Archive | October, 2012

True Femininity

25 Oct

Me finally looking pregnant at 35 weeks today

I have just hit week 35 in my pregnancy and I am getting round and out there.  I don’t know if it is my torso, my build, my height, or the baby, but I am one of those pregnant ladies who doesn’t look pregnant until well in to the 3rd trimester.  Some people might call this a blessing; I’m “so tiny” and “don’t even look pregnant,” but by golly, if I AM pregnant, I want to look pregnant!

I’ve had discussions with many pregnant ladies about their tummy size, their body size, and the comments that annoy them.  For many ladies, it is an annoyance to hear, “are you sure there aren’t two in there?!”  I have never heard this comment directed at me, I probably never will (unless I do end up having two in there some day!), and I covet it.  Pregnancy is the time in life where femininity is at its epitome.  Sure, femininity encompasses grace, sensitivity, and beauty, but it branches from the root of being female.  Think reproduction.  In order for our species to continue, we are the ones that grow a living being for 266 days.  Since getting pregnant, I feel like I have fully experienced what it is to be a woman.  While I know many couples who have experienced infertility, I am not sure how many women I know suffer from an absent fertility cycle or anovulatory bleeding.  While I spent more time cursing my period than blessing it, I am now reflecting on how precious it is and how painful it must be to not have the capability to bear children.

It saddens and annoys me how there are so many pictures and presentations in our society about what a female should look like.  We have been brainwashed to desire to be stick straight and skinny.  I remember visiting European museums years ago and seeing Roman artwork and statues.  “Oh my gosh,” I remember thinking in my teenage brain, “those women were so fat!”  I failed to see for so many years that males and females really are designed differently.  Women are not supposed to look like men.  And men are not supposed to look like women.  I won’t lie… I’ve even seen some cross dressers in my day and found myself feeling a little bit jealous.  “It isn’t fair!  He has no hips!  He can wear size zero!”  That is how backwards our society has become.  Those guys dressing as girls were the furthest from looking female as biology designed.

A current Hollywood star

If you look at the picture to the left and compare it to the pictures below, to which sex does Cameron Diaz most look like?  Now, I like Cameron Diaz, I really do.  I am really happy she is so fit and healthy.  In fact, there are probably much better pictures of more emaciated stars, but she was just at the top of a quick search.  But, it goes to prove a point that we are idolizing biologically more masculine figures for women.  We need to be inundated visually with truer body images.

I am so happy that I have been able to experience pregnancy two times fully.  Sure, it was a little scary at first to step on the scale.  I frequented the scale and had conditioned myself to see a certain number and to get excited to see smaller ones along the years.  But when I kept seeing the number go up, up and up, I was somehow able to refrain from panicking.  I think it is because I realized that a big, swollen belly happily boasts loudly to everyone, “I AM A WOMAN!”  I don’t have to dye and curl my hair.  I don’t have to cake make up on.  I don’t have to wear lace and dresses.  All I have to do is simply BE.  My uterus does it all.  While my complexion is far from having that pregnancy glow, I am sure my countenance displays it well.  I could be no more feminine at any other point in my life.  I am at the peak of true femininity and will embrace this utter beauty for five more weeks.

An ancient male sculpture

Notice a real female’s thighs and soft belly!

THAT mom

23 Oct

Oh yes.  I have become that mom.  You know, THAT mom.  The one you roll your eyes at.  The one you secretly think, “shame on her!”  Yes.  That is me.

Before having a baby I planned to be the perfect mom and have the perfect child.  My child would never scream in public.  My child would only get the best.  My child would be forever healthy.  And now I laugh in my own face.

Last week I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items.  I had planned it to be a short trip and just had milk in a sippy cup packed for Hadassah.  However, we had gone to the store straight from her waking up from her nap and I knew she would get hungry if this were a big shopping trip, but it wasn’t.  While it wasn’t a giant shopping trip, I definitely filled my cart decently.  As I start making the trek from the back of the store to the check out area, Hadassah eyes the grapes in the cart and starts asking for them.  I reassure her that we will be done soon and that she can have a snack soon.  By the time we are at the front of the store I noticed that she has done some gymnastics moves and has swiped some grapes.  A Wal-mart employee swiftly directs me to an open lane (this never happens).

