Uncategorized

My partner and I are fighting all the time. Can the baby hear us? Are we emotionally scarring them?

Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood

When I was pregnant, I wrapped a blanket around my stomach when Eric and I argued, figuring this would protect Hudson from our un-perfect relationship. I soon discovered I didn’t need to be as worried about what our son heard in utero as about the stress hormones he was exposed to. And before we all get stressed about being stressed, know that it’s impossible to have a completely stress-free pregnancy, where only rainbows and unicorn smiles pass through the placenta — stressor hormones are a normal part of life. But regularly elevated levels of said hormones don’t have to be.

So why do so many women experience elevated stress during pregnancy? As this Q&A implies, tension with a partner can be a big factor. As your body and many aspects of your life (and your partner’s) change — or prepare for change — it’s common to argue about finances, shifting priorities, intimacy, wet towels on the floor (oh wait, that’s always), and so much more. For many, our partner is our rock — our numero uno for emotional and physical support. So when it feels like they’re our adversary, we can crack.

When I was in my second trimester and Eric was in the throes of graduate school, he had a meltdown one evening while I was partaking in a joyful perineal tissue massage. He started sighing really loudly, which is usually my cue to say, “What’s wrong?” But I didn’t — I was focused on stretching out my vagina so a head could fit through it. His sighs turned to grunts, and I snapped. “Just say what’s bothering you!” I barked from the bathroom. And then it happened. He erupted in tears, complaints, and infuriating raised eyebrows. The pressure of school, working full time, and having parenthood looming in his near future was too much. He didn’t think he could do it, and he was terrified.

Usually, I would see this as a cry for help and let him vent as I fur- rowed my own brows and nodded. But not this time. I was pregnant, and he wasn’t. In that moment I believed he was just trying to make my life harder — that he was implying pregnancy was more difficult for him. I went off. We yelled, cried, and blamed…then he left .It was the worst fight we’d ever had, and I was a puddle. I convinced myself that he was never coming back, and that Hudson and I would have to forge ahead alone. I was shaking, and Hudson was going crazy in my uterus.

Something had to change. While Eric and I would obviously argue again, I had to make a plan for keeping things civil. My body and baby were giving me clear signals that what had just happened was toxic for all.

After Eric and I reconciled, I made a list of how to avoid that toxicity in the future —you’ll find it in the “What to do” section. I also researched the effects of high levels of stress on a fetus. It’s not great. When a pregnant woman is regularly in “fight or flight” mode, cortisol, adrenaline, epinephrine, and other stressor hormones flood the body. According to a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, a fetus’s exposure to these hormones could potentially cause symptoms of anxiety, depression, and increased stress reactivity later in life. In addition, a study published in Women & Birth found that maternal stress could increase the risk for preterm birth. The final study I’ll drop, published in Obstetric Medicine, reported that prenatal stress could result in low birth weight and impact the child’s learning and memory. For mama, high levels of stress can lead to anxiety or depression, headaches, nausea, cramping, digestive issues, and sleep issues.

When I read about these risks I was overcome with guilt, certain that my blowout with Eric had led to irreparable baby-damage. But hold up. While studies like this can be frightening, they’re not saying our babies are doomed to a challenging life just because we’re occasionally stressed. After I chilled, I saw the potential risks as encouragement to do everything I could to limit my stress, work that list I made, and remember that while prenatal stress isn’t dire, it should be avoided as much as possible. So how do we do that? We do that by empowering ourselves to take back some control over our stress levels and creating a more harmonious relation- ship with our partners.

Note: If the fighting you’re experiencing contains even a thread of emotional or physical abuse, seek support. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) offers guidance and referrals for women who are experiencing domestic abuse or wondering whether certain aspects of their relationship are unhealthy. It’s best to seek help now. As much as we want the birth of a baby to heal a deeply fractured relation- ship, it often does the opposite. You and your baby deserve an environment of emotional and physical safety and support.

What to do

Make a list of everything that stresses you out. When you get to how your partner stresses you out, be really specific about the topics you often argue about and the triggers you both have. This exercise takes the mystery out of your relationship stress and gives you a jumping-off point for resolution and eventual maintenance. With your list in hand, try out the following argument- and stress-reduction tools.

Pause. When you feel your anger sparked, resist the urge to vent. In- stead, take a pause. Go to a private space, take ten deep breaths, and look at what’s going on. Is your partner being a total jerk, or are you just reading into what they’re saying? Are they doing something that requires a talk, or can you let it go because your reaction’s coming from something else that’s going on with you? Take a hot second before you pounce on the opportunity to argue. (I used to be so bad at this.) This feels super awkward the first few times you do it, and if your partner’s not used to it, they may respond by trying to get you to react immediately. But if you stick with it, you can likely keep those stress levels in check and avoid unneeded disputes.

