Hot Date. Dream Vacation. Perfect House. What Happened?!

We’ve all experienced it. A situation or upcoming event we have imagined would be particular a way, only to have it turn out drastically different than we planned. Our dreamy anticipation vaporizes once reality dawns.

Blind dates are a perfect example. Men – you discovered her through an online dating site. Her picture was unavailable, but this only added to her mystique. Her line of work is listed as ‘entertainment’. You’re not quite sure what that is, but you suspect it involves dancing. Her age? Experienced. Well! As you approach the park where you agreed to meet, you can’t stop your mind from envisioning someone who looks like this:

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Well, hello there!

But your expectations are quickly dashed when you see your date. That line of entertainment she works in? Not dancing, but playing the synthesizer at the local senior center. She’s experienced all right! Experienced at whipping out the tissues she keeps stashed in her sweater sleeves in case she has a sneezing fit.

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“Maybe my dentures fell in this bag. I hope I find them before my date arrives!”

Ladies – you have experienced the same. Your friend swears she has the perfect guy for you. She promises he’s not fat, but “stocky.” He’s a doctor and such a “sweetie.” Why is he still single? He was married to his career, but now he’s ready to settle down and start a family. When you meet this gent, you find he resembles Quasimodo. He confesses your friend did stretch the truth – he’s not really a doctor, but he does work in a hospital. In the cafeteria, to be precise. He proceeds to spend the rest of the evening telling you – in minute detail – his responsibilities in the bustling hospital kitchen. You realize one thing your friend was right about: he really is married to his job.

Let’s move on to vacations. How often do we imagine our vacation will be tranquil, secluded and relaxing?

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Paradise Found

But when we arrive, we learn the beach is a popular destination for cruise ships and it’s filled with screaming children, hollering parents and loud music?

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Paradise Lost

Children. You daydream for months about the upcoming birth of your baby: her little fingers gripping yours, holding her while you glide back and forth in the rocking chair. Perhaps you contemplate learning how to knit baby booties after she is born.

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What you thought you’d get

Yet, when your bundle of screaming joy arrives, you find you’re pacing the floors deep into the night, trying to calm Baby Evil. The only thing you can imagine doing with knitting needles is jamming them into your ears to block out the crying.

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What you got.

House hunting. Your Realtor tells you she has the perfect home in your price range. You follow the winding path to the house, your stomach fluttering. You have already envisioned what color you’ll paint your bedroom. Your neighbor’s house only fuels your excitement:

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This neighborhood is starting to look good!

Yet, the house you can afford – the house your Realtor is excited to show you – looks like this:

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Oh, that’s right. I forgot about our budget.

Lastly, your kids have finally convinced you to get a dog. They vow to walk and pick up after it. One even promises to vacuum for you. You relent, but you tell them it must be calm and small. Your children spend hours online, searching local animal rescue sites. Your husband contacts breeders. You fill out yards of paper work. At one point you’re not certain if you’re adopting a dog or a child, the process  is so rigorous. The night before you pick up Fido, your thoughts drift to the little dog that has managed to wiggle its way into your heart already. You haven’t seen him yet – your kids and husband who have met him tell you he’s brown and lovable. You picture him spending his last night in the shelter:

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Sweet, docile family dog you expect to see

The next afternoon, you hear the family car pull into the driveway. You open the front door, only to see a large beast running towards you. Drool is flying from his mouth and his eyes look crazed. “Yeah, about the ‘being small and calm’ part” your husband says right before Cujo leaps up on you with muddy paws.

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The actual family dog

Bill Watterson, the author/creator, of Calvin and Hobbes, said it best, “I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.”

Photo Credits: 

Attractive Date: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/andre-batista/3548312095/”>André-Batista</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Disappointment Date: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/gingiber/3672189301/”>gingiber</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt; 

Paradise Found Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsmoral/3278536843/”>jsmoral</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Paradise Lost Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/otimo/182432305/”>Man with no name</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Sleeping Baby Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/diathesis/2383571187/”>diathesis</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Money Pit Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/6307845575/”>reallyboring</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Sweet Dog: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/williammarlow/5976796676/”>WilliamMarlow</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Crazy Dog: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thekellyscope/4627967858/”>thekellyscope</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Facebook Users: Where Do You Belong?

