Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TSA Breastmilk Lawsuit Results in Policy Change and Employee Training

If you're a breastfeeding mother on a flight & you don't have a cutie pie baby like this one with you, you'll need to pump and carry your breastmilk.  Thanks to Stacey Armato, hopefully moms can now do so without worrying that TSA officers will suggest they dump their liquid gold.

I can't tell you how many times I've read the suggestion that a breastfeeding mother who has been discriminated against should sue - or read claims that "I would sue if..."  The fact is, affording a lawyer is not so easy if you don't have several thousand dollars just lying around - and they're not lining up to do pro bono work after every NIP incident in the news, either.

BUT, Stacey Armato did manage to sue, & she won!  Well, settling may not technically be winning, but she got what she wanted out of the lawsuit.  In 2010 she was harassed by TSA agents over bringing her expressed breastmilk through security.  She said,
“We brought this lawsuit for one reason — to bring clarity and policy change for breastfeeding mothers traveling with breast milk. Hopefully what I experienced at the Phoenix Airport in 2010 will never happen to another mother traveling with her breast milk.”

The United States Transportation Security Administration settled, agreeing to clarify procedures, train officers, and to update its website so that pumping moms can know what to expect when traveling with breastmilk.  Oh - and they're making a donation to a breastfeeding advocacy group!

You can read more here.

I want to go off on a tangent here about some legislators worrying that the enforcement provision in HB 1706 would have resulted in a rash of frivolous lawsuits, and about the fact that $500 plus attorney fees - the cap the bill would have placed on the private cause of action it provided for - is hardly frivolous.  And that moms would not suddenly have a surplus of time and money for suing any more than a plethora of lawyers would suddenly want to work pro bono over $500.  I won't get into the fact that the enforcement provision would have served more as a warning than it would have been needed as a punishment.  But I'll just leave it at saying I'd be willing to bet you a Starbucks venti caramel frappuccino that TSA paid out more than attorney fees and 500 bucks.  

And yet the thing we're celebrating is the policy change and employee training!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sweet Pea's Birth Story

Five years ago, I was just a few hours from giving birth to one of the 

most amazing people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. 

 In honor of his fifth birthday tomorrow, this is Sweet Pea's birth story. 

With my wonderful doula, Shelley Scotka.

A lifetime ago (my 8.5-year-old son's lifetime, specifically), I taught pre-kindergarten for Austin ISD. I loved it. Mostly. I loved the kids. Four is such a terrific age. It's my favorite.

I always have trouble with the markers that show how quickly my children are growing - moving up a size in clothes, a new grade, birthdays. I don't mind aging myself, because I lost my mother when she was only 43, and I know that aging beats the alternative.

Of course the same is true - much more so, in fact - with children. Yet I always grieve the time that has passed.

Tomorrow my beautiful middle son, my four-year-old Sweet Pea, who is the embodiment of love and light, turns five. And it's frickin' killing me.

Five will be fantastic, I know. He will learn so much, and he will just get more awesome - inconceivable as that may be, given the level of awesome he has already attained.

I can't believe it's already been five years. But then again, as I re-read his birth story, five years seems so very long ago. We were using an old ipod then - this was pre-smart phones for us. We were eating Jack in the Box - what?! Now three of us are vegetarians, and Bellybean and I only eat humanely-raised meat. So long ago, and yet it feels like yesterday at the same time. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey.

His birth story is below, but first, a sweet slide show my amazing hubby Adam put together, with one of my favorite songs, the beautiful and poignant "Only Four," by singer-songwriter Laurie McClain.

Well - here it is, as I shared it eleven days after he was born:

Sweet Pea is just beautiful. He's sweet and healthy and cuddly. He has lots of blond hair, dark blue eyes, big hands and crazy-long feet. He nurses well, and so far doesn't cry much and can be easily consoled when he does. He sleeps a lot, which is not to say he doesn't wake up through the night, but I wouldn't expect anything different from a newborn, and he goes back to sleep easily. We were afraid because I was GBS positive and only got one dose of antibiotics instead of the preferred two doses, but he hasn't had any fevers and we should be past the window in which he'd have gotten sick if he was going to.

I am recovering well. In fact, Sunday we went to an Easter egg hunt, less than 3 full days after the birth. I thought I was experiencing typical soreness, but when it continued and even worsened I went in to be evaluated by a midwife. Seems I broke my tailbone again. It was supposed to be out of the way, having broken when I gave birth to Magoo (we heard a pop and I felt like my spine had snapped - because it had), but I guess not. It MAY be just bruised, which I sure hope is the case. (It was the case!  Soreness lasted much less time than when it actually broke ith Magoo!  Thank goodness!)  I felt pretty good when Adam was home because I could sleep in very late and had support all day. But he's back to work as of a few days ago, so I anticipate things getting harder.

Adam is good. Very tired. We all need so much from him and now he has to be back at work, too, and he misses us, needy as we are.

