Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I'm a Republican. There. I Said It.

Ah.  Another presidential election is heading our way, which can only mean one thing - constant commentary on social media and cable news about which candidate is more of an idiot than the other.  Part of me enjoys this because it means that people are engaged.  The other part of me gets really annoyed by all of this political negativity.  I’ll admit, I’ve ‘unfollowed’ several Facebook ‘friends’ due to their constant political outbursts – Republican and Democrat.  It's not the platform folks!


Up until now, I have tried to make it my policy not to share my political point of view on social media.  I don’t even talk much about it with my friends.  Instead, I try to use Facebook how I believe it should be used – to pretend life is perfect and posting the photos to prove it (photo filter, anyone?). 

But, then I started asking myself if I wasn’t expressing my political thoughts because I didn’t want to encourage more of the same, or if it was because I was afraid of what people would think of me if I stopped being a closet Republican.  Disappointed in myself, I knew it was the latter. 


This is too bad because I’m actually a pretty political person.  It’s a big part of who I am fundamentally.  After all, I’m originally from Hamilton County Indiana, which was the 2nd most conservative county in the nation when I grew up there.  In addition, I don’t have a conversation (including email) with my father without touching on some political topic, and it’s been this way my entire life.  I try to watch Meet the Press and Face the Nation every Sunday.  I read a portion of the Wall Street Journal every morning on my iPad – especially the Opinion Columns.  And, in college I spent an entire summer interning on the Hill in Washington DC for Dan Burton, my hometown Republican Congressman. 

With Congressman Dan Burton.  I called once a week for months to get that internship.

With Senator Bob Doyle and some other interns.  My hair...I know.


After my 13 week stint in DC, I was convinced that I was going to head to the Hill after I graduated to work in public service, then perhaps get my law degree.  However, after graduating with a degree in history, minoring in (what else) political science, I took a job in insurance rather than moving to DC as planned only because I thought it would pay better than being a legislative assistant on the Hill. 


Unfortunately, the fact that I haven’t felt like I can express this side of me has suppressed a large part of who I am, especially since I’m a pretty outspoken person.  However, I was concerned that people would categorize me as all sorts of things that I’m not.  Racist.  Uncaring.  Gun-loving.  Religious fanatic.  Greedy.  Homophobic.  Just name any of the characteristics used by many people to describe a Republican.  This kind of makes me mad, and it is the reason why I’m writing this post.


Of course, anyone that knows me will tell you that I’m none of those things.  I live on an island where white people are the very (very, very) large minority.  I can’t remember the last time I stepped foot in a church.  My husband and I don’t own a gun and never will.  Just a few weeks ago I donated to a local fund to help some guys that got hurt in a boating accident.  I listen to NPR almost every day, and donated to help get it back on-air locally when it went off-air. I love wearing Birkenstocks, but I think my husband has thrown away every pair I own.  I am even seriously considering buying a Subaru Outback as my next car.  I could go on and on.


In fact, in a lot of ways, I’m not a Republican.  At least, I’m not the quintessential Republican.  I actually agree with Democrats on a lot of social issues, and I get very frustrated with the way things go in my party sometimes.  It’s just that when it comes down to the issues that I feel are the most important issues – issues that I think impact everyone the most - my point of view lines up stronger with the Republicans. 


So, please don’t throw things at me, or mislabel me, or key my car.  I’m not a hater.  I’m just a Republican.    



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life After Birth

Where do I begin?  My life changed overnight when I had my son, Charles Kevin O’Neil. Charlie is now 8 weeks old, and I can honestly say that motherhood is much better than I ever imagined it would be.  I will forever be grateful to my son for the endless amount of joy he has brought to my life.  Without a doubt, I have never been as happy as I am today. 

Charlie at 1 Week Old

Sure, there have been some very tough days and moments.  I’m not going to pretend that it has been a piece of cake.  For example, the day after we got home from the hospital, excited and blissful, Charlie cried bloody murder all day long.  Meanwhile, Kevin and I frantically called his mom, my mom and the local lactation consultant (shout out to Linda Cager).  I cried, thinking that I had ruined our lives by having this monster interrupt what was once a pretty easy lifestyle.  Kevin assured me that we would figure things out.  And, we did. 