It has been four years since I joined the 1.19 billion Facebook users. Throughout this period, I have observed very distinct behavior patterns of people who regularly use Facebook. After much rumination, sleepless nights, and obsessive floor pacing (well, not really), I categorized them into the following groups:

Braggy: For some, Facebook is a platform for bragging. These boasting comments are usually veiled as status updates.

Just threw together a Herb Crusted Beef Rib Roast with Pinot Noir Jus before taking little Kylie to oboe lessons.

Finished running 16.2 miles in 11 minutes. Who wants to join me tomorrow?

Sometimes, Braggy posts are written in a tired voice, as though being wonderful is exhausting.

While it’s hard getting up at 2 a.m. to squeeze in my four-hour total body workout, followed by preparing breakfast for the family, I know staying healthy for my family is important.

Last night James spelled Lieutenant! And he’s only 22 months old! I knew not allowing him to watch TV would reap loads of benefits. While it can be exhausting never having a break for myself, look at the fruit of my labor.

Literal Status Updates: Literal Status Updates give you a play-by-play account of the Facebook user’s day: what they are currently doing, what they are thinking, what’s on their agenda for the day. Literal Status Update Facebook users take the what’s on your mind? or what’s your status? question from Facebook quite literally. Literal Status Updates can include comments on ball games and TV shows the Facebook user is watching as they write their post.

At the grocery store.

C’mon Eli! Another interception?!

Time for lunch.

Making steak and potatoes for dinner. (With a glass of wine, of course. LOL!)

A sub-category of Literal Status Updates are Weather Posts – for those of us who live in windowless houses.

Snow!

Three inches so far and it’s still snowing.

19 degrees out! Brrrr!

Frequent Complaining Posts: Now, we are all prone to complain. Life ain’t easy, and commiseration can be soothing. The once-in-a-while-grumble is NOT included in the Frequent Complaining Posts category. It’s the daily gripe that falls into this group. Frequent Complaining Posts are similar to Literal Status Updates except they have a negative ring to them. For some people, Facebook is their way to share every sniffle and cough, every slight injustice that crosses their path. What’s most intriguing about the Frequent Complaining Posts is how these Facebook users are so eager to complain that they stop whatever they are doing to post  – whether it is while driving, or when they’re at work.

Another cold! Just when I was starting to feel better.

Grocery store is out of my favorite peanut butter. Are you kidding me?

Another sleepless night.

The Suspenseful Posts: These statuses leave you hanging. They are meant to make you wonder what on earth has happened, and are probably intended to have you checking back for updates.

So excited!

Can’t stop crying.

Best day EVER!

My poor hubby!

Sometimes the follow-up information to The Suspenseful Post is still very vague, especially when the original post was one of concern. While we understand privacy, it’s perplexing why the Facebook user who writes The Suspenseful Post in the first place would then keep the situation secretive. So you want us to know that you can’t stop crying, but you don’t want us to know why? Or What happened to your husband? What are we supposed to do with this information?

Political Posts: Are just that: statements about a political topic – which usually garners several supportive comments and “likes” as well as outraged responses. Things never end well, and opinions are rarely altered. De-friending over Political Posts is not uncommonSome Facebook users are regular Political Posters, while others stay away from the topics entirely – playing Switzerland in a messy war zone.

The Regular Rants: Just as with complaining, we all have a tendency to rant about a situation. The Regular Rants are akin to Frequent Complaining Posts, but with more of an edge. In these posts, however, the Facebook user’s anger seeps through their words. Regular Rants typically include lots of capital letters and exclamation points.

Could the guy driving in front of me go any slower? People older than 80 SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO DRIVE.

[insert name] is an idiot and I don’t know how ANYONE could be STUPID enough to vote for him!!

I can’t believe I went to college for THIS! What WAS I THINKING?

The Obsessive Topic: These Facebook users have a specific interest, issue, or cause that consumes them. Examples include a hobby, animal welfare, diet, a particular movement (such as gun rights or immigration reform), their pet, or a current event. When is it considered an Obsessive Topic? When the Facebook user posts at least once a day, every day about said topic. Pictures and links to unprofessional websites are common, as are the Facebook user “liking” their own status.

While every Facebook user has the tendency to dip their toes into each of these categories, others jump in cannonball style. Facebook seems to understand this, and has created a function that allows users to hide status updates from those habitual Political Posters, Regular Ranters and Frequent Complainers.

