On Writing Something That Pisses People Off

Photo credit: Thomas Martinsen/Unsplash
Photo credit: Thomas Martinsen/Unsplash

I consider myself to be a fairly polite person. My mother taught me that. She taught me to respect people, no matter who they were, where they came from, what they looked like, what they believed…she instilled in me an ability to stand up for what I believe in but to also not cause arguments (especially when they aren’t necessary), and not to be rude.

However, I don’t think she ever counted on her daughter having exceptionally strong beliefs when it comes to controversial topics. When she taught me to be polite, I was still a child. I was to respect people (especially and unquestioningly, my elders), to do as I was told, to be seen and not heard (unless called upon).

These days, I can be pretty vocal about certain topics. Topics that get under my skin. Topics that speak to my own experience in life, as a woman, as a mother, as a survivor, as a god damn human. Like when I hear about women still being unable to obtain abortions in certain areas (and the way clinics are shutting down left and right here, harming more women than ever before), or when I hear about someone beating their spouse to a bloody pulp (since 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical abuse by a partner in their lifetime), or the way in which women continue to earn less than men for the same amount of work.

I recently published an article about another controversial topic that is near and dear to my heart. It’s about child loss and what it’s like to grieve as a parent who does not subscribe to a particular set of beliefs. It is about being an agnostic and/or atheist in a believers world. Salon picked it up and the response has been unexpectedly overwhelming.

I’d published a piece on losing Maggie before, where I received nothing but kind words from friends and strangers alike. This time, though, it’s been a mixed bag. Some people seem to lose sight of the fact that the piece is meant to exist to help other grieving parents with their loss and their feelings of solitude and instead only focus on feeling attacked about their religion, when I clearly don’t attack religion at all.

No where in my piece do I call people stupid or foolish or ignorant for what they believe. I don’t personally go out of my way to attack anyone or any belief. I simply suggest that while it’s wonderful for folks to be there for their friends and family who grieve, if they know this person is not religious, maybe choose a few different words of comfort when speaking with them.

Yet I am surprised at how many people have gone out of their way and taken time out of what I’m assuming is not a very busy day to Tweet me or write me lengthy e-mails and Facebook messages about how they believe I am wrong, and go on to basically do the same thing the article warns about–thus further proving my point about how people can’t accept that others don’t believe in the way they do. I won’t even get started on the highly offensive trolls in the comments section because frankly, I did not go through the 500+ comments because I am busy being a writer and a mother, and I just simply don’t give a shit.

Photo credit: Wifflegif
Photo credit: Wifflegif

Fortunately, most of the letters and comments have been fairly respectful (thank you to the many Jehova’s Witnesses and other Christians who have written simply to offer words of kindness. I’ve received some especially interesting and wonderful letters even from pastors and ministers who agree with my lack of belief in a “heaven”).

More importantly though is the fact that most of the letters and comments received have been from folks who wholeheartedly relate, many of which are grieving parents themselves. Thank you to the woman who opened up about her multiple miscarriages and the man who shared his solitude with me after the loss of his child, finding his wife going in the opposite direction and becoming more involved in the church. Thank you for your support and for letting me know that my words reached you and are helping you in some way.

I’m so proud that one piece of writing has gone such a long way. Because of my article, we’ve had dozens of new requests to join our baby loss community for agnostic/atheist mothers. It means that sometimes, writing really does affect change. It means I’m not just screaming out into the nothing any more.

Be on the look out for more outspoken, controversial articles from me in the future. Because someone’s got to say what’s on our minds.

Target Is Getting Rid Of Gender Signage And It Is An Exciting Time To Parent

  
Some weeks (months?) ago, I wrote a piece about stepping out of your gender comfort zone when you go shopping. It was partly inspired after a round of errands at Targt and Wal-Mart, where I found nothing but pink “girl” toy sections heavy with dolls and “boy” toy sections filled with cars and trucks and toy guns.

Well, in a turn of events where I literally had to make sure I wasn’t reading an Onion piece, Target stores have promised to finally nix the gender label on basically everything in their stores (save for clothing). This is HUGE news, especially for parents trying to teach their children about gender and gender fluidity. 

