Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Haste Makes Waste

Regarding my last post about Salma Hayek, I was a bit rushed when posting and truthfully, I think I was wrong. That is what I get for just typing, then hitting "publish".

While it was a cinch for me to lose my baby weight, I only gained 20 lbs to begin with and, most importantly, I was already overweight when I got pregnant. I most certainly was not at my ideal weight, like Salma Hayek was. So yes - I have lost all my baby weight, but I am still overweight overall. I do think it would be hard for me to lose any more weight while still breastfeeding and frankly, I am not even going to try too hard until I am done breastfeeding. I do not want to mess with my eating habits at the risk of my health or my baby's. And that is where I realized how very wrong I was to criticize Salma Hayek for her very rational statements.

Two gals had GREAT comments on that last post that made me realize I needed to reel back in a bit. First, Monkey pointed out:
One thing I do like about Salma Hayek and this comment is that she is being brutally honest about the fact that even her (hot hot hot) body changed post-pregnancy. God bless Gwyneth Paltrow and her second day size 2 pant size, but it just doesn't reflect reality for most people. This comment may also have been aimed at people like Naomi Watts & others who claimed they lost all the weight *simply* through breastfeeding. While some may be telling the truth...well, this is Hollywood and I think Salma is kind of telling it like it is over here, not necessarily the rest of the world. When 9/10 people claim they lost weight by "pilates" or "breastfeeding" in Hollywood what they really mean is "tummy tuck" and "lipo" and "extreme diets".

And Emily added this:
I also think that Salma Hayek was attempting to counter the mostly unrealistic images of post-baby weight loss coming out of Hollywood. I'm still bf'ing my 10-month-old, and believe me, the pounds did not melt off! And exclusive breastfeeding introduces different demands on a mother's time and energy - whether or not she is pumping. In some ways, those demands can make it tougher to lose weight. In any case, I found Hayek's comments to be refreshing.

In case you are wondering, I would like to have my crow served warm with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, please.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dear Boobs.

Today, Miss Zoot wrote a love letter to her girls thanking them for all of their hard work:

......But when I’m pregnant? You grow to a size I can be proud of! You give me CLEAVAGE! Which I love sooooo much. Of course, with the cleavage come the boobsweat. But I’ve learned to live with that. Having cleavage is just that awesome. And when the babies come? You provide nourishment as well as can be expected. We’ve had our problems because you don’t like to work too hard. But that has it’s perks too as you don’t leak! Yay for non-leaking boobs!......

I definitely recommend you head over and read the entire letter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Lying Liar

I get very frustrated with the whole "you cannot lose weight while breastfeeding" comments. Salma Hayek, who I normally love, was quoted as saying on Oprah the other day:

I gained a lot of weight. I had gestational diabetes. The pregnancy was really difficult for me. I thought, 'As soon as this baby's out, I'm just going to lose all the weight superfast because I'm going to breastfeed, and everybody tells you if you breastfeed, [the weight] is going to come off.'

It's a lie; It's not true. I'm going to say something. Except for a couple of exceptions, the only reason people lose weight like that when they're breastfeeding -- it's cause they're not eating and they're breastfeeding. And this is not good for the baby.

It takes you nine months to get it, and nine months to lose it. There are shortcuts, but it's not good for the baby. So I'm taking my time. I've lost a lot -- most of -- the weight and I'm very proud of it, because it's been really hard work studying what can I eat that's healthy for me, what's healthy for her. But I'm still losing, even if it's slow. And I've been working out.

I'm proud of what I've lost. And the rest is going to go when it's time to go.

She is correct that if you gain a ton of weight, it is not going to just magically melt off simply by breastfeeding. Fortunately for me, the weight did come off quite easily. I gained 20 lbs with both pregnancies and was able to lose the weight within about 4 weeks with both pregnancies.

However, I am still overweight and certainly cannot claim to have a rockin' bod. BUT. I was able to lose my baby weight quite easily and I am quite certain that breastfeeding helped with that.

The rest of the weight I am carting around on my hips? Sadly, is mine all mine. Sigh.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Many Moons

I cannot believe it has been what - two months? *Gulp* I swear I had not forgotten this blog.


I have been verklempt lately. I had been still struggling with the postpartum depression thingie I had going on.


After the first time I posted about it, my husband was upset. He is a very private person and obviously, postpartum depression is not about one individual - it affects an entire family. I respected his wishes that I not talk about it.


