Formation

I know I’m a week behind the rest of the world, but in my defense, one of my kids woke up in the middle of the Super Bowl halftime show and I missed Beyonce’s performance. I also hadn’t watched her new music video or heard the song until ten minutes ago so I only had a vague inkling of what all the fuss was about. Now that I HAVE watched it, I’d like to add my two cents to the conversation. Because that’s what this world needs, more opinions. (Especially mine.)

(If you haven’t seen the video or heard the song, you can check it out here, but be advised that the lyrics are explicit and therefore might not be safe for work or appropriate for young children.)

I loved the song, and I loved the video. I know a lot of (white) people didn’t, and that’s okay, I’m used to my musical tastes being disagreed with and even ridiculed. I can’t tell you what the song/video “means” because I’m not the creator. However, I can use the skills I learned in AP English and art criticism classes, and I can listen to what other people (specifically: Black people, the people this song was written for) have said it means to them, and I can offer what I think is a valid interpretation.

I imagine that in 2016, a Black person in America would be tempted to see their race as a liability. I imagine that it’s terrifying to hear story after story of unarmed Black men, women, and children being killed and their murderers walking away without even a slap on the wrist – and to know that could happen to my husband, wife, child, mother, father, sister, brother, friend. I imagine that it would be tempting to hate who I am and what I look like because it puts me in danger.

white-privilege-is

And I imagine that it would be so refreshing to hear this song and hear Beyonce declare proudly that she loves who she is, she loves her features, she loves her family, and she’s not about to apologize for anything about herself that someone might think is “ghetto.” I imagine it would feel so good to sing along with a song that says, “I am who I am and I don’t care what you think,” in a way that is specifically, explicitly, Black. To see my identity as an asset, something to be celebrated, instead of something to be ashamed of.

But for some reason that seems to bother (white) people. Even though decades ago Barbara Mandrell sang “I Was Country (When Country Wasn’t Cool)” and David Allan Coe wrote the N word into the chorus of “If That Ain’t Country.” For some reason it’s okay for white trash to be proud of being white trash, but we don’t want Black people to look like “thugs” (i.e. wear hoodies or saggy jeans, things that middle-class white boys do ALL THE TIME and don’t get, you know, killed for) or wear their hair in braids or dreadlocks or talk about how their lives matter. For some reason America is supposed to accept the Confederate flag as a piece of history, not a symbol of hate, but it’s NOT OKAY to have a Black performance artist dress up as a Black Panther.

stars-and-bars

Do you hear what I’m saying? If not, I’ll simplify it into two words: Double standard.

A complete and totally different issue here is the fact that people flip out over provocative words and images in pop music, forgetting that music is still art and art isn’t always supposed to give us warm fuzzies. Art should challenge us and get under our skin and make us think. Some art will give one person a warm fuzzy and totally piss off another person. Does that mean the artist has done something wrong? No, that means the artist has done something RIGHT. As a white person, yeah, I find it uncomfortable to talk about racism – especially about how it’s still very real and very dangerous in America in 2016. But artists like Beyonce remind me that being uncomfortable is a good thing sometimes. Being uncomfortable means my assumptions about the world are being challenged and that I have an opportunity to learn something. After all, my reality is not the only reality.

For further (better) reading on this subject, I recommend Awesomely Luvvie’s About Writing While Loving Blackness and Hurting White Feelings and Everyone Wanted to Be a Black Girl until Beyonce Dropped Formation at The B3 Chronicles. Both express what Beyonce’s song and video mean to them as Black women. And since Black women are (presumably) Beyonce’s target audience, I’d say that their opinion on the song is ultimately the only one that matters.

Oh, and by the way, this blog is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship. I pay the web host, so I get to decide what comments stay and what goes. So if anyone leaves a comment that I think is in poor taste, I reserve the right to delete it. If you think that’s not fair, please feel free to get your own website (it’s easy! it’s cheap!) and talk about what a jerk I am over there.

