Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement on yesterday’s post. I actually saw 157.2 on the scale yesterday morning, and it’s nice to know I’ll most certainly hit 155 by the end of the month, as was my goal. Already my clothes are fitting very differently. I’ve pulled some of the large sized tops out of storage and I’m packing up some of my maternity tops, which are looking ridiculously billowy at this point. It feels good to have some new clothes to wear, and to feel better about my body when I wear them.

I’m also sorry that I haven’t been commenting much this week. It’s our last week of school. Between grades being due (I just turned mine! Yay!), 8th grade graduation, driving up to the city to pick up my kids and then taking them back down to my work to go to special events and then commuting back up to the city again, and keeping up with the laundry and chores at home, I’m barely keeping my head above water. Also, Feedly was hacked, and HELD HOSTAGE (because, evidently, that is a THING that can HAPPEN?!) so I haven’t been able to even read blogs all day today (I’m going into withdrawal, seriously). I hope to start commenting again soon. Tomorrow is my last day with students so it should happen promptly.

But today’s post is not really about either of those things. Today I want to talk about something else entirely.

After I wrote those two posts about what I want to accomplish with my life, I did what I always do and I tried to find a book on the subject. What I ended up getting was It’s a Meaningful Life, It Just Takes Practice by Bo Lozoff. It got 22 FIVE STAR REVIEWS on Amazon. As in, there were no other reviews, except five star reviews. I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything on Amazon with only 5 star reviews, at least not such a significant number of them. Just that was enough to get me to buy it. The fact that it was about incorporating mindfulness practice into daily life to make it more meaningful, and that it included concrete practices to do that, made it all the more compelling.

I started reading it today. I can tell it’s going to be different than a lot of mindfulness books that I’ve read before, because it really does focus on THE PRACTICE. Lozoff insists that reading about and studying mindfulness, but not practicing mindfulness, is ultimately unproductive. He quotes Wang Yang Ming:

To know and not do is in fact not to know.

That is some powerful truth. It is a truth that I know intimately, as a well versed studier of mindfulness who has yet to incorporate it meaningfully into her life. I know all about mindfulness, and how transformative it can be, but I don’t practice it, so I don’t actually know anything about it. It’s more a hypothetical thing I COULD know, if I cared enough to learn it. But so far, I haven’t.

The thing is, it requires real change to learn these substantial truths. Change is hard. And I, like so many others, am complacent. I want things to change, but I don’t want to have to do the changing. Significant change requires significant work, and I already work hard enough.

I’m not sure I’m ready to do these difficult things. I’m not sure I have the right mindset yet. I want to do them, but I don’t want to do what I have to do to do them. (Does that make sense?) Like when you want to be thinner, but you don’t want to stop eating all the delicious foods that keep you from being thinner. Or when you want to work out every day, but you don’t want to wake up an hour earlier to do it. It’s like that. I want to start my day mindfully, but I don’t want to get less sleep so I can meditate or do sun salutations before my kids wake up. I want to speak more mindfully, but I don’t want to vow never to speak about anyone when they aren’t in my presence. (Is this even possible? Do celebrities count? Ugh, I really enjoy a little light, harmless gossip every once in a while.)

So I want to make profound changes in my life, but I’m not sure I’m prepared to make the sacrifices required. I’m not sure I’m prepared to do THE PRACTICE.

And yet, I’m not happy the way things are. I can distract myself from the realities of my life for prolonged periods of time, and sometimes I think I’m very content, but eventually the faΓ§ade falls away and I realize I’m not all that satisfied. It’s a cycle I’m becoming more tired of as the years march by. I don’t want to be 40 or 50 or 60 and still engaging in it. I want to make real changes, even if it’s difficult.

So I’m vowing to start small. One, maybe two (at the most) things a month, to begin, and nothing I feel very uncomfortable with. It’s summer so I already have a bit more time. I’m going to start by doing some kind of yoga after Monito wakes up for his first bottle, but before he’s up for the day. Instead of climbing back into bed for 30 minutes, I’m going to do sun salutations, or yin yoga or meditation or SOMETHING to start the day in a mindful way. That is my first promise to myself. And after a month, I’ll see how I feel, and if I want to keep doing it and if I’ll add something else.

