Thursday, November 7, 2013

A baby (boy) story -- The grand appearance

{Here's part 1}
{Here's part 2}
{Here's part 3}

We had known for a while that my doctor wasn't actually going to be there, so I'd come to accept that, even though I was a bit disappointed. The doctor that was going to do the delivery, Dr. Newman, was a super nice lady who was a nice combo of comforting and commanding. She checked me and, as everyone had been doing, commented on how strange it was that my water hadn't broken. But she didn't break it, and kind of just had a "let's see what happens" attitude about it.

So everyone got in place -- I had a nurse on one leg, and Dallin on the other, and my mom and sisters (we'd gained one) standing off to the side. My epidural was perfect and didn't hinder my pushing at all. It took me a few pushes to really be pushing correctly, but once I did, things moved really quickly.

At some point, my water "sort of" broke. Please don't ask me to explain that, because I honestly have NO idea about how it all medically worked. I just know that some water came out while I was pushing, but most of was in there until after the baby was born.

And speaking of that sweet baby of mine being born...

I swear, when my babies are born, time stops. I know it's not like that for every mother, but it absolutely is for me. Parker made a fairly quiet entrance. He wasn't screaming (or even crying, which made me a little nervous for about 30 seconds until they really got him going). He didn't pee everywhere. He wasn't "shocking" looking -- he was really clean and very pink and had a perfectly round head with a lot of dark hair. He was big, but not huge. He was my perfect little boy, and I knew him. I'd been with him for 9 months, and suddenly this little person that I was already so close to, but hadn't yet seen, was right there in front of me. I laughed through my tears and looked at him and his daddy and felt like my heart had just grown a new physical space that was specifically set apart to contain my love for this little guy.

I held Parker for just a bit before they whisked him away to do all that stuff they do to new babies. He clocked in at 8 lbs, 4 oz (which was exactly what I had guessed before he was born - boo yah!), and his first and second apgar scores were both nines. The nurses called him the "movie star" baby because of how clean and pink he was. They spent a while getting fluid out of his mouth and throat, but it was never a major concern.

Nor was the amount of fluid in his mouth surprising, because -- well, at the risk of being slightly graphic here, there was quite the flood right after Parker came out and (the main section of??) my water finally broke. Lots and lots...and lots...of fluid.

So it certainly wasn't surprising that the little guy needed to be cleared out a bit. But what was surprising was when, after the placenta was delivered and I had gotten my one little stitch and the doctor was taking off her mask and gloves, she looked at me and Dallin and said, "You know, that bag of waters may have saved your baby's life."

Again, don't ask me for any kind of detailed medical explanation, but here's what I gathered from what she said: my placenta had a small tear in it. Apparently it was of such a nature that if it had bled out at all, the baby would have been seriously deprived of oxygen and chances of a stillbirth would have skyrocketed. That "bulging" bag of waters, however, was putting pressure on the tear in such a way that it didn't bleed out. If my water had broken, it probably would have been accompanied by quite a bit of blood, which would have prompted an emergency c-section. A NICU stay would have been almost certain as the best case scenario, with a stillbirth being (obviously) the worst.

There were so many "what ifs" about the whole thing. If it had been Charly's doctor, they probably would have broken my water, since they did with her. If Parker had been positioned differently, or the tear had been in a different spot, or there hadn't been so much fluid, or anything else...things could have gone very differently for our little family. And the one thing about this story that haunts me more than any other is this: I had prayed -- I mean, literally, prayed -- that my water would break so I could have my baby sooner. I had prayed for something that could have caused my baby serious harm. 

I'm really grateful that my prayer wasn't answered. I'm really grateful that I wasn't the one in charge. I'm really grateful that this doctor was inspired to just "see what happened." And I'm really, really grateful that my little guy was able to make it to us safely and without complication. If his perfect little self wasn't enough of a miracle, I feel like the way he arrived definitely was.

