Jana Says

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Tag Archive: parenting

Ten simple rules for new moms

I know quite a few of you guys are getting ready to have babies or you’ve recently had babies and you’re probably sick of hearing other people tell you how to parent. But rest assured, this is not that kind of advice. This is advice you can use. Real advice. From a somewhat seasoned mom and one who, by most societal standards, did absolutely everything wrong and has a kid who turned out just fine. Seriously, she’s fine. She  probably won’t even need therapy when she’s older. So I figure that’s good. 

And I figure it also qualifies me to tell you guys some things. 

Jana’s Rules for New Moms (Or, Jana’s Suggestions For New Moms Because It’s Your Kid and You Do What You Want)

  1. Shower. No one feels good when they’re covered in filth. There’s always 5 minutes to do that, even if you can’t wash your hair. That’s why there’s ponytails and dry shampoo. And also, there’s no badge of honor for being dirty. 
  2. Sleep. My god, please sleep. I know it’s hard but a few hours here and there makes a world of difference. And if you have a difficult baby and YOU’RE tired, it makes taking care of that baby even more difficult.
  3. Eat. Food is awesome, starving yourself is not. It’s actually a terrible idea. Hangry mom + cranky baby = UGLY situation.
  4. Feed your kid. Common sense, right? But I need to add that you should feed your kid in any manner that works for you. Breast feed, formula feed, combination of the two. Whatever. DO NOT let anyone make you feel guilty for how you choose to feed your kid. Because in the long run, it doesn’t really matter how they were fed. All that matters is that they’re eating. My child was formula fed from day 1–DAY 1–and she is healthy and strong and smart. 
  5. Ask for help when you need it. It’s hard to do it alone, even if it feels like you’re the only one who can possibly take care of that baby. But it is stressful as fuck and sometimes, you need a break. Take one. Let the kid’s dad do the middle of the night feeding if he can or have a trusted friend or relative come over so you can shower and nap. Not sure if your baby needs to go to the doctor? Call the pediatrician and ask the nurse. Ask an experienced mom how to handle teething or reflux. It is okay to ask for help and no one–NO ONE–will see you as weak or stupid because you couldn’t figure it out. We’ve all been there. 
  6. Tune out the critics. No matter what you do, there will be those who will criticize your choices or act like they’re better than you for whatever inane reason parents are competing these days. But you know your kid and you know you’re doing the best you can. You already know you’re a good parent and fuck the people who say you aren’t. 
  7. Keep your non-mom friends. I know I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll keep mentioning it because it’s that important. Believe me, mom friends serve their purpose. It’s nice to have people to commiserate with about diapers and daycare and mommy guilt and all those godforsaken loud ass toys and horrible kids’ shows and all the shit and nonsense that comes with being a mom. It’s a huge part of who you are now. You can’t deny that. HOWEVER.It is so nice to have a conversation with someone that doesn’t revolve around those topics. It is so nice to have a lunch or a drink with a friend who wants to talk about everything and anything that’s not kids. Kids are awesome but they are not the sum of life. Don’t let the fact that you reproduced and a friend didn’t rip a hole in your friendship. I 100% guarantee you can still relate to each other. (And P.S., anyone who tells you that you don’t live or know what love is until you’ve had kids is a complete and utter asshole. Don’t be that person). 
  8. Stay yourself. Confession: a pet peeve of mine is being introduced as E’s mom (as in, “hi, new mom I’ve never met before. I’m E’s mother”). NO. I am Jana. Yes, I am her mother but I am Jana before that. I am my own person. Because being someone’s mom is not all you are. You do yourself a complete disservice to shut off who you were before that kid was born. Just because you’re a mom now doesn’t mean you can’t read or listen to loud, angry music or go to the gym or watch violent, inappropriate shows or wear makeup or dress up for no reason at all or have a beer at home on a Friday night or travel or do anything else you like to do. Sure, you might have to make better overall choices when you’re doing those other things but do not forget to do them. It’s okay to have goals that don’t involve your kid. It’s okay to want things you wanted before she was born. TRUST ME. If you stay yourself, you’ll be a better parent overall. Your kid cannot be your whole life. It’s not healthy.
  9. Pre-pregnancy weight. It’s a good, noble goal. But I caution you if you’re pressuring yourself to get there immediately. That’s nonsense. YOU JUST EXPELLED ANOTHER HUMAN FROM YOUR BODY. Give it time to heal. Let it do what it needs to. Take care of yourself, sure, but don’t worry if it takes a year to see those pre-baby pants (and, fun fact, even if you get back down to your pre-pregnancy weight, your pants still might not fit because, like it or not, everything changes and you might look a little different) instead of 4 months. We’ve gotten to the point where we revere and glorify the women who “bounce back” immediately and I think that’s ridiculous. 
  10. Avoid comparisons. Don’t do it. Don’t compare anything about your situation to anyone else’s. Every person, every baby, every pregnancy is different and none of them look the same. Comparing what you have to what you see on FB or IG or Pinterest or in mommy groups (which, fun fact, I completely avoided, mostly for this reason) is nonsense and most of it is a fucking lie anyway. You’re awesome, your baby is awesome, and fuck anyone who disagrees.