  • Fill your partner in on what it’s like to be pregnant. So many of the fights I had with Eric revolved around him not getting what I was going through. I thought he should just know what it’s like to have cankles that feel like they’ve been injected with Play-Doh, to feel bullied by the constant shifts of the hormones responsible for regulating my emotions, to be freaked by the idea of pushing a human out of my vagina. But he didn’t just know. So finally I told him. Do the same with your person. Tell them the nitty-gritty of what you’re experiencing, and then get specific about how they can help. Remind them that this is an incredibly tender time for you, and you’re going to need a lot of slack to be cut.
  • Give compliment sandwiches. Partners can be irritating and sometimes incredibly hurtful, which means there will be times when you need to speak up. And because all humans have sensitive egos (even those who swear otherwise) you can avoid critique-backlash by using the trusty compliment sandwich. Here’s one I remember recycling often when Hudson was a baby: “Hey babe. I love your dedication to surfing — it’s awesome to see how happy you are afterwards. While I definitely want you to keep having time to do that, it would be great if you could shorten the surf sessions. Maybe you could try to be back in two hours instead of three? Hudson and I really love having you around and it would be amazing to see more of you on your days off.” Kind of cheesy, but it usually worked. The times I forgot about this sandwiching technique and threw out, “It’s selfish and ridiculous how long you spend surfing!” he would usually peace out for even longer, and then we would fight. #SayYesToTheSandwich
  • Practice gratitude maintenance. The longer we’re paired with another human, the easier it is to see their annoying qualities and the harder it is to see their lovely ones. This natural phenomenon breeds contempt.

One of the quickest ways to replace contempt with appreciation is for you and your partner to make a list of ten things you appreciate about one another. It can be really specific, like, “I love the way you make a smoothie” or “You’re really skilled with your tongue” (never hurts to throw in some kinky gratitude!). When you have your lists, read them to each other. Don’t follow this up with lists of the things you don’t appreciate — just sit in the space of gratitude for a few minutes. Whenever you feel the contempt creeping back in, repeat the exercise. Give hugs. It’s really hard to hold on to stress and be mad at someone you love when you’re engaging in a long, warm hug. While it’s beautiful to embrace after you’ve resolved a conflict, you can also do some- thing wild and initiate the hug mid-argument. If you feel yourself spinning out or notice an argument is becoming unproductive, step forward, ask your partner if you can hug them, and then do it. Make it a long one. Hold the embrace until you feel them soften. This can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to hit the reset button.

Regarding the other life-stuff that stresses you out, try the following when the going gets gruff:

  • Sing. Music helps control cortisol levels. So when you feel stress escalating, turn on your favorite jam and belt it out.
  • Decompress. Even when all seems merry and bright, pregnancy hormones can dump a load of stress on you. When this happens, wind down from the tension by meditating, taking a warm bath, getting a prenatal massage or acupuncture, listening to good old Enya, or doing anything else that helps your mind and body release.

And finally, ask your partner to do any or all of the above. As much as we try to shield ourselves from our partner’s moods, they still impact us. So getting your person to utilize some of the same argument-soothers and stress-relievers you’re trying can help you both land in emotional equilibrium.

Uncategorized

Why do I think my partner is the most irritating person in the world? How can I start liking them again?

Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood

Don’t tell my husband, but I was pissed he didn’t have to live off saltines for three months, didn’t have an always-aching groin, and didn’t have to do the whole push-a-baby-out thing. Pissed. I felt enraged by the injustice of his simply having to contribute sperm. Beyond that, just about every- thing else he did irritated me. Left a drop of pee on the toilet seat . . . Aargh! Didn’t shut the silverware drawer all the way…Why, I oughta! Didn’t get the right kind of ice cream…I won’t even go there. There was a lot of rage. But I never talked about it. I didn’t want to be seen as the irrational pregnant woman who stirred up conflict for no reason. But it turns out there was a reason.

When we’re pregnant, our bodies flood with a confused cocktail of estrogen and progesterone that can make our emotions range from crying over a Hallmark card to wanting to pop the tires of that guy who cut in front of us at the grocery store — all within a sixty-second span. It’s a lot. And we shouldn’t feel wrong, or out of control, for having this cacophony of feels — it’s all part of the journey.

Because your partner is likely the person you feel emotionally safest with, they get the brunt of the more unpleasant emotions stirred up by those hormones. But those emotions aren’t always the hormones talking — sometimes our partners are just really freaking irritating.

A potential cause for this irritating behavior is the changes your partner is going through. Both of you are navigating a massive shift — a rite of passage our culture doesn’t appropriately acknowledge or support. Men are often especially inept at processing this change because most of them were raised to believe they should manage their emotions on their own. And then society tells them they shouldn’t complain because they’re not the one growing a baby (something I’ve been guilty of saying to my husband). Sometimes men aren’t even aware of how impending fatherhood is molding their behavior — they don’t see how their fears over losing their autonomy or masculinity are making them extra selfish and annoying. Their subconscious mind might be saying, “I will not bend to parenthood. I will still be me. Here look, I’ll show you!” (Cue the annoying behavior.)

I speak from experience when I tell you that this mix of hormones in us and aggravating behavior in our partners can make us feel rage…

and fear…and sadness…and more rage. While you have every right to feel these feelings, I’ll also take a wild guess and bet it doesn’t feel great to always feel like you and your significant other are on opposing teams. During this time, more than any other phase of life, we crave companion- ship and harmony. So it can be frustrating when our emotions offer up the recipe for the total opposite.