The rest of our hospital stay was mostly uneventful. I did have some moderate clotting (I was told "grapefruit-sized," if your day was lacking some nice imagery) that freaked everyone out just a bit and made me all sorts of tired and pale and shaky and other super attractive things. 

Other than that, things went pretty smoothly. I had to stay in bed MUCH longer than usual because they didn't want to take out my catheter or my IV while there was still a chance of more bleeding. My IV stayed in the entire day, in fact. So annoying, although I suppose I would have been grateful for it if it had actually been needed.

We had plenty of visitors at the hospital, which was great. We're so lucky to have so many people around us that love and support us. I think my favorite visit, though, was from the girls. I was still an exhausted mess when they came to meet their baby brother, but I don't think that was the only thing that brought on my tears when they came in the room.

I just love them all so, so much.

Parker was born at 9:50 AM on Saturday, and we left the hospital around 5 PM on Sunday. Here's Parker in his beyond precious going home outfit:

And well, I guess that's about it! Can you believe it?! You never thought this day would come, did you? It only took me a month to get the whole story written, but hey, I have three kids now -- cut me some slack.

Hopefully, someday (I would say "someday soon" but hahahaha), I'll have a chance to write about how postpartum things went/are going for me this time around, but I'd say this birth story is wrapped up. Thank you, reader friends, for putting up with the excruciating detail and multiple posts; who knew I'd be one of "those moms" who shares every.little.thing with the entire world? Ah well, might as well embrace it.

And now I'm off to snuggle my little man and get my 3-year-old the glass of milk she's been asking for for the past hour. Awesome.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A baby (boy) story -- at the hospital

{Here's part 1}
{Here's part 2}

A common theme in all those birth stories I listened to was that the car ride to the hospital was particularly awful. I was no exception to this trend, especially since my "movement" weapon was gone. My moaning and groaning got a little louder, and I tried desperately to use my hands to put pressure on my hips, which I'm pretty sure were splitting apart at that point. Dallin ran a red light and probably kind of went over the speed limit. And let's be honest, he was probably pretty happy about it.

So we got to the hospital and got buzzed in through the locked doors and the lady checking people in was like "Can I help you?" and we're like "Um...we're having a baby" or something awkward like that. Looking back on this check-in process is hilarious to me, because I compare it to Charly's, when I was pretty composed, sitting down, answering the questions calmly, and so on. Everyone was taking their sweet time. This time, I didn't sit down, I made Dallin squeeze my hips most of the time, and I feel like I was kind of grunting out the answers to her questions. That all added up to her hurrying quite a bit, and calling in the triage nurse while we were still answering questions.

The triage nurse came in and was like "Can I help you?" and I wanted to say "What in the WORLD, people?! This is the maternity ward at a hospital! So let's just assume that if a very pregnant woman and her husband come in at 2 AM and the woman is groaning and stomping and making her husband do something weird like press on her hips every couple minutes, she's probably at least considering having a baby sometime soon."

But I didn't say that. Chicken is what I am. What I said was "Um...we're having a baby," because apparently that is the standard answer to that silly question.

Okay so, triage. There was no way they were sending us home, so I wasn't worried about that at all. I got changed and hooked up to things and checked and was at "7 cm with a bulging bag." My contractions were textbook regular and pretty intense. At that point, I think everyone was pretty sure that this baby was coming within a couple hours, at the most. Everyone moved quickly, my doctor was called, Dallin called several people (and tweeted, of course. #nerd) the epidural guy was notified, I got an IV started, all that fun stuff. And all the while I'm moaning and groaning through my contractions. So attractive.

We get to the room and the epidural guy comes in. He asks me some questions, one of which is "Do your gums bleed easily? Or do you bruise easily?"

And I was like, "Define easily."

And he was like "Like if you barely hit your leg, will you get a bruise?"

And I was like "Sometimes I get bruises without hitting my leg."

And he was like, "Okay, we need to wait for your bloodwork to get back to make sure an epidural won't kill you. Half an hour, okay? Keep groaning."