Now. I want to address postpartum depression. It is a very real, very serious, very scary thing. I’ve seen it happen to people I care about. If you feel depressed, even slightly, take it seriously. Talk to your doctor. Get help. Don’t pass it off as “the baby blues” or excuse it by saying you’re tired or hungry or stressed or something else. You know what those feel like and postpartum depression is nothing like that. It is okay to admit you’re depressed; no one who matters will shame you for it. And if they do, you don’t need them. 

So, that’s all. Pretty simple. Take care of yourself, take care of your baby how you see fit, ask for help when you need it, and do whatever is right for you, your baby, your budget, and your situation. If you do that, you’ll be just fine. 

Anything I left off the list? 

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Everything an experienced mom wants to say to the new mom pressuring people to have kids

I’m not ordinarily a fan of open letters but my panties were in such a huge bunch after reading this letter that I had to respond with one of my own. 

Dear Jessica,

I’m going to assume it’s okay to call you that even though we don’t know each other because you made so many assumptions about people you don’t know that we’ll start this by leveling the playing field. 

With that out of the way, I want to say, from one mom to another, congrats on your baby. Motherhood is a wild ride and I wish you only the best. 

Now let me say this–how fucking dare you pass judgement on anyone who doesn’t want to have kids. That is their business, not yours. How fucking dare you attempt, with your holier than thou attitude, invalidate all their reasons not to have kids. All of the reasons you sarcastically and condescendingly dismissed are legit, completely valid reasons to not have children. And you know what else is a completely valid reason? NOT FUCKING WANTING THEM. That’s it. That’s all that it is. If someone doesn’t want to have kids, that’s fine and it’s not for you to comment on. I’ve been a mom for 10 years now and if there’s one thing I learned it’s that someone else’s uterus is none of my fucking business. 

Also, I’m concerned why you care. Are you looking for mom friends? We can be friends. I’ll talk to you about all things motherhood. Are you looking for kudos that you’re a mom? Well, that you’re not going to get from me. Are you looking for content pieces that stir up controversy? To that I say, well done! Mission accomplished!

But seriously, it really shouldn’t matter to you if someone has a child or not. It is a huge responsibility and if someone doesn’t want to make that choice, it’s really not your place to push it on them. If anything, it’ll just make people hate you. I’m pretty sure that’s the last thing you want or need right now. Being a mom is hard enough without you isolating your friends or getting hate mail from strangers on the internet. And let me be clear–I do not hate you. I don’t hate someone I don’t know (usually. There are some exceptions). I do, however, take issue with most of what you wrote and I feel compelled to address it not only on my behalf but on behalf of my friends who are childfree by choice and those who are without children for other circumstances (and, if there’s any doubt I stand in solidarity with my childfree friends, you should check out these promises I made to them a few years back).

You mention that people with children are less selfish and more aware of other children and more concerned with the future. I don’t even know where to start with that. Do you know many parents? Because I do. And I can tell you that I know parents who are 100 times more selfish and less concerned for the future than a good number of my childfree (childless is a rude word, by the way) friends. I have friends who volunteer and raise money and advocate and participate in activities that work to secure a better country, world, and yes, future, for OUR kids. They don’t have to do that. But they do. And I know parents who do absolutely nothing except rely on the actions of people like my friends to protect their kids. 

Interesting, right? 

Also, not having a biological child doesn’t mean you have no kids in your life. Those same friends I mentioned above? Almost all of them are aunts and uncles, and some are stepparents, to kids related by blood and by choice. They show up to birthday parties and recitals and babysit and do all the things parents do. Sometimes they even do them when the parents can’t (or won’t. But we won’t discuss that). They are role models and positive influences and affect the daily lives of these kids. They appreciate baby giggles and toddler cuddles and getting school pictures and all that jazz. And, believe it or not, they are aware of the plight of all children  and want to see them live in a peaceful world as well.

Being a parent does not give you a monopoly or exclusive rights to awareness, empathy, and sympathy. 

You mention leaving a legacy as part of that sympathy so let’s address it next. I agree with you that having a kid gives you an irreplaceable legacy. But why do you assume that nonparents can’t leave one? Look at Dolly Parton. She didn’t have kids and I can assure you that what she’s done for her industry and for her hometown and yes, kids, will live on way after she’s gone. We are all connected to the future and we all want to leave behind something better than what we were given. Not just parents. 

