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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

#Diversity

#Diversity


Mom Films Video For The Son She Put Up For Adoption So He’ll Always Know He Was Wanted

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:43 AM PST

Here’s video proof that adoption is a selfless act of true love

Deciding to place a baby for adoption is an extremely difficult decision to make, even if you know it’s what’s best for you and your child. Hannah Mongie of Utah wanted her newborn son to always understand how much she loves him, so mere hours before he was placed with his adoptive parents, she filmed herself explaining her reasoning in hopes that he would watch it when he gets older.

In the now-viral video that was shared to the Love What Matters Facebook page, a tearful Mongie explains to baby Taggart why she hand-picked another couple to raise him. “This is my son, Tagg, whom I placed for adoption in March of 2016,” she wrote in the video’s description. “This video was created so that he would be able to look back and know that this decision was made purely out of love for him. He will never have to think that I ‘gave him up’ or that I did not love him. He will always be able to know that I loved him more than anyone else in this world.”

She pours her heart out to the baby, saying everything she’s feeling in hopes of answering all the questions he may have in the years to come. “Right now, is the last hour of those two days before I send you off to Brad and Emily and then you’re going to be their little boy,” she tells him. “And I just want you to know that I really love you so much. More than I’ve ever loved any other human in the whole world.”

“I just wanted to let you know that I love you and I made this decision completely out of love and if I didn’t love you I wouldn’t be in the position at all and you wouldn’t have this awesome family,” she says.

Mongie was 18 when she became pregnant. Taggart’s father, Kaden, was 20. As she explains in the video, he was super excited about her pregnancy. “He loved you so much from the very, very beginning,” she tells the baby. “At my eight-week appointment with you I heard your heartbeat for the first time and he wasn’t there for it, he was in class so I texted it to him and he ran out, he was so excited! From then on he couldn’t be happier.”

Mongie tells Scary Mommy that while the couple was committed to each other, they decided on adoption together. “We were both young with little to no college or work experience, so we decided together to choose an adoption plan. We both felt an immense amount of peace about it, so we started to look at families,” she says.

But two days after Kaden heard the baby’s heartbeat, his own stopped. “His mother called me and told my mother and I that he had passed away in his sleep,” Mongie explains. An autopsy came back inconclusive, and it was determined he died from natural causes.

Image via Hannah Mongie

For a long time she couldn’t bear to think about the adoption plan they’d discussed for their son. “I didn't get out of bed for two months after Kaden's death,” she said. “And I most certainly was not going to even think of the word adoption! That was not going to be an option for me because Taggart was my last piece of Kaden.”

In the end it was Mongie’s overwhelming desire to put her son’s needs first that made her circle back to her adoption plan. “Over time though, I learned that Tagg was his own person. He was not his father, and he needed a chance at the life he deserved,” she says.

Image via Hannah Mongie

Using Adoption.com, she selected Tagg’s adoptive parents, Emily and Brad Marsh. She says she knew instantly this was the perfect couple to raise her son. “Emily and I talked about everything under the sun in under two days. I had asked every difficult question out there and all of her answers blew me away beyond belief,” Mongie shares. The two started to go on ‘dates’ and spent time together throughout the pregnancy. “We put his nursery together, we had baby showers, and we hung out with each other's families all the time,” she shares.

Now, almost two years later, Mongie is able to let Tagg know how much she loves him. Mongie and the Marshes have an open adoption, though Mongie says the phrase doesn’t fully capture their relationship. “I don't really see it as an ‘open adoption’ so much as I see them as just family,” she says. “My parents call all of Brad and Emily's kids their grandkids. We get them all Christmas and birthday gifts as if they are our kids. Everyone's extended families have just taken each other in as their own. We are just family.”

Image via Hannah Mongie

All the adults in Tagg’s life realize that having more people to love a child isn’t cause for jealousy, it’s a reason to celebrate. “Emily is still one of my best friends in the world and she is everything I want to be in a mother and a person. I will brag about her until the day I die,” says Mongie. “She has been so selfless in letting my family love her own. She is my hero. And I love that she lets me love Tagg as his other mother. We are both confident in our roles in his life and it has been such a blessing for all of us.”

