Archive for the 'Health' Category

Love is What I Got.

stop-hating-your-bodyToday’s the day! I’m back to my pre-baby weight (again) and done “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” to quote Albert Einstein. 

Why is this time different? For starters, I’ve taken a radical* approach:

I’m self-motivating with love. By being kind to myself. By not beating myself up. For the first time EVER. 

I was motivated by negative feelings during my life on a diet. Being motivated by ill feelings I had for myself and my predicament lead to decades of yo-yo dieting. Hating your body as a motivation is very short-term. What’s more, when you’re fueled by negativity, you are more likely to self sabotage and beat yourself up when you have a “bad” day. You never feel worthy. It’s no wonder the weight always returns. The workouts wane. The cycle continues.

Then I gave love a try.

And I got real. I convinced myself I was worth loving at any weight, any health, any age. I realized getting real and finding love was the ONLY way I was going to endure yet another attempt at getting healthy. Big picture? Love is the only thing that will make my goals worth maintaining into the future. Because if you reach a goal by constantly being vengeful and hateful toward yourself, what are you left with? What is going to motivate you to maintain your goals? More berating? Exactly. So love it is.

And I embraced the fact that I’m a proud owner of a body that:

-Will never look like something out of a newsstand magazine without major surgery (or Photoshop!). And made total peace with that. Studies have repeatedly shown that plastic surgery does not make people happier overall, anyway, so F that noise. And besides, as one of our generation’s greatest wordsmith once said, “silicone parts are made for toys.” 

-Has borne two beautiful, healthy children, with a body to prove it, and I’m grateful. And damn, I have some incredible kids.

-That just is what it is because, genes. And the aging process. And gravity. That’s not some stark reality, that’s a gift – living is. Not to mention, my body’s inherent characteristics are not flaws. Besides, they have nothing to do with my actual character. I choose to love this body and use this love to motivate me to improve it in realistic, healthy ways. I am GOING TO BE HERE FOR A LONG TIME, YO!

So that’s it. Love. When I’m tempted to dig into myself, I just remember that nothing I can personally do will ever, ever, ever change my DNA and that what I’m dealing with is a 36-year-old, living body that’s been through a lot and will get through a lot more to come – and that’s amazing. There is no shame in that. Hell, that’s worth celebrating. I carry around the proof of life – a good life full of love, even at my darkest times – and that motivates me every day now.

That said, this whole loving-your-body thing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. All that self-love in the world is in vain if there are haters taking us down – think about that. It’s no accident that I’m powered by love. I surround myself with positive people and things by design. If you are constantly bombarded by things that trigger negative feelings about your body – be it from a partner, family member or friend, even (especially?) the media –  you will be up for an additional challenge to achieving your goals. Plus, that’s kind of crappy – jerks trolling your life, bringing you down, you know? So in addition to loving yourself first, if you have haters in your life, poof, be gone!  I mean, come on. F those haters.

Till the next goal!

*Loving oneself should not be radical, but because we’re socialized to hate our bodies and pick on others’ bodies, particularly women, I’m calling for a radical change in the body-talk, body-relationship narrative. Won’t you join me?

 

And now, some relevant motivational quotes from the web! 

Love-Your-Body loveyourbody quotes-body-01-bloom-600x411 love-your-body-17 LovingYourBody1 PLPT Love Note 122112 Love-your-body-quote Quotation-Harry-Papas-life-good-love-self-diet-understanding-inspirational-Meetville-Quotes-218569 b6cd86f3aff37e94285420acc3d8e382 stop-hating-your-body

Working Through My Baby & Mama Drama

I’m always pretty guarded about telling my children’s birth stories. Unless you ask. Then I will talk your ear off. First, everyone who has children has a birth story. Everyone thinks their story is pretty spectacular and dramatic. The truth is, birth is pretty miraculous. Saying you had a baby is saying it all.

I’m guarded because of guilt, I guess (what else is new?). We have two healthy, happy, thriving children and they were conceived with no trouble. Some people have a hell of a time conceiving. Some never are able to have babies. Some people have multiple miscarriages. Some people have a baby, but can’t bring baby home right away. Some people have a baby, but the baby doesn’t make it home. It goes on and on. So when I think about the little dramas I encountered in the maternity ward, they appear to be just that: Little. Not worth sitting here talking about. When I think of that, the little dramas fade. Then I feel particularly jerky and guilty for wanting to talk about our birth stories.

