So, I Had a Baby

Just about seven weeks ago now, I had a baby, and I’ve been meaning to write something about all of that, but it turns out that’s it’s hard to get much done when you’re trying to keep a newborn alive. However, right now Baboo’s dad is bathing her and I’m hiding in the living room, finishing up my coffee from this morning (at 8:09 pm) so I thought I’d take a moment to catch up with you guys.

Having a baby is awesome, that’s the first thing I want to tell you. I’m not kidding. Yes, I’m sleep-deprived and feel stupid a lot of the time and worry that everything I’m doing is wrong. But on the upside: joy. I’ve never in my life been as happy as I am now, even if I’m also exhausted and worried all the time. In photos, I have the deranged expression of someone who recently joined a cult. One that uses heavy drugs to control their followers.

Babies — they’re good. The other day I took our new little person to the grocery store. While we were shopping, a lady of about my age walked by us and peered in the carriage.

“Oh, a little baby,” she said reverently.

That’s how I feel these days. We have a little baby, and it’s the best. I wonder if I’ll ever stop feeling surprised.

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Conversation With Adam

I’m nervously watching my Facebook today to see if the stolen data notice pops up. In the meantime, memories like these are why it’s so hard to think about leaving. From a few years back:

Adam: Ugh, everything’s terrible.
Me: I’m gonna fix it for you.
Adam: How?
Me: I’m gonna draw a dick on your forehead.
Adam: And that will solve my problem how?
Me: Perspective! Once you have a dick on your forehead, you’ll be, like, “Wow, I didn’t know easy I had it before I had a dick on my forehead.”
Adam: You’re the meanest lady I know.
Me: “Those were the days. The days when my forehead was dickfree.”
Adam: I’m sorry I cleaned your belt with saddle soap today.
Me: Aw, don’t feel bad. Because then, you see, you’ll find out that I drew the dick in washable ink. And you’ll feel so happy! It’ll be like that scene in “Fight Club,” only without the fear of death.
Adam: Are you on drugs?

Also here’s a cat that looks like the Punisher:

OK, fine, it’s Photoshopped. But technology should be used for *nice* things is my point.

Breaking Rules in the Most Boring Way Possible

One thing they used to tell new bloggers back in the day when people had the attention span for blogs was never to write about how tired you are or how you have nothing to write about.

Observe me as I break some rules.

I have plenty to write about — I am hugely pregnant now, just rotund, full up to the eyeballs with baby — but I am also very tired, and I’m more interested in the tiredness than I am in almost anything else.

It’s a different tired than the first trimester, which felt like being lightly drugged. I just wanted to sleep all the time. It was kind of refreshing.

Now, in the third trimester, I am bone tired. In fact, I finally understand the meaning of that phrase — I’m so tired, I can feel my bones, and they sort of hurt, and also, maybe they’re coming apart at the molecular level and will soon crumble into dust.

I have had two naps so far today, and neither one involved real sleep. Instead, I just lay there on the couch, staring at the wall through slitted eyes until I started hallucinating. Pink coins fell in a shower, over and over again, like a screen saver at a casino.

“I wonder if it’s OK to see that,” I said aloud to myself, as I lay huddled on the couch. The baby kicked me in the bladder, and I ignored it for as long as I could before getting up to pee … again. The hallucination or whatever it was stopped as soon as I got up to go to the bathroom.

The good news, of course, is that I’ll have the baby very soon, and then I’ll be a whole different kind of tired. They say a change is as good as a rest. WE’LL SEE.

Having a Baby in the Age of Mass Shootings

There have been 30 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2018. The year is not yet seven weeks old. If we continue at this pace, we’ll see 193 more mass shootings before the end of the year.

I am expecting my first (and given my age, likely only) baby. She currently weighs three pounds, seven ounces. Her tiny keister is snuggled under my ribs. She likes spicy food and anything that makes me laugh. She moves constantly, kicking and wriggling and waving her arms and legs. She’ll quiet down if her dad whispers to her and strokes my belly.

She is everything to us. And someday, someone might kill her.

I’m crying as I write this, obviously. It feels like a crime for a mother to even contemplate someone killing her child.

But I have to, because we live in a country where the gun lobbyists won’t part with a nickel to save a child’s life, even though a child’s life is everything – and they know it. Many of the members of the NRA and their tame lawmakers in Congress have children and grandchildren. I cannot hold these conflicting facts in my head.

It’s not that they won’t ban assault weapons. It’s that they won’t let the CDC even study the public health effects of gun violence. It’s not that they won’t close the gun show loophole or even try to create better background checks. It’s that they weaponize racism, xenophobia and fear to sell guns.

