Posts in Grow
upcoming event in chicago on prenatal loss and trauma
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March 4, 2018 in Chicago

 

How to Survive the Emotional Impact of Prenatal Loss and Trauma

Good morning to all you beautiful mamas out there,

I'm so excited to be a part of an amazing event coming up next month. On Sunday, March 4th, there will be a presentation and panel discussion at the Jewish Child & Family Services in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. The awesome Mara Tesler Stein - a psychologist and author in Chicago - will be discussing how to cope with emotional hardships that come with prenatal loss and trauma. I'll be speaking on the panel and sharing my experience with miscarriage as well.

As an observant Jewish woman myself, I've learned that our experiences with prenatal loss and trauma are nuanced and can differ depending on the communities we live in. While the discussion will focus on the experiences of Jewish women, there are many underlying themes we can all relate to. No matter where we live, we all need non-judgmental support, empathy, and understanding. 

I'm so happy that our last article on miscarriage could offer some comfort and support to the women who read it, and I know this event will do the same. If you have any additional thoughts, ideas, and insights you'd love to see included in the discussion, please feel free to leave a comment here or on our Facebook page or Insta. Check out more information in the flier below. 

 

<3

Nurit

 
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Thank you to Ohel Sarah, Daughters of Israel, and JCFS for putting on this special event!

 

GrowNurit SiegalComment
the third shift - how we ask mothers to do too much and help them too little
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A few weeks ago, I came across an article by a pscyhologist discussing the dangers of screen time. She wrote about her experience at a grocery store when she heard a child begin to scream because his mom wouldn’t buy him candy. To calm him down, the mom gave him her phone to watch a video, and the psychologist was horrified.

Okay first of all… I was having a really hard day, okay? Second of all, I think it’s unfortunate how strongly we react to the glimpses we catch of women raising their kids (also why does this always happen at the grocery store). And I wonder if we place too much of the onus of raising extremely well-rounded children on mothers alone. Yes, we critique American cultural norms for not being helpful or for creating the problem in the first place, but we still expect moms to create this new, uncontaminated world for our families that’s idyllic and perfect like it’s NBD.

As a Women’s Studies major in college I learned about a concept called the Second Shift. The Second Shift represents the second workload a mother has outside her day (and/or night) job. Working mothers come home from their job(s) to do a majority of the cooking, housework, errands, appointment scheduling, carpooling, child-rearing and overseeing of general household logistics. If a woman is a stay-at-home mom, she still reserves the evening for another round of mothering, cooking, housework etc. Not to mention the night shift, which includes anything from nursing babies back to sleep to convincing toddlers that a monster didn’t eat their missing sock.

But I wonder if the Second Shift is enough to explain the whole mother load. My theory is that there’s also a Third Shift. The Third Shift is the constant job of making life perfect for our kids, regardless of how much support we have in our lives. And to execute this without asking for help and without having a panic attack. You can have an occasional bathroom break (jk you can’t really) but you cannot have a break down.

Maybe this is why moms feel so guilty all the time. Author and comedian Jessi Klein wrote an article in the New York Times about women, guilt and sacrifice. She explains, “Shortly before my son was born, I spoke to a friend on the phone about how guilty I felt that we were planning to hire a night nurse for a few weeks. Shouldn’t I be the one to take care of him all the time? He was my peanut that I had created. Wouldn’t I be shirking my maternal responsibilities if I didn’t stay up around the clock? I was worried that I was already a failure.” 

Have mothers been trained to believe that if they don't do everything perfectly on their own, their kids won't grow up to be good, successful people? Well, I mean, I guess it is pretty hard to get into an Ivy League school if you were bottle-fed as a baby. But the deeper issue lies in how much we expect from moms, despite how difficult our society has made it for them to constantly pursue incredibly high standards. We're basically asking mothers to fight an uphill battle every minute of every day. Unhealthy foods and fast-food chains are way cheaper and more accessible than healthy foods. Our culture aggressively markets new technology and easy entertainment to kids. If you want your family to be active, it has to be something scheduled and paid for, since modernity has led us to be the most sedentary population in history. On top of that, the median household family income in the United States is about  $59,000. In other words, half of American families earn less than that. And yet, moms are somehow supposed to have the time, energy, and resources to reverse every ill effect of modern culture on our kids. 

From the day a woman becomes pregnant, she is bombarded by information and advice on how to have the most productive and healthy pregnancy, labor, and child-rearing experience. We suggest and expect her to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen during pregnancy, to develop a birth plan ideally without medication, to invest in a doula, to enroll in lamaze classes and practice meditation and/or hypno-birthing exercises. Once postpartum, moms should feel grateful for “baby friendly” hospitals and should happily forgo nursery care regardless of exhaustion, stress, or pain. When she returns home, we desire that she breastfeed each of her babies for at least a year regardless of work obligations, levels of exhaustion, mental health concerns, or other kids to care for. We also warn her not to allow her babies to cry it out at night, and to critically monitor her growing child’s diet, developmental stages, physical activity levels, reading habits, sugar intake, and screen time. Also no yelling.  

I’m not suggesting whatsoever that living a healthy, active and wholesome life is not important to kids, or that women should just give up. I’m also not saying that we should install iPads on grocery carts so that moms can shop in peace. I'm instead saying this: We cannot keep expecting perfection from mothers, especially in an environment that works against them. We can’t keep implying through harsh criticism, lack of empathy and lack of real support that moms should be solely responsible for the next generation's health and happiness.

More often than not, most of us moms feel like we’re not doing enough for our kids. We beat ourselves up for making a quick mac & cheese so we don't lose our minds before the bedtime battle begins. We even have a little underground network where we secretly confess and whisper questions to each other like, "What's the longest your kids have gone without a bath...?" Or we send memes to our friends about how much we want to marry coffee. In fact, memes have actually become thee societal infrastructure on which moms can depend most for support and understanding. We don’t have paid maternity leave but we are super grateful for blinking guy.

For better or worse, the current system is not sustainable. We need hospitals, government, workplaces, and even parenting websites and experts to get more real about how difficult we've made it to mother. We need society to be a true partner in helping moms with all of their "shifts". Mothers are frequently left to pursue lofty family ideals on their own. Yes, we may kick off health campaigns and show moms how to hide broccoli in their kids' cereal. We may obliterate hospital nurseries to “encourage” mothers to breastfeed and bond with their babies. But these tactics are simply about reminding moms of all their responsibilities, not helping them with the job itself. Instead of policing mothers, we should remember that it takes a village to raise a healthy, happy child. But until that day really comes... I'll just be over here wearing my “I Did My Best” T-shirt.

