Tall Mom tiny baby: May 2014

The Princess and the Pee

Friday, May 30, 2014

The CVS cashier smiled at me from across the counter. "Ooo, you have extra-bucks, and lots of coupons!" she squealed, and she handed me my three foot long white strip of paper.

I quickly glanced down at the receipt and had to chuckle to myself. I had just earned diaper coupons for not only my tiny baby, but also myself. I had purchased adult diapers frequently enough that CVS wanted me to start saving money on this major purchase.

I guess you could say my "pee problem" probably started during labor. My darling Itty Bitty decided to start coming down my birth canal facing the wrong direction. A whole team consisting of my doctor, nurses, my birth doula, and Tall Dad helped turn that 8 pound 2 ounce baby around. (Feel free to read all about it, here)

We should have realized my tiny baby would have done some rearranging with my insides while he was there.

Bath Time For Baby in Prince Lionheart washPOD Bathe #tbt

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Just one of my favorite videos, and even though we filmed it in September - it feels like a throwback video to me! 

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Long Island Wine Country

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My marriage needed a little TLC.

Over the past two years, I went from a regular girl, to being super busy as a television host on The Rhode Show, to being pregnant, to then giving birth to our adorable tiny baby whom we so fondly nicknamed Itty Bitty. Tall Dad and I went from being husband and wife, to TV host and bag carrier, to mom and dad, all in what seemed to be a nano-second. It was a busy and frantically paced whirlwind of life transitions in such a small time period.  Suffice it to say, since the tornado of our life began, our romantic date nights had been few and far in between. With no time for anything but...stuff (?)...we grew tired, irritable, and didn't quite feel like ourselves.  But, at least we recognized it.  So, a decision was made...

We needed a vacation.

To save money, we were looking for a destination to which we could drive. Additionally, our goal was to find somewhere fun, **no kids**, and a place neither of us had been. We also wanted to make sure we weren't too far away, just in case reality happened, and an emergency went down with our son so we would be close enough to rush home.  There are plenty of romantic places like that around us, right?


Well, after some good research, we found that romance we so desired in Long Island, NY of all places. Yup, Long Island's North Fork Wine Country.

Minute With Mary - Memorial Day {vlog}

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day - especially to all of those who have served. If you know someone in the armed forces (present or retired), please send them a text or a Facebook message with a little thank you. It's because of them and their sacrifices that we are the land of the free.

Minute With Mary: Did you put on makeup after giving birth? {vlog}

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Check out Kirsten's Post : http://ow.ly/xdEZf

Happy Labor Day {guest post}

mommy makeup for labor

“She got her holidays mixed up”, you say.  ”This weekend is Memorial Day”.  I am quite aware of that, although I must admit it snook up on me this year.  Anyway, recently I was posed the question by a  gorgeous pregnant woman,  what makeup she should be wearing during labor and deliver.  Having gone through this process myself twice before, my initial thought was :”Honey, when you are in labor, you are not going to give a crap how you look. All you care about is making it through the next contraction.” But, I kept thinking about it and it started making sense to me.

One thing you learn once you have kids is that life is unpredictable and this starts with those precious little cherubs making their grand entrance.  Rarely does it go as planned, but if it does, and you do actually find yourself  with an extra 5 minutes, why not use that time to apply a little makeup and look your best in those cherished pictures moments after the baby is born?  Looking back, I sure wish I had spruced up a little.  After pondering this further,  I realized that going through labor is much like a wedding (at least makeup wise, anyway).  It needs to be water proof, sweat proof, cry proof, last long hours and make you look like your best self in pictures.  You just want a little something to give you the postpartum  ”glow”.  So without further ado, here are my labor day beauty picks.

1)  Garnier BB Cream has garnered rave reviews in the beauty industry for giving you and even, dewy complexion that lasts for hours.

2)  Nars Radiant Cream Concealer is easy to use and illuminates the under eye area, eradicating those dark circles.

