Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Jersey Moms Blog Retrospect: Why I blog?

Author's Note: I have been neglecting my duties of chronicling and reading the last reason why made me think I have to start doing this again.
Why I Blog
Besides being a full-time Mom, I am also a full-time public relations executive. As the resident "mommy blogger" at the agency, I am often asked questions concerning blogger relations. Questions like "would you like to attend this event?," "is this product review compelling enough?," and "would you consider doing a product giveaway on this product?" I always answer the best way I can, but truth be told I am probably not the best person to ask these questions they are better off asking the other resident mommy blogger who is WAY more influential than I ever will hope to be. Yes, I will admit it I am not the most popular blogger. I am not even sure what my VPM (viewership per month) is or if I really want to know. My personal site isn't very fancy. In fact, it is the standard polka-dot design on Not very original but I like it. I also don't have advertising on my site - not sure if I could convince a marketer to do so. And here is my biggest confession, I have never done a giveaway. Nope, not one. I guess I'm not considered an influencer. While these truths are a little humbling for me to admit, I still continue to blog.
Why do I blog if not for the fame and glory among my peers? For starters, I entered the blog world by the gentle nudging of a friend and client who told me to "just try it." I did and, low and behold, I loved it and became addicted to it! The same reason I started blogging is the same reason I do it today because I wanted to chronicle the life of my son and keep family and friends informed of the Kamienski's happenings. The "because" is somewhat of my blog's mission statement that I try to adhere to for the most part with a random commentary on other non-related items here and there. The funny thing is the more I blogged, the more reasons why I blogged became apparent.
New Reason Why #1 - Plain and simple, I love to blog because I love to write. From when I was a little girl, I enjoyed the art of writing. The year I entered into seventh grade my best friend and I spent our entire summer vacation writing a romance novel. My love of writing continued throughout high school with published short stories in the school's literary journal. The reason I chose the field of public relations is in large part because I get to write. However, I didn't realize how great my need to write creatively was missing until I started writing my blog. Blogging was like reuniting with a long-lost friend. Maybe I will never publish the "great American" novel, but I do have a really great story about the world's greatest kid.
New Reason Why #2 - I grew up in a home where expressing your feelings was a good thing. Saying the words "I love you" was heard often throughout my childhood home. When celebrating a birthday, anniversary or milestone event, I am known to pour my heart out in the small space given in a store-bought card. Before someone opens a card from me, the receiver can often be heard saying, "is this going to make me cry?" I am a big believer in letting those you care about know how much they mean to you. Blogging has given me the opportunity to create open love letters to my family and friends. Not only do I get to tell someone like my Mom how her unconditional love has shaped my life or how in awe of the kind of father my husband is to my son, I also get to share those feelings with all that read my blog.
New Reason Why #3 - The treasure that I have found blogging is with every post I write about my son, the more I fall in love with the person he is becoming. My son is my miracle and my blog is a constant reminder of just that fact. From my very first blog posts about his adventures at the seashore to my most recent post where I talk about how gaga he is over babies, I just can't help having my heart melt with every word I type about him.
Chances are only my friends and family will continue to read my blog. I may never change the design of my site. I also shouldn't hold my breath waiting for my first giveaway. However, knowing that I keep my friend working in London that I miss desperately up-to-date on things; knowing that after my Uncle read a post on my Dad, his brother, it made him cry; and knowing that my son can one day look back and know what a blessing he is to his Mom and Dad is all the reasons why I blog.
This is an original post for New Jersey Moms Blog. To find more reasons why Jennifer K blogs, check out The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Why is it children get all the praise when potty training?

Author's Note: Benjamin had a major set back and didn't pick up the potty training thing again until he turned 3. I don't miss the diapers - at all. Never did get a pottymoon.
Why is it that children get all the praise when potty training?
Why is it that children get all the praise when potty training? New toys are awarded by grandparents for potty prowess. Spontaneous outbursts of cheers can be heard in bathrooms across America when a toddler relieves themselves on the toilet. High fives are handed out like they are going out of style when number two is found in the potty and not in the diaper. Admiration is constantly bestowed on the potty goer but what about the actual trainer? When do I get my share of the praise? When will someone tell me "good job"?
Don't get me wrong. My son is doing a stellar job at this potty-thing, but how do you think he got to be so good? It wasn't like a potty training fairy came down from above and with one wave of her magic toilet bowl brush my child was diaper free. While that fantasy would have been nice, very nice actually, it is just that -- a fantasy. Nor did my son just wake up one day and say, "hey, Mom and Dad these diapers are so pedestrian, so beneath me. Next time, you are at the store pick me up some big boy underwear - I am so over diapers," and with that turned on his heel headed to the bathroom with a copy of War and Peace. No, not that either. How my son got to his mighty throne is from the blood, sweat and tears my husband and I have put in to make him the Potty King. While I am not looking for a shiny, new toy truck for my hard work, I am looking for a little acknowledgment when I am cleaning the poop up from the bathroom floor that has missed the toilet completely. I think I at least deserve a pat on the back after that humbling task.
Thinking about it now. In my opinion, there should be a section in Hallmark dedicated to just this very thing. Never mind congratulating Little Johnny for not peeing on the floor. Big deal! What about, "Congratulations You Taught Your Child How To Aim High!"? After having gone through this and still not having completely finished the mission, I would love to send a friend in the same predicament words of praise and encouragement like, "I realize you are having a hard time with the training, but know that I am here for you in your time of need." Receiving a card like that would at least give me the strength to face another day in the trenches of training. Or what about a card from my son that says, "Thanks for the wipe, Mom. You always make my bottom feel fresh as a daisy."
How about a Pottymoon? There are honeymoons for celebrating a marriage and babymoons for celebrating the upcoming birth of child but what about a celebration for parents who successfully complete potty training? Maybe that is going too far but if you have ever stepped in a puddle of pee on multiple occasions a vacation is what you deserve!
Maybe my dreams of a Hallmark card or Pottymoon will not be realized in this lifetime, but I don't think it is asking too much to give a small kudos, a "way to go" to the Mom or Dad whose kids went on the potty for the first time. Is it? Being a potty trainer is, for the most part, a dirty, thankless job. Even with hours spent on training a little nugget from time-to-time sneaks into my son's underwear leaving me perplexed, angry, frustrated, defeated and just plain exhausted. However, even if I am not being praised or consoled for my efforts, I can take comfort in the fact that diapers will soon be out of my life forever and that beats a million celebrations, congratulations, words of acknowledgment any day of the week (though a shiny new toy for Mommy wouldn't hurt)!
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. To hear more potty talk from Jennifer K, visit The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: The Day I Realized Parent's Don't Live Forever