I normally take my son down every toy aisle, whether it be pink or not, in the event I notice him eyeing something. But I recognize many parents might not, and some might even be angry at allowing their son to play with a doll or other “girl-oriented” toy. Now, kids will be free to choose without being in a particular area that attempts to define who they are based on one or two toy choices. 
Personally, I feel this should go hand in hand with children’s clothing as well (why do we need to cut children’s clothing differently when their bodies haven’t developed secondary sex characteristics? And even then, that has nothing to do with their gender.) it would also bring more attention to the fact that women are often charged more for everyday items than men. I’ve observed this myself walking into men’s clothing sections and seeing how much cheaper their pants often are (but still not being willing to buy pants that did not fit my body the way i’d like).

Regardless, this is great, first step in combatting gendering in the public sphere and I applaud Target on listening to their shoppers and taking it to heart. Hopefully Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, and others will follow suit.

Why You Don’t Need To Breastfeed To Support World Breastfeeding Week

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and as most conversations about breastfeeding go, it is not without its share of controversy. I recently came across this article by Dr. Amy Tuteur detailing the reasons she is NOT celebrating the event. She goes so far as to say that the organization behind the event (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy), whose apparent goal is to make breastfeeding a “cultural norm” is akin to being against gay marriage and anti-choice (seriously? I mean, really?)

I was a bit taken aback reading this woman’s statements until I realized she’s also the woman behind the blog The Skeptical OB (which I won’t even link to because she does not need any more traffic). In her blog, she makes no secret of how anti-home birth and anti-low-intervention birth she is, going on to basically call anyone who would not blindly follow a doctor anywhere a complete nutbag. So there’s that. And while I have my own feelings about home birth (mine was a transfer-to-hospital situation), that does not mean I am completely opposed to the right of thousands of other women who choose to birth this way–I am pro-choice about nearly everything, baby.

But I digress. World Breastfeeding Week, just like breastfeeding and breastfeeding advocacy in general, should not make anyone feel bad because that is simply not the intention behind it. It’s a celebration (for those who choose to participate) of the very real dedication it takes to be a breastfeeding mother.

Breastfeeding is no joke. Yes, everyone can and should feed their child whichever way is best for them and their family. I think we are all adult enough to agree on this. But let’s face it: Over time, it very often can be much more stressful on a mother who is solely breastfeeding (oftentimes overcoming things like a bad latch, chaffed nipples, a teething baby, etc.) than it is to pour formula in a bottle and feed the baby. I’m not saying that all bottle-fed babies have no complications when it comes to feeding, either (some have reflux, some experience hypotonia and have trouble sucking as well, etc.) Bottle feeding can be challenging, as all feeding of children (up until they are grown) can be challenging (anyone ever hear of a picky toddler?) But breastfeeding comes with its own extra-set of hurdles to jump, including the one with the WABA is looking to combat during this year’s WBW: Breastfeeding and Work.

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Raise your hand if you breastfed. Now raise your hand if you breastfed while working. Many mothers know the difficulties of finding the time and privacy to pump on the job. Some offices will allow women to go into a separate room for this, but what about those who are servers at restaurants or toll-booth cashiers or bus drivers? The point of this year’s WBW is to bring awareness to this specific challenge, so that employers are more aware and to challenge them to begin to make the changes necessary for breastfeeding women to feed their babies in the way they want.

The snark of the Skeptical OB, especially seeing as she may not have even read about the objectives of this year’s WBW. In her words:

It appears that we are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in the US to extol mothers who breastfeed and to shame those who don’t.

No, actually. That’s not it at all. And if she’d taken even one second to read something that was not part of her agenda-heavy, judgmental-as-hell blog, she might have figured that out.

I had major difficulties breastfeeding William. While he latched on beautifully and painlessly, it appears my body did not produce enough milk (one lactation consultant told me she believed I had insufficient glandular tissue). Between my low supply and his feeding troubles from birth, and our time spent apart due to his time in NICU, it wasn’t meant to be.

We went four months where I pumped and fed constantly, did everything in my power to produce more, and finally gave up and allowed myself the rest that I was sorely needing. I enjoyed the time I got to breastfeed him, and bonded nicely, but I also bonded with him afterward (and still do) bottle-feeding him. It was not a failure to go to exclusive formula feeding. I do not judge mothers who cannot breastfeed for x, y, and z reasons, or those who simply choose not to because it is not for them. This is why we have CHOICES.

One of the few breastfeeding photos I have with William.
One of the few breastfeeding photos I have with William.

