Time To Soar, Dearest A

It was October 2014. 

Roya was up two-three times a night every night. I was in my first semester as a full-time faculty member and teaching three classes. The nanny that I had hired for the year decided to leave the DC area. I managed to piece together a schedule with four babysitters – all of whom were full-time college students.

It was clear that I needed more consistent childcare. I took a chance and reached out to Nanny A, a friend of a friend, to see if she had some hours to spare. She thankfully did, and she began to watch Roya a week later. What started as occasional grading help grew into more hours and days with each passing season.

It was October 2014. 

I parted ways with Roya’s biological father without any tears or drama. I had wanted to be a 100% parent of a little girl, and thanks to God and him, I was.

A little over three years later, I’m reflective as to what an eventful month that October was. Back then, I didn’t know then what I know now…that having Nanny A join our family would be far more impactful than having The Man leave our family.

The love Nanny A has shown both Roya and me is unparalleled. The willingness to be there for us in our highest of highs and our lowest of lows has been unyielding. Nanny A is so much more than a nanny. She is my friend, she is the closest thing to a co-parent that I’ve ever had, and she is our family. She didn’t have to assume all of these roles, but she did. And, for that, I’m truly grateful.

Earlier this year, Nanny A and I talked about her professional plans. She is a successful writer and event planner, and at some point in the future, she wanted to focus on those endeavors exclusively. I knew that she needed to spread her wings, and her responsibilities with us would make that difficult to do. Her end date was on the horizon, but thankfully, she extended her time with us through the summer and fall. In October 2017 (three years to the week after she started with us), I again asked her about her plans. Nanny A would be moving on at the end of the year. It was official.

I cried on and off for 48 hours. Correction, I sobbed. (Picture that messy crying where you can’t form a coherent sentence and your eyes are puffy when you wake up the next day.)

Nanny A’s last date is getting closer, and moving the calendar to December has brought me to tears yet again. There is so much that I will miss about her, but to highlight just a few things:

  • How I can text her at any hour of the day for advice, a laugh or just to say hi
  • How Roya can literally hug her for hours
  • All the special things that she and Roya share together from their favorite restaurants to taking the bus to reading certain stories
  • How she turns into Mama Bear when anyone tries to mess with Roya
  • Our dance parties in the hall
  • How many times we have laughed until we had tears in our eyes

I haven’t wanted to finish this post for a week because that makes this truly real. After next week, Nanny A will no longer be in our home on a regular basis. Last night, as R went to hug us both she said, “Family hug.” She knows now, and I will make sure she always knows that Nanny A is a part of our family.

Stef Woods, city girl blogs

There are no words to do justice to what Nanny A has meant to us nor what she will accomplish. But, the words of the scholar Rumi come to mind:

You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dream. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You were not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.

I anxiously await all the tales of how you will soar, Dearest A. And, until you return to visit, know you are loved and missed every day in big and small ways.

Stopping And Recognizing

“And yet we know that You have already come, to a forgotten corner of the world, to a people on the verge of losing hope, to a woman no one thought could bear a child, and the world has never been the same.”

At church this morning, I read this portion of the Prayer of Confession with the rest of the congregation. I looked down at Roya drawing in the pew, when I realized something:

On a far more individualized scale, I was the woman no one thought could bear a child. And, since Roya arrived in 2013, my world has never been the same. My life as a 100% parent is vastly different from when I only answered to myself and set up whatever schedule I wanted.

I don’t doubt that any of this is God’s plan. But, I wouldn’t describe the past three-and-a-half years as easy. Rather, they’ve been a blend of eventful and mundane, incomprehensibly joyful and incomprehensibly exhausting. (Come to think of it, that might be how I would define parenting!)

Parenting also has been an exercise in patience for me. (For those of you who didn’t know me pre-Roya, patience wasn’t my strongest virtue.) And, I’m also learning to accept how little I have control over, while still managing to successfully juggle several balls in the air at once.

At church today, Reverend Laura’s sermon focused on stopping and recognizing God when He is with us. Well, thanks to Roya, I was fully present today!

Prior to the start of Sunday School, Reverend Laura brings all the children – and the parents of the younger kids — up to the front of the Sanctuary. Roya was sitting in my lap, but then moved to sit next to one of the older children. Two minutes later, while Reverend Laura was talking about angels, Roya proceeded to move to the floor and spin around and around in front of her.

