Ep. 299 – Laura’s Mom Tells All!

March 25, 2024

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To celebrate their 299th episode, Shanna and Laura have invited Laura’s mom Susan on the show! In this very special “Throwback” segment, Susan takes us back to her pregnancy, birth and early parenthood with Laura. She talks about what kind of baby Laura was in utero and out, shares fond and funny memories of that time, offers her best parenting advice and more! Also, Laura reports on a group outing to Chuck E. Cheese, and Shanna shares her family’s new house rules and reward system. Finally, they share their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Shanna’s kids are 5 and 8 years old, and Laura’s kids are 5 years old and 3 years old.


Topics discussed in this episode:

-Going to Chuck E. Cheese with your kids

-Determining house rules with your kids

-Creating a reward system to improve your kids’ behavior

-The story of Laura’s birth

-Some of the best things about being a mom

-Advice about parenting from Laura’s mom

-Taking baths with your kids

-Teaching your kids about sexuality and equality


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Check out some of our favorite things: Books. Gifts for babies and kids. Registry items.

Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey podcast is hosted by Laura Birek and Shanna Micko and produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

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Episode Transcript


Shanna: Hi. Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. On this week’s episode, we have our weekly check ins, e have our special segment, an interview with Laura’s mom, Dr. Susan Winter, where we find out why John Wayne had something to do with Laura’s birth, and we wrap it up with our weekly BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get started. Hello, everyone, and welcome to episode 299.

Laura: You know what? I remember when we were first starting the podcast and we got to episode it was 25. We’re 25? That sounds like a lot. And it’ll probably just keep happening. I’m probably just gonna be the person who always is impressed by the number that we’re at. But 299, it’s got a ring to it.

Shanna: Yeah. We’re so close to 300. We’re celebrating this milestone with this episode and next episode with our special segment.

Laura: Yes. We are.

Shanna: I’m very proud of us.

Laura: I am too.

Shanna: But let’s not delay. Laura, what is going on in your world in this 299th episode?

Laura: Well, 299 weeks after we started, we came back together, all of us. It was a fairly uneventful week except for the one thing I’m gonna talk about, which you know all about because you were there. We got together to ostensibly celebrate the kids’ birthdays because none of us got to go to each other’s birthday parties.

Susan: Yeah.

Laura: Our families were not at each other’s birthday parties, so this was the replacement thing. Although neither of us were really putting a lot of effort into making it about birthdays because I think we’re all burnt out from birthdays celebrations. I texted you in a panic a couple hours before like, oh my god. I don’t have any presents for the girls. Please tell me you didn’t get anything for the boys. And you’re like, oh god. No. I was like, oh thank god.

Shanna: The event is the present.

Laura: Exactly. And it wasn’t the cheapest, because we did go to Chuck E. Cheese as we had planned. Actually, I think the idea was hatched on the podcast, about a month ago. We followed through. First of all, I’m impressed with us for that alone, that we picked a day and we showed up. And it was great because it was pouring rain that day, like absolute deluge. So we couldn’t do anything outside anyway. And when we got there, it’s so funny because I had all these Chuck E. Cheese cards that they use instead of tokens now, which makes sense from an environmental standpoint and just from a convenience standpoint. But I do miss the tokens. But, anyway, I was like, oh, you wanna use these extra cards to load up with virtual tokens? You’re like, yes. I’m like, oh, do you want two? And you’re like, my girls will share. And I was like, oh, and instead our family, we need three. Three.

Shanna: You guys got THREE?

Laura: I am willing to share. Me, Laura Birek, is willing to share. The boys are not willing to share.

Shanna: Okay. So for listeners who don’t know, at Chuck E. Cheese, you can buy an unlimited hour of gameplay in their arcade, and that’s what we’re talking about here. And that hour was like $35 and I’m like, there’s no way I’m dropping $70 off so my kids can play these little games. So, wow, you spent over a $100 on this. Okay.

Laura: Yeah. It was $90. I know. I know. But I don’t know how to justify it. It happened. There it goes. The money is flying away.

Shanna: Well, you had fun. Right?

Laura: We did. Well, that’s the thing. We had fun, but Auggie is not going to be trading his card back and forth with Sebastian. First of all, they play completely different games. Right? They’re on the opposite end. I swear we were supposed to go and have this big family fun day. I didn’t see Auggie for a solid hour. You know?

Laura: I think Corey was sort of shadowing him, but Corey’s not willing to share. I mean, he did. I would be like, let me have the card and was able to borrow it. But Corey also wants to play the games at Chuck E. Cheese.

Shanna: Okay. He’s a kid at heart. I get it.

Laura: So, basically, Sebastian and I were essentially sharing because I’m the one who knows how to put it against the little reader, but he’s not very good at figuring out how it actually reads properly. So I was kind of managing it for him, and then I was like, oh, I’m gonna sneak off and play this game over here. But it was very fun and super cute. I kind of spent my time deciding I was going to master Skee Ball. I was like, I am gonna get in that 10,000 point hole in the top left corner. And that was my goal for the hour while Sebastian’s running around playing a huge version of Space Invaders. Was it he and Elle playing that game together for so long?

Shanna: I think so.

Laura: It was so cute. We’ll post pictures on social. But, but, yeah, it was fun. And then we went and had pizza and watched the person dressed up as Charles Entertainment Cheese do his dance. There was no, splits this time, unfortunately.

Susan: No.

Laura: But fun times were had by all, and I did manage to sink a bunch of 10,000 point holes in Skee Ball.

Shanna: Good for you. That’s not easy to do.

Laura: Have I ever told my Skee Ball injury story on here? I feel like I have.

Shanna: Oh, yes. Slamming your hand into the edge or something?

Laura: Yes. So I felt like it was real growth to be able to overcome that and get the 10,000 point goal.

Shanna: Laura, something to talk to your therapist about. Alright.

Laura: Give me the gold star. But, yeah, that was really fun, and I really enjoyed seeing you. We did have a bit of an issue trying to get the kids to all pose for a picture together. It is it is getting harder and harder to do that.

