The other milestones

The first time your kid eats something off the filthy floor at the grocery store/bank/fast food joint: 

Unless it was a stray Xanax or one of those dishwasher packets, then you’ll need to just get over it. Trying to clean the mouth with baby wipes only makes things worse. 

The first time your kid tells you to go away and send in the other parent: 
If you spend too much time thinking about your hurt feelings, you will miss the opportunity to watch Netflix and check your Facebook and have a snack without sharing while the poor bastard in the other room tries to put your shrieking banshee to bed. 

The first time your kid snubs another kid: 
Personally, I was of two minds about this. As a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, I appreciate not wanting to make tedious small talk with strangers. As a parent, I don’t want people to think my kid is an unsocialized asshole. 

The first time she calls you by your first name: 
This will be funny when it happens to your spouse. And then she’ll do it to you, and that’ll fix your wagon. 

The first time you have to call Poison Control:
FYI, eggshells full of coffee grinds are not toxic. 

The first toddler-friendly iPad app:
The first day we got our iPad, my husband (the *SOB*) downloaded a Dora app. I paid for the frigging thing, and now I have to wait until she is asleep to use it. She currently has more apps than me. 

The first time they use a curse word: 
No, he didn’t say “duck” or “sit.” Nice try. 

The first time they cop an attitude:
Key indicators that this milestone have been reached include the loud shouting of “No way!” “Stop that!” “Don’t want it!” “That’s yucky!” If your blood boils and you’re seeing red with frustration, you’re probably there. Congrats to you. 

The first time they climb up on your lap while you’re sitting on the toilet trying to poop:
Lucky for you, if you didn’t bring any reading material with you to the bathroom, they will probably let you read Barnyard Dance with them. 
If you’re one of those people who can’t poop in public bathrooms because you’re afraid other people will hear, you are totally fucked. 

The first time they actually understand that they have caused you serious pain: 
Mine was a drawer in the face. My scream of pain frightened her, so I had to comfort her instead of putting some ice on my goose-egg and checking to make sure my pupils were the same size. 

The first time they pull your pants down in public:
Chances are good that this will occur while you are in a packed elevator and/or wearing your “laundry day” underpants and/or mid-tantrum to ensure that everyone is staring at that critical moment.


The first time they say “I love you.”
I guarantee that you will immediately Google “where to buy a pony.”  


The girls are not alright


Why? Why are we still talking about Miley Cyrus? Why am talking about Miley Cyrus. Full disclosure: I didn’t watch the VMAs, and I haven’t checked out any of the videos online. (I confess that I did look up a “twerking” video because I was tired of not knowing what twerking was.) I’ve also never seen Hannah Montana, or heard Miley sing more than three notes, ever.

My square, nerdy persona is not offended by the clothing she wore. If she wore that flesh-coloured shiny thing on the beach she probably would have been on In Touch magazine’s “Hottest Bikini Bods” list. And I love, love, loved her cute little punk haircut (and was already sporting one that was almost identical myself when she did her dramatic reveal.)

I remember being a teenaged girl, and how hard it was to figure out who you wanted to be. Trying on all those different personas until you found one that fit. And trying to distill the million messages coming from friends, parents, peers, magazines, movies, into something that wasn’t confusing and totally contradictory. Having to stumble through adolescence with the paparazzi watching must be an absolute fucking nightmare.

As a mother of a little girl, I question how to explain pop culture to my sweet little person. The whole Miley-debacle has made headlines in every corner of the internet, and it troubles me. There are so many different discussions being had, about racism, sexism, appropriate of black culture, slut-shaming, and the general rotting of the entertainment scene in North America. There are two things in particular that stick in my craw.

1)      Why isn’t Robin Thicke weathering the same shitstorm as Miley?

Fair question. I believe that as a man, Mr. Thicke (which would make a great porn name – coincidence?) is implicitly safer than Miley will ever be.

This little bit of truth pisses me off. I had one of those conversations with my husband recently, that caused a little *ping* lightbulb to click on in my brain. He was asking me for directions to a movie theatre that was located in a local shopping mall, and the converation went something like this:

Hubs: “Where is the theatre? What stores is it near?”

Me: “It is at the end near the Toys R Us, I think. Make sure you park at the entrance closest to the theatre doors, because the mall closes at nine so you’ll have to walk outside in the parking lot at night.”