What to do

First off, let yourself feel the emotions. When irritation pops up, resist the urge to talk yourself out of it or ignore it. Go to a private space where you won’t be tempted to unleash that irritation on your partner, then let your- self go. Talk smack about them in the mirror, stomp your feet, do a silent scream. Then count to ninety. People much smarter than me have found it takes any emotion ninety seconds to pass through the mind and body… if we do nothing to shut it down. So let it flow. Then…

  • Take a few moments to examine what just happened. Look at what triggered you. In the case of your partner pissing you off, determine whether the offending action is something they do repeatedly that you would really like them to stop doing — like if they said something that was offensive and that warrants an apology — or is something that really wasn’t a big deal and can be let go of. Because you’ve re- leased the emotions around the event, you’re able to make a more logical, objective decision about how to move forward. The gist: give yourself alone time when your partner makes you steam.
  • Check in with your partner once a week. When you’re both well rested, not distracted, and in a good head space, sit down for a talk about how you’re both feeling. Before you begin, lay some communication ground rules — for example, avoid name calling, don’t cut off the other mid-sentence, and be dedicated to finding solutions and common ground instead of trying to prove that you’re right. Airing your feelings on a regular basis can keep you from feeling like a pow- der keg, and it will help you feel more heard and connected — all things that will make your partner seem way less irritating.
  • Assign parenting tasks. During one of those weekly check-ins, break down the impending parenting responsibilities and decide who will tackle what. Because a hunk of the stress you and your partner are feeling probably stems from all the unknowns of parenthood, this planning session can be a surprisingly effective salve, helping you get clear on what to expect from parent-life.

To start, make a list of everything that needs to be done when you have a baby (e.g., diaper changes, feeding, cooking meals, taking out the trash, washing dishes, doing laundry, setting up health insurance for baby, paying the bills, researching childcare, etc.).

Then, go through each item and discuss who will take responsibility for it. If you decide to share responsibility for a certain task, break down what that will look like. Make sure to write down your decisions so there’s no confusion when your brains are eventually possessed by parenthood and no sleep.

In addition, make sure your name isn’t next to 75 percent of the tasks. Women often have to put in double the work to be seen as an equal contributor. That’s a BS social dynamic we need to change. Split the tasks evenly because you deserve equality in your home just as much as you deserve it at work…and everywhere.

Uncategorized

Why Won’t People Talk to Me About More Than Baby Stuff?!

Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood

I’m really sick of everyone talking to me only about pregnancy, childbirth, and babies. How can I still have conversations about other aspects of my life and be seen as more than a pregnant woman?

Talk about an identity shift, right?! One day you’re viewed as a woman unique for her special sauce of personality traits, talents, and interests, then the next day your belly is blooming and most people lump you into the pregnancy/mommy crew, assuming you just want to talk about labor positions and the merits of cloth diapers over disposables. It’s frustrating. And sometimes it’s identity crisis–inducing. Most women already have that little voice, constantly worrying about how they’ll change as they wander into motherhood, so it’s understandable that they freak when folks seem to stop perceiving them as dynamic individuals and see only the generic “mom.” (I don’t care who you are, you’re not a generic mom — you’re a badass individual.)

But before we start ragging on those nameless folks, it’s important to note that most people don’t actually think of you as a generic mom; they are simply latching on to something about you they can relate to. More than almost anything, humans want to connect and feel understood, so when we see someone showing visible signs of something we have experience with, we want to talk about that thing. I’ll bet that if people find out you’re an architect (for example), and they have a passion for design, they’ll happily shift the conversation.

It’s also common for women to feel guilty about not wanting to always talk about pregnancy, birth, and the mama-hood when they’re in the thick of those experiences. Some feel like it’s a betrayal of the baby to be irked when someone asks yet again whether you’re planning on having a vaginal birth. But let it really sink in: you have every right to feel like you’re more than a vessel for new life — because you absolutely are. You are a well- rounded woman who will be a better mother because you are committed to holding on to the things that make you feel like you. A dedication to the nourishment of your whole self will teach your child that they also deserve a life in which their personal interests and needs matter.

What to do

When someone starts chatting you up about everything your belly makes them think of and you’re not feeling the mommy-talk, try one of the following:

  • Come up with a go-to question or response for changing the subject. For example, you can describe how pregnancy is impacting your career, or how you’re concerned motherhood will change your interests. This will hopefully inspire the other person to start talking about similar experiences, allowing you to learn what their interests are and giving you golden material for a new topic of conversation. “Oh wow, so you worked in the circus before you became a parent? Did you know the bearded lady?”
  • Straight-up tell them you don’t feel like talking about birth or babies. “You know what? I’m usually so down to talk baby stuff, but I feel like that’s all I’ve been going on about lately. Can we talk about something else? Maybe some Bachelor Nation gossip?”

Besides navigating tricky conversations, it’s also good to remind yourself that you have many fascinating layers. So add the following to your to-do list:

  • Commit to putting yourself in situations that stimulate your favorite parts of who you are. For example, taking a class or joining a club that’s devoted to one of your interests will allow you to hang with people who are probably more interested in the activity or topic you’re there to explore than in what’s going on in your uterus. And spending time with colleagues can help you connect to the side of you that’s passionate about your career, as it’s easy to find not-baby-related common ground with these people.
  • Nurture your dynamic layers after birth. When baby is born, you can hold on to parts of your pre-pregnancy identity by making a plan with your support team for engaging in the activities you love. For example, maybe you’ll schedule your mom to watch baby for an hour every other day so you can work on a passion project.

