Water Logged: A cautionary tale

As part of an ongoing, uphill battle in the care and feeding of my lazy, pizza-loving bones, last week I made a serious commitment to drinking more water.  I bought a pitcher and a boat load of fruit, and started dressing up the tap with orange and grapefruit slices.  Because I am frequently guilty of acting first and thinking later, I decided to set a water goal of 3 pitchers full. 

Day One, I drank 3 pitchers full of water, and I did not feel great.  On the plus side, I also did not want any pizza.  Or anything else, for that matter. 

Day Two, I drank 2.5 pitchers full of water, and I did not feel great.  I also had a massive headache.

Day Three, I drank 2 pitchers full of water and then started wondering exactly how much water I was drinking.  There was no measurement information on the bottom of the pitcher, so I guesstimated that I was putting about 2.5 bottles of water into the pitcher, and I thought those bottles had about 12 ounces in them.  I decided 2 pitchers was probably the most I should drink.

Days Four and Five I drank about 2 pitchers, and ate Tylenol because my head was so hurty!

I skipped the pitcher over the weekend and just drank normally, and felt better.  Hmm.

So, today I actually measured.  My pitcher holds, including the fruit slices, 3.5 bottles of water, and those bottles of water hold 16.9 ounces each.  I’ve been filling this thing to the brim, meaning on Day One, I drank 177.5 ounces of water PLUS a few cups of coffee.  No wonder my head started feeling like a cement balloon.

The Mayo Clinic would like you to know that while the amount of water a person should drink varies, most women do well with 1.9 to 2.2 liters of fluid per day–water or other liquids.  More than that is overkill.

If you don’t count the coffee, on Day One I drank 5.25 liters of water.

Days 2–5, I drank somewhere between 3.5 and 4.375 liters of water.

Go big, or go home.

I think I’ll be dialing it back a few notches.  Like 2 notches.  1 pitcher of water a day is plenty enough.  I’d hate for you to have to wring out my sodden corpse after I collapse from Water Intoxication.  Although, it does explain the headaches.

Sunny-Side Up

You know, having the dog has made something work for me in the mathematics of our household.  We seem to have the right number of living creatures in the pack now, and I’m going to credit Hoo for one of the first not-sad-this-week-out-of-the-month I’ve had in about five years.  Puppies are babies, after all, and I haven’t begrudged the little guy one early morning.  In fact, I’ve been setting my alarm to make sure I get up before his bladder does.

Hoo has been sleeping in his kennel, in Thor’s bedroom, and Thor finds this development suitable.  He told me he would still rather have a brother to share his room.  I told him that ship had sailed.  He said, “It’s all because you refuse to lay any more eggs, isn’t it?”  I blinked at him, remembering the couple of frank where-babies-come-from talks we’ve had, shrugged and agreed.  Yes.  I refuse to lay any more eggs.  I guess we’ll revisit that whole birds and bees thing at a later date.

While Hoo gets some credit, I should probably also credit my decision to take some control over having felt emotionally out of control for a while.  Whereas the emotional angst of PMS used to hit me for a couple of days out of the month, it had progressed to the point that it was taking up 7 to 9 days on either side of the M.  I had gone to the vitamin store and read the backs of forty bottles claiming to help just that thing, but ended up with a multi-vitamin and a B12.  Since I’m giving credit, it was probably the multi and the B that kept me from going down like the castle walls of Helm’s Deep when the flu bug hit.  (I was more like a Flaming Ent than that.  Just a lot of flapping and wailing.)

I finally asked my mother what advice she had to give, and after two weeks of dosing myself with the above and Wild Yam and Chaste Tree, Evening Primrose Oil, and Nutri-Calm, I’m not sobbing over free burritos for wounded warriors.  Just in time for the holidays!  I did not melt down crying once over the holidays (which I normally do), and those holidays included a puppy, an unexpected snowfall/ice hazard, and a trip to the ER with a dehydrated child.

I am skeptical enough to think that at least some of it is a placebo effect, but faithful enough to holistic healing to believe I’m doing something good for my body and reaping the benefits.  Either way, I’m not beside myself with suffering to match my early teen years, so I’m not going to knock it.


