My Body Image and My Daughter



My daughter asked me the dreaded question, ‘Why are you doing the exercises’?  My son was napping and daughter had been on her LeapFrog.  It seemed like the perfect time to break the plastic wrap on my new 10 minute segment workout DVD. As soon I started, my daughter looked up with surprise and curious about the workout.  Honestly, I don’t think she had ever seen me exercise before.

Prior to my last pregnancy I attempted to work out at night while she was sleeping.  Being up all night with a newborn means I sleep when he sleeps so working out at night is not an option any more.  The frustrating residual 30 postpartum pounds weren’t coming off through diet alone.  I wish it didn’t bother me as much as it did.  The extra weight makes me extremely self conscious, and I spend unnecessary time looking for something to wear that fits each day.

When I first started the workout my daughter was getting in my way and trying to stop me from doing the moves.  Then, she asked me the question about why I am exercising.   I thought (and panicked) for a moment before I responded. I wanted to give her the perfect answer about why I’m exercising. I really wanted to respond in a way that would not reflect on my own issues.

My body image and self consciousness have been a problem my whole life.  I developed early, and was taunted about my extra ‘weight’ and told I was fat in junior high by classmates.  I had a cousin that called me ‘fat Popeye’ because I had a vision problem that made me squint.  My dad often said I was ‘built like a tank’ as I played tennis and have an athletic built.  My mom, in an effort to help, offered contests between us that whoever could lose weight the fastest would get a new outfit or new shoes.  Growing up my whole family talked about weight, dieting, and the scale on a daily basis.  My husband jokes that he had never met a family that talked about diets as much as we did.  I had basically been dieting and worrying about my weight since I was ten years old.

My husband also was teased as a child about his weight and could relate.  Becasue of our pasts, we have talked extensively that we don’t want our daughter to worry about dieting and the scale.  We just want her to be healthy.  This means limiting our discussions about dieting and weight in front of her.  I don’t want her to obsess like I have all these years.  This is why we often stop ourselves from talking about our own weight or fitness goals in front of my daughter.  I recently had a family friend over that mentioned she was ‘at her heaviest’ and ‘cake makes you chubby’ when offered a piece in front of my daughter’s curious ears.  I cringed as my daughter asked ‘what’ because she had no idea what the friend was talking about.  I want ‘diet’, ‘chubby’ and  ‘weight’ out of her vocabulary as a child.  During her speech therapy evaluation she couldn’t identify what a scale was through the pictures.  I was happy about that!

So, when my four year old daughter asked me why I  was exercising I immediately thought ‘because I feel fat and want to drop 30 pounds.’  Instead, I told her that it makes mommy feel better and gives more energy to keep up with her and her brother.  I said that mommy’s body had changed while carrying her brother, and I wanted to make it stronger.  As I explained this to my daughter I wanted to believe them myself.  If I was going to commit to helping my daughter have a positive self image, I needed to believe that the benefits of exercise expand beyond just losing pounds.

I’m not sure my four year understood my reasons, but yesterday she turned on my DVD and said she was going to ‘do the exercises’.  I texted my family the picture of her turning on the DVD and commented my trainer had arrived.  She even asked for little weights like mine.  It was really cute because I’m sure she just wanted to be like mommy and I love that.   I explained that she exercises every day through jumping in her bouncy house, skating lessons, or ballet class.  I told her how once upon a time I played tennis and hoped to teach her how this spring.

As a parent we are given the gift to help our children not go through the same mistakes we’ve lived.  Or, if they do make similar mistakes we can take our past lessons and help them cope and learn.  A regret of mine was to let others’ judgement cause years of self consciousness that lead to my obsessive dieting.  Today, my husband asked if my daughter was going to do her exercise moves and I was happy to hear her say, ‘I’m not going to do those exercises today.’  To which I said, ‘Yes, we have a lot of playing to do today.’


When did you stop playing with my hair?

