Kale Chips

Happy Boxing Day, Cradled in Joy followers! I’ve gotten you a present: kale chips! Here, try a bite…

IMG_4206

Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize your computer doesn’t have the food teleporter attachment. Well, I hope you don’t mind my chewing sounds while I type. What? You don’t hear those either? Well, that’s nice at least!

You’re probably wondering: why is a birth doula giving me a recipe for kale chips? The answer is simple: Whether you’re growing a fetus, feeding a picky toddler, or just plain going about your business, kale is phenomenal for your health. It’s high in fiber; vitamins A, C, and K; minerals including calcium, iron, and manganese; and, as vegetables go, it’s even quite protein-rich. I encourage you to try it served all sorts of ways–in soups, as a salad green, blended into a smoothie, sautéed with garlic in butter. But kale is a strong-tasting vegetable, and not every toddler (or, let’s be honest, every mama) enjoys leafy greens as much as we know we should.

But you know what I bet you–and your toddler–enjoy more than you should? Potato chips. I know my four year old can be set into a mania of wheedling by just the sight of a potato chip bag–“Please, Mommy, PLEEEEAAASE?!?!” But what’s more, she can be set into the same frenzy by a bag of kale chips. That’s right, my preschooler begs for kale. (And, to preserve the mystery, I confess to limiting her intake: “Oh, gee, honey, I dunno. I reckon you’re gonna have to eat more of your [whatever else I served, that is doubtless less healthy] before I can give you any more kale!”)

So here’s my recipe, simplified from my friend Chelsea’s Real Food‘s utterly-amazing-but-too-complex-for-simple-cooks-like-me version (hers is available Saturdays at the Athens Farmers Market, and you know you want some!):

1 bunch of kale (I prefer crinkly varieties–they maintain more height, like potato chips with ridges, but you may prefer the smooth kind)
a couple Tbsp lemon juice (bottled is fine by me, though Chelsea uses fresh)
a couple Tbsp olive oil
about 1 tsp salt
a goodly shake (1/4 cup?) of nutritional yeast (yes, I know, this is a semi-obscure ingredient, but not expensive; in the Athens, Ohio, area it can be found at the Farmacy or the Bulk Food Depot, and it is crucial to this recipe)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and nutritional yeast.
Wash your kale, rip it off the stalks and into bits about 4″ across. Discard the stalks (or save them for making broth!). Toss the kale pieces in the dressing, then rub them briskly in your hands until they reduce in volume by almost half.
Lay the kale pieces in a single layer in a food dehydrator and process till done. Time will vary depending on your dehydrator (mine is an antique with no fan and takes about a day; the nicer kind are done in a couple hours). You can also dehydrate food in a low oven, about 200*, though I’m the sort of dum-dum who manages to burn everything that way. Dehydrators are only about $25 these days, and my family eats rather a lot of kale chips and apple chips (bonus recipe: slice apples and put them in the dehydrator. That’s all).

Navigating the Third Trimester

In this trimester, you are getting bigger and bigger as your baby approaches viability outside the womb. By this time, you are seeing your doctor or midwife more frequently, you are attending (or have attended) Lamaze childbirth education classes, and you are putting the final touches on your baby’s nursery.  You might be huge, swollen and exhausted, but you are excited to meet the new member of your family.

10300667_10101956435090398_2271775576098570350_n

Patiently waiting for my second to arrive

Preparing for birth and the postpartum

At this point, if you haven’t gone to a birth class, GO.  Preparation is half the battle, and birth is more a mental battle than anything else.  If you want a natural birth especially, you need to know about the process so you are prepared for what is coming.

Another great resource?  Hire a doula!  What is a doula?  A doula is a trained support person to help you get through labor and birth, no matter what kind of labor or birth you have.  Doulas know how to make epidural labors go faster, and can help you with breastfeeding after a C-section!  Doulas stay with you from the beginning of labor at least until breastfeeding has been initiated so that you can have someone with you every step of the way.  Most doulas will want you to hire them early in the third trimester so that you can set up some prenatal appointments that will help her get acquainted with you and your birth plan.

