Body Image

Growing up I never had an issue with body image. I had that natural athletic build and I made full advantage of it in my extra curricular activities.

I heard the other girls around me talk about aspects of their shape or looks that they liked or didn’t like all the time. I watched them consume themselves with looking in the mirror, making sure everything was just right. I heard comments about butt size, thigh size, breast size, hair length, hair consistency, height, foot size, skin complexion, skin color…and much, much more.

I couldn’t identify.

I suppose they were so concerned because they were so intent on winning over the attraction of some boy (which I couldn’t have cared less about – the reasons why are for another post). Or perhaps the caddy friends they kept made comments that damaged their self-image (I only had one female friend so I was safe there). Maybe it was just the way I was raised, just learning that there are so many other important things to be worried about.

Or maybe, just maybe, the real truth is that I didn’t worry about it because I was always fit and it wasn’t until I became “un-fit” that I’m finding that I’m really not much different than anyone else.

Pregnancy
I was excited about the thought of being pregnant. I often looked forward to having SEVERAL children. I would joke that I wanted my own starting line up. I daydreamed about looking at a basketball bench and hearing the coach say “put in all five of those – whatever last name I would have – kids”. Over time my expectations became more realistic, but still I thought we would at least have three. Wow, but after the first I have found myself fixated on aspects of my body image in ways I have NEVER dealt with in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to go on some extreme, teenage-like, food disorder type stuff but I do find myself looking in the mirror and pulling out the scale more than I ever have before. And it’s not just the weight gain, but pregnancy brought on a whole onslaught of physical change that I was not ready for and whether I get the weight off or not the impact from those things might remain a constant for me the rest of my life. Things like acne and an increased level of facial blemishes and also dark marks all over my body from an allergic breakout I had while pregnant.

When I look in the mirror there is a lot to get used to, a lot of change. I’m realizing that I’m not any different than those girls I grew up with. I’m just like them. I AM them. I didn’t battle because I didn’t have to battle. I liked the way I looked, I was satisfied, but we’re not in Kansas anymore and clicking my heals three times doesn’t automatically port me back to the bodily “home” that I crave.

Again, this post is not to alarm anyone. No need for an intervention or reminders that I’m still beautiful or anything like that. I’m just acknowledging that I’ve been hit with the reality that the uber strong self-image of the past is more fragile than I thought and my uber deep thinking may be more shallow than I thought.

There is a part of this that is healthy right? There is nothing wrong with being in shape and living a healthy lifestyle and I can use these feelings as motivation to get back to my pre-pregnancy body. But there is a part of this that could be potentially damaging as well right? In my fixation I could lose sight of the fact that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”, or that it is a privilege to give birth, or that my thoughts could be poisoned by the images portrayed in the media, or that by focusing on what I think others are saying about how I look I completely lose sight of God’s thoughts or my husband’s thoughts or even my own thoughts apart from others.

This is truly new territory…in a way.

There was a point in my life where I had to take anti-depressants and those pills caused what I believed to be significant weight gain. I went from a size 2-4 to wearing a size 8-10. And as if I weren’t already trying to get out of a slump I remember fielding comments from someone I admired about “getting that under control”. I remember battling a little bit in my mind but when I was able to stop the pills I very quickly lost the weight and got back down to the size I remember. Things today are a lot different. I pulled out the jeans I wore during that weight-spike and I cannot fit them. When I look at my face I find myself tempted to wear makeup just to cover the marks. And the belly…let’s not even talk about the belly.

Things are different. But at least I can recognize it and speak about it. The mental struggle is real but I will not be consumed by it.

Here is My Resolve
1) May I take what can be healthy thinking and be motivated towards healthy living, but…
2) May I not embrace unhealthy thinking and lose sight of the joys of motherhood and the honor of carrying a child…
3) Furthermore, may these thoughts never shape me to the point where I forsake doing this process again just for the sake of body image.

Did you battle with your body image during or after giving birth?
How did you overcome those thoughts?
What encouragement could you share to others who are going down this road?

Sleep Training or Nah?