If you breastfed your baby, or wanted to, or are an ally to women who do (including the fathers, the sisters, the brothers, the friends, and grandparents who did not breastfeed outright but helped support the women in their lives who did), thank you!

You don’t need to breastfeed yourself to be an advocate for breastfeeding, and you don’t need to feel badly or persecuted if you chose to formula feed because breastfeeding women on the whole don’t care one way or the other (they’re too busy wincing when their young toddlers accidentally bite their nipples or pull their hair during a 5 a.m. feed–and goddess bless ’em for that).

Willy Walks: On Raising A Multiracial Child

A few days ago, I took Willy on one of our walks and caught up with the latest episode of the Longest Shortest Time. The episode, titled “Mama Don’t Understand”, is about the beauty and challenge of raising multiracial or “mixed” children. In the episode, one mom was wondering how to address the way in which her young daughter was differentiating that her mother was brown while she was white. It struck a chord as I thought about what lies ahead for my family.

Our little rabbit at 2.5 months old.
Our little rabbit at 2.5 months old with his daddy.

Our son William is the product of a mixed background. I am Latina, of Nicaraguan and Mexican heritage, while my husband John is White/Caucasian (of Irish, German, and English ancestry). When John and I met, I remember asking him more about his background and heritage. I was an anthropology major and am forever fascinated by people’s cultures. Unfortunately, John wasn’t too forthcoming on his background, and while he does have specific traditions he like to uphold on St. Patrick’s Day (and is somewhat offended by the whole “Plastic Paddy” appropriation of the holiday), he’s never had much more to add to the conversation.

My husband as a little one.
My husband as a little one.

On the flip side, I am fluent in Spanish and absolutely love Nicaraguan and Mexican culture, though I am much more familiar with the Nica side of my family (my paternal grandfather was Mexican and died when my father was an infant so dad was raised in Corinto, Nicaragua–the same small, port town my mother grew up in). Through the years, I have shown my husband Nicaraguan slang (“chavalo“, “jodido“), Nicaraguan foods (carne asada is his favorite), Nicaraguan customs (he really wants to see what La Griteria is all about), and told him stories of my trips to Nicaragua.

I didn’t really think much of my heritage growing up. Living in Miami, everyone around me was already Hispanic, so I didn’t exactly feel like an outsider or as thought I were special or different. But the older I get, the more I realize how important it is for me to share my culture in order to preserve it, especially with my family. Not to mention I don’t plan on living in Miami forever, and then I’ll be at a loss when I can’t find good fritanga to eat or someone else who knows about the beaches of San Juan del Sur or what it is I mean when I say, “¡ideay!

Myself as a baby, lying on my favorite blankie ever.
Myself as a baby, lying on my favorite blankie ever.

Mostly, though, I want my son to know where his family came from and to speak all the languages his mother knows and then some. I leave it up to my husband to show him about his own heritage, but it’s up to me to show my son (who is incredibly fair-skinned, with brownish blonde hair and eyes that switch from blue to green to gray) that half of his ancestors come from Central America. That his maternal grandparent’s first language is Spanish, and that his bisabuelita, while losing her eyesight, is waiting for him with open arms in her modest home in Corinto. That his mother grew up eating gallo pinto, and that gallo pinto is damn delicious and can keep you going all day long. That his bisabuelo is buried in Mexico City and that someday we will make the journey to visit him. That his mother wishes she knew more about her Mexican heritage other than her unwavering love of Mexican cuisine and her fascination with El Dia de Los Muertos (which is not appropriation because that really would be part of my heritage had I been fortunate enough to know more of my Mexican relatives). That he is eternally lucky to not be one of the children washing windshields on the streets of Managua. That he comes from a land of both political unrest and intense natural beauty unlike anything in the States.

My hope is that in presenting his heritage to him positively, he won’t see me or my side of the family as less than the white side. Because society will at some point teach him the higher value of white skin and a gringo last name. Because society might point out to him that he’s white, but maybe…what’s going on there? Why are your eyes so almond-shaped? Why does your mother look asian? Because society will inevitably show him some narrow minded bastard, like the old racist man at the McDonalds in Fort Pierce who told my husband he should be ashamed of having a child with me.

Our beautiful, mixed-race son just a few weeks ago.
Our beautiful, mixed-race son just a few weeks ago.

