Not Another Mommy Blog


black hole with gravitational lens effect in front of bright stars  (3d illustration, Elements of this image are furnished by NASA)

This gets sorta sciency…

When I first decided to get back into blogging my intention was simple:  stoke some creative fires and recommit to a writing practice.

I never intended on writing a blog about a specific subject.  In retrospect, perhaps I should have had the discipline to be more focused with intention to draw in a larger and more dedicated audience.

Instead, my heart was elsewhere.  I wanted to cast a wider net to tackle topics that came to me at any given moment, topics I felt passionate about exploring and sharing, topics that spanned the vast range of my personal interests – art, travel, books, opera, microbiology, quantum physics and more!

I’m not a business-minded writer.  I’m not strategic about growing an audience or even getting paid via advertising – all which I am open to implementing in this, here, lil bloglet.  All in due time, I suppose.  But I wish I had more energy to run my blog like a business.  I wish I had more stamina to write!

I mean, I initially set out to write a few times a week.  It seemed like a good plan without over-committing myself to another responsibility alongside running my business, serving on a non-profit board, and being a new wife.

Then the baby arrived.

Days turned into a few weeks.  Weeks turned into a few months.  I have barely written a word.  My wide net of interesting things to write about quickly shrunk to one thing – being a new mom.

Lately I’ve been in deep with things I had never really thought about before giving birth, or, in some cases I never even knew existed.

The list includes:  the fourth trimester, placenta encapsulation, c-section recovery, diastasis, hip injury during labor, pelvic floor restoration, Mayan abdominal massage, postpartum depression, postpartum hair loss, postpartum pain, postpartum anemia, sleep deprivation, thrush, vasospasms, breast engorgement, breastfeeding pain, baby’s four month sleep regression, sleep training, teething, cradle cap, baby eczema, baby’s growth phases, and so on.  Yes.  There really is more.  A lot more.  No.  I’m not joking.

So it seems I’m writing a “mommy blog”.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  I read many of them!  But it’s not like I’m doing independent research, offering product ratings or creating any new material that hasn’t already been perfectly explored and shared online.  The mommy blogosphere does not need my additional three cents worth.

Then again I find community and normalcy in reading about different perspectives and experiences – because they (pediatricians, experts, moms, etc.) always say every pregnancy is different, every birth is different, every baby is different, every mother is different.  There are no two exact experiences with having a baby.  There is room for more consideration and contemplation.

So here I am in it.  Really in the trenches of it.  I am in awe and overwhelmed at the same time, all of the time!  I am experiencing the phenomenon called “mommy brain”.  I have a difficult time in conversations – especially when it comes to staying focused and remembering things.  I used to be an eloquent speaker and I took pride in my communication skills, especially regarding my work as a winemaker.

I recently conducted a private consumer tasting with my wines and I felt like a bumbling fool.  It was embarrassing.  I told my husband that was it.  No more pubic speaking for me until I get my brain back.  Then the fear sunk in.  What if I never get my brain back?!?!

I read a lot of blogs about new mothers creating a balanced life – especially those who are working moms.  After reading these blogs I’m typically reduced to tears.  Here’s why…

Something strange happened to me after I had the baby.  I lost all motivation to work.  I realize this is not atypical for a new mom.

I struggled with my relationship with my wine business.  The business became this chasm or void – or, maybe a black hole.  I intuitively dodged the event horizon so as not to get sucked in.  Because once you’re sucked into a black hole – it’s over.  The old theory was that once an object passes through the event horizon, then gravity pulls and stretches the object like a strand of spaghetti until it disintegrates.  Physicists have since revised that theory when they discovered you’ll burn to a crisp just by going through the event horizon.  So never mind gravity’s pull inside of a black hole.  You’re toast just from approaching it.

I no longer had the energy, desire or passion to run my business.  It was like I was a dying star:  my core was running out of hydrogen fuel, contracting under the weight of gravity.  My former business owner self had nearly collapsed.  I had no idea how to save my little star.

It feels horrible to admit this out loud and publicly.  But it’s also a huge relief.

