Let me explain myself. So you’ve heard of something called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder right? It’s for people who come back from war and are scarred from visions of companions dying and bombs destroying villages right? Wrong. It’s a disorder that can develop when a person is placed in any traumatic event. So lets take labor. A woman, who was once an innocent little child, develops this bump in her belly after doing what the world told her feels good and helps connect her to a man. Her body changes drastically, hormones go all over the place:
Then, if the women is like the 78.2% of women in California (my home state–woot woot!) then she is going to get an epidural. And if she has an epidural, she can experience longer labour; increased incidence of maternal fever (with associated increase in use of antibiotics for mothers and newborns); and increased rates of operative vaginal delivery and perineal trauma such as 3rd or 4th degree tears (yeah, tearing all the way to your butthole!) Although mental illness can be influenced by genes and the environment, and there is no one reason why it occurs, disorders like PTSD and postpartum depression are triggered from a traumatic event.
So what is it in postpartum depression that causes a woman to go crazy? The following can contribute:
- isolation, or lack of loving community and support for a new mother ( so important!)
- lack of nutrients-including folate, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, and omega-3
- The natural drop in estrogen and progesterone and a woman’s inability to cope with the hormonal changes
- stressful labor where the mother is uncomfortable, under stress, feeling a loss of control
- past history of depression
- education about the causes and effects of postpartum depression
- early detection
- postpartum community and support
- increased understanding of how a woman can meet her own physical and psychological needs.
All of the above may have significant nonpharmacological preventative results.
We may not be able to prevent all women from becoming psychotic monsters. However, with education, a stronger community of supportive mothers, and greater awareness, there are great preventative measures we can take that may ultimately help save families that would otherwise suffer in silence.
After the birth of my newborn I started meeting up with new moms all around town. I became obsessed about learning to breastfeed correctly because my sister and cousin both experienced cracked, bleeding nipples and mastitis which they described as “more difficult than labor.” Amidst my breastfeeding support group meetings I noticed a common cycle among moms who tried to exclusively breastfeed but ultimately resorted to formula either part time or full time.
The most common cycle seemed went like this:
–>mom starts to breastfeed –>gets worried if baby is eating enough–>starts pumping to try and measure milk supply–>supplements with formula in fear (without consulting doctor)–> results in lower milk supply–>ultimately can’t breastfeed or must supplement
It’s very practical to be concerned about baby’s food intake. However, I believe new mama’s should have a little more confidence in their bodies. With a plethora of info on the net and a huge community of moms everywhere, new moms should never suffer alone. I feel so fortunate my sister and cousin shared great tips with me, so I’m here to share them with others who might not have that help.
Here are a few tips that led to my breastfeeding success:
- LATCH ASAP-Give baby that nipple! Just get baby on the nipple and let baby nibble. Sucking might not be immediate but eventually it will come. I had my baby at my nipple 16 times the first day. [In a recent study on epidural analgesia, babies that were born with an epidural had a lower latch success rate. However, at 6 weeks there was no difference of breastfeeding success between moms that had an epidural and moms that didn't]. Whether latch occurs immediately or after a couple days, just keep working at it.
- FEED OFTEN- Getting your baby to feed as often as possible in the beginning is key. Notice, I didn’t say “as much.” Because it’s not about quantity in the beginning. It’s about all the suckling. Breastmilk is all about supply and demand. The more nibbling/sucking there is the more milk will come.
- PROTECT THE NIPPLE- I personally used Lanolin however there are some other nipple butters and other concoctions mamas use. You can also use your milk itself to moisturize your nipple after every feeding. Whatever it is, PROTECT THE PRECIOUS NIPPLE. By my cousin’s suggestion, I slathered that lanolin on after every single feeding. It worked. But even with that protection there were a few feedings about a week in, where my nipples got pretty tender. At that point I used a nipple shield for a few feedings and as soon as they felt a little better it was back to direct feeding. (You don’t want to use shields too much because your nipples needs to get used to the suckling).
- REST- Getting rest in between feedings is so important—helps with healing and milk production.
- EAT WELL-You can’t create nutrition if you’re not taking any in!
- ENCAPSULATE YOUR PLACENTA- with tons of iron, oxytocin, hemoglobin, estrogen, and so much more, these magic pills naturally help your milk come in!