Author's Note: I still don't like to think about this subject but who really does?
The Day I Realized Parents Don't Live Forever
When I was a kid, it never even crossed my mind that my parents wouldn't be here one day. Like most, in my childhood days,I saw my parents as invincible, untouchable, protectors of the (and my) universe. My younger-than-most parents would live forever, right?
In my teens, I got my first dose of reality when a friend's mother passed away. Her mother died suddenly one evening of a heart problem. When I attended the wake, I felt as if I was playing a role in movie of the "supportive friend". It seemed to unreal to be real. During that evening, I put on a brave face and held my friend in my lap as she cried but my thoughts weren't about her mother they were about mine. Later that evening as I collapsed into the lap of my Mom, I cried for all that was lost that day. As my mother's arms encircled me, I was confident that my mother would always be there. In my still youthful innocence, I continued to believe in my parents' eternalness.

But, all things most come to an end. Over a year ago, as I attended the funeral of a friend's father, my innocence was finally surrendered. I watched my friend bury her father who was of the same generation as my parents. It hit me. One day, this horrible time would come for me. Morbidly, I thought of what I do and say but more importantly how I could go on without two of my most favorite people in the world. I grieved that day not only for my friend but for innocence lost.
In the past month, I have been reminded of mortality over and over again. From a childhood friend's father dying suddenly to a colleague's mother losing her battle to cancer, I was never more aware until my Dad was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Like a hard smack in the face, I had to admit to myself that my otherwise invincible father is mortal -- a hard fact no Daddy's Little Girl wants to acknowledge. As my Dad sat next to me and said, "looks like I am ready for the boneyard." I told him, "we won't let that happen." I know I have no control over fate and destiny, but for that moment, and now as I type it, I believe it. Maybe I am burying my head in the proverbial sand but I need to believe in innocence.
As I look at my son, I am a tad bit jealous and happy at the same time because he has the sheer joy of not knowing the concept of life and death. However, I believe the emotion of fear has crept in. From time to time, he asks me the question, "will you protect me?" and my response is always, "I will protect you forever." I know now that there is no such thing as forever but I have decided, for the time being, to live vicariously through my son and believe that there is a forever.
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. You can find more writing by Jennifer at The Kamienski Chronicles.

Monday, June 28, 2010

NJ Moms Retrospect: Childless Vacation

Author's Note: Looking for another childless vacation and I still don't feel guilty.
May 18, 2009
Should I Feel Guilty For My Childless Vacation?
My name is Jennifer and I enjoyed my childless vacation. This is my story...
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to travel. Whether it be down the Jersey Shore for a lazy week at the beach or exploring the cobblestone streets of Florence, there hasn't been a vacation I've met that I haven't loved. Even the journeys with lots of mishaps and outright mayhem, like getting apprehended in Prague for riding the subway for free (so much for honoring the honor system) and breaking an antique bed in Block Island, have gained me some of my favorite and funniest memories. So when my son Benjamin came into this world, I made my husband promise me we wouldn't stop traveling with or without Ben.
My husband Wally has made good on his promise. In Ben's two short years of life, we've taken him to Maine, North Carolina and the Jersey Shore with little to no trouble. However, when it came time to book a trip to celebrate our 10th Anniversary Wally started to hedge on his promise. Feelings of guilt started to creep in and he suggested that we take a weekend trip to Vermont with our son instead of a romantic rendezvous in Italy. This mom, wife, anniversary celebrator and traveler was not okay with that suggestion. Instead of the joy I find in planning a vacation, I found myself crying big giant tears and asking my husband, "what happened to us? why are you making me feel guilty for wanting to go away alone with my you?"
After my impassioned plea, Wally took me to Vermont without Ben where we rode in a field of freshly fallen snow in a one-horse open sleigh and ate decadent Vermont-made cheeses by candlelight. Before we left Benjamin for his first overnight at his grandparents, I got to feeling "the guilts." Was Wally the better parent because he wanted to bring Benjamin on our romantic getaway? Should I feel guilty for wanting to go away without my son? To be honest, a little bit of me felt like I was a bad mom for leaving my son for the night to have an indulgent weekend with my husband but mostly I felt okay about our decision. Is that wrong?
Flash forward a few months later, Wally suggests we have a proper anniversary trip one that lasts more than a couple days, and without hesitation I say yes. While planning again, I catch myself thinking, "should I feel guilty for wanting to vacation without my son?" But, the guilt isn't present. Even when friends and colleagues give me the standard line when I mention the childless trip, "oh, you're not bringing Ben." Translation: "oh, you're one of those mothers." Maybe that is paranoia or maybe that is actual guilt but my answer is always, "yes and we'll miss him but I can't wait!"
During my six days in paradise, I cried when I left my son (it would be my longest time away from him); I thought about him every single day; I talked about him a lot finding myself saying, "Wally wouldn't Ben just love this? We really need to bring him here"; and I missed him like crazy. However, I also didn't cry the whole time I was away; I didn't think of him every single moment of every single day; I didn't talk about him all the time; and I didn't feel guilty about it. Maybe you think I am selfish or a terrible mom for these things but the person that matters most got a mom back after those six days that was rested and over-the-moon with happiness to see him. Yes, Ben got a better mom in the end and, to me, there is no reason to feel guilty about that. Isn't that what vacationing is about?
This is an original post for New Jersey Moms Blog. You can also find Jennifer writing about other guilty and non-guilty things at The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Can I ask Apple, what were you thinking?

