Category Archives: Pregnancy

Finding my tribe

I thought it was like riding a bike. Or shotgunning a beer. That it was a skill, once mastered, couldn’t be forgotten. But then, at the age of 36 and a mom of two young children, I realized I had forgotten how to make friends.

I mean, I have friends. Of course I have friends. Lots of them. In fact, according to Facebook, I have over 1,400 friends. So, yeah, I’m doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Except, thanks to our semi-nomadic life, these friends live in Ohio. And Texas. And Colorado. And Oregon. And dozens of other places.

I also managed to snag a few wonderful local friends right here in Boston before I got pregnant for the first time and turned into a permanent swamp witch. Except they are younger, or older, and childless, or their kids are grown. And also I keep forgetting to contact these wonderful local friends to hang out in real life because all my time and brain power is now spent cutting up fruit my kids are BEGGING for, and then cleaning the mess from all that cut-up fruit that they did NOT eat but felt needed to be spread all throughout the house.

I’m also on friendly terms with our downstairs neighbors. Whenever we see each other. Which is roughly twice a year.

It’s not like I can’t talk to people. I’m not what you would describe as shy. I can strike up an awkward conversation with the best of them. And on really good hair days, I can even score a hot mom’s digits.

But after that I’m pretty much useless. What’s the next step? Text them? I guess. But underneath their name I usually put something like “Chick from playground” or “Blonde Lorelai Gilmore” because I never actually listen when I ask someone their name. And if by some miracle I do remember their name, I forget how to write a text like a normal human.

“Hello. Maybe sometime henceforth we could, whenever is convenient for you, of course, together our offspring get for a coffee. Or a beer. Or nine beers. Not that I’m an alcoholic or anything. LOL. OK. Well. You have neat eyebrows. *random gif of Chris Pratt from Jurassic Park.*”

It also doesn’t help that I am awful at first impressions. Just awful. The reasons for which I’ve narrowed to the following three things.

One, I have a major case of Resting Bitch Face. Some people look wistful when they daydream. I look like I want to murder you and your entire family and then will strangle your pet in front of your lifeless corpses. Two, whenever I do smile, I smile weird because I hate my teeth, which really only adds to the illusion that I’m probably a secret serial killer. And three, when I’m nervous (like, say, when I’m meeting new people for the first time) I always think of the perfect thing to say roughly three minutes after I should have said it (which you would think would stop me from saying it, but no, no it doesn’t).

So now, without the crutch of school or a regular 9-to-5 job where people are forced into close proximity to me on a regular basis (and thus are eventually able to see through all these quirks to my much more endearing quirks) I found myself struggling to make friends with other parents.  

For a long time I told myself I didn’t need friends. It’s 2018, man. We, as a society, are beyond friends. That’s why memes and Netflix and mermaid blankets and boxed wine with straws were invented.

Coping mechanism, you know?

But you do. You really do need friends. At every age. And every stage.  

I’d see these groups of parent-friends talking and laughing at places like the library and the park. Just go up and talk to them, I’d tell myself. You’re a grown-up. This isn’t like third grade. They won’t make fun of you because you’re wearing the wrong color scrunchie. But then my oldest would start yelling “MOMOMOMOM!” and I’d realize my youngest was running straight toward traffic and the moment passed and we’d head home. Friendless.

Secretly though, I was always hoping one of these groups would take pity on me and adopt me. It was a fantasy I often had while staring off into space (and looking like I wanted to murder you). That they would see me sitting there by myself and just swoop in and take me under their collective wing and say “let’s go get a beer, or nine, and by the way, you have neat eyebrows.”

You can imagine my surprise, then, when one did.

It was a chilly spring afternoon. A group of them descended on the playground. I’d seen most of them around the neighborhood from time to time. Made small talk with some of them over the years. Which is how this encounter started. But then, just like that, they let me in. Within 20 minutes, they had added me to their Facebook Messenger group. Within 45, I’d been invited to their weekend barbecue.

And that’s all it took. I had found my tribe.

And it’s made all the difference.

My kids now have neighborhood kids to hang out with. My husband has other husbands to stand over cooking meat and say meat cooking things about. And I…well, I can finally smile my real smile, forgetting how much I hate my smile for awhile.