In fact, things were pretty euphoric for the first 3 weeks.  I proudly introduced young Charles to family and friends, and we started showing him around the island/s.  We took trips to St. John for dinner and shopping with family that were visiting.  I strolled down Main St. with him tucked away in my Moby Wrap and grabbed lunch in town.  My husband pushed me, begrudgingly, to go to the beach with Charlie 2 weeks after giving birth.  After all, 3 weeks prior I was strutting my stuff in a bikini, looking like a damn torpedo.  Little did I know, I was carrying around an 8 lb (and 1.2 oz) baby! 

However, by the time Charlie was 4 weeks old I was tired.  Very tired.  We had had guests for 3 weeks straight, and I was still getting used to taking care of an infant.  Up at nights, then pushing myself to do too much during the day.  My labor was quick and relatively easy (11 hours total) so physically I felt good.  All the activity was catching up to me, tough, and I was struggling with Charlie.  At one point, I took him to Kevin and said verbatim, ”I need to not be around this child for a while.”  I was at my whit’s end.  Sometimes you just need a break.  Even if it’s just 10 or 20 minutes. 

After Week 4 I pulled myself together.  I came to the point of acceptance over Charlie’s inconsolable crying in the evenings.  After all, babies cry.  That’s what they do.  They also poop, pee, puke, sleep and cry and then they do this all over, and over, and over again.  I wasn’t really prepared for this, so I got a rude awakening the first time Charlie peed on me and even more so when he projectile pooped on me, the Pack ‘n Play and our rug.  That time I managed to clean up him and the Pack ‘n Play.  Like any selfless mother would, I left the poop on my thigh until after Charlie had been fed.    

The thing I was most unprepared for, though, was the amount of time that Charlie needed to be held.  Nobody, except Charlie that is, told me how much a child needs to be held, but by the end of the day my back is burning from holding, swinging and rocking my child.  I guess this is nature’s way of helping the two of us bond, which seems like a natural progression when I think about it, since I did carry him for 9 months.

I’m not going to bore you with any more complaints, though, because this is what I wanted.  As my sister said when she had her son, ‘This is what I signed up for.’  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Frankly, the joy of having a child by far and away outweighs the bad.  Pregnancy, labor and baby is the greatest trifecta of my life.  There are no words to describe the happiness that Charlie has brought to the life of my friends, family and me.  I guess that’s why it’s easier for people to talk about how hard it can be because it’s impossible to describe in words the absolute pleasure that having a child brings to your life. 

I have a newfound happiness when I see my husband smiling down on my son while swishing him around in our pool.  Or, during those late night feedings when it’s just me and Charlie in a quiet room together and I can peacefully gaze down at him, studying this little being that suddenly means so much.

I can’t believe how precious this moment in time truly is.  There is nothing else that matters more to me now.  This family is everything.

I’d like to dedicate this blog post to Dr. Ezzo and Dr. Bucknam who wrote On Becoming Babywise.  It is because of that book that my 8 week old sleeps 7-8 hours at night (for now at least).  Sleep is everything.  I’d also like to dedicate this blog to one of my readers whom I have never met.  Barbara Schutt, thank you for reaching out to me to encourage me to write this blog, rather than go thru the 2 weeks of mail that is sitting next to my computer.  This is way more important.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

D Day

Wow.  Today is the day I’ve been waiting for for 40 weeks.  It’s my due date!  And, I have to say it came quicker than I expected.  Don’t get me wrong, being pregnant is a long haul, but for me it went by pretty fast.  I mean, considering that I’m growing life inside of me, 40 weeks doesn’t really seem to be a long period of time.  I know a lot of pregnant women out there that would adamantly disagree with me, but I can only speak for my own experience over the last months. 