From Bah Humbug to Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my dearest friends, and a Happy New Year. If your heart is heavy this holiday season, know that you are not alone. I pray that some magic will find you, somehow, and remind you that you are most definitely not alone.

~~~~

I know I’m not the only one with a complicated relationship with Christmas Spirit. But it wasn’t until this year that I realized, fully, WHY I’ve been such a humbug for so long.

In my twenties, I learned that for church volunteers and staff, Christmastime is often stressful and beautiful. There was a lot of work… a LOT. We often locked up late on cold dark nights and hurried home to start our own celebrations after everyone else was in bed. Some years were particularly difficult due to the complicated relationships within my religious community, but I still have warm memories of cocoa and laughter and twinkling lights. The holiday was a holy day for me.

After college, after I left my church, Christmas became a time of creativity and learning. For a few years I went all out – decorating a giant tree with thousands of little white lights, making ornaments and gifts and cheesecakes and pies, figuring out how to roast a turkey and make real gravy. It was a festive time, and it was incredibly social. I was surrounded by friendship, family, and joy.

Then my father-in-law passed away. Our circle of friends slowly disintegrated. I realized that I had made a mistake in choosing the man I’d married. After a bittersweet last Christmas together, my husband and I split in January 2005. The following holiday season was anything but happy. I was all alone, and VERY lonely.

Since then I’ve had a hard time recovering my holiday spirit. Some years I’d decorate and have fun making gifts. Other years I didn’t. Even after I remarried and had a child, it just seemed like too much work to put up a tree only to have it sabotaged by pets or toddlers. And if we were traveling, forget it! I figured the tree at Grandma’s house was good enough.

garrett-and-gg

Garrett and Great Grandma, Thanksgiving 2011

Then Garrett died days before Thanksgiving 2012, and a few days after Christmas that year we lost Jon’s grandmother. Suddenly Christmas wasn’t just stressful, expensive, complicated – it just plain SUCKED. I could still pull myself together on Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t stomach Christmas. Friends have come over and been shocked that I didn’t have a tree. I blamed it on the pets, I blamed it on being tired or busy or pregnant or whatever. But I think it was more than all that. And it goes back further than losing Garrett. I think the problem is that I couldn’t separate Christmas from God, and my relationship with God right now is rather… TENSE.

Now, if God is real, I have a feeling that he 100% understands where I’m coming from and it does not hurt his feelings one bit if I don’t go to church on Christmas Eve or decorate a tree. I have found that struggling with one’s faith is a lot more shocking to other Christians than it is to Christ, whose own best friends couldn’t get it together most of the time. I believe that God is more concerned with the content of our hearts than any outward demonstration of Christmas spirit, which is probably why I’ve been able to continue making merry at Thanksgiving. At Thanksgiving, there’s so much less pressure to be spiritual or showy. All you have to do is be thankful, and spend time doing the things you love (whether it’s eating, watching football, or shopping) with the people you love.

This year, though, I can’t avoid Christmas. This year, I have a two-and-three-quarters-year-old girl who is OBSESSEDwith Christmas. All she knows about Christmas is that it has something to do with Santa and presents and mystery and being good – but most of all, it’s pretty.

Caitlin-and-Santa

Christmas to Caitlin is glitter and gold and trees and stars and ribbons.

Caitlin-and-tree

It’s cookies and music and costumes and twinkling lights.
cookie

It’s some sort of magic that she doesn’t quite understand.

It’s not religious. It expects nothing of her.

It’s just BEAUTIFUL.

Through her eyes, I remember what it felt like when Christmas was just pure beauty and wonder. When it expected nothing of me.

~~~~

For the first time in a very long time, there’s a Christmas tree in our house. The cats are doing their best to destroy it, but it’s still up and it’s absolutely magical.