 

P.S. working mothers and the struggle to make ends meet
P.P.S. prenatal and postpartum anxiety and depression
P.P.P.S what women want people to know about having a miscarriage

"what i wish people understood about my miscarriage"
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"what i wish people understood"

on coping with pregnancy loss

Dear everyone,

I started L & B a few years ago as a personal blog to talk about the ups and downs of life as a mom. Over the past year or so, it has slowly (did I say slowly?) transformed into a life and lifestyle website for young moms looking for more relatable content. At the center of L & B is the awareness that motherhood is super challenging (did I say challenging???) and that mothers frequently lack the support necessary to get through it all. This is the place I wanted to create for us to talk - not just about the crazy, hilarious, and sunny moments - but also the darker aspects of life and motherhood. Our mission is to encourage an understanding of and appreciation for mothers everywhere, as well as to build an infrastructure of support we all so desperately need and crave as we try to raise our babies into grown, responsible adults… while also doing lots of other things. Indeed, as I write this I can hear one of my kids waking up (it's nighttime). I'll probably be writing the rest of this intro in 15 second intervals over a six hour period of time.

So without further ado, the topic for today’s post is something that hits home for me as well as many other moms. In the past few years I’ve had two miscarriages. In the thick of those experiences, I was confronted with incredibly painful emotions I didn’t know how to handle. I felt anything from excruciating loss and grief, to loneliness, to (perhaps the most horrifying of all) relief. Relief from the anxiety and crippling nausea of my pregnancy, which in turn lead to terrible guilt. 

These complicated, conflicting, and powerful emotions of pregnancy loss are what we hope to shine a light on today. We surveyed mothers on social media and received hundreds of responses. In an effort to do all of their stories justice, we’re using some of their quotes (anonymously) to highlight six “themes” that mothers spoke to the most.

Thank you again to all the women who wrote to us. We are so grateful to them. We'd also love to hear your thoughts on the post in the comment section below. Is there something that resonated with you? Do you feel the insights they shared relate to other areas of life as well? We'd love to know what you think.

Thank you again.

<3

Nurit


on gestures that are appreciated, and comments that are not...

Oftentimes people want to help you grieve but are afraid to say anything or say the wrong thing. Just be there for that mom who miscarried. Check up on her once in a while. Call or text "thinking of you, is there anything I can do for you". Most likely they will decline the offer but don't forget about them. Reach out and just be there for them!

A nice note, card, email or phone call is appreciated just like any other death. Don’t ask when the person might try again, don’t chalk it up to bad genetics, don’t say the person is lucky it happened now opposed to later in the pregnancy, don’t say “oh maybe you should have waited longer to tell people you were expecting”. Try to bring something like food to the couple, keep in touch and see when she might want to go out for coffee.

 

It helped me so much when people called and listened to my story and shared their stories – I felt less alone.
 

...No amount of "at least you can get pregnant, so it's actually good news" will be of any comfort until you're holding a baby in your arms and looking back.
 

People need to understand that women deal with this differently. Respect their decision on how they want to handle their own mourning. Let them know you are there and then step away, if thats what they want.
 

Being told you should be grateful you already have a healthy child(ren) doesn’t lessen the sense of loss and just makes you feel guilty for feeling bad


on feeling left out from future pregnancy announcements

...I was also saddened that after one of my miscarriages (it happened a bit later than the others), my friends and family were afraid to share their pregnancy announcements and positive experiences with us. It was as if I was being 'left out'. While I understood WHY they were doing it, it DID hurt and even after I mentioned it to some, it continued. Still....I understood why, and for some people that would be 'kind, understanding and empathetic' but for me? It made me feel left out and lonely."


on dealing with it alone

I really needed to talk to someone about it... but there was no one at the time. Because I miscarried fairly early in my pregnancy I felt that I didn't have a right to be too upset about it. This was echoed by the people who knew about it. They tended to say things like "you'll try again". But I was affected terribly.
 

How hard it was to keep pretending like nothing bad was happening--- I was miscarrying my first week back at school for a new school year (as a teacher). I was just waiting for it to happen and had to teach and go on like everything was okay. I then had to have a D&C because it wasn't progressing. I wish others could understand how agonizing those two weeks were, and how hard it was for me that I couldn't just take time off of work and be in bed or alone. A miscarriage coupled with infertility issues (this was after IVF) seemed like a double hardship.
 

This is true not only of miscarriages, but due to the private nature of a miscarriage – sometimes your hardest day, or the day of someone you love, goes totally under the radar. The time when you need the most love and care might be a time that you’re not openly sharing with people. It’s a good reminder to judge kindly and always make yourself emotionally available to your loved ones when possible.
 

Some people will not disclose it and it’s not about shame.


on guilt
 

…What I want people to know is that women may experience more guilt than grief. I was guilt stricken that I willed my pregnancy away. I was guilt stricken at my conflicting sense of relief. I was guilt stricken that my husband was genuinely destroyed by our loss. I was guilt stricken that I didn’t tell him my fears of having new baby so soon, or willing it away, of feeling relief. It was an endless cycle that took me three years to recover from. Therapy and accepting that I didn’t do anything to lose my pregnancy. Guilt is a terrible feeling. It doesn’t even allow you to accept kindness or condolence…
 

It's dosen't matter how early it was. You still connected to that baby and the loss hurts.  I wish there was some way for the mom to not feel guilty, like she caused this.


on the physical reality and emotional pain

The physical part of it alone can drag out for days, weeks, even months (like mine) depending on the circumstances around it. Then the emotional part of it takes a toll even longer. Stay present with your loved ones who are going through it. Know it will be a while. Crawl down in that trench with them and just hold their hand. You don’t have to fix it, solve it, make it better. Just be there with them. Check in. Let them know you’re thinking about them and that you’re there if they need you. And this goes for Dad’s too. It “happens” to them also. Don’t forget about them and the pain they’re also feeling.
 

After losing my child, I still looked pregnant for weeks. I felt my body was mocking me.
 

...[At the D&C] The nurses kept asking me why I was going for a procedure. Over and over again, I had to respond in the affirmative that I was having a D&C. Didn’t they all know already? Why did I have to keep saying it over and over. I became so anxious airing for the procedure. I was literally shaking so that they had to give m some meds to come me down. I was screaming in my head... Even though it’s been quite a number of years I still mourn every year the date I had the D&C...
 

I felt that some women dismissed it as “something that happens”. It wasn’t casual, it wasn’t early and it certainly wasn’t something that I waived away as a regular occurrence. The loss was devastating and I think about her often.


