Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crossover Post: Alli Shaloum Brydon Writes 100 Messages to her Unborn Child

Thanks to Alli Shaloum Brydon for her post on my writing blog, Chloe Yelena Miller, about her blog, 100 Messages in 100 Tiny Bottles. Click through to read about her 100 messages to her (then) unborn child. Such a beautiful way to both savor a pregnancy and look towards the future. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shopping for (Used!) Maternity Clothes in the Metro D.C. Area

To follow-up on yesterday's post about used maternity clothes in New Jersey, here are the two best stores I've found in the Metro D.C. area:

Wiggle Room in Bethesda, MD

Bellies & Babies in Alexandria, VA

Are there others that I've missed?

Used pregnancy pants warning: The elastic on the top of the pants loses some of its, well, elasticity with time. Be sure to walk around the store a little and try squatting or bending over before buying a pair of used maternity pants. If you have to keep tugging at your pants to keep them up after a few minutes then they certainly won't fare well later.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Shopping for (Used!) Maternity Clothes in Northern New Jersey

I found some well-fitting and inexpensive used maternity jeans 
in this South Orange, N.J., store

I'm a fairly thrifty shopper who prefers purchases that will last a long time. Pregnancy has made shopping for clothes a little tricky. While I can mostly get away with sweatpants while I'm working from home, sometimes I do leave the house. And with this cold, that means I need new pants (the hardest to find, being on the short side), shirts, sweaters and undergarments. I'm pretty much ignoring dresses and fancier clothes.

I had the best luck finding used maternity clothes in New Jersey at these two shops, which will be good places to return to for baby items:

Other Mothers in South Orange, New Jersey

Sprouts Children's and Maternity Consignment Shop in Madison, New Jersey

I also found a few well-priced items at the Motherhood Maternity outlet store in the Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth. In the dressing rooms, they have "bump pillows" so you could see what the clothes will look like with a bigger baby bump. Target also had some good prices for basics.

I was unable to find a maternity coat that fit and cost a reasonable price. I finally ordered a super inexpensive and used one off Ebay. So far, so good, even with the recent cold spell.

What are your favorite used or inexpensive maternity clothing stores in New Jersey?

I'm not always the happiest shopper. Thanks to my mom for being very patient during our outings this fall as I was getting used to my changing shape!

(I've found a few good maternity consignment shops in the D.C. metro area, too. That's for another post.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Crossover Post: Dr. DeMisty D. Bellinger on Writing Resources for Parents

Thanks to Dr. DeMisty D. Bellinger for her post on my writing blog, Chloe Yelena Miller, about writing resources for parents. Click through to read about other parent-writing blogs, literary magazines and grants targeting writing parents. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Morning Sickness & Sea-Bands

I wore fabric bracelet Sea-Bands throughout most of my first trimester to fight morning sickness. They work by applying pressure (as acupressure does) to a point on each wrist. They are soft and easy to wear all day and all night.

Can you tell I'm a big fan?

I wore them while I was working at my desk, siting on the couch, riding a bus or driving, and really, anywhere I went or sat still. I felt like I looked a little like an athlete wearing a wristband, which was ironic. Still, under a long-sleeved shirt, folks can't tell that you are wearing them (or if they sneak a peak, they might think you simply have another layer on.)

Yes, morning sickness is the pits. There's nothing "morning" about it and it continues to strike me in my second trimester. I'll save you the gory details and recommend the American Pregnancy's Association's guide to surviving morning sickness for more tips.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Three is a Magic Number...

I love Three is a Magic Number from Schoolhouse Rock. Aside from the math (which I should have focused more on when I was younger), the lyrics are beautiful and perfect for our growing family:

A man and a woman had a little baby,
Yes, they did.
They had three in the family,
And that's a magic number.

It makes me cry every time I hear it. (Of course, many things make me cry these days.)

Read the full lyrics here. Purchase your copy of the album here. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Post: Getting Out of the Basement by David Ebenbach

Thanks to David Ebenbach for today's guest post about parenthood, writing and the corner (basement?) where they intersect. For more, do read his collection of short stories, Into the Wilderness, to see how his autobiographical story was transformed and offered him new insight.

