Letter to my first born,  second born …and third born
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I’ve been thinking. Thinking about what kind of a mom I am, what kind I want to be and whether or not I remembered to close my daughter’s window in her room.

To my first born: I’m sorry for everything I didn’t know. I didn’t realize that that specific cry meant you were gassy because I had indulged in a lentil salad the night before and then proceeded to breastfeed you. I thought shampooing your hair, okay bald head every night would help you sleep better not that it would give you a bad cold at 2 months. I didn’t mean to shove the pacifier in your mouth every time you cried, it was just something that sort of happened and you seemed to like it. My bad. You probably hated me when I decided it was too much dummy soothing time and that we had to cut you off cold turkey two months in. I’m sorry for recording every single cry, documenting every single arm movement and step in utero and out. I experienced all these moments through the lens of a camera but forgive me, it was all too exciting to not replay back for complete strangers.

To my second born (now almost 8 weeks old): I’m sorry I didn’t eat as well as I should have the whole 9 months. In fact, I really hope you forgive me for turning reese’s pieces and bowls of cereal into a nutritious lunch. I’m sorry you were squished and forced to retreat to a corner on the right side of the abdomen on numerous occasions when I was trying to give your sister a bath. I’m sorry I didn’t diligently write in your journal every night as I did with your sister. Some nights I could barely scribble down what I had eaten and convince myself (and in turn hope to convince you) that this was my latest craving when I wasn’t too sure if I had even enjoyed it. I’m sorry for forgetting what week I was half the time and ignoring your kicks and waves the other half. Thank you for being so cooperative with deadlines and your sister’s playful high fives on my tummy. Hope those weren’t too annoying.

To my third…I know I’m going to be the most chilled with you. The most relaxed, the most at ease and the most confident. Or so I think because the thought of you seems so far in the future now that I can predict and promise and commit to all sorts of things I surely won’t follow through on.

Despite all my past and future shortcomings, I am not sorry. I am not sorry that I will try to be the best mother I can be for the rest of my life. I am not sorry that whatever trials come my way, I will fight tooth and nail to give you the best life possible. I am not sorry that I will be with you for as long as I can through this beautiful, exciting and challenging thing we call life. Too bad guys, you’re stuck with me!

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All mamas have to pay their dues
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Every morning I get up at 5:30. My daughter usually gets up at 6:00. I wish I could tell you that I spend those 30 minutes making good use of the time. I really should spend those 30 minutes sleeping, or on the treadmill or baking something. Anything. Instead, I lie there and watch her on the monitor as she sings her half assed ABCs and pretends to change her dolls’ diapers. She actually says, “hold still” only it comes out as “hosill”. And really sounds more like an Asian dish than a command.

After the chaos of breakfast, refusal to wear shoes and breakdown about NOESCOOL – no school, we finally succeed in a complete nursery drop off, my day starts. I head to the same café almost every day no, not so much because the food is good but more so because of convenience. As a mom, convenience means that you can leave mid meal in case of an emergency, forget to pay your bill, and that the bathrooms are clean.

Today, I’m sitting where I always sit, sipping on my usual extra lemony iced lemonade to fight the nausea that seems to be the perfect accessory to any woman’s final stretch of pregnancy. Only today there was something totally different in my line of sight. Very much like a mirage, or unbelievable shiny unicorn, that I had just seen, I couldn’t stop staring. There she was, looking relaxed, holding a book which was actually marked more than 5 pages in. And the best part? She wasn’t alone. She was with her daughter. Okay, so she wasn’t a toddler. She was probably around 8 but, still there was a child with her. An actual child. Yes, sure, this child was potty trained and was clearly tech savvy holding some sort of a mini telephone sized ipad that was posing as a multi functional distraction.

And so, to this lady I can honestly say I am jealous. She sat there for an hour and didn’t ask once if her daughter had to make poopoo….she wasn’t leaning over feeding her. Or saying “no, put it down” or “not in your mouth” or “that’s not how we behave” or “stop it” …

An hour into them sitting next to me I glanced over to see if they had fallen asleep or if they had ordered the bill without me noticing, paid, and left. Probably to go home and braid each others hair? Nope still here. Still reading next to each other. I don’t know how I’m going to get my daughter to sit still without me pretending to read “homemade tagliatelle” as “all children must stay seated in their highchair or their lunch will not be served”. Not the most clever threat but hey, it’s worked so far. At least with my two year old.