If you know you are going to breastfeed after birth, you need to set up your support system now.  Breastfeeding is not impossible, but it is a lot easier if you know who to call when a hiccup arises.  Attend a La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA meeting a few weeks before your due date to get to know some other women who can lend a hand when the baby comes.  Also, find the number of a good, Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).  Some doctors have good knowledge about breastfeeding, but most don’t.  If you are having trouble, an IBCLC has very specialized training that can pinpoint and correct a problem before you ever need to supplement.

Tips, tricks, and favorite products:

Books and resources

If you have done your class and read the books, but you are still nervous about birth, I strongly recommend the book “An Easier Childbirth” by Gail Peterson.  Also, take a minute to check out spinningbabies.com to learn a little bit about fetal positioning and labor.  The success of your labor can depend on your baby’s position.  Some positioning can be improved early in labor if you practice belly mapping and know how your baby is positioned at the beginning of labor.

If you want to breastfeed, now is the time to buy your breastfeeding resources.  I prefer two books: “Breasfeeding Made Simple” by Nancy Mohrbacher and “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by Weissinger, et al. You can also check out Kellymom.com for some great breastfeeding tips and tricks.  I love this website because it is written using evidence-based information to help all mothers have success at breastfeeding.  If you would like to know a little more about breastfeeding, check out my breastfeeding page to get started.

Now is also a good time to stock up on baby books.  I personally own “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears and LOVE it.  It’s seriously like an owner’s manual for parents (or the closest you will ever get to one).

Your body

At this point, you may be feeling some extreme discomfort from time to time.  Your baby is karate chopping you in the ribs, your toes are swollen, and the heartburn is constant.  Listen to your body.  If you need a rest, take one.  And drink water by the gallon.  The water will help with the swelling, as well as your aches and pains.  Another way to help keep your body fit is to blow up an exercise ball (also called a birth ball by labor and birth professionals) and sit on it or roll around on it every night.  This helps to work your core and open up your pelvic area in anticipation of labor.

Additionally, now may be a good time for your partner to start doing some regular massage on your perineum.  By now, you are probably familiar with the concept of tearing or an episiotomy in the delivery room.  One way to help avoid either of these situations is to have your partner massage the perineum with a natural oil, like coconut oil, once a day.  If you need instructions, there are many good tutorials on the web.

305999_10100540478758238_11003743_n

Just for fun

Early in the third trimester (before you are the size of a small whale), get some gorgeous maternity photos.  You may not feel beautiful right now, but you are truly gorgeous and you will treasure those intimate photos of you and your growing family for years to come.  Another fun thing to do near the end of your third trimester is to decorate that belly!  Some women choose to paint, while others choose to get henna art or do a belly casting in the final weeks.  It is a fun way to enjoy your new shape and welcome your baby into the world!

See also:

Navigating the First Trimester

Navigating the Second Trimester

On Rice Cereal

“When will she start on rice cereal?” asked my dad, later the same afternoon. (Yes, I’m calling out my dad again. Hi, Dad!)

“Oh, never!” I replied (yes, smugly. Again). “We’ll be doing Baby Led Weaning! It’s this really great thing where you just start the baby on real foods. But that’s not till six months. The World Health Organization, and also the British and Australian medical authorities, recommends exclusive breastfeeding to six months, then continuing to nurse to two years or more. The American Academy of Pediatricians is a little fuzzier. They say 4-6 months [since revised to ‘about 6 months’] and one year…”

When I paused for breath, my father asked, “Ah, so when do babies start rice cereal?” I fear, gentle reader, I may have dived right back into my sales pitch. (And a worthy pitch it is. If you would like to hear it some time, I am happy to expound.)

“Ah, yes. I understand. But I was just thinking, and it seems like you were about this age when we put rice cereal in your bottle. To help you stay full longer.”

“Yes, you probably did. That was standard advice at the time, and is still much used, especially in formula-feeding families. But more recent science says it’s not helpful and may hurt.”

Here, reader, is the “more recent science.” Rice cereal added to a bottle does not help babies sleep through the night sooner. The thicker texture can lead to aspiration (that is, inhaling the liquid instead of swallowing it), which can in turn lead to chronic respiratory disorders. And the extra calories can interfere with baby’s natural ability to self-regulate portion sizes, leading to overweight in infancy and perhaps beyond. Some physicians recommend thickened feeds as a treatment for infant reflux, but even here the research is mixed.

