Nine Weeks Going on Nine Months


Yes I’m pregnant again and I may not sleep well or eat well or behave rationally but I know this territory well. I may only look 9 weeks pregnant but I feel like I’m 9 months and this time around it’s my party and I’ll waddle if I want to.

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9 weeks going on 9 months

The second time around everything is more clear. I know what to expect. Perhaps a little too much because at 9 weeks I’m wearing my pregnancy like a badge of honor, already feeling like I’m 9 months pregnant.

I waddle. I shouldn’t be waddling I’m not heaving a twenty pound sack of potatoes in my belly, but something about waddling feels comforting. I remember how to waddle. I do it well. “As a pregnant woman reaches her third trimester and her baby’s size and weight increases, it is not uncommon to see her adopt ‘the waddle’. “ says Patti Quintero, prenatal yoga expert and doula. “Since the baby grows forward pressing away from the spine, her legs start to externally rotate in order to make more room in the front of the pelvis.” Sometimes when my husband asks me to fill the dog food bowl or take out the compost I like to waddle over and put my hand on my lower back for added effect. Yes, I can do that because I’m pregnant again.

I feel like my belly is the 9 months large. Its just a feeling. They tell me the baby is like the size of a grape and maybe I’ve gained a whole pound but my belly remembers- its like a deflated balloon just waiting to be filled up again to its full potential. The thing that is most likely making my belly stick out is the bagel I ate I in secret, gluten inflaming my insides like a growing chia pet. I feel so pregnant that I’ve already relegated all my normal clothes to the back of my closet and really truly believe that I cannot possibly fit into anything except yoga pants. I don’t even try. If I have to dress like a human for something I wear my pants unbuttoned. Yes, I can do that because I’m pregnant again.

I am ready to have crappy sleep. I pee five times a night. I remember peeing a lot at the end of my first pregnancy but I have first-trimester amnesia. “Pregnancy requires that you increase the output from your heart which then in turn increases flow through the kidneys, increasing the amount of urine produced. This coupled with a normal increase in water weight means more visits to the bathroom even in the first trimester” says Dr Kathleen Valenton, MD. But the truth is once my bladder gets empty I can’t get back to sleep right away. I remember this happened towards the end of my first pregnancy. I was nervous about birth, delivery, being a parent. This time around, I feel like its known territory, a landscape I can navigate. And yet good sleep eludes me. I know its early but I build my palace of pillows. I lay on my side, I am pillowed up: left and right and up and down. I will surely get sick of this, I should wait til I can’t sleep on my back, til my back is stiff and my hips ache. But I start the palace of pillows now and leave my husband with stray feathers. Yes, I can do that because I’m pregnant again.

I eat whatever the h&*% I want and just try to take that Nutella away from me. Before I knew I was pregnant I noticed a slight change in appetite. Once it was confirmed, all bets were off and along with spinach smoothies infused in folic acid, I sprinkle in a few gummy bears (because I’m pregnant!), an order of french fries with my fish (While baby is getting its DHA kick I get 1mg of iron. Ha), and yes I need to stay up all night making a freezer full of orange creamsicles. “When you have cravings, just remember to listen to your body and choose the healthiest version of what you think your body (and your baby) wants” says Jamie Saginor, Certified Health Coach “Try frozen grapes instead of sugary popsicles, or frozen banana in a blender instead of ice-cream. Although striving for perfection is impossible and stressful when you’re pregnant, you should know that the less sugar you eat, the better for your mood, your blood sugar levels, and your baby. You’ll also have less chance of developing gestational diabetes.” But sometimes I eat chocolate and peanut butter for breakfast. Yes, I can do that because I’m pregnant again.

I’m moody so deal with it. I have given myself permission to bitch and moan and say whatever is on my mind. I can do this because I’m pregnant. I can complain and whine and pout… I could…but even my husband’s patience has limits. My mom has been helping me out with our daughter and if I want her to stay around I know I’ve got to check out of Hotel Crazy Town. And then there is my daughter who usually laughs at me when I a start acting weird… so I laugh too. But sometimes she looks genuinely disturbed which snaps me back to the present reality of savoring every delicious moment of my daughter as an only child. That might make me cry. And yes, I can do that because I’m pregnant… again. 