But hopefully, he’ll teach society about how great it is to come from a multi-ethnic, multi-racial background. He’ll be proud of his heritage on all sides, and speak Spanish better than I do, and pick up on some German, and tell you about Ireland’s history and Mexico’s battles. He’ll take his experiences and build on them and pass them down to his own kids. Isn’t that the point, anyway?

Stick It, Reporters: Riley Curry Is My NBA MVP

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Anyone that knows me knows I’m not a huge sports fan, but I do tend to enjoy the NBA Finals (especially when the Heat are in). Sadly, they didn’t make it this year, and, while I’m not exactly holding a grudge, I am definitely rooting for Golden State (hey, I like the Bay Area…has nothing to do with Lebron having left us to go back home to Cleveland! Really…).

But there’s one more reason to keep our eye on GSW and Steph Curry in particular: his adorable daughter, Riley. Apparently Curry caught some flack recently when he decided to bring his daughter with him during a post-game interview. He caught so much flack, in fact, that he decided to do it again.

Now, my theory is that anyone getting up in arms about this either a) has no kids or b) is a lousy parent. After watching both interviews, at no point does she ever become so disruptive that reporters can’t ask questions. And any reporters that do get swayed by the shenanigans of a two-year-old are amateurs in my book (how do these people carry on in life during any other interruptions?) Curry successfully and succinctly answers all the questions that were asked of him at these press conferences while maintaining his cool all the while having his rambunctious toddler act in true toddler fashion. He has very obviously perfected the art of Parental Multitasking.

Parental Multitasking is a gift we all learn or else we’ll never again hold conversations with other adults. It means tuning out the random noises and squeals and squeaks coming out of your child while still keeping an ear out for important sounds, like ones that alert you to your kid climbing the stairs unattended or getting ready to jump off something they shouldn’t. It means shielding them from your vision so you’re still able to more or less maintain eye-contact with the other human who is closer to you in height and age while still staying vigilant in case your rugrat is about to stick their finger in a socket or throw your iPhone against a window.

If Game 1 is any indication of the playoffs this year, it’s going to be a blast to watch. But it’ll be even greater if throughout it all, we get more toddler-bombed interviews and Vines like this one from earlier tonight:

Too damn cute.

I’m Looking For My Daughter; Have You Seen Her?

There’s something so chilling about the screams of a mother who can’t find her daughter. Even before I ever started having kids, I could always recognize the panicked, blood-curdling sound of someone shouting a child’s name whom they couldn’t find. I remember being at a Victoria’s Secret once and hearing it and feeling my heart nearly stop as a woman searched frantically for her little one among the aisles of push-up bras and lace underwear. Soon enough, she found her precious offspring and left the store, forgetting to buy whatever it was that had brought her in there.

Today, our little family walked in the March for Babies in honor of our beloved daughter Margaret Hope, whom we lost in 2012 to prematurity. John and I walked in 2013 for the first time, just months after her passing, and it was an incredibly healing experience. I recall looking at all the families and all the children who were now much older–those who made it. Our hearts were heavy that day, but our hopes were high and we vowed someday to return with a rainbow baby of our own.

IMG_5903Last year, our wish for another child came true, but because William spent some weeks in the NICU, we were unable to attend the march. We decided we would return this year with him in tow. We would tell him about his sister; we would let him know why we march. And so, we arrived this morning at Tropical Park just as the march was starting, and set off to walk 3 miles in contemplation of Maggie.

I could feel the difference in my approach from the start. During the first march, I was still in such grief that I had trouble going on at times. This time, I was happy to get moving, pushing little Willy B along in his stroller, taking in the sun’s rays. We missed our daughter, but we were still a family, strong and together.

We picked up some bananas from the welcoming committee and took some candids with Sebastian the Ibis, my old alma mater’s mascot. He was kind enough to give Willy a high-five prior to our group shot.

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My husband was a bit more solemn than I was, watching all the families, the kids with t-shirts on that said things like, “I’m What A 25-Week Old Miracle Looks Like,” and the parents with signs that read, “We March For Our Son.” I tried to keep our spirits up, to hold our family together. We made it to the Publix tent and decided to take a picture with the Publix mascot, Plato, and picked up a cold water bottle for the trek under the hot sun. It was going well, until it wasn’t.

“Have you seen a little girl? Seven years old?” an older woman with blonde hair asked us. We shook our heads. And then, I heard it. I heard the scream.