Then, I felt like such a fraud because I did end up going on Zoloft a few months ago. And it seemed untruthful to post here and not "confess" that fact. But I wanted to respect X's wishes, too.


I have a daughter. Perhaps, if Anjali had been a boy, I would feel differently and would just continue on as usual. No harm. No foul. Right?



I have a very direct, very personal experience with a "child losing a parent" scenario since my own father lost his own father at the tender age of 18 months. Recently, I realized something. If something were to happen to me, my own daughter may not know the truth. She may see this blog some day and think that everything turned out fine. She may some day, have a child of her own. She may some day, struggle with postpartum depression. I would be horrified to think that she might say "well, my own mother dealt with it stoically, therefore I must as well".

I have never written a "Dear Son/Daughter Letter". I think they are a bit cheesy but am willing to break with tradition this once.

For Anjali.

March 29, 2008

Dear Anjali,

When I found out I was having a daughter, I was over the moon and beyond. I think I was all the way out to Saturn - maybe even Jupiter. Wait, a second. Which is farther out??? Whatever. I was so excited to have a girl. You get the picture. A daughter. I considered myself the luckiest ever in the history of women giving birth to have a boy and a girl. I love butterflies and dinosaurs! I love, love trains! And dolls! And cars! And hair barrettes! (P.S. You love trains, too. I have photos.)

When you were born, I cried. You were my 2nd baby and the experience was less surreal than your brother's birth. With Arun, I was high on excited adrenaline about having a baby and in a bit of a shock about being a mother (something I had dreamed of since I was little girl.) However, with you, I knew exactly, precisely all the joys I was in for with you. Your birth was all about you and nothing whatsoever about me becoming a mother. I was already a mother, I knew what what I was doing at that point and was not scared in the least to be a mother again.

After you were born, while I was still on the delivery table , you immediately came to my breast to nurse and we never looked back. I am so grateful that I have only breastfed you and we have never given you formula. You are a healthy, chubby little girl and I totally relish your pudgy thighs and dimpled knuckles. I am hoping you breastfeed until about 18 months or so, but truly - it is up to you. If you want to give it up as 12 months. So be it. Two years? That is fine, too.

While we were in the hospital, I did not want you to leave the room. I was on edge when you were not with me. With Arun, I was more nervous and sent him to the nursery more often so that I could sleep. With you, I felt more comfortable and did not want you to leave at all - I was very nervous when you were not with me and preferred that you sleep with me in the hospital bed (a queen size, HUGE bed - very safe for co-sleeping.) I slept so peacefully when you were beside me. I could wake up throughout the night and immediately feel your chest to make sure you are breathing (I still do this, nearly nine months later. When will I stop this?)

When we brought you home, you decided that you would not sleep in the bassinet and that you needed to sleep with your daddy or me. And we did not argue. You are still sleeping with me in our bed and we have no intentions of moving you to another bed until you want to move to another bed. You sleep best with daddy or me. In India, this is the common way to sleep, so we do not care and we all sleep together. Because we are a family. We are confident that you will head off to college wanting to sleep on your own.

Anjukutty, I do not expect us to be friends. Ever. I want to be your mother - the one to guide you and share life with you. But not as your friend. You will have many, many friends in your life. I might be a sort of friend, on a lesser scale, but I will always, always be your mother first. This means that I may tell you things that you do not want to hear. On the other hand, friends have to a tendency to tell you only the things you want to hear. You can always come to me for an honest opinion, that you may or may not desire. But it will be honest and only with pure intentions for I only have your best interest at heart.

I have so many interests, thoughts and ideas - I am so excited to share those with you. I do hope that we will enjoy doing things together - playing cards, going to antique malls, playing board games, watching sports, reading books, traveling, knitting. But I will always be your mother first. Not your friend. Please remember this on those days that you are angry with me for telling you what you did not want to hear.

Anju, this is the serious part of this letter. After you were born, I encountered the saddest, darkest period of my life. The dreaded postpartum depression. Fortunately, you and Arun were not a part of that dark part. Actually, you and Arun have been the light of my life and have kept me going. I wake up each morning and try to think of fun things to do for you and Arun - even on the days when I do not want to get out of bed. The two of you keep me going and make me get out of the house. Every single day, you and Arun do something that makes me smile.

