Princess Coma: How to survive as a feminist when your day is dictated by Disney Princesses

My name is Laura and I am a feminist.

That could mean anything.

What it doesn’t mean is that I am a man hater, because I don’t hate men. You people piss me off sometimes, but I love men. Seriously. A member of the I love men club.

Feminism is a broad movement with many little subdivisions.

I happen to be the type of feminist who was raised knowing women can do it all, but I’m not against hiring someone for manual labor, as I couldn’t put my arm back on if it were attached with velcro. If I were good at manual labor, I wouldn’t, but I’m not. I will say that in the past few months I have attempted gardening and landscaping, which hasn’t gotten too awful or too great, so I’m not lazy.

I’m the type of feminist who believes in owning our own sexuality–and not being subjugated by it. I believe that the sex industry perpetuates our dilemmas, but I also believe women have the right to choose their own destiny both sexually and as a person.

I am both Madonna and whore, and yet neither.

However, once I realized I was having a girl, I made sure to tell everyone: don’t indoctrinate my child with Disney princesses.

News Flash: There is no Prince Charming. There is just Prince “okay for you.” He may be Prince Charming for a little while, but no one can stand up to that type of idealization.  There is  also no need to stand like an idiot trapped in a castle, hoping someone will climb up your hair weave, a la Rapunzel, and save your skinny ass. If your stepmother hates you and poisons you with an apple, you will probably end up suffering. The chances of some guy riding up on a horse and saying, “Look at that–some cute chick is in a coma because she was poisoned. I better kiss her and make her better,” is about 0 in five billion.

I didn’t mind my kid reading fairy tales as it’s nice to enjoy the world and be altruistic as little kids often are, but I didn’t want her to get wrapped up in the romantic notion that women need to be saved by a more capable individual, i.e, a man, and that once you meet someone and fall in love, paradise awaits you.

Mother in-laws exist to banish that sort of fable anyway.

I digress.

I always liked the animals in Cinderella, and Snow White, but I was more of a Dorothy, Alice, or Laura Ingalls type of girl. That’s who I imagined I would be until Madonna came around, and then I wanted to prance around in lace outfits and crucifixes (who cares that I was raised Jewish. Have you seen how pretty those prayer beads are? Serious stuff man. I begged my Catholic friend to let me wear her rosaries. She said no. Party Pooper. Would have gone awesome with my denim jumper, huge clip-on hair bow, wigwam socks, and purple mascara.) Of course, let’s not even delve into the fact that Madonna was not exactly the most proper role model for me.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to hump a dog and go on a gondola in Italy with a lion, while I’m half-dressed.

Don’t worry, there were plenty of good influences in my life–I did want to be Pee-Wee Herman for most of my childhood–not that it helped, but damnit, I did not want to indoctrinate my kid into Disney.

Nope. Minnie Mouse? Sure–just don’t make me listen to Mickey for more than five minutes. That creature has the most annoying voice on the planet. Sadly, I do a good Mickey.  Going to Disneyland and seeing some of the classic movies? Sure. I’m not a totally nazi over the topic. I can imitate a Disney character and sing the songs with the best of them, but I just didn’t want my kid to idolize dimwitted princesses who probably were barefoot, pregnant, and living over a stove once the fairy tale lights were out.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter. Everyone else has introduced her to princesses as she’s a girl, so they think she’ll love them, and golly gee, would you know what?

She loves them.

She doesn’t think to herself that Cinderella probably prostituted herself out that night to get in to the upper echelons of society. She just loves the songs, mice, and dress.

And damnit, all day long in my head is the song, ‘We can Do it, We can do it, gonna help our Cinder-elle–ee, there’s really nothing to it. We’ll tie a sash around it. Put some ribbon to it.”

I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Sleeping Beauty, Tiana, Snow White, Ariel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Belle. I give them their vitamins, brush their teeth, and make sure they’re in the proper spot at meal time (to the left of my daughter’s high chair tray on our dining table.)

They join us in the potty.

They join us in the car.