Shanna: Yes. There are so many distractions. They’re all looking around at different places. I had a great time too. The thing that really cracked me up is that the prize station you accumulate virtual tickets when you play these games, and we’ve gotten a 1,000 free tickets from this coupon we used. They had so many points that my kids stood there for probably 25 minutes with this teenager behind the counter showing them things, and they’re looking at every little plastic crap item and little dum-dum sucker.

Shanna: And they’re like, I don’t know what I want. I’ll take that. And she’s like, okay. Now you have 995 tickets left. I’ll take that plastic frog. And she’s like, okay. You have 992 tickets left. I mean, it took forever.

Laura: The math was too hard for my kids. So we also had those 1,000 free tickets coupon. Right? And we got 3 of them. So we had 3,000 additional tickets. And whatever they had accumulated. So I think we had 3600 tickets. And the math was way too hard for the kids, almost too hard for me. And I finally was just like they’re trying to do all these little things.

Laura: And I was like, you guys, there’s foam swords for 1700. That’s per can we just can we just get the foam swords? They’re like, no. We don’t want them. Finally, it was like, we’re getting the foam swords, and I got the foam swords. And, of course, they freaking love the foam swords. It’s their favorite thing ever now.

Laura: But, yes, it’s too much math. I know that sounds terrible to say. I found sound like that Barbie that used to say math is for boys or whatever. But it’s a lot to keep track of.

Laura: I’m sure all those little plastic things are still being used.

Shanna: Yes. They are beloved items in my child’s my children’s lives now. Yeah. Right. Who even knows where any of that is?

Laura: Sorry, planet. But, anyway, we did have fun. Do you remember how they used to weigh your tickets? Do you remember that?

Shanna: Oh, is that what they used to do?

Laura: I feel like there was a technology increase at some point. It used to be they counted them, and then if you had enough at some point, they switched to weighing them. And that’s how they knew how many tickets you had.

Shanna: Oh, that’s right. Oh, man. The feeling of a brick of tickets all folded up in your hand. Oh my gosh. I miss that.

Laura: I know. Oh, nostalgia. I can smell the tickets.

Susan: Yeah.

Laura: But, anyway, that was the fun check-in I had for this week. And I know it’s not a surprise for you because you were there. But, Shanna, maybe what you have to check-in on will be a surprise for me because maybe I wasn’t there for this check-in.

Shanna: You definitely were not there, Laura.

Laura: Maybe I was. Maybe I was lurking, and you didn’t know it.

Shanna: That is so creepy.

Laura: Shanna, look behind you right now. Just kidding.

Shanna: Actually, I’d be like, oh my god. Come in.

Laura: Yeah.

Shanna: Why are you in my backyard?

Laura: Alright. Give me your check-in, your 299th check-in.

Shanna: Okay. So in our family, we have been having a few struggles with, some behavior the last few months. Sometimes the girls are getting on each other’s nerves. There’s a lot of not respecting body boundaries. They irritate each other. They get along amazingly a lot of the time, but then a lot of time, there’s just they’re bothering each other. And then there’s a problem of having trouble getting out the door in the morning or getting ready for bed. Right? All those things that kind of just are challenging as a parent.

Shanna: So I was like, we need to fix this problem. Here is what we did. We had a family meeting to brainstorm some rules for our house. We’ve never really had a list of rules anywhere. I know some people do that, but I’m kind of I’m busy. I’m all over the place. I’m also slightly passive as a parent and blah blah blah. So nothing like that has ever been established in our house, and we just kinda bark instructions at the kids.

Laura: Yeah. Same.

Shanna: So I was like, okay, what if we kind of all agree on a handful of rules that are the house rules? And then if someone breaks the rules, those are the house rules. You know? It externalizes it a little bit instead of “mama’s annoyed that you’re doing this thing.” It’s like, you’re breaking a house rule. We wanted to kind of all get in on the same page about that. I got a huge whiteboard out of Steve’s office and some dry erase markers, and we all sat down. And I was like, what are some rules that you think we should have in our house? And we all went around and wrote some stuff on the board.

Shanna: And some of it was really funny and cute. And it started with CeCe. She said, no punching. And I’m like, yes. Good. No punching. Okay. No one punches each other anyway. But we wrote it down because we wrote down everything. And then that kind of morphed into “be kind to each other.” And we added things that we wanted to have as rules in our home. And then the last thing, Steve was like, “Also, we notice, praise and reward positive behavior.” And they’re like, yeah. So we wrote that down too. Just try to add a nice thing in there.

Laura: I like this impulse to have one positive thing on there as opposed to don’t do this. Don’t do that. It’s like, what? We praise what was it? We notice, praise and reward positive behavior. I like that.

Shanna: Yeah. With that on my mind, the girls got distracted and ran off and did other stuff. And I’m still sitting there and I’m looking at these rules, and I’m thinking about how can we reward them? What if we have something that’s a little bit more concrete than anything we’ve ever tried before? I’ve talked before about impulsively starting star charts and stuff like that, and they kinda fall by the wayside. It’s not that fun to take a marker and draw a star on a chart. And so I had heard before of parents using pom-pom jars as ways to reward kindness. Kindness jars, I think, is what I’ve heard them be called.

Shanna: So I was like, hey, girls. Come here. I have an idea. What if every time you show kind behavior or you’re following rules or doing something well, you can earn a pom-pom and you put it in a pom-pom jar. And by the time the jar is filled up to the top, you earn a prize. And they’re like, yeah. I was like, okay. Cool. So we were off to the races. I was like, let’s go to Michaels.

Shanna: We went to Michaels. We got supplies to decorate these pom-pom jars. We got really bright colored little half inch or 1-inch pom-poms. We got all our supplies and came home and had a big decorating session. They put stickers and gems and all kinds of stuff all over their jars, and we began a whole new system in our house of rewarding positive behavior. And it’s been going on for several days now, and it’s going pretty well, Laura.