- TAKE MOTHER’S MILK TEA-The ingredient that helps promoted breast milk is fenugreek. The tea doesn’t contain too much of it, so you need to drink the tea several times a day for several days after you have the baby. No positive if it helped my supply but my post partum nurse swore by it so I took it!
- DON’T STRESS – Making milk is a natural product of the body and believe it or not, you need to relax. Stress releases cortisol, which counteracts oxytocin, which enhances the breastfeeding letdown reflex, reduces postpartum bleeding, and strengthens mother-baby bonding.
- DON’T PUMP!-Okay, I’m not a doctor, but from my own personal experience and observation, I believe that the pump is the ultimate enemy in the first few weeks. Pumping in the beginning, especially if you use an electronic pump on the wrong settings, can harm your nipples. It’s also stressful watching milk come out for the first time. Stress is the enemy of oxytocin, which helps promote your letdown. Pumping is not nearly as effective as your baby’s suckle. So if you pump and don’t see enough milk, it may cause you to freak out–which is the LAST THING YOU NEEDDDD. Plus, early pumping and bottle feeding can cause nipple confusion on your baby.
- KNOW BABY IS EXPECTED TO LOSE WEIGHT THE FIRST WEEK. Unless your doctor says you should be concerned, DON’T. Know that all babies are expected to lose weight after they are born! The picture below also illustrates how eety beety baby stomachs are in the beginning.
- DON’T SUFFER ALONE. If you’re having trouble and sense baby is not latching correctly, get help! It’s so helpful to join a breastfeeding group. You can get practice breastfeeding in a safe environment while getting help from other lactation consultants or moms. You may just need a little help, or perhaps baby is tongue tied. Whatever it is, don’t suffer alone. Get help immediately!
Editor’s note: This is the debut of multimedia reporter Zach Newcott’s column in Living. His column will publish weekly.
If it’s fashionable to be late, then I am like the “Crocs shoes” of punctuality. It might have been fashionable at some point, but that point was long, long ago, and now I’m not sure if my arrival will ever be fashionable again.
I continually wage war against the clock, much like when I was a small child and would slap back at waves in the ocean, or nowadays, when I attempt to properly fold a fitted sheet. It’s hopeless.
So imagine my surprise when I discovered our family car was the first to arrive at our friend’s graduation party.
“This can’t be right,” I said, as I peered through the windshield.
“Let me check,” my wife Beth said from behind me as our infant son, Shiloh, cooed from his car seat.
Certain that there was no way our family was actually on time for a special occasion, I quickly pulled our car away from the driveway and drove a loop around the neighborhood.
I saw a look of shock on Beth’s face as I glanced into the rearview.
“We’re on time…” She whispered.
In my mind this meant two things: not only were we on schedule, but we were actually the first to arrive. The only thing that could have made this moment more rare and exceptional was if at that very moment a shooting star streaked across the sky.
“We shall now reap the rewards of our punctual arrival,” I said in satisfaction, “In the feasting of sweet, sweet graduation day cake.”
Upon knocking at the door we were greeted with surprised looks by our friend and his family.
“Surprised to see us so soon??” I said with a wink. “Happy BFA day!”
Thankfully, I was ignored as Shiloh received doting “awws” from our friend’s parents.
While he was being passed from person to person, I distracted myself by taking in the rather odd choice in party decor. They must have wanted to keep things casual, as there wasn’t a single balloon, congratulations banner, or miniature party horse in sight. Further, the darkness of the kitchen indicated that there was no evidence of a graduation cake having been baked.
This concerned me.
“I just can’t get enough of these cute chubby cheeks!” Our friend’s mother squealed as she held up Shiloh.
“He loves eating, just like his old man!” I laughed. “Speaking of eating, ordering in tonight?”
“Oh no,” She said, still focused on the baby. “We ate earlier.”
As I questioned whether or not we were told to bring something to this apparent pot-luck, I kicked myself for not always having a tray of pizza bagels in the trunk of my car at all times. I told Beth something like this would happen one day, but she didn’t listen. “Don’t you know the song? When pizza’s on a bagel… Beth,” I said to her, “You can eat pizza any time.”
As we pleasantly chatted, I noticed that the rest of the party guests had went well past what’s acceptable as fashionably late, and ventured into “Crocs shoes” territory.
“Well,” our friend said with a yawn as he stood up to stretch and look at his watch. “I’m going to head out to meet up with some people.”
“Oh, is this party moving?” I asked.
