Q&A

Q&A: Attachment to My Girls, Relationships with my Parents, and Deciding what Brands to Partner With

Personal question: Did you struggle with attachment issues due to your relationship with your mom?

Happy to answer this since I hear from women who worry about this every so often. This is not something I struggled with, but some moms do and if I had, that would have been ok. Since Margot came so fast the moment we met was a “whoa what just happened” moment. Once we were settled in our room, I started sobbing because I couldn’t believe how much I loved her. 

Here’s what I did struggle with: I didn’t realize how hard it would be to process how I was treated as a daughter after becoming a parent because I could never intentionally hurt my girls. When I think about how much I love my daughters, it hurts to think that I didn’t have that, but loving them has always been easy. That said, if a mom for whatever reason struggles to attach, that is ok. It can happen to anyone, and my best advice is to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. 

I will also say motherhood felt like a huge adjustment. The love came the day I met my girls, but it’s such a big life shift going from 0 to 1 baby, and when you have a fussier baby who doesn’t sleep, that can feel hard and isolating, but had nothing to do with how I was parented. 

Having my first baby in February. What advice would you give yourself if you could?

First, congratulations! It really is the best thing in the world. It’s hard but wonderful. Ask for help. Get a night nurse even just 2 nights a week if you can afford it. We did not have one but if we had another baby, I’d definitely make the investment since the sleep deprivation will get to you. How you feed your baby doesn’t matter so do what works for you. It’s ok if you don’t feel attached right away or if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. We’re all learning as we go. Buy less stuff – babies don’t need much. Don’t let negative comments bring you down and try not to compare yourself to others. Motherhood looks different for all of us. You’re doing your best. 

You mentioned having bad relationships with your family. Have they helped or supported Margot? 

My family is very, very small. I grew up with two half-sisters who have been great. We FaceTime pretty regularly and one was able to isolate for a week and fly to Chicago. My youngest sister has a roommate so isolating in preparation for a visit would be impossible for her right now, but once things are under control she will come visit.

I have not heard from or seen my dad since I was 17 or 18 and barely saw him while I was growing up. It is my assumption (and hope) that I’ll never hear from him again. He’s not a good person (was involved with some not so great things and abandoned all four of his kids) and if he did reach out, I’d want nothing to do with him. I’ve accepted that he is who he is and don’t harbor any resentment. Do I wish I had a warm, loving dad? Yes, but I grieved that relationship a very long time ago, and it took time to learn that I missed someone who didn’t exist.

My mom is extremely toxic. She was verbally abusive and I’m not sure I realized how bad it was until I had children of my own. The sh*t she has pulled is cruel and messed up – and there is just not any room for that in my life. She met Margot when she was about 3 months and it was fine but very uncomfortable and cold. I have a lot of guilt because I grew up being told everything was my fault and I always thought that if I did x, y, or z, I could “fix” it, but have learned through therapy and motherhood, that that’s not how it works. Love from our parents should not be conditional.

How I feel about my mom is how similar to how I feel about my dad. I’ve grieved a relationship with a person who does not exist, and am finally accepting that she’s not going to change. 

How to get your life back after a child’s cancer diagnosis? 

Oh, this one hits hard. First, I am so sorry. Our lives definitely felt over and in some ways, they were. The life we knew – the simplicity, taking certain things for granted, a life without treatment – that was over. I don’t think there’s any getting our old lives back, but there is happiness after a cancer diagnosis. 

It happens often – pretty much any time we do something with Margot. When she says or does something cute. I realize we could have missed this, and just feel so lucky that she’s here. There is major PTSD but the good far outweighs the bad. I am not one of those people who believes that these things happen for a reason. I don’t believe we’re given what we can handle but – I believe and know that life will start to feel like it’s not over again.

For me, it took getting through frontline treatment (May 2020-January 2021) to start to feel like I could breathe again. Once we were a few months into “maintenance” (which goes on until July 2022) there was a significant shift. Reevaluating my life was pretty helpful. I realized how unhappy I was at work. How consumed I felt by it, and how stressed out I was. Our circumstances are also a little different. Compared to people with healthy kids, we’re living a nightmare but in the cancer world, we are extremely fortunate to have a “best case” diagnosis. I don’t say this to trigger anyone going through a more complex diagnosis, but that shifted my perspective. Fundraising gave some purpose to the pain. It is my hope that we’ll see changes for these kids in the years to come. 

Advice to prep for motherhood when you don’t have a relationship with your mom? 