I quickly throw the grapes up on the belt, along with some applesauce squeezy pouches, all the while beginning to get in to “mom-mode.”  I start sweating and get out of breath.  My senses are highly alert as I know that Hadassah is very close to having a hunger meltdown.  “Can I just buy these really quickly, since my daughter is starving?”  The clerk happily obliges and begins chit chatting about how he is new at his post.  I quickly unscrew a squeezy pouch and stuff it in Hadassah’s mouth, and she is instantly happy.  As I am loading up the rest of our groceries, I am surveying the goods.  I have a gnawing feeling that something is missing.  I look over my list for the tenth time.  Eggs.  How do I forget eggs!  We need at least two dozen!  I start sweating again, and I even get an uncomfortable tingling itch under my armpits.  I briefly consider just leaving the store without the eggs, but I figure that is stupid.  I frantically glance behind me expecting there to be a line piled up that comes with at least a 20 minute wait, but there was no one!

“Eggs.  Eggs!  I need eggs!  Can I go get some please?”  I sputter out like a maniac.  The clerk relaxingly looks at the conveyer belt and says, “Oh, this will take me awhile.”  In a split second I have to decide if I will go faster on cart or on foot.  I determine that the latter is a better idea.  I throw on my over-sized bag and grab my daughter, who doesn’t find it necessary to hold on to me with her legs.  In fact, she’s not holding on to anything.  Her squeezy pouch is just dangling from her mouth as she peers around the store, her arms limp as well.  “A little help here, Hadassah,” I say as I try to bounce her in to a more favorable position.  I know exactly where the eggs are and plan my route with lightening speed.  The problem is, they are at the absolute furthest point away possible in the store.  “Why don’t they have an aisle right at the front of the store of common things to forget, like milk, eggs, and bread?”  I complain to no one in particular.  I feel as if everyone is staring at me.  Who rushes through Wal-mart without a cart?  Surely it is unheard of!

I spot my destination and plan for efficiency.  Grab eggs.  Put eggs in over-sized bag.  Nope.  Scratch that.  Don’t want to get arrested.  I hurriedly pick out my eggs, and now I am literally carrying Hadassah, who thinks she is raggedy-Ann, by one armpit, a dozen eggs in one hand and another dozen in the other.  I finally arrive back at the cashier’s to find that the conveyer belt is empty and the clerk is unfortunately waiting on me.  I get another sweaty pinch under my armpit.  I throw Hadassah back in the cart and stuff some grapes in her mouth and finish loading up my groceries.

“Wow,” the clerk says admiringly, “You are like a miracle worker keeping her happy!”  To prove the point, Hadassah gives him her most winning smile.

So, wait.  What mom am I again?  THAT mom?  No, I wasn’t the mom with the screaming baby in the store, although I came really close.  I am the mom that kept her kid happy at the grocery store.  After the clerk made his statement about me being so wonderful, I thought, “am I really?”  I do recognize that my daughter was getting very hungry and I don’t want to starve her.  I mean, I myself am hypoglycemic and I do not eat on any schedule except my own, which is usually this: ALWAYS.  But then I wondered, “Am I that mom that will spoil her kids and buy them something or give them something just because they are throwing a temper tantrum?”  So, maybe I was.  Maybe I am.  Maybe I will be.

The whole situation was very enlightening.  If you are at a store and your kid is throwing a temper tantrum, you are bound to look like a horrible mother.  But crying doesn’t always mean the parent is failing.  In fact, the parent might be denying the child something frivolous and not indulging or reinforcing their temper tantrum.  While onlookers will judge this parent harshly, I think we need to applaud them more.  If you are at a store and are keeping your little ones happy, throwing something their way or stuffing grapes in their mouth like I did, to outsiders you look like this great parent who can keep their kids under control, but what about the root of the issue?  Granted, Hadassah was hungry and I don’t think it is very nice to deprive her, but I am going to be more careful and reflective about these kinds of things in the future.  I don’t want to keep Hadassah happy just to make myself look good or keep other people in public feeling comfortable.  I don’t want to end up with a manipulative child where every single outing costs me an extra couple of bucks because I have to buy them something to keep them happy.  I want them to be well behaved without a toy.  I want to be THAT mom.

