The F Word

You thought I meant the four letter one, huh? Or the three letter one? Nope! I mean the word FEMINIST.

Most of the time, I love being a woman. In high school, my best friend and I would pore over the book Making Faces, spending hours crafting various looks from tubes of concealer and blushes and eyeshadows. We delighted in the feminine pursuit of shopping and finding clothes that flattered our bodies, made us feel confident, and brought a swing to our step. Even dating was in some ways an exercise in self-acceptance, as we quickly grew to realize what boys really did appreciate the fact that we loved aggressive girl-punk-rock, and which ones actually thought we were just silly girls.

I’ve always had a feminist edge, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m a feminist. I’m still shocked by something that happened to me in college: I was working on my Bachelor’s degree in 2008 at Cal State Northridge, and we had a “women and men in the media” class. My teacher asked everyone in the class who was a feminist to raise their hands. Out of 32 students, one person raised their hand. That person was me. I couldn’t quite understand why being a feminist was seen as such a bad thing. In fact, one of my first boyfriends dumped me because I was a “feminazi” because I told him that females could be DJs just like men, and he felt that DJs should only be male. My definition of feminist is somebody who values, respects, and appreciates that women should have the exact same rights as men. I’m not standing on street corners burning my bra or refusing to shave my legs (though quite frankly, if women want to do that, go for it. (And shaving your legs totally sucks, so I can see the appeal in that,). I once saw a quote that said that all people born from women should be feminists… and I agree.

As I near the end of my pregnancy, I’ve had some time to reflect on body image and beauty standards for women. When other people see you are pregnant, they feel they have a free pass to comment on your appearance as it now pertains to two people: you and a baby. I’m used to rude comments on my appearance as a woman of size, and thankfully while I don’t experience it often (apparently I “carry it well”, another thing I hear a lot), I’ve noticed that as I have just under 4.5 weeks to go, the comments about the size of my body, appearance, and bump are picking up. I also heard comments about my food choices in my early pregnancy, but anyone who dares comment on my dietary choices now might receive a swift kick to the head. I don’t want my daughter to be walking through the mall hearing teenage boys make “oink” sounds behind her back. If she chooses to become pregnant one day, I also don’t want her to have to hear “Wow, you still have four weeks to go? You look ready now!”. I don’t want her to hear about the size of her breasts, how she has such a pretty face, or how things would be better “if only” she lost a little weight. However, I’ve accepted the sad reality that because she is female, she will hear these things. In Amy’s Schumer’s movie, Train Wreck, the main character’s sister shares that she found out her unborn baby is a girl. Amy shares her excitement and says something to the extent of “That’s wonderful!”. Her sister immediately says “No, it’s not! She’s totally screwed!” and Amy says, “Yeah, you’re right, she’s screwed.” The actual dialogue in the movie is much more succinct, but basically the gist of the scene is, yeah, she’s  a female, she’s already got a few challenges stacked against her just because of her gender. While I am thrilled to be having a baby girl, I admit I have some of the same hesitations. I’ve lived an amazing life thus far, but have I experienced sexism or problems because I’m female? You betcha. We all have… and I’m sure even men have experienced things that suck because they’re guys.

Jennifer Weiner wrote this letter to her daughters, and it made me sniffle because it sums up so eloquently what I want my daughter to know. As we’re just weeks away from meeting her, I want her to know it’s ok to be a girl. It’s ok to love the color pink, and it’s also okay to hate wearing a bra. It’s ok to be a feminist. It’s ok to question the status quo, to be angry that she may be reduced to her appearance rather than the sum of her parts. I haven’t even seen her yet and I know that she is beautiful, not because of what she looks like, but because of who she is. She will be courageous, and strong, and intelligent. She will be creative in her own ways, independent in her own ways, opinionated in her own ways. And she will grow up with a mom and dad that encourage her to be herself, and to raise her hand when a teacher asks if she is a feminist. And with any luck, hopefully she won’t be the only person in the room to raise her hand.

A bundle of joy arrives in November!

