20 Years As A Vegetarian

This month I celebrate 20 years of being meat free. I don’t remember the exact date but I had just got back from driving down to Florida with friends for spring break in April 1996. I was midway through a burger and couldn’t stop thinking about all the transport trucks we passed on our road trip along the way that were carrying livestock. It was my my much-needed “ah-ha” moment.

Though I can’t help but think I connected the dots years earlier as a little girl in Nigeria, raised on the goats I played with. As a result it was a constant struggle to get me to eat meat. Had my parents known any different — that there were other ways to get protein — perhaps they would have provided me with alternatives. But they didn’t.

I don’t blame them for this. The same way I hope my children won’t point fingers at me for raising them as vegetarians.


This is a legit photo of a family of pigs on Exuma Island in the Bahamas, and I added the Kafka quote. Rumored to have been brought to Exuma hundreds of years ago by explorers, or to have swam to shore following a shipwreck enroute to slaughter, the origin of the islands’ swimming pigs is pretty much unknown. What is certain is how incredibly lucky they are.

I ever had much desire to go to the Bahamas being that their tourist industry is known for importing captive dolphins. But I’m bucket-listing swimming with pigs for sure!

Not Letting My Kid Go To The Big Apple Circus

Before I had kids, when they were just a figment of my imagination, I wondered how my animal rights-related convictions would play out on them. I discussed in great detail with my partner the kinds of things I’d bend for and the ones I wouldn’t. School field trips to zoos and circuses were at the forefront of my concerns.

I bent last year when my sons’ pre-k class went to the Bronx Zoo, despite it being one of more than 200 zoos not exactly known for their conservation. I was new to the NYC public school system and didn’t want to make waves where I was not yet known — what’s more, I wanted so very much for my kid to fit in. Looking back, I regret this.

Next month, his kindergarten class is going to see the Big Apple Circus. While it’s a circus that doesn’t use exotic animals in their acts, it still teaches and displays human dominance over animals. Though BAC trainers may treat their animals far better than most circus acts, the animals are not free to leave their predicaments. They are forced to do tricks and performances through manipulation or coercion simply for our entertainment, which is something I very much oppose.

There is nothing natural about a goat riding a horse :(

There is nothing fun or natural about a goat riding a horse :(

I discussed my feelings with his teacher, I got the thumbs up to “stick with my principles and do what’s right” from my husband, and explained to my son that when his class goes to the circus, he wouldn’t be going to school that day. And since going to school is a drag for my five year old, his eyes lit up at the news. The jury’s out on whether he’ll thank me some day or persecute me.

Where there’s support, there’s also criticism…

Certain family members think I’m depriving my kids of a childhood, and some friends think I’m too much. But I don’t care. Whether I’m around to see it or not, these kinds of performances will be obsolete some day and generations after us will wince and scoff at the mere thought of chained, leashed, whipped and encaged animals. Hopefully my children will want to help carry the torch I’m working to pass to them, and if not, that’s ok too.

Happy 2nd Birthday Reya!

At just one week shy of your second birthday we went through a big transition. You started daycare at Regina’s. It’s the same place Mylo began at when he was 15 months old. Classroom or playroom settings aren’t new to you. You’ve been accompanying me and the grandparents who pick-up Mylo since you were born. I figured you’d be excited to have a place to go with little people like you, who you could call your own. But you cry and clutch and plead my name in between gasps at drop-off, and it’s heartbreaking. You’ll adjust. Mylo did and so will you.

It’s not like you’re not used to being left. I went back to work when you were three months old and you’re cared for by grandparents three days a week. And at the tail end of the winter, we hired Lana, a nanny we met while eating lunch at Chipotle one day. Lana started with us by doing mornings on Fridays. Then when we had a need for full days after Goomah left for France, she was with us at least 2 1/2 days out of the week.

But let me back up a bit…

You took your first steps when you were 13 months old. You were as wobbly a walker as you were a crawler. Correction, you are a wobbly walker. Till this day! Granted babies start off shaky but by their second year, they’re usually a bit more solid on their feet. Not you. You fall down at least once a day!

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You’re also an adorable runner. I don’t want to say you run like a girl, because that term, #likeagirl, what does it mean really? But you have this extremely adorable albeit delicate way of running. You throw both of your hands up in the air and flap them around like a discombobulated bird.

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I didn’t care much for the “walking but not yet talking” stage with your brother, then you came along and reminded me why. From dumping the dogs’ water bowl to constantly undoing what we do, whether that’s folded laundry, drawers and cabinets, I think this stage lasted longer with you. I know because we’re still in it. Just the other night I caught you with your hands splashing around in the dog bowl. And the other morning you proceeded to ask for every hair product container and makeup container in my bathroom and when I told you no I was met with the biggest tantrum ever. You cry and protest and throw a fit until you’re on to the next thing. And you are in no time, on to the next thing.

Toddler trouble.