And I’ve spent the past few weeks watching and re-watching different versions of A Christmas Carol, which I have long considered not just a triumph of English literature but also a timeless parable about the human condition. It is almost completely non-religious, urging its protagonist to be kind and generous not as an offering to an unseen deity but for his own good and the good of those around him. Human beings are inextricably tied to one another, and no matter how rich or self-sufficient a man is, he still cannot meet all of his needs. Charity is even more necessary for the giver than it is for the recipient.

IMG_6878

Have you seen The Muppet Christmas Carol?It’s actually rather good, in spite of all the singing.

As I get older, I understand Ebenezer Scrooge all the better and realize that I’m more like him than I’d like to admit. I once thought of him as a caricature of greed and selfishness, but I realize now that deep wounds that heal poorly become ugly scars, mistaken for hardness of heart and an inability to celebrate, or love.

As I get older, I hope that I can be more like Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, who for many years forgave his uncle’s abusive rejection.

I hope to be more like Scrooge’s employee, Bob Cratchit, and his family, who treated a meager meal and one day’s vacation like a king’s ransom – because they were together.

I remember that Christmas does, in fact, expect something of me. It expects me to be gentle. It expects me to be humble. It expects me to forgive (myself as much as others). It expects me to remember the joys and pain of years past, and to marvel at the beauty and magic I find in unexpected places.

It expects me to approach it as a child would. How grateful I am to my girl for reminding me what that means.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