I had no idea that if you are far enough, your milk will come in... Such a hell.

 

I don’t think people truly understand how devastating it is. I waited my whole life to become pregnant and the first time I did I miscarried. Next to losing my mom, it was the most horrible loss I’ve experienced. I didn't care how “common” it was. The moment that test said positive I became a mom and when I was told there was no heartbeat, I felt like I failed my child. I literally felt empty inside. Within a matter of moments I went from having life in me to having the biggest void I’ve ever felt


on being nervous for the future

I was not overwhelmed and in grief with my miscarriages. I didn’t need days to recuperate at that moment. I really had a “Oh, that sucks” feeling, and figured it was meant to be… I felt the anxiety and worry during the next pregnancy. In fact, I didn’t want to get excited until the baby passed 32 weeks. My last child arrived at 31 weeks and no one really knew because of the “don’t want to get excited” planning.
 

It's the loss of hopes and dreams for your family. It’s the fear that you may never have a child. It’s the isolation you feel when it seems everyone around you has kids or is pregnant and your body is failing you… The only appropriate response to telling someone you had a miscarriage, is “I’m so sorry.” Not “everything happens for a reason.” The loss of your future child is devastating, plain and simple, and it can’t be rationalized nor is there any silver lining. It hurts.


We would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below...

 

P.S. here is on our article on postpartum depression in six words or less and what helps women cope
P.P.S. prenatal and postpartum anxiety and depression
P.P.P.S. seven articles on motherhood that will make you feel normal

GrowNurit SiegalComment
seven articles on motherhood that will make you feel normal
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Am I crazy?

If anyone ever says to you motherhood is a walk on the beach, ummmm that is false. It’s incredible how often we’re made to feel that motherhood shouldn’t be all that hard if only we “do it right”. Unfortunately, that means that we all spend tons of energy trying to hide our struggles from others as much as possible, even when all we need is support and empathy. So today, we’re giving a shout-out to all the moms out there going through things alone. But not totally alone. Below are seven articles and stories that help validate our feelings as mothers  – whatever it may be we’re going through.

 

The Birth of a Mother

Discusses the identity shift a woman goes through in becoming a mother and the emotional/pscyhological challenges that come with it.  

“When women find themselves feeling lost somewhere between who they were before motherhood and who they think they should be now, many worry that something is terribly wrong, when in fact this discomfort is absolutely common.”

 

Living with My Miscarriage Long After It’s Over

How the birth of new life can remind us of the loss of life

“Motherhood is stitched into our very soul and woven throughout that intricate masterpiece are moments of joy and weakness. Hope, grief and loneliness. These children, earthly or not, are forever our story.”

 

Get the Epidural

A hilarious article from comedian/TV writer Jessi Klein that will help women who secretly want to get an epidural do away with the guilt. Warning: potentially controversial

“There is so much pressure on women around birth and labor and mothering to do it this way or that way. It’s so easy to believe the notion that having a baby demands complete and total self-abnegation, and anything short of that is not enough.”

 

These are the Six Hardest Moments of Being a Single Parent

A look at one mom's experience with single parenthood

"...because of that, I desperately try to manage everything, and balance everything, because if I can pull it all off, I am able to convince myself that I really can do this."
 


When ADHD (Literally) Runs the Family

When a parent with ADHD raises a child with ADHD

“Mothering a child with ADHD is not for the faint of heart — and it becomes more daunting when you, too, are struggling to stay on track every day. Still, millions of mothers with ADHD now face this challenge, given the extremely high heritability rates for this vexing disorder”
 


The Night Before Mother's Day     & 
Mom Squad Meeting: Bring Your Own Vest   



Two videos from What's Up Moms: Real talk about what Mothers Day is actually like & a meeting that all moms want to attend. In general, it's time to follow What's Up Moms

 


Are there are any articles or videos that got you through a tough time as a mom? We'd love to hear (and read) what's helped you out

 

 


 

 

GrowNurit SiegalComment
Rachel Siegal, prosthetist resident in downtown Chicago, on work and motherhood
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Rachel Siegal

prosthesis resident at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

One thing is for sure - before this interview I did not know how to spell prosthetics and orthotics. But thanks to my interviewee's patience and grace, I am finally feeling pretty sophisticated. I'm very excited to introduce you all today to Rachel Siegal - a Prosthesis Resident at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. She also happens to be my sister-in-law, and mom to my gorgeous little niece. Before Rachel started her residency, she would often walk over to my apartment in the afternoons with her baby to hang out with me and my two toddlers. Rachel is the kind of friend you don't have to clean up for and doesn't judge, which is the only kind of friend you should have past age 25 at the latest. I know you'll love reading what Rachel has to say as much as I have! 

It’s finally happening Rach! The interview has arrived, and I'm excited for readers to learn about your amazing career path. First things first – how did you choose to work in prosthetics? What was your first introduction to the field?

My plan in college was to be pre-med.  But like most freshman in college, I had no idea what I was talking about.  Once I fully understood how much schooling would go into being a doctor, I decided it wasn’t for me and looked into careers in allied health: nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech pathology, etc.  I did a lot of informational interviewing during my first two years in college, and at a certain point found prosthetics and orthotics.  I was given the opportunity to work as an intern in several practices over summers and during school and decided that this was the field for me.

Can you tell us a bit about what a prosthetist does? 

A prosthetist fits artificial limbs for patients who have suffered some kind of amputation: traumatic, due to disease, illness, etc.  I work directly with the patient, doctors, physical/occupational therapists to create a prosthetic limb that will work for the patient's life and activities.  Our first focus is to get people to be independent in Activities of Daily Living (ADL's), but we also want to create something that gets a person back to the activity level they were at prior to the amputation, whether that means an activity specific device or a device with customized components.


What was your education up until this point? When do you complete your residency?

I have a B.S. from the University of Michigan in Biological Anthropology (which allowed me to do all my pre-med pre-requisites except for Calculus!).  I then completed my Master’s in Prosthetics and Orthotics at Northwestern University.  I’m currently doing an 18-month long residency in Prosthetics at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago which I will complete in June 2018.
 

When you’re working in the clinic with your patients, what’s a typical day like for you? What are your responsibilities?

There’s no typical day, but each day consists of working with patients on fitting/designing their prostheses. Each prosthesis is custom-made because every person’s body and needs are so different.  I also have documentation (like doctor’s and other health professionals) to write after each appointment for medical records.  Between patients, I’m typically in our fabrication lab working on fabricating, modifying, and adjusting devices for patients.
 

