A Family First

This year is the first year we could all go sledding. All five of us. What a feat!

For the first time in nearly eight years, I finally wasn’t pregnant or nursing a newborn. No one was too little to enjoy careening down a snow-covered incline. We could all do it together. This was new territory.


All three kids — 2.5, nearly-5, and 6.5 years old — successfully bundled and buttoned in layers to ward against the March snow. The Hubs and I suited up — ready to herd — and off we all went. Trekking through winter’s last hoorah on our way to the neighborhood sledding spot.

Two sleds, three kids, a few tantrums, and a good 20 minutes later, we made it. Up and down, giggles and snowballs. It was a time you store away with easy accessibility in your mind. The kind of recollection you revisit like an old slideshow, smiling at the mental memory reel. A treasure.


This excursion was the doorway into our new chapter. One of slightly more freedom. More opportunity for new experiences and adventure. More cohesiveness as opposed to divide-and-conquer.

This year we break away from 10 years of trying to conceive, pregnancy, and babies. No more naps or diaper bag, onesies or highchair, bibs or booties. The baby gates are still in use, but the Pack-and-Play is long stowed away. We are in a different place this year.


And I’m not as sad as I thought I’d be. I feel ready. Open. Welcoming to the new life season unfolding before us.

It will be a good one. I know it.


The Life of an Allergy Mom: Food Allergies Suck

Food allergies suck. My family of five has a slew of dietary restrictions ranging from veganism to severe food allergy. Do we enjoy ourselves and our meals daily despite our many food limitations? Of course. Food allergies still suck though.

My eldest child is a dairy intolerant pescatarian. My husband is simply a pescatarian, who probably shouldn’t eat dairy but he does anyway because: cheese! My middle child is dairy allergic and has a severe Epi-pen requiring peanut allergy. I am a dairy allergic and gluten intolerant vegan (who is also allergic to pesticides, weed killers, latex, and raw potato… yep, that’s a thing.) Fortunately, our youngest has outgrown his infant egg allergy and now only has skin sensitivity to many soaps and lotions. We are dietary divas. I never envisioned this as my life. But here we are.

Every nutrition label thoroughly scanned, an Epi-pen in every bag, safe stand-in treats available at school in case of class parties or birthday goodies, sorting through holiday candy before the kids mistakenly ingest foe, navigating social gatherings and invitations with an eye for safety and inclusion without burdening, reviewing menus before entering a restaurant, always bringing snacks and meals when we travel. Life with food allergies requires research, forethought, and planning. It’s not an impulse game.

Due to my middle son’s severe peanut allergy, I perceive peanuts and peanut products as rattlesnakes… they may be benign or they may kill us, but there’s no telling which it’ll be. The general public, though, does not share my perspective.


I can’t read recipes or posts regarding food that mention peanut butter without having a visceral reaction. It is no longer food… it is a lethal substance. To others,, though, peanuts are as wholesomely American as apple pie under 4th of July fireworks. I am, in turn, a bothersome inconvenience. A menace to quick brown bag lunches and trail mix everywhere.

This weekend at the zoo, we were standing watching the sea lions when mama protection mode took over me. A young girl walked up from behind us nibbling a sadwich and siddled herself directly beside my middle son. There they stood watching the graceful animals twirl and glide through the blue water. Her sticky hands beside his on the tank glass, entranced. Cute scene, right?

Then, before I registered what I was smelling, I — on forceful instinct — hurriedly shuffled my children out of the exhibit. My heart raced, my mind and body laser focused on remaining outwardly calm but achieving a quick escape.

Only as we reached the safety of the sidewalk did my mind settle enough so that I could recognize the offending scent: peanut butter.

I just bolted out of a zoo exhibit because I smelled a condiment? In no other life journey is this normal, unless you’re an allergy mom like me.

I don’t ask “why me?” because why NOT me? Why should it be someone else? But I do really dislike food allergies. I loathe having to special order, to carefully research products before buying, fearing a common food item I once enjoyed, and others thinking segregating my child is the ethical move. It’s safer and more convenient, but is it kind?

I also loathe not having a solution that doesn’t irritate/burden others. I loathe having to make requests to keep my child safe or being seen as “that allergy mom.” I feel sad hearing that my child had to sit away from others due to food allergies. I am happy that my children are resilient.

Despite it all, I love my life. I am grateful. I love my children, idiosyncrasies, gifts, allergies, and all. Allergies are just a part of things for us.