Part of my departure from writing stemmed from the same lack of interest and motivation I had toward my business.  I’m sure part of it was because I was overwhelmed and maybe even a bit depressed.

It feels worse to admit that out loud and publicly.

I thought I was supposed to feel magical and peacefully content as a new mom – like a spritely mother goddess.  At moments, it does feel that way.  But many moments are quite different.

It’s difficult to navigate the new space of motherhood.  It’s difficult when you now orbit a tiny human being.  It’s difficult to recognize yourself or to understand your former self in light of this new space.  It’s difficult to be multi-dimensional – occupying two or more very important and encompassing spaces at the same time.

Time is relative.  And yet it slips away dangerously fast, so fast, in fact, that your ever changing baby makes you sometimes feel like you’re in a different galaxy overseeing a little alien creature that undergoes a swift and constant metamorphosis.  Your life begins to feel like science fiction.

I mean, pregnancy makes you feel like an alien host!  Birth makes you feel like an alien mother.  Postpartum life makes you feel like aliens have sucked out your brain.

So how do you grasp your new place in space, in time, in reality?

With a little light, love and laughter.  Right??

Right after my baby was born I watched and enjoyed a couple of pregnant comedians doing stand-up specials.  Ali Wong and Amy Schumer had me in stitches over pregnancy and new mom subject material – from mom brain and breastfeeding  to baby taking over your life.  If you don’t laugh about it you’ll cry.

If comedians tried to tackle this subject material on stage with fully pregnant bodies ten years ago they would have been shut down.  Today it works.  Women are getting more and more opportunities to speak up.  We’re normalizing the very things that had been open for judgment or shut down for representing the messiness of womanhood – things like menstruation, childbirth, breastfeeding, c-sections, advanced age pregnancy, birth control or postpartum depression.

But you can’t always laugh, or love, or find light in the difficult stuff.  When you are deep in it you do your best to survive – mostly on limited sleep.

Addressing the new mom role is important.  While it is a different experience for every woman it is still full of new feelings, emotions, judgements, ideas and realities.  And a gentle understanding needs to prevail when speaking about postpartum hormones, baby weight and body image, “baby brain”, depression and so on.   Especially when talking to a new mom.  Mommy shaming needs to stop and support needs to prevail.

I also want to share my experience regarding family and friends who have tried to offer up unsolicited advice – and keep in mind not every woman minds unsolicited advice.  Throw in hormones, sleep deprivation and the struggle to find your own way on your own terms – well, you might experience this differently than prior to baby.

I am not the kind of new mom that does well with others posturing their “expertise” and advice without my asking for it.  Personally, I think it’s important to give a new mom her space to figure out her new role and her child.  Boundaries should always be respected!  This can be especially challenging with parents and in-laws who are excited to be grandparents but might forget that they already had their turn to parent – it’s now the new mom’s turn.

For me, the general rule for my tribe is to wait to be asked for help or advice and to not take things personally.  Friends and family shouldn’t be offended if they’re not asked for help or advice.  Not to be disrespectful, but it’s not about them.  New momma is growing and developing her own way.  Besides, I had already established my personal circle of advisors to help me out – I have an incredible doula who continues to help me beyond my child’s birth, I have an amazing lactation consultant, and my son and I have an amazing team of doctors!  I am in a mom’s group that has given me invaluable support and advice – mothers who are in it with me or have just gone through it.  Their perspective is fresh, current and applicable!  This is just one other area of space that needs to be carefully and thoughtfully established for the postpartum mom.

If we did a better job as a society in talking about the postpartum woman, from healthcare to the workplace, then things would be a lot easier.  The postpartum period is mostly ignored – to the point that follow up doctors appointments are in plenty for your newborn but not for you.  I had just one appointment after six weeks of major surgery to deliver my son.  And my pain was mostly ignored.  It’s no wonder so many new moms feel invisible, broken and, yes, depressed.

Don’t even get me started on maternity leave in this country.

So what do you do with all of this newness?  How do you navigate all of this unchartered territory in your life that now requires you to explore and inhabit it?  I tried reading new mom guide books, articles on parenting, and spiritual books on what it means to be a mother and how to find passion again in your work/career after having a baby.