I imagine that your work can be very difficult and emotional at times, especially when working with children or with patients who have experienced trauma very recently. Do you find that patients and/or their families lean on you and your colleagues for both medical and emotional support?

I try to see the positive side in difficult situations, especially in pediatrics or when a patient has had some kind of trauma.  We are working towards a goal of getting the patient to be functional or independent again.  I try to empathize with the patient and their family as best I can and reassure them that I’m here to help and to move them forward in the rehabilitation process.  We have lots of discussions about the patient’s goals and home life which helps us create a device which will be most beneficial for the patient.  That’s a long way of saying, yes, part of our job is to provide emotional support and reassurance to the families.  As for colleagues, long-time clinicians have seen all sorts of difficult situations.  I lean on them for support if I am unsure of how to handle a situation.
 

What has been your most challenging case so far? Your most rewarding?

My most challenging case involved a patient with bilateral (both sides) transhumeral (above elbow) amputations secondary to trauma.  He was learning to use his prostheses and I was able to attend most of his occupational therapy sessions with him over the course of about 6 months.  He didn’t have the best attitude, which made helping him difficult.  However, in the end, he made tremendous progress.  Because of all the effort I put in to working with him, his case was probably my most rewarding as well.

 

What advice do you have for those who are thinking about prosthetics and orthotics? Is there something you wish someone had told you?

Clinical experience prior to entering school is a must.  Be assertive, ask questions, and get technical experience as well.

 

What kind of projects would you love to be working on in the future? Is there a specific aspect of prosthetics that you’re drawn to the most?  

I love working with kids.  My residency has taught me that in my heart, I’m a pediatric clinician.  I love working with children and their families more than anything.  They do so well with their devices and I love seeing them jump up and run around after we’ve fit them.  I don’t see the sadness in their situations, just their hope and excitement for the future.


That's incredible, I love your perspective. I know you're applying for an orthotics residency right now. What would you most like to get out of your next residency program?

I'm just excited to get back into orthotics.  I've been doing only prosthetics for the last year, and I originally got into the field because of orthotics, so I really miss it.  Also, while you work with all types of patients in orthotic practice, you generally get to see a lot of kids, which I'm really looking forward to.  I'd like to have a well-rounded experience and see as much as I can in the next year: different patient populations, pathologies, different devices, etc.
 

Now for the "working mom" questions, of course... As a mother of a (delicious) toddler with a demanding job… what’s a part of the balancing act that you find particularly challenging?

I work long hours during the week, so it’s difficult to be “on” as a mom when I come home each day.  I try my best to be fully present and engage with her by playing or reading, but sometimes the best I can do is cuddle up in the rocking chair and watch Moana with my little girl.  The other thing that definitely falls through the cracks is housework.  Dishes, laundry and clean up take a back seat as a working mom.

In what way could society be more accommodating of and sensitive to the lives working moms? Is there something you would like to see change?

It would be amazing to have more affordable daycare options for parents who work full-time.  It was a real struggle to work out daycare for our daughter when having a nanny was not an affordable option for us.
 

And lastly… what do you like to do during your commute? And what are your favorite ways to unwind and recharge?

During my commute, I usually like to read. Or I might even take a quick nap...
To recharge: Sleep, hot bath, Netflix, and that caramel cheese popcorn mix from our grocery store :)


 
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Rachel Siegal
Prosthetist Resident at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
MA in Prosthetics and Orthotics, Northwestern University


P.S. Check out more amazing women here:


Erin Zaikis................founder of the non profit Sundara
Fawn Julsaint...........our house and home contributor
Rivki Silver...............Writer in Cleveland, Ohio
Melissa Josephs........Director of Equal Opportunity at Women Employed

Think, GrowNurit SiegalComment
postpartum depression - and what helps women cope - in six words or less
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postpartum depression

in six words or less

What do women find more difficult? The experience of postpartum depression itself or the feeling that you're the only one going through it? For this article, we asked moms on social media to tell us what postpartum depression feels like in six words or less and we received so many responses from those who went through it in the past or are currently struggling.   The list below is what some of the women wrote. The second list is a response to the question, what helps you cope with the depression, in six words or less? We used the guideline "six words or less", since asking people to write out their whole stories can feel daunting. This way it's a bit easier to contribute, but still in a meaningful way. 


 

you don't recognize yourself.

don't remember normal

feel like a bad mom.

needs help without judgement

utter hell, hopelessness, sense of worthlessness

meds are amazing.

can't get anything done

moving through molasses

i cried for six months straight

debilitating

i'll have to pretend I'm happy

dangerous, heartbreaking, self-loathing, confusion

what did i get myself into?

hell.

why can't I get my act together?!

want to get back into bed

"must breastfeed baby. At any cost" was my thought

colic, unemployed, exhausted, lonely, and colic

unbearable heartache, overwhelming fears, absence of joy

extreme fears, my head in a dark bucket, isolated

loneliness. Anxiety. Fear. Crying. Failure. Overwhelmed

feels like bricks on my chest

 


 

hot tea, relaxing music, good book

talking to other moms going through it/had it

antidepressant, massages, good food

rest, prayer, yoga, support of loved one's, downtime

talking to people

talking to my doctor. finding a good psychiatrist

candles, tea, big blanket, soft music, book/magazine

therapy, meds, supportive people, keeping busy

alone time with spouse and baby. no guests.

meditation, hot bubble bath, deep breathing

"you had it too???"

listening to music

finding out its not uncommon

switching to formula exclusively

having my husband turn guests away (politely...)

asking for help. Talking to someone

cognitive Behavioral Therapy

therapy, meds and exercise

sun, alone time, schedule, whole foods

therapy, meds, slow breathing

me time

lots of boundaries with negative, judgmental people

babysitting help. cleaning help.

 
GrowNurit Siegal Comment
letter to myself
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letter to myself

by Rivki Silver 

Dear Me,

Excuse my brevity, but it’s getting late and I just got back from Target and I still need to fold like three baskets of laundry, maybe four, so I’m just going to cut right to the chase:

You’re not going to see it coming. What’s that? All the cliches. All the cliches that are going to come true and you’re just going to have to go with it.

Let me back up.

Right now you have, what, one or two kids? Beautiful. You can take them for walks in the double stroller. You might even still be fitting into a sedan. That’s great. They’re also very small and entirely dependant on you, which is tiring. That does get better, and it’s amazing. Just today one of the kids said at the dinner table, “I’m thirsty!” So I countered with, “So get yourself a drink.” And he did. Incredible, right?

In less than a decade your life has completely shifted from an amorphous kind of schedule, full of walks and library programming and naps and swaths of time in which you could blog and practice music and contemplate your identity as a stay-at-home mom and post pictures, so many pictures online and get into arguments on Facebook to what it is now.

