Monday, October 13, 2008

Going on a diet: stage 1

(This will be in classic Ali style: long and convoluted. To keep the reading audience happy, I am peppering the post with pictures of Miles from this past weekend when MomA visited.
Totally gratuitous photo shoot of the same photo over and over. We miss you MomA!!!)

Full photo shoot here

Diet: stage 1

Now now, it's not as you think; I am incredibly happy and satisfied with my daily quota of dark chocolate M&Ms and nursing balls (more on that treat in another post), and feel incredibly fortunate to be in that percentage of pregnant women who got back into her pre-pregnancy clothes with speed. The "diet" I speak of is related to expunging toxic influences in my life. In this perilous time of "golden parachutes," decaying retirement funds (45% reduction in our own retirement account in 1 week!), political mud slinging on TV, insidious dry weather that leads to infernos in the west and drought in the southeast, melamine and BPA ravaging baby products/food worldwide, polar bears stranded on melting ice islands, unemployment lurking around every is pretty easy to convince yourself that crawling under the covers for a good decade is the only solution. (For those of us all-nighter mommies who don't fraternize with our covers on a regular basis, this certainly isn't the solution.)

Stage 1: the Internet. One of the sempiternal challenges for parents is manage the polyamorous marriage between fear, intuition, reality and ignorance. It starts in pregnancy--you rush to research every little twinge you experience, diagnosing yourself with any order of condition, from maple syrup urine disease to gangrene. The Internet is a total "frenemy." You find blogs, message boards, "scientific articles," anecdotal stories from great aunts, and at first, feel armed with all the information with which to tease out the truth. What I found was that over time I searched longer and more fervently for the "truth" than being present in my day. Information overload. I worried excessively, and sometimes with good reason, but I don't think I gave enough credence to being truly present each day, trusting my intuition, and relying on my health care professionals (well, there was Dr Evil who I still don't trust) and well seasoned family/friends.Now that I have a baby, I have been compelled and enticed into doing the same: Miles hasn't rolled over since his 5th week--what could be wrong? I will Google search "baby doesn't roll over" over and over. Or, I will research "baby does not sleep through the night," or "how to increase milk supply." As someone with a masters in public health research, I am primed to do my own community (i.e. the Heintz family community) needs assessment. The truth is that I have already identified the handful of good Internet sites that I trust, and I have a wonderful pediatrician who will e-mail me in response to any concern I have. Yet, I still get frantic about figuring it all out, and at times, will realize an hour of my life has been wasted on tippity tappity typing away. (FYI, I pretty much only refer to kellymom and the Stanford Med School for breastfeeding advice.) I prefer to be informed, but am trying to avoid being over-informed at the cost of my sanity and valuable time with family and friends.

I had my epiphany one afternoon a few weeks ago one early evening in September. Here's your visual: Ali with her work shirt completely open, Miles nursing on the right side, Medela pumping on the left, and a work computer on her lap with windows shifting between work e-mail and Google search ("how to get rid of cradle cap"). I had an almost out of body experience, and wondered what I must look like to an outsider. First, I laughed thinking about the visual, and then I thought, SLOW DOWN. I had almost instantaneous guilt; I was not present--not for Miles, not for my second child (the Medela breast pump), not for my work, and not for my research interest. I was syphoning off attention in different directions, attempting to convince myself that all of my efforts were valiant and that I was somehow channeling wonder woman.

For my job, I have an 8 hour tryst with a computer every day. When I am home, outside of posting pictures and blog entries and catching up on some edited personal computer use, I am trying to cut out the fat, as they say, and stop worrying and binging on the Internet and start experiencing. Diet step 1: cut out Internet obesity. I have a family and community outside of a 13 inch Mac screen that are far more fulfilling. I don't know everything, and I certainly won't learn everything on the Web, but I will learn a lot more about Miles by being with him than researching him. I cannot swear off the computer completely, but I have been reducing my consumption substantially.
In addition to the Internet, our family has instituted a no TV during any meals rule (NPR on the radio IS allowed for now--there are worse things than a baby catching up on Market Place). Okay, I do DVR Ellen and Project Runway to watch, and I have been known to follow America's Next Top Model. I "like me a good" presidential debate, but I can do without 24 hours of spin and bogus polls. Here is where the NY Times online comes in--I need to get my news somewhere!
We have begun daily dance parties in our house, where Miles looks on as his parents pop around the house doing their best middle school Red Devils dance running man (Westy-B people will understand). His response is generally luke warm--sometimes I think his face is saying "puh-leaze!" But we'll get the occasional flirty smile, and that keeps us dancing.

Green-atude: October 7
Make a whole grain pita pizza with your kids

October 8
Change the air filter in your furnace

October 9
Use baking soda and vinegar to clean your toilet

October 10
Join Mission Organic 2010 (

October 11
Invest in stainless steel water bottles (Eric and I have had Kleen Kanteens for months. Love them!)

October 12
Visit a farmer's market

October 13
Conduct a hand washing refresher: sing your ABCs while scrubbing.


  1. In no particular order, as they say on "Dancing with the Stars"
    --I am impressed with your command of vocabulary, and I will have to look up some words and hope to add them to my lexicon.
    --It warms my heart to know that you realize how important it is to be present to your child and family and not to succumb to the overwhelming information glut on the internet. It's helpful to have connections to other mothers and experts in areas in which you have concerns (we used to have to read books), but it can certainly be too much. Trust in your instincts and accept that some things are okay, even if they are not preferable - like cradle cap! Babies eventually start to sleep through the night...
    --Hey! You didn't dance for me! I would have given more than a lukewarm response!
    --According to preschoolers, the protocol for washing hands involves loading up a small palm with as much liquid soap as possible and immediately shoving one's hands under the faucet (running with icy cold water) to watch said soap run into and foam-fill the sink. Oh, and conclude by reeling off a swathe of paper towels, dabbing one's hands on a tiny corner and stuffing the towel into the overflowing wastebasket...!
    --I miss Miles so much! He is just so adorable. I was blessed to spend time with him and his wonderful parents.

  2. This post really resonates with me. It's a great reminder that doing 5 things at once doesn't make a woman "super mom" so much as just being there with your child. Funny how it can take having a baby to make you realize how important it is to enjoy being in the moment. We are all so distracted by news, internet, etc. that it is so easy to forget something so basic. Good luck with the diet--I'm going on it too.

    Also, you are so right on learning to trust your instincts and the experience of those around you instead of always turning to the internet (which has its moments of being useful but is usually just overwhelming).

  3. Made "nursing balls" tonight, although in my case I need to call them "menopause balls"! Yummy!
    I have to look at baby Miles every night to get my "Miles Fix".