Author: Stef Woods

Should You Follow The Three-Date Rule?

Friend’s Question: Does the three-date rule still apply? I’m not sure whether or not I should have sex with Mr. New Guy after our third date.

I texted my friend with my brief, initial thoughts, but her question seemed worthy of a more thorough answer. There’s no definitive relationship guidebook or treatise on dating that everyone reads and follows. As such, these informal rules – such as waiting until you’ve gone out on three dates before engaging in sexual activity – receive more credence than they should.

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Most importantly, there is no right or wrong time to have sex. This is a personal and intimate choice to make. No rule and no other person, including the one with whom you’re considering having sex, should influence you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.

There are other concerns with respect to the three-date rule:

  • What is the goal of having sex? Sometimes sex is just sex. If that’s the case, then there might not be the need to wait for three dates or to even go out on a traditional date. But, if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, focus less on the act of sex or timelines and more on getting to know the other person. Take however long you need to build a strong relationship foundation.
  • The three-date rule doesn’t take into consideration the timeline for these three dates. For one couple, three dates might happen in three consecutive days. For another, it might take two months to go on three dates. Likewise, what was the foundation between you two before you went out on your first date? If there’s a history of friendship, you may already have an emotional connection before you add sex into the mix. That might cause you to favor having sex sooner than a couple who is just getting to know each other.
  • Unfortunately, we live in a society in which double standards regarding female sexuality and slut shaming prevail. That can lead to women trying to justify to themselves or others that they are waiting to have sex. One reader wrote me wondering why her partner wasn’t taking her out on dates since she had waited to have sex with him until after three dates. She informed me that their first “date” entailed them meeting at a networking event. The second date was a coffee date, and for the third “date,” she went over his place to have sex. That’s fine if she only wanted sex. However, her questions indicated that she was open to the potential of a relationship that wasn’t just based on sex. In that case, it might have behooved her to wait until they knew each other better.
  • Dr. Susan Krauss Whitborne’s analysis of current research indicates that couples who wait more than a month before having sex have stronger and longer relationships. Age and stage may also impact how soon a new couple has sex. A recent Business Insider survey reveals that approximately one-third of male and female respondents believe that it’s appropriate to have sex sometime after the second-fifth dates. (Note that 37% of the survey’s respondents were between the ages of 18-29.) Over half of the responses favored sometime after the second-ninth dates.
  • The three-date rule doesn’t contain any component of verbal communication. Unless you’re using a condom and just interested in a quickie, there are important issues that should ideally be addressed before having sex. How do you define “sex?” Will you get tested for HIV/AIDS and STIs before engaging in sexual activity? What birth control will you use? Will you spend the night after having sex? What, if anything, does having sex mean? Will having sex create an expectation of exclusivity or regular interaction (via the phone, social media, dates or in the bedroom)? If you don’t feel comfortable talking about any of these things with the other person, then it might be a sign that it’s too soon to have sex.

The above list is merely for your consideration. When you have sex with a potential partner is a decision for you and you alone to make. Just do whatever feels right for you and appropriate for your relationship goals at this point in your life. xoxo

Did I miss anything, readers? What are your thoughts about the three-date rule? Have you ever ascribed to it?

Tips for Dealing with Bed Rest

Friend’s Question: My doctor has put me on bed rest during my pregnancy. Any suggestions for how I can get through it?

Answer: First of all, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re on bed rest. I hope and pray that all will be well soon.

(For those who aren’t familiar with what “bed rest” entails, it’s much more than just taking naps or getting a good night’s sleep! Bed rest is mandated by doctors to prevent complications such as premature labor during pregnancy. Bed rest could be required for a week or several months! As The Mayo Clinic describes, “If you’re on complete bed rest during pregnancy, you might not even be able to shower or eat sitting up.” Bed rest or a similar term can also be used to indicate medically-imposed restrictions following illness, injury or surgery.)

