Strong Opinionated Rant alert...
I've mentioned this before, but one of my biggest pet peeves of late is how much bullying seems to occur in the 'Mommy World' - both online, and in 'real life'. I've spoken to my Grandma about what parenting was like when her kids were babies, and she thinks mothering came with much less pressure back then, because either there weren't as many different views on how to parent - maybe people who lived nearby each other simply parented similarly, so there was nothing to really debate - or people just minded their own business a little bit better.
I came across an article recently about breastfeeding, and how commonly mothers still choose to formula feed. It discussed how it should be more acceptable to breastfeed anywhere - and everywhere, and how it is becoming less and less widely accepted for hospitals, etc. to supply free formula for new mothers.
There are two things that bug me about the whole breastfeeding discussion that seems to pop up all over the place.
1. Although breastfeeding mothers should have rights and are completely justified in wanting others to be sensitive to them, they should also be sensitive to other people.
I completely agree that in a perfect world, women should be encouraged to breastfeed wherever and whenever it is necessary, without feeling any pressure to hide or cover up.
HOWEVER - we do not live in a perfect world, and to exercise all of our rights and freedoms is sometimes not the kindest thing to do for the people around us.
My daughter hated to breastfeed under a blanket - she fussed and pulled at the blanket and tried whatever she could to stay uncovered so she could see what was going on. Ideally, I would have loved to always breastfeed completely uncovered and have no one think twice about it. But there are some people in my circle of family and friends who WOULD think twice about it, and who would be made seriously uncomfortable by the sight of an uncovered breast. Some of these people have severe moral issues with any kind of nudity, and I feel as though for me to cross this line of making them uncomfortable is just rude and unkind. Even when we had company in our own home - a place where it is completely within my rights to breastfeed as I wished - I tried to stay sensitive to what my guests would find comfortable. If I wished to breastfeed uncovered, I would take my daughter to her room and close the door while she ate (which sped up the process anyway, for her to be able to eat without distractions), or if I wanted to stay among company I would cover up with a blanket - out of respect for my company.
Certainly I COULD have breastfed any way I chose, but I felt it was my job to make the people around me as comfortable as possible too - I think it's just part of life to try to be kind to those around us, despite what we feel is our 'right' to do.
I would love to see a world where no one is made uncomfortable by a nursing mother - and I think gradually, this will happen - but realistically, there are so many people who still grew up in very conservative homes and backgrounds and it's really not as simple as just telling people to 'get over it'.
From the other side of things, it drives me crazy when people wear profanity on their clothing, or swear publicly. Is it illegal? I don't think so... Is it their 'right' to express themselves pretty much however they want to? I guess so.
Is it fair to expose my children to words that I might prefer they learn later in life, and to take away my choice as a parent to make this choice? I think not. But that's another rant entirely...
My point is, sometimes doing what it is your 'right' to do isn't the kindest thing to do - and I personally think kindness should be more important, when it's at all possible.
2. Why is it anyone else's business if someone else is formula feeding or breastfeeding their child?
I absolutely agree that if the health benefits really do side with breastfeeding over formula (and I believe they do), it should be the responsibility of the government and organizations to educate people about, and support breastfeeding as much as possible.
However, this is NOT the same thing as criticizing mothers who make a different choice.
I was never breastfed, not even once. I have never had any serious illnesses, and my immune system as I was growing up, and even now, seems to be stronger than that of most children today. I also assume that formula has come a long way in the past almost-30 years, and is likely much healthier for babies now than it was when it was being used to sustain me.
What this tells me, is that formula is NOT poison, as I have heard some say. It is NOT a death sentence, or even a health concern necessarily.
There are a million reasons why a mother might choose not to breastfeed, and I don't think any of those reasons should be judged or criticized - ever.
I ran across this article about a woman who, after adopting a boy from Russia, decides that his behaviour is unmanageable and chooses to send him back to Siberia.
I find the fact that she chose to 'return' the boy, who had become her son, awful - mostly because of the attitude it represents. I have never adopted, and I have no doubt that adoption is a difficult transition - especially in families that already have biological children. This woman claimed that the adopted son was violent - and I can only assume that she became worried about the safety of her biological son.