Okay. Moving on to happiness. This topic is so broad that I could probably devote an entire website to it but rather than do that, I want to tell you this–being a parent doesn’t make you more or less happy than your friends who aren’t. It makes you differently happy. I don’t care what. “research” says. You cannot compare the two. There is a different joy that comes with seeing your kid walk for the first time than going to that amazing new restaurant. There is a different pleasure you derive from seeing your kid perform than seeing your favorite band. There is a different happiness you get from having your kid see Cinderella’s castle in person than hopping that last minute flight to London. I could go on but you seem smart so I won’t. But let me be clear–different does not mean less. It simply means different. And that is absolutely fine. 

One final thing. I agree with you that parenting changes your perspective on the world. Being a parent means that you have to think about and focus on events and situations and make choices not only based on how they affect you but how they affect that tiny person you’re responsible for. It’s a lot of fucking pressure. It certainly isn’t fun most days, particularly those grueling newborn days. But it’s rewarding and wonderful and challenging and crazy and interesting and a choice I’m so glad I made. I believe you feel the same way. HOWEVER. It’s not for you to peer pressure someone else into doing it because parenthood is the best choice you made. It’s wrong. And offensive.

Before I sign off, I want to give you this pro parenting tip: Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you lose yourself. Being “mom” doesn’t mean you cease being “Jessica”. It’s important now, more than ever, to make sure you stay connected to your friends, family, and hobbies. Especially since your husband is overseas and you live far away from family, it’s crucial to do what you can to stay active and engaged with others. Bring your daughter along! Trust when I say that most people don’t mind if your daughter comes to lunch or to a Netflix binge. Yes, you might have to pause for a diaper change or a feeding but if it’s a true friend, they won’t care. And those are the people you’re going to need the most. But if your attitude towards them is the same one you portray in that letter, they’ll leave you. I guarantee it.

So, that’s it. I hope, if anything, you’ve learned that passing judgement on someone else’s reproductive choices is bullshit. Doing so deepens the divide and really, it accomplishes nothing. You need to be happy with your choice and let others be happy with theirs. 

Love,

Jana

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18 months after

This post is part of Alyssa’s back to blogging nonchallenge challenge.

18-months-after

Saturday is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Up until last year, it was one of those days that went noticed but unnoticed in my life. Then my miscarriage happened and now, it’s a day that has more meaning than I’d like (you can read here for my thoughts from last year). 

Since I’ve told people about it, I’ve learned that it’s way more common than I thought. Approximately 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage. One in four. That’s a lot of us. And yet we still suffer in silent pain because it’s too uncomfortable to talk about. But we need to talk about it because the only way to foster understanding is to have those frank, unpleasant discussions. Doing so minimizes stigma and opening public discourse means that those suffering can find resources and assistance and comfort to get them through the trauma. 

And miscarriage is traumatic. 

I didn’t quite comprehend that a year ago. 

I do now.

It’s a difficult trauma to work through. More difficult than anything else I’ve had to do. 

But I’m doing it. And in the year and half since my miscarriage, I’ve not only learned to work through it but I’ve learned some other things. In fact, if I could tell the me a year ago some of what I know now, here’s what I’d say:

  • There will be days you don’t think about the baby. And when you do remember, you’ll have pangs of guilt that you forgot but really, it’s okay. 
  • Also okay? To honor the baby (or babies) you lost in whatever way makes you comfortable. 
  • Something of that magnitude will break you. But it will also build you up and find strengths you didn’t know you had. 
  • Your support systems is greater and bigger than you think.
  • It’ll be difficult, painfully, extremely difficult, to hear about pregnancies and to see pictures of healthy babies, especially ones who were born around your due date. Own your feelings about how hard it is on you and if you have to stay away from them in person or on social media, then do it. You have to protect your mental health.
  • But also, be excited for and supportive of friends who are pregnant. Maybe they’ve gone through what you’re going through. 
  • You’ll find yourself more appreciative of what you do have, and you’ll find ways to live a fulfilled life.
  • You are still that baby’s mother. You will always be that baby’s mother.
  • It’s perfectly fine to talk about it if that’s what you need to do. The people who care will listen and the people who don’t can fuck off. 

But most of all, I’d tell the me a year ago that today is better than yesterday. And every day gets better and easier.

If you guys remember, please light a candle on Saturday, October 15th at 7PM in your time zone in honor of all the babies gone too soon.

 

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The only parenting advice you’ll ever need

I know some of you guys who read this here blog are pregnant or trying to become pregnant so in the spirit of wanting to help my fellow women out, I figured I’d drop some parenting knowledge on you since in my almost 10 years as a mother I’ve picked up a thing or two (even though much of the internet tells me I’m less of a mother because I only have the one kid but fuck them and also, I do know some shit). Hope it helps. 