Laura: I could see myself absolutely loving that as a kid. I would have died to have a pom-pom jar that every time I did something nice, it got filled up because I was that kid who loved when it was the reading challenge time because there was a big chart that you could fill up with all these pages you read. Do you did you guys do that at your school?  This feels like a little bit of that. You can watch things fill up.

Shanna: Yes. The physical aspect of it being there, they can watch it fill up. They can watch their progress. And I’m always like, look at that. That’s all of your kind acts and all of your positive choices. And what that led to immediately was them asking if every little thing is worth a pom-pom. Right? They are like, “I just pet Jasmine very gently on the head. Do I get a pom-pom?” And I’m like, oh my gosh. I can’t be giving pom-poms left and right for everything. So I came up with what I think is maybe the dorkiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Out of nowhere, I was like, no. You don’t get a pom-pom for that, but it makes your pom-pom meter go up. And I put my hand in front of my face and acted like it was like a gas tank indicator. Right? And it’s like, it your pom-pom meter’s going up. And they’re like, oh, it’s going up.

Shanna: And when your pom-pom meter gets to the top, ding, ding, ding, that’s when you earn a pom-pom. So all the small little things that you’re doing well, they all make the meter go up until it goes off, and then you earn that pom-pom. And they took to this. I am ding ding ding dinging and boop boop booping all day long. Getting ready for school — getting dressed isn’t worth a pom-pom, but it makes the pom-pom meter go up. So it’s wild over here, but I’ve seen a change so far in them. They’re way more motivated to be kind, more motivated to listen, get out the door. And, so far so good, Laura.

Laura: I like this. I feel like Sebastian’s too little for this still, but I do I try so hard to praise the nice things that they do for each other. just this morning, there was a drama over a toy. You know, who wanted the toy? It was unclear who had the toy first. And I told Auggie, I was like, you know what? Sometimes it’s more important to be kind than to get what you want. And he was like, nah. And his first reaction was like, no. It’s not.

Laura: But then two seconds later, I see him just hand the toy over to Sebastian. I was like, Auggie, that was so nice of you. But he would totally love it if I was like, pom-pom time. He would be all over that.

Shanna: You know what else is helpful about it from a parenting perspective is that I told them that they can also get pom-poms taken away.. So we had a big conversation about what would make a pom-pom get taken away, and for big egregious acts, like hitting someone, a pom-pom gets taken away immediately. But smaller things like not listening, I can give you guys a count of three. I’ll give you a warning and you have a chance to correct your behavior.

Shanna: But if you get to three, your pom-pom gets taken away. And we played this out with Paw Patrol stuffies and did all kinds of situations, and they were making up situations and stuff. So they understand the rules, I think, of how to earn a pom-pom and how to get one taken away. There’s this nice external consequence that’s very concrete that I can use now instead of just being like, oh, if you don’t listen to me, there’s gonna be a consequence, which is just so abstract. It hasn’t been working.

Laura: Yeah. And also it’s all about you deciding, you know. And then it’s like, mama’s mean. Right? It’s like, no. I’m just I’m just enforcing the rules. The pom-poms make the rules.

Shanna: Exactly.

Laura: I will say my crafty side is wanting you to now make your own pom-poms. Have you ever done that?

Shanna: What? No. You can make pom-poms?

Laura: Very easily. You can either do it just with a piece of cardboard. You basically cut a square of cardboard and wrap it around a whole bunch, and then you tie a knot around the middle and cut the loops and do a pom-pom. And then you can trim it. Or they actually have these little devices called pom-pom makers that you can buy at craft stores that is just a slightly fancier version of the cardboard method. But it’s really fun because you can get different colors of yarn, and you can make multicolored pom-poms. It’s a fun little activity.

Shanna: Oh, fun. We might have to put that on our agenda. But, yeah, that’s our check-in for the week. I’m sure I will update you as to how it’s going and if they fill their jar.

Laura: Do you know what the prize is gonna be if they fill their jar?

Shanna: Oh, yes. Yes, Laura. They are very motivated by this. If they fill their jar, they get to have a shopping spree at 5 Below, have I mentioned this before? It’s a really cute $5 an under store, but it’s super cute stuff. And, they’ll get a $7 budget, and they get to buy something at 5 Below.

Laura: Interesting. Okay. I you know, I’ve never been inside a 5 Below. For some reason, I just thought it was winter wear. I’m thinking temperature.

Shanna: No. No. Lots of cute little toys and doodads and stuff.

Laura: Good to know.

Shanna: But that’s it for me. Should we move on to our special segments?

Laura: Yes. We should. I can’t wait.


Laura: Okay. We are back. And in this special segment, we have a very, very, very special segment, which is we are interviewing my mom, Cr. Susan Winter, MD Inc.

Susan: Oh, that’s right. I’m not an inc.

Laura: I remember when I was a kid, that’s what stuck with me, that you were MD Inc, for some reason.

Shanna: As in incorporated?

Laura: Yes.

Shanna: Nice.

Laura: Y’all might recognize my mom’s voice because we actually had her on the show ages ago, Episode 35, in fact. That was a while ago, Shanna.

Shanna: That was. But I remember that interview. I love talking to you, Susan, and I’m so happy you’re back.

Susan: Thank you.

Laura: And it’s interesting. We I feel like we’ve come a long way because in that episode to record it, I brought my mic out to our kitchen, and we sat on either side of my mic and just did it very DIY. I’m gonna take a selfie and send it to you, Shanna, because we are in a different situation right now.

Shanna: Okay.

Laura: I’m not sure I’d call this the most flattering picture of me that I’ve ever taken, but it’s, it’s real. It’s a real photo.

Shanna: That’s cool. You two are in very professional recording studio. Woot woot.

Susan: Yeah. We are professionals. Yeah.

Laura: We are renting that studio that I used to rent when we were doing our renovation, and I had nowhere quiet to record. But last time my mom was on the show, we had her here to talk about genetics and newborn screening and all that kind of stuff. This time we’re having her on the show for something completely different. Right, Shanna?

