I love being a mother, I say to myself over and over again as I sit huddled in the bathroom, towel over my head, hiding from the crying newborn in one room and the fitful preschooler in the other. The baby is about to be two months old. My amazing wife is trying her hardest to get her to sleep. And because I was up with her all last night, instead of trying to comfort her, I want to just shut the door and make it all stop. I cry to release the pent up frustration and yearning for sleep, but of course that only makes my eyes even puffier and  headache even worse. 

Having a baby is hard. I’m sure it was hard with my first one but, now that he’s three, when I look back I just remember the good stuff. I know (ok, I hope) that when we get through the sleepless stage I will feel the same way. 

Sleep deprivation is a bitch. Right now I feel like I am walking through life with a veil over my eyes. I can see everyone else having fun and enjoying life and mentally I can see it but I just can’t feel it. I’m too crabby and my brain just isn’t functioning correctly.

I wrote that from Sonoma, where we were preparing for my best friend’s wedding. I wish this was a post about the beauty of Sonoma or traveling there with kids, but it’s not. It’s about postpartum depression and maybe about not knowing you have it until you’re just about out of it.

It’s taken me a while to write this because it’s taken me a while to be able to think clearly enough to look back and know what was going on. I was a mess. I don’t know if it was because it was my second child, because of the hormones, or because having a newborn is just plain hard. I blame it mostly on the lack of sleep.

Next on "Moms without Makeup"

Next on “Moms without Makeup”

It was the middle of the summer, the best time of year in Seattle when the sun is actually out every day, and I didn’t care. I didn’t ever want to leave the house. I just wanted to sleep and it felt like sleep was the one thing I could never do. Whoever said “sleep when the baby sleeps” obviously never had a second child.

So I was tired, which made me crabby. And everything was hard. Breastfeeding was difficult and painful and felt  constant. I thought nursing would come easily. It was my second time around, couldn’t I just pick up where I left off with my first child?  No, we went through it all again. It makes me sad now that I didn’t appreciate that my baby needed me. Instead, I cried when she cried because she needed to be fed, yet again.

On top of it all, I was trying to be especially attentive to my 3 year old. I wanted to make sure he knew that Mommy still loved him even though the baby was here. So I insisted on doing the bedtime routine alone with him so we had some special time together. I put so much pressure on myself to be this great, loving and nurturing mom. But then I ended up taking care of everyone else and completely neglecting myself. For two whole months.

Then August came and with it my best friend’s wedding in Sonoma. We loved her soon-to-be wife and were thrilled that their wedding day was here. Well, honestly I was happy for them but a wedding now meant that not only did I need to leave my house (ok fine, it was time) but I had to do so in a dress and heels.

Of course nothing fit my post baby body. Nothing in my closet, nothing at Macy’s, and nothing at Nordstrom’s. You know where I had to buy a dress to wear to this wedding? Motherhood Maternity. Just the thought of it was mortifying. Then, to look at myself in the mirror was just too much. It was one thing to be accepting of my body that just created and carried a human being for nine months when I was at home in comfy clothes being all motherly. But it was another thing entirely to be dressed up and around other people who were also dressed up looking their best. I felt like I need to wear a big sign around my neck that said, “hey, I just had a baby, ok!” because I was so self-conscious. So I’m hormonal, and tired, and now I’m fat.

Then something amazing happened. Right around the time we sat down for the ceremony I realized it wasn’t about me at all. I was there to witness the union of two people who loved each other deeply and to celebrate with them. So I decided that I really would celebrate. Thankfully, we had a few generous friends who graciously offered to hold the baby for me most of the night, bringing her to me when it was time to nurse. It was my first time really having any space from the baby since she was born and it was all that I needed to catch that glimpse of “me” again.

That night I danced so hard. I literally danced like no one was watching. And truth be told, they weren’t watching me. That wedding was such a blast that everyone was dancing and smiling and the room was full of energy.  In that moment I wasn’t the mommy, I was the bride’s best friend, and it was my job to dance and have fun. I had no idea how much I need that. It was like a shot of happiness entered my body replenishing something I didn’t know was missing.

Things after the wedding didn’t miraculously change over night. The baby still didn’t sleep more than two hours at a time for a while and I did get a little squeamish looking at myself in pictures. But, the baby is so awesome and getting cuter and sweeter every day. I love my kids so much and I really do love being a mom. And, fortunately, the feeling that night at my best friend’s wedding was so powerful that it’s easy to conjure back up whenever I need to remember.

daughterletter2I’m going to start with an apology. I’m so excited to meet you and I’m sorry I already haven’t paid as much attention to you. We moved to a new city when you were just 18 weeks in utero. I neglected my body and spirit while chasing after your older brother and finding our new home. I didn’t go to yoga or meditate and I ate at Taco Bell. I’m sorry. I hope you’re still doing alright in there.