Loneliness is a real epidemic. As adults we don’t like to talk about this. For too many of us it conjures up too many horrific childhood memories of bullies and not fitting in and birthday parties where you were terrified no one would show up.

But we should talk about it. And address it. Because not everyone is as lucky as I am and has a circle of friends that reaches in, deus ex machina, and saves you from your loneliness. And tells you, in big ways and small, that you are great, just the way you are. And will agree that yes, your kids are being total buttheads today.

Everyone deserves to have people in their life like that.

So, here’s to hoping you have found your tribe to help you get through the long days and short years of parenthood. And if you haven’t yet, hang in there. It will happen. And if it doesn’t, approach that lonely mom sitting all by herself and start the tribe yourself.

 

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Oh, the places you’ve been

My little brother is graduating high school.

And yes, if you’re doing the math in your head, let me just stop you right there. There is a 17 year gap in our ages. I joke that my mom needed that long to recover from my birth and let’s just leave it at that instead of getting into the whole “she was a single mom for a long time and then finally found love” story.

Besides, this is his story I want to tell. Because his story is extraordinary and one I never thought I’d tell with this happy of an ending.

And his story starts on a warm July day when suddenly my mom’s water broke in the middle of the living room. It was three months ahead of schedule. It was a ghastly shade of pale red. It was a real life nightmare.

My stepfather raced her to the hospital. I stayed behind. Just me and this awful giant red stain in an empty house. I have a distinct memory of sobbing while trying to clean it up. I then have an even more distinct memory of my grandma telling me to kindly suck it up, buttercup, and go to the hospital because my mom needed me.

So I did.

One pound, three ounces. That’s what he weighed. One pound, three ounces. He could fit into the palm of my hand if he wasn’t in an incubator, barely visible underneath all the medical equipment being used to keep him alive. He stayed in that incubator for months. You had to scrub your hands, and wear a hospital gown and medical mask, just to even stare down at him inside this tiny glass case that, in my opinion, looked much too similar to a tiny coffin.

And he did almost die. A lot. At one point, the doctors were so sure he was going to die that they let his parents hold his frail, tiny body because they may not have gotten another chance.

And yet, he defied the odds. He was our tiny Han Solo, declaring “never tell me the odds” with each breath he kept defiantly taking.

He wasn’t out of the woods, of course. And for a long time, it felt like we should all just build a log cabin and set up permanent residence in those woods because he was never getting out.

But he defied those odds too. No matter what long, impossible-to-pronounce, medical terminology they threw at him, he beat them all.

And before I could fully comprehend the miracle I had just witnessed, he was healthy enough to run around and annoy me just like any old little brother.

But even then those pesky damn odds wouldn’t leave him alone. He struggled to catch up with his peers. He struggled in school. Speech problems, lung problems, hormone issues. It was exhausting to watch. I can’t imagine the Herculean strength it took him and our parents to actually live it. Doctors, specialists, tutors. It was a never-ending revolving door.

It would be easy to turn bitter under circumstances like these. Or to give up. Or to feel the perpetual victim.

But not him.

He struggled with all his tiny willpower right from the beginning just to stay alive and he’s never stopped living since. He has traveled the world. He writes. He cooks. He takes beautiful photos.

And he loves.

That’s what always gets me the most. His capacity to love. Everything that he has been through and what does he do? He makes me feel like the most beloved person on the planet. He has shined a beacon of unconditional love directly onto my face for as long as I can remember. No matter what I did or how well I played the role of annoyed (much) older sister, he gave me affection and admiration that I’m still not sure I’ve earned.

And because of that, I have always, and will always, try to be the person my brother thinks I am.

I don’t know if I ever told him that. But what better time than upon this unbelievably beautiful day, when I get to see him in a cap and gown after watching him knock down every single last obstacle that stood in his way? Because while it’s tradition upon a graduation to tell the graduate about, oh, the places he’ll go, today, I felt it was important to remind him of all the places he’s been.

I love you, Brandon. You are an amazing human and your fight to get to this point illustrates the best parts of humanity.

Congratulations, little brother.

 

Have you hugged your nurse today?