Mongie says it was important for her to document on video her reasoning behind the adoption placement for her son to see one day, even if it was hard to film.”I wanted Tagg to see and hear how real and raw the experience actually was. I wanted him to know that I loved him more than everything in this world and that his father loved him as well. And that I loved and trusted his new family to love him and take care of him like he deserved. ”

She never intended the video for her son to go viral. “The only reason my video ended up on YouTube is because my iCloud would no longer let me keep it on my phone,” she jokes. She says she’s been blown away by the response, and hopes all the attention will make more people consider open adoptions. “I hope I can use this experience to help spread the word about open adoption and that we can normalize it, because it is so healthy not just for the child, but everyone else that's involved as well,” she says.

Image via Hannah Mongie

Although Kaden’s death was an untimely tragedy, Mongie points out that all birth mothers deserve to be supported in their decision, regardless of the circumstances. “I hope people understand that even though Kaden died, my video is nothing different than what almost every birth mother goes through,” she explains. “I have seen so many relate in this exact way. My story is no different than any birth mother's. Each birth mother deserves a hug and all of the happiness in the world. “

Ashley Graham Shares Her Own Gut Wrenching #MeToo Experience

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:12 AM PST

Ashley Graham was 17 when she was sexually assaulted

While discussing the #MeToo movement on The View, model Ashley Graham shared her own sexual assault story and it’s gut-wrenching. She was only 17 when a coworker forced himself on her.

Sexual harassment, abuse, and assault have long-lasting consequences for survivors. “I just prayed that no one would find out,” the model said. “Because if they found out that he did that to me, I thought ‘I’m never going to get hired for a job again. I’m going to be the difficult model; nobody’s going to want to work with me again.'”

Graham was on set for a big photo campaign when an unnamed assistant said, “come here, I want to talk to you.” She said he lured her into a hallway then shoved her into a closet. Then he exposed himself and said, “Look at what you did to me all day long, now touch it,” Graham explained.

Graham shared her experience during a conversation about photographer Terry Richardson — who has been accused of a range of sexual misconduct from several models including Caron Bernstein who said the photographer raped her. Graham — who has modeled since her teens — worked with Richardson, and described to the ladies of the view what that was like. “I got the call to do the job, and of course, you know the rumors, you’ve heard them from everyone about him,” she explains. “And I said yes to the job, because you want to work with the best of the best — you want those images in your portfolio.” She was eighteen. “On set with him, it was normal enough. But of course you have that feeling of, ‘Is he going to ask me to take my shirt off?”” Young women are put in this position all the time — and it’s not okay. And it’s certainly not their fault.

Now that the #MeToo movement has dominated national news, Graham, like many women, feels more emboldened to take a stand. The model shared how the movement would’ve changed her reaction to the incident when she was 17. “If I knew what I knew now…I would’ve smacked that guy,” she explained. “I would’ve been like, ‘He’s a pedophile!’… He’s being completely dishonest, irresponsible – I probably would’ve just started screaming, I would’ve called my agency.”

The women and men who have shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault as part of the #MeToo movement are helping all of us finally deal with this overdue issue. As a society, we’re becoming more comfortable talking about solutions. “The movement is working,” Graham says. “I really feel like there’s women who are standing up and saying ‘No. Me too. And I’m going to watch out for my sisters on set.'”

The Car Seat Explainer Video Every Parent Needs To Watch Is Here

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 05:53 AM PST

Having kids means car seats — lots of them. It also means questions, lots and lots of questions. How do you know if the angle is right? When should they be front-facing? When should they be in a booster? We know it can be totally confusing. We get it, and that’s why we’re here to give you the straight talk, mother-to-mother. Get ready to be momsplained.

For more useful information, check out these links:

When Should Your Child Turn Forward-Facing?

When Is a Child Ready to Use a Booster Seat?

What Is Latch? (talks about lower anchors and tethers)

Car Seat Inspection Help from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Side-By-Side Photo Calls Out Nursing Bra Ads For Unrealistic Standards

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 05:02 AM PST

Mom posts side-by-side nursing bra photos prove that representation matters

Representation matters, period. Especially when it comes to buying women’s clothes, undergarments, and bathing suits — because when we don’t see people who look like us, we’re told the way we look as we currently exist isn’t good enough. You know who doesn’t need any of that garbage? Postpartum moms shopping for nursing bras.