In spite of these behavior patterns, there are still Wonderful Posts – the comedic ones that make you burst out laughing, the posts with the pictures of your friends’ kids in silly Halloween costumes, the updates on ill friends, or the pictures of exotic vacations you someday hope to go on yourself. The Wonderful Posts are why I remain on Facebook, even though my kids watch television, I don’t cook Herb Crusted Beef Rib Roast with Pinot Noir Jus, and I could care less what Eli Manning is doing right this very minute.

Your Memoir

If you were to write a memoir, what would it contain? First, let me define “memoir.” The Oxford Dictionary states that a memoir is, “a biography written from personal knowledge.” O“an essay on a learned subject.”

When I think of a memoir, I envision a thick book just filled with pages upon pages of life events written by someone notable. (Think Bill Clinton’s My Life or Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes.) Since I haven’t turned forty yet, it seems premature to write a biographical memoir.

But an essay on a learned subject? Well! Now that is doable.

Yet, there are a multitude of learned subjects I would love to discuss in my memoir. I can’t help but feel limiting it to only one subject would be withholding crucial life lessons that could aid my readers. What if the below tidbits dramatically change your life? So, at risk of breaking all literary convention, I present you with The Underground Writer’s Memoir.

Baking powder and baking soda are two entirely different things. Ask my family. They learned this brutal truth several Sundays ago when I tried to make pancakes from scratch. The recipe called for baking powder. In my hasty, caffeine infused rush, I accidentally used baking soda. Twice. (Since I tossed the first batch after my husband and daughter said the pancakes tasted acidic … and resembled amoebas.)

Don’t be fooled by the song, “Send In The Clowns” by Judy Collins. You may think this is a peppy tune since the word “clown” is in the title. Trust me, it’s not peppy. There is no circus music, as one might expect. In fact, it just might be the most depressing song in the history of music. Whatever you do, DON’T put this song in the music queue for your child’s birthday. Unless you want to curl up into a ball and sob your eyes out, I recommend staying away from the song altogether.

Not everyone finds the surgery you had as fascinating as you do. When I was fourteen, my parents invited friends over for dinner. The man brought the video of his recent cataract surgery. He really thought we wanted to watch it. Out of kindness we did, but it was such an awkward moment: sitting in the living room, the taste of dessert still fresh on our tongues, as we watched this guy’s eyeball get stitched back together.

No one can prepare you for how insanely difficult it is to be a parent. I’m not referring to such incidents as your teenager having an attitude, or your eight your old who still refuses to eat anything green. I am talking about that deep, penetrating ache you feel when your child comes home from school and says they spent recess alone, again. Or that suffocating panic when the pediatrician calls with test results they find concerning. As Erma Bombeck so eloquently stated, “Having children is forever deciding to have your heart go walking outside your body.”

While these life lessons aren’t exactly groundbreaking or revelational, if they help a part of your day be a bit easier, then my memoir of lessons learned was an (unpublished) success .

My Disease

I have a disease. Although it’s not recognized by the American Medical Association, it is actually quite common among women. It is referred to as the Melting Flesh Disease.

The symptoms of Melting Flesh Disease occur quite suddenly – in fact, moments after giving birth. The skin on one’s abdomen suddenly sags as though it has lost all hope. Victims of Melting Flesh Disease can go to the gym as much as their hearts content, but this only causes psychological trauma because no matter how many crunches they do or abdominal machines they use, there is no hope for Melting Flesh Disease. The damage has been done. The skin will continue to wrinkle and sag like a deflated balloon. Once round and taught, belly buttons resemble a puckered face.

Some women victoriously avoid Melting Flesh Disease. These women are either 6 feet tall and/or had babies weighing no more than five pounds. For those of us who had hearty-sized babies and are of average height, we paid severely.

It is easy to blame the media for our angst. Every magazine cover, underwear sale flyer, and commercial show women sporting flat abdomens with suspiciously perky breasts. Yet, we can’t fault the media entirely. While at the grocery store recently, a woman in a halter top was sashaying through the aisles. She was not a model, but she had a stomach that did not have Melting Flesh Disease and she clearly enjoyed flaunting it. My reaction? I stood up taller and sucked in my breath until my stretched-out belly muscles ached.

“What can be done?” I asked my physician, “Is there hope?”

“Not really. Multiple pregnancies stretch out abdominal muscles and skin until their elasticity is lost. The only thing that can be done is surgery.”