She couldn’t have been much more than 100 pounds. Just super petite. Tiny even. This was made even more apparent when compared to my extremely rotund and bloated figure. So when she said “lean your head against my chest and squeeze my hands when the pain hits,” I laughed. And then laughed again. And then the laughter walked right up to the border of hysterical, mostly because Dolph Lundgren’s voice saying “I must break you” in Rocky IV kept running through my head.

But then the pain hit. I gasped and squeezed as hard as I could as the world’s largest epidural needle penetrated where no needle had ever dared penetrate before. And suddenly, Nurse Itty McLittle turned into a rock made of steel and Ryan Reynold’s abs.

Yet her voice suddenly took on the soothing murmur of a grandmother comforting a toddler with a boo-boo knee.

“You’re doing great. It’s almost over. Almost there. You’re doing fantastic, Momma.”

That’s when it hit me. No matter what happened from here on out with the birth of my first child, I was in very good hands. The very good, freakishly strong hands of a caring nurse.

And for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was going to get through this in one piece.

Bringing a life into this world, and the aftermath of that birth, whether you did it the old-fashioned way or via a cesarean, is absolutely brutal. We’re not supposed to admit this, of course. Not in our society. Oh no. Women are supposed to have an 8-pound human exit their body and then continue on their day as if nothing happened (and God help you if you aren’t back to your pre-pregnancy weight the second they cut that umbilical cord). Nevermind that your body has been stretched to the limit physically, mentally and emotionally. Nevermind that you haven’t slept, haven’t ate, haven’t been able to take a pain-free breath. Nevermind that when you tell the lactation specialist, with giant crocodile tears in your eyes, that there is a large amount of blood in your breastmilk when you pump, and her response is “oh, don’t worry, the blood won’t hurt the baby,” and your response is “that wasn’t my concern.” No. Nevermind all that.

It’s time to get over it. You’re a mom now.

I mean, it’s not like you’re a man with cold. Back to work, lady.

Part of the blame for this falls on our society in general, which has made it clear time and time again that we don’t necessarily value mothers or what they do. But another big chunk is simply that when you have a baby, everything becomes about the baby. You, your partner, your parents, your in-laws. All of your collective concern is on the baby. It is tiny. It is fragile. And even though you’ve only known it for 30 seconds, you all love it with such devotion that you would die if anything happened to it.

They’re miracles. Our own personal miracles.

How can a bloody and broken and stretched and exhausted mom body compare to that?

It can’t. Except when it came to the nurses. They’re the ones who saw me. In all the chaos, they saw me. They saw my bloody, broken, stretched, exhausted body and they took care of me.

They, for lack of a better word, mommed me.

This was especially apparent with my second baby. Because when you are a mom, it doesn’t matter if you have another child’s head emerging from your vagina at that exact moment. Your toddler will still ask you to get him some juice.

So when, after getting someone else a cup of juice no less than 1,672 times, someone asks you if YOU’D like some juice? It’s enough to make a crazy hormonal, homicidally sleep-deprived new mom cry tears of joy.

Of course, none of this is to discount what my husband and my mom and my mother-in-law did for me during this time. All three went above and beyond to take care of me, the baby, my older son, my ridiculously needy, neurotic dog and our quirky home with its weird windows and very vocal refrigerator.

I also had a fantastic doctor who got me from Point A to Point “Get This Thing The Hell Out Of Me” with grace and humor and competence.

But it was the nurses, oftentimes working quietly in the background, that need to have the spotlight shined on them.

So many of us new mothers feel we can’t complain or even acknowledge the amount of pain we are in because the gift we get in return is so much greater. And that’s where the nurses swoop in with their invisible superhero capes. They take care of us without us ever having to ask. They know we need tender, loving care even if we don’t.

It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse, I think. The kind of person who you can meet and within 90 seconds has you comfortable enough with them that you let them help you pee. The kind of person who makes you feel like you are their only patient, when in reality they are overworked, underpaid and haven’t had time to go to the bathroom themselves since 8 a.m.

I realize that for my nurses I was likely just another patient that day. But to me, they made all the difference. Their smiles, their gentle hands, their patience, their laughter, their reassurances, their ability to answer my god-awfully stupid first-time parent questions without a single eyeroll. They are how I survived those utterly terrifying first days of motherhood.

So to all the nurses out there, I want to thank you for seeing me. And I want you to know that I see you and all you do.

I see you.