3) Tarte Cheek Stain gives you a gorgeous, natural flush and it stays put.

4)  Benefit Brow Zings contains everything you need to give yourself a perfect brow, which is so important in pictures.

5)  Urban Decay 24/7 Gilde-On Waterproof Eyeliner does not budge once it is applied and glides on easily.  Keep it close to the lashline for the most natural, eye defining look.

6) Top it all off with some waterproof mascara.  This one is my favorite.

7) During labor, my big thing was lip balm.  I was constantly applying it.  I love Fresh Sugar LipBalm for its hydrating qualities and the prettiest, barely there touch of color it leaves on your lips.

Incidentally, these products are also wonderful once you have entered motherhood.  I found that putting on a little makeup made me feel more human during those first dazed months of sleepless nights, poopy diapers and spit up on your shirt.

Congratulations on your little bundle of joy and remember to enjoy the ride!

About the guest writer, Kirsten Brusse:

Kirsten Brusse is a beauty expert and professionally licensed makeup artist with over 17 years experience in the industry.  Her career in the field began working for such companies as Trish McEvoy, Bobbi Brown, Chanel and Stila as their makeup artist.   She has an extensive portfolio of weddings, magazine, runway and television work.  Her artistry and advice have been published on The Knot, Style Me Pretty,The Providence Journal and Rhode Island PBS, among others.  She was part of the makeup team at StyleWeek NorthEast 2013 and is a regular contributor to WPRI’s The Rhode Show.  Most recently, Kirsten has started a beauty and lifestyle blog, www.thedailybeautyblotter.com, in an effort to make her knowledge and expertise accessible to everyone in a fun and approachable way.  Additionally, Kirsten teaches classes, seminars and workshops that focus on each woman’s unique beauty and a “less is more” approach to makeup application.  It is her passion to help women look and feel beautiful.  ”When you look good on the outside, you feel confident on the inside”.  Her philosophy on makeup is that it should be fun and non-intimidating.  It is makeup after all!  Kirsten makes her home in Providence, RI with her husband and her two boys.

Alright Weissbluth. Lets Tackle Our Terrible One Year Old's Sleep Schedule

Friday, May 23, 2014

I am so upset right now. Itty Bitty has been crying in his crib, alone by himself, for 37 minutes and 15 seconds. Before I put him down for his nap I snapped a few photos. This sleep deprived Tall Mom decided to make terrible meme of my child. I'm pretty sure this makes me a bad parent.
Welcome to nap time in our tiny apartment.

Itty Bitty's screaming has reached a whole new level. My husband and I are both sick, tired, and crabby. Itty Bitty's lack of naps and overall sleep is wreaking havoc on my entire family.

I know some parents completely disagree with crying it out. They find it cruel and unnatural.

Actually, I find it a bit unnatural as well. If I could, I would go out and purchase a king sized bed, right now, and be like Brad and Angelina. If it were up to me, I might want to cosleep with Tall Dad and Itty Bitty until Itty Bitty chose to leave.

But I'm not Brad and Angelina. I don't have millions of dollars to spend on childcare when I need a nap or a shower. And I certainly don't have a bed that should have it's own zip code.

So I have bit the bullet and have decided to take up Dr. Weissbluth's advice (his book - Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.) We have already tried the No Cry Sleep solution by Dr Pantley, I've read and tried all of the tips and tricks by Dr Ferber, and have read blogs about baby sleep methods until 3 in the morning when my eyes dried out. Tall Dad and I have begun researching different sleep consultants, but their hefty price tags made me decide to try one last sleep method.

Dr Weissbluth's extinction method is our last hope. This sleep plan is like the nuclear bomb for terrible sleepers or nappers like my kid. Especially ones that went through colic (like Itty Bitty.)