Then I stopped trying to figure it all out.  I put my energy and focus on my baby.  And I tried to implement some self care via my recovery – thankfully gifted to me in a postpartum healing and wellness package my mother bought for me.  For that, I was lucky.

The wellness treatments included warming acupuncture (with cupping and my favorite – moxibustion – and a heat lamp), postpartum massage, Mayan abdominal massage that really helps with c-section scar tissue, and new mother chiropractic care which addresses the recovery from a pregnant body and all those hours of neck strain from looking downward when nursing.  Restoring your body and being mindful about your postpartum experience is a major step in healing physically and mentally.  This should be available to all women.  Sadly, this practice is non-existent in most places.

As for what I could do for myself?  I gave myself a break.

I decided it’s okay to be lost in space when it comes to my business.  It’s alright to not write blog posts while I’m figuring out feeding and napping schedules and everything else.  It’s just fine to coast along like a satellite floating in one direction – forward.

I still have to run this business.  The wine does not make or sell itself.  I still have to be somewhat present.  I’m open to allowing myself to fall in love with my work all over again – after I spend this special time falling in love with my baby.

In being present with my changing world I’m exploring what it feels like to let go of the notion that my business used to be the most important thing outside of my marriage.  Journaling has helped me in that exploration.

While my business isn’t at the center of my universe, it’s kind of like a really important galaxy with its own solar system.  It still deserves my attention and care.  Learning to ask for more help has been key for me.

There are so many great resources for new moms.  Joining a local new moms group was very important for me.  It gave me a real sense of community and space to rant so that I’m not always dumping things on my husband.  He’s great and is always there for me to dump away.  It’s just nice to have another place to go, too.

My health insurance offers excellent counseling for new moms.  I started to take advantage of that.  Talking to a professional about your feelings helps clear your head of negative thoughts and anxiety, and confronts potential postpartum depression.

Motherhood is a journey.  And it is okay to question who you are as you evolve as a human.  Finding tools that help you navigate your new world is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family.

There are services and groups for all socio-economic backgrounds.  You just have to do some research for what resonates with you and then reach out to the universe for the help you need.

Mommy blogs aim to help other moms in the thick of it.  While I’m not committing to a single subject blog of ongoing mothering topics, I hope this blog entry is helpful.  At minimum, I hope my perspective and experience helps to expand community and foster some normalcy for other new moms.









Winter Has Come


I took a hiatus from this blog.  Once I got into the thick of Harvest 2018, while in the second trimester of my first pregnancy, I lost the ability to think outside of the demands of bringing in grapes, processing grapes, fermenting grapes, pressing grapes and putting nascent wine into barrel for winter hibernation.

Winter is my season.  I was born in the midst of an ice storm in Havre de Grace, Maryland in the month of January, after all.  I love snow and staying home to stay warm.  But, this year, as harvest wrapped up and the holidays came along, I felt a sense of melancholy.  This was the first time I had missed spending Christmas with my family – ever.  It’s bad enough that I don’t get to see my family enough.  Missing our family traditions made me feel alienated in our quiet, little farm abode in Newberg, Oregon.  I missed my family.  I missed the Christmas traditions that I looked forward to sharing with my family:  driving through the neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights; the Italian tradition of the feast of the seven fishes on Christmas Eve; Midnight Mass; Danish smørrebrød on Christmas morning; watching my young niece and nephew enjoy the magic and wonder of Christmas morning; enjoying the cozy togetherness, the simple art of hygge (the Danish art of coziness); and going out for the annual holiday movie with my siblings (specifically the blockbuster sequel genres of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars).

I had to miss going home for the holidays because I was 36 weeks pregnant and unable travel across country by airplane.  And while many friends in my social media circles tried to console me and remind me that I have my own home now and my own family – a doting husband and a baby on the way – I couldn’t shake my winter blues.