This is life as an allergy mom.

When Tantrums Attack: Go High or Go Low?

“NO!! NO!! I don’t WANT to do that!” My 2-year-old yelled, his high-pitched shriek reverberating off of the metal grocery shelves and speckled tile floor. He awoke 1 hour ahead of schedule and we were in meltdown mode with 3/4 of the grocery run to go. So, I had two choices: go high or go low.


“Do you see the color purple?” I asked trying to distract my little grumpus. “NO!!” He seethed. I waited before offering: “Where is a circle? I see a circle.” “No! I don’t LIKE that game!” He retorted. Now for the big guns: “Do you think we’ll see the train?” I asked, knowing the ceiling-mounted toy train is often the highlight of the grocery trip. “NOOOO!! I don’t WANT to see the train!” My 2-year-old stomped, clanging the metal frame of the car-shaped shopping cart, signaling my failure.

What a traitorous beast, this mammoth 18-wheeler of a cart! It’s cartoon car shape promises smooth, tot-friendly shopping but, instead, it has betrayed me as I navigate the well-stocked aisles with the grace of a blind water buffalo all while employing every last one of my mommy tricks to keep my raging offspring confined to the cart. Jackassery! Yet, I know full well that I will grab its unwieldy handle upon my next shopping trip because woe unto the parent who shops sans car-cart!

Car-cart in use, snack given and ignored, distractions employed and refuted, I was left with two choices: go high or go low. Essentially the fast-food fries vs. the kale salad of reaction options.

Little self-control required, going high would be the fast-food fries of options: temporarily satiating, effortless, and quick but a poor choice in the long run that might be regrettable sooner rather than later. Going high, I would release myself from the obligation of centered self-control. I’d allow my blood pressure to rise, give into the easy flight towards flustered anxiety, heightened embarrassment, and increasing aggitation. I’d risk reacting instead of calculating, moving in emotion-based speed with the ultimate goal of ending the undesirable scenario quickly but not necessarily well.

To go low I’d need to channel willpower and a centered focus. I’d need to breathe in that yogic part of myself into which I must consciously dive to make wise — yet not always easy or immediately desirable — decisions. Like the kale salad, it wouldn’t be as easy to choose or as appealing as the fries, but it’d invariably be the wise, healthy, unregrettable, adult choice. Instead of releasing control and allowing my body to naturally jitter into high-speed, I’d downshift. To go low I would ease into a calm state of even blood pressure and steady breathing, my mind centered simply on my task and my child, with only minimal awareness of those around me.

The choice was mine because I consciously retained the power to choose instead of allowing my emotions to run the show. I chose to go low.

I asked if my toddler needed a hug. He declined, only a half aisle later to yell that he needed one. I breathed and embraced him smiling. Moments later, more skrieking: “I don’t WANT to get Daddy’s cereal!” Yeah, well, too bad kid.

A fellow mom passed by giggling in that, been-there-and-thank-heavens-I’m-not-the-only-one way. I didn’t even notice her until she was beside me. Our eyes met, hers still warmly squinted in friendly laughter. “This looks just a little familar?” I said. “Very!” She replied, nodded towards her cart-riding youngster.

This was a completely developmentally normal experience. Kids obliterate your ego… that’s just parenthood. There was no need to feel the hot flush of embarrassment or let emotions boil over. But it wasn’t always this easy to choose low.

I had consciously endeavored to choose to go low daily. I wasn’t perfect but I tried. And that trying — over and over, day after day, meltdown after meltdown — is what got me to this point. In a year I imagine it’ll be an even more natural progression into steadied calm in the face of toddler terrorism.

The more often we make a certain choice — whether it be dietary choices, thought patterns, physical habits, or verbal response — the more we train ourselves to revert to that path. For example, the more I eat fries, the more I crave them. Whereas, if I habitually make healthy food choices, over time I less frequently and less fervently crave fries. Eventually I will naturally choose the kale salad and not even consider the fries. But to change that habit takes time, effort, patience, diligence, self-awareness, self-forgiveneness, and — most importantly — self-empowerment. We can’t simply play victim to our emotions; we must own them. We may not be able to control how we feel but we CAN control how we behave. That’s what we teach our children afterall, isn’t it?

Will I always choose the kale salad over fries? NO, definitely not. Some days and some situations just call for fries but, more often than not, kale salad is the better choice. I am human afterall.

