Raise Your Hand, If Your Hands Are Full – For Moms of Many


It happened for the 4,356,837 time today.  As my four (not 10, not 21, just four) children and I stood in the checkout line at Walmart with their new flip flops in cart, someone behind me decided to say it.

“Wow! You sure have your hands full!”

We moms typically don’t know whether this is a compliment or not when you hear it. Until you see the body language and facial expression that accompany the much over-used line, you are immediately put on guard.  We don’t have time to evaluate you. We are with our children.

I turn and look to see a nice thin, tall hippy/earthy looking woman in her fifties who has the look of being happily single her whole life and terrified of kids.  She was scowling.
Yes, I looked. No ring.
Only a look of horror on her face as she took in the view of my little brood, looking down her nose with lips pursed tight.
She surely has cats. Lots of ’em.

I put on a smile, so as not to scare her, and rattle of my well-rehearsed standard response. God calls us to be kind, especially to strangers.

“Well, better than empty. At least they’re full of life!”  

Don sweetest smile.
Turn back around to my kids.

It was then,

“I just can’t even imagine… WHAT possessed you??”

Yes…she did.  I couldn’t make that up.
She said possessed.

I took a deep breath to reel in my inner Madea.  I know the hair standing on my neck had to show, and the raising of my right eyebrow couldn’t be helped.
I turned again, using my happiest sarcastic voice…

“What possessed me? As in…demons?

Do my kids look like the product of demon possession to you?
As for possession, these four are the most amazing people in my life and worth more than any other  POSSESSIONS that I have.
No demons involved in that.
I actually have REALLY good sex with my husband. And often.
Thanks for asking such an interesting question. That’s a first for me.”

She started to sputter, almost choked even, disclosing her experience with her brother having 5 boys and it just looked like so much work, and she didn’t  personally understand “the draw”, but she was sorry.….Oh, goodness.

I looked back one more time.

“It’s really fine. Have a great day.”

And then as it was my turn to check out, and all four were working together to unload the cart very nicely, the poor cashier smiles at me… and says…

“You sure have your hands full!”

Oh. Lord. Help…
Poor innocent, unaware, little Walmart employee.

I put the smile back up.
“Ya know, EVERYONE has their hands full.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
It’s up to you what you choose to fill them with. I choose THEM, every single day.”

She thought it was sweet. I didn’t look back at kid-free-scowler, but I’m sure she had some sort of interesting response.
I DID hear the couple behind her giggle, for the second time.

So in defense of our full hands, moms, let us all remember that not having them would only give us empty hands to fill.

 Maybe with a life consuming career.   Look up the definition of consumption, will ya? I don’t want life consumed, although I know those who love theirs.

How about 700 cats like this lady. Maybe just one or two cats? Or how about be a lover of dogs so you can  approach a mother at Piedmont Park  walking her adorable baby in a stroller, with the dog along, and fawn over the K9 while ignoring that there is an adorable little person right there that is actually more valuable. Oh wait, because they aren’t as important to you.
And we have pets. Well loved pets. It’s the section of the childless crowd that values their pet over small PEOPLE that get to me.

Ladies, we could be making bank. Empty hands-not-full could mean fistfuls of money!! If each of our spawn didn’t cost $5,439,345 to raise like all the websites say.  We are REALLY missing out on that cha-ching.

You really don’t want to get me started on possession and the American need to fill our lives with stuff instead of… LIVES.  Possessions, over people. Because if we had more, we’d never be able to take them aaaallll to Disney!?!?

You could just have empty arms without them, and fill them with whatever man you want.  History has shown that does not lead to the most FULL-filling lifestyle.

And, mothers, let us never EVER forget the women who have empty arms not by choice. Who ache to hold the hope and warmth of a unique and precious immortal soul in the shape of a child who calls her Mom.

A disdainful comment of  “You sure have your hands full.” is a downright attack on them, the moms who are moms but hands are not full. Those who would give anything and everything they can get their hands on, to fill their arms with the life and chaos we experience every day in our children.

So, rock your full hands, mamas!

Look at them in wonder and awe… see their strength and value.

And I encourage you to come up with a really great response. Memorize it, know it, and own it. Be prepared for the 1,000,001 of times it will be said to you if you have more than the standard two children.