I even have the dolls with the magic clip-on dresses.

My mom bought her a Cinderella Barbie, which I have yet to give to her.

When any other kid goes near the princesses, fire and brimstone erupt. I swear my child plots the death of these poor kids.

Note, she’s two and doesn’t want to share yet. Totally normal, but not as funny as she wails while trying to holding every damn doll in her hands.

All day long, my mind whirs of “Feed child, walk dog, where’s Cinderella did I lose her again?, wash dishes, write, apply for jobs, wipe kid’s butt, was Sleeping Beauty a narcoleptic or drug addict?, eat a snack, wash my hands, wash her hands, and don’t forget to wash Snow White’s too.”

Our day ends and begins with these little dolls, in which my child reenacts the most intricate and sometimes rather imaginative conversations with these dolls.

The other day, desperate for my kid to chill out, stop chatting, and start eating, I made Cinderella tell her, “Less Talking, More Eating.”

I knew having the ability to switch my voice would work to my advantage one day.

As “Cinderella” disciplined my daughter, she wanted nothing of it.

She turned to the Cinderella doll and said, “No Cinderella. I don’t like you anymore. Go back to your video. I’m not gonna to be your friend.”

Freaking 2 and she’s already pulling that “not gonna be your friend” business.

I told her that wasn’t very nice…and later on I heard her tell Cinderella:

“Let me give you a hug. I’m sorry I made a bad choice. I’m sorry I said I won’t be your friend.”

And then, to prove the apple is part of my tree, she dons a Cinderella voice and says, “I was disappointed in you. You made a bad choice.”

The “two” hug and make up.

When my daughter sees princess bikes, towels, shirts, toys, or dolls, she hovers over these items whether they belong to her or not, and is entranced.

I guess whether I want them or not, I am stuck with these princesses, and hell, I’ve even started to sing her some of the songs from my childhood.

Why not? Hopefully I won’t get my feminist card revoked.

What I really fear, more than being forced to watch Snow White or Cinderella twenty times, is the fear that my daughter will make men count more than herself.

That she will want so badly to matter to the opposite sex, that she will forget who she is. That she might end up bowing down to someone thinking, “he knows better.”

These fears are all from me. She’s only two. She is still smart enough to boss boys around and know that it works.

And being subjugated or bowing down to a man doesn’t just require a female with a bad self-image, but a male with a poor view of himself.

We need to be conscious of how we socialize both young men and young women. The conversation is not one-sided. It’s multifaceted and starts at home, continues at school, plays out in the media, and is then enacted in society.

My role as her mom is to expose her to many different goals, activities, people, and viewpoints, with the reassurance that who she is is wonderful, no matter what, as long as she respects herself and others.

This means that for now, I get to wear tiaras, and watch her reenact fairy tales that while they may hold no real bounds in life, they are wonderful, fanciful, and simple for her and her world.

If only we could capture that joy in the simple that children have, we would all be much happier.

Excuse me now…one of the princesses needs a bath and the other, a dress repair.

All in the day of the Queen.

The Joys of One: The Awesome Benefits of Being an Only Child

I know that many only children say how they wished for siblings or felt lonely growing up. I know people that say only children are brats and selfish. Too socially awkward. Too independent.

Screw that. Let’s talk about the awesome benefits of being an only kid. I myself, am raising an only. I happen to be the youngest of four girls, so these benefits are from my perspective, and not my kid’s, who is only two and too young to blog, but hell, she’s not too young to work. That kid needs to find some legitimate employment.

In any case, let me enlighten those that scorn the life of an only.

#1-Only Kids never get hand-me-downs.

As a kid, the dress I wore in my 1,2, and probably 3rd grade class photos are all hand-me-downs. I used to open my sister’s closets and say, “That’ll be mine soon.” While that was all sweet and dandy especially if I loved an item, I hated getting the hand-me downs. I wanted my own stuff, probably a bit greedy of me, but whatever.

When you get an ice cream cone, you don’t want it pre-licked do you?

