Thank a Feminist

rosie[Foreword:  I wrote this the day before Newtown and believing that a) nothing else matters when little kids are being murdered and b) I had missed my window  on feminism, I had shelved it along with a growing file of unpublished notes.  But after a tangential Facebook conversation yesterday and this TOTALLY AWESOME article that makes me love the adorable and talented Zooey Deschanel even more, I felt like I could legitimately publish anyway.  *Raises right fist*]

Have you ever seen those signs that read “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”?

Well, as the product of two teachers and a book devourer/word nerd, I love that saying.

But if you can read whatever you want – from Cosmo to The Atlantic, or, say…go to school, go to graduate school, get your doctorate, make and keep your own money, marry whom you choose, NOT marry at all, have a baby regardless of whether you’re married, NOT have a baby…ever if you don’t want to, take birth control for any reason you like, wear a bikini, serve in the military, dance in public, smoke, drink, curse, work in an industry OTHER than nursing or teaching, not be pinched or slurred at in the office, move into the Corner Office, start a business, own a business, run a business, live with your boyfriend, live with your girlfriend, vote, speak in public, run a marathon, compete in triathlon, play any sport at all, get dirty, get sweaty, be naughty, shop at Victoria’s Secret, use tampons, contradict any person you disagree with regardless of their gender, earn what you’re worth, out earn your colleague because you’re awesome, and oh, A BAZILLION other things?

Well, you should THANK A FEMINIST.

Recently, there have been a couple of bizarre comments by women (celebrities and media execs) who are quoted as saying, “I’m not a feminist but…”

The subject makes my eye twitch a little.

If you think you should live under your dad’s rule until you get married and then live under your husband’s rule, yes, you are (probably) not a feminist.

If you think you should vote or invest or dress or speak in whatever way a man decides, then yes, you are (probably) not a feminist.

If you don’t ever plan to use your pretty little head for anything at all, because well, women should be seen and not heard, then I give up.  You are (probably) NOT a feminist.

But if you think for one hot second that you’re not a feminist because “you love men” then you need a vocabulary lesson.  Hatred of men isn’t ‘feminism,’ it’s ‘misandry.’

Worse, if you think we are “post-feminist” (just like we’re post-racial, right?  *insert rolling of eyes here*)… you may need to pull your head out of whatever reality show bullshit you’re watching and pay attention to what’s happening in real life.

I’m not going to reargue what so many more qualified and more eloquent people have done before me.

Instead, what comes to MY mind every time I hear someone speak out-loud that she is “not a feminist” is a ranty parody of this:

Hon, we live in a world that has patriarchy, and that patriarchy has been cock-blocking women from full participation in society for centuries.  Who’s going to fight that patriarchy?  You?  You, Katy Perry?  We have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom.  You weep for Rihanna, and you curse the Feminists.  You have that luxury.  You have the luxury of not knowing what we know.  That burning bras, while tragic (especially if you really need the support) probably saved lives.  And our existence, while aggressive and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.  You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at interviews, you WANT me to be a feminist, you NEED me to be a feminist.  We use words like rape-culture, discrimination, and sexism.  We use these words as the antithesis of lives spent pursuing progress.  You use them as a punchline.  I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a woman who rises and sleeps under the very blanket of equality that feminism strives for and then questions the moniker under which it was provided.  I would rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way.  Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a book and read some history about your gender’s struggle in this country and abroad.  Either way, I don’t give a DAMN whether or not you think you are a feminist.

7 Things I’ve Learned About Life… From Work

7 Things I've LearnedOne of the things I seem to struggle with is knowing my unique value proposition.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I know, you know?

Turns out, I am not quite as dumb as I look.  I’ve picked up a few things along my path that have turned out to be useful in my battle between thinking and feeling as a professional and in my quest to be a better human in the real world.  What do you think – do they ring true for you, too?

1)  Companies Don’t Love You; They Love Money.

I am mostly a starry-eyed jackass when it comes to the world.  I want to believe in the good of everyone and everything.  I do, still, hope for the best… always.  But no matter how cool/evolved/compassionate/balanced your work is – if you’re not making money, someone will eventually get sacked.  And maybe everyone.  I’ve worked for three companies who have gone belly up (call me Molly Brown) and been part of several more who have been acquired – wreacking havoc on executives and workers alike.  I’ve worked within two industries as they declined into almost oblivion and one that rebounded mightily.