I love that you’re growing up influenced by your brother’s toys and friends. You know your way around with race cars and superhero figurines and this will make you a cool chick. Take it from me. With that said, you’re still a girl after my own heart. You love shoes and mastered putting on your own, whether it’s snow boots, velcro sneakers, strappy sandals or crocs, since you were 18 months old. Your favorite toy is a baby doll named Stella who you got for your first birthday but who you only took interest in these last few months. And need I say that baby Stella is always naked. The clothes she came with are never on. And among your many stuffed animals is a a little yellow duck whom is your favorite.


Neither Mylo nor you were early speakers, but you understand just about everything we say. Your first word was “ish”. Since you were 14 months old you would point to things, anything, and say it with such confidence and cuteness. You owned that word. Your first real word was “da-da,” I believe it was somewhere around your 17th month. You pronounce Mylo as “memo,” Ganga as “gonga,” and for Goomah, you drop the G and simply say “oomah.”

Some of the adorable words in your toddler vernacular and their meaning:
bah-bah = bottle
boom-boom = balloon
guck = duck
ap-pu = apple
bapes = grapes
ga-gack = cracker
bip = poop

Cheese is your favorite food. You love just about every fruit and eat broccoli like a champ. Your favorite sweet seems to be chocolate, but luckily it’s not around much for it to be a reoccurring request on your part. You still love to drink from the bottle. You’re given almond milk in the morning, in the afternoon and before bed at night. But lately, you’ll protest and manipulate your way into having a fourth bottle. You’ve never met a straw you don’t like to chew, and it’s for this reason your brother refuses to share drinks with you. (I can’t really blame him!)

Last year for Halloween you were an adorable stuffed pumpkin and I was a farmer. While we walked throughout our Brooklyn neighborhood trick-or-treating, you happily sat in the stroller and sampled chocolate. Your brother ran up and down peoples’ stoops always remembering to ask for an extra piece of candy for his baby sister. And then he’d turn, point and exclaim, “See, the pumpkin!”

You weren’t quite aware enough to enjoy the magic of Christmas but we still had fun. This years’ Christmas festivities should be tons more fun for you.

You flew for the first time on an airplane this past April when we went to Orlando, Florida. It was a last minute trip to escape the tough winter that we barely managed to slug our way through. You proved to be an uneventful flyer, getting sick on the cab ride there and then again during the descent into Orlando. And with that I learned to pack an extra set of clothes every time we travel now!

In July we went with Ganga and Sidi to visit Aki and his family in San Fransisco.You didn’t get sick on the way there (it might have had something to do with the fact that I pretty much starved you) but you were uncomfortable and clingy for the entire 5 1/2 hour flight nonetheless. You did however, get sick on the Uber ride to the airport to go back to NY.

Shortly after we boarded the plane, I realized you had left your sippy cup and stuffed animal by the gate. Had I not been on my laptop trying to send an important email that couldn’t be sent from my phone, I may have noticed, but I didn’t. We were literally moments away from taxiing out when a Virgin America security staffer was brought on board by a stewardess who I gave the information to. She then relayed the descriptions to an employee by the gate who quickly located your belongings. I could feel the stares upon me as we waited for them to bring us your items. Yes, I was that frazzled mother traveling alone with two children. And yes, it was a slightly embarrassing mishap, but I still got a kick out of hearing “ladybug sippy cup and fluffy dog stuffed animal, over” come from the not-so-thrilled, somewhat smug, militant security staffer. When the female version of Rambo came stomping down the aisle with your cup and dog in tow, you squealed with delight and nearly half the plane applauded. All I could think was, “You all think she’s cute now, but just wait until she starts puking!” But you didn’t. You and your brother didn’t even make it to takeoff. You both fell asleep and didn’t move for 2 1/2 hours. I even got to watch a movie – GASP!

You’ve shown a lot of interest in the potty but you’ve yet to do much on it. And because of that, we don’t encourage you to try half as much as we probably should. Then again it’s not like we’re sitting around all day twisting our thumbs. If we’re not at work, we’re often out of town on weekends. Like Mylo, you’ll start going on the potty when you’re good and ready to go on the potty. I’m not the least bit worried.
A whole lot of cuteness on the potty.

Somehow you make a toilet look delicious :)

We didn’t frequent the beach last summer when you were barely even one. Watching babies purposely put sand in their mouths makes me shiver with discomfort. But this past summer we went a bit more and you were much easier to manage. You’re not really sure what to make of sand and you’re cautious at the water’s edge, but I think you thoroughly enjoyed the beach this year.

End of the summer in Montauk.

My sweet daughter, you adore dogs, which is honestly no surprise — I don’t think it’s in my DNA to have a child who is not completely at ease with dogs. But that ease isn’t always such a good thing. You engage every dog on the streets and not necessarily the right way. All of us, including your brother, are trying to teach you the correct way to greet and approach dogs.