Magoo is an incredible big brother. He is so sweet and loving. He wants to help and hold Sweet Pea and kiss him a million times a day. Fortunately all of the negative behavior associated with this huge life change (anger, melt downs, tantrums, etc.) are directed not at Sweet Pea but at Adam and me. He's had more accidents than not, though he's been pretty completely potty trained for quite some time. Friday when Adam was at work we butted heads all day and were just miserable. But Saturday when Daddy was teaching piano we spent more time out of the house, and I think that may be key, because it was a better day. Sunday, with Daddy home, was the best day we've had since leaving the hospital, so Adam being miraculously given a paid month of paternity leave is what would really be ideal!

Here's Sweet Pea's birth story, if you're interested:

Last Wednesday night I woke several times to pee, as was my habit by then, since I was 41 weeks pregnant. I felt a few mild contractions when I'd wake, but nothing that kept coming, though I had a little insomnia around 1am and 3am, wondering if this was going to be it. At 6am I had some fairly consistent contractions, and I wondered if we'd get stuck in the horrible morning rush hour traffic if we didn't leave soon (if it started to feel like things were speeding up instead of fizzling out), or if I should risk waking Milo to get up and do some cleaning. But I lay in bed til 7 or so until Milo got up.

Then I began to pull together what wasn't already packed, loose items we hadn't wanted bagged up for weeks like the camera and the ipod. Once everything on my To Pack list was next to the front door, I started cleaning. The contractions varied from 4 minutes to maybe 15 minutes apart, and were mild enough that I preferred to be focused outside my body, keeping busy, rather than to rest and think about the discomfort of each one. I had Adam cleaning, too - I wanted to come home to a clean, orderly house. Because of this, poor Milo was feeling neglected, so near lunch time we called his babysitter and asked if Adam could bring him over. While Adam was gone I finished up the cleaning as my contractions began to require that I pause until they passed. Adam brought home Jack in the Box and we ate lunch, loaded the car, and headed to the ob's office around 1:30.

I'd been 4cm the day before when I'd seen one of the midwives for my 41-week appointment. I was 6cm around 2pm when Lisa, the midwife on call, checked again. While I'd have preferred to stay home longer (and maybe even have a home birth), I knew we'd need to head from the ob's to the hospital. I was GBS positive and they wanted me to have two rounds of penicillin four hours apart. We made a quick stop at HEB for fruit, yogurt, and birthday cupcakes, then checked in at the hospital.

It seemed to take forever to do the paperwork, monitor the baby for a bit, take blood and start the antibiotics. I hated being in the bed;, wanted to get up and get settled in the room - put out the pictures of my mother that I'd brought, have my bag open to be able to get to the massagers and rice bags and whatnot. While I lay there, needing to focus in more with the contractions as they came, Adam called our doula Shelley; a doula-in-training, Tiffany, who was going to attend the birth and tend to Magoo when he was in the labor and delivery room; and Magoo's babysitter, who had picked up her husband and taken their children and Magoo to a park near the hospital.

My water broke, and I was a little nervous about how that would affect the frequency and intensity of my contractions. My ob, Dr. Sebestyen, a local hero for having midwives in her practice and convincing St. David's North Austin Medical Center to allow them to deliver, stopped by to say hello, and was joined by Lisa. We chatted a bit and Shelley arrived. Finally the penicillin ran out and I could tell when the cool saline ran through the line that the hep lock had only bothered me because the meds burn a bit. Finally I could get out of the bed (I could have earlier, but by the time the mobile monitor had been brought in, I only had a few minutes left to be monitored. And though I wanted to be up walking around, I didn't really feel like sitting on the bed or birth ball - I guess I'd started to get used to the idea of lying down and resting).

I put out the pictures, and started to pull out some of the comfort things we'd brought - heating pads and such. But I had two contractions close together that took a lot of focus, and I quit caring about getting settled. I needed to use the restroom, and while there I realized I was getting very tense, having difficulty relaxing. I'd had Adam put on music, but it irritated me so I asked him to turn it off.  I got into the shower on my knees and leaned over my birth ball, and told Shelley I felt like I might be in transition. I started to groan through the contractions and Shelley was so soothing. She would make low noises with each contraction, which helped me to keep most of my noises a low release of the pain, instead of a high pitched tense sound that my body tensed with. One of my wonderful nurses, Sarah, tried to check my dilation in the shower. It was not an ideal location, but I didn't want to move. She couldn't tell how dilated I was, but knew I was close to complete, and after a few contractions Sarah, Shelley and Adam convinced me to move to the bed.

There Sarah checked again and I was told I could push. I felt like I'd already been pushing for awhile - not in the involuntary bearing down way I'd experienced with Milo, but the "breathing down" kind of pushing that had been encouraged in the Hypnobirthing class we took before Magoo was born. Since I felt like I had to push with Magoo, I'd thought the whole breathing down thing was a bunch of hooey - until I was doing it. In fact once I was told I could push, I didn't necessarily really want to bear down. With some pushes I did, though, and others I would just feel my breath moving him down.