Here's our plan of action:

6-7am - wake Itty Bitty up

7-8:30 - breakfast, lots of activity, plus a short walk outside or sit on the porch. Dr Weissblueth says outdoor stimulation is key

8:30-8:55 - diaper change, wind down in bedroom, bottle and books, turn on white noise

9 - place Itty Bitty in his crib, tell him it's time to sleep, and leave him in his crib for an hour. Close the door, and do not return until 10am.

After Itty Bitty wakes from his nap, or after 1 hour of being awake in his crib, I will pick him up and start the awake cycle all over again- lunch, lots of activity, plus a short walk outside or sit on the porch.

12:30pm - diaper change, wind down in bedroom, bottle and books, turn on white noise

1pm - place Itty Bitty in his crib, tell him it's time to sleep, and leave him in his crib for an hour. Close the door, and do not return until 2pm.

Same as before. If Itty Bitty naps, I will let him nap for an hour to an hour and a half. If he cries or is awake the whole time, I will take him out of his bed at 2pm. I will not check on him until that time.

Since Itty Bity has a sleep debt (a years worth if terrible sleeping) Weissbluth says he needs an extra early bedtime.

5pm - dinner & bath

5:30pm - pajamas, wind down in bedroom, bottle and books, turn on white noise

6pm - bedtime

We are to close the door and not reopen it until 6am the next morning, and we are also not supposed to let him sleep past 7am. That way he will be ready for his 9am nap.

Crying is expected, especially for Itty Bitty. He is a champion crier who wants to stay up all day and night.

Our hope is that he will begin to realize that he is safe in his bed, and that we are not coming to check in or play with him. Hopefully he will get bored jumping and crying and eventually see that sleep and naps are actually a good thing.

We are also doing the nap training in tandem with the night time sleeping, because weissbluth recommends it. Sleep helps sleep, and he said that working on all sleep routines at once will bring about results faster.

Wish Tall Dad and I luck, cross your fingers and toes. I hate hearing my tiny baby cry, but I have gone well over a year without decent sleep. As I said, we have tried every sleep method I could get my hands on, and have decided to give this one a shot before shelving out money that I do not have to spend on a sleep consultant.

If you have any tips or tricks, please leave them in the comments below. I also am open to donations of the red wine or tequila variety.

The Best Baby Friendly Places in Rhode Island - Blithewold Mansion - Bristol

Thursday, May 22, 2014

This post is part of the Tall Mom tiny baby's Best Baby Friendly Places in Rhode Island Series.
As much as I love decorating, fun food, special candies, and general merriment - holidays themselves really stress me out. Maybe it's because as a young girl I hated waking up early, getting dressed up complete with pantyhose, and whisked off to an all too early church service, only to then be carted around to various friends and family's houses. Maybe it's because I'm a child of divorce, and that mixed with my ever present stubborn Taurus mindset were the perfect storm for chaos. Now as an adult holidays have become the ever present juggling act between my family, friends, and seeing the in-laws - some of whom like me, and some of whom...well...you know.

Now that Itty Bitty has joined our family, I've decided to throw my old feeling about holidays out the window and to start anew. I talked to Tall Dad at great lengths, and together we decided to take our first big step: create a new tradition for Easter. Our grand idea? Visit Blithewold Mansion in Bristol.

Blithewold Mansion is majestic, beautiful, covered in flowers and drenched in reflected sunlight from the ocean. It is a grand escape - a perfect place for a picnic or wedding, and can make the most simple day into an extraordinary day.

After finishing our Easter dinner with my family, Tall Dad, Itty Bitty and I crawled into my tiny Volkswagon Jetta and drove off to the East Bay. The mansion was still open for self guided tours, and the grounds were open until sunset. I slung on my new BobaAir baby carrier, and we took off for the grand building through the moon gate entrance.

Admission was $11 per adult, but we got a discount for being AAA members. Babies are free!
The mansion is open from mid-April through Columbus Day. It then opens up again for Christmas at Blithewold from late November through the New Year.