 Because until our society values these small people over possession, OUR choice to fill our arms this wide and full will be critiqued and commented on, shocking this  possession obsessed culture day in and day out. 

For extra evidence to defend my point, here are my parents, with all 10 of us children, 8 children-in-law, and over 20 grandchildren (2 more on the way!). Do they look like they need pity?  They made huge sacrifices for us.  And I am so, so thankful for it every day.

THIS right here is what blessed looks like. Don’t ever doubt that.

To be fair, I have a career, I love our pets and I absolutely enjoy extra money and shopping.

It’s valuing these possessions over children, when they’re not even your own, that makes fire spew from my ears. There has always been a small portion of the population who disdain children, but it’s growing, my friends. Our children need to hear us respond in confidence, valuing who they are.

Comment with your favorite response to the remark, “You sure have your hands full.”  I could use some fresh ideas myself.
UPDATE: After being asked a few times today why the statement “You have your hands full!” is offensive, I spent some time thinking about it and wrote a follow up.

Raise BOTH Hands if Your Hands Are Full- 7 Reasons the statement offends

 Reblogged from my other blog, Your Momstinct.

Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider

This post is reblogged from a former post in 2011.

Several years ago a pregnant mom told me that she was in love with her midwife. I don’t mean that she was using the term loosely to describe that she was just “the bees knees”. She was serious, people.  Very, deeply serious.

This mom was not a lesbian with an erotic or partner type attraction for her care provider. That’s not what she was telling me.  She was, however, quite passionate.  Infatuated.  She had dreams about her midwife and was even bashful about how strong her feelings were.  She absolutely believed that her midwife could do no wrong.   Then here midwife induced her before her due date, “lovingly” scaring her for her own good because her baby was certain to be HUGE.  Mama lost the birth that she wanted, still trusting that her midwife would only do what’s best for her.
That mom has become much wiser, stronger and gone on to birth much bigger babies without an induction, even at home!  Awesome Mama!  I’m not so big on that midwife, though.

This is not uncommon.  Maybe the boldness to voice feelings in such a way was rare, but over and over I see women just absolutely IN LOVE and googly eyed over their OB or midwife.  They just KNOW that the care provider understand what they want and listens to them, so it does not matter that their typical pracice is not to “do” the type of birth that Mama wants. The care provider hears and knows her needs.  Mama just know that they’ll follow through with the exception to their daily norm for HER.

But they do not.  You may be telling your doula this when we know the actual statistics of your chosen care provider and hospital.  Some are so into their routine that a doula in your area can predict what their “Switch” is.
Big Baby
High Blood Pressure
Low Amniotic Fluid
Your Uterus Will Explode at 41 weeks and 1 day

While there are true cases of these complications, it’s hard to believe that a certain practice somehow has a corner on the market of all babies who have… let’s go with low amniotic fluid. Their statistic of it’s occurrence is so high that you would think the practice itself warrants some investigation, right? Wrong.  They “save” those moms and babies from the “threat” that they are under, when a second opinion would have clarified that, no actually your fluid is just in the low range of  PERFECTLY NORMAL.

These mamas end up confused, birthing under fear of a condition that they often do not have, put through the “Baby Factory” mindset where their body is expected to respond like the machinery a factory would be designed for.  When that body doesn’t kick in like clockwork a new issue is created, often legitimately now because you’ve messed with nature, and bad things happen.

But that’s ok. Your amazing OB or MEDwife that you adore is there to hold your hand and save you while they use instruments and tools instead of waiting on your body to do what it needs.  You adore them for it. As doulas we watch and encourage you to find as much joy and strength in your chosen path as possible. Sometimes that means letting you believe it and knowing that someday you will question all this. We hurt for you. We know what that is like.

Two years after the birth when you are still cringe in pain, remembering the experience, that OB or MEDwife won’t recognize you when bumping into each other at the grocery store.  You are one of many, but they were your only one.

NOT ALL CARE PROVIDERS ARE LIKE THIS.  Many chose obstetrics because it is literally the only specially that they can get to do surgery without the required extra years of residency for any other surgical specialty.  My OWN OB told me that was why he did it.  This is not a joke.
Yet some are amazing servants who see their career choice as a calling to serve women.   They will sacrifice their schedules and times, they will go out on a limb to give your body the space it needs and tell you the true statistics and risks for YOU to decide what you are comfortable with.  They are amazing. Your job is to find one of THEM.