I do want to make changes, I really, really do. And I think I’m ready to do the work. I just need to start slowly and tweak my attitude a little bit. Hopefully, these smaller changes will affect me in such a way that bigger changes will be possible down the road.

Do you have any practices that contribute meaningfully to your life?Β How do you feel about really changing the way you live, in an attempt to be more satisfied?

Focusing on the Positive

I wrote that post two nights ago and immediately felt light. I thought, “What a cathartic process, just writing about that made me feel so much better.” I actually intended that post to be this post, and I was just going to really quickly summarize that I was frustrated at work, and then I just kept writing and I realized, hey, this is REALLY bothering me. And then I felt so much better.

And then today I felt light. Almost elated. Wow, look how powerful writing a post can be!

And then I got my period.

So I guess, the take-home is that while writing a post can be cathartic, nothing is so powerful as a good old hormonal shift. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I’m feeling a lot better emotionally, despite the cramps, and I’m pretty proud that I knew my body and mind well enough to figure out this past funk was PMS even days before AF showed her face. Not having my period for a decade made me very unaware of how it affects me. I’m just now figuring out how to detect its nefarious affects on my mood.

So today’s post is about focusing on the positive, because really, there is so much to appreciate and celebrate in my life right now. Here are just a few of them:

πŸ™‚ My weight is almost in the 150s. I’m expecting to see 159 this weekend. (Please, oh pretty please!)

πŸ™‚ There are less than two weeks of school left, and then it’s SUMMER!!!

πŸ™‚ I finally, after a full month of trial and error (lots, and lots of waking-up-wet-in-the-middle-of-the-night error), figured out a cloth night diapering situation that work for my heavy, heavy wetter.

πŸ™‚ We have two fun trips coming up! (More on that soon)

πŸ™‚ I have paid off all the credit card debt currently accruing interest. I only have $7000 left and that doesn’t start accruing interest until March 2015. I should have half of it paid off by then.

πŸ™‚ Eating this way is getting easier. I hardly even think about it anymore.

πŸ™‚ I have kept my daily step average over 10,000 the majority of days this month.

πŸ™‚ I found out I have vision insurance (with our new coverage) which pays for one pair of glasses every 24 months! Yay!

πŸ™‚ The tumbling gym found my glasses and myΒ friend picked them up for me.

πŸ™‚ My daughter’s fourth birthday is this Saturday: Four has got to be better than three.

πŸ™‚ Did I mention summer starts in two weeks?

πŸ™‚ My boobs don’t hurt anymore, and they are so much smaller. I LOVE having smaller boobs.

πŸ™‚ I feel a lot better being back on my medication. It’s a significant difference and I’m very thankful to have something that helps me so much.

πŸ™‚ I’m SOOOOO looking forward to spending the summer with Monito. He is at such an amazing age and I can’t wait to eight solid weeks with him as he learns new things. The more his personality shines through, the more I fall in love with him. (See Peekaboo!)

πŸ™‚ Osita and I are going to Disneyland for her birthday in two weeks. It’s just the two of us and we’re both really excited. For the first time I feel like we’re doing something together, not that I’m taking her, but that the two of us are going as a pair. She has grown up SO MUCH in the last six months and I really think this is going to be a special, special four days for us.

So yeah, life is pretty great right now, and I shouldn’t have to try so hard to remember that.

What is great in your life these days?


My Body: Seven Months Postpartum

I’ve been tracking my calories (My Fitness Pal) and my steps (FitBit) for three weeks now. I will admit that in the past week I kind of slacked off on the MFP calorie tracking and I hope to start up again with that this coming week. All in all I’m pretty proud of the progress I’ve made in the first three weeks of Operation: Getting My Body Back.

When I started three weeks ago I weighed 170.2 lbs and my waist was 40 inches. I’m pretty sure a few pounds, and maybe an inch, of that was about-to-have-my-first-postpartum-period bloat. In the first week I lost 4lbs (again, I think at least half of that was bloat), in the second week I lost almost Β 3lbs and in the third week I lost 1lb. Right now I’m at 162.4 and my waist is 38. I still can’t (even begin to) button my size 10 pants, but I’m delighted to be wearing a 36DD bra again.