~Matthew 18:1-5 NIV

~~~~

Lest you think I’ve forgotten my youngest, here is a picture of John Caleb rocking (literally) his Christmas jammies and Star Wars slipper socks. His only beef with Christmas is that we won’t let him pull the ornaments off of the tree.

JC-Christmas-jammies

And here we are.

I used to have a lot of family pictures hung up all over our living room, then I took a lot of them down, under the guise of, “Oh, I’m going to paint in here soon,” and “I want to buy new frames and put different pictures up.” But that never happened.

I have a digital picture frame that’s 99% Garrett pictures – none of Caitlin or John Caleb, and just a couple of Christopher. About six months ago I unplugged it because I was trying to sleep in the living room with a sick toddler and the light was keeping me awake. But I never plugged it back in. I kept telling myself that I “forgot” or was feeling “lazy.”

Then a couple of weeks ago, I cleaned up my desk in the kitchen and moved the digital picture frame in there. Now that it’s plugged in, I see pictures of Garrett – very nearly every pictures I ever took of him! – every day all day long. And now I realize what I didn’t want to admit to myself or anyone else. It hurts to have pictures of him around. It hurts to see him smile, to remember how sweet he was, to see him playing with his older brother, and to compare what he looked like as an infant to what his little brother looks like now. It physically hurts. I don’t want to forget him, I don’t want to let his memory go, but I also don’t want to hurt like this.

Tomorrow is the fifteenth of April, two years and five months from the day we lost Garrett. He was two years, four months, and 28 days old when he died. So now we have reached the point that I’ve dreaded ever since saying good-bye to my baby: he’s been gone from us longer than he was with us. He’s been in heaven longer than he was on earth. And that breaks my heart.

Every day as I make memories with Caitlin and JC, someone is missing. When I’m caught up in the daily activities and moving forward with life – as I know I should! – it doesn’t hurt so much. I can almost forget. But then I see his face again and I remember and I hurt. I hurt so badly. And I hate that hurt.

I hate it that Caitlin has no idea who Garrett is.

I hate it that someday I will have to explain why he isn’t with us.

I hate that every happy memory I have of my child is colored with sadness because he’s gone.

I hate the awkwardness of explaining to people who don’t know me that I’ve had three babies but I’m only just now learning what it’s like to juggle the needs of two kids. (And yes, I understand that I do not have to explain this to people, but trust me, at times it can’t be avoided and I don’t like to flat out lie to people or tell them it’s none of their business because most people don’t mean to be nosy or hurtful.)

I hate regretting every choice that brought us to the time and place where Garrett was stolen from us.

I just hate it all.

But what I hate most is that we had that sweet, smiley boy for such a short time. The longer he’s gone, the more acutely I feel the loss of him and all that should have been.

garrett-minion-diner

I’m So Happy

This weekend we celebrated Caitlin’s birthday. She’s two years old.

Party Dress and Cheese Puffs

And three months ago we welcomed John Caleb, our perfectly plump “little” guy.

Mommy and Caitlin and JC

There have been moments, over and over again in the past few months, where I’ve been amazed by how happy I am. Just kind of blown away by how very much my life finally looks the way I’ve hoped and dreamed it would.

Following Caitlin into her room while cradling her baby brother against my shoulder.

Driving the two of them to my mother-in-law’s house for the first time after I went back to work.

Getting them both into bed and then sitting down with a glass of wine to watch a movie with my husband.

Leaving work after a productive day and knowing that I get to see my babies soon.

Enjoying a lazy Sunday all four of us together.

All the simple little moments that make life good, you know? Those moments are just – they’re just awesome.

Agnes I'm So Happy!

Awesome. Except —

Except that this was supposed to be my life two years ago. I was supposed to have Garrett and Caitlin. I was supposed to be mom-to-a-toddler-and-newborn already. Instead, I was mom to an only child, and then a grieving mom, and then mom to an only child again. Ever since November 2012, my house has felt cold and empty – even after Caitlin arrived, even as we began to heal.

I didn’t quite realize it until I was about two-thirds of the way through my pregnancy with John Caleb, but part of me believed that I’d never have two children at home. Never be mom to more than one. I was terrified, in a secret part of myself, that something would happen to Caitlin while I carried her baby brother, or that he’d end up miscarried or stillborn. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, tentatively happy, but always looking over my shoulder and startling whenever I thought I saw the specter of death in my peripheral vision.

And now here I am, and we all got through that okay, and I’m just thrilled with my life, and part of me is starting to look around suspiciously, thinking, “any minute now…”

