I've hesitated (lamely) all week to post something about the abortion ban in Alabama. My thoughts went like this:
I'm furious. I'm freaked out. I'm incredulous. (I'm glad I live in New York.) I should really post something because: feminism, solidarity. I am deeply pro choice and believe that access to reproductive health care is a human right. But, the internal debate continued, I want to be sensitive: I know that some of you have suffered through infertility, that some of you are not pro choice, that most all of you are here not for my soapboxing, but for support *after* baby.
Well, support after baby begins long before baby. It begins with agency and timing and the ability to care for our future families by caring for ourselves first.
This is the view out of my freshman year dorm room in college, Dec. 1995. I took a picture because, having grown up in the South, I was so shocked at the beauty of snow out my window, at the pinch-myself distance I'd come from childhood in one quick semester, and at the miles of life and possibilities ahead of me.
I went to crazy parties, I fell in love with my husband, I learned to write, to argue, to disagree, to stay up all night, and make bad decisions, and learn good lessons. I became me.
The whole time I knew that I had access and options if I needed them. I never did, but that was just dumb luck (and affordable birth control). This weekend, Ben and I have our 20th college reunion. We're taking the boys on a memory tour of where-Mom-and-Dad-fell-in-love.
Everything good in my life right now -- my husband, my children, my work -- is because of that agency I had over my own body when I was just launching into real life. And I will fight like hell for anyone else to have it too.
I was just scrolling through old photos and found this gem from my third day back at work after Will was born. We look...worried. But I see a glimpse of relief in my smile too. I had been so nervous about leaving him with our new caregiver for all of those hours in a row (spoiler: it was ALL fine). In my research for my book, I later discovered that Mom's comfort with her caregiver is a huge predictor of baby's wellness too.
Fast forward a decade, and I'm so excited to be partnering with @getcozykin, a company that offers Montessori-inspired nanny shares. Pairing compatible families with each other and then with one of their highly trained and vetted nannies (who are full time, W2 employees with benefits, vacation time, and professional development—because that's important!). I love their support of working parents (no wait list guarantee, lots of support, the way they handle all the paperwork) and their commitment to fair employment of nannies.
INVITE: For CozyKin's expansion to NYC, I'm doing a panel breakfast talk with @brycegruber, called "The New Face of Childcare" at Tavern on the Green (💚!) on Thursday May 30 from 8:30-10:30am. Media, influencers, and expectant/new parents who are interested in learning more are all welcome. Swipe over for event info, and I'll link for more info in my Stories, too. Hope to see you there!
Lots and lots of stuff I’ve been working on is coming out into the world this month. These three are all linked in my Stories today. I hope you find them helpful! 💛 💲I wrote a story for @wealthsimple about how to inoculate yourself against the Motherhood Penalty, featuring advice from @thefiscalfemme and @bobbirebell1 🤱Also wrote a piece for @wework about the boom in postpartum care products (and what that says about the economic viability of supporting new moms), featuring the founders of @morformoms and @mamastrut, and sage perspective from @themotherhoodcenter’s @drcatherinebirndorf ✌️And I was interviewed by reporter Elissa Strauss for a @nytparenting story about negotiating the mental load-loaded realities of being a two-income family — if you haven’t signed up for their newsletter yet, do do do!!
💛💛💛 Who knows if I’ll stick with this, but...I’m taking the day away from posting to soak up time with my husband and boys (who made me scrambled eggs with hot sauce for breakfast...they know me!) and my mom and dad and sister. To all of the new moms, long-time moms, one-day moms, maybe moms, mother figures, favorite aunties, grandmas, and everyone who loves them and supports them: Happy, happy Mother’s Day! Your love makes the world go round. 💛💛💛
Okay, friends. There was a time when the idea of talking about anything political would have given me imposter syndrome (and a stomach ache). But you know what? We moms are never imposters when it comes to defending our workplace rights. So, I did this live @cheddar broadcast...something in my previous career I never felt polished or pretty or confident enough to do, that's now regularly on my calendar. On my way to the @yahoofinance studio now too!
Here's what I shared:
Yesterday, the House Ways & Means Committee held a hearing to review the urgent need for #paidfamilyleave.
Two plans on the table(ish):
1) FAMILY Act, proposed by Dems. Rosa DeLauro and @kirstengillibrand for five years running now: All workers pay 0.2% of income into an insurance/payroll tax that is matched by employers. $2/week = 66% of pay for 12 weeks. For parents, spouses, eldercare, etc.
2) Cradle Act, proposed by Sens. Jodi Ernst and Mike Lee, which allows workers to borrow 1-3 months from their Social Security for parental leave, postponing retirement by 2-6 months. Only for parents. Not for elder care or spousal care.
Neither plan is perfect because they both perpetuate the normalization of 12 weeks as the amount of time moms need...when we know that they research shows a min. of 6 months to be protective of mom and baby (AND our economy, btw). But everybody's motivated to make some paid leave happen. Here's my best guess at why:
In the context of...