Luckily mom blogger and public speaker Ana of Power to Prevail recently called out the unrealistic expectations brought forth by nursing bra ads.

Instagram Photo

In the post, Ana says she’s less than a month postpartum from the birth of her third child. And, like any newly breastfeeding mom — she knows you need a good amount of nursing bras. But she was dismayed when coming across a bra ad that showed a thin, taut, six-pack toting model. In an ad for nursing bras.

“What happens in the absence of representation?” she writes. “Our brain recognizes that of all the examples of what a brand new mom is ‘supposed’ to look like, that most of us don’t even come close.”

Instagram Photo

New moms are so damn vulnerable about body image — couple that with hormones and the pressure to “bounce back” we all get from society anyway, and it’s that much more frustrating to see an edited photo of a fitness model wearing a nursing bra.

“We start the comparing and that’s when our self image goes to sh*t because you can’t compete with a edited photo,” Ana writes. “Also, I can guess this model is not exactly 2 days out from giving birth like I was in the picture on the right and THAT is who is buying these bras.”

Instagram Photo

God, she is so right. Because you will live in those things 24/7 during the first few months. You need ones for going out in public, and lots for staying in and not giving AF. I was incredibly naive and only bought one — one– nursing bra whilst pregnant, so yeah, I spent my entire first week home thanking the gods that be for two-day Amazon shipping.

Seeing a woman who looked more fit than I did A DECADE AGO modeling the sexless, shapeless nude breastfeeding brassiere I added to my cart was… not great. Ana, who decided to start modeling to represent moms on her Instagram page says she felt the same way.

“Since no one else seemed to bring up the issue then I assumed it was just me and that brought so much shame,” she tells Scary Mommy. “When I began this project, it was with the intention of showing that there are so many different ways our bodies look after pregnancy and other life events and that it’s totally normal and OK.”

“A part of me almost didn’t because we have this ‘I’m a nobody’ mentality but realizing that no company represents a mother’s body, I just starting doing it myself,” she says.

Commenters on her post seem to agree that a change is needed when it comes to marketing to moms and their bodies:

“The response has been incredible and the message for moms is just because you don’t see a body that looks like yours, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you,” she says. “It means companies marketing to you is failing to represent you.”

She encourages fellow moms to be kind to ourselves. The transition from “glowingly pregnant” to “get this baby out of me before I explode” to “I no longer recognize any part of my body” is overwhelming for all of us.

Instagram Photo

“The way you see and acknowledge this transitioning is so important,” her initial post concludes. “Otherwise, we become distracted by the unimportant and unrealistic things. Focus on your recovery and your babe(s) and forget the lies we’re constantly being fed. You deserve truth, love, excitement, joy, sleep, and more. Just the way you are. You’ve done and are more than enough.”

This Is What It’s Like To Struggle With Secondary Infertility

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST

Secondary infertility. That is the term my OB-GYN threw at me a few months ago as I sat in the exam room discussing my options. My husband and I decided the timing was right two years ago and that we were ready to try for baby number two. We were excited about the prospect of completing our family. But, as each month came and went the excitement quickly turned into anxiety and disappointment, and now here we sit two years later with no baby and a mountain of heartache.

Our daughter is four years old and it took about nine months and a few rounds of Clomid to conceive her. This time around, my doctor started me on Clomid right away. And I just assumed it would work this time too, but it didn't.

After six months of Clomid and lab work, our doctor recommended artificial insemination. The timing was terrible and to be perfectly honest, we were not convinced that was the path for us. I did some research and learned that the procedure is only 10-20% effective. Considering the expense, the procedure itself, and the relatively low chances that it would even work, we opted to just keep trying to good old-fashioned way.

I tried acupuncture, massage, essential oils, partook in some ridiculous old wives' tales (ate lots of pineapple!), and I hate to admit it, but I even spoke to a psychic who assured me I'd be pregnant by the fall or the next reading was on her. And, I just prayed for a sign. A sign that this dream of a baby would come to fruition. A sign from God…come to me in a dream, please!  But if there was a sign, I missed it.