“No, it’s just a casual get together.” He said. “But you should come back here tomorrow.”
I looked back to him confused.
“Tomorrow,” he emphasized, “When we’re having my graduation party. My party, which is tomorrow.”
“Oh,” I nodded with a casual smile. “The day after today… Everything makes a lot of sense now.”
Suddenly all the puzzle pieces had fallen into place. The missing cake, the lack of any party guests, being told directly that the party is tomorrow, I could see it all so clearly. All the evidence pointed to Beth and I having been living one day ahead in the future this entire time.Some days you arrive late, other days you arrive 24 hours too early. Thankfully, it seems that having a cute baby works as an automatic invitation to anyone’s home and a perfectly fine excuse to socialize with friends. After all, a good friend is one that always opens the door with a smile and open arms. All in all, it was a perfect evening, and as far as I’m concerned, a successful party. Real shame we ended up being late the next day though …
Zachary Newcott is a Multimedia Reporter for the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register. See original post here.
I had never checked my phone more times than when I was waiting for Shiloh to arrive. Out of anxiety I would answer each call yelling, “Has your water broken yet?!”
In retrospect I assume that’s a confusing and slightly scary way to start a conversation with one of my many student loan collectors, but then again, my many student loans are also confusing and slightly scary.
While I kept my eye on my cell phone at work, Beth was at home rolling around the living room on her exercise ball. It’s not something she does everyday by the way, it was all in the effort to get the little boy in her belly to roll on his own into the best position for a speedy delivery.
It was unclear whether the ball had much of any effect, which isn’t all too surprising considering that the only exercise I ever seemed to get out of it was ineffectively trying to sit down on the slippery sphere as it rolled out from under meI still had my fingers crossed that it would do the trick to ease make labor for Beth and Shiloh.
She began having contractions on Wednesday, but by that point they were mostly intermittent spasms that made me question whether she would give birth soon or had simply had too many bean and cheese burritos. Boy, they are delicious.
By Thursday however, my suspicions of a botched burritos had subsided, when it became clear that Beth was definitely in the process of delivering our little bundle of pooping joy.
We decided early on in the pregnancy to have a home birth, because a baby is a lot like a pizza. If you want it delivered, why in the world would you send it to a hospital and not to your own house? More importantly, home is where we feel the most comfortable. Beth felt free to move around, listen to any music she wanted, and eat bean burritos to her hearts content.
It all seemed to be progressing slowly. Nevertheless, our doula Avira graciously arrived early to provide support, and I mean that rather literally. As far as back support goes, Shiloh didn’t make things easy for Beth and despite all of her efforts to get him in the right position, he really seemed to want to cram his body into a position that made Beth’s lower spine writhe in agony.
Having someone in labor in the same room with you isn’t all that fun when you realize that there’s not much you can really do for them. Apart from giving back-rubs, all I could do was just be there which, in fact, was the best support possible. Beth’s mother Margaret also arrived by this point, and simply having her there was a great comfort.
In between the moments of calm conversation, our doula would step in to ensure Beth was as comfortable as possible during contractions. As the hours stretched on the four of us walked around the backyard in an attempt to speed up Shiloh’s progress. We were even joined by our cat Wolfie, who seemed to enjoy weaving between Beth’s feet as she slowly waddled back and forth in the grass.
We were surprised by Beth’s calm demeanor and were left unsure as to whether her ability to casually converse was a sign that her labor wasn’t intensifying, or if she really was just that much of a trooper despite her discomfort.
To be sure, we call our midwife Alex. On her arrival she seemed to be equally uncertain as to how far Shiloh had trekked over the hours, but after doing a double-take during her examination, she said with certainty that Beth was between 8-9 centimeters dilated.
Yes, Beth really was that much of a trooper. She had apparently breezed through the “transition” phase of labor, the phase in which apparently every wife expresses her innermost resentment for her husband.
I was quite pleased to hear the news.
In an instant we got to work filling the birthing pool. Filling a pool indoors is no easy feat by the way. If you don’t believe me, just do what I did and hold up a hose to your kitchen faucet. It doesn’t fit. Even with adapters I found at Home Depot, I couldn’t quite make the connection. So I performed my first fatherly duty and wrapped it with duct tape. It seemed to do the trick just fine.