My Fitness Pal is currently set to 1200 calories (a 2lb a week loss), but it syncs with my FitBit and I usually “earn” an extra 400 calories so I’m eating about 1600 calories a day on the weekdays. On the weekends I give myself some more leeway, but I stay under 2,000 calories. I’m keeping my steps over 10,000 most day (I walk to pick up Osita from school every afternoon) and I’m using the elliptical at least once a week (I’m trying to get that up to 2-3 times a week but with it in Monito’s room it’s really hard–trying to get him to nap in a pack n play in his sister’s room has been a total disaster).

I’m hoping to be down to 155 (a 7lb loss) in five weeks when I go to St. Louis (where it will be hot as hell and I’ll need to wear skimpy summer clothes and a swim suit) and after that I’ll be setting my weight loss goals for a more manageable 1lb a week. I know 0.5lbs a week is the best, but with so much weight to lose, it would take me over a year at that rate and I need to see results more quickly than that. Once I get down to 150 I think I’ll be pretty comfortable–I’ll have five pairs of size ten pants to wear and a couple more shirts that will fit. At that point I can ease up even more until I get to 145 (where I was at the beginning of this pregnancy and my first goal) and then hopefully 140 (where I was at the beginning of my first pregnancy and my ultimate goal).

{There is still a part of me that is terrified I’ll get to 145 or 140 and my size 8 pants still won’t fit. My stomach is a different creature than it was before this past pregnancy. It may never fit into my old clothes again. In fact, I just bought an organizing unit for our strangely shaped, super deep but narrow hall closet, where I’m currently storing, in haphazard piles of IKEA bags, most of my pre-pregnancy clothes. They’ve all been there for over a year, waiting for me to fit into them again, but I know it’s not going to happen for a long time, so my new plan is to pack them into one of the big storage containers that is now empty in the garage (yay for getting rid of baby stuff when we don’t need it anymore!) so I can put in the organizing unit and redistribute a bunch of stuff around the house. There is something very demoralizing about packing the clothes I expected to be wearing comfortably again by now in to the deep recess of our garage. It’s a sign of defeat, and it’s totally depressing me.}

Honestly, I don’t usually care how much I weigh, I just want to be able to wear my pants again, but I carry the bulk of my excess weight in my stomach (I am a classic “apple”), so I need to lose quite a bit to get my stomach fat to start disappearing. It’s always the very last thing to go, no matter how much core work I do. I definitely need to start working out more. If anyone can recommend an exercise DVD, especially one that helps incinerate stomach fat, I’d appreciate the recommendation. In three weeks I’ll be on summer break and have two naps a day to get in quick workouts (not on the elliptical sadly, lesigh).

Ugh, all this stuff really sucks. I haven’t had to diet like this in a decade and I’m still kind of incredulous that my body is responding so differently to the weight that it did after Osita. I know I need to get over and accept my new mid-thirties normal but I’m still feeling pretty sulky about it. Boo.

Were you able to wear your old clothes again after a second pregnancy? How long did it take?


Death. It seems to be all everywhere these days. The sudden, unexpected kind. The tragic kind. I mean, death is always tragic, but in the past few days I’ve watched from the sidelines as a drunk driver crashed through a barricade into a crowd of people leaving a concert at SXSW (were Mi.Vida was enjoying his eighth consecutive year at the music festival), a student’s father died suddenly from a routine, outpatient surgery, while the 5th grader was away at outdoor education camp, and a blogging friend lost a close family member. All these deaths were sudden and unexpected, stealing away not only loved ones, but any sense of certainty or security.

We all know death and loss can strike at anytime, but we let ourselves forget. We allow ourselves to function within the facade of “it won’t happen to me.” But it can always happen to us. Always. And some day, it will.

For some of us, it has.

I’m not trying to co-op anyone else’s loss. I know I don’t feel their pain. I’m lucky–for me, all these deaths are just a reminder of the inevitable. I’m trying to reframe these tragedies (as they relate to me) as a reminder to be grateful for what I have. And I do. But it’s devastating, and upsetting, to witness the unraveling of other people’s lives, to linger on the periphery of their grief, to be confronted with the inevitability of loss.

Life goes on, until one day it doesn’t. And that’s a terrifying prospect.

My heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone in their lives.

