Be a Better Wife

A few weeks ago when I went to put my 8 month old down for her morning nap, I found my husband in bed unresponsive. We had woken up that morning, he had given Warrior Princess her bottle, then went to lay down.

I called 911 and all of the madness you think would ensue did ensue. As I stood in the living room feeling a panic attack close in around my lungs and heart, Warrior Princess brought me back to the present and I knew I couldn’t lose my sh*t because she needed me.

In the emergency room, as my husband’s bed was surrounded by nurses and doctors and he he cycled in and out of almost consciousness, I looked at his seemingly lifeless face and thought that I needed him to fight. I needed him to fight and come back to us. That’s when the question struck me: does he know how much I love him? Does he know, without a doubt how much I need him? Not us, not Warrior Princess and I – just me? Does he know how much I’d want him to be fighting to come back to me?


I couldn’t BS myself. He didn’t know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how much I loved him. Maybe I’d been a good friend, maybe I’d been really trying to be the best mom, but somewhere along the way, through life, pregnancy, motherhood, life, job, depression, did I mention life..?, being a good wife kind of feel out of focus.

I didn’t expect perfection of myself -I still don’t – but I forgot to try. I forgot to work at it. I forgot that love is a choice you make every single day. I forgot that those little relationship challenges you see on Facebook inspire you to continue working at your marriage. I forgot that my husband needed me as much as my Warrior Princes. I forgot that he needed me first. I forgot that I needed him.

The thing with getting married a little later in life is that you know what you want in a partner just a little bit sooner. Matt and I were engaged 6 months after dating and married 6 months after that. I had prayed about the man I wanted and then prayed about Matt when we started dating. I knew for sure he was it. But, the other thing about getting married a little later in life, is that you have a little more baggage, a few more hangups. The negative thoughts and bad coping mechanisms I’d developed over the years snuck into my marriage. I was harsh when I should have been warm. I was begrudging when I should have offered grace. I was closed off when I should have offered and open heart. Not that my feelings in those moments were invalid but I had forgotten to try.

The first night Matt was in the hospital, I sat on the edge of our bed, talking to God. I looked over at Matt’s empty side and resolved to be a better wife. If I should be so lucky as to be able to continue my life with Matt, I would remember to try.

My friend and sorority sister, Jennis, reminded me that when you get married, you pledge to work on those “for worse” times together, because you’ve made a commitment to each other. You mess up and you’re human together and you fix it, together.

There are so many people who don’t get the chance to check themselves. Would I have rather had a vivid enlightening dream instead of the terrifying reality of those five days to open my eyes to whom I had become? Absofreakinglutely. Will I forever cherish my second chance? Absofreakinglutely.

Matt came home five days later.

I get to be a better wife. Not a perfect wife. Not a fake wife. But a better wife to my husband who is deserving of my resolve to keep trying, “for better or worse.”


My Baby is Eating Solids – I’m so Happy|I’m so Sad.

I recall sitting in my rocker, boobs attached to the breast pump that echoed “breast pump” at paced intervals, fantasizing over the day my Warrior Princess would be ready to eat solids and I’d have my breasts back. No more pumping. No more squeezing every last ounce out. No more feeling disappointed in my body when I had to supplement with formula.

Then she was four months old and her pediatrician said she was ready for solids. I waited until she was five months old. Then she was six months old and her pediatrician said she could start eating meat at 7 months and eating solids 3 times a day. Then I didn’t want her eating solids anymore.

Because see, motherhood is irrational, and while I was so happy for her first meal (avocado) and more than happy to help her learn to coordinate her tongue and lips to eat, I still want her to need me like she did when I first brought her home. What would happen to my milk supply (that was in surplus) if she just kept eating solids? Already our afternoons were different and with the impending addition of a morning solids meal, what would happen to our milk time?

Did you really eat solids if there isn’t a picture like this?

Feeding her solids is different. She sits across from me, with a tray in the way, a silicone bib on and my lap is empty. With milk, her whole body is pressed against me, her head rests in the crook of my arm and her hand wacks me in the face and sternum as she eats (sometimes). Or she falls asleep with suckling and I gaze down at her little face that isn’t as little as it used to be but will always be the face of mommy’s baby. That can’t happen if she’s eating solids.