Me neither. Three cheers for having your own clothes!

#2- Investment.

As a kid, I had asked to join a township activity but my parents didn’t have the money at the time. My sisters hadn’t had  that misfortune to miss out on activities, but guess what, I came at the wrong time apparently.

An only child is the only kid reaping the dividends, and that’s not so bad, especially when it comes time to  go to college.

Remember when Brandon and Brenda from 90210 fought over who got to go to private college or state school?

Not an only. They get whatever is available, whether it’s awesome or crappy, but at least there’s no one else having it better than you did!

#3-Your Own Freaking Name

By the time I went to school, every teacher called me by one of my sister’s names. I used to think they should just have called me, “Kid #4” or “DenaDebbieLIsa,” which are my sisters’ names.

As an only, there will be no one else to mistake you for, and no one to compare you to. You’re the one, the only, the golden child. You get to be the funny, cute, and smart one. You don’t have to live your life under some superlative that compares you both directly and indirectly to your siblings.


#4 Time.

As your parent, I get to have time for you. I don’t have to divide it up with some other child. You get all my time. In my house, that small bit of attention was divided by four. I can’t see how having your parent’s attention and time is all that bad, unless of course your parents happen to be psychos, in which case, you’re screwed anyway.

#5 Annoyances be gone!

I love my siblings. Everyone talks about how much kids love their siblings. Guess what? A good amount also hate their siblings. A good amount of people were decent kids and then bam–their parents decided to have another kid, and you know what? That kid sucked. Not all siblings are great. Not everyone is close to his or her siblings.

Yes, as an only kid my child will never be someone’s aunt, but she also won’t have to deal with any crazy siblings either.

The moral of the story?

Only children are not prone to a life of misery because they don’t have some other sibling to play with and break their toys or possibly screw their boyfriends. Siblings are great and people should reproduce as they feel fit and feel they can care for their kids, but don’t knock onlies.

Onlies get time, attention, and independence. They learn to be self-reliant and have a good amount of resources to help them succeed in life.

Really, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, do your research those who admonish families with onlies: Only kids are often happier.

Doing the 12 Steps: How to Back off and Let Fate take its course

Hi, I’m a “drive the bus”-aholic.

No,I’m not a bus-driver. You damn well would not want me to ever drive a bus or anything larger than a four-door car because I’m spatially challenged, short, and hate big cars.

What I mean is, I am the kind of person that will keep trying to make things work even if I am in a situation with another person who doesn’t seem to want to.

I just keep trying.

I think I can, I think I can, I think this. Freaking. Sucks.

I cannot solve the world’s problems in a day, or even ten years. I cannot make something happen all on my own whether it is a friendship, relationship, or working situation. I always feel that somehow, the answer and solution lies in me.

News Flash:

I’m not only not that special, but I cannot control other people.

I cannot make the horse drink the specially-filtered water I brought for her.

I can only bring the horse the nice water, and then walk away.

This is when I fail. I truly believe if only I do everything right or keep trying, that it will go my way.

This is charming when it comes to pursuing a dream or not giving up on giving good oral, or continuing to be patient with my kid, but when it comes to relationships, it isn’t cute.

It is draining. It is draining, unsatisfying, and humiliating at times, when you are the one going, “Rah-rah, sush-koom-baa!” and the other party in the scenario is looking at paint dry.

If you find yourself like me, feel comfort that you’re not the only one who tries so hard, only to feel like you’re steering the boat alone.

There is something to be said in walking away sometimes.

The Baby (ies) I never had: A Plea to the Medical Field

I was at the park today with my daughter when it happened. All it takes is one sight,smell, taste, or sound, and I remember my last pregnancy.

Summer time reminds most people of pools, ice cream, sunburn, long days, sweaty nights, sex on the beach, and reggae until the break of dawn.