Rice cereal is, however, a good source of iron. So once your baby is ready for solid food, go ahead and spoon her some rice cereal if you wish. Personally, I can’t be bothered to spoon food for someone else (really, check out Baby Led Weaning; it’s awesome! especially if you’re lazy like me), so my babies ate lots of beans and meat instead. Not as many leafy greens as I’d like, but they do love kale chips. Perhaps I’ll post my recipe here some time so you too can trick your toddlers into eating their vegetables… Watch this space!

[Update: As promised, Jackie’s Kale Chip recipe!]

Kroger Baby Food Aisle

It’s a whole grocery isle I’ve almost never walked down!

Navigating the Second Trimester

Ah, the second trimester; you are finally starting to show a little bit of cute pregnancy belly, the morning sickness is mostly gone, and the hormonal swings have calmed down for the time being.  This is a great time to take some time for yourself and get yourself comfortable before that baby starts taking up space.  You may notice a few aches and pains near the end of the second trimester as your hips and ribs expand to make room for your growing uterus.  If you have an exhausting day, sit back with a cup of tea and a good book; your body is doing more work than you even know!

406188_10100402402998168_132558214_n

Choosing your birth and breastfeeding class

By the end of the second trimester, you should be ready to sign up for your Lamaze birth class and breastfeeding class.  Ideally, you will find a class that covers both topics together.  A good class will give you more time to ask questions, get to know other expectant families, and practice natural laboring techniques.  Even if you plan to get an epidural, you should still have some tools to cope with pain for two reasons. 1: some epidurals don’t completely take, and you may still be stuck feeling a couple things. 2: you may not be able to get your epidural the second you start feeling labor pains, so it is good to know how to cope until anesthesia can get to you.  Remember, the more you know about birth, the more you can be empowered and have control over your birth experience.

Tips, tricks and favorite products:

Clothes

As your body changes, you may find that some of your old clothes don’t fit.  You will definitely want to invest in some comfortable supportive bras, maternity pants and dresses.  Trust me on this; by the time you get to your last month, you will be thankful for the dresses because nothing else will feel good.  Also, invest in a nice pair of slip-on shoes one shoe size bigger than your current shoe size.  You will thank yourself when you can’t reach your toes.

Books

Now is a good time to start reading up on the birth process and breastfeeding.  Yes, it will be covered in your birth class, but you will be so overwhelmed with all the new information that it will be hard to absorb.  If you start the learning process on your own late in the second trimester, you will have time to ask questions about the parts that you truly don’t understand.  Most birth books are pretty good at covering the process, but I liked The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth and Breastfeeding Made Simple.

k2-_ea571b74-c134-4911-81a8-b5dcb774423d.v1

Fitness

As your body grows, you may find that your regular exercise routine is getting a little uncomfortable.  Prenatal yoga is a great way to keep your body in shape and prepare it for birth.  Most yoga studios offer special rates for expectant mothers, so give it a try!  It will help you relax and stay fit for your little one! And you can always stock up on DVD’s if your budget is tight!

Your body

As your body grows, you may find that sleeping starts to get a little more uncomfortable.  If you are burying yourself in a mountain of pillows, you might want to consider getting a pregnancy body pillow.   Oh, and don’t forget to keep drinking water.  Dehydration can cause all sorts of issues in pregnancy, and it is so easy to prevent!

See also:

Navigating the First Trimester

Navigating the Third Trimester

Rachel assisting at the birth of Jackie's second child

The Purpose and Value of Labor Support

As part of my birth doula accreditation process with DONA International (almost done! I should have the packet in the mail this week!!!!!), I am required to write an essay on “The Purpose and Value of Labor Support.” I share it here.

****

The birth of a child is a challenging and transformative time. “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new,” wrote Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. This is true for every mother, with every birth. It is in the interest of the mother, the child, and the whole family—indeed of society at large!—that this “absolutely new” mother-being should be as physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy as possible. The physical well-being of mother and baby are widely acknowledged, and are the purview of the mother (and her partner if she has one) and the medical team. The mother’s emotional/spiritual well-being, however, are too often overlooked in the bustle. This is where professional labor support—a birth doula—can be of most service.