How I Lost my Baby Weight!*

With so much attention focused on how quickly mothers can “lose their baby weight” (in scare quotes because…scary how obsessed the media is with how quickly celebrity moms can lose their baby weight?), and with my favorite “how quickly did this celebrity lose her baby weight” getting lots of publicity today (click the link, you’ll get a good laugh), I thought I would share the things that concerned me in Thor’s early days, weeks and months.  You know, the things that so many women are concerned with, when not being shouted at and called fat by the media for having dared to gestate a human being.

  1. My first and most oppressive concern was in getting the child fed.  We didn’t get the nursing thing down pat for several weeks, and I felt I had already failed as a woman by having been induced in a low-level emergency situation because I had planned an earth-mother (or water mother, actually, since I wanted to float around in a birthing tub), natural delivery.  Not being able to nurse him as easily as the lactation specialist seemed to think I should consumed me. 
  2. Right alongside feeding him, was the cost of feeding him.  Since he rejected (with a forceful stream of used formula, right across the room) the first few formulas we tried, we were told to buy one that many families (ours included) might find cost prohibitive.  Fortunately, we were only tied to that as a mainstay for a couple of weeks, then it was only as-needed to top off his tank.
  3. Was he breathing?  You ask any new mother which is a top concern: Her weight or whether or not the new baby is breathing.  You cannot know the number of times you feel the need to check just to be sure until you are responsible for one of those baby things.  It is insane.  You feel insane.  But you go check again anyway, because some experts tell you that if the baby is on his back and he barfs, he will choke and die.  Some experts tell you if the baby is on his stomach, he will smash his face into something soft, suffocate and die.  Some experts tell you that if the baby is in a crib with a bumper, he will die.  Some tell you that if the baby is–do you see where I am going?  Not even the experts can agree, so you go check again.
  4. The baby’s laundry is now ankle deep.
  5. Is he pooping?  If you have ever had a constipated baby…  He cried.  I cried.  None of us were happy.  And then I introduced the baby suppository.  Wow. 
  6. He won’t go to sleep!  When will he ever sleep?!  Something is wrong!
  7. He’s asleep…he’s been asleep too long!  Something is wrong!
  8. The baby’s laundry is now mid-calf deep.
  9. When can I take a shower?  Oh my word.  I can tell you that my proudest moment in Thor’s earliest days was when I managed to take a shower AND wash my hair in one go.
  10. Everything on you is leaking, and they don’t make pads for all of it. 
  11. Everything on the baby is leaking, and they don’t make pads for all of it.
  12. The baby’s laundry is now knee deep–you did laundry two hours ago.
  13. When do I eat?  When do I sleep?  Oh sure, they tell you to nap when the baby naps, but do you know how that works?  You get the baby to sleep and you see this:  The breast pump you haven’t had a moment to rinse yet, which you are going to need in half an hour.  The bottles that need to be washed and sterilized.  The diaper pail that needs changing.  The mess in the living room.  The mess in the kitchen (because you still have to feed the other members of your family, too.  Don’t forget that.)  The detritus from the baby’s bath.  Your own post-baby garbage that needs to be taken out (so incredibly gross).  Your own milk/poop/urine/barf/drool/food stained wardrobe (when Thor was 3, I lost my freaking mind over fingerprints on my Easter dress because I hadn’t had a stitch of clean, just clean clothing in three years.  I will never forget the look on B’s face as he steered the confused child away from the crazy lady.)  There are phone calls to return, emails to check, knocks at the door to answer.  If you can fall asleep after running through this mental list, good on you.  Because the baby will wake up just as soon as your breathing regulates.
  14. Laundry.  Oh my god, the laundry.
  15. I was consumed with worry about going back to work.  Forget about the pressure to be thin, I was dealing with the judgment of literal strangers, who felt perfectly justified in telling me that I was dooming my child to a life of delinquency and crime by shuffling him off to daycare so I could fulfill my selfish desires to keep a decent roof over his head.