So, I’m at the point where the baby could come at any moment.  Holy shit!  I’m going to be a mom.  It’s becoming more and more real.  I’ve gone through so many stages in preparing for what’s to come.  However, for most of the time I’ve been pretty terrified of this part of my pregnancy.  All of the pain and exhaustion of childbirth had me pretty scared to get to the end result.  Regardless, I have to say that I’m truly at the point where I don’t really care what I have to do to have this baby.  I’m ready. I’m actually in awe of how full-circle my emotions about delivering this baby have come.  My hospital bag is packed!  Let’s get the show on the road. 
I’m not ready in the sense that I feel like I want to ‘get this thing out of me’.  I’m ready in the sense that I’m excited to meet my baby.  To find out if I have a daughter or son.  To see what this little one looks like.  To be sure everything is okay.  To embrace this next chapter in my own journey with my husband.  Most of all, though, I’m ready to take care of this little one and watch it start its own journey through life that I can only hope to facilitate in a positive way. 


I suppose it’s natural to get to the point of accepting what’s to come and feeling like you’re willing to do anything to have the baby.  I don’t care what I have to do now, and trust me, I’m trying everything.  As I write this blog I’m drinking red raspberry tea because my doctor said it could help move things along.  Last night Kevin and I went out to dinner and I had the spiciest Shrimp Pad Thai on the island (couldn’t eat it fast enough!).  I have pineapple on my list of items to pick up the next time I’m at the store because there is suppose to be an enzyme in them that prompts labor.  This morning I vigorously scrubbed the outside of my kitchen cabinets even though my house is perfectly clean because I read on-line that vigorously cleaning put some women into labor.  I’m walking a couple of miles regularly throughout the week.  And, of course, my doctor has a few tricks up her sleeve to provoke things.

Since I’m putting so much effort into prompting things, I am constantly thinking that I may be going into labor.  Every little Braxton Hicks contraction is a complete tease.  And, going on the intranet is absolute torture.  Every time I look up a symptom I’m having on-line, someone says they went into labor shortly after having that same symptom.  Well, not me!  Still pregnant.  I swear, I thought I was going to have this baby every single day last week.  Now, I’m convinced that this baby is never going to come.  I’m going to be the one woman on this earth that will continue to be pregnant for the rest of her life.    

So, as I sit here at home playing the waiting game, I’m still caught up in the wonder of what’s to come.  It's super exciting, not just for me and Kevin but for everyone that cares about us.  Family and friends are on stand-by, anxiously awaiting this one’s arrival and checking in regularly to see how I’m doing.  Alas, I have no news or updates for them.  I know I should simply enjoy this down time before the baby comes, and I’ll probably look back at this moment and wonder why I was so anxious for the next step. 
For now, though, I just want to hold my little baby. 
For the record, I'm NOT 40 weeks in this picture!


Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Homestretch

Wow!  How time flies.  It seems like it was just yesterday that Kevin and I were anxiously taking one pregnancy test after another to be sure that I was, indeed, pregnant.  Was that second faint line on the stick truly a second line, or was there just 1 line?!  At that time, nothing had really changed for us, and the idea of starting a family was still just that – an idea.  After all, I didn’t have a baby bump, or morning sickness, and I wasn’t tired or hormonal.  I was still the same old me, except maybe a bit more excited than usual at the thought of having a baby on the way.

At nearly 31 weeks, I’m in the homestretch and looking down a very short path to motherhood.  I feel much differently.  I’m well past the first few weeks of morning sickness, which made me feel like I was slightly hung over for about 3-4 solid weeks.  Good news – due to years (if not decades) of intense practice, I’m highly functional at this state.  Of course, I’ve done all the testing to monitor the health of my baby and myself.  Those tests can be quite stressful, and aren’t much fun for the mommy-to-be – you have to draw my blood how many times over the course of 3 hours?!? 

I’m through the months where I’m showing enough that people know I’m pregnant and express this knowledge with confidence, but not showing enough to feel totally uncomfortable.  I didn’t even feel pregnant during those months, but people’s random comments definitely reminded me.  My favorite comments tended to be something like, ‘I can’t believe how big you are’ (when I’m only 4 mos along), or ‘Wow, you look like you’re going to have one BIG baby’, or ‘I don’t think you can get any bigger’.  I know people have good intentions, but one piece of advice – when succumbing to the urge to comment on the physique of a pregnant woman, less is better.  Just tell her she looks great.  Don’t say anything else.  Nothing.  Not a word more.