This is another situation I have never been in - what would you do if one of your children is threatening the safety of another one of your children? Certainly not send them to Siberia, although I am aware of a number of children who have been 'sent' into foster care or boarding schools by their own parents when they felt unable to handle them anymore. I've always found this to be sad, but the general mentality isn't as rare (I don't think) as the media portrayal on this story makes it seem.
My opinion is that - yes, it is absolutely wrong of this woman to have sent a boy who was her son back to Russia, but - the outlook and attitude of any parent planning to adopt another child should be that their adopted child will become just as much a part of their family as any biological child would be. I personally believe that this same mentality should apply to step parents also - if you are joining together a family with children of two different parents, each parent should decide that the step children are now just as much their children as their biological children are.
When my parents got married, I was 8 and my step brother was 4. My Mom has told me repeatedly over the years that she married my Dad - but she also chose me. She said that if she wasn't ready to accept me as her daughter, she would have had no business marrying my Dad - and I agree.
Like I said before, I have never adopted, and I also don't have step-children so my opinion here is maybe not overly relevant. And I do understand that it could be difficult - especially in situations like this, to not 'favour' your own child - but I think that this is much like any major life decision - if you go into it with a certain goal in mind, you can choose to see things a certain way and behave accordingly.
Would this woman have sent her own unrully child on a plan to Siberia when she felt at a loss to handle him? I doubt it, but I think that is the relevant question here.
What are your thoughts and opinions on this?
I came across this post on The Minimalist Mom's blog, and being opinionated - wanted to rant a bit about it!
The premise of this post is that 'Fair is not always equal', which I agree with COMPLETELY! She does, however, go on to use a few examples that I would argue are still not 'fair', but maybe that's just me...
I would love to raise kids who aren't 'counters', but considering the people I have known in my life, the statistics seem to be against me on this one - kids tend to pay attention to things their siblings get that they don't, and it bugs them.
When I was in my early teens, my parents approached me with some information - they had been setting money aside for me since I was about 7 years old, for my college fund. Also, I needed braces and they had no insurance coverage for this and were unable to pay for it themselves. They were telling me about this set aside money so that I could decide whether or not I wanted to spend it on braces - my other option was to leave my mouth alone, which, for a teenage girl with 'fangs' was not really a viable option. Once the cat was out of the bag - both my brother and I were aware of this set-aside money - it seemed as though we were suddenly able to use this money how we wished. I remember my brother purchasing a number of very fancy toys with his amount because his genetically perfect mouth required almost nothing. Was this fair?
- On the one hand, we both received an identical amount of money to do with what we wanted to. The amounts were identical because my parents had started saving at the same time (which my brother got a few extra years after I did, but anyway...), and I didn't have to spend mine on braces. I chose to.
- On the other hand, I 'required' a medical procedure that my brother didn't - not life-threatening, but still - and he was able to spend his money on toys instead of saving it for something 'responsible'.
I personally don't think this was fair, but as a parent I struggle with figuring out how to handle situations like these. Even when it comes to saving for a child's education, I struggle with the 'fairness' of different scenarios.
What if my daughters choose entirely different forms of education? What if one daughter becomes a dentist and needs $80,000 to cover her university education? What if the other daughter then enters a community college and needs only $6,000 to cover her education? Is 'fair' giving them both an equal amount even when it means one still has tens of thousands to cover, while the other has money to spare? I don't think so, but I don't really know how to reconcile this either.
At this moment, I have a few thoughts about how I will make things 'fair' - please feel free to give your opinions...
1. If any of my children require medical procedures that I can cover the cost of, the cost will work on a per-child basis and will (hopefully) have no effect on any other children. As in, Child B won't get the $5000 to spend as they wish because it was given to Child A for reasons they could not control.
2. Large gifts that are given for a particular event or accomplishment - such as a graduation gift, wedding gift, etc. are given for those accomplishments. If I can afford to spend $X to help cover the cost of a child's wedding, only those of my kids who get married will get $X amount. However, $X will remain constant whether my child wants a $500 wedding or a $50,000 wedding... Same goes for graduation gifts - only those children who graduate will get said gifts.