And Dallin was like, "Half an hour, that's only 15 more contractions!"

And I was like, "Shut up."

Can I just say, though -- Dallin was a labor coach champ. For reals, guys. I know better than anyone else what a great guy he is, and I was even surprised. He was very concerned, very caring, and very encouraging. He quoted "Nacho Libre" to make me laugh. He told me I looked pretty. He asked the hospital people every question that needed to be asked, and helped me stay calm and think straight and make important decisions. He put pressure on my hips and held my hand and kissed my forehead. He was my hero, for reals.

So we held out for "only" 15 more contractions. Give or take. Let's be honest, I wasn't counting them. Although I did keep a pretty close watch on the clock -- not necessarily keeping track of time, but because me and my hippie friends also believe in focal points/visualization, and watching the second hand on the clock seemed to help a little bit.

My mom and sister arrived, and pretty much just hung out on the couch while things were still hard. We talked a bit in between contractions, I was checked again and was at an 8, everyone told me how bad-A I was, etc. That may have just been in my head, come to think of it...but I did feel pretty awesome.

In all honesty, I think I went far enough without pain meds to understand (finally) why someone might want to go au naturel. It's pretty empowering. I mean, I didn't even push the baby out and I felt pretty hard core, if I do say so myself.

But I think, when it comes down to it for me, an epidural just makes sense. Minimize the pain so you can be a little more present (and pleasant) during the experience. As long as you feel safe doing so (which I ultimately do, despite my fears), why not get it?

Which is why, when the nurse anesthetist came in and said my platelet count was plenty high for him to feel comfortable giving me the meds, that I was ready for them. Dallin wasn't feeling quite up to the challenge (I guess the wounds of the last time hadn't quite healed for him yet), so he waited outside and allowed my mom to be my epidural support.

And guess what? It went about as smoothly as it could. I was able to hold still, I only had one contraction come while I was "assuming the position," I was more than ready for the prick and for the pressure and especially for the relief that came almost immediately.

Once the epidural was in, it was pretty much just a waiting game. It was still the middle of the night, so we were all trying to sleep as much as we could. I remember feeling super guilty that Dallin, my mom, and my sister were all trying to sleep on the couch, and they were all freezing (blankets were hard to come by). Despite everyone being so sure that things were going to go super quickly, since I was so far along and all, Parker had other plans. It took a couple hours to get to a 9, and then every time they checked me they kept mentioning how close I was to being complete, but how the baby's positioning was off just enough to stave off pushing time.

Which brings me to my water. Oh that stubborn bag of waters. I kept hoping that it would break, because I was just so sure that that would fix everything and I could have this baby. (With Charly, I was stuck at a 5 all night, and then they broke my water and she was born in an hour). I was seriously laying there literally praying that my water would break, so I could just meet my baby already. This may not seem like an important detail...but as you'll soon see, it really, really was.

And well, my water didn't break. But we did, finally, at about 9:30 AM, get to the point where we were ready to push. I didn't really feel the pushing pressure like I had with the girls, but they said we could push and I wasn't complaining.

As they got everything set up, I pulled out my phone and jotted down a few thoughts:

"In hospital bed. About to have baby. So excited, a little scared. Dallin was my hero during labor. I'm excited to meet this little guy. I hope he looks like his dad. I hope he grows up strong and brave. I hope I can teach him to be a gentleman. I hope his sisters love him. I hope I can be a good mommy of three, and a good mommy to a boy."

It was go time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A baby (boy) story -- laboring laboriously

Before we go on, I feel the need to explain my mindset behind labor this time around.

When I was pregnant with Charly, I firmly believe we went to the hospital too soon. I'd had regular contractions for weeks, and we kind of just arbitrarily decided to go in one night, even though I wasn't really in (too much) pain. The biggest negative result of this was that getting the epidural was just a BAD experience. They talked me into getting it right when we checked in, so I wasn't in terrible pain and I was VERY AWARE of the giant mega needle, of Dallin's nervousness, of the fact that I could feel that second prick even though I was only supposed to feel that numbed "pressure" feeling (which even freaked the nurse anesthetist out, which made me more freaked out), etc. And goodness, it just makes the whole thing worse when you aren't seeking relief from the horrible labor pain, you know?