I wanted to know how much progress I was making, but I couldn't get outside of myself enough to really communicate that or even to look in the mirror at the foot of the bed and see what was going on. So I just trusted my body, and tried to let instinct and the sensations I was having tell me how hard to push or when to just breathe. By this time the room was full of love and anticipation. The two nurses were there, Adam, my midwife, Shelley, Tiffany, the babysitter and her four-year-old daughter, and my beautiful Magoo. I wanted him to have the opportunity to be a part of his brother's birth, and we'd prepared him by showing him a video of his own birth. In the video I had made more noise about the pain than I realized/remembered. Magoo had asked to be able to listen to his toy MP3 player because the noises I'd made during his birth had spooked him a little.  When I heard his voice in the room I managed to tell everyone where his toy was. Adam discovered that it wasn't working and gave him our ipod, but I did my darnedest to be quiet once I knew he was there. 

I lay on my side, eyes closed, my face pressed into the pregnancy pillow I had wrapped around me. The feeling was so much different from Magoo's birth, which was far more "managed." Where his doctor had done perineal massage throughout, which was excruciatingly painful, Lisa was completely hands off, and there was almost no burning sensation whatsoever. Finally I felt that his head had come out maybe halfway and had not slid back in that time. I wasn't sure I should push really hard - I didn't want to tear, but I was ready to meet him! With the next push I gave it all I had, which was more than I thought I could. His head was out! Each of his shoulders took a strong push, too. Then he slipped out into his Daddy's eagerly waiting hands. The midwife caught him with Adam and placed him on my belly. He was a little blue but pinking up, and quiet at first. He was gorgeous, with lots of blond hair. I hadn't really taken in Magoo's umbilical cord because it was cut very quickly so he could be whisked to the side of the room and suctioned of copious amounts of meconium. But with Sweet Pea it was left to finish pulsating, and it was just beautiful - a soft, plump white lifeline to me. It was long enough that I could hold him on my chest. I tried to nurse him, but it didn't take right away (though after he was weighed we tried again and it went great). I started to have some nasty cramps, and eventually the cord was cut and I gave Sweet Pea to Adam. He held him for a bit before the nurse weighed him - 9 pounds 9 ounces, 21 1/2 inches long. And that's right - you read nothing of pain medication because I had none. That was a little harder with Magoo's 11 hour labor (maybe 9 hours of that was pretty intense), but Sweet Pea's was very quick. I'd checked into the hospital around 3 or 3:30 and he was born at 5:55pm on Thursday, 4/9/09.

And life became infinitely better.

Magoo, about three months shy of four, meets his baby brother Sweet Pea.
And we became a family four.
You can read another sweet post about my loving little lactivist here.

I'm a sucker for birth stories - share yours here or on Facebook!

Did you have the birth you wanted?
Was your birth experience one that supported the establishment of breastfeeding?

Have you had trouble dealing with your wee babies growing too dang fast?!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Five Pound Challenge - Week 1

On Valentine's Day I over-indulged - again - and that night I finally shared a post about body image that I'd been working on for quite awhile.  In that piece I committed to losing 5 pounds.  To hold myself accountable, I'll periodically give an update about how I am doing with counting calories on myfitnesspal and exercising each day.

Trying to get a weight loss progress pic but my kids just don't get that
Mommy wants a turn alone!  My sweet little cutie patooties -
I'm glad they like the camera!
Here's an update on my first week, in which I embarrass myself ruthlessly, sort of in diary form:

Feb. 15, 2014

Counting calories is so daunting! I just ate two big plates of homemade stir fry with veggies (including sweet potatoes & carrots & lots of green non-starchy veggies) and pine nuts that I cooked in olive oil & added soy sauce to. I have NO clue how many calories that is. I don't even know how much of it I ate. I'm guessing maybe 3 cups or so. I logged stir fry as myfitnesspal has it listed, and mfp said that it would have 300 calories. I think I'll fret a lot over not knowing how many calories to record, especially since I'm trying to eat whole foods, not boxed foods with nutritional information labels. But I will keep at it, because at least I'll start to get a sense of my intake...

later that day - a sense of my intake was a real wake-up call!

So I made a big mistake today! We got smoothies from Smoothie King. I used to get a large, so tonight I got a medium. I thought you had to ask for the Turbinado (sweetener, I guess - sugar and honey?) and thought I was getting 720 calories. Nope - 1020! So I'm in the red on myfitnesspal. My exercise DVD isn't in the case and I need to get my kids to bed so I turned on the TV and found exercise on demand. With no time to be picky, I turned on Buff Brides: Countdown to the Gown! I did my terribly uncoordinated best while trying not to step on Bellybean for 20 minutes (with a potty break for him to complicate things further - I held his hands so he wouldn't fall in and marched while he peed). I have no idea how many calories I burned. I think I called it moderate walking on mfp since I haven't figured out logging exercise on there. I'm still over by 73 calories. I told Adam we have to have sex tonight. He's game. And after, if I go to bed early, then I should be able to avoid eating again tonight. 

Feb. 16

Oh, my word, this food tracking thing... I used to eat three Torchy's tacos with chips and queso for brunch, or spread over breakfast and lunch. It should have covered me not just for two meals but for the whole day - maybe more.

And I am hungry. I'm saving the third taco for dinner, so I just ate a bunch of broccoli. Blech. I like broccoli, but handfuls of the stuff plain and raw - not loving it. But I ate it because I feel really cranky and kinda headachey and maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's just cause I'm getting so few calories compared to my usual intake. 

