To Touch or Not To Touch a Woman’s Pregnant Belly…

BabyBump!

It’s nothing new. People get all handsy with baby bumps. I’m 9 months pregnant and sometimes think there must be an invitation on my body that reads, “Come one! Come all! Touch my belly!” It’s a common and even expected part of pregnancy. I do realize my generation removed the privacy issue of pregnancy when women began posing for public photos of previously very private baby bumps, but the conversation surrounding belly rubbing has now changed due to a Pennsylvania woman who recently got so offended she called the cops after a neighbor got too touchy feely. No new law was enacted, but a renewed warning was issued and as part of the state’s harassment law, you can be issued a ticket and fined if you rub the wrong preggo woman’s bump.

I’ve been getting patted and caressed since I hit six months pregnant. It hasn’t bothered me a single time when a woman has done this. It’s actually a sweet gesture and I appreciate the excitement others have for this baby. In fact, most women ask before feeling the belly and it never feels inappropriate; however, the same cannot be said for my encounters with men (acquaintances not strangers). One man not only put both hands on my belly, he stood with his face uncomfortably close to mine. I stepped away and changed the course of the conversation. Last week, another man put his hands on me from behind in a sort of intimate embrace. I turned, removed his hands and laughed it off. The final straw was a man who approached and tickled my belly. Tickled! I tried to find the humor in it as I finally recounted some of this to my husband who was not amused but horrified and wanted to kick somebody’s a**! LOL. I assured him I’m a big girl and can handle myself.

There is a difference between a gentle pat or rub and a full on grope or fondle. We should all know when touching is invasive and non-consensual yet why are some people clueless? Perhaps it’s a desire to be a part of the miracle that is new life. Perhaps it falls under the title of “blessing this little one” reminiscent of the “laying on of hands” as a blessing in the Christian faith. I choose to think it may be one of these two motives. But, I have to say, in this world we live in: even if you are family, it’s probably best to ask permission before you touch.

What do you think? Are pregnant women fair game? Or do you think it’s an issue that can warrant a dramatic response such as pressing charges like the PA woman did?

The Wild Baby Bump Comments People Make!

Baby Bump on the Red Carpet!

I’m six months preggers. And I’m not someone who barely looks like she’s expecting. My bump popped straight out, and this baby is growing. It’s just how it goes with me. I’m small boned and my family has big babies. I was an ounce away from 9 pounds when born, my brother almost 10 pounds, my first daughter was over 8 pounds and she was born a week before her due date! Because of the prominent bump, I have gotten a lot of unexpected & funny comments from people and wanted to share a few of them to give you a good laugh! Here goes…

–Coworker: “When is that thing due?”
Me: “That thing? It’s not an alien!”
Coworker: “I’m a dude. Give me a break.”

–Coworker: “Whoa! You popped! Big time!”
Me: “Yes. Yes I’m pregnant.”
Coworker: “I can’t stop looking at it. It’s all right there in front!”

– Actor (who shall remain unnamed) at recent premiere (who is obviously single & has no kids): “Wow! That is BIG!”
Me: “Yes, it’s called being pregnant. There is a baby in there.”
Unnamed actor: “When my mom was that big, she was having twins!”
Me: I start laughing hysterically and say “I don’t quite know how to respond to that.”
Unnamed actor: “Is that wrong for me to say? I mean, I just, wow.”
Me: “No, no, it’s fine. Thanks for the confidence boost.”

– Minutes later I’m still laughing at the awkward exchange and another actor at same premiere says: “You look so beautiful. You are truly glowing. You look incredible.”
Me: “Thank you. You know how to make a girl feel good unlike some others around here!”

–Stranger at the park: “Tsk Tsk… ohhhhhh… I was your size when I was pregnant.”
–Me: “Ok….um… thanks… I guess.”

–Coworker: “From the front you don’t look pregnant. Then when you turn to the side it’s like, SURPRISE!”

–Fellow mom at the park seeing me for the first time since announcing pregnancy: “Are you five months?”
Me: “Nope. 4!”

–Coworker: “You’re starting to wobble (or did he/she say waddle?) when you walk”
Me: “Thanks for the heads up.”

And then there is my sweet husband who, though I don’t need reassurance or compliments because I think the comments are colorful and all a funny part of being pregnant, still showers me with kindness and support. He thanks me frequently for doing a good job nurturing our growing baby and tells me how beautiful I am.