I am actually very glad that I did not post this when I originally scheduled to do so as my thoughts on the matter have changed.   But before I share mine, I would love to hear yours.

Do you “Babywise“?

Are you an E-A-S-Y family?

Is your baby the “Happiest Baby on the Block“?

How do you feel about the Ferber method or “crying it out”?

I’m not asking rhetorically, I really want to know what my fellow Mom’s are doing in their homes.  However I will say that I’ve had to ask myself these questions and many more as it relates to my little one’s sleep…and mine for that matter.

When I first started my answer to my blog title was “nah”.  The first 9 weeks of her life have been a roller coaster of great sleep, little sleep, sleep on me, sleep in swing, sleep in rocker, nurse to sleep, drive to sleep…ALL KINDS OF SLEEP…and no sleep.

My “nah” response centered around what many people find controversial about Babywise and methods like it…I felt like I should be on her schedule, not her on mine.  I mean she’s so new, so tiny, so used to being in the cozy of the womb where it is dark, and loud, and snuggly, and up against me.  I could not bring myself to force her to do otherwise.  If a good night’s sleep for her meant she slept on me, then so be it.  If it meant that I had to nurse her down, then so be it.  If my own ability to do basic hygienic tasks meant I had to put her in the swing and she fell asleep there then so be it.

But…

Literally…

Just this past week…

I have changed my mind.

I now have a healthy two month old.  Her weight gain is appropriate, she is happy and smiley, my milk production is sufficient, we are in a good place.  Along with her physical developments is also her mental development.  Meaning, she knows more, she see’s more, she understands more and she uses the time we should be sleeping as the exact time she decides to go HAM in an effort to keep me in the room, or keep us holding her, or keep being nursed.  She’s smart, she knows what her cries do to me and she’s using it to her full advantage.

Enter sleep training.

I was kinda’, sorta’, sometimes, holding a schedule over these past two months, but it was very loose and very fluent to her cues.  Starting this week I am doing it all out.  I’ve written it down in large letters, it is on display for all who enter the home to see, and I am trying it out to the best of my ability.  Our nighttime routines need more normalcy (while being well aware of her wonder weeks and potential need for more attention) and so Mommy has a plan…or so I think.

This is not just about me being comfortable and sleeping well, but this is also about her sleeping well and about her ability to continue to sleep well when Dad begins his paternity leave and when she begins to be watched by someone else during the day.  I have 4 weeks from now to set a proper schedule before Dad takes over and then 6 weeks after that before she is it at daycare regularly.  Mama has to go back to work, Daddy is in school, and so Baby, as cute as she is, needs to learn how to go to sleep and stay asleep on a more consistent basis.

I will say, however, that I am not fully a fan of the Ferber method or “crying it out”.  There is maybe a minute or two of crying to see if she will self-soothe and then one of us will go in to help with the process.  A quick soothe, then lay her back down.  We do not increase the time we wait as instructed by Ferber, we simply do not allow it to escalate too high.  So far, this has worked out well.  It is a little time-consuming, as it may take multiple times of this before she is fully calm, but she will be continually assured that we are there and that she is not alone.

I’ll report back just before going back to work to say how this has been going, but in the meantime, I would love to hear what has worked (or not worked) for you.

Status

Here’s to 2014

This year has been an tremendous roller coaster of highs and hurts, loss and love, pain and promotion, advancement and anger, blessing and breaking, faith and fight. It will be a year I will never forget for both obvious reasons and reasons about which you will never know. I pray for anyone else whose year looked like this, that you were amazed by the awesomeness and built up stronger by the awfulness. May 2015 continue to encourage and strengthen us all. Here’s to the remaining hours of 2014.

Bath Time

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Soooo….about bath time…

Not really working out for us.

It’s been seven weeks. I’ve had the chance to transition from the mere wipe downs to actually butt-in-water baths. I’ve done it by myself, I’ve done it with my husband, I’ve done it with another experienced mom, I’ve done it with baby bath up high on the counter, I’ve done it by sitting baby bath in the larger bathtub, I’ve done it using the spray hose, I’ve done it by scooping water with a cup, I’ve done it by pre-heating the room first, I’ve done a lot of things!

