Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mommy Guilt

I knew that I always wanted kids.  From the time I had my first dolls, I had them named and groomed, treating them like my own babies. My favorite doll was Molly.  She had long brown hair with big, bouncy curls and eyes that fluttered opened and closed.   When I was 6 1/2, my brother came along.  That was the next best thing; he was like MY real baby!  I could feed him, play with him and give him away when he started being a grumpy fussy baby.  Eventually, I evolved into using water balloons as babies.  My friends and I would fill up the biggest balloons we could find and then spend the summer days carrying them around in blankets.  I decided I wanted twin girls at that point and brilliantly named my balloons, Molly and Polly.  The timing of the water balloons also worked out because BK wasn't interested in being my baby, once he reached the age of knowing what the hell I was doing.

After our wedding day, I pretty much said to Brian it's time to get going on this baby thing.  We wanted our child to be close in age to Gavin and Cohen and I was already 29.  My plans of being a young hot mama were slipping quickly through my fingers, with each passing day that was pushing me towards 30.

As the story goes, we got pregnant on the first try, (encountered a bit of drama) and delivered our wonderful, bouncy Evan.



I had no pre-warning.  I had no clue these emotions would overwhelm me.  I didn't know MOMMY GUILT would become the crux of my life!

Within hours of the birth comes the first major question: "Do you want your baby to stay in your room with you or would you like to send him to the nursery?"

Mothers of first-born children tend to resignedly say, "KEEP THE BABY HERE".

Mothers of every other child say, "TO THE NURSERY YOU GO.  I NEED SLEEP."

Regardless of the decision you make, the guilt factor is dancing in front of you.  Guilt if you send your child away to get much-needed rest.  Guilt if you keep your baby in your room since you know that will make you irritated that you aren't sleeping and taking that annoyance out on your husband seems like the logical choice.

I sent Evan to the nursery; I took advice from my doctors and family that I needed rest since I had to gear up for chemotherapy. But my mommy guilt made me unable to sleep, so I walked down and stood outside of the nursery for hours at a time.  I should have saved myself the trip and just kept him next door!

This parenting stuff is no joke.  This is HARD.  It makes me FRUSTRATED and lose PATIENCE.  Of course, there are millions of things that make it worth it - all of the smiles, the first "mama", the way that your child holds your face.  I could go on and on.  Because those are the things people talk about.  The beauty.  The memories.  The love.

I don't remember anyone telling me you will feel like shit when your baby is sick and you have to go out of town for a business trip.  Evan's temperature had hit 104.8 when I was sitting in the airport, about to board my flight to Dallas.  I was on the phone with Brian, who was trying to assure me it was okay to go.  But all I could hear was Evan crying in the background.  That saddening noise was muffled only by my inside voice yelling, "YOU ARE THE WORST.  Why are you abandoning your sick child?"  So here was my thought process:

1. I have a very flexible job and they don't ask me to travel that much.  Therefore, I feel very obligated to keep my commitments since they happen so few and far between.
2. Brian is very capable.
3. Nana Moni was there.  She is not only capable but nurturing and loves Evy just as much as anyone.

All logical choices, but none of those were able to stop the feeling of knowing that when your baby is sick, YOU are the one that should be giving the cuddles.  YOU are the one that should be sitting up with him at night and rubbing his back and giving lukewarm baths.

I got on the plane.  Crying.

Do you think there were any men on the plane crying because they were leaving their sick child at home?

(There weren't).

A combination of Tylenol and Ibuprofen knocked that fever down to 100 degrees within a few hours.  By the time my plane landed, Evan was toddling around the house again.  I was able to sigh with relief.  But it didn't make it easier to focus and for much of my three-day trip, I spent a lot of time trying to juggle in phone calls to home for status updates.  I felt distracted and discombobulated.  Feelings that now accompany me to work frequently.

Sick baby just wanted to snuggle.

And then he gave me the stink eye when I left.

These are just a few examples but they process is non-stop. I have a meeting in Detroit on Halloween.  I'm trying to figure out how I can make the meeting but still see the kids in the school parade.  And not miss Evan's first time trick-or-treating. And get treats for our house.  And by the way, we don't have one single Halloween decoration up.