I have been taking Zoloft and that has helped. In addition, I am still trying my best to eat healthy, go for walks and keep active while I wait for my body to get back to normal. Reading, writing and knitting have taken on an even greater importance for me as a means for relaxation. Lately, I have felt that I am getting more normal and that my hormones are settling down. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

AnjukuttyAlthough the past few months have been so hard, I would do them all over again in a heartbeat. No questions asked. You have made our family complete in so many ways I never thought possible and we are grateful that you are so healthy.

I pray that someday I will give you this letter myself.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Banks. They're not just for money anymore.

The Mothers Milk Bank of New England is in the finals! Please consider going out to vote again for this. Thanks!

I had an exciting post planned about how Anjali weighs 18.1 lbs. Which means that she has gained exactly 10 lbs since birth. 10 whole lbs that my body provided for her! Then, I received an email from Tanya of The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog that made it all the more poignant for me how lucky I am that my body stepped up to the plate for Anjali's benefit.

Tanya posted about The Mothers Milk Bank of New England needing help with raising money. Currently, the nearest milk banks are in Ohio and North Carolina which Hello! Is a bit far away for folks in the New England area. In short, parents in the NE area with a baby in the NICU are struggling to get breastmilk from such faraway locations. As someone whose friend gave birth to her daughters at 28 weeks gestation, I am intimately aware of how critical breastmilk is for preemies. My friend's daughters are turning 6 years old this year and are perfectly healthy.

Tanya writes:

The Milk Bank needs money for 1) processing and storage equipment, 2) a "Milk Money" fund to help families whose insurance won't cover processing fees, and 3) marketing materials to get the word out about the new bank.

So, here's our chance to make a big difference today. Here's what to do:

  • Go to the Milk Bank page on IdeaBlob, and vote for this project! You have to register first and confirm by email, which doesn't take long.
  • Blog or post about this wherever you can to help bring in more votes.

Thank you for your time today! And cross your fingers...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Solid Like a Rock

Continuing the solids discussion from the other day.........

Let me be clear - cereal was a waste of time, effort and money for us simply because my son would not eat it. I know loads of folks who had success with cereal. Just not us.

Ironically, this past Monday, I had dinner with a friend at one of my favorite Middle Eastern restaurants (the place leans towards Palestinian in flavor/cuisine). As I was eating my lentil soup, I had a total flashback. When my son was around 8 months, I remembered him slurping down on the soup - he loved it so much (of course, on Monday, the little stinker would have nothing to do with it!) At the time, I was SO relieved and wanted to jump for joy that he was willing to eat something "solid" after having struggled with the cereal and baby food for so long. I also had bought into the whole "iron deficiency" thing and was relieved because lentils are good for iron. He loved that place so much we even took him there to celebrate his 1st birthday, since technically, it was his favorite restaurant. I still have the little #1 candle we stuck in his piece of namoura.

With my son, I remember distinctly the doctor saying at his 6 months checkup saying "You can give him cereal now, if you want". At the time, I thought her phrasing was interesting but it made more sense later when I realized that cereal nor solids were critical for my son's health. This time going into the Solids Game, I have decided to not do a specific timeline, per se, but to just wait until 6 months and see how Anjali is doing then. I am certainly not going to stress myself out if she does not catch on right away. Besides, she is not necessarily ready yet - I am still struggling giving her the anti-biotic because her tongue control is just not there. However, she is very, very interested in what we are eating and that is a sign that she is gearing up to sticking food in her mouth. Finally, I am NOT going to invest in an entire box of cereal - I will scrounge around with my mommy friends and borrow a cup or two. Kellymom has some great information on solids and "when to introduce" which is in line with what I would like to do this go-around.

In the comments, Girlfriend makes the point that it was previously thought that breastmilk did not have enough iron and now we know that is not true. Again, with the Kellymom to the rescue:

The iron in breastmilk is bound to proteins which make it available to the baby only, thus preventing potentially harmful bacteria (like E.coli, Salmonella, Clostridium, Bacteroides, Escherichia, Staphylococcus) from using it. These two specialized proteins in breastmilk (lactoferrin and transferrin) pick up and bind iron from baby's intestinal tract. By binding this iron, they

  1. stop harmful bacteria from multiplying by depriving them of the iron they need to live and grow, and
  2. ensure that baby (not the bacteria) gets the available iron.