Author's Note: Upon seeing this on the news, I immediately wrote a post. The post was later cross-posted to all our sister sites.
April 23, 2009
Can I Ask Apple, What Were You Thinking?
Dear Apple,
I thought I might have been hallucinating this morning when I was watching the news but low and behold I was not. Some how, some way your company approved (oh yes let me be fair...then pulled) an application for the iPhone that allows you to shake a baby to a virtual death or the "Baby Shaker" app as it is fondly referred to. Even writing this can you believe the colossal mistake you made? Normally, I think you are a pretty alright company - one of the "good guys" if you will - but after this debacle I'm not really sure what to think.
Can you give me a little insight into how this came about? Were you sitting around a room considering new apps and your team started proposing programs like: "Decaying Animal Gallery" and "Run Over Old Ladies' Skills Game." Did you say, "no way how could we ever promote an application that would show dead animals or an opportunity to run over old ladies crossing the street that is completely insensitive and insane, but shaking babies to a death this I LIKE! Tell me more..."

I'm sure someone or some animal thought this was hysterical. Let me tell you if you were wondering - it is not fun or funny it is just plain wrong. I think you got that notion eventually because you did pull the app. But when the proposed shaken baby idea came up you said, "yeah, we got an app for that." Can I provide you with a statistic about shaken baby syndrome? According to the Web site and organization About Shaken Baby Syndrome, more than 1400 cases are reported each year and 1 out of every 4 babies dies of from being violently shaken. As for the other 3 babies in the statistic, they are left with life altering injuries.
Apple, here is my suggestion for a new application, "The Sensitivity Meter." This application judges whether or not someone is being sensitive to other human beings. Might have been a better choice don't you think? You got that?
This is an original post for New Jersey Moms Blog. When not ranting and raving on NJ Moms Blog, Jennifer can also be found writing on The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: The Real Housewives of New Jersey...Fuggadaboutit

Author's Note: This post was mentioned in a Star-Ledger article about NJ Moms Blog. Oh yes, the Housewives of NJ are in their second season and Dina has left the show. To me it is unwatchable and I love trashy TV.
April 15, 2009
The Real Housewives of New Jersey...Fuggadaboutit
When I hit my thirties my bed time started to get earlier and earlier, now throw in a 2 year old and demanding PR job, I never get to watch the late shows anymore. However, I made myself and husband to stay up until 11 and watch the sneak peek of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. How could I resist my biggest guilty pleasure - reality TV - combined with my favorite state - NJ? Talk about special occasions! No matter what I had to do that night, this "real housewife of NJ" was watching her some trashy TV. While not disappointed one bit by what looks to be the best Real series yet, I want to make sure anyone living outside of New Jersey gets a few things straight about Garden State Girls.
First, we aren't all Italian. While yes many of us do come claim roots in the boot-shaped country, including myself, we don't all have grandparents we call Nonna and Nonno. In fact, New Jersey is a real melting pot of cultures. On any given day, walking through a town in New Jersey, you can find people with ties to China, India, Russia and yes Italy.

Second, I have never uttered the phrase "fuggadaboutit" in my life until I wrote this post. I even had to google it to see if I was spelling it right. If you watch shows like Sopranos or now Real Housewives of NJ, you would think that it might be a New Jersey baby's first word. Wrong. I actually don't know many people that utter that phrase. Come to think about it - I don't know anyone that says that phrase.
Another point I would like to make about New Jersey Housewives, all of our husbands aren't entrepreneurs in the construction business. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of "entrepreneurs" in our fine state, and yes, I have dated men in this line of business who were very nice. However, I ended up marrying a guy who works at an accounting firm not an owner of a sanitation company.
Some of the women in New Jersey tend to wear their hair bigger than most (not much bigger than TX) and have longer, more bedazzled nails, but there are women here that have straight hair and short nails. There are also housewives who prefer the JCrew look to the Bebe look. While we all don't look or act alike, there is one thing for certain that I think I can say about most REAL housewives of NJ -- we don't really give a shit what people from other states think about us. Big hair or bob - Italian or Polish - accountant or entrepreneur -- whether it be big and brash or gentle and quite, we all have an attitude and love it.
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. This real NJ housewife can be found blogging at The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Church, Children and Praying for Survival

Author's Note: While Wally as carrying Benjamin up to communion, Ben said, "hey, Daddy that wasn't so bad."
April 05, 2009
Church, Children and Praying for Survival
Whatever religion you may practice and how ever many times you bring your child to a religious gathering each year, whether it once a year or each week, I think most parents would agree it is not an easy task to undertake. From the "getting ready" part or as it is known in some houses "convincing them to go" part to the actual attending, I sometimes find myself praying for divine intervention at some point during the church going process. However, I don't recall that I was ever a problem for my parents. Maybe they will say something different if asked but I don't think they will since I was the four year old who brought the baby Jesus to the manager at Christmas Eve mass and sat and talked to the priest about my love of God. I was also the teenager who decided to become a lector where I read the scriptures each week to the congregation. I can go on and on but needless to say I was the kid that liked/loved to go to church. I still kind of do but now I have a two year old in tow and that changes the whole experience.
On the other hand, take my brother, his behavior bears more of a resemblance to that of my two year old son Benjamin's attitude towards the church. I can remember each week it being a Battle Royale to get my brother to go to church -- the crying, screaming, stomping, threats and cage match before we got in the car (there wasn't really a cage match but it sometimes felt like it). My most vivid memory was when on Easter Sunday he decided to lock himself in the bathroom at the age of four so he wouldn't have to go. My Father, the world's most tolerant and gentle man, literally busted down the door. The next thing you knew my brother was peeing in his pants. My Mother, of course, yelled out my Dad for scaring her "baby". By the time my family hit the pew, we were all exhausted. He was not only bad getting there but in church I recall him once screaming out during Christmas Eve mass, "MOM when are we leaving for Aunt Lorraine's I want my Tub Time toy!" Yes, my brother turned it up a notch for the holidays.