Lucky for us (and you) Ella tolerates this, but it’s most certainly not the way to treat a dog.

Life with two littles is not always easy, but I thank the lucky stars that for my second child, they brought me you. Despite what we call your “destructo” stage, and your not-too-convenient clingy nature, you are a true joy. You can go from frustrating me with your toddler ways to demolishing me with your sweet nature all in the same minute. You’re a so-so napper but you have slept through the night since your second day earth side. And for this I am so grateful I feel almost gutted. A beautiful, healthy, happy little girl who sleeps. What more could a parent ask for?

Sitting right where you were born exactly two years ago.

Sitting right where you were born exactly two years ago to the day – 9/17/15



Happy 5th Birthday Mylo!

I’m floored by not how much you’ve grown physically from 4 to 5 years old, of which I can only really see by comparing photos, but I think I’m most taken by how much you’ve matured this past year.

I think a big part of it can be attributed to your first “real” full year at a public school. From the time you were just over one year old to four years of age, you went from daycare to preschool and on to Pre-K.

You were one of the lucky ones who scored a seat in a Pre-K classroom at a New York City public school. We almost didn’t accept. In part because we were pleased with the attentive nature of your private preschool, but also because we didn’t want to make you keep changing schools since we didn’t know (and still don’t), if we’re staying in Brooklyn for the long haul.

But at the 11th hour we did accept and it wound up being one of the best decisions we ever made.

Your first day of school & your last day of school

Your first day & your last day of pre-k

At your PS 261 classroom orientation I was one of the only parents sitting front and center with a list of questions. I nervously asked about things such as the schools’ policy on peanut butter and was horrified to learn the teachers didn’t enforce timeouts or help wipe kids’ behinds.

Before the school year began “timeouts” were still common place in our house, occurring several times a week. I don’t know how or when exactly, but over time they became less necessary. And you learned to wipe your tush. Not very well, but you do it.

In school you learned to not just write your name but you do it in a way that can’t help me think “cool logo!” I know it will change, but I will show you this one day when you are older, should you want some creative guidance.

Love the "O" inside the "L"!

Love the “O” inside the “L”!

For Halloween you were Batman and daddy was Robin. You were pretty darn cute saying “trick or treat” to everyone on their stoops. Then you’d follow it up with “can I get one for my sister?” and point to her sitting in the stroller. Much to our chagrin, you still like candy corn – I mean out of all candy Bud, come on!

Not sure why you're frowning here...

Not sure why you’re frowning here…

At Christmas I asked our neighbor Ashley to dress up as Santa. He’s jolly and friendly by nature, and also big. I bought him a Santa suit and some props off Amazon and he absolutely killed it as Saint Nick! I’ll never forget the sheer excitement in your eyes when he came through our back door holding a sack of presents. You made me fall in love with Christmas all over again in that moment.

You absolutely could not contain your excitement.

You are the deepest sleeper EVER! I always joke that we could go into your bedroom in the middle of the night and have a dance party and you wouldn’t budge. No joke. This fact coupled with you putting an end to overnight pull-ups this past winter means we need to wake you up to pee before we go to bed. Not only do you remain sleeping in our arms in the amount of time it takes to get from your bedroom to the bathroom, but you manage to assume the fetal position on the way! When we stand you on the ground we use our arms to hold you up and our knees to push your pelvis toward the toilet’s opening so you can aim. It’s really quite a comedy.

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The winter got tough in February. Snow storm after snow storm, the days felt impossibly long when you could no longer run around the schoolyard with your friends. That’s when we discovered Teen Titans on Cartoon Network. It’s not your daddy’s favorite cartoon with its edgy and vulgar humor, but it was the only show that kept you from climbing the walls. And after so many episodes, you and your sister created the absolute cutest dance to its chanty theme song. No matter how many times I see it, I laugh.
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In April we took a trip to Orlando, Florida. You were never big on Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse so we skipped Disney and went where the superheroes are at… Universal! We rode a 3D simulated Spiderman ride and it was hands-down the BEST part of the whole park experience. It was thrilling but also kind of scary. How you didn’t freak out when I was doing just that to your left, I have no idea. What a trooper you were! You are most certainly not a trooper when it comes to boo-boos…

No matter how big or small the bump, scratch, splinter or scrape — getting, and then tending to any of boo-boo is a national tragedy with you. I seriously hope you outgrow this soon!

In July we traveled with Sidi and Ganga to San Francisco to see Uncle Aki and his family. You proved to be a wonderful flyer, despite the 5 1/2 hour mandate to pretty much sit in one place. On a scale of 1 to 10, you were a solid 11. Your sister on the other hand, well I’ll save that for her birthday post!

Your best friends are still Olivia from upstairs and Mattias, who you practically share a birthday with. You’ve had these two friends the longest.
 You also met and became fast, year long friends with Wyatt from your Pre-K class at PS 261.