Abiding with you.

Cognitive Dissonance

I have wanted to write this post for a long time. It has been tumbling around in the back of my head, but when I sit down to write, this post is never what comes out. It doesn’t really want to now either, but unlike most other days, I can’t think of anything else. Plus, I can tell that if I don’t write it soon, it will never get written. So I shall attempt to get it down, and hopefully, in the end, it will make sense.

I was reading a memoir, at the beginning of my maternity leave, about a woman who has a baby girl (her fourth biological child) just a few short weeks after the death of her sister (whose two children she gains custody of). At one point in the book she talks about cognitive dissonance and, in the really difficult, blissful first weeks of my son’s life, the concept really struck a cord with me. This is what she writes:

Human brains don’t do so well with paradoxes, though. When faced with two contradicting beliefs, feelings, or behaviors, the brain tends to feel stressed, unable to handle the tension of the opposing forces. Psychologists call this “cognitive dissonance.” Cognitive dissonance is usually relieved by changing by changing a belief or behavior. For example, if I believe I am a good person but I do a bad thing, I either have to change my behavior and not do that thing again, to remain a good person, or I have to change my belief of what a good person does by telling myself, “I’m good in most ways, but I do have my devilish side” (then grin and laugh, evilly). By making devilish seem good, I relieve the cognitive dissonance and feel at ease again. However, although cognitive dissonance has its upside, often prompting positive change, it also has a distinct downside. When under the influence of cognitive dissonance, our magnificent brains have a heck of a time comprehending that we may not need to change a behavior or belief, and that in fact, both my be true.

– Christina Hibbert, This is How We Grow

The concept of cognitive dissonance really struck me in those first weeks and months after my second child was born, when I was struggling to reconcile how I felt both entirely content and utterly overwhelmed. How was it that I could be both sublimely happy and utterly distraught? The paradox sent my brain into overload. As I tried to understand how both extremes could exist inside me at the same time, my brain’s neural connections threatened to short circuit.

The way I managed these two contrasting states was to experience them separately. Alone, at night, gazing at my son in the soft light of the dimmed corner lamp, I was whole, fulfilled, brimming with gratitude. I couldn’t believe my good fortune; my life felt like a dream come true.

And yet, in the midst of one of my daughters seemingly constant meltdowns I was overwhelmed, angry, distraught, mired in confusion and verging on regret. I couldn’t believe that everything had gone so wrong; my life felt like a nightmare from which I would never escape.

And so I existed in these two places–along with the third plane of mind-numbing exhaustion that straddled them both–during the first months of my life as a mother of two. At the time I didn’t question it much, there wasn’t really time for that. It was after I reemerged into the world, when people starting asking me how I was doing, that I realized I didn’t know how to reconcile the two. Did I tell them I was drunk off the intoxicating love I felt for my son, that I felt whole after the birth of my second child, who I had given up the hope of ever welcoming into the world? Or did I tell them that our family had been ravaged by his arrival, that our daughter was so stressed that she was making herself sick, and that as parents we felt ineffectual in the face of the immense tidal waves of her unregulated emotions? Both were true, but how could they be true simultaneously?

Usually I just opted to relate my existence in the third place, that realm of aching tiredness, which dulled our days. People expected that and swallowed it easily enough. They told me it would get better, and part of me wanted to say that it couldn’t because it was already so wonderful. And another part of me wanted to say it had to, because it was impossibly hard.

Now, three and a half months after my son’s birth, things have evened out a bit. My drunken love for my son has settled into a nice, sustainable, buzz. I’m still high on his presence in my life, but I can function well enough under its influence. My daughter also seems to have accepted our new family of four, and the storms of her transition have calmed considerably. For now the cognitive dissonance has resolved: the enormity of the good doesn’t feel at odds with the intensity of the bad. Life feels manageable once again.

I wonder, thought, how I will process those first few months. I may never be able to reconcile how they were both some of the best, and some of the worst, weeks of my journey through motherhood. And maybe that is okay.