Upon returning home I did an Internet search. The cost of curing Melting Flesh Disease would be around $10,000 and it’s considered major surgery. There is hope, I suppose, if I had nothing else to use $10,000 on and had a full-time nanny to help me while I recuperate.

Thus, the only option is to make Melting Flesh Disease attractive. Like a war wound that someone is proud of displaying (“See this scar? I got that in ‘Nam”), Melting Flesh Disease must be embraced. When our loose skin peeks out from under our shirts, people would nudge one another and whisper, “See her? She carried another life in her body for 9 months. She then went through intense pain to deliver the baby. Her body and heart were forever changed. She is so brave.”

When society looks at models prancing around in string bikinis they would scoff, “She doesn’t have a mommy tummy. She’s got a long way to go.”  Tummy tucks would be dismissed – a sign of hiding the ultimate sacrifice. Melting Flesh Disease would be renamed. Instead it would be called Warrior Stomach.

Father’s Day Schmather’s Day

Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants. In 2011, an estimated 75 million people dined away from home on that sacred Sunday. (If in doubt of these statistics, click here.) While moms were enjoying a meal they did not have to cook, they were also presented with the ever popular Mother’s Day card. Approximately 670 million dollars is spent each year on Mother’s Day cards (Thinking, “That can’t be right!”?  Click here.)

Yet, what about good old dad? I was recently contacted by a reader who wanted to know my thoughts on why there is such a measly selection for Father’s Day cards and a plethora of Mother’s Day cards. An Internet search on Father’s Day statistics resulted in very little information, other than the fact that most people eat barbecue on Father’s Day (which I assume dad grills).

My reader was on to something. Why is Father’s Day not as celebrated as Mother’s Day?

There are several explanations for why Mother’s Day is seemingly more important than Father’s Day:

Mama’s Boys: Typically Italian, these men never really cut the cord with their moms. Some mama’s boys remain living with their mom and never marry. Others do marry, but continue to keep Mama Mia their main lady. While perhaps emotionally stunted, Mama’s Boys aren’t dumb, so they know to buy their favorite lady a card and take her out for dinner on Mother’s Day. Mama’s Boys also tend to find their father a nuisance – even a potential competitor for their mama’s attention. Therefore, Father’s Day isn’t something high on the Mama’s Boys list.

If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy: Need I say more? There isn’t a saying, “If daddy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” We seem to be able to deal with dad’s grumpiness, but not mom’s. Not honoring mom on Mother’s Day is the mistake of all mistakes, and we pay severely. Hallmark knows this.

Greeting Card Writers are Mostly Female: And irate ones, at that. The card company employees use Father’s Day as a time to blow off some steam. Husband forgot to take out the garbage again? Or spent a tad too much playing poker with the guys?  The greeting cards would read: “Father – You Taught Me Everything I Needed To Know. Too Bad My Husband Isn’t As Wonderful As You” or “Dad – You Are So Smart. I Should Have Listened To You And Never Married Him.” Obviously, these cards never make it to the shelves, resulting in a paltry Father’s Day card selection.

Women Live Longer Than Men: Can’t give a deceased dad a card, can you?

Single Parent Homes: According to the 2010 census, there were 11.7 million single parent homes. 9.9 of them were custodial moms (meaning – the mom lived home and the father did not) while only 1.8 million were custodial dads. This means 85% of homes were headed by single moms, and only 15% by dads. These are just raw numbers of course. A mother living with her children instead of the father does not imply the father is an absent one. It does imply, however, that the kids see mom more and they are aware of this when Mother’s Day rolls around. (Remember: when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.)

Statistically speaking, it seems that gnawing on barbecue while giving dad a cheesy card is how Father’s Day will be celebrated tomorrow. Since Hallmark isn’t taking advantage of this holiday, it’s up to us to do so.

A Random Request

Who has noticed the words: “Fact. Fiction and Random Requests” next to the turquoise typewriter in my heading? (Raise your eyes a bit. See it? Okay.) I have received my very first “random request.” A reader asked that I write some musings on an article she recently read… 

When my children were younger and still in diapers, I periodically checked to see if their diapers were wet. While this task certainly seemed easy enough, apparently Huggies Diapers disagrees. According to this site, Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Huggies Disposable Diapers, is developing the TweetPee. Yes, that’s right, the TweetPee is an app that will notify you when your kid has peed.