I’ll end with a couple of unforgettable exchanges with my 4-year old daughter Kate:
Kate: “Mommy, how big is your tummy going to get?”
Me: “Pretty big, like maybe massive.”
Kate: “Like a balloon! Like a beach ball!” (arms outstretched wide)

Kate with her hand on my stomach trying to feel baby kick for the first time:
Me: “Kate, did you feel that?”
Kate: “No.”
Me about 20 seconds later: “Kate how about that? Did you feel her kick?”
Kate: “No.”
Kate about 30 seconds later: “Mommy, was it that bump bump bump like a monster inside your tummy?”
Me: “Yes, that was it.”

Please share your funny bump stories! I know you mommies have some doozies too!

It’s A…

BabyUltrasoundPic

 

It’s a…
Before I reveal Baby Pineapple’s gender (that’s the nickname my daughter has given her sibling), I want to tell you how we found out whether Baby P is a boy or girl.
I had some blood work done by an unnamed third party testing facility. These tests determined a number of things including gender. A representative called with the results on what was a hectic Saturday morning for us. It was a week and a half after I had had the blood drawn. My husband wanted to learn all the results by phone EXCEPT the gender even though we had decided we would find out this time. We had waited for a delivery room surprise with our daughter Kate.
It’s not that Jim had changed his mind. He simply said that speaking to the rep on speakerphone was not the right way to find out, and we needed to do something special. I, on the other hand, being a woman and a journalist, just thought “Give me the information!” I ultimately acquiesced and we decided together to wait for a better moment.
The rep sent the lab results to us by mail so we could open when and where we chose. That envelope sat unopened on our kitchen counter for five days while we worked to sync our schedules, secure a babysitter, and go out to dinner together. It took restraint on both our parts not to peek.
Finally, we made it to a lovely French restaurant. We really set the mood … talking baby names for boys, baby names for girls, how life will adjust, etc. Midway through the main course we decided to open the envelope. All the build up… all the anticipation… we unsealed the envelope and slowly inched our way down the sheet of paper.
When we read the patient’s name and birthdate, we laughed because it wasn’t me! The lab had sent the results for the wrong person. Granted, she and I share the same first name but that’s where the similarities ended!
I wasn’t worried though because I had a backup. I confidently told Jim I had it all covered! I pulled out another unopened envelope, we breathed a sigh of relief, opened it, and discovered it was a bill for the test! We laughed harder and said “The best laid plans…”
All this being said, my husband and I pray for health. The gender really makes no difference to us though my daughter has been asking for a baby sister.
After a phone call the following day, we were able to get the correct results sent. We opened during a nice, quiet evening at home and found out that Baby P is a little girl!

My daughter’s baby excitement

princessshirt

 
There are countless ways to tell family and friends you’re expecting… a straightforward “By the way, I’m pregnant” in conversation, a phone call, email, even a text… or you can get a little creative.

When my husband Jim and I were expecting our daughter Kate, we decided a family birthday celebration would be the perfect place for the big reveal. I decorated the cake to read “Happy Birthday Dad To Be” and placed miniature baby bottles in pink and blue all over it. It was a hit and a cute surprise for our parents and siblings.
With baby 2 on the way, we decided to involve our daughter Kate in our master plan (without her knowing). I bought the shirt you see in the picture for her to wear when we saw my parents recently after they had flown in for a vacation. The challenging part was that four year olds do not stay still, especially when excited to see grandparents! My parents didn’t notice the shirt and Kate certainly wasn’t slowing down for anyone to think it was anything but a blur. Finally Jim directed them, “Hey did you guys see Kate’s shirt?” They stopped, read, absorbed, and squealed! We then informed Kate she had a baby brother or sister on the way. Her grin was a mile wide.
Fast forward two weeks and my in-laws came to visit… we tried the same tactic… same result. No one noticed the darn shirt! I eventually whispered to Kate “Tell them about the baby” and she happily revealed “My mommy has a baby in her tummy!”
Now she feels she is prepared and entitled to tell everyone she sees. At a restaurant, she will loudly shout to the waiter as she points to my stomach “Baby in mommy’s tummy!”… at the grocery store in the checkout line to anyone who will listen “Baby! Baby!”… it happens anywhere and everywhere. She beams when she receives a smile and “congratulations”.
As we march through the months ahead, I want to involve Kate in the process as much as I can. She accompanies me to doctor’s appointments, holds my hand as I have blood drawn, and I solicit her opinion on anything baby related that she can have fun with … names, decor, etc. It’s a special time, and I want her to feel nothing but positive vibes toward this little one from the beginning because my hope is that they will bond and be close for their entire lives.
How did you prepare your child for the arrival of a younger sibling? I am open to ideas! I’d also love to hear your stories of how you announced your pregnancies!