Now I have a son of my own and I can relate to my Mother more than ever. I am left to wonder how she did it all these years. When my son was a baby, he sat in the carrier like an angel sent from heaven. As he got older, the problems started when he was more mobile. Not only did I need my diaper bag but I needed an arsenal of distracting supplies to keep him occupied. The problems got increasingly worse as he became verbal. One day as we sat in church, my son kept pointing towards the back of the church. It was starting to annoy me because he knew how to speak at this point. I said, "Ben use your words." He used his words alright, "OUTSIDE Mommy! OUTSIDE!" I must have heard "OUTSIDE" about a few more dozen times. My husband leaned over and said to me, "are you happy he used his words?"
Our next big mass disaster came on Christmas Eve. The church was packed to the gills and there was no where or way to really entertain Ben. The outside chant began as soon the homily started. He then started screaming and crying and there was no where to go but outside. I looked at my husband and told him to take him home and just come back to pick me up. I gave up. I just couldn't - I got the knowing faces from all the mothers surrounding me. As the church lights were dimmed and Silent Night began to play, I cried and this time not out of joy but out of exhaustion and defeat. After that, I decided to give God a break for a while.
We started to go back to church again because my parents didn't give up on teaching their kids the importance of church and neither was I! I was pleasantly surprised what a few books and snacks could do to make a kid happy. While we don't make it all the way to the end, it gets better each week. I now leave mass telling Ben what a great boy he was in church. While I know there are set backs, like this week he told me to go to church by myself with Daddy that his Grandma and Poppa would watch him, I believe that every child needs a sense of community in their lives. I'm glad my parents gave it to me and I plan, as much of a battle as it may be, to give that gift to my child. So if you find me praying really hard in mass it might not be for world peace right now but just for peace in my pew.
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. You can find Jennifer Kamienski praying for all sorts of things at The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: A Question of Faith?

Author's Note: I still believe in a compassionate God.
Stem Cell Research: A Question of Faith?
The ban on stem cell research has been overturned and I am left to ponder what this means. Being someone who is of good standing faith, a catholic who is supposed to believe that this is morally wrong, I'm not so sure I agree with my church. I am also someone who has had embryos frozen and knows that indeed a frozen embryo can give life, a precious child you so desperately want, so I do see the moral dilemma here that many people are struggling with today.
However, let me say, that my church also condemned me for having my child the "way" I did. As I stood in a Newark church, a church that was known for a statue that if prayed at this church by this statue it would help you conceive, I was asked by a priest how I was conceiving this child. I stumbled a bit (and yes lied to a priest) and told him what he wanted to hear so he would give me a special blessing. Because he had doubts of my sincerity, he gave me the speech of how God wants me to conceive a child, and let me say, it wasn't the route I was headed.
On the way home that day from the church in the pouring rain, I cried my eyes out. I was completely torn inside and questioned my moral judgment. I was tortured thinking that if I was able to conceive I would have a child that would be eternally condemned. After days of soul searching, I came to the conclusion one night that I believed in a God that wanted me to have happiness that wanted me to give life whatever way that may be. I didn't believe in a God that because I couldn't have a baby the traditional way I shouldn't have one and I should be left to suffer. My God is a compassionate God.

So here I sit today pondering another moral question, should stem cell research be allowed? Maybe a year ago I might have felt differently but I doubt it. You see, a year ago my father was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. My Father's life has changed for ever and everyone around him -- a man so full of life and energy, a man so fiercely independent that a worse disease couldn't have been given to him even if asked. At this time, he is struggling with giving up a little bit of his independence and letting the one's who love him take care of him. I admire my Dad for his strength, courage and wisdom but it breaks my heart to see him so angry and frustrated so often. I also see what it has done to my Mom and see my usually tough as nails Mother be reduced to tears so often too.
As I sat in church on Sunday and listened to all the reasons, why not. I could only think of the reason why - I saw a cure to the pain. I thought of all those frozen embryos that would never give life that would just be discarded and what type of good moral decision is that? I thought if I had one frozen embryo left from all my cycles that I never planned on implanting, I would give it to some brilliant scientist looking for the cure for PD in a heartbeat.
What I came to is this, for me, using a frozen embryo is not destroying life -- it is just the opposite -- it is giving life back to someone. Maybe I am taking the easy way out and bending the rules to suit me? Maybe I am not a good catholic? However, I keep coming back to my belief that my God is a compassionate God. And for me, coming to that conclusion, let's me sleep soundly and gives me hope that we will find a cure to PD and many other diseases giving life back to those who so desperately want it.

NJ Moms Retrospect: Rookie Mistakes

Author's Note: I continue to make rookie mistakes. I also still consider myself a rookie.
Rookie Mistakes
When I was pregnant, as I sat in the OB/GYN's office, I often found myself reading some sort of parenting or pregnancy magazine. While waiting, I thought I should get a few lessons in on parenting before this child came into the world since I didn't have much of a clue of how to raise a child. A regular feature that struck me in Parents magazine was a column called "It Happened To Me". Basically, it would feature a mishap. Wait, let me rephrase that a HORRIBLE accident caused by a parenting mistake where children often ended up in the emergency room. As I read these stories with horror about falling Christmas stocking hangers that caused a toddler's concussion and infants tumbling off changing tables left with bruises, I thought, smugly, how could that ever happen. I mean I wasn't an expert in this area and self-admitted that the maternal gene might have skipped a generation but come on these parents were obviously not as cautious as I was going to be. In a nutshell, I surmised that I was at least going to be a much better parent then the the ones featured in Parents magazine. Yes, I gave myself the kiss of death.
Think of most professional athletes in their rookie season, they have that swagger like nothing bad is going to happen to me. They believe they are invincible and in many ways they are impervious to the rules of the world. As we all know, having that attitude can be dangerous not only to yourself but to others. While I didn't exactly have a swagger, I did have the attitude that if I was cautious and careful (the two Cs) no "It Happened To Me" accidents would plague my son. However, there comes a time when every rookie makes a mistake. Mine came in the form of Murphy's Oil.

Up until the Murphy's Oil incident, I had free and clear track record when it came to my son Benjamin having accidents in my presence. Not bad if I do say so myself for a child who is almost 2 years of age. Maybe my cockiness got the best of me or maybe it was the fact that I had just called out my Mom and husband for Benjamin having a few incidents on their watches. Whatever it was, my world was about to turn upside down with one misplaced bottle of wood floor cleaner.
In an effort to keep my house clean (I really do need a maid), I decided while Ben was occupying himself I would clean my wood floors. When I turned around to retrieve the mop, I turned to find my son drinking Murphy's Oil. How could I let this happen? I had no idea what would happen next. Would Ben turn blue? Would he stop breathing? Would he start vomiting uncontrollably? What did I do to my precious son? After several phone calls to Poison Control and a visit from the cops and paramedics, I found out that Ben would live. In fact, the worst that would happen to Benjamin is that he might be a little sick.
I now know mistakes, accidents and mishaps are a good way to bring you back to reality and kick that swagger right out of your step. While I confessed to my husband that I had made a colossal mistake on my watch, I knew that I owed a big apology to all the "It Happened To Me" Moms. So here goes...Hi, my name is Jennifer Kamienski and I too am a 'It Happened To Me" Mom.