3. I will NOT count dollars when it comes to random gifts - like birthdays and Christmas, etc. however, I will stay within a reasonable and similar range for these things that will probably have more to do with our income at the time than the age or interests of the child. For example, Child A will not get a giant flat screen tv while Child B gets a new sweater - no obvious and glaring inequalities.
4. I will try exceedingly hard to spend a similar amount of time and energy on each child when it comes to pursuing their dreams. I have seen families with one 'prodigy child' who is pampered above all others because they are very focused on and dedicated to their skill while other children are left behind. Even if I have a sports prodigy, I will try to make sure that the time spent pursuing this child's dream does not happen at the detriment of another child's dream.
5. Although my methods of discipline will be standard as much as they are my own - I may discipline a child more or less who requires more or less discipline - or in different ways, depending on how each child responds - to become a well mannered and constructive person, since I believe that is the whole point anyway.
There are so many things that I have no idea how I will handle when and if they come, but I want to have some underlying 'themes' I suppose in regards to how we choose to help and support our children - all, of course, with the goal of creating self-sufficient and confident people who eventually don't need our help at all.
What are your thoughts on this? How often is what is 'fair' actually 'equal'?
Here is a link to another Mom Bloggers site that I enjoy.
I read this post and honestly cried because these 'Mom wars' have become quite a personal issue to me lately, and it drives me crazy. We're on the same team, guys!
I am so shocked - absolutely reeling...
I was just kicked out of a forum website for mothers because I voiced an opinion that 'the community' did not condone.
I was shocked at their response to one of my posts - because it was in no way rude or attacking or judging - I promise - and I wish I had been able to log back on to copy the posts so I could prove it, but they'd already deleted my account.
Ok, I'll just out with it and I hope I don't make any enemies here either...
There was a father on the forum who was concerned about his 4 month old infant with whom they had always co-slept, but the child was now unable to sleep at all - even for naps - without a parent within reaching distance. His question on the forum was whether he was doing the right thing, because he had been told that co-sleeping would help a child's independence, and his child seemed to have become more dependent as it grew.
His concern was that if he tried to get the baby to sleep without him - the baby would cry, and he was afraid of letting the child cry for any length of time.
All of the other responses to this post told him to wear the baby, or find ways to sleep with the baby. (I don't know if the family had any other children). This is certainly good advice, but I felt that it was not the only option for this family - and maybe constant baby-wearing wasn't something that they would be comfortable with or even able to do.
Anyway, when my daughter was a newborn, I began leaving her alone to nap regularly - even if she cried for a bit - very early. I felt that as her mother, I was learning to be in tune with her needs and since I knew when she ate, played, etc., that I had a pretty good grasp on whether or not she was ok to cry or not. So, sometimes - I let her cry. I realize that in todays society this makes me an evil mother. Or at least, I have learned this now.
Without putting down the 'babywearing' advice (I plan to babywear my second baby much more than my first for my own reasons - I am definitely NOT against babywearing...), I responded with my own experience, which I thought would give this family an alternate option .
I received an email from one of the moderators of the site - quoting my post - and saying that they did not support - ever - letting a baby cry - and that this sort of post was not welcome there.
Ok, so the real reason I was 'kicked out' probably had more to do with the email I sent afterward, but I was so shocked! This is North America! Are we not able to have different views without feeling threatened or bullied?
The email I sent afterward was again - very careful - but probably not very nice. I cautioned the site to be careful about judging differing methods of parenting as 'wrong' - and although I admitted I didn't 'fit in' there, I voiced my shock at having been 'bullied' out of the forum. One response post had suggested that a parent who would 'let their child cry' is an inattentive parent - and I made a comment about how I feel as though I'm an extremely attentive and devoted mother - and just because I may have a different 'road' to get there - doesn't mean I won't raise wonderful children. In fact, I parent very similarly to how many of 'our' parents and their parents 'parented' - were they evil parents? Are we all awful people because of their parenting? Is that why work-ethic and independence and self-confidence have actually DECREASED over the last 20 years????
Anyway, I need to end this, but I had to get it off my chest.
Some of that may have come out badly, but I'm feeling a bit defensive and hurt, so I apologize if this insults anyone. Thanks for 'listening'.