View More: you were going to Grandma’s house for a sleepover.  As I strapped you in your car seat you grabbed my hair and gently rubbed it against your cheek.  I stopped and panicked.  When did you stop playing with my hair?  That was always something you did whenever I held or hugged you.  It was our ‘thing’.  Somehow I had missed when it stopped happening.

Was it during the summer when I was so nauseous from being pregnant that you finally started playing by yourself?  Or, was it when I stopped laying by you at night because I needed you to be a ‘big girl’?  Maybe it happened when I told you that you were going to be a big sister and we talked about how a new baby was coming to live with us.

I can’t remember when it ended, and it breaks my heart a little.  That was something we did together since you were a baby.  You would wrap your little fingers around my hair, or spread it across your face while I rocked you.  Then as you got older I would hold you on my lap and there your hands would be all up in my hair.  Sometimes you would yank too hard and I would yelp, or my hair would end up in tangles but it always soothed you.

Your hands always need to be busy doing something.  You’re a busy girl that now needs a doll to play with, a craft to be working on, or just running around the house flailing your hands. You want Grandma to teach you to sew and beg for piano lessons to keep those fingers moving at a rapid speed.  Fingers that no longer need my hair.

We were told to break the habit of laying by you at night for your own good.  We gave prizes when you did it like a big girl.  It was a huge adjustment for both of us.  Now, sometimes you beg for me to lay by you a bit and I do for a few minutes before your brother starts crying.  But for the most part you run to your bed and ask for music to fall asleep to.

You resisted being independent on anything for so long and I would sigh that you could do these things yourself. Your preschool teachers would send you home to tell your parents that you can put your own coat on, and parents don’t need to help any more.  Everyone was always trying to make you independent and grow up faster.  I was in such a hurry to push you through the milestones.  I’m not sure if it was your speech delay, or pressure I o others put on to ‘keep up’.  I missed when you no longer became a toddler.  You’re a big girl going to kindergarten next year.  Now that you are easier time is flying by.  Just when I want you to stop growing up so fast and time to stop, it seems to be moving even faster.

I watched you last night while you fell asleep.  You played with your own hair as you sang yourself to sleep to the music.  Your brother was asleep and I crawled in next to you.  I didn’t care if it would ‘mess up’ our night time routine that I had worked so hard to perfect.  I needed to lay by you.  Time, and you are slipping through my fingers.

Emergency Room Visit

On Sunday we took Baby N to the emergency room.  Prior to Saturday we had become accustomed to N crying for 1-2 hours every night.  Everyone said this was normal.  However, on Friday night he screamed for 5 hours, and on Saturday night he screamed for 6 hours.  By Sunday morning he was not waking for feedings and I was concerned.  D and I had both had colds so I was worried he had caught it.

Let me preface by saying my daughter was colicky so I am somewhat of a pro at handling screaming.  (If you haven’t read Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp then I recommend it for babies that cry a lot.  However, NOTHING we did calmed N down for those 6 hours.  Also, his screaming was only at night while D’s screaming was all throughout the day.  So, I called the nurse to have him seen because he also sounded nasally and having a hard time swallowing.  When I talked to the nurse she mentioned colic and acid reflux.  Since N was not even stirring to feed or during diaper/clothes changes, they wanted him to be seen at the emergency room.

At the hospital they suctioned his nose with their high-tech suctioner, and a ton of stuff came out so that explained the nasal part.  However, after taking his temperature again, blood pressure, and being checked by the doctor they could not find anything wrong.  We had already changed the formula three times, and he was on this one for about 3 weeks now.  Of course, the doctor mentioned that colic peeks at 2 months (lived this so I knew), but they wrote him up a prescription for acid reflux.

Here’s where the guilt starts.  I am a breast-feeding failure.  With my first, she was in the NICU and I tried SO HARD.  Her sugar levels were off so the doctors immediately had to give her a bottle.  I hemmoraged so I could only get her to latch the few times I could leave my room in a wheelchair to the NICU.  I also pumped EVERY 3 hours around the clock.  I never caught up and my milk supply didn’t increase beyond a few drops.

