Dear The Internet,

My name is Aunt Becky and this is my blog. I’m writing to you today to ask you for some prayers for a new friend of mine whose baby has been diagnosed -in utero- with the same type of posterior encephalocele that Amelia had.

In my travels around The Internet, I haven’t found many of us. In fact, she’s the only other person I know whose child has had this type of neural tube defect, and she’s understandably shocked and terrified. She has a much longer road to travel than I did because she’s only about 20 weeks pregnant, and I know how much your thoughts and prayers lifted me up.

If you could, please spare a thought and a prayer for my friend and her baby.


Your Aunt Becky

P.S. Have you lost weight? Because I’m not just saying that to butter you up or anything. You really do look amazing. Want to make out?


Last night I was telling DH that when I get my check from the remainder of my student loan, I’m going to buy my breast pump. He immediately said “No! I forgot to tell you, [his sister] is buying it for me because she knows a good one”.

First of all, I’ve done a ton of research on pumping…reviews, word of mouth, recommendations from moms on message boards, and even my own doctor’s office. I’m very set on the pump I want.

Second of all, even if she did happen to get me the one I want, it’s $300. She borrows gas money and money for her own kids’ clothes and daycare from DH’s parents all the time. Why the heck would she spend that much money on a gift for me?

Third of all, we are not close at all. In fact, she’s never liked me and that’s obvious, yet she picks the most personal item to want to buy me for the baby.

So, DH mentioned to his mom that the pump is already taken care of, and she freaked out, basically saying that not letting my SIL get me the pump she wants to get me will ruin the semi-good relationship we all have going on right now.

WTF do I do? It’s supposed to be a surprise, so I can’t say to her “I know you want to get me the pump, but don’t”, and I see her once every month or so and she barely says hi to me. How do I make this go my way without causing WWIII? Drinking heavily isn’t an option, due to the mini human being I have wiggling around in my uterus, so what the hell do I do, Aunt Becky?

Well, now THAT’S awkward, isn’t it. And no, that wasn’t a question. I mean, anything related to breast pumps and in-laws who don’t like you is kinda awkward. Hell, BREAST pumps are kind of awkward. I mean, have you TRIED attaching them? (I kid, I kid) Alas, I digress…

So, you’re really stuck between a rock and a bigger rock, and when it comes to this, it seems you’ve got one big choice to make: do you want to potentially cause a fight? Because if you really want what you want (because, hello, they’re you’re boobies) you need to get the message to your sister-in-law that you want the breast pump you picked out.


If you’re not interested in rocking the familial boat, I’d sit back, see what she brings and if you don’t like it, return it and buy what you wanted in the first place. Either way, it’s a win-win. And it’s never a bad idea to have a back-up pump.

Dear Aunt Becky,

Are we supposed to wear pantyhose anymore? Pictures in In Style magazine, and the people on What Not to Wear never seem to have hose on. What’s up with that?

Am I supposed to expose my blinding white calves to the world?


Apparently, it’s not in vogue to wear pantyhose anymore and it’s better to blind your date with your pasty whiteness than to wear the hose. Who knew? No seriously, WHO KNEW? You flash your crotch around like the celebs to to distract from your white skin.

Tights are apparently okay, pantyhose are not.

Aunt Becky,
My very best friend rocks. She is a great person and has the greatest family who always make me feel like part of their family too. She and her husband have no children, but being the only married sibling, she has been feeling pressure to have children for her 60ish year old parents (and obviously herself and her husband too.).

Friday she found out that her dad’s lymphoma is back and in a secondary location. On Monday he went to another doctor and found out that his cancer is inoperable and the only treatment is painful and usually unsuccessful. They told him he has 6-9 months which obviously doesn’t give them time to have a baby. My question to you Aunt Becky is how can I help my amazing friend and her family in their time of need?

‘Need help being a great friend

Oh Gentle Reader, it’s obvious that you already are a great friend because you care so much about her and her family. She’s so lucky to have you. I’ll give you some advice here and then I’m sure my readers chime in. Here’s a website I found.

Be sure to give her time to talk about what she’s feeling and going through without trying to make it all better. Just shut your mouth and listen if she wants to talk.