Checkered Past: I reveal some skeletons in my closet

 When I was younger I was a vampire, I showed my boobs, did drugs, I was a scream queen of the month…

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Mother’s Love

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I love my mother- that’s why I’ve been in therapy for most of my adult life. I would show up at the therapist’s office wanting to talk about men, relationships, my career, but somehow the conversation always ended up circling back to my mother- mamichka as I called her in Russian. Mamichka had a strong opinion about everything and my therapists concluded we needed more separation. Separation was difficult as we were always a close family, perhaps too close.  Doors were opened without knocks, mail was opened no matter whose name was on the envelope. I did have my own room and my own bed but often found myself coming into my parents room at night and sleeping in their bed with them. My therapist named it the double spoon- my father laid on his side, I spooned him and my mother spooned me. It was warm and cozy but highly discouraged by my therapist. It was fine for a while but by 23 it was time to make a change.

When I was a little girl mamichka always told me I was beautiful and  smart and talented  – that I could do anything I wanted in this world. I learned the caveat was I was beautiful as long as I looked like she wanted me to, and could do anything as long as she deemed it worthwhile.  Nature had dealt mamichka the card of beauty but mamichka, with the help of modern science fashioned herself to her own liking.  Viewing her daughter as an extension of herself, at 14 she dragged me to a doctor. Surprise! Its a plastic surgeon “you have trouble breathing, right sweetie?” she kicked me under the table. I sat dejected in the car on the way home… I was confused, I thought I was pretty, mamichka always told me I was pretty, why did she want to change my nose? With some courage and determination to stand my own ground- and probably due to insurance rejecting the claim that I had trouble breathing, my nose remained untouched.

My hair was another story. Mamichka was (unnaturally) blond and had straight hair. I had a dark Jew-fro. Perhaps it was due to the scar of living in Russia but Mamichka insisted on taming the wild mess. She dragged me around town to different hair stylists for jerry curls, hair relaxers, or perms. Late-night infomercials provided a playground of potential products for her to rectify the offensive fro. To convince me of my potential beauty she pasted photographs of my face on top of pictures of models in the Victoria Secret catalog. If only I had the right hair…

As much as she had trouble accepting me with this crazy curly hair, she certainly would not accept any daughter of hers being a clown. In Russia, my parents were friends with many famous actors, directors and artists. I grew up loving poetry, art, and theater- acting, dancing, singing,  and painting my way through school. Instead of reading Dr Seuss before bed, my mother read Pushkin, Anna Akhmotova, Tolstoy, Solzheniztin. She blamed herself of course, she should have read me math books. Then I would have become a doctor or a lawyer instead of a gasp… a CLOWN! Actually I’m an actor. But Mamichka was only interested in when clown school would be over and when I was going to stop clowning. 

However her all time favorite subject was worrying about my becoming a spinster so she took matters into her own hands and without my knowledge set up a  “G-Date” profile for me (with her Russian accent the G and J are sometimes confused). She wrote to men, set up dates, encouraged me to go out with these men she found before I was too old and “nobody would take you.” (I was 25 at the time). She really wanted me to have a family. To experience the joy of having children. Just like I wasn’t interested in the nose job or being a lawyer, I thanked her for her um… interest- and continued on my path.

Years later, in the three am darkness, in the bed I share with my husband (whom I did meet online but on my own), I wake to the thump of my daughter’s foot hitting my husband’s head in the middle of our double spoon. She’s only a year and half old but already the curls on her head are becoming unruly. I brush her hair before my mother comes over, trying to ward off the inevitable. “Why are you touching her hair?” my mother protests, “its beautiful wild and messy.” My mother puts her hand on the sprouting curls and messes them up more. My mother, who disowned me for a short time when I decided to pursue a career as a professional actress, insists that we find an agent for my daughter. She even takes her on auditions.