The point is this: I wasn't going in prematurely again. Even though getting my epidural was rather traumatizing with Charly, I was still planning on getting one for Parker's birth. BUT I wanted to be begging for it before I got it -- just so that a mega-needle to the spine would seem like no big deal. Because of that, I wanted to labor as long as possible at home, because I knew those nurses would just want to get me all epidural-ed up the second I got into a hospital gown.

Make sense? Okay, so where were we? Ah yes, the "whoa" contraction.

The first thing I noticed about this "whoa" contraction was that it wasn't in my belly. It was in my hips. Very distinctly in my hips. And you guys -- it HURT. I couldn't keep quiet. I couldn't hold still. I started the timer, squirmed and said "oooooh" enough times to make Maddy curious, and endured my first, but certainly not last, minute of misery.

***side note: It was only after a week or so, after getting surprised looks when I told people I had felt the pain in my hips, that I realized that might not have been exactly normal. Some Google searches led me to discover that hip labor is certainly not normal, that it usually has to do with how the baby is positioned, and that most women find it more painful than contractions felt in the uterus. Awesome. side note over***

So how to describe this intense pain? It felt like the baby must have been laying sideways in my pelvis and then stretching out as much as he could. My hips seriously just had this achy, pushed to the limit feeling that didn't quite go away even once the contraction was technically over. On top of that, there was the achy pain like a really bad cramp, but in the wrong place. It was in-TENSE.

Since I had known that I was going to be laboring at home as much as I could, I had looked a bit into pain management techniques and different things I could do to go as long as possible without medical intervention. The ones that made the most sense to me were movement and vocalization. So after that first moment-of-hell pain, I got on my feet.

For the next several contractions, I did different things to help take my focus off the pain. I swayed, walked, stomped, stretched, bent, did some Zumba, etc., just to stay moving.

Okay, okay...I didn't do Zumba. But it would've been cool, right?

And guess what, guys -- it helped! All the moving actually helped! The theory behind it is that if you're just laying/sitting still, your focus is going to be on the pain and it's going to seem even worse. By moving, you can feel active and in charge, and you can focus your mentality on the progress you're making. Or...something.

And when there was an especially bad one, I made noise. Usually just a drawn out "oooh" or "aaaah" or something equally weird sounding. Sometimes I'd give myself a lovely pep talk that made me want to punch myself. Stuff like that. It all actually really helped too; I think the people that wrote my book would say it "gave me an outlet for my pain" or a "way to expel bad energy" or OMG I JUST REALIZED I READ A HIPPIE BOOK.

JK, I realized that a long time ago.

But anyway, these things must have worked, because I labored at home for about 3 hours. Maddy fell asleep. I watched some TV, moved and vocalized like a hippie, laid down occasionally (it wasn't very comfortable), ate a little bit, and really just tried to kill as much time as possible before putting things in motion to go to the hospital. And then, around 1:30, this happened:

and I thought to myself, "Yeah! Yeah, that IS enough!"

Why that thought didn't occur to me sooner, I have no idea.

So I went upstairs and told Dallin how brilliant he was.

We called our moms (mine was meeting us at the hospital, his was coming to stay with the girls) and my sister, who wanted to be at the hospital as well. My mom was like "Oh, call me if you get admitted!" and I was like, "Mom. Let's just assume that I'm getting admitted, mmmkay?"

The first contraction that Dallin was awake for...well, I think it freaked him out a little bit. Maybe it was because I was making weird noises and probably twitching or rain dancing or something by that time, but he was concerned about me and it was just about the sweetest thing ever.