Trying to drink more water. Glad hubby is trying to keep the kids happy, and is being accepting of my foul mood...

Feb. 17

Today I hired an organizer (spaceWise Organizing ♥) and we found paperwork from when I saw a dietitian months ago. I get 450 more calories a day! Yay, breastfeeding!!!  No wonder I've been so fartin' hungry!  My Tochy's brunch was too much food, but not a whole day's worth, after all!

My husband's partner/former boss paid for dinner at Jack Allen's Kitchen tonight, and though he said that if we saw two things that looked good to order them both, and not to leave without dessert, I only ate half my steak (yes, I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu - make of that what you will) and I did not have dessert! AND I walked 35 minutes today. Can I get a booyah?!

I cleaned a lot today. I'm counting that as my 10 minutes of exercise. And if that didn't raise my heart rate enough to count, I'm pretty sure watching The Walking Dead did.

Actually, my muscles all hurt like I've been exercising a ton. I had a stressful day, with my oldest son being very challenging all day. I feel a little like I'm just steeped in adrenaline. But I'm wondering if this icky-achey-tight feeling has anything to do with cutting my calories waaaaaaay back.

Oh - and I feel I must admit that I cheated. Sort of. Before I added my "exercise" to mfp, I only had 30 calories left for a snack. But I ate an 80 calorie string cheese anyway. I haven't yet figured out how to account on mfp for those extra 450 calories I get for breastfeeding, so I think I'm ok.  Which leads me to my next thought - I hope this doesn't affect my milk supply! Bellybean was so fussy today. I don't really think it had to do with my milk, but I'm a worrier...

Feb. 18

My scale sucks. The numbers are all over the place. Today I thought, for about 30 seconds, that I'd lost 10 pounds. Um, no. Tried again, I'm still at the same place - which is fine, but don't mess with me! Frickin' scale. Thing is, all the scales we've ever had have been crappy. I don't want to spend a load on a new one when we have one and scales have a bad track record for us, but I am not sure what to do about this one stinking like smelly old cheese.

mid-morning snack:

So I'm sitting with my kids as they eat their snacks and the smell of their food is driving this already cranky mama crazy!  Bellybean wanted to eat in my lap. So the Pirate's Booty was within snatching distance, and I could smell it so hard I could taste it.  I decided to go ahead and have a yogurt as my snack, and Bellybean starts clamoring to EAT MINE! He already has his own dang yogurt! ‪#‎leggomyeggo‬

lunch (still crabby):

Baby just demanded some of my leftover steak. I reluctantly (I'm so selfish!) cut up a few bites for him. He chewed some up and spat it out.  ‪#‎Punk‬ ‪ #‎leggomyeggo‬

I added soy sauce to my steak. Still hungry post-steak, I drank the soy sauce that was still on the plate. Unsatisfied, I licked the plate (a disgusting habit of my husband's that I have chastised him about for almost 19 years). I am embarrassed to admit these things, but I guess it's like a fart joke - I am amused by how gross I am!

(Do people hashtag in blogs?  It feels a little like saying "LOL" in an in-person conversation.  But I wrote most of these little daily updates in the Facebook group I started when so many mamas said they'd be joining me in my #5PoundChallenge.  So I'm leaving the hashtags as they originally appeared, because frankly, #leggomyeggo cracked my crap up.) 


Have somehow managed to eat out for the past three days - the first days of my diet. So for the first time, I need to go make dinner. While hungry. I'm not sure how this is going to turn out...

Feb. 19

I cheated last night. Ate my chips and queso as a snack, then looked up the calories after. Went way over. It was nice - really, really nice - to not feel like I was starving. I don't feel like I fell off the wagon; I'm not going to beat myself up. I didn't meet my goal yesterday, but I will today. And I think I'll be more careful to spread my calories over the day rather than be over cautious all day and have lots left for dinner but just still feel like I've spent the day feeling ravenous.

One problem I'm experiencing, beyond the sudden drastic reduction in calories, especially before I accounted for breastfeeding in my calorie goal, is that I just have lost the ability to know when I'm hungry. I've been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for over 9 years, so I've basically been hungry for almost a decade! Cause I was hungry even on way too many calories. I'm sure it's partly psychological, but surely not entirely...

Feb. 20

My husband went out of town today and I haven't managed to log my food on mfp, but I'm paying attention and I think I'm doing ok. Except not with exercise. I think it's maybe just too many changes all at once.  But I'm still trying, and I'll get into a groove with it.  I haven't gotten enough sleep for a couple of weeks so I'm giving myself permission to watch a show and go to bed. No dishes, no laundry, no mfp.

Feb. 21

Should have had half an ounce less of cheese today, and should have exercised but didn't manage it. Still doing better than I was, so I'll take it. 

Feb. 22

I looked in the mirror this morning and thought my face had changed, that it looked thinner.  But then I thought that was silly, and that I was probably just unused to the glasses I was wearing.

