Did You Use all that Stuff??

I’ve had two babies now, and while I’m by no means an expert, I think I’ve finally figured something out, something I’ve seen on dozens of mom blogs and had my own mom tell me hundreds of times (while I’ve rocked back and forth in a corner in a panic as I wept over having nothing for the impending baby). Babies don’t really need a lot. Really. I think I might have even said this at some point, but I’m not entirely sure I believed it. You might recall my little list of stuff that I really wanted waaaaaaay back last August (wow…almost a year ago!). Now, the list wasn’t very long (unlike my registry, which was big, then small, then huge again when I was told I was having a surprise baby shower a week after M. was born and had to register for some stuff), but one has to wonder if I actually use those very particular items that I really, really wanted.

breastpump

So, first of all, the breast pump. I, very inexpensively, bought the Medela Pump In Style Advanced from my cousin several months ago and I use it three times a day, five days a week at work (and let me just say, work has been awesome about my pumping). I really like this pump. I don’t don’t get a ton when I pump – I’m lucky if I get just enough for M. for the next day while I’m at work – but I feel as though a lesser pump would probably have totally messed up my supply and we’d be formula feeding right now. It’s comfortable, efficient, and I like that it comes in a pretty discreet looking black shoulder bag. If you’re in the market for a pump, or your insurance company provides you with a choice in what you can pick, totally go for Medela.

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Second we had the Moby wrap. Holy freaking God-send. I love this thing. I had originally received a homemade one from my cousin (the one who sold me the breast pump) and unfortunately, I’m a bit wider than her (she’s like, a fitness rock star), and it didn’t fit me all that well. Bummer. BUT my really lovely co-workers through me a baby shower, and as one of my gifts, a friend gave me her very gently used Moby, which fits perfectly.

But back to the wrap.

I’ve read about a lot of people finding it difficult to use, lots of fabric, tough wrap around, too hot for baby, yada yada yada. I have not had any of these issues. After looking at the booklet of directions that came with it and a couple of YouTube videos, I was golden. There is a lot of fabric and I don’t consider the wrap “poppable” (i.e. you can easily put baby in and out without rewrapping), BUT the advantages (super calm, happy, sleepy baby) outweigh the disadvantages. Also, in the super hot weather we’ve had in the last couple of days, I haven’t noticed any baby discomfort and I’m not uncomfortable, either, though honestly, everywhere we go when it’s really hot is either air conditioned or in the water, so there isn’t a huge chance for baby and me to get too hot.

Third, we had the car seat, and we went with the one our friends had. It’s cute and safe – all I could ask for.

cosleeper

Fourth, the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper. We did buy this and we do use it…most of the time. M. does go to bed in his own space much better than E. ever did (she was sleeping in my hospital bed after she was born, for Pete’s sake). That said, there are plenty of nights were I end up pulling M. into bed with me, letting me snuggle in the crook of my arm.

Was it worth the money spent (about $160)? Well, between the storage in the bottom (we have limited storage space) and the amount of time M. actually uses it, I’d say, so far, yes, but it also depends how long M. is able to use the co-sleeper. If I only get six months out of it, I don’t know if it will have been worth it for our family.

clothdiapers

Finally, the cloth diapers. While I had thought we would have to spend a whole bunch of money on them, it ended up not being a whole lot. I bought about 10 cloth pocket diapers (a waterproof cloth shell with a microfiber insert) from my cousin (yep, same cousin as before) for about $30 and then my mom gave me a dozen for Christmas. I was also given a dozen gDiapers from a friend at work (the same friend who gave me her Moby).

Do we use the cloth diapers? Heck yes we do! Do we use them all the time? Nope, but only because we were given a crap ton of disposables (which we STILL haven’t gotten all the way through). As soon as the disposables are gone/no longer fit, I’m cloth diapering exclusively.

I love, love, love the brand of cloth diaper we use (Kawaii). They’re inexpensive (less than $6 a diaper), hold up well, don’t leak, and are pretty cute (always important, right?). I also enjoyed the gDiapers when M. was smaller, but I felt they were a bit leakier and I didn’t like how I would have had to buy larger sizes as M. got bigger if I had decided to use those (I just had size small, which only goes up to 14 lbs., so they’re too small for M. now).