BUT, all of us parents can agree that it’s VERY therapeutic to talk about our birth stories. And I am all about talking, writing and working through our traumas to move forward. And I really feel like I’m at a place, seven months postpartum, that’s I’m ready to talk about Delilah’s birth story, get it out of my system and continue moving forward.

Our drama began when I was doing kangaroo care with Delilah just minutes after I was in recovery after my c-section. She was making some funny breathing sounds – what I thought were cute newborn baby noises. But it alarmed the nurse and she took Delilah away. She was having trouble breathing. Then she stopped breathing and they had to put her on oxygen in the NICU. Honestly, I was not worried. We were in the best possible place for infant care. I trusted what was happening in the NICU. The doctors were very forthcoming with detailed information about what was going on. And as much as I wanted to have our baby room in with us as we did with Ollie, I was kind of looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Is that selfish? Probably. I was on pain meds, recovering from a c-section. I was exhausted and doped up and I just wasn’t too worried. She was healthy for the first nine months, she’d be fine.

When the breathing problem went away, suddenly Delilah wasn’t keeping down her fluids so they gave her an IV to keep her hydrated. In her goddamned forehead. They told us, “It looks barbaric, but it’s the best vein.” Whatever. Whatever. Whatever. They put a little bow near the IV site. OK, just fix her!

I gimped over to the NICU as often as possible to nurse. I pumped like a madwoman filing little vials with colostrum so the nurses could give that to her in between.

Her condition improved and we were able to go home in the standard four days for c-section births. But her interventions didn’t end there. She spit up a lot. I’ve never been a big milk producer, so I felt so defeated when I’d nurse for a half hour and she’d spit up half of the milk. She spit up the formula I was supplementing with. And she wasn’t particularly happy. Then I began finding blood in her stools. After some labs, her pediatrician deducted she had a milk allergy that was straining her and giving her pain. We had to put her on this special formula that is approximately $261 a can. But the blood went away and the colic subsided and she became much happier overall. And so did we.

mommy

Clockwise from top left: Kangaroo time – I had no idea her cute baby sounds were alerting us that she was having trouble breathing. In the NICU. All better and finally able to room in with us. Very proud big brother Ollie meeting Delilah for the first time.

So whatever. You do what you need to do. She’s absolutely doing fine now. I’m a little leery about the transition from this magic formula to regular formula as far as when that’s going to happen and how she’s going to react, and then how the transition to cow’s milk is going to go. I hope the allergy doesn’t stay with her forever. But if it does, we’ll figure it out.

So sitting here with a very happy, healthy, giggly, pink-cheeked redheaded spitfire of a girl, it’s really hard to lament without sounding like an ingrate. But I think the trauma of all of that has weighed on me and I’m now starting to want to get it out so I can move on.

And that’s not all. We had another blow at the hospital.

A NICU nurse pulled a vial of my colostrum from the fridge and gave it to another woman’s baby. The other mom saw my name on the vial’s label and flipped. I don’t blame her. The fuck?

That just made me mad. Mad for me for the embarrassment and inconvenience of having to get blood work done to prove I don’t have HIV/AIDS/hep. Mad for the other mom who found out her baby got some random woman’s milk who, for all she knew, had HIV/AIDS/hep/crack addiction/zombie DNA. Mad for everyone who puts trust in hospitals and their healthcare staffs. And mad at the dingbat nurse who fucked up. Even more mad for her manner of sharing the bad news. I was having a private moment nursing my baby and catching up with my sister when she peeked in looking like someone just died and said she had horrible news, proceeding to tell me how she fucked up. Which, yes, is horrible and needed to be communicated to me pretty immediately, but certainly there was a better way. Like in private without the imminent-end-of-the-world facial expression and tone. I realize to her, fucking up could cost her her job, so maybe it was the end of the world to her, but chill. I was in a delicate state as it was – baby in the NICU, I’m recovering from a major surgery, on meds, not in the best mental state. I basically fell apart. Blubbering like a damn fool.