1) A divisive presidency
2) Lots of assholic behavior toward women in the workplace (wage gap, sexual harassment, etc)
3) A climbing maternal mortality rate (53% up in the US vs. 44% down globally) that most impacts black women -- women who, btw are disproportionately in jobs that are not covered by FMLA or who simply cannot afford to take FMLA...
This is one thing we can all agree on to modernize our culture, grow our economy, and solve a dire public health crisis.
Yay moms and babies. Make it happen!
Link to video segment in my bio and Stories
PS: My no-comment post about the royal baby yesterday was my most-liked ever (not that I pay attention to these things…ha!) because it was shared so widely. Do the same with this, please!
Congrats, you three! I've gotten calls and emails from press this morning asking me to comment on this beautiful photo. 💛Here's the story: I won't. 💛Here's why: People will pick apart (positively and negatively) every aspect of this moment. Why they timed the photo the way they did...why he held the baby...why she wore white and if her smile looked genuine, etc etc etc. 💛Instead, I would love to use this as a moment to reject the scrutiny we have of brand new moms, who, having made it through the gauntlet of birth (water, at home, hospital, or otherwise -- ALL good), should not bear the added burden of reshaping culture with their choice of neckline. I have a feeling MM is very much up to the task, but I won't buy into it. 💛And now I'm off to watch the House Ways & Means Committee meeting on #paidfamilyleave so I know what the heck I'm talking about on @cheddar this afternoon!
🛍$1200 MOTHER'S DAY GIVEAWAY🛍
For the record, I still love all 23 baby blankets I received when Will was born (half my linen closet, seriously), but the stuff in this massive giveaway is what I really needed as a new mom -- support for my new body and brain and work/life balance challenges (okay, there's one thing for the kid...but it's a bouncer, and we all know that's so you can actually shower!). Check out this amazing haul! 💛
- 1 signed copy @thefifthtrimester and a 30 min work/life coaching call with me! 📒☎️ 💛
- 1 hour session postpartum doula @anotherkalesalad (in NYC or on FaceTime) 🤱🧘♂️ 💛
- @mothermothershop's full line of in-house self-care products🙏🧴🛀 💛
- A private, virtual consult with @allisonoswald, PT and founder of Plumb Line Studios 💪💪💪 💛
- A-list loved lactation cookies and nursing friendly tank from @totumwomen 👚🍪 💛
- An eco/nursing friendly goddess bathing suit from @ldlosangeles 👙 💛
- A gorgeous @bloomglobal baby bouncer👼🚿 💛
- A custom illustration of you and your little by @guadypleskacz (that's her beautiful artwork in my post here!)👩🎨 💛 ♡ To Enter ♡ FOLLOW each account & TAG 2 mom (or mom-to-be) friends in the comments. ♡ Winner will be announced on Mother's Day! ♡
I had this lovely idea for today, May 1, World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day: I would go reread the first few pages (okay, the only filled in pages) of Will's baby book, something I've looked at only maybe once or twice since those raw, exhausted days when I found a pen and took a breath and tried to capture some words. In my mind’s eye, I remember being honest about how unexpectedly hard everything was...how in love and in agony I was all at once.
So, I cracked open the book. Guess what's there? Stories of who visited us in the hospital and little old ladies on airplanes remarking what a good baby Will was...and Ben delighting my mom by eating the leftover brisket she'd cooked the night before, cold from the fridge for breakfast on his way to work. There's nothing -- absolutely nothing save for one casual "this is hard but worth it!" -- that betrays how utterly flattened I was with anxiety.
The truth: 🌃 I was up in the night unable to go back to sleep, even when the baby was sleeping. 🚘 I checked the buckle on the carseat five times, started the car and then turned off the car and checked it again. 🚨 I had intrusive, terrifying thoughts: a bus flattening the stroller, a window left open for our cat to fall out, the baby turning blue and still in his bassinet, smothered by a piece of his swaddle.
I shared none of this, with anyone, turns out not even this first 100-days diary. I was too ashamed.
I'm a writer, an over-sharer, a person who was born to be a mother, and had excellent health care and great friends and an amazing husband and six doting grandparents. I can't keep a secret to save my life, but I thought in keeping this one I was protecting my baby. I wasn't.
Please: Check on your strong mom friend, the one who looks like she's doing just great. Share your own stories to de-stigmatize the vulnerabilities of early parenthood that are more normal than not. And if you or a friend are one of the 1 in 7 (1 in 4 for women at higher risk with less support), get help. Call or text (English and Spanish) the incredibly kind and knowledgable people at Postpartum Support International @postpartumhelp : 800-944-4773. I’m checking on you. 💛
Same 🦞 costume, very different boys. 💛
A few months ago, @goodhousekeeping asked me if I'd write an essay for a special they were working on about raising boys in 2019. The assignment: Rewrite the outdated expression "boys will be boys" as something else: "Boys Will Be _____."