A doula’s responsibilities span the prenatal to early postpartum period. They begin, typically, during pregnancy. The doula assists her clients in acquiring and understanding information related to their own and their newborns’ health care. This may mean helping the mother find childbirth education and breastfeeding classes; sharing and discussing books, websites, or scholarly articles; helping the mother prioritize birth preferences and compose a document to share with her care provider; and working through feelings and anxieties related to childbearing. Postpartum, a birth doula should remain in touch with her client for a period of a few days or weeks, ideally with at least one in-person visit to offer breastfeeding support, give the mother a chance to reflect on her birth experience, and observe mom for signs of postpartum depression or other referral needs.

The birth doula’s main duties, of course, are executed during labor and delivery. From the first suspicion that labor may be imminent, a doula is available for support and encouragement, though in early labor telephone support is appropriate and (to prevent doula exhaustion and help mom remain calm and restful) generally preferred. As labor progresses, the doula joins her client and provides continuous, calm emotional and physical support as needed. In some parts of some labors, this involves much rubbing of backs and supporting of squats; at other times it may involve speaking to a mom with an epidural and reminding her that she is, in fact, in labor. It may mean going for a walk, or sitting down to breakfast, or chanting with a mother to help her maintain her rhythm when contractions become strong, or subtly encouraging mom’s partner to take a walk or a nap so he/she has the energy to be supportive later on. It will almost certainly involve continued discussion of the laboring mother’s preferences for her care, as the situation evolves, and helping her keep up a constructive and mutually satisfactory dialogue with her medical team.

None of this is necessarily easy (well, except sitting down to breakfast!), but it can benefit everyone involved, from mom to baby to partner to medical professionals, in the short and long term. The presence of a doula is statistically associated with shorter labors and with decreased use of analgesia/anesthesia, vacuum extraction or forceps, cesarean birth, babies with low 5-minute Apgar score, and dissatisfaction or a negative rating of the birth experience. It eases the burden on the laboring woman’s partner (or other social support), as such loved ones are typically relatively unfamiliar with childbirth and can benefit from a doula’s knowledge. Moreover, labor support drawn from a mother’s social network is, by definition, intimately emotionally involved with her and may find it hard to remain calm and professional even when they are extremely knowledgable; a professional doula can provide both breaks and an aura of calm that can benefit everyone involved. A doula can even make doctors’, nurses’, and midwives’ jobs easier: the doula’s physical and emotional support of the laboring woman lighten medical staff’s load and give them more freedom to focus on medical care.

A doula does not replace any of the more traditional roles in the birthing room, but having a doula present allows everyone else there to focus more completely on their own tasks. Mom can focus on laboring and birthing her baby, her loved ones can focus on loving her, medical staff can focus on mom and baby’s physical well-being. The doula watches, and steps in where needed, to help the laboring woman feel empowered and, so far as possible, physically comfortable. A doula cannot ensure that any given client will have the physical outcomes she desires, or even always the emotional ones, but she can help to make the process of birth one in which the laboring woman feels heard and valued, which can only have positive effects on her parenting and self-identity, and therethrough on how she, and her child, live in the world.

Navigating the First Trimester

396835_10100402402748668_592340596_n

Congratulations, you are pregnant!  The first trimester can be a very exciting time as you relish in the thought that you will soon be bringing a child into the world.  The hardest decisions for you right now likely will be choosing a care provider and deciding when to tell your family.  Pregnancy monitoring during the first trimester is pretty laid back; you generally only go in about once a month for checkups at this point.  At 8 weeks, most expectant mothers will have an ultrasound to check the fetus for viability and determine a more accurate due date.

Choose your provider

When you choose your care provider, take your time.  You want to make sure that you will be on the same page throughout your pregnancy and during the birth process.  You will also need to have a good idea of what kind of birth you want; many OB’s will not attend home births and most states have rather specific laws about what midwives can and can’t do in hospitals.  If you want a natural birth, ask your care provider how he or she feels about letting you labor at home, the necessity of common interventions like breaking your water and also check his or her C-Section rate.  High cesarean rates don’t necessarily mean that your care provider won’t support a natural birth, but they do mean that your care provider’s experience and training are more geared in that direction.

Planning ahead

You don’t have to be ready for birth right now, but you will probably want to consider what type of birth and postpartum experience are important to you.  You can consult pregnancy books to learn a little bit about different birth plans.  For your postpartum, you may want to start thinking about how you will find the support you need to breastfeed (a doula is a great choice!) and make it through those first sleep-deprived weeks.