I sigh at the irony and look at my mother, holding my daughter in her lap, reading her the numbers book she bought her and think- she was right. My mom was right about the joy of children. She couldn’t have explained it to me before in the same way you can’t explain the experience of chocolate to someone who’s never had it. Its more than sweet melting darkness, I look at my daughter and the love I experience is beyond words that create poetry from the beating heart that struggles daily. What strikes me is how lucky I am. Yes I have this crazy love for a little girl who’s toothy smile makes my heart sing, blah blah blah,  we’ve all heard how love for a child is amazing. What amazes me is that there is someone out there in the world who loves me in this crazy way. That my smile and button nose and wild crazy hair makes her heart sing. That she truly wants the best for me, wishes me well, is genuinely happy when I am happy. That I am the recipient of this indescribable gift: a mother’s love.

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Everything I need to know about life I learned from my 1-year old

My 1-year old has mastered all the basic survival skills in just one year… now she is  teaching me everything she knows.


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The Return of Aunt Flo

Aunt Flo hasn’t visited for quiet some time. Eighteen months to be precise. Then one afternoon I found her waiting on my doorstep, ready to stay.

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Dear Vagina… a letter to an old friend


Dear Vagina,

You betrayed me. You became a birth canal. I suppose you were always a birth canal, but up until a few months ago, all you did was bring me pleasure. Now that I know who you truly are: a conduit of human life, how can I go back to the way things were?

In the last month of my pregnancy our relationship began to change. It was harder to find you beneath my big belly. My mid-wife recommended we begin our exercise regime in ernest to get you to be more… flexible. Soon the time would come when you would stretch to your limit. We began to prepare you for your big day with a daily “perineum massage”. Since you were beyond my reach, Partner who used to be the giver of pleasure became your trainer. What was once an exotic mystery hidden by silk and lace or covered by cotton sheets in moonlight became a mundane regiment. By the glare of the 60 watt bedside lamp, Partner got nightly face time with you in a way he never had before.Armed with extra-virgin olive oil, like a stealth GI on his elbows he would army-crawl toward you. Meeting your wink face to face, he gently cajoled you to become more elastic. 

It was at the point that I realized the immensity of the task before you and I started to revere you for what you were about to do. You weren’t just some frivolous pleasure center, you were the portal between the mystery of divine creation and this physical world. You had a very serious job to do and when push came to shove (pun intended) you did your job beautifully. You gave me a baby.

When I caught a glimpse of you the next day I didn’t recognize you.  You were transformed, transfigured… transmogrified. I still loved you though. I cared for you gently with daily herbal sitz baths and we waited patiently by your side as you rehabilitated. Its been a few months now and it seems you are physically healed but I cannot look at you the same. I feel forsaken. 

You see vagina, we had a life together you and I, where you made me feel really good.  You were the gateway to nirvana.  But now who are you? You brought me a child. You plunked it down in front of me and now I take care of this child every waking and sleeping moment. You brought me pain. The physical pain of delivery. The pain in my breasts as my child feeds on my body. The ache in my bones from fatigue. But you also brought me a joy I had never known before. A rapture beyond the feeling of a fleeting orgasm… the exuberance of my child’s laugh.

How will we live together now dear vagina? We should like to spend time with you again. My partner and I have been playing on team baby for months without a respite. We are tired. We laugh, we cry, we work, we go the movies, we exercise and eat organic food. We need the reprieve only you can provide.

Maybe you are a little rusty at sexual indulgence. Birthing was a huge event, granted and it altered you. Maybe you didn’t even know your own strength and, perhaps like me, you are trying to find yourself now too. We can go slow and let you take your time finding your way.

Thanks for listening Vagina. Talk Soon,



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10 New Yoga Poses for New Moms

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10 New Yoga Poses for New Moms

For many years I had a consistent, daily yoga and meditation practice, but right after my baby was born a new yoga practice was born alongside. Instead of sitting cross legged on a comfortable cushion, silently repeating my mantra while trying to meditate (but in truth thinking of cheeseburgers,) I actually now found myself living completely in the present.  Sitting still on the zafu was replaced by bouncing vigorously on an exercise ball. Silence was replaced by the piercing cries of my fussy newborn. Instead of a secret hindu mantra, I found myself intoning: “Shhhhh. Its okay, Mamma’s here” over and over. It was truly hard to think of anything else as all my senses locked down on this new being and I realized that this single mindedness is true meditation. Meanwhile, I couldn’t seem to find a chunk of time to get on the mat for my yoga practice. However, I did find myself striking various poses throughout the day. Here is a  list of some of my favorites:Warrior 24/7- Using your thigh muscles to bounce on an exercise ball while using biceps and triceps to hold baby in the arms. Use this to help baby breastfeed, relieve pressure from gas, to help baby  relax, help baby sleep at night and nap during day.