For me? I am able to conjure up all those things, but I also remember vomiting. I remember vomiting, vomiting, and vomiting. I remember a very cruel family member standing at the edge of my bed telling me to “Put on some lipstick. Maybe it will make you feel better. Hurry up and get better.” This person was saying this after I had been unable to keep anything down–food or liquid–for four days…despite being on IV fluids around the clock and the highest dose of Zofran, an anti-nausea medication through my PICC line. My doctor had been telling me I was a candidate for TPN and steroids, yet I was only 7 weeks pregnant. Side effects are: birth defects and death.

I remember trying to eat watermelon. I remember calling people desperately for help. Help with laundry, cleaning, meal-making for my daughter and husband. I remember the pleas of “Mommy, pick me up, pick me up!” from my 16-month old.

I remember the nastiest piece of garbage resident, who treated me like a piece of garbage as I lay there on a hospital bed, barely able to urinate, despite being on fluids for two whole weeks, around the clock.

I wonder when I will ever be okay with this. That I won’t have that baby, or another baby most likely, ever.

That I will never feel the kicking of a child inside me again. That I will never see an image on a screen of my soon-to be child, and wonder who he or she looks like.

That when my daughter looks longingly out the window at other kids, that I will most likely, never give her someone to play with.

I hate that a special and lovely day with my daughter at the park is ruined by this memory that came up from nowhere. It took the sight of one familiar object to bring me to this place I had forgotten for quite some time.

Some people think I’m whiny because hey, I have one beautiful and healthy child. I should be grateful. Who cares if I threw up and my body basically shuts down when I’m pregnant? No Big deal. I should just accept the losses, and move on, and shut up.

Guess what?

When men discovered the cure for the erectile dysfunction, the world shouted hurray. Plenty of men with worthwhile penises needed this cute, and I can’t blame them for wanting it.

I want to know, OBGYN’s around the world, when are you going to educate yourself on hyperemesis? Some people puke when they’re pregnant, sure, but then there are others who do more than just puke. We puke until we lose teeth, ruin our bodies, lose our vision, and lose our babies either to miscarriage or abortion. Some women die.

When will you give a shit, doctors of the world, that some of us can’t just take a little ginger and crackers? That Zofran, the cure-all for those with average or sometimes severe sickness, isn’t a cure-all?  That Reglan, another common nausea drug, while helpful for some, drives the rest of us crazy? It made me have neurological tics, tightness in my throat, and anxiety like you wouldn’t believe. And with all that, it still didn’t make me feel a lick better.

I just want to know that other than one researcher from UCLA, the medical field cares.  That other than people are listening and creating change for those of us with hyperemesis. People had a hey-day when Kate Middleton was diagnosed with hyperemesis, but even her case doesn’t come close to describing what the most extreme patients like myself dealt with.

Please care medical world, and OBGYNS of the United States of Opportunity.

I will probably never dare to get pregnant again, unless I end up with more support and my career can take another year leave of absence, but I care for my daughter, who is at risk of having hyperemesis in pregnancy since I did.

I want my daughter to not have it like I did. I want her to have as many babies as she likes and can care for, (maybe she won’t want any–that’s fine!) without having to compromise her health, marriage, and life.

I want other daughters and women who still want kids and have had HG to have that chance that I probably will never have.

I care because it robbed me of a healthy pregnancy, and robbed my daughter of a sibling. It shot my career, finances, and pursuits in the foot, and strained my marriage.

I want people to start caring. Pregnancy is not supposed to be some death-enabling stunt. It is supposed to be hard, yes, but not life-risking. Science has helped many women conceive babies, so why not start to help those who struggle after conception?

I was given one amazing and intelligent daughter. I never forget that. I never forget a moment of what it felt like during pregnancy. The first year of my daughter’s life was literally one of my happiest years ever. I was so strained during pregnancy that post-birth, I feasted on all the oxytocin nursing provided me with. I looked at my daughter daily and felt a gratitude words cannot express. I know many cannot have that feeling. That cribs are empty and hearts are void for life for some folks who cannot have kids.

This doesn’t make my losses, our losses, any smaller.

One day I will have to sit down with my daughter and tell her about my three pregnancies. I will have to tell her about how hard and sad they were at times because if I don’t, she may succumb to it in her own pregnancies, and I want her to understand if she does, her feelings are normal.