Because right before we lost Garrett, I was happy. Oh my God, I was HAPPY. My husband and I had gone through a rough time when Garrett was just under a year old, and it had taken quite some time for us to work through, but we did it. We got through it and I was so proud of us. I was so glad we hadn’t given up. I felt so unimaginably blessed. Garrett was an absolute joy, and we had so much fun as a family.

Garrett and Lijee Garrett at the diner Garrett coloring

And then I got pregnant and we were all so excited about our family growing. Even Garrett was asking to look at baby pictures all the time, and when I showed him the ultrasound of his baby sister, he held it close to his face and absolutely marveled at it. I know that sounds crazy, but he did! “Baby seeeeestur,” he whispered as he looked at the photo (the black-and-white 2D kind, the kind no one but an ultrasound tech can decipher).

And then we lost him. Or rather, he was stolen from us. And do you know what that kind of loss does to you? Losing someone violently? At the hands of a person you trusted? It’s more than disillusioning. It’s devastating. It is the very best way to define the term – and I apologize for the strong language – “mindfuck.” I mean, I’ve seen plenty of true crime specials and I’ve read Silence of the Lambs. I know there are some sick puppies out there. But when you find out one of them was living next door to you and took your child by the hand, that takes your motherly paranoia right through the roof. And it makes you think that nothing truly beautiful can exist for very long before the cruelty of this world snuffs it out.

I used to look at Garrett and my heart would ache – I would feel physical pain – at the thought of him being made fun of someday on the playground, or picked last in gym class at school. I never, ever thought that he would face something so much scarier.

I never thought that my hope and faith would be obliterated. And I NEVER thought that somehow, in the months and years that followed, that I’d find it again. That I’d be happy. Not just fake-it-til-you-make-it-happy, but really-for-real HAPPY.

But here I am.

I’ve talked about it before – how I do not understand how these things can coexist, gratitude in the midst of unfathomable loss. The way that grief cycles through my heart is painfully unpredictable. I often feel guilty, and cold, and angry, and disgusted, and hopeless. I wonder what is wrong with me. I wonder what is wrong with everyone else. I wonder how I will manage to get through another year, or ten or fifty.

I think, sometimes, that it would be nice just to lie down and give up.

And I think, other times, that there’s not enough time left on this planet to contain everything that I hope to do and see.

I feel all these things.

Everything is true and false and awful and terrible and glorious.

A few days ago I realized that I am happy, and I am scared of that happiness. I’m scared of losing big again. My paranoia has recently seized on the certainty that I will soon die of cancer. (Spoiler alert: I don’t have cancer and I have no signs of symptoms to indicate that I have cancer… But for some reason I imagine myself quite vividly overtaken by tumors.) Or that my husband will go to work on a snowy day and lose control of his truck and die in a ditch filled with ice water. John Caleb didn’t leave our house for his first two months except to go to scheduled doctor’s appointments because I had visions in my head of him getting pertussis and dying before he was due for his first round of shots.

In other words, I’m scared. Something bad might happen. In fact, it’s very likely that something bad WILL happen, given the fact that this world kind of sucks sometimes. (Although it’s quite unlikely that any given worst-case-scenario playing my head head at any moment is THE bad thing that’s going to happen.) But I came to the realization that… if something bad happens… we’ll get through it.

I mean, we can’t avoid tragedy. I’d like to think that losing big once means I’ve paid my dues, but it doesn’t, necessarily. It DOES mean we’ve learned to live again after losing it all.

And that made me feel a little bit better. (Though I’m definitely still crazy and paranoid.) There is something very freeing about accepting that bad things will happen, and we’ll never understand why, but we will, somehow, find a way to survive.

And we will, someday, find a way to smile.

Mommy and JC cuddles Caitlin and Mommy selfie

In Memory of Gavin Michael Brooks

Not Buried Twice

One year ago today, a friend of mine gave birth to her baby boy by emergency C-section. He was born alive but passed away because all of her amniotic fluid was completely gone and all that was in the womb with him was meconium.

Anytime a mom loses her child, it’s sad.

It’s sad whether it’s a car accident or cancer that takes that child, whether he is five years old when he goes or fifty. A mom, regardless of how long she’s had with her child, will still miss him, will still wish she had more time.