Brian and I are on this whirlwind trip right now, having been in NYC for a few days and now heading to Denver for a long weekend.  It's magical and wonderful and we NEED this time together.  We are better parents (and people) when we have time to enjoy each other.  I told Brian it was so much fun to have dinner together with a group of people and see him in a different light.  He was charismatic and funny and charming and entertaining; he wasn't Daddy and he wasn't someone to help me get the list of chores done before we crashed for bed. He was MY HUSBAND.  And I LOVE HIM.  And it's such a nice realization to see that we can still enjoy and have fun with each other when we leave the rigor of everyday.

BUT I FEEL BADLY!  I feel badly for leaving Evan behind.  I feel badly that I am having fun without him.  I am feeling badly that it feels GOOD to get away from work and the house and responsibilities.


It happens on every level.  Guilt about not being able to provide material things.  Guilt about spending time at work.  Guilt about spending time with kids and not working.  Guilt about missing after-school activities and parades.  Guilt about not sewing Halloween costumes.  Guilt about buying, instead of baking, the birthday cake. Guilt about skipping story time at night because you are just too tired.

But we get up every morning.  We commit to making each day better than the previous one (unless your previous day was kick-ass and you feel like settling a bit). We say we will yell less, have more patience and kiss and hug instead of pull out hair.

Here is one of my favorite quotes on motherhood: "There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one." - Jill Churchill.  So, we'll just keep doing the best we can.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A New York State of Mind

Two posts in a week has to be some kind of record for me!  Now that I have my list of topics spelled out, I feel obligated to honor my own commitments!

On Tuesday, October 16, Brian and I heading back out to NYC to hang out with our favorite friends from Nivea!  We were honored (and thrilled) when they called to ask us to be a part of kicking off their New Years Eve contest in 2013.  Not only did this mean another trip to the Big Apple, but also a chance to re-visit our friends that we established such close ties with last year.  

Scott, Kevin and Leslie - part of the amazing Nivea team!
What Brian and I loved about this contest is that the people who organized it really became a part of our hearts.  Not only did they know our story, but Scott, Kevin, Leslie and the rest of their team really embraced our well-being.  We made connections with their amazing spouses and kept correspondence up even after the New Years party ended.  Plus, they all knew I loved Guiliana and made sure to help me get lots of pictures with her.

1.  My hair was ridiculously short.  2. I need to learn how to pose like fancy people do.  3. I want G's sequin jacket.

We are excited to be a part of the 2013 announcement and all of the excitement it generates.  For some lucky couple, they will have the same enthusiasm, encouragement and once-in-a-lifetime experience that the contest gave us in 2012.  It allowed us to put our attention elsewhere and celebrate moving forward!

Times Square

We are also EXTREMELY excited to spend some quality time with BK!  It's hard to believe that we haven't seen him since July. Even though we keep in touch by phone, e-mail, FaceTime and text, sometimes, you just need to give your brother a hug.  

Sissy and BK

BK (Bryan's nickname, so we can keep Hubby Brian and Brother Bryan straight!) is finishing his final year at School of Visual Arts in NYC.  This year, BK is working on his thesis, which will be a short film.  BK decided to do his thesis on my journey with breast cancer.  We spent a lot of time talking about my diagnosis and my feelings, over camera, while BK interviewed me.  He spent time with my mom, dad, Sissy and Hubby and was also able to get footage of Evan.  While we are in NYC, I am really excited to see how BK's footage is coming together.  He is doing all of this, while also working at the busiest Apple store in the world - right on Fifth Avenue.  I love recognizing all of his accomplishments and can't wait to share with you all of his brilliance as soon as his movie is finished in the Spring.
This is an oldie, but a goodie.  BK and Evan have a very special bond, even though they only see each other every few months.
Looking forward to sharing our memories and pictures of our New York journey!  Also another opportunity to outfit myself in all new clothes for my NYC trip!  (Brian just loves that part).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


There is so much happening and going on.  I need to start making a list of everything I want to write about.  I mainly need a list to help my chemo-brain recall all of the things I think about.  Why create another list, when I can make it here?

