Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

My Photo
Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Can't Wait for Halloween!

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. Chalk it up to a lifetime of candy worship. Now that I have a daughter I am all atremble with anticipation. I spent the past week pondering costume options, and finally settled on this:

Yes, Wonder Woman. (Are you listening, Atreau?) The kid in the picture isn't mine, by the way; she's the model whose photo was paired with the etailer's description of the costume, which I found completely irresistible:

"Wonder Woman has her origins as Diana, daughter of Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons. The Amazons are a group of immortal warrior women. They live on the hidden island named Paradise Island. Wonder Woman entered a personal combat contest and won. The prize she was awarded was to be an Ambassador to the outside world and become a Super Hero. Now you can be a Super Hero too in your Wonder Woman Costume!"


At 28 inches long, Fia is at the 99th percentile for height, which I think makes her an honorary descendant of the Amazons. Add to that the fact that her mommy is an outspoken feminist and her daddy flies a plane (albeit a visible one), and you'll see with perfect clarity, just as I did, that Wonder Woman is the ONLY Halloween costume for my girl.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Finally, an Answer

Those of you who read my former blog had to cringe through several posts lamenting my breastfeeding struggles, in particular the fact that it seemed I wasn't able to make enough for little Fi.

This past weekend, I finally learned why.

Okay, background: I have Graves' Disease, an autoimmune metabolic disorder. To treat it, I had radiation therapy to destroy my thyroid gland, so I no longer make my own thyroid hormone. To keep my metabolism at the right level I have to take synthetic thyroid hormone every day, just as a diabetic has to take insulin. When I was pregnant, my physicians had to increase the amount I was taking because my body's metabolic needs increased dramatically.

The week after Fi was born, I had myself tested and it seemed everything was fine. But within days of that test I started feeling really anxious and shaky. I would wake up at night -- when I could sleep, that is -- drenched in sweat. All of my pregnancy weight was gone within 12 days of the birth. I should have recognized the symptoms as hyperthyroidism because I've experienced them before, but all of my books said that sweating, weight loss, and anxiety are normal for the postpartum period.

So, I lived with it and had my thyroid tested 6 weeks later, as recommended. The test confirmed that I was hyperthyroid, and pretty severely so. My endocrinologist dropped my thyroxine dose a level and told me to get tested again 6 weeks later. Fast forward: the repeat test revealed that I was still hyperthyroid, even MORE so than before (!), so my doc dropped me all the way back down to my prepregnancy level. Within a few weeks the sweating had subsided and I could actually sleep again. I was "normal" once more. Throughout the whole thing, I was pumping like a madwoman and berating myself for not being able to provide enough milk for Fi. I felt crushed when, at the age of 11 weeks, she said TO HELL WITH IT and went on a permanent nursing strike, opting for the bottle instead.

Only now, 6 months after Fi was born, have I learned that excessive thyroid hormone impedes the release of oxytocin, which is essential for milk letdown. I was making enough milk, it's just that Fi couldn't get it OUT. I'd do these before-after weighings at the breastfeeding clinic and want to cry upon learning that, after 40 minutes of feeding, she got a grand total of 1.5 ounces. I read all the books that said THERE'S NO REASON YOU CAN'T MAKE ENOUGH MILK and actually believed them. I was so, SO hard on myself and felt like a loser for supplementing with formula.

The irony is that the only mention those books make of thyroid issues and breastfeeding is that being hypothyroid can prevent you from making enough milk. Not one mentions that being HYPERthyroid can prevent the milk you make from effectively transferring into your child's body. So I was obsessed with avoiding hypothyroidism and begged my endocrinologist to lower my supplemental thyroid dose only one notch at a time. When he lowered me multiple dosage levels after the second 6-week test, I was terrified that I would lose the capacity to make any milk at all. Instead, my supply went up enough that I was able to pump more than twice as much as before. By that time, though, Fi was firmly attached to the bottle, and who could blame her? Mom's taps were sources of frustration, not comfort.

Here I am, 6 months out and still pumping, and I can't express how much of a relief it was to learn the real reason for my difficulties. It's not just because I found out that IT WASN'T MY FAULT (which is always a relief regardless of the trauma, let's be honest), but because now I feel empowered to deal with it in the future if I have another child. I can ask my endo to lower my supplemental thyroxine dose soon after delivery rather than making me wait 6 weeks, then another 6 weeks, et cetera. And if I have another episode of hyperthyroidism in spite of my endo's and my best efforts, I'll supplement with formula without a second thought because, after all, my job is to FEED MY CHILD. Now that I look back on those months, I'm so glad I made that choice, in spite of all the warnings that formula would be the beginning of the end of my nursing relationship with my daughter. What did those people know of MY body and its needs? And when they claimed that knowledge, why on earth did I believe them??

Oh well, that's water under the bridge now. At her 6 month well-baby appointment, Fi was 16 lbs 10 oz and 28" long. That's up from 8-15 and 22" at birth.