My first thought was to jump up and grab Roya as quickly as I could and head out of the Sanctuary, but then I looked around. The older kids were giggling, the people in the choir were smiling, and the reverend was calm and unfazed. (In fact, Reverend Laura incorporated a complementary mention of Roya’s acrobatic skills into her sermon!)

No one seemed to mind that a silly toddler was being a silly toddler. It reminded me of a scene from Parenthood, the movie, without anyone claiming that Roya was ruining anything.

As Reverend Laura continued to talk about angels, Roya then began to move her body on the wood floor of the Sanctuary, as though she was making a snow angel.

I began to laugh (as quietly as I could, of course). Before I knew it, I was laughing so hard — while simultaneously trying to stifle my volume — that tears filled my eyes.

When the children’s sermon was finished, I thanked the reverend, retrieved Roya with a smile on my face and took her upstairs to Sunday School.

After church, several people, including the reverend, commented how wonderful it is that Roya feels so comfortable there. I’m thankful for all those in our church family who have welcomed her with open arms and smiles, rather than eye rolls and shushing.

And, yes, God, I get it. Angels are really just messengers. And, today, thanks to Reverend Laura and my little no-snow snow angel, You made it very clear what message I was meant to get.

My 2015 Recap

A year ago, I focused on how my glass was half full. I was – and am – thankful to be a mom and an educator. Nonetheless, as 2014 drew to a close, there were still a lot of loose ends in my life:

  • Was my breast cyst benign or malignant?
  • Could I physically handle my job? (I only had six days between my lumpectomy and the start of the semester. I had three new classes to teach and 30 more students than the previous semester. And, I still had my usual two migraines a week.) Assuming that I could handle the added responsibilities and that the cyst was benign, would my full-time contract be renewed?
  • Was I really at peace with no longer being in a relationship with The Man? Or, would I return to my old pattern of going back to an ex-boyfriend?
  • How would I fare at being a single mom?
  • Where would Roya get into preschool? (The DC preschool hustle is an interesting process with applications, recommendations and interviews.)

Today, I can reflect on all of those questions and stressors with a huge sigh of relief.

Most importantly, surgery in January revealed that the cyst was benign. My November MRI showed no evidence of cancer. According to my oncologist, I now have the same risk of anyone else my age of getting breast cancer. Breast cancer thus becomes a disease I had, not a disease from which I’m in remission. That matters clinically and psychologically.

On the work front, I’ve been able to handle all of my responsibilities effectively. My contract has been renewed through May 2017, and I get excited every time I head to campus. I recently was asked what I liked best about my students. I paused as I tried not to shed any tears and replied, “How much time do you have?” I know how lucky I am to truly love what I do.

I also appreciate where I am professionally. If an opportunity as a panelist or expert doesn’t benefit my continued role as an instructor, I have the ability to respectfully decline. Choosing what’s been the right fit has led to some amazing opportunities, though. A few highlights:

  • Speaking about The Hunger Games to a sold-out audience at The Smithsonian;
  • Being interviewed by Associated Press about drone technology;
  • Filming a short video for WebMD about what to expect when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer; and
  • Talking about selfies for American Magazine.

With respect to The Man, I do not doubt that we were meant to meet and fall in love. I also do not question that we are no longer meant to be a couple. He was put in my life so that Roya would be born. He was a love in my life, and there will be another in the future. She is the love of my life.

As far as being a single mom, I don’t view that term — or my reality — as a negative. Roya is a great kid, and I’m thankful to be in control of every day and every decision in her life. And, I can exhale, knowing that she ended up in the right preschool for her.

Is our life utopic? Of course not.

Parenting is joyously exhausting (or exhaustingly joyful?). Between Roya’s sleep patterns, grading and curriculum development, a five-hour stretch of sleep is a good night for me. And, it would be nice to have time to see my friends, work out and write. But, I know how privileged I am to say that the toughest parts of my year were lack of sleep, missed brunches, and wanting to fit into my skinny jeans.

stef woods, city girl blogs

As we change the calendar to 2016, I pray that the new year brings Roya and me more of the same. I am truly content with my relationships, my family and my job. I go into 2016 without any loose ends. Roya and I are blessed to be happy and (knock on wood) healthy. I hope the same for you and your loved ones, too. xoxo

Flying and Falling

Recently, I spoke to students at Georgetown University’s OWN IT Summit about social media activism. I also held “Office Hours” for a smaller group during which we discussed everything from my curriculum to the law to sexuality studies to blogging. The last question of the day was:

How do you deal with having a daughter? I don’t want a daughter because I would be too scared of what would happen to her.