“My daughter! Megan! Have you seen her?” another blonde woman, in a green t-shirt, shouted at everyone and no one not far from us. I knew the scream. My heart stopped.

Suddenly, we were in the thick of a search for a young girl who’d somehow gotten lost at a march full of families who had either lost a child or almost had.

The panic set in slowly, rising from my heels up to my head, drowning me in a familiar anxiety I’d fooled myself into thinking had finally left. Nothing mattered at that moment but finding that little girl and stopping the cries of this woman who had now dropped to her knees, sobbing, while a friend reached out to her, “We will find her.”

John left our side for the first time and began searching near the lake. I clutched the stroller and scanned the park, checking between cars and bushes. More friends of the lost little girl asked us if we’d seen her, but we shook our heads and continued to search.

“Let’s keep going and keep looking,” I suggested. We continued on with the walk, still searching for this girl we’d never even met. We checked the parking lot. We checked the playground. We checked the bathrooms. And then, after we’d gone a distance, John stopped.

“Do you think we should go back?”

We were both completely in it. We couldn’t shake the idea of a parent losing their child. We both had the same thoughts. What if some sicko pervert had snatched her up in their car? What if she’d fallen in the lake? What if…? We needed to know she was okay. We raced back to where we’d first seen the woman, and saw the police officer they’d spoken to earlier.

“Excuse me, officer. Do you know if that woman ever found her daughter?”

“Yeah, they just did. Everything’s okay.”

I nodded and said thank you, and turned to walk back to my family. And then, I cried. I couldn’t stop. Out it all came. The little girl was okay. The mother was okay. They were going to be fine. Everything’s okay. Except it wasn’t.

What I wanted to say was, “Excuse me officer. I’m looking for my daughter. Have you seen her?”

And he would asked me about her, and I wouldn’t be able to tell him, because she was nothing more than ashes in a box on a shelf in my bedroom closet. No one had seen her because she hasn’t really been here in years. No one would know how to respond to that. How do you respond to that?

I thought about my daughter. I thought about the moment I knew I was going to lose her, hours before she was born, when the doctor gave me the look that destroyed my life for good. I thought about the moments before we found out she had passed, those moments after we’d woken up and awaited the return of the nurse who was going to take us back to the NICU. I thought about the only moment I saw her face while she stilled lived. I thought about the moment the nurse came back and told us it was too late. Too late.

I thought about that woman, dropping to her knees as she began to lose hope of finding her daughter. I thought about the moment I dropped to my knees when I lost my Hope.

It wasn’t easy to come out of that moment. They don’t come often, those moments, but when they do, they are just so intense and so real and so surreal at once.

John suggested we take a break from the walk and sit in the shade of a tree and spend time with William. Dear William. The rainbow at the end of the storm.

William, of course, didn’t understand any of it. He was a little ray of sunshine when we took him out of the stroller. He smiled, beamed, happy to walk, to run circles around us, his still-grieving, still-panicked parents. He brought us back into the present. He brought back Hope, in his own special way.

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We weren’t able to quite finish the march after that. We did the best we could, but we took so much time off the track that when we got back on it, we couldn’t even find our way back to the finish line. We were literally the last participants. It brought some anxiety out for me, some anger at not finishing what I had promised my daughter I would do. But in the end, I knew it didn’t really matter. Maggie would understand.

Most days are pretty great, but some days, it’s hard to breathe. Some days, I am on my knees again, still, asking anyone who will listen if they have seen my daughter. It’s something I will live with for the rest of my life, but every day that passes is a day I learn something new–a new way deal, a new way to be at peace, a new way to Hope.

The Accidental Co-Sleeper

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” is a frequent thought I have while I struggle to move my son’s little feet away from my face, ribs, back on a near-nightly basis.

When I was pregnant, I read a lot (a LOT) about those simple first few choices you have to make as a parent. For example, breast or bottle? Cloth or disposable diapers? And of course, where will baby sleep?

I remember reading about the benefits of co-sleeping and bed-sharing and then also reading about the incidence of SIDS if you shared a bed with your newborn. And then about the incidence of SIDS if you slept in a different room. And in the end, we decided to buy a co-sleeping bassinet to keep our munchkin nearby, but not too nearby. I figured he would sleep in it until it was time to move into a crib, where he would sleep in our room until maybe his first birthday, and then we’d move him into his own room.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

Our son didn’t come home until he was two months old. A difficult child birth and difficult first few weeks of life made it so that we co-slept, but the way we co-slept was more like he slept in a hospital crib while I slept on the exceedingly rock-hard, pull-out couch in his NICU room. It was rough, especially because I was still healing from some very bad tearing.

