Introduce us to your daughter.
A: I have one beautiful and precocious little 23 month old girl, Zoe Lyne Hope.
How would you describe your daughter?
A: Zoe is very strong-willed. When she sets her mind to something, she will keep at it until she gets it. I’ve watched her drag chairs around in order to use them as ladders to climb onto a desk or table so that she can reach her target, which is often my iPhone or her dad’s PC. She is very much a 21st century techno-baby. She has already tweeted, sent texts and posted pictures of herself on Facebook!
Zoe loves other children. I have to watch her like a hawk at stores because if she sees another child, she will happily run up to them and give them a hug. She begins to giggle just looking at pictures or videos of babies and kids. She also loves music and to dance.
Can you give us a mini-version of your birth story?
A: I feel so blessed that my labor and delivery went so smoothly. I was prepared for trouble; both my mother and sister had to have cesarean sections with all their children. However, knowing the additional pain and healing that comes after such births, I was really praying I wouldn’t continue in what was becoming a family tradition.
Around 10 pm on a hot July night, I plunked down on our bed with a big bowl of grapes (my weird pregnancy craving) and a glass of iced green tea. I immediately felt a “pop” followed by a trickle of wet warmth. I slowly sat up. Just like that, my water broke. I stood up and the trickle turned into a steady stream. I told my husband, K, what was going on, and headed to the bathroom to clean up. I came out, threw on some clothes and grabbed my hospital bag.
“Are you ready?” I asked. It was just then that I realized he hadn’t moved an inch from when I told him my water broke. “What are you doing? We have to get to the hospital!” My voice began to get all high and screechy with impatience.
K looked at me half crazy. “You told me it takes hours for this whole thing to get going. You know, with the contractions and stuff.”
“Yeah, with contractions it takes forever. But since my water broke, we go straight to the hospital. We do not ‘stop at go and collect $200.’” Channeling Michelle Obama, for good measure I added, “Let’s move!”
Within an hour, I was at the hospital, in a gown, and in full blown labor. K and I had been joined by my best friend Gi Gi, who acted as supportive doula, reminding me to breathe and stay calm. After about another hour, I got an epidural. A few more hours, and the staff began hinting at a possible c-section because the baby’s heart rate began to fall. I tearfully looked at Gi Gi who became my mouthpiece. “No, ” she said resolutely. She would continue the chorus of negatives. No pitocin. No being pushy. She was sounding like classic Destiny’s Child with all those “no’s”.
I’m so glad she said no, because just over twelve hours after my water broke, after only about ten minutes of actual pushing, Zoe was born on July 21st, 2011, weighing in at 7 pounds and 7 ounces and 20 inches long.
How do you balance work and being a mom?
A: Due to a neurological condition, I resigned my job last year, so I’m a full time, stay at home mom.
What is your biggest parenting challenge right now?
A: Responding to Zoe with patience and grace as opposed to reacting without thought in anger. At this stage, Zoe is in to everything. She destroys half the apartment in about a quarter of the time it has taken me to answer one of these questions. Seriously. Thing is, a lot of the destruction isn’t so much purposeful mischief as curious learning through exploration. There is also a lot of modeling going on, and no, I don’t mean the Tyra Banks type. I mean, as I go about my daily routines of making breakfast, cleaning, or doing my hair, Zoe is watching it all and absorbing the behavior. So what might seem like her banging on pots, pushing at the vacuum, or grabs for the comb is actually her acting out what she has seen me model. It’s a whole lot of learning! So I’m really trying to keep that in mind when I walk into a room and see her “talking” on my cell!
How do you determine that your child is thriving?
A: Zoe gets regular well-baby checkups, so I’m aware of her weight and height. I also complete development questionnaires at each visit that delve into fine and gross motor skills, communication and other vital areas of growth. I also talk with other parents. Oh, and I should confess, I spent a few years studying Early Childhood Education and working as a Teacher’s Aide at a child care center. So I might be a little less nervous about this area than other first time moms.
How do you carve out time for yourself?
A: What’s that? Time for myself? Ha! No, seriously, I’m still working on this. For quite some time, though, I’ve taken to waking up at all types of ungodly hours- sometimes 5 am- just to be able to write, pray or drink a cup of coffee in peace. In the summer months, I will even get in some park time alone around 6:30 or 7 before K heads to work.
How does your husband/partner contribute to child-rearing?
A: K is husband and partner for real. He changes diapers, gives baths, and does just about everything I do. Except hair. He will wash her hair, but that’s it! Left to Dad, Zoe rocks a curly fro.
Who is your child-rearing support group?
A: Most of my closest friends have moved out of New Jersey (where we live) over the past few years. I miss them terribly, but they still manage to be a great source of support through texts, Skype, email and Facebook. I also get some help from my brother and his wife, and my mother-in-law when she comes to visit from Trinidad.
What advice would you give to a new mom?
A: Relax, relate, release. Yes, I am seriously dating myself with that one. But it’s true. Keep calm. Things won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. There’s a real beauty within the messiness of life. And do remember, this is your child, your life, your story. It won’t-and shouldn’t- look exactly like anyone else’s.