I have lived through periods of cognitive dissonance before, and I find them just as difficult to understand. My junior year abroad, when I was studying in Spain, was a time I can’t really seem to categorize. It was an enlightening experience; a period of intense self-discovery and incredible opportunities for travel. I visited so many different places and became familiar with so many intimate parts of my self. It was also a year mired in almost debilitating anxiety and depression, which I sought to control through disordered eating (basically anorexia) and extreme exercise. When I attempt to categorize that year as “amazing” or “awful” I’m at a loss. Neither adjective captures the experience; it was both. Every single day was unforgettable for both the incredible things I learned and saw, and the mental anguish I endured.

One of my favorite memories of that trip was a morning run I took in Paris. During my week there, when I should have been savoring the delicious cuisine (which, to be fair, I did), I also forced myself to run almost every morning. One of those mornings I pulled myself out of bed at some ungodly hour, threw on my thermal running clothes and set out into the frigid winter air. It was barely light outside and an inch or snow had fallen the night before (a very rare occurrence inside the city–I believe it hadn’t happened in seven years or so). The entire city was glowing in the ethereal light of the early winter morning as it reflected off the untouched snow. I ran up the Seine from the Musee D’orsay to the Eiffel Tower and never say another living soul. It was this pristine moment, created by both the unforgettable opportunities I had to travel Europe and study in Spain, and the lengths to which I had to push myself in order to manage my anxiety and fear. I wouldn’t give up that year of my life for anything, even though it was one of the hardest I ever lived. And to this day, when people ask me about my experience studying abroad, I’m not sure how to describe it.

I suppose it will be the same when I’m asked about our transition to a family of four. It held both the best, and the worst, moments of my early life as a mother. I will never be able to explain that time with a simple response. And I suppose that is okay.

Have you ever experienced cognitive dissonance? Were you able to resolve it?

Comfy Jeans

Earlier this week I entered “comfy jeans” into the search tab of my browser. Let’s just say it wasn’t my proudest moment.

I go back to work on Monday. The problem is I have pretty much nothing to wear. When I returned to work last time I was six months postpartum and had been back at my pre-pregnancy weight for three months. I assumed, since I gained 15lbs less during this pregnancy–and was exclusively breastfeeding like I did with my daughter–I would find it similarly effortless to drop back to my pre-pregnancy weight before I returned to work. Last time I did nothing but nurse my baby and the pounds just melted off. This time I was not eating wheat, dairy or sugar for six weeks, while producing almost 40 ounces of milk a day, and I my weight wouldn’t budge from 160lbs, a solid 15lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight.

I have no idea what is happening this time. I don’t know why I can’t seem to lose a pound now that I’ve hit 160. I was at 160 three weeks after my son was born and I’m still 160, almost three months later. It’s really frustrating.

I’m trying not to think too much about it. I have a sordid past wrought with disordered eating and I am not willing to go back to that life. Not ever. I know that being skinny will not make me happy, in fact my thinnest years were also my most emotionally distraught. Would I appreciate being back at my comfortable, pre-pregnancy size 8? Absolutely. Right now I’m a solid size 12. It’s be biggest I’ve been (pregnancies not included) in over a decade and a half.

I’m trying to be accepting of this body, which seems to have morphed into something I don’t even recognize. My first pregnancy left me change but familiar. Inhabiting this new body is like driving a rental car that is way shittier than the car I used to own. My car has been totaled and the mechanic doesn’t know if it can be fixed. I might be driving this rental car for the rest of my life, and while it runs fine, I’ll never truly be happy with it. And I miss my old car something fierce.

My biggest problem is the lack of clothes to wear to work. For the past three months I’ve lived in yoga pants and maternity shirts. My work wardrobe doesn’t need to be fancy, but yoga pants aren’t appropriate. Usually I wear jeans or causal slacks, but even my size tens won’t button. I do have some elastic-waisted maxi skirts but not enough to get me through a month, let alone six.

So I bought a pair of “comfy jeans.” They aren’t actual “comfy jeans” (that is, evidently, a trademarked name) but they might as well be. They’re basically boot-cut leggings with a control panel and a denim wash. They are comfy and keep my stomach in check. I guess that’s really all I can ask for at this point.

I hope they will be enough. I don’t want to buy a whole new wardrobe in size 12, especially when I’m still breastfeeding. I’m hoping that once I’m back on my medications I’ll drop at least into the size 10 range, but I have a feeling I might need to get rid of a good portion of my wardrobe. I just don’t know if my size 8s will ever fit this new body. And that makes me sad.