Something I found so amazing about motherhood was that after I got through the first few months of postpartum chaos, I was filled with inspiration. I started writing the book proposal for Feng Shui Mommy, crafting and pitching a TV show I’m now so grateful never graced the small screen, and volunteering for a cancer resource center. It was like my newfound purpose as a mother awakened all these other sources of purpose. And I’m not unique. Most moms I know began their most exciting endeavors soon after having a baby. I’m not telling you this to make you feel like you need to change the world while you’re still trying to figure out how to get your boobs to stop leaking. I just want you to feel hopeful that your best self and life might be yet to come.

Get your copy now.

Uncategorized

Asking for a Pregnant Friend – Intro

Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood

Hey, mama. I see you. I see the questions you push away in embarrassment at your prenatal appointments. I see the wariness you feel over the bombardment of emotions you’ve been navigating as your belly blooms. I see the dark thoughts you have about motherhood. I see you doing everything you can to lead a healthy, happy, and informed pregnancy but still feeling confused, like there’s a big chunk of information and support missing from the sea of guidance on pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood. I see you wondering if you’re the only one who feels this way.

I see you because I am you. When I was pregnant with my son Hudson, there were so many deep, murky layers of the baby-making journey I found perplexing and, in many ways, shame-inducing. This confusion and shame stuck because I didn’t think I could talk to anyone about what I was experiencing. I felt like I was hiding. Hiding my insatiable lust. Hiding my kinky dreams. Hiding my swollen labia (you’re welcome, world). Hiding my “Should I have gotten an abortion?” question. On the outside I looked like a bloated, fairly content, baby-grower with shiny hair. On the inside, I had pulled out all that shiny hair and was cowering in a corner while judgy fingers pointed at me.

To soothe my fried nerves and scrambled brain, I tried to secretly find candid answers to my questions, especially those society has labeled taboo.

(I also developed a “Clear Browsing History” obsession.) I thought that if I could just find an online resource or book that named what I was feeling and told me it was normal, I might stop feeling like I was broken. But I didn’t find it. I found only watered-down answers to the G-rated cousins of my questions, and lots of books that told me how to glow during pregnancy, not die during childbirth, and breastfeed during motherhood. Sure, they were helpful, but they weren’t what I was looking for. And so my pregnant brain logically assumed everyone else just magically knows about the super strange physical changes of pregnancy, that no one else has morbid, scary thoughts about childbirth, and that all the other ladies have the whole postpartum sex thing figured out.

I didn’t discover how wrong I was until I started teaching childbirth preparation classes and my clients pulled me aside to ask questions. Their questions were my questions, and I was thrilled. I wasn’t alone! I wasn’t broken. Hearing other women name many of the unspeakable queries I had on my journey into motherhood emboldened me to start asking physicians and mental health specialists these questions. The answers I received were fascinating and liberating. Turns out there were totally legit reasons for every thought, physical phenomenon, and emotion that had made me feel different or unfit for motherhood. I started adding this in- formation to my classes, and the response has been awesome. When I talk about how orgasms during pregnancy won’t hurt the baby, or what all the weird smells from all the places mean, women light up (and men often blush and shuffle off to the bathroom). They’re getting answers to the questions they were praying someone else would ask. But the coolest part is, my bringing up these topics often gives them the confidence to share their experiences with said topics. We get into some really interesting con- versations.

These moments of sharing and connection in my classes caused me to become That Lady at dinner parties, conferences, back-to-school nights, and heck, pretty much every other social situation, who asks unsuspecting women about all the stuff they never thought they could talk about during pregnancy and beyond. Sometimes people slowly back away, but most of the time they open up.

I’ve learned that we’re part of a massive secret society. There are thousands of us slipping away from prying eyes to scan chat rooms and forums, flip through books, and make our fingers numb with Google searches as we look for answers to the same things you came to this book wondering about — maps to the same paths you’re wandering. But I don’t want you to feel like tracking down answers is a full-time job. I want you to have all the answers in one place, from a friendly, accurate source. I also want those answers to come from a friend who would never judge or make you feel like a weirdo for asking that “TMI” question.

So… can we be friends? Can I be the person who never judges you and is always up for talking about sex, smells, scary thoughts, feeling like you want to lock your partner out of the house, and all the other stuff we deal with as we make, birth, and nurture babies?

It’s my hope that during this friendship you will be freed from many of the barriers to a joy-filled journey into motherhood. I also hope that this friendship will bolster your confidence so that you can begin speak- ing more freely about the “underbelly” of your motherhood experiences IRL. And I hope you start finding women you trust and talking with them about the things they’re also worrying about or confused by. But hey, even if you just talk to this book, I hope the experience fills you with relief, and compassion for your amazing self, who is doing the best she can.

Where Did These Questions Come From?

These questions have been sourced from women just like you over the past five years. Even when I wasn’t aware that I was collecting these questions, I was collecting these questions. They’ve come in whispers after childbirth classes, from girlfriends who look over their shoulder at the cafe to make sure no one is listening, or from my YouTube viewers and social media buddies who email their questions because they don’t want them seen on public forums. And when the idea for the book was sparked, I began asking everyone who would talk to me what their hidden questions were during the wild entry into motherhood. People talked, fascinating discus- sions were had, and juicy questions emerged.