I would have been royally screwed if a) my husband wasn’t the rock that he is and incredible at dealing with people and b) my best friends weren’t waiting for me in my room to cheer me up. They came unexpectedly and I wasn’t sure I could pull it together for them, but I took a deep breath, wiped away my tears and went in and laughed like nobody’s business for a good half hour. Sometimes a surprise visit is the BEST visit. So thank you Cely and Jaime. :)

My reward for having my bloodwork done was $30 worth of hospital cafeteria vouchers. Looks like I came out the big winner, amiright? It was also reassuring to know that I don’t have zombie DNA.

So yeah. It was the roller coaster ride that had a lot of free falls, but also lots of fun parts in between like getting home-baked goodies from my sister’s bakery, ridiculously cute girlie stuff from friends and family, so many flowers it smelled like a garden in my room, plus lots of private, happy moments between my husband and me, and my baby and me. And seeing Ollie with his little sister for the first time was priceless.

I guess as I start closing this post, I just want to say no matter how minor, your drama as a parent is yours. It has value. It has meaning. You might not even know its weight till you’re seven months postpartum. It might hit you all at once. Talk about it and don’t feel guilty. For me, when people ask me if and when we’re having No. 3, I feel like unloading all the stuff we’ve been through physically, emotionally, hormonally and financially. I am not aching to add to my brood. And I’m not sorry for feeling that way. I’m VERY happy with my perfectly messy, chaotic, silly and crazy family. I can’t imagine it getting any better than this, right now. I don’t want to “push” it!

Now, tell me about your birth story! (Oh no, I just opened the flood gates, didn’t I?! Bring it!)

Learning to Hate Our Bodies, Part One: The Media

girlreadingmagazineThis is the first part in a series of personal stories about how I learned to hate my body, little by little, from as far back as I can remember. I’m seriously now just beginning to not pick on myself throughout the day. I am 35. Thirty five!

It’s not just me. I have friends of all shapes and sizes and ages who are still dealing with this, too. What we have in common is that we are all women who essentially came of age in the ’80s and ’90s in suburban America with its white girl mall culture and expectation of flawlessness. Ads, the media, peers, relatives, teachers, boys – their message has always been clear to us: You are imperfect and you need to be fixed.

How does this relate to my blog? Well, if I do nothing else as a person, I want to raise children with positive body images who respect their own bodies and other peoples’. I want confident kids. And that starts with being comfortable in your own body despite the mixed messages that are sent all day long. And that starts at home. So yeah. Totally relevant stuff here.

So here goes.

The media and its advertisers are EVER SO EAGER to help you be the image of feminine perfection. It’s a business model. There is money to be made off of your intrinsic desire to not be disgusting. I have been a member of the media since senior year in high school when I got my first newspaper clip. Despite my passion for journalism and fierce support for the First Amendment, pop media largely grosses me out. It editorializes stories like Angelina Jolie’s mastectomies, the “chunky” cheerleader and that pathetic Abercrombie & Fitch CEO who hates fat girls. At the same time, I’m so guilty of watching, reading and reposting.

The relentlessness of the media when it comes to telling you about your crappy body is alarming. You think it’s going to get better when you get older, wiser, get married, get a job, have kids. But, oh no. IT NEVER GOES AWAY. It just changes a little. When you become a mom, for example, suddenly you’re being marketed to as a new demographic: the ideal mother. Wholesome, nurturing and impossibly SKINNY with flawless skin. This same illusion of a mother always does the right thing when it comes to child-rearing, but that’s another post.

When exactly does the media begin digging in? For me, who knows, maybe it was the first time I saw a Barbie commercial. The first time I remember it really resonating was when I was a teenager pouring over Delia’s catalogs and YM and Seventeen magazines. Trust me, I hold all those teen glossies near and dear to my heart because they are synonymous with the best parts of adolescence: Sitting around in my friend’s bedroom, gossiping and prank calling randoms while listening to Weezer, Green Day, Mazzy Star and Milla Jovovich CDs on repeat. Outside of that otherwise joyful context, though, teen magazines are toxic.