I am so happy that she has learned to open her mouth wide for a spoon full of the food I steam, puree and portion out for her. I am so sad that with every spoonful, our milk time lessens.

Our routine will continue to evolve and change, I know this. I am sure my days will be filled with so happy|so sad moments over and over again. It means she’s growing, thriving, happy and healthy.

But right now, tonight, I relish her night cap of milk time with me. As she drifts off to sleep, I prop her up and burp her, knowing these days, too, are numbered. I’m so happy|I’m so sad.



How To Maximize your Breast Milk Output

I have been fortunate enough to be able to donate over 100 ounces of breast milk (twice now) to moms in need. However, before I discuss what has worked for me in the way of breastmilk production, let me first and foremost say: I am 100% Fed Is Best. Whether you’re breast or bottle, I am a proponent of doing whatever your baby needs to be nourished.

I had an emergency c-section and was unable to do skin-to-skin contact with my Little One until many hours later. It was also just such a stressful time that although I asked for the breast pump to be brought into my room and pumped into that little machine every 3 hours on the dot, I didn’t begin to produce much of anything until about 5 days after my LO was born. I had to supplemented with formula up until she was about 6 weeks old. My LO is mainly bottle fed with expressed breast milk. Her morning feeding is breast milk through latching and expressed milk.

Around the time she was 6 weeks old, I changed what I was doing in my daily routine to try to help ramp up my production and my body was finally able to produce what she needed to be exclusively breast milk fed. These are the things I will outline below.

Operation Milky-Way

  1. Watched this video about maximizing output when pumping milk. It helped me realize how important hand expressing is with pumping milk and also that my flanges were too large. This website also has many other helpful videos for moms (latching, breastfeeding, a well fed baby). Maximizing Milk Output Video
  2. Hand Expression: I began to hand express after feedings and pumping. (helpful video on Hand Expressing). I used the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump 
  3. Drinking Enough: I drink about 26 ounces of in the morning with breakfast. I use 2 tea bags. The recommended is to work up to 4 cups of tea per day. I figured this was a happy medium. I use a big mug (this is literally my exact mug) in the morning so it’s a one and done tea situation.
  4. Drink More than Enough: keep up your intake of fluids throughout the day. I cannot stress this enough. If I run errands and forget to bring something to drink, my milk production dips at the next pumping. I use a 32 ounce Bubba mug and refill it three times a day. I add a little less than scoop of blue Gatorade mix to my water. I had heard that blue Gatorade helps with your milk. Maybe, maybe not. But it tastes better than plain water and motherhood is like a marathon 🙂
  5. Pump more frequently: When I made it my mission to get serious about production I decided to pump every 3 hours, which was a feat. I felt like I was just pumping all day. I did that for about 2 days. Then I made sure to pump every 4 hours, keeping to a 7a-11a-3p-7p-11p schedule. If I was off because life happens and I ended up pumping at 4p instead of 3p, I still pumped at 7p. I never pumped over night, because sanity.
  6. Wait for the Let Down part Duex: There are times when I’m pumping and nothing is coming out but I can feel that my breast is not empty. This is where hand expression comes in to play. With hand expression, you can more intimately know your breasts and you begin to feel the difference between an empty breast and a back up on aisle milk duct. Sometimes simply continuing to pump will stimulate the second Let Down or I will pause the pumping, hand express and then go back to pumping, having cleared whatever back up there was.

If you have tried all of this and latch when you can (even if it isn’t for feeding and more to bond, stimulate flow) and you are unable to produce enough milk – give yourself a well-deserved break! As I said, fed is best. There are so many different formula options available for parents these days and thank goodness for that.

What has worked for you in your milk supply endeavors? Leave a comment below and remember to share with any moms traveling the Milky-Way 🙂


PostPartum Depression Hurts

It’s taken me a while to work up to writing this post. I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to 100% admit it, or I feel like in some way all of my reactions or feelings will be blamed on PPD, or it could be because I want to ignore it all. I don’t know.