It’s so hard and honestly, I’m not sure there’s a way to prepare because you don’t know what will come up for you. Therapy! Do the work. There’s a lot of second guessing and never feeling like what I’m doing is enough. I worry that my girls won’t feel loved or secure because that’s how I felt as a child, and my work is to know that is not their experience. Let good women and mothers in. And just love your baby. That can be so healing. 

Did you experience anxiety over being an “older” mom? I’m 34 and starting to worry. 

Some, but before I had my girls. I was pretty anxious about whether or not it would happen for me, and if I’d be able to get pregnant. I got pregnant on the first try with both girls (not common at any age, but especially uncommon at 35 and 37). 

How do you decide which brands to partner with? 

I say no a lot. I’ve stopped keeping track but the first 6 months of the year, I said no to 19 brands and yes to 3. If it’s not an immediate yes, it’s a no. There are times I’ll ask to try something out that seems interesting. For example: we were in need of a new mattress and I happened to hear from a mattress brand. I said I’d love to try the mattress out but that I couldn’t sign a contract or agree to work with them until I experienced a few weeks with the mattress. They said yes, and I ended up loving it, so I’ll be working with them next month. Sometimes, the stars align and a brand I love (like waterdrop or Rothy’s) reaches out and I’m excited to say yes. Others, I’ll ask to test something and see if I really love it. 

How do you cope when family members let you down? 

This is going to sound negative but I’m used to being let down and hurt by my parents, and for the longest time, coped terribly. It took going through the trauma of childhood cancer to realize that I couldn’t deal with my mom’s garbage any longer. What used to make me anxious now has me rolling my eyes and moving on to what matters. 

I remember you saying you don’t use paper towels often. I’d love some tips. 

I shared more in this blog post. 

What’s something special I can do for a 4 year old girl who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia? 

If you’re close to the parents, I would ask if they need toys before sending anything. The Melissa and Doug puffy sticker sets are great for clinic days. Most families are bombarded by toys and food in the beginning, and it can feel like too much. 

Can you share more details on the Tonie box? Seems pricey to play one song or one book. 

Of course. The girls use it every single day and each tonie has about 30 minutes of stories and songs. These are not one-and-done toys – we use each one again and again. The figurines are fun to play with, and my girls love the stories and songs. It’s recommended for 3+ since some tonies are on the smaller side, but we only let Kate play with it with supervision, and she doesn’t really put them in her mouth. 

Want 3-year-old to have a sibling but delayed trying due to anxiety with the pandemic. I fear I won’t feel the same love. 

That fear is completely normal and I promise that you’ll love your second baby. I am completely obsessed with Kate! She’s the sweetest, most lovable little snuggle bug. 

Advice for boundaries with work and home? I can’t seem to leave work at work. 

I was so terrible at this, and it’s a bit blurry since I now work for myself and have complete flexibility, so I’m not sure I’m the person to ask. After feeling overworked for years, I finally got to a place where I signed off most days and did not sign on again until the next day. Of course there are busier seasons, but I’d come up with a list of things you want to do when you get home/after work, and put your phone/computer away. 

Who did your stair runner? We just got an exorbitant quote! 

I shared the runner we chose in this post Our first quote was almost $4000 (insane!) but my friend Kira found this for about half the cost. 

Curious about mealtime. Do you and Conor eat dinner with the girls? 

We were doing so well with meals for a while but the last month or so has not been great. We usually feed the girls and haven’t been cooking much, but I’m committed to changing that. Now that the weather is cooling down, I’m ready for roasting and slow-cooking. We do try to at least sit with the girls and have a few bites since M is currently in feeding therapy. I’m going to meal plan and make real dinners happen this fall and winter. It’s so hard. 

You mentioned a travel toilet seat for Margot. Would you please share the link?

It’s actually linked in my shop under “baby and child” and then “gear” but here’s a direct link, too.

Would you recommend the PB Play Kitchen for an 18-month-old? 

I would, because it’s a toy they’ll grow into. We got Margot her kitchen at around that age (maybe a little earlier) and it took a while before she used it regularly. Kate mostly stands at it at 15 months, but I know she’ll use it more and more in the coming months. 

How did you attach your witch hats to the ceiling? 

I used small clear command hooks, and threaded the fishing line through the top point of the hat. Tie a little knot inside the piece of fishing line in the hat and another around the command hook. 

Recommendations for a toddler bed and bedding? 

Margot used the toddler rail for her crib until we transitional into her bed. She just used her crib sheet and a twin blanket (easier to tuck in). I loved this for layering, too. We started with a mattress on the floor but her bed arrives next week! 

Can you share the natural keratin treatment that you’ve found in Chicago? 

Yes, of course. Inca Glow and Magic Sleek are both great. I think I prefer Magic Sleek. I had it done with Blake at Thomas West Salon.

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