Today’s first story is really powerful. Many women have complicated feelings about their birth experience. And hearing someone say “me too” can lighten the load. So the next time you talk to a new mom, don’t just ask about the baby and the birth — ask how she feels about it. Because that matters too.

I loved reading your comments last week. Please continue to use this space to share, vent, and connect with one another.

P.S. Today’s reader question is about toothbrushing. This Thursday’s newsletter is going to tackle when you should brush your teeth — before or after meals. Please leave your strategies for this parent in the comments!

Our stories matter

—A Little Lighter

I had a very difficult pregnancy and birth — IUGR, emergency C-section, daughter was born not breathing and was resuscitated. There have been many moments of joy and love, but behind all of this has been an undercurrent of pain and trauma from the birth. I have often felt like I was robbed of this beautiful experience of birth and parenting, and I have some real resentment and self pity toward this experience that I need to work through. It’s affecting my ability to relate to friends who are having babies and uncomplicated pregnancies. It’s also been hard to talk to friends and relatives about the fear and anxiety I have about my child’s development, because the go-to response is to dismiss my feelings and to say that I worry too much. Even if this is true, the response feels like it is trying to ignore or deny where these heightened feelings are coming from.

Recently, though, I was able to connect with my aunt, who revealed to me that she had a similar experience (arguably worse than mine). She is still dealing with the trauma from her experience after 27 years and was frequently apologetic, saying that she wasn’t sure if she was helping by talking to me because she couldn’t fix anything or assure me that the pain and feeling of loss would ever go away completely. But I am simply so grateful that I could talk to someone who understands how I am feeling, even if the pain and anxiety is still there. Sharing the load makes it just a bit lighter. I wanted to share this story in case anyone else out there has had similar experiences and is dealing with the pain and loss that can come from pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Something I took away from my conversation was that it’s okay to feel pain from the past and be happy in the present; it’s okay to feel loss and be grateful for what you have. These feelings are not mutually exclusive.

(Ed. note: If you experienced a traumatic birth, I encourage you to find professional support. I have met Kayleigh — she has some great resources on her website and Instagram @thebirthtrauma_mama.)

That bites


My 3-year-old boy has been biting kids in his class for a year now. I feel like I’ve tried every technique possible — we do deep breathing, read behavior books, all the gentle parenting language, administer care to who he hurts — it doesn’t seem to improve. He’s from a loving, safe home, his school is caring and fun, I’m a stay-at-home parent to him for all other hours. We keep things routine and predictable. It just feels like he’s a rough kid — he pushes when he plays, he runs and body-checks his peers and sibling. He throws his toys. I’m having a really hard time handling this. I feel embarrassed that my kid is the one hitting and biting when I’m trying to do everything “right.” I feel guilty when I snap and yell at him instead of gently managing the situation. I just wish I knew when this would end or if there was something I could do to make it stop.

*Standing ovation*

—Sleep De-Thrived

My daughter just turned six weeks old. Last week, she finally started sleeping in her bassinet after four weeks of needing to be held in our arms all night. I feel like a real person again!

This week’s reader question

Recently at my daughter’s 18-month checkup, the pediatrician just casually asked, “And you’re brushing her teeth twice a day, right?” To which I replied a noncommittal “Yeah…” while internally thinking “Ha! Right!” Seriously, though, how do you deal with toothbrushing with a toddler whose favorite word is “Nononono!” and who, half the time, eagerly grabs the toothbrush only to fling it as hard as she can across the room? She’s too young to bribe or reason with, but there’s no way we would be able to force her to brush her teeth. The other side of the coin for me is, how much do I really need to worry about this? Am I condemning her to have cavities if she doesn’t get a thorough brushing twice a d

ay? Not to mention that she still falls asleep with a bottle of milk. It feels like one of those standard recommendations that is just totally unrealistic in practice (at least with my kid), and it’s stressing me out. Any suggestions?

—Toddler Toothbrusher

What do you think?

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