So, I think that about covers it all. There are a few other things I had wanted and ended up getting and loving (my Boppy, for one), but this post is already way too long. So far, I’m really happy that I don’t have any useless baby items, and I’m hoping when we go round three (yep, I’m already thinking about another kiddo) we won’t have much of anything to buy!

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Week 35

Week 35 (January 4 – 11) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: I’ve been getting really crampy, as well as have more Braxton Hicks. Also, breast tenderness has resurfaced.

Body Changes: Achey hips and pelvic joints

Cravings: Carby carb carb carbs…and chocolate!

High Point:  Two very fun things this week: First, I went out and bought some really fun fabric for a couple of nursing covers and a baby quilt for the little guy. I love, love, love fabric shopping, so that alone was great. But it was also nice to go out by myself and take my time looking for just the right stuff. It’s something that’s rare now as it is and is bound to only become more so. I’ll try to post pictures as I finish everything (I’ve already done one cover and have started on the quilt). 

Secondly, I finally got to meet officially with my doulas (yes, plural)! I’ve been meeting with these ladies on a monthly basis anyhow, because they’re the student midwives I see for prenatal check-ups at the Birth House. I was so excited to finally get to sit down with them and talk about what I wanted this baby’s birth to be. Early on in the meeting we decided it would be beneficial for women to attend to birth for a variety of reasons. For me, the biggest was I liked the idea of having two different styles of care and experience and the guarantee that at least one of them would always be there. Plus, I would have had a really, really hard time choosing between the two. I feel incredibly lucky to have happened upon this service, because in the typical doula situation, I would likely be paying quite a bit more (I’m only paying $50), would only have access to one talented lady, and wouldn’t have had as much opportunity to get to know and speak to a doula (they have been with me from the beginning, including pre-concpetion!). They’ve made me feel so much better about my birth. I know it will be great!

Low Point: The pregnancy fears have started to settle in, though this time around, they aren’t necessarily specific to pregnancy. More below. 

What I did to prepare this week: More cleaning and organizing. Also, meeting with my doulas and getting some baby related sewing done. 

Paranoid Moment: Well, I had a bad dream and it all sort of devolved from there. I had a rough couple of days worrying about things that were out of my control. I had also developed a bit of an irrational fear about losing E. I remember at this point in my pregnancy with her I worried about some pretty random things, mostly related to possible birth defects or SIDS. This time around I’m feeling very confident in our little guy’s health, but I’m more focused on my fear of losing my relationship with E. once the new baby comes. While I know I won’t love her any less (how could I?), I do fear that I won’t be able to give her what I have for the last four years. In fact, I pretty much know I won’t, because, let’s face it, baby’s take up a whole heck of a lot of energy. I think a lot of the fear I’ve had about “losing” E. stem from the very real fear about the upcoming change in dynamic in my family. 

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “Your baby doesn’t have much room to maneuver now that he’s over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5 1/4 pounds (pick up a honeydew melon). Because it’s so snug in your womb, he isn’t likely to be doing somersaults anymore, but the number of times he kicks should remain about the same. His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products. Most of his basic physical development is now complete — he’ll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.”

Week 24

Week 24  (October 19 – 26) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: Lots and lots of movement! I’m also starting to feel a bit tired again, or at least run down more easily. More Braxton-Hicks!! Ugh.  

Body Changes: I feel so great and am currently loving my pregnant figure (I suppose this is as much a mental change as a physical one). 

Cravings: Carbs, meat, and my sweet tooth is starting to resurface a bit, mostly wanting chocolate.

High Point: I had an OB appointment this week that went really well. Got to hear the baby’s heart beat again, and he sounded great. My OB was her usual positive self, said everything looked great (per usual) and that I was doing a great job. Gotta love appointments like that.   