Here are my tips as someone who doesn’t directly know what you’re going through, but has spent a lot of time in bed or at home recouping:
  • Make sure your doctor is very specific as to what you can and can’t do in a given day. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and call the doctor’s office.
  • Keep your eye on the prize and do whatever you can to get through the day. The goal here is a healthy baby. As a mom, you’ll do anything in your power so that your child will not go through one added ounce of pain. You’re just starting that mode while you’re pregnant, instead of when your baby is here. Whatever you need to do, can do or want to do on a given day is all you should do. Period.
  • See about renting a wheelchair and talk with your doctor as to whether that can enable you to get around more, even if it’s just around your own house. Insurance might be able to cover that temporary expense, too.
  • Move into the room that you find the most peaceful (ideally one that’s also closest to a bathroom and doesn’t involve any stairs).
  • Figure out if you need help, want company or neither. There’s no right or wrong, but I feel as though some people get that you might need help with grocery store runs, laundry, dog walks, etc. They will offer to help and if you feel comfortable having them in your home, take them up on it. Other people will just think you want someone to chill with and will expect you to host them if they come over. Decide if you are up for that physically and emotionally. If you don’t feel like seeing people while on bed rest, it’s ok to say that you’ll check in with people once you’re able to get out and about.
  • Try to keep some of your normal routine. My hairdressers and nail techs offered to come to my house many times. I’m sure if your stylists and techs knew that you couldn’t come to them, they would do the same! If that would make you feel more like yourself, reach out to them.
  • Invest in whatever you can to make this time easier — a cleaning woman, a dog walker, food delivery service, stores that will deliver and assemble nursery furniture, etc… It’s worth it.
  • Ask your doctor for a case manager. A case manager can access your limitations and living situation and recommend solutions. Maybe you need a shower chair or to rent an adjustable bed? Maybe a prenatal physical therapist or home health aide could be of benefit? Case managers can also check as to what’s covered by insurance.
  • Consider if you want to connect with someone in the area who went through a similar experience during pregnancy. Sidelines is a nonprofit that provides such services. There are also online forums and women your doctor can connect you with.
  • Remove the pressure involved in having to use the time to write the next great American novel, journal, make a baby book or anything else. If you want to do any of those things, fine. If not, that’s fine, too.

So, readers, what are your recommendations for dealing with bed rest?

The DC NEDA Walk

Why am I participating in the DC National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk Sunday?

  • I walk as someone who suffered from anorexia-bulimia in my late teens and early 20s.
  • I walk in recognition of the fact that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • I walk to support my students who have eating disorders or are in recovery.
  • I walk to help raise awareness about NEDA, the leading nonprofit advocating on behalf of those with eating disorders. The organization focuses on prevention, access to quality treatment, and increased research funding. NEDA provides a confidential Information and Referral Helpline. The nonprofit also offers personal support to individuals who are suffering from eating disorders and the loved ones trying to help them.
  • I walk in the hope that Roya will never see her body as anything other than beautiful.
  • I walk in recognition of the fact that the media, advertising and entertainment industries do not promote healthy standards of female beauty.
  • I walk in the hope that times have changed since the early 1990s and my college no longer needs to permanently lock the bathrooms by my dorm dining hall.
  • I walk out of concern for a society in which approximately half of male CEOs are overweight, while only 5-22% of female CEOs are overweight.
  • I walk to show my support for the 7 million females and 1 million males in the US suffering from an eating disorder.
  • I walk alongside others who share NEDA’s mission of a world without eating disorders.

If you are in DC on Sunday, April 27, please join me on The National Mall to raise awareness about the National Eating Disorders Association and funds for its programs and services. If you’re not in DC, please help spread the word about this worthy organization.

Roya’s February, Part 2

Once Roya started to feel better in early February, I decided to enroll her in a Gymboree class. At eight months, she had yet to actually play or interact with other babies her age. I thought that she would like Gymboree, but didn’t expect her to love it so much! The teachers at the NW DC location are wonderful, and the infants are so cute as they laugh and play together! (I guess I was surprised at how much I enjoy it, too!)