I’m sorry and I’m scared. I want the world for you. I’m sorry and I’m afraid of the world I am bringing you in to. I want you to have the same opportunities as your brother to be whoever you want to be. I’m sorry you will be faced with endless reminders of your gender from the day of your birth when you get a pink hat placed on your head at the hospital and throughout your childhood  when you’ll be presented with princesses and fairies and dolls as birthday gifts. I’m sorry that one day when you’re even older it won’t be safe for you to go out with your friends  alone and it won’t be safe for you to make mistakes or let your guard down.

I want to teach you to be strong, independent and brave.  I want to raise a feminist daughter that believes in herself and in others. I want you to develop a good inner moral compass that helps you make the right choices. But, I’m afraid I won’t know how.

I’m worried I will pass on some of my bad habits to you. Already I’m concerned you might get my Italian genes that will make you want to start waxing your eyebrows before high school. How can I teach you to not want to change yourself to fit someone else’s idea of beauty when I’m still trying to learn that myself?

Sometimes it’s hard to be a girl and sometimes it’s awesome. For example, I get to have you. I get to be your mother and I get to love you. All I can do is hope. Hope that you will love yourself as much as I love you.  Hope that my best intentions will serve you well and help you grow into the woman you are meant to be. As we anxiously await your arrival, I can’t wait to find out who that is.

May 21, 2011

May 21, 2011

This has been a landmark year for  marriage equality and it has touched us very deeply. Just two years ago, when we were living in St. Paul we were among the many at the capitol pleading with our legislators not to allow a constitutional ban on same sex marriage to go to the popular vote.

November, 2012

November, 2012

But it did, and then, due to a job change, we ended up moving to Florida, a state not particularly known for it’s gay-friendly policies.  Since we always considered Minnesota our home and figured we’d return there eventually, we didn’t give up and kept working from afar to include our family, friends and allies in the effort to get everyone on board with voting against this harmful amendment. And although it was tight, thanks to the hard work of many people, the amendment did not pass. What a relief! We were so happy that “our” state  did not enshrine hate into the constitution.

And then, as fate would have it, another job transfer brought us to the Pacific Northwest and we landed in Seattle, WA, where in that very same election, the good people of the state voted to legalize same sex marriage. So, now for the first time in our lives, we were living in a state that would legally recognize our union. Huh, well we supposed we should probably get married then.

And so it came to us  with surprise and excitement when, just a few months later, Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize marriage for same sex couples. I listened to almost the entire Senate debate with my stomach in knots, not knowing which way it would go. I cried tears of joy when the votes were tallied and the measure passed. Starting this August, “our Minnesota” would  also provide the legal recognition of our union.

So,  now what? We don’t live in Minnesota, we live in Washington. Do we get married in both states, just to be covered? We’re actually planning a trip to Minnesota at the end of August. Maybe we should just go get married then. But where’s the fan fare?

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June 20, 2008

Here’s the problem: We already got married. No, excuse me, we had a ceremony, a wedding ceremony and a celebration with all of our closest friends and family, back in 2008. We had a minister. We declared our love. We exchanged vows and made a commitment to each other.

While Minnesota didn’t legally recognize it at the time, what mattered to us was that our community recognized us as a couple just as committed as our straight married friends.

Every day since that day, we have considered ourselves married. I changed my last name. We wear our wedding rings. We live the bliss, the good, the bad, and the ugly of married life, just like everyone else.  What would getting legally married now say about our last five years?  Would it make our time together any less important? Does it validate our relationship any more than it was in the eyes of our friends and family, especially the heterosexual ones? And what does it say about our friends who also had wedding ceremonies but don’t live in a marriage equality state? Are our marriages now different?

To make matters more complicated, we never know when we might have to move again. What if we move to another state that is not Minnesota or Washington and does not recognize our marriage? We’d be in no different situation than we are currently. We have a child that my wife had to adopt and another one on the way (any day now!) that will also need to be adopted. We still have pay for our legal documents like our wills and a healthcare directive to ensure we are protected because it’s too scary not to have them.