We also managed to snag some crucial baby items this week. I am pretty much completely stocked up on 0-3 months clothing for the babe. I found an add on Craigslist advertising for baby boy clothes, so we took a trip to the seller’s house and I grabbed her little stuff for about $60 (she had a whole box up to 6 months but wanted a couple hundred dollars, so I had to say no thanks). Also, on Friday, my friend sold me her little guy’s “old” car seat (they just bought it last January) and a couple of bases. She also gave me a some clothes, baby towels, crib and bassinet sheets, AND leant me some pretty cute maternity clothes. Awesome score and so, so appreciated!

Low Point: Monday night, during the last Presidential debate, coincidentally, I started getting some crazy Braxton-Hicks. Ordinarily, since the incident in September, I wouldn’t be concerned, but they were also accompanied by some wild heart palpitations. I started to feel really light headed and breathless, but after lying down and drinking some water, I felt better and went to sleep. 

Well, to make a long story short, I was persuaded to call my doctor who set me up for an EKG. Everything, including the baby, was fine. Just really, really annoying. However, whenever something “weird” like this happens, it’s always nerve wracking. I’m just glad everything turned out to be all right!

What I did to prepare this week: As mentioned above, I got our car seat, a few other baby items, and some clothes. Getting the car seat also prompted me to clean out my car (though it still needs a very thorough vacuum). Let’s see if I can keep it clean between now and February!

Paranoid Moment: See Low Point. 

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “Your baby’s growing steadily, having gained about 4 ounces since last week. That puts him at just over a pound. Since he’s almost a foot long (picture an ear of corn), he cuts a pretty lean figure at this point, but his body is filling out proportionally and he’ll soon start to plump up. His brain is also growing quickly now, and his taste buds are continuing to develop. His lungs are developing “branches” of the respiratory “tree” as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help his air sacs inflate once he hits the outside world. His skin is still thin and translucent, but that will start to change soon.”

Four and a Half

With this baby brewing in my belly, it’s hard to not become nostalgic about my big baby, E.

Four and a half is very grown up…and extremely childish (the good kind). I’ve caught myself saying things to E. that I distinctly remember my mom saying to me, except I think I was sixteen or seventeen at the time. Example: It’s getting really exhausting to argue every little detail with you! She’s able to do math which blows me away, and her love of books and learning her letters and drive to write seem so out of place with the baby girl I held in my arms for so long. 

She can seem so old, but then I’m  reminded of just how much she is truly a little girl. Her baby dolls that are dragged from the house to the car to the grocery store. Her impossibly small, but oh-so fashionable jeans and shirts. Her quick willingness to climb into my lap and wrap those arms around me, her chubby little hands clasped behind my neck. 

This age, four and half and this little girl, are so precious to me right now. It’s not as though she was not precious to me before or that any other age were less special, but, despite the multiple frustrations of a too smart preschooler, there is something I’d love to bottle about this time in E.’s life. I love that she can simultaneously be so brilliant and wise, but without the jadedness and lack of innocence that we so often find ourselves plagued with later in life. I wish she could be like this forever. To be so smart and so loving, to eager to learn through play, to not take herself too seriously. To be naive about some things, but wise enough about others. It’s a tall order for children as they get older these days, and it’s not to say that some of these most loved traits won’t stick around for years to come, if we help preserve them…But I know some of the protective shell of early childhood will crumble away and no matter how I desperately try to paste it back on her, it’ll only get knocked off again. 

And I suppose that’s part of growing up. 

 

Seventeen!!

Week 17  (September 1 – 7)

Esitmated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: Still feeling pretty great, if occasionally a bit tired. Not a whole lot has changed here.

Body Changes: My eggo is pretty much preggo. I’m starting to show a bit more and I’m hoping that I’m maybe looking more pregnant than just extra chubby around the middle. I haven’t gained a ton of weight, at least in comparison to my pregnancy with E. (7 lbs. now vs. 20 lbs. then). But I’m still no skinny mini, so it’s hard to say, objectively, if I really look all that pregnant. Also, my skin is starting to get uncomfortably itchy at times on my tummy. I haven’t bothered with cocoa butter this time around because, frankly, it’s a lost cause – I’ve got enough stripes to put a tiger to shame – but, I bet that stuff would help with the itchies.