Shanna: Yes. This interview is all about you, Laura, and Susan’s experience as a mom.

Laura: Yes. So for our big 300th episode extravaganza, we decided to bring to you – for episodes 299 and 300 – interviews with our moms about what it was like to be our parents, especially when we were in utero and what would you call it? Out of utero, extra utero?

Susan: Born.

Laura: Oh, born. And this week, we have my mom. Next week, we’re gonna have your mom, Shanna, which is a real treat because she has not been on the podcast, and I’m sure everyone is dying to hear from her as well. But this week, I think we should get right to it because my mom is a busy lady and we don’t wanna waste any more of her time.

Shanna: Alright. Let’s do it. Okay, Susan. Rewinding all the way back to the eighties. Right? Laura, you were born in the eighties.

Susan: She was born in 82.

Laura: Yes. 1982.

Shanna: Okay. What can you tell us about your pregnancy with Laura? What do you remember about that time? What stood out to you? What was a challenge? Tell us everything.

Susan: Well, first of all, she was conceived in Toronto. We were visiting her uncle and aunt, and my sister-in-law said, I think I’m gonna have another. And I said, really? Because that’s very interesting. Maybe I will too. Well, I got back from Toronto, and within a few weeks, guess what? I was pregnant.

Shanna: And what about your sister-in-law? Did she get pregnant too?

Susan: She was pregnant already. I think he was born 3 days before.

Laura: Something 3 to 5. I can’t remember. He was born the week before me. We’re the same age.

Shanna: Wow.

Susan: So I was shocked, that I was right in my mind. I didn’t tell her at the time. And I remember that I wasn’t too sick with her. She was my second pregnancy. And the first one, I had more morning sickness than I did with her. So everyone kept saying, oh, it’s a girl. It’s a girl, which has no scientific basis whatsoever that you don’t get any more morning sickness with one or the other.

Susan: However, I just felt like she was a girl from the beginning. It was really early in the pregnancy when I first felt movement. Now it was my second pregnancy, but I think she was super active. I was about, I’d say, 13, 14 weeks, and I started to feel tickles. It felt like just little soft tickles in my pelvic area. And I was like, what is that? It feels like someone’s waking me up or something with a tickle. And it was obviously her because they got more and more intense, and so I was really pleased. I thought, well, this is a smartie. She’s gonna be good.

Susan: Then, I did have an amniocentesis with her because I was worried about having a child with a chromosomal problem. I was older.

Laura: You were 35 at the time. Right? 35. And this is 1982.

Susan: That was this was 1982. That was very scary for me, because I was worried it was gonna hurt you. And they didn’t do ultrasound guidance like they do now, and the techniques and the ultrasounds weren’t as good anyway. So it was a very scary procedure for me. Didn’t hurt at all from my memory, and results came back. And it was a girl, so I knew, and everything was fine. The rest of the pregnancy, the middle, was really easy.

Susan: I was working, and so it was very hard for me to even remember. And Jeff was 10 months old when you got pregnant with me. Right? Well, Jeff and you are how 20 months apart. Right? Oh, we should know exactly what he was.

Laura: Well, when did you when did you conceive me? Let’s see. Reverse conception calculator.

Susan: Reverse conception?

Laura: Yeah. You do you put in the due date and then was I born on my due date?

Susan: No. You were both of you were born exactly 10 days early.

Laura: So I was supposed to be June 1st? Yeah. Okay. So my conception date was September 8th 1981, which means Jeff had just turned 1.

Susan: Correct. Okay. So you had a very young toddler the whole time. Wow.

Susan: And I had a very busy job. I was working full time as a geneticist and was teaching a resident pediatric residency program So I was a busy, busy lady.

Susan: But I do remember that she was waking me up every night because she didn’t like the positions I took. So I would lie on one side, and she would kick, kick, kick, kick until I moved, and then she’d settle down. And if I tried to go back on that side, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, and she’d move. So I thought, this is a smart little young lady I’m gonna have here, and I think she’s gonna take over. So the next thing I was remembering is the delivery day.

Laura: Well, that is our next question.

Susan: Yes. Okay. Well, the delivery day, we had just gotten the call from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law that they had had their baby boy, and we were going to go to the flower shop to buy some flowers to send to her. If you recall in those days, there wasn’t a way to do that on the Internet. And we went to the flower shop, and then I realized we needed light bulbs. So we went from the flower shop where we placed the order for her flowers and went to the hardware store. And in the hardware store, I was starting to feel contractions.

Susan: And I thought, well, they’re just Braxton Hicks contractions. You know, I’ve been getting them throughout the pregnancy, but these got pretty regular. So I said to her dad, I do think we better get these light bulbs and get home. So when we got home, Jeff was there, and my niece was there, and she was watching him along with my mother.

Laura: She was a teenager?

Susan: She was a teenager. Yeah. And, my mom was there, and it was a weekend, by the way, so I wasn’t at work at least. I got into the car, and we were heading to the hospital, and my water broke.

Shanna: And this was 10 days early?

Susan: I was 10 days early on both pregnancies exactly almost to the minute because I knew when I conceived both of them. So I was now in full labor and in the car. We got to the hospital, and I said, Look. You gotta go fast because I’m delivering. They got me up into a room. And then my husband, who is an anesthesiologist, decided he wanted to give me an epidural, he disappeared because he had to get privileges at the hospital to do it.

Laura: Well and the problem was that there wasn’t an anesthesiologist available to give you the epidural.

Susan: No anesthesiologist. And I was in full labor. I was left in a room. They didn’t have a monitor on me or anything, and he left. My OB was delivering another baby by c-section, so he was tied up at that moment. And I was watching, I’ll never forget, it was a John Wayne Western, which I hate Westerns. I couldn’t find a thing to change the TV, so she was in labor during John Wayne westerns. Anyway, I then started to push, and I was feeling her coming out. And I rang the bell. And finally, a nurse came, and I said, look. And she said, oh my god. You’re delivering. So they hurled me onto a stretcher, hurled me into a delivery room, and put me on the table.