When I first thought that I was perhaps suffering from/struggling through PPD, I figured that I’d write a post about it after I was all fixed. I’d write about how it felt and how I fixed it, post some links about getting help and some symptoms, and it would all be gathered up pretty succinctly in a magenta bow. However, a little part of me felt disingenuous about doing that. See, if I want to really be helpful (at least in my mind) sharing how I’m feeling in the midst of it, would be most helpful to someone in my position. Also, if I didn’t write about how I’m feeling now, it would be a lot easier to ignore it all. Which is the opposite of helping myself.

So, I compose this post a day after seeing my primary care doctor concerning my ever worsening symptoms. If you’ve given birth recently, as a mother, you are asked to fill out a survey about how you feel (at least in my hospital and at the pediatricians office). The first time I filled out the survey in the hospital, I was apparently too honest (I had an emergency c-section and my Warrior Princess was unexpectedly admitted to the NICU having experience fetal distress. It was such a rough time.) and the nurse said, “If you answer like this, it’s going to be alarming.” I though the whole point of the survey was to be honest. But..ya know. So, being scared into not being super honest, I met with a nice woman, who gave me pamphlets and told me that someone from the PPD network/help center/ would call me once a month and ask how I was. I told her I felt fine.

I really did. I’d say that for sure I’d seek assistance immediately if that ever changed. I felt fine.

All the literature I’d ever read about PPD or any short clip I’d seen on my Facebook feed, any Lifetime movie about some sad woman, made me feel like I would have to be thinking about hurting my child OR looking at her and feeling nothing at all. Looking at her like she was a blank piece of paper. I’ve never once felt like that. Not even a little bit.

What I have felt like is that my Warrior Princess is the only thing that truly brings me joy at the exclusion of everything else. I look at her like she is my world and everything else can kick rocks. This almost sounds idyllic, to be so besotted with your baby that you live in a wonderful world of coos, and baby blinks. But it isn’t.

Think about it, nothing else makes me happy. I feel disconnected from everything most days. I don’t want to talk to anyone, everything annoys me. People keep offering to give me a break from the duties of motherhood when all I really want to do is take my daughter and go. Go where? I don’t know. Somewhere where it’s just me and her. This hurts my other relationships. This hurts me.

How did it get to this? What are some signs that I missed? May is PPD awareness month (I saw a posting somewhere which inspired/forced me to write this entry). I will use this month to explain as much of my story and experience as I can.



“Come on Baby, let’s get away…”

Last Saturday night, as I changed my Warrior Princess into her pajamas, a song came to mind. Well really it was only about 4 lines of the chorus that came to mind. It was Janet Jackson’s “Escapade“. I remembered how when I was younger, I wanted to one day look like her in the “Love will never do without you” music video. The hair style, the head band, the tank top and jeans. For me she was #goals.

Come on baby, let’s get away
Let’s save our troubles for another day
Come go with me, we’ve got it made
Let me take you on an escapade

I scooped up my little one and danced around with her. She laughed at the same 4 lines over and over. My husband, a little tired of my broken record, found the song on Xbox Music and put us both out of our broken record misery.

As I dance, we got into a suddenly deep conversation:

“I wonder what it would be like to have another child.”

“What do you mean?” We had discussed family planning before and we would like to have another child.

“What if we have another child and they don’t have Down Syndrome? What if that child can do things that she can’t? What if they feel obligated to take care of her?”

“Like if we have another child and they’re typical [typical is the term used for children born without Down Syndrome, it is not okay to say “normal”], what will happen with Warrior Princess?” I asked for clarification.

“Yes, what if they’re jealous because they think she’s getting more attention? Or what if she feels jealous because it’s a new baby?”

I didn’t have an answer. “I think we’ll be okay and figure it out…” We continued to discuss what it might be like to have another child. I had read about moms being unsure of how they would be able to love another child as much as they loved their first and only (if they had a single birth first). At the time I thought that was silly because moms just love, it what they do. I now thought, how would I be able to love someone else as much as I now loved my Warrior Princess? How does your heart find the space for love? And logistically, how do you find the time in the day?

As I continued to dance around, I remembered being about 5 years old and dancing around in the living room with my mom as “iiiiiii wanna dance with somebody…” played from the radio, my older brother and I bopping around the living room. Then Gloria Estefan and Sade playing as I danced on top of my mother’s feet. My mom was able to love us both (and then all three of us).