If you're going to peruse the mansion, I'd recommend wearing your baby in a baby carrier, since there are stairs, and the mansion isn't truly stroller friendly.

The Blithewold Mansion was once home to the Van Wickle family, and the 45 room manor is still decorated with belongings and decorations fitting with the time of its hayday.
When you walk through the halls and up the carefully carved stairways, you feel like you are on the set of Downton Abbey.
As beautiful as Blithewold is on the inside, it's the outside grounds that have truly made this mansion shine.
The outside gardens are perfect for a jogging stroller, and as well as a picnic on the expansive yard.
Several gardens of different styles are on the grounds, all overlooking Narragansett Bay.
There are different events that happen throughout the year, including our favorite - Daffodil Days.
Thousands of flowers and trees (including a bamboo forest) decorate the several gardens at Blithewold, helping you transport to a wonderland. I suggest packing a picnic lunch and spending several hours here, especially in the springtime.
I am excited to return again throughout the warmer months, as well as the holiday season. Who knows, maybe we will create a new tradition of visiting Blithewold for one of their Christmastime Teas!
Have you been to the Blithewold Mansion? What is your favorite part?

You're Kid's Most Important Life Lesson: Han Shot First {Guest Post}

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

*Disclaimer: This guest post is written by Tall Dad. The following article is Rated R, and is not representative of Mary Larsen’s thoughts or values.  She is not liable for the views expressed in the following commentary. Chances are, however, that if you're reading this, regardless of your tastes, we probably have at least one thing in common - we're both parents. And you know, just as well as I, that being a parent, either new, or grizzled veteran, is tough on anyone. So, take whatever you like from this article – good, bad, or ugly – and try to enjoy.

Star Wars Episode VII is a reality.  It's happening.  It will be directed by JJ Abrams - Luke, Leia and Han are back - and it's going to adorn the silver screen in December of 2015.  It will be glorious.
I intend to introduce my son to Star Wars when the new episode comes out, and I am literally counting the seconds until I see those sultry words: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" appear on a building-sized IMAX screen. But, why? Well, of course, there are the obvious answers: lightsabers rule, Darth Vader kicks ass, the Millenium Falcon may or may not be my dream vehicle, and Yoda... fucking Yoda, bro. 

But, after the announcement of Episode VII, as my gleeful-fanboy-adoration of all things related to the Force and JJ Abrams died down into reality,  I got to thinking - Star Wars provided a lot more than just awesome characters,  tantalizing special effects, and General Akbar's all-to-late recognition that, holy shit, "it's a TRAP!"  Inspired by everyone's favorite tiny green Jedi Master, I recognized: luminous wisdom is Star Wars - not those crude affectations of Hollwood movie-making matter.  It is a living, breathing, mythology on the collective we. Holy Christ, what does all that meta bullshit mean? 

In other words, what draws me to Star Wars are the life lessons it taught me as a kid. Of which, there are many.  Trust me.  (A future post, perhaps?) But, this profound discovery has reminded me why Star Wars is still relevant (even in a post Avengers, Dark Knight Trilogy, and Hunger Games world), and why I've concluded that if there is only one thing I could teach Itty Bitty in this life, it would be Star Wars' most important life lesson:

Han shot first.

Yup, Han Solo shot first alright. And it's imperative my kid, your kid, the neighbor's kid, and even the kids in Uganda know this as they go forward in life.

Let's set the scene:

After meeting Luke and Obi-Wan in the Cantina on Tattoine, Han Solo is rudely interrupted by an ever so slimy green Puffer Fish-esque bounty hunter by the name of Greedo. Threatening to take Solo back to Jabba the Hutt for the money he owes him, Greedo makes a not-so-subtle threat against Han's life. Not one to take lightly to this sort of intimidation, with one leg casually on the table, Solo nonchalantly unclips his blaster on his other leg below the table, pulls it out, shoots and kills Greedo, gets up, leaves a tip to the bartender and says, "sorry about the mess."  He calmly walks out of the Cantina and carries on with the rest of his day. Unbelievable right?! The definition of cool. 