Susan: And, fortunately, my OB just got out of the OR and came to my room. My husband never got the privileges, and I never got the I never got the epidural, and I didn’t need it because she came out just as he walked in.

Shanna: Wow. Was it painful? Did you feel a lot of the contractions and pain?

Susan: I did not have any pain that I remember of any description.

Laura: Wow.

Susan: She just came out, and she was alert from the moment she was born. She just looked at me. And I remember I picked her up and held her, and she just went to my breast instantly and started to suck right after she was born. Her father just cut the umbilical cord, and it was instant. And that’s what she did for the next three years.

Shanna: Oh, we know of that legend. Yes. Yes.

Susan: Oh, yes. And, postpartum was not a problem. I didn’t have blues, fortunately. I had my mother there, so, of course, everything went well. I took her home within 24 hours, And we met Jeffrey at the door. And when I sat down, Jeffrey came over, and we still have this adorable picture of him kissing her on the floor.

Laura: Yeah. I have it framed

Susan: Oh, it’s so adorable. And he kept calling her my baby, and he called her baby forever. It was his baby.

Shanna: How did you come up with Laura’s name?

Susan: Well, I was really enthralled with doctor Zhivago at the time. Lara, l-a-r-a, was the name of the woman in it, the actress. And I liked it, and I decided it would be Lara. Her dad is Hungarian speaking, and he didn’t want Lara. He wanted Laura. And her middle name was after her great grandma. Margite.

Laura: Margite. After my dad’s grandma.

Susan: Your dad’s grandma.

Laura: Yeah. But with you guys anglicized it to Margaret.

Susan: We did. And I didn’t give her my last name at all.

Laura: Which I lamented for a while. I almost changed my name at some point to Laura Winter. I was thinking about it. I thought, oh, that’ll be a cool pen name because, I mean, it is a cool pen name, Laura Winter. But there’s already an author named Laura Winter out there.

Shanna: Of course.

Susan: Well, yeah.

Laura: But you went back to work super early. Right?

Susan: Well, with you, with Jeffrey, I had only four weeks off. And that was without pay. And there were no laws when Laura was born either, but I took 6 weeks off. However, my partner, who was very, very busy at the time because I was gone, kept bringing work over to me. So I had charts and things to do, but went back to work at 6 weeks.

Laura: That’s wild to me. I know so many women do that now still, but it’s just, what a world to live in.

Susan: Well, we needed the income. We were young doctors, and although you think we’re paid a lot, geneticists aren’t. Or they weren’t. We’re better now. We’re about where pediatricians are.

Laura: Back then people didn’t understand what you did. You had to explain what a gene was.

Susan: Yeah. It’s rare that people ask me anymore, what do you do? In the eighties, they didn’t have a clue. I would say, do you remember the heel stick that your baby got when they were born, the newborn screen? I’m the doctor who figures out if your baby needs to be seen and treated.  And so then they’ll go, oh, and that’s all you do? I go, no. But if your baby if your baby’s born with a heart problem and you wanna know whether it’s caused by a genetic problem, they’ll call me. Or if your baby’s born looking a little differently, I get called. So they would, then understand, but it was always a question.

Susan: But I was a busy, busy mom. And once I went back to work, I remember I cried my eyes out on my way to work because I didn’t wanna leave her. But she was with my mom.

Shanna: That’s nice.

Susan: My wonderful mother, who was the sweetest lady on earth. And so I knew she was in good hands, and I also knew that I could do work as long as I had to each day because she was there. I was so lucky.  But we were busy. And two kids, I can tell you, I realized, are not the same as just one plus one. It’s like having four kids or more, I think. And Jeffrey was quite hyperactive. He was just always on the go, and Laura took after him pretty fast.

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Susan: But he took care of her. She was baby and cared for. And, boy, if I tried to holler at baby, he’d say, don’t holler at baby mama. And I’d say, okay. I won’t holler at baby.

Shanna: Definitely a challenge having two kids and, of course, working so much as you did. But let’s pivot a little bit. I am curious what you would say is one of your favorite things about being a mom of young kids.

Susan: Everything about it. I loved being a mom. I loved hugging them. And just snuggling under a nice warm blanket and kissing them and having them say they loved me and I loved them. It was so special and such a wonderful time in my life. I was busy, but I never ever stopped wanting to be hugging them.

Susan: It’s just such a warm feeling to have a baby. From the moment the babies were born, I was just overwhelmed with love. So those are the that’s the most precious, memories I have.

Laura: Sebastian started saying to me just spontaneous. He’ll go, mama. And I’ll go, yes, honey. He goes, I love you. I’m just like I love you. You’re the sweetest thing in the whole world. It’s so great. Mama, I love you. I’m saying that to you right now, mom. Mama, I love you. I love you too.

Susan: I love you. Aw. I know. We still say I love you all the time.

Laura: It’s true.

Susan: It’s just such a wonderful feeling. I mean, the other thing of being a mom of young kids is just the fun of being the special one, the one that they really want. I was the I was like mama, and mama was who they wanted to be with. I was sometimes jealous of my mother because they, I think, liked her just as much, loved her just as much. So, but that was also so rewarding for me to know that they were in such a loving environment.

Laura:  Is there any funny anecdote you can think of that pops to mind that you wanna share with our listeners about when I was a little one?

Susan: Well, Laura was a spunky little girl, and her brother was always protecting her and so sweet to her. So there was a day when she was about, I’d say, 18 months old, and Jeff was 2 and a half. And he was playing with a toy that she decided, of course, that she wanted. And she went up and grabbed it out of his hands very purposefully and fairly strongly and ran with the toy in her hand holding it up high. And I saw this, and I said, Laura, give the toy back to Jeffrey. And Jeffrey said, it’s okay, mama. Baby can have it. Please don’t holler at baby. I remember that because she was always a little more in control of the situation than Jeff and remains so, I think. He has the sweetest personality.