The timing of that question was fortuitous, as I have been thinking about my parenting style and fears. My reply to the student follows:

Since Roya was 15 months old, she has liked to go down the biggest slide in the playground…face first…with her legs in a herkie jump position. Any time I’ve tried to go down the slide with her, she emphatically tells me, “No, Mommy!” She wants to do it all by herself, as she smiles and laughs every inch of the way! I let her do it, but I make sure to run as fast as I can from the top of the slide to the bottom to spot her.

The playground we frequent is designed for children between the ages of two and five. Other parents have asked me how old Roya is or commented that she is a “daredevil,” and her moves “death-defying.” I just nod my head, and say that I don’t want to squash her spirit.

I’ve realized that this also needs to be my approach to parenting her off of the playground. I want to be an involved parent, but I don’t want to be a helicopter parent. I want her to feel free to take risks and try new things.

It’s tougher to conceptualize the downside of this, but unfortunately, there’s only so much that I can control. Think about it. We can let fear control our lives or we can live our lives. It’s a choice that we must make for ourselves, and if we are parents, for our children. Hovering over Roya won’t help her live her life, and it won’t allow me to live mine.

She will be wronged, and she will wrong others. She will fall, and she will fail. These are understandably difficult experiences for any parent to observe happen to their child. However, despite my best intentions, I can’t protect Roya from every bad thing that could possibly happen to her. So, I will continue to do whatever I can to spot her to the best of my ability.

I will let Roya fly, and I will comfort her when she falls. I’ll also remind her that I have soared high and fallen low. I’m thankful to have picked myself up and dusted myself off after my falls. I’ll keep picking her up and dusting her off until she can do that on her own.


Enjoying Every Moment

I recently wrote the following as a Facebook status update:

Many tell me to “enjoy every moment with Roya.” I assume they mean, “enjoy every moment that’s not sleep deprived, covered in spit up, or involving you cleaning poop off of places poop shouldn’t be.” (I’m thankful to have a very good baby, but she’s still a baby!)

Several of my friends responded in agreement. Quite a few others tried to assuage my guilt or feelings that I wasn’t a good parent.

From a sociological perspective, the latter reaction both fascinated and disappointed me. Parenting is simultaneously joyous and exhausting. Most people with children wouldn’t deny that being a parent is the most rewarding role they’ve ever had and also the toughest role. Why is it a bad thing to admit that the joys and the difficulties of parenting aren’t mutually exclusive? Why is this yet another occasion when women are expected to feel guilty because every minute of every day isn’t perfect? Is a female less of a mother if she acknowledges that parenting is the hardest work out there? Isn’t it time that we – as mothers and as a society – stop making women feel guilty for how they parent or how they feel about parenting?

I don’t feel like a bad mother for admitting that cleaning poop off of the wall at 6 a.m. isn’t a moment to be savored. In fact, it’s the antithesis of fun! That’s just the reality. It doesn’t need to be sugarcoated or packaged up in a nice gender-normative pink bow.

In the overwhelming majority of households, mothers are expected to perform most of the childcare duties. It’s time that we didn’t add the need to feel guilty to our already overflowing plates! Having a healthy and happy child is all that matters! We owe it to ourselves to not give into the pressure to feel bad about whether we work outside of the home or not. whether every item on our to-do list has been completed, and how we measure up to any other mother we know. There is much in life as a parent that we can’t control, but we do have control over whether or not we feel guilty about making the right choices for ourselves and our families.

When it comes to parenting, all that matters is that we do the best we can. If we’re on the receiving end of a well-intentioned comment to enjoy every moment, just remember that nostalgia is a powerful elixir complete with rose-colored glasses. Then, just smile and say, “Yes, as much as I can.” At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be expected to do more, and our children deserve nothing less.

I Can’t Breastfeed…Nor Would I Want To

“I wish I had gotten a double mastectomy so I would have had an excuse for not breastfeeding. I was in tears when Emily couldn’t latch, and the nurse kept forcing me to try.”

