The Strange Faces of Quarantine Self-Care

Guys. Guys. Today I shaved my legs. Yes, legs, as in both of them. YES, during Quarantine. YES, even though pretty much all those legs have seen in the past 5 weeks is the insides of joggers, sweats and yoga pants. If you’re wondering if that means I haven’t shaved the other 36 days of quarantine so far…well…I am going to let you choose your own adventure on that one. Now, this may not be a quarantine victory per se, but it definitely deserves an honorable mention. 

If you must know (which you’re probably thinking you mustn’t) I have always had a hate/hate relationship with shaving. I know, I know. It’s crazy. It’s so un-American of me to despise this practice that was concocted by conniving Gillette marketing men as a way to sell even more razors. (Check it, ladies, it’s true). I mean, who wouldn’t want to crouch awkwardly in a slippery shower and try not to fall on their face while scraping a 3-tiered blade across the skin behind your knees. You practically  need a side view mirror to make sure you get every spot and don’t cut yourself. Why wouldn’t I love that?

When I married my husband, who grew up as one of four boys, he was in for a big surprise. He did not know that females grew leg hair. Or maybe he didn’t know that if removed it would literally grow back a little every day just like his facial hair. Can’t blame him, the only time he’d seen women shave must have been in those danged Satin Care shaving cream commercials, you know, the ones where a model is shaving a completely hairless leg. Like, she actually never had any hair there ever at all but she was just doing it for fun. Because she just wanted to buy a pink razor to be in the shaving club. And she wanted to pay more for it than the blue ones. I digress…

A college roommate of mine got engaged while we were living together. She was tall, leggy and beautiful. Her Ken-doll fiancé teased her once about spikey legs and she looked him in the eye and promised not to shave until their wedding day. And she didn’t. So the first time my husband commented on my spikey day or two’s worth of growth, I believe I took it as a challenge. You can imagine how my new husband’s comment went over with me. The best part was when it had been long enough that the hair on my legs got smooth and unnoticeable, you know, like all of our leg hair would have always been if we had never started shaving it in the first place. And he exclaimed gleefully, “Your legs are so smooth! You must have shaved!” Nope, just my natural boss woman self by now. In those first few years of our marriage I explained to him several times that shaving your legs every day is pretty much not even a thing. Especially during the winter amiright? Tell me this isn’t a thing…

Anyways, with the charged history between me and leg-shaving, why did I do it today? On a day when society and people around me would have very least expected it? Well, folks, I did it because I was in a little need of a luxury. (Cue 1950s Gillette commercial.)

With an endless vista ahead of me of home life surrounded 24/7 by my adoring husband and angel children, I am getting desperate for a few minutes alone. For moms, trying to get a moment to yourself during Quarantine is like hoping to see a total eclipse of the sun during your lifetime from where you live. Most likely not happening, mama. And so, in my moment of desperation, in the depth of my need for solace, shaving my legs took on a role reversal. Something I usually hate making time to do turned into one thing that would allow me to stretch out my time alone in the tub.  Confession: I do kind of like the way my shaved legs feel inside aforementioned joggers. Like a glamourous little secret. (Thank you, Gillette, for creating that illusion.)

As strange as it sounds, freshly shaved legs were just the pick  me up I needed today in this age of Groundhog Day-like reality when one day blends into the next. It was a surprising act of self-care that filled my cup just the tiniest bit. So whatever weird, unexpected thing feels like a small luxury to you right now – do it. Treat yo’self, mama. Burn that candle Aunt Marge gave you two Christmases ago. The one that is shaped like a rose and is too pretty to use. Enjoy the scent of it and let the flame hypnotize you as it dances. Wear the sweater – the one you picked up at the end-of-season sale and haven’t worn yet because you also are working at home in your joggers. Sweaters and joggers are a thing (I would know). Enjoy the softness of it against your skin. Get a good look at it in the mirror. Use up that bath bomb, the expensive one with the essential oils and rose buds. Paint the toenails no one will see. Read under the covers. Eat off of the china. Do your hair or your makeup, or don’t. Open the perfumed lotion that you usually save for date nights because it was expensive and smells too pretty for washing dishes and changing diapers. Rub it into your hands and your unshaven legs (it’s fine if they’re shaved, no judgement here…) Breathe in and allow yourself to relive the memories that accompany that scent.  