I fed my child. *beams*

Monday, August 21, 2006

Change of Venue

Hi everyone! I apologize for the inconvenience associated with my blog address change.

The old address was no longer suitable for two reasons. First, I was protecting my speech way too much to continue pretending that my blog was "uncensored." It had become UBERcensored. Second, the reason for the ubercensorship: my mom had found my site.

Some of you figured this out from the anonymous comment in response to my WTF? post. According to one of my brothers, it wasn't my mom who posted that, it was one of her employees. My mother tells everyone who will listen about what a vile person her daughter is (the term she always used with me was subhuman), so it's only natural that her pals wish to see me harmed too. The irony is that this particular pal was embezzling from my mom the whole time she (the pal) was professing her loyalty. Twelve thousand dollars. Spent, of course, with no chance for reclamation. According to my dad, when my mom found out, Embezzler pulled a parasuicide (that's like a halfhearted suicide attempt designed to elicit pity). Did I mention that Embezzler is my other brother's girlfriend? And that her parasuicide took place in the house she shares with my brother, who had the pleasure of finding her? And that my mom had pre-signed her checks and left Embezzler in charge of the books? My mom's no fool. But when you've decided that Victim is your identity, you have to find subtle ways to keep setting yourself up to be victimized.

Sound outrageous? It is. It's why I moved to another state, and why I moved my blog address. I'm sorry that my dad, a perfectly decent person, no longer has access to my blog, but I can send him the baby pics by email.

For more information, view Mommie Dearest or check out this site on borderline personality disorder.

About the blog, unfortunately I lost a lot of my settings, including my profile and favorite blogger links, when I changed templates. I promise to rebuild (better, stronger, faster) when I get a chance. This week is tough because I go back to work full time. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New Orleans One Year Later, Part Deux

Ah, blogger finally let me upload pics again. Please see the post below for background.

Where were we? Oh yes, the Ninth Ward. The first image below shows the top floor of a house fallen down upon the bottom floor. The second gives the overall flavor of the ward.

Of course, other areas of the city also continue to show the ill effects not only of water and wind damage but of human neglect. Ever wonder what a golf course would look like if it got the irrigation treatment of a lifetime and then went untended for a year? Here you go, straight out of Logan's Run:

Times like these show you how important human maintenance is. But a golf-course-grown-wild isn't dangerous to anybody. I found the lack of attention to certain really important elements of the city's infrastructure, such as traffic control, much more disconcerting:

Perhaps whoever wins that lottery will consider donating some back to the city.

I do want to end on a positive note. In spite of the wreckage, the hale and hardy citizens of New Orleans haven't lost their sense of humor -- or their desire to make lemonade (money) out of lemons (disaster):

Friday, August 11, 2006

New Orleans One Year Later

I spent a few days this week in New Orleans for the American Psychological Association's yearly conference. It was a momentous occasion for two reasons. One, it was my first trip away from Butterskin. (Ever touch a baby's skin? Like buttah.) Happy to say we both survived. Two, it was my first time in New Orleans since The Storm, as the residents call Hurricane Katrina. I'm sorry to say a lot of the city's residents didn't survive. Fortunately my friends Mike and Sally did.

Mike and Sally are artists who live in the city. I spent a day with them talking about their experiences following the storm. They began by taking me on the "destruction tour." The first thing that struck me was how the water line is visible on all surfaces somebody hasn't yet paid to have cleaned, which basically means all walls and buildings in the poor areas and the areas where people haven't yet moved back. This church sign, for instance. The water line is visible as a faint horizontal stain about 6 feet off the ground. At its maximum depth the sign must have read simply THE LORD, raising questions about what exactly He was going to do once the water went down.

If THE LORD will indeed guide this neighborhood's denizens home, it hasn't happened yet. The houses are a wreck and every single one for miles around is uninhabited.

And there's garbage everywhere. Mike said FEMA has all these crazy rules about what they'll pick up and what the city has to pick up, and since the city isn't holding up its end of the bargain because its sanitation workers pretty much all reside in Texas now, every neighborhood is pockmarked by piles of garbage no one will touch.

The neighborhood in the above pics looked positively posh compared to the decimated Ninth Ward, adjacent to a levee breach. There, the water simply picked houses up off their slabs and deposited them randomly: on roadsides, atop cars, atop other houses. Most of the houses in the ward were simply demolished, hence a great deal of green space one year later.

Dang. For some reason I cannot comprehend, blogger won't let me upload any more pics.

I had some good ones too. Will try to add them, plus descriptions, at a future date. In the meantime, suffice it to say I made it back just fine, albeit sans eye drops or lip gloss in my bag, which meant I arrived dry-eyed and dry-lipped in time to kiss Butterskin before bed.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Prime property where I live

Feeling jealous yet?

Thought so.