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The Ambition Interviews: You Go, Girl!

The Atlantic has debuted The Ambition Interviews, a fascinating– relatable– new series that explores the diverging paths of women’s ambitions after they leave college through first person accounts. The series of resulting essays paints a picture of the variety of paths taken by nearly 40 women from the same sorority who graduated from Northwestern in 1993; women who by all measures had the means, smarts, etc. to “make it.”

Nearly 25 years after they graduated, the group breaks roughly into thirds: one group of women who prioritized career, and to do so had their partners take on more of the childcare; a second group who balanced work and family, and as a result always feels the struggle; and a third who were mostly stay at home moms.  

The authors’ most striking finding: Every woman in the group followed a near-identical trajectory up until the point she had her first child.

The women of this study are not by any means a representative sample of America, and, in particular it’s worth noting that the group is not racially diverse. What makes this group interesting is not that it tells a complete story of women in America, but that it tells the story of a group of women who– according to conventional wisdom, for better or worse — were in a position to rise to the highest echelons of any industry. Why some did (and why many didn’t) reveals much about what stands in the way of greater gender equality in the workplace today. Here are the links to each essay, chronicling a variety of experiences:  

  1. Introduction

  2. Having It All—and Hating It

  3. When Women Choose Children Over a Career

  4. Rethinking What Success Looks Like

  5. How Much Ambition Can a Marriage Sustain?

  6. Beyond Maternity Leave

  7. The Sexism They Faced

The women behind the series, Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace, would be great figureheads to discuss the thinking behind the series and what it means on the heels of Hillary Clinton’s loss as women across the country look to an uncertain future.

You Are Not Alone: Pregnancy-related Depression and Anxiety

If there is one article that has resonated very deeply with our audience, it was Casey’s confession of when she intentionally overdosed on prescription medication when she was seven months pregnant.

Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful time in a woman’s life as she prepares for the joys of motherhood. However, pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are the most common complications of pregnancy, affecting about one in 10 Colorado women. At Mile High Mamas, we are proud to partner with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on their new awareness campaign to help women recognize the symptoms and get help with the important message:

You are not alone. 

Pregnancy-related depression (PRD) and anxiety can occur any time during pregnancy through the baby’s first birthday. It may also happen after a miscarriage, pregnancy loss or after adopting a baby. Many women feel uncomfortable talking about their symptoms with family, friends or health care providers and we want to help break down those barriers.

Symptoms of PRD

Pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are serious conditions that affect a woman’s physical and mental health. Pregnancy-related mood disorders include anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and psychosis. Symptoms differ for everyone and might include the following:

  • Feelings of anger or irritability.250x250
  • Lack of interest in the baby.
  • Loss of appetite and trouble sleeping.
  • Crying and sadness.
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness.

Why is this happening?

Just remember: you are not at fault and you are not to blame! There is no one cause for pregnancy-related depression and anxiety. Women who develop depression or anxiety around childbearing have symptoms that are caused by a combination of psychological, social and biological factors that can include a personal or family history of mood or anxiety disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive) and sensitivity to hormonal changes.

How is PRD different from the “baby blues”?

Pregnancy-related depression and anxiety can look like the “baby blues” because they share similar symptoms such as worry, crying and fatigue.

The difference is that with the “baby blues,” the feelings are somewhat mild, last a week or two and go away on their own.

How do I get help?

Here’s the good news: With support and resources, pregnancy-related depression and anxiety is highly treatable. Treatment plans are different for each woman but might include increased self-care, social support, therapy or counseling, and treatment of symptoms with medication when necessary. Here are some suggestions for mothers:

○ Get support from family and friends so you can keep active, eat healthy and get enough rest and time for yourself.

○ Talk to a professional.

○ Learn as much as you can about pregnancy-related depression and anxiety.

○ Ask for help when you need it.

○ Join a support group in your area or online.

○ Don’t give up! It may take more than one try to get the right help you need.

Where do I get help?

Feelings of guilt, frustration and withdrawal are common among new moms but you don’t have to feel this way. Having a baby is hard but help is available.