Cravings: Sour, salty, carbs. And cheese. You can never have enough cheese.

High Point: Primarily, I went to see my OB (well, I intended to see my OB, but instead saw a CNM, because my OB was called to do a delivery) and got to hear the baby’s heart beat (a solid and consistent 150 bpm). I got a concern cleared up (more on that in a minute) and left feeling pretty good about everything. In addition to that, I made my first solo trip (and actually my first trip driving period) into the “city” (it’s really, in comparison to most cities, just a very large town). This was a huge deal, because I get tons and tons of anxiety from driving to and through unfamiliar places, so the fact that I accomplished this without trying my damnedest to get someone else to take me first is a pretty huge deal.

Low Point: This was actually a pretty awesome week all around…Wait until you hear about week 18…Slightly less awesome 😦

What I did to prepare this week: Not a whole lot got done. I continued on my laundry/cleaning schedule and it’s worked out really well so far. I’ve also been getting into the habit of giving E. a bath every other night, which is perfect and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do double bath duty with the kids once the baby comes, or maybe have them switch off nights…not sure yet, but having this habit ingrained by the time February rolls around will be good.

Paranoid Moment: So, as my good friend Bobbi put it, I’m in a pretty fertile household. Why, might you ask? Oh, because my cat had kittens behind our living room chair on September 2nd. I seriously went upstairs to take a shower and when I got out E. was shouting, “Mama!! Rosie had kittens!!” Now, we pretty much new Rosie was pregnant (and subsequently kicked ourselves for not getting her fixed sooner – we were waiting for me to get paid again before we did it…bad idea), but hadn’t figured she would deliver so soon, as we had only realized it a couple of weeks ago (and, keep in mind, she was barely a year old, had never seemed like she was in heat, AND we never saw any other cats around).

Anyway, what’s my point in all this? Well, the big pregnancy no-no is cats…or, more specifically, cat feces. And the hubs has been on cat poop duty all along, but I failed to consider until my mom exasperatedly pointed it out, was that kittens are like human babies – they poop and pee at will…all over themselves. And here I was holding those pwecious widdle kittens. Stupid, I know, but I will also point out that I wore gloves *most* of the time AND basically bathed myself and E. in hand sanitizer after spending any time with the cats, but still…I was really, really worried.

When I finally got in to see the doctor (or CNM in this case) I explained the situation. Her response is best summed up with an, “Eh…” Since I’ve had continual exposure to cats for the last four years or so, I’ve likely has exposure and built up an immunity to toxoplasmosis, which is the icky stuff cat feces can infect you and your fetus with and cause some serious problems. She said considering that and the fact that I had been washing my hands, wearing clothes, etc., I really didn’t have anything to worry about…so I stopped worrying. Well, you know, within what’s reasonable for a pregnant lady to “stop” worrying.

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “Your baby’s skeleton is changing from soft cartilage to bone, and the umbilical cord — her lifeline to the placenta — is growing stronger and thicker. Your baby weighs 5 ounces now (about as much as a turnip), and she’s around 5 inches long from head to bottom. She can move her joints, and her sweat glands are starting to develop.

Bye Bye 1st Trimester!

Week 12 (July 23 – 31)

Esitmated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: Other than minor indigestions (I still have to be careful how much I eat in one sitting or I’ll end up feeling really lousy, the typical signs of early pregnancy have flown the coop and I’m feeling pretty well shot of them.

Body Changes: I’m still not showing, just looking bloated (mostly because I am). It took until I was about 20 weeks to have a noticeable baby bump, and then it was only noticeable to a few others, not me! I’ve got a nice layer of chub going on in the tummy area, so I know I won’t show as soon as I would if I were thinner.

Cravings: Salty and carb-y things are my preference at the moment, and chicken as well. Still loving my old pregnancy standby of chicken salad with sour pickles.