Finding a flow has been difficult no matter how I switch it up. Holding her with one hand and cleaning her with another, I’ve found, does not allow me to really, truly get into the crevices that need the most attention.

Sooo…I go to my mommy blogs. What does the interwebs have to say about bathing a newborn? What videos can I watch? Dear Mommies of the world…HELP ME!

I feel like I’ve found something and I’ve created a flow that will work for us…for now.

I’ve decided to still do the water baths about twice a week, as she is beginning to find the water a little soothing, she needs to get used to it, and that’s when I wash her hair. But, her many, many neck folds, creases behind her ears, wrinkles in her armpits, and intricate innards of her most delicate private parts needed a different plan. No way was my little one allowing my one free hand to navigate into those hard-to-reach places. Even with Dads help, our awkward dance around the bathtub and her squirmy body created a real challenge.

So here’s the plan…

I saw on this Mommy YouTube channel an idea to daily use cotton balls and a cup of warm water on those tiny places during one of her changing sessions in the morning. I tried it for the first time the other day and it was perfect. My little one is high on the changing table, I have use of both hands, the bag of cotton balls and cup of water are propped within reach, and all her hard-to-reach places are readily at my disposal.

I use a different cotton ball for each of her eyes, and another for her face. I’ll grab another two for behind her ears (ewww the grime that gets back there), and then another set of two for each of her armpits. Cotton balls for her hands (I recently discovered a whole new world of cheese in between each finger – sheesh) and two more for her feet. One cotton ball cleanses her frontside, another for her backside, and then I tackle the mother of it all…her neck.

Oh her neck. It is a breeding ground for stinky cheese. I was never sure how children ever inherited the name “Stink stink” but it’s clear to me now. Keeping her neck clean and free from the stinks has been an immense battle. I have to admit it…that girl’s head is STRONG and sometimes she clamps down so hard to keep my fingers out that she wins. I just let her win and she lives to be stinky another day. As I mentioned in a previous post, sometimes I’m clever enough to get to clean one side a little easier if I have the supplies around me while she’s nursing. But even then, just when she seems most preoccupied, the moment I touch that neck, her shoulder comes up and access DENIED.

But now she’s mine. On the changing table, I’ve got both hands, and victory will be had.

Well…sometimes.

I’m learning one ingredient is very key. I never thought I would have to do this of my newborn, but it’s real. And what is that ingredient?

Ask permission.

Yup, I ask permission. I show her the cotton ball. I gently touch her close to her neck first to put down her guard. I smile and explain what I need to do. I try to get her smiling back…AND I GO IN FOR THE KILL!

Oh…sorry, I mean, I swiftly but gently remove the stinky cheese from those folds. Finish up with a moisturizer, baby massage and leave feeling satisfied.

Victory.
Baby in the bathtub hath no power over me.

While Nursing

-Before I start, let me just say that this post may be a little all over the map. I’m not sure if this is a post about nursing, about writing, or about just catching up. Maybe it’s all those things. Whatever it is, thanks for taking this journey with me.

I do a lot of things while nursing our daughter in the middle of the night (keep reading for my nursing setup at the bottom). I read a ton of Mommy blogs, I ask and answer a host of questions about how well I’m doing as a Mom, I listen to podcasts (I’ll list my favorites later in this post), I do my devotionals in the Bible app, but mostly I think…and the think…and think…

I was thinking about how I hadn’t written anything. How I started this website, made grand plans and declarations, and then stopped. My last post was in March. When I announced this site I was one month pregnant so I told you many things but I did not tell you that. I thought, “oh this will be a great time to keep writing, to blog, to chronicle my thoughts…” But then I got sick…really sick. As a matter of fact, my entire pregnancy was a whole lot of being sick one way or another and nothing else mattered except just getting through the next day or the next doctors appointment or the next month. I suddenly had to implement a host of “pill management” and I became singularly focused. So that novel I was writing…stuck at 18,000 words. This website…became dusty. My plans of pursuing my LAPC after graduating with my counseling degree…on pause.

But I do a lot of things when I nurse, like think, and tonight I thought…”It’s time to move on.”