Curiosity got the best of me and I watched the commercial. Since the video is in Portuguese I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, however, I don’t think that really mattered. It went something like this: Baby is in a crib. Parent attaches a plastic owl figurine (who has a rather startled expression on its face) on baby’s diaper. Kid pees. Parents receive a text that their baby’s diaper is getting wet. The end.

While the TweetPee encourages lackadaisical parenting and borders on insanity, Huggies may be onto something. Notification of certain situations could be very helpful.

Like a GrumpGauge, for example. This would – as stated – measure a person’s grumpiness. When a particular person we added to our GrumpGauge app was getting high on the grumpiness scale, we would receive notice on our phone. We could then avoid that person if possible. If avoiding the person was not an option, we could at least prepare ourselves for their orneriness. How the GrumpGauge device that would notify us of the grumpiness level would be attached to the person has yet to be determined.

PristinePotty would also be an excellent app. While out in public, the PristinePotty would notify us of the cleanest bathroom in the vicinity. We have all had the unfortunate experience of walking into a public restroom’s stall only to reverse right back out because of what we found. Because young children have an insatiable curiosity with public restrooms (ever notice how your kid simply has to use the bathroom as soon as you step foot in a store or restaurant?), the PristinePotty would be especially helpful for parents.

Lastly, a TalksTooMuch app would be lovely. With notifications from our TalksTooMuch app, we would know what row to sit in at the movies and the row to avoid because someone chatty was nearby. The TalksTooMuch app would also be handy for choosing what checkout lane to not use. (Ever get a chatty cashier? I once learned the cashier I was using had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was getting new contacts. By the time he was done, the ice cream in my cart was practically melted.) The best advantage of the TalksTooMuch app is that it would also notify you if you were talking too much. This would save many first dates.

While these ideas may seem a bit far fetched – the fact that Huggies Diapers is developing the TweetPee – well, maybe GrumpGauge, PristinePotty, and TalksTooMuch apps aren’t so far fetched after all.

Real Sex Wouldn’t Sell

Sex sells. If you truly doubt this, just look at the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. While I have never read any of the 50 Shades books, I have heard the trilogy being referred to as porn in print, and the plot is as riveting as a Pat The Bunny board book. Yet, it has sold over 70 million copies worldwide. 70 million.

Perhaps one of the reasons sex sells is because the scenes in books are so outrageously unrealistic. Let’s make them real for a moment:

Diane lit the scented candles and smoothed the satin sheets on her bed. Her husband entered the room and drew her in his arms. At that moment, the doorbell rang. His parents had decided to pop in for a visit.

While driving home from the restaurant, Andy reached over and squeezed Connie’s knee and gave her a knowing look. “Not tonight,” she said, “That linguine didn’t sit well with my stomach.”

“I’m ovulating!” Jessica sang as she waived the Clearblue Easy Ovulation Detector stick in the air. “Drop those boxer shorts and lets get busy,” She ordered her husband, “We have exactly 20 minutes before I have to leave for my dentist appoinment.”

Jennifer opened the front door to welcome Chris home from work.  As she stood there, Chris noticed their baby’s dried spit-up on her shoulder and that once again, she had been too tired to shower. Nevertheless, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her in for a kiss.  As their lips touched, Jennifer could tell that Chris had eaten sausage and peppers for lunch. 

Sade played softly on the stereo. Ted lowered the blinds and turned to welcome his wife into his arms.  At that moment they heard their lawn guy weed-wacking underneath their bedroom window.

 The little black dress hugged her in all the right places. When Kevin saw her, his eyes widened. She looked stunning. He ran his eyes slowly down her frame before stopping at her feet – they were clad in black flats. “My mom has the same shoes,” Kevin said flatly.

The couple embraced in the solitude of their bedroom. Just then, a little voice emanated from the other room. “Mommy? Daddy?” The voice said, “I can’t sleep. And I’m thirsty. Can you get me some water?”

Michael dug furiously through his sock drawer. Where were the prophylaxis? He could have sworn he had stuck them here last time. “I guess you’re out of luck,” Anne said as she slipped her nightgown back over her head, “I need a fourth child like I need a hole in the head.”

Sound more like it? A few of the titles would be: 50 Shades of Dirty SocksMaybe Tomorrow Night (If We’re Not Too Tired), Lots of Sex And Still No Baby, Burning Hot With The Flu (So Don’t Even Think About It), and Once Upon A Time (Then We Had Children). Total sales expected to exceed no more than 10 copies.

WTR! (What the Reflux!)