While there’s nothing like going home for Christmas, it turns out that my many friends in my social media circles were right.  Traditions can be edited, families grow, and life goes on.  My sweet husband worked hard to ensure my winter – and the holidays – were still warm and cozy.  They were different, but no less special.  We had Christmas Eve dinner with his father, aunt and cousins; we attended Midnight Mass at the beautiful Grotto in Portland; he made us a beautiful Danish smørrebrød on Christmas morning; we quietly opened up gifts that were all for our soon-to-arrive baby; and, on New Year’s Eve we had a magical dinner in and set off crackers that sent brightly colored streamers to adorn our Christmas tree while sipping on Champagne, and then we slow danced to Auld Lang Syne.  It was all perfect.

I got my wonderful winter.  My birthday came along and my husband made a perfect Coq au Vin which we paired with a special bottle of 2011 Clos Roche Blanche Cuvée Pif.  This wine is significant for several reasons.  For one, I made my first wine for my business in the same vintage – 2011.  Clos Roche Blanche was the inspiration for the first red wine I ever made – my Oregon “Tour Rain” Vin Rouge – which is 40% Gamay Noir and 60% Cabernet Franc.  The 2011 CRB was born to go with my husband’s Coq au Vin.  It was nice to finally sip on some wine without repulsion during this pregnancy.  It was like falling in love with wine all over again!

As these annual markers and milestones passed, we were closer to delivering our baby.  On the weekend of our 38th week gestation we decided to take a last minute “babymoon”.  I got the green light from my doctor and we packed up for a much needed respite up on Mt. Hood.  We arrived at our friend’s quaint cabin in the snowy village of Government Camp.  We enjoyed precious time together – just the two of us before becoming three – cooking lovely meals, my husband building the best woodstove fires, playing rounds of gin rummy, snuggling, taking easy walks in the snow, and then snowshoeing a moderate trail for two miles on our last day on the mountain.  I was proud of myself for snowshoeing at 38 weeks pregnant!  It felt wonderful – my joints opened up, the fresh air was like medicine, and the snowfall was a welcome peace.  Our babymoon was winter jubilation.

The following week, I began early labor at home.  Winter had come.

After two days of early labor at home, we checked into the hospital for a light induction.  More than 24 hours later, after active labor followed by 3 hours of pushing, and a baby not passing through the pelvic bone, we were carted into surgery for a C-section.  Our beautiful baby boy was born on January 15th.

For a winemaker, this is the perfect time to have a baby.  The barrels were getting topped, as needed.  And plans for bottling the white wines in March have already been made with minimal work to do beforehand.  My husband was able to take off four weeks from work so that we could create our little fourth trimester cocoon.  We have been cozy at home, our Christmas tree still up (and quite a hit for our newborn’s gazing delight), sleeping, napping, breastfeeding, and eating nourishing, comforting winter foods – rich yellow lentil soup, beef chili, lasagna, baked sweet potatoes, southwest hash browns with farm eggs – our refrigerator and freezer prepped before heading to the hospital.  And, many of our friends in the wine business helped us out with a meal train – bringing restaurant quality foods and groceries to our front door.

We aren’t leaving the house and we aren’t opening up the door for visitors.  We are using this time to nurture and protect our newborn, allowing me to heal from both pushing in active labor and a c-section, and using this time for family bonding.  We are also in the midst of a measles outbreak in the greater Portland / Southwest Washington area – which is causing a bit of panic for many of us with babies under a year old who cannot get vaccinated.  It’s crazy, but suddenly it feels more like 1819 than 2019 with mostly anti vaxxers’ children under the age of 10 getting sick, but, putting babies and immune compromised people in danger.

Sign of the times, I guess.  The world seems crazy!  It is why I take even more comfort in staying home with my husband and baby for a winter hibernation.  It is quiet, healthy and perfect.  I am activated to write more in the few precious moments when I can sit down while the baby is sleeping, sip on some hot tea, and give my patient, sweet cat some attention.  I have a lot on my mind right now – mostly about parenting and processing a traumatic birth and dealing with the physical discomforts that come with healing from childbirth.  So, the blog will reflect what’s going on in my mind.  Eventually, it will turn back to winemaking thoughts and nutrition and living on our sweet farmstead in Oregon wine country.  There’s plenty of time for those things.  We are very much in the moment now, and that reflects mid winter, some solitude and the earliest days of caring for a newborn – with all of its beauty and wonder.  Yes, I got my wonderful winter.