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My husband and I are very excited to share that in November, we’ll be parents! We enjoyed an awesome five years of marriage before deciding to expand our family, and now that we’re expecting, we’re over the moon. I’ll be sharing more on the blog later about what it will mean to have a plus-sized pregnancy (hint: nothing dramatic. With healthy eating and exercise, you can have a healthy, normal pregnancy — I have so far been lucky to have not gained a pound, and have felt great!), and how I ultimately made the decision to move forward with my life despite not reaching my goal with weight. But for now, I wanted to share a little bit about how we broke the news.

Matt and I went on a Caribbean cruise in mid-March, and thankfully, even though I was about eight weeks along, other than fatigue, I felt really good (I did miss my mojitos, though!). We decided to take a photo on the beach and write “Baby C” in the sand (See below). I’m wearing my weekly bump shirt that I made (thanks to my pal KJ Pugs), and two awesome gals on the beach helped us stage a mini photo shoot. Because we live eight hours away from our immediate family, we knew we’d have to break the news digitally to some people. Thankfully Matt’s Dad was coming down to visit, so we got to surprise him in person with a custom mug that says “Grandpa, Est. 11/15”.

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We also got to tell my best friend and sister in person. I bought them aunt onesies, wrapped them in boxes, and had them both open the boxes at the same time. My sister screamed so loud and jumped up and down that I’m pretty sure the cats thought it was the apocolypse — it was awesome! Here she is right after hearing the news, and right after putting on her makeup (sorry, Ape! My timing was off on that!), hair still wet in a babushka.

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Surprising my parents was a little bit more complex. We decided to have my sister print the photo from the cruise, and present it to my parents while we skyped them. You’ll hear my sister say we shipped the picture. Thanks to my awesome brother, we have this video of my mom’s insane reaction. (Back story: My mom has been annoyingly obsessed with becoming a Grandma since I was about 18 (not kidding!). She had to be sternly reminded several times that we would have kids when we were ready, and I always told her good things come to those who wait. See, Mom? It finally happened!) PS if you’re offended by F-bombs, do not watch this video because there are several of them! My favorite part is the dog jumping up and down with my mom.

I’d been trickling out the news slowly to family and friends, and as of today I’m 13.5 weeks pregnant and thanks to a detailed scan last week, we know that Baby C. looks great and is so far nice and healthy! (Please say a little prayer, send good thoughts, or make a wish on a dandelion that all continues to go well.) 🙂  To pre-emptively answer a few questions I’ve been getting lately:

  • How am I feeling? As I mentioned earlier, my only major symptom has been fatigue, but I’m starting to perk up a little bit. I haven’t had any morning sickness and I feel so fortunate that so far I’m feeling really, really good. Being crazy excited helps 🙂
  • When is the due date? November 12, a Scorpio!
  • Will we find out gender? Yes! Definitely. I think we still have a few more weeks to go before we’ll know. I definitely have a “feeling” it’s one gender, so I’ll be curious to see if I’m right!
  • Any cravings? In the earlier weeks I craved a Veggie Delite sub from Subway, and have been super averse to chicken. In fact, I’m struggling with eating meat in general. I’ve never been a big meat eater and am having to be creative about getting enough protein. The most consistent craving I’ve had is berries – strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, which I have almost daily. I’ve also craved Sour Patch Kids and Cheez-Its, but am trying to keep my junky indulgences to a minimum.
  • Was the baby planned? Yes, indeed! I am very grateful to have conceived as having PCOS can make things dicey in terms of fertility, and I am well aware of the struggles so many people go through to become parents. I am holding all of the hopeful parents to be in my heart that one day their dream is fulfilled.

So that’s my news, Double Chinners! I’ll be back on the DCD more often now because, heck, I missed y’all, and even though my new blog is cool, DCD will always be my home. Thank you as always for your loyalty and time, and for reading my little old blog. I’m a pretty lucky gal! <3

A Weighty Situation

I’ve been with my husband for over nine years. In those nine years we’ve shared dreams, devastations, ambitions, phenomenal failures, terrific triumphs, catastrophes and miracles. Our challenges as a couple are always met with unyielding support and encouragement. Because of this, I’ve shared everything with him. The irrational thoughts that swirl around my loud brain, the fact that sometimes I forget to brush my teeth in the morning, the curious joy I get from naming random objects and bursting into song. I have shared everything with him. Well, almost everything. Not quite everything. There’s just this one thing. My weight.