This time around N latched on right away, and I thought we were good.   However, he was jaundice, and had to be given formula to push the jaudince out.  He lost a pound and due to the jaundice I really had no choice but to supplement.  Then, the whole nipple confusion added to the problem.  All the anxiety got to me, and I was in so much pain from the delivery that my husband recommended formula for my mental well-being.  I gave in to formula feed.

The guilt of not breastfeeding took over a few weeks later I rented a hospital grade pump, and pumped to see if my supply ever came in.  A few drops came out on the left side and that was it.  The doctors told me that in both deliveries they had to go back and remove some of the retained placenta and that this probably contributed to my lack of milk supply.

So, here we are two days after the ER visit.  N has been on the acid reflux medicine since Sunday night.  I also started spacing out the formula longer than the recommended 3 hours for his stomach to digest it.  N is starving by 3 1/2 hours and takes the whole 5 ounce bottle, but I’m not hearing as much gas.

He only screamed for 2 hours last night and the doctor said that the medicine could take up to 2 days so I’m hoping it is working.  My sister reminded me that her daughters were both breastfed and struggled with reflux.  Therefore, maybe it’s time to stop being so hard on myself with the breastfeeding battle.  Baby N is smiling and cooing and I’m going to take comfort in that he seems really happy now.




1 Month Postpartum Update: I just wasn’t that cute, happy pregnant chick

Have you ever looked at one of those beautiful pregnant girls that are just glowing?  Yeah, that isn’t me.  I couldn’t bring myself to take a belly shot, or any kind of photo towards the end.  All I saw was puffiness and someone that didn’t look like me.

I was so uncomfortable at the end that I was quite the miserable person to be around.  I had contractions all day every day for about a month.  Everyone would ask if I was excited.  Yes, I was excited to get it over with.  I hated being pregnant.  There, I said it.

After talking to other moms I had high expectations for my second delivery. I assumed my labor would go faster and I would recover quickly.  Things didn’t go according to plans.  My labor was similar to my daughter’s, and required a lot of time to heal.  Also, with my daughter I had swelling early on so I was pretty used to my huge feet and no ankles during pregnancy.  This time my feet, ankles, and legs swelled a few days after the delivery.  The doctors told me it would take even longer to go down the second time because I was taking care of my older child and couldn’t sit around with my feet up.  I could barely walk with no ankles!

I finally feel like myself again, and am completely grateful for this gift I was given.  The  uncomfortableness and long recovery were of course worth it to have my son.  My sister is one of those women that loves being pregnant, however it doesn’t happen easy for her.  She has to change her diet, go to acupuncture, and jump through hopes to get pregnant. She also has had miscarriages that are so heartbreaking.  Therefore, I can take disappearing from pictures for a few months and avoiding mirrors to have my beautiful children.

You can see from the picture I am a puffy, but happy girl after I had my son 🙂



My experience so far with two children


I am sitting here somewhat showered and rested.  With a newborn I am pretty lucky to be able to say that today.  Baby N is two weeks and two days old.  Sometimes I can’t believe he’s here, and then other times I feel like he’s always been part of our family.

The change from one child to two children though has been an adjustment.  Friends and family warned me that I would have zero free time and how much harder it is to manage once baby #2 came.  Well, they were so right.  Between all the laundry, bottles, feedings, and baby holding there isn’t much me time.  I also have to factor in my four-year old D and spending time with her.  This week I took D to school with the baby every morning.  I felt so accomplished and exhausted just making it to her school every day on time with two kids in the morning.

