Monday, April 16, 2012

No More Milk???

Sadness has come over this household: my milk supply suddenly disappeared.  One day we were doing just fine, and the next I'm running on empty.  I know that breastfeeding all the way until 18 months is quite an accomplishment and I really am proud of myself, especially seeing how LH thrives on my milk.  The thing is, neither of us were ready to give it up quite yet.

It's been a rough few days so far, with no signs of my milk supply returning, despite my best efforts.  LH is taking it really hard, and I can't blame the kid.  I didn't prepare her for this.  It wasn't the gradual, baby-led weaning I was planning on.  She just had to quit cold turkey.

And just when I finally got around to converting my regular bras into nursing bras, too...

Finally fat!

I know that most people don't celebrate weight gain, but I am so happy!  My old clothing finally fits me properly.  No more safety pins, no more constant hiking up of my skirt, no more baggy shirts.  Yay!

I weigh more now than when I got pregnant, although at that time I weighed the least I ever had.  Recently, while shopping for a new outfit with some of my husband's family, one of the lovely ladies commented that I looked skinnier if I didn't wear the matching belt.  I just took the comment and ignored it, but really it bothered me a little bit.  My goal isn't to look skinny.  I did the whole skinny thing and I didn't like it.  My goal is to look healthy, and if that means that I have a little tummy, then so be it.

I have worked so hard for the past 18 months to gain all this weight.  While society generally does not find fat attractive, I don't see a problem with showing off my hard-earned belly fat.  Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound so nice, either.  But I am at a healthy weight for my height and build, I am purposely gaining in preparation for another pregnancy, and I don't think that I should be made to feel fat and unattractive when I'm not.

Wow.  That post went off on a little tangent I wasn't expecting.  At any rate, my point is that I am so happy to be me again after such a long time of being only half of me.  Wearing clothing that fits is such a pleasure.  Getting rid of those safety pins is such a pleasure.  Not having to constantly check to be sure that I have no skin peeking out where it shouldn't be is a pleasure.  And looking and feeling healthy is a pleasure.

So I don't care what other people think.  I am happy with me.  That's all that matters.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Car Seat Safety

In general I love living in Israel, but I must admit - the driving here is absolutely dreadful.  There also seems to be a general disregard for safety (like children riding on motorcycles, use of carseats that are older than I am, children not properly strapped into their seats or not belted at all, etc.).  More often than not I see all of these in circumstances when I can't speak up (not that I would have the guts to).  It is very frustrating, though, when I see these practices in people close to me.

A couple weeks ago I happened to spend half the day with a family with six children, newborn to 13 years old. The newborn, when she was in her car seat and not on her mother's lap, was not properly strapped in.  The next oldest child (2) was also not always strapped in, let alone properly.  Is the kid a little fussy?  Okay, take him out, give him what he wants.

This is a huge contrast to what we do.  Last night N, LH and I were returning from a mini vacation and we got stuck in a major traffic jam, so a car ride that should have taken 2.5 hours turned into 4.5 hours.  Of course LH did not appreciate being tethered and unable to wiggle around all that time, but she never left her seat.  The most I did was unclip her chest clip so that I could take off her sweatshirt while we were stopped, and then she was clipped right back up.  In the middle she very much wanted to nurse - a feat which I accomplished without touching her restraints at all and with a minimal adjustment of my seat belt.  I don't care if we were going under 30kph; it's not worth it to risk my child's safety for the sake of comfort.

Obviously there are people out there who disagree with me, and I know exactly how annoying it can be to have a screaming baby in the car because they don't want to be in the car seat.  Trust me, if something happened to your babe because you weren't taking the precautions you could have, you would beat yourself up forever that you didn't just suck it up and listen to the screaming for a little bit.

It doesn't matter what our parents or our grandparents did.  It doesn't matter that the old car you grew up in didn't even have seat belts in the back seat, or that holding a baby in your lap was the norm.  Just because you were never hurt, just because your friend was never hurt, doesn't mean it can't happen.  A properly installed, properly used child restraint system saves lives.  Don't take the risk.  God can only do so much against stupidity.  Think of the car seat as the protective hug that you are giving your child while you are driving.  Never stop hugging your children.

Starting 'em Young

Everywhere you look these days, you can find articles about how terrible it is that people - especially young girls - are faced with these 'perfect' bodies in the media and expected to look the same.  Nevermind that there is heavy use of Photoshop and that many of the models aren't healthy.  There is a picture portrayed in the media of the perfect woman and so many people try to become that imaginary woman.