Hubs: Blank stare.

Me: “You know – because the mall is closed so you can’t walk through it and that parking lot is probably a bit rape-y after dark. When I went the security guard escorted me through the mall but they might not do that anymore.”

Hubs: Frown.

Me: *ping* “I guess you don’t really worry about that kind of thing.”

Hubs: “Not really.”

Even subconsciously, I operate on a rape schedule. I would imagine that a lot of other women do as well. The lessons are stuck, hard and fast, in my memory.

Don`t walk alone at night.

Get a whistle.

Cover up or you`ll attract creepers.

Don`t talk to strangers.

Hold your keys between two fingers so you can use them as a weapon if you are attacked.

I`m not the attacker, but I have been taught for as long as I remember that I am responsible for preventing attacks. To be a woman is to be unsafe. By drawing attention to herself, Miley has made herself a target. In a way that Robin Thicke will never be. And it pisses me off.

If the experiences of girls like Amanda Todd or Rehteah Parsons have taught us anything, it is that the tiniest “mistake” (getting drunk, showing your body, or – God forbid – trusting the people around you not to act like lawless animals) can cost a girl their power, their dignity, and even their life.

2)      I can’t help but think that Miley’s performance was not for herself, but for the benefit of millions of consumers looking for their next consumable.

When I was in my early twenties, I went to a party where I knew only two or three people. The hostesses were lovely, bubbly, friendly women. I spent most of my time sitting on a couch talking to the people I already knew (because introvert). Slowly people trickled into other rooms, until all that was left were myself and my friend, two guys I hadn’t met, and two girls dancing.

And suddenly the girls were making out. Grinding against each other. The voice in my head said “you’ve seen two women kiss before, what’s the problem?” But I felt in my gut that they were not kissing because they wanted to please each other. They were kissing because they had an audience. The two guys were watching intently, licking their lips and leering. Cut to my skin crawling.

I struggle to process experiences like this. My feminist education tells me that women should be free to express their sexuality in whatever way they choose, without criticism or judgement.

But it also tells me that women are expected to display themselves and perform for the benefit of the male gaze. And the line between expressing oneself and putting on a show for others is so fine that I can barely see it.

I want to see it. That line matters so much. Because that is the line where power is either retained or given away. Retained, when women feel secure and comfortable to choose how to express their sexuality, if at all. Or given away, because we are channeling our energy into making someone else think we are sexy, and letting someone else define what kind of expression is “acceptable.”

Women are expected to give so much away, to give until we are empty. It hurts my heart to think that someone as young as Miley has already learned to give away her power.



Adventures in babysitting

When I returned to work early, I wanted one thing sorted before I went back: daycare. By a stroke of luck (and some helpful friends who guided me in the search) we found a daycare that was affordable, close to our workplaces, and bilingual! Vive le français! Then I got that unfortunate e-mail…..she was pregnant. And so the search began again.

I visited two places; one was not yet operational and was spotless, with a whole playroom full of shiny, spanking new equipment. The other was less…shiny. The toys were well-loved and I just wasn’t sure. New is better, right? Little did I know when both of us returned to work full-time, our home would become a cluttered, lawless abyss of crayons and board books and stuffed animals and tiny socks and Mega Bloks and discarded food. That’s what happens when you work out of the home and have a small child. Or probably more generally, have a small child.

I picked the less shiny daycare, because I had a better feeling about the caregiver. I’m certain that the other caregivers would have worked out fine, and that the children they care for are happy and safe. But having a caregiver who shares the same attitudes about kids, who is calm and gentle and easygoing, has made the transition back to work easier. (She has a fabulous English accent to boot.)

The care has never, ever been shabby. Nina often asks to go to daycare even when she is not scheduled. (And when bedtime is going badly.) She loves the activities and the other kids, and she trusts her caregiver like I do. Every day, Nina gets to colour and play. She does crafts and reads books. She goes to the park and goes for walks and visits with kids in other daycares in the neighbourhood. She even has a crew of little pals that she heart-meltingly refers to as “my friends.”  She attends lots of birthday celebrations, complete with cupcakes. Last October, she came home with a huge smile and the ugliest pumpkin I have ever seen, after a trip to the pumpkin patch.

Recently, I walked in at pick-up time and found the caregiver dancing Nina around the room to Raffi. I think my heart grew three sizes.

