As I enter into one of the darkest seasons of my year, and also one of my favorites because I LOVE FALL! I have been forced to think about my community, my people, and my supports of who I am. These are people that through my life have been there for me no questions asked. They accept me and my family for who we are deep down and for our history. I never thought I would write a post about religion, or any sort of politics but I have seen so many posts that I needed to address me and my Jewish people. In fact one of my oldest friends who has just recently re-entered my world inspired me to speak this truth of mine. It is no secret that I do not watch the news. In fact I only watch the news when I have had a bad day, because someone's day was worse than mine. And I did not have to watch the news this weekend to know that there was hate towards my people. Towards people that are hidden even to this day. During a moment that is an entrance into Judaism and so important to my people, the bris.
Let's back story a little bit. I have questioned every part of religion since I can remember. I have even identified myself as Agnostic for a time. I believe in something but I cannot define what that is. It is my Mr. Rabbi who has always allowed me to ask questions. To explore who I am. Who WE are. And Always has welcomed and supported me in my darkest hours. It was almost 18 years ago that my brother was killed. This was a pivotal religious moment for me. I did not live near my own familiar community. My Mr. Rabbi called his friend in Houston, who turned around and hand wrote a letter (email was still pretty new in 2000) inviting me to do my Yahrzeit, memorials, at his synagogue. I attended. I remember standing up as that was how they acknowledged their mourners and feeling something I never realized that I had...a community. A community that accepted me because of where I come from and where my history lies. They NEVER asked me for money. They never expected anything of me except to allow me to honor my brother. It was at this moment that I decided if I had children they too would have this outlet. If I was with someone who was deeply rooted in another religion I would explore this. I decided a choice was to be made for my future children to allow them this opportunity of community. I saw many family members and friends who did not have an initial choice made for them by their parents run away from the idea of G-D. I mean who could bring such evil and hatred into the world. But at its core, I had religion. I had people, I had me.
Fast Forward almost 16 years later. I was pregnant. I am with a man who is not deeply rooted in his church, but has beliefs and faith. We decided, or maybe I decided, that these children would be Jews. Another good friend of mine said at some point it is was a choice of the parent who is willing to do the work. Religion is work. Finding a community is work. And I was committed to making this choice and path for my children. Sure we celebrate other holidays with their fathers side of the family, but they are Jewish. As am I.
I write this post after the disgust of the hatred that occurred over the weekend in Pittsburgh. I mourn for humanity. I mourn for the Jewish community. I am embracing my people though in such a little way as a blog post. We must stand together as people. Love our Jewish people and ALL people for who they are and the questions that they ask. I do not even know what to say. I dedicate this to my community. A community that will be part of my life forever. I miss you my brother, but I thank you for reminding me of my part of being a Jew.
So NICU Awareness and Preemie Awareness has left me with a sense that I really need to be looking out better for milestones of my little fellas. Yes they are developing VERY well. No I am not worried. BUT if there are free offerings to have a non - biased review of them then why not go for it? I have spoken with many of my friends and colleagues and a few mom shamers who have to tell me how it is, and it all comes down to what is the harm? At the end of the day it is free and worst case I will receive a report detailing some of the ways that I can help my little guys be successful with services or without.
Here is the thing. I have had parents of students call me as a high school driver ed or health teach telling me that their kids are preemies and they have struggled all of their lives and all that. If you know me I am not someone to give my people a pass. To allow them to have excuses. I know life is hard. I know that they were little and they were born too early, but as I have always said they have survived and thrived. I will NOT be a mom that calls their teachers telling them that they were preemies. They will also not have developmental delay on an IEP(Individualized Educational Plan), that goes away when they are 3 and there is something else going on after that, thank you very much graduate school!
So here is some extra background. We go to NICU follow up which has occupational Therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, neonatologists, and eyes and hearing checks. I receive a big report that I read through and depending on who does the paperwork has different numbers and scores that I would like to see on both boys. I ask our pediatrician if this is like an Early Intervention (EI) Evaluation and she assures me it is, but, just but. We hear over and over again that these specialists do not often see "Typically" developing preemies. They get all excited to have "normal" evaluations with my boys and my ped tells me that we coasted through NICU. I am aware of this. But what is wrong with a non - biased set of people to come and evaluate?
