Living on a Prayer

2020 has not been kind so far.

As I write this I’m sitting in my living room as my daughter naps. My wife is sitting on the couch next to me, creating art on her iPad. We’ve been home for two weeks, sheltering in place. Kourtney’s hours have been reduced to zero for at least another six weeks– you can’t really put on plays and musicals when all the people in your state are supposed to be social distancing. As a result, she’s home everyday, and I get to eat all of her lovely bakes because surprise, I am also home. My organization is considered an “essential business” because it provides services to the homeless and other marginalized communities, but my job specifically is non-essential so I am working from home most days unless they need me to support our front line departments serve meals, or create hygiene kits. I’m lucky, I’m getting paid. I haven’t lost my job. I now get to navigate working from home with a toddler who frankly doesn’t appreciate that I keep looking at my computer and not her.

This is our life in the middle of a pandemic. Continue reading

Listen to my Birth Story on The Birth Hour!

I’m excited to share that my birth story has been featured on one of my favorite podcasts, The Birth Hour! If you’d like to hear me talk about Aminah’s birth (or hundreds of other people’s birth stories, they’re all pretty great), you can find my episode here!

I really appreciate the opportunity to share my birth story on the show– I never tire of getting a chance to talk about my home birth experience, and I’m definitely a birth nerd so talking about birth in general is something I’m passionate about. I hope you enjoy the episode, and be sure to check out other episodes of the show. Thanks to Bryn at The Birth Hour for having me on the show and for giving so many people a space to share their stories!

Welcome Back

Well. It’s been awhile.

 

Clearly I took an extended hiatus from writing on this blog. There are a lot of reasons and excuses for doing so, which I’ll lay out here for my own sake, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t really matter why I stopped writing, it only matters that I stopped. One major reason was because I just didn’t feel well enough to write. And when I say that I mean emotionally well. Every time I thought about writing on this blog, just the thought made me feel just drained and exhausted. I love being able to “put my thoughts to paper” so to speak, but I felt like I had to present my best self, my best writing (what even is my best writing???), telling stories that were meaningful and made me feel important. But I wasn’t my “best self”. I didn’t know if what I had to say was meaningful, and I wanted this blog to make me feel big when I was feeling small.

When I first started blogging in college my goal was to put to words everything in my brain that I needed to get out. I had all of this creative energy bouncing around in my body and I didn’t know what to do with it, and I had hoped that by writing it down and sharing it I could both make space for other things but also somehow connect with people at a time when I was feeling isolated and alone. I didn’t want to go out into the physical world and interact on a regular basis because it was scary, but connecting on the internet felt like a great alternative. This is not to say that I NEVER socialized, I socialized often, but it was often emotionally draining and anxiety-provoking. I thought, maybe people will find me on here and I can make meaningful relationships without leaving my house. And then suddenly I had a blog, and it had a theme, and I was exploring new things I was interested in, particularly around spirituality.

But my life changed, my priorities changed. I stopped feeling like this was a space for my voice to be heard. I mean, who was reading this blog anyway? I felt like I was in a desert yelling and wondering if anyone could actually hear me. How far did my voice have to travel for me to be heard? And honestly it was a bit demoralizing. But that’s on me– I’m not promised an audience just because I have a blog. And is that the only reason to have a blog? No. If I truly want a larger audience, then clearly I need to do things a bit differently to achieve that desired result– and I’m not sure I’m willing to put in that work yet because I’m not sure that’s even what I truly want.

So I’ve been staying away. But now things have changed.

I got pregnant. I had a baby.

I’ve been dying to write about these new experiences, and not a day goes by without me thinking about trying to get my thoughts and feelings and recent memories written down somewhere– although as I have been thrown into the chaos of early parenthood, finding time to do this has been very difficult.

So I’m back. And I’m committed to getting this all written out so that I can come back and remember, and so my daughter can one day find these posts and read the the story of our family. This blog is for her.

 

Things I Have Not Forgotten

My mom says I have a habit of reminding her of her parenting failures. The conversation often starts with a “Mom, remember when…” and ends with something she did that in hindsight she perceives as not good parenting. Like, remember when I was six and I asked you if Santa was real and you said no? Or, remember when you used to wake us up to the song Rise and Shine, but instead of ending it with “Children of the Lord” you ended it with “Children of the Corn”? Remember when I was eight and you read us The Giver and the father killed that baby in it and said “Bye bye little guy!” as he put him in the garbage chute? My mom hears these stories and thinks of her failures, but I don’t see them that way at all. I keep telling the stories because I think they’re funny, they make my childhood colorful, and they’re part of what makes me who I am today. The Santa story taught me that I don’t need a fantastical, magical figure to enjoy Christmas and it made me appreciate what my parents went through to get gifts for me. I still sing the “Children of the Corn” song and chuckle, but when I was little I didn’t get the reference, I just thought that was how the song ended. It’s one of those quirky family traditions. And although The Giver was a little intense, having my mom read to me and my brother as children fostered my love of reading both fiction and nonfiction.