Roya at Gymboree

Roya at Gymboree

We also picked up a play zone and foam tiles for Roya from Target. The play zone contains enough to stimulate Roya, but it’s not overwhelmingly loud or bright. (That’s a win for her and a win for me!)

With respect to the puzzle foam mats that are the norm for families with infants, I learned after purchasing the tiles that they have been banned in Europe for containing a toxic chemical. (Is there anything else other than thick carpeting that can be used in lieu of these mats? Please comment if you’ve found something that works for infants!)

Check out Roya’s moves in the play zone:

The cold and snowy weather impeded us from heading to the playground, but we managed to make it to weekly story time and music time at the library. I had to laugh out loud that Roya was the only one in the infant/toddler class to know what to do with a drum before the teacher showed the group.

Girl in the Hood

Girl in the Hood

We continued to try to introduce Roya to solid foods. She still wasn’t a fan, although her expressions in the high chair are priceless.

Can you blame me for being so in love with my little, funny Valentine?

Let (This) Mommy Sleep, Part 3

When I reached out to Let Mommy Sleep, I was hopeful that Denise Stern and her team of nurses and sleep consultants could help me. I never imagined, though, just how much LMS would help and how quickly.

After I emailed Denise with my answers to the Sleep Questionnaire, I received a customized plan for Roya. The five-page, single-spaced plan included information about eating solids, bottle feeding, quiet time, napping, bath time and nighttime sleeping and feeding. I thrive on organization and details, and this plan was perfect in both regards!

I spoke with Denise over the phone to review the plan and ask a few questions. We also talked through how to implement some of the recommendations for nighttime feedings. I felt supported, and the plan, though long, was manageable.

Within 36 hours, Roya was only up once a night. Within six days, she slept a nine-hour stretch. The next night was a ten-hour stretch. And, then another…and another. After a week of Roya sleeping through the night, I had more physical and mental energy. The bags under my eyes began to finally disappear. Not surprisingly, I laughed a lot more, lost my patience less and had friends notice the change in my demeanor!

Over the course of seven months, I’ve shed a lot of tears of exhaustion and frustration because of sleep deprivation. A short email to Let Mommy Sleep changed all of that!  I began implementing the suggestions from the sleep plan four weeks ago, and despite the norovirus, teething and vaccines, Roya is still sleeping well. If Roya’s patterns dramatically change, I’m thankful that Denise is only a phone call away.

If you or a loved one are a sleep-deprived parent of an infant four months or older, I highly recommend that you contact Let Mommy Sleep! A sleep consultation includes:

  • A customized care plan for your baby;
  • A one-hour phone consultation (in one or two calls); and
  • Unlimited phone/email follow up.

The regular price for a sleep consultation from Let Mommy Sleep is $200, but LMS is kindly offering my readers a discount. If you mention Stef Woods or City Girl Blogs, you’ll get all of the above for $175!

For those of you who live in DC, Northern Virginia or Maryland, there are plans that include a three-hour in-home sleep consultation. There’s also a Baby Sleep 101 workshop in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 23rd.  Full details are available here.

Thank you, Denise, so very much! Now, is there anything you can do to help with temper tantrums ;)?

Disclaimer: Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, I, Stef Woods of CityGirlBlogs.com, received sleep coaching from Let Mommy Sleep in exchange for my honest assessment of LMS’ services. No monetary compensation was received for this or any other post. Let Mommy Sleep reserves the right to discontinue the discounted pricing for a sleep consult at any time.

Roya’s February Parties and Lunches

The first week in February found Roya still fighting a bad virus. With our doctor’s permission, we still made it to B Too to surprise Auntie KRob for her birthday.

Rocking Nicole Miller skinny jeans and Esprit sparkly kicks even though she's under the weather

Rocking Nicole Miller skinny jeans and Esprit sparkly kicks even though she’s under the weather

Where's Roya?

Happy Birthday Auntie KRob!
Bonus points for finding Roya.

Since Roya couldn’t snuggle with her aunt at the party, we made up for it when she was feeling better.

