Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We are all Habiba

Imagine that you are the mother of a 15 month old.

Not a stretch for many of the people I know.

Now imagine that you have fallen on awfully hard times.

Again, not a stretch for some of you.

Imagine that you have lost your home. You and your child are without shelter, without work, scared, alone. You have left an abusive partner.

So you suck up your pride. After all, you have a child to think of. A child that you love, a child that deserves the best. And even though things are pretty grim, you have to take care of your baby. That's the important thing. It would be for me, at least, and I imagine for every parent out there. Your kid comes first. So you go to a shelter. You go there because it is your last hope. Because you dream of a better life, but you seriously need help now.

And so you go there. And you try to comply with what they say to do. But they tell you you have to wean your baby. And your baby is probably a little freaked out by the change - toddlers don't handle them well, after all - and weaning is stressful. Stressful to the baby. Stressful to you. So you refuse. Because, really, it's BREASTMILK. Nursing is recommended by the World Health Organization until at least age two - the average world weaning age is three to four. Even your country's top physicians recommend it. And, being in a group home situation, what is better for your baby than immune protection tailored to her environment? After all, it's not like you have tons of money to go ahead and get medical care.

It is with this reasoning that you politely refuse to wean.

And with that, you are plunged into a nightmare.

Your daughter, your sweet, 15 month old child who knows no other care provider and has not been separated from you, is ripped away. You are kicked out of the home while your child is kept from you. Your breasts swell, used to being relieved by nursing. Your child is presumably a wreck - kiddos don't do well removed from a loving caregiver. You are a wreck. SOMEONE HAS TAKEN YOUR CHILD. You were not given the chance to say goodbye or to plead your case.

Now imagine that in the past 14 days, you have seen your precious child for 2 hours total. Imagine how you explain to your baby why she is with someone else. Imagine how you feel when she is taken away again after a short visit. Imagine being a fit parent, whose only crime was being poor. Now tell me how you feel. Tell me if this is ok.

Yet this is the exact scenario faced by a young mother in Spain. I am ashamed, today, to admit my Spanish decent. I am ashamed that the country of my ancestors is allowing something so cruel and tragic and anti-family. Anti-child. Anti-mother.

If you are human, you cannot help but think that this is horrible. If you are a parent, you cannot help but feel for this mother. If you have ever been economically disadvantaged, you know how powerless you already feel and how terrible this is.

If you have a heart, it is breaking for Habiba.

Please, please, please my friends. Please sign this petition to help this mom get her child back. Please help reunite this family. Please take a stand for basic human rights.

(If you are having a hard time on the site, since the actual signing part is in Spanish: nombre=first name. Apellido = last name. Tu correo-e = e-mail address. Cód. Postal = zip code. Click the little box to accept the terms and then click Firma la peticion.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Childbirth Blog

I hopped on the treadmill yesterday at work. Typically, if I have 15 minutes to do this, I catch up on breastfeeding stuff or listen to a breastfeeding podcast so that I don't feel like a giant slacker, but yesterday my podcast wouldn't work. So I grabbed an old issue of Self magazine. And I found this article. For those of you who don't want to read it (but you should, it's good), it examines childbirth, mostly from the perspective of the author, who had a very traumatic birth experience. As I was reading it, I came across this quote:

"By now, one movie, two books, four doulas and approximately 15 mothers had told me that my traumatic birth was my fault, the problems all stemming from my not believing in my body...Would we ever tell someone whose liver has failed that it was because she didn't believe in it?"

THAT. That is the problem with labor and delivery and birth and judgment. Right there.

I mean, just take a look at some of the comments with this online version:

"I'm so disappointed in this article. The author is ignorant and ill-prepared to write on such an issue."

"she is not to blame for her traumatic birth (which to me sounds like every recount of any hospital birth I have ever heard) because she didn't trust her body but because she was VERY uneducated about the whole process. You researched this article more than you researched your birth (and that's not saying much) and you were unprepared and surprised throughout the whole process."

"Women just need to be more assertive with doctors and not let them scare you into the worst possible scenario. Just tell yourself, whose gonna deliver your baby after the apocalypse, its gonna be you and your mate. Be strong ladies and take back your bodies from doctors and the government."

If you don't get the birth you wanted or planned, it shouldn't be your fault. No one else should get to cast judgment on you for it not working out. That's bullshit, right there. I am SO INCREDIBLY SICK of the judgment that comes along with birthing a baby. My friend Summer has told me, several times, that she didn't feel badly about having a c-section at all - until the natural birth advocates made her feel like shit over it by telling her how it was all her fault. If you're reading this and you're one of those people, please note: you are not helping "the cause." You are, in fact, sounding like a huge tool and everyone but your equally judgy peers secretly dreams of punching you out. Fact. (This isn't the people who gently try to inform people that they should educate themselves, btw - it's the community that goes, "Well, if you hadn't done a,b,c, it would have worked out." YOU HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING THAT SO SHUT UP.)

Should women be empowered and strong and educated? Oh, absolutely. But when you're having waves of contractions and in pain, it's NOT always easy to stand up for yourself, and all the damn research and reading and interviewing and doulas in the world may not help that. Instead of taking about how terrible women are, and how uneducated and untrusting of our bodies we are, why don't we point that finger right back at the practitioners who are taking advantage of this to push women into things they don't want? Why aren't birth advocates asking to speak at med schools, or talking to obs? In rape, if we blame the victim, it's terrible and shameful. In birth, if we do, it's normal. That has GOT to change. Birth is in a terrible state in the US, but we can't fix it by telling every woman how dumb she is.

