Posts in Motherhood
Second Trimester Pregnancy Update
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HOW I'M FEELING:

Seeing as I'm writing this update well into my third trimester, I'm pretty tired now, but the second trimester turned out to be the magical honeymoon period that everyone said it would. I felt pretty good considering that we did some intense traveling, settled into our temporary California groove, and traipsed all over everywhere with family in San Francisco and LA. I rounded out big time and bid farewell to that awkward "is she pregnant or did she eat too much pizza?" stage... I'm definitely visibly pregnant now. An interesting development this time around: I've embraced the bump and am feeling great about it. When I was pregnant with Lorelai I was on the fence about my changing body but now I am 100% all about the bump. It's so refreshing to be in a space where growing and letting it all hang out is encouraged and I feel better about my body than I have in a long time. While the bump made things feel more real figuratively, and I started to actually feel a ton of movement too. Baby girl is super active and spends most of the day hiccuping or moving around which is fun to experience and it also serves as a little reassurance that all is well on the inside.

With the good also comes the bad of the second trimester. With each passing day, it's increasingly hard to get around and do the things I'm used to doing (like pushing the cart at Target... I got totally winded yesterday!). I've been experiencing some sciatica pain, some minor foot swelling, and I'm sleeping pretty terribly now. Oh well, par for the course!

PROGRESS:

Our due date is still October 31, 2018, and everything seems to be on track. I have an OBGYN appointment tomorrow but I'm sure she'll tell me just to keep growing and doing what I'm doing in preparation. While we're on track, I somehow feel like things are sneaking up on me this time. It just seems to be going so fast and I feel like I'm running out of time!

SLEEP:

Wanna hear something overly romantic and kinda gross? I'm sleeping so bad now that Ainsworth has returned to the island. It's probably just a symptom of pregnancy but I like to think that I just miss my snuggle buddy. That said, I wake up about thirty times per night to pee (no exaggeration) and the pregnancy dreams are getting crazy. I could definitely use a nap!

FOOD:

Since we've been back in the states after a year of pretty limited options, I feel like I've gone a bit off the rails when it comes to food. It's been fun to eat the things we've been without for a while but, going into the third trimester, it's time to rein it back in. p.s. No more cravings!

WEARING:

I'm still wearing leggings every chance I can get but I've picked up a few Doen pieces, put my jumpsuits and overalls into heavy rotation, and added a few comfy lounge pieces to my wardrobe. sidenote: I had major issues with maternity clothes and have ZERO things that are maternity wear. Oh well!

BUYING:

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For me: not a whole lot. I'm still on the fence about actually buying a diaper bag vs. using my favorite Madewell tote with some kind of insert. Aside from clothes to accommodate the bump, I recently picked up Erica Chidi Cohen's book Nurture.

For baby: A sweet pacifier from General Store, the best color palette of onesies, two very light african indigo cloth throw blankets from the Rose Bowl flea, a precious coming home outfit, a Moses basket + stand, the Snuggle Me Organic lounger, a new Solly Baby Wrap, and a previously loved crib from an on-island friend. I'm still keeping things pretty minimal but I recently started to panic when I realized that we had nothing for the baby and possibly as few as seven weeks left until her arrival!

HOW LORELAI IS DOING:

She's so excited as so incredibly sweet! See here.

PLANS FOR THE NEXT TRIMESTER:

Keep on keeping on, make sure that Ainsworth is able to make it home in time for delivery, and finalize all of the preparations for baby. Oh, and maternity portraits... hopefully!

FAQ:

Was this pregnancy planned?

Yes. We tried for a couple of months but were pleasantly surprised at how easy it happened.

Will you find out the baby's gender?

It's a girl!

Do you have a name/names picked out?

This has been the hardest part of this pregnancy! We have a "top five" list and a definite middle name but nothing seems quite right just yet. Lorelai, Ainsworth, and I each have a different favorite name so here's hoping we'll be able to agree sometime soon.