The answer is NOTHING! This is not like when we grew up and our parents were afraid to have us tested, labeled, diagnosed, etc. Things have changed and the stigma of an IEP does not exist in the same way that it used to. Of course kids still stigmatized because kids are mean, but it is not the same as when we struggled through school.
I have spoken with a lot of friends whose kids get services and may I add FREE preschool and they told me there is no harm no foul. Some of my friends that may not have qualified are still making the choice to hold their kiddos back another year so they can get their skill base up and be on par mentally and socially with their peers. My mothers biggest regret in life about my brother was NOT holding him back with his birthday being on Halloween. Back then if you were born before December 1 and sometimes after you could go through into kindergarten.
So what is best? Get them tested? Hold them back? Put them in preschool yesterday? Accept them for who they are and try to get them to appreciate and love learning and school and not be afraid of it or bored? Yeah I think that's the way to go! Support your kids no matter where they are. That's what you are there for.
Early Intervention Info CDC
Being a NICU mom is something that no one wishes for or should ever have to experience, but to us this is part of our story, our journey and I am beyond thankful for the people that were part of our lives. Yesterday I was able to attend a social for NICU graduates. We saw some of our favorite nurses and doctors, and got to be with other amazing NICU survivors. Tiny and Mighty precious nuggets that have fought hard since second one to live and be here.
Anyway, yesterday was a new awakening. As we looked around we saw just how lucky we were for the journey that we have had. Our 32 weekers could have had a much different story. A story that involves a lot more than what we have had to give. We did our nicu time and if we chose we could have left it in our rearview mirror and moved on. As i tend to do I wanted to learn from the experience and never forget where we came from. Is that right or wrong, I do not know, but I do know for the boys they should know. They need to be around the love that is our NICU family. Of course you have to know that I totally volunteered to be part of the parent crew that also has the same feelings as myself.
I do know of many that wanted nothing to do with the people who were there with them. They then want no one to remind them of the days after their children were born. In fact some will never acknowledge the presence of the NICU staff and other parents that were right there with them. And that is ok. That is just not the choice that we made. We wear our NICU flag with pride to show that we lived, learned, and survived and thrived. That all of the people became part of our family forever. That this is not what defines us, but what makes us stronger.
There is my ramble. What do you think? Should be live and learn and let it go? Should I keep enforcing to my kids that this is their story and they should embrace it. That our favorite nurses are and always will be part of our family? Have a wonderful day. Celebrate what was NICU Nurses Day and NICU Awareness Month.
Ok mamas and papas when do you think about self care and being a little bit Vain about yourself? Yeah yeah you probably think this song is about you, because you're so vain! But lets be real...very few of us take the time for ourselves every once in a while. Case in point I just went to my hairdresser Stella at Meraki Loft and cut off 8 inches of hair to be donated to Children with Hair loss because of how long I neglected cutting my hair! I think the last time I got a cut and style was the morning of our 1 year old pictures on January 2! Yup 8 inches and still have hair! It was amazing!
Going back to school right after a vacation where I barely look in the mirror calls for some ME time. And though I am not relaxed enough while trying to enjoy my treatments because I am trying to multitask and remember what else I have to do, I have to give credit where credit is due. The ladies (and sometimes gentleman) at Benefit Cosmetics on Damen (Chicago) rock my world they get me in, make me beautiful and allow me to feel pampered! There was a time as my maternity leave was ending and I was again going back to school where I could not make an appointment and they were packed. The guy at the front said maybe try in 20 minutes and I said ok I'll go pump in the car and I will be back in. They still did not have a spot, but another mama benefit beauty maven heard me and took me in because she got it. They get it! Also note that as they wheeled me into labor and delivery I told them that I was NOT staying because I had a brow appointment.
The thing is ladies there are things that have to get taken care of. I laser my hair with the amazing Ms. Patti at Enfuse Med Spa, and I have been with her through 2 locations and probably 10 years. These are people that I feel know and love me and value my time and energy. So take the time. Pamper yourself. I know this is like a public service message, but really it has to be said!
I may not be necessarily loyal to my nail salon (sorry) but I am pretty loyal to the ladies that have taken care of me. They are like family. They are my tribe. Hands up ladies and take care of yourself before you lose yourself!