Top Ten Essentials for How I Survived At-Home Lock Down When Pregnant

Smokey Sunset over Mount Scott in Happy Valley Oregon

There are many reasons why a pregnant woman may be stranded at home in lock down mode.  For me, it has been the unhealthy air quality in and around Portland.  Wildfires in Washington and British Columbia have dumped smoke into the region, making Portland one of the worst cities in the world for air pollution.  It’s been three days of this.

Here are the essentials I’ve relied on to prevent myself from going stir-crazy.

10.  Housework.  My least favorite thing to do.  But, when I’m home, there’s always something that needs to get cleaned or organized.  I’ve been up to my elbows washing dishes, doing laundry, tidying up the bathroom, changing the sheets in the bedroom, etc.  You won’t find me cleaning the litter box ( a no-no when you’re pregnant).  I’m also not vacuuming because I just read an article yesterday about avoiding this chore while particulate matter is polluting the air (from wildfires).  I am also going through my stuff, making piles and purging things I don’t need anymore in preparation for our upcoming move.

9.  Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime.  What can I say?  I like a good movie or a binge-worthy series to pass the time.  The latest binging has been on HBO’s “Sharp Objects” and “Succession“.

8   Pinterest.  Getting ideas for the nursery.  There are too many cute ideas out there! I love the inspiration I get when setting up my boards.  Dreaming up the space for our little arrival makes things feel real.

7.  Caviar.  Not fish eggs.  The restaurant delivery service.  I’d put grocery delivery here, as well.  But, there’s something sweetly indulgent about having really great restaurant food available for delivery.

6.  Books.  “Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth & Early Motherhood” by Erica Chidi Cohen; “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” by Pamela Druckerman; and “Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms” by Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon.  I’m not including book reviews here.  I’ll just say that these are the kinds of books that keep my attention while I’m stuck at home.  I appreciate bits of wisdom and inspiration while I’m simultaneously creating a human life and building my business.

5.  Monthly Planner.  I am quite OCD when it comes to planning out my week and my days – both for work and managing our pregnancy.  My husband calls this obsessive attention to detail my OCA – obsessive compulsive advantage.

4.  Healthy Snacks.  If you’re in your second trimester, like me, you’re hungry all day and you need to get certain nutrients in your diet for your growing baby.  I’m grazing and noshing all day on things like an organic apple with all natural chunky peanut butter; Mary’s Gone Crackers Super Seed Everything with sharp cheddar cheese; watermelon slices (my most obsessive craving); hard boiled eggs with fresh ground pepper; almonds and dried plums, otherwise known as prunes.

3.  Baby Registry.  I am just getting started.  It’s a bit overwhelming being a first-time mom-to-be, so, every ad on Facebook that looks like something I will desperately need, or face dire consequences, has me liking everything from swaddle blankets to biodegradable diapers, to the “world’s best diaper bag”.  Thankfully, experienced moms chimed in and gave me great advice on how to build an essential baby item or registry list.  The big hint – you don’t need most of the fluff that target marketing is hitting you with!

2.  Online Prenatal Yoga Videos.  We are still in my apartment until we close on our first house.  So, I’m feeling a little cramped.  Movement is essential.  And, yoga offers restorative care and eases the little pains of pregnancy like a sore back.  A good one that is free:  Prenatal Yoga Center.

1.  My Business.  One of the benefits of owning my own business is that I control my schedule and work routine – for the most part.  Being a winemaker means I have to  manage my time during the busy season – harvest – as well as the work load leading up to our bottling runs, as well as running the sales and marketing side of the business.  Right now, I’m gearing up for harvest 2018 and putting together my comprehensive vintage notebook, which I do every year to manage each individual lot of wine that I make.  I’m using this time at home to get organized and to release new reds that just got bottled in July.

Low Hemoglobin, Anemia & Pregnancy

Photo by me:  foods rich in iron, folic acid and vitamins B-12 and C

It’s hard enough trying to balance all of the rules, changes, recommendations, and ups and downs of pregnancy, let alone to manage all of these things when you are over 35 years old.  There’s real pressure to make pristine choices to avoid and lower your risk – and because you’re older, your risk is greater – for everything from too much weight gain, too little weight gain, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, anemia, low birth rate, and so on.