 

Baby Joy After Grief

Photo: Noah Graham Photography

Photo: Noah Graham Photography

It’s time to expand the family (along with my waistline)!  My husband Jim and I are thrilled to be expecting baby 2 in the fall, but it hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point.
As many women out there know, miscarriages are tough. I blamed myself. What did I do wrong? Why did my body reject this baby? Will I ever have another healthy pregnancy?
My first happened on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. I will spare you all the details, but it was traumatic. I felt completely alone though I was surrounded by a crowd of fellow passengers. The pain was intense but the realization of what was happening was much more difficult to endure.
I am grateful both losses happened during the first trimester and that I had very capable doctors, including one ER doc who made me laugh so hard I thought either I was completely insane or that I had somehow found myself in a dream and we were taping an episode of “Scrubs”… traumatic event… hysteria, I suppose. :(   
It took me months before I could talk about it. I just could not even vocalize what had happened because I didn’t want to face the reality of it. I have found it healing, though, to share my story and have had so many other women respond with “I also had miscarriages. Here’s what happened…”
This pregnancy is much different from when I was expecting my daughter Kate. Because of my history, I am more on edge and constantly praying that everything goes smoothly. That said, there are many moments of humor and excitement. I plan to write about those too! Please feel free to share your stories and comments. I would love to hear from you! And to all the expectant mamas out there, we can do this! Together!

Cancer Sucks.

I just kept staring at those two words… little words, only three syllables, but with potentially monstrous implications. The words were on a button the surgeon was wearing on her white coat as she spoke to my mother following her double mastectomy. I was in a complete daze and on the verge of tears but doing my best to look cheerful and hopeful for my dear mother who was scared for her life and in a fog after having her chest carved out. My father was an absolute wreck. My much younger sister (a tender 22 years old) seemed to be handling it all better than I was. She’s an old soul while I can be an emotional basketcase (like my dad). Luckily, my brother is a doctor and, having seen his fair share of trauma as a cardiologist, was clearheaded enough to absorb what she was saying.

This was January 11, 2013. Two weeks and three days prior on Christmas night, my parents told us Mom had been diagnosed with cancer. I remember feeling like the floor fell out from under me as I watched my parents crumble in front of us. A malignant tumor in her left breast. Growing aggressively. Now visible with a glance in the mirror. Worrisome cysts and calcification in her right breast. Surgery. Double mastectomy. Treatment to follow. When? Where? Why??? Tearful questions and answers while my father, wracked with sobs, kept saying he wished he were the one with the tumor.

I could tell they were bracing for the worst. My beautiful, bright, and vibrant mother facing a health crisis.

We felt helpless. What can we do? We wanted her to have the surgery immediately, remove the evil tumor that was causing pain and hopelessness. But it was a holiday with another to soon follow, so January 11th was the earliest it could happen with hospital and physician scheduling… an interminable two weeks and three days.

I changed my flight to return to LA a few days later than planned so I could be home to support my mother and keep her spirits up. My brother and sister also changed their schedules. We hired a housekeeper so Mom didn’t have to think about dusting and scrubbing bathrooms. Sixty-three years old and the woman has never had a regular housekeeper. My uncle came by to take a family photo of us, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether that would be the last one. We coordinated with my aunt, who’s a nurse, so she could be with Mom after surgery when we all had to return to work. We watched funny movies and tried to take our minds off the dreaded C word.