In the end, the errand culminated in check-out line hugs and a little voice saying, “I’m sorry, Mommy” into the side of my neck. And I felt completely at ease. What a gift to give yourself — and others — to choose to go low!

I can’t say I’ll always be so wise, but as long as I continue choosing to go low MOST of the, I’ll be pleased.

What will you choose?



The Other Side of Shyness: How I Stopped Being Shy

As far back as I can remember I was shy. I was scared to speak with strangers, even for something as trivial as ordering food at a restaurant. My heart would race, my throat would clench, my mind would spin on how I’d be perceived… how I’d be judged. Now, I don’t care.

I remember one afternoon circa 1993, when my mom stopped the hunter green minivan with the faux-wood paneling, handed me money, and told me to run into the convenience store to get milk. I curled into myself and shook my head. I was NOT going. Give me a tetanus shot, make me do dishes, heck have me scoop dog poo… anything but have to talk to the cashier. No. Way. My sister — two years my junior with not one ounce of social anxiety and lax impulse restraint — leapt from her seat reaching for the $5 bill. “I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” She clamored. “No,” my mom said, yanking the money away from my sister’s reach, “your sister needs the practice.” My sister balked. I crumbled. I survived the 2-minute errand, but it was far from a cure. Bless my mother

Decades went by and I was still shy. Cashiers and waitstaff no longer made me shrivel, but I would never dream of entering an unfamiliar room and striking up a conversation. Making friends was hard. Really hard.

More often than I’d like to admit, there were incidents in my early life when a close friend sought to expand the social circle, not wanting to end our friendship, but simply wanting to add to the group. Anxiety and ego inevitably overwhelmed me, and I would foolishly take the request as a traitorous dagger (which it was not — at all — but just try telling me that back then!) Because I couldn’t fathom reaching out to gather more friendships, I was jealous of others’ ability to do so. I felt vulnerable and defensive. Lesser. So I would get angry and end the friendship. Stupid, right? Yep.

Come young adulthood, the first years of corporate life were challenging. Most of my coworkers were at least a decade my senior and in different life stages than recent-college-grad me. I made myself even more guarded with a “work” me and a “home” me, hoping to off-set my obvious youth with professionalism. Needless to say, that level of detachment paired with shyness was not conducive to numerous work friendships.

Then I got engaged. People I barely knew would approach me with wedding-related questions throughout a workday. My shyness was waning with the increased socializing. One wedding and a few years later, I was pregnant. My world changed.


Being pregnant granted me access to a secret club that was constantly seeking members: parents! That baby belly was like a beacon to any parent — young, old, first-time, or seasoned — and even grandparents to immediately strike up conversation. And once I was really showing, the world had a talking point in full view. As long as I kept a sense of humor and viewed awkward questions and others’ verbal diarrhea as fodder for my mental “shit people say” list, it was all good.

Then, I had my first child. I was set on giving her a variety of experiences, getting her socialized, getting her out. I took her to mom meet-ups and baby-and-me tumbling classes, story times and swim classes. We did something every day.

One day, as I entered a mom meet-up, I felt the anxiety and internal concerns over others’ perceptions bubble up within me. Then, I looked down at my chubtastic baby and thought: “but I have a built-in buddy!” And I was at ease. Being alone in a busy room without someone to talk to wasn’t so scary anymore because I had my daughter beside me. I was OK.

Not too long after, I had my middle son. I was so busy nursing my newborn while chasing my toddler, I didn’t have the time to worry what others thought. Instead, I sought out friends who resonated with me, who shared perspectives and viewpoints with me, who could relate to my present life stage. I still hesitated before reaching out, but I was getting better.

Two years later, I had my third child and by then I was comfortable with myself. I was so focused on my own standard daily chaos that I could hardly care less if you gave me the side-eye for having a tantruming toddler (that says more about you than me, afterall) or balked at my snot-smeared yoga pants and breastmilk-spotted nursing cami. I had way too much stuff to wrangle to worry about that. Even more, I realized most other people were like me and had too much going on in their own heads and lives to give me much thought! So why assume they’re judging me harshly when I may not even be on their radar or, if I am, maybe it’s positively so. If they are actually being mentally critical of me, why should I care anyway?