I’ve taken more than a few jobs because I was impressed with charismatic leadership.  In the long run, however, it is more useful to think of your boss(es) like Stuckey from Pretty Woman.  Like Edward says, “You don’t love me; it’s the kill you love.  I made you a very rich man doing exactly what you love.“

There will be jobs and people who only ‘love’ you for what you can do for them.  It isn’t good or bad, it just is.  Learn to recognize them so you don’t  mistake value for emotion.

2)  Money Isn’t Everything

The best things in life are free.  Don’t tell my boss, but this is true at work too.  I do what I do because it supports a good life for my family but I feel my absolute best, not on payday, but on the days when I do something extraordinary for a client, a colleague, or the company.

When  I am able to use my strengths in a way that is not narrowly defined by my role, I know that I’m making a contribution that cannot easily be replicated.  And for me, being unique – being different – is among my chief fulfillments.  I enjoy being part of a team but only when I have a role in addition to the team one.

Find out what your fulfillments are and make sure you’re satisfying your non-money buckets.

3)  Balance Your Staff

“It takes all kinds.”  You’ve heard this before with respect to tolerance, yes?  Well, in the workplace and in life – it takes all kinds of people to create harmony and balance.  Having a staff of pleasers may make the boss feel awesome and create a superficially agreeable workplace.  But people who avoid ruffled feathers at all costs can nicey-nice a company right over a cliff.

Strengths in people build strengths in families and companies alike.  In the same way that opposites attract, if you have aligned goals but different talents there is less competition and more forward momentum – provided people are trusted and empowered to do that at which they excel.

It also helps to say “Thank you” to your counter-balance when she/he does the proverbial (or literal) dirty laundry in your world.

4)  Everyone Needs To Feel Useful

This one I’ve only learned recently and, embarrassingly, it caught me off-guard.  I went to work in an office for the first time in a while.  The team was established and had a rhythm established.  There was, however, a disproportionate amount of one-kind of personality – the “relationship builders.”  I failed to recognize that these colleagues value their connections with people above all else, they need their style to be reciprocated.  By NOT connecting with them on a personal level, they felt marginalized – even insulted.  Unintentionally, my actions told them “you are not useful to me.”  People hate that.

Since I’m a nerd for quotes, this seems like a perfect time for one:    “Everyone Is a Genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Einstein.

That quote bombs me into submission every time.

Now, I want to discover what everyone’s genius is as quickly as possible so that I can connect with them and learn from them and promote them for their strengths.

5)  [Some] People Are Mean

This is the hardest lesson for die-hard Pollyannas.  Some people suck.  They just do.  I don’t know why.  We may never know why.  But they do.  The thing is, though, that people often suck for a reason.  And it is probably not (really) about you.

I once managed a team where it was revealed that all of us were on anti-depressants.  I knew my situation was icky but in my myopia, I hadn’t thought about how bad it was for them.  I needed to cut them some slack – to give them greater empathy and help them navigate through a really uninspiring time.  I didn’t realize that until it was too late.

The advice I love best on this is that you can only control yourself – how you act, how you react.  YOU control that and nothing more.  So let people suck.  Don’t follow their example.  Two wrongs still don’t make a right.  But also, don’t let their moral bankruptcy (I love that phrase so hard), their bad attitude, their laziness, their obstinacy, their overinflated sense of self, whatever – change who or how you are.

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”  ― Thich Nhat Hanh

6)  Relationships Are All That You Can Take With You When You Go

Do people who are not creative types have portfolios?  I don’t.  I probably would have less of a confidence crisis if I could review some of the smart, original work I’ve done for clients and employers.  I’m not great at organizing the past – I still don’t have a wedding album for crying out loud.  I prefer the Josiah Bartlett life approach of “what’s next?”

In this day and age, people don’t stay put.  People move house, town, country.  They change jobs with greater (and greater) frequency.  The smart media plan you did for so-and-so, the partnership you brokered while doing blah-blah-blah… those have already been absorbed into the company and taken credit for by someone who couldn’t tie your shoelaces but has all the boot-licking skills necessary to be a lap dog for a very, very long time.

The thing that you have that they never will are the relationships that enabled you to win that business, broker that deal, make the introduction, etc.  Anyone can exchange business cards.  Anyone can throw around a company expense account.  Amassing a network of people who know you and respect you as a person and a professional is a value that is unique to you and cannot be touched.

Leave people better for knowing you – whether five or five thousand – and they will stay in your corner no matter what is said about you.  Even if you’re the one spouting the slander.

7)  It Isn’t Greener Anyplace Else

No one, and I mean NO ONE wants to admit this.  But every company, family, group, organization is a shit show.  There are varying degrees of shit, true, but anything made up of humans is going to have flaws.