Ravenous Facing Dog- Standing at your refrigerator at three in the morning, use your arms to pull anything edible from shelves and shove in your mouth. Breastfeeding makes you feel ravenous so do this quickly before your partner returns with a screaming baby to demand your udders.

Triangle Pose- Your new relationship with your partner and baby becomes a love triangle. You kiss the baby and offer her your breast as your partner gets jealous and wants kisses and access to breasts which currently remain off limits.

Cat/Cow- As you round your shoulders to offer your udders to feed your baby, you screech like a frightened cat when she inserts her piranha fangs into your worn, tender nipples.

Half Moon Pose- When your baby wakes for a middle of the night feeding, you pull her into bed with you as lie curled up on your side.  Offering her your breast you immediately fall asleep while your little one nibbles on you like a mouse eating Swiss cheese.

Goddess Pose- After feeding, burping and changing your baby and subsequently managing to shower, cook yourself breakfast and walk your dog without having a meltdown- you smile at yourself in the mirror.

Falling Tree Pose- While standing in your living room talking to your mother-in -aw who is happily holding your baby, you suddenly collapse from fatigue onto the couch. Hopefully someone is around to yell timber.

Corpse Pose- You sleep like the dead for the hour you have between breastfeeding.

Lion Pose- Use your paw to swat away any smiling stranger who thinks your sweet newborn is cute and tries to touch your baby without washing his hands.

Child’s pose- Curl yourself into a ball and hide under the covers crying as you realize that you are now the grown up caring for a baby and you are no longer the child.

So new moms, have no fear. You may not have time to run to your local studio for your daily dose of contortionist yoga poses but just by shifting your perspective you may find yourself doing yoga more often than you think.