NJ Moms Retrospect: Multiple Mania and Irresponsible Doctors

Author's Note: While not my most commented, this is one of my favorites. This still makes me angry.
January 31, 2009
Multiple Mania and Irresponsible Doctors
I am a veteran of the "infertility war". I happen to know way too much about the topic of reproductive endocrinology. Having gone through, years of testing, several surgeries and multiple cycles, I think I have the right and knowledge to comment on the irresponsibility of some fertility doctors. I also have the right because I was fortunate enough to go to two clinics, one a highly-regarded regional facility and the other arguably the best in the world, where the doctors educated their patients on such risks and instituted policies so incidents like the California 8 would not happen.
Trust me I know how you can get caught up in the world of fertility. Your emotions takeover and you think, "sure putting 12 embryos in my uterus is a great idea!", but at that point you aren't thinking of the consequences you are just so desperate to have a baby you will consider anything. However, this is where a responsible doctor needs to step in and counsel their patients. While at "arguably the best fertility clinic in the world," I was told right off the bat even though I had a "difficult case" they would only consider putting two maybe three embryos in at one time. So let's put this into perspective, I am a woman who has not yet had any children - I didn't have the luxury of 6 others waiting at home for me. I am, at the time, 34 years old - not 30. I have stage 4 endometriosis and damaged fallopian tubes, basically I need a miracle, and all the clomid in the world isn't helping me. How does the California 8's doctor in his right mind let this happen when my doctor would only put in up to three embryos?!?!?

I do understand that she didn't go through IVF like I did but when you are on drugs like Clomid, once again, a responsible doctor will monitor follicle production and will cancel a cycle if there are too many being produced to avoid a situation like this. Here is the other thing when you are using a sperm donor you don't necessarily need to be on Clomid. Why in this doctor's right mind did he give a fertility drug to a woman who is clearly fertile?!?
Reproductive medicine has some voodoo and ethical questions constantly surrounding because of negative stories like the CA octuplets and it is unfortunate. At times when I didn't want to hear it, I was blessed to have responsible doctors on my side giving me proper guidance, outlining the risks involved. I read a quote from a doctor saying, "who am I to say how many children a women should have. maybe she wanted a big family?" Maybe she does but P.S. she already HAD ONE! While I know doctors can't tell you what to do and they are not their to judge how many children you should and shouldn't have, they can help you come to a responsible decision one that keeps the mother and unborn children safe. My hope is there are more doctors out there like my wonderfully brilliant and responsible reproductive endocrinologists.

NJ Moms Retrospect: Oh Sugar, Honey, Ice, Tea!

Author's Note: While I try not to swear around Ben, he does like to say, "for the love of the god" now. Yes, I will try harder...
January 01, 2009
Oh Sugar, Honey, Ice, Tea!
My language has sometimes been described as that of a trucker. Yes, Orbit definitely needs to clean this dirty mouth up from time to time. I have been known to throw my share of f-bombs in inappropriate situations and receive not so-approving looks but F-it I love to swear. Shocking really since I came from a household of curse-free kin. On the other hand, maybe that is why I feel the need to swear so much because I had been repressed all those years from using my favorite four letter words. Now that my son Benjamin has become Polly Parrot I have once again started to watch my language more carefully but every now and then it just escapes from my mouth before I can stop it.
In an effort to work through my problem, I've started to use G-rated phrases like "oh rats" and "darn it" when I am around Benjamin. However, a few weeks back while holiday shopping I fell off the wagon and said "Oh, S.ugar, H.oney, I.ce, T.ea" and I'll give you one guess who repeated my phrase. And of course, my husband Wally was there to witness. I got a lot of, "nice job Jenn" and "oh, and you thought it would be he would learn bad words from." Okay, Wally - yes it was me who f---ed up. You happy? You self-righteous P.I.A.
With the incident a distant memory, I thought the situation was a-one-time-only deal that at least he wasn't repeating it constantly or worse yet repeating it in front of others. Friday my son proved me wrong. Two days before Christmas our furnace exploded and we needed to replace it (Guess what I got for Christmas this year?). The furnace was running fine but as I was preparing dinner on Friday night I heard the sound of water then turned around to see water pouring from a pipe in the kitchen. I screamed for Wally. In each room we went, there was water EVERYWHERE!!! Even in the midst of the mayhem I didn't swear but as I was heading into the basement with Ben in tow to see if my husband needed any assistance with the furnace I saw yet another pipe leaking and said, "oh no!" The next phrase you heard didn't come from Wally but our 22 month old son "Oh, S.ugar, H.oney, I.ce, T.ea!"
We didn't reprimand him for swearing, because as Wally put, "he used it correctly and it was a Oh, S.ugar, H.oney, I.ce, T.ea! moment." Yes, Benjamin I couldn't have said it any better myself.
This is an orginal post for NJ Moms Blog. Jennifer can also be found blogging on The Kamienski Chronicles

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Confessions from the bedroom