 

MotherhoodChelsea Tubbs
Parenting a Multi-Racial Child in A One Dimensional World on The Thirlby
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This post was first published in its original format here and here.

Several months ago I penned a think piece for The Thirlby entitled, Parenting a Multi-Racial Child in A One Dimensional World. This week, I was honored to see it in all its published glory and I'm even more excited to share it with you in its entirety! I urge you to visit Almila's amazing website in order to see the article as it was intended.


PART ONE

"Where did you get her?," "Is she yours?," "Is she adopted?"

These are just a few of the questions that plagued our first forays into the world with our daughter, Lo, in tow. I would be lying if I said that those microaggressions didn’t come as a shock and knock me, a new parent, off kilter.

In one instance, taking in the weekend and browsing a local art gallery with a toddler on my hip, I was hounded by a woman excitedly demanding to know which agency we had used and insisting that a) I shouldn’t be ashamed to tell people that my child was adopted and b) her friend “wants one just like that”. “Are you kidding me!?” I thought, as I bid the woman farewell and kept plowing through the world as the mother of a mixed-race child. Another time I watched countless concerned white women clamor, beside themselves with worry as my strapping black husband hoisted our fair-skinned three-year-old (in the midst of a tyrannical temper tantrum) into his arms, bee-lining for the exit of Target. I felt compelled to follow closely behind, even though his stride is much longer than mine, to assure them that yes, this man does have my permission to be leaving the store with his daughter.

In those first couple of years, living comfortably in the bubble that we had created for ourselves, not much thought went into the differences between us and our offspring. Hell, we were lucky if we could make time for the truly necessary things like cooking a warm meal, washing last week’s laundry, or sleeping. There was no room for ruminating on the complexities of race and the myriad of intricacies that awaited having a multi-ethnic child, nor were we equipped to help her forge her own racial identity in a world that places a lot of value on which box you mark during standardized testing.

Our daughter is six-years-old now and often talks about being “brown” 

She makes off-handed comments while playing with her dolls . . . most of whom are white because, on the sliding scale that is skin color represented by twelve-inch plastic dolls on the shelves of the toy store, white heavily outweighs brown and black. She casually talks about the color of her skin in reference to why she’s not quite like the other kids in her class. I don’t think she has yet to fully understand what goes into making her different from her peers but something tells me she’s on the cusp of identifying it. You see, it was easier to parent a child of multiple ethnic backgrounds until the age of six. There were few instances of racism, despite the fact that we spent these years living in the Bible Belts of Florida and Alabama. Nevertheless, at that age, few children even realize that they can be different from one another unless they’re home-schooled. I fear now, with Trump- era chats about racism taking place in the first-grade classroom and a clear divide echoing its way throughout the homes of our neighbors, that this time is coming to an end.

As the act of parenting trans-racial and biracial children becomes even more common, I realize that there is a huge lack of references that exist to dole out advice to eager yet naïve parents of all creeds. We’re left to wonder how best to navigate the knottiness that is the race-identity of school-aged children. How do we relate to and parent that which is unlike us? And with little help from the outside world, it seems.

Biracial identity development is something that’s been playing on a loop in the background of my thoughts for years. I’m aware that my child, as is the case of so many other children, faces specific challenges to which neither my husband nor I can necessarily relate. She is a unique mixture of ethnicity and identities that are completely foreign to our respective frames of reference. The 2000 census showed that there are more than 4.5 million married and unmarried couples in the United States of whom the two members were from differing racial or ethnic groups. (Hud-Aleem & Countryman, 2008). If the census were to come knocking on our door, Lo would fit squarely into the “other” category (she is parts African American/Caribbean, Pacific Islander, Asian, Hispanic and Caucasian). There are only two percentages that matter to me, though: … she is 100% human and 100% ours.