In fact, no matter what you think the solution is – banning all guns or some guns or no guns – the fact is that the NRA is not on your side. They’re only on your side if you increase their “surplus.”

They’re snake oil salesmen: They’ve invented a disease and they’re selling us a cure. And the worst part is that most Americans disagree with their policies, but that won’t stop them, because they’ve bought themselves legislators who now care more about donors than voters.

That’s a mistake, because voters can change this, even if the donors don’t like it.

You can start today. Here is an interactive chart of every Senator and Representative who has taken money from the NRA since 1998. Call them and tell them that this is unacceptable. And then, when they placate you and take the cash, don’t vote for them again.

We can change this, but it won’t be easy. Of course, nothing worthwhile is. But I believe that most people want their children to be safe at school and their families to be safe at their church, temple, or mosque. I think most of us want to be able to go to the movies or an outdoor concert without worrying about a mass shooter opening fire on the crowd.

Start today. Start right now. Say that this is unacceptable and beyond that, we won’t accept it.

We don’t need to imagine the unimaginable – we’re doing that already. We just need to imagine a world where children’s lives matter more than the gun industry’s profits.

Image: Varshesh Joshi/Unsplash

The Weight

I just want to finish this pregnancy weighing less than President Physical Fitness claims to weigh, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

My body, however, has other plans.

Here’s where I should say that if you’re someone who’s triggered by discussions of weight, now is an excellent time to hit the back button. The last thing I want is to make other people feel bad by reading this post. That doesn’t really achieve our group aim, which is to destroy the patriarchy and create a better future with no scales in it.

Still here? OK. I currently weigh over 200 pounds. Jealous?

I haven’t gained all that much during pregnancy, either. OK, fine, I gained more than my doctors recommended … but they recommended that I gain 15 to 20 pounds. I’m sure that somewhere out there, there’s an overweight pregnant woman who managed to stick to that recommendation, and I am very impressed by her. However, given that the baby weighs about eight pounds and the placenta and amniotic fluid, etc. weigh about six pounds and your breasts might add another two pounds, sticking to the low end of that recommendation would actually mean losing weight during pregnancy.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far by the fact that my doctors haven’t harassed me about my weight. Other than making that initial recommendation, no one has said a word about the creeping numbers on the scale. It helps that my fasting glucose is actually lower than it was when I started pregnancy.

(Turns out, walking two miles a day is good for your blood sugar, even if you have to waddle slowly the whole time. I think I’ll mention that to my endocrinologist next time, just to watch him grit his teeth in frustration. When I leave the office, he’ll pull a mirror out of his desk drawer and ask his reflection, “Why won’t they listen to me? I just want them to live long and healthy lives. It’s not like I suggest they all start running marathons. I JUST WANT THEM TO GET SOME WALKING IN.”)

Sorry. I’m back.

Anyway, if I seem surprised about the lack of weight-related harassment, it’s because I am. Ever since I started getting fat, which is about nine years ago now, I’ve come to dread my doctors’ appointments.

At first, the problem was that no one believed me when I told them I wasn’t eating more, was still exercising, and was putting on weight. Then, I finally found a doctor who agreed to test my thyroid hormone levels, and the focus switched to, “OK, but now that you’re on medication, you should be able to lose the weight.”

And I have been able to — but only on very extreme diets, and not permanently. And, to be honest, losing weight has always been hard for me — my body holds onto every pound.

Years ago, I was thin — 120 pounds thin — and here’s what it took:

  • Eating 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day
  • Exercising intensely for at least an hour, almost every day
  • No restaurant food, alcohol, or desserts
  • No social life, for the most part, because see above

I was also single, 25 years old, in an entry-level job with no management responsibilities, and my thyroid still worked.

Oh, also: my period stopped for eight months under this regimen, and my hair started falling out, and I could only sleep for about 45 minutes at a stretch. However, I was thin, so awesome, right?

You won’t be surprised to hear that the feedback I received from people, some medical professionals included, was a lot more positive when I weighed 120 pounds and didn’t get my period than when I weighed 160 pounds and felt better than I had in years.

Finally, last year, I decided to give up. This was in direct opposition to my primary care doctor’s pleas — direct quote: “The important thing is not to give up.” — but it was necessary for my sanity.

Being on a diet makes me feel poor and angry, and it never works for long. When it fails, I inevitably wind up weighing five to seven pounds more than when I started. I gave up dieting because I didn’t want to diet my way into a bigger pants size.