An author's note: Benjamin still sleeps in our bed. I hope by the time he is 10 he will be out.
December 17, 2008
Confessions from the bedroom
Now that I have your attention. This post is not about some sexual deviant behavior -- sorry to disappoint. Although, the issue is starting to effect my sex life (Mom, maybe you shouldn't read any further). My confession is: my son sleeps in our bed. A lot of moms our there are probably saying "me too" but my son Benjamin REFUSES to sleep anywhere but in our bed. I mean when we ask him where his bed is he points to my bedroom not his. If I even dare place his precious little head in his crib, he becomes a demon child looking to wish harm on me.
To set the stage, from the time we brought my son home from the hospital, he was never much of a sleeper. However, my husband and I were led to believe by the nursery room nurses that he was an angel -- a model sleeper. I now know those women lied to me. I never was able to tell stories to other moms of how at 2 months my child slept through the night. The only stories I have been able to tell are horror stories of my child's sleeping habits. For the first three months of Ben's life, I kid you not, someone had to hold him at all times. If we even tried to put him in a pack n' play or in his bassinet, no matter how asleep I thought he was, his eyes would flash open, and even as a newborn, he would give me a dirty look. Trust me, I didn't start co-sleeping because I thought it was a great bonding exercise, it was the only way I could get to sleep. Yes, I know how dangerous it is but it seemed to be even more dangerous to have a mother out there with absolutely no sleep. I also knew my child needed to sleep. And the excuses continue....
I always thought, "he'll adjust" or "he'll outgrow this". I also know this to be untrue. I also now believe that he only likes a soft mattress but it is more lies I tell myself to feel better. In the beginning, I tried to get him back to sleep in his crib but each time he would wake up as soon as he was put in the crib. As a working mother, I got lazy and knew it was easier to bring him in my bed with me and my husband. This has proved to be my biggest downfall. If only I was a stronger person who didn't require sleep I could have powered through this, now at 21 months it is too late, my son will be 21 years of age and still in the bed with mom, dad and our dog.
We've tried it all including "ferberizing". Yeah that was a disaster. Once again, I am too weak. The one night we tried this Benjamin first screamed his head off and paced back and forth in the crib like a caged animal. Next to show us how much he was disappointed in us, he actually riped down the video baby monitor and yelled into it -- I'm not exaggerating. I refuse to let my baby cry to the point of sickness. I just breaks my heart so back into mommy and daddy's bed. Another tactic we used was "the crib isn't such a scary place if mommy is in it", yes I crawled in my son's bed but he only wanted out and wanted to leave me there while him and daddy went to the bed.
Now, I just can't take it. I need to do something. The feet in my back and the kicks in the head just aren't cute anymore. I flash forward five years from now and it scares me. Our new strategy is to buy him a big boy bed but I think it will end up being my bed which isn't a bad thought come to think of it now. Hey, and it's more comfortable than the crib (but don't tell Ben I said that).
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. You can also find Jennifer blogging on The Kamienski Chronicles.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: If A Man Can Get Pregnant So Easily, Why Can't I?

An author's note: Due to the popularity of this post (my most commmented post), it was reposted to all our sister sites. Just reading over the comments it makes me feel like my words matter.
November 30, 2008
If A Man Can Get Pregnant So Easily, Why Can't I?
Lately, I feel like every time I turn on the news the pregnant man is staring at me. From ABC to CNN, Thomas Beatie was showing off his lovely little girl and announcing that a second child was on the way. While I watched the various interviews, I thought to myself here is a man who is expecting his second child without what seemed to be many fertility issues. From the information I have gathered, the man didn't need to go through any assisted reproductive measures. Yes, the couple used donated sperm but they didn't even need the services of a doctor for the insemination process. In fact, his wife used some sort of bird feeder, at home,to impregnate her husband. I kid you not. A man is expecting child number two because his wife got him pregnant with a device you use to feed a bird.
In my life, I wish the same were true. I wish my husband, Wally, could come along with a bird feeder and make me pregnant but this is not the path I was given in life. Am I bitter towards the pregnant man? A little and not because he is a man but because he seems to be able to get pregnant more easily than me. To get this woman pregnant (meaning me), which supposedly my body was born to do, I need a team of highly paid specialists, hours of mediation, a vegetable-based diet, various yoga positions, many attempts, buckets of money and lots of prayers. While am I blessed to say I was given my miracle after fours years of trying to conceive, I still get a little upset at my non-fertility challenged counterparts. I know it isn't their fault they were given beautiful ovaries (while I was given two rotten eggs) and I should feel happy for them...I should. Don't get me wrong for the most part I do but there is that part of me that is still jealous and can't let it go. But what really drives me up a wall (and I speak for my husband as well when I say this), is the unwanted fertility advice. I know, I know, I know people mean well but for someone who has had yet ANOTHER failed IVF cycle the LAST thing they want to hear is advice on how to get pregnant. So the following is a guide of what not to say to someone who tells you they are having a hard time conceiving.
Never say, "just relax and it will happen." Most women who are suffering from fertility issues have medical problems and all the relaxing, meditating, yoga, wine and vacationing in the world is not going to help them get pregnant. Yes, these things do help you stay sane and do create a hospitable environment for the eggs to grow but it won't change the fact that some has endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome or low ovarian reserve. At a family get together, no less a one year old birthday party, a relative of my husband asked what our hold up was why weren't we having babies yet. Wally kindly explained that we were trying. Wally's relative then told me I needed to "chill out". I had to leave the table for fear of punching him out. Just a warning for people who say those sort of things, if I happened to be in the middle of a cycle and my hormones were raging, I could not have been held responsible for the beating I would have given that man. He was lucky.
Never say, "I know someone who..." Do you really know someone who got pregnant after they adopted a little baby from Cambodia? Do you really know someone who got pregnant even though their tubes were tied? Do you really know someone who after years and years of trying out of blue got pregnant? I don't think you do. It always seems to be someone who knows someone who knows someone. I have never had a first hand account story of fertility hope. Instead, it is always my sister's sister-in-law's cousin twice removed had a child after years of trying by just using Chinese herbs. I am calling it right now -- liar. Here is another little secret, the women who have fertility issues HATE these stories. They are all fine and sweet and wonderful for that mysterious person you don't really know but for the women who have had their hearts broken countless times -- cycle after cycle -- it just breaks their hearts all over again. For the woman who has been told her chances of conception are about 1%, it makes them depressed to know that those stories are just fairy tales. They wish they were real but not for the woman in the story but for them.
Never say, "why don't you try FILL IN THE BLANK HERE?" Unless you have been there done that and it has worked for you don't offer false hope. As a woman who struggled for several years to have a child, I was looking for any miracle cure. I tried it all. Yes, I do believe that a combination of western and eastern medicine is what eventually got me pregnant. I do also know what it felt like one day to stand in the back of my church as a woman with two kids and another on the way told me to try some herbs that a friend of hers used to get pregnant. I had no idea what she was saying all I know is that I wanted to be her. I wanted to be carrying a baby I didn't care what advice she had for me. I also know I couldn't go back to church for awhile after that encounter it made me angry and sad all at once. A place I always felt like I belonged made me feel unwanted like an outcast because I didn't have a baby.
As I think about trying for a second child, I'm not sure I can't put myself through the pain and heartache. I know I will encounter the "when is number two on the way" questions (and have already including on my walk today with my son by a complete stranger) but I will continue to swallow my pride and smile and answer the most tactful way I can, "oh we'll see." And if someone decides to push, I can't be held responsible for what I say next. Remember I warned you.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Honesty May Not Always Be The Best Policy