So how did this happen? My mom takes care of herself, has zero cancer in her family that she’s aware of, and dutifully gets an annual mammogram every October. After this year’s mammogram, she was called to the back for an additional ultrasound. A few days later she received a card in the mail directing her to schedule a repeat mammogram in six months because of a small cyst the radiologist saw. But she felt something was wrong. She had pain in her breast that was increasing by the day. She could feel the culprit. Weeks passed. She called the doctor and was insistent about getting a needle biopsy. Tests came back positive for cancer and she was diagnosed with invasive lobular cancer in early December.

As we crowded around her hospital bed, I noticed the surgeon was smiling. “All looks good!” Really? It does? We had all been holding our breath. The cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes and the margins were clear. The surgery had been a success! Tears of joy and relief. We went from believing we may lose our beloved mother to feeling encouraged and tremendously grateful she’s got a second chance.

To me, she’s an extremely talented artist and has begun painting again. We’re planning a vacation with her this summer. Life is a beautiful thing and there’s a new appreciation for it in my family. I’ve always admired my mother for her wisdom and tenacity, but now I also see her as a shining example of why it’s important to always be your own advocate. Trust your intuition. We feel if she had waited six months as directed by the doctor, this story may have had a different outcome.

Cancer sucks. And we have to help one another do what we can to fight it and survive it.

 

Which comes first? Your marriage or your baby?

Brooke & Jim

It’s a question that prompts thought provoking discussion, debate, and a lot of laughs (one joke I heard: “My baby is first, then my girlfriends, then my husband… but don’t tell him that!”).

E! News host (and someone I know and adore on a personal level) Giuliana Rancic revealed to Us Weekly recently that she prioritizes her marriage over motherhood, “We’re husband and wife, but we’re also best friends, and it’s funny because a lot of people, when they have kids, they put the baby first, and the marriage second. That works for some people. For us, I find, we put our marriage first and our child second, because the best thing we can do for him is have a strong marriage.”

The response was all over the board. Support. Confusion. Criticism. It can be a delicate topic, and everyone prioritizes differently, some by choice and others by circumstances. No judgment.

I happen to agree with Giuliana’s approach. My husband and I try (keyword TRY) to prioritize our marriage over our child in order to provide a stable home and strong example for her. After all, part of our responsibility as parents is to model good relationships in the hope that our children will be better equipped to work at having their own healthy relationships (hopefully including a happy marriage). It is critical to model situations where compromise is required by one or both parents to effect a satisfactory resolution of challenging situations.

Also, in a culture where micro-parenting is pervasive, putting marriage ahead of child helps prevent a self-centeredness in the child that I feel could truly be detrimental to her forming mutually satisfying relationships.
I am making every effort to help my daughter feel nurtured and secure while learning what it means to have a loving, respectful marriage through observation.  She beams when we are affectionate, always jumps in our arms for a big “group hug!”, and she’s learning to be patient while we finish a conversation (or even a quick sentence! LOL) before she interrupts… not always easy for a nearly four year old!
This doesn’t mean I have any less love for my daughter. The love I have for my child is untouchable and unbreakable. When she was born and placed on my chest, my heart was so full of love I could hardly breathe. When a child is a helpless newborn, baby, dependent toddler, they have immediate needs that must be addressed.
To me, the point of prioritizing marriage over baby means working at it to ensure your baby doesn’t become your entire universe because if that happens you can become blind to everyone and everything else in your life. Your marriage can become susceptible and weak if it’s not given the time and attention it deserves (just like a child).
People have been shocked to hear I feel this way. I honestly don’t understand why it’s so controversial. And while my husband and I strive for this prioritization, that doesn’t mean it always shakes out that way. Life is an ebb and flow. We all simply do our best, and I admire anyone (married, single, divorced, etc) who is a responsible, caring parent and doing all he/she can to provide a warm, safe environment no matter what the situation.

Paula Deen!

Chowing down on some jalapeno grits with Paula Deen y'all!

Chowing down on some jalapeno grits with Paula Deen y’all!

Kelly Cutrone!

I was beyond excited to meet Kelly Cutrone! Her style tip: Self expression is more important than looking fierce.

I was beyond excited to meet Kelly Cutrone! Her style tip: Self expression is more important than looking fierce.

Posing with Tyra Banks!

Me trying to pose (keyword "trying") like a model between experts Tyra Banks & Rob Evans Tyra Tip: relax the mouth.

Me trying to pose (keyword “trying”) like a model between experts Tyra Banks & Rob Evans Tyra Tip: relax the mouth.

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