I cleaned so much crap (broken toys and such) out of my yard today that I wasn't hungry!  All of the exercise and being outside curbed my hunger (I should always work outside, everyday!!!) and I ended the day with many available calories unconsumed!
Sweet 16 my @$$! - I am SO thrilled to be
getting rid of this frumpy, dumpy, falling-apart
(the back pockets have lost their buttons & since I
don't sew much I cut them because they were
too long - see the frayed bottoms? - lovely)
pair of size 16 jeans - the only non-maternity
pants I've been wearing for too close to two years.
And that stack of pants & jeans on the
yellow stand?  All maternity pants, also headed
to Goodwill or Safe Place or a friend.  Woohoo!

Feb. 23, 2014

My scale really is a piece of crap. It definitely says I lost 10 pounds now. I don't buy it. But I DID leave the house in size 14 jeans today! Came home and noticed a bit of a camel toe situation, though...

Soon they should fit well enough to remedy that, and I'm going to wear maternity shirts cause they're long.  This was worth all of the hunger.  I feel downright svelte.  If I'd known I just had to be super disciplined for a week to get back into my stupid non-maternity clothes, I'd have done this months and months ago!  I'm sure it won't all go so quickly, and that's fine.  But this is a lovely reward for finally starting!

And now for the next five pounds!

Comparison: The top row is at my top weight of  186 pounds in early February,
which is where I started my diet on the 15th.  Bottom row is today, 2/26/14,
about a week and a half into dieting, and down more than 10 pounds. Oh - and
I had just taken a bath today - didn't want to bother to wait for my hair to dry.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Delta Tweets That Moms Cannot Breastfeed on Their Flights - and What to Do About It

A mother tweeted Delta to ask about their breastfeeding policy, and was told that she cannot breastfeed on their planes.  You can read about it here on The Leaky Boob - including the apology that was issued since I first wrote this post.  

I feel your outrage - I am right there with ya!  

But before anyone says, "I wouldn't have asked!" please consider that the mother, if motivated to ask, must have had some anxiety about it, and she sought to allay her fears.  This is a smart thing to do, and not one that we as supportive mothers need to imply she handled inappropriately.

And before you add that you've never had any problem, and you've breastfed on Delta flights X number of times, please just clarify that you are disappointed in Delta's response, and you're glad you've never had a problem.  But DO bring on the positive NIP stories - mamas need to hear them when something crummy like this happens.

If you are so inclined, please contact Delta.  I would suggest expressing your disappointment diplomatically.  Rudeness does not represent the breastfeeding community well, nor does posting breastfeeding photos to their social media channels in a confrontational manner.  Also, saying you'll never fly with them again is not motivating - if they've already lost your business, there's no reason to appease you.
Tell them that they need a breastfeeding supportive (fully supportive) policy, and their employees need training regarding it.  Tell them that groups like Family Friendly Business Initiative exist to help businesses by providing resources.  Breastfeeding rights deserve sensitivity training.  And tell them that they would help the public relations problem they've created by doing these things and by publicly declaring support for breastfeeding legislation.

Please when engaging Delta, do not misrepresent the law.  They may just dismiss you if they themselves are clear on the statutes.  There is no law specifically protecting mothers to breastfeed on a flight.  Federal law applies to federal property and lacks an enforcement provision.  State laws may apply, but only while the plane is on the ground.  But the fact is, most state laws lack an enforcement provision, as well, leaving mothers with no recourse.  Some say we can breastfeed anywhere, but many (most?) don't say that no one can violate our right to do so.  It may sound nitpicky, but them's the facts.  I'm not a professional but from all I've learned about breastfeeding law in the past 18 months, the devil is most certainly in the details.

This is why, more than contacting Delta, I urge you to contact your legislators.  Tell them that when you fly, you want to know that you can feed your baby as recommended by major medical organizations without being harassed.  You can read more about influencing the creation of breastfeeding laws in my post on The Leaky Boob here.  

You can find your state’s law here.  And you can look up your state legislators here and your US Senators and Members of Congress here.

On Facebook Delta is here.  On Twitter they are @Delta.

Nursing Sweet Pea on a flight many moons ago.
We have no family in Texas, so this was one of many
times I've breastfed on a flight to see family - without incident.
One last thing - yes, there have been NIP incidents on flights.  But by and large, women nurse their babies on planes every day with no problem.  If you're breastfeeding and need to fly, feel confident that you are unlikely to have any issues.  Yes, there are anti-boob trolls out there - but nobody honestly wants to be on a flight with a crying, hungry baby.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Using MyFitnessPal While Breastfeeding

How I'm using myfitnesspal to lose weight as a breastfeeding mother...

I'm loving myfitnesspal.  I am learning so much about my old eating habits.  It's sort of terrifying, what I'm learning, but as a fan of The Walking Dead, I'm no stranger to terror.  So I love it.

I used to eat chips, queso, and three tacos with an orange juice for brunch on Sundays.  By tracking my calorie intake I realized that that much food should last me pretty much the whole day.

Or so I thought at first.  BUT, that was not taking breastfeeding into account.  No wonder I'm hungry enough to eat my own young!!!  My old habit of a huge Torchy's Tacos brunch was definitely too much sodium and more than I needed to eat before dinner, but it wasn't as dramatic as I thought.  So spreading that meal over the whole day Sunday wasn't necessary after all.