A Different Dehydration

19 Oct

I have to tell you, I am parched. I just took a drink from my 100% full cup of water, and the next time I picked it up it was empty. Don’t be fooled either. This was not an ordinary cup of water. This is a 1 Liter souvenir mug from the hospital!  Either there is a little water troll drinking my water, or I have morphed in to a camel.

I frequently get so thirsty it feels like I have cotton balls in my mouth and my sinuses feel like a desert ground. I drink several liters of water in the evening before bed and it feels like I’ve only wet a looming sand dune with a drop of water. I’ve frequently mentioned how I feel like I just want to stick an IV in and hydrate from the inside out.

Last night I was my normal thirsty self and planned on downing my usual half a gallon of water, but I got so distracted I went to bed without it. The consequence? I did not wake up to pee! Mmm, yeah, sounds pretty awesome. That was the first time that happened in third trimester. “Oh!” you exclaim sarcastically, implying that consequence is of no consequence. But I have not finished. While I didn’t wake up to pee, I still woke up in the night.

I think I woke up actually because I was so hungry (I had skipped the snack I was going to eat as well!). And I had a headache that was borderline migraine which lasted all day. I couldn’t kick it with two Tylenol pills. I couldn’t kick it with caffeine. I couldn’t kick it with a shower or laying down. I finally set out in the afternoon to grab some peppermint essential oil to dab on my temples. My aunt had given me the tip on Sunday, when I actually had another migraine. I was thankful for the tip and tool it to heart, but since I “rarely” get headaches, I didn’t feel the rush to go out and buy some. Until 4 days later! Thankfully, the oil worked wonders. I’m off to bed now, 3 liters down in the past hour, and I know I will be up to pee soon, but at least I won’t be suffering from dehydration all day tomorrow.

 

Getting pregnant – survival of the fittest

17 Oct

If you are just tuning in, I have an almost 16 month old daughter and am pregnant again.  I got pregnant this time around when my daughter was only eight months, on the first month that I was fertile.  No, it was not an accident or an “oopsie.”  Those thought processes, by the way, annoy me incredibly.  While I know that accidents can happen and might even happen to me in the future, I feel it insults my intelligence when people’s jaws drop when I tell them my children will be 17 months apart.  If there is any word that is acceptable to me for an unexpected pregnancy, I would definitely choose the word surprise (however, in our case, our pregnancy wasn’t really unexpected, but it was a surprise).  Like, “wow, you had an IUD in and got pregnant!”  Now that is a surprise, and does not insult the user’s intelligence.

Anyway, I will further clarify that I knew that I became fertile and we wanted our kids close together.  We weren’t doing anything to prevent a pregnancy, but we definitely weren’t trying.  In fertility land, I define trying as fertility charting (or at least consciously making an effort to pay attention to the womanly cycle), and frequent…um… interactions.  The month we got pregnant was almost literally like Russian roulette, if you catch my drift.

With a story like that, it is hard not to think of myself as Fertile Myrtle.  I know many people who have struggled with fertility issues.  Some friends have adopted.  Some have gone through fertility treatments.  Some had tried for an entire year before finally getting pregnant.  And most recently, I have a friend who sent me a picture this week of her positive pregnancy test after six months of trying.  And here is the kicker – she has a daughter the exact same age as my daughter.  AND her fertility returned right after giving birth.  And they got pregnant on the first try with her daughter.  That is some crazy, stressful stuff.

I would like to focus on that last example.  The above mentioned friend is not the only one who didn’t get pregnant instantly after having her first baby.  I have other friends who are in the same situation, or at least similar situations.  Another friend has a newer baby and wants to get pregnant asap, but she just physically cannot because her fertility has not returned.  People in those types of situations might end up jealous of my ease of getting pregnant, but I start to look at the situations from an evolutionary and historical background.

Am I an extra blessed woman because it is so easy for me to get pregnant?  Or are my friends who are struggling to get pregnant again the biologically blessed ones?