I kept tracking my cycles, taking ovulation tests and reminding my husband it was time to do the deed…timed intercourse anybody? Isn't it just magical when timed intercourse falls right in the middle of a marital spat? Please tell me we aren't the only couple who had mad timed intercourse.

It is not lost on me that there are couples who have struggled with infertility for much longer than my husband and I have and there are days that I wonder if I even have the right to feel the way I feel. Especially since we have a daughter. But then I think about how heavy my heart has been and how many tears I've cried — my husband too — and I think: why should anyone feel like they have to earn their grief?

My husband and I decided a year ago that we would try until the end of this year and here we are. My feelings on the topic change daily, sometimes hourly. Some days I think about our little family of three and I feel happy and lucky. Other days I feel sad that I couldn't give our daughter a sibling. I never pictured our family as complete with one child, that was definitely not the plan. Coming to terms with the fact that this entire situation is out of my control has been extremely difficult. Every month that I work up the nerve to take a pregnancy test and get a negative result is harder than the last. How much longer can I stand to walk by an empty crib? How much longer should I keep holding on to baby toys, bottles, and those precious teeny tiny clothes?

Nobody really knows how deep my hurt runs. Trust me, it's deep. It's a heartbreak that I feel in my bones. I've got an amazing group of friends who have listened to me, cried with me, and have supported me. It seems like most people are cautious about asking couples if they are going to start a family or add to their family. You never know what people are going through. I can appreciate that. But I also think we shouldn't be afraid to talk about it. I didn't tell people that we were trying for a long time because I didn't want to jinx it. After months went by though, I realized I needed to talk to someone about what my husband and I were struggling with. And we should talk about it. There's no reason that your friend, sister, someone you care about or someone you barely know should have to feel like they have to suffer in silence.

Sometimes people would say "stop worrying about it and it will happen," but you know, that's just a thing that people say. What do you say to a friend who just had an IVF procedure fail or a friend that had a miscarriage. There's nothing you can say. All you really want to do is say anything that will make them feel better. I found myself twisting people's words round and round in my head. The "if it's meant to be…" or "everything happens for a reason" sayings come to mind. What is the reason we couldn't conceive?  Am I a bad person?  A bad parent?  Do I have bad karma?  What did I do wrong?  Then I realized, sometimes the reason is that there is no reason. Sometimes things in life happen that aren't fair and that's all there is to it. It doesn't make me feel better but it's the truth. Life isn't fair – can I get an AMEN?

We are in a phase of life where our friends and family are having babies. It's a weird sensation to be equal parts excited and sad. My hope is that someday this will be something that I don't think about often. That I can fully grieve the loss of a dream that I had for my family and that I can accept that things are exactly as they were meant to be. After all, moments are fleeting even the bad ones.

#ObjectsForOutfits Is The Greatest IG Hashtag Ever and The Internet Is Here For It

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST

Because my kids are teens, I was saddled with raising toddlers and the nightmare of potty training without the distraction support of online groups, social media platforms and selfies. My kids were spared me sharing pictures of them in the bathtub and I have very few pictures to remind me of what I looked like, sleep deprived while wearing stained yoga pants. And, I never found myself fighting with people on the internet at 2 am as I breastfed my infants. Though, I argued plenty with my husband at that hour.

But, once in a while, I come across a hashtag that makes me wish I still had toddlers so I could participate.

Sometimes, a trending topic makes me squeal with delight because there’s only so much cute I can handle quietly.

I give you #ObjectsForOutfits, ladies and gentlemen.

Moms and dads of the internet are cutting food into shapes that look like clothing. And then taking pictures to make it look like their babies and kids are “wearing” the objects.

And I literally can’t get enough of these outrageously ridiculous photos.

These pictures are too damn cute. Since I don’t have a toddler, my dog is in danger of becoming the subject of my own #ObjectsForOutfits pictures. #kiddingnotkidding

I mean, come on, just look at these images:

I would probably actually eat this gingerbread baby. Not really. Yes, yes I would.

Instagram Photo

I am literally unable to even with this one.

Instagram Photo

Now my daughter has to start taking dance lessons because I want to take all of the flower pictures.