“Well,” I told my friend with an odd look in my eyes, “I’m very thankful that you didn’t have breast cancer or a double mastectomy. I just wish that there wasn’t such societal pressure to breastfeed and you hadn’t felt as though you were an inferior mother when it didn’t work.”

Since I announced that I was pregnant, I’ve received a lot of questions about whether I could breastfeed. I typically answer with a version of the following:

No nipples. No milk ducts. No desire.

If someone probes further, I let them know that even if I could have breastfed, it's far from ideal to pass more of my immunities onto my daughter. (I fully appreciate that there are proven health benefits to breastfeeding, but I don’t think women with my health issues were the subjects of any of these studies!)

Other factors that contribute to my views that the breast isn't always best:

  • Several of my friends who breastfed were exceptionally sleep deprived. That, in turn, played a contributory role in them suffering from Post-Partum Depression;
  • Since breastfeeding is the mother’s responsibility, I've noticed that the father often feels excluded or disconnected from parenting in the early stages. For numerous couples, that has led to resentments and relationship problems in the first months after having a baby;
  • Breastfeeding is linked to significantly lower libido in women; and
  • Quite a few friends found breastfeeding problematic because their children needed more milk than their breasts produced and/or their babies had trouble latching. They thus needed to introduce formula to supplement their breastfeeding while they were in the hospital. A desire to breast feed doesn't necessarily translate into the ability to do so.

(The above list is a collection of my observations from a dozen friends who have struggled with breastfeeding.)

Pediatricians recommend breastfeeding as the preferred option, but it concerns me that it's viewed societally as the only option. I don’t regard such absolutes as healthy, as they exacerbate the pressures of caring for a newborn in the midst of dramatic hormonal changes. A woman is not less of a mother if she doesn't breastfeed, and no one has the right to make her feel that way.

Throughout my pregnancy and since giving birth to Roya, I was never asked the simple question, “Are you breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or both?” Everyone assumed that I was breastfeeding. Telling people, even health care professionals, that I’ve had a double mastectomy tended not to resonate either. A double mastectomy isn’t a boob job! During a double mastectomy, everything under the skin is removed. Everything. I also didn’t have the luxury of having nipple-sparing surgery since I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Despite the biological impediments to me breastfeeding, I still find it fascinating that people automatically presume that I would want to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding like so many other parenting decisions is a choice. Choosing to bottle feed should not be met with judgment regardless of the reason for doing so.  I’ll respect your choices as to what’s best for your family. All I ask in return is that you respect mine.

Pregnant After Cancer

I’m not a fan of pregnancy websites.

I haven’t bought a single book about pregnancy or parenting.

I have little interest in receiving well-intentioned advice from my friends who are moms. Likewise, I'm not one for rejoicing or commiserating much with my friends who are pregnant.

With only three months left to my pregnancy, I only just started a registry.

People who don't realize how much experience I have with infant and child care misperceive my actions – or lack thereof – as denial or uncertainty. I don’t think it’s either.

I’m pregnant after cancer.

More accurately, I’m pregnant:

I’m charting my own unique path yet again. In doing so, I’m trying to navigate the joys and fears of expecting a baby after cancer.

The joys are numerous, and I recognize what a blessing and miracle this is! My body defied the odds to conceive naturally at my age following chemotherapy-induced menopause. And, I’ve thankfully had a great pregnancy thus far. The doctors couldn’t be happier with how she’s developing and how my health is faring. For the first time in my life, I'm hearing words like, "perfect" and "better than normal," in reference to my health!

I also find myself far less stressed than the overwhelming majority of my pregnant friends. I’m used to changes with my health, my weight, my activity level, and my sleep. Doctors’ appointments were already a part of my weekly routine, and I’m actually taking fewer vitamins now than before I was pregnant. Listening to my body, heeding my doctors’ advice, and restricting my schedule as needed have been my default modes.

The concerns that accompany being pregnant after cancer also seem more pronounced.  A cancer patient’s risk of recurrence drops noticeably after five years in remission, and I’m not even halfway to that milestone. I’ve had health issues since I was a baby, and three of my conditions have a genetic component. The doctors also believe that my mom and I carried a genetic predisposition for breast cancer with a gene that has yet to be discovered.

To add another layer to the mix, I am an only child. My daughter will be an only child. I lost my mom to cancer when I was 24 years old. I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 37. (I could have easily titled this post, “Pregnant After Losing Your Mom To Cancer and Then Having Cancer.”)