Less shy, I began conversing freely with fellow moms at playgrounds, classes, story times, and in the grocery store. After two incidents when I let my fear stand in the way of asking, “Want to do a playdate sometime?” (The mom version of “Wanna grab a drink?”) and subsequently suffered missed-friendship regret, I decided to do better.

I began listening to my gut, honoring my intuition. If I was drawn to connect, smile at, or chat up someone — even if I didn’t immediately understand why — I did it. And that is how I began making some of my dearest, strongest friendships: listening to my inner self, not my fears.

I was now on the other side of shyness. I could easily enter a room with confidence, seek out a person with whom I could relate, and start a conversation. I became the human shepherd, constantly aware of those on the periphery, gauging shyness verses disinterest. If I sensed shyness, I tried to bring them into the fold. If I felt a group with whom I was talking appeared unwelcoming or closed-off to others, I changed my positioning and body language to open the circle. I never wanted to make others feel the way I had so long felt: judged, alone.

I had not realized how far I’d come until recently at the playground. A mom I’d only met last year was floored to hear I was ever shy. I was floored she was floored! Little did she know, I spent more of my existence shy than not. I surely have changed. And for that I am grateful.

The world is a brighter, friendlier place when you’re on the other side of shyness. I like it here.

Finding My Path: Learning to Say “YES!”

This year was the lull in my journey. The necessary resting phase before change rattled its way through my life. I knew that. I honored that. As a type-A planner, I had a hard time accepting that. Then I learned to say, “YES!”

As summer turned to fall and we bid the beach farewell, I felt a simultaneous sadness and trepidation. I was sad to see the chapter close; I knew this summer marked the end of not just an annual season but a life season. I felt in my core that I was entering a transition phase. But into what was I transitioning?


Fall was busy with adjustment to the school year. I eventually settled into the pattern and, once comfortable, that’s when my mind began whirring. “What is my path?” “What should I be doing?” “When will I be able to pursue my lactation consultant goals?” In response, the wiser portion of my mind whispered, “Appreciate the lull.” I knew with absolute certainty that life would unfold in its own time, but — let’s be honest — waiting sucks. Especially when you’re a planner.

So I filled my time. Errands, yoga, volunteering at my kids’ schools, building deeper connections with friends, and eventually forming a bi-weekly mom meet-up group for my sons’ preschool.

A month went by. Sometimes I treasured my freedom. Sometimes I felt guilty… too free. Sometimes I felt I was just drifting. I was constantly eyeing path opportunities wondering, “Is that the one?” Then, one day as I readied my yoga nook for my morning practice, I realized I needed to just ask God/the universe/life to show me my path and to agree to just say, “YES!” So I did.

That day I took a walk alone in my neighborhood. As I strolled, I felt compelled to head down to a little creek. I often avoid going to the creek alone because of anxious “what ifs?” But that day it was as if I was pulled by a string to the bank of the creek. There I stood, watching the frigid water, listening to the soothing trickle.


The chilly air biting my reddening cheeks, I shifted my gaze up creek. I noted how the water changed as it travelled. It began its journey racing, moving quickly around bends and turns, over sticks and rocks. Then there was a lull. The creek grew wide and the current slowed. Just before the water reached the stepping stones, twigs, leaves, and debris filtered out of the flow and rose to the top, creating obstacles and dams for the water. The filtered water gathered speed past the stepping stones, racing in a straight channel towards a small waterfall of rocks. Again, more debris was pulled from the water. Gradually the current smoothed and the creek was clean, free of the muck the previous lulls and obstacles withdrew. The creek ambled on in twists and turns out of sight.

Seeing this I knew somehow this was representative of my life. A reminder for me to cling to when uncertain. But I wasn’t sure how or really even why.

The next morning I met with my favorite yoga teacher turned friend. She strongly encouraged me to pursue yoga teacher training. “You’re already teaching yoga,” she said of my present lifestyle, “even if you’re not teaching the asanas.” (Asanas are the yoga poses. Yoga is more than just stretching and breathing, but the practice of mindfulness, kindness, nonviolence, giving, letting go, and more.) She told me I should connect with a woman at her yoga studio. I agreed, because why not? I left the chat smiling, feeling honored that a woman I held in such high esteem considered me worthy of walking along her own path.