So we have been back a few weeks now, but with the grind of life of course this is just getting up. I was speaking with Zoe Withers of www.thinkbaby.org about how to keep my twinnies safe at the lake and the beach and all that jazz. There are so many things to think about and actually getting out in the sun is much more of a process than I could have ever imagined. First there is the the sun protected long sleeved rash guard that if you have ever tried to not only put on a wriggly toddler is EVEN more difficult to get off! Then its putting sunscreen in all their little exposed spots and forget about not getting it on their lips and in their mouth (#momfail). Of course there is always a hat to protect their scalp and then maybe you get 20 minutes to hang because nap time is coming up.
Anyway this is why I spoke with ThinkBaby I wanted to find out what the best sunscreens would be for my twinnies. I have sensitive and VERY fair little men and I do not want chemicals seeping into them when I can avoid it. Also I do not want them to be chalk babies or stay puffed marshmallow looking toddlers. The first product on the page is Babyganics Mineral Sunscreen. It comes in a convenient pump that you can pump onto your kiddos and then rub, rub, rub. I love this product because it can't be squeezed out by my tiny hands and I can apply as needed. They also have a stick version that I totally keep in my purse, the diaper bag, the stroller or wherever because it will not leak and it applies really easily. Another one that we love is Thinkbaby or ThinkSport. All of these products and companies work hard to ensure that their products are safe and truly chemical free. They are natural as much as they possibly can be.
Anyway the reason I even pondered this and consulted with Zoe is because at my twinnies 18 month appointment I mentioned to our doctor that one of my fellas has a small "beauty mark" on his cheek. Now this is cute identifier for my identical twins, it was something that I felt I should mention. My man has many moles and I recently had a few things removed including a black beauty mark that turned out to be a blue nevus that could eventually turn into cancer. Of course as my toddlers ran around in their shoes, diapers, and sun hats, she asked me if I used sunscreen on them. I was shocked and taken aback and probably a little defensive in saying yes. Then going home with mom guilt that maybe I did not use enough or often enough. But I think he is ok and she explained it was smaller than a millimeter or a pencil eraser so it should be fine. And now people had an identifier, right?
We as parents have a lot of pressure to keep our babies safe. And this is definitely a critical time in their dermis development. They say that skin damage happens before a person is in their teens. While some of us may have sunbathed in baby oil, we pay the price as we have gotten older. Now it is our turn to guide our kids to a happy healthy life. Not living in a bubble and experiencing all that the world has to offer. Especially in the summer at the lake!
Baby Fun in the Sun
BBQ Season Safety
EWG Sunscreen Safety List 2018
This seems to be how my life is going. I start things and then get busy and I never finish! So I actually started putting my thoughts down on my birthday but we are finishing a few weeks later. Turns out birthdays at this time in my life are just a day. A day that I am reminded that I am still a fairly new mom who had babies later in life. I had my babies at 37, so now at 39 I am tired. Tired is my new normal. Tired is a way of life. There are more things to worry about then just getting and being old. We had a nice day though. A shit show of a day, but a nice day.
My kids were almost on TV! Yup TV! After getting the call and heading down with 1 baby an hour before nap time and 1 baby an hour after nap should have started we got cut. So shit show began! They were a mess. I was a mess. The man was a mess and I had to accept that I was old and that was it for my day. On semi bright side a married man hit on me with my kid in the car while I was waiting to figure out how the TV show was going to come get me and my 50lb baby with carseat (about 25 a piece). He was adament and thought it was a great arrangement for both of us so that we could have a mutual agreement. I declined but it was still nice to get attention on my 39th.
What does 39 really mean? I am 1 year to 40. A big one. I have some big plans that I hope to actually follow through on and blog about. Anyone down for a 40 for 40? Yup I am below the weight I was after being pregnant but there is still a ways to go. I think 40lbs is reasonable in a year? How to get there? I have no idea. Any thoughts? Anyone in? Also just getting healthy is the goal. Truthfully my man had surgery and could also use a boost but I have to kind of sneak it in for him to follow along on my journey to health. We have a purpose...our twinnies. This will be my journey to 40. Its out there now lets do it!
I know I know we bitched and moaned about it still being winter in April but damn it’s hot! And with that I have to sit and ponder what it is to do with these twinnies? Do we brave the crowded splash pads or even scarier the pool? Now we have done our due diligence and exposed them to water, swim lessons, whatever but have we really prepared for an outing to a pool? This is definitely the question and something I need to mentally prepare for!