Instagram Photo

Pumpkin butts are always cute. ALWAYS.

Instagram Photo

And so are strawberry baby hineys.

Instagram Photo

Chili peppers make the best little girl dresses. Who knew?

Instagram Photo

I seriously want a dress made out of watermelon. Don’t judge.

Instagram Photo

Even adults are getting in on the #ObjectsForOutfits fun. And I’m not saying that I’m going to start fashioning clothing for myself but I’m not saying I’m not, either. Because come on, beach pictures just got awesome.

Instagram Photo

I would cook with my toddler all the time if I could take pictures of him with a mushroom chef’s cap. Seriously, I really would. I wouldn’t even complain about the mess.

Instagram Photo

Yes, these photos are silly and time consuming. But they are also creative AF and I give parents a lot of credit for finding ways to infuse humor into the doldrum days of parenting. Social media can be a dumpster fire of bad news, political arguing and finger pointing over hot button issues. If we spent more time looking at pictures of babies with pumpkin butts and watermelon dresses, I can guarantee the world would be a better place.

Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be taking pictures of my shih tzu as a taco. Or a burrito. Or maybe she can wear a flower tutu. The options are endless. Let me have this moment. I missed the boat with my toddlers, okay?

 

Here’s What You Need To Know About Talc In Beauty Products

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST

There is so much to think about and be aware of when it comes to hidden dangers in things like food and cleaning and beauty products. We do our research, Google, talk to our doctors, and buy organic or all-natural when we can for fear we are poisoning ourselves and our family. And I think it’s fair to say we all realize the importance of advocating for ourselves since we know not everything we buy and eat, even if this approved by the FDA, is 100% safe and might not make us sick.

This fear is exacerbated once you become a parent. You become hyper-aware of everything that comes through your door, even if you aren’t using it on your children, because there’s always the chance they could get a hold of something they shouldn’t. It’s not just about us and our wants anymore; safety plays a bigger role in our lives than ever before. It’s a huge responsibility.

And speaking of dangerous things things to look out for, if you have not heard about the dangers of talc, which is a soft mineral that comes from the ground (sounds harmless, right?), it’s time to get in the know.

Talc is made up of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen and is used in more things than many of us realize. The reason it’s so popular is because it absorbs moisture, which makes it the perfect ingredient for things like baby powder, eyeshadow, blush, and face powder. But it can also be found in things we put in our mouth like chewing gum and rice, and there is evidence that shows we should avoid it.

Recent tests found some talc may contain asbestos, which has been known to cause illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, pleural plaques, and many others. But the even more disturbing news is that even if proper testing has been done, and companies claim their talc-containing products are asbestos-free, talc itself can still be dangerous.

According to an article in Salon, due to “links between ovarian cancer and use of talc powder for feminine hygiene, Johnson & Johnson is facing hundreds of ovarian cancer lawsuits.” And while the FDA does regulate things we put on our body everyday like makeup and body powder, its scope is limited. In fact, Salon goes on to report the FDA said in a written statement, their testing methods “have insufficient sensitivity to detect asbestos and cannot provide the highest possible level of confidence when used by suppliers of talc to certify ‘absence of asbestos.'”

It’s pretty scary to learn we could be swiping eyeshadow across our lids everyday, or applying blush and feeding our skin cancer-causing asbestos at the same time. Not to mention what sprinkling baby powder on our kids can do.

It does seem overwhelming to worry about one more thing that could make our family sick. But knowledge is power and the best thing you can do is educate yourself and be aware. Read labels, check ingredients, and pay attention to what you are purchasing. And whatever you do, don’t put talc or baby powder in or around your vagina.

There are many talc-free options out there as far as beauty products are concerned. Let’s face it, we all like to look and feel our best, and many times a little blush and powder help get us there. Giving your beauty and body products a quick once-over is a small thing you can do to ensure better health for you and your family.

Want to Raise Happy, Well-Behaved Children? Do This.

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST

We all want to raise children you are happy and thriving, but that looks different for different children. For instance, one of my children, without fail, will immediately shut down if I try to reprimand him in a stern or upset voice. If he is in a particularly bad mood, had a lousy day, or he and I have been bickering a lot, one angry word out of my mouth, and he is prone to an epic meltdown.