Everyone is a brand of crazy and the goal is to find someone (or some place) whose crazy matches your own.  You can change jobs and you can create your own family.  But getting itchy because things aren’t going well doesn’t mean it will be better anyplace else.

An industry friend once gave me some sound advice – forget about “smart,” everybody is smart – look at the what (do you believe), look at the who (are they moral), and look at the how (could this game plan work for the next play – because game plans always change… they have to).

This was so damn simple and wise – it made me feel like a jackass for not knowing it already… but just for a minute.  Because that is what HIS genius is – distilling messy complexities into pocketsize wisdom.

Now I just need to figure out what’s mine.

The Confidence Quotient

While I’m not exactly sure why I stopped writing, I am certainly worse for it – and I do not mean my Klout score.

I’d like to claim that line from the movie Contagion where the dad-from-Six Feet Under called blogs “graffiti with punctuation” chastened me or that sitting ten feet from the bureau chief of Chicago’s NYT editorial team has intimidated me.

The truth, however, is that I’m just in a confidence crisis.  My slightly-neurotic analysis has yielded something like this:

When I was smart, I just wanted to be pretty.
When I was pretty, I just wanted to be loved.
I know now that I am neither smart nor pretty, but am miraculously and unquestionably loved.

My simple mind isn’t processing this well.

Further, what’s love got to do with it?

I’m talking about SELF-confidence.  Belief in oneself apparently has nothing to do with how other people view you.  But lack of it sure makes you vulnerable to the worst opinions others may or may not have.  (You would not believe how far I can take this.)

Shouldn’t truly having self-confidence make you a bit impervious to outside forces?  Is it not your own invisibility cloak when the ghost of crappy economy haunts you?  Or the shield against the morally bankrupt thugs who would rob you of your vehicle to success and kick you as they drive away?

I am reminded again of that haunting statement by an interviewer that his dream candidates are single women because they have a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.  It made me furious then, but merely more self-conscious now.

Writing, like any art, is about sharing your impression of the life that surrounds you.  And since we are all the hero of our own drama, everyone’s impression is unique to their storyline.

What has risen up as a monumental roadblock is the nagging disbelief that my storyline matters.

I think self-confidence is the elephant in every woman’s mental room of her own.
And my elephant has taken to sitting on top of me and crushing the life out.

This isn’t to say that men don’t suffer from a crisis in confidence.  I’m sure they do.  But overwhelmingly, I have noticed that women (including me) get derailed by circumstances beyond their control and then struggle to compartmentalize a sucky situation so they can get back to being awesome.

I had a fantastic conversation this week with someone who wanted ME as a mentor.  [If that doesn’t boost confidence, what on earth will?]  Listening to her story and her self-doubt felt very raw.  In the beginning of the conversation, my nag was reciting “blind leading the blind” over and over… but when I stopped thinking about poor me and what an unimpressive loser I’ve turned out to be, I felt my indignation rise on her behalf.

She didn’t embezzle a million dollars, or have an affair with a married supervisor, or punch a client in the face.  [For the record, neither have I – I was just trying to think of things that would, in fact, warrant feeling a little self-loathing.]  Yet she was behaving as if she deserved to be sitting in ashes wearing burlap.

I was a relative stranger and a brand new connection but even I could see that she had something sparkly inside.  And I told her so.

I’ve been inspired by this woman to seek out connections with people who won’t pump me up, who don’t have anything to gain by injecting my ego with steroids.  I’m on a mission to read and subscribe to confidence and positivity bloggers.  I have pulled out my child psych books to learn what I can about building confidence and what plays a role in one’s “confidence quotient.”

So much is determined by it.

Sometimes the mirror your friends and loved ones hold up to you is like a funhouse mirror.  Their investment in your happiness and obvious love throws waves into the truthiness of their feedback.  In my experience, at least, it is rare that someone close can give you raw truth.  Most people shroud feedback in fluffy nonsense rendering any kernel of actionable insight unrecognizable.

I had a high school ‘phriend’ who, while she wouldn’t be seen with me in public thereby reinforcing my leperous sense of self, would write me ridiculous notes about why I shouldn’t think poorly of myself.  These little gems had very little to do with weighty issues but still gave some perspective to the tragic sensibilities of a teenager – things like “You have all your teeth.” and “You do not smell bad.”