They were and continue to be a huge contributor to our very specific self loathing be it our faces, hair, bodies,  odor, biology, clothes, friendships, boyfriends – pretty much EVERY aspect of our lives and specifically those that make us uniquely women. You know, stuff we should embrace, but were taught to HATE till they go away or are fixed. That’s why we starve. That’s why we cover up our bodies. They’re why we are still chasing some ghost of an ideal woman. At 30, 40, 50 …

Through being bombarded by self-help, diet, exercise, dating, beauty and fashion advice in teen mags, we’re basically led to think we are physically inferior, un-dateable and need improvement. And we by no means can do ANY of this by ourselves. We need help.

Teen mags are chock-full of pictures of pretty, skinny girls with good clothes and TONS of advice on how to fix your ugly self.

And forget about when we graduated to Cosmo (basically within the same year – we could not wait to check out this scandalous women’s magazine! It was our version of Playboy!).

Cosmo had fashion spreads of unachievable womanliness, Victoria’s Secret ads and hordes of graphic information about how to do sex right FOR YOUR MAN. I will never forget the how-to B.J. story that had us giggling for an hour. My friend read it out loud in a haughty professor voice. It was hilarious. But you know what? It essentially informed us how to be an object of pleasure for someone else.

My older sister had Sassy around the house – for skinny, alternative girls of all colors. It was a start. I didn’t see BUST till I flipped through it at a comic store in Chicago. It wasn’t love at first sight. BUST was so boldly sex-positive it scared me off at first. Not because I’m a prude, but because it went against everything I thought I knew about being a woman. The beauty tips featured normal-looking people. Normal people can’t be pretty! The sex guides were for, um, the reader (What? What a concept). It was only really when I bought my first issue of BUST that things began changing for me. Christ, I was in my 20s. Riot Grrrl and women’s studies classes were another big part of the change. I guess that sounds like a cliché feminist coming-of-age story, but it’s true, and studying women’s sociology, reading women’s lit and listening to angry lyrics about social injustices still happening IN OUR COUNTRY, IN 1998 certainly improved upon how I looked at myself and other women.

Then in my 30s, I began discovering intelligent and funny bloggers like Emily McCombs who writes through her body and addiction issues. The Internet has allowed me to totally hone in on writing that I care about by smart writers who are not interested in cashing in on making people feel bad all the time. Pretty sure Rookie, an incredible e-zine by Chicago teenager Tavi Gevinson, would have been my jam if we had the Internet as we know it in 1995.

I still subscribe to BUST – now in its 20th year and still writing intelligently for women (I even had the pleasure of interviewing its owners for a story and freelancing for them for a while). BUST is still helping all of us women like our bodies, right now, not in some fake future when we lose all the weight and buy all of the designer cosmetics. They’re still publishing awesome DIY guides and sharing information that actually matters.

Still, not a day goes by that most of TV, magazines, the Internet and all those ads in-between slam us with images of skinny, pretty, clean, smart, nice-smelling, unachievable womanhood.

I LOVE Pinterest, but between pictures of unreachable beauty standards, and “inspirational” quotes about what you’re doing wrong and how to do it right, plus endless tips and tricks to “live your best life,” sometimes I feel like I’m flipping through the absolute worst of those teen magazines.

True, I should really get off the Internet.

So tell me, did you grow up with teen magazines? Do you think they impacted how you feel about yourself today or were they just a girl’s rite-of-passage/get over it? 

If you’ve ever felt like the media’s influence has harmed your body image, do you still feel that way or are you moving past it? What’s helped? 

How are you ensuring your kids aren’t being beat over the head with the media’s seemingly never-ending Perfect Body Image Campaign? 

Illustration: pamf.org

Bye, Bye Baby Weight

When I first started this blog, I hadn’t zeroed in on children’s music quite yet. I was a longtime writer and new mom just looking for an outlet to discuss, well, everything under the sun (and “son,” hehe). I posted here and there about meal planning, baby food and family nutrition. Oh yeah, and a little lamenting about my struggle to lose my baby weight.

It wasn’t until last August that my husband and I initiated a lifestyle that matched the values I discussed so much back then. I’m happy to say six months to almost the day, I am 40 pounds lighter. The time breezed by, but I learned so much (and am excited about what I have yet to discover). The loss was slow and steady, so I’ve cherished every pound that’s vanished, every new notch on my belt and every minute I can run on the treadmill. Running. I know. Crazy!