And while I’ll forever be grateful to my wonderful and highly skilled doctor for bringing my children into this world, I’ll forever be grateful to every nurse who graced my hospital room door for bringing me back to life.

All that’s missing is the white picket fence

It was a particularly bad day to give birth to a baby.

Or, depending on how you view it, I suppose, it was a particularly good day to give birth to a baby. Which is why every pregnant woman in the world decided to do it that morning. In my hospital, no less. A birth explosion is how one nurse delightfully described it. At one point, I’m pretty sure non-pregnant women just started walking in off the street and heading to the maternity ward.

Woman Off The Street: “Excuse me, nurse? I’m not sure how it happened but it appears I’ve spontaneously become pregnant. And I’m about to give birth RIGHT NOW.”

Nurse: “No worries. I know just who to bump down the list.”

I was fourth in line. Then fifth. Then sixth. Since my cesarean was scheduled and I wasn’t in the throes of excruciating pain or life-threatening complications like the rest of them, that apparently made my case somehow less urgent.

Pffft. But that’s our broken healthcare system for you.

Actually, when it comes down to it, I didn’t mind the waiting. As much as I was done (with a capital D-O-N-E) with being pregnant, I’ve never been the kind of person who was impatient to get sliced in half. In fact, you’d be amazed how long I can wait to get professionally gutted.

However, I did mind the whole “you can’t have any liquids” rule, especially seeing as how liquid is one of the main ingredients in coffee. It had been almost 13 hours since my last cup, which was bordering on dangerous territory. But the doctor refused to even listen to my argument that coffee doesn’t necessarily qualify as food or liquid so much as it qualifies as anti-homicide serum. The arrogant know-it-all.

Pffft. But that’s Western medicine for you.

Anyway, as you can imagine, the baby-cutting-out crew was all business by the time they got to me. No one even laughed at my “I gained so much pregnancy weight, this is more like a double D-section, am I right?” joke. But honestly, you can’t blame them. The miracle of birth probably loses some of its miraculousness when the operating room starts to resemble a screaming cherub assembly line.

However, none of the above mattered. None of it. Because within a few short minutes, I finally had my daughter. My perfect, beautiful, angelic daughter.

And as I looked down at my tiny, adorable, baby girl covered in gross lady part crud, I whispered “And now our family is complete” in her ear as tears gently slid down my face, movie-where-a-teenager-has-cancer-style.

I was in love, dear reader. Oh, so in love.

Cut to five and a half weeks later…

My tiny, adorable, baby girl covered in gross baby vomit is screaming her primal Viking warrior/dying pterodactyl cry at heretofore unheard of decibels while she has explosive diarrhea all over my hand and 90 percent of the far wall. Meanwhile, my sweet, loving toddler is destroying the entire house with a cookie he illegally procured while screaming something about “da poiple cwayon broked in da half.” The dog is barking at “Serial Killer Has Entered The Home” levels even though it’s more of a “Light Wind Blowing Through The Window” situation. And my husband…my husband is…crap, where is he?

Ah, the wifi is down. I sigh. Dramatically. I sigh because my husband happens to be a man. And when you live with a man, having the wifi down means nothing else exists until the wifi is back up.

So, my husband is scrolling through the dark web that is the set-up menu on our smart TV, looking for the ancient rune that magically brings back the wifi, completely oblivious to the Hindenburg Disaster happening all around him.

I start breastfeeding the frantically clawing honey badger I’ve named Mae in an effort to shut up at least one small creature in our house. My son sees this as the perfect opportunity for me to read him every single book he owns while sitting awkwardly on my shoulder and the dog decides puking all over his pillow is the best way to deter the non-existent serial killer from chopping us all into tiny pieces. Luckily, my husband is having fantastic luck with Todd, the genius wizard over at the cable company, who clearly deserves a raise and who informs my husband “uh, I don’t know, man, maybe it’s the router or something?”

And because the universe needed a good laugh, our air conditioner chooses this exact moment to stop working. In the middle of a heat wave. That the local meteorologist described professionally as “just wicked hot, folks.”

In the midst of all this, I look down at my tiny, adorable, baby girl now covered in illegal toddler cookie crumbs and smile as I whisper in her ear “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

(Mind you, this touching moment was followed immediately by the much less charming bellowing of “STOP WEARING MOMMY’S UNDERWEAR AS A HAT!” at my son. But, hey, you take your perfectly happy moments, no matter how brief, where you can.)