Bring over meals, clean the house, take care of chores that you can without waiting to be asked. It’s really hard to ask for help, so it’s good to just DO rather than sit around waiting to be asked.

Try and follow through with anything you’ve promised you’re going to do.

Allow her to be upset or sad without interrupting her grieving.

Give her a break when you can by taking her out to do fun stuff that you both enjoy doing when you both are able.

Help coordinate any care-related stuff for her dad and see if you can be of any help (picking up medication, etc)

And really, just avoid saying stuff like, “I know how you’re feeling,” “don’t worry,” “I don’t know how you’re handling it all so well” because it’s really offensive. I have a feeling you know better than that, but I figured I’d mention it.

You’re a wonderful soul and I wish you and your friend and her family all the best.


As always, dear Internetters, please fill in the gaps where I’ve left off and feel free to share your wisdom in the comments. If you are so inclined, you can vote for me in the Bloggies under Best Humor Blog.

Then I might be inclined to show you my hooters.

46 thoughts on “Go Ask Aunt Becky

  1. Agree, agree, agree – on all counts tonight, and nicely said. Having lost my Dad to a brain tumor this year, and having lived with losing him a little more each day, you are correct – just be there. Just lend an ear. “Need help” is clearly a good friend. I know that if I hadn’t had wonderful friends who did just that – listened – I don’t know how I’d have made it through.

    Pantyhose are out? Huh. I guess if I ever looked at girls’ legs (or payed remote attention to fashion trends) I would have noticed. And who cares about pale calves? Doesn’t that just tell the world that you’re not willing to risk cancer for a 20-minute stint in a UV casket (AKA tanning bed)?

  2. Hugs to your friend you mention in the first part…
    And it’s too damn bad you don’t get paid big buckaroos for dolling out your advice. Girlfriend, you are good!

  3. oh Aunt Bedazzley, you nailed it on the head for Need Help. those are all the things that i needed when my mom was dying. and hugs. lots of hugs. and shoulders to cry on. it was the worst thing ever. Need Help, thank you for being such a decent person. lots of people are so uncomfortable with grief and aren’t able to be the shoulder for someone else; your bestie is lucky to have you. 🙂

    oh, and one more thing: please, PLEASE do not say things like, “it’s God’s will,” or, “he’s in a better place now.” they might be true, but they don’t help. i’m not saying you shouldn’t pray with her (prayer might be very comforting to her if that’s her thing), just not the platitudes.

  4. Re: Breast Pump Gal: I would accept the gift breast pump, say “Thank you very much! I sure need one of these!” and return it in its un-opened packaging ASAP. Your SIL is not very likely to be sitting around with you while you use a breast pump, right???

  5. As usual, I agree with everything you said Aunt Becky.

    I’ll also add that “act like nothing and everything are wrong at the same time”. Sometimes it’s good to NOT talk about it, but if you do that, some people think that you aren’t “acting properly”. If your brain thinks cancer all the time, it WILL explode. So also, don’t try to steer the subject back to it, if your friend wants to just get a margarita and chat about someone’s ugly shoes, or how much driving in winter sucks then that’s what you should do. Distraction is a beautiful help at the right times.

  6. Well. Isn’t your mother in law lovely for trying to guilt you into accepting a breat pump from someone who, it sounds like, can only afford the $30 kind from Wal-Marche-which will, I promise, make you feel like your nipples are being twisted but not in a good way, more like a “Please stop, I swear I will tell you!” kind of way. I pumped for 15 months-trust me, get the one you know you want, as it will soon become either your very best friend or your worst enemy.

    As for the friend? All you can do, really, is BE there. Your presence-you willingness to show up for the shitty stuff and do the really hard work right by her side is the best thing you can do. And provide chocolate and a large shoulder to cry on.