Because I am the mother of a multiracial child, I am tasked with the lofty ambition of raising a well-adjusted, confident child that who feels she is both understood and represented. One who celebrates the best of all of the cultures that came together in her making. It is my responsibility to make sure that she does not exist in a constant state of identity crisis, though I’m not sure anyone can protect her from that fate. I, with the help of my husband and our families, must teach her that love knows no bounds… not even skin color. I must take to heart that, as someone who is different from me, my child will have a different experience of the world and I won’t always be able to relate. I must trudge forward anyway. As I set out to accomplish this I will need to remember (and I urge you to remember) tips we will be sharing in the second part of the series.


PART TWO

Allow discussions about skin color

In a racially charged world it is often the gut reaction to shut down conversations revolving around skin color and racial identity. This instinct is wrong. A six year old is apt to notice differences in color, gender, beliefs, etc. and talking about those differences doesn’t breed racism. Instead it creates possibilities (in age appropriate ways) to truly understand the concept of racial identity, how the color of one’s skin impacts lives and opens up a healthy family dialogue.

Putting an end to these conversations does nothing for growth,… rather it renders the topic taboo and can only lead to more confusion. Instead of saying, “we don’t talk about that,” to a child questioning why mommy looks different than daddy, use that discussion as a vehicle to lean into your differences and explain how we are all, in fact, different and why that is such a good thing. The failure to acknowledge these differences, the differences between you and your child, breeds the erasure of identity.

While it would be easy to sit back and teach our children not to “see color”, I think it is a major parenting mis-step and does a disservice to multiracial children. The act of denying that color, colorism, racism, etc. exist in our world is one that’s especially damaging to the children of mixed-race identities. You cannot learn to accept something that you refuse to see. Saying things like, “I don’t see color,” to your children conveys that they are not seen. Being seen and being understood are basic human desires and by refusing to identify the things that make them unique, you are refusing to acknowledge their very existence.

Discourage words like “exotic”

“She’s so exotic,” is a phrase I’ve heard leave the lips of many a rogue commenter on the appearance of my child. Condoning the use of these kind of “compliments” (exotic, worldly, foreign, tropical…) only serves to further commodify, fetishize and dehumanize our biracial and mixed-race children. It teaches them that their value rests solely in their “otherness” instead of in their character.

Understand that mixed kids don’t represent the end of racism

Touted as beautiful and the aforementioned exotic, multi-racial children are hailed as the solution to racism. If I had a nickel for every time I heard something along the lines of, “In 50 years all kids will look like her and there will be no more racism,” I would be a very rich woman. Racism is not something that simply disappears because the most common skin tone changes. The end of racism must be endlessly championed. It won’t be eradicated solely by the existence of little girls with deep brown skin and blue eyes or little boys with kinky, curly hair and fair skin. There is a long journey ahead and it is paved with tireless discussion and brave actions, not breeding.

Having multi-ethnic children does not make you the antithesis of racism

You are not the beacon of hope for the future and are not incapable of exhibiting racist behavior simply because you had a hand in the creation of a mixed-race human being. You are not exempt from racism. You will need to constantly check your privilege and unlearn the teachings of a world that hasn’t always been inclusive. You are not done simply because your child is multi-ethnic.

Begin your lifelong education

As the caretaker of a child with ethnic makeup that differs from your own, you must take responsibility to understand your child’s identity as best you can. You must also realize that you’ll never have a full scope of what being made of your child’s unique mix encompasses. It is your job to ensure that your child is exposed to cultural experiences and at times, you will need to be a champion for experiences that are different than those you might have experienced growing up. This will require you to be in a constant state of learning about all of the factors that have come together to create your child.

Lo’s paternal grandma is Filipino, a culture I know very little about, so I’ve taken steps to understand the paradigm of Filipino cultural identity. Lo has visited the Philippines and we use the Filipino word for “grandma” (Lola) when talking about my husband’s mother. These are small actions that make a big impact on the way my daughter sees herself. I know that I could do even better across the board and will continue to work to understand the parts of my daughter that are different from me. I worry that there will come a day that she doesn’t feel “Black enough” or “White enough” or “Asian enough” et al but all I can do is equip her with experiences and references to the best of my ability.