I awoke the next morning to find I was copied on an email from my teacher-turned-friend to the woman she had mentioned. In the email she asked the woman to make me a yoga ambassador. I. Was. Shocked. My mind started rattling off roadblocks, doubts, and a million reasons why I shouldn’t or couldn’t pursue this. I was in panic mode all due to mom guilt, self-doubt, and fear of failure. Then I took a breath. I remembered my yoga practice. “You asked for your path”, my heart told me. I knew I had to say “YES!” So I did.

The woman contacted me asking to talk with me to go over yoga ambassador details. I agreed. We clicked immediately. She told me I could not have received a better referral than the one I had from my teacher-turned-friend. I felt deeply honored.

“I’ll need you to come in for three hours once a week,” she explained. “There’s no contract, but I’ll ask you to commit for three months.” I looked at the calendar and realized that three months from my starting date would have my shift agreement end the last week of my sons’ preschool school year. Perfect!

I spoke with my daughter and husband about possible shift times. I didn’t want to inconvenience or slight anyone. I wanted to be able to do pick-ups and drop-offs, volunteer, keep up with friends, do errands, take the kids on playdates, spend time with my husband. EVERYTHING. Like every mom, I wanted to do, be, have, and give it all.

“How about Thursday mornings?” The Hubs suggested. That was my only option for a shift that wouldn’t interfere with others. I realized I’d need to ask my husband to do preschool drop-off and a fellow preschool mom to cover the Thursday meet-up. I had to trust it would work if it was intended. I emailed the woman my one and only shift option and sighed, knowing if this didn’t work it wasn’t meant to be.

Hours later, the woman called me thanking me for choosing that shift. She had been stressing because no one had that timeslot available. My jaw dropped. Question answered: THIS was meant to be.

My husband willingly took on Thursday drop-off duty and, when I asked a fellow preschool mom to cover the Thursday morning meet-up, she happily obliged. It all went smoothly. Because it was meant to be.

From that point on, I surrendered. Everything came happily, easily, beautifully, organically. I had learned to not stand in my own way.

I learned to say, “YES!”



What I Ate: Gluten-free Vegan Edition

“You’re a gluten-free vegan? What do you eat???” Lots. I eat lots of food.

I recently got an Instant Pot and love using it to make big batches of beans or lentils and rice. I like to use those goodies for breakfasts, lunches, and even quick dinners. That said, this is what I eat on a typical Wednesday amidst drop-offs, pick-ups, appointments, homework, and extracurriculars.



Banana and green tea… perfect early morning yoga fuel! I used to start my day with an apple but then I began realizing that was a tad harsh on my belly. Since switching to a daily banana, I’m feeling much better.



Beans, rice, hummus, and fresh spinach… it takes but a minute to throw together from my big Instant Pot batches, and keeps me healthfully satiated until lunch.



Jasmine green tea. A coffee shop chat with a dear friend means jasmine green tea for me! Warm, hydrating, and mildly caffeinated, it leaves me feeling cozy comfort without the energy plunge.



Leftovers for lunch. I generally make enough for dinner that my husband and I can have leftovers for lunch the next day. This lunch was savory gluten-free veggie cakes topped with marinara and Follow Your Heart vegan parmesan-style shreds, and a salad on the side topped with Just Chipotle Ranch.



Kombucha. The Hubs has a beer home-brewing hobby which paired with my chewy granola’ness to make for homemade mango-orange kombucha on tap in my fridge. (On the granola spectrum — with untamed body hair and commune yurt living existing as the crispity crunchiest on the “crunchy” scale — I’m like one of those packaged chocolate chip granola bars)



Quick dinner. My 6-year-old and 4-year-old have Tae Kwon Do at 5:30, so fast and filling is the name of this dinner game. Instant polenta topped with sauteed garlicky spinach, broiled cherry tomatoes, and herbed cannelini beans did the trick.

5:20 PM


Dessert. After school pick-up and homework and dinner prep and a mad shuffle out the door, this mama needed chocolate. So a piece of Theo’s vegan gluten-free chocolate covered coconut came along for the ride to Tae Kwon Do. Yum!

8:00 PM


Popcorn. The Hubs and I sit down together most evenings to watch a couple of shows and rehash the day. It’s “our” time. What better snack than popcorn to go along with a TV and chat session?

And that’s my day in food. Yummy, satisfying, and far from flavorless. One really can eat more that twigs as a gluten-free vegan… who knew?!

Circling Back at the End of the Day: Family Connection Routine

Evenings are rough. At the of a long day, everyone’s harried and tired, yet the to-do list is unyielding. But we’ve found a way to circle back and connect before day’s end, and it’s so simple. It only takes 5 minutes.