I can’t help but look at everything through the eyes of biology.  It is just the way I was raised and it is just the way I was educated.  Thousands of years ago, there weren’t many options of birth control available in comparison to today.  Getting pregnant was just the norm, and there wasn’t much that could be done to avoid it.  Jewish law regarding intercourse is mandated so that a woman has sex during the most fertile part of her cycle, therefore producing a pregnancy.  While childbirth and pregnancy are pretty safe and common, if you have a transverse baby and no medical assistance, you could be in for a death sentence.  According to sources in this website, mortality for birthing mothers was at 10% and infant mortality was at 50% during the rule of the Roman Empire.

So, here I am thinking how in a matter of 30 months I have had 3 pregnancies and will have had two children, because I am “just so fertile!”  However, if I lived a few thousand years ago, where it was common to have a dozen children, my chances of dying earlier than someone who struggled a bit more would be greater.  We can deduce that an increase in frequency of pregnancies would surely equate to an increase in chance of maternal death, at least a few thousand years ago.  Since the rate quoted above was 10%, that means that if I had 10 babies, I would very likely be dead by the tenth one.

This post is not to downplay infertility or even to entertain the idea that pregnancy and babies are a curse.  These are just some thoughts that I had.  Many people have mentioned, “Oh my!  You sure will be busy with two so close together!”  I agree, and respond with, “If I couldn’t handle it, it wouldn’t have been biologically possible,” (yes, there I go again with my biology) but now I question myself.  God created our bodies pretty well.  God provided a law about feminine cleanliness which helps a woman get pregnant (be fruitful and multiply, anyone?).  In the past few years I have really begun to trust my body and tune in to what it was created to do, which is why I am carefree about two kids under two.  However, when I consider God’s original design, my modern, carefree attitude is more like ignorant bliss.

If I had been living thousands of years ago, I wouldn’t have been working in a rigidly scheduled job where I was away from my nursing baby all day long, five days a week.  I wouldn’t have been using a man-made, rather inefficient breast pump (which I didn’t even get to use as frequently as I should have).  If I had been a normal mother thousands of years ago, I would still be nursing my little babe.  Nursing is nature’s birth control and nature’s way of spacing out pregnancies.  I know plenty of women who did not have their fertility return until at least a year and a half postpartum.  And these are American women, living in an American culture, where weaning happens much earlier than it does in other areas of the world.

So, for those mothers out there who are looking to get pregnant asap after just having a baby and getting frustrated, take comfort in the fact that your body is actually doing what God designed it to do.  Your body is biologically preserving YOU for as many years as possible, and you are still preserving your genes because you already have a child.  Besides, my midwife pointed out that there should be two years in between births, because that is how long it takes for your body to heal after pregnancy and birth.  So while it might seem that I am fertile myrtle, I broke nature’s rules.  You truly are the fittest.

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

16 Oct

I did not realize it yesterday, but I believe October 15th was Infant Loss Awareness Day.  Our very first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and I was quite devastated.  When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately texted a picture of the positive test to all of our family members.  I blissfully dove in to the role of a pregnant woman and spent most of my time researching pregnancy stuff.  However, several weeks later, my little baby could not stick around and we suffered the painful loss, physically and mentally, of our first child.

I was in shock.  How could this happen?  Why me?  In the following days I turned my energy that I had spent investigating pregnancy information into investigating miscarriages.  I was surprised to find that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and 50% of conceptions end as well.  I couldn’t believe it.  That meant 1 out of every 5 normal women that I knew had had a miscarriage in their life!  Or, if a woman had 4 children, it was likely she had had a miscarriage as well!  I listened to the statistics my doctor gave me in utter disbelief.  She herself shared lovingly with me that she had suffered two miscarriages.  As I stared at a picture of her family – her, her husband, and two sweet smiling boys – I just could not process all the information.

Miscarriages are incredibly common as noted by the statistics.  I have one baby in heaven, a 16 month old toddler, and another sweet baby on the way next month.  While people who are not aware of pregnancy and all it entails might view me on the surface as just having “one kid,” the truth is, I already have THREE!  Wow, I am 27 years old and I am blessed to say I already have three kids.  True, one is no longer with us, and one is officially joining us in a few weeks, but in my heart there are three.  It makes a big difference to me to say “I have one kid” and “I have three kids.”  Even though I still miss our firstborn, I do not regret that pregnancy, because it gave me a child.  I have recently heard of women who have had four and eight miscarriages.  I would like to say that their little babies are precious and will never be forgotten.  I know this is a sensitive subject, but I would also like to lovingly encourage each woman and family who has suffered a loss to count themselves blessed for having so many children.

Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!

Pregnancy Update – 8 months along

10 Oct

A very pesky pregnancy symptom that I have been dealing with for the last 6 weeks or so is insomnia.  There has been a minimum of at least one night per week where either I cannot fall asleep, or my personal favorite, I wake up at 3am and cannot go back to sleep.  Ironically, on a pregnancy ap that I have on my iPhone, I recently received a newsletter that mentioned how 75% of pregnant gals at this stage suffer from insomnia.  However, contrary to the finger-pointing in the article, my insomnia is not due to me being so uncomfortable at night, nor having to get up to pee a million times.  I simply wake up and feel “ready” for the day.  I say “ready” because I feel super awake, but still incredibly tired.

For my first episode of insomnia, I got up and drank some tea and read.  Today, I woke up quite in the middle of the night, and when I realized I was not going to fall back asleep, I made a list of things I wanted to do to pass the time.  First decision, do I want to make tea or coffee?  Another item on my list of things I wanted to do was read, which pairs perfectly with tea in the early dawn hours.  However, I was just imagining myself on the couch reading with tea, and I instantly could feel a headache coming on at the brainpower I did not feel like using at the time.  Coffee it was!  Next, yesterday I had gone grocery shopping and spent so much time menu planning.  I thought about looking up some more recipes to use in a few weeks, but decided that wasn’t fun enough for me at 4am.  However, during my menu planning I did find a recipe to make easy homemade bread (with yeast, kneading, and rising!).  I figured this morning would be a great opportunity to take time to do some mindless kneading and I obviously had ample time to allow for dough to rise and to cook it.  So, after brewing the coffee, that was activity number two!  I must say, it was a bit of a scary experience.  I have never in my life made bread (besides your basic banana bread etc).  I was following a recipe that was (as previously mentioned) “easy” and that even lazy women could do it!  I equated lazy women with easy recipes.  However, fortunately or unfortunately, the woman who posted the recipe seems to cook kind of like me…. just throw this in here with a little of that, and some extra “this” if you so desire.  I realized that this was an easy recipe for someone who already KNOWS how to make bread.  As for a complete novice like myself?  It was a gamble of my flour, grains, and yeast!   However, about three hours later, I pulled some hunks of “bread” out of the oven (they were hunks because I didn’t know if you were supposed to use a loaf pan or just kind of mush it into a loafy shape on a cookie sheet?), and timidly tried a bite.  And it was GOOD.   It was oh-my-goodness like pure Amish flavored bread.  I haven’t experienced that savory, pure, and almost living flavor of bread since I was a girl visiting Amish friends of my dad.  I had even lamented never being able to find a bread that compares to the Amish bread.  Even when my mom made bread every night in a bread machine, while absolutely delicious, hot and fresh, it lacked something.  Something… I will call it life.  When you take a bite of this warm bread, the flavor permeates your sinuses and you almost feel intoxicated.  After you have swallowed your delicious morsel, you still have a buzzing sensation of scent molecules bouncing around and resonating in every area of your head.  I am quite pleased, excited, and satisfied with my bread experience, even though it looked a little touch and go there for awhile.

Activity three and four that I planned were to make pancakes (to go with my coffee, of course), and make a batch of banana bread to freeze.  I successfully make some pancakes that came from a box mix, and before I could even finish, Fernando confusedly stumbles out to the kitchen at 5:15am, an entire hour earlier than he usually gets up.  So, my plans were halted and I did not get around to the banana bread until just a bit ago (this evening), but it was fun to have some early morning time with Fernando and eat pancakes together on a weekday morning.

All in all it was a productive morning.  I am not sure what I will do for my next bout of insomnia, but I am hoping maybe I will sleep soundly for the next 5-9 weeks that I am pregnant.  Is that too much to ask?