Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Healthy Baby Girl

We chose a pediatrician yesterday. I know that typically people interview several different pediatricians, but this one came highly recommended and we just instantly clicked with her. She took her time with us and was very thorough. Her staff seemed enthusiastic and we got in quickly. All marks of a place I feel comfortable with. Additionally, I found a family daycare that would take Samara 3 days a week (if they have openings in June) for $200 a week!!! Amazing coup. I have found the director to be responsive, intelligent and courteous. We will interview her on Dec. 5, but I am hoping if we can't get her, that we can at least find someone similar. Maybe she could even help us.

When I first found out we were having a girl, I was ecstatic. I have always wanted a daughter. Yes, I would have been happy with either and blah, blah... But, honestly, I could not imagine what I might do with a boy. I am sure I would learn, but my visions of dancing to Abba around the house, playing dress up and having a shopping buddy may have had to be amended (not that it is impossible to have a boy who is also interested in these things. Hey, I am a liberal! It's cool. It is just that a girl is more likely to exhibit these traits). When they told us at our NT Scan at 13 weeks, I started crying. I looked over at R who looked terrified. It had never even occurred to him that we might have a female child. "What am I going to do when she has sex?" was his first question. I laughed. What girl do you know who told her father the first time she had sex? Let's face it. We have to raise her with values and hope she makes good choices. Period. We won't know the rest.

Over time, R's stress has lessened while mine has increased. Most people I talk to agree on the following: girls= easy when they are young, hard when they are older. Boys= hard when young, easier when old. Oversimplification? Maybe. But is sounds about right. I remember well the terror that was me from age about 13 to oh, say, ever since.... Having children is the hardest job in the world, but it is true that girls are harder?

For me, I know it will be a challenge. How am I to raise a girl with a healthy body image when my own is so shoddy? I look back at photos from before I was pregnant and I am amazed at how thin I was. And guess what? I thought I was fat. From about birth to age 15, I was super skinny. My nickname in middle school was "flatty.." Yeah, that was fun. Every night I came home from school and wished for breasts. And guess what? Around 14, I go them. And they grew. And grew. And grew... and grew. By the end of high school, I would have given Pam Anderson a run for her money. But that was not the only part of me that grew. Despite my extremely active lifetyle, I had no idea of what to eat and I put on weight. After my mother died, I REALLY put on weight. At my heaviest, I weighed close to 170.

It was not until I moved East that I realized how I looked. At my new high school, I was surrounded by kids whose parents were smart, well educated, athletic and so thin. They expected all that and more from their children. There was a lot of competition to be thin, a lot of girls who would mysteriously disappear for months at a time. When they returned, they were always just a little fatter. My best friend taught me how to eat massive quantities and then get rid of it. It seemed fabulous. And it worked. By the end of high school, I was definitely a lot thinner than I was at the beginning of my senior year. My "diet secret" continued through the beginning of college when I was abroad in London. It was a stressful time and my body was something I could control. This is not psycho babble. It is an obvious connection and a pattern I follow to this day. No, I do not stick my finger down my throat. But whenever I come upon a particularly stressful life situation, I always jump first to running and watching what I eat. Before I was pregnant, I was a size four and my body fat was roughly 17 percent. But I still thought I was fat. Being pregnant has not given me amazing insight, but it has made me not in control of the way I look. Even though I struggle with the weight gain, I would never deprive my baby of nutrients so I can fit some ideal look or the "Heidi Klum pregnancy." Still, I worry about the messages my daughter will get from me (and from her dad).

R and I pride ourselves on being fit. Running races, 20 mile hikes, 40 mile bike rides--they are all part of our lifestyle. As hard as I am on myself about my body, I do have some degree of sympathy for people who struggle. R does not have that same feeling and tends to have a fair amount of judgement for those who have lost the battle of the bulge. I know he would never say anything to our daughter, but I also know how damaging just the perception of people's thoughts can be. I remember every comment my family members made regarding my weight--and there were plenty. They stick with me so that no matter how I look, I always will feel like the girl who put on 45 pounds in the months following her mother's death.

I will do my best to not make comments about myself or about others in front of Samara. I will not allow her to hear the stupid comments I hear all the time from some people I am close to ("I would rather die than be fat" ; "I will not rest until I am a size zero"; etc.) I know how damaging all of that can be. I want our daughter to feel beautiful, sure. But I also want her to feel capable and proud of what her body can do. I want her to play sports and enjoy being healthy and active. I want her to enjoy food and cooking and eat for nourishment and good health, not to feed some emptiness inside.

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