While funny in a Dax Shepherd sort of way, this has given me an idea.  I’m thinking about a little project over the next few weeks.   I’m going to emphasize positive things in my life that I can claim credit for as a way of focusing on good and praising my accomplishments as a valuable human, no matter how small.

If Gretchen Rubin can have a Happiness Project, I get to have a confidence one.

I’ll call it The Confidence Quotient – Small Wins or #CQsmallwins.

Who wants to play?

Got time for a Quickie?

The thing about becoming a mom
that totally tilted me sideways
is that when you least expect it,
for no reason at all,
in the middle of something else that could be very *important*
you will physically.
ache.
for your children.
And it knocks the wind out of you.
And you love it.

Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.

That quote is from the cult classic, “Better Off Dead” and has long been stuck in my head as my life’s roadmap.

It’s been a long time since I last wrote.

If I were to be honest, I’d admit there’s no reason other than my lack of discipline but in the time I’ve been literarily mute, I have started a new job, a new year, and had a birthday.

My last birthday, I wrote about how little the numbers of your birthday matter – how so many of the professional women I admire were 20+ years my senior when they accomplished what it is that I admire them for.

On this year’s birthday, a friend gave me some great advice – that I should use a bit of time from my “work from home day” for writing.  She isn’t as close a friend as I would like but she honored me by knowing how important writing is to my spiritual wholeness and by asking me about it.

So here I sit, at 11:16pm on my WFH day, scratching out a few thoughts.

And it is this friend of mine – who took time out on HER rare night out to celebrate with me on mine – who reminded me of a post I’ve been dying to write.  It is a post about who and what we admire and how we guide and are guided.

In moments of self-loathing and melancholic nostalgia, I will bemoan my assertion that I’ve suffered from a lack of mentors.  I use this term like I know what it is.  Like someone who could easily answer “Who is your hero?” or “Who is your role model?”

Am I the only person who doesn’t feel like I had one?

Am I so critical that no one measured up for my aspirational admiration?  Am I so sheltered that I lacked esposure to stand-outs?  I have to assume that neither are true but I stall when trying to recall help/guidance/direction in my professional life.

Now I’m knocking on the door of 40.  I’ve had one marriage, two kids, and more jobs than I care to admit to.  As I evaluate my value – fiscally, empirically or otherwise, I revisit the concept of mentor with equal parts sense and wonder.

In my adult years, I’ve counted a number of incredible women as my friends.  And perhaps I should view them in some capacity as mentors.  They’ve weighed in and stood by as I explored and failed and rebounded.  But I think it is my insufferable ambition that makes me want to identify someone just beyond ‘peer’ status as an advisor, a confidant, a professional coach.

I have had a few female bosses in my career.  My Aussie boss who got me started in this crazy world of internet advertising went on to launch her own site and become a bit of a maven.  A couple of peers turned bosses have traded sales roles for management ones and made significant marks on their companies.  A former CEO remains a sentimental mystery whom I wished I had known better.

But then there are friends too – or phriends, perhaps – but let’s not let cynicism ruin this, eh?  I have perhaps, half a dozen friends who are wildly accomplished in their fields.  For example, one recent friend who is executive status, politically connected, and philanthropic; another is a self-made social correspondent and contributor, published author, and well-recognized speaker/blogger; A former colleague created her own network of bloggers, sold it successfully and remains a consistent presence in the social and digital publishing reviews.  These three in particular, I think would take my call and work with me on a project.

I have asked them about their path to success exactly… let me count…. ZERO times.

I have asked them for advice on my own zigzag, mishmosh career precisely the same number of times.

I’ve another friend who has finished a book and is in the process of publishing it who asked me to collaborate on her next one.  COLLABORATE ON A BOOK!?!?!?  The honor!  The thrill!  I rewarded her by doing and writing almost nothing.  And then I had a baby and she let me slither away in humiliation.

And then there are the stable, serious, no-frills sugarmamas who just get the job done day in and day out.  One of my oldest friends is a single mom who owns multiple properties and has worked at the same company for a dozen years.  Another has been married for eight? I think?  and manages a family life and a sales team with grace.  HOW DO THEY DO THIS?  I’ve no idea.  I am exactly the kind of self-absorbed, pity-party-of-one fool who never asked.

Seriously.

I’ve done this to myself.

The truth is – I suck at asking for help.  I always have.

I don’t know how or where to begin.  I wouldn’t know the first thing about opening up honestly to someone about my professional goals.  And I dare say that I’ve managed to land on my feet more than once despite that handicap.