Sometimes, I hear people advocate this whole idea of how every woman should labor at home with a midwife and everything would be amazing. Utopian but not at all feasible. Not everyone can do that, and, more, not everyone wants that. When I attended doula training, I remember the instructor talking about how, at her first meeting with patients, she had them sketch an ideal birth. Like, if money, and location and even reality weren't barriers, where would they feel most comfortable birthing? She had people draw clouds, and fields, and big giant tubs and plush beds. One woman drew a hospital. She told her that the idea of birthing anywhere else quite frankly terrified her. She had known her doctor all her life; family and friends staffed the hospital; she was confident and happy there. That was her happy place. She went in dilated to a 1 and did, in fact, have a drug free all natural vaginal delivery within 24 hours.

I'm gonna end this blog here, but I do want to leave it with one more quote from the article, from the author of my very favorite pregnancy/birth book:

"I don't understand this phrase 'take back your birth,'" nurse-midwife Pam England, creator of Birthing From Within, a popular book and series of childbirth preparation classes, tells me. "Who took it? What would a woman tell herself it meant about her if she failed to meet the criteria she made up for 'taking back' her birth? I am concerned that this phrase, meant to generate action and a feeling of empowerment, may actually be generated by or feeding the victim part of her."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"It's just easy for you"

So, after 12 1/2 months, I am back down to my pre-pregnancy size.

As many of you know, I struggled with my weight my entire life. I was, after I had Rhiannon, 310 pounds. I lost 170ish pounds, then got knocked up again and gained 70ish back.

Let's do a brief, picture laden recap of Star throughout her weight loss journey here:

Me, not too long before I got preggo with Rhi. About 280 lbs:

Me, pregnant with Rhi. 300+ lbs:

Me, 2 years after having Rhi. 135 lbs (my lowest weight ever - it fluctuated a lot from 135 - 140):

Me, pregnant with Keira. 200 lbs:

Me, probably 1 1/2 months post Keira. I'd say 175/180 lbs:

Me, this weekend. 140 lbs. I consider this pre-pregnancy because this was my typical weight. 135 was the low end of normal for me. I was generally 138-140 lbs:

My boobs are bigger now, but I can totally rock out those jeans in the blonde, skinny Star picture.

Anyways, I was talking to a friend the other day, who REALLY wants to lose weight, and I was explaining how I did it, and encouraging her (more on how I did it in a minute) and she said, "But I'm not like you. It's just easy for you."

Let me break this down for you really quick.

I am the girl with the biggest sweet tooth on the planet. I have two friends on Facebook who regularly talk about food they are making, and I regularly implore them to bring me some. I also LOVE bread. And pasta. And fries. So much. On 25 out of 30 days of every month, I would cut someone for a Cold Stone Birthday Cake Remix. I can sit down with one of those loaves of specialty bread and eat at least three quarters of it in a sitting. And I have asthma, which flares with cardio exercise (which I don't particularly love anyways.)

Yet I lost 170 pounds the first time and 70 this time.

It. Was. NOT. Easy.

The first time around, I did Weight Watchers, which helped me learn better eating habits (which fell to the wayside when I was pregnant.) The second time, I briefly flirted with Weight Watchers again before just charting on My Fitness Pal. Both times, I forced myself to find the time and the energy to work out. For me, this has to be in a gym. I am incapable of staying on track at home - I get easily distracted, I pause things, I walk off, I come back, I check Facebook, I talk to Shane, I stop to watch Modern Family, the kids distract me... I do 20-30 minutes of cardio (usually treadmill and stairmaster, this go around, but treadmill and elliptical before) and then I do strength training. This is important, because if you don't tone after losing a lot of weight, you get flabby. I like strength training more than cardio, for sure. I spend 30-40 minutes here. I do this 4x a week.

As far as eating, I eat around 1300 calories a day. I am still nursing and I am not having any issues producing milk here; however, I would caution nursing moms to cut calories a little at a time. It probably isn't an issue to lose weight while nursing, but most sources will say that especially in the first year you should be no lower than 1500. And if you're eating 2600 a day now, you need to taper that down gradually so you don't kill someone. I eat a lot of greek yogurt, fruits, veggies, and poultry. Turkey and chicken primarily. I have discovered a love of salads (as long as they have plenty of tasty stuff in them.) Our house gets everything whole - whole wheat and whole grains.

I also splurge and eat crap sometimes. I had a shake and brats on Memorial Day. Because that's what I wanted, damn it. You can't cut out what you love. You just have to eat it less.

And there are a lot of healthier variations on the things you love too. The whole wheat pasta is a good example. I've also made tortilla and english muffin pizzas. I've substituted Red Mango for ice cream and yogurt for sour cream. I cut out soda almost completely and now I don't find I want it very much. It's amazing how your tastes actually change to embrace the healthiness if you stick with it.

If you are trying or wanting to try to lose weight, I urge you to go for it. Don't say you can't, don't make excuses, and don't expect it all to fall off instantly. It takes time. But it's so worth it. And if you have any questions, I will happily answer them. And if you do My Fitness Pal, add me - I'm starrod - so I can cheer you on.