Judge, Judge, Wink, Wink

I sincerely apologize if my decision to co-sleep causes you to become a mass murderer.

I sincerely apologize if my decision to co-sleep (or dress you in ridiculous hats) causes you to become a mass murderer.

“Oh, why do you care what people think of your parenting? Screw them!”

“I care because I’m sensitive!”

I had this conversation the other night with a dear friend. I was describing my struggle with the perceived judgement I feel now that I’m a parent.

So, in an effort to empower my decisions as a mother, I will now list some of the dire “mistakes” I’m making with a big, fat, giant, “effffffffffyyyyyooooouuuu!!!!!!” to those judgements.

We co-sleep. In the same bed. Every single night. We put her to sleep initially in the crib and soothe her back down when she wakes up. But she usually wakes up again around my bedtime so we go to bed together and I nurse her back down. Then I don’t have to leave the bed again until I wake up for work. As a non-parent this scenario would have horrified me. As a working and nursing mother to a strong-willed baby, co-sleeping has solved a lot of problems. Am I causing bigger problems for myself down the line? I don’t know for sure (and neither does anyone else, thank you) so it’s worth the risk because sleep deprivation is torture. They used it at Guantanamo, you know.*

I support nursing into the toddler years. Fully. Because I might even do it myself. My daughter and I like nursing, experts say it benefits the child’s health, and other cultures consider this normal. Again, I used to be horrified by this idea. But now that I have a little six month old who so clearly relies on nursing to make her feel safe and satiated, why would I take that from her? Because (presumably) some male American doctor from the early 20th century decided one year was the socially acceptable cutoff for nursing? Why would I take his advice?*

I’m not doing cry it out. I know my baby. I know her cries and fusses. Based on the sounds she makes, I can usually decipher the I’m hungry message, the I’m tired message, and the I’m scared message. This is how we communicate and it took A LOT of hard work to establish this trust. When she’s developmentally capable (not yet, but soon), I trust I will be able to identify the I’m sort of fake crying because I want something that I don’t necessarily need message. Tonight, if I were to plop her in her crib and just let her scream, I’d be giving her the fuck you, I don’t give a shit what you need message. And after all we’ve been through together, that just seems rude.*

I pay “too much” for child care. I have a decent job that pays well. Currently, I am handing over almost my entire cash flow (after taxes, retirement contribution, and insurance are deducted) to our wonderful nannies. And they are wonderful. Sorry, but I’m not settling for anything less than wonderful when it comes to the care of my child. I’ll bargain hunt for shoes, not this.*

I’m an attachment parent. I’m finally admitting and embracing this. These were dirty words to me until I heard my baby cry for the first time and the cascade of biological, evolutionary triggers ignited a maternal ferocity I never realized I had (no, not even for the cats). I read The Attachment Parenting Book cover to cover and discovered that the concepts introduced fell right in line with my instincts — instincts that I believe are here for a reason. Because I believe in evolution!*

Now, let me say this: If you are a parent who has chosen a different approach, I am not judging you. I sincerely believe you are doing the very best for your child and your family.

Because that’s what I can only hope I am doing.

*I’m not entertaining any debate on this so don’t bother commenting. I won’t approve it.

Cafeteria Pregnancy

If only I had the power of choice!

If only I had the power of choice!

I wish pregnancy were like a cafeteria. If each “symptom” was displayed under a sneeze guard, this is how I’d load my plastic tray…

I’ll take some more of that soft skin.

My rough skin has always matched my less-than-girly personality. But with this pregnancy, I have the skin of a, well, a baby. I guess my daughter will take that little perk with her when she makes her exit.

I’ll pass on the ass.

My ass is significantly larger. I’ve jumped from a size 4-6 to a size 12-14. Yes, yes, I’m a tacky lady for talking about my clothing size but I don’t care if you start at size 2 or 20, that increase would bother any woman.

Another helping of hair, please!

Though that sentence sounds gross, my hair is thicker and shinier than it’s ever been. You know how you lose 1,000 hairs per day? Well, a pregnant lady keeps them all. Then they all fall out after she gives birth. (Dammit.)

No more nipple for me, thanks.

This one doesn’t need an explanation.

Belly? Oh, yes, please.

It only took about 7 months for me to start showing for real. I had no idea how awesome having a pregnant belly could be! People are so nice to me. I get smiles and affectionate glances wherever I go. The other day, someone let me cut in line at the store! Preferential treatment is pretty sweet.

Could I get just a half serving of boob? 

These things are out of control. I should probably purchase the next cup size up but that would be an advance of 3 sizes total (so far) and I just can’t bring myself to do it. Not to mention, I feel like a nasty ho in anything remotely low-cut. I just don’t know what to do with these things?!?!?

Congestion, poor eyesight, and bleeding gums? Oh, no…I couldn’t possibly…

I had no idea that these little ailments were even in the realm of possibilities. I would skip right over these in the cafeteria if I could.