Go to www.postpartum.net to ​get information about pregnancy-related depression and anxiety and find Colorado coordinators who can give you support and resources in your area. You may also call 1.800.944.4773 (English and Spanish) to​ get confidential, free and immediate support. They also offer free, live phone chats with experts every week including chats and resources for dads.

And always remember: You are not alone. You are not to blame.  It’s okay to ask for help.

In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

A Boy and His Baby Doll

Right around the time my son turned two, he started asking for a baby.

He’d look at me with big eyes and ask sweetly, “Baby?” Then, more insistent, “Babeeee?” And finally, “Baby come HOME!”

My uterus recoiled in horror at the thought of a baby, so my husband came up with a compromise: What about a baby doll? My son’s eyes lit up with excitement like me stumbling upon the Nordstrom semi-annual shoe sale.

We took a special trip to Target and let our toddler son pick out a baby doll. He chose a doll that came with her own stroller and happily dragged her through the store.

And that’s when we heard the first person cast judgment. The woman checking us out asked if the baby was for a little sister. No, we said. Was it a gift? No, we said. It was like she couldn’t make the connection between us buying a baby doll and the happy little boy clapping his hands. When she finally got it, her eyebrows inched up.

“Oooooooh,” she said.

Oh. My heart twisted a little bit at that, and I gave my son a hug. He, obviously, had no idea that someone was judging him for his desire for a baby doll. But I knew, my husband knew, and we bristled on his behalf.

Target, I have to say, has done a fabulous job of making strides in making their toys open to all. We didn’t go down the “girl toys” aisle to find the doll. It was simply in the doll aisle. But within that aisle, we couldn’t find a single doll that could appeal to both boys and girls. I thought we’d find something like a Cabbage Patch doll like both me and my husband had as children. (A note: I discovered later that Target does carry Cabbage Patch dolls, but they were down a different aisle.)

In the past few years, the toy options for girls have made giant, amazing leaps. Girls, the toys tell us, can be anything. As a woman who hated Barbies growing up, this makes me so happy. Yet boy toys have remained in this rigid, narrow definition of what “boyhood” is: tough, sporty, scrape-kneed and boisterous.

What about the boys who love to climb at the playground and also read books? The boys who want to have a tea party with their favorite stuffed animals … and their collection of trucks?

For girls, we have wonderfully, finally celebrated their “ands.” A girl can love science kits and dressing up. But boys seem to be stuck in the “or.” You can be a tough boy or, as a family member called my son and made me cry in private, a cupcake.

My son is a toddler who loves his baby doll. And I love to watch him with her, watch him nurture her how he sees his father and I nurture him. Like my husband pushes him in his stroller, my son insists on pushing Baby in her stroller. (That stroller has logged more miles than I think it was ever designed to do, as evidenced by the zip ties now holding it together.) Like I rock him at night, he likes to rock Baby and hum to her before nap. He checks on her, making sure she’s comfortable in her stroller and apologizing when he sends her careening down the slide at the park.

My fear is that he’ll realize that he shouldn’t love his Baby and put her away. But right now, my husband and I try in every way to make sure our son doesn’t have to curtail who he is to be an “or.” He can be nurturing and loud and love Baby and spend hours playing racecar driver.

Though maybe I’d prefer he spend a bit less time playing racecar driver. I can only stand so much pretending to drive a car without wine.

Jenny lives in Denver with her husband, son, and two fat tabbies. She’s a mom by day, a writer by night, and a traveler whenever she gets the chance. Follow her on her blog or on Twitter.

 

A Mother’s Guide to Having a Meltdown All Your Own

A couple of weeks ago, I had one doozy of a meltdown. I usually thrive on change and being pushed beyond my comfort zone but the feelings of being overwhelmed have been building for months. Factor in a move, a new job while juggling the old one, missing friends, financial stress, finishing two rooms in our basement, the holidays, and a to-do list a mile long with no time to go outside and play….something was gonna give and it was my sanity.  

The straw that broke the camel’s back was over milk…and it wasn’t even spilled. A certain insubordinate tween called me lazy when I asked her to get the milk at dinner after I’d spent 10 hours working and then fixing our meal.