Now is carpools and after-school appointments and therapy and playdates and making the bus and parent-teacher conferences and preschool and kindergarten graduations and even though the kids are, thank God, more independent, the amount of time you have for creative endeavors is shrinking. There is no more time to contemplate your identity as a mother versus as an individual because there are just so many things to do.

But you still contemplate. You still create. It’s just different now.

I know that all the things your baby and toddler are doing seem like they are absolutely the most important thing right now, just all-encompassing and aggravating and wondrous, and that’s true. It’s so true. Your life is becoming something new, and as a new mother you are a bit like a caterpillar in the cocoon. You have the babies, yes, but you are so new at this, and every decision is so heavy with importance and repercussions. And that’s also true, but it’s also not.

As you gain experience, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of babies, and you will become that more experienced mom who is so annoying to the newer moms. Because you’ll gain perspective, you’ll have seen things before, it won’t be as mysterious or as baffling, and you’ll know that most things tend to be phases and when you see new moms so so so serious you’ll smile and remember what that was like, except you won’t exactly remember, there will just be a tinge of a feeling that’s buried under the years of accumulated experience.

You’ll know what you’re doing, but you still will never know what you’re doing when it comes to your oldest. Sorry. It’s always uncharted territory, but you’ll make friends with people who are ahead of your stage of life, and you’ll learn to ask advice and to embrace the not-knowing. No one knows, really, until they do. And then they will start parenting classes which you will take and write books which you will read.

It does go fast, the problems do grow with the kids, and it certainly does take a village, but these are all things that can only be learned through experience, not through someone else telling you (not that that stops people from telling you, but whatever).

I may not really know what I’m doing, but I have learned that expectations and acceptance seem to be the key to managing, and maybe even succeeding at parenting.

There are times when a child is not doing something that I want them to do, or that I anticipated they would be doing at this stage. Like, I thought for sure that the kids would be reading chapter books by now, and I spent months buying and checking out different chapter books in the hopes that something would click.

Futility.

But after I put aside my expectations and paid attention to what they were actually interested in, instead of what I wished they were interested in, I found that comics and graphic novels held their interest beautifully, and that they would really read them.

I have a feeling that this will be applicable to every area of our children’s lives, so I’m trying to keep that in mind whenever I’m panicking about something they are or are not doing.

It’s scary, and exciting, and frustrating and wonderful. You’re doing just fine. Keep working at it, it’s going to be okay. Whatever it is is what it’s supposed to be.

Love,
Me


 
LB Rivki Silver Picture.jpg

Rivki Silver has spent most of her life immersed in the study and instruction of music, but for the past nine years has been learning about marriage and motherhood. She writes about relationships, parenthood, music and religion, as seen through the lens of an Orthodox Jewish woman. Her writing can be found on Aish.com, Kveller.com, Hevria.com, where she is a regular contributor, as well as her blog, LifeintheMarriedLane.com. She was a fellow in the 2016 Cleveland Jewish Arts and Culture Lab, where she created both the visual and soundtrack to a stop-motion video starring a chickpea. You can see that, and other work, on her Youtube channel. She is currently the principal clarinet of the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra. She lives in Cleveland with her husband and four children. You can also find her on her various social media accounts.

 
GrowNurit SiegalComment
Melissa Josephs on paid sick days and pregnancy discrimination
LB Women Employed Melissa.jpg

mothers at work 

pregnancy discrimination and paid sick days

I'm so excited that we've had the opportunity once again to collaborate with the amazing organization, Women Employed in Chicago. Women Employed is a nonprofit dedicated to serving women in the workplace. WE works with lawmakers to pass fair workplace legislation, with companies to implement fair policies, and informs and urges the public to support equal opportunity legislation. One of the reasons why I admire this organization so much is because they shine a light on what it's truly like to be a working mother for many women in the U.S. 

For today's article, I wanted our readers to be aware of and have a better understanding of the paid sick time and pregnancy discrimination laws that have been passed in Chicago and Cook County. I had the opportunity to speak with Melissa Josephs, Women Employed's Director of Equal Opportunity, who helped shepherd the passage of the laws that came into effect this past summer. Today we're going to give you a bit of background on these new policies, and what they mean for pregnant women and mothers. 

 

Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Melissa. As I’m sure you know… a lot of us don’t always know what rights we have at work.  The point of this interview is to help women understand their rights regarding paid sick time and pregnancy discrimination. To start, could you tell us a little bit about the paid sick time law that went into effect this summer in Chicago and the Cook County suburbs? 

The sick time ordinances in Chicago and in Cook County were passed last year and went into effect on July 1, and are almost identical. The laws allow employees to earn sick time one hour at a time for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours/five sick days a year.

Because it takes so long to earn sick time (a full-time worker would earn 40 hours after working 40 weeks) the laws allow a worker to carryover half of the time they have earned but not used, up to 20 hours, to the next year (e.g., if they know they want to use the sick time for an operation they are having early the next year).

The laws allow, in addition to the 20-hour carryover, 40 hours of carryover to be used for an FMLA reason if eligible (i.e. you work for an employer with 50 or more employees and meet other requirements). They can be used for new-parent leave, for the worker’s serious illness, or for that of a family member.

 

How does this law help mothers? Does paid sick leave apply when a mom’s child is home sick from daycare or school?

Yes, the laws allow an employee to use sick time if she or a family member is sick. In addition, it allows an employee to use sick time to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency – when you often don’t have notice and don’t have the time to find a caregiver.
 

Many women struggle with serious morning sickness during pregnancy. Do women who experience pregnancy-related sickness or other complications receive coverage under this law?

Yes. These sick time laws can be used for pregnancy-related illnesses when employees need to stay home from work. The laws also allow use of sick time to go to medical appointments.

An employer cannot make you use more time than you need, so the minimum increment of leave cannot exceed 4 hours per day. For example, you may only want to use four hours to stay home or go to a doctor’s appointment.

An employer cannot discipline you for not giving notice for using sick time, such as a point system that can lead to termination, or as part of an absence-control policy. An employer may require up to 7 days notice before leave is taken if need for sick time is foreseeable. If it's not foreseeable an employer may only require notice to be given that day as soon as is practicable.

 

At this point I’d like to ask you a few questions on the topic of pregnancy discrimination. In January 2015, Illinois passed a law that protects pregnant women at work. So our readers know: Pregnant women and new mothers can ask for reasonable accommodations from their employees without risk of consequence (i.e. asking for water/breaks, help with heavy lifting, a private space to pump breastmilk). It is also illegal to fire or refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant, is recovering from childbirth, or has a pregnancy or childbirth-related medical condition.