Can I get seconds on the libido?

Some women report being very vixen-like during their pregnancies. I admit that I’m pretty bummed I didn’t get a healthy serving (or two) of this one. “Hold the ass, sub libido!” I wish.

Yes, I’ll have the sense of smell.

Though this can backfire if B.O. or hot garbage are near, I quite enjoy the advanced sense of smell. For no other reason than it makes me feel like I’ve suddenly acquired a superpower.

More blood? No thanks, I’m good.

I have increased my blood volume by 30-50%. This basically means that when I get a slightly anxious, I blush like a maniac. It’s unsettling to myself and others.

Pile on some more of that glow, please!

Many have told me I have the glow. I know this is related to the extra blood but I would love to magically have this without the blushing.

Please, fill this second tray with nesting. Thanks!

In early month 6, the nesting kicked in at 3 a.m. when I woke up and started fantasizing about rearranging a cupboard. Since then, I’ve been unstoppable. I’ve purged, shredded documents, packed storage spaces, scrubbed the baseboards and labeled everything I can get my hands on. Nesting is the greatest thing. Ever.

I’ll skip on the crying.

My poor husband. First and third trimesters (so far) have featured many sad, sobbing moments on my part. And, yes, a handful of the crying spells were the result of viewing my naked butt in a mirror.



Will I Stop Loving My Pet When I Have a Baby? Probably.


This is Mia. How can I stop loving this face?!???

Lately, Lou has been talking to my favorite cat. “Mia,” he’ll coo, “are you ready to be neglected as hell?”

I’m three months pregnant with my first baby and though I occasionally wrestle with the many expected fears that come with this upcoming change (birth, baby’s health, finances, marriage, etc.) it’s the cats I worry about most.

I’ve seen what a new baby does to a household with pets.

Before baby, dogs and cats were adored. They were featured in selfies and throwback Thursdays were filled with adorable shots of kittens and puppies. At the end of the day, pets happily hopped onto laps for kisses, cuddles and neck-scratches.

Then baby happens.

Cats get squirted with water and are banned from entire sections of the house. Dogs are scolded for walking in a room or whining for just a scrap of attention. Litter boxes overflow and nightly walks are a thing of the past. The cuddles and smooches are replaced with, “OFF!”, “NO!”, and “GO OUTSIDE!”

This is Bruce. I love him less than the other cat. I'm doomed!

This is Bruce. I don’t love him as much as I love Mia. The ranking has already begun.

“You don’t have to be like that,” a friend told me. “My best friend from high school has three kids and three cats and she still loves her cats just as much as she did before.”

Then my friend went on to describe how one of the kids accidentally stepped on the oldest cat’s tail, dislocated it, and the cat died on the operating table later that day.

I intellectually understand (because my friends have described this to me) that when you see your baby for the first time, you feel a love you’ve never felt before and it’s a love that was previously beyond your imagination. It’s hard-wired. It’s biological. There’s no fighting it.

I’m sure this is true and it makes me fear for my pets. Because I don’t think I’m extraordinary enough to be the exception. I bet that after I have this baby I’ll read this post, shake my head, and say, “The girl who wrote this blog just had no idea what love really meant.”


Book Signing at Changing Hands Bookstore for Take a Hike Phoenix

Eeep! I'm so excited! This makes me feel legit.

Eeep! I’m so excited! This makes me feel legit.

So if you missed my REI events, it’s totally cool man. I’m thrilled to spread the word that my next book signing event is at the one and only Changing Hands Bookstore!

Friday, March 14th
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 South McClintock Drive
Tempe, AZ 85283
Event Link

I will be making a short presentation prior to signing copies of Take a Hike Phoenix. Additional books will be available for purchase at Changing Hands. No RSVP is necessary but click here if you’d like to add it to your Facebook events.

Hope to see you there!

My Non-Audience

My blog makes my brother cringe. Interesting.

My blog makes my brother cringe. Interesting.

“I wrote about that on my blog — did you read that post?”

“I can’t read your blog,” my brother said as he visibly cringed. “It’s too much — it’s too personal.”

“I get that,” I said as I nodded my head.

This conversation happened over the holidays between Brother #2 and I. While some writers might feel offended or unsupported by a family member who refuses to read their work, I wasn’t at all. In fact, I was relieved.

I know I’m an emotionally intense person. It’s not like I scream and cry and have melt-downs all the time (well, okay, it happens occasionally), but I do exhaust language to investigate my emotional response to just about everything that happens in my day. And using language means I’m either talking or writing about it.

So some poor souls have to absorb my madness.

(Let’s face it — it’s usually my husband, Lou.)

But as revealing as the catalog of blog posts on iguessiwriteforfree may be, I frequently hold back on my blog. I’m sure my close friends and family can confirm that I’m WAY more intense in real life. So I was surprised to find out that my writing is still too raw for some…especially those who are close to me.