Are you happy with your post-TTC/treatments and/or post-pregnancy body? If not, do you think you ever will be?

Final Steps

My son is 12 weeks old today. It’s not lost on me, how fast he’s growing up, how quickly this time is flying by. I want to linger at every milestone, I want to savor every moment of his baby-ness, because I know I’ll never get this again.

I think about it a lot, the fact that Monito is my last child. Most of the time I’m okay with it, I feel a lot of peace about the fact that we won’t be having more children. The fact of the matter is that we probably wouldn’t have had another child anyway, even if our secondary infertility didn’t made it impossible. I wanted a third child but Mi.Vida never did and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to win that argument. I have written before that I’m actually thankful for the fact that our secondary infertility helped us avoid a situation that might have been fraught with anger and resentment, and I still feel that way. Mostly I’m just so thankful that we were able to have a second child at all, I’m able to stay in that place and not feel too sad about the fact that we’re done building our family.

And with two kids kicking our asses so thoroughly, the pragmatic part of me doesn’t even want to consider what having a third child would entail.

All that is to say that most of the time I feel really at peace with the fact that our family building journey has ended. I’m incredibly thankful that we ended up with two children; I was so far down the road to accepting we’d probably not have a second child that a part of me still can’t really believe we have a son at all.

Of course, my son is only three months old. I don’t really know how I’ll feel when he’s one or two and families we know (or bloggers I follow) with two children start having their thirds. I’m sure when that happens I’ll have second thoughts, feel regret, wish it were at least an option for us to consider. But it’s not. I’ll be 35 before we could even consider having a third kid, and if my diminished ovarian reserve was an issue at 33, it will be even worse once I hit advanced maternal age. Really what it boils down to is I don’t have it in me. I don’t have it in me to fight for a third child. Maybe, if I magically got Mi.Vida on board, we could make it happen, but I don’t think I’d have the resolve to push us down that path.

So it’s over. We’re done. And we need to think about birth control. I hate being on the pill, or any kind of hormone therapy, and Mi.Vida respects that. I’m not really interested in an IUD and we both aren’t big fans of condoms. So now we have to decide, who is going to take the plunge. Who is going to go in and guarantee that we’ll never get pregnant again.

It will most probably be Mi.Vida. He’s actually really keen on doing it. The thought of never having to think about getting pregnant again is a huge relief to him. I can’t really blame him. Even when we were trying to get pregnant, the whole ordeal was fraught with pain and loss and misery. And if we were to get pregnant again it would probably drive a deep wedge between us. So taking definitive steps to ensure we don’t have anymore kids makes a lot of sense (though it seems so strange to have to take definitive measures–if we couldn’t get pregnant when we want to, why would get pregnant now that we don’t?!).

And yet it’s hard for me. The finality of it. Knowing after that, we REALLY won’t ever have another baby. There is a part of me that loves the idea of just having unprotected sex and always assuming it would never happen but secretly kind of wishing that it would.

But that isn’t a responsible way to live one’s life, especially if both partners don’t want another baby. I do recognize that getting Mi.Vida snipped is the right thing to do. But my heart has a hard time accepting it.

I feel like I keep saying the same things, with different words, circling the issue without getting any closer to it. And I suppose that is how I feel, too. I can’t get to the heart of this yet because I’m just not there. I will arrive at the center eventually, but it will take time and space to do so. The reality of it will probably hit me again and again, as we make the final decision of who will get it done, as Mi.Vida has the procedure done, as friends add third children to their families. I wonder if I will ever officially arrive at a place of acceptance and understanding. If I do, it will probably take a long time.

Until then, I’m going to focus on what we have and how lucky we are to have it.

{There is a whole other part of me that thinks MV getting a vasectomy is a terrible idea. I’ve actually told him that he shouldn’t do it because he may leave me some day and end up with someone else who wants to have babies and then he’ll regret getting it done. He thinks I’m totally INSANE for thinking something like that, but after reading the blogs of women who are dealing with vasectomy-related infertility, it’s not something I think about.}

Are you done building your family? How do you feel about it? Did you take definitive birth control measures or do you trust your infertility will do that for you?