Why Are These Questions So Embarrassing?

The questions are embarrassing because they require that we come to terms with the fact that we don’t have it all together, they force us to develop a new relationship with our bodies and sexuality, and they often uncover emotional or mental challenges. This is big stuff. It’s stuff we innately shy away from because it’s usually really uncomfortable to take an honest look at who we are and how pregnancy and motherhood are changing us. Sometimes we shy away from these questions so fiercely we don’t even know they’re our questions until we see or hear them.

But the beauty of shared questions and experiences is that they often wipe away the grime of embarrassment. Think about it: If you’re walking down the street and you trip in front of a group of people, you’re probably going to feel embarrassed. But if another person trips just as you’re getting up, much of that embarrassment will dissolve because, hey look, you’re not the only one who trips! It’s all good! That’s what this book is, all us ladies tripping through pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood together, then helping one another up.

Who Is Answering These Questions?

Mostly me: Bailey Gaddis. I’m a mother, the author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood, a childbirth preparation educator, birth and postpartum doula, and certified hypnotherapist. As I answered the 101 questions in this book, I also drew on the experience of midwives, OB-GYNs, and doulas I’ve worked with over the years, and my lady buddy, Meghan Rudd Van Alstine, PhD, who is a licensed psychologist. Insights from peer-reviewed studies were also a big piece of the puzzle. I bundled all this wisdom together into a book of science, intuition, and experience-based guidance for ladies who are ready to be liberated from those taboo curiosities and crippling fears that keep them up at night.

So here they are, the juicy and totally legit things a woman would only ask that treasured friend who never, ever judges. The questions some women get brave enough to ask online but are then flayed by trolls about and never ask again. Welcome to the first step in leading a shame-free and super empowered journey into motherhood.

Pregnancy, Uncategorized

What to Do If You Don’t Like Your Pregnant Body

Discover how to release guilt about not loving your pregnant body, and how you can start feeling good about your shifting appearance.

Email me at BaileyGaddis@yahoo.com if you have any questions about pregnancy, childbirth or early motherhood that you would like answered on this channel 🙂

If you would like more information about these topics, check out Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood

Parenting, Uncategorized

Guest Post: Essential Equipment for Disabled Moms and Dads

By: Ashley Taylor of DisabledParents.org

Parenthood is a blessing and a responsibility, a profound lifestyle change that places a premium on self-sacrifice and preparedness. For disabled individuals, preparing to care for a child means preparing your lives for a new routine, a new home environment, and sourcing sometimes difficult-to-find equipment that helps make an often-demanding job a little easier to handle.

If you’re a disabled parent, focus on making sure your home is readily accessible, safe for you and your child, and has the parenting equipment you need. If your home just isn’t up to the challenge, you should be prepared to research houses that suit your budget and physical needs.

You can research home prices for your area in the comfort of your living room, and find the best deal to accommodate the needs of yourself and your growing family.

Safety Above All

Every modification you make should be done with safety in mind, first and foremost. Be sure that all heavy furniture is firmly anchored to the wall, have safety gates installed in all stairways, and add special cupboard locks at floor level. Some of these precautions may seem a little premature for a family just bringing home a newborn, but getting used to a fully kid-proofed home is good practice for everyone.

If you or your spouse is in a wheelchair, add threshold ramps between rooms to ensure there’s no obstacle that might prevent you from reaching your child quickly. Hallways should be at least 36 inches across and doorways a minimum of 32 inches wide (add expandable hinges to create easier access).

Pay special attention to the bathroom, one of the most dangerous rooms in the house where more falls take place on average than in any other part of the home. Grab rails should be installed in the bathtub and in the wall next to the toilet. Slips can also be prevented with skid-resistant flooring strategically placed around the sink, tub and toilet.

The Right Stuff

A well-modified home is an important part of preparing to be an excellent parent. The other part is having the right tools on hand, preferably ones specially designed to make parenting with a disability as easy as possible. Someone with a physical disability is apt to experience difficulty dealing with a traditional crib or getting a child in and out of a car safety seat, a demanding task for any new parent. This is another area where diligent online research can pay dividends.

For example, side-entry cribs are available, but finding one that’s right for you may take a little work. Swiveling child safety seats are a bit easier to find but no less helpful when it comes to easy accessibility and convenience. Being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t take your child for a walk in a stroller. A careful application of velcro connecting the stroller handle to your wheelchair allows you and your child to enjoy the fresh air together whenever you like.

Self-care

Even the most effective home modifications won’t keep you from getting tired and feeling worn down periodically. Disabled parents require enough down time to recharge their batteries and enjoy some R and R. Prioritize your own free time so you have enough to set aside for yourself. Be prepared to say “no” at work and with acquaintances when you need a little “you” time.

Your time should include activities and a self-care routine that’s yours and yours alone, and these should be kept sacrosanct to make sure they take place. Arrange it so you and your spouse both have some time to yourselves. If you’re a single parent, reach out to a friend or relative who can babysit so you can run errands or enjoy a coffee out with friends.