With that in mind, many women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant at some point in their careers remain concerned that their employers won’t take them as seriously. They’re worried about being placed on the “mommy track”. If a woman is asked by her employer (i.e. in an interview) if she plans on becoming pregnant, does she have to answer? Are employers allowed to ask women questions of that nature?
 

The asking of the question is not illegal. It is how the employer may use the information that may be illegal, i.e., if they hire someone who will not get pregnant instead of you.  But since you would have to prove this, which could be hard to do, especially if you’re asked at a job interview and don’t get the job, you should try and handle it when you are asked. This can be done without refusing to answer the question but by learning what your employer wants to know about how this impacts your ability to do the job. For example, you can ask the employer if they want to know whether you’re willing to travel for the job.

Whether or not a woman plans on having children should not be used against her by an employer. It’s rarely used against men who plan on having children, because the employer assumes the man will be more committed to the job as he needs the money. But so do women. An employer may assume that the woman will want to take time off if she has a baby and a man won’t because even men who take parental leave usually don’t take as much time as a woman since a woman may be recovering from giving birth.

But why is there a “mommy track” for women who may take off for a few months but not a “heart attack track” or “stroke track”? When Sen. Mark Kirk had a stroke he was off work recovering for a year, during which time he was still paid and he was not replaced. As one of our only two Senators we managed without him. The same with the CEO of United Airlines who had a heart attack one month into his new job and was off for six months. He, too, was still paid and they managed without him until he returned.  Employers should not assume that if any of their employees take a family or medical leave that 1) they cannot get along without them (it’s more expensive to replace an employee than to hold their job) and 2) that they will not be returning.


What else would you like to see change for pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace?

Paid family and medical leave for an employee’s serious illness or that of a family member, or for new-parent leave that applies to workers at any size employer. The current unpaid FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees. This could be done with a law that sets up a program funded similarly to social security, or done voluntarily if done by all employers. You can learn more about that here.


Thank you to Melissa and to Women Employed!

 
LB WE Melissa Josephs Picture.jpg

Melissa Josephs has expertise in a range of workplace issues such as paid sick days, sexual harassment, fair wages, work and family, and affirmative action. A member of the WE staff since 1990, Josephs promotes passage and effective implementation of equal employment opportunity laws and regulations at the state and federal levels. Examples of issues she works on include campaigns to increase the minimum wage and pass paid sick days legislation in Illinois and at the federal level, and federal campaigns to strengthen anti-discrimination laws such as the Equal Pay Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. 

Melissa has a B.A. in English and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

 

you can learn more by checking out these links:

pregnancy and employment in illinois

more about your rights when you are pregnant

paid sick time

Grow, TalkNurit Siegal Comments
Fawn Julsaint on the best products for your home
fawn headshots-8.jpg

Fawn Julsaint and I have known each other for about three years now. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Fawn stepped in to make my life and my home a thousand times better. I don't really know how she does it, but Fawn cleans and organizes like magic. By Thursday every week, my mornings have started to unravel, our drawers have to started to overflow (is it clean? is it dirty?), and my kids are going juuust a tad bit later to daycare. So when Fawn comes in the morning, I'm desperately ready for the restoration of order. We have a coffee together and catch up on our week, she helps me give the girls ponytails and fills their sippy cups, and then off we go while Fawn whips our home into shape. When she knows I've had a particularly hard week, I find little extras around - like the kids lunches packed and ready in the fridge, or the flowers freshly rearranged by my bed.

So, because I am so giving, I wanted to share a bit of Fawn's expertise and crazy amazing-ness with all of you. Whether you want extra help and hope with your own home or need help with your own clients' places, Fawn will be here on L & B to problem solve all our home quandaries. She's kicking it off today with the ten best products for your home and how to use them. The product images and links are at the end of the page.


Barkeeper’s Friend
Barkeeper's Friend removes hard water stains and rust from stainless steel. You can use it in your bathroom, your bathtub, as well as for the soap scum build up on your shower doors. I'ts great for removing the brown stains on your stove, on pots and pans, copper, and porcelain. It’s gentle, doesn't contain bleach, and you don’t even need to wear gloves.
 

Sprayway Glass Cleaner
Sprayway is an ammonia free glass cleaner that doesn’t have as much soap as Windex, so it doesn't streak as much. It's perfect for glass furniture, mirrors, windows. You can use it on some stainless steel products as well. Sometimes it works great on stainless steal, and sometimes it doesn’t so you just have to experiment and see where it will work.
 

Mrs. Meyer’s Products
I honestly love these because they make your home smell good. I like getting all the new holiday scents, like pine and peppermint. They're great for cleaning and great for their seasonal choices. 

 

Method Anti-Bac Products
This is a good, natural way to clean your bathrooms. It has all anti-bacterial properties, and gets rid of the germs without using all those chemicals.


Norwex products
I like this company a lot. They have really great stuff and I use them a lot at my house. They have a window cloth and a dusting mitt that are antibacterial microfiber. If you’re concerned about not having chemicals in your house it’s a great way to go.
 

O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop Heads
You do have to wring these out by hand, but you can also throw them into the washer. You should use them dry to clean your baseboards and trim, and then use them wet for floors. They’re super absorbent and most microfibers have an anti-bacterial property, so the cloth (as well as any product you’re using with it) helps get rid of germs.
 

Dawn dish soap with vinegar - I call it “Dawnegar”
This mixture is great for stove hoods and for the cabinets around your stove that get greasy. It will de-grease your wood without damage. You can use it inside your oven if you don’t want to use harsh chemicals. Just add one part dawn dish soap and one part vinegar and mix. Don't add water. Spray it on and leave for twenty minutes, and it will come right off.
 

Baking soda
I use baking soda for the stove top and in laundry to get rid of any mildew scent. I often use it on stove tops with peroxide. Mrs. Meyers actually sells a baking soda cleanser so that it’s all mixed up as a paste. Kind of like a lotion type bottle that you squirt out and rub. I also like baking soda for cleaning out tubs and the shower. Sprinkle some around the tub/shower when there's still a bit moisture in there, and throw in a couple drops of some essential lemon oil. It will help remove grime, soap scum, and hard water stains.
 

Bona for your wood floors
Bona is more water based, so it doesn’t leave a sticky residue on your wood floor. It also doesn’t have a strong scent, if you don't like the smell of other wood floor products. Some people are hesitant to use liquids on their floors, so if you’re a wood specialist I apologize for this slightly less sophisticated way of cleaning wood...


Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
They clean stainless steal, soap scum on shower doors, rings on tubs, counters, and you can even remove things from your walls. However, use it on your wall very gently and not too much because it will remove your paint. It removes scuff marks on the floor and door, but again, if your door has paint on it then be gentle. If it doesn’t come off with the first wipe then leave it alone so you don't remove your paint.
 

Clorox toilet wands
Not reusabe and not flushable, but I like them better than having a brush with tons of germs on it sitting next to the toilet, especially when kids are around. I can’t tell you how many clients have problems with their kids grabbing those. Unless you’re super dedicated to Clorox-ing your toilet brush. When I use the toilet wand, I can just rinse off the wand when I'm done with it.



 Thank you, Fawn! Let us know if you have questions you'd like Fawn to talk about in in her next post!

 
fawn headshots-25.jpg

Fawn Julsaint 

Owner-operator at My Deer Cleaner
@mydeercleaner


 
GrowNurit Siegal Comment
the delicate situation of having guests postpartum
 

when Guests come... Postpartum

About a year ago, I wrote an article for a Jewish women's magazine about prenatal and postpartum anxiety and depression. I wrote a bit about my own experience, spoke to some friends, and asked women on social media if they would be interested in telling me a bit about their stories and struggles for the article (anonymously, of course). It became clear that having space and privacy was one of the most important - and elusive - parts of the postpartum experience for women coping with anxiety, depression, or the general roller coaster ride of emotions that's common for postpartum moms. A lot of women talked about the pressure they felt to make everyone happy, and to never say "No" to anyone who wanted to spend time with the new baby and mama. I unfortunately couldn't use all of their stories for the article, but have always wanted to find a way to share them in hopes that other moms feel less guilty about their own needs postpartum. Here are some of the women's thoughts and feelings about having guests who wanted to visit - or wanted to be visited - postpartum, when they weren't quite ready.  


The huge pressure from family to visit or to bring the baby to show family is very difficult. Yes, great grandma should see the baby but a new mommy doesn't have the energy to pack up the other kids and dress herself up when the baby is even two or even three weeks old. Somehow even the loving grandparents don't always remember how awful the new mommy feels.


When my first (now 4 years old) was born, I had no clue about the emotional roller-coaster I was already strapped into. I had always been a very outgoing and social person, so I totally stayed and hung out with my own and all of my parents' friends [a few days after the baby was born].  When the guests left, I sat down on my parents' basement steps and started crying so hard I could barely breathe. My poor husband was like, "Huh? what's wrong? You were fine one second ago" and I couldn't even answer. I just felt like speaking even one more word would be too much effort for me.

After my second was born, I was more prepared, but the anxiety was much worse and I kind of went off the grid, ignoring calls from friends and relatives until just about everyone I knew was kind of ticked off at me. Thank God for anxiety medication!  I am kind of similar to a normal person again.  Some days. Sort of. If you aren't looking too closely. 


Right before I was having my in-laws sleep over for the first weekend, I had an appointment with a lactation consultant. She told me I had to nurse, feed pumped milk, feed formula, and pump at every feeding! It was not at all ­­sustainable... That night, with everyone in my apartment, I broke down. My baby was being held by someone else and I went to the armchair in her room and just cried. The tears flowed down my cheeks. All my anxiety and worry came to the forefront, and I just couldn’t stop crying. I was still physically recovering, nursing, there were way too many people in my apartment... I just couldn’t cope.


I remember with my first I had postpartum anxiety... and I remember the second day in the hospital trying desperately to calm my body down so that I could rest and every time I felt myself getting drowsy there would be a knock on the door and a well-meaning relative had shown up to meet the baby. Some friends came too. So I learned and the second time around we said no visitors at the hospital... when we came home from the hospital with my second- my husband was like a bodyguard of sorts - he prevented people from coming over and from me having to chat. To keep my anxiety in check I really just needed space and to be alone and focus on myself and my family... I think people are very well-meaning and I don't begrudge anyone for visiting - everyone wants to see a new baby. But you have to know yourself well and put up good boundaries if being with people postpartum makes you anxious or prevents you from healing. I just needed calm and quiet and space. I remember sitting in my room with the baby for hours and I had quiet classical music playing in the background. My husband or baby nurse (the second time around) would come in and they knew to speak in calm, quiet soothing tones. My husband took my cell phone for about two weeks - he checked it a couple times a day in case anything needed responding to but I didn't look at my cell phone because it was too overwhelming to have to respond to Facebook messages, emails, texts etc... I knew I just needed time alone to be able to keep my anxiety in check and be able to move on. Helped immensely.


I'll add that in addition to visiting when the mommy is home people should think twice before visiting a new mom in the hospital and make sure the visit is really wanted. Second - when making meals for new moms - as tempting as it is to come in and see the baby and chat for a few minutes - be mindful that the biggest help might be to just drop the meal off with a congratulations and see the baby another time.


Thank you so much to the women who shared their stories! And for helping other women feel understood. 

P.S. A post on anxiety in six words or less and the tough emotions that come after losing it with your kids

 

 
GrowNurit Siegal Comments
our new book club...
 
LB Earplug Book Club.jpg

For all you mamas out there - what's your relationship with reading since having kids? Do you remember how to read? Do you try to read while your kids crawl all over you? Whether you're reading a long Facebook post or delving into a big novel, it kind of always feels like a terrible time. My kids can hear the sound of me opening up a book or a magazine as well as they can hear me open a snickers bar in a dark corner of the basement. As for nighttime reading, it's very hard not to fall asleep after three sentences. So I wanted to ask you guys for our first book club post... do you read much? What's your relationship with books nowadays? I asked you guys on social media and here's what some of you had to say...

 

"Just ordered two new books, I’m trying to prioritize reading more. I read to my son daily and he reads to me, but I’ve gotten away from reading for my own enjoyment and I miss it. I’m trying to put down the phone and pick up a book."
 

"Who has time to read? I'm lucky if I can stay awake long enough to read a paragraph."
 

"I commute 2 hours a day and listen to audio books. I had to give up reading years ago, no energy at night anymore. Audio books help me deal with traffic stress and boredom. It's often the most relaxing part of my day."
 

"Reading goes as far as scrolling through Facebook. It's really great. Haven't finished a book in ages"
 

"I'm in a book club where I'm the worst member and only read it if everyone else says it's good. Otherwise I read Netflix subtitles sometimes."
 

"Overdrive!! The app for the public libraries. I check out audiobooks and listen all the time and its free."
 