After I stormed out, my sweet son suggested to my husband they clean up because that would “Make Mom happy.” That kid will make a good spouse to a Mommy Meltdown-er someday.

Let’s face it: Sometimes Mom needs to blow off some steam because why should kids get to have all the fun?  Here’s a guide to having an effective meltdown all your own. 

  1. Do: Make sure you use your meltdowns sparingly. If you cry wolf all the time, no one will take you seriously. I can’t remember the last time I had a meltdown of this scale, which made it that much more shocking. I WAS THE WOLF.  HEAR ME ROAR.
  2. Do: Make sure that wherever you storm off to that there is ample entertainment to make your cooldown much more enjoyable.
  3. Do: When Said Insubordinate Tween comes to apologize, receive her back with open arms and reciprocate that apology. Sometimes a good cry together is all you need.
  4. Do: Go on a good bike ride (or whatever your favorite stress release is) and get over it quickly. The reason? They’ll be walking on eggshells around you for days and you’ll be able to enjoy their overly accommodating behavior a lot more if you’re happy.

And, most importantly:

5. DO: When having Said Meltdown, do it on a full stomach. Because it’s tough to be mad when you stormed out on dinner and you’re hungry. And then you’re just mad about being hangry. 

Sincerely,

The Maven of Mommy Meltdowns

Remember: You ARE good enough

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Am I a good enough mom?” — Kristina Kuzmic has an important message for you.

Miscarriage and Falling in Love with my Toddler Again

~Sometimes it takes a shake-up of expectations to make us fully come back to the earth, grounded in our original intent, changed yet unchanged.

Eight months ago I had a “chemical pregnancy.” Yes, I stood and waited for the line to turn pink, pacing with anticipation—my husband in the next room asking “Well”? We were both blissfully unaware of the possibility that anything could go wrong. Our first pregnancy was undeniably simple. We got pregnant immediately and had what some would call an “easy pregnancy” for those nine months. An energetic, kind little boy entered our world, early in the morning on a sunny, spring day, and you could say…life was good.

The line did eventually turn pink that day, just as I suspected it would. We jumped up and down and gave each other a look that made us both feel untouchable and, well, ready. We drove off to our cousin’s baby shower, our son strapped in his car seat, chatting us up the entire ride, while we giggled. Four days later we were no longer pregnant. It kind of felt like a rock to the stomach, fast and frantic. However, we moved forward, thinking we had only just started the journey of a second pregnancy. We quickly became pregnant again, this time truly trusting that it was impossible for something bad to happen. The endless reading I did made me somehow believe that a normal pregnancy was all that was left in the cards for us. When I started spotting five weeks later, I took it as an immediate ominous sign, and even after blood draws, an ultrasound, and two doctor’s visits telling me “things were progressing well,” we were eventually told to prepare for a miscarriage that would take place at an indeterminate time.

My pregnancy had stalled. I think I stalled around that time too, stuck in my bed. My open sea of fertility joy slipped through my grasp. Shock slowly turned into agony that gradually faded into all the rest of my life experiences. When waking up suddenly felt normal again, possibly even peaceful, all I wanted to do was take my son on daily adventures: soaking in the outdoors, feeling the sun drench our skin, hearing the shrieks and laughter, watching the amazing growth and learning he was doing at the ripe age of two. Such simple activities made me smile more than I knew I could, more than I ever had pre-baby, more specifically, pre-mom.

I was not the mom who gave birth to a child, held him, and immediately felt an earth-shattering, glorified, sense of profound new love. No, in that moment, I was simply in awe and utter fascination with this new life in my arms that I could hold onto, squeeze, and care for—always. Our love grew with time and before I knew what happened, we had formed an intense bond that I will never share with anyone but him. That bond strengthened when I lost something. That bond reminded me that what I yearned for was already here in more ways than one. My son has grown with me over the past months, and our family’s strength altered in ways unknown to us in the past. We’re ready to embark on the journey again, somehow feeling a shift in the air, moving by us at a slower pace.