But I do have goals.  And perhaps they’re to be fulfilled when I’m in my Ariana-Hilary-Nancy years.  But shouldn’t I be mapping a plan for them now?  And writing about it in the process?

These are the questions I would be asking anyone who would listen at Blissdom right now, were I there with wine in hand.  Since some of the aforementioned heroines are there, I’d best simmer a bit and ask them upon their return.

In the meantime, who do you turn to for the really big career advice?  Where did your best counseling come from and how did you ask for it?  What happened when you took or didn’t take it?

I’m asking…

It won’t be like this for long

I am a huge fan of Darius Rucker (you know…. Hootie).

He launched his Country music career a few years ago, even playing Wrigley Field where I heard him from my rooftop.  Among his best songs is one about how quickly the stages of childhood change and that the exhaustion, the frustration, the joy doesn’t last long.

I bawl like a baby everytime I hear it.

Yesterday, I thought about this song while I chased Big Red around the park with Little Strawberry in the Bjorn.  Sundays are Daddy’s days – football (and for a little bit longer, baseball) games rule the TV at our house all day.  Since I work five of seven days, I crave solo time with my girls so I don’t let jealousy bugger up my relationship with my husband.  Of course we do “family time” almost every night but I want my own time alone with the girls too.

What made me think of this song, and especially the line, “one day soon that little girl will be all grown up and gone” was the parents sitting on the side of the play yard obsessed with their smartphones.

One dad in particular was 50 if he was a day.  His daughter was probably 4.  I didn’t notice him glance up once during the 45 minutes we were there.

I don’t want to sound like Judgey McCritical.  I honestly believe that most parents do the best they can with their given circumstances and means.  I don’t know this guy’s story.  But seeing him ignore his little girl chastened me.

I’m not a young mom.  The most significant reason for me NOT to have more kids is that I will be in my 60s when they graduate college.  If my girls wait as long as I did to have babies, I might not be alive to see them.

Even at 38, there are times I feel like an old, washed-up body.  Knees creak, shoulders crack, back aches.  Of course I expect I’ll feel heaps better when I drop the extra LBs and start getting longer sleep.  I don’t want my daughters to suffer an uninvolved mum because I can’t keep up.  THAT is just not acceptable.

But what about when I just don’t show up.  Being physically present isn’t enough.  I want to honor my daughters by being mentally present when we are together.  The 45 minutes we ran around the park were the best part of my weekend (and it had already been a pretty great weekend).

I know Calamity Jayne loved it too because she said so and cuddled me the rest of the night and again this morning.

How much of the time you spend with your kids is wasted on distractions that have nothing to do with how much you enjoy them?  And more importantly, how much they enjoy you?

Lumpy, Sneezy, Dopey and Doc (or Why Policies Can Suck It) – Part 3

 

Josephine Rae Born 8.16.11

Part 3:  Dopey

It occurred to me while planning this post that I may start out talking about my experience in the hospital and migrate to a conversation about depression.

Do not be alarmed.

I’m actually dreading this story.  You see, I haven’t allowed myself to revisit it for fear of that evil bastard, self-pity, to rear its head.  I think the moral is an important one though, so here is my third rant in the series:

When my daughter was born, she was a healthy 8 lb. 14 oz baby.  Not bad, right?  To us, she looked like a skinny little slip of a thing compared to my firstborn who tipped the scales at 10 lbs. 1 oz.  I felt a twinge of guilt that I hadn’t fed her enough or that my constant Benadryl or coffee habit had diminished her potential for Amazonian greatness.  Still, for five days early, nearly 9 lbs isn’t a bad birthweight.

Once in my hospital room, my nurse suggested I try to feed the sleeping baby.  I asked if I should wake her to do so and she gave a non-committal reply to “just try.”  I gave it a half-hearted effort because little Jellybean was completely cashed. Being born is hard!  Sadly, the next time the nurse came in, she informed me that my daughter’s blood sugar had gone below the hospital’s threshold for normal and that she had to go to the NICU.

I was incredulous.  I asked if I could just feed her and have the sugars tested again.  It seemed like a reasonable and logical approach.  (Before you dismiss my unprofessional medical opinion, when her sister, Ginormica, was born, the nurses sagely put a bottle of formula in Daddy’s hand and a tube taped to his finger so she could feed straight away.  This happened a few times before my milk came in and we were none the wiser about HER risk for low blood sugar.  The nurses simply mitigated it.)