Becoming a parent is a transition, and it takes time to get used to a new lifestyle. For disabled individuals, there’s a lot of adjusting to do to make your living space safe and accessible for a young child, but don’t neglect your own needs. To be a good parent, you need to be well-rested and energetic, which means taking time for yourself when needed.

Uncategorized

The Invention That’s Making Breastfeeding Mamas Rejoice

It was 2am and I was sitting on a toilet seat in an airport bathroom, crying as a noisy machine sucked breastmilk out of me. I had a three-hour layover and I was pretty sure my boobs would pop if I didn’t pump. But, the only private space (that also had an outlet) available to me was the dingy handicap stall in the public bathroom. I felt ashamed and embarrassed over the 20-minutes I was sequestered in that stall – especially when someone pushed on the door or commented on the sound of my milk sucker.

Luckily, the ingenious ladies at Mamava saw me. Well, not me specifically, but all the women like me who are forced to submit themselves to embarrassing conditions each time they need to pump in public.

Their solution? Mamava Lactation Suites, which provide private, comfortable, and sanitary spaces for lactating ladies to feed their child, or drain that milk. The use of the pods is complimentary, as they’re purchased by the facility that’s offering the pod. I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the founders of Mamava, Sascha Mayer, about the rights of breastfeeding women and how the pods can help.

Sascha w Mamava (2)
Sascha Mayer

Bailey Gaddis: What inspired the idea for Mamava?

Sascha Mayer: I was inspired by an amendment to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act that protected working moms from having to use their breast pumps in a bathroom. [According to the Mamava website, “The law mandates that employers provide reasonable break time and a private lactation space this is not a bathroom.”] We were also continuing to see women struggling with finding clean and comfortable spaces to breastfeed when they were out of their home and I just said, “this is broken and I have to fix it.”

Bailey Gaddis: What are features of the Mamava pods that make them so conducive to pumping and breastfeeding?

Sascha Mayer: The pods were designed with our two audiences in mind – the pumping mom and the breastfeeding mom. Moms want privacy, so the pods have a locking door. We also have an app that women can use to locate and unlock the pods. Inside, it’s very much like a kitchen with a bench, good lighting, and a fold down table that’s easy to wipe down. There’s also an outlet for the pump and a USB charger, because so many moms are multi-tasking. While the pods were specifically made for pumping moms, they’re also a nice private space for moms to breastfeed.

We also wanted to make sure that the pods made it easy for facilities to do the right things and provide this space for moms. So, they’re easily placed and can be installed in 2-3 hours, can be rolled to various locations, and are low maintenance.

Mamava-Interior.jpg

Bailey Gaddis: Can you tell me more about the legal rights of breastfeeding mothers?

Sascha Mayer: The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act is a mandate that states that if you’re an employer with more than 50 employees you have to provide a space that isn’t a bathroom for women to use a breast pump. Some of the more progressive states have richer legislation that protects a breastfeeding mom’s rights even further. In San Francisco, for example, businesses have to provide a lactation room.

This is so important because now, moms don’t always have to be advocating for themselves. It’s hard enough if you’re a mom that has to go back to work – it’s important to have legislation that protects your rights.

Bailey Gaddis: How do you hope the Mamava pods shift the conversation around breastfeeding?

Sascha Mayer: We hope that our Mamava pods create more of a conversation around the lines of “oh, breastfeeding happens!” We want moms to feel celebrated and supported through these pods.

I hope our units being out and about also sparks a dialogue about the choices moms have in feeding their babies. If their choice is to breastfeed, they should be supported in that. Moms should do what they feel most comfortable with. And, we don’t want women to feel like they need to pass on the option of breastfeeding because our culture doesn’t make it easy to do when they are out of their homes.

Bailey Gaddis: What advice would you give to breastfeeding mothers who work in a space without a comfortable and private space to pump, who would like to broach this subject with their employer?

Sascha Mayer: I think it’s important for women to remember that it’s in their employer’s best interest to keep them healthy and happy, rather than risking the potential of losing them and having to find a replacement. So, women should feel confident that it’s within her rights to feel comfortable talking about it and asking for what she needs. It’s also important for women to remember that they’re not alone and can find support through places like Facebook groups. Over 3 million women are breastfeeding every year – there’s a lot of support our there.

Mamavanursing.jpg

Bailey Gaddis: How do feel that millennial moms are influencing the conversation around lactation rights?

Sascha Mayer: We’ve found that millennial moms are driving the conversation around lactation rights. They’re very different from Gen X moms and are empowered by the Times Up mentality. And, millennial moms speaking up about their rights inspires facilities to purchase Mamava pods.

Uncategorized

7 Ways The Thomas Fire Forever Changed My Marriage (For The Better)

Sometimes, it takes a natural disaster to make things clear.

When an out of control wildfire chars over 242,000 acres, destroys 972 structures, and forces 88,000 people out of their homes, many couples are forced to come together in ways that leave lasting imprints on their relationship.

My husband and I spent a week holed up with our four-year-old in a hotel room escaping the flames and smoke of the Thomas Fire while obsessively checking our phones for updates and praying that our house survived. Our relationship was tested, but we came out of it with an appreciation for how we were able to show up for each other when things got real.

We were not the only ones. Many of the couples I spoke with post-fire reported significant shifts in their relationships after the shared experience of a natural disaster.