We're better together - through thick and thin!

Somebody once said, there are three things you never ask a woman – her age, her political affiliation, and her weight. I’m 26. I’m a democrat with some independent views.
I weigh _ _ _. I’m an annoyingly honest person – but I just couldn’t share that number. I often suffer from foot in mouth disease, where my bluntness and the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve gets me into trouble. But there was something about those three numbers that I could never admit, and they hung in the air like an eternal question mark, a number that would never cross my lips. I was ashamed. I am ashamed. But I am also optimistic.

Maybe it was the stigma of being over the dreaded 200, or the fact that I’m about 60 pounds heavier than he is. Maybe it’s the fact that women just DON’T talk about their “number” with men. So I told him. We were having dinner, and I told him. I was sick of leaping off the scale when he came into the room, afraid he’d see my weight. I was sick of having to dance around it in conversations about my weight loss – “Well, I’m up this many pounds but down from the last time I was this much, so that makes me 23 pounds less than my highest…” I was sick of having it be a big, fat elephant sitting on my chest – because the bottom line is that it’s just a number. It doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of life. In my health and self esteem, sure. But it’s not going to make or break my marriage.

We were sitting at the dinner table and it came up, like random bits of conversation often do. I paused. I wanted badly to tell him. I tried. The words stopped at my lips, the “two” dangling mid-air. Did I want to do this? Why? Did it matter? Does he need to know? Yes. Yes ,I want to do this. It matters because it’s a secret. And I don’t like secrets – not between me and my best friend. “You don’t need to tell me,” he said. I told him.

What happened?

He smiled. He admitted that he was impressed that I told him. He reassured me, and was 100% awesome about it, ensuring me that once again, I totally married the right guy for being always, unequivocally at my side. He’s my biggest fan – and I’m glad that now, I can officially say that there are no large, looming mysteries between us. My weight is now just a number – not a secret.

When it comes to your weight and your partner – is mum the word, or do they know the number? If you haven’t shared it, why do you think that is? For me, it’s the years of shame and stigma associated with being fat, the insecurity of my self worth possibly being judged just by a number. I’d like to know your perspective, too.

Taking a Stand

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Last week I did something I normally have trouble doing. I took a stand. I suffer from horrible, year-round allergies – so bad, that for a year I had to get four weekly shots. I now get shots about every three weeks and have been getting them for a total of 2.5 years. I am most allergic to Kentucky Blue Grass and Meadow Fescue, which are the most common grasses. I have a bi-annual check up with my allergist that I dread – not because he tells me I’ll still be getting stabbed with things that my make body wheeze and itch for another year, but because he ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS brings up my weight. Doesn’t matter that he brings up my weight. What matters is that he dwells on it.

Leo loves the grass... but if I did this I would break out in hives!

It’s a normal thing when you’re obese. Your health is in danger. It seems appropriate to mention it once or twice, but to bring it up and dwell on it? Not necessary. The last time I saw this particular doctor, he grilled me about my fitness routine and my eating plan. When I exclaimed that I was struggling with it he instructed me to “try harder”.  When I said I exercised at least three times a week, he said I needed to do it every day. He then went on to say that maybe after I lose the weight, my allergies will go away. The appointment, which was supposed to be about my allergies, turned into a critique of my lifestyle, and I left with a prescription for Flonase and a deflated self-esteem.

So how did I take a stand? I received an appointment card in the mail for this allergist, and I while I was getting this week’s shots, I asked for a new doctor. It felt good. The nurse asked why and I no problem saying that I felt like he was a bully about my weight. She remarked that he “meant well” and I said, “he may mean well but there’s a right way to bring it up.”

The new doctor might bring up my weight, but hopefully he’ll do it in a kind, “this is a reminder” type of way, and not as in “THE REASON YOUR SKIN ITCHES AND YOU HAVE HORRIBLE ALLERGIES IS BECAUSE YOU’RE FAT”. Because I’m sorry – I’m no MD, but fat does not equal allergies.

My penchant for popcorn isn’t the direct cause of grass-induced hives. If it was, I’d have quit that popcorn a long time ago – and kissed my fat, and my allergies, goodbye.

Don't worry - we didn't even make it through half of this bowl!