At a certain point, you have to listen to your body. Mine has been telling me for years that it wants me to stop torturing it. So, I did, and I’ve been pretty happy. I also got pregnant, after three years of trying, which might not be a coincidence. (Acupuncture also had a lot to do with it.)

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about getting older and body image. She was thinking about getting fat-dissolving injections in her chin.

Now, I am very pro people doing whatever they want to their bodies, whether it’s refusing to diet or getting a million tattoos or getting plastic surgery. You own your body, and you can damn well do what you like with it. And if anyone tries to stop you, I will sit on them until they apologize.

I was also curious about the procedure, so I asked her a bunch of questions about it, because science is amazing in all its many forms.

Finally, she said to me, “You know, you’re the only one I’ve talked to about this who didn’t immediately explain your chin fat problem to me.”

I said, “Oh, I have more fat under my chin than I did 15 years ago, but I think I just don’t give a fuck.”

And as I said it, I realized that it was true.

I’m not telling you this to try to convince you that I’m enlightened. I still grimace every time I see the scale at my OB’s office, and I have lines and wrinkles on my face that I could do without.

But after spending my whole adult life trying to get my body to do what I wanted — be thin, be fit, have a baby — and giving up, only to get what I really wanted — health, happiness, a baby — I feel like I’ve finally learned something.

Here’s what it is: whatever else you do, you might as well be kind to yourself. Nothing else works.

Image: Christopher Campbell/Unsplash

This Sacred Vessel Has a Long To-Do List

When I first started telling people about my pregnancy, a lot of people told me to take it easy.

Now, I may be on the record as unenthused about advice generally, but this was advice that I was willing to take. I love napping, for example, but I never have time for it. Ditto taking a walk every day, eating warm meals, meditating, yoga, and all the stuff we’re supposed to do but never find time for.

Pregnant, I found it much easier to fit these things in. Whenever I’d be tempted to power through lunch or work late, I’d remember that Beano needed a rested mom, and take myself off for a light snooze.

This worked for a while. Then, for various reasons (OK, panic about saving money for maternity leave) I started working too much and resting too little, and now I’m right back where I was before I got pregnant, albeit with slightly better nutrition.

It’s not a permanent state of affairs. I took on a bunch of extra work, and now I’m crunched for time — a familiar situation for any freelancer, and as they say, a nice problem to have. But it’s still disconcerting whenever I realize that I’ve put in a 10-hour day.

My current situation reminds me of something my friend Ilisa said to me early on in my pregnancy. At the time, my big problem was that I couldn’t stop reading the news — or worrying about how my constant news-reading was flooding my body with cortisol and adrenaline and screwing up my baby for life.

“You’re not an incubator,” she said. “And also if fetuses were so fragile the human race would never have survived this long.”

Of course, just hearing that made me feel calmer. Eventually, I started breathing again. I even backed off the news. (A little.)

Now, my problem is that I have too much to do and not enough time to do it in, which if you think about it, is just good practice for being a working mom.

I still sort of wish that we lived in Sweden, and that I could take a year-long leave starting five weeks ago, but I also love what I do and feel grateful to be able to do it from home, where my bed is, if I ever have time for a nap again.

And, full disclosure, I did take a break and go for a walk today, because it was a balmy 34 degrees here, and that’s swimsuit weather compared to the highs of 5 degrees we’ve had for the past week-plus.

For the past few days, Con Ed has been tearing up our street to fix something, or else just to see if they can finally break our spirit, and on my walk, I saw that my neighbor had put out coffee for the workers, complete with a little pitcher of cream and a tiny bowl full of sugar cubes. And for some reason, this made me think that things would be all right, deadlines or no.

The past year has been stressful, even for folks who aren’t contemplating a big life change like a new baby, but we still live in a world where nice people put out coffee for Con Ed workers. Probably things will be OK.

Image: Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash

 

 

I Finally Brought Up Formula Feeding With My OB, and Here’s What Happened

If you’re in a certain demographic of impending motherhood, breastfeeding is not really a recommendation: it’s an assumption.

And although I feel like I should have a lot more money to be in the mandatory-breastfeeding demo, I am an older, college-educated, white female person — which means that I’m part of the club, whether I want to be or not. (Note: plenty of women breastfeed who do not check all these boxes. We’re talking assumptions, not reality.)

I’ve written extensively before about my decision to exclusively formula feed, and I meant every word. But to be honest, even I suspected that I might waver in the face of overwhelming pressure. It’s really hard to stick by your choice when the whole world seems to be telling you that it’s a bad choice for your baby.

Only sociopaths don’t care what people think.* I care what people think. A lot. And I want to be a good mother. But I also know that breastfeeding is not for me.

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