Beth transferred into the pool as the assistant midwives arrived and was shortly given the go ahead to start pushing, even though she clearly didn’t need much approval. Shiloh was definitely on his way, but seemed to be slow in gathering his things before heading out the door.
Despite the sad groans, Beth continued to stay strong and cheerful. She took time inbetween big pushes to take sips of soup, water, and the occasional popsicle, but as the time continued to pass and progress seemed to level out, Alex encouraged a change from the birthing pool to our bed.
Beth was not a fan of this idea. I can only relate because I hate stepping out of the shower on a cold morning, but that’s of no comparison in the case of someone who’s also delivering a human being at the same time.
Again though, Beth is a trooper. She stood up slowly and grabbed onto my shoulders for support as I gradually began to guide us down the hallway.
Beth often complained of the sheer weight of carrying a baby, and as she stopped in the hallway for a contraction, I completely got to experience it. With all her might I could feel her press downwards towards the floor. Her fingers dug in tightly to my collar bone and then moved lower as she moved into a squat.
It was there that another contraction hit, and suddenly we all realized that the bed was no longer as enticing as a location as that hallway for childbirth.
As I struggled dearly to hold back my wincing from holding up Beth, she again held onto me, this time specifically onto my leg hair through my jeans. Clearly, she was the one in the most discomfort at the moment, so I cried especially quietly as she plucked out handfuls of follicles with a loud groan.
She took another breath, the last big one in 32 hours, and pushed.
“There you are little boy!” Beth exclaimed as she pulled Shiloh up and held him close in her arms.
In between our midwife, our doula, Beth’s mom, and three assistants, all crowded in a hallway, Shiloh greeted us for the first time at 1:21 a.m. on January 17th, 2014.
It was surreal seeing him out in the open, realizing that this little guy was real, alive, and ours for the rest of our lives. No words can properly describe what it was like at that moment, to actually see him blink and feel his hands and toes that had teased us from beneath the surface of Beth’s growing belly over the previous months.
Beth passed him into my arms before she finally completed the long journey to our bed.
Birth stories always glance over the messiness of the after-birth, but I think it’s worth mentioning since I really had no idea how much of a process laid ahead of us.
While I was gazing slack-jawed in wonder at our new baby boy, Beth was in bed getting stitches for a few tears. Our midwife was concerned over the amount of blood Beth had lost, but Beth was cheery as usual, if not incredibly tired. I briefly went to the kitchen to get some water, and while I attempted to remove the wad of duct-tape I used to attach the hose for the birthing pool, I noticed a sudden burst of activity.
Suddenly midwives were scattering in and out of the house from all directions.
“I’ve got the oxygen tank,” one said as she lugged in a large metal canister wrapped with plastic tubing.
I wandered back to the bedroom in a confused and exhausted stupor to find Beth lying on her back in the middle of the bathroom floor.
It was a sight that immediately had me worried, but I was surprised to find Beth perfectly relaxed and still conversing with Alex who was standing above her.
I was informed that while Beth was transferring to the bathroom the blood-loss caught up to her and sent her crashing to the floor. She had woken up immediately, but Alex informed us that if Beth continued to lose any blood a trip to the emergency room would be in order.
Much like the birthing pool, Beth felt perfectly fine where she was laying, but nevertheless our team of midwives managed to roll her onto a blanket and carry her back to the bed.
Thankfully the bleeding seemed to mostly subside, but Beth was still in for a long recovery. For the next couple days she remained frustratingly confined to our bed as she downed bottles of iron supplements to make up for the pints of blood she lost.
While we waited for color to gradually return to Beth’s cheeks, we spent the time in bed cuddling with our son. In the early mornings I would wake up and sway him back and forth in the living room, wandering from corner to corner to find the most comforting spot.
And his favorite activity these days? Bouncing on the exercise ball. Go figure…
Psycho bitch [sahy-koh bich] noun
Let me begin by stating I do not like to perpetuate stereotypes, especially about gender. In fact, I used to work for a non-profit whose sole purpose was to empower women. But I’d like to bring up this subject because if there’s one thing that helps keep my marriage happy, it’s this: I acknowledge I have a psycho bitch (PB) and I learned to tame her.
Now, keep in mind that I do not describe myself as a PB. I simply have a PB that comes knocking at my door once a month.