Each evening, after I shower, I call down to the kids to turn off the TV,  clean up the playroom, and pick books. This has been our routine for years. Recently, after a 4AM epiphany, I added another step to the the nightly pattern.

I grabbed my favorite circle blanket, placed it on the playroom floor, and asked everyone to take a seat. We began a new evening ritual that is now so treasured that my 6-year-old races to fetch the circle blanket each night in happy anticipation.

IMG_20180124_060204_232All three kids sit on the circle blanket but, really, only the 6-year-old, 4-year-old, and I participate (the 2-year-old bobs in and out and acts as enforcer when someone speaks out of turn.) I begin by asking who wants to go first. Sometimes I am volunteered, sometimes someone in particular is raring to speak. One at a time, we list the following items without explanation or interruption before we move on to the next speaker:

1. Three things we didn’t like about our day,

2. Three things we did like about our day,

3. One thing we would’ve done differently that day,

4. One thing we’re looking forward to tomorrow.

Some days the kids have three good things but only one bad thing to note. Some days the good things are hard to come by, but together we recall even the minute intricacies — like a yummy lunch or a nice breeze or a smile from a friend — to flesh out our positive trio.

Very often, I’ve found, that the kids are surprised by one another’s lists. They often don’t realize the impact of their actions and words on another’s day, but this activity is helping shed light on their affect on others.

The other night, my middle son listed his sister not including him on the playground as one of his three dislikes du jour. His sister looked offended and scoffed. I reminded her that we don’t interrupt during circle time. Then, during my daughter’s review, she noted that the one thing she would’ve done differently that day was include her brother on the playground. They’re getting it!!

My middle son and my daughter have both come to me separately saying how much they appreciate circle time. And, you know what? I do too. I can voice my missteps of the day (ex: yelling when I wish I hadn’t, not cheering up someone I wish I had, messing up a recipe, etc.) so that they know I make mistakes and feel remorse too. I also get to hear about their days and they hear about mine. We all get a glimpse at how one another processes the day’s events and what one another values, as well as finds particularly hurtful. We learn about each other’s triumphs and hurdles. It’s enlightening, connecting, healing, bonding. And it only takes 5 minutes.

Then, after we’ve completed our sharing, we return to our old routine: story time as usual. Each child hands me his or her selected book then sits in my lap while I read it. Sometimes only one child sits on my legs, other times I’m balancing all three. Either way, my heart — like my lap — is full.

Maybe this circle time routine would work for you. Give it a whirl for a week and let me know how it goes. Worst case, you waste five minutes. Best case, your bonds grow stronger. That’s a gamble worth taking in my book!

My Birth-related Trauma: After Effects

I had a traumatic vaginal birth with my first child (story here.) It left me scarred in more ways than one. 20 months later, I went on to have a jarring c-section birth with an inept anesthesiologist (story here,) followed by a second c-section that went well — for which I cried tears of joy as they sewed me up — until the epidural fell out of my back on transfer from the operating table to the gurney, meaning I had zero pain relief immediately following invasive abdominal surgery. To say I have traumatic birth memories is an understatement. But birth is natural, right? Everyone on Earth arrived by way of birth. So how can something so commonplace leave such an emotional scar? It’s not like I went to war.


But, in a small way, I did. At least, it was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced — or hope to experience — to war. There was blood and pain and true risk of death. There were tears and little control and so much fear. It was war in the delivery room. A battle to overcome.

That said, birth isn’t actual war. It’s the bringing of life. It’s something done everywhere every day. How can some women birth over and over without issue, whereas others are tormented by the memory of just one birth? How can similar experiences manifest so differently in individuals? Truly, I don’t know. They just do.


What does my birth-related trauma look like? Not much from the outside, honestly. I keep it well-hidden. Fortunately, 6.5 years out, my bouts are much less frequently triggered than they used to be. I used to sleepwalk every night with baby-in-peril dreams that, at best, caused me to scream in my sleep and at worst spurred me to unknowingly sob while digging holes in my pillow. Even the hint of birth in movies or TV would cause me to become faint and nauseous. I had to switch to another OB in the practice because I couldn’t bear to see the doctor’s face at the other end of an exam table.