Also, if I was rain dancing, it was working, because it started to rain. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

I asked Dallin to put some water in the bathtub for me to sit in while we waited for his mom to get there. Something about the heat sounded appealing at the time, but once the tub was full, I decided it didn't sound good after that was a nice waste of water. Maybe I just subconsciously wanted to waste water so I didn't feel so "one with the earth" anymore. It's also entirely possible that I was exercising my right to be a fickle laboring woman.

And THEN, I made a fabulous discovery. I discovered that the footboard on our bed was at my hip height, and if I leaned over it it put a good amount of pressure on my hips. That pressure along with some deep breaths got me through while we were waiting, and while I was doing all that strange stuff, Dallin threw the last minute stuff into our bag and got the car loaded.

And then Dallin's mom got there, and it was time to go. I waited for a break, headed downstairs, asked Dallin why in the heck he was taking a picture of me...

(I call it: Attractiveness Defined)

and waddled through the rain to the car. We were on our way!

Monday, October 7, 2013

A baby (boy) story - the Preamble

This pregnancy, I was very much into birth stories. Like, in a "I-found-a-podcast-called-'Pregtastic'-(seriously)-and-half-of-the-episodes-were-birth-stories-and-I-listened-to-a-ton-of-them-and-loved-them-thank-you-very-much" kind of way. I guess I've always enjoyed a good birth story, but for some reason it was like, extra interesting/entertaining when I was facing the prospect of giving birth to our little baby boy.

And now that I have his story to tell, by Jove, I'm going to tell it. That's right - birth story comin- atcha. If you're one of those people who really doesn't enjoy reading these things, I bid you adieu.

Let me start out by saying: At the end of my pregnancy, I was moderately uncomfortable on a regular basis. Back pain, pelvic pressure, back pain, leg pain, back pain, regular braxton hicks, sweating like something that sweats a lot, peeing like something that pees a lot, OMG BACK PAIN, mild swelling, etc. Please don't get me wrong - I actually really enjoy being pregnant. I love feeling all the little kicks and squirms, the cravings that totally justify getting yourself whatever you want when you want it, the fact that it somehow takes away my headaches and my acne, the nesting urges that somehow give you surges of energy, etc. I'm also really not the type to schedule an induction (let them cook, I say), but I was kinda, a little bit, done with being pregnant.

So I was determined to have this baby AFTER 10 PM on September 5th, but BEFORE 10 AM on September 8th. Reasoning:
  • This was early, but not TOO early (my due date was the 10th). 
  • Any time before the night of the 5th wouldn't really give me time to finish all the shopping/projects/cleaning I just HAD to do before baby came (you know, like hobble around to 4-5 different stores looking for the perfect something to hang as part of the nursery wall collage. Those kind of "necessities.")
  • The first ASU football game was on September 5, and since I was pretty sure I'd be missing a game somewhere along the line, I really wanted to go. #GoDevils
  • I didn't so much want to risk my baby born on the 11th. I mean, sorry, but hey...if I'm getting to choose.... right? Am I right? 
  • It was a weekend, and really, that's just more convenient for everyone. It's common courtesy.
And whaddaya know -- in spite of being dilated to a 3 since 37 weeks, and having frequent contractions for at least that long, and every once in a while having some serious pressure that made me SURE that my water was going to break -- we hung in there.

And so it was that when the ASU game ended late on Thursday the 5th, operation "Initiate Labor" began. Since it was pretty late that night, all I could really do was walk up the stairs to the top of the stadium, and make the long walk back to the car instead of insisting on a ride (no small feat).

Friday morning came, and I was feeling good, just having the fairly regular braxton hicks I'd been having for a while. I talked my mom and sister into mall walking with me. We spent the next couple hours walking all over the dang mall, and while I had a few pretty good contractions -- and left with a new shirt to help me celebrate the pending disappearance of my belly -- the biggest thing gained from the trip was sore feet. 