Some how, the heart grows as the family grows and there’s love enough for everyone.

We’ll have a good time…
Leave your worries behind…
On an escapade, baby

World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day  is March 21 of every year. The date, 3/21, represents Trisomy 21, the technical name of Down Syndrome, meaning 3 copies of the 21st chromosome.

This Tuesday will be our first WDSD with the Warrior Princess. We don’t have any big plans for joining any events. Even though New York City is technically close to me (20 minutes) it can be a costly nightmare driving in some days, not to mention finding parking. Also, homegirl is only 3.5 months old. I’m not down to have her on public transportation in this blizzard any moment weather. So while there are WDSD events taking place in NYC, we haven’t been able to find events more local to us here in northern New Jersey. (Maybe I haven’t quite figured out where and how to look for events specific to DS in NJ #StillLearning)

I’m wondering what we will do in the future and how we’ll help her celebrate her extra chrom’ along with everyone else in the world.

This year we will be wearing crazy socks (mismatched pairs) which encourages people to ask you about your socks and you in turn can tell them about WDSD. I’ll be donating to 3/21 Pledge

3/21 Pledge is a program developed by Ruby’s Rainbow, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults with Down syndrome by helping them achieve their dreams of higher education.

Find more information on World Down Syndrome Day, at

But will she look like me?

At some point during my pregnancy (maybe around 23 or so weeks) I stood in the living room and asked my husband, “What if she wants to get plastic surgery?” He looked at me like I was crazy.

“Why would she want that?” he asked.

“Because…what if she doesn’t look like us?” I mused.

“I think she’ll look like both of us.”

For him it was that simple. For me, not so much.

When I was in middle school I thought my nose was disproportionate to my face (really it was more that it was the feature that most reminded me that I looked like my father) and I wondered if I should get a nose job. I asked my maternal grandmother what she thought and she agreed that a nose job would be fine. She even pinched the bridge of my nose. That, for me, validated that it was wrong.

Down Syndrome comes with a whole host of “maybe your child could be born with_______ and maybe they won’t” qualities. It also has certain physical markers that may or may not show up. I wondered what if other people pick on her because of these physical markers? Middle school was a torturous time for me and my heart breaks thinking of my Warrior Princess having to experience 1/16 of what I went through. How strong would the physical markers be? Would these physical markers over power her features? Would she look in the mirror and wonder why she didn’t look like me or Matt? More than her not being able to see me in her reflection, maybe my fears were about me not being able to see myself in her.

When Warrior Princess was born, and for many days after, I would look at her and think that she looked like herself. She is mine and I love her. I didn’t see myself, I just saw my little girl, my fighter, her toothless grin, her sassy arms flailing about.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I took a selfie with her in my arms (and one of my dogs, Jackson, had his head on my shoulder). When I looked at it, I saw myself in her face. She has the shape of my eyes and my eyebrows. I liked it, I liked being able to pinpoint my face in hers. But the funny thing is, it didn’t change how I felt about her at all. My heart didn’t swell any larger, my love didn’t grow any deeper.

I already loved her face.

The selfie I took with my Warrior Princess.

Why does physical therapy make me feel weak?

Before my Warrior Princess was even born, I knew I needed to get her started with Early Intervention. I had read about it, was told about it and I guess through the grapevine I knew Early Intervention (EI) was what’s up.

There was an evaluation visit where Warrior Princess was deemed qualified for EI with a presumptive diagnosis of Down Syndrome and was recommended physical therapy twice a month, a second visit with the case coordinator (with whom I went to college! Small world ‘eh?) and then her first visit with the physical therapist.

I was so nervous for first visit from the physical therapist. Was the apartment clean enough? Would the dogs bark the whole time? Does she hate dogs? Would she like me?  But would I even like her..? Would she take one look at Warrior Princess and think we needed to buckle down because she was super physically behind?