Yes, he is my sensitive child—always has been. He's not a bad child, and he usually is well-behaved, but he is wired in such a way that anger or disapproval from his parents or other caretakers gets under his skin and hurts him in deep ways.

I have learned over the years that the best way to communicate with him—and even the best way to correct any misbehavior—is to talk to him as gently and warmly as possible, to get down on his level, put an arm around him, look him in the eye, and make sure he knows that we are in this together, and I genuinely care about him.

Usually, when I work on that, everything else flows from there—he listens to me, behaves, and is softer and kinder to those around him. I have learned that most of the anger and outbursts I have witnessed with him are the result of him feeling unsafe or threatened, and that the cure is to make sure he feels safe and loved.

I know that he is not the only kid like this—and it's not only because he is just more "sensitive" than others. After parenting two kids for more than a decade now, I have come to suspect that most children who are melting down frequently, or having angry outbursts, are simply reacting to a stressful environment. They appear angry or rage-filled when they are actually feeling anxious or threatened.

Mona Delahooke, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist from California, recently penned an essay on her website about this exact phenomenon. According to Delahooke, most misbehavior exhibited in children is as a result of their "neuroception" (the subconscious detection of threat and safety) being under attack, and that the best way to raise kids who thrive is to make sure you create a safe and loving environment for them.

"When an individual experiences the neuroception of threat, he retreats into a defensive position, which results in one of three responses: fighting, fleeing, or shutting down," Delahooke writes. "When an individual experiences the neuroception of safety, on the other hand, she relaxes and can reach out to others, communicate, comply and engage."

Delahooke explains that it's all about the relationship between the child and their parent or caregiver. We all need to focus, first and foremost, on making sure that our children feel safe and secure with the adults around them. "Joyful, relaxed relationships create a brain-body platform for optimal development," she writes.

Fostering this kind of environment for our kids is actually pretty straight-forward, Delahooke tells Scary Mommy. What you want to focus on are the little (and big) things that bring your child a sense of happiness and well-being, and then making sure to take time out of your busy life in order to incorporate those things into your daily lives.

"Joyful interactions with your child promote feelings of safety and security in the brain and body of both parent and child," Delahooke explains to Scary Mommy. "The best way to do this is to follow your child's lead to see what she finds joyful, and it can be as simple as taking a walk or sitting with your child and noticing what captures her attention. Then go for the smiles, giggles and other expressions that signal mutual joy. It's so simple yet so profound."

It truly is the simplest thing—and yet, I know that for many of us, it isn't always easy to incorporate one more thing into our busy lives. If we have more than one child, the idea of spending one-on-one time with one of our children—just focusing on them—seems like an impossibility.

I have personally found that simply setting an intention to be more present and gentle with my children—and thinking more consciously about how to make the environment of our home more peaceful and secure—can really make a difference. Really, we can all find a few extra minutes for cuddles on the couch, one more book, or a short walk in the rain puddles outside. Even just a few spare minutes of focused and joyful attention toward our kids can make a huge difference.

If we make an effort, we can all find moments for more secure contact, too–just within our everyday interactions with our children. Things like looking your children in the eyes when you speak to them, or taking the time to actually sit down on your child's level when you have to have a "hard talk" with them can make them feel more grounded. Pay attention not just to the words you are saying, but how you say them. Put a gentle, safe hand on your child's shoulder as you talk to them. All these things make a difference.

And if you find that your own stressors are so out of control that it is hard for you not to yell or rage at your children, then please get help (therapy, medication, or a combination of things—whatever works for you). It's totally normal for parents to have times when they raise their voices at their kids (no parent is perfect), but if it becomes a chronic problem, or one that seems to contribute to stress for your children, then it's time to address that within yourself so that you can create a more harmonious home for your child.

Most of all, we all need to recognize how very important it is that we nurture our children's inner lives and their emotional worlds. We need to stop looking at the surface of our children's behavior, but what is motivating it. We need to stop seeing our children as "bad" or "spoiled," but as vulnerable children in need of a little extra TLC.

The beautiful thing is that we have the power to offer this to our kids. And it starts with a safe environment at home, and a secure and loving relationship with us.