  7. Breast pump girl- If your husband knows then it’s not a secret to HIM. Why doesn’t he go shopping with the SIL and point out all the research, as if he’d done it with you and the two of you had decided together. Then she will either be forced to get the one you want, or say “Uh, I wanted to get her this one, and I can’t afford that one,” in which case your husband can say, “Hey that’s okay, I heard her mom wanted to get it for her anyway, but you know what she really needs?” Thereby letting her off the hook in an easy way. Have her pick out all the breastfeeding accessories, like the gel pads for nipples which are a gift from the gods. My husband would take one for the team like that, even if he knew jack about breastpumps (which is kinda true in most cases). Maybe then it would actually bring everyone a little closer and you still get the breastpump you want, which is totally what needs to happen.

  8. letter 1: sending positive thoughts.
    letter 2: accept the gift, bring it back, get the one you want, and if asked say that the gift one didn’t work and they didn’t have any more in stock so you had to get a different model.
    letter 3: depends on where you live – in most places with snow in winter, pantyhose are still in, while frostbite is out this season.
    letter 4: similar scenario to my dad’s diagnosis – pancreatic cancer, given 3-6 months, lived 13. I agree with others’ advice. Also, she shouldn’t get pregnant just because of family pressure or the diagnosis, but if it’s something she wants to do anyway, sharing the good news of a pregnancy with her father before he goes is still a positive thing, even if he likely won’t be there for the birth. If it works out, at least he’ll know that his family will continue for another generation. You might want to suggest that she record her father telling stories about his childhood, or sending a message to his as-yet unborn grandchildren. Whenever she has children, they’ll be glad to know about their absent grandparent, and he’ll still be a part of their lives.

  9. Can I be a cranky old lady here and say that women who don’t wear pantyhose when it is less than 40 degrees outside look like fashion victims? Thanks. I appreciate that. Don’t get me started on women who wear clingy skirts and see-through dresses without a slip. They must think it is old-fashioned, but no matter how hot you think your thighs are, nobody really needs to see all your business when the light shines through. Also, you know how that skirt rides up and wrinkles on your tights? Yea, that wouldn’t happen with a slip underneath.

    Thanks for the rant, Aunt Becky!!!

    1. Good rant! Reason #45 why I wear pants. Besides my abnormally REALLY abnormally muscular calves. I mean cant zip the zipper up with knee high boots big. And while I agree I am chunky (stop LOOKING), I am not actually fat. This has been a fact of life since track team in high school. Sadly, I am 41, long over high school. I have no muscles left except my calf muscles.

      Hey, I can back kick you and kick your NECK. Or not, forgot I lost my hammies.


      The Short Boot Wearer

  10. Prayers for your friend and her baby.

    Thank GOD for no more pantyhose, which are an instrument of torture. Try wearing them them when you have a practically non-existent torso. They go up past your boobs. Not fun.

  11. See now, I love me some pantyhose, but I do prefer tights. I think the trick is just not wearing them with open-toed shoes. *That* is tacky.

    As for the dad….just be there. Listen when she needs it, crack a joke when you can to lighten the mood. Don’t wait for her to tell you what she needs. Maybe take over some frozen dinners, that she can just pop into the oven. I lost my daddy two years ago, he went to sleep, and just never woke up. I have incredible friends that helped me tremendously. You may not know exactly what to do, or what to say, but she doesn’t either. As long as you are there, it’ll mean the world.

  12. I will pray for your frind and her baby and hope things will work out.

    As for the breast pump that is the type of thing that you as the mother need to be in control of since you will be using it, not to mention when you buy one you can not return it. This is one of those sticky situations that if it is your sister in law, your husband has to deal with it. Have him communicate your wishes and the hell with what everyone else thinks. You can’t make everyone happy and this is not about them.

    Do I sound like I have a little experience with these things, ya think?

    Sadie at heymamas

  13. Big prayers for your friend!!
    As for breast pumps…I pumped exclusively with all 3 of my kids and I can assure you, you never know what kind of pump will work best for you. I wore out my first two which were El Cheapo Walmart types but they worked and were comfy. With my 3rd I was stoked to get my SIL’s hand me down Medela double pumper. Then I used it and HOLYFUCKINGSHITOUCH!!!! I was SO glad I had kept my old reliable to get the first stage over with and build myself up to using the big gun model. So let the SIL buy you one AND buy the one you want. Whichever one you like better, keep and use and either keep the other around for backup, sell it at a resale shop, or donate it to women’s organization. No sense causing strife and since your SIL nor MIL is liking to see it in use, they need never know the difference

  14. My best friend is going through much the same cancer related thing with her husband.

    It’s really, incredibly, painful to watch someone that you love go through something like this. You love them and want to make it all better, but you can’t. My advice?