None of these stories hurt me, none of them haunt me or make me feel like I had a bad childhood. All things considered, I had a pretty great childhood. I was fed, I was clothed, I was loved and I was happy. But every parent knows (even the really good ones) that they fuck their kids up in some way, despite the best of intentions. And I remember those moments too, those moments when the adults around me inadvertently cemented in me this idea that my worth is connected to my body. Since I’ve been fat since I was child, I have had plenty of adults in my life tell me in different ways that my body is too much. I was not often offered any fixes– I’ve heard lots of stories of women who were put on diets when they were children, and my parents never did that to me. I don’t really remember them helping me with my weight at all. It was made pretty clear to me that it was my problem. Continue reading

I Might be Afraid of Therapy

Do I need therapy? I don’t know.

In many ways I’m feeling really great and my life is going really well– my marriage feels solid, we’ve made a lot of financial goals that we’re either meeting or on track to meet, I’m feeling relatively stable at work so I’m not feeling like i’m moments away from getting fired (and therefore moments away from poverty). I’ve been feeling many moments of pride over being able to save my money and I’m beginning to relax about money because I feel like we’re being more fiscally responsible and we’re able to plan for our future! It’s a little overwhelming to think that in the last year we’ve gone from living paycheck to paycheck to planning on having a kid (!!!) next year because holy cow we can actually afford one! We’ve been talking about getting a car because WE CAN AFFORD ONE. We’ve been talking about renting a new apartment because WE CAN AFFORD IT. And we want it!

So to recap– my marriage, my finances, my work life (and most of my relationships in general) are great. I’m feeling super stable.

AND YET….. Continue reading

9 Months Post-0p

It’s been nine months since I had bariatric surgery. Time is just flying by!

Things that have changed since surgery:

  • I’m several dress sizes smaller. I have no idea what my pants size is because I no longer wear pants, but I imagine I’ve gone down a few pants sizes as well.
  • my hair is thinner–  this is a side effect of surgery and will hopefully go away, and I’ve been taking biotin to support hair growth. I think it’s working, I’m slowly starting to see some baby hairs growing. Hopefully this continues and I get all my hair back!
  • My shoes are too big. I didn’t really notice until about two weeks ago, but my feet have gotten smaller since surgery. I’m guessing that I’m down at least a half size, but more likely a full size. However, my feet are still wide so they will forever look weird in flats. *cries until the end of time*
  • I’ve eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet (which we’ve already talked about in previous posts).
  • I’m more tired AND I have more energy. I know that doesn’t really make sense but let me explain! Firstly, I get tired very easily doing simple things, like standing too long while taking a shower, or standing on Bart to or from work. I think it’s the combination of dehydration plus heat that makes me very faint (I’m still struggling to get enough water in postop). However, I have more energy to do things like climb flights of stairs to my office or go on hour-long walks with Kourtney or work out at home. So I’m both more tired and I have more energy.

2017 Resolutions

Every year around this time I make a long list of resolutions for the following year. Sometimes I make a long list (like I did on my previous blog for 2012), and sometimes it’s just one thing (this year it was saving 10k by January 1 2017). I don’t really have a middle ground, it’s one thing or all the things! Anyway, I figured this year I’d do another resolutions list, shorter than the one in 2012 but with what I consider pretty big goals. Here’s the list:

  1. Eliminate credit card debt by December 31
  2. Eliminate refined sugars from my diet
  3. IF I can maintain my protein goals, become a vegetarian
  4. Get pregnant
  5. Only weigh myself ONCE a week
  6. Convert to Judaism (just do it already!)

 

I’ve already begun working on the first two– watching my credit score improve as my debt decreases has been quite exciting for me, and I’m slowly craving sugar less and less so I think the transition will be easier than I thought– but the rest all begin on January 1. I’ll keep this blog up to date on my progress. I might also add some additional resolutions before January rolls around. We’ll see!

New Day, New Diet

Today is day seven of attempting to cut out dairy and gluten.

I’m a huge dairy fan, I particularly love cheese– the typical love story of a girl and the melty goodness that is cheddar, and havarti and pepper jack and Brie and Camembert and…. well, you know how it is. Before last week, and basically since I started eating solid foods post surgery, I’ve been eating cheese with ever single meal. It has been glorious.