Ultimately I know that she must choose her cultural identity for herself and it will likely be one different from my own. My goal is to equip her with everything she needs to make a decision that feels right for her. In this pursuit, representation is key - find biracial/multiracial/multi-dimensional role models, expose your child to with positive role models of all kinds and create a world of uplifting examples of greatness regardless of race.

In the same ways that you are, your child will one day be on a journey to ask life’s most basic question: “who am I?” Your role in your child’s life is to provide him/her with a frame of reference from which to answer that question. Parents of mixed-race/multi-racial children have the social responsibility to advocate for all aspects of their child’s racial experience and when it comes down to it the most important thing that you can instill in your child is that he/she is so much more than the color of their skin.

References

Hud-Aleem, R., & Countryman, J. (2008). Biracial Identity Development and Recommendations in Therapy. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 5(11), 37–44.

 

 

First Trimester Pregnancy Update

editors note: this post was originally written several months ago but, in true pregnancy style, publishing slipped my mind.

While not everything is shifting to motherhood content here on the blog, I'm excited to share with you our journey to becoming a family of four (which still sounds so crazy!). I thought it might be a fun change of pace, helpful to those of you who are going through pregnancy (or plan to sometime in the future), and something fun to look back on to chronicle the different stages of this time. As I write this update I am fourteen weeks along and so incredibly happy to be out of the first trimester. They say that the first couple of months of pregnancy are the worst and boy, do I agree! Here's what's been happening lately:

HOW I'M FEELING:

Since I'm now squarely in the second-trimester club (woohoo!), I'm just now starting to feel human again but the first couple of months were a whole different story! One of the coolest/craziest parts of being human is the capacity to forget feeling shitty and in pain and since we had Lorelai almost seven years ago, I had all but forgotten just how rough being pregnant actually is. This time around I was pretty sick almost instantaneously. There are beautiful, amazing goddess women who glow through their entire pregnancies and I am not one of them. If you've heard of a symptom, I probably had it during the first three months. Nausea in crashing waves (but minimal getting sick), extreme fatigue, round ligament pain (which is basically the feeling of being stabbed in the tummy when you get up to fast or move your lower abdomen, headaches, an insane sense of smell... fun stuff. But just like they all said it would, a light went off as soon as I hit this week and I feel so much more like myself now. I'm still nursing a headache and could probably take a nap at any moment but we're in the clear guys. Something that's very different from my last pregnancy is my workload. I stopped working when I was pregnant with Lorelai and spent a lot of time resting. While I'm fortunate that I work from home and can spend most days on the couch, I am not juggling four freelance jobs, part-time school, and a home life which has made the fatigue 10,000x worse. Also, my skin is awful!

PROGRESS:

More than anything, I'm amazed by how fast it all seems to be going this time. So far we've had two ultrasounds (one being an early-on emergency room visit for a bit of scary bleeding that turned out to be nothing) and things are progressing perfectly. We've heard a heartbeat, we've seen little limbs, it's all good! The ultrasound tech had a pretty clear inclination toward gender but we'll wait to find out officially for another month. This week baby is the size of a lemon (and Lorelai has been totally excited to find out a new fruit equivalent every week)but I'm not yet showing. We're due on October 31, 2018.

SLEEP:

I've been sleeping okay. I'm always in bed by 8 pm and most nights I toss and turn and get up to make bathroom trips every couple of hours but that's pretty much par for the course. I've already ordered a pregnancy pillow (oh Amazon Prime, I love you endlessly) and my dreams are getting crazy!