This is not fair. Women should be able to trust and care for the person who we have hired to attend our births. It is completely reasonable for us to expect them to guard our best interests and provide real information that helps us understand and know what is happening. Unfortunately, we live in a society where medical professionals are required by insurance and specifically trained in med school to practice medicine defensively.  It’s wrong. Absolutely! But it’s the way it is.  I don’t envy them that either.

As I was saying puppy love is infatuation and it blinds you to reality.   You need to go into your birth fully aware, prepared, and with your eyes wide open.   You don’t want to be blindsided while you are in labor.
The question is, do you love  your care provider enough to have  medical interventions FOR them, to fit their schedule and charts?  Do you want them to be there for you so badly that you will have unnecessary major abdominal surgery?  Because women often do, and they don’t even realize it.

1. Shop Around– You are HIRING this person/group to provide a service. I have long, thick curly hair. I could NEVER go to someone who specializes in short thin haircuts. Even if they make me feel so comfortable, happy and mushy inside.  They can tell me I look great and make me feel beautiful in the moment. That’s NOT a good reason for a bad haircut, is it? And I’ll walk out of that appointment with BAD HAIR!! While they turn and croon to then next victim in their chair…
Find someone who has experience with the type of support you want. And don’t just listen to what they say. Ask the women who had the type of birth you want.  Find the group that has been proven to support moms wishes without making them fight every step of the way.
2. Find a Local Chapter of ICAN– Sure you don’t expect to have a c-section. Most women don’t.  But ICAN is about more than just VBAC(Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). They’re about awareness and avoidance as well!  These women are supportive and have BTDT (been there done that).  Typically they can  recommend good local care providers that are tried and true as well as help you think through other aspects of your birth.  And you may make some fantastic friends along the way. I have!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Tuck Tail and Run!  I know women who have changed OBs at 38, 39, 40 weeks… even one who left one hospital in early labor and drove to another where she could have the vaginal birth she knew she needed instead of an automatic c-section.  You are not married to them. Don’t have a bad birth just because you feel bad about hurting their feelings. They may not even remember you in 3 months but I assure you that your body and heart will remember.

4. Choose Your Battles-   I hate the idea of women having to fight in labor. Absolutely despise it! You deserve to BE safe and feel it. You should know you are protected and have the space to relax and trust your body. You deserve to have confidence in those who are there as a safety net for what your body is doing as you birth your baby. Unfortunately, we live in a country where normal birth is under siege and the majority of women do have to fight. You may not get the support you deserve.
So, choose your battles. I’m not referring to letting them do an epesitomy  and just being happy that you got to use your vagina. Not that kind of battle.  It’s simpler than that.
You may just have to fight something, so take the time to choose what that will be.
You can choose to fight your budget and save money to hire a homebirth midwife who will support your wishes at home, when you don’t think you can afford it.

You can birth in the hospital with someone you don’t trust and fight
through labor the best you can to get your needs met.

You can choose to fight traffic and gas prices to drive to the hospital/care provider that is most experienced in supporting the the type of birth you want. That may be a 2 hour drive. 

Do you see what I’m saying here?  Staying with someone who’s close and simple is not always the best option. If it is, you’re a very lucky woman!!

5.  Listen To Your Gut – If your care provider is saying one thing but your gut is telling you that it’s going to change in labor, it most likely will. If what you’re “allowed to do” is presented differently and with more restrictions at each passing prenatal appointment… Honey, RUN don’t waddle… Go find someone you can trust!

6. Do your homework
 –  If you can afford to take a good childbirth class, DO IT! Be prepared for everything so that you can relax and birth confidently.  And I don’t mean hospital classes that simply teach you according to what that specific hospital wants you to know.  Hospital classes have a vested interest in teaching you to be a good patient.  Find an independent class. With all of the time that you took preparing for your wedding I know that you can find some time to set aside for this, right?

