Valentine's Day this year was a total bust. Baby, hubby and I all succumbed to a nasty stomach bug the night before, that lingered in the hubby and me until the day after. During that very miserable 48 hours I learned a few things.
#1 - The capacity of a 10 month old's stomach seems MUCH larger when it's spread all over your chest.
#2 - A sports bra will hold a remarkable amount of liquid.
#3 - My baby bounces back from illness WAY faster than I do. She was back to almost 100% in less than 24 hours.
#4 - The amount of energy my recovering baby had was inversely proportional to the energy that was being sapped from my body by the virus.
#5 - I have the most awesome friends ever, who were willing to drop off things like Pedialyte and Gatorade since me and the hubby were to sick to even think about driving to the store.
I have had a few frightening experiences in my life that have left indelible marks on my psyche. Moments in my life that scared me out of my mind and remain forever etched in my memory.
The first happened on the family vacation when I was 15. My family went camping at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. Now, for this story to make any sense, I guess I should explain what a “shut-in” is. It's a hillbilly term for where a river becomes unnavigable due to rock that doesn't erode well, leaving the water running through many small rapids, usually in a small gorge. Kind of like a small, very rocky canyon. While it makes for difficult travel on the river that is “shut-in”, it turns that part of the river into almost a natural water park.
My dad, sister, brother and I were all playing in the water in the Shut-ins, having a great time sliding down natural water slides from one calm pool to another in the river. I managed to get a ways ahead of the rest of my family. I slid down another natural water slide, and the current was stronger than I expected and I got pulled down, down, down into the water. The downward pull of the current was incredibly strong, and despite being a decent swimmer, I was having difficulty struggling to the surface to breathe. Since I had gotten so far ahead, and there weren't really any other people near where I was, I was positive that I was going to drown, because I was getting worn out from fighting the downward pull of the current.
Suddenly, a hand grasped mine as I was fighting to the surface and helped pull me out. I have no idea who my rescuer was. He was just a kid, looked to be about the same age as me, and he wandered off with his friend shortly after pulling me out of the water. I don't even remember if I was able to mumble a thank you to him or not.
The second incident occurred when on Christmas Break when I was a Sophomore in college. I was driving to work, going around a fairly tight curve when one of my rear tires blew out.
You know how in the movies sometimes car wrecks are portrayed in slow motion? I understand why now. Everything went so fast, but it seemed to be happening soooo slowly. My car did a 180 as it slid into the ditch. As it slid I glanced out my side window and saw the pole for one of the highway signs coming right for my head. I had just enough time to think “I'm going to die!” before I hit the pole. Fortunately, it sheared off at the ground and went flying instead of going through the window.
The momentum of my car was only stopped by the fact that the ditch I slid into was fairly deep. If not for that ditch, my car would've rolled. A nice lady happened on to the scene shortly after I managed to crawl out of my car and drove me to work where I called my parents and they called the tow truck. It wasn't until a while later that the adrenaline wore off and I started to HURT! It's been nearly 10 years since that accident, and I still have problems with my back where it got thrown out by that wreck.
The last incident happened more recently; when my baby was 4 ½ months old. I had my first head cold in around a year, and was not sleeping well. It's become a habit whenever I wake up in the night for me to reach over and check on my daughter as she sleeps.
On this particular night I reached over, felt her, and her head was cool. I slid my hand down her back and in my half-asleep state, couldn't feel her breathing. So I shook her lightly. Usually, if I do this when she's asleep, she'll just adjust her sleeping position and continue sleeping. This night, I shook her lightly, then harder, and she didn't move. I flew out of bed, convinced that my baby was dead or dying. I scooped her out of her cradle so swiftly the edge of the cradle flew into the wall and the noise woke up the hubby.
Barely daring to breathe myself I held my baby girl and she suddenly yawned hugely, stretched, dropped her head on my shoulder and continued to sleep soundly, completely unaware of how badly she scared me. It took a full week before I could bring myself to let her sleep all night by herself in her cradle again, and I kept waking up every hour and a half or so checking on her! I think it's going to be a while before I even think about letting her sleep in her own room thanks to this incident...
Society puts an inordinate amount of emphasis on physical appearance. We're told that we have to look a certain way in order to find love, happiness, success and fulfillment. And we buy into it, and perpetuate it with every anti-aging serum purchased, every fad diet followed, every “God, I'm so fat and disgusting” uttered.
I freely admit that I've fallen for the same lies, and still struggle with negative body image from time to time. Negative body images that have been drilled into my head my entire life. Nearly every woman of influence in my life has expressed disgust with her physical form more than once. Women whose intelligence, inner beauty, and spunk far outshone any physical flaws they may or may not have had.
It's wrong. So very, very few women fit the “ideal” that is pushed on us. The average model who is used to tell us how we should look is over 5'9” and weighs less than 130 lbs. However, the average woman in the U.S.A. is just under 5'4” and weighs 166 lbs. It's no wonder that clothes that look good in the ads, on mannequins and on the hangers just don't look right when the average woman puts them on.
If you've had a child, it just gets worse. Mothers are told that having a baby will “ruin” our bodies. We're given unrealistic ideas of how a woman is supposed to look before, during and after childbirth. There are “remedies” for stretch marks, diet and exercise plans for losing the “baby weight.” And heaven help the woman who isn't back into her pre-baby shape in a matter of months. Because we all have access to personal trainers and chefs like the Hollywood starlets who shed baby weight in a matter of weeks...
It took having a baby and “ruining” my body for me to begin to accept my body the way it is. During the months of my pregnancy I learned something. This body of mine, though it's definitely too short and round to be the body of a model, is capable of the miraculous. This body is capable of growing and sustaining another human life. For a short time another human being lived inside my body. And now my body produces the only nourishment that she needs for the first year of her life.
I cherish every stripe on my stomach, because those are the marks that show that I grew a person that is dearer to me than life itself. I embrace my body type, because that is my inheritance from my mother, my father, my grandparents. I hope that I can be an example that will help my daughter to always know that she is beautiful, inside and out, no how tall or short or round or skinny she grows up to be.