We’re cooking a lot of really amazing dishes. The fridge is full of fresh produce to the point that I broke my vegetable drawer the other day (oops!). Cocoa roast almonds take up the cupboard space where boxes of Raisinettes used to reside (though they never lasted very long). I have something called flaxseed meal in my baking supplies now and it rocks my world. The highlight of my weekend was using it to make a “muffin in a minute” and it’s a top breakfast request from Ollie.

I’m sure it’s suspicious – annoying, even – when people ask me how hard it was and about all the sacrifices I’ve had to make, when I tell them with honesty that after the initial week of junk food detox, it’s been incredibly easy and actually very exciting to cook with new foods and recipes. I have not had a sugar crash in forever. I don’t get headaches. I am not winded walking up stairs. I can run with (and after) my child with ease. I have not been either ravenously hungry or sickeningly full in six months. I’ve found healthy ways to cope with the bad days and there are WAY fewer bad days now. I’d be lying if I said it was difficult.

Phew! Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Maybe it will mean another lost pound! :)

OK, back to rockin’ out!

Ice, Ice Baby: Pica, Anemia and Me

I’ve seen a few shows lately featuring women who eat chalk. “It’s like candy” “I love the texture” “it soothes me” – these are some of the sentiments of chalk-eaters. Seems really odd, right?

The condition of craving and consuming non-foods like chalk, dirt, ice, clay, etc., is called pica and I partially know this because I had it.

I started craving ice very late in my pregnancy – I think it was in December, my final month. December in Chicago. Who craves ice in the winter?

I’d read all the books and was aware of pica, but it didn’t dawn on me that maybe my insatiable craving for ice was pica. I wasn’t eating paint or dirt. My thinking was, it’s ice. It’s frozen water. Water is healthy.

The texture and feeling of ice in my mouth was so soothing, I didn’t want to stop. I was a junkie. I found my favorite gas stations and fast food places for ice (I remember Thorntons was pretty legit). I even got the guy down at the Dunkin Donuts in my office building to give me cups of ice for some odd change. I learned how to thaw out my freezer ice to the perfect texture, too. Sure, it was a little manic, and I’d be a liar if I said eyebrows weren’t raised, but no one got hurt. I mean, your body does so much freaky shit during pregnancy, craving ice seemed pretty vanilla. What’s more, what person in their right mind is going to argue with a preggo as big as a house if she wants to crunch on a cup of ice?

Somehow my doctor aunt got wind of this and said I might be iron deficient. I brushed it off. Like, how does craving ice have anything to do with iron deficiency? Seemed totally unrelated. This was part of my defense. The other was entitlement. I guess I was thinking I was due really soon and my pregnancy has been pretty uneventful, why can’t I just satisfy this one harmless craving? I feel really stupid now even trying to defend my ignorance. I mean, I had all of the tools to add it up, not to mention by 8 months, I was seeing my OB weekly. And it’s not like I didn’t care. I was very cautious during my pregnancy. But I guess I was just being a shithead.

Turns out, I was iron deficient. Anemic, in fact. According to the Mayo Clinic, “ice has a new and better taste to some people who are iron deficient.” I take the blame for not being in tune with my body.

I found out about my anemia after I gave birth. I almost fainted in the recovery room. My complexion was so ashen, my freckles (of which I have many) had all but faded. This made worse by people commenting on how bad I looked. I had a total of two blood transfusions. I started on an iron pill after I came home from the hospital. Now I try to eat iron-rich foods like beans, eggs, whole-grain bread and nuts. All I know is next time I’m knocked up, I’ll commit myself to more steak and eggs. Far tastier than ice.

Sometimes You Have to Make a Scene

FTFY

My BFF just posted this on FB and I say “damn straight” –

“I had words with a stranger in the Walgreen’s parking lot.
 I pulled up right next to her and saw her put a child no older than 3 in the front seat. She got in the driver’s side and started the car. The car window was open and the child was not wearing a seat belt.

‘Where’s her car seat?’ I asked.

‘Mind your own business,’ she said.

‘It’s my business if she ends up smashing into the windshield.’