Oh wait…there’s actually a chart that illustrates this phenomenon! Yes, women have this special little gift of shedding the endometrium, or uterine lining. It is often accompanied by trips to CVS, stomach cramps, headaches, fatigue, and more. So in addition to hormonal changes and physical pain, lazy partners, jealousy, and pretty much anything and everything can trigger major irritability.
It’s not fair to put all the blame on hormones though, because hormones are actually a wonderful necessity in life. They help humans grow, metabolize, and reproduce. When a PB is released, there are most likely underlying issues in a relationship that cause stress. It’s unfair to assume that a woman threw a vase across the room simply because dirty socks were left lying around the house.
I have seen psycho bitches all my life. They are in my mom, other family members, past employers, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
The smartest thing a woman can do is acknowledge the hormonal being, spot warning signs, warn trigger people, and develop a habit of utilizing coping techniques. Especially during a breakup, that is my greatest piece of advice to gfs. “Don’t give them the satisfaction of calling you a Psycho Bitch. Leave with dignity.”
Here are some warning signs of a psycho bitch take-over:
- You have a voice in your head that incessantly says very mean things about those around you
- You are uncontrollably upset, stressed, or worried
- You did not feel this way a week ago
- You are irrationally upset about things that may not normally upset you
- You are picking at everything your partner is doing wrong
Here are my personal coping techniques
- If you find yourself about to get into an argument, stare your annoying partner in the eyes and say,” I’m not feeling well right now.” Then go into a less stressful environment and do something therapeutic like read a book or journal. Return back to the conversation with your partner once you are calm and collected.
- Get as much sleep as possible
- Don’t turn to that ice cream! Try to eat healthy veggies and fruits that will boost energy and mood.
- Take placenta pills if you encapsulated them from labor! (holy moly this was my savior postpartum and I SWEAR by it)
- Analyze and target underlying issues in your relationship, write them down, and take steps to repair those real issues when you are not hormonal.
We live in a stressful world. There are too many bills to pay, too many goals to reach, not enough help around the house, ex-partners a click away, and too many damn people on facebook with their amazing home cooked meals. As 21st century women, we are intelligent, thoughtful beings, capable of improving ourselves daily. If we can take control of our psycho bitches by the horns, I believe we can ultimately reach greater heights as stronger mothers, partners, and leaders.
I met Dr. Shanetta Robinson just four years ago on Capitol Hill, a few weeks after I got married. We happened to be in the same group of women lobbying for the renewal of VAWA, or Violence Against Woman Act. Our meetings were with local and regional representatives such as U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. It is my honor to share this interview about my friend and inspiration, Dr. Robinson.
Dr. Robinson is an extraordinary mother for her public service and unrelenting dedication to social change in the lives of individuals facing adversity. She is a founding partner of the Southern California Diversity IN Leadership Conference, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the NAACP, ABWA, NAPW and several honor societies. She has presented at various conferences and forums related to organizational development, black feminism, leadership, diversity, and youth/family empowerment. Shanetta is the proud mother of two wonderful children. She received her B.A. in Psychology (2005) and Masters in Public Policy and Administration (2009) from California State University, Long Beach. She completed her Doctoral (2013) studies in the Graduate School of Education & Psychology at Pepperdine University. She completed her education while raising two young children and is the first in her family to accomplish such distinguished degrees.
Dr. Robinson, where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Watts, California, home of the beautiful Watts Towers and to countless bright people. Unfortunately it is more commonly known for the Watts Riots of 1965 and the Gang Peace Treaty of 1992. The lack of public knowledge beyond such events often perpetuates discrimination and oppression. Assumptions regarding my hometown often causes others to see me through the lens of statistics and stereotypes. I live my life determined to fight out of this box that placed me in a pigeonhole. As a young, black woman, I did not let such stereotypes dictate my future. I am more than my circumstances.
Please describe what your life was like when you became pregnant for the first time and how you felt about becoming a mother. Did you have any fears about becoming a mom?
Fears; none. For me, becoming pregnant was a wakeup call and a blessing. I had dropped out of school, and was caught up in an unhealthy relationship. When I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I did was contact California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) to figure out how I could petition back into school. I even took community college courses in order to demonstrate to the appeal community that I was serious about my education. My petition was approved, and I was “the pregnant girl on campus.” I enjoyed that time and received the best grades of my undergraduate career that following semester.
Fears did not drive me when I became pregnant; my motivation to succeed came from knowing that I had something more important than myself to think of. Subsequently, I named my daughter ‘Nailah’, which means ‘one who attains’ or ‘successful woman’. I learned that if I allow fear to control me, I am doomed to fail. Nailah gave me hope.