However, it has come to my attention that my dairy obsession might not be good for me, as a woman with PCOS. I’ve read a lot of stuff about how dairy and gluten can fuck with my body, particularly my hormones, and can exacerbate my PCOS symptoms, including anovulation. That’s a problem just in general, but it’s an even bigger problem when you’re trying to get pregnant. I want to set my body up for success! I want to give my body the best chance for conceiving when the time comes next year, and the choices I make now will affect that process 3 months, 6 months, a year from now. Also, eliminating dairy in particular gets me that much closer to eating kosher– I don’t have to worry about mixing dairy with meat when I’m no longer eating dairy!  Continue reading

Writing for an Audience of One

Two years ago I discovered NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I was super stoked about it. I made an account on their website, filled out my profile, and prepared to write a whole novel in a month (NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days). Before I began blogging, I used to spend a lot of my free time writing for myself– poetry, short stories, novels that I never really finished. I remember my parents had received this totally ancient PC from a friend and let me use it– it wasn’t connected to the internet, but it didn’t matter– and I would sit down in front of the computer, turn on some music (usually the Beatles or the Shins) and write for hours, creating alternate realities where kids had power and parents didn’t really exist and magic was everywhere (you know, kid stuff). As I got older I found livejournal and greatjournal (remember livejournal?!) and that really exposed me to the catharsis that can come with online journaling and blogging, but even then I still made time for something beyond my own experience, something creative and outside my own life. It was nice to be creative and fantastical, to write about anything I wanted, to have my characters do whatever I wanted them to, to play out what-ifs or if-onlys in Microsoft Word. I continued to write through high school and into college, but eventually I stopped devoting time to fiction and spent more time writing midterm papers and blogging.  Continue reading

I can’t see the future but I think it will be bright

I’m a planner. My present is total chaos (you should see my room right now, it’s as if hurricane Matthew made it all the way to my bedroom), but when it comes to my future, I like to plan for as much as possible. I create my own budget through excel which includes budget projections based on differences in pay, a savings tab to keep track of our 10k savings goal, and a debt tab that shows not only how much we owe but also how long it will take to get under a 30% debt ratio. Every time we go to Disneyland I make an excel spreadsheet that details all of our reservations, park hours, schedules for entertainment we might want to see, and a budget for the week we go. So yeah, I’m a bit of planner. Continue reading

Bariatric Life vs. Recovery

The bariatric team at Kaiser made it clear from the beginning that there are good foods and bad foods, foods that are okay to eat and foods that you should avoid. this is very different from when I was in therapy and we were told that food is neither good nor bad, it’s neutral and all fine in moderation. So you can see how I might struggle with trying to balance these to opposite and mutually exclusive ideas. I find that when I go about trying to stick with the bariatric meal guidelines my day ends up looking really strict, regimented and restrictive. That’s the nature of the plan, and also the nature of the process (I mean, they took out most of my stomach, so it’s obviously a restrictive surgery). However, the plan basically encourages eating disorder behavior. I can only eat 3 meals a day, and those meals are all 3oz (so I’m eating 9oz of food a day, just think about that), I can’t drink anything that is over 20 calories a serving, I eat my meals out of toddler bowls so I can’t over-indulge. If I were a skinny person, this behavior would be bizarre and cause for concern, right? But as a fat person this behavior is not only encouraged by the team, but also celebrated by almost everyone I interact with, whether it’s on instagram, facebook, or in real life.

If I were following this plan while in therapy I would’ve been strongly discouraged, my team would’ve saw it as cause for alarm. So I’m having a really hard time keeping to the baristric diet/lifestyle because I have their voices in the back of my mind, it just feels like giving into behaviors. But on the other hand I really want to stick to the heavy restriction because I think it’s the only way I can lose all the weight. I really don’t know how to just eat like a normal person. The problem (and this is the truly tragic part) is that there is so much pride associated with sustaining life with the least amount of food possible. It’s mind-boggling, being proud of eating only 2 ounces of food instead of three, like that’s some kind of grand accomplishment, like it makes me a better person in some weird twisted way. I have pride in myself when I restrict, and I truly think that people are also proud of me when I restrict, which is why the surgery was so compelling, such an irresistible option for me. It forces me to eat less, encourages me to think small and contained and little just about my food intake but about my body– because eating small means being small, and that is apparently more important to me than I thought. I always knew it was important to some extent to my family– they don’t really care about being thin but they definitely find being fat problematic– and important for society, but I thought that after all these years of therapy and self help books and body positive blogs that I would be somehow above the screwed up idea of fat inferiority. But now I’ve gone and cut out most of my stomach and I give myself a mental gold star when I’m under my calorie goal.