The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby's iron absorption. As long as your baby is exclusively breastfed (and receiving no iron supplements or iron-fortified foods), the specialized proteins in breastmilk ensure that baby gets the available iron (instead of "bad" bacteria and such). Iron supplements and iron in other foods is available on a first come, first served basis, and there is a regular "free-for-all" in the baby's gut over it. The "bad" bacteria thrive on the free iron in the gut. In addition, iron supplements can overwhelm the iron-binding abilities of the proteins in breastmilk, thus making some of the iron from breastmilk (which was previously available to baby only) available to bacteria, also. The result: baby tends to get a lower percentage of the available iron.

With my son, I eventually gave up on cereal- we went to table food at around 9 months with softened bits of fruit and such. When we cook at home, it is primarily South Indian and yes, he ate some spicy stuff in the beginning as we experimented with what he could handle. Sometimes, he would fuss, but he quickly learned to reach for his water. These days, his tolerance is pretty good - when he hits something spicy he emphatically declares it to be "spicy!", reaches for his water, takes a drink, then digs in for more food. Hands down, when we cook at home, he eats like a horse. I also think my husband is secretly proud that one of his son's favorite dishes is a specialty from his state of Kerala - fish with a red sauce made from a sticky tamarind called kodumpuly.

And yes, my grandma is properly horrified.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Call Me Crazy Because I Am

I have not forgotten this blog. Besides my personal site at Rancid Raves and my odd compulsion to participate in the NaBloPoMo thingie, I have also taking up food blogging in support of my husband's new business venture - FoodieBytes. This is the 2nd business I have watched him build, so this not something entirely out of his realm. This is the first time, however, that I have played such an active role. Some of the stuff discussed in this post are really old, but this has been hanging out in my drafts folder, so I will go ahead and get it out anyway......

Over the past months, a few things came up breastfeeding-wise that I wanted to post about, but I was so late to the game that I felt I had nothing new to add. Weanergate? Yeah, those people criticizing Jen were IDIOTS. When they began questioning her use of the article "the" instead of using "a", I quit listening to her detractors. Weaning is a careful dance between a mother and her baby (or babies) - everyone has needs that must be met.

I would like to point you over to Jackie at Nursing Your Kids - Jackie has had some great pieces lately. One clarifies some facts missing from many of the news articles surrounding the Sophie Currier Case. For example, the following accommodations were offered to Currier:

* permission to express milk in a private room at the testing center during the allotted break time;
* permission to bring food and drink into the testing room;
* permission to pump milk while in her separate testing room;
* the option to leave the test center to breastfeed during the allotted time.

Jackie has some great insight/thoughts on this and I encourage you to read her post on it. In addition, Jackie has also posted about the new study that was released that shows that breastfeeding infants may end up not being such picky eaters after all, from the article she provides the following quote:

"Whether you are breast-feeding or formula-feeding, once you start introducing a food, make sure you offer your baby opportunities to eat fruits and vegetables. They need to taste them to learn to like them."

I would say that my experience has been fairly similar. Sure, there are some foods that my 2 year prefers over others, but hell's bells - there are foods that even I prefer over others. In the White People Food category, my son loves Greek yogurt, rice, fries, pizza, cauliflower, stinky cheeses, tomatoes, avocado, and all fruits. In the Indian Food category, he loves just about anything South Indian and he likes some things North Indian. We mostly cook South Indian at home and he has rarely turned away a veggie cooked South Indian. One of his favorites is a specialty from my husband's state of Kerala. It is a fish with red sauce that is comprised of spices, onions, and a stinky, pulpy fruit similar to tamarind called kodumpuly. It does not matter which sort of fish we cook with, my son will eat it.

Does my son eat such a variety because we were open to shoving such different things in his mouth? Or is it because he was breastfeed exclusively? Or did we just luck out? I will never know for sure, but as I am on the cusp of starting solid foods with Anjali, I have been thinking back to the lessons I learned with Arun. First and foremost, I am not sure how much I will mess with cereal. What a waste of time, effort and money. And canned jars of baby food? Again with the time, effort, and money. With Arun, I was a New Mom and had it in my thick skull that babies eat cereal and baby food. Now, I am not necessarily wiser, but not foolish enough to have Best Laid Plans. When Anjali turns 6 months old, I will attempt to give her some things, but am not going to stress about it.

My doctor said it best: "Solids before 12 months is a skill to be learned not a nutritional requirement."