Laura: He does. He sweeter than I am. I’m not saying I’m a bad person, but he’s just like good to his core, and I some I’m a little more cynical, I think.

Susan: I don’t know. I can’t say negative about either one of you. I think you’re both good to the core.

Laura: Aw. Thank you, mom.

Shanna: Aw. So sweet. Okay, Susan. So on our show, Laura and I occasionally share throwback stories from our childhoods. And there’s one story in particular Laura told that was amazing and funny and heartwarming. And it was the time that you and your mom and Laura and Jeff went to, I think, New Jersey the Jersey Shore and rescued a bird.

Susan: Oh, yeah.

Shanna: Yes. I’m so curious what you remember of that incident and maybe a little bit of what your side of the story is.

Susan: Well, unfortunately, I do remember it, although I’ve tried to forget it. Anyway, we went to the Jersey Shore. We were on the beach. I believe we were in Ocean City, New Jersey at the time.

Laura: My memory was Atlantic City.

Susan: Was it Atlantic City? Casinos. Maybe it was. Yes. Of course, I wanted to be in the casinos. So it’s Atlantic City. I grew up in the Philadelphia area, so I worked the summers in the beach. And I, therefore, wanted the kids to see it. We, were on the beach on a blanket, the 4 of us, Jeff, my mom, Laura, and I. And a man came up and said that he had this baby ostrich.

Laura: Yeah. That’s my memory too. Ostrich.

Susan: He asked would I take care of it for him because he had to go somewhere? So here was this tiny little bird, and I said, sure. So I bring it over to the kids, and we’re all interested in it, obviously. And I called my current husband-

Laura: Your now husband.

Susan: Yeah. Nei. I called Neil. And Neil said, I don’t think it’s an ostrich. I said, oh, no. The man said it was an ostrich, and he said it’s an ostrich. And, anyway, what do they eat? So he, looked it up somewhere. I don’t know where. And he said, well, they eat you know, the ostriches will eat fish. So we decided that we would get sardines for this ostrich.

Laura: So my memory is that at that point, Neil was like, it’s not an ostrich, but it’s an osprey. Remember? Osprey? Or he was like, it’s a seabird. Because ostriches don’t eat fish. Why would we have been getting fish for an ostrich?

Susan: I don’t know. Well, we thought it was an ostrich, but I decide I didn’t know what the doggone thing would eat. So, anyway, we took this bird back to our room in the hotel. We put it in the bathtub. I went to a store. It was late at night. There were no stores open, but I found some = sardines, chopped them all up a little, and gave them to this bird, this ostrich, I thought. And we went to sleep. The next morning, the bathroom looked like a bomb had gone off in it.

Laura: I don’t remember that.

Susan: Bird poop everywhere. And we then decide we had to leave that day. So after cleaning up that mess, I piled everybody into the car and off we went. But we went by a bird, sanctuary that that was taking abandoned birds. And we took our little ostrich in, and the people told us that it was a pigeon.

Shanna: How did you feel when you found out it was a pigeon?

Susan: Stupid, but I knew I was already. So I knew I knew nothing about birds. Interestingly, my son is now a bird expert.

Shanna: Yeah.

Susan: He’s going to be doing bird birding tourism tours as a leader. And, I think this might have been why. I think maybe. You never know because I had no idea how to identify this bird. Obviously, it couldn’t have been an ostrich.

Laura: It looked weird. Have I have you looked up a picture of a baby pigeon since this time, mom?

Susan: No. I didn’t.

Laura: Let me show you. I think it’ll make you feel better because they look weird.

Susan: I don’t think I’ll feel better. I think it was one of the silliest things I ever did, but I’m a silly person. I tell Sebastian and Auggie I’m their wackadoodle grandma, and this is a good example of being a wackadoodle. Oh my goodness.

Laura: It’s just a really good photo. That’s what they look like.

Susan: She’s showing me this picture of this bird that looks like an ostrich.

Laura: Told you. They look weird.

Shanna: I’m looking up pictures of baby ostriches right now. And, honestly, I mean, it does look different now that I know, but I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t have a clue the difference between these two birds.

Laura: Google did not exist at the time. Anyway, we saved the pigeon. Remember, she was like, oh, we’ll go put it in the cage with the other pigeons.

Shanna: You did a good deed.

Laura: I guess. The one other throwback that I told that I’m not sure it’s like a classic. I don’t know if our listeners remember it, but for me, it’s one of my favorites, is the time that you took me and Jeff and a bunch of our friends in a minivan down to Magic Mountain only to discover that it was closed for a private school event. And then you lied and told them that you were a principal of a small private school.

Susan: That’s right. That’s right. I remember that. Did we get in for free that day?

Laura: I think we did. I think we did go in for free that day.

Shanna: Oh my word.

Susan: Well, it wasn’t a complete lie. Before I became a doctor, I was a teacher. There is a kernel of truth there. Kernel of truth. I forgot that. I try to forget when I do things that are not Kosher. Totally kosher. Anyway

Laura: I don’t think they’re hurting. I don’t think they’re gonna go bankrupt from that one story.

Susan: No. Well, how could Magic Mountain be closed? I mean, come on.

Laura: Well, also, it’s not like you could look it up. Again nowadays, you look up to see the park hours and stuff on the web, but there was no web to look it up.

Susan: You just assumed it was open. The good old days, you didn’t know. People couldn’t find you either, though, which was kinda nice.

Laura: So, mom, I would love to talk to you for a lot longer, but we have to get out of this studio. There’s someone else booked in like 10 minutes. But also I do just talk to you all day long because you live next door half the time now.

Susan: Which is lovely.

Laura: But I do wanna wrap up with a question that will be for our listeners, which is you are now a seasoned mother and now a seasoned grandmother. In addition to Auggie and Sebastian, you have 6 additional step grandchildren I do. Who you were very involved in their lives, and they’re they basically are your grandchildren, even if it’s not biological.

Susan: Grand Susan.