Sometimes I think that Nina likes her caregiver more than me, because Mama has to do all the yucky, business stuff like tooth-brushing, hair-washing, and bedtime. And sometimes I am a little jealous of the caregiver, because while I am at work every day doing my job, MY BABY IS HER JOB. I never feel like there are enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do with Nina and she just keeps growing and changing, and ever so slowly, slipping  away. 

I strenuously avoid articles about the potential harms or benefits of daycare. There is no single study that is going to tell me whether daycare is harmful or beneficial, and I’ve made my choices about daycare based on what was good for our whole family, not only for Nina. I don’t want to read about women who deeply regretted staying home with their children, but realized that it was a mistake way too late, who lost their identities and feel taken for granted. And I don’t want to read about women who, like me, still sometimes feel uncertain about their choices, who wish they could spend more time with their kids, who are accused of “letting someone else raise their children.” I don`t know about anyone else, but since I became a mother my heart just can`t endure cruelty the way it could before. There are too many unkind, unsolicited, uninformed, mean-spirited words floating around in the parent community.  

 I can only speak to my experience, which has been mostly great. I feel like we have hit the babysitter jackpot, and I remind myself often to be grateful. Nina is well-socialized, she knows the alphabet and she can count to twenty and she knows colours and shapes. She tells me all about playing with her friends, and she is happy and dirty and her shoes are full of sand at the end of the day. She is happy to see me at pick-up time, but not desperate to leave her caregiver. And I think that is the closest thing to balance that I can hope for.







The reluctant co-sleeper

When I was expecting, I bought an adorable little bassinet with a rocking stand to sit next to our bed. Once the baby outgrew the bassinet, she would go to her crib. Of course.

I feel like I should have known that we would end up co-sleeping. Nina proved herself to be a champion co-sleeper right from the start. The first night in the hospital, I found myself holding her and trying to get her to stop fussing. Not crying, just snorting and snuffling and fidgeting and causing my hormone-addled brain to think she was suffocating or something. (And then me paging the increasingly irritated nurse to check on her every hour or so just to be sure she was ok, since I couldn’t get up by myself after having a c-section.)

Once I snuggled her into the crook of my arm, she fell fast asleep and I drifted off. When the night nurse came in to do her checks she took Nina and put her immediately back into the bassinet.

“We don’t allow that.”

I understood. For liability reasons, they wouldn’t let women co-sleep, because what if mom was heavily drugged and smothered her baby unknowingly? Nina grunted, snorted and kicked her feet in the air, and I lay in bed next to her, waking at every single sound and movement for the rest of the night.

When we went home a few days later, I tried to heed the “Sleep when baby sleeps” advice that had been given to me by virtually everyone. The problem was that my husband had to return to work shortly after I came home, and Nina would not sleep in her bassinet for more than twenty minutes at a time. I tried swaddling, and a sleep sac, putting one of my shirts in with her so she could smell me. No dice. I was desperate to get more than twenty minutes of sleep, so I took her into bed with me.


I dressed warmly enough that I didn’t need a quilt, and she was in her footy pyjamas, and we slept. Oh, how we slept. It was glorious. I continued to try the bassinet, but after a point it felt like insanity. Trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Yes, insanity. I read every book I could find, I Googled endlessly to find tips on how to make baby sleep on their own. I tried every. Damn. Thing.

My mother, who is firmly planted in the old school, told me that I used to sleep in my crib every night without a peep. From seven p.m. to seven a.m., even sleeping through when my father dressed me and put me in the car to go pick her up at midnight from work. (Note to my mother: you’re welcome.)

We continued to co-sleep, saying that I would get on that crib thing when she was eating solid food, before her first birthday, in one of the “ideal” windows where babies are most amenable to a new sleep arrangement.

Then I got a job offer. A really, really good job offer. But it meant that I would return to work much earlier than I planned. Nina was going to be my only child, and I was determined to treasure the hell out of every moment during my year of maternity leave. But this job could mean better things for Nina. Things that would last far longer than my year of maternity leave. I struggled with the decision, but I could not turn it down. I returned to work when Nina was six months old.

Co-sleeping took on a very different meaning for me, when I returned to work early. I spent so much of my day missing her so badly, and wondering if I had made a huge mistake by giving up those last six months. It was small of me, but I was jealous of the expectant mothers in my new office, because they still had all that time just waiting for them. So coming home at night and getting to snuggle in next to my sweet little beast was the happiest part of my day.