I know that I will raise my daughter to be aware and proactive about her health. But, I pray that she doesn’t have my genes, as I simultaneously hope that medicine continues to advance with each passing year.

Those concerns exist, but they’re on my mind far less than the larger fear:

That my cancer will return and I won’t be around to watch my daughter grow up.

There, I said it. It doesn’t make the fear any less scary. It doesn’t mean that I have any more control over the situation. But, it’s one explanation for why I’m going to view pregnancy differently from most.

Yes, I’m grateful to be in remission. But, 30% of breast cancers return in a metastatic form. The women who must face a Stage IV recurrence have just as much fight and faith (if not more!) as those whose cancer doesn’t return.

After reading a post from Lisa Adams in which she describes talking to her teenage daughter about her metastatic breast cancer, I sat in front of my laptop and sobbed. I have the same reaction when I read Facebook posts from my friend with a Stage IV recurrence. She just wants to be with her children as much as she can for as long as she can.

I feel my fear when it hits me. I cry for a few minutes. I say a prayer and trust in God's plan. And then, I move on. There’s only so much emotional energy I can devote to the unknown…or a registry…or a pregnancy side effect. I don’t know any other way to be.

It’s a…?

November 19, 2012

I had chosen to have CVS testing at 11 weeks to determine whether the fetus had any chromosomal abnormalities. Since the test results analyze all 46 chromosomes, the genetic counselor asked if I wanted to know my baby's gender.

There are varying opinions about finding out the gender before giving birth. I’m of the mindset that I’d like to know as much as I can as soon as possible. I also have never been one for surprises, let alone big surprises! I told the counselor that I wanted to know the gender, provided that the fetus didn't test positive for Down’s syndrome or another chromosomal abnormality.

Several friends had asked me if I thought I knew the gender. I guessed that it was a boy because of the old wives’ tales that women who don’t have morning sickness and crave more salt than sugar are having boys.

The genetic counselor indicated that she would call me with the results on Monday, November 19th in the late afternoon.

On Monday at 3:30pm, my cell phone vibrated, while I was driving home. I recognized the Georgetown extension and pulled over into a parking lot so I could safely answer the phone.

“Hi Stef,” the counselor said. “I’m calling with some good news.”

“Really?” I responded hopefully, but with a touch of nervousness.

“The initial results came back, and there are no abnormalities. The results are 99.96% accurate. It will take another week to get the full 100% results, but you can breathe easy now.”

Tears filled my eyes as I exclaimed, “That’s great news!”

The counselor then asked, “Do you still want to know the gender?”


“It’s a girl.”

“Would you mind saying that again?” I inquired as tears streamed down my cheeks.

“It’s a girl.”

I began to cry so hard that I was shaking in my car.

“Wow. This is real now. Really real. Thank you,” I said before we discussed the next steps.

When I hung up the phone a few minutes later, I sat in my car with a huge smile on my face as I continued to sob.

I had always imagined that I would adopt a little girl. In August 2010, shortly before I headed into my first surgery to remove my tumor, one of my best friends recommended that I picture my dog for peace and motivation. As I was going under, my subconscious didn’t just visualize Flake. I also pictured a little girl. I couldn’t see her face, but I could see her short ponytail, white cardigan and pink dress.

I had thought I knew how this little girl would come into my life, but God had a different plan. I spent the rest of the night with a huge smile on my face and tears in my eyes as I counted my blessings.

Did knowing the gender make me more sentimental about my pregnancy? How did I feel about other people’s excitement about my news?

To be continued… 

PS What are your thoughts about finding out the gender?

Getting More Information

October 19-22, 2012

I headed off to North Carolina to relax with several girlfriends at lake house. I didn’t think much about being pregnant while I was away since I assumed that the odds of the doctors letting me try to carry to term were so miniscule.

When I returned to DC from the lake, I couldn’t avoid reality for any longer. As I spoke with my gynecologist, she indicated that I didn’t seem 100% comfortable with terminating the pregnancy.

“I guess that’s because I’m not,” I responded. “There are so many health concerns that I bring to the table! But…there’s this part of me that feels as though this is a miracle…that so many odds had to be beaten for me to even get pregnant…what if this is part of God’s plan?”

“Well, what do your oncologist and neurologist say about this?” the doctor inquired.