Laura: Grand Susan. Yeah. So you know a lot about raising kids at this point. So the question is, if you had one piece of advice for someone who’s pregnant or a new parent, what would that be?

Susan: Well, love every minute that you are with your children and show love in everything you do. You should try to remember to be patient and to give yourself time to enjoy moments with them, simple moments. The sadnesses I have would be having worked so much and not possibly spent as much of my time with them. I think you have to take care of yourself. You have to take care of your marriage too because the kids need you both. And so make sure there’s time for yourself and make sure that there’s time to show love to the kids and make sure you don’t lose your temper. You need to be, always kind and forgiving and set a good example.

Laura: Well, I think you set a very good example for me, and I appreciate it. And I appreciate you for many things, but specifically today for taking the time out of your busy doctoring and grandma-ing schedule to come on our podcast. Although, I know you’ve been you’ve been like, I wanna come back on. We’ve gotta have you back on for a genetics talk. You say a lot’s changed since the last time you were on.

Susan: Boy, has a lot changed in the world of genetics. The newborn screening, all kinds of new diseases to talk about.

Laura: That’s just what everyone wants to hear, all the new diseases to talk about. But no, I mean, you are an invaluable resource, and we love you so much. And I love you so much, and I’m so glad you’re my mama.

Susan: And I am too.

Shanna: I love you too, Susan.

Susan: I love you. This is a love fest.

Laura: It’s a love fest over here. But I think we should put a pause on the love fest because we do have to wrap up the segment and clear out of the studio. So Shanna, should we come back with our final segment?

Shanna: Yes. We should. Thanks, Susan. Bye.

Susan: Bye bye. Thank you all. Thanks for listening.


Shanna: We wrap up every episode with our weekly big fat positives or big fat negatives. Laura, you’re up first. I wanna know what do you got for us?

Laura: I have a BFP. Okay. Alright. So I was a little hesitant to talk about this BFP. I actually kinda precleared it with you. Sorry for some behind the scenes stuff here, but I was like, I don’t know if I should talk about this because I don’t want people to think I’m weird. But I decided to talk about it because it is a BFP and it’s something that’s really making us all happier and I personally don’t think it’s weird, so I wanted to share.

Shanna: Okay.

Laura: And that is what we’ve come to call in our house, mama bath.

Shanna: Okay. That’s really cute. Tell us more.

Laura: Okay. So this all started because my mother, in her infinite wisdom, I love her so much. But she showed up for her most recent visit with all the stuff from her house in Fresno. Right? And one of the things she had was, pool sprayers. You know, those little doohickeys where you suck the water up and then you spray it and it makes a big jet of water, which is a great outdoor summer toy. But she delivered it to my children in the middle of winter when it’s raining outside. So we’re okay, let’s use this in the bath. Quickly discovered that was a terrible idea because in their bathroom first of all, it’s a mess.

Laura: That bathroom needs work. The floor is all messed up. The linoleum is peeling up right by the bathtub. It needs to be resealed and reclosed. And Corey and I have so much anxiety about water leaking down and all this stuff, so we’re always anxious about water coming over the side. And, meanwhile, we hand them these sprayers that can shoot 15 feet, and they’re spraying the ceiling. They’re spraying the walls.

Laura: And I’m just like, kids, no. This is not gonna work. So the next night, they were like, we wanna do our sprayers. We wanna do our sprayers. And, of course, they’re Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed, which is one of their favorite things right now. So it’s like, they they probably spent all day thinking about these freaking sprayers. So I was like, oh, we can’t do them in the bathtub. It’s a big problem. It’s raining outside. And I was like, you know what? Let’s just do it in our bathroom our master bath.

Shanna: Oh, okay.

Laura: When we renovated, we created this sort of bathtub shower combo with these essentially floor to ceiling glass partition. So the tile goes up to the ceiling. The glass goes up to the ceiling almost. And if you’re in the bathtub, that means you can spray anything except for straight up and really just it’s a free for all.

Shanna: Nice. That is like a perfect blast zone.

Laura: It is a perfect blast zone. So I was like, great. Okay. We’ll do that. But then I realized that bathtub is really deep, and it’s hard to reach over. And if no one was gonna be in there with them, it would be unsafe. So I was like, you know what? I think this is gonna have to be a mama bath because I have to be in there to make sure everyone stays safe. Plus, I needed to take a bath, so I was like, great. This is perfect.

Laura: I will say I did wear a bathing suit for a couple reasons, not because I think there’s anything wrong with being nude around my kids. I actually think there’s it’s totally normal and natural. But, first of all, Auggie asked me to, and I respect his body boundaries. He you know, he’s getting to the age where I think he’s starting to realize about bodies and stuff. And he was like, mom, are you gonna wear a bathing suit? And I could tell by the way he asked, he wanted me to, so I said, yeah. Yeah. I’ll wear one.

Laura: But also because as I was getting them ready for the bath, they kept running to the freaking window, which is this huge picture window that overlooks a busy street, and they kept trying to pull the blinds up. And I was like, they are totally gonna make me flash all my neighbors. So I was like, I gotta wear a bathing suit. Yeah. So, anyway, we do mama bath. I’m in a bathing suit, but it’s just I don’t know. It’s been so cute. They want it every night, which I’m not I can’t do mama bath every night.

Laura: I need to take showers. It’s a whole thing. But they’re always asking, is it a mama bath night? I’m like okay, it’s a mama bath night. And we cuddle, and it’s so sweet because I honestly think it really helps regulate them, especially Auggie, because he gets that skin to skin that we don’t really get that much anymore. You know?  When they’re babies and toddlers and stuff, you know, when you’re nursing, you get that skin to skin all the time. But there’s not a lot of occasion in a 5-year-old’s life where they’re gonna be skin to skin with their parents. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. So we get to to cuddle.

Shanna: You know what it reminds me of is swimming with my kids. One thing I love about swimming with my kids is they hang all over me. Right? Cece is still working on swimming, so she’ll kinda swim a little bit and then grasp onto me and she’s right there and her you know, it’s like, it is kinda skin to skin and it’s a close touch, and I love that. So it seems kinda similar but just in a more intimate way.