Hold on - why is this (let's call it for what it is) murder the most important life lesson for your kid? Seems a little morbid on the surface, right?  Well, yeah, that's why I'm writing this article -to get your attention. (And, no, before you go there, I don't want little kids offing each other with guns either.) 

But, as always, there's a little bit more to it than just that. Willem Dafoe says it best in The Boondock Saints, "I believe the word [we're] looking for [is] 'symbolism.' What is the ssss-ymbolism there?" The idea behind "Han Shot First" is built, in my eyes, around 5 important life lessons from which we should all learn:

1. If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It - in 1997, George Lucas released re-mastered special additions of his Star Wars saga. He changed a lot of scenes in the re-release, and most of it was needed. But, the one alteration that sent geeks into rage fits across the globe...

...the holy grail of double crosses against all dorkdom...

...the coup de gras of Nerdacide...

Lucas infamously digitally modified this scene to make Greedo shoot first, miss, and Solo retaliate. He completely changed the entire dynamic of this scene!  And when people question him on it - Lucas' response is, "you were confused. Greedo always shot first." 


Ok pal, I'm into having artistic license, but don't make me look like an asshole by lying right to my face. You can't re-write history. I seen that shit. Han popped Greedo at that table, and I felt damn good about it. We all felt damn good about it. Alas, now, Greedo pulls the trigger first. 

Of course, Star Wars is Lucas' creation and he can do whatever he damn well pleases with it. But, he should have left it alone. The original scene was a perfect introduction to Harrison Ford's eponymous alter-ego.  It's like adding that final brush stroke to a nearly perfect painting, and then proceeding to take a giant shit all over that perfect painting because, well, fuck you, that's why. In other words, Lucas got greedy, and he pissed off a lot of his sworn advocates.  So, don't get greedy.  If it's perfect, leave that shit alone.

2. Be Who You Are - Lucas eventually admitted to redacting any semblance of Han shooting first because he didn't want Solo to be known as the cold blooded killer he was portrayed to be in the original 1977 version. So, in changing this scene, Lucas fundamentally re-wrote the character of Han Solo and made him something he is not. A monumentally lucky nice-guy-pushover. 

True, he may be a "scruffy looking Nerfherder," but Han Solo is also a fucking smuggler! The best in the galaxy! He ain't supposed to be nice.  He ain't your buddy. You want a beer with Han Solo? No problem.  But you ain't talkin about your kids with him, and he sure as shit ain't gonna be in your little fantasy league. 

Han's his own man, on his own time, and no one's gonna tell him otherwise.  Especially Greedo. 

By having Han shoot first, it served as the perfect example of how dangerous he could be. Solo's clearly traveled the galaxy a few times, and survived on nothing but guts, wits, and having the ingenuity to know when to take action. But, then, all of a sudden, this little piece of shit bounty hunter with bug eyes and a penis for lips gets a one up on the great Han Solo? 

It just doesn't fit the character. The change completely mitigates Solo's smart, proactive, self-centered, criminal character who makes shit happen, and remodels him into a reactive do-good pantywaist, who got lucky because Greedo missed his impossibly easy shot at point-blank range.  On a macro level, the change made Solo's character arch completely different.  As such, his journey of being the anti-hero throughout Star Wars became a lot less poignant and transformational. 

So, if you're a bad mother fucker, then be that bad mother fucker. Own it. If you're a good guy, own that shit too. Just be who you are and no one can change your scene.

3. Life's A Journey - One minute you're killing a bounty hunter in a bar, and then before you can blink, you're being honored in front of thousands of people in the Rebellion. You may be a bad mother fucker, but there's always room for improvement. And even though you may initially rescue a princess for, "more wealth than you could imagine," and you, "could imagine quite a bit," there is still always something in you that wants to to do good because you can.  It's wise to listen to that calling.  