Do one thing today that feels like a luxury. Even if it isn’t really. Especially if it isn’t really.

What have you done during this shelter-in-place that feels like a luxury but normally would not?


*Photo courtesy of



When words fall short but you try anyways –

Every mother’s worst nightmare having a child taken from her. We make sure we know where they are at all times. We teach them not to talk to strangers and to be cautious with their interactions when they are outside of our homes. We keep them close at the grocery store and within sight at the park and the pool. We teach them how to shout for help if someone tries to take them and to never leave our sides in crowded places. We are vigilant protectors of our young, and we are biologically wired to be so.

Likewise, every child’s worst nightmare is to be separated from their parents. Children’s movies play on that fear to get an easy emotional hook from their audience. Think how many Disney movies involve the loss of or separation from a parent at the very beginning of the movie. I see this same fear in my 12-month-old infant who cries when I leave the room. My three-year-old, though a babbler at home, falls silent around others if I am not with her. And my five-year-old (who still needs a snuggle, story, and song to fall asleep at night) asked me every day of my recent trip if I could come home because he missed me so much and grew restless and irritable while I was away.

I wept unconsoleably last week as I sat reading account after account of young children being separated from their parents at the border. Many of them had come seeking asylum through a provision of US and international law that allows people fleeing violence and persecution to safely enter the US. Some had presented themselves to officials at the border to apply for asylum, which is a completely legal way to come to the US. They arrived only  to have their own worst nightmares realized.

Tear flooded my eyes as I read about the blind 6-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother who were separated from their mother after they requested asylum at the Arizona border. The mother worries constantly about them, not knowing if she will ever see them again. I can only imagine what the children feel.

I thought of my own 12-month-old, softly sleeping in her crib, when I read that a 12-month-old infant had been separated from parents. That heartbreak worsened when I learned about a four-month old who was taken from his father and has been in government custody for four months now. His father, an asylum seeker, was deported to Honduras without him.

Michelle Brané, executive director of the migrant rights program at the Women’s Refugee Commission has said stories such as these are not unique. “We have seen children as young as 18 months deported without their parents and more commonly, parents deported without their children. Parents arrive in Central America with no idea of how to get their children back.”

From April 19 to May 31, 1,995 children were taken from their parents at the border, many without any warning or chance to say goodbye, and none with any information about if or how they would be reunited again. Many parents were deceived into thinking their children were being taken to rest or have a bath, only to find out later they had been taken away, with no goodbye and no promise of reunification.

Children are taken to mass children detention centers while the adults are taken to prison. In these facilities no one is allowed to touch the children. They deal with the trauma and crisis with no one to pick them up, hold, hug or comfort them. My children depend on nurturing touch for comfort. They need it throughout the day, every day. There is ample scientific evidence that demonstrates that kids need nourishing human touch for healthy development and to cope with challenges.  The babies and toddlers are sent to “tender age” facilities, while kids five and older are sent to separate mass detention centers. They are not allowed to see their parents. And no one can guarantee they will go back to them.

The family separations have come as part of a new “zero tolerance policy” that the current administration is using as a “tough deterrent” with the goal of preventing migrants from arriving to the US.

Experts in the fields of mental health, child development, and pediatrics have come together to raise their voices in strong opposition to the policy.

Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Officer of Zero to Three, stated:

“The practice of having border agents remove children from caregivers suddenly and place them in institutional care, especially without any policy for visitation, maintenance of their attachment relationship, or reunification, amounts to child maltreatment.

Anyone with infant/early childhood mental health expertise – and anyone with a heart for children – will tell you that separating young children from caregivers at the U.S. border is appalling and must be stopped.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics has likewise voiced concern, warning that “family separation, can cause irreparable harm to lifelong development by disrupting a child’s brain architecture. Toxic stress, which is caused by prolonged exposure to heightened stress, has detrimental short- and long-term health effects.”