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Read this. Or not. I don’t really care.

As I sit here with my laptop, a million years pregnant, looking like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka (only rounder and more obnoxious), I can’t help but wonder “what the hell am I doing?”

Not meaning the pregnancy, of course. It’s much too late for that regret. She’s big enough to qualify for social security at this point.

No, I mean this is likely my last post for awhile. One, because I could give birth any day now (although considering my previous birthing record, by “any day now” I mean “two weeks past forever”). And after I do I’m going to take a small break from writing so I can concentrate on the important things, like cuddling with my new baby and finding new places in my house where I can hide so I can sob over my destroyed nipples in private.

Two, my brain has been slowly dissolving in a vat of bubbling hormones for months now, making anything more complicated than dipping deep-fried Cheetos stuffed with mac n’ cheese into tartar sauce damn near impossible.

So, I want to at least try to pull myself together and make this last one a good one. You know, funny but sweet. Perhaps even a bit profound.

And you’d think finding a topic would be easy considering I’m now too big to do anything other than recline on the couch and moan, leaving me plenty of time to worry unnecessarily about things I have absolutely no control over.

The thing is, though, at this stage, I don’t care about anything other than getting this THING out of me.

Sorry. That’s not very maternal. I mean, getting this adorable THING out of me.

Right friggin’ now.

For example, I was going to write about my catch-22 fears of trying to give birth after having a C-section while also simultaneously being afraid of having a second C-section. But then I realized I just…(sigh)…I just don’t care. She can come out any way she wants. She can burrow out my uterus “Shawshank Redemption” style and make her grand entrance via my mouth if she wants. Just as long as she is outside my body and I can finally roll over in bed without the help of a crowbar, a crane and a decent-sized construction crew.

After scraping that idea, I managed to croak out a few sentences about my concerns regarding my first-born. Will I have enough time for him after she’s born? Will he still love me as much as he does now when I’m constantly distracted by his newborn sister? Am I properly mourning the end of the “just me and him” era?

But…again…I don’t really care. I’m tired and hot and can’t get off the couch without assistance. Any issues that stem from this period in my toddler son’s life can be dealt with later (likely via his memoir in which I am referred to as his “momster”).

Being pregnant in the summer, I also tossed around a paragraph or two about my FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” Scrolling through social media, I am inundated with images of friends and family and that bartender I met eight years ago doing fun summery things at lakes and in rivers and on the ocean. They’re going to ballgames and amusement parks and beer gardens. They are having the time of their Instagram-filtered lives and here I sit on the couch with nothing but a bucket of chicken and six fans pointed directly at my face.

But, if I’m being honest, leaving the house is pretty much the last thing I want to do. My house has everything a pregnant lady could possibly want or need (specifically, Netflix, a bed and a good-looking husband who leaves me the hell alone unless it is to fetch me more cheese to eat in bed). I’ll enjoy those stupid fireflies and bonfires and blah, blah, other unforgettable summer memories, blah, next year.

Because again, I don’t care. About anything. Except surviving these last few weeks.

OK, that’s not entirely true. I do slightly care about not murdering anyone until this baby comes out. But that’s only because I will not fair well in prison and not necessarily because I care about stupid crap like the sanctity of life and morals right now.

So, I apologize for wasting your time, dear readers. I hope you can forgive me and I promise to come back with fresh material and a whole new cheery outlook on life (or whatever).

But if you can’t, it’s cool.

I just…(sigh)…don’t care.

35 things I’ve learned in 35 years

When you’re nine months pregnant and busy chasing a sugar-addicted toddler around, certain things are bound to fall through the cracks. The family’s collective hygiene, for one (she types as she tries to remember how many days in a row her son has worn those Spiderman pajamas). Basic human decency, for another (she types while cringing as she remembers yelling “so help me, if you poop in that plant, mister!” while talking to her insurance agent on the phone).

And, of course, remembering important dates, such as holidays and doctor’s appointments and Taco Tuesday. Which is how I ended up ugly crying into my lasagna last Tuesday in a pregnancy-hormone-fueled rage.