Redemption comes from many unexpected places, including friends, family, and loved ones.  Maybe even hokey religions and ancient weapons too.  You can be the hero if you let it happen. Ride the wave and life will happen regardless of how many bumps you run into, or how many bounty hunters you have to kill.

4. You Control Your Destiny -  In response to Solo saying it would be over his dead body that he would go back to Jabba, Greedo proclaimed, "that's the idea, I've been waiting for this for a long time..." OK, regardless of the story Lucas intended on telling originally, it's pretty clear, based on what Greedo says, that he planned on shooting Solo from the get-go. Han's action is easy to understand from a logical standpoint that Solo knew Greedo wasn't going to let him see the light of day, even if Solo had Jabba's money. So he threw his hands up in the air, said, "fuck it," and disposed of Greedo as if he were Bantha fodder.  Basically, he dropped the mic before dropping the mic was cool.

In light of this self defense measure, Han probably would have been killed if he hadn't shot poor little Greedo first. Which, means that that Solo would have never met back up with Luke and Obi-Wan. In turn, Leia would have died at the hands of Darth Vader because she wouldn't have been rescued, and Luke wouldn't have been able to reach and destroy the first Death Star. 

Thereby making the Jedi extinct, and allowing the Empire to crush the rebellion with total ease. 

So, by Han shooting first, he saved the rebellion, ushered in a new era of peace, resurrected the Jedi, and got the girl in Princess Leia. 

So, unless you run into a terrible bounty hunter, and that bounty hunter has the worst aim in the ENTIRE fucking galaxy, and you're subject to terrible digital enhancements, and you're in a beloved movie whose fans are slave to the whimsy of a greedy-money-grubbing-writer, you control your destiny.  

Which leads me to my final thought...

5. Women Love Badasses - Han Solo gets the girl. He gets her because he's cool and he's a little dangerous. While watching Star Wars to begin with, (and extrapolating this kind of advice from one movie scene) makes you inherently the opposite of a badass, women liking the bad boy is an undeniable truth.  

It's as time tested as death, taxes, and the Cubs never winning the World Series. It always plays out that way.

C'mon girls, you know it. Just admit it. Women will always take the dark and dubious guy over the nice nerd who has a Star Wars: Episode I poster in his living room. (The only exception to this rule is Tall Mom. And, yes, we do have the aforemention poster in our living room.) 

Think of this, the first time we meet Han Solo is in the Cantina when he kills that dumbass Greedo. Han Solo is immediately established as a man not to be trifled with and it set women's loins ablaze. Instant sex icon. Yes, it's counter-intuitive to think of a Star Wars character to be a badass, but if there is one guy who could pull it off, it's Han Solo.  If you want the girl, even though you may be a Star Wars geek, you're gonna have to be a badass like Han.  

Oh, another small piece of advice - if a girl says, "I love you" to you, never, EVER, under any circumstances, say it back.  Just say, "I know."  

You will have gained eternal badassery and a perpetually secure love life.

In conclusion, these five lessons are all small, but important, ideas that can be derived from Han shooting first. I mean, if you could tell your kid all about taking control of life, finding gumption in who you are, not to be greedy, and finding the easiest way to get the girl, you would do it, right? Of course! And this way, you don't even have to do any of the work. Han Solo does it all for you! And that's the beauty of Star Wars - it means certain things to certain people. Anybody can identify with Star Wars in any way they choose.

Say what you will, but it is a fact that Star Wars is pure Americana. It's bigger than you and I. It's more than just a movie. It's the defining vehicle for all that it means to be young, eager, daring, amazed, good, evil, crushed, and, yet, full of hope. It's an all encompassing chronicle of what it means to be human, and all the confusing nuances that come along with being. Don't wanna take it from me? No problem - take it from the United States Government.

In 1989, Star Wars was among the first movies to be recognized in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry. What does that mean? Well, Uncle Sam realized that Star Wars is so important that they deemed it "culturally, historically, [and] aesthetically significant," enough to preserve it's existence for as long as the Library of Congress stands. 