Photo by Gloria Sanchez

I saw a dietitian a few months ago, and since I crapped out on dieting then (the holidays = classic excuse to wait on dieting), I did nothing with the paperwork she gave me.  Then yesterday Sonya Feher of spaceWise Organizing helped me tackle the Paper Monster living in my house, and I found the paperwork from the dietitian.  And I found 450 calories!

Breastfeeding a toddler, with my height/weight/age/weight loss goals and/or whatever, she recommended an intake of 1600-1800 calories.  Since I'm ravenous, for now I'm going with 1800.  That's 450 more than myfitnesspal allotted me!

(Yes, I knew I was burning calories by nursing Bellybean, but I didn't know how many or how to input that on the app.)

Since myfitnesspal unfortunately doesn't take allow for breastfeeding in their calculations, I might have maybe figured out a way around that, which I'll share at the end.  But first I'll share the email I sent them, asking them to consider breastfeeding users:

Hello.  I am a breastfeeding advocate in Texas, excited to be using your services.  The past three days I have appreciated the projection of how much weight I can lose if I keep going as I am now.  Unfortunately, now that I have adjusted my calorie goal as per my dietitian's recommendation, I am apparently only set to lose one-tenth of a pound per week!  I would very much like, as a breastfeeding mother, to have the ability to adjust the "Calories Burned from Normal Daily Activity" to reflect calories I burn breastfeeding.  This would give me back the motivation of being told that I will lose weight if I keep eating at or under my goal.
Unfortunately breastfeeding rates are low in the United States.  But they are on the rise, and breastfeeding is optimal nutrition for infants, so a health app should, in my opinion, take nursing mothers into account.
I would love to see you work with a lactation consultant to create a resource as part of your app for breastfeeding users of myfitnesspal.  A recommendation to see one's doctor or physician may still be in order, but a lactation consultant could offer guidelines about how many calories breastfeeding burns, and how to watch for a dip in milk supply that may come from cutting calories too far.
Thank you for your consideration.

Since I still want to have the weight loss projection, I tried a few things.

First, I tried adjusting my calorie goal to 1800 and adding breastfeeding as an exercise.  But that just earned me another 450 calories, on top of 1800.  Um, no.

So then I tried changing my lifestyle from sedentary to lightly active (not a big enough difference of only 220 calories for me) and then to active (a difference of 510 calories - too many since I'm not nursing a newborn).  This changed my Calories Burned from Normal Daily Activity, but the numbers didn't line up with my 450 calories burned while breastfeeding.

What I think is going to work is this (SEE EDIT BELOW FOR ANOTHER SIMPLE OPTION): I changed my goals one last time and allowed myfitnesspal to again allot me 1350 calories.  I set my exercise goal at 11 minutes of exercise.  Each day I will add "1 minute" of breastfeeding as exercise (cause it's easy to do the math - if I exercise for 20 minutes, that 21st minute is my breastfeeding calories).  I input that that "exercise" will burn 450 calories.  And voila - I've "earned" those calories, setting my daily goal at 1800.

I will let y'all know how this seems to be working for me, and I hope it helps other nursing moms!  And if my math is crazy wonky or you're sure this isn't the way to go about this, by all means, please let me know.  This is new territory for me.

One other thing I've learned by tracking my food: I should probably weigh as much as a small truck.  Here I was all "Phooey!!!" that I wasn't losing weight while breastfeeding, but I now realize that breastfeeding while eating enough for two to three people was surely helping me to not gain weight.  Thanks, boobs!

If you'd like to encourage myfitnesspal to better serve breastfeeding moms, consider emailing them.

  So after all that, I found out that you can eat a negative number of calories!  You can choose breastfeeding as a food, or enter it yourself with your negative calories if they're not already represented (I only saw 300 and 500 I think).  I swear to you when I Googled this, all I saw was mfp saying to manually adjust your calorie goal because they don't calculate for breastfeeding.  So I still think they could do better by bf moms.

Also, the reply to my email said the same as what my search turned up, with the addition of suggesting to add breastfeeding as an exercise (too bad I didn't get the email before I fiddled around with it to come up with the exercise thing).  But I'm finding it simpler somehow to add it to my breakfasts.  I can finish my first meal and still be in the negatives!  Thank you to all who commented on Facebook (and here) to let me know I could add bf as a food.

Here's the reply from myfitnesspal, if you're interested:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us and for your suggestion.
Since breastfeeding varies for each woman, we don't currently offer a specific recommendation for adjusting your calories. However, if you obtain a calorie estimate from your doctor or nutritionist, you can easily change your calorie goal to account for the difference. 
To adjust your calorie goal:
On the Web​
Click "My Home" then "Goals" then "Change Goals, then select "Custom." Be sure to save your changes.
In the Android, iPad and iPhone apps
Select "Settings" in the Menu Drawer then "Fitness Goals."
Tap "Net Calorie Goal"
In our other apps
On the "More" page select "Edit Profile"
Select "Net Calorie Goal."
Selecting the current goal will allow you to change it. Be sure to save your changes.
As an alternative, you may log "breastfeeding" as an exercise. Once you have a calorie estimate, you can add "breastfeeding" as a custom cardiovascular exercise to your exercise database. (For information on adding a custom exercise, see the article here: http://j.mp/ZqGjQe )
We hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any other problems or questions. We wish you all the success in reaching and maintaining your health and fitness goals.