And now when my son tells me he hears the birds chirping, I hear it too.

Holly McCann is a “stay-at-home” mom that rarely stays indoors and enjoys frequent adventures with her active two-year-old little man in Denver, Colorado where she currently resides and writes.  She credits her inspiration to those around her, especially her fluffy cats.

New Mom’s Emotional Job Performance Review

In an effort to celebrate new moms as they navigate the realities and challenges of modern motherhood, the touching video from Chicco as a part of their #NeverStopGrowing campaign features a new mom receiving a “360-degree” performance review a few months after returning to work from maternity leave.

Like so many moms, she becomes her toughest critic. But when the tables turn and she experiences the praise, awe and gratitude coming from those touching all aspects of her life – even her baby – Mom’s perspective changes. She sees, feels and understands the monumental job she’s doing in her roles as a mother, daughter, sister, friend, wife and more.

See the surprising feedback she received in her performance evaluation here: https://youtu.be/9rL7lCv7zRE.

Pregnancy + Marijuana: What Every Colorado Mom Should Know

Having a baby can be one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life. There are so many possibilities, and also so many questions. Whether a woman is currently pregnant or a new mother, there is so much to learn and many health decisions to make for not only herself, but also for her baby.

In Colorado, there are plenty of questions women have about marijuana use during pregnancy, especially now that retail marijuana is legal if you’re over 21. Can marijuana harm my baby? Marijuana is natural so doesn’t that mean it is safe? Isn’t marijuana supposed to help with nausea during pregnancy?

That’s why we’ve partnered with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to help answer some of these questions. Here are some highlights from our recent Q&A with CDPHE.

What do we know about marijuana use and pregnancy?

CDPHE:  Research has shown that there is no known safe amount of marijuana use while pregnant. Colorado’s Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee reviewed the scientific literature available on the health effects of marijuana use and published the report, “Monitoring the Health Concerns Related to Marijuana in Colorado: 2014,” which you can view the full results of here.broccoli

Since marijuana is legal now, what’s wrong with using marijuana while pregnant?

CDPHE:  The fact that retail marijuana is legal does not make it safe. Marijuana contains THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that makes the person consuming it feel “high.” Whether marijuana is smoked, vaped or eaten, THC is passed to the baby when a woman uses marijuana during pregnancy. Exposure to THC in the womb may affect a baby’s brain development, making it hard for him/her to pay attention and learn as he/she grows older.

Some cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, occur naturally in the body and in breast milk. These endocannabinoids help your nerve cells communicate better. However, THC from marijuana is much stronger than your natural endocannabinoids. THC can upset the natural endocannabinoid system in your body. This is one more reason why pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should not use retail marijuana to avoid any risks of THC.

But, marijuana is natural, so doesn’t that mean it’s safe?

CDPHE:  Not all natural substances or plants are safe. Lead, tobacco and poisonous berries are examples. Marijuana contains THC, which may harm a baby.tree

Isn’t marijuana less dangerous than alcohol? Tobacco? Secondhand smoke?

CDPHE:  We know from research that whether marijuana is smoked, vaped or eaten, THC is passed to the baby when a woman uses marijuana during pregnancy. And, exposure to THC in the womb may affect a baby’s brain development.

We also know that breathing marijuana smoke is bad for both mother and baby. Marijuana smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, and some of these chemicals can cause cancer.

So, it’s not really about whether marijuana is more or less dangerous than other drugs like alcohol or tobacco. It’s about making sure expecting mothers understand the risks that come with retail marijuana use so they can make the healthiest choices for themselves and their babies.

What about women using marijuana to help with nausea?

CDPHE:  The THC found in marijuana may harm the baby during pregnancy, since THC passes through to the baby. We encourage a woman experiencing nausea during pregnancy to talk with her health care provider about safer options that do not risk harming the baby.

What about when marijuana seems like a better alternative than other medicines?

CDPHE:  A health care provider can recommend medical marijuana for pregnant women in special cases. A health care provider has the expertise to decide whether the benefits are greater than the risks. It is unsafe to use any medicines while pregnant that are not recommended by a health care provider. A pregnant woman should talk to her health care provider about safer choices that do not risk harming the baby.