I've been trying to read more news articles - particularly on children and parenting recently, and there's a significant trend in reporting on the concept of 'helicopter parenting', and it's quite a controversial topic.
This article on the Today Moms website, talks about crawling helmets being made for babies - not for riding on a bicycle or anything like that - but for everyday crawling around the house. To protect them from normal baby bumps and bruises.
I doubt that a helmet on a baby at 8 months will significantly affect how this child behaves when he is older, but the pattern indicated by the parents who require this at this age might just indicate a level of paranoia that will probably significantly affect that poor child when they are old enough to realize just how abnormal their parents are. By putting a helmet on a crawling baby, you might decrease his risk of a serious head injury, but you are also likely increasing his risk of a serious psychological imbalance. I have seen children who are 'babied' to a small degree, and they become adults who are not really confident in being adults. They have been told that they need help and protection from everything, so they go along with that, and never branch out on their own or do anything productive for themselves. They become unproductive and unsatisfied people.
I have a 16 month old daughter, and not a week goes by when I don't panic about some terrifying possibility or another. My daughter could get hurt someday - but honestly, there are no lengths I could go to that would protect her from everything. There is ALWAYS - no matter what I do - the chance out there that she could get hurt, or even killed. My daughter is mortal - someday she will die - and I pray that it is not for at least another 80 years, but no one has that guarantee.
So, with every choice I make with her, I have to think about the immediate consequences as well as the long-term ones. Ultimately, what will this choice do for my daughter, and what is the likelyhood of each possible consequence?
If I allow her to go to the park unsupervised, is the 0.0002% risk that she could be kidnapped enough to outweigh the 48% risk of her having less confidence as an individual if I keep her home, and never allow her in public without an adult closely present?
Will she be required to wear a helmet while riding a bike? Absolutely. Will I demand she wear a seatbelt in the car? Of course. Will I teach her how to protect herself and be wary of strangers? Yes.
But there will come a day when she will the leave the house and I won't see what she does. She might be 13 and riding a bike with her friends helmet-free, or 17 and getting into a vehicle and choosing not to wear a seatbelt. Someday, she may choose to trust someone who shouldn't be trusted and allow herself to be taken advantage of. And I will have to pray and trust that I have taught her well, and that she will choose by herself - with no one watching her - to be as safe as she can be.
As her mother - from the moment she came into being, I began the process of letting go. The process of realizing that she is not part of me, but an entirely separate being, and is learning how to be 'herself' more and more each day.
Yes, I want her to be safe, but I want so much more for her to be HER. Even if that means taking a few bumps and bruises along the way. I have to accept the fact that anything could happen, and that is part of life, but I will make every effort to make sure that she is free to be herself.
I just ran across this article about a town in Florida that has banned children under the age of 18 from leaving their homes without adult supervision. This seems like insanity to me, anyone else?
I had a friend once who commented on how she couldn't let her 9-year-old daughter walk to the park alone because she didn't feel it was safe. So, she was worried about her daughter getting the amount of exercise she needed based on the fact that my friend didn't have time to take her every day. I thought this was crazy. Has our world changed so much since I was a child that a few blocks' walk to the park is considered unsafe?
Please let me never become that sort of parent...
I may struggle someday with letting my children out of my sight - I am an extremely paranoid person, after all - but I believe in the importance of independence, and my children will never learn how to survive on their own if they are not increasingly 'on their own' as they grow up. Not that I'll leave them to fend for themselves, but at 9 years old, isn't a walk to the park a good place to start?
Recently a friend (who happens to be in the medical field) downloaded a YouTube video for me to watch called "23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?".
I recommend it, and found it challenging, but at the same time it made me want to scream in frustration.
I'll explain. The video is based on the fact that walking daily - even if only for 30 minutes a day - is the single greatest thing we can do for our health. It details a bunch of studies and statistics about how it decreases various illnesses and as a whole increases a person's lifespan by potentially decades. The '23 and 1/2 hours' refers to the amount of time you 'can be a couch potato', according to the video, which simply pleads with people to spend at least 30 minutes a day getting exercise.
I understand that 30 minutes a day is a short amount of time - and really shouldn't be a complicated thing to accommodate into my schedule. My frustration, however, is that it really isn't quite fair to say that for 23 and 1/2 hours we are being 'couch potatoes' (although I'm sure some of us are).