Are you taking the 5 Pound Challenge with me?  How is it going?
What tools are you using to meet your goals?

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Distorted Body Image

Three years ago, I was skinny.  I grew up thin, and don't recall feeling fat, or worrying about my weight.  I complained about being flat-chested, but I don't remember disliking my whole body (just my boobs - kind of funny, now - considering that now, I'm all about my boobs!).  My sister was the pretty one, but by the end of high school I no longer felt like that made me the ugly one.

I gained 50 pounds with my first pregnancy, and I hated how puffy and full my cheeks looked, especially since I had cut my hair super short in the first trimester.  Gradually the weight fell off, and I was thin when it came time to get pregnant again - and gain 50 pounds again.

I didn't work very hard to lose my second round of baby weight, but with breastfeeding and some walking, I lost my curves and fluff.  Then I got e-coli. After a month or two of being sick (and thinking, for most of that time, that it was just my Irritable Bowel Syndrome and/or a virus), I was a skinny size 4.

I remember seeing this photo online around that time, and loving it.  I totally identified with the woman pictured.

The beautiful Lizzi Miller is a plus-size model, whose 3-inch by 3-inch photo in Glamour sparked a tremendous positive response among women who felt empowered to see a normal sized woman, and see her as gorgeous.  This meant that we normal women felt able to see ourselves as gorgeous.

What got me, though, when I read more about Lizzi, was the realization that at a size 4, I could look at her at a size 12-14, and think, "That's what my body looks like."  

My tummy, after two children at the time, was just like Lizzi’s.  That's probably what I identified with the most.  Even so, I
overidentified, and I think that’s a clear indication that I had a pretty distorted body image.  I mean, I was relatively happy with my body.  But I wasn’t identifying with Lizzi because I thought she was beautiful and so was I.  I was identifying because I thought I looked like a size 12-14.  It took being tagged on Facebook in a picture a friend had taken to realize how thin I’d become:

November 22, 2010

I was shocked.  That was me?  I was that thin?!  Shazam!   Not much later, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  The night I wore my grandma’s awesome vintage dress to a friend’s Mad Men party, I was so bloated it was hard to get the dress zipped.  So I googled "why am I bloated" or "natural cures for bloating" or something and came across the symptoms for Celiac, and boom.  I just knew I had it.
November 2010.

My doctor agreed to a blood test for gluten antibodies, but he also sent me home with (another) handout on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  The blood test showed high gluten antibodies, and later the results of an endoscopy gave me the Celiac diagnosis, on December 27th, 2010.  

Within a few months, I was back at my top pregnancy weight, but without a bun in my oven this time.  
I'd been misdiagnosed with IBS in 1996.  So for fourteen years I had eaten like a college girl, without absorbing all of the good - or bad - from my food.  And at age 35, I had some ingrained eating habits working against me.  Between not realizing that I was absorbing fat and calories my body had dumped for years, and failing for a few weeks to renew a Synthroid prescription for my hypothyroidism (another autoimmune syndrome that loves fat), I gained weight on a gluten-free diet very quickly.*  In fact, most of the 50-pound gain happened in about a month.

At a size 14, I no longer identified with Lizzi.  Or with me.  I felt huge - way bigger than she could possibly be - no way were we the same size!  I looked in the mirror and I didn't know who that was, looking back.  She wasn't pregnant, but she was overweight - obese, by definition, in fact.  

I was
supposed to be healthier - no more diarrhea or gas cramps, more energy.  But instead I was at an unhealthy weight.  And I was really and truly pissed off about it.   I would create opportunities to explain my weight to people - like I wanted them to know that this wasn't really me.  I wasn't really fat - I was just in this crappy circumstance.

When my oldest son, Magoo, started first grade, I walked him to and from school most days for months - so about 15 miles of walking each week.  I didn't diet well.  I tried sometimes, but mostly I just thought about it.  I’m not much of a cook, and I was still adjusting to the fact that my husband and Magoo had become vegetarians.  Between trying to wrap my head around entrees that weren’t meat, and Googling everything I put in my mouth for gluten-containing ingredients, I wasn’t up for any fad diets with lots of restrictions.  I wasn’t even too keen on limiting portion sizes, or completely giving up sweets, either...  We eat relatively healthy, at least - organic foods, not as many processed foods as some.  I thought the exercise should help.  But the weight just stayed.

Then I got pregnant.  It was unplanned, and very, very welcome.  And in addition to getting the third child we so dearly wanted - I finally had a good reason to be fat!

Once I started to show, I didn't mind being overweight.  But I didn't want to gain another 50 pounds, so I tried to limit my binging on candy, and I tried to eat smaller portions.  Although my midwife assured me that my levels were nothing to be concerned about, when I had some ketones in my urine and read that ketosis might impact my baby’s IQ, I decided to relax.  I gained some weight, but not too much, at the end of my pregnancy.  I dropped it within a week or two of giving birth.  But no sooner had I put away my maternity clothes than I gained it all back.  