David Ebenbach is the author of two books of short stories—Between Camelots (University of Pittsburgh Press), and Into the Wilderness (Washington Writers’ Publishing House)—plus a chapbook of poetry entitled Autogeography (Finishing Line Press), and a non-fiction guide to creativity called The Artist’s Torah (Cascade Books). He has been awarded the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center, and an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Ebenbach teaches at Georgetown University.  Find out more at

Getting Out of the Basement

When I was a teenager, I locked my mother in the basement. It was an accident, but that didn’t do her any good after I locked that door and left the house to go to work. She had to physically break out of the basement through the bulkhead door, climb the backyard fence, and go to her own job without keys or a purse or anything else. When I got to my job, naturally there was an angry phone message waiting for me.

And how did I react when I found out what I’d done? With sympathy and apologies? Of course not—I was a teenager, and totally resentful that I had to go all the way home to unlock the door and get my mother the things she needed. Honestly, I don’t think I really felt sympathy for what she went through that day until I had a child myself.

Actually, I didn’t get it until my son was three years old and I was working on my second book of short stories, a book all about parenthood. I was writing it because parenthood was (and is) such an enormous, complicated, uncharted experience—the book is called Into the Wilderness—and writing is my way of trying to understand the important and complex things about life. Inhabiting characters—in this case, fictional parents going through many of the same things I was—helps me to see my own experiences and emotions more clearly.

But it doesn’t end there. One of the greatest pleasures of writing fiction comes from the fact that my characters aren’t entirely like me; through them I get to touch not only my own life but also the imagined lives of other people. Writing fiction means a constantly enlarging sense of empathy—at least if I’m doing it right. Short stories in particular allow me to see things from all kinds of angles. My characters were single parents, same-sex parents, parents of different religious and ethnic backgrounds, people struggling to get pregnant and people uninterested in becoming parents at all. The stories came from everywhere.

And then I found myself writing a story about a woman getting accidentally locked in the basement by her son—and (because it was a book about parents) I was writing it from the woman’s point of view.

This was a culmination of something that had been building for a few years. Before my son was born I brought together several important men in my life to mark and celebrate the transition into fatherhood. The guys told me stories and gave me advice, and one of those men—my own father—told me to remember to make time for myself once my child was born. Not only did that turn out to be essential advice—it also impressed me deeply with the truth that a father, a parent, my father, is of course a person, a person with needs and a point of view. I had always known that, but there’s a big difference between knowing something and really getting it.

From that point on, as I received more stories and advice, as I changed my first diapers and made my first bottles and figured out how (approximately) to parent, I had many occasions to think about all the times my parents had done similar things. How, instead of lounging around on the couch, they had worked and fed me and taken me places—all of the ordinary things people do for their children. Ordinary, yes—but the ordinariness doesn’t rob their deeds of their profundity. Hour after hour, day after day, they elevated my needs (mine and my sister’s) over their own—because that’s what parents do. And what parents do is frankly amazing.

But the most enlightening thing about being a parent is that the empathy grows in more than one direction; not only was I finally truly understanding what my own mother and father experienced—I was also learning a lot about the experience of children, through my own child, and through writing my book.

In “The Escape Artist,” that story about the mother locked in the basement, my favorite scene comes toward the end, when the mother and the son are finally in the same place at the same time, unlocking the front door of the house to get back in. In that moment, I see both characters, and there’s finally room enough in the house for both of them.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Obama's Second Inaugural Speech

I've wondered if it makes sense to bring a child into a country where inequality (in regards to poverty, health, gender, sexuality, education, etc.) makes headlines regularly. Today's inaugural speech gives me hope for our country's future. While a public, prepared inaugural speech won't make instant changes, it marks a positive direction for our country's leadership and a public dialogue.

In the womb and after birth, our child could be anyone and could aspire to be anyone. I can only hope that all of our children have the same opportunities to be his or herself safely, happily and productively. And isn't that the American dream?