Read more on Your Tango

Uncategorized

The Feminism Being Woven Into Commonly Male-Centered Media

When I walked out of my bathroom last Halloween, dressed as Marvel’s Black Widow, the first thing my son said was, “Wow mama, you look strong.” And I felt strong.

Dressing up like a female character that needed little saving, and instead claimed her power to protect herself and heal her own emotional wounds, made me have a highly coveted proud mom moment.

 

IMG_4576

 

I never thought much more about superhero gender roles (a course that should be offered in universities?!) until I recently previewed the new Marvel Universe Live Age of Heroes show brought to life by family entertainment juggernaut Feld Entertainment.

What I discovered was a feminist sub-culture in the Marvel Universe, full of butt-kicking, norm-hacking, damsel-in-distress rejecting badass chicks showing the boys how it’s done.

This show included Marvel women (that even I was privy to) like Black Widow and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Gamora, but new (to me) female empowerment heroes like the witty Wasp, and sexy villains Black Cat and Nebula were also present. And, when mixed with a fleet of popular male characters, guess who was keeping their cool when the boys were lashing out with often-ineffective action? That’s right – the ladies.

 

Black Widow
Photo Credit: Feld Entertainment

 

While the existence of these characters is no surprise to Marvel devotees, they were unknown to me: a fresh Marvel enthusiast who now plans to dress up like a different female superhero every Halloween, and maybe every birthday as well, because why not.

But, more noteworthy than the feminine characters (who are writing a new definition of feminine) are the female fighters, dancers, motorcycle wizards, and more who are bringing them to life. These ladies are just as buff and skilled as their male counterparts, and are so savvy in conjuring the essence of heroes that many play some of the male characters. These women left me slack jawed and inspired to learn some motorcycle tricks… or maybe just take a kickboxing class.

 

 

There’s even a performer, Louie Musselman, who is such a savant she can play every female role in the show, which translates into countless kicks, jumps, motorcycle flips, and more. I wouldn’t mind being her when I grow up.

 

Musselman_Louie_2016_jpg
Lou Musselman (Stillman Valley, IL) – Female Super Swing

 

I would assume that an action heavy show such as this would be brought to you by men, but no, a petite powerhouse, Juliette Feld, is the force behind the show, working with her sisters Nicole and Alana Feld to run the largest family entertainment business in the world, which includes other productions I used to equate with super charged testosterone: Supercross, Arena Cross, and Monster Jam.

Beyond Marvel’s team of women, there are other female superheroes stepping into public glory – ever heard of a little movie called Wonder Woman? It seems brands that commonly focus on the men have finally come around to the realization that women are just as capable, and often more complex and interesting, than the dudes, making them prime candidates to be the stars of these multi-million dollar franchises.

With the increasing unease I’ve felt with the American culture, I’ve been heartened by the fortified power and sense of purpose women like this (both fictional and real) are unapologetically splashing into the world. Members of this phenomenal gender are creating this change through words, images, acting, business decisions, and a multitude of other ways they’re allowing their intricate, ballsy (or “womby”?), and paradigm shifting roars be seen, felt, and heard.

You go girls.

Uncategorized

The Kick-Ass Calendar of Female Empowerment

 

image-4
Photo by Keoki Flagg courtesy gallerykeoki.com

The cover of the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Women of Ski Patrol 2017 calendar makes me proud to be a woman. The image features 13 badass female ski patrollers radiating strength and confidence while hanging from all ends of a gondola: and the fact that all the proceeds from this calendar go towards funding avalanche safety education scholarships amps up my pride level.

In a field predominately filled with men it’s inspiring to see the women that step up to perform avalanche control, respond to injuries on the mountain, and help ensure the overall safety on the mountain, be featured.

image-7
Photo by Keoki Flagg courtesy gallerykeoki.com

The stunning images captured by acclaimed photographer Keoki Flagg do an excellent job of exuding the vibe veteran patroller Robin McElroy describes: “The Squaw Valley Ski Patrol Team draws adrenaline junkies, and I’m definitely in that category. There’s a sense of excitement to our work with starting in the dark and not knowing what the day will bring. There is also an inherent risk of avalanches for anyone who loves skiing powder and exploring our mountains, which is why I believe avalanche education is so valuable. We are proud to have turned a fun idea into a beautiful calendar that will directly benefit our community.”

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, McElroy learned to ski at a young age and grew up ski racing with Alyeska Ski Club and Spyder in Girdwood, Alaska. After joining the ski and snowboarding club at University of Colorado, Boulder, McElroy taught skiing and competed on the Freesking World Tour Circuit before joining the ski patrol at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in 2006.

Did I mention the term “badass”?

To check out these powerful photos buy your calendar here.

Airplane Travel, Family Entertainment, Uncategorized

How to Mix Adventure with Relaxation on Your Cabo San Lucas Vacation

Have you ever gone on a vacation and felt a need for a vacation when you returned home? Or, gone on vacation and arrived home feeling like you missed out on memory making during the trip? Cabo San Lucas, Mexico offers a lovely alchemy of relaxing and adventurous opportunities sure to send you home feeling rested, yet electric with memories of stimulating experiences.