I still heard, from lots of people, that if I didn’t start young I would never get her out of our bed. That I was setting us all up for bad habits in the future, and I was hurting her by not teaching her to sleep alone. And worse, that she would suffocate in our bed and I’d never be able to forgive myself. For a brief period, I would lie and say that Nina was sleeping in her crib now, just to end the conversation.

Shortly after her first birthday, we reached one of the “sleep guru” approved training windows. I decided that I would crib train Nina if it killed me.

I spent two weeks crib “training” her before I gave up. I tried lying beside the crib. I tried going in and laying her back down without saying anything, over and over and over. I tried rocking her until she was almost asleep before putting her in the crib. I tried putting her in the crib, giving her a kiss and then leaving the room and closing the door behind me. Listening to her scream for hours, sometimes until she made herself vomit, made me ill. She would stop crying for a few minutes, only to resume her screaming.

During the day, Nina was clingy and irritable. She would suction onto me like a little barnacle, and she cried every time I left the room, which was a big change from her usual independence.

Eventually even walking near the crib would elicit terrified screams. Nina would claw at my clothing, wrap her arms around my neck and wail. At the end of the second week, I walked into her room and picked her up from the crib. She was shaking and her face was soaked with tears and sweat. I hugged her and took her to bed, and that was the end of that. Sleep-training wasn’t for us.

Nina is now two and a half, and she still sleeps with us. We have made some good progress in introducing the big girl bed. I know at some point, sleeping on her own is a milestone she will need to reach. For now I’m trying hard to cherish every single snuggle. Bedtime is full of hugs and kisses.  Nina often drifts into the middle of the bed, but she frequently turns to me in the night and whispers “snuggle, Mummy” and then cuddles up next to me again.

Some nights I feel so incredibly frustrated with bed time. I wish that she would consistently sleep in her own bed, I wish that she would stop spending so much time fucking around when she should be sleeping, I wish that I didn’t wake up with her feet jammed in my eye sockets. I wish that studies didn’t show that poor sleep in toddlers can lower their IQ. I wish, I wish, I wish. I know that everyone has a particular cross to bear with their child, whether it is picky eating or tantrums or biting. Nina is generally well-behaved, she isn’t a biter (knock wood) and she likes lots of different healthy foods. Bed time has become the battleground for us. And it blows. Because when the kid isn’t sleeping, EVERYONE suffers. I can’t take a sick day just because my kid kept me up all night. Often I acquiesce to her requests to sleep in the big bed because it is the way to get the most sleep. (Not enough sleep, but the most.)

I sometimes wonder if the “Mommy Wars” survive because we’re all so damn tired. It is hard not to question our bedtime style when we read about someone else who has let their child cry it out, and is now enjoying seven uninterrupted hours of sleep. Or when we are on night six of crying/screaming/gagging, while another mother is sleeping soundly with her little poppet snuggled beside her. This shit is hard. I’m at a loss. For the time being, you’ll probably find me squished against the wall with tiny feet poking me in the back.

I couldn’t get a reservation at the Breastaurant.

I am a reader. When something significant happens in my life, I buy a book about it. As soon as I got two blue lines on a pee stick, I was trolling the aisles of Chapters for the best pregnancy, baby and parenting books.  One of the books I picked up was the terrifically optimistic Guide to Breastfeeding by Dr. Jack Newman, who is one of the world’s preeminent breastfeeding experts. My story is in no way a reflection on the important work that Dr. Newman does, nor of the value of breastfeeding as a good and valid parenting choice.


Now-me would love to punch Then-me in her naïve, judgemental pie hole, but at the time I was thoroughly convinced. Formula was poison, poison, poison. I talked to anyone who would listen about my plans, and about how ‘it is only a percent of a percent of a percent of women who CAN’T breastfeed and the others just give up too soon.’ When I saw pictures of friends’ babies on Facebook with bottles, I felt disappointed for them. I kept my opinions mostly to myself, but I still cringe now at what an asshole I was.


When I came out of the operating room, still feeling like a block of ice, a nurse putting pressure on my bleeding spine, exhausted and unwashed and totally stunned, I immediately asked if I could try to breastfeed. The nurses were helpful and encouraging, and I thought everything would be smooth sailing. Nina seemed to know what to do right away.