High Point: My high point for the week is actually not pregnancy related, sort of. This was probably the first week where I could confidently say I felt 100%. I was up late hanging out with the hubs and our friends. I got things done. I covered my porch cushions and sewed a curtain. I made it past ten o’clock to watch the man candy male divers and swimmers on the olympics. I only took a nap once (yesterday). It’s so nice to get stuff done and to just participate in life!

Low Point: I’ve been feeling kind of down about my parenting skills of late. I know the surplus of hormones I’m experiencing during this pregnancy doesn’t always have the best effects on me. Last pregnancy, I felt borderline psychotic at times. This pregnancy I’ve found I really want to be alone a lot. Well, if this were my first baby, I guess that wouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s hard to be alone when you have a four year old to take care of and play with. It’s been a struggle to feel like participating with the family at times. It’s something I believe I need to work on and will do so.

What I did to prepare this week: I got a lot of E.’s unused toys and some other items cleared up and either stored, donated, or I chucked ’em. I was contemplating having a yard sale later this month, but I’m realizing that with a camping trip coming up next weekend (more on that later), my aunt visiting after that, and a certain someones’ fourth wedding anniversary coming up, it was just going to be too much. So, we’ll be donating those things that are still usable, but we no longer have a use for.

So, with the clearing up of toys and other miscellaneous items, I’ve cleared some space in our upstairs hallway. I’ve started to try to envision what we could do with this space. It’s definitely going to be kid dedicated and I’m trying to think of just how it will look and be used with a new baby arriving in six short months (eek!!).

Paranoid Moment: Other than the usual, “What ifs”, I’m feeling pretty great in regards to the health and development of the baby, especially now that we’re out of the “danger zone” of the first trimester. That said, I have been worrying about what it will be like to parent TWO children. While this baby was very planned and the hubs and I both felt ready for another little one, I do sometimes wonder what exactly I got myself into…

What’s going on “in there”: The folks of BabyCenter say: “Fingerprints have formed on your baby’s tiny fingertips, her veins and organs are clearly visible through her still-thin skin, and her body is starting to catch up with her head — which makes up just a third of her body size now. If you’re having a girl, she now has more than 2 million eggs in her ovaries. Your baby is almost 3 inches long (the size of a medium shrimp) and weighs nearly an ounce.”

We Made it to Week FOUR!

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Week 3 (June 3 – June 10)

Esitmated Due Date: February 11th, 2013

Symptoms: Cramps, a very tender upper top half (okay, fine, I’ll say it…breasts), headaches, being super, unbearably hungry (but losing weight, which is nice, I guess), and the moodiness is still here (the hubs is already cowering in fear of preggers Kirsten). It’s very much like what I remember from being pregnant with E., though I think there is more general discomfort this time around. Lots of crampy twinges all over that I don’t seem to remember from before.

Body Changes: About the same as last week, bloaty and booby.

Cravings: My love for salty things continues. I definitely find myself hankering for comfort foods where as the idea of sweets doesn’t do it for me quite as much (though, again, I won’t turn down chocolate…ever).

High Point: Getting to meet with the midwives of The Birth House in Bridgton. While the hubs and I have pretty much decided it isn’t in the cards for those lovely ladies to deliver baby #2 (darn insurance), they do offer FREE prenatal care and super inexpensive doulas (only $50!!!). We’ll definitely be seeing more of The Birth House for those reasons!

Low Point: This. Still kind of mad about it, too, but I think, assuming I can get into their practice, All About Women in Portland will be a good option for us. They deliver at Mercy Hospital and seem to have a pretty good view on c-sections and VBACs.

Paranoid Moment: Worrying that every little uncomfortable twinge is a sign of something horrible. I had myself convinced for about two days that I must have an ectopic pregnancy, but then I realized two things: one, it would probably be too early to know, and two, I think if I were dealing with an ectopic pregnancy I would know I was dealing with an ectopic pregnancy, not just worry about it.