Popping bottles

Popping bottles

Uncle Moshe got in some quality time at the lunch at The Hamilton, too.

Roya also got invited to her first birthday party for children! We had fun watching LR celebrate her 7th birthday and decorate cupcakes at Sprinkles Georgetown!

It's OK to put this baby in the corner.

It’s OK to put this baby in the corner.

Party Time at Sprinkles!

Party Time at Sprinkles!

February was a busy month for Roya so tune in to Part II with more of my favorite pics!

PS This post was written by Stef Woods of City Girl Blogs™ of CityGirlBlogs.com. If you are reading this post in its entirety on another site, please know that said site is scraping my feed in violation of my copyright policy.

Am-boob-alent

I used to be the girl who was a little too comfortable parading around topless in the gym locker room.

Now, I’m the girl who changes in the shower stall as quickly as she can.

I used to be the girl who loved her real, full breasts.

Now I’m the girl who tries to not to look at her boobs.

How do I feel almost two years after double mastectomy? Ambivalent.

Or, would that be, “am-boob-alent?”

I’m thankful that I’m in remission (knocking on wood, while I type), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t constant reminders of what was and how much my life has changed since my diagnosis. Since my reconstruction, my breasts are the same size as they were before the surgeries. But, they don’t feel or look like my old breasts because they’re not.

The media tends to focus on celebrities who had double mastectomies preventively like Angelina Jolie or who didn’t require chemotherapy and radiation like Giuliana Rancic. I appreciate that double mastectomies are not easy for any woman to go through. But, if the surgery is done preventively or the woman’s breasts don’t have other scars or burns on them, the surgery typically can be performed with smaller incisions and less obvious scars. How does that impact a woman’s thoughts about her breasts at a minimum or overall self-esteem and sexuality at a maximum?

Since I’ve had radiation, as well as biopsies and lumpectomies (12 in total over the years), I was not a candidate for any surgery involving smaller, less-noticeable incisions.  As a result, my boobs have an equator-like scar around the entire width of both breasts. Given my connective tissue disorder and subsequent pregnancy, the skin around my breasts has stretched significantly. I need at least one and possibly two more surgeries to tighten the skin and add nipples. Several of my survivor sisters have found that getting nipples and completing reconstruction have made them feel more like themselves. I hope that’s the case, but that doesn’t change the fact that my old boobs are gone.

I might not like my post-reconstruction breasts or flaunt them, but I try not to let my “foobs” impede me from my day-to-day life and expressing myself and my sexuality. And, I do take comfort in the fact that having a double mastectomy significantly lowered my risk of recurrence. The reasons I had the surgery in 2012 are still valid today from a personal and a medical perspective. At the end of the day (again, knocking on wood), that’s what’s important.

How can you stay on top of your breast health?

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PS This post was written by Stef Woods of City Girl Blogs™ of CityGirlBlogs.com. If you are reading this post in its entirety on another site, please know that said site is scraping my feed in violation of my copyright policy.

Let (This) Mommy Sleep, Part 2

“There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture mechanism,” said a friend who was experiencing sleep deprivation after the birth of her child.

My friend’s words have resonated with me of late. Prior to giving birth, my internist expressed his concern that caring for a newborn during the night would cause my autoimmune condition to worsen. Dr. Real Deal also indicated that she didn’t believe I would carry to term and that I should prepare for a difficult delivery.

In May, I began to research options for overnight care and heard of Let Mommy Sleep at a DC event for expectant mothers. Let Mommy Sleep (LMS) is the only dedicated team of baby nurses serving DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland. Denise Stern founded the company, after realizing the difference that a night nanny made in her life with newborn twins and a toddler.  LMS provides:

Overnight care to newborns from 9pm-7am and education to the families one to two weeks after birth. Registered Nurses, LPNs and Postpartum Specialists assist with single babies, twins and triplets.

Denise and I discussed that I might require a Registered Nurse to assist with my daughter and me after I gave birth. I thought it was a great idea for LMS to offer a sleep registry. Newborns require very few tangible things after birth, but the moms who care for them need a lot – most especially, sleep!