I was proud - and tearful - to listen to Obama's speech (which you can read in its entirety here.)

Here was a particularly moving section:

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm."

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you. 

Go Obama! And: Making Healthy Choices

I can feel the excitement about Obama’s second inauguration building this morning, although I won’t be joining the festivities on the Mall.

I’d like to head out with friends to celebrate, but I realize that’s not the best choice for me. Pregnant, I simply can’t be on my feet for very long or walk very long distances. Or get dehydrated. Or hydrate and not be able to find a bathroom. Or stand still and get terribly cold. Or be in crowds with people coughing and sneezing.

As someone who juggles many jobs, creative projects and other commitments, I would usually be happy to sacrifice comfort for something like this. I’m sure there are pregnant women attending the celebrations. We all need to make the decisions that are best for ourselves.

With this pregnancy, I’m giving myself limits and breaks. I made the hard decision not to attend two writing conferences this spring and one college reunion. I’d love to go to everything, but knowing how tired I’ve been, it seems like the wrong choice. In the first trimester, I slept most afternoons. It is hard to keep up with work, creative projects and preparing for the new baby when I've lost so many hours to sleep.

To avoid disappointment and frustration, I’ve learned something about these “lost” hours. The trick is to avoid thinking of these hours as “lost” and think of them as a healthy decision for the baby and my body. If we need rest, then we need rest.

I caught a cold this fall; I felt terrible and fell behind on everything. Unable to take any medication, it felt like it lasted forever. I’ve been working extra hard to keep myself healthy since then, although nothing is a guarantee. Since a woman’s immune system is weakened when she’s pregnant, it is important to make healthy decisions. Similarly, it is important to avoid feeling guilty if you do fall ill. 

Yes, I’m disappointed by missing the in-person excitement today. I’m happier, though, knowing I’m making a good choice for myself and our baby. I’ll stay in our warm home, drink lots of water and watch the festivities on television.

Go Obama!

If you are on the Mall today, I hope you’ll share your pictures and adventures with me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Links: Birthday Wish for her Daughter by Christa Verem

Birthday Girl

I loved reading Christa Verem's piece A Birthday Wish for My Daughter Turning Two on her blog, the big american. Christa writes directly to her daughter about body image and size, strength, growth and more. Important topics for girls and boys alike.

I imagine that most of us (adults) have had moments where we've felt insecure about our bodies. Ok, it is definite that we've all had those feelings. In this letter, Christa offer her daughter the wish that she will feel the power in the thighs and body, instead of insecurity or fear. The letter is "a wish for (her daughter) and (her) thighs."

Here's my favorite part, "My wish is that you will not forget how your thighs allow you to run, jump, and climb. That should you find yourself years from now jogging in place on a treadmill at the gym it’s because such exercise makes you feel good and clears your mind, not because you enjoyed a slice (or four) of your own birthday cake the night before. The woman running on the treadmill next to you will be sweating to change the shape and size of her thighs oblivious to the fact that they are the reason she is able to run at all. May you be spared such an ironic fate."

Click through to continue reading the entire piece. I hope you'll stay awhile and explore her blog about being a hat-wearing American woman married to a wonderful man from Bosnia.


Thanks to my husband for this awesome shirt from Think Geek

I'm very excited to announce that my husband and I are expecting a baby in June, 2013!

The role of motherhood, as Anne-Marie Slaughter explores in the Atlantic article Why Women Still Can't Have it All, remains fraught with difficulty and contradictions, even in the United States in 2013. The title of this blog is a nod to my effort to untangle, or perhaps braid, these roles. Of course, there's more to my identity than "Woman Mother Writer," but I think these three titles encompass roles like wife, teacher, daughter, friend and more. Or perhaps as time passes, I'll feel differently.

I look forward to sharing what I learn with you and hearing from you: Advice on parenthood, juggling a career (or two) with a child, writing about family, which objects to buy (and which to avoid) for the baby, best pregnancy/parenting books, and even how to stay awake all day while pregnant. Let me know if you're interested in guest blogging (email me at ChloeMiller(at)gmail(dot)com.)