I’m so thankful for the way you treat your little sister. You have far exceeded my expectations as a big brother, Mylo. Sure you yell at Reya when she interferes with things you are building, such as Lego and train tracks, and you recently began telling on her (rather excessively) — but for the most part you are kind and very sweet with your sister.


One of the things I adore but that also drives me bonkers is how you absolutely love sharing in mischief together. You scream and shriek on the top of your lungs when the tea kettle whistles. You do the same when I fire up the NutrilBullet every morning. And you get a kick out of playing disco with the lights on the wall behind your bench at the kitchen table. I will never understand this need to perpetually annoy the people who provide for you and love you. Ugh!

I am so in love with you and so proud of the little-big person you are becoming. Happy Birthday my buddinsk!


Looking as handsome as ever on your 5th birthday.

Pounding Pavement Again

Last month I ran a half marathon. It was kind of a big deal because it was my first half in eight years. And that’s kind of a bigger deal because while I’ve always been a recreational runner, there were several years in which I became an avid racer. I trained for and ran a full marathon along with a few halves every year from 2002-2006.

The Entenmann’s Half Marathon in Bayshore, NY is one of my favorite races of all time because it’s small, it’s flat and it’s scenic. In 2003 I set a course personal record of 1:41. A couple of months before that, I ran a half PR of 1:36 in hilly Central Park.

But in 2006, without much training at all, I ran the Bayshore half with an all-time worst record of 2:08. I remember running that race so well and how I completely bottomed out after 8 or 9 miles. Like a slug, I literally dragged my butt to the finish. I’m not knocking the time, it’s respectable for most people, but a finish of 2+ hours was not respectable for me. Not only had I not trained properly, but my body was in disrepair. So many consecutive years of training and running had taken its toll on me. My piriformis muscle was a constant pain my ass (literally,) and my plantars fasciitis was inflamed because of the pressure caused by excess fluid in my heel.

After the half that year, I pretty much gave up on racing. I continued to run, but nothing over a 10K. Once I accepted that my relationship with running long is one that required a lot of time and a strong commitment, it became easier for me to let go. I had entered into a serious, romantic relationship during that time, and it was difficult to balance the two. So I focused on my relationship with my now husband and stopped training.

It’s been eight years and I now have two small children. After the birth of my second, I had a burning desire to get back to doing halves. It’s a distance that doesn’t wreck you physically and it’s much easier to manage time-wise.

At first, I think I decided to train for the half purely for motivational reasons — just to get my butt out of bed and to shed the last of my baby weight. However as the spring and summer months rolled around, it became an impending reality. I had to decide if I was going to commit to the Bayshore half in October or not. As I trained throughout the summer it became something more tangible — something I knew I could achieve. And so I committed.

While out to dinner with friends over the summer, I mentioned I was training for the Bayshore Half. The next thing I knew, three others were joining me. We trained separately but kept up with each others progress on a private Facebook group.


Danielle, Kelly, me and Karen a few minutes before the start.

To train for the half I’d run 4 mile tempo runs at least two or three times per week in Brooklyn. And on weekends I’d run long while out at my parents’ house on Long Island. I logged several 8-11 mile runs leading up to race day.

On race day I had so many cards stacked against me. Not only was there a torrential rainstorm to contend with, but the winds were blazing, which was only compounded by the fact that the course is along the Great South Bay. It was the second day of my period, which is usually no picnic, and I showed up at the start without my iPod shuffle — something I had trained all year long with.


The storm was no joke.

The storm: It was brutal. If it wasn’t for my three friends who were also running it, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed that morning. While there was some serious groveling going on in the car on the way there, we held each other accountable and showed up to the start smiling and cracking jokes.

Aunt Flo: It sucked. Let’s just leave it at that.

No music: It also sucked. I was alone in my thoughts for 13.1 MILES!!!!

Despite running in pouring rain at times, and through flooded rain and sea water up to our ankles at miles 3, 8 and 10, I finished in under 2 hours. I can’t help but think that if there was no wind, my shoes weren’t waterlogged and I had tunes to help push me along, I could have shaved 2-3 minutes off my time. Maybe next year.


I was as happy as my smile. Literally.

And because the race is sponsored by Entenmann’s, we refueled with some post-race doughnuts. We deserved them! Nom-nom.


And after we changed out of our wet, soppy clothes, we made good on our post-race free drink at Fatfish Bistro. The race wouldn’t have been complete without a hard earned beer (or two, or three!)


Happy 1st Birthday Reya!

I wrote about every little thing during Mylo’s first year. However you just turned one and sadly, I haven’t written much about you at all.

One of the things I adore most about my you is your timing and gentle nature. From the second you came into the world, you’ve had a calm and gentle presence about you. When you were born you didn’t cry at all. You also didn’t open your eyes. Mylo on the other hand, came into the world ready to rock. His eyes were glued to whoever it was who was holding him.