This time, however, Dopey, as she will be henceforth referred to, mistakenly informed me that she “had” to take my daughter away but that I could visit her in the NICU to feed her whenever I wanted.  My daughter was then taken to the Intensive Care Unit for Newborns and put on monitors for her heart rate and blood oxygen levels.  She wasn’t given any formula.  She wasn’t put on a IV.

And she didn’t come back to my room for FIFTEEN HOURS.

There are several problems with this:

  1. Newborns should be with their mothers unless there is a serious medical risk that would prevent their proximity.
  2. The NICU was full of desperately sick babies on oxygen under dim lights and parents who look gutted by fear and desperation.
  3. I had just been sawed open like a magic trick except with actual blood – which regularly made its way to the NICU floor in macabre puddles when I arrived to nurse my newborn in hopes of springing her.
  4. Hospital policy increased the minimum blood sugar level requirement for my daughter to be released from the NICU above the level that got her locked up but didn’t apply any policy for regular feedings or timing of testing.  The nurses simply took her blood sugar on a schedule whether she’d been fed recently or not.  Three sufficient test readings were required to be released and if one reading dropped below the threshold, the testing started over from zero.  Talk about stacking the deck…

In hindsight, I should have fought harder to keep my daughter with me.

I should have told Dopey that she can suck it but she cannot take my daughter away.

I should have asked for the Floor manager, a Patient liaison, my OB, a Peditrician – ANYONE with sense enough to say, “let’s not overreact or follow the letter but distort the spirit of this new policy – this is a big, healthy baby who needs to eat.  Let’s feed her and see what happens” instead of “let’s take away this newborn because we have a new policy and I want to be a good rule follower.”

Anyone who knows me at all can tell you what I think of rule-followers.

I should have fought harder to exert my will in the interest of my and  my daughter’s well-being.  I should have asked more questions and challenged authority and raised a stink that would have put Dopey in hasty retreat.

I can hardly believe I dithered and fumbled and followed.  I blame the hormones; it’s the only logical explanation for behavior that is so wholly foreign to me.

To add insult to injury, Dopey actually wheeled the empty basinet back into my room after she delivered my daughter to the NICU saying, “I’m just going to leave this here.  You’re a C-section so you’re here for four days… she might be back by then.”

I can tell you now, though I wouldn’t have admitted it for fear of being committed, that I almost broke that day.  There was a moment when the world went unanimated and a crushing excess of emotion swirled up inside me.  My vision went black around the ridges and I choked on the air I was trying to breathe.  In that moment I feared that the me that is fun and outgoing and light-hearted would retreat permanently – into the recesses where fantasy and nightmares reside, where there is a running dialogue of self-loathing and paranoia and helplessness – into the lead-lined box of depression.

This story gets complicated because when I retell it, I feel a sense of injustice rising up like bile in my throat.  I was cheated.  Even worse, so was my daughter.  I don’t care that I had to get out of my hospital bed with a burning incision and stabbing abdominal pain, gushes of blood everytime I went vertical, and the annoying catheter bag that never seemed to be emptied in order to be wheeled to the NICU during my daughter’s incarceration.

I care that my newborn wasn’t in my arms or at arms-length for FIFTEEN OF HER FIRST TWENTY-FOUR HOURS.

I don’t forgive that nurse for her carelessness or callousness.

I don’t forgive the hospital for creating a policy that ignores the mother in the mother-baby equation in order to cover their proverbial ass or to charge insurance companies for something that can’t be refused – intensive care for a newborn baby as an offset for the increasing squeeze on their maternal care fees.

But I escaped with my daughter in tow.  My healthy, fat baby hardly left my arms for two weeks after that.  And when my husband mentioned that I might
have attachment issues that need to be discussed with a professional, I reluctantly let him hold his daughter… for a minute.

I don’t know why the dark water didn’t suck me under this time.  I remain guarded that it still might.  I can only point to this – that I mentally steer myself toward what I have, instead of what I haven’t.  The feeling of being cheated (and outrage at people’s moral bankruptcy) tamped down much of my pregnancy and new motherhood joy three years ago.  I didn’t compartmentalize the negativity of a toxic environment and it took me two years to rebound.  Now, I reign my mind into the here and now and wriggle back into its comforting softness to fill up the whole space so there isn’t room for any ‘what ifs’ or ‘whys?’ to suck the air out of my happy.

And I do it every day, over and over.  And I breathe.  And I cuddle my beautiful child and know that she is 1/3 of what matters to me most.

And that’s enough.

But my mistrust of healthcare and its policies aimed at maximum profit grows.  How about you?

Reluctant Capitalist, Unapologetic Feminist, Fire-Breather.

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