But I think there’s something particularly¬†sad about losing a baby, about being cheated out of even a few days or months or years to get to know your child. And there is most definitely something particularly awful about losing a child who did not have to die, whose life was ended before it even began because someone who was trusted to care for that child was careless and negligent.

This is what happened to my friend, Danielle. She was hoping for an all-natural birth at home, so she chose a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) named Christy Collins. Christy seemed like a friendly, knowledgable caregiver, but as Danielle’s pregnancy progressed, she was frustrated by Christy’s responses (or lack thereof) to her questions. She felt ignored and brushed aside. Still, because she had heard great things about home birth, and because she trusted Christy, she continued going to see her.

Danielle’s due date came and went, and at 42 weeks (two weeks overdue – a point at which most doctors would absolutely insist that a pregnant mom be induced or delivered by C-section) she had a few tests to see how the baby was doing. He seemed to be fine, but there was no amniotic fluid.

This is where is gets ugly. 

Christy asked Jan Tritten of Midwifery Today what she should do in this situation, and Jan in turn asked the followers on Midwifery Today’s Facebook page. (Link is to a PDF of screenshots from the conversation. It was later deleted.)

There were a few people who said, “This is very bad. This woman needs to go to the hospital.”

But many did not say that. Many said, “Oh, she’ll be fine.”

And so Christy sent Danielle and her husband home with a Doppler (a device used to listen to a baby’s heartbeat through the mom’s stomach) so they could monitor the baby. She assured them that the all would be well.

The next day, it became clear to Danielle and her husband that their baby was in distress. They rushed to the hospital, where their son Gavin Michael was born and died. What should have been the happiest day of their lives so far – the birth of their first child! – became the worst day of their lives.

And the saddest thing, the most infuriating thing, is that it did not have to happen.

Though none of us can go back in time and see what “might have been,” it is very likely that if Danielle had been induced a few days or a week earlier, her son would be here to celebrate his first birthday, take his first steps, eat cake and ice cream, make friends, and light up his parents’ life.

But he’s not.

He’s not here because someone who claimed to be a birth “professional” asked strangers on the internet for medical advice instead of admitting that she didn’t know what to do and referring Danielle to a doctor.

And after this happened, Christy Collins denied being Danielle’s midwife, and Jan Tritten/Midwifery today deleted all evidence of their involvement in Gavin’s preventable death.

I’m sharing this story today because I want Danielle to know that her son is not forgotten. That people remember him and love him and won’t let his memory – and what it means – be buried. Gavin Michael’s story should be told, so that people know that home birth midwives in America are not regulated, many are completely clueless about how to handle common birth complications, and many are encouraging parents to make dangerous decisions about their children’s care. And as a result, children are dying.

If you are considering home birth, please think twice. Actually, think long and hard about it. The person you are trusting with your life and your child’s may not be as qualified as you think. They may let you down when you are at your most vulnerable, and as a result, you may end up saying hello and good-bye to your child in the same breath.

Gavin’s story, told by his parents Danielle and Michael:


This blog post has more on Jan Tritten’s involvement in Gavin’s death.

More stories of home birth loss.

More information on what makes home birth in the USA so dangerous, and how the home birth movement ignores and covers up the preventable deaths of children like Gavin:


Please share Gavin’s story.

Please don’t let him be buried twice.

In Light of Gavin Michael

Another Year Gone

This time last year, I could only think about this time the year before. As November 14, 15, and 16 approached (the day that Garrett was injured, the day he was declared brain dead, and the day that we said good-bye to him before he was taken into organ donation surgery) all I could think about was what I had been doing at that moment a year before. The days leading up to Garrett’s death, I thought bitterly about how I had no idea how things were about to change. The danger he was in. The pain he was suffering. The way he’d be stolen from us. I replayed my regret over and over again.

I still hate the fact that there is no saving my baby. I’m still angry at myself and the woman who murdered Garrett. And sometimes I’m angry at God. Amazingly, though, this weekend snuck up on me a bit because I’ve been very busy living my life – being a wife and a mom and a person with normal life-type-things going on, like buying Christmas presents and stressing about work projects and playing games on my phone in bed when I should be asleep already.

On the one hand, I feel like I should feel guilty for not spending weeks obsessing about today.

On the other hand, I am very grateful. I am breathing a sigh of relief.