Which basically means fucking FOREVER. 

The people who make the serious decisions in this world, see Star Wars as such a pillar of American society that they want to guarantee every future generation of Americans has the opportunity to pop George Lucas' creation into the Blu Ray player, and marvel at its greatness.

Or, at the greatness of Han shooting first.

To read all things Tall Dad - just click here. You can also listen to him and Tall Mom ParentCast.

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ParentCast: Episode 12 - How To Make Your Kid's 1st Birthday Party Not Suck

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

After a brief hiatus, Tall Dad and I are proud to bring you episode 12 of ParentCast.  Inspired by the deliciously funny article, "10 Ways Birthday Parties Suck," written by Karen Alpert of the blog "Baby Sideburns," today's episode delves into how to make them NOT suck.   

This episode goes a little off the rails towards the end.  Learn why Mary's a "classy broad," why Pinterest is Satan, why the worst part of the birthday are the gifts (unless you're doing thank you cards), and why we're pretty confident Rhys is either a human, or he's E.T. 

Let's all be honest with each other here - nobody wants to go to a first birthday party.  So, let's make it the best possible experience we can, bear through it, and then go home (where we actually want to be.)  And, oddly enough, A LOT of people wanted to have their opinions heard on this matter.  We have never seen this kind of feedback from our listeners on Facebook.  So, it must have struck a cord. The feedback was so great that Tall Dad and I just took a back seat and allowed our freakin' awesome fans to be heard!  Check it out!

Be sure to check us out on our website by clicking here.

Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

And, please subscribe to us on iTunes by clicking here.  

You'll be better off subscribing because our episodes will be automatically downloaded and you get the pleasure of listening to us without the pressure of having to remember to download the episode!

Remember, ParentCast is all about being informed, and having a Judgement Free Zone where we can all laugh at each other's mistakes, misfortune, and celebrate our triumphs as parents.  ParentCast is a forum for parents who don't have any idea what they're doing, or even for those who think they know what they're doing, but they really don't.  Best part is, as always, it's free, it's funny, and it's a lot better than therapy!

What's your best advice to prevent your kids first birthday party from sucking?

Climb Out Of The Darkness {guest post}

About 1 in 6 women experience postpartum depression or a related illness, so there is a very good chance that someone you know is suffering right now or has in the past... and there is also a good chance that she suffered in silence. 

The following is a guest post by fellow a Rhode Island mom, Courtenay. She is a Warrior Mom, which means she survived a Postpartum Disorder (PPD). For 1.5 years after her daughter was born, Courtenay suffered from Postpartum Depression. She found hope and support, and has climbed her way out of the darkness.

This is her story.
Initially, I was excited on that fall day of 2010 when I received the call from my primary care physician with those wonderful words, “you are pregnant”. All that changed, however, when I reached 6 weeks of pregnancy.

I started with symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), leaving me sick with nausea, vomiting and dehydration 24 hours a day. I remember driving to my presentations for work, asking for a bathroom, throwing up, doing my presentation, going back to the bathroom to throw up, and returning to my office. That was every day for me for 22 weeks straight! It was all day, every day.
If that wasn’t enough, at around 32 weeks I became extremely itchy on my stomach. Within a week, this had spread throughout my body, causing a poison ivy-like rash. This was called PUPPP, also known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy and the only remedy for it was delivery of the baby. Needless to say, this was not a comfortable pregnancy.

Throughout the pregnancy, I started to feel constant worry and regret. I regretted being pregnant, I regretted bringing this baby into this world and not even feeling excited.

When people would ask me about my pregnancy or make those annoying comments about the size of my stomach being as large as a watermelon, I cringed at having to put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy for this choice I made. I never shared these feelings with anyone and definitely did not say how I felt out loud. I never experienced depression, so I chalked these symptoms up to “pregnancy hormones”.