It was refreshing not to glance over and see a mom struggling with trying to put her child to sleep with a half erotic shake to post miniscule feed. Mostly because Gina Ford said so, you know, in one of her thousands of schedules. No, this was a fresh perspective…a quick look into the future that there was, in fact, light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sure that she has her own worries, concerns and battles she’s fighting her daughter on every morning. But for now? For now, I’m jealous. She actually ate her whole plate of pasta, managed to go to the bathroom alone and enjoy a bit of silence.

Ahhh..how many more years do I have until I’m there? She’s paid her dues and for now I have to pay mine…at least for a few more years. Until then though, I guess I’ll just try to “hosill” and enjoy it all.

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Eenie, Minni, Mienie… how about “Mo”?
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Fact: Boy names are much harder to come up with than girl names. They just are. Particularly so, when you don’t necessarily want it to sound like it’s from a specific country. I mean, “Sara” is pretty international.

However, here’s a confession: I hate my name. Yes, yes, I know it means princess or whatever but I hated the commonality of it growing up.  There was always at least 3 other Saras in the same class as me, 2 prettier Saras at the same dinner party, and at least one of my ex-boyfriends in college had refused to date a girl unless her name was yup, you got it – Sara. And the sad part is you’d think that limited his selection. It really didn’t. He dated around five in total.

I now appreciate the fact that I can go anywhere and everyone will know how to say and spell my name without any tense confrontations friends who are named “Souraya” have to deal with. So, that’s the sort of thing we wanted for our little unnamed pasta pieces! For Gnocchi, we wanted something international, but also with enough “Arabness” to keep our parents happy.

Thankfully my husband was not the eldest boy in the family where he would have had to, according to Middle Eastern tradition and culture, named his son after the father’s name. That’s not so bad if our parent’s generation had semi-international names but most of them don’t, and I for one did not want to name my child Hafeeza or Abdel Mook Majid. Yes, both very strong and ethnic names but just not “right” for us.

Then came the suggestions. Please take note that the suggestions come even before you know the sex. Yes, that’s right. You can be as early as 6 weeks pregnant and the conversations of “If it’s a boy,” or “If it’s a girl,” begin with no end in sight. People really have way too much time on their hands. Good intentions, but still, overbearing. Especially when these suggestions are thrown your way by complete strangers, i.e: distant relatives. Needless to say, I do a whole lot of smiling and nodding, and ignore.

At the end of the day my husband knew it was going to be hard. After all, it took us months to give Gnocchi her real name. Three months and we had a workable list. This was now crunch time. I was five months’ pregnant and we were running out of realistic options. We came up with this annoying game where we would spend a few hours on each letter and come up with at least 3 choices under each. That of course, didn’t go well and we ended up in a fight. It turned into a game of “name your exes” for some reason. So, for now, Cannoli will have to do!

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Gender reveal party…or let down?
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One of the biggest milestones of any mommy-to-be’s journal is (cue dramatic music) the sex reveal party. Everyone wants to know, guess, and interview you.

“What did you eat and crave? Dairy? Ahhhh then it’s a girl.” “All you wanted to eat were sour things and you couldn’t stand your husband? You’re going to have a boy!”

There are countless traditions and tests online that one can undergo to find out the sex of the baby. I married a… hmmm … how can I put this nicely, a control freak and obsessive planner? Yea, that sounds just about right. He refused to leave it as a surprise.

With Gnocchi, I was convinced I was having a boy. My belly underwent analysis, “If you lose your hips first it’s a girl and if your belly grows out it’s a boy.” That was the least intrusive and least insulting of the comments. I got numerous, “Ohhh wow…you look amazing (as though that was such a rare thing) for sure it’s a girl…you look completely different.” Um, thanks?

With Cannoli, I wasn’t sure. I kept swinging back and forth boy, girl, before ultimately ending up (prep yourself for the cliché please) where most pregnant women end up: “Who cares what gender as long as they’re healthy and happy.”

Our appointment was today and I kept reminding myself (mostly my mother-in-law who so desperately wants a boy now) that it’s a win-win situation. When I try to lead by example and assure her that, “I would be happy with either” she responds with, “No, no, me too, but more happy with a boy.” How can I argue with that?

A boy would mean a brother for Gnocchi. Someone to make sure she wasn’t all that girly, a fear I am beginning to have because she seems to think paint is “dirty.” I’m serious. The nursery called me to say, “Ummmm yea…your daughter is refusing to touch paint. Maybe you should work on that at home?” I (as most new moms do) got defensive and tried to deflect the question/comment by responding with, “Mmmhmmm…and what type of paint are you exactly using?”