An author's note: This post was syndicated nationally
November 18, 2008
Honesty May Not Always Be The Best Policy
It has officially happened. I've started lying to my son, and to boot, manipulating him as well. In the past, I have sat on my moral mountain judging others for telling little white lies to their children. But that was before I became a Mom, and now, well now it is different, I have joined the ranks and become a teller of lies.
My husband Wally first noticed it and pointed it out to me the other night. Benjamin hurt his tooth and we were instructed by the dentist to feed him soft foods. Tired of pasta and soup, Ben wanted something else. I tried to give him some cod but when I asked him to try some "fish" I got a lot of head nodding, and not in the vertical direction but in the horizontal. Desperate for Ben to eat something, I told my innocent, unsuspecting child that the fish was something that he actually enjoyed. I told him the fish was a french fry. Next thing I knew, Ben was enjoying fish and even asking for more. Wally then commented, "are we now lying to our son?" Was I? Were we?
As I contemplated the question, I saw out of the corner of my eye Ben smiling after each bite of his fish -- a 20 month old was actually LOVING fish (or fries as Ben liked to think of them as). I didn't feel like getting into a moral match with my husband so I kept the answer simple and I said yes.
In addition to the french fry lie, I have also appealed to my son's sensitive side. Lately, if he sees that someone is upset or afraid. He will go right up to the person and rub their arm or leg or back (whatever body part is close at the time) and tell them it is "okay" in a soft gentle voice as he puts his head close to you. It is perhaps the sweetest thing I have ever seen and I will admit I have used this beautiful side of my son to get something I wanted done without a lot of the headache. Some may call this manipulation - I call it resourcefulness. As I tried to change his poopy filled diaper, he started yelling "no" and running around the coffee table. This has become a normal occurrence as of late and I am just tired of it. On occasion, I've tried to reason with him, "Mommy doesn't like to change smelly diapers either but who wants to sit in poop - I know I wouldn't." Usually, that approach gets a blank stare or more screams. Other times, I have grabbed him kicking and screaming and this just adds to everyone's frustration. This time around, I covered my face with my hands and started pretend crying. The next thing I knew I heard the pitter patter of little feet and pat on the back and "OK, OK" in the sweet innocent little voice. Yes, I am horrible but he sat very still while I changed his pants with no problem.
So if calling fish fries got him to eat the cod and pretend crying got his diaper changed without the drama, then how wrong could that be? I now believe one little white lie is canceled out by the good it can do for my son and others. I'm sure some parenting expert would tell me how wrong it is but for now I will tell my lies (within reason). I'm sure this will come to bite me in the butt but I'll wait until that happens.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: Play Ignorning Dad?

November 02, 2008
Play Ignoring Dad or Child Ignoring Dad - Which Would It Be?
Ever since the heyday of the Steel Curtain in 1970s, my husband Wally has been a loyal Pittsburgh Steelers football fan. Like most men on a crisp fall Sunday, he can be seen planted in front of the television remote and beer in hand with some sort of Steelers paraphernalia on his body. And like most men, dare you interrupt him during a game. When Direct TV's NFL Ticket was first introduced, my husband realized a new great love in his life. The love that could let him enjoy ever single Steelers game no matter if it is was the nationally televised game or not. When our son Benjamin came along, I hoped that there would be room for another love in his life. I hoped that he wouldn't be the Dad that ignored his child when there was an "important play on".
Truth be told I really don't like those Dads.
I consider them half a Dad but the world is full of them and who knew I might be married to one. I believed Wally would be a Play Ignoring Dad rather than a Child Ignoring Dad but this was THE Steelers not much compared. And from my own personal experience with Wally and the Steelers, I have been known to take a back seat but I hoped, beyond hope, not with Ben.
I had my answer on a recent Sunday afternoon. Benjamin and I had been out and about all day as not to disturb Wally during prime-time Sunday football viewing hours but we came home before the end of the Steelers game. I asked Ben not to bother his Daddy while the football game was on and hang in the kitchen with dear ole' Mom but I guess Ben had his fill of Mom for the day and wanted his Daddy. Before I realized he was gone, he was in the living room wanting Dad's attention. The pivotal moment was upon us. What type of Dad would Wally be?
As I ran from the kitchen and before I could call a timeout, I saw Ben reach his little hand up to Wally's. I whipped my head around to look at the TV to see what was happening with the game, "God please let it be a commercial!" It wasn't. In fact, it was one of those deciding plays -- the plays where unless it is an emergency please don't even think of bothering me. Wally took his hand but was still watching the television for the play to resume. My fears were becoming reality. He was going to be one of "those" Dads. Just as the play was about to unfold, Ben tugged on Wally's arm for him to follow. I said another prayer to God, "please let him be the Play Ignoring Dad!" With a hopeful look in both my eyes and Ben's, Wally got up from his chair with no reluctance and followed Ben, not only into the other room, but out the door. There Wally stayed and played trucks with our son on the deck -- ignoring the end of the game. Making, what I thought, was the best play of Wally's life. In that split second, I confirmed what I already knew, my husband is one of the best.