FOOD:

Oh, food... how I love you and hate you all at once. Living on a tiny rock in the middle of the ocean is proving difficult as far as cravings go. Mostly I crave food that reminds me of home (In N Out burger, authentic Mexican food, etc.) but I haven't reached the point where I NEED to have something specific right this very moment. Hopefully, those cravings coincide with our travel and the things I want will actually be accessible. In the first few weeks I found that I needed to eat THE MINUTE I woke up or the morning sickness was unbearable. I also ate A TON of carbs during those days because something about heavy, starchy food helps to ease that queasy feeling. I have loved fruit (mango, fresh pineapple, apples) and am still drinking one cup of coffee per day (which is totally safe). So far I haven't gained a ton of weight (about 5lbs in fourteen weeks) but I'm hoping that healthy foods appeal to me more soon. What I wouldn't give for an avocado...

WEARING:

Leggings. All the leggings. Something I didn't experience with Lorelai is pregnancy bloat but it's real and it's real painful. I pretty much blame being twenty and super fit the first time around for my lack of real struggle. Since I'm now almost thirty and my body has totally changed, I'm finding that things are way different. Right now, even though it still fits, I'm ignoring my entire wardrobe and sticking to leggings all day, every day because they just feel better at this point. My bras are comfier, my t-shirts are looser, and I don't really care what I look like in public. Yesterday my husband complained that he hates folding my laundry because everything is triangle shaped. LOL Get used to it buddy.

I did purchase my first round of maternity clothes last week. I have denim, this cute dress, and duh... more leggings en route for when I need them.

BUYING:

For me: pregnancy pillow, roomier clothes, belly bands (for extending the life of my favorite jeans), bio oil to help with stretch-mark paranoia, and a CASE of San Pellegrino sparkling water.

For baby: nothing yet! We're waiting to figure out our plan for the next couple of months (we'll leave for California in July and won't return until our family is + 1... in December). Right now my biggest logistics worry is whether or not we ship things like bassinets and baby gear there or to our island. We'll also wait to start buying smaller things like clothes and decor until we know the gender. Because we had Lorelai such a long time ago and have long since got rid of all of our baby things, we're starting at square one. That said, I'm taking a minimal approach this time around and buying the necessities and not registering anywhere.

HOW LORELAI IS DOING:

Great! She's beyond excited and it's so sweet to hear her talk about what life will be like with a little brother or sister. She wants a girl but we've had a ton of discussions over the last couple of weeks how fun it would be to have a boy too. At six, she's such a big help to me and seems to really understand that I need to take things slower than usual. She's also equally excited for Disneyland. I'm really not sure which she's looking forward to more (probably Disneyland).

PLANS FOR THE NEXT TRIMESTER:

Most of my second-trimester will be spent sweating it out on the island but we're taking off at around 25 weeks. Because the hospital/healthcare here just isn't up to snuff, it's better safe than sorry AND Lorelai will need to start school in SoCal during the first week of August. I've mentioned our plan loosly before but her and I will be staying with my dad AND his dad AND his sister in their 1960s childhood home in Cypress. Because we haven't really ever lived close to family as adults, it will be an interesting but sweet transition and I'm really excited. That said, we'll be without Ainsworth for nearly 5 months and I'm NOT excited about that. Here's hoping he pulls off the timeline and we're able to be together for the delivery. Yikes!

FAQ:

Was this pregnancy planned?

Yes. We tried for a couple of months but were pleasantly suprised at how easy it happened.

Will you find out the baby's gender?

Yes. I'm far too type-A not to plan everything out and not knowing stresses me out big time. We don't have a steadfast preference either way and will be excited regardless. We also know that gender is a big, tough topic these days and I can't even begin to tell you the mixed bag of emotions and feelings that come along with talking about it publicly (even on a tiny blog like mine). We will not be doing a gender reveal (although I will tell you) and take to heart that ultimately, how our child chooses to live is their choice.

Do you have a name/names picked out?

NO! I'm having the hardest time coming up with names that I like. If you have any suggestions, fire away!