Many women with hyperemesis gravidarium do not recover fast after birth. Many women suffer post-partum depression and anxiety, PTSD, and numerous physical issues. For the longest time, I could not go into my bedroom for long without feeling panic and sadness because I had lived in my bedroom sick as a dog, all to end up with nothing.

I measured my life in minutes. I could only get through an hour. My chest burned, my heart rate was beyond rapid–150 laying in a bed–and my vision blurred.

I want my daughter to have better.

It’s time to learn about the condition OBGYN’s. You’re not all that savvy in this illness. Medical professionals need to be trained. Nurses, techs, doctors, etc. The nurse who looked at me with my PICC line and said, “Oh just morning sickness,” should have gotten kicked in her uterus for her insensitivity, but I was living on ice chips, and didn’t have the strength.

For those of you in New Jersey, I wanted to share that my OBGYN at the time, Dr. Van Horn, was amazing and compassionate. My high-risk doctor, Dr. Fernandez was as well. In my last pregnancy, Dr. Tal was direct, caring, and educated. Miriam Erick, a nutritionist an HG specialist, was also supportive and helpful to me.

There are professionals who care, but the amount is minute, and the lack of knowledge and treatment in the medical field is astounding and disgusting.

Wake up, people. Women are suffering, and the costs to treat HG patients in the hospitals are astounding. It’s better financially to provide better treatment.

For those family members whose wives, daughters, sisters, or cousins are suffering, try to be empathetic. Imagine starving for days on end. Months. Imagine vomiting for days on end. Months.

Do you think you would be happy?

I may never see another positive pregnancy test again, and if so, may I survive it, but I think for a very long time, I will always say good-bye to those babies.

Goodbye to you that I never knew. Goodbye to you who daughter will never call brother or sister.

Good night to you, and let peace come onto me.

Maybe there will be a summer in which I do not cry for you and miss you.

A few indicators your toddler is happy. Hint: pinching nipples is one indicator

I always wonder if I am doing a good job or not as a parent.

Friends say to me, “Look, she’s very very happy, and clearly smart and healthy. You’re ok, kiddo.”

I would have to agree that I have a happy kid, but I figured I might as well qualify how I have decided she is happy, or partially like her mom, a little looney.

#1 Singing. Constantly.

My daughter sings to anyone. To herself. She will tell you not to sing, “That’s my song, mommy.”

She spent an hour and half car ride singing and reading her book to her stuffed animals.

She barely wanted me in the conversation. She didn’t mind when I talked to her, but she didn’t need me.

Mommy, I’m busy here, okay?

#2 Pinching Nipples

The other day after an hour attempt to find parking at the beach–ps., we live fifteen minutes away–  my daughter came home all wound up. She was sad at not being able to see the ocean, but after awhile, she began to play happily. An hour later, she pulls off her clothes, and starts running around, laughing, and…pinching her nipples.

“Stop pinching your nipples and put your clothes back on!”

I can’t believe that was even part of my daily “discipline.”

A happy child is a naked child?

#3 Thank you Mommy

Randomly, my daughter will thank me for taking her to places. Sometimes, they are places worth thanking me for like the park, beach, or a playdate.

Other times, she thanks me for taking her to the doctors…or to the food store in which we dodge a bunch of grouchy old people and women with their ta-ta’s hanging out, but not pretty ta-ta’s, in which case, that would be cool.

I either have a very happy, grateful child, or one who is so sick of being home inside with me that looking at a bunch of crazy people seems like fun to her.

#4 Forgiveness

Sometimes I lose my patience. When I do, I feel so guilty, like the worst piece of crap anyone has ever known.

“I’m sorry for making a bad choice and getting upset with you. Mommies make mistakes too. Can I have a hug and kiss?”

And each time, she does. Each time, she says with her displays of affection that she forgives me for being a little rotten that minute, just as I do for her.

Maybe I am not too shabby of a mother…today.