Everybody was right about it being harder, but no one told me that the mommy guilt would double.  With just one child I felt guilty taking time for myself because I thought I should be playing with D, making sure she was entertained, or teaching her things.  Even before baby N was born I felt extra guilt to make sure I was spending every minute I could with her so she had attention before the baby came.  Now that baby N is here I feel the mommy guilt times two.  How can I possibly shower, or take a minute to myself when there is laundry to do and a house to clean.  When baby N is sleeping I should be giving all my attention to D, right?  It would be selfish of me to focus on myself when I now have two kids depending on me.

These thoughts consumed me and guess what?  I didn’t shower for a week, put makeup on, or get out of my sweats.  Besides the occasional social media check during feedings or doctor appointment, I was not doing anything for me.  And, I felt awful.  I had been in this place before when D was in therapy and I didn’t want to go back.  It can get depressing and resentment can build.

This is why I’m determined not to let the mommy guilt take over.  D is at school and Baby N is sleeping next to me.  I wanted to write today, and I’m actually sitting down with a healthy breakfast and coffee. Of course, I look at the bottles and laundry that need washing, and how I should be holding baby N instead of letting him lay in his pack n play.  I tell myself I have the rest of the day to catch up, but for 30 minutes I’m forcing myself to work on me.

Christmas cookie baking time!

img_2396 img_2440Tis the season…for being sick.  Ugh.  As of Saturday I’m officially 36 weeks pregnant and developed a sinus infection.  Since I am not in a hurry to head out in the Chicago bitter cold weather, we decide to bake cookies.

My Godmother has the best recipe for the best sugar cookies.  We took artificial dyes out of my daughter’s diet and are always looking for treats that she can enjoy.  That’s why I was so excited when my mom picked up McCormick natural food dye for our cookie extravaganza.



























Hope you enjoy and let me know if you try the recipe!

Thank you to the other mom that included us….

Dear Mommy Friend,

When I initially left my job to stay at home I thought I totally had this stay at home thing.  I envisioned my weeks filled with picnics in the park and playdates with tons of mommy friends.  The reality came crashing down.  The mommy friends never came.  I signed my daughter up for park district classes, swim lessons, and library story times.  It felt like high school all over again.  I even joined a mommy Meetup and left crying because I couldn’t talk to one person while my daughter ran in circles the whole time.  That rejection a week later was anticipated, but stung a little.  My cousin, who had found a mommy play group that way in her area asked, ‘Does that happen?’.

Fast forward two years and my daughter not only qualified for the Early Intervention therapy program, but was diagnosed with a speech delay, and the word sensory was being thrown around.  My life revolved around four therapists at my house six times a week and researching/investing in everything they suggested to help my daughter.

When my daughter entered preschool I decided we needed one activity a week that was noneducational or therapy-related.  I found a ballet school that was taught by an occupational therapist.  To say I was a wreck was an understatement.  With my daughter’s speech delay I always felt like I needed to speak for her.  I felt like she wasn’t connecting to the other children and even the parents with her lack of communication.  Regardless, she stuck with the class for a year and is currently in the same class again this year.

D’s speech got better and she caught up to other kids.  She started having more interactions with the girls in class.  We also chatted during those classes.  You reminded me so much of my old work friends and maybe you saw a glimmer of the previous me.  The corporate chick that had her life together instead of this mom that had nothing figured out.  When you gave that birthday invitation to D for your daughter’s party the impact on her was huge.  I could see it in D’s face.  She felt accepted for once.  She talked about your daughter’s party for weeks and kept the invitation by her bed.

That invitation had an impact on me as well.  After four and half years of feeling isolated, I realized that I just wanted to know that D was going to be okay and accepted by other children.  D would beg for friends and it would break my heart.  I wanted D to be able to interact with other children and she was finally able to do that.

Since that birthday party, you had a baby and were on maternity leave from work.  You turned to the other ballet moms and asked ‘This stay-at-home thing is hard.  How can I be surrounded by a toddler, baby, and dogs, and still feel…?”.  I looked at you and said, “lonely.’  You said yes, and I asked if you wanted to have a playdate that week.