Let’s just say that what I’m most grateful for is that July is over — a month second only to March this year in its general level of suckitude. But among the weeds of this month there have also been some flowers that have left me wowed and nodding and teary (in a good way). Here, a few things I’ve loved, learned, and felt grateful for in July.
Things I’ve loved:
- This photo essay from Kristen Anne Photography as the mom and dad meet their child through adoption. Just goes to show that however a family is created, it’s beautiful. Oh, those smiles. Such palpable anxiety, and relief, and joy in these pictures.
- Better empathy greeting cards. I love the idea of trading some of the schlocky Hallmark cards for cards that are more honest, of the “been there, done that” variety. I really wished these infertility cards had been around a few years ago. I hate why Heather Spohr knows so much about grief, but her suggested language for these cards could be a huge help to people who are grieving.
- Waking up to find Teddy on the couch reading. It’s been a bumpy transition moving him into a toddler bed. Our fantastic 12-hours-a-night sleeper was replaced by a kid who couldn’t stay in bed, who’s found all sorts of new excuses to get up (“I forgot to put away my crayons”), who appears at our bedside at 2 a.m. And then he figured out that he could grab a book and read — and that it totally disarms me, even at 5:30 a.m. Nicely played, kid.
Things I’ve learned:
- The keys to correctly fastening a car seat buckle. It seems so easy, but in truth it’s easy to do it wrong — and that can have tragic consequences. I’m thankful that parents have been willing to share their children’s stories — not all happy — so that others can learn about how to keep our kids safe.
- How a Milwaukee hospital cut down on medical errors in the NICU, just by changing the convention for identifying babies from “Babygirl Smith” to “Wendysgirl Smith,” after the mom’s first name. Less similar names equals fewer mistakes. Expensive technology has made a huge difference for NICU babies — but smart ideas like this make a difference, too.
- IBM will cover the costs for employees to ship breast milk home from business trips. It seems like the company has come a long way in the last decade, judging by the tales I’ve read in The Milk Memos, written by IBM employees in the mid-2000s as they shared a less-than-optimal pumping closet. I know it sounds like a perk that not many people would use, but for those few who will, it will make travel far easier — and engender loyalty.
Things I’ve been grateful for:
- Parents who are willing to share their heartbreaking stories of stillbirth and infant loss. As a society, we talk very little about miscarriage — a real gap that I felt when I had mine — and even less about stillbirth. These parents’ stories need to be heard, and we need to say their babies’ names. I’m so glad that the New York Times is dedicating the space to this service.
- Writers who are committed to creating positive, inspiring spaces online. It’s so easy for sites — especially those that allow anonymous comments — to lapse into petty, destructive arguments. I love visiting places like Coffee + Crumbs and the Good Mother Project and The Mid for a break from the negativity.
- My brother and sister. In what turned out to be a tough month for our parents (broken femur post hip replacement for my dad, broken wrist for my mom), they both stepped up in a big way to make sure that they were comfortable and had everything they needed. I couldn’t do much from a distance, so it was a big relief to know that my brother and sister were there to help. (But let’s keep August injury-free, ok, family?)
What have you loved, learned, and been grateful for this month?