I could keep going.  I could go all day.  And, while it is true that I was excited to drop enough baby weight to fit back into my pre-baby clothes, I didn’t give a stinky diaper what anyone else thought about it.  And I wore my maternity pants anyway.

If you are having a baby, or have recently had a baby, listen to me:  The only people who are worried about your size are the people who stand to benefit from it monetarily.  You spend your time loving that baby.  You spend your time taking care of yourself mentally because babies, whether you birth them, adopt them, have one dropped off on your doorstep by a stork, or are just watching them for an hour while their mothers try to get showers, are the most mentally and emotionally taxing challenges you will ever face, and you need to be good to you so that you have the wherewithal to be good to them.

Take all the (viable) help that is offered to you.  You need it.  Anyone who has ever stared at a newborn all night long, trying to suss out why it won’t stop crying KNOWS that you need the help.  Accept it gracious, gratefully, and go take that elusive nap.  Do not let anyone try to convince you that you need to spend your free time doing crunches (unless that is what you truly want to do.)  Anyone who does, slap them upside the head with that diaper pail bag.  Twice.

*I have no idea how I lost my baby weight.  It just happened.  I gained a total of 34lbs, and when I came out of the hospital, I’d lost half of that.  The other 15…I don’t know.  It just came off over the two months after Thor was born.  I cannot offer you a lick of help when it comes to weight loss. 

All I can offer you is this:  Even if I had never lost the weight, I had Thor, and that child…people.  That child is the light of my life.  I would weigh a thousand pounds, happily, if it meant his health and happiness.

Pinpricks of Joy

A few of my friends have suffered miscarriages and still births recently, and several of my friends have lost babies in the past.  Losing a child is a heartbreaking, world changing thing no matter at what stage or age the child.  When you are looking forward to life with this little person, moving ahead once that dream is shattered is a challenge for both mothers and fathers.

I thought we were losing Thor right after we found out we were expecting him.  That’s part of how he got his nickname.  Not only had he prevailed against birth control, he had prevailed against a flood of cough syrup and a Zpack–you know, because I thought I had the flu, not a case of the babies.  He was a mighty Viking in the making, and I pictured him in there, wearing his horned helment and hanging on to my insides with his pic axe.  The Mighty Thor was born, both figuratively and literally, healthy and wonderful.  However, for those days I thought he might be losing his grip on the axe, I was frantic.

Like many women, I think I became a mother the moment the stripe turned pink on the pregnancy test.  Immediately, I was someone’s mother.  It was my job to protect and nurture this life.  I changed my diet.  I changed my patterns.  I gave up coffee!  I gave up coffee (which is probably why I was always so irritated with Ryan slurping his in the next cubicle–I had jealousy!)

  When I thought I was losing my baby, I went to the doctor to find out what I could do to save it.  Would I need to stand on my head?  Did I need a cork?  Could I drink something?  Take a pill?  Lie in bed for 8 more months?  Yoga?  Meditation?  Animal sacrifice?  Oh yeah, I’d have gone there.

The doctor was removed and pragmatic.  He was pulling off his rubber gloves and he said, “At this poing, there’s nothing we can do.  If you’re going to lose it, you’re going to lose it.”  Then, he sent my shellshocked self to the nurse for bloodwork, and that poor girl was new.  She told me all about how many pregnancies end in miscarriage, I guess hoping to make me feel not so alone in my probable fate?  She figured out that was not helping when I burst into tears.

I found a new doctor.  Thor hung in there.  We have a lovely boy.

Back last September, I got a new pink stripe on a pregnancy test.

People ask me if we plan to have other children pretty frequently.  I don’t think they are being rude.  It’s just conversation.  I have one child, so I must not be opposed to the idea of children, and if I am not, then might I not want more?  I would love to have more children.  It just hasn’t worked out that way.

So, back in September, we got excited.  We had our moment of shock, and I did my dance of trying to pretend it wasn’t that big a deal because when things are really important to me, I am a weirdo.  We had about 24 hours of being very excited, talking about names, and a new nickname–just enough time to fall in love with the idea and the potential for reality.  It was a Saturday.  I planned to call the doctor on Monday and make an appointment.  But, on Sunday all the plans changed.  It simply was not to be.