And, now…well, I’m showing a LOT and feeling very, very pregnant!  Yes, I’m at the point where some days are much better than others, but either way I still can’t get off the couch without using all 4 limbs with full force.  Yesterday, at the grocery store a very nice, and extremely concerned West Indian man told me that I shouldn’t be pushing around a cart “in my condition”.  I replied with a smile, and reassured him that, ‘I’m fine’, all the while thinking that I was going to be pushing a hell of a lot harder than this in the coming weeks. 
Paddle Boarding at 30 Weeks Pregnant in Maho Bay, St. John

Yup, I’m now facing the ultimate hurdle in any pregnancy – delivery.  At this point I’m transitioning my thoughts from managing my pregnancy, to managing the delivery of an infant and the infant itself.  AH!  By far and away, this is the scariest phase of my pregnancy – not the baby so much as the delivery.  Although, I am a little terrified of the baby, too.  The other night I was awake in bed, unable to sleep because my hip had gone numb from sleeping on my side and the baby was moving non-stop, and I started scaring myself senseless with thoughts of having to deliver this baby.  I realized that there was no turning back.  That I am in this all the way, and no one else can do this for me.  There’s only one way out of this situation, and it’s probably not going to be pleasant.  I kind of feel like I’m slowly going up the hill of a huge roller coaster.  Anxiety and excitement are building and building as I’m approaching the peak, after which all chaos will break loose beyond my control as I scream at the top of my lungs towards the end. 

So, while I breathlessly waddle around in the tropical heat of this island - trying to stay active, yet still maintaining a state of comfort - I am frantically juggling between reading books on how to prepare for the delivery of little Baby O’Neil, and books on helping an infant adapt to his/her new environment without losing my sanity.  Did you know that eating 6 dates per day helps ease your delivery and that dehydration is the number one cause of premature labor?  Folks, this is the shit I’m reading about these days. 

Meanwhile, thanks to the endless support of all of my wonderful friends and family, there are boxes and boxes of baby items, that only a few months ago I never knew existed, piling up in our house.  In fact, I recently found out that there are wipes made specifically for a baby’s crusty nose vs a baby’s butt.  Who knew!?  Curiously, I still don’t seem to have enough baby stuff to be fully prepared, so yesterday I ordered the remaining items that we’ll need.  I just can’t wait to try out my new breast pump and nursing bras!

All joking and fears aside, when I truly think about what this pregnancy and this baby entails, ultimately I wouldn’t have it any other way.  After all, I am eternally grateful to have been able to go through this experience with my husband, who could not be more supportive and does not care that I’m carry around a 25 lb belly right now.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have conceived without any issues and to have had a smooth and healthy pregnancy thus far.  And, I’m happy that I chose this time in my life to go through with this process, a time when I feel like I am capable and ready to take on this next chapter. 

So, for the next couple of months I’m going to try to enjoy the end of this ride – every last kick to the ribs and craving for a cookie.  And, I’ll continue to relish in the wonder of what this baby will look like, be like and feel like when it enters this world and I meet it for the first time.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Bellybutton Popped Out!

Forgive me.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog.  I’ve been a little side-tracked with this whole pregnancy thing that I’m going through.  Let me just say, it’s quite the journey!  Life has changed a whole lot for me during these last 5 months. 