I really meant it when I told Brother #2 that I understood. Not only was I relieved, but I was oddly flattered. Because if this blog is too intense for him that’s a shred of evidence that my writing touched him. And I’m always looking for evidence to indicate that I’m not a shitty writer.

Plus if I write a book someday that includes family stories, I’ll be able to write what I want without fear of causing a family fight.

What freedom!

I’m Telling

Someone else's baby at 10 weeks that would look pretty much identical to my baby now. Just hang in there, little guy (or gal)!

Someone else’s baby at 10 weeks that would look pretty much identical to my baby now. Just hang in there, little guy (or gal)!

I guess there’s a million different ways one can announce their first pregnancy. I opted for a hiking blog post, why not?

And of course, I feel there needs to be a little follow up on this. You see, I’m only ten weeks along. According to many, it’s not recommended that I share this news until after I’m well into the 2nd trimester (after 12-14 weeks).

I’ve totally blown that. I probably told about 25 people when I first tested positive at five weeks. Since it was mostly family and close friends, everyone reacted with generous excitement. But as I continued to share the news with acquaintances or colleagues at work, I was met with mixed reactions.

“Oh, only x weeks?” someone said. “Well, congratulations…but take it easy, okay?”

To my overly-paranoid mind, this translates to: “You shouldn’t be telling me this because I don’t want to hear about your upcoming miscarriage.”

(For the record, I intellectually understand that this person was just being kind and that my interpretation is a result of my nut-jobbery.)

But I find it particularly aggravating that a miscarriage is something a woman should try to avoid having to share. So it turns out the best way to avoid sharing the news of a miscarriage is to wait to share the news of your pregnancy.

“If I lost my foot,” I explained to Lou one day, “I would want the support of my family and friends through that loss.” After he stopped laughing at my comparison, Lou agreed.

But I think this has deeper roots than just wanting support.

Because every time I deliver the news in this early stage of pregnancy, I feel a bit of shame.

What is that all about?

I’m shooting from the hip here, but I don’t think I’m the only woman who has feelings of shame intertwined with the idea (or the experience) of a miscarriage. And this, I believe, is left over from time periods in cultural history when a miscarriage was interpreted as a total failure. It meant a woman could not fulfill her purpose. And it meant the husband had made a poor investment.

I don’t want to perpetuate a behavior that references this unfortunate history.

So I’m spreading the news about my pregnancy.* And if I have a miscarriage I will be sure to get the word out about that as well. I know there are other women who experience this in silence. And if they can’t lean on family and friends, maybe they’ll quietly find my miscarriage blog and feel some comfort.

(Christ, I feel squeamish about describing that scenario but this whole topic is a superstitious trap so there’s no winning here.)

When contemplating the decision as to whether or not to tell “early”, I’ve often thought of an email exchange I had with a friend a few years ago.

“It’s okay…we’ll catch the next one!” was her response when I congratulated her on a pregnancy. Her polite message revealed that I hadn’t received the news of her miscarriage.

I still admire her for that. She handled it with grace and a positive attitude. She wasn’t ashamed.

Because she (and we) shouldn’t have to be.

*I absolutely respect anyone who makes the decision to wait to share their news. For some, it’s as simple as a matter of personal privacy.

Upcoming Book Signing Events for Take a Hike Phoenix

Come to my book signing at REI stores!

Come to my book signings at REI stores!

Hey all!

Just a quick note to let you know that I’ll be signing copies of Take a Hike Phoenix at multiple events in the coming months. Each event features a short presentation and is followed by a book signing.

The following events take place at both REI locations. The following events take place at both REI locations. Don’t forget to bring your copy of Take a Hike Phoenix or plan to pick one up at REI the night of the event.

Please mark your calendars and click to link to register for the event. Then be sure to show up so I don’t look like a total loser. Thanks and I hope to see you there!

Don't have one yet? That's okay! They're at REI.

Don’t have one yet? That’s okay! They’re at REI.

REI Tempe
Date: Wednesday, 2/5/2014
Time: 6:30 – 8:00 PM MST
Event Fee: Free
Link to Register
1405 W Southern Ave (at Priest)
Tempe, AZ 85282
Phone:(480) 967-5494

REI Paradise Valley
Date: Thursday, 2/27/2014
Time: 6:30 – 8:00 PM MST
Event Fee: Free
Link to Register
12634 N Paradise Village Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85032
Phone:(602) 996-5400

Description: Lilia Menconi, hiker and author of the new Phoenix hiking book, Moon Take a Hike Phoenix shares her “Top 10, 1 to 10” presentation featuring photos, maps, and anecdotes of her favorite ten Phoenix-area hikes ranging from one to ten miles. Whether you want a beginner’s stroll through the desert or an all-day sweat fest, Menconi can show you the way. The presentation will be followed by a book signing of Moon Take a Hike Phoenix which includes trail reviews of 81 hikes, now available for purchase at REI.

Stay tuned for more book signing events to be announced later!