Oof, that's hard! My assumptions about what boys are "like" have been proven more and more wrong as these little lobsters of mine have grown into completely opposite personalities. 💛
How could there be any one way to fill in that blank? And then I realized what my boys have in common (besides DNA): Me, as their mother, fumbling as I go in a time when parents feel more pressure than ever to get things right and raise kids who will do some good in this world that needs it. 💛
My essay, out today: “BOYS WILL BE...RAISED BY FEMINISTS WHO ARE JUST LEARNING HOW.”
Because I am awakening right alongside them. And it's a joy of parenthood I never could have anticipated. 💛 🔗 to the essay in my bio and stories. Thank you for reading, and thank you to editors @devin_tomb and Marisa LaScala for pushing me to think, and for GH’s whole beautiful package of #boymom thoughtfulness.
This photo is my friend Dawn Smalls @dawnfornewyork leaving the hospital with her third child. She’s smiling because: healthy baby. But the day before this — as she shares in an op-ed for the @nydailynews today (linked in my Stories) — was harrowing, not just because of the typical terrifying unknowns of childbirth...but because of racism. Because giving birth as a black woman in America is dangerous. And on her third baby, born too quickly, away from her usual doctor and hospital, Dawn felt that.
Between 1990 and 2015, the global maternal mortality rate dropped 44%. All the while, here in the U.S. it *increased* by 53%. We are more likely to die from having babies than our mothers were. That number is largely due to disparity in the quality of care you get because of the color of your skin. Black women in America are 3 to 4 times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women. Their babies are twice as likely to die too.
Did I mention my friend Dawn is a top attorney? That she worked in Health and Human Services under Obama?
Dawn shares her story to draw attention to the Maternal Health Caucus, launched this month by Rep. Lauren Underwood @repunderwood and Rep. Alma Adams @repadams to, “address ongoing disparities in black maternal health across income and education.” As a former candidate for NY public advocate, Dawn has the agency to speak up for so many other women who don’t. Her essay should be required reading for lawmakers and anyone who cares for or about mothers and babies. I’m glad it was for me. #blackmamasmatter
💛💛💛I take back every crabby 🦀 remark I’ve ever made about social media (yes, even about the 👸🤰Royal-obsessed people who trolled me for saying Meghan shouldn’t need to take a baby picture) because, 👀LOOK👀: The questions I asked presidential candidate @kirstengillibrand this week got picked up by @workingmother, and now Sen. Gillibrand’s brilliant on-the-spot solutions for how to undo the cultural normalization of 12 weeks of parental leave as “enough” are out there beyond the room we were in. Such a win! Thank you guys for helping give working moms this much-needed platform of support and amplification! And thanks @mamainchief for the excellent story and @momsdonthavetimetoreadbooks and @zibbyowens for inviting me to your live podcast where this awesome moment happened. 🔗 in bio and swipe-able in my Stories. 💛💛💛
#paidleave #paidfamilyleave #maternityleave #paternityleave #fourthtrimester #fifthtrimester #workingmom #motherhoodpenalty #wagegap #ppd #ppa #maternalmentalhealth #postpartum
This is the gleeful no-chill grin of me being proven right! I say all the time that working moms are more creative, more efficient, more able to pivot and make change. Well, I got to hear pres. candidate Sen. @kirstengillibrand speak today at a live podcast of @momsdonthavetimetoreadbooks, and she did something SO cool that proved it all…and made me more convinced than ever that when we have parents in office, we ALL win. 💛Here’s the story: At the event, I got up the nerve to ask her two picky questions about paid family leave (for 5 years, she has doggedly proposed the FAMILY Act bill for fed paid leave). My Qs: 1) Yes, Dems and Reps both want fam leave, but how do we get them to agree on how to pay for it? 2) How can we reset the cultural norm that 12 weeks is all moms need when the health research proves 6 paid mos. is the min required? (FYI: FMLA was originally meant to be 23 weeks…12 was a “temporary” compromise in 1993.) 💛Sen. G. answered the 1st Q by explaining that both sides have come around to the idea that paid leave should be an “earned benefit” (in her bill paid for by a 0.2% income contribution from workers and biz’s, appx $2/week). That basic agreement is, “the best thing that happened this year,” she said. Now the devil’s in these details: 1) broadening the leave to include elder and spousal care; 2) not borrowing the $ from our retirements (“that’s really going to harm women…they can’t just work longer!”). She thinks we can get there. 💛(Now the cool part!) As for my 2nd Q, about that 12-wks fallacy, she admitted, “You’re the first person to raise that…I’m not so sure…maybe you just get any paid leave and that’s your next tranche.” And then, unsatisfied with her answer, she did what any working mom would: *She thought fast.* “I have an idea!” she said. “Maybe you set it up as 0.2% of income but if you want more leave, there’s a greater buy in of 0.4%. Or! Encourage states that do have paid leave to augment the federal leave. So if you’re a good governor, you let people get an additional 12 weeks. Use the progressiveness of certain states to create competition among the governors.” Boom. Just like that. Solutions, creativity, mom power. MIC DROP.