What if a woman used before she knew she was pregnant?

CDPHE:  If a woman has used or currently is using retail marijuana during her pregnancy, she should speak with her health care provider. If she wants to stop using marijuana while pregnant, her health care provider can connect her with treatments that are confidential and nonjudgmental. You can learn more at Mother’s Connection or by calling 1-800-CHILDREN.

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The goal of this campaign is to help Colorado women learn the facts about retail marijuana so they can make informed and educated decisions for themselves and for their babies.

Changing societal attitudes and marijuana’s legalization doesn’t change the fact that the developing embryo (and fetus) is dependent on the mother for oxygen, nutrients and a balance of hormones, chemicals and other substances to grow normally. What a mom-to-be eats and smokes affects her baby. That’s why it’s important for Colorado women to learn more about the risks associated with marijuana and pregnancy.

You can learn more at www.GoodToKnowColorado.com/baby.  And, be sure to talk to your health care provider about questions or concerns you may have because we all have one goal: to have a healthy baby.

In partnership with Mile High Mamas

Let’s Come Together with Kindness

At Mile High Mamas, we rarely get political but given the collective gasp of our nation today, laughter is needed. Stephen Colbert delivered on election night with this monologue, which is something we can ALL agree on.

My friend Cheryl posted the following on Facebook this morning:

Remember wherever you stand politically that we have the power to teach our children that America is already great, and they are responsible for their own actions.

We will continue to teach them to be kind, loving and respectful to others, regardless of differences.

We will continue to teach them that we are all brothers and sisters.

We will continue to teach them that they do not need to fear those who come to America from other countries, and that we all have a responsibility to take care of one another.

We will continue to teach them to think before they act out of fear or anger.

We will continue to teach them to have faith and let’s just remember:

makeamerica

Wife + Stepchild? No problem!

While driving home from a party one night, my husband asked me if I was happy with our relationship (we’re newlyweds so we still ask about this from time to time).  I said yes and asked him the same question.  He replied, “Yes, I’m just not used to all the belching, farting and drama.”  I thought that would make a really honest anniversary card.
 
To my darling wife,
You are the light of my life.  I love you so much and I’m so happy we are married. I’m just not used to all the belching, farting and drama.
Love,
Your dearest husband.
 
It kind of threw me though, that he thought there was a lot of drama attached to being with me and my daughter.  After 8 of years of being a mom, the level of drama was normal for me.  I wouldn’t even call it drama  – it was just a steady level of anxiety.  For him, living with us is like a rollercoaster ride.  And sometimes it’s like a nauseating rollercoaster ride.
 
Then I thought about it more and realized, here is this guy (a veteran in the Air Force for more than 20 years no less) who was single for years, a bachelor, living in a nice, neat house on his own.
 
 The first night I went to his house, I noticed how there were no dishes left in the sink, his two lava lamps were equidistant from each other on his living room end table and he had hand towels in the bathroom that I knew were just for show.  A fun night for him was staying home and watching The Hangover on DVD for the 20th time.  His life alone was more like a tram ride than a rollercoaster.
 
For him the house is disheveled, there’s a million things on the schedule and I bet he never thought it would be so stressful to get a child to brush her teeth.  My normalcy is his insanity.  Maybe we should have moved in on a part-time basis at first so he could  acclimate to the whirlwind of a mom/daughter combo.
 
I think we’re rubbing off on him.  He isn’t a stickler about making the bed anymore.  And he’s influencing me – I try to remember to pick up my jeans off the bedroom floor.  Then again, is it worth it to put them away, because maybe I’ll wear them again tomorrow.
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Above is my husband not realizing what he was getting himself into.
 
Nancy Fingerhood is a writer, filmmaker and performer originally from New Jersey.  In her blog, Confessions of a Middle Aged Woman Gone Wild, she combines her humorous and honest writing style to discuss relationships, parenting, aging and anything else that catches her attention. She is currently the co-owner of Vivid Impressions Productions, a photography and videography services company based in Westminster.