I think this is a problem that the bariatric team at Kaiser certainly didn’t prepare for, a problem that leaves me in a constant cycle of avoidance and overindulgence* of food. The healthy relationship with food I had hoped the surgery would foster has not been realized and I’m honestly not even sure it actually exists. Maybe this life is the one where I am at war with myself (hopefully this war will stay in this life and not cross over into the next).

 

* I can no longer overindulge/binge like I could before surgery but I think it’s important to note that even if it doesn’t have the calories of a binge it has the emotions of a binge and I think that counts for something.

Beyond Coping

It’s been awhile. After my last few posts I got some comments from people, mostly people concerned about my welfare because I was really honest about how I was feeling at the time. If you haven’t read those posts, here’s the short version: everything is shit, this process is shit, I’m shit, we’re all shit. Basically everyone was like whoa, are you okay? TOO HONEST, REWIND. I really didn’t mean to sound like such a debbie downer, but I was also just feeling really low and didn’t want to lie about it. This is my blog, of of course– if  I can’t be honest here, then where? I was quite taken aback by the responses. Many people suggested I see a therapist, some people tried to convince me that what I was feeling was only temporary, a few people tried to compliment me and tell me I’m a good person. Most of it felt really intrusive which I know is stupid because this is a PUBLIC blog and I share intimate details so of course people are going to be intimate in their response. But I felt a bit intruded upon and embarrassed because I got to vulnerable, too open.  Continue reading

The Only Constant is Change

Things that have changed since I’ve lost weight:

  • I eat less. My stomach can hold about 2, 3 ounces of food at a time. It makes eating out kind of awkward because I order a side or an appetizer and still end up leaving with a doggy bag.
  • The clothes I wore before I lost weight no longer fit– at least not very well. I have a pair of khaki capri pants I bought for my trip to Nola last year and they are now 3 or 4 sizes too big but the fabric is stiff enough that the pants still don’t fall down so I wear them as house pants. A light breeze would leave everyone with a view of my (way too big) underwear.
  • Speaking of clothes– I’m suddenly way into shopping now. I don’t know exactly why, because I shop at the same plus size stores just like before. But I think that the weight loss inspired me to buy new clothes (also, I made a commitment to a no pants lifestyle which meant I needed a new wardrobe).
  • I no longer chew gum. I no longer eat corn (popped, roasted, creamed, on the cob, whatever) or celery. I don’t drink caffeinated beverages or bubbly drinks. All I drink is water and it is depressing. I miss corn so damn much I can’t even really talk about it without getting really bummed out.
  • My digestive system seems so much louder. I can hear/feel my food moving around in my body, leaving my stomach and moving through my intestines. It’s really loud about it. Also gas. And I’m not very regular anymore. Another disappointment.
  • My hair is falling out. This is a side effect of the surgery and I KNEW it was going to happen so I’m not surprised but it’s a bit annoying. I think I’m going to start taking biotin to see if that will help with regrowth– hopefully this won’t be a side effect that lasts forever.
  • I pack all my foods in toddler sized tupperware to keep track of my portions. I get some weird looks at work about it, but no one asks about it which I appreciate.

 

Things that have NOT changed since I’ve lost weight:

  • I’m still depressed
  • I still deal with really bad self esteem and body image, and I have many days where I hate my body. I don’t see much change in how my body looks beyond more sagginess, more excess skin. I don’t find that to be terribly attractive, and I know it’s only going to get worse as I lose more weight.
  • I still have issues with food. I’m not going to diagnose myself with an eating disorder although I have been diagnosed in the past. However, I’m feeling the same feelings and using the same behaviors that I used when I was diagnosed, and I feel pretty out of control. I really wish this issue was simply part of my past but I’m beginning to realize that it’s part of my present and (most likely) my future.
  • I can still eat all the “bad” foods. I’ll feel physically ill, but not enough to learn my lesson. Just enough to make me feel like shit both physically and mentally. When I eat something with a regular amount of sugar I get a headache and feel like I’m going to throw up at any moment. I start to feel shaky and I have to lay down. It’s enough to make me feel regret, but not enough for me to never do it again.
  • I still don’t like people commenting on my body. I didn’t like it 80+ pounds ago, and I don’t like it now. I probably still won’t like it 80+ pounds from now. It’s not cool, stop doing it. There are probably a million cooler things about me than my weight or appearance. My body is not for your consumption. I’m not sure how many different ways I have to say it. JUST STOP.