Mylo hit every milestone (or Mylostone) early. You took your time with the first year milestones and it’s made me feel that maybe I missed out on a lot of the “baby” stuff with your brother.

You were content to chill in your baby chair for the first three months. Up until you were eight months old I could leave you in the middle of my bed and go to the bathroom. I know it doesn’t sound safe, but believe me, you weren’t going anywhere until one day, you did. You tumbled right off the bed, and that was the end of that!



You are completely attached to me. I bonded to my son without a doubt, but as soon as he became mobile, it felt as if he was always running away from me. And he still is, today! You on the other hand, move toward me. You follow my eyes with yours. You meet my smile with an even bigger one. You crawl with fervor in my direction when I walk in the door from work. You either sing praise to be cute, or whine in disdain because you want me to stop what I’m doing and pick you up. You are just entirely present with me.



We introduced solids to you when you were about four months old. I barely let Mylo have a sip of water at four months, let alone solid food. Baby girl really enjoys to eat and it has been a delight watching you negotiate and ponder new textures and tastes. Some of the things you love most are steamed vegetables, grilled cheese, pasta, french fries and ice cream. And of course you’ve got a real thing for the beans, cheese and guacamole from our weekly forays to Chipotle.

Despite your healthy appetite for food, we nursed until two weeks shy of your birthday. I never expected or wanted to nurse you that long, despite the fact that I went 14 months with your brother. The part of me that wanted to end nursing looked forward to your “need” for me not being as dire. However right now, that need is still there. As there are some nights you insist on using me as a pacifier, despite the fact that nothing comes out. The transition has been bittersweet — there is something so sad about the finality of anything, especially breastfeeding.

Reya recently rode the Prospect Park carousel with wide eyes.

Riding the Prospect Park carousel with wide eyes.

You began sitting up somewhere between your 6th and 7th month. You were quite wobbly in the beginning, and you’ve had many accidents. At 9 1/2 months you found your knees. I forgot how ridiculously cute babies are when they crawl!


It’s been real sweet watching you go from your knees to your butt and back again, contemplating how to make them work together. You also do an adorable backwards army crawl.

You adore clapping. You return other peoples’ claps with your own and it is so sweet! You also enjoy doing a crawling face plant into pillows. The more pillows there are, the harder you’ll dive into them. All you have to do is say the word “pillow” and you do it. It is the absolute cutest!


At 10 1/2 months you began standing up and it’s clear how proud of yourself you are when you do this. I am too, because there were times I wasn’t convinced it was going to happen! Walking is next and I know life is about to get more interesting, and difficult. I did not love the walking-but-not-talking stage with Mylo. Maybe because he didn’t listen to me. Here’s hoping you redeem this part of toddlerhood for me!


Bam Bam!

My mom recently taught you how to blow kisses with your hands. It’s pretty darn cute.


Rey-Rey on her 1st birthday!

I am overjoyed to have a daughter. And even more so because it is you who fills this role. Happy Birthday my Rey-Rey!


Birthday Buddies!

My daughter Reya shares her birthday – September 17th – with another baby who was born just two hours earlier, also at home in Brooklyn, and with the same midwife.

While laboring in the wee hours of the morning, I reached a point where I thought it could be time to bring in my midwife Kristen and her assistant, Piper. My husband Jason sent our midwife a text only to receive one back that said she had another mom in labor who needed her first.

I spent 35 weeks getting to know my midwife, preparing for this day with her, and she delivered me the blow of all blows. (No pun intended).

I write about my reaction to the news in Reya’s birth story, and how it all played out with Kristen’s backup midwife Barri, and the fact that in the end, Kristen and Piper made my birth a half hour before Reya was born.

At some point during labor Barri said she received a text from Kristen that simply said, “baby out.” I asked Barri what the woman had and Barri said she didn’t know, all Kristen wrote was ‘baby out.’

Even though I was knee deep in labor, it struck me then how innocuous this all was for the midwives. They spoke in truncated code to one another via text. It didn’t matter what mom had, all that mattered was the baby was out and they were safe.

The news comforted me, but it would have comforted me more to know about this other woman, just a neighborhood away, that went through the same thing I was going through and made it out on the other side, with a baby.

Not long after, I gave birth too. Reya joined us earthside at 6:27 that morning.

Afterwards, I asked Kristen what the mom had. She also had a girl around 4:15am and had gone into labor two weeks early. I had gone into labor two days late.

But it wasn’t enough, I needed to know more.

I asked her name. Thea. A name we had considered as a possible girl’s name at one point. When Kirsten weighed Reya and exclaimed that I nearly had a 9 pound baby, she told me Thea was just 5 pounds!

Two weeks after Reya’s birth, I was invited to the home of another Brooklyn midwife to discuss my homebirth with other homebirth moms, doulas and midwives. An evening spent reflecting on and processing my birth experience.