As we come into a new age milestone, 18 months, I have definitely had some set backs in believing I have done right by my boys. I am reminded often that they are preemies and they are on track but is that a ruse that I am going to miss the boat on what they need? How long is this going to be an excuse? What can I do more of? What do I need? There is definitely a brain block on this mama that I still do not necessarily believe that I did not ruin my fellas by having them so early. And the scary realization that I may not know anything for a very long time.
I digress. It’s hot out! What do you do to keep your kids cool and calm in the sweltering heat? What can I do with 18 month twins who are on the MOVE?? Help me followers bring it on!
i have to say I’ve been thinking long and hard about this post. Mental health has been on the forefront of the worlds minds. People who have been affected and inflicted with mental health issues have been out and pondering their current state of being. Friends and family members have been reaching out and taking a self assessment of who they are and are they ok.
I am someone who has struggled with some form of anxiety and depression since I was about 11 years old. I’ve been medicated, shrink’ed, psychoanalyzed, hospitalized, and hit with more to deal with constantly. I have had doctors look at me and say with my life experiences I could have turned to alcohol and drugs but I chose to work and how to tell a person to stop working is harder than dealing with those substances. Most recently I have been lectured and scolded and almost mom shamed for choosing to breastfeed my preemie twins with my history of mental health issues. Yet I still function. Sometimes with more gusto than other times but I function.
Now back to my thoughts, recently we have been faced by prominent people who suffered in silence and we saw that all the money and opportunities in the world cannot make a person happy on the inside. These tragedies affected me deeply. People who live with these disorders feel them more than most. We have to look into ourselves and examine how we feel. Are we up to par? Do we need a Med adjust? Do we need a check in? Could this be me?
I look at myself as a survivor. Someone who fights like a bull against myself mostly. And with every hit I am brought back to the reality that I am a survivor. My partner is a survivor. We cope in different ways. We strive to be our best for our children. But yet I struggle and he moves on which is what he does.
So here I ask, are you ok? Are you in a place you equal our your inside and outside? Do you need a mental health checkup? There is help. Reach out to your village! I have a mental health friend that I love to bits and we check in on each other when we know we should. Do you have that? Can I help you find that? Death is a permanent solution to what could be a temporary problem. Sometimes the problems are not temporary but how else can we or will we cope.
Ok that’s my soapbox. I wanted to put it in writing. Here are some resources if you need or want...no pressure! Remember I’m an improperly medicated breastfeeding mama not an expert! Read my other posts on specific afflictions I’ve dealt with.
National Alliance on Mental Illness - NAMI
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Institute on Mental Health - NIH
People ask me all the time how I have the time to do this blog thing and the answer is I don’t. I guess that’s why it’s a passion project. But it turns out in May I forget about the grind of teaching in May. It’s busy. Stupid busy. So I must apologize to you who regularly read my posts. It’s a hard juggle teaching, running other programming and my most important and by far the hardest, being a mom. Weekends are not relaxing anymore. I fill them with activities for the kiddos and making sure they are socializing. But what about me is still and always will be the question.
Long story short it’s a busy life and one I want to include you all in. I have some exciting and powerful ideas that are on the horizon. So here goes nothing summer is here and the mom blogger is on the hunt! Oh I haven’t forgotten about the couple of ideas you have sent me and I’m on them but always love more so bring em! Xoxo
So every week or day or month I seem to get an email or facebook notification about some event, illness, whatever that it is that I should be celebrating or honoring on whatever. Who knew I could celebrate all of my causes. Last week preeclampsia awareness, march of dimes, kangaroo care, holocaust memorial or I think Twin Mom survivor! But why? Why do we have all of these days? I almost wonder if because we have all of these we actually lose sight of what they actually mean. What they mean to the world and how important they are to many of us. I think this started years ago with AIDS ribbons, breast cancer ribbons and then again it spiraled into everyone having a ribbon. I find I still see ribbons around trees and what not and I have NO CLUE what they mean and noone is there to explain it me.
I celebrate that I am a preemie mom, a NICU graduate, a breastfeeding mom, a preeclampsia survivor but to the rest of the world does this mean anything? I mean I support all of these thing I just ponder if we are losing sight of the meaning. What weeks celebrate you? What do you celebrate? What are your thoughts?
Jenifer Roth is a full time super woman...in her mind! Well she is good at being ok at the all the roles she takes on. Enjoy the ride!