I now weigh, depending on whether I place the scale on the hardwood, cork, or tile, between 182.4 and 186.4.  I'm 5'3" with a medium frame.  The only non-maternity pants that fit (yes, I had to get the maternity clothes back out) are a size 16.  Actually, those jeans droop and sag half off of me, but my 14s are too tight...  

My 4s are in the attic.

Over the past year and a half I have vacillated between shame over my weight, and confidence that it's just where I am for now.  

When I was interviewed for a news piece on my NIP discrimination incident, I wished I was thin.  I knew, each month, that the speeches I delivered to the school board would be televised, and I often thought that if I'd just commit to a diet I could at least lose enough to be a size 14, or maybe even a 10 or 12 within a month or two.  But in terms of stress, that period of time was second only to the time surrounding my mother's death.  The weight stayed.

In fact, with all the stress, for months I didn't even bother to go buy make up, and most of the times that I gave speeches or attended meetings, I wasn't wearing any.

And I looked fine.  A lot of the time, I was okay with how I looked.

But I'm not okay with how I feel - physically.  

You see, it's hard to get up when I take a bath.  I'm so big for the bathtub, and I move awkwardly, like when I was pregnant.   This is a prime example of a moment that makes me realize: I need to ensure that this weight is not permanent.

I feel there's a connection between body image and nervousness to nurse in public.  I'd be much more loathe to bare my belly or my butt crack than my boobs.  So I've read more and more about body image.  And there's a great movement out there aimed against fat shaming, with the message of loving your body.

I do.  I love my body.  I had three natural births.  I am a badass.  I created (with a little help from my husband!) and grew three incredible, gorgeous children.  I have spent years nourishing them with my body.

I have sex and I love it.  It's good sex, and my fantastic husband loves me and makes me feel desired in whatever shape or size I am, whether I’m skinny or curvaceous.  

I love my body.

But I'm ready to feel healthier.  Stronger.  I want to get out of the bathtub without feeling like I’m about to slip and get very hurt.  I want to climb stairs without being winded.  I want to go surfing someday and be strong enough to actually catch a wave.   I want to feel like I’m taking care of my body enough that I don’t have to worry I’ll die before I can meet my grandchildren (many years from now).  And I don’t want to be too decrepit to help my sons with said grandchildren..

It's not fat shaming for me to want to be skinny again.  Aside from the whole e coli thing and the Celiac symptoms, in a way, I felt healthier when I was sick.   And I still have some really cute size 4 clothes in the attic that I'd like to get to wear again.  I don't much have cute clothes these days.  Other than some cool T-shirts, I think I hate just about all of my fat clothes.  It’s not as valid a reason to lose weight as my desire to be healthy, but I would like to like the clothes I wear.

So I am going to lose 5 pounds.

Not 50.  5.

I have a smart sister.  I don't know if she knows that.  She was the pretty one - I was the smart one.  Or so she thinks.  But she's really quite bright, and she told me that she lost weight by having a goal of 5 pounds.  Then another 5, then another 5, til she lost 20.  So I'll keep going once I hit my first goal, but for now, I will work towards losing 5 pounds.

And I am publicly declaring my goal, ‘cause that's how we stick to resolutions in this social media age, right?  

This post has been a long time coming.  I’ve become more interested in the connection between body image and NIP fears, thinking more about my own body image.  Thinking more about expanding the scope of this blog.

But I have been afraid that no one would be interested in anything besides the breastfeeding advocacy they came here for to begin with.  I have been afraid that if I posted this goal here, I would publicly fail.  I‘ve been afraid that if I posted it, I’d have to start.  Start limiting portions, start exercising.  Start taking care of myself.  

Robert Anthony said, “We fear the thing we want the most.”  I have to admit, I don’t know who Robert Anthony is (was?).  I Googled “fear quotes,” looking for a way to end this post!  And this one works.  

I want to change my eating habits.  I want to exercise.  I want to take care of myself.  And I know other people can relate to this - so I want my journey to be of interest to people who might find themselves here reading this.

So - here goes.  

I had a lovely Valentine’s Day, replete with several gluten-free, egg-free brownies (thank you, Adam!), chocolate covered strawberries, and before I came to bed I squirted too much Redi-Whip directly into my mouth.  I enjoyed getting my sugar on today.  And now it's time to say goodbye.

Tomorrow, I start losing 5 pounds. Update: You can read about my first week of choosing health here.

Do you think your body image may be distorted?
Have you made a commitment to self care?
If so, do you think you are motivated by how you look, or by how you feel?

Edit: I'm overwhelmed by the reception of this post! Several people have been inspired by my sister's idea to lose five pounds. If you'd like to join me, I've created a Facebook group for support and accountability. *Some people lose weight on a gluten-free diet.  I suspect this has to do with cutting carbs by cutting gluten.  Celiacs often have trouble gaining weight, and are able to do so as their intestines heal on a gluten-free diet.  
And as long as I’m writing about Celiac, I feel I should mention that many people are sensitive to gluten even without having Celiac.  If you have any health issues whatsoever, it may be worth going gluten-free for awhile to see if anything changes.  Gluten is bad mojo.