I was too sad to talk about it at the time.  I told a couple of select people, but I didn’t even tell my therapist about it.  I sat on her couch just a few days later and thought, “I should be talking about this, but it seems silly. It wasn’t dramatic.  It wasn’t even a big enough deal to go to the hospital.  It’s over and done, and nothing can change it.  Why talk about it?  Why trivialize what other women go through, when this was such a simple-to-lose loss?”

You all know that I’m not an “all things happen for a reason” person.  I’m a “sometimes shit happens” person.  I have faith in biology, and oddly enough, in natural selection.  It simply was not to be.  And, it was simply sad.  And, quite simply, I was broken-hearted.

So why talk about it now?  Because you all also know that I am a “talks about everything eventually” person.  It all comes out sooner or later, and because my friends who have so recently suffered have said, it helps to know someone gets it.  Because it’s the damnedest thing how attached you can get to something that isn’t the size of the head of a pin, and what a huge hole that pinprick leaves when it goes.

There is joy in remembering the excitement, though.  And joy in the knowledge that the capacity to love is endless.  And joy in other friends who are expecting.

What is Sexy: Part Five and Final

In just a couple of days, on May 22, you’ll see The Outside Lane featured on theNickelodeon Parents Connect Sexy Mama Boot Camp.  Leading up to that, I’d like to introduce you (and any new readers) to some things I think are sexy.

1.  Taking care of yourself is sexy.

The older I get, the more truth I find in the addage, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  And, mama can’t be happy if she is sick, tired, or sad.  I find in my own family that my attitude affects everyone.  Last year, around this time, I felt like I was mired in a mess of myself and tired of making excuses for putting off taking care of Lane.

  • I had not taken time to exercise because I already had working-mother-guilt about leaving Thor in daycare, and I couldn’t stand the thought of him being in someone else’s care for even five minutes more than was absolutely necessary.  This was an excellent excuse to avoid the gym!
  • I had neglected my eating habits because I didn’t have time to shop, prepare, or cook decently.  This was an excellent reason to order pizza!
  • I had completely ignored my emotional self because I was trying to be a soldier.  This was an excellent reason to…uh…blog?

A friend’s divorce (that mirrored my parents’)  pushed me over the edge.  I was reliving the same hurt I had experienced with my parents’ nasty split, and old splinters from that broken heart were working their way into the present.  It jolted me and forced me to really take stock of what I had, and what I needed to have in order to get me through the next fifty years of my life.

Breaking points don’t have to be bad.  You remember Glow Sticks?  The only way to get anything good out of them is to break the capsule inside, release the chemical compound that catalyzes illumination, then shake like crazy.  The potential to glow is in the stick the whole time, but until you crack the hard shell surrounding the hydrogen peroxide and let it out into the phenyl oxalate ester and fluorescent dye (thanks, Bill Nye, Science Guy!), activating the potential, you’ve just got a whole lot of nothing at all.

I think a lot about glow sticks when I’m having a rough patch.  How will I shake up what’s been broken, so that instead of being bitter, I can be brighter?  Sounds corny, doesn’t it?  Rave on!

Last year, I quit making excuses for not taking care of myself. 

I got into therapy, joined Weight Watchers, started working the menus I had through my membership to JulieAnneRhodes.com, and I hit the gym.  I worked on healing my heart, my health, and the circumference of my hips.  I swam laps.  I did yoga.  I substituted apples for Doritos.  I went for long walks with my family.  I changed jobs.  I made changes in relationships.  I learned to say no to other people, and yes to myself without guilt.  And I like to think I am brighter for it.  I know I’m happier.  I know I’m healthier.

Following is a list I can highly recommend for sexy, sexy self-improvement.  Some of it is local to me (in Dallas/Fort Worth), but it’s a starting place of what to look for if you’re outside the area.  Take care of you, Boo.  No one else is going to do it for you, but everyone around you will benefit when you get started.