And the United Nations has called for the practice to end immediately stating that “[there is] nothing normal about detaining children” “[it] is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.”

While these statements are powerful, none of us really needs a credential to know that taking children from parents with no defined plans for reunification is cruel and inhumane. The proposed tent-cities for these children to live in sound like something out of a dystopian novel, not the United States of America. We may differ in our political opinions and stances on immigration. That is part of the beauty of this nation that we live in. But can we, as the mothers of the USA, unite in standing up for the children of the world? No matter where they come from, children deserve better than this. If we can’t give children on US soil the most basic of their human rights, then what kind of democracy do we have?

If you want to do something to make a difference, here are a couple simple ways to:

Call Your Representatives

By calling 202-225-3121, the Senate switchboard will connect you to your local representative. It’s crucial that Members of Congress cosponsor the following legislation:

3036 – Keep Families Together Act;

2572 – Protect Family Values at the Border Act;

5950/S.2937 – the HELP Separated Children Act;

2043/S. 2468 – Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2018.

Learn and Share

One good resource to educated on the matter of undocumented children is Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is an organization that protects the basic rights of unaccompanied children in the U.S.

If you want to make a difference you can tk about this with your friends, family and neighbors and share information on social media. You can invite others to stand up for human dignity and American values by standing up for children at the border.

Find an Organization that is Helping 

The Texas Tribune recently compiled this list of organizations who are helping families separated at the border. Consider supporting them in any way that you can.

5 Things to do While Feeding An Infant That Won’t Numb Your Brain

Two weeks ago we welcomed our third child, a girl, into the family. We’ve enjoyed the days at home together as a family, resting, bonding, and adjusting to our new dynamic. As any new parent knows, newborns spend the majority of their time eating and sleeping. I’d forgotten, however, just how much of my time would be spent feeding her… (Continue reading at

Third Time’s the Charm: A Method for Overcoming Pregnancy and Childbirth Fears

A recent study indicated that mindfulness practice during pregnancy helped women have more positive experiences during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. (read the findings here or the Times write up here) My recent experience with my third pregnancy, labor and delivery are evidence of this study’s findings.

Leading up to my third pregnancy I had a lot of fears surrounding childbirth and pregnancy. This was in large portion due to the fact that my last experience with pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum was very challenging. I knew going into this pregnancy that I would need a new method of preparation for the birth if this was going to be a positive experience for me.

I had heard of Hypnobabies and Hypnobirthing before, but honestly I felt a little freaked out by the name. The “hypno” part of the title immediately brought to mind a picture of a man with a twisted mustache and a top hat, swinging a pendulum in front of someone’s eyes, or the creepy guy at Senior grad night who hypnotized the shy kid into riding a blow up pool toy around the room as if he were a rodeo cowboy. Hypnosis? Weird. No thanks.

But I had several friends who had used Hypnobabies to prepare for their birthing experiences and every one of them had really great reviews. They had also clarified for me that it is not some kind of creepy hypnosis, but is rather a course that teaches you how to deeply relax all your muscles and relax your mind. The person doing the exercises always maintains complete control. As my pregnancy progressed and the big day drew nearer, my anxiety began to mount. I knew that I needed to find something to help me and decided to give Hypnobabies a try.

For clarification – hypnobirthing refers to the use of deep relaxation and mindfulness during pregnancy and labor. You will find several books by different authors on hypnobirthing and there are surely classes in your area along these lines as well. I read a couple of these books and they were helpful for understanding the mind-body connection during pregnancy and labor. What you will read or learn from different books or classes will vary from one to another as hypnobirthing is not a branded method, and each author or teacher has their own specific techniques and take on things.

What I highly recommend for anyone who has anxiety or fear related to pregnancy and labor is the Hypnobabies method (and no, nobody is paying me to endorse this method. I just had such a wonderful experience with it that I want to share.)