When it appeared as though Roya would thankfully be born full term and that my daytime nanny would assist with occasional night care, I let Denise know that I didn’t think I would be needing her services. We continued to stay in touch via Twitter, and I would smile when she would ReTweet something I wrote about Roya. I felt her support from one mom to another.

Roya was a fairly good sleeper as a newborn so I never imagined that I would need to reach out to LMS. That all changed when The Man, Roya, our dog and I were displaced from our home and sleeping in one room for four months. Roya started waking up an average of three times a night! And, we couldn’t have any night care join us in the one room without being awkward at a minimum or inappropriate at a maximum.

We hoped that Roya would return to her good sleep patterns once we were able to move back home, but that wasn’t the case between colds, vaccines and teething. After six months of being up three times a night almost every night, I was horribly sleep deprived. I would find myself crying or raising my voice at the littlest thing. I had to make an effort to focus on a conversation or email. And, I almost fell asleep behind the wheel on more than one occasion.

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Something needed to change, and I thankfully remembered that Let Mommy Sleep also offers sleep consultations. I emailed Denise to find out more information.

Let Mommy Sleep provides Sleep Coaching services for babies four months or older whose pediatricians agree that it’s appropriate for the babies to sleep longer stretches at night.

Parents are asked to fill out a Sleep Profile with questions about their baby’s health, daily routine, and sleep and feeding schedule. After that, LMS’ team of nurses and consultants sends out a custom in-depth, step-by-step written plan to get the baby on a developmentally appropriate schedule and sleeping through the night. The plan is supplemented with a one-hour phone consultation and two weeks of phone and email follow up.

“Sign me up!” I wrote Denise.

She sent me the Sleep Profile and also let me know that it’s normal for 8-10 month olds to have trouble sleep through the night. And, right off the bat, she gave me a few suggestions for helping to wean Roya off of night feedings.

The questions in the Sleep Profile were comprehensive, but it only took me 30 minutes to complete them. After emailing the profile back to Let Mommy Sleep, I sent a text to several of my closest girlfriends that I was cautiously optimistic that a good night’s sleep was in my future!

Did this mommy get some sleep? 

To be continued…

Disclaimer: Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, I, Stef Woods of CityGirlBlogs.com, received sleep coaching from Let Mommy Sleep in exchange for my honest assessment of LMS’ services. No monetary compensation was received for this or any other post.

Trusting a Cheater

Let’s tackle another reader’s question!

Question: I love my boyfriend and mostly trust him. But he’s had a history of cheating. He’s about to leave on an extended business trip, and I’m worried the distance will lead him back to his old ways. How can I get rid of these fears? Can you trust a man who has cheated?

Answer: Cheating is typically a symptom and not the problem. Are both of you interested in working on your relationship and getting to the root of the problem? Is your boyfriend willing to figure out what led him to cheat in the first place? If so, a licensed therapist would be in the best position to help as you process your relationship problems and try to restore trust and intimacy.

There are counselors who see one or both of the individuals and the couple, but I recommend having two separate therapists. I appreciate how that might pose logistical or economic difficulties, but the counselor should either be an advocate for one of the parties or the couple as a unit. One therapist for both the individual and the couple could cause a conflict of interest to arise.

With respect to your boyfriend’s business trip, the distance might help facilitate his cheating, but if he’s going to cheat, he can do that anywhere. I hope that he stops for your sake, but the fact that you only “mostly trust him” concerns me. Your fears are legitimate. What is your boyfriend doing to show you and assure you that this will never happen again? Can your boyfriend articulate why he did what he did, why it was wrong, and why he wants to change his behavior? Is he fully committed to regaining your trust? Are your head and your heart telling you the same thing?

I also wonder if his business trip is mandatory. If so, would it be possible for you to join him for part of it? Have you asked him how he feels about the distance piece of it? Could Skype, text or Facetime help you feel connected while he’s away? Whatever you decide, I wish you the best, as I’m sure that none of this is easy.

What advice would YOU give this reader?