August 26, 2011 should have been the happiest days of my life. Instead, it was the start of my climb into the darkness. My daughter’s birth was traumatic in so many ways I wouldn’t have ever imagined. We had complications and things happened that were not on my birth plan. Everything that happened that evening was a blur. Once she was here, I constantly worried about everything. I was second guessing every choice I made and eventually felt like I wasn't a good mom for her.

I wanted to run away.

I didn't sleep for days on end.

I would watch the clock and listen to her sleep constantly, making sure she was breathing, but also thinking of everything I did wrong that day and all that I couldn't accomplish. I couldn’t make my daughter happy, she cried often and I couldn’t soothe her.

I had no faith in anything I did, I doubted the way I fed her, how I put her diapers on, how I rocked her to sleep. 

I lived in constant guilt, over things I didn't do and things I couldn't do. I put on a fake smile but had a constant lump in my throat when I spoke with friends and family.

Knowing I wasn’t myself, at my 6 week check up I spoke with my OBGYN about my fears, with tears streaming down my face, and his answer was to prescribe me a medication that had a very serious adverse reaction and left me with even more severe symptoms and no follow up from a physician or treatment provider. I didn't seek further treatment until my daughter was 6 months old. 

I was in the dark, crying alone while my daughter cried in my arms for days on end. I suffered in that horrible state for over 180 days..... over 4,380 hours of fear, guilt, turmoil, anger, and darkness. I went through the whole gambit of treatment. It was not an easy road and it wasn’t a straight path either. 

I was assessed for the day program at Women and Infants and was approved to enter the program, however it was full. I had to wait over a month to get into treatment. I remember leaving the assessment crying that day. I had already taken a huge risk opening up to someone about the terrible thoughts I was having, not wanting to be a mom and just wanting to run away from it all. Now I had to live in my own painful and dark world for even longer! Luckily, I was referred to an amazing therapist who started seeing me right away and whose focus was PPD and women’s issues. This helped pass the time until I received that call and was able to start the intensive program where I spent my days for almost two weeks with my daughter. 

It was intense, emotional, tiring, and uplifting all at the same time. Upon discharge, I had been given new medication and vitamins along with many skills and resources to start my climb out of the darkness. 

PPD is real. 

Thankfully, PPD ends. 

My daughter is now 2.5 and I am so greatful for the community that helped me become a Mom full of love.
Postpartum Progress was one of the first websites I found, the information there is invaluable. It gave me the resources I needed. I was able to see that it does get better; I did not have to live in the darkness. 

I am forever grateful to so many, including those family and friends that were around during those times and also for Kathy McGuigan and my mom's group through RI New Mom's Connection, Women and Infants Day Hospital, Michelle Chaudhry, and Bellani Maternity. Without these programs and staff, I would not have the strength and support to get myself into treatment.

On Saturday, June 21, I will be leading a "climb" on the John Chafee Nature Preserve (Rome Point) as a part of the Postpartum Progress Climb Out of the Darkness Campaign. This event is to raise awareness and to help Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit that supports pregnant and new moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis, and pregnancy depression.

There is no registration fee and you do not have to fundraise, but you are welcome to if you would like.

We will be walking the John Chafee Nature Preserve’s (Rome Point) main trail, which is a 1.25 mile flat walk through the woods, ending at the beach with a beautiful view of the Jamestown Bridge. At the beach, we can enjoy a picnic and some fun for the children. Symbolically, for someone who has dealt with, or is dealing with any form depression, this is huge!

About 15-20% of women experience postpartum depression or a related illness, so there is a very good chance that someone you know is suffering right now or has in the past... and there is also a good chance that she suffered in silence. 

We need to change that! I sincerely hope that you can help in whatever capacity you are able. There are multiple ways you can support the Climb Out Of the Darkness 2014:
For more information, please feel free to visit this event's Facebook Page, or click here to walk, donate, or pledge to the cause.