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But once we brought him home, it got easier. William took to his bassinet no problem. I remember sleeping with his bassinet right up against my side of the bed, staring at him through the mesh wall that separated us, terrified that he might stop breathing. Being in the NICU meant being acutely aware of his every heart beat. At home, there were no more monitors beeping and flashing lights all day and night, no plastic cables stuck to his body to make sure all his vitals were normal. It was beautiful and terrifying all at once.

William was a great sleeper, though. By the time he hit four months, he was basically sleeping through the night. And by that I mean I picked him up and fed him one last bottle at midnight, then we all fell asleep until around 8 or 9 a.m. to start the day. It was glorious. I was the only parent I knew who had such luck.

It wouldn’t last, of course.

We moved him into his crib when he was about 6 or 7 months as he’d outgrown his simple bassinet. And then the panic began. What if I didn’t see or hear him and he couldn’t roll himself over and suffocated on his belly? I followed the popular advice of no soft bumpers, blankets, pillows, or plush animals for the first few months. He still slept well, until about 9 months when we began to hear loud thumps in the night, followed by an angry cry.

I bought a mesh bumper to use on the crib, hoping it might soften the blows to his head when he rolled over, but I never got around to putting it on due to fear of him getting tangled in it somehow. Apparently, no matter what I read, something was going to kill my baby. And to a mother who had already lost a child and nearly lost the other, there was no way I was taking any chances.

But I started watching him during his daily naps and noticed he never seemed to get stuck with his nose in the mattress, and when he did, he immediately moved aside. The need to survive was strong.

Around 10 months, I started getting tired of waking up in the middle of the night to rock him to sleep and put him back in his crib, only to hear him thump his head on the wooden slabs around him and then have to do it all over again. So I said screw it, and brought him into our bed.

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How could I deny anything to this little face?

 

He was still small and didn’t move around too much, and I loved getting to snuggle with him at night. My husband also didn’t mind the extra bit of quiet we were getting, and soon he was also bringing him into the bed to avoid the continuous routine of getting up, rocking, putting down, and getting up again.

It worked well–for a while, at least.

Whenever someone asked me about where and how he was sleeping and I told them he slept best with us in the bed, I always got the same response.

“You’re going to regret it.”

and also,

“You’ll never get him out of your bed.”

He still sleeps in there...sometimes!
He still sleeps in there…sometimes!

Our son is about to turn 14 months. He’s a really big kid for his age, and stronger than me, I think. We still (usually) put him in his crib to go to sleep at night, but he always wakes up angry, asking us to bring him in to our bed. Sometimes, I try to stay strong, but exhaustion always wins.

There are days that I almost regret ever bringing him into our bed. Like days when I just want to have some time alone with my husband–something I’m sure all parents can relate to. And sometimes I just want to be left alone, rather than have tiny hands and feet pulling at my hair or punching me in the face, making me feel like I’ve given birth to a tiny Mexican wrestler rather than my sweet little kid.

But in all honesty, I don’t mind being the accidental co-sleeper. I’ve made my choice and I don’t (usually) mind that he takes up my pillows or forces me to sometimes sleep at the edge of my bed. I know this time is precious and won’t last forever. Besides, I also get these really beautiful, intimate moments with him I know i’d never get otherwise.

Hogging all of mom and dad's pillows.
Hogging all of mom and dad’s pillows.

I get to feel his little chest rise and fall with the palm of my hand, remembering how difficult breathing once was for him, being thankful for how far he’s come.

I get to smell his baby breath, something that maybe non-parents, or non-mothers, or people that aren’t me might not entirely get. It’s the most intoxicating scent to me and puts me right at ease. I gave birth so that he might breathe, I think to myself, smiling in the dark.

I get to touch his still-soft skin, massaging his chubby legs and feeling his mighty fingers grasping my arm. Babies’ skin is made of satin and silk and sunshine and bliss.

I get to hear him giggle to himself in his sleep, or make little cooing sounds, or babble while he dreams. I record those sounds in my mind so that I might listen to them again in my old age, joyful to have heard them whispered in my ear.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” I think to myself every night. But like the old cliche goes, I wouldn’t have it any other way.