Because those three terrible days in November of 2012, I honestly wondered how I was going to live, and I am grateful to find myself alive now, two years later. Alive and happy, surviving and thriving.

In the months following Garrett’s death, I had no idea how I was going to go on. I just knew that I had to. We had to – my husband and I and our family, everyone who said good-bye to someone incredibly special when Garrett went to heaven. I believed that we’d find a way forward.

And somehow, we did.

It helps, this year, that I’m preparing for the birth of Garrett’s baby brother, who is due in less than three weeks. I have something very specific to look forward to, and something very specific to occupy my time. (You know, like complain about how fat I am while I am eating ice cream. Or complain about how tired I am after getting up from a nap. Or cry because I’m offended for no reason or go back to Target again for the 36th essential item that I just remembered I must have before going into labor.)

But aside from being busy or distracted, I feel that a lot of healing has happened in the past year, because I am able to recall Garrett’s last days and not be swallowed with regret. Instead I marvel that we all, some way, some how, lived through it. I had no idea how we possibly could survive such dark days, but I believed we could, and we did.

A lot of people, every day, have to face the thing they fear the most, or something they never imagined could happen to their family. A few of my friends have entered those dark days recently, and my heart breaks for them. But my heart also has hope for them, that they will find that joy lives on the other side. I have no idea how, I cannot draw them a map, because I’m not 100 percent sure how I found my way through.

All I know – all I can say – is that someday you will wake up and will have a thought about something besides your loss. You’ll think a dozen things, in fact, and maybe even laugh a bit and feel pretty good about life, before you remember the hole in your heart. If you are tempted to feel guilty for that, don’t spend a second giving into that guilt.

Instead, be glad. Be healed, a little, and expect more. You’re still wounded, you’re still grieving, but you are doing grief right by finding your way, slowly, through the darkness back to joy.

Garrett-sleeping-Nov-2012

I miss you every day, sweet boy. We all do. Thanks for being so awesome.
Thanks for living in our hearts forever.

What Pregnant Women Want

So my my post on Friday drew the highest number of visitors this website has ever seen. I mean, my biggest day is still pathetic compared to some bloggers’ slowest days, but still: most blog traffic OF ALL TIME.

Kanye "Of. All. Time."

Say it with Kanye: “Of. All. Time.”

I mean, I even got tweeted from Dr. Amy! (In spite of the fact that I said she was sort of mean. She’s very forgiving like that, I guess.) I am adding this to my list of brushes-with-blogging-celebrities, which right now is populated mostly by Catholic mommy bloggers who occasionally respond to my stalker missives email correspondence.

And it got retweeted FOUR TIMES! Look out, y’all, I am taking over the internet with my blogaliciousness.

Anyway, whenever I get a spike in traffic, I always feel like I should write something halfway interesting within the next day or two so that all the people who randomly found me won’t think that I’m someone who only updates her blog every couple of months with totally inane content… um, which I am. But then I am seized with performance anxiety, as per the usual, and I can’t think of anything interesting to write about and I started seventeen different drafts of really stupid posts and then I just give up and listen to the mean voices inside my head that say I suck at writing and ought to just eat some ice cream to make it all better.

But then! Last night my sister sent me this awesome infographic about what pregnant women in different countries Google about:

Googling While Expecting - nytimes.com

I assume she sent it because I am pregnant and have a degree from Google University. The related article, “What Do Pregnant Women Want?” is slightly dry dissection of the cultural differences in pregnancy worries across the world (with the bonus, slightly disturbing revelation that lactation kink is a big deal in India). It got me thinking about the different things I’ve Googled while expecting (biggest concerns: sushi, Paxil, and scooping the cat’s litter box).

But let’s be honest – what pregnant women want is a kind of different from what they’re worried about when they’re pregnant – i.e., what they’re going to look for on the net and in the expert’s books.

So, in case you’re wondering, here is my totally unscientific but maybe-probably-not-helpful list of things that pregnant women want, based on my experience and the things I’ve heard knocked up friends ask for and complain about. If your heartful desires are not represented on this list, I apologize. Leave a comment with a suggestion and our editorial team (i.e., the voices in my head and a half-gallon of ice cream) will consider adding it to the list.

What Pregnant Women Want

  1. We want ALL THE FOOD. We want some Chinese take-out, and pizza, and chips and salsa, and maybe some ice cream and thirteen Twinkies for good measure. And Coca-cola and a peanut butter smoothie. And cookies and a tuna fish sandwich.