But as the days passed, and what should have been happening was not happening, and countless strangers grabbed my baby and my boob and shoved them together, I got increasingly frustrated. My roommate’s milk came in so her baby was nursing like clockwork, and I was unflatteringly jealous. She didn’t get hacked open and now she had milk! (She also had a UTI, and a busy two-year old to go home to, and the nurses were borderline-harassing her to pick a name for her baby so they could complete their paperwork, so I needn’t have been so jealous towards the poor woman.) I had no idea that my story was so much like so many others’ until much later, when I broadened my reading list.


One fateful night in the hospital, Nina was crying and my nipples were battered and bleeding and even looking at them hurt me, the nurse asked me if I wanted to give her a little formula. I couldn’t bear the thought of putting Nina’s barracuda latch anywhere near me, and I thought that if I took a night off I could start fresh in the morning.


I left the hospital with a rental pump, and swore that I would pump every two hours until things started working the way they were supposed to, because I was thoroughly dedicated to the cause. I wasn’t going to give my baby poison when I had the world’s most perfect food gushing forth from my bosom. But there was no gushing. Pumping rarely resulted in more than four or five drops, and on the one occasion when I pumped a full ounce I spilled it before I got it in the fridge. I sat down on the floor beside the wet throw rug and wept. My husband made a joke about crying over spilled milk, but in the face of my complete insanity it went over like a lead balloon.


I took over a dozen pills a day to stimulate lactation and drank “milk tea” and ate curry. Pumping was exhausting. Since my husband was working full time, I spent a lot of my time pumping while listening to my baby fuss because my hands were full and I couldn’t pick her up. There was also the assembling and disassembling and the washing and rinsing and cooling and storing and looking for somewhere to plug it in.

My mother connected me with a wonderful lactation consultant, who met with me a number of times over the next few weeks. She gave me lots of information and support and coaching, and she was very kind. She continued encouraging me for as long as I wanted to try, but in retrospect, I’m not sure what other choice she had when faced with a manic, wild-eyed lunatic who kept blubbering about the smell of formula.


I tried an SNS (Supplemental nursing system) which consists of a plastic bottle, which you fill with formula and hang around your neck, and two tubes which you tape to your breasts so that the baby gets the experience of nursing even if you don’t have milk. Basically it makes you look like something from a low budget sci-fi porn. And if you don’t have four hands, the tiny tubes can bend or spring loose from the tape and go up your baby’s nose while you’re trying to get her to latch, which makes her so, so angry.


After more than eight weeks of crying (both of us) and screaming at the sight of my breasts (also both of us) I gave up. I returned the pump. I didn’t stop feeling guilty though, and that is one of my most profound regrets. I only got six months to spend with my daughter, and I spent most of them feeling guilty and ashamed. It is hard to admit, but this has been one of those wounds that never seems to heal. I do stare a bit when I see public breast feeding ….I’m not offended. I am touched by the intimacy and connectedness. And I’m a little jealous.


After all of this, I am still a reader. I picked up Suzanne Barston’s Bottled Up and I learned about the different reasons (many of which I had never, ever thought of) why women choose formula. I also follow her Facebook page (Fearless Formula Feeder), which is a forum for mothers who feed their babies in all different ways, for all different reasons.


Yesterday I saw a photo of a young mother who flung herself down in front of a formula display to nurse her baby. Her motive, she said, was to “raise awareness” about breastfeeding. There are plenty of things that get in the way of breastfeeding, but I’m willing to bet that in middle/upper class North America, lack of awareness isn’t one of them. This photo, this woman, and her deliberate ignorance, ignited a red hot anger in me. Every can of formula I ever bought had “Breast is best” printed on the side. There was never a time when I wasn’t reminded by a book, a pamphlet, a poster, about the benefits of breastfeeding. I was riddled with guilt, exhausted, my skin was peeling, my hair was falling out in handfuls. And I wasn’t the only woman who had gone through this. I didn’t need to be kicked when I was down. But some people, and some groups, just keep on kicking.


The only advice I ever give friends about infant feeding is: whatever happens and whatever you choose, just feed your baby. If it didn’t happen exactly the way you hoped, forgive yourself.  Move on. This is one choice, among hundreds of choices you will make for your baby in their lifetime. Your baby needs a mother who isn’t a raving, weeping lunatic more than they need breast milk. I don’t need anyone to do a study to know that is the absolute truth.


