Heather Sundell
Writer. Storyteller. Aspiring Adult.
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“So, when are you going to start driving your car?” Some old fart of a man at the Subaru dealership chortled at me a couple months ago, after checking my mileage. I gave him a courtesy laugh, muffled behind my mask. It wasn’t worth explaining that shortly after leasing the car, I gave birth, was housebound with a newborn, and then told to stay home as much as possible because of a pandemic. Sir, I’d love to start driving my car. …


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My 11-month-old son doesn’t use a pacifier anymore; he prefers to suck his thumb. I don’t blame him, and nor am I surprised. I, myself, was a voracious thumb sucker. In fact, I loved it so much that at eight years old, I was threatened with a metal torture device disguised as orthodontia aptly called, “a crib.” It’s a metal bar with spikes cemented behind your front teeth, designed to make it impossible to comfortably suck your thumb. Terrified at the thought, I chose a different, quieter sort of psychological pain to kick this dental nightmare. I developed anxiety around over washing my hands by convincing myself that they were always dirty. …


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I didn’t know it was the last time I would pump expressed milk. I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d nurse my son. One was my decision and the other was his — both were after the fact. It’s not how I expected the experience to end, a painfully slow petering out and hanging on to something that no longer served anyone.

In a way, it was nice for us both to make our independent decisions after they’d already happened. There wasn’t any build-up, disappointment, or big emotions. …


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A week ago, we broke the seal. No, I’m not talking about giving into peeing during a night of drinking — a term I distinctly remember learning in a gross bathroom at the SAE house during one of my first weeks at college. We popped our quarantine bubble by traveling to San Diego to stay with my husband’s family for the weekend. To the day, it had been three months since my husband and son had touched another human outside of our family unit. It was the first time in three months that someone had held my baby that wasn’t us. …


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Dear 7 Months Postpartum You,

Life feels pretty surreal, huh? People keep referring to the “new normal,” but nothing has felt normal for a really long time. 2019 was anything but, kicking January off with a positive pregnancy test and ending with a 9pm bedtime on New Year’s Eve. For over a year, every month has felt further away from life as you knew it.

But, there was a brief return to some version of normalcy. Picking up freelance work, hiring a part-time nanny, and emerging on the other side of sleep training. The fog of sleeplessness began to lift and you could start to see how your old life and your new role as a parent could join forces. …


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The author being sassy on a soapbox. Photo by Clay Larsen.

Somewhere along the line, employers forgot that hiring is a two-way street. At least, that’s what it seems like based on most of the job postings I read. Yes, I always read job postings all the way through, and most of them do a terrible job of explaining the role or making the company seem even remotely appealing.

I’ve been a hiring manager. I’ve written countless job descriptions. I’ve been there. But more often, I’m on the other side searching.

Just as hiring managers are looking for reasons to sort lackluster resumes into the slush pile, it’s important not to forget that applying for jobs is hard work. As much as putting together and getting approval for job postings feels like extra paperwork on top of your normal responsibilities, responding to those postings is more time consuming, degrading, and vulnerable. For that reason, we candidates are also looking for reasons to not spend upwards of half an hour applying to your job posting — especially knowing it is likely to be met with zero feedback. …


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It was yesterday. I wore a Hello Kitty face mask and had my ID, credit card, car key and hand sanitizer in my pockets. I performed a cautious and abbreviated version of my tried and true choreography around the store, stopping first for the biggest box of diapers, and ending with two bags of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. When I was done shopping, I stood on the red marker six feet away from the customer in front of me, suddenly remembering all the items I forgot to grab but too fearful to leave my spot. Before, I would have asked the person behind me to watch my stuff, as I hurriedly dodged in and out of people browsing to snag a last-minute item. Now, I didn’t dare. …


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These are scary, unprecedented times with the status quo changing dramatically over the course of a 24-hour news cycle. Most of us are (hopefully) upending our lives to accommodate drastic emergency measures to protect and prevent further damage caused by the first pandemic in a century.

Social distancing. Quarantine. Staying home indefinitely.

The seemingly extreme recommendations that rapidly crystallized over the course of the last few days have left many people in a panic, trying to figure out how to adapt and reconfigure their lives in this new temporary virtual and stationary reality. …


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If the first two months of my baby’s life made me feel like a 24/7 Renaissance Faire performer in a PG-13 show that ran every three hours, the second two months have made me feel like a mad scientist. Emphasis on the MAD.

I am officially no longer the parent of a newborn. Now I have a regular old infant. I’m back in jeans, taking yoga, and out in the world high on caffeine. I’m just another young (hip and cool!) mom pushing a stroller at Target mid-morning, picking up shit I don’t really need because I wanted a reason to leave the house. During the first two months, I lived on the couch, tearing through tv shows. …


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The other day while in line to check out at Whole Foods, a woman behind us noticed the baby I was wearing. “Enjoy. It goes by so fast,” she warmly advised as she side smiled at the thirteen-year-old helping unload her cart onto the conveyor belt, wistfully remembering when her baby had feet as small as mine did.

“Don’t worry, it gets better,” a man said a few days later, on his way out of a friend’s house party, carrying his one-year-old horizontally like a sack of potatoes.

Well… which is it?? Am I supposed to soak in all the quiet moments at home or muscle through the repetitive newborn drudgery? …

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