May 11, 2013

May 11, 2013

I love my wife with my whole heart. She is my soulmate and I would marry her again and again in every state and country if it made a difference. So maybe we will. Our five year anniversary is just a few weeks away. Wouldn’t that be a nice anniversary present? But I’m a planner and I’d want to do it right with a vow renewal or at least a big party. Or, true confession: an excuse to wear my gorgeous wedding dress one more time. But being nine months pregnant means I won’t be fitting into it any time soon, so maybe we do have a little time to plan…

This post is my contribution to  Blogging for LGBT Families Day. Write your own and link it, or read what others have written. Thanks to Mombian for hosting! You can also tweet in support of LGBT families and use the hashtag #lgbtfamilies.

leasesignThis is our third move in three years and with each one I learn something new. Since we were used to being homeowners, the world of renting seemed ambiguous and scary. Here are the top 5 things we’ve learned to check before accepting a rental and signing on the dotted line. Read the rest of this entry »

pouch-raffle_edited-2

Mom, Incorporated is hosting a raffle for a free set of 6 Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches for babies and kids on the go. Enter every day through April 20th.

I’ve been making my son’s baby food and later toddler food from scratch since he first started on solids. It all started when someone gave me a copy of Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food when I was pregnant. I put it away and didn’t think about it again until baby was 6 months old. By this time I was back to work full time and baby was in daycare. Feeling the mom guilt that so many of us have for going back to work, I decided that making his food at home from scratch using only organic ingredients was the best way to compensate for that. Read the rest of this entry »

Today Kate told me I have an eating disorder. I find that amusing because I eat a bagel sandwich a day and probably a pint of ice cream a week. In fact I want both and some pickles right now.

It’s more about how I view my changing body and how my mind resembles the mind of someone afflicted with a disorder. Yes I am almost 30 weeks pregnant, and despite the fact that the scale hasn’t changed in weeks, I feel enormous!

So far I’ve gained much less than I did with my first pregnancy and actually I’m still close to what I weighed when I even started that pregnancy. BUT, and here’s the thing, every time I look in the mirror I see giganta-Annie. My belly feels so huge I am ready to get a wheel barrow to start carrying it around, cartoon style. Read the rest of this entry »

When did finding a place to live become so difficult? I am shocked at how challenging it is to find  a good place to rent here in Seattle. When I was in my 20’s living with roommates in NYC, I moved no less than four times in five years. Each time we had to scour the internet for listings, trying to find those not listed by an agent, set up appointments scheduling with the roommates, and show up ready with a check for at least three months’ rent (first, last, security or first and security plus agent fee). It was a competitive market but it was also New York City and since we were in our twenties you can imagine we needed pretty low rent, which put us in the pool with the majority of real New Yorkers also looking for a place to live. MH900431754

I left New York in 2005 and moved in with my now wife who owned her home in Minneapolis. After we got married, we refinanced the house and put my name on it so I was officially a homeowner, too! When we moved to Florida, we rented a nice home until we eventually sold our Minnesota house and bought a new one. We are grownups and thought grownups owned their homes. Read the rest of this entry »

As frequent transplant to a new city, I’ve had to quickly learn the lay of the land and find activities to do with my toddler.

IMG_4138It took me a year and a half in Florida to get my bearings but by the time we left I felt like I had a great handle on where to go, what to do, and how not to spend on a ton while I’m at it. Of course I had some rookie mistakes along the way but that experience taught me a lot that I was able to use when I moved to my next new city, Seattle.

Now that I’ve been here for just over two months, I’ve accumulated a list of my go-to sources for information on what’s happening and where to go. Here are my favorites (in no particular order): Read the rest of this entry »

MC900434757Why is it so difficult to ask for help? I believe most people want and like to be of help to others. In fact, I know I love it when I can be of service to my friends – yes, you may borrow something of mine; yes, I’d be happy to babysit for you; yes, I could drive you to the airport, no problem. But, what I’m finding is that for some reason, it is much easier to give help than to ask for it when we need it.

Case in point: My spouse travels regularly, sometimes for a full week at a time. It’s very challenging to be pregnant and caring for an almost-three-year old by myself nonstop, day in and day out with no reprieve. I can usually make it about three days just fine on my own then by the evening of the fourth night I’m toast. I’ve had it and I want someone else to make dinner, or to clean up from dinner, or to put him to bed, or something that will allow me a moment to sit down and rest. Read the rest of this entry »

It seems like I just bought the toddler a new pair of sneakers just yesterday. But since we were in Florida where there are no seasons, I really don’t know when it was. Could have been August, could have been December. Read the rest of this entry »

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