I still believe that breastfeeding is amazing, and I wish my story had a better ending, but I understand in a way I never did before that how a woman feeds their child is none of my, or anyone else’s, business.

The extra stuff.

Royal baby has arrived! That means Kate had about five minutes of peace before people started talking about her post baby body. I recently read an article, accompanied by pictures of “things Kate wouldn’t be wearing after baby.” One of the garments was that fishnet/underwear thing that she wore at a fashion show in university. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that she wouldn’t have been wearing that ever again, baby or no baby. Most of the other items were cocktail dresses. So Kate isn’t going to be wearing a short, low-cut cocktail dress again in the near future? SHE’S BUSY WITH OTHER SHIT RIGHT NOW.

I don’t doubt that Kate will be the most stylish, well-dressed post-partum royal that the world has ever seen. (Sorry Di, but you looked like a member of the Lollipop Guild in your post-partum clothing.) She has already made an indelible impression on the world by revealing her real, un-Spanx-ed tummy, which made me like her even more. I have hope that Kate might change the way that the world thinks about post-partum bodies.

I hope that she gets all the time she needs to inhale that new baby smell and nibble those new baby toes. Let the girl wear some comfy pants and enjoy her baby for a few months.

Yes, I know that Kate had a hair and make-up team to get her ready for the big reveal, and she was wearing a custom designer dress. If I knew that literally MILLIONS of people were going to be looking at me, I would have done the same thing. I have a friend whose sister (not a Duchess) got a professional blow-out and a manicure before her scheduled c-section – how brilliant! I haven’t seen the pictures, but I’m told that she looked fabulous in them. I looked like a deflated balloon/dishrag in my first post-baby photos.

I truly cannot grasp the circus surrounding celebrities getting their figures back after giving birth. Is this a real concern? I mean, these are professional good-looking people. They are paid to be thin and attractive. They have staff who cook their meals and babysit their kids while they spend time with their personal trainers. The number of celebrities who don’t get their old bodies back after birth is staggeringly low.

Why doesn’t anyone worry about how motherhood might affect their work? No one ever said, “Reese Witherspoon just had a baby. Will she be too tired to continue running her production company? Will she still have time to contribute to her charitable activities? Is she going to lose her sense of humour after scooping crap out of the bathtub with her bare hand three nights in a row?” As long as she sheds that unsightly weight, it doesn’t really matter if she can’t find the energy to keep up at work. 

I will admit that I only gained about 22 pounds when I was pregnant. (Nina weighed 8 pounds at birth). I put my pre-baby pants back on a week after she was born. (Aside: I also touched my toes several hundred times just because I could.) I don’t have the experience of trying to recover a slender body and get back into size 26 skinny jeans. I don’t know what it feels like to mourn the departure of a lithe, sexy pre-baby body and try to come to terms with a mom body. My body, aside from the forty or so weeks of pregnant wierdness, probably looks pretty much the same to most people.

Before you think I’m bragging, I should say a few things. Firstly, I was fat before I got pregnant, so there was no celeb-rag worthy before-and-after shot to be had. By the end, my abdomen was much bigger (natch) but I didn’t even go up a bra size.  Second, my OB hated fat people, and he wasn’t shy about making me feel like a monster, which meant that I did very little of the “eating for two” that many pregnant women do. In fact, I scrutinized every bite that went into my mouth, often to the point of madness, and spent a lot of time riding my excercycle and weeping. And third, I got my old pants on, but my shirts have never, ever fit me the same way.

My weight is the same, but I ended up with a lot of….extra stuff. Is that the right word? Bulging spots that weren’t there before. A TON of stretch marks. A patch of abdomen that has no feeling. And a tiny pink scar. (Seriously, it is so small I can’t believe a human being came out of there?!)

Oh. And my daughter. Who hugs me and calls Spongebob “Nutbob” and loves mangoes and gives awesome high-fives.  Why are we in such a hurry to erase the evidence of making our children? I sometimes catch myself moaning over my extra stuff, and I remind myself that I have no idea what the people listening to me might be going through. There are a lot of women who struggle with infertility and baby loss, who would gladly trade their flat stomachs for a little person like mine.

I don’t want my daughter to think that I regret having her just because it made my body look and feel different. I want her to know that my body did an amazing thing by making her, and one that I constantly remind myself not to take for granted.