A woman walked in wearing a Moby wrap with a newborn and the baby was oh-so-tiny. Despite the fact that I heard her tell someone her bundle was two weeks old, I knew the minute she walked in that this was the mom of the other baby born on September 17th.

Meeting for the first time at two weeks old.

Meeting for the first time at two weeks old.

I went up to her and asked, “Is that Thea?” She looked at me proudly and somewhat cautiously and replied ‘yes.’ I told her I was Kristen’s other mom who also had a baby on September 17th. And with that, her eyes welled up with tears.

Since then, Thea’s mom and I have discovered we have a great deal in common, and that there are other little things that connect us, too.

Three months!

Three months!

Our first children are both boys born just weeks apart in the summer of 2010.

When our babies were just a few months old, Marni accompanied a friend of hers to a class on essential oils at the home of a doula and midwife-in-training in New York City. It just so happened to be Dia’s home, my doula. They began talking and Marni told Dia her daughter was born in September at home with Kristen Leonard. It didn’t take long for them to put two and two together.

We’ve dubbed Thea and Reya “Birthday Buddies”. September 17th 2013. One day out of 365 that brought two women and two baby girls together, forever.

Celebrating the girls' half birthdays!

Celebrating their half birthday!




Reya’s First Two Months

Reya my love, you have been an absolute pleasure of a newborn baby.

I mainly say that because you SLEEP. And for this I am so very grateful!

We got off to a rough start with breastfeeding. The first week was trying and oh-so very painful. And I didn’t expect it to be. Especially since I had the very same experience with your brother Mylo when he was born three years ago. I sort of expected my breasts to remember. But they didn’t.

We spent the first couple of weeks holed up in my bedroom with my white T-shirt draped over our cheap Ikea bed lamp the midwives put there the day you were born – to dim the room. I did almost everything but eat in the bedroom. I fed you, changed you and would lay down next to you to steal some shut eye. The cracked nipples, latching issues, raging headaches and engorgement lasted one week – one very painful week – but then we were on our way.

Since the first week of your life, you’ve been sleeping 4-5 hour initial stretches. This past week it’s increased to seven, sometimes even eight hours. That’s not to say we don’t have the occasional bad night, we do. But it’s just that: occasional. At night you start out in the co-sleeper next to my side of the bed and when you wake up I unloosen your swaddle and put you in bed between us.

A couple of weeks old...

A couple of weeks old…

You spend the rest of the early morning hours cuddled up against me, breastfeeding. We hold hands, you snort and grunt, and we nod off back to sleep. It’s not the most comfortable position for me, (I prefer to sleep on my left side) but for the first time I’m getting a true taste of what it means to co-sleep.

See, I tried to do this with your brother but it wasn’t very enjoyable or restful. I looked through other blog posts to point to proof and only found one that said he stopped co-sleeping peacefully at about five months. THIS. CANNOT. BE. I must’ve been sugar coating it.

My big non-sleeping baby holding my little sleeping baby.

My baby who doesn’t sleep and my baby who does sleep.

It was difficult to know what color your eyes were those first couple of weeks. Mainly because your eyes were rarely open. But they’re wide open now and they’re a beautiful dark blue. Whether or not they’ll change, I don’t know.

You were born with a “stork bite” on your left eye lid and in between your eyes. When you were just a couple of days old you got your first case of acne. Baby acne. And apparently it’s to blame on me, or my hormones anyway. Luckily it doesn’t bother you and is no indication that you’ll have acne when you become a pubescent teenager.

When you were five weeks old your acne took on another meaning. Your cheeks became so red and raised. Dr. Google had me worrying it could be eczema but your pediatrician confirmed it was cradle cap. It was barely on your head and mostly all over your cheeks. A little olive oil, bacitracin and eliminating eggs from my diet for the past two weeks has helped nip it in the bud.

You began smiling back at me a few weeks ago and oh my is it a beautiful smile. I’m overcome by a profound pang of joy when you do this.

You love to be worn in the Ergo baby carrier that the women from my office gave to me at my Baby Sprinkle. Since you were one day old you’ve been worn all over Brooklyn.

As for the taking the bottle… that’s been a work in progress. You tricked us all when you took a bottle from dad at five weeks without even coming up for air, then not again after. But soon enough, you will have to.

I wanted another child to add to our family so much. So to have miscarried twice was such a blow. The third time though, it stuck. I then spent a good portion of my pregnancy worrying if I could hack it. Especially the newborn stage. Yet I couldn’t be happier that you are you. The child who drifted into my life and has made things pretty easy. So far.

Knowing that all my hurdles and hiccups brought me here, to this moment. Everything hard and trying that I’ve been through, has been a step closer to becoming your mom. And I am the better for it.


A couple of months old…


My Daughter’s Birth Story

Monday 9/16/13. I woke at 7 in the morning two days past my due date to discover wet panties. When I told my husband that my water broke he said, “Are you sure it’s not pee? I mean you’ve been coughing a lot lately.” When I assured him it wasn’t pee, I made phone calls to family and then sent text messages alerting my birth team, close friends and colleagues. I even texted my boss, and told him I’d work from home until I no longer could.