Cabo’s desert climate, warm waters, luxurious yet playful accommodations and activities in water, sand or spa, create ideal conditions for vacation magic to grow. If you’re looking for a destination that will “magically” strip your inhibitions, and give you a tender loving massage (or mud bath) in between your bursts of adventure, get on the next plane to this land of milk and honey (and tequila.)

The following activities will help you and your Cabo getaway develop undeniable chemistry.

Margaritas Beach 4×4 UTV Adventure

Burst your “safe zone” bubble right out of the gate by hopping in a UTV and exploring the desert that flows onto white sand beaches. You’ll feel much more deserving of that margarita by the pool after coating yourself in a few layers of thrill, and dirt.

Read more on Huff Post! 

Career, Guilt & Forgiveness, Mind-Body-Spirit, Parenting, Self Love, Uncategorized

Learn How to Handle Life Like a Badass! (Online Course)

It’s launching! Ya whoo! My newest course on Daily OM “How to Handle Life Like a Badass” launched today and it’s currently mega-super-duper affordable. Youll find its spiel below. Let me know if you have any questions.

Sending you love!

~Bailey

The Spiel

Do you dwell in the darkness, even when your life is full of light? Do you live in dread of mistakes, or perceived misfortunes? Do challenges eclipse your ability to see the forest for the trees?
Would you like to feel excited by the growth opportunities in your challenges? Would you like a metaphorical flashlight to guide you through the darkness, out into a brighter reality? Would you like to open your spirit to a knowing that the life you are meant to lead is colorful, dynamic, and blissful?

This course will help you step into that brighter world. It will adjust the shade of your challenges from murky blacks and browns to vibrant blues, greens, purples, pinks, reds, yellows, and gold. Together we will unravel the tight belief that challenges are wrong, bad, or debilitating. The exciting bumps in life are not to be feared but examined, explored, and honored. A road with rolling hills, sweeping curves, unexpected dips, and steep inclines is much more thrilling than a straight flat road leading to more of the same.

In the space of this course you will learn to awaken your inherent ability to take a skilled mind, body, and spirit to this bumpy road of life. You will not only learn to see challenges as benefits but will tap into your inner knowledge of how to pull the insights, epiphanies, and enlightenment from life’s struggles. On the other side of this learning you will find yourself freed from anticipatory fear and anxiety, waking each day with an excited curiosity for what is to come, and a knowing that you can roll through it all- expanding your beautiful soul in every moment.

Each lesson will be complimented by a Guided Meditation recording, serving to integrate the core elements of the lesson with your subconscious mind.

TOPICS COVERED

  • Solidifying Your Self Worth
  • Detangling from Anticipatory Fear and Anxiety
  • Honoring Unpredictability and Giving It Sacred Worth
  • Changing the Color of Challenges
  • Having a Dialogue with Challenges
  • Writing Out the Challenges
  • How Body Awareness Can Lead to Acceptance
  • Relearning Your Ability to Have Unconditional Fun

Now is the time to step into your renewed life, where all good is coming to you.

Find out more over here!

Mind-Body-Spirit, Parenting, Uncategorized

Why Play Is So Important- An Interview with Genius Of Play’s Ambassador Meredith Sinclair

What do you think it would be like to have the job title Genius of Play Ambassador? Childhood dream fulfilled? May we all strive to have our work be play!

I interviewed the lucky recipient of this job title from the Genius of Play organization, Meredith Sinclair, to find out why play is so crucial for healthy minds, bodies and spirits.

Meredith shared that at Genius of Play,

“We focus on 6 key developmental skills that run deeply within play. They are improving cognitive skills, honing communication skills, increasing creativity, processing and expressing emotions, developing physical skills, and enhancing social skills.”

Read more on Huff Post!

Childbirth, Mind-Body-Spirit, Parenting, Uncategorized

The New Product That’s Changing the Landscape of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can really suck- but it doesn’t have to (well, at least not in the emotional sense.) Much of the anxiety that comes with breastfeeding is birthed from the mother’s uncertainty regarding how much milk her baby is consuming. Sure, we can keep a tally of soiled diapers, but if a baby still seems like she’s hollering for more, many new mamas panic and switch to formula- even if their body is pumping out plenty of milk.

What to do?

Enter Momsense, a new product designed to record and report how much baby is actually consuming by using a tiny sensor placed behind baby’s ear that captures the sounds of baby’s swallowing to determine how much milk is being gulped down- the information is then sent to a program in mom’s smartphone (on Airplane mode) that allows her to keep track of how much baby receives during each meal. Cool!

Read more on Huff Post!

Uncategorized

9 Ways Parenting on a Caribbean Island is Different from the U.S.

Remembering the sandy-bodied, messy-haired, laughing kids (and mommas!) of Roatan, the Honduran island I used to live on in the Caribbean, gives me an itch to hightail it back there, or a similar beach community in Nicaragua, with my partner and toddler in tow. The livin’ was easy and parents reeked of relaxation versus fatigue and stress.

While I love parenting in the small town of Ojai, California, I can’t help but fantasize what it would be like to return to the slow pace, easy smiles, and lush surroundings of island life.

As I contemplate the decision to move my young family out of the United States, I’ve been recalling these key differences between parenting in the U.S. and Central America (some make me want to go, some make me want to stay) …

1. Grooming is super easy-going.

Read more on Babble!