The first visit I was left with a handful of exercises to do with her and rattle suggestions. Last week was the second visit and I don’t think I’ll ever not feel judged as her mom. There’s nothing to therapist did or said, it’s just…I feel responsible for how well Warrior Princess is or is not doing. I feel admonished if I haven’t really sat her in a position because she doesn’t like it. I feel admonished if the therapist points out where WP is in too much flexion and extension. I feel admonished if WP is over it and would rather sleep through physical therapy. And this makes me feel weak, like I’m not being a good enough or strong enough mom.

I know it’s all in my head but I feel as though her success rests on me to help her be the best Warrior Princess she can be and if I’m slacking, that’s no bueno. If someone else has to point out where I can improve, then it’s been 2 weeks of me not doing right by her? Makes sense? Maybe not. Chalk it up to irrational motherhood I guess.


Motherhood, Irrational Motherhood

Everyday begins the same way, I wake up my Warrior Princess, I wash her face, change her into her clothing for the day, give her a run down (date, weather, schedule for the day) and feed her. I do my own morning routine (wash my face, pump milk, eat breakfast) before she wakes up. Occasionally our routines collide (she wakes up early, I accidentally sleep in late) and I just wish that someone was there to help me.

Enter my husband, Matt.

Matt is usually off to work in the morning before our little one wakes up but on the weekends when he isn’t working, he’ll help with her morning routine. One Saturday he was doing her morning routine while I was making myself something to eat.

I found myself giving detailed instructions on how to wash her face even though he’d done it before. I pulled out her outfit for the day, I made sure he could find her face cloth which was hanging up on the towel rack. I reminded him about her gum massage. I hovered by the door with a spoon in my hand.

I sent myself back to the kitchen because I didn’t want it to seem like I didn’t trust him.

I stared down at my breakfast and all I could think about is how I’m not doing her morning routine and that I miss doing it. I do it But this one time is tearing me apart.

I thought I wanted to make myself breakfast but now I feel like I’d rather starve than not wash the gunk out of her eyes.

When I’m home alone with her, feeling like I’ll never get the basics accomplished, I mentally long for someone to help me and now that I do have help, I don’t want it. Well, not that help. If someone could just feed me while I watch her sleep, that’s probably more of what I want. My arms are tired but I don’t want to stop holding her but if I could just grow another arm…?

Ahhh motherhood, you irrational gal, you.


Why Down Syndrome is a blessing

I met my husband as I was turning 31. We had both lived enough to know that we were “the one” for each other (he sooner than I). When the time came for us to begin our family, I was a worried because 1) I had this lifelong fear that I’d be infertile or unable to conceive 2) I have endometriosis and was worried that would cause problems with conception.

After about 6 months of purposeful and timed trying, I went to see the doctor. I had read that after 30 your fertility drops and given my concerns, I figured I should get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. We made a fertility doctor appointment for some time in April and went to Virginia on spring break at the end of March.

I never went to the fertility doctor because I got knocked up while on spring break.

We were elated and I wanted to wait until the end of the first trimester before telling anyone, except I couldn’t wait that long before I told my closest friends and family. My first blood screening went well, it confirmed I was pregnant. Then I had another more in-depth ultrasound and blood screening. That came back with abnormalities stating that I had elevated chances of Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 18. This means that either the 13th or 18th chromosome had an extra copy. Both of these diagnosis were fatal. I went to work distracted and sad. I stopped talking about the pregnancy with my friends. I stopped checking the What to Expect app because, what was the point? I thought how could I have waited my whole life to get pregnant with the perfect guy only to be told that the baby would die? What kind of cruel universe would do this to me? I tried to not be angry with God. I prayed that whatever His will was for our family, that He give me the grace to accept it and the peace to live with it.

I elected to have the Panorama screening, which would be about 99% correct in identifying chromosomal abnormalities.

The wait for the blood test and results were the longest 2 weeks of my life. The doctor called and I remember sitting in the car thinking this is it, this is how my heart breaks. She said that the test confirmed her thoughts.

“So, which is? Trisomy 18 or 13…?”, the music on the radio playing over my sadness.

“No, it’s trisomy 21. It’s Down Syndrome.”

“So it’s not fatal?”

“No, it’s not.”

Hearing that it was Down Syndrome was the best news I had heard since finding out I was pregnant, because it could have been worse. I am always reminded that it could have been worse and I am thankful for the blessing of her life.

It’s just Down Syndrome.