A huge part of my pregnancy journey has been my nutrition.  I have working knowledge of the best diet regimen for my personal bio-individual needs – especially since I have celiac disease and I need to boost my nutrient intake.  I have been taking a high quality, organic, food-based prenatal vitamin, along with a vitamin D3 supplement, prenatal DHA (Omega-3 support), and a 90-billion count probiotic.  All of these supplements address my personal needs.

Most importantly, I have been eating whole foods, organic whenever possible, and no processed food.  I have totally eliminated alcohol and significantly minimized my caffeine intake.  I’m following all of the rules.  I’m really trying!

At 17 weeks, I had my blood drawn for about 8 different vials – primarily for genetic testing and to learn our baby’s gender.  My inbox has been receiving messages daily with a new test result in, one by one.  All of the tests, thus far, have shown nothing but good health!  It’s been a relief.  However, yesterday, I received the results for my blood count with about 12 segments of my blood tested and analyzed.   My blood counts were all good, within normal ranges, except for my hemoglobin.  It was marked in the “Flag” section of the results with an ominous letter “L” for low.

My hemoglobin checked in at 11.5 g/dL, which is low for a non-pregnant healthy woman.  However, normal hemoglobin in pregnancy is typically anywhere between 10-14 g/dL.

So, what’s the deal with low hemoglobin and pregnancy?

Hemoglobin level of pregnancy can naturally lower to 10.5 gm/dL, which represents a normal anemia of pregnancy.  Normal anemia?

What is anemia?  It is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen.

Anemia is very common!  Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness or increased heartbeat.

Typcially treatment for anemia depends on the underlying diagnosis.  Iron supplements may be used for iron deficiency. Vitamin B supplements maybe used for low vitamin levels.  But, anemia in pregnancy is normal and can often be corrected via proper nutrition.

According to, “a fall in hemoglobin levels during pregnancy is caused by a greater expansion of plasma volume compared with the increase in red cell volume.”  This is because pregnant women usually increase anywhere from 30 to 50 percent more blood volume than women who are not pregnant.

This is why pregnant women are often advised to increase their iron levels.  Ideally, this is accomplished by modifying the diet to eat more iron-rich foods.

I thought I was doing a good job of getting my daily recommended amounts of iron through my diet.  And, to be fair, I was probably doing a pretty good job.  This blood count test just affirmed for me the need to increase my food intake and by making healthy nutritious choices to meet those growing nutrient needs.

Your baby practically steals your nutrients from your body, so, your nutrient intake needs to exceed what is normal for you prior to pregnancy.

Many women will hear “low iron” and run for the burgers and steaks.  While lean meats are an excellent source for iron, it’s not enough.

While increasing your intake of iron-rich foods like whole eggs, spinach, artichokes, beans, lean meats, and seafood, you also need to add foods rich in cofactors – specifically folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin C – which are important for maintaining normal hemoglobin levels.   Keep in mind a cofactor is necessary substance that is essential for an enzymatic reaction to complete.  So, in order for your body to properly process iron, cofactors like folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin C are necessary for the enzymatic reaction to complete, breaking down the vitamins and minerals so that they can get absorbed into the blood stream to nourish you and your baby.

So, consuming all of the iron-rich foods in the world won’t matter if you don’t also eat cofactors to get the most out of the iron in your diet.  Make sense?

Here’s a list of iron-rich foods:
green leafy vegetables
whole egg
pumpkin seeds
lean meats

Here’s a list of foods rich in cofactors folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin C:
citrus fruits
bell peppers

For questions or concerns about low hemoglobin and anemia in pregnancy, contact your healthcare provider.  You can always start with managing your diet to include these nutrient-rich foods.  If your levels are still low, do not self diagnose iron or other supplements without your healthcare provider’s instruction.  This is because there are different doses and even possible contraindications associated with supplementation.  To protect yourself and your baby, it’s best advised to get professional advice based on your personal needs.