The gushing began around 9:30 when I went to move the car from a Tuesday spot to a Monday spot. The fact that I had a lingering cough from a cold I caught a week earlier, didn’t help the flow either. When I got back upstairs, I was met with the reality that I wouldn’t get through the day without using pads.

Mild contractions started around 3:30/4 in the afternoon. I shut down my computer and let my boss know that was going to be it. I called Jason at work and asked if we were doing dinner together. He said that if I could wait to eat after Mylo went to bed then yes. I told him I had a feeling that could be too late so I grabbed dinner at Chipotle, and bought dog food at PetSmart.

I remember running those errands by myself so clearly. On the one hand I felt so liberated, to be out and about on my own – no husband, no three year old in tow and no baby yet. And I also felt like a real rebel. I remember a couple of people looking at me and giving me a gesturing nod. Probably just being kind about my very pregnant state, but for a minute I wondered, ‘do they know I’m in labor right now?’

Contractions picked up in the evening while Jason ate dinner and we got Mylo ready for bed. I downloaded a contraction app on my iPhone and began to time them. They averaged 30 seconds long and about 6-10 minutes apart.

Evening sky while I was in labor.

Evening sky while I was in labor.

At 7:00 my midwife texted that I should try to go to sleep early and get some rest “before things take off.” A couple of hours later I heeded her advice.

Only when I did lay down, things picked up rather quickly. I had to use the potty a couple of times and experienced a couple of super painful contractions while sitting on the toilet. I labored in the bedroom alone with Jason and our dogs for as long as I could.

Around 10:00 it became obvious that getting shut eye wasn’t going to happen.

At 11:15 Jason texted our doula that contractions were one minute long, less than five minutes apart and that I was beginning to feel nauseous. Dia joined us an hour later.

Tuesday 9/17/13. When I made it to midnight, I knew for sure that we were going to have a baby on September 17th. I posted this Dr. Seuss quote on my Facebook page that I had come across months earlier and absolutely adored. It was my way of letting those in my circle know that the baby was coming.


Having Dia at the house was a comforting Godsend. She urged Jason to nap and encouraged me to keep moving and change positions. At one point she even took my cell phone away which was blowing up with texts from two of my close friends. In hindsight, it was actually pretty funny.


With my doula Dia

We were in the living room with the lights mainly off and my iTunes “baby” playlist on in the background, while Dia timed my contractions the old school way. Around this time I moved into the transition stage of labor. I vomited a couple of times into our beloved salad spinner while leaning over the kitchen table.

Jason joined us in the living room 45 minutes later after an unsuccessful attempt to nap. For the next couple of hours I was in and out of the tub. I can’t recall if I loved it at first or not, but given the extreme pain I was in I know I found it comforting.

Then the bomb of all bombs dropped.

A text came in from my midwife, Kristen, at 3:20. Prefaced with an “uh-oh,” Jason read it aloud.

I’m so sad to tell you this but I am headed to another labor. (You have both been in labor all night!!) she’s ready for me. I’m assuming you may be ready soon. When you are, if I’m not done, I will send (my backup) Barri Malek. She’s wonderful. You’ll be great with her but I will be really sad.

I was in the birthing pool when I got the news. My first instinct was to sink myself under the water to drown out the news I had just heard. But then I had a mind-numbing contraction and thought, ‘I don’t care who you send, just someone get here who can help deliver this baby!’

Barri and her assistant (her daughter Sophia) came over an hour later. And when they did they brought this sense of calm and confidence to the home that only a little while ago, I was beginning to lose sight of.

I sat on the rocking chair while working my way through contractions. Each time I had one I was urged to lean forward, which wasn’t easy to do. Dia was on the ground on my left side and Barri was on my right. As I worked through each contraction they stroked my feet.

I asked Barri if she was going to check me. She explained that she preferred not to but that if I really wanted it, she could. Then she asked me why I wanted to be checked. I told her that I needed to know how much longer I had to go. To which she told me that judging by my ability to carry on a conversation, she guessed I was midway through labor. That news alone was enough to take my mind off an internal and get back to focusing on my labor.

After a long and agonizing trip down the hallway and into the bathroom in our bedroom to relieve my bladder, I headed back to the birth tub. I must have made another comment about how much longer I’d be doing this when Barri asked me if I saw what Sophie was doing in the background. I didn’t exactly because it was dark, but I had a sense that she was setting up the birth supplies. I know from my son’s birth in the hospital and from the few births I’ve been a doula at, that it’s a good sign when the nurses begin to organize the equipment. It means there’s going to be a baby soon! Again, more news to help me labor on.

The only thing I would change about my birth is bringing the photographer in earlier. And perhaps, that Jason remembered to handle that part of it as well. The last time the photographer heard from me was in the morning the day before, when my water broke. Mark arrived around 5:30am.