I know that the incidence of eating disorders among young girls and teens has skyrocketed.  I mean, why is it that I'm hearing about 8-year-olds battling anorexia?  What happened to 8-year-olds dealing with normal issues like how to spell and who to sit next to at lunch?  Why are they suddenly obsessed with their bodies from such a young age?

This issue really started to hit home for me when I started seeing more Sesame Street clips on YouTube.  Alongside the classic clips preaching tolerance and acceptance no matter race, gender, parental status ("I have one Daddy, I have two"), etc., they now have clips promoting healthy and positive body images for the children.  For example, they have a little black Muppet girl singing about how much she loves her hair - how it looks good in cornrows, as an afro, etc.  That is the first example that comes to mind, but I have stumbled across several others as well.

I am all about positive messaging in children's programming.  After all, what child wouldn't want to brush his teeth after seeing how much fun Elmo has with it, or wouldn't want to try some fruits and veggies after even Cookie Monster advocates for it?  I just think it's sad that because of societal pressures for girls to look a certain, unrealistic way, they also need to add songs and themes to try to unbrainwash the kids (or as a preemptive strike against the outside pressures).

This is the world in which I must raise my daughter?  Heaven help us.

"I survived, so you can, too"

The internet is a wonderful thing where anyone can write anything.  Sometimes, though, I really think that people should shut up.

One of my more recent encounters with someone who should not be allowed to post some things was on a post a friend of mine made somewhere about her HG and how she was having such a hard time with it.  One brilliant woman replied saying that she had gone through HG, too, and "I survived, so you can, too."  She was basically saying that my friend should just suck it up and deal with it and not complain about it so much.

I think that she was essentially trying to be helpful and trying to say that we could get out of this whole on the other side, but it didn't come across like that.  It came across as, "shut up and suffer in silence".

Few enough people have HG to begin with, and there is so much misunderstanding out there about the disease, that it really is not wise to just shut up and deal with it.  There is a big psychological factor involved (NOT as the cause, but rather an effect of being so ill).  Many mothers wind up feeling very isolated, among other issues. One way to combat this isolation and general feeling of desolation is by connecting with other women going through the same issues - or who have gone through and come out the other side.  It can become a wonderful support network.

To tell someone to just suck it up and deal with it is so not helpful.  A forum like the one where I saw this post should be a safe place for everyone to complain about everything going on, because chances are it's the ONLY place they can do so.  Think before you write, people.

A Year of Change

I was recently looking through an album we have, with pictures of me and N from the time we started dating, through our engagement, our wedding, the oh so wonderful pregnancy, and finally the year and a half since our little angel was born.  The album begins three years ago, and it is amazing to see how many changes can happen in such a short period of time.

I was particularly struck by the difference between two pictures.  The first was taken on Chanukah in 2010, when LH was 2 months old; the second exactly a year later.  Of course the babe is completely different, but that's to be expected.  What shocked me was the huge difference I saw in myself.

In the 2010 picture, I am very skinny, very pale, and just generally sickly-looking.  The 2011 picture looks like a completely different person - healthy, happy, clothes that fit, color in the cheeks, and a good weight for my frame.

As soon as I delivered the placenta, my health took a major turn for the better.  In normal illnesses, two months is a long time in terms of healing and getting better and looking healthy.  And the funny thing is, I really did look healthy two months later - but only in comparison to how I looked while pregnant.  Now, looking back, I can't believe that I thought I looked so much better already.  How I look now is how I should always look (although I could do without the bags under the eyes).

Women are always asking when they can expect their body to go back to normal after pregnancy and childbirth, and the usual answer I see is that it took nine months to get that way, so you need to give it nine months to get back to how it was.  This was actually quite true for me in many ways, too, although excess weight and a flabby stomach were not my issues.

I didn't return to my pre-pregnancy weight until 10 months postpartum.  I only had to gain about five kilo to get there, but between the breastfeeding and the eating issues I was having, each kilo was a huge struggle to get and to keep.  Part of it was trying to rebuild my lost muscle mass, while at the same time keeping my activity level relatively low in order to conserve calories.  Not an easy balance, I can tell you.

But even from the expression on my face you can tell that my outlook has changed.  At two months postpartum, if someone had mentioned to me thoughts of having another baby I probably would have had a panic attack.  Now, I am much more emotionally healed and have come to terms with the fact that I want more children = I have to have more pregnancies = I run the risk of HG repeating or even worsening.  And you know what?  Even though I still have a hard time saying 'yes' when someone asks me if it was all worth it, I wouldn't trade my daughter for the world.  If there was an easier way to get another little treasure I would take it, but apparently pain and suffering are the way to go.