NJ Moms Blog Retrospect: A Promise

October 18, 2008
A Promise
My husband, Wally, and I attended the funeral of a friend this weekend. It's the type of experience you never think will happen to you. You have cavalier thoughts before something like this happens that I'm too young to die. I'm way too young to have a friend who has cancer but inevitably it happens and you are smacked back into reality. Being faced with the reality of death often leads you to thinking of many things in your own life.
That day as Wally and I drove to the funeral, we reminisced about Jill and our times with her and her family but we also talked about how our lives would change if one of us died. The one thing I couldn't shake from my mind is how young Jill's children are and how would they remember their Mom. I'm a bit of a cynic and realist by nature and I said the unthinkable in the car that day, "Wally, there is a good chance those children won't remember who their Mom is." It was out there and I said it but what I was really saying was, "Wally, if something happened to me would Benjamin ever really know me?"
To even think that thought, I get a lump in my throat. For the person that dies, the truth is life eventually will go on for their family and friends. It will never, ever be the same but it does go on and that is a good thing -- the right thing. Though, I still wondered how Jill's children will remember her? I say this because I have met children who have lost parents at a young age and as they get older they have vague recollections of their Mom and/or Dad and don't have a real sense of them. Some would argue that is what needs to happen, a possible coping mechanism for the so young and innocent. However, if I was taken from Benjamin's life and someone asked my son "what type of mother I was" or "what was your mom like" and he had little to no answer it would be like losing my life over and over again.
In that car ride when I mentioned this to Wally, he sat and listened and made me a promise. He promised me that it would never happen that Benjamin would always know me. He promised me that my parents, brother and friends would remain close so Ben would know what I meant to each of them. He also promised that whatever life would bring that I would always be Ben's mom and even death couldn't take that away. Having heard those words, I believed it and I believed it for Jill.
It is huge responsibility for those left behind to keep the memory of that person alive. And in my heart, I believe especially for the children. Knowing how much Jill was thought of and loved, I knew Scott, Jill's husband, had made the same promise that he will keep not matter how life changes and goes on.

NJ Moms Blog: The Kamienski Version

Be prepared to see an influx of posts....
With the demise of SV Moms on the horizon, I need to start copying my NJ Moms Blog posts into my personal blog for prosperity. A programming note: there may be repeats.
Here is my very first post on NJ Moms:
A Stranger Is Watching
A Stranger is Watching is the title of New Jersey resident, Mary Higgins Clark's third best-selling novel about a demented kidnapper. While my story isn't as dramatic, it is the story of one Mother's first time experience of letting a complete stranger watch her only child.
This version takes place while visiting friends in Charlotte, NC but to paint a better picture and to truly tap into my paranoia you need the prologue to this story. First, my husband and I were told while trying to have a child that our chances were slim to none. Thus when we had Benjamin, we believed (and still do) that he was set on this earth for a higher purpose (I know all parents believe this but we REALLY think it is true). Second, Ben is watched by his grandmother while my husband and I at work so we've never had to put him in daycare. Finally, if my husband and I ever want to go out on weekends, we have a plethora of highly qualified friends and family to watch him. All of these points equaling that my 19 month old has not had anyone watch him that I don't know and love until a beautiful Sunday in September.
I started worrying about this dilemma before we even stepped foot unto the plane.
About two weeks before the trip, I mention to my husband Wally, "who is going to watch Benjamin when we go the Panthers football game on Sunday afternoon". Wally didn't have an immediate answer which made me panic. He promised me he would speak to our friends about it. Two days before the trip, I was told that their babysitters would be watching Benjamin. This did not sit well with me. Couldn't our friend's parents watch our precious son? I'm sure they would love to see their grandsons and meet Ben. I wouldn't dare let a stranger watch their kids -- maybe the babysitting thing worked for them but not for this mom. Wally reassured me that everything was going to be okay. How did he know? Didn't he care?!?
I would like to say things got better when we got to Charlotte but it actually got more gut-wrenching for me. Not only was a random group of girls watching my son, but our friends "A-team" was not available but their "C-team" was covering the job. My reassurance was, "she isn't exactly warm and friendly and the kids don't like her much, but she wouldn't let anything happen to them." This wasn't good. I was feeling worse than before. In began to think -- why not leave Benjamin with a rehabilitated convict? Wally tried to calm me but my stomach started to hurt, and thought, this is actually a good thing because I have an excuse now not to go to the game - I was sick.
Wally talked to me about what we would say and what we would do when these girls came but he wasn't telling me not to go through with letting these "not so warm and loving" girls watch our son. I wrote a crazy lady list of things "to do" and "not to do" with Benjamin (most of the list included footnotes) and made sure that my hand writing was legible. The hour was approaching when they would arrive. What should I do? I knew I needed to be brave and trust in my instincts. If I felt that this wasn't right, then I wouldn't go.
When I met the two sitters, I didn't like the fact that the head sitter wouldn't look at me. What was she hiding? I went over the list with them several times and waited for their response. All I got was a head nod. It wasn't looking very good but I knew my dear friend would never let complete wackos watch their kids and mine (the chosen one). So they weren't warm but they are responsible and I gave them a look before I left that said, "if something happens to my only child, you better leave the country and fast." I hugged my son tight with tears in my eyes like it would be the last hug but knew I needed to be brave for him. My son's reaction was one of indifference he had his two new buddies and lots of trucks to play with. Was I the only one who thought this wrong?
Five minutes into our ride I asked to call home and then two other times as well. Wally also asked our friend to call home and each time after our friend said hello the response from the sitter was "there fine". Translation: tell the two nutty overprotective parents their son is still alive. The sitters were right, Benjamin was fine. When I came back, Benjamin was as happy as when I left him - not a scratch to be found and I checked. His diaper was a bit soaked but they swore they changed him (I didn't believe them). While I am not looking for opportunities for Benjamin to be watched by people I have only meet for five minutes, I feel I have overcome a big parenting hurdle and I am proud to come out of it a braver person.
This is an original post to New Jersey Moms Blog.
Update: This was the first and last time a "stranger" has watched Benjamin.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nature's Calling

A few weeks ago I went on a business trip to San Francisco and in three days a new habit had formed with my son. In less than 72 hours, under the sole care of my husband, my son went from using the bathroom like a normal human being to using the great outdoors as his new toilet. I know it is very convenient to have a penis, especially, when it comes to "peeing emergencies" but really did we have to teach our son this habit?
Benjamin and I had just come into the house from playing outside in the backyard. We were just about to have a snack when he said, "Mommy I have to go potty." With that comment, he bolted out the backdoor. I ran and followed to find him in the middle of yard pants down urinating on our lawn. After he was finished, I went to find his father and ask him about this "new habit." Wally laughed it off with a "boys will be boys" attitude. I just shook my head and asked if there might be any other habits I should be made aware of that Ben learned/picked up while I was away. He couldn't think of any at the moment. I don't plan on going away anytime soon.