6.5 years later, when my trauma does flare, I generally know what to expect: episodes of panicky breathing, rapidfire vivid memories on an uncontrollable loop, edginess and irritability, a clenched jaw and subsequent headache, sleep disturbances  (ex: nightmares, sleepwalking, insomnia), feelings of sadness and shame, emotional detachment, and fatigue. Sometimes the trauma sticks around for a few hours, other times for days. It’s hard to predict its schedule.

During the episodes, I welcome as much mental clutter as I can to pile on top of the birth horror reel that’s constantly spinning in the back of my mind. It is the quiet time I fear. Closing my eyes in the shower, a lull in radio programming during a drive, that period before sleep when you close your eyes and welcome rest, those are the times when my trauma tightens its grip. Every birth memory I tried to shove beneath carpool and dinner prep, homework help and playdate scheduling, social media pings and friendly texts fires through my mind like an emotional inferno  All of the things I tried to forget I am reliving.

If I do sleep, it won’t be well or for long. I will likely sit up in bed thinking I’m awake when I am really somewhere between wakefulness and slumber. I may possibly sleepwalk into the closet or jump from bed in a terrified dream state. I will wake far too early exhausted but unwilling to close my eyes again for fear of repeating the process. I just want the day to start so that I can push the memories beneath the surface, weigh them down with the everyday. Bury them with the life I love.

Then, as quickly as it arrived it is gone. My trauma after effects trail away, a mental vapor. Leaving me content once again and appreciative of my unglamorous beautiful life as a stay-at-home mom of three. The memories fade and sleep is welcome once again. Until next time.


If you — or a loved one — suffer from birth-related trauma, know it does not make you weaker or lesser or broken. You can love your child and your life, you can be a loving and appreciative parent but still suffer from the emotional wounds. It doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful or unfit. You are simply a human who survived.

Get help if you need it. Talk about it. Give it voice. Know it will get better. You are a survivor. There is no shame in that. Ever.

Mama Nook: A Space for Me

Man cave, nursery, playroom, home gym, craft space, reading nook, media room, mudroom… there’s a spot in homes for just about anything. But what about a place for me?

As Mom — the driver of carpool, the wiper of noses (and butts), the planner and purchaser and cooker of meals, the calendar wrangler, the referee, the boo-boo kisser, the nightmare banisher — do I not deserve a place for myself? I share my bed, my bathroom (and Lord knows the kids’ bath toys take up more realestate in the “master” bathroom than any pampering products), and every surface with everyone. It’d be nice to have a little cranny that was just mine.

This past August, as I lamented the nearing return of school days and extracurriculars, trading the beach cooler for backpacks and sand for pavement, I knew I had to do something. I had to find a way to bring the sea home with me. But how?

Easy: daily yoga! Each beach morning I sandied my yoga mat and did seaside asanas and meditation. But at home, my yoga endeavors took place in my husband’s home office in the family room. I had already learned that seagulls are better suited to being a yoga audience than a toiling spouse. So, how to resolve this?

Move The Hubs! I talked with my less-than-enthusiastic partner about relocating his home office from the darkest end of the family room to the window-side, well-separated alcove in our oversized bedroom. He could be an entire floor away from kid chaos and natural light would do wonders for workday malaise, I mused. Ever-supportive, he agreed.


I rearranged the family room, removed all of the clutter, and, in the sliver of space between the sofa back and the large window, I laid a yoga mat. With that swath of purple foam, I had staked my claim.


First, just family photos and a tall houseplant populated the deep windowsill. Next, a salt lamp then a bundle of sage joined the display. Soon, I replaced old room decor that had long ago lost its luster with photos and art that spoke to my personal aspirations and our family life.

The Hubs made me a small shell-strewn tabletop waterfall to provide the water element I so missed from my beach yoga practice. I added a few more plants and a couple more tchotchkes that spoke to me, framed the heart-shaped dried leaf my middle son had proudly given me, and my space felt more complete.


It’s my sanctuary. My sacred space. My (mostly) quiet spot. My yoga nook.

I found a place for me. Where can you make your own Mama Nook?

Where can you carve out a space — no matter how little — that is just for you? You deserve a room, a closet, corner, or even just a shelf where you can retreat in order to center yourself, fuel yourself, feel peace, be inspired, remind yourself that you matter too. Because, mama, we may make miracles happen every day, but we cannot pour from an empty cup.

Is there space for you in your life? In your home? Sure there is! Go find it. Claim it. Make it yours.

You deserve it.