I bought the materials used through our online community yard sale site and paid $80 for the six CDs, textbook and companion book. Best eighty bucks I’ve spent all year. You may even be able to find it at your local library and check it out for free.

I honestly did not use the textbook a ton. I skimmed it but I did follow the schedule they give of what tracks to listen to (a lot of the textbook content is pregnancy education information that I already felt familiar with.) But the CD tracks were enormously helpful for me. They recommend that you listen to two tracks daily. One is the Positive Pregnancy Affirmations track and the other is whichever relaxation track you are on that day.

Guys, this daily practice proved hugely beneficial for me. I had struggled somewhat to maintain an emotional balance during my pregnancy. While some of this was surely due to hormones, I feel confident that a lot of it stemmed from the underlying anxieties I felt about the upcoming birth.

Words have incredible power and so do our thoughts. The things we say to ourselves internally really shape how we view our lives and the world around us. The positive pregnancy affirmations are basically empowering statements that you repeat aloud or in your head. They are positive messages about your ability to have a healthy and positive pregnancy and a beautiful birthing experience. I noticed after just one week of listening to these affirmations that my whole attitude about my pregnancy had changed. I felt great. I had more energy and mental clarity. And I felt happier. I listened to this track in the car while I was driving to preschool pickup or on errands. It is safe to listen to the affirmations while driving because they do not involve relaxation.

The other part you do every day is one of the relaxation tracks, in the order laid out for you in the textbook. The tracks are each about 30 minutes. I would do this practice when my kids were in their “quiet time” each day and if that didn’t happen I would do it at night before bed. The woman on the CD coaches you through deep relaxation, teaching you step by step how to gradually relax all the muscles in your body and also to clear your mind of distractions. When I first started these exercises I fell asleep every time because I became so relaxed. By the end I had learned how to deeply relax my body and mind with my eyes still open and could even walk around if I needed to while maintaining the relaxation.

I started preparing with Hypnobabies at the beginning of my third trimester. They recommend using it your whole pregnancy and I think I would have felt better earlier in my pregnancy if I had. Because I listened to the positive affirmations while driving each day, I really only had to invest 30 minutes a day into my mindfulness/relaxation practice. And it was so worth it, guys.

Birthing Day

When my labor started I used the breathing and relaxation techniques during contractions. When the contractions intensified I turned on my Hypnobabies track (there is one specifically for Birthing Day that helps coach you through your contractions.) I labored at home until I recognized that I was soon heading into transition labor and we left for the hospital.

I listened to the track on my phone on the way to the hospital and put my earbuds in when we got there so I could continue listening. This helped me remain relaxed and “in the zone” as my contractions intensified. When we checked into triage I am sure the nurse thought she would be sending us home. I was so calm (at this point in my previous labor I had definitely not felt calm.)  I would simply breathe deeply through the contractions but was keeping my body relaxed the whole time. She asked me skeptically “When was your last contraction?” Then when she checked me and saw how far along I was she looked up and said “Wow, whatever you’re doing is working.” She then made arrangements to get us checked in to a delivery room.

The staff at the hospital was awesome. They were extremely supportive of letting me labor the way that I wanted to. They arranged for me to have a room with a labor tub and they gave me the space to do my thing. We had brought an ipod dock that we used to play the tracks and honestly the whole thing went so smoothly. It was a really beautiful experience.

Hypnobabies does not set you up for a pain-free birth. I don’t think there is such a thing. More manageable? Yes. Beautiful and powerful? Yes. But you will experience a good deal of discomfort. I had delivered twice previously without pain medicine. With my first I used the Lamaze method which focuses on breathing and imagery. That was also a beautiful experience. With my second I thought I would be able to call on the skills I had used for the first and I did not spend much time preparing for the labor. She ended up being posterior and in a rather stuck position that caused me to labor (at a nine and 100% effaced) for several hours. That labor and delivery was traumatic for me. While I had had one positive and one negative experience with childbirth, I found that this third time I handled the labor more calmly than either of the others. I was much more capable of maintaining a calmness during the contractions because I was just so relaxed. This baby was also posterior and man, those transition contractions were crazy intense. But the experience was so much more positive than my previous posterior labor had been. I felt happy and at peace throughout and would even say that the majority of the labor was pleasant. If I were to do it again, I would spend some time preparing for the pushing phase as I feel like I lost my relaxation at that point. But thankfully the pushing phase was quick – like 7 minutes quick.