She’s here. She’s here and she’s beautiful and she has stolen my heart in ways I never thought were possible. I have a little more resolve and direction about the kind of Mom I will be now so it’s time to write again, to move again, to shake again. You’ll hear more about that journey in other posts – the big and the small.

For now here are some of my favorite podcasts that help get me through those middle of the night nursing and pumping sessions. By the way, I invested in some inexpensive Bluetooth headphones to make listening while nursing a lot easier. Nothing harder than trying to navigate a little one in your arms with cords hanging down all over you and them. Anyway…

Podcasts:
1) Serial
2) This American Life
3) Radiolab
4) The Dave Ramsey Show
5) Trackstarz Radio
6) The Mark Gungor Show
7) Marriage Today w/Jimmy and Karen
8) Grammar Girl

What podcasts do you listen to?
If you’re a nursing Mom, do you do anything while nursing?

My nursing corner consists of:
1) A tall bottle of water
2) Minty gum to help wake me up
3) Headphones and phone
4) A cushy place to sit w/footrest
5) A small nightlight stuck in the wall in order to keep the room mostly dark
6) Wipes and moisturizer as this is usually the easiest time to clean her neck folds with the least resistance (while nursing during the day)

Do you have other items in your nursing corner that I haven’t mentioned?

Anyway, my writing bug is back.

No more excuses.

Write On!

As I began my journey to write a book I first started by looking up every podcast or article I could that would help me outline the process. I never intended to come out the gate with a fiction novel, but as I began to brainstorm the topics and issues that were flowing from me at this time I realized that what I have to say may be a little too hard to digest if addressed “head on”. Hence Nicolette, or Nico for short, was born. But more about her and her story in another post.

Right now I just want to share many of the websites and podcasts that have been especially helpful to me as I pushed to make simple thoughts a reality. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction the first step is to just START WRITING and work out all the details later.

Here’s the list:
Michaelhyatt.com, Episode #065: Why You – Yes, YOU – Should Consider Writing a Book Podcast – HERE

Quickanddirtytips.com – How to Write Your First Novel podcast (Only 7 minutes long this is a quick and inspirational listen) – HERE

Partnered with this website be sure to subscribe to the “Grammar Girl” podcast.

Seanclark.com – How to Write A Book to Market Your Business w/Joanna Penn Podcast – HERE

TheCreativePenn.com – How to Write Your First Book w/Joanna Penn Podcast – HERE

Sidebar: As I learn more about this Joanna Penn person I realize that she’s pretty much a BEAST and someone we can all learn a lot from as it relates to writing both fiction and non-fiction. As you listen to these podcasts you will also become aware of many self-publishing options, community websites to develop and maintain marketing traction, and different options for marketing globally.

Forbes.com – Nick Morgan writes a full article outlining what you would need to know if you’re thinking about writing a book. I’ve highlighted five of his key points on WHY you should write, but feel free to read the whole article.
1) To establish yourself as an expert in the field.
2) To become a professional public speaker in your field (this is where I’m headed).
3) To satisfy your inner need to get it down on paper.
4) To create a public persona and personal brand in order to succeed in your field of endeavor.
5) To create marketing oomph.

Theguardian.com – How to write the first draft of a novel in 30 days. – HERE
(Also – perhaps you and I can do NaNoWriMo together this year – wuduyah say???)

Scottberkun.com – Confessions of a Self-Published Author – HERE

Subscribe to this podcast – Reading and Writing Podcast – Hear from a different fiction author each week. Hear how they opened their books, hear about their process and their encouragements.

Subscribe to this podcast – This American Life – While the whole podcast is not about writing but more about the lives of others, listen and learn how to tell a story. There are many points where others read their own writings and stories. I am inspired each week. Every Sunday night I wait for the newest podcast to release. If you go on their website you have access to their whole archive of amazing work. Be inspired!

And for the kid novel lover in all of us – JudyBlume.com – On her website she speaks to her own process of writing, how she handled rejection, getting published, and more…

So…WRITE ON! Do you know of any other great resources for new authors and writers? Put them in your comments. Thanks for reading.