And which is also how my 35th birthday snuck up on me.

Having been someone who was always just on this side of obnoxious when it came to celebrating her birthday, this is pretty much unheard of. I mean, I’ve been known to celebrate the day of my arrival on Earth for the entire month. And 35? Sure, it’s not a huge milestone but a big enough one that it makes you question whether wearing blue glittery lipstick is still a good idea or not.

(It is. It always will be. I will be 95 and still rocking it. I will be buried wearing that lipstick).

Thirty-five is also an age when you start to, if not actually become wise, perceive yourself as becoming wise. Which is why instead of celebrating my almost-forgotten 35th birthday with a big bang (it’s hard to dance all night when you are roughly the size of a planet and have swollen hobbit feet), I want to share some of the wisdom I’ve picked up along the way in my 30 plus years of living.

And so, here are the 35 things I’ve learned in 35 years:

 

  1. Life is too short for uncomfortable underwear.
  2. Your kids won’t remember your muffin top and cellulite. All they’ll remember is that perfect summer day when Mommy played with them in the ocean.
  3. You should never gamble with your health. Drink the good vodka.
  4. Love means never having to say “does this make me look fat?”
  5. When a woman says no, it’s not the beginning of a negotiation.
  6. Have a small wedding and a big honeymoon.
  7. If the Internet comments section has taught us anything, it’s that wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age.
  8. It’s possible to cook without drinking wine. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
  9. Dance like everyone is ignoring you because they’re on their phone watching funny videos of other people dancing on YouTube.
  10. Pregnancy is best experienced looking back from ten years in the future.
  11. Anything can be turned into a pizza topping. It’s our right as Americans.
  12. Apologize when you’re wrong. Stop apologizing for existing and taking up space.
  13. Getting really angry at how slow the line is moving has never, ever made the line move faster in the entire history of line-standing.
  14. Try to live every day with the joy and abandon of a naked toddler who just escaped from his bath.
  15. When it comes to politics, chances are good that the bad guys aren’t the people who have it worse off than you do.
  16. Don’t stress out when your children refuse to eat their vegetables. They will. Eventually. When they have children of their own and are trying to demonstrate how “num-num” vegetables are.
  17. Beer and meat both taste better outside.
  18. There are a lot of horrible problems in the world. A woman wearing leggings as pants is not one of them.
  19. Telling your children no is hard. Dealing with spoiled brats is even harder.
  20. Naps should be mandatory for everyone on rainy afternoons.
  21. The only way to survive parenthood is to develop a good sense of humor and own old furniture.
  22. Never underestimate just how brave you really are. You fight invisible monsters every day.
  23. Never underestimate just how brave your kids are. They fight invisible monsters every day.
  24. It’s nearly impossible to succeed if you’ve never failed, so fail and fail spectacularly. Then cry, get drunk with your best friend and vow to never try again. Then try again.
  25. Spend your birthday doing fun things instead of unwrapping fun things.
  26. Go ahead and have breakfast for dinner, pizza for breakfast and wine for lunch.
  27. You have an opinion. Good for you. It doesn’t mean you necessarily have to share it every chance you get.
  28. Dog fur is the most resilient substance on Earth. No matter how much you use a lint roller, it will still be there on your pants. Even if you’re murdered and dumped in the ocean and found two years later, police will still be able to identify you by the dog hair they find on your pants.
  29. It’s always better to look your age than to look like you’re desperately trying not to look your age.
  30. Some days, I honestly don’t know if love is always stronger than hate. But that’s not going to make me love any less fiercely.
  31. Shelter pets always make better pets.
  32. Oh, just swim and stop worrying about getting your hair wet.
  33. Never trust someone who doesn’t drink coffee.
  34. One of the best jobs in the world is being the Official Boo Boo Kisser to a tiny human with a skinned knee.
  35. Getting older is something to celebrate. Especially when you consider the alternative.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

I can’t remember exactly how old I was. It was probably around age 11. A lot of important revelations are made when you turn 11. Like realizing tater tots are the world’s most perfect food and how one eye roll is worth a thousand “whatever’s.”

So it was probably around this time that I decided it was my nose. It was so obvious. Literally right there way out in front of my face. All my problems in life began and ended with my nose.