7. HIRE A DOULA- I do not say this simply because I am one. I want you to picture yourself 20 miles into running your first marathon. How tired you will be, the fight for every step, the heaving chest, the sudden doubts that you can make it. Now imagine someone standing next to  you asking if you want drugs, if you want a c-section, if  this, if that.. we can get that baby out in thirty minutes…
The only thing that you can predict about your birth is that it WILL be unpredictable.  A doula’s job is to be one of your safe, constant predictable factors.
She is SO MUCH more than a BFF for the day.  A doula is there to gently remind you of the decisions that you have made, to offer educational information on decisions that you did not expect to make so that you feel informed. To look you in the eye on that final mile and remind you that you ARE doing it already!!!  To bring strength to your partner by supporting them and giving  a sounding board for their fears and questions as well, so that your partner can support you better than they knew they were able to.  You paid for professionals on your wedding day.  Pay for them now.  A doula is worth it.

I want you to LOVE your birth team. I do,  but the person who you need to love enough to base your decisions are, are both inside of you.
I want you to birth with no regrets…

Gestate in peace ladies,
The Doula

Birth Announcement Etiquette: Ban The Birth “Firsts”


Poetic Empathy for Moms of Autism

I had to come up with something, even if i was just going to share it with myself. Something poetic if only to justify my day to myself.

photo (27) It’s not you, it’s me.

Ruckus destroyed a project.
The Brainiac and Big Sister had been working on for hours.
This happened while they were both downstairs working on their responsibilities in our home… one ironing and one loading dishes. They were being GOOD, and obedient, pleasantly working without complaint.  They didn’t deserve their work destroyed yet here we are.

Same story, different day.

So I go through the routine, but he doesn’t get it today any more than he did yesterday or the day before. There is no remorse because there is no empathy. There is no click in his brain of understanding that he has ruined their work or why they are upset.  He needed those legos.  Now.  That is all that exists to him.

Ruckus is a sensitive kid. He is caring and loving and full or emotions.  They just don’t work on the same level of awareness that the majority has.  So we work on this. Often.

How do we do it? How do we show the heart of the matter to these little ones who don’t have the capacity to put themselves in the place of others. They don’t “do” outside their own box well. Their box of understanding is as intriguingly limitless and bursting with potential as it is small and restricting, to those of us who can’t see inside of it.
His heart is there.
His feelings are there.
They are boxed up.
He sees what he did. He recognizes that it was not ok.  It is done and he has moved on to something else. His logic tells him to do the next thing.  The whole incident is outside of his box now. It’s up to me to work it back into his frame of reference.

So we worked through that today. For awhile.  I see glimmers of hope and I know we’ll get there. Not today, not next week, but I have seen the amazing other side of these people, the ones who surf a different spectrum of viewing life. I know my son will turn out as a wonderful man.   God made him to be. Without a doubt.

It just requires some serious dedication from everyone in our family and everyone around us. To work inside a box, and also nudge him outside of his box.

Still, sometimes as moms of spectrum surfers we need an outlet, if only to blow off some steam in a different direction that doesn’t point toward our kids. Steam can burn. We all no that.
We need to let it go in a way that doesn’t close them in.

Oh. Right.

Back to my opening sentence. I had to think of something. Something to decompress and let go of this situation and the angry response that well up in me, threatening to ruin any headway we have made with the Ruckus.
I did.
It felt good and I’ll share it with you for a little snort and chuckle. Here it is. My garbled attempt at  throwing together a few words, with no time for rhyme or reason.  Just words. My attempt at being one of those clever wordsmith types who throw together phrases that say something important, but not.
A Meme Artist, if you will.
With snorts and the spitting of coffee and rolling on floors type. I want the time to do that. That may never be me. I’m not that funny, yet here is today’s offering. My 15 minutes of free time:

Teaching empathy to an autism surfer is akin to
Climbing an Eiffel Tower constructed entirely of Legos
One leg glued to the other with a mix of glitter glue and E6000 adhesive
Flopping along like a mermaid out of water,  

A weighty sloth on my back.. arms wrapped round my neck twice
Little paws flopped heavily over my eyes.
This would happen, of course, the only way it could,
With my hair bedraggled, no makeup, and teeth unbrushed
Wearing the stained, beat-to-threads kinda dress that is
Only meant to be seen around the house dress, 

 While suddenly finding my nostrils plugged with the baby wipes
The ones left over

from the last time I changed my 8 year old’s diaper,
Which was a really bad one.

Because as you know, if you know me at all, I always smell poop. Every where I go. I smell it.

I think it’s me.
photo (27)

Everyone should own some E6000.  For realz.