What I did to prepare this week: I called and made appointments with a couple of places and am still waiting to hear back from another (All About Women). I also had, as I mentioned that appointment at The Birth House. While I’ll probably only keep one or two of the appointments I made (the others sort of seem pointless now that I know people’s policies of VBACs), it was a good experience to get in touch with all the places I did, because I have a better scope on what’s available out there for me in terms of maternity care (and what I need to start fighting for if I ever become some sort of lobbyist for women’s health organizations).

I also bought five books: The Pregnancy Book, by Dr. Sears (I have The Baby Book, which I love, and I wanted an alternative to “What to Expect”, which I hated); Birthing from Within (yep, bought a crunch/granola pregnancy book); The Breastfeeding Book, also by Dr. Sears (I never had a book on this topic when I had E. and I didn’t have as much success breastfeeding as I wanted, so I hope with will help); What’s Inside Mommy’s Tummy (a book for E.; she has lots of questions and I think a good book about what’s happening will be helpful); and A Baby on the Way, another one by Dr. Sears (Are you sensing a pattern yet? And yes, another book for E.)

What’s going on “in there”: Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week explains: “Fetal development is still in the very early stages, but great changes are taking place! The blastocyst is embedded more deeply into the linning of your uterus, and the amniotic sac, which will fill with amniotic fluid, is starting to form.
“The placenta is forming; it plays an important role in the hormone production and transport of oxygen and nutrients. Networks that contain maternal blood are becoming established. Development of the baby’s nervous system (brain and other structures, such as the spinal cord) begins.
“Germ layers are developing. They develop into specialized parts of your baby’s body, such as organs. The three germ layers are the ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm.
“The ectoderm becomes the nervous system (including the brain), the skin and the hair. The endoderm develops into the lining of the intestinal tract, the liver, pancreas and thyroid. The mesoderm becomes the skeleton, connective tissues, blood system, urogenital system and most of the muscles.”

Lemony (and Orangey) Fresh

I’m slowly starting to make the transition to all natural, mostly homemade cleaners (in addition to moving out other unnecessary toxins that my family is exposed to on a regular basis). While I love my super basic vinegar and water mixes and scouring my sinks and tub with Borax and baking soda (it’s so freaking cheap!!), one of the major things that I worry about is bacteria. I mean, I have a four year old, for pity’s sake – there is bacteria floating around everywhere! While I do have a bottle of Seventh Generation anti-bacterial surface cleaner (which is supposed to be safer than other brands), I was hoping to find something I could easily make myself and is cheaper than nearly $4 a bottle.

Here was the solution:

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The midwifery school/clinic in our area had posted this short little “recipe” on their blog and I couldn’t wait to delve in. The suggestion: Fill a jar with citrus peels (in my case, lemon and orange) and vinegar, let steep for two weeks, then clean away! Citrus, supposedly, has some antibacterial properties, as does vinegar, AND citrus is known to cut through grease and other nasty substances, so soaking the peels with the vinegar can make a powerful home cleaning remedy, and one that I’m happy to use.

So, why am I making these switches, slowly but surely? Because, one, it’s way, way more inexpensive to buy big ole boxes of Borax and baking soda and a giant jug of vinegar than it is to buy anything else, environmentally safe or not, and these cleaning supplies are toxin free. Kids these days are exposed to so much crap that I feel like it isn’t such a bad thing to bring all down a notch at home. I know I can’t control what E. breathes in the air each day or touches or is exposed to at preschool or other places, but at least at home I can rest at ease that what I clean our home and her toys with is safe.

Next step on my list of to dos: Find out how to safely dispose of the cleaners I will no longer be using but are still hanging around.

Sick Day Cake

I’ve dealt with a lot of yucky, disease related stuff in my short time as a mom. I’ve been projectile pooped and puked on. I’ve endured long, unhappy nights of crying and peaking fevers. I’ve snuggled, made special couch “beds”, and poured cans of ginger ale into foamy, ice filled cups. But I’ve never dealt with them for as long or as urgently as I have the past couple of days.

E. has had a fever for two full days, the poor bug. We’re spending another day at home tomorrow and will probably be making a trip to the doctor’s office in the afternoon. I’ve been trying to figure out what, besides the usual, could perk up my little wilting rose (and keep me busy after I completed all the house work I could possibly find while she slept on the couch).