I was in the birth tub when Mark walked in. With my head down, I said hello to him. I remember the quiet clanging of his lighting equipment being set up in our living room and I appreciated the noise that was drowning out the soft whispers of my birth team.

Not long after Mark arrived, my midwife Kristen and her birth assistant Piper walked in the door. My birth team was complete, in fact more than complete! I had two midwives, two midwife assistants and a doula!

In between contractions I asked Kristen about the other woman who gave birth. I needed to know what she had and at what time. It helped me to know that someone else went through what I was going through and she made out ok. The other mom had a girl around 4am.

The whole team

The whole team.

I never announced out loud when it was time to push, but my body did. Out of no where I had this intense urge to begin pushing, something I didn’t have with the labor and birth of my son. I started out on my back in the pool with my feet up against the sides. I pushed through a couple of contractions but it didn’t feel that productive. When I told the midwives that, Barri began pulling down my perineum to help open me up with each push.

Not only did that help in bringing my baby down lower but the pain of her stretching me out, took my mind off the pain from pushing. At one point Barri, who was all smiles, even while she spoke, said my baby would be here in a couple of more pushes. I remember looking at her dead in the eyes and saying, “You don’t have to lie Barri, I know we’re gonna be here a long time.” (Based on the fact that it took me two hours to push my son out, I had this sinking feeling it could take that long again.)

Barri chuckled and said something along the lines of ‘Why would I lie? You’re doing this, your baby is almost here.’

Time was becoming a factor for me. It probably didn’t help that I was sitting facing the clock on our kitchen wall, but I was acutely aware of the fact that my son Mylo would wake up soon. Though my birth plan originally called for him to be present if possible, I no longer wanted him to see me in this final stage of labor. I didn’t want my screaming to alarm him.

I’m not sure if I wanted to change positions or if I was told to change positions but I made my way to the edge of the birth tub, resting on my knees and shins. This squatting position which I had labored in earlier, was a total game changer. I was still in unbelievable pain, but bearing down while pushing was way easier and more productive. Not to mention it gave me a sense of privacy that being spread eagle didn’t.

The 15 minutes or so that I spent in this position was a complete out-of-body experience. There was a lot of screaming. A LOT. At one point, I screamed “PLEASE HELP ME,” something that had me laughing and feeling ashamed about later when I recapped the events with Kristen. There was also a lot of focusing on objects — like the sun rays on my doulas T-shirt and the darkness outside the slightly opened window. I was in a trance. I remember having a very hallucinogenic moment in which I closed my eyes and saw this girl I knew from my school days, dancing around in a jester’s costume. Freaky. I know.

I could feel the bulging when I pushed and it was then that I knew I was close. When Kristen told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head I said no. Not because it weirded me out, but because if any part of my upper body let go of the side of the pool, I was convinced I was going to fall in.

I remember the excruciating burn, and being told what an amazing job I was doing. I remember Jason being right in front of me, despite plans to be in the back, catching with Kristen. But it was for the best, I needed him to be right where he was, holding my hands.


With another mind-numbing push, the head was out. I stayed squatting with the head out, about another minute or until the next contraction, and then eased my baby out. When I did, I felt the body leave me in an amazing “bloop bloop” sort of way. Again, something I don’t recall when I pushed my son out.

In an instant I felt the baby’s slippery, jiggly body get past up through my legs. I looked down and saw a squishy little face swimming up toward me. I lifted my baby out of the water and brought it to me.


Meeting my baby.

My whole world stopped in this moment, for I was overcome with great relief and immense joy.

The baby was pudgy and squat and covered in vernix. She had a shock of black hair and she remained incredibly calm – like the room she was born into – in those first few minutes.

I’m not proud of the words that immediately flew out of my mouth, which were the first words the baby ever heard. They were “Thank fucking God”. What can I say? It just happened.

After a minute or so of relishing in the shock and awe of what just happened, I asked if anyone in the room knew what the sex was. I thought perhaps someone saw something I didn’t.

I was told to reach underneath and feel for balls but I lay her out in my arms instead. I looked down quickly and saw a little vagina. She had holes in all the right places. It was a GIRL and I was THRILLED. I mean really, really thrilled.

Reya Taha Wood was born at 6:27am after 14 hours of labor and a half hour of pushing.

Jason retrieved Mylo from his room and found him sitting up in bed awake and smiling. We’re not sure how long he had been up and what he had heard but he handled the busy room with our birth team with equal parts cutesy and shyness. I was so proud of him.


Mylo meets his sister.

I birthed the placenta 15 minutes later and Jason and Mylo cut the cord.


I was guided to the bedroom where I nursed Reya and was spoon fed Cheerios by Kristen.


Reya was weighed and I texted profusely our beautiful news with family and friends.


My girl weighed in at 8lbs 13oz – WOW!