The single most important thing you can do as a parent is this: DO WHATEVER THE FUCK FEELS BEST AND RIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILY. 

That is it. That’s legit all you need to do. 

Breast feeding vs. bottle feeding.

Daycare vs. staying home.

Vaginal birth vs. C-section.

Jarred baby food vs. making your own. 

Disposable diapers vs. cloth ones. 

Comfort them vs. let them cry it out.

Private school vs. public school.

Co-sleeping vs. sleeping in a crib (although, a caveat. If you want co-sleep, please research how to do it safely. And always, always, back to sleep)

Sedan vs. minivan.

Small house vs. larger house.

Losing the baby weight right away vs. taking a long time (or never).

The list goes on and on and on and on. There are so many choices and variables to consider and most of the time, it’s difficult to pick which direction you want to go (pro parenting secret: most of it is trial and error anyway) and once you do, someone is bound to tell you you’re wrong and then spend 20 minutes pontificating on why you’re wrong. Fuck those people. They don’t live in your house.

Also, spending time on Pinterest and many of the mommy sites can be overwhelming and at some point, make you feel completely inadequate because you’re not that crafty or remember to do those “I’m 4 months old today” pictures that are trendy and all over social media (pro parenting secret: Not posting a monthly photo update is not screwing up so please, for the love of whomever you believe in, don’t beat yourself up if you forget or just simply don’t want to. You are raising or growing a human being. That is time consuming enough without having to pose for pictures). But I assure you, you’re not nor will you be. You know what you’re doing and what you want to do and once the baby is here, you will know what is right for your child even if half or more of the time it doesn’t feel that way. Seriously, more than once I looked at my daughter when she was an infant and thought “what the fuck am I doing? How badly am I screwing up right now?” 

I’m sure I did plenty of things wrong. Still do. But she survived and she’s doing quite fine. Because I listened to myself, my instincts, and, as the one spending the majority of time with her, I knew what she meant when she cried (and yes, rest assured, you will eventually understand what all those different cries mean) and I learned what comforted her and made her happy and that’s what I did. And that’s what you’ll do, too. There’s a steep learning curve but you’ll get there. And you’ll be a great mom.

I PROMISE.

OH. One more thing. Your child does not have to have an Instagram ready nursery or outfits in order for you to be a great parent. Most of that shit is staged anyway. 

 

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P.S. I know I didn’t really mention dads in this post and honestly, I didn’t for a bunch of reasons. But. If the dad is around and willing to help, LET HIM. Really, if anyone is around and willing to help, let them (well, obviously within reason. Safety first). Get some fucking sleep. Eat a decent meal. Have coffee with a friend. Read a book. Just because you’re a mom now doesn’t mean you’re no longer a human being. 

Summer statistics

MY DAUGHTER GOES BACK TO SCHOOL TODAY!!!!

After 12ish (maybe 13) weeks of summer vacation, the school year is upon us. I love my daughter but thank god for school. I need a break from her. She needs a break from me. We need the routine of school. Everyone will be happier. 

However, it’s important that we take the time to remember the summer that was. In vague statistics because math is terrible but it’s also the easiest way to break it down. The struggle is real, y’all.

So. The Summer of 2016. In numbers. And in no particular order.

Concerts attended–3. Well, this is sort of cheating because the last one is this Sunday.

Water parks visited–2. Not by me but by the child. 

Beach trips–3. I love you, Cape Henlopen State Park

Baseball games attended-3. One minor league, one major league, one in a league not related to MLB (Long Island Ducks. They play in what appears to be a made up league). 

Wineries visited–1. Glasses of wine consumed? Lost count.

Tubing trips–1. Never again. One is enough.

Sleepovers and playdates with friends–47? Around that. 

TV Shows watched (by me)–4. Mr. Robot, The Night Of, Ray Donovan (binge), Stranger Things (binge)

TV Shows watched (by her)–Not really sure because I won’t let her watch TV with me anymore because fuck you, Teen Nick.

Books read: 21 (by me). 6 (by her).

Mosquito bites obtained–I can’t count that high.

S’mores consumed–I can’t count that high.

Things we didn’t get to do: Hershey Park, Adventure Aquarium, seeing the DC monuments and the Smithsonian, visiting Steph’s beach house. Thankfully there’s still the fall and we’ll be able to do all of this stuff then. 

I feel like we really didn’t do a whole lot but I know we did more than what I listed here. Going to the movies, paint your own ceramics, visiting my parents and my in-laws, my husband’s and my trip to Phoenix, cheerleading stuff…I definitely don’t feel like we flittered the summer away but maybe also we did a bit because SO MUCH RAIN. Rain does not make me want to do things. 

 

 

 

 

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