“I haven’t called them,” I admitted. “I just didn’t want to hear that this wasn’t possible from all these doctors since that would make this even tougher.”

“I think you need to get more information so you truly know what your options are.”

“You’re right. Thanks!”

On Monday, October 22nd, I spoke with six of my doctors.

I wish that I had video of their reactions at the news that I was pregnant at the age of 39 after chemotherapy-induced menopause. One of them cursed. One started to stutter. One of them was silent. And, not surprisingly, all of them were shocked!

It was my turn to be shocked, though, as my entire medical team ranged between neutral and excited about me trying to have a baby.

My oncologist informed me that previous research had discouraged breast cancer survivors from getting pregnant within several years of finishing treatment. However, a recent study indicated that pregnancy would slightly reduce my risk of recurrence.

“The researchers couldn’t say why that was the case in the women who were studied,” my oncologist continued. “It might be psychological, but no one really knows.”

My neurologist said that even though my migraines weren’t hormonal, pregnant women typically experience fewer migraines than when they’re not pregnant.

“Pregnancy could actually be good for you!” she surmised.

My internist has known me longer than any other doctor. He explained, "I think you could safely carry to term, but I’m more worried about how your health will be after you give birth. You would need a lot of extra support to ensure that your other conditions don’t get worse or that if they do, your baby would be well taken care of."

“I had figured that much. We know how my health is when I don’t get enough sleep, and newborns are the antithesis of a good night’s sleep!”

I hung up with my internist and felt both positive and pensive. The medical obstacles that I had thought would impede me from trying to carry to term were no longer.

Could this actually be possible? And, if it was, did I want this to be possible?

I had always planned to adopt because I never envisioned myself pregnant or parenting a newborn. The expression, “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan,” kept going through my head.

I had an appointment with a high-risk obstetrician in two days.  I had some time to formulate my thoughts, and I knew that I needed to hear hers.

To be continued…

As a PS, I won’t be exclusively writing about my pregnancy from hereon forward. I’m just trying to catch everyone up to the present day so that you know how I’m doing and how the pregnancy is going.

The Science of Love

I rarely write about my dating life anymore, but suffice it to say that I'm happy. Really happy.

I'm with a man who is kind, communicative and loyal. I haven't always (often?) been able to say that I'm dating a good man, but I can now. And, that's perfect for this stage in my life.

My heart races a bit when I see him, and I feel this rush when he hugs me. When we're not together, I find myself daydreaming a lot and having trouble concentrating.

One of my Sexuality and Social Media students, Gabrielle, might tell me that it's the dopamine talking. For her class research project, Gabrielle is:

Comparing and contrasting the chemical processes that occur within the human body during online dating and face-to-face relationships.  There is a rise in the chemical Oxytocin when social media users meet a love interest online as well as during a physical relationship.  However, Pheromones are chemicals physically given off by the body and spark attraction within a romantic partner.  Does dating through social media hinder the chemical processes of love or have our brains adapted to this modern way of life?

This post that Gabrielle wrote about the chemistry of love had me thinking about my own life:

Dopamine is first released (Newman 9).  It is what makes a person want to spend more time with his or her love interest and gives them the initial “butterflies” (9).  This neurotransmitter is also released when someone drinks or does drugs like caffeine, cocaine and crystal methamphetamine (Tomlinson).  The chemical process of love actually induces addictive like behavior, “which explains the feeling of being addicted to your partner” (Newman, 9).  A dopamine release also increases a person’s heart rate and energy, as well as restlessness (Tomlinson).

Dopamine is also the high a person feels when she or he takes a risk like skydiving or snowboarding down a half-pipe (Park).  The unknown of a new relationship also has the same effect within the brain and this is why he or she often feels so exciting.  The high in a relationship caused by dopamine may diminish over time (2).  This can be caused by parenting and couples often find it difficult to hold on to romance (Blum, 3).  All is not lost however.  Dopamine has been shown to return and add a new spark to a long term relationship (3).  Dopamine also comes back to influence attraction for people who have lost a partner, “Among the couples that Fisher is studying are newly met partners in nursing homes, people in their 70s and 80s, whose infatuation is just as intense as that shared by 20-year-old lovers” (3).

Years ago, one of my friends claimed that the best feeling in the world is falling in love.

Maybe she's right. Or, is it just the dopamine talking again? Read more about the chemical processes of love here.

What do you think about the science behind attraction and love?