Brandi Hassouna (36), Ramzi (6), and Mena (4)
Wichita, Kansas | Brooklyn, NY
Brandi shares -
"I have had one confirmed miscarriage, when I was with my ex-husband. I had told everyone I knew as soon as I found out, and started bleeding one day while visiting my parents. At the request of the physician on call at the practice I was to see the following week, I had to collect all of the tissue that was expelled so that it could be confirmed that everything had cleared itself. I don't think I will ever forget what a 10 week old fetus looks like.
Parenthood has made me very conscious of how I talk about my body. I've come to realize how much I denigrated my physical being, but it has never failed me. I'm clumsy and prone to injury, have some issues with my knees and my back, but none of it has kept me from being present and active with my kids. I see them running around, total un-self-conscious of their bodies, and I revel in their beauty. I want them to hold onto that for as long as they can, and I need to let myself do so more for my own body. I've also come to realize that you never get your body "back", at least not the way it was before kids. It changes, and it should, and I want to take pride in the changes that have allowed me to carry, nurse, comfort, and play with my kids.
I had relatively easy pregnancies and uncomplicated, unmedicated births. I was grateful for the advice to ensure that your bladder is empty should your labor stall from my birthing class teacher. With Ramzi, after laboring at home for 14 hours, my labor stalled a bit after 6 hours in the hospital. They began to talk of using Pitocin to get things going again, but I hadn't been able to pee in 12 hours! I pushed to get that handled (straight catheter), and things picked back up right away. The hospital stays with both of them were 24 hours. Breastfeeding happened easily with both. Watching my newborns make their way to the nipple after being placed on my stomach was lovely.
I had been going to nursing school when I got pregnant with Ramzi, but the timing of was such that it didn't make sense to try and keep going with an infant. I decided to take a break, thinking it would be a year, but at the end of that year, I still didn't feel ready. My one year break turned into 6.
I'm grateful to have had the time to spend with my kids while they were tiny things. I loved watching them grow and change, still do, but there is something incredibly humbling about witnessing babies learn all of the things we all have to learn, but don't think about how it happens. The determination I witnessed in both of my kids to figure out things like sitting and standing was quite impressive. I've been able to watch their determination and curiosity help them evolve into the kids they are today, and I'm excited to see where that takes them as they continue to grow.
Ramzi is a boy who loves pink and sparkles, and that has proven to be a tough thing for him at times. Having a kid who wants to be different, but struggles with that at times, is proving a good lesson in letting go. I can't make it all better for him as much as I might want to, but I can help him understand that he doesn't need to put so much stock in what other people think. The opinion that truly matters is his, and his alone, and his dad and I will always love him for exactly who he is.
While I loved being with my kids, I also found it very isolating. We do not live near family, and a lot of our friends in LA (where we lived when both kids were born) are child free. They were happy to have our kids around, as long as we were, too. I knew pretty early into my stay at home days that I also needed something that was just mine. While we lived in LA, about a year after Ramzi was born, my friends asked me to join their band. It was a sanity saver. Here in NYC, I've gone back to finish the nursing degree I started before kids. It's hard to make friends as an adult, school helps.
I have a very engaged partner with whom I share the load of parenting as much as possible, but it is still hard to shake the pressure that is placed on moms to be the end all for their kids. Especially if you don't work outside the home. I've come to realize that I can't be it all for them, nor should I be. It's still hard to ask for help, but I feel a lot less guilt about it now than I used to. I'm a much better parent, and partner, when I have what I need (quiet alone time). I've come to accept that sometimes I'm going to lose my cool with my kids, they are doing their job pushing the boundaries, but that doesn't make me a bad parent. It makes me a human one and gives me the opportunity to show my kids how to attempt to take responsibility for actions and words and the impact those actions and words have on others. Then I'll get up and try to do better tomorrow.
My truth as a parent that is the highest calling we have in this role is to provide a loving, supportive environment for the children we have. They will face enough pushback from the world outside, let home be the place they can be themselves. My truth as a person is that no one will know what you need unless you say it, out loud.
I wanted to participate in this movement because I think it's important that women feel seen and loved for who they are, not pushed to attain an unrealistic ideal. I feel like this will be a statement I can look back on later, that my kids can look back on later, and see someone who is trying to love herself as much as they love her."