Today I woke up at about 7, fed and changed my one-year-old daughter. Made breakfast for each of us, and then did a bit of cleaning in the kitchen while my daughter played. Then we went downstairs while I threw the cloth diapers into the laundry and folded some of my daughter's clean clothes. After she was done playing, she went down for a nap while I had a bath and did my daily devotional homework. Then she woke up at about 11:30, and was basically ready for lunch, so I got some ready for both of us, and spent some time planning our meals for the week, which involves a bit of researching and checking the freezer and pantry for ingredients. Then my daughter played again, while I played the piano and folded and put away more laundry.
At about 2pm, I was about to get both of us ready to go for our daily walk and Celia decided she was ready for another nap... it is now nearly 3 and I have to clean the living room, vaccuum, clean the kitchen and start making supper all before 6pm when I start teaching piano. I should also mention that living in Saskatchewan in winter, going for a walk involves bundling up quite thoroughly, which can take about 10 minutes all on its own.
Today is my easy day - most days I start teaching at 2:30 or 3.
Again, I understand that 30 minutes is not a lot of time, and I should definitely be able to fit it into my schedule - however - it is not always so easy for a stay-at-home Mom to get everything done that I need to - especially one as flighty and unorganized as I am...
Do not misinterpret this blog entry - I love Christmas, mostly.
However, when you are the oldest in all of your families, and all of your grandparents are still in the habit of picking either the 25th or the 26th of December on which to have their Christmas gatherings and because you are married you have five sets of said grandparents, and because you have a child EVERYONE wants you to be at each gathering so they can see the baby.... well, it gets a bit crazy around the holidays.
In addition to our five sets of Grandparents, we have our own parents who - due to the fact that they are now grandparents themselves - would like to host a Christmas gathering for their families also.
If we intend to spend a day with our own immediate family, we are juggling at LEAST 8 different family 'days' into only a few days of holiday.
Again, not to come across wrong - I do love Christmas, and I am so grateful for all of the family we have, but sometimes I just want to hide under a rock!
The past couple of years have made me seriously evaluate my priorities when it comes to Christmas, and make my choices based on these.
Firstly, I believe that Christmas is an extremely 'un-Christian' holiday as we celebrate it today. We focus a LOT on consumerism and end up spending a lot of money on unnecessary items just for the fun of it. Unfortunately for me, I have a lot of fond feelings of attachment toward this type of Christmas, so I don't really want to let it go... In order to make myself feel better, I have resolved to make the 'Christian' part of the holiday the most important part - which involves, for us, attending the Christmas Eve service at church, as well as doing everything I can to teach my children the story of Jesus' birth.
Secondly, I am selfishly deciding that I want an entire day to spend with my husband and children (when our descendents become plural). One whole day, no exceptions.
Thirdly, our parents have earned their 'Grandparent' status, and they are next on our line of priorities. As long as it doesn't conflict with our own time with our kids, we will plan to spend a day with each set of parents.
After that, if it's possible to attend our Grandparent gatherings (that's Great-Grandparents for our daughter), we will. Although the way I'm feeling this week, I'd almost like to cut them all out...
Oh well. I'm looking around my house at strewn toys and tissue paper and wishing I had the energy to get off my butt and do something about it, but I think I will say 'maybe later' and, well... maybe i'll get to it later.
I've been described as blunt and insensitive - although rarely to my face, which I find a bit annoying. As a teenager, I had a tendency to attempt to engage people in debates whether they liked it or not. This meant I would state a strong opinion and wait for a reaction.
I've grown up since then, and I realize that not everyone likes to debate, and I even tend to shy away from debates myself since I have discovered that stating honest opinions can permanently damage friendships.
I recently had a friend approach me about her new 'business' (opinion alert) - you know the type, the companies that sell a particular kind of product at high prices but no one seems to actually buy the product except the people who are supposed to be selling it? So the point of being a salesperson is not to plug the product as much as to plug SELLING the product. The whole thing seems strange and uncomfortable to me, but I readily admitted that I knew nothing about this particular company and agreed to check out her catalog and to do some research before making any judgement calls.