"I hate to admit that my reading time comes when I plop my kid in front of the TV during breakfast. I enjoy my coffee and book for a bit and can tune out Elmo’s annoying voice... ;) Otherwise it’s sneaking a few pages in the bathroom or after bedtime, but I’m usually too tired then and prefer to catch up on my own TV in the evening."
 

"I love reading! Being a working mom helps - my commute is always a major reading time... I fully admit it was a major reason I did not go with a daycare near my work... mommy needs reading time. I also love audio books."
 

"I'm a card toting member of the Bad Decisions Book Club. (Our motto: "JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER!") I read at night after everyone - including my partner - are in bed. It's my ME time."
 

"I commute 2 hours a day and listen to audio books. I had to give up reading years ago, no energy at night anymore. Audio books help me deal with traffic stress and boredom. It's often the most relaxing part of my day."
 

 
 

 

So then... what's your relationship with reading??

 
losing it
 

Do any of you guys remember Charlotte York? That preppy, perfect character who wanted her life to look like a magazine? I remember watching her on TV when I was in high school and college and thinking to myself, Okay, yeah, if I could just be like that when I'm older...

When she got married to her second husband on the show, and she softened her personality and accepted life's imperfections, we loved her even more. But when the second SATC movie came out, I thought to myself, huh. Maybe they went too far. Now she seems like she can't get it together at all. She's always overwhelmed by her kids. She confesses how hard motherhood is over cocktails while Miranda tells her to "keeping sipping". I thought it was a little annoying.

After I had my own kids, I started to remember those scenes again. Especially the scene when Charlotte loses it with her young daughter, Lily. After Lily plants two, full-of-paint hands on her skirt, Charlotte grabs her little fists and screams, "LILY LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID!" In a split second her face changes and she's overcome with horror and remorse. Still shaky, she tells the girls to give mommy just one second, and she goes to the closet to cry. I've thought of that short scene over and over again as a mom. Even though she's just a character, the scene strikes a chord with me now. If Charlotte York can lose it, then maybe I'm not actually alone in this. 

In the name of mom-solidarity, I proposed another question this week on social media. I asked moms to describe with one sentence that feeling of remorse and shame you get after yelling or screaming at your kids. Of course, none of us ever want to "lose it" with our beloved, beautiful children. But in the mean time, while we're all trying to work on ourselves, I thought it might help to hear that we're not alone in the journey. We often think we're the only ones struggling, and we end up being really, really hard on ourselves. 

So here's what you guys had to say....

Can I turn back the clock?
I’m a horrible monster.
Did I really do that? Again!!!
I’m not cut out for this.
It’s not her fault I’m ______ (insert: stressed, tired, cranky, upset, nervous etc.)
I’m a failure!
What did I just do?!?!
I’m human, trying, failing, trying again…
I’m the worst mom ever.
Next time louder! #kidding
Omg I’m a horrible mother, I’m damaging them for life, I promised I would never yell…
I hate myself.
I need a time out.
I never yell at my sweet angels. #alsokidding
Where’s the child remote control?
I want to take it back.
Don’t want to be in charge!
Did I really just do that?
7:45 AM and I’ve already lost it??
Ruined their life forever!
I hated when my parents did this to me.
I don’t deserve to be their mom
Cathartic. But then shame and remorse.
I’m in hulk mode again.
What is wrong with me?!


What would you add to the list? How do you describe that feeling after "losing it"? What would you want to tell other moms going through the same thing? 



P.S. Women share what anxiety feels like in six words or less, the paradox of motherhood, and what prenatal/postpartum anxiety and depression can feel like

 
interview with shana anderson, founder of reeve's tees: part one
Shana with sweet baby Reeve

Shana with sweet baby Reeve


When I was younger, I had the coolest, most supportive babysitter and tutor. Every time she came over to our house, I got excited. She took care of my brothers and me by studying with us for tests, driving us to tennis tournaments, and most importantly, by becoming our most beloved friend and mentor. She was there for us in every way imaginable. Not only was she close to us kids, but she was (and still is) very close to my mother. Simply put, she has always been a part of our family.

Fast forward to right now and Shana Anderson has three kids of her own to take care of, and an incredible company called Reeve's Tees. Reeve's Tees celebrates the differences of children and adults with Down syndrome with creative, humorous, and loving T-shirts. Their mission is to express the love, joy, and pride that the DS community feels, and to help people "get comfortable with difference" by starting a conversation. Keep reading to find out more about Shana and her incredible company! 


I’m so excited to finally be doing this interview! 

Thank you so much for asking me and for featuring Reeve’s Tees! 
 

I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind Reeve’s Tees and how the idea for the company started to form in your mind?

When I was pregnant with our second son, Reeve, we found out that he would be born with Down syndrome.  Up until that time, I had never personally met someone with Down syndrome.  After hearing the genetic counselor’s words, my brain searched for anything that I knew about the condition to try to make sense of this news…

Oddly, my mind flashed back to an encounter that I had had at one of my husband’s work parties years before.  I was seated next to a man that I had never met, and there was an empty seat reserved for his wife.  I casually asked him, “will your wife be joining us later?”  He replied, “No, actually… she can’t this evening.  She had to take my daughter to therapy.  My daughter has Down syndrome.”

After I heard him tell me that his daughter had Down syndrome, I immediately felt uncomfortable.  In my naivety and ignorance, I felt sorry for the man, his wife, and his daughter.  I assumed that talking about his daughter might make him feel sad, so I quickly changed the subject to something else.

I actually shutter with a deep feeling of shame and regret as I recall the memory of how I reacted that night.  But I tell the story, because the discomfort that I experienced as someone unfamiliar with Down syndrome is not uncommon, and it served as the inspiration for Reeve’s Tees.

Fast forward, and I am now that parent. 

After spending time in the special needs community –  one quickly learns that parents like me are not sad.  There is so much joy, love, and pride for our children.  Unlike what I assumed about the father all those years ago, in reality, if I had asked him anything about his daughter, he probably would have smiled and told me 100 stories and shown me 1,000 pictures.

So I began pondering:  Why does Down syndrome make people feel so uncomfortable?  How can we break down this barrier?  How can we tell the world that, we, the parents and families, are not sad about our children with Down syndrome – we are proud of them!  That’s when the idea for Reeve’s Tees was born. 

My mission when starting Reeve’s Tees was to develop ways to help people “get comfortable with difference.” That has served as our company’s tagline from the beginning.  We do this through light-hearted, humorous phrases about Down syndrome and other genetic conditions printed on t-shirts – our most well-known saying being: “I love homies with extra chromies.”