I probably looked like a total jerk. I had my hands on my hips and was wearing a yellow hoodie, a black Goonies t-shit and my school ID on a Hello Kitty lanyard covered with ‘flair.’ I really was waiting to get punched in the face.

The adult huffed, got out of the car, grabbed the child and put her in the back seat.

The child didn’t say much or have much of a reaction. I waved at her and they left. I only wish I would’ve asked for the adult to secure the child with a seat belt. But I knew I had already asked too much.”

If you ever see a small child riding in a car without a car seat or booster, you have every right to say something. The car seat laws vary from state to state. In Illinois, kids have to have a car seat/booster until they are 8 years old. For parents who can’t afford a car seat, there is a great organization called Safe Kids USA that can help.

More Musings on Maternal Rights (Repost)

Repost from Chicago writer/new mom’s Oct. 1 blog b/c I can’t say how I feel about this any more eloquently:

“Until I was a mom, maternal rights weren’t exactly on my radar. Nor was the fact that the US is the only industrialized nation (of roughly 4 countries in the world) that has short, unpaid maternity leave while the rest of the world actually puts the concerns of moms and infants ahead of those of business and offers paid maternity leaves that are substantially longer.

One of the second wave feminists big concerns, rightly, was about women working–manifesting big destinies and freedoms, being able to be self-supporting. This is America, and we’re generally operating on the freemarketcapitalism version of freedoms–those gains for second wavers were crucial and huge and unfortunately, predicated largely on financial freedom. Women wanted parity as earners, but there was no real attention given to maternal rights–because women wanted equality–asking for “exceptional treatment”–i.e. paid maternity leave, or a maternity leave longer than 90 days never really came to pass. Maybe second wavers really wanted to show they could do it without help. Or maybe were so desperate to move beyond being (only) stay at home moms–eyes were on the other prize.

Which is how, in 2010, we have situations like this, with fewer and fewer babies being breastfed because moms have to go back to work. And how we wind up with federal laws where crucial things like a private space to breastfeed in/certain aspects of maternity leave are predicated on women working at companies of 50 employees or more. I know like, maybe, maybe, a dozen people who work at companies that large. The moms I know who had to return to work, they are pumping breastmilk in bathroom stalls. Which is gnarly. I wouldn’t pump breastmilk in my own bathroom. Women I know who are pregnant and have not even had their babies yet are afraid they are not going to be able to breastfeed past the time of their maternity leave because they have to return to work and the legal provision for their breastfeeding needs hinges on it not being “an undue hardship” for their employer. MEANWHILE: Some women wind up having to leave their jobs because of totally routine newborn issues because they are forced to go back to work while their baby is still waking up 4 or 5 times a night. It boggles my mind that the gov’t is focusing their breastfeeding campaign on education and support initiatives–granted, an important part of the solution, surely–BUT if the main reason women aren’t able to breastfeed for the doctor-recommended one year minimum is because they have to go back to work so soon, and are like, pumping breastmilk in their car in the fucking parking lot of their job and it’s a big sad hassle–a zillion fucking pamplets and pediatric doctors reminding moms how good breastfeeding is for infant (duh) and maternal health doesn’t make a shit of difference in the practical lives of women. Especially when only 24 states have laws relating to nursing moms in the workplace; only Puerto Rico is the only place that demands all public buildings need to have places for breastfeeding and diapering that are not bathrooms. Illinois law asks only that employers make a “reasonable effort” to provide a non-toilet stall space for nursing moms to pump. Meanwhile, in the EU, maternity leave is being extended to six months at full pay for all women. I imagine the gov’t would have more success upping breastfeeding rates if there was any sort of legal providence that made it easier to be a new mom–you know, moving beyond just making it legal to breastfeed in public. In comparison to the rest of the world, America really looks like a nation of Milton Friedman worshipping baby-haters. BECAUSE IT IS. The flag, on the white striped parts, should just read “HEY MOM GET BACK TO WORK” and then the next one should read ‘FUCK YOU, BABY, FIND YOUR OWN FOOD!’.”


Enter your email addy to subscribe.

Join 21 other followers

Bettie Page Kids Clothing

140-Character Musings

Archives


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.