What was wrong with it exactly? Pffft. Where to even start? Too big from the front view, too long from the side view. It was simultaneously too skinny at the bridge yet too bulbous at the nostrils. If some girls had button noses, I had a jacked up, gigantic, old lady brooch on my face.

I was the love child of Jimmy Durante and Dumbo.

Oh, if only it weren’t for my nose. I then might have had a shot at being kind of pretty. Not cute, of course. And certainly not beautiful. I was nothing if not a young realist. But with enough makeup and hairspray and overpriced Urban Outfitter sweaters, I could pass for kind of pretty if you were squinting.

Sigh.

If only it weren’t for my nose.

It really was a kind of Greek tragedy on a micro-scale. Because when I was 11, if you couldn’t even pass for kind of pretty, it meant you were ugly. And being ugly meant life was over.

Over the years, of course, the culprits changed. If only I wasn’t so pale. Clearly I was also meant to be a blonde. My naturally dark hair washes me out. And these crooked teeth. The only girl in my junior high school without braces and now I’m paying for it with a smile that would put Steve Buscemi to shame. Obviously I also need to lose 10 pounds. Although 30 would be better.

As I got older, entirely new regions became problematic. Was that the beginning of a forehead wrinkle? Where did this arm flab come from? Apparently these under-eye circles are permanent now. Cellulite? It cellu-bites. Then there was the fateful day I discovered going braless was clearly no longer an option.

There was always something preventing me from living the perfect life of the women in the perfume ads.

But the most disturbing thing of all is how this kind of vicious tearing down of every aspect of our appearance is so ingrained into so many of us women that we no longer see the absolute absurdity of it. It’s completely normal. I mean, talk about multi-tasking. From a very young age, this internal monologue runs through our heads as we earn top grades in school and play three different sports and act in plays and create art and start our careers and earn accolades and fall in love and volunteer and travel the world and get published and rescue shelter pets and raise our kids and buy our own home.

But who has time to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished in life when our unruly and patchy eyebrows aren’t perfectly plucked into an arch?

And I’m sure I would have skipped happily to my death with this Imperial March of Imaginary Facial and Bodily Deformities continually running through my head if it weren’t for one small thing. One very small thing, in fact.

Here in a few months I will be giving birth to a daughter. A beautiful, perfect little girl. A sweet, pink-cheeked tiny angel.

Who is going to emerge from my body as the devil herself.

Yes, apparently my wonderful not-yet-born baby girl is bound to be difficult. Because, according to multiple sources, girls are so much more difficult than boys. My closest family members tell me this. My good friends tell me this. Complete strangers who ask the gender of my swollen belly feel the need to tell me this as they are awkwardly rubbing me like I’m a breathing, bloated magic lamp.

Boys will be boys. But girls? Well, girls will be brats.

Of course, not everyone believes this. But it sure feels like it. And it makes me so utterly sad.

Because whether or not you believe raising girls is more difficult, the fact remains it is more difficult to be a girl. Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in heels. And the poor lady was still expected not to sweat her makeup off or muss up her hair.

This is the world my “bound-to-be” difficult daughter is entering. Complete with a “I feel naked without ten pounds of eyeliner on” mother raising her to boot.

She doesn’t stand a chance.

Which is why I now realize something has to change, starting with me. Because I don’t want my daughter wasting any time sitting in front of a mirror hating her face at the tender age of 11. Not when there are books to read and trees to climb and adventures to begin and secret giggles to share and songs to belt out off-key and races to run and ice cream on hot afternoons to eat.

I want her, when she even bothers to notice her face, a face that I gave her, to realize that it’s just one small part of the amazing whole that makes up who she is. As are her bony knees and loud laugh and curly hair and love of dogs and freckled shoulders and all the other actual elements that will make up who she is that I can’t even imagine yet.

I want makeup and fashion to simply be something creative she gets to play around with, not something that determines her self-worth. I want exercise to be fun, not something she has to do to be considered desirable. I want food to be delicious fuel, not a life-long battle she always thinks she’s losing. I want success to be how she defines it, not how the boy she likes defines it, not how a magazine defines it and not how the more terrible elements of the Internet comments section defines it.

But that can only happen if she has a good role model. And I’m determined that she will.

Because as it turns out, my nose was actually perfect this whole time.