    -listen. Let her talk about it all she wants, or as little as she wants. My friend keeps telling me that’s what she needs right now is the space to vent her fears and hopes, where I’m NOT telling her about the latest cure, or what they should do, etc. Everyone handles things like this differently and there is no right way.

    -be yourself. Sometimes people get weird when someone they know has cancer, as if it is contagious..or they go all pity like. Just be you.

    -DON’T give advice about treatments, cures, etc. People want to help and will say the most inane things like he should be drinking more tea, or that if he just hopes hard enough the cancer will go away, etc.

    -Love on your friend. Bring her food, her favorite flowers, surprise her with a funny card, offer to go for a walk or take her out for coffee. She is going to forget about taking care of herself. You need to remind her and help her take that time.

    -Let her know that you are there for ANYTHING she needs (if you can).

  15. Just a thought about the breast pump. Check with your health insurance to see if they cover one under medical equipment. I have several friends that received hospital grade (you know, the big bad mo foes that cost an arm and a leg just to rent) for F-R-E-E. All they had to do is get their doc to write a prescription. A few had to go to the medical supply store, but most got them directly from the boob teacher lady @ the hospital.

    Hey! Here’s a thought! IDK what kinda person your SIL is and if she will want to see the dealio (I have annoying family like that), or if she is proficient in breast pumps (I kinda think she might have a thing about them since she is insisting). You could always say that the insurance gave you one. Naturally, this would only be if she doesn’t know who you have as a carrier and your plan # and all that jazz (some people are frackin nuts and will call to check up on ya).
    1st rule of lying. Make sure you can’t get caught.

    1. I work in the medical equipment field, and electric breast pumps are not usually covered unless the baby remains hospitalized and the mother is home(or in rare cases, vice versa). Maybe a really great insurance plan(you know, those “cadillac plans” the government keeps talking about) would cover it, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

  16. Agree about the breast pump…you get to say what you use. But, I’d take the one from SIL, shelf it, and donate it if I never opened it. In-law stuff can be so complicated!

    Aunt Becky, I will be praying for your friend.

  17. PS – Only prayers for your writers. I only have a brother in law, but when I was married I had FIVE sisters in law and they all sucked. Born Again Christians the bunch of them. I SO didnt fit.

    And cancer sucks. You are right on the money. Let everyone else talk. There is nothing you can say.

  18. A prayer for the first letter.

    Open your whore mouth and get what you want on the second letter.

    Wear the pantyhose if your flashing the whites.

    And letter #4 do EXACTLY what Aunt Becky said.

  19. show us your boobs! i liked the comment to take SIL’s breast pump and get your own. all my thoughts and prayers are with the people in these letters and their families. way to use your blog to solicit support for others. you’re the bestest.

  20. I shall say a prayer, is there a link that I can go to directly send her my support?

    I know this road, my first baby was diagnosed with his heart defects in-utero, also, followed by weeks and weeks of NICU and years of surgeries. Anyways, let me know if she has a blog. Thanks.

  21. A mother’s (unborn) child–unspeakable heartbreak. I don’t know how you get through it, other than total reliance on God and prayer. Dear sweet Aunt Becky, you never cease to amaze…under all that wit and smarts lies a tremendous heart. Enough, I would have voted for you…but I was afraid you might, indeed, show your hooters…and I’d have to be devastated forever.

    1. I find this reply hilarious. All Goddy and stuff, which is cool, I am a Christian. But then you say you didnt vote for AB because you were afraid of seeing her as YOU said it “Hooters”.

      Did you NEED to say you didnt vote? Or was it your repulsion of boobage that made you type that?

      Either way, thanks for the laugh.

      Seriously. It was only second to the small hands Burger King commercial that I had to saw while being forced to watch football. You couldnt beat that though. That was some serious laughing. I may or may have not have been drinking beer at the time, and my brothers may or may have not stared at me like I was a lunatic when I was still laughing when the game came back on.