How did motherhood change you?
Motherhood made me more responsible. Before my pregnancy, I had fallen off track for the first time. God gave me the opportunity to mother. I knew I had to be dedicated and resilient.
What has your road been like through motherhood?
Well, I was once told, “for a 31 year old woman, you have lived the lives of 5 older women.” Since becoming a mother, I have been both married and divorced. I had my son, Little Ray (my ‘ittles’) in 2005, just two years after my daughter. I was the first in my family to obtain an undergraduate degree, then went on to get a Master’s Degree (2009) from CSULB. I furthered my education and received a Doctorate in Education from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education & Psychology (2013). Professionally, I climbed the ladder of success, was knocked down, picked myself up, and started my own business. I now teach at CSULB in the College of Business Administration and direct the Southern California Diversity IN Leadership Conference.
Describe a typical day with your kids. What does your schedule look like?
At one point, I worked full time, owned my own business, was a full-time mother, and full-time student. AND I MISS that level of hustle. However, I feel like the primary function of motherhood is being a taxi, especially with a 9 and 11 year old. Nailah plays softball, and does gymnastics. Lil Ray plays both baseball, and football. Not to mention all of their academic activities. Therefore, I am always in the car. I have a little more flexibility with my teaching schedule and my business but any given day is hectic.
My children being well rounded is my primary goal in life, so the hustle is more than worth it. I must say though, I have a tremendous support system. My ex-husband, mother, aunts, grandmother, siblings, and my best friend Y and her family, are my backbone when it comes to the kids. YOU HAVE TO HAVE a SOLID SUPPORT SYSTEM. It doesn’t matter if the system is made up of immediate family members or family by love; a support system is the ONLY way you can be a successful career woman, and an awesome mother.
Please describe JPR Leadership Consulting and how you started working for the group.
My partners and I started JPR Leadership Consulting in 2012. We saw that we worked really well together and could provide needed training and development opportunities, so we began the development of our firm. Currently, JPR Leadership Consulting is the founder and producers of the Southern California Diversity IN Leadership Conference. Our passion for Diversity IN Leadership began more than 15 years ago as we navigated the workforce in our respective organizations and industries. The Diversity IN Leadership Conference is a two-day gathering of over 300 educators, executives, corporate representatives, graduate students and community leaders who represent businesses and communities across industries. Over 40 presenters share their perspectives and insights on a range of topics including leadership, business, change in the workplace, women at the forefront, inclusion as a practice, technological advancements for inclusion, all centered around diversity.
Do you have advice for other moms?
Stay true to you. I am not the “mothery” type. Meaning, my kids are extremely self-sufficient, and I purposely strive for that. My motto is “no one will take care of my children like me and tomorrow is not promised. Therefore my children have to be able to take care of themselves on the basic level in the event I am gone tomorrow”. My daughter can cook full course meals and my son is getting there; they dress themselves, clean the house, and are excellent in school. My expectation is 100% when it comes to output from my children and myself.
I cannot be a mother like anyone else. I can only be the best mother I can be, and if I hold on to that, my children are better off. So no, I do not knit costumes, and my children do not expect it. No, I do not cook every night, and my children probably prefer it that way. No, I am not in any way the traditional image of a mother. My household is run like an organization and I am the CEO. I tell my daughter, I love her, she is beautiful, and to give 100% every morning before we part. I tell my son he is amazing, handsome, to give 100%, and to be good every morning. We pray together regularly. All of this is my way of being a great mother. I would not change it and I think my kids are pretty happy too.
Stay true to you. Do not attempt to be like the lady down the street or that perfect mom on Facebook. Be you, hold to your values, and pass those values down to your children, and have faith.
If a mom is inspired by your story and would like to contribute to your upcoming event, please explain a little about your upcoming event and how they can help.
Seeking support through mentorship and education has been important to my success as a mother, and career woman. I would love to see dynamic women who balance both motherhood and career at this year’s conference. In fact, women who are experts in the field of work life balance both theoretically and practically are Distinguished Panelist, Presenters, and/or Conference Participants. Register for the Diversity IN Leadership Conference today.
For more information about the conference and JPR Leadership Consulting go to www.DiversityINLeadership.org. Comment and questions for Dr. Robinson can be left below.