Whether you plan to have pain medicine or not when you give birth, I highly recommend mindfulness practice as preparation if you have any fear or anxiety about pregnancy and childbirth. It will improve how you feel during your pregnancy and help you manage your labor more calmly. According to the study, you will have a better postpartum recovery period as well. My daughter is only one week old, but so far I feel great.

*A quick note on where we deliver: During my pregnancy I had considered delivering at a birth center, as some midwives I was familiar with had recently opened one. We decided just to follow through with our plan to deliver at the same hospital where the other kids were born. They are a “baby-centered” hospital and are extremely respectful of a mother’s wishes during labor.

When my labor actually kicked into gear and I had labored at home for a few hours I remember thinking: “Man, I wish I could just finish my labor here where I am so comfortable.” I am not a big fan of strangers poking and prodding me and was thinking it would be so neat to have a baby at home.

I am so grateful that we delivered at a hospital. Delivering there really did not change my labor experience much at all. The staff was incredibly non-intrusive and allowed me to labor how I wanted. They were encouraging, helpful and supportive. I would have used my birthing method whether I delivered at home, at a birth center or at a hospital. But my daughter’s experience could have been entirely different. When our daughter was crowning, it became apparent that the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around her neck and was strangling her. Her face was white as a sheet and she was unresponsive. The medical staff quickly clamped and cut the cord and rushed her to the pediatric staff that was in the room. My husband asked the OB “Is she ok?” and the doctor responded “They are assisting her.” He quickly uttered a desperate prayer and we waited. The staff administered oxygen, pumped fluid out and did who knows what else. After a few minutes (that felt like hours) we heard her first cry. They monitored her the rest of the day and night and she was doing well enough that we were able to go home the following day.

When we took her for her first check up with our pediatrician, the doctor commented on how skilled the OB and staff were that took care of her on the morning of her birth. She has seen a lot of similar situations that did not end so well where the baby had immediate brain damage or passed away. She was surprised that our daughter didn’t even have to stay at the NICU. I feel so deeply grateful to those people who assisted her quickly and skilfully and am also thankful for the amazing facility where she was born.

Deliver wherever you feel good about. That decision is yours alone. But I am incredibly grateful for the immediate medical assistance that our daughter received in a situation where every second counted.

*Photo credit: “Little Piggies” by  Kai Balbin, Unsplash Photos

To My Daughter Before The Baby Comes

Dearest daughter,

I am lying here, snuggled up next to you in your tiny toddler bed. My giant belly and bent legs take up most of the mattress space, but you have graciously rolled into the corner so we can share. Lately I have been letting you fall asleep on your own for naps and at bed-time, in an effort to help you increase your independence before Baby Sister comes. But not today.

I lie here and watch you, cuddled up in your sparkly, mint fairy dress, as your breathing grows deeper. We breathe together, my arm draped across you, your dimpled hand resting on mine. And I feel struck, suddenly, by the utter impermanence of childhood.

In a number of days or hours your life will change dramatically. With the arrival of your little sister, you will no longer be mama’s baby. Another body will constantly fill that familiar spot on my lap, which has shrunk in recent months with my growing belly. She will take over your morning snuggle space when she nurses in my bed each day and will monopolize my time and attention. I know this will be hard for you. You will adjust well, spend even more time playing with your older brother. You will find many ways to help and new roles to fill.

Yet some part of me wishes that we could freeze our relationship right here, right now. That this little, magical Eden we’ve created around you could continue to exist forever. As I watch you peacefully sleep, surrounded by pink gingham in a room of Peter rabbit books and stuffed animal friends, I reflect on the miracle of your child world. So unencumbered, so safe.