What they DON’T tell you in your birth class

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After all the breath work and birth balls, practicing kegels and eating kale, you’ve watched the movies, read the books and taken the classes and are now prepared to give birth. Baby comes out. Mission accomplished.  You congratulate yourself and as you pat your self on the back for a job well done, you gasp in horror because in that instant you realize: what the hell happens now? Birth class prepares you for the main event, but no one prepares you for the instant after.
You used all your might to squeeze the little critter out of you, perhaps tearing your perineum along the way. At least during the birth you had a hormone cocktail to numb the umm “sensation”, but now you feel every piercing stitch as a sharp needle is inserted into your beautiful O’Keefien orchid.  Perhaps they don’t warn you in birth class that after the petals are sewn together they resemble ground up hamburger meat that hangs down to your knees.
Speaking of hamburgers, up above someone is looking for food. If you had brought Mozart to listen to during the birth, now is the time to turn on the jaws soundtrack as your little love monkey searches for a place try out her new found chops. What was once a sacred land of titillation (pun intended) has now become a dairy farm with chomping crocodiles. Guess they just forgot to tell you this part in the birth class.
Meanwhile your head is swimming because you haven’t slept in 24+ hours and your husband pulls out the tripod to set up the camera and you wonder out loud if you shouldn’t have gotten your hair done, since this first photo of you and your baby will live on in perpetuity. You currently resemble a wet otter who surfaced on a dirty shore with brillo pads on her head. Certainly in the birth class they could have taken a moment to tell you to pack a hair brush or a lipstick. Even though your husband tells you that you look beautiful you snap viciously at the man you once vowed to love in sickness and in health but don’t remember any vows about being nice with needles in your delicate flower and a piranha on your breast.
Just then the hospital orderly brings you a plate of scrambled eggs to which you normally would turn up your nose, insisting on organic-free-range blah blah blah but at this moment you gladly lap them up like an outcast cur because you realize you are famished.
They didn’t tell you that you can’t leave the delivery room until you urinate and if you can’t urinate on command you get a catheter inserted in you that feels about as comfortable as sitting on top of a pineapple. When you finally do urinate on your own it feels about as good as pouring salt or… urine into an open wound- which is exactly what you are doing. No, they left that part out of the birth class.
Even though women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time, unless you grew up in a tribe where the elders pass down the tricks of the breastfeeding trade, this instinctual art is its not as easy as it looks. The instant your baby comes out, feeding her is your most important job. Do yourself a favor and have a lactation consultant lined up to help you so you don’t end up crying over spilled milk.
They might forget to tell you in birth class that the real work begins after the baby is born. When you go home you need to feed your baby on demand – which usually means every 2 hours, 24-hours a day. The clock starts from the beginning of a feed and if your little one averages 20 minutes a boob with a burp and change in between that means you get one hour between feeds to do something for yourself which can include:
Going to the bathroom. May sound simple but urinating on hamburger meat hurts. To mitigate this feeling and to help you feel better quicker, a warm sitz bath is recommend. This is basically a shallow bath with a few inches of water that you sit in while the rest of you shivers out of the water. Its not perfect but you take what you can get. Just when you start to close your eyes and relax, your husband charges in with the screaming baby and insists she’s hungry. ” But I just fed her” you squeak. Apparently at the same time you birthed your baby, you also birthed an authority on newborns as your husband has suddenly become infant expert. He knows for certain  the baby is hungry because she is crying… (Since husband changed and burped the baby he reasons there could be no other possible explanation ) and your udders are once again in demand.
Eating, or rather wolfing down anything that resembles food in a two foot radius. Breastfeeding makes you ravenous. Hopefully you’ve set up a meal train or have a friend or relative helping out in the first few days because you would eat a frozen pork chop if you found it in your freezer even if you are a vegan. You don’t really have time to cook anything because just as you’ve taken one bite of your meal, your friendly husband shows up with a smile. “Guess who’s hungry again?” Me? Sorry sister, no one cares anymore if you are hungry.
Taking a shower. Its best to resign yourself to the life of an ascetic hermit or more precisely a homeless bum who wears the same spit-up covered pajamas and eschews worldly things such as personal hygiene. This way you won’t be disappointed when (after breastfeeding), you finally do escape into the warm arms of hot running water and coconut smelling shampoo that reminds you of the folly of your youth and exotic travel, and your husband opens the door holding your little love-nugget and sweetly intones “The princess is hungry.” Princess? Since you met your husband there has only been one princess on the block and that is you.  You now realize that your title has just been revoked.
Sleeping. This is more accurately described as passing out in any position or drooling a little with your eyes closed. You no longer need such luxuries as a horizontal position or a dark room or the sounds of silence. Leaning against the kitchen counter on a bright sunny day with metallica blaring from the radio and your in laws hovering around you will do just fine as a place to rest. Anyway, it won’t be long before you are awakened by your dear sweet husband passing you the “hungry” baby (you really did just feed her) before he retires to the bedroom to produce several hours worth of snores.
Brushing your teeth. Why bother? Since morning and evening all become one blur of  boobs, poop, pee, and spit up “brushing before bed” or “brushing in the morning” become meaningless expressions. You really don’t have any food stuck in your teeth since you never get past the first bite (see #2 above). No one is kissing you on the mouth these days, your baby doesn’t mind, and anyone you do run into will more likely be repelled by your overall scent (see #3 the shower manifesto above) to notice that oral hygiene fell by the wayside.
Perhaps they don’t tell you this in birth class because this all passes faster than a wipe on your baby’s bottom. Maybe they don’t bother to tell you any of this because as soon as you think you are going to lose your mind from the lack of sleep or hunger, just a few weeks later you find yourself well rested, freshly showered smelling of coconut shampoo, and eating a tasty breakfast of buckwheat pancakes and berries. You look down to see your little one who no longer looks so little and who hasn’t demanded your boob in a few hours and there’s a part of your heart that just breaks.