I decided to bake a Sick Day Cake.

I found a simple (and delicious) recipe in my Domestic Goddess cookbook (by Nigella Lawson) for Victoria sponge cake and used some frozen berries, defrosted, jam, and chocolate frosting to fill and frost the cake. And then I fed it to E.

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It’s yet to be seen if the cake has cured her, but it was nice to see her cheer up a bit (and eat something, even if it was just cake) and feel a bit more like a little kid again and not Ms. Sicky Sickerson. I most certainly see this turning into a (hopefully rare) family tradition.

On Having a Little Girl and Body Image

I’ve been aware of my body for a long time. I’m not sure why – I don’t have a specific early memory of someone saying something to me (but plenty of later memories) – but I’ve known for a long time that I’m not one of the “skinny” girls.

Maybe it was being surrounded by taller, slender little girls in ballet class. Maybe it was that most of my earliest friends were these wispy, adorable kids who had boundless, physical energy (when I would prefer to sit and talk or read or draw and “write”). Maybe there were subtle comments made by the women in my life about their own bodies that I subconsciously picked up on, their own insecurities unwittingly effecting me. All I can solidly recall is that early on, far too early on, I felt that there was something a bit wrong about my body.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been plenty of times in my life where I thought I had a great body, that was beautiful, useful, and that I loved. Two key times come to mind: my mid to late teens, where even donning a “plus size” 14, I felt incredibly attractive. The best part: I was able to realize that not only did I look good, I was confident and I was smart and a few people chose to find me interesting, rather than a bit obnoxious (which, really I was more of the latter). The other time was during my pregnancy. I’d never been more gigantic, but when your body is just so full and ripe and full of life, it’s hard to not feel a bit sexy and fertility goddess-like (and any goddess is pretty damn hot).

After my pregnancy, when I chose to do very little for a long time to lose the weight I had gained since I graduated from high school and then over the course of my pregnancy (plus, my stomach was completely and utterly shot – and I wonder if there is any number of crunches that will bring my formally flat, belly-ring worthy tummy back), my body image slowly slipped into a dark abyss. I’m not entirely sure if my confidence in my attractiveness had ever been lower. But I had to make a decision, because, after E. was born, I was not looking in the mirror, silently thinking critical thoughts just for me. I was thinking them for her as well.

I believe the way a mother talks about her body directly effects how her daughter will look at herself. If your little girl thinks you think you’re beautiful, she will think she is beautiful, too (especially if you reinforce it with your own words towards her). If all you can muster are cutting remarks about how you look, then how can your daughter help but assume she, too, must have inherited the same disgraceful features (especially if you’ve birthed a little mini-me, which I have)? I made the conscious decision very early on that no matter how I felt I would only speak positively about how I looked, and as I’ve been losing weight, I have tried very hard to emphasize the health end of things rather than constantly talking about weight and pants size. It also helps that my wonderful husband has no problem telling me that I’m looking good (which is often, apparently) and casually flirting with me in front of our kid (appropriate, maybe not, but at least E. knows someone besides Mama thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips).

There are lots of things that I want E. to know about herself: she’s brilliant, she’s hilarious with great comedic timing, she has boundless and wonderful curiosity that she must never, never lose, she is worthy of every good thing that comes her way and that she is strong enough to tackle any challenge laid at her feet, and I also want her to know that she is gorgeous, body and soul. She will probably be built like me, therefore, she will be short, curved, and cute, but the fashion magazines she might glimpse on our grocery store shelves and her endless collection of Barbies might place that little niggling feeling of doubt that she is “less than” – which she’s not, and never will be. Among all my jobs as her mother, one is to help her know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is “more than” in all areas, including her body.

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(If anything is a sign of the self-confidence E. has in her own body image, it’s the amount of pictures I had on my iPad to chose from to put here. She loooooves to photograph herself or have her picture taken. She also spends more time in front of the mirror admiring herself than anyone I know.)