So I came home and, determined to keep things going, cleaned like a mad woman. Maddy went to Grandma's and Charly went down for a nap, and I seriously just cleaned like crazy. Dishes, laundry, sweeping, mopping, putting the baby swing together, general picking up and putting away, dusting, cleaning out the fridge, cleaning bathrooms, etc. I will say that the activity that took me from "I really hope this happens" to "I really think this is happening" was mopping. We have this steam mop thing that you push like a vacuum, and I think something about that motion really kicked things into gear.

Dallin came home to a clean house and a determined wife. We ate dinner, and headed to another mall and walked around for another hour or so. Towards the end of that walk, I realized that my contractions were starting to get rather painful, like to the point that I had to stop walking. I started timing them. They were pretty consistent at about 4 minutes. I was determined, though, to hold off on going to the hospital until I was really in pain. And while I was pretty uncomfortable at that point, I wasn't really in serious pain.

We picked Maddy up and got home around 9:30. I sent Dallin to bed knowing that he wouldn't get a full night's rest and he should get all the sleep he could. Maddy had snuck in a nap on our way home and was wide awake, so I hung out with her downstairs and waited for things to get bad. I turned on "So You Think You Can Dance" and laid down on the couch, hoping maybe I'd drift off too and spend at least part of my labor asleep (SPOILER ALERT: that didn't happen).

And it was there, on our couch, around 10:30, a few minutes after my sweet 3-year-old snuggled up to me, that I had my first "whoa" contraction. And dude -- WHOA.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

5 things you should probably know - thing 1

Also known as "5 Things You Would Know By Now If I Ever Freaking Blogged." I'm breaking this into 5 posts because, well, then maybe you'll get 5 posts out of me this year. So let's get to it.

Thing 1: There's a bun in my oven. I'm due September 10. It's a BOY, which has me all sorts of freaked out. You've probably picked all this up from Facebook or something, but it's still worth mentioning here, right? What you may have not picked up from Facebook (because I haven't really shared them) are these fun facts about this pregnancy:

  • I'm craving sweet things (SPRINKLES CUPCAKES ALL DAY LONG PLEASE) and also cheeseburgers.
  • I've gained 17 pounds so far (25 weeks), which is perfectly normal as far as I know; however, I feel like I've gained about 40 pounds, which is neither normal nor enjoyable. I just want to have more than 2 outfits that I feel good in, okay?!
  • It took much longer to really start feeling movement from this baby than from either of the girls, but now the little guy has become quite a mover AND a shaker. And also a bladder kicker and/or puncher and/or head-butt-er.
  • Let's get real here -- I'm quite the grumpy prego lady this time around. I'm serious, sometimes I go out to run errands and end up feeling like THE ENTIRE WORLD hates my guts and wants to make my life as miserable as possible. And I just want to slap em all. And then I realize that maybe the problem is me, not them, and I start to feel guilty and I buy myself a Milky Way Midnight for some reason.
Here's what I look like right about now:

 photo c48ed380-1ef4-4574-901b-148a4b1cab25.jpg

Feel all caught up on my pregnant state? You're welcome.

Friday, April 19, 2013

My problem with the problem with the Dove campaign

I watched the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” ad campaign. I mean, how could I not? It has blown up my Facebook feed for the past several days. I’m going to assume, for the purposes of this post, that you’ve seen it. If you haven’t seen it, watch it here:

Okay, so we’re all on the same page. I don’t have to tell you what happens in the movie, right? Right.

Well, I’ll be the first to admit that the movie made me feel good. It was touching to see and hear these women realize that they are much harsher on themselves (when it comes to physical appearance) than others are.  I thought the message was great (“You are more beautiful than you think”) and it left me feeling pretty warm and fuzzy inside.

And then, of course, someone comes out with an article that basically says, “Come on, you mindless cattle. You just fell prey to a marketing ploy that sends a dangerous message. They tell you that you have to be beautiful, and you don’t! Not in this way! Stop following blindly and think about this, and you’ll realize that I’m right and you should be angry at this ad for tricking you into feeling those happy things.”