A boy would offer the non-BS unemotional truth about…anything. Most of all, a boy would mean a double agent. A spy on the inside. He could potentially help her better understand this strange Mars-derived gender.

Another girl would mean that we would be saving tons of money. Actually, not really because I’m semi allergic to hand-me-downs and don’t think it’s “fair” for one child to wear new items of clothing and another to wear pomegranate-stained, semi-ripped dresses. But, in principle I’d be saving money. Another girl would mean a sister. A best friend for life. A giver of the honest advice you will swallow easily. Tips and tricks on how to sneak out, talk to boys, perfect your awfully awkward dance moves and be a good mom. Most importantly though? Another girl would mean perfected performances of “Let it Go” from Frozen.

So, we found out. It’s official. We saw the…umm …his equipment. I’m happy of course, but I have to admit a teeny tiny part of me is a little bit disappointed. A boy meant that I couldn’t get the matching Anna and Elsa costumes. I couldn’t justify letting them skip school while memorizing the songs. And definitely no street-side “Let it go” performances to make some extra cash. I was crushed. That is, until a friend said that Cannoli could always play the role of Olaf. How perfect is that?  An Anna and an Olaf. And no, Olaf is not on our list of names.

In all seriousness though, I am so excited to start a new adventure with a little boy. I’ll soon have one of each, a brother and a sister, and what it all boils down to, is they are both healthy and happy! Which really is what matters. And, Olaf will look so cute!

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Preggo Lingo: first crymester, second frymester, third buymester
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Preggo lingo: So I’ve coined the following three terms: first crymester, second frymester, third buymester. They make more sense to me than this “trimester” trend. I mean, really what use is a trimester when we are preggo for 10 months anyway? It tells you absolutely nothing of what’s in store.

I wanted some detail. All moms-to-be and preggo moms are on the desperate hunt for those details. How much, what happens when, what fluids to expect, and above all else – what is normal!?

So what should all you newly preggo moms out there expect? Well, the first crymester, as I’ve called it, is exactly what the name entails. Yup, a whole lot of crying. No, no, much more than you’re imagining.

I’m talking about a lot of tears. Largely without reason. Well, some with reason but no reason that can be logically justified or rationally explained.

Here’s what happens: there will be an incident. Any type of incident and you, or whoever is pregnant within a 50-mile radius of this incident, will sob. And sob. And sniffle. And forget about why you’re crying in the first place and then vaguely remember and clutch on so tightly to that distant memory of why you’re “upset” and exploit it. You put that memory on a pedestal and do a traditional Indian rain dance (of course, because it’s dramatic enough and because tears are made of salt and water). So, stock up on tissues, delete any Sam Smith iTunes downloads and make sure to warn your husband in these first few months. God help him.

The second frymester is where you’re kind of feeling a bit better about being pregnant. Your nausea has somewhat subsided and you’re ready to ingest some food. Okay, at least more than a cracker or two. Congratulations you can semi tolerate being around your husband and are back down to showering only once a day because you no longer feel “disgusting” and “gross,” as recent polls have shown that all women, actually an astounding 98% feel that way in the first three months. You’re suddenly starving. As though you’ve never eaten before. Then like an avalanche (really stupid analogy?) it comes at you. You crave anything and everything fried. Deep fried. Double fried. Fried in butter batter or any batter. It is starting to get better for you at this point and now you actually understand why people have more than one child. I mean, at least a little bit more than during those moments of dry heaving over a toilet. Or trashcan. Or your friend’s purse.

The third buymester is when panic mode sets in. You have been so worried about all the tests until now that not only have you essentially not enjoyed the entire process but you have also not bought anything on all the lists you researched and printed out from the thousands of “useful links” you’ve bookmarked. Suddenly you are Russell Crowe from that scene in A Beautiful Mind. You rattle off numbers and objects and where to find them all with messy arrows mapping out your “efficient trip to the mall” where you convince your husband you can purchase and finish everything in an hour. It pretty much looks like this:

 

BPost 4

Final word? There is nothing rational about being pregnant.  You can categorize these nine (actually ten months!) under these cutely named umbrellas as I’ve done here, but that won’t change the reality of it. Each stage is just that – a stage. You will cry, crave, and consume retail items you don’t need. Just try and enjoy it for what it is: a process with some hip lingo.

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