The first major change was not drinking alcohol, which actually hasn’t been too big of a deal for me.  In fact, it can be pretty humorous at times.  Have you ever been to the Willy T sober?  I made the brilliant choice to try this during Gay Pride Week in the BVI.  Entertaining doesn’t begin to describe the level of humor this little exercise in sobriety offered.  There were beautiful, Speedo clad and heavily intoxicated men coming into Norman Island by loads on their catamarans.  They were like a bunch of sharks, circling their prey for the night.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the evening, but all signs were pointing to the Willy T getting totally devoured.
Don’t get me wrong, I like my wine and cocktails, but this hasn’t been the struggle I thought it was going to be.  I actually can have some fun without a good buzz going, which says a lot since I live in the land of free flowing rum.  So, now that I’ve confirmed that I’m not an alcoholic (yay!), I can enjoy basking in the world of sobriety for a few more months.  I don’t have to wonder if I’m okay to drive.  I don’t have to worry about whatever offensive thing I said the night before.  And, I don’t have to deal with a hangover!  Side note: for about 3-4 weeks during my 1st trimester I did feel like I was walking around with a minor hangover all day, so I technically haven’t avoided this entirely. 
What do I have to deal with?  Bathing suits.  In fact, bathing suits were the first thing this baby mama bought upon finding out that she was pregnant.  Not because of my belly, but because of my boobs!  I now have them, and they’re pretty great.  Stick with me here folks because I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was 14. 

I think I realized that I had a serious problem on my hands when I accidentally exposed myself to my best friend in my pre-pregnancy bikini top.  That’s when I decided I had an emergency on my hands, and she agreed.  I marched right over to the nearest surf shop to try on some swimsuits.  For the love of God, could retailers please start putting softer lighting in dressing rooms???!!!  Nothing, and I mean nothing can break a pregnant woman more than having to try on bikinis in a dressing room that's blasting with neon white lighting.  Don’t they know that we would buy more if they made us look better?  I almost had to abort (poor choice of words?) this mission, but I was too desperate.  Thankfully, when I got home and tried on my new purchase, things looked much better. 
Good thing, because we recently got a boat, which I refer to as our ‘first baby’, or my husband’s ‘mistress’ (I could write an entire blog about this alone), so we are out on the water every weekend.  That means that there is no avoiding this baby belly.  I can’t avoid it, and…neither can anyone else.  It’s out there for the world to see, and it’s only going to get bigger and bigger.  Apparently, it’s also getting whiter and whiter, which I still can’t figure out.  Also, it has come to my attention that my belly button cannot withstand much pressure because at 4 months mine unabashedly popped right out.  I think it has a freckle on it. 

I have to say that I’m pretty lucky though.  Living in the islands means that I can get away with wearing some wonderfully comfy clothes like sundresses, maxi dresses and flat sandals.  I don’t have to squeeze into work pants and high heels anymore, and that is by far the biggest gift that a pregnant woman could ask for! 

Speaking of loose clothing, not that I’m necessarily ‘eating for two’ because I’ve heard that’s not really a good idea, but I have taken it upon myself to conduct some very critical research over which island bar/grill offers the best cheeseburger.  Every weekend I treat myself to a nice, fat, juicy burger.  Hey, the baby needs the iron, and I’m happy to oblige!

My analysis has included the following places listed below in no particular order:
Pirate’s Bite – Norman Island
Tap and Still- St. Thomas
Soggy Dollar – Jost Van Dyke
Bee Lines – Little Jost Van Dyke
Waterfront Bistro – St. John
Miss Lucy’s – St. John

I’ve gotta say that burgers around here are pretty damn good.  However, to me, up to this point Pirate’s Bite has the best burger around with Waterfront Bistro’s blue cheese burger being a close second and Miss Lucy’s being third.  My tireless research will continue in this regard.  Abi Bar in St. Thomas this weekend will be my next victim.

Anyway, before I wrap it up, I should probably use this blog to address one more thing.  The most common question I get asked is if I’m going to have the baby in St. Thomas.  Almost everyone I know has asked.  The answer is, yes, without a doubt.  Unless something major goes wrong, I will be having our baby in St. Thomas and taking our little bundle of joy straight home with us as soon as possible.  If you ask anyone, and I mean anyone, that lives here they all say the same thing - birthing babies is what they do best here.  After all, Islanders LOVE nothing more than a ‘ripe mango’ (aka pregnant woman) and a newborn baby.  To them, it’s the best thing in life to have a baby of your own.  I have no hesitation about this what-so-ever. 

So my island pregnancy continues.  As my belly grows and this little tyke kicks around in there, we are busy getting our house ready and registering for baby items.  It is, by far, the most exciting time in my life, and I could not be more thankful for this truly amazing experience. 
18 Weeks