  2. We want NO FOOD. We never want to eat again because everything is disgusting. Also, don’t eat in front of us. Ever. Especially Chinese take-out or a tuna fish sandwich.
  3. Please excuse us while we go barf.
  4. And while we pee. Again.
  5. Please don’t touch us. Actually, strike the “please.” JUST DON’T TOUCH US. At all. I don’t care how well you know a pregnant woman, it’s not appropriate to rub her belly unless she specifically says, “Hey, the baby’s moving! Want to feel?”

    And if you’re the kind of person who touches a pregnant stranger’s belly? Then you have serious boundary issues. (This has never happened to me, but apparently it’s much more common than people NOT raised by wolves would imagine.)
  6. We want to sleep. Ever hour of the day is an appropriate time for a nap. Even the middle of the work day, while we’re sitting on a toilet, leaning against the bathroom wall.

    Not that I’ve ever done that. *ahem*
  7. Except we CAN’T sleep. Because we have reflux and our back hurts and we have to pee every thirteen seconds. And everything is annoying – including the streetlights shining in through our bedroom window and how loudly the fat cat snores.
  8. Excuse me while I Google “okay to take sleep aids when pregnant?”
  9. We want to learn everything there is to know about pregnancy and babies! Until it gets too science-y or gross or scary or boring or all seven. Then we just want to look at nursery ideas on Pinterest.
  10. We want at least one edgy outfit for our kid to prove that we’re still hip and cool even though we’ve decided to procreate:

    sofa-king-cute

  11. Also, just stop already with your clever commentary on our reproductive choices. Like, “Don’t you know what causes that?” or “Don’t you have a TV?” or “It’s about time!” or “Isn’t it amazing how I can keep talking with my foot in my mouth?” or “Can you believe I say these things out loud and in public? Clearly my parents raised an idiot!”
  12. Related: The following things are never appropriate to say to a pregnant woman:
    “Wow, you’re only ____ months along? Are you sure you’re not having twins?” or “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” I mean, you COULD say them, but you could also fill your pockets with chicken necks and go swimming in the Louisiana swap. Either way: you’re not very smart.
  13. For the love of Shirley Temple, please refrain from giving a pregnant woman medical advice unless you actually ha
    ve a degree in medicine.
    And no, it doesn’t matter how many hours you’ve spent on WebMD, a fact which sorely disappointed me.
  14. Pregnant women want clothes. Not in a vain, I’m such a fashionista I’m obsessed with the latest styles and colors kind of way. No, in a totally essential I can’t leave the house naked but all of a sudden out of nowhere nothing freaking fits kind of way. We’d like shirts that are neither tents nor navel-baring crop tops. We want maternity jeans that are flattering to more than one body type (and that one body type being Heidi Klum). And we want things to be reasonably priced so that we don’t feel bad paying retail for something we’re realistically only going to wear for three months. And is it possible that they could be well-made because we’re probably going to wear certain items every other day and wash them twice a week and we’d like for them not to fall apart in the three month timeframe that we need them.
  15. We would like a hug. And to be taken seriously when we’re crying over something stupid. Because yeah, we’re hormonal and unreasonable and we know that but we hate being reminded by everyone else who doesn’t have a parasite that’s turned them into a whining drama queen that can’t stop sweating.
  16. We would like for the evening news to stop airing stories about child abuse and random school shootings because we’re not allowed to take the good anti-anxiety drugs while we’re knocked up, and we are prone to very vivid nightmares at this particular point in our lives.
  17. We’d also like it if everyone stopped sharing their horrific birth stories or talking about how their second cousin’s sister-in-law who did ____ that we are doing RIGHT NOW and then had a miscarriage.
  18. We’d also like for everyone to stop telling us to get rid of our beloved pet because of some old wive’s tale about cats stealing a baby’s breath. That’s honestly *so* 1936 that I’m kind of embarrassed for you.
  19. And lastly, we would like for you to be happy for us and encourage us. We might be feeling totally freaked out about becoming a mom for the first (or fifth) time. We might be worried about finances or the baby’s health or where on earth we’re going to get the money for daycare or how we’ll fit another person into our cramped house. We may not think we’re doing a very good job being mom to the kids we already have, or we might think we’re too young or too old or too crabby or too spacey to be a decent parent. So please, have faith in us. Encourage us. Tell us we’re going to do great, and that you’ll be there to help however you can, because then we’ll start believing in ourselves, and we’ll know we’re not as alone as we feel sometimes.