Tips, tricks, and favorite products:

Morning sickness

For morning sickness, nothing really worked for me.  Everyone suggested I eat saltines, but they only made me more sick.  What worked for me?  Ginger beer (with real ginger bits), sour patch kids and Preggie Pops.  Apparently sour things (and cheese) were the only things that agreed with me. I also was a big fan of tea, and Earth Mama Angel Baby makes a great Morning Wellness tea if you are into that.  And remember that your body is pre-programmed to feed your baby first, so he or she will be fine even if you have days where the eating is at a minimum.

307190_10150276240661436_54616459_n

Fitness

It is important to keep exercising while you are pregnant.  In fact, if you are currently running or cycling regularly, you don’t even have to stop with your normal routine. You’ll probably not be up to a brisk jog in your final month, but for now, keep it up.  The exercise will help your baby grow and keep morning sickness and exhaustion to a minimum.  You might be tired, but make a point to get up off the couch once a day to take care of your changing body.

Books

For starters, let me state that I never got into entire line of “What to Expect” books.  They aren’t bad, but they aren’t really the best resource you can have at your fingertips.  When you go to select your pregnancy book, take some time to look at the entire shelf.  I have personally found that the Dr. Sears pregnancy book and the Great Expectations pregnancy book are my two favorites: they present all of the information you need in a balanced way that makes you feel empowered during your pregnancy.

Your body

You may not look pregnant yet, but your body is already starting to change, and you need to start preparing now.  First, invest in a large stainless steel or BPA-free plastic water bottle.  Trust me, you will be dying of thirst until the day you stop nursing, so just invest in the prettiest, coolest water bottle you can so that you always have plenty to drink no matter where you are.  Second, find a way to unwind–whether that is through a daily yoga DVD or a monthly prenatal massage, it’s time to relax and prepare your mind and body to support this baby!

Finally, now is the time to start moisturizing that belly so your stretch marks don’t stick around for the rest of your life.  Let me clarify: every woman gets stretch marks.  But good moisturization and hydration during and after pregnancy will help them disappear to practically nothing. Personally, I loved the Mama Bee Belly Cream, made by Burt’s Bees and the Earth Mama Angel Baby belly oil.

Now, it’s your turn: What worked for you in the first trimester??????

See also:

Navigating the Second Trimester

Navigating the Third Trimester

“Didn’t You Just Do That?” On Nursing Frequency and Newborns

When my firstborn was just under two months old, we were visiting my father for the afternoon. The baby began smacking her lips, and I began to hike up my shirt.

“Didn’t you just do that?” asked Dad.

“Huh? No, that was, like…” I looked at a clock. “Twenty-five minutes ago.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “She can’t possibly be hungry after half an hour. Maybe she’s just making faces.”

Gentle reader, she was hungry.

Gentle reader, your newborn is hungry. I know you only just clipped your bra, sprinted to the bathroom to brush your teeth and refill your water bottle, didn’t even get a chance sometimes to pee. And still. Your newborn is hungry.

Here’s the thing about newborns, and about breastmilk: Newborns are used to the steady intravenous nourishment of the umbilical cord. Hunger is an entirely new sensation to them and, I think you will agree, it is not a particularly pleasant sensation. It is, however, one with which they are rapidly becoming familiar. After all, on the first day baby’s stomach holds only 1/2 tsp of milk; by a week it holds a scant quarter cup; by a month half a cup. This may seem a considerable size, given the small size of an infant. However, babies this age are growing and developing faster than they will ever again in their lives, so they need more calories per bodyweight than they ever will again.

Human milk is magnificently rich in calories, including all the nutrients a healthy baby needs for the first six months of life, plus a plethora of immune factors. Moreover, it is uniquely digestible, which means all those calories are maximally beneficial. Yay, right? Well, yes. However, “highly digestible” also means it passes from baby’s stomach fast. And then baby is hungry again. For real and true, not as some sort of elaborate manipulation (worry not, that will come later, when you are parenting a toddler).

That sunny afternoon on my father’s porch, I was thankful (and, I’ll admit, smug) that I’d read as much as I had before my daughter’s birth about breastfeeding. This was the first time anyone had questioned my breastfeeding practice, and here I was with the knowledge to respond. Knowledge, gentle reader, is power. Do read up on lactation before your baby’s arrival.