  22. Lots and lots of prayers. Prayers for the family to find a good strong support group who will hold them up when they are feeling low. Prayers for a great team of physicians to guide the family toward the latest and greatest research out there. Prayers for her precious little baby. Prayers for a miracle. Prayers. . .Lots and lots of prayers

  23. As usual, you are spot on. I couldn’t agree more. Now, I guess you’ll have a pic of your boobs up for the next post. I will try to prepare myself. 😉

  24. re: the breast pump quandary. I think there’s a lot of really good advice in the comments already. I would add that if your student loan money comes in before whatever date you would expect to get the gift from SIL, just go ahead and buy the pump yourself, and if she complains, you can just say that you didn’t know she was getting you one. It was supposed to be a surprise and all so there’s no way you should have known. But I like a lot of the other suggestions, too.

  25. 1)You and this new friend are put together on this Earth because you can help each other. This was no accident, this was Divine Intervention.

    2)Absolutely take the free breast pump, and follow any of the above advice you like, but be sure to send her a thank you gift of those plunger-less tampons in extra-super-duty. Buy them generic if you can. Hospital grade, preferably. Because apparently, she likes getting extremely personal gifts for others, so she should love getting one in return. They say (whoever they are) that a person tends to give gifts that they themselves would like to receive. Oh, and for the record, I don’t like your SIL or MIL already and I don’t even know them.

    3) I’m not much of a fashionista in my cheese stained shirt…but I’m personally happy to know that panty hose are out. Because I’m a big-un. And I’m tall. And that means the waist of the hose comes to my breasts, the crotch lands about halfway between the Y and the knees, and the legs are too tight. So I’ve been free-legging it for years (in style or out), for the moment it seems, I’m thrilled to be IN STYLE!! 🙂 I also don’t wear slips. Or bikinis. Or over-sized shirts with footless tights. So it’s ok.

    4) I’ll keep you, your friend, and her father in my prayer list. There is no right way to be there, but be there anyway. And she’s lucky to have a friend like you.

  26. What do Brooklyn and Control Top Pantyhose have in common?

    –Flat Bush.

    Yes, I know…. I know….

    You might not also end up needing abreast pump. I bought a dandy $350 model and then just point blank didn’t produce. Sucked totally- and then in addition to the heartache I was out a whole bunch of dough.

    So let her buy you whatever and then see if you can return if it you have another that works better or whatever….

  27. It may be small comfort to your friend now, but knowing someone close to her who went through this situation will be a huge source of hope and support in the months to come. Prayers coming your/her way! 🙂

  28. Aunt Becky all serious and shit. Hmm telling her to listen is good advice. Also, not telling her to kidnap a baby was also a good idea. Why do I think these things.

  29. Pantyhose are stupid, but required by my employer. I am apparently in desperate need of a pedicure, because I have been running at least a pair a day for the last 2 weeks. They need to make the fucking things out of kevlar, and I need to get my ass out for a pedi. It’s just too damn cold.

    Prayers up for the baby of your friend. It worked for Mimi, hopefully it will for your friend, as well.

  30. I am thinking all sorts of healthy thoughts and prayers for your friend and her baby, that the new little one will arrive just as awesome and ass-kicking and name-taking as Mimi!

  31. wow Aunt Becky you sure have a way to read a girls mind. How did you know that the questions posted and answered this week would help out little ol me? See last Friday my friends 8 year old son was rushed to the hospital with a malignant brain tumor. Scary! I shouldn’t say friend she is more my sister than well my actual sister is. I am terrified I want to just cry with her. I have been down to see her whenever I can He is in a hospital an hour away. Did I mention she just had a beautiful baby boy oh about 2 weeks ago.
    I am having such a hard time with this myself not to mention how to explain it to my son, they have been inseperable for all their lives. Noone should have to deal with this.
    Anyway sorry for the ramble, all I really wanted tosay is thank you for the website you suggested I will refer to it often and let my friend know it is there.
    Also we are planning a benefit for the family. Do you have any suggestions on what to do where to go? I have so many things running around in my brain I can’t think straight!

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