Laura: In a warm bath. It’s so relaxing. So much better. You know, Auggie just seems more regulated, and he seems calmer at bedtime when we do this. But here’s the other bonus. It makes it so much easier to wash their hair, Shanna.

Shanna: True. You’re right in there.

Laura: Because I just have them, like I have them turn around, lay down so their head is you know, right in front of me, and I just couldn’t get in and actually give them a proper shampoo and then get it done. So now the only way we’re getting shampooed is in mama bath because it’s not happening in the other bath.

Shanna: Are both the boys in there at the same time, or do they get their own individual mama bath?

Laura: They are both in there at the same time because they’re both blasting with the blasters.

Shanna: Oh, right.

Laura: It’s actually a normal length bathtub, but it’s really deep. So I don’t know. It we’re definitely crowded in there. I don’t think it’s gonna last that much longer, but it’s fun while it lasts. So I recommend mama bath if it’s something that you think you’d enjoy because it’s also very efficient. You all get bathed at the same time.

Shanna: Wait. You’re not actually washing yourself too, are you?

Laura: Not like soaping down. But you know what I mean. I’m getting a rinse. I mean, I’m gonna be honest, I’m the type of person who showers every other day. I don’t think that’s anything to be too embarrassed about. I think a lot of people do that. So it’s like a rinse down between showers, really.

Shanna: Gotcha. Gotcha.

Laura: But, anyway, that was my BFP. Shanna, do you have a BFP or a BFN?

Shanna: I have a BFP.

Susan: Yay.

Shanna: My BFP is a spontaneous conversation I had with the girls in the car on the way to school the other day, thanks to the Jonas Brothers.

Laura: Okay.

Shanna: We were listening to the song Sucker. I don’t know if you know that one. It’s like, I’m a sucker for you.

Laura: Not a clue. No. I’m sorry. I am very ignorant to the world of the Jonas Brothers. Not for any reason. They passed me by, I guess.

Shanna: Okay. Well, they’ve got some really fun, catchy songs, and this is one that the girls really love. And I’m I probably mentioned before, but we talk about music all the time in the car. They pick the songs they want. They often ask me what a song is about, what the words mean. Half the time, I’m not paying any attention to the song. I’m like, oh, what is this song about? I’m like, oh, god, I don’t know. Let me listen. So we had talked about this song many times, I’m a sucker for your love. They’re like, what does that mean? And I’m like, oh it’s like when you really, really like someone and you’re a sucker for them, that means that’s your crush and you wouldn’t do anything for them. That’s what that song is about. And so we’re driving to school the other day, and that song comes on. And Elle, who loves to inform us of anything and everything she knows a lot about, she was like, a sucker can be a mean thing you call somebody, or it can mean your crush. And I was like, yeah. Okay. That that makes sense. I don’t know where she learned about calling someone a sucker in the negative way, but she knew that information.

Laura: She goes to school. They know everything at this point. Just all bets are off.

Shanna: 100%. So she’s like, yeah. Or a sucker could mean your crush. And I’m like, uh-huh. She’s like, which could be a boy or a girl. And I’m like, that’s right. Yep. You know, because so many songs are love songs. Right? And so we often talk about the meaning behind songs being like, oh, it’s a song about loving someone.

Shanna: And I don’t wanna assume sexuality on these artists. You know, some of the artists we listen to, are straight. Some are gay. Some I know. Some I don’t. And so oftentimes, they’re like, does that mean a boyfriend or a girlfriend? I’m like, well, it could mean both. If I know the answer, I tell them the answer. You know? I know that Lil Nas X is gay, so if he’s singing a love song, I’ll be like, I think he’s probably singing about a boy.

Shanna: So they’ve absorbed the fact that being in love with someone can mean loving a man or woman or anywhere in between.

Shanna: So she said that and I was like, yeah. And then she said, someone in my class is gay. And I was like, oh, really? And she said, yeah. He has a crush on another boy. I was like, oh, okay.
That’s really cool. That’s great information. And then she said, I would never laugh at someone for being gay. And I was like, that’s awesome. And Cece chimed in. She’s like, neither would I. I would never laugh at someone for being gay. And I was like, that’s awesome, girls.

Shanna: I believe that everyone should be accepted for who they are no matter what. And they were so firm in their belief in this, and I just loved that moment because, obviously, I’ve tried to teach them about equality and acceptance. And I love that that message has been absorbed, especially because I know they get the opposite messages from kids at their school. Some of their friends, they have specifically told me before that some of their friends don’t believe that. And so the fact that they are, Elle especially, is making up her own mind about this stuff was very meaningful to me. And I loved having that conversation, having the opportunity to hear what they thought about it. And, I just I don’t know. It made me really happy.

Laura: That’s so great.

Shanna: But, yeah, that’s it for me, and I think that’s it for our episode. And listeners, if you haven’t had a chance yet, if you could please do us a favor. Head on over to Apple Podcasts. Leave us 5 stars. Say a few things you love about the show. It really does help us grow our community and have new listeners wanna take a chance on BFP. So we really, really appreciate it, and we might read your review on an upcoming episode. If you have any thoughts or feedback or anything else you wanna share with us, you know we would love to hear from you. Laura, where can they find us?

Laura: We are on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook at BFP podcast. We have a website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com. And if you want to send us an email, you can always throw a voice memo in there. We love those. Just send it to contact at bigfatpositivepodcast.com. Finally, if you wanna join the coolest group of people on the Internet and see some exclusive content from me and Shanna, just search Facebook for Big Fat Positive Community. It is a private group, so you have to request to join and answer the two membership questions so we know you’re not a robot, and you’ll be sent straight through to all the wonderful conversations we’re having in there.

Shanna: Our show is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko, and Steve Yager. Thanks for listening, everyone. Have a big fat positive week. Bye.

Laura: Bye.