If you are not expecting a baby, either because your baby has arrived or because you plan not to have one soon/again/ever, go ahead and read about lactation anyhow. Breastmilk is the natural food of our young, and we should all have at least a passing familiarity with this basic biologic function. Study after study finds that one of the primary determinants of a mother’s ability to meet her breastfeeding goals is the quality of professional and social support she receives. Be part of that social support, for yourself or for someone else.

Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice 5: Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push

You guys, you guys! Check out this video! You don’t have to lie on your back to birth your baby, nor in most cases should you. Say bye-bye to uncomfortable foot or leg stirrups and howdy to the helping auspices of gravity.

For more information on this and other evidence-based Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, contact Rachel Szostek, CD(DONA), Lamaze instructor, & placenta encapsulator extraordinaire, at 765.977.3717 or szostekrachel@gmail.com.

For a birth doula who is eager to help you utilize these positions in labor, contact Jackie Warmke, trained birth doula (DONA) at 740.590.9994 or jackiechloe@yahoo.com.

What Should I Do?

From the moment you find yourself standing in a pharmacy staring at the eight bazillion home pregnancy test choices (plus or minus? one line or two? digital?), parenthood is an unending parade of decisions that need making.

Where's the plus sign??

Doctor or midwife? Hospital or home? Cloth or disposable? Breast or bottle? Amniocentesis? Circumcision? Vaccines? Soft cheeses? Stay home or return to work? Work from home? Prenatal yoga? Postnatal yoga? Moxibustion? Caffeine? Weekly vaginal checks? Herbal supplements? Placenta encapsulation? What if you go past your due date? What if the ultrasound indicates a problem? What if your kid drops out of high school, or is gay, or likes football? How will you discipline? Which car seat should you buy? What color should you paint the nursery? Are you even allowed to paint the nursery?

It is the great blessing of the time in which we live that answers are only a few keystrokes away. I know only one person, a music librarian specializing in the obscure, who has in the last decade managed to query Google and get zero results. When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting, every question has been asked, and every question has been answered. There are dozens of reputable websites staffed by credentialed medical professionals providing answers to all the common, and most of the uncommon, maternity questions. There are forums, blogs, Facebook, and the lady behind you in line at the grocery store, too. And, as you will know by the time your pregnancy shows, they all have opinions.

Obviously some of these sources are more reliable than others. Late in my first pregnancy, the teenager bagging my groceries scolded me for buying a 40-pound sack of cat litter. My CNM, on the other hand, had told me to continue my normal activities, just taking a little extra care of my balance and posture. Trusting that my provider knew more about the matter than the bagger, I went ahead and lifted the sack of cat litter. (I also would have taken her advice that people who have lived with cats all their lives, and do not currently have kittens, are at low risk of a toxoplasmosis infection and can safely change cat litter—except cat litter is already one of my spouse’s chores.)

But what happens when the opposing recommendations come from less clear sources than midwife vs. grocery clerk? What if it’s your mother in law versus your best friend from high school? One pregnancy book versus another? Google answers versus a moms’ group on Facebook? What’s worse: a 1:100 chance of mildly bad outcome, or a 1:10,000 chance of very bad outcome? What happens when your sense of what’s best for society doesn’t align with what’s best for your family?

You can try to seek information, you can make lists of pros and cons, tabulate prices and time commitments and what the neighbors will think. But often there is no one right way. In fact, there is almost never a bright and shining sign from the heavens: “Go this way, Mother, and your child will be well, you will be well, and no one will wind up in therapy.” The secret of parenthood – perhaps of life – is this: you do the best you can. You learn, you listen, you reflect, and the you decide. You do the best you can with what you’ve got. Maybe later you learn something new, something that would have made you choose differently. That’s okay. You did the best you could. Maybe your kid grows up to deal hard drugs to children. That’s… Well, that’s not okay. But you couldn’t have known that would happen when you chose the pregnancy test with the + sign.

So cut yourself some slack. Allow that sometimes you’ll be wrong. Sometimes there will be no right. Sometimes you’ll do everything right and things will somehow still go wrong. Sometimes you’ll wish you’d chosen a celibate life as a crazy cat lady and never seen that dratted + sign at all. Except in the next breath – or more likely in the same one – you’ll never wish that at all.