Category Archives: pregnancy

The Things We Keep

One of my big goals this year is to clean out my house.  I mean really clean it out.  This undertaking is about more than sorting through toys, shredding old paper files, and purging unworn clothes from closets.  It’s about wanting – and believing it’s possible – to live a lighter, happier, and more fulfilling life with less stuff.  It’s about keeping the things I truly need and having the courage to get rid of the things I don’t.

As I walk from room to room surveying the endless objects that fill my home and life, I’ve discovered that the reasons we keep things – guilt (the kids’ stuffed animals), hope (my size four jeans), nostalgia (the shoes I wore to my wedding), and despair (my recently deceased dog’s bumblebee Halloween costume) – are often the very same reasons we eventually (and bravely) throw them away.

Nine years ago, I made a bowl in a pottery class on a summer vacation in Colorado.  I took the class because there really wasn’t anything else I could do. I was five months pregnant, so activities like horseback riding, biking, rock wall climbing, and wine tasting were off the table.  Just walking up the hill to the hotel spa for a prenatal massage left me winded from the altitude.

It was an ugly and beautiful bowl that I made.  Ugly because it was so flawed.  Beautiful because even though it looked like a lopsided, vomiting tulip, I made it with my own hands.  The resort generously shipped it to me when we left, and to my great surprise, it arrived home intact.  It survived a few additional moves before it reached its final destination on the small, white shelf above the toilet in my bathroom…because where else would I put it?

I should’ve thrown it out – it really was hideous – but I kept it because it reminded me of the precious summer I spent floating in the bliss of the second trimester of pregnancy with my first child.  The nausea and exhaustion of the first several weeks had receded, my belly was round but not uncomfortable, my body was ripe but not swollen, and I had nothing but time on my hands to daydream about strollers, diaper bags, and baby names.  It. was. magical.

But that’s not the only reason I kept it.

First pregnancies are magical, but it wasn’t technically my first.  That one happened a year and a half earlier around the time I embarked on a different family vacation, a holiday cruise to the Caribbean.  After taking a home pregnancy test, I raced to my doctor who smiled and said, “Have fun, don’t drink the water in Mexico, and we’ll do an ultrasound when you get back.”

What I remember most about that trip, besides the night I miscarried, was that there were Christmas cookies everywhere.  I couldn’t walk into a room on that ship without bumping into a tower of perfectly decorated cookies.

Within days of disembarking, I was admitted to the hospital.  Despite the crippling pain and discharge I experienced on the cruise, my urine and blood told the story of a woman who was about eight weeks pregnant.  The ultrasound, however, did not.

Heartbroken and scared, I counted backwards from 100 in the operating room uncertain if I would emerge from surgery with one less fallopian tube (if it was ectopic) or worse.  I woke up intact, but the relief was short-lived because the fetal tissue they found drifting around my uterus was indicative of a molar pregnancy. In other words, the “pregnancy” was nothing but a mess of abnormal cells that never would’ve formed a baby.

As if all of that weren’t cruel enough, four weeks later I found myself in the office of a gynecological oncologist because the sneaky thing about a molar pregnancy is that all of those messy cells can grow back and transform into something called choriocarcinoma, which is fancy talk for cancer in the uterus.

I spent the next two months undergoing weekly chemotherapy injections and the year after that doing  blood work to monitor my hormone levels because even though the cancer was curable, it wouldn’t have been if it came back unknowingly and spread to my liver, abdomen, lungs, or brain.

In a way, my first pregnancy was magical.  It was an illusion of epic proportions.  A disappearing act unlike anything I’d ever seen.   I wanted a baby, but I got cancer instead, and everything I believed to be real and true and good and safe and normal vanished before my eyes.

I never liked the lopsided, vomiting tulip bowl I made on that trip to Colorado, but I kept it because I believed it possessed the collective memory of the hard-fought journey I endured to reappear, to fall and get back up, to heal and trust and forgive, to eventually experience the precious second trimester of a real pregnancy, and to finally have a baby.

But, it didn’t hold any of that.  It was just a bowl and an unsightly one at that, so I threw it out because, with or without it, the memory of that magical time would always be mine.

This essay originally appeared on Scary Mommy.


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Filed under molar pregnancy, pregnancy

Maxi Pads and Meternity

Remember when Apple first introduced the iPad and we were all like, “iPad? That sounds like maxi pad. Is Apple seriously going to name a product after something that reminds people of a feminine hygiene product? Why would anyone buy that? That’s so dumb.”

Obviously, the iPad/maxi pad debacle worked itself out.

Yesterday, a woman and named Meghann Foye introduced us to the concept of “meternity” – a leave of absence from work that has all of the perks of maternity leave without having any kids.

Now listen. I think the idea of “meternity” leave (or sabbatical or leave of absence or resignation) is kind of awesome. There are times in our lives when it would be hugely beneficial and therapeutic to take a time-out from our daily grind to re-evaluate our priorities and indulge in some precious, well-deserved, soul-searching, passion-finding me-time.

I have a confession to make.

When my husband and I moved from New York City to Miami in 2004, I treated myself to a “meternity” leave. I’d been working full-time in public relations for several years and wanted to shift from the agency to the client side of the business. More specifically, I wanted to do public relations in the non-profit sector.

Removing myself from the rat race of New York City plus my husband’s cushy new income allowed me the luxury of volunteering, networking, and finding my niche in the non-profit community in Miami without the hindrance of a full-time job. I also did yoga a few times each week, tagged along on my husband’s business trips to fun places, got a puppy, and took a watercolor art class at the local botanical garden. It was lovely.

A year later, my “meternity” leave paid off. I joined a group of extraordinary women who wanted to create a safety net for young women aging out of foster care and dangling on the precipice of poverty, abuse, incarceration, or worse. I helped build a non-profit organization from the ground up. To this day, it’s the professional work of which I am proudest.

Eventually, I had a baby, and I took a maternity leave. I spent three bloody, poopy, leaky, booby, pukey, sleepless, pee-packed, postpartum depression-filled months keeping a baby alive, saying goodbye to all of my shoes because my feet grew half a size PERMANENTLY, and figuring out how the fuck to comprehend my new identity as a mom, and, oh yeah, finding the courage to leave my tiny baby with a stranger so I could go back to work.

My maternity leave was way different than my “meternity” leave.

Ms. Foye’s new novel, “Meternity,” sounds adorable. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it turned into a screenplay for the big screen. Who doesn’t love watching a Hollywood actress wearing a fake pregnancy belly? I hope the heroine, “Liz,” is played by Emma Stone (I love her raspy voice) or Olivia Wilde (a real-life mom!). If it’s Jennifer Lawrence (also an awesome choice) then the guy who just might be “The One” MUST be played Bradley Cooper. Ryan Reynolds or Channing Tatum would be fine, too, I suppose. Whatevs.

In the end, the iPad (blech!) caught on, so maybe “meternity” leave is going to be “Huuuge!” Maybe we’re being too politically correct. Maybe “meternity” leave is going to make America great again!

(Or maybe it’s chick lit and click bait.)

What do you think?


Filed under book, motherhood, pregnancy