So I did a few Google searches and did some Wikipedia browsing and discovered all I needed to know to know that I wanted to run as far away as possible from this particular company. This put me in the difficult position of approaching my friend about it. Now, I'm not a fan of evasiveness. To simply not mention the issue until it comes up, and then skirt around it as much as possible is cowardly and stupid. If you really believe something - make sure you are really certain about WHY you believe something - that's why I like to do research, and then find a way to truthfully and tactfully vocalize it to the person it affects.
I want to note here, that I completely realize that the internet is not necessarily the greatest tool of research, and can have a lot of bad information. What I realized about the company was how it is viewed by the general population. It was my feeling that I did not want to associate myself with the public's perspective, just as I would not feel comfortable working for a company that was widely perceived as being highly unethical.
So, I had to approach my friend about my disinterest in her business. I realize that email and letter writing may seem cowardly, and maybe it is, but I've found that if I can write out my thoughts and read them over again to myself I can be sure that I am saying what I need to without coming across as insulting which I sometimes do when I'm speaking. I've found it to most often be a safer way to communicate. I wrote her an email. She hasn't responded in over a week.
Maybe it is just because it's Christmas, and she's busy, but I may be leaving one more person in the line of friends in my 'Honesty Wake'.
Consider this scenario. You are in a relationship with a person who is BAD for you. Not so bad that he/she beats you or steals from you or tells nasty lies about you behind your back, but just generally treats you badly. He/she controls what you do and who you hang out with, maybe he/she has a bit of a spending habit but gets really angry with you for spending any money on yourself. Maybe he/she is a mean person, or maybe your personalities are just really incompatible - like, if you are the kind of person to give until it hurts, and this person takes without even thinking about it, or appreciating it.
Would you want your closest friends to tell you the truth?
My answer to this is a resounding YES!!!!
When my husband and I were dating, I had previously been in a BAD relationship and had learned that when you are in a relationship you don't always see it very clearly, so I asked EVERYONE what they thought of my relationship with my new boyfriend. I asked my parents. I asked all of my friends - and I made them promise to tell me the truth. I asked our pastors and leaders in the church. His family was quite against our relationship and actually went to great lengths to ensure that we ended it, and although I was quite certain they were mistaken on a number of points, I couldn't shake the memory of my situation with my previous boyfriend. My previous boyfriend's mom was feeding my new boyfriend's parents information, which made the situation so much more complicated, but that's beside the point. And because I knew they COULD be right, I had to double check that no one else agreed with them.
Now, if my relationship with him was also bad, and none of my family or friends had the guts to tell me the truth, I would have felt completely abandoned when I discovered the truth for myself. I honestly would have felt as though my family and friends didn't care enough for my happiness to make sure I didn't get into something that might make me miserable for the rest of my life.
A few years back, I lost a friend to a situation like this - I think, anyway, she never actually told me why she stopped speaking to me. She became involved with and married a person who was actually a lot like me, so his weaknesses were glaring to me. She was the kind of sweet and wonderful person who would sacrifice the rest of her life for another person, and he seemed to be taking whatever she gave him without giving anything back. This is a struggle I have had always - I am self-centered and would easily take someone for granted - it was necessary for me to marry someone who can put his foot down once in awhile and make sure I don't take advantage of him. I could have been wrong about my friend, and I understand that, but she would come to me with situations she was concerned about and ask me what I thought about them. Note - SHE ASKED ME. Feeling very strongly about honesty, I had no choice but to tell her if his (or her) actions seemed off to me.
Anyway, she eventually stopped speaking to me and I heard vague reports from other people about why, and the whole situation still haunts me because although I feel very strongly about being honest, there is a part of me that wants to go back to her and tell her whatever lie would make her want to hang out with me again... We live very close together and have both had our first baby's within a year of each other. This is the kind of thing we dreamed about in college. But now we don't speak.
I guess the point of this story is to rant about how uncomfortable I feel in this world where people seem to want to hear what they want to hear over what may actually be the truth. For all of my friends out there - I will always want the truth, and whether you like it or not, you can always trust me to give it - or at least my honest opinion, whether I'm 'right' or not is totally up for discussion.
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