And I’m like….okaaaaay. You’re right. “Beauty” shouldn’t be defined by how we look. It shouldn’t be “thin, no glaring imperfections, with hair this length and eyes this color.” It shouldn’t be. Beauty should be based on your inner “appearance,” how you treat/perceive others, how you act when no one is looking, what you do to better yourself, how you feel. Yes that’s beauty. I totally agree.

So why did this Dove ad make me feel so dang happy?

In trying to be completely fair to both sides of the argument, I’ve come up with a few factors that I think should be kept in mind when considering this campaign.

1) The problem the ad addresses is real.

The article against the Dove campaign makes a very important statement, the idea of which is basically this: Who you are is independent of how you look.

This is true. Or at least, it should be. The fact is, though, that women think about their physical appearance. A lot. Whether we should or not, we care.  We shower and comb our hair and trim/paint our nails and put on makeup and brush our teeth and exercise because we care. (Yes, I know some of those things serve hygienic/health purposes also, but they affect our appearance, and we care about that. I really don’t think that can be denied).

Not only do we focus on these things, but we let them affect how we feel. I know that I, personally, feel more confident when I feel “put together.” I can act more like myself if I don’t feel like people are judging me based on my frizzy hair, giant zit on my chin, or sweaty…um, everything (Arizona in the summer, people).

Feeling confident, or feeling like you can act like yourself, is important. And in a perfect world, those feelings wouldn’t be tied – at all – to physical appearance. But my goodness, our world isn’t perfect. This perception exists. It thrives. It’s the truth that a lot of women face, every single day. They are happier when they feel good about how they look. Right or wrong, THIS IS TRUE.

More than that, it’s easy to say “outer beauty doesn’t matter.” And some people, the smartest people, believe it. But others, you tell them “outer beauty doesn’t matter” and what do they think? They think “That’s easy for you to say. You’re beautiful. And you’re only telling me that because you think I’m ugly. I don’t want to be ugly, but I think I’m ugly, and now you think I’m ugly, and this makes me sad.” No matter how skewed this perception is, it is their reality. And it’s not an easy reality to fight against.

2) Dove’s ad does what it can to combat this perception.

First of all, we need to remember that Dove is a company that exists to sell beauty products. Whether we like it or not, Dove creates products that affect a woman’s outward appearance. They aren’t a counseling agency. They aren’t a self-esteem workshop or support group. They make soap, shampoo, deodorant, and lotion.

It isn’t exactly fair of us to expect Dove to say “You know what? It doesn’t matter if you have dry skin, or unhealthy hair, or really bad BO. Embrace it. You’re awesome just the way you are, but if you want to buy some of our stuff, that would be okay. It’s really up to you.” We can feel that way if we want, but we cannot expect it of a company that exists to sell beauty products.

So the question is, does Dove’s ad promote the outer beauty/inner beauty problem stated above? Does their message make this idea – that those two things are intricately linked – worse? Well, I think it could be seen either way.

On one hand, these women do acknowledge that their “prettier” picture looks like a “happier” person. They acknowledge that they have made that connection between outer beauty and inner satisfaction. They admit to feeling this way.

On the other hand, though, Dove is also telling us that we worry too much about it. They are telling us that while we may think that people are noticing our moles or our “chubby” cheeks or our un-groomed eyebrows or our thin lips, they are not. Other people don’t notice like we think they will. If that holds us back (and it holds a lot of women back), we shouldn’t let it.

Sure, Dove’s message may not be the “most important” message that girls or women can hear. Those “most important” messages have to do with becoming the kind of person you want to become – doing and learning and growing and loving. That’s the big stuff. But it isn’t Dove. Dove is beauty products. They are physical appearance. And the message they are sending about physical appearance is not a bad one; it’s one that says “You know all those things you think are ‘wrong’ with you? Well, no one else sees them. If you are one of the many women who is letting those things hold you back, stop it. You are too hard on your physical appearance, and if you let that affect your happiness, like so many women do, you should try to conquer that.”