I think about how this baby will arrive and you will grow up a bit faster now. You will be full-time big girl and big sister. And that growing up will only continue to accelerate from this moment on. What, I wonder, will you experience in the years of life that stretch before you?

Learning, exploration, friendships and myriad experiences I cannot offer you surely will fill your life and your vibrant spirit will meet these with enthusiasm. You will give and receive, follow and lead, and learn to sort through, accept and reject the constant messages that others will send you. You will nurture and comfort, fight and stand up when needed, share and love always. These are things that you already do.

My girl, you are a beautiful child and your physical beauty will affect your life experience. I think about how boys and men will treat you because of your beauty. How girls and women will treat you because of your beauty. Know that your appearance does not define you and says nothing of your worth. Your true beauty, the beauty of your soul, is surpassing. It is breathtaking and cannot be confined to your body alone. Let that true beauty be your guide. It will always guide you to goodness.

Someday, daughter, you will experience deep pain – something you have been sheltered from thus far in your life. You will learn that others live in sickness, fear, starvation, suffering and violence. I hope that your life does not lead you through such experiences. But I know, in the helpless mother place inside of me, that I will not always be able to control the environment around you.

As you grow and experience more of the light and darkness that make up this world, I pray that your experiences will move you to compassion. That you will choose to counter cynicism with optimism. That you will constantly seek out the one on the fringes, the person you needs you. That you will always be strong, but never hardened.

Daughter, I hope you know that the magical time we have together right now, this world we have created that protects and nourishes you, will continue to exist. I know that it always will. It will live inside of you and inside of me and continue to nurture, protect and strengthen us in the years to come. This home-place will give you power to make the world a little kinder, a little safer, a little calmer. And the light that you shine will draw on it for energy when you feel weak. As I look at the baffling world around me, I know that this home-place inside is all that I can offer you to strengthen you in times ahead.

As you enter a new phase of life this week and as your childhood world begins to dim in the coming years, know this: the home-place inside you is real. It is vibrant and indestructible and can sustain you in ways that you may not be aware of. Let this place live. Let it be an eternal reminder of my great love for you.

I love you,


*Photo credit: Let Me See You Sparkle Photography

Why Is Pregnancy So Hard?

Currently I am 8 months pregnant with our third child and my distended belly looks like a full, rising moon. This home stretch of pregnancy – also known as the “pee-when-you-sneeze” stage – often takes me by surprise, even though I have been here before. I knocked over a Pepsi with this belly at a party the other night while reaching for a napkin and the days of feeling rested after a full night’s sleep are now just memories. Continue Reading at Her View From Home.



The Wiggles

Some days I feel like our whole house is one big wiggle. Each morning at 6:30 my four year old worms his way into our bed and shoves his little feet under my pregnant belly. Then he wiggles and shifts and wiggles and shifts by my side, rolling up the sheets with his limbs and assuring that I can’t get back to sleep. His wiggling body is only separated by an inch or so of skin, fat and muscle holding in the other wiggle – my 36 week old baby girl. She contorts and twists and kicks and hiccups until, no matter how I try, I can’t ignore all the wiggling and I finally succumb to getting up.

Once I’ve wiggled out of bed (you know this third trimester maneuver – roll to one side, drop the feet to the floor and wiggle off of the mattress) I wiggle into my clothes and then walk down the hall to the kitchen. Even my walk these days looks more like a wiggle as each step bounces my enormous belly and causes me to sway my hips from side to side.

We breakfast, clean it up and then proceed with our wiggly day. My two children flank me on the couch and wiggle as we read picture books. We all wiggle up into our seats when we load into the mini-van to head off to preschool or the store. I wiggle down to the floor to play cars or trains or Duplos with them. Even our mealtimes are wiggly – which often results in preposterous amounts of food ending up all over our kitchen floor. At the end of the day I lie next to each child and tuck them in while they toss and wiggle until their breathing gets heavy and they finally lie still. Ahh, at last. Stillness.

In the case of our family, the phrase “get your wiggles out” seems rather presumptuous. Our life is one big wiggle. And for now, I am ok with it.