1. New York City!
2. Denver - Hello, Alison!
3. Mommy Guilt :(
4. I Wish I Were a Teacher

Those are all of the things I need to share but there is one thing that is most important to me right now.  It's October.  It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

This is quickly replacing my birthday month (June) as my favorite month of the year!  Everywhere I turn, there is pink!  There are ribbons!  There are flowers and Zumba classes and special e-mails! And October marks one year since my double mastectomy and get-those-lymph-nodes-the-heck-out-of-me day.

The most important part of breast cancer awareness is feeling comfortable enough to talk about the topic and making sure women know how to take care of themselves.  Do you know what a "lump" feels like?  Does your wife or sister or daughter examine their breast tissue monthly?  Did you know you are looking for something, roughly the size of a pea?  Did you know that if breast cancer is in your family, regardless of the BRCA gene, females should start self-exams ten years before their relatives' age of diagnosis?

That means my family - my beautiful Sissy and my lovely young cousins, need to start their exams at age 19!  19 is so young!!  (I was diagnosed at 29). Did you know that I never had a lump in my breast tissue?  By the time I went to the doctor, my tumor had spread over two quadrants of my left breast.  Not only could I NOT have identified my cancer using a self-breast exam, but I didn't know what I was looking for anyway (not good).  But what I did right was bring my symptoms to my doctor's attention right away.  Did you know that your nipples  can BLEED?  I've been embarrassed to talk about this for the past year and a half, but what if my prevention of discussion doesn't help someone else?  That is how my cancer started yelling for my attention.  Did you know that breast cancer can invade your lymph nodes and then you automatically need chemotherapy and then your hair falls out....and we all know how I feel about that issue.

So, please, have the discussion.  And if you don't have insurance, KNOW YOUR RESOURCES.  There are amazing programs out there that ensure women over 40 can get mammograms, no matter what.  And my amazing friend, Rita Rivard, knows these amazing programs and will help ANYONE.  

And that's the second most amazing thing about Breast Cancer Awareness month - is that SURVIVORS rally around you all day long.  My friend, Rita, is a true blessing in my life.  Not only is she an amazing survivor, but she is a RN!  She knows STUFF!  And I can talk to her about my crazy surgery recovery and being a mom with cancer and having mastectomies and she GETS ALL OF IT.
Amazing Rita and her I-Can't-Wait-To-Meet-Her-Husband-Ross!

And then, there is my gorgeous friend, Bren Flowers.  Many of you know that Brian and I met Bren during the New Years Eve contest last year.  And Bren is so inspiring.  And Bren's husband Ron, is so fabulous.  And it's not fair that Bren is fighting her second battle of breast cancer in five years.  But the point is, she is fighting.  And she is going to win.  And we are sending her our love and support and prayers during every minute of every day.
Gorgeous Bren and Fabulous Ron

I have another courageous friend, Nicole.  Nicole and I met at CHEMOTHERAPY - who knew you could make such wonderful friends there?  And Nicole is YOUNG.  And a mom to two beautiful young children.  And she is fighting.  And thriving.  And it sucks but Nicole and I have lunch and get to spend time just venting about cancer sucking.  (I don't have a picture of Nicole, but you can imagine how beautiful she is).

There is one more amazing thing about Breast Cancer Awareness month.  It's the SWAG!  I feel obligated to purchase anything where funds are going to Breast Cancer Research.  This is an expensive habit, but one I feel very strongly about!  And look at all of the great things!!

This amazing necklace came from LOFT.  20% of all proceeds go to BCRF.

My new Tory Burch I-Phone case!  15% of proceeds go to BCRF.
And my beautiful new leather-wrap!  15% of proceeds go to BCRF.

It's only October 11.  I clearly need the month to be over, simply for my wallet's sake.  I like to buy the Pink-Ribbon bagels from Panera, my new 2013 BCRF desk calendar, little trinkets I see at cash registers....the list is truly (unfortunately) endless.

Celebrate sisterhood this month!  Celebrate our mothers and sisters and daughters and friends that fight so hard and so strong.  Talk to your family about the breasts!  It's a topic that could save lives!  And for that, I will always cheer for October.