The problem that message solves may not be as big or as important as other self-image problems that need to be solved, but it is extremely prevalent, at least semi-important, and something that Dove has the ability to impact as a beauty product company. It seems to me that they are doing what they can, with the identity they have, to solve a very real problem.

3) The video made me (and plenty of other women) feel good. 

As I stated before, this is what has made me think so much about this topic. I was emotionally affected by the video, and based on the amount of sharing that’s been going on, so were lots of other people. Should it really be up to us to say, “You shouldn’t like that video, because it doesn’t tell the whole story”?

The fact that the video has had so much impact verifies what I’ve said above: that this is a message that needs to be heard. This is a problem that today’s women have. It might not be up to us to determine if that’s the “right” problem to solve. If Dove solves that problem for one woman, then they’ve taken a step in the right direction. Helping that woman be a little less preoccupied with her physical appearance, a little less worried about other people judging her by her looks, may help her realize what else she can focus on – what else “beauty” means, what really matters to her, and how she can get what matters to her.

The fact that I was moved by this video…well, maybe that means that I struggle with my confidence when it comes to my personal appearance. Is that okay? I think so. I certainly don’t think I’m alone. It’s something I’m working on, you know? And I kind of don’t appreciate someone saying “Well, yeah, but you know you shouldn’t care about being beautiful, right?” I do know. And I wish I didn’t care, but I do. And if something can make me feel better about it, I’ll take it.

No, I’m not going to start buying only Dove products because this video made me feel good. But I can tell you that the same day I saw this video for the first time, I went out in public without having touched my hair the entire day. That’s unheard of for me. And while that may not have been entirely because of the video, well, looking back on it, maybe my perception had changed a little more than I realized. And I’m grateful for that. Please don’t tell me not to be.

***So I know that this negative reaction to the Dove ad also mentioned the issue of race. I don’t know enough about Dove as a company to guess what they might be saying about that with this ad. If it is an issue for their company, it’s a much bigger one than discussion about this one ad could address.

***I also know that the article talked about how the women used in the video are actually pretty good looking, so it wasn’t fair. Well, isn’t that the point? To use women that criticize themselves for flaws we can’t see? They look like lovely people to us, but not to themselves. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

35 Things 2012: A year in review

Well, in case you hadn't realized, I didn't finish my list last year.

There were eight things left unfinished. EIGHT. I don't think I'm going to go into much detail, because...well, I'm pretty discouraged about it. Break out the violins, people.

I do want to say though, that while I didn't finish eight (EIGHT!) of the things on my list, reading 32 books was something I did finish! And I'm proud, because the second to last book I tackled was an 800 page whopper. (And I really enjoyed it, by the way. The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan). Also, it should be noted that the last book I read was quite possibly my favorite of the year. Definitely top 5. That one is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Totally recommend that one.

Anyway, the last few discouraging days of the year, when it became painfully obvious that I was not going to finish all the things on my list, I did some serious thinking about this whole "35 things" business. I love that it's helped me really stick to New Year's Resolutions, and that I always, always have something to work on because of it. I love that it allows me to choose small, manageable tasks that will help shape me into the person I want to be.

Sure, there are some drawbacks to my method of making "resolutions," and it certainly isn't for everyone, but after a lot of thinking about it, I've decided that it still is for me, at least for now. I've got a new list for this year and am already excited about my new goals. I'm trying out a few more "general" resolutions as well, just to see how it goes. Maybe I'll talk about those at some point. But I still have my to-do list for the year and am planning on sticking to it.

That being said, I feel like my blog has become a little overrun by my 35 things, and I don't really want that. So I'm planning on starting another blog to track my 35 things progress. Maybe that will allow me to be a little more creative with what I post on this blog, you know? That's the theory, anyway. If you're wondering something along the lines of "Um, Katie, you don't keep up with this how are you going to keep up with TWO blogs?" well then, I would say to you... have a very valid point. Let's just see how it goes, shall we?

Happy New Year!