My daughter entered this world the traditional way: with a nice strong epidural and lots of yelling at my husband. I will never forget the moment she was born. She let out a high pitched scream and didn’t stop. My obstetrician paused, looked over at my daughter and said, “Well! There’s nothing wrong with her lungs.” He then pulled off his gloves, tossed them in the garbage, and left to go deliver another baby.

My husband and I looked at one another with raised eyebrows. Even though this was our first baby, we both had a suspicion that if an obstetrician comments on how loud an infant is crying, it can’t possibly be a good sign. We were right. She did not stop screaming. Even the newborn nursery – where I tried to put her so I could sleep – brought her back.

“She can’t stay,” the nurse said cheerfully as she wheeled my crying daughter into my hospital room, “She’s keeping all the other babies awake.”

As I watched the pink-smocked nurse leave, I burst into tears. I didn’t get it. Weren’t babies supposed to sleep? How was I going to sleep with this red faced, screaming little person in my arms? Welcome to parenthood.

The hospital made us take her home. She cried the entire way there. She cried the rest of the day. Then all night. She cried, and cried, and cried. For weeks. And months.

She also vomited excessively. No sooner had I fed her then everything she had taken in would come right back up. Our pediatrician, an angel in the form of a stocky Italian man, was concerned about the weight she was losing. He also wasn’t pleased with her incessant screaming. He diagnosed her with reflux and so our journey began.

My daughter is almost ten now, so most of us are familiar with the term “reflux” being associated with infants. But back in 2003, it was a relatively new concept, and this concept generally did not go over well with the majority of people.

“Reflux? Whoever heard of a baby having reflux? That’s for adults”, “In my day it was called colic”, “How can you medicate a six-week old infant? Aren’t you worried what that will do to her?” “Are you sure you’re not overreacting?”, “Who is your pediatrician?” These were only a few of the comments I heard when I tried to make excuses for why my daughter was so fussy…and didn’t sleep…and why I looked like something out of Night of the Living Dead.

People tried to commiserate with me. “It will get better once she turns three months old.” (It didn’t.) “I know exactly what you’re going through. My son was so colicky when he was born! He didn’t sleep through the night until he was five weeks old!” (Excuse me while I sob.) “Have you tried burping her more?” (Thanks Einstein. Never thought of that.) I found I wanted to kick these people even though they were trying to help.

The word “reflux” became equated with a naughty four letter word in our household. A pacifier was the only thing that would occasionally soothe her, and yet when a well meaning acquaintance told me that her children never used pacifiers (since a good mom should know how to soothe her baby without the use of a pacifier – her words, not mine) I threw it away; Only to drive out to the grocery store late at night to replace it.

I felt inadequate and not up to the task of caring for this puking, crying, squirmy, rashy, insomniac baby. Was I accidentally assigned the wrong daughter? Wasn’t she really supposed to go to a great mom who could handle everything? A mom who makes her own bread and soap and doesn’t own a TV and drives a Prius?

Shortly before her 4th birthday, the doctors discovered that my daughter had a malfunctioning lower esophageal sphincter. In other words, the muscle that was supposed to tighten around her esophagus to keep her esophagus closed and stomach acids in her stomach was not working at all. The doctors suspected that even though she was on reflux medicines, they would never provide adequate relief. At this point, the only option was surgery.

If the idea of my four year old daughter undergoing major surgery hadn’t freaked me out, I may have felt vindicated. Her reflux had been really bad. I hadn’t been overreacting or wrong to use medicine. She wasn’t sleeping because she was in pain, not because I put her to bed too early or too late, or because she didn’t nap. I had done everything I could, and what I had done had not been wrong.

Six years ago on July 12th my little treasure had a Nissen Fundoplication to correct her reflux. The surgery was four hours long and it seems like just yesterday we were sitting in the OR waiting room of the children’s hospital, watching parents leave because their kid’s surgery was over but my daughter’s was not. When they finally wheeled her out of the OR, she looked so tiny on that big gurney. As I approached her the anesthesiologist put his arm around my shoulders and said, “She did great and you’re doing great.” They were the kindest words I could have heard at that moment.

My daughter opened her eyes and looked around with heavy eyelids. “Mommy,” she mumbled groggily, “Get me out of this thing.”

The nurses placed her in my arms and I rocked her back and forth, knowing that the worst was over. Knowing that when we left the hospital the pain she had always known would finally be gone.