Mrs. Sell's Blog of Household Management

Archive for the category “body”

I am 1 in 4

pregnancy-infant-loss-remembrance-day

1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage or stillbirth.

For more information and support for your own or a loved one’s loss, please visit:

Facts About Miscarriage

Remembering Our Babies

Saying Goodbye (in the UK)

Carly Marie Project Heal (in Australia; formerly August 19th – Day of Hope)

My story here:

Pregnancy Loss

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Pregnancy loss

When I was pregnant with my first child, I waited until 12 weeks to tell almost everyone (my husband knew, of course, and I think we told my parents). This is fairly standard procedure, since around 1 in 5 pregnancies is lost to miscarriage, most in the first trimester. So, the logic goes, if you don’t tell anybody that you’re pregnant, then you don’t have to go around announcing the miscarriage to everyone if the baby is lost. Pregnancy books are replete with horror stories about the woman who immediately told everyone she was pregnant, then suffered a miscarriage, and for months had people asking after the baby, not having heard that it was lost.

In May 2013, we lost our second baby at about 8 weeks. Just like the first time, we had told no one about it. Even my close family didn’t know I was pregnant until we told them that the baby was lost. After that experience, my thoughts about announcing early pregnancy have really changed.

What, really, are the benefits to keeping early pregnancies and miscarriages secret?

1) Some people prefer to grieve in private. Having announced a pregnancy, a subsequent loss must also be announced. Grieving parents often don’t want to talk about it, and having to remember everyone who knows and who must now be informed is too much to deal with.

2) Some people don’t want to cause other people grief. Common or not, pregnancy loss is a sad thing. Some parents don’t want to spread around the grief of losing the baby to everyone they know, especially to other pregnant women. Speaking of which…

3) Pregnant women are almost superstitiously opposed to hearing about miscarriages and other pregnancy loss. Pregnancy forums have many stories from pregnant women who were emotionally traumatized by hearing stories of other women’s pregnancy losses. There is almost the belief that merely hearing about a baby’s death could harm the pregnant woman’s baby, and some people are very emotional about it.

If I may, I would like to submit some reasons why early pregnancies and pregnancy loss should not be a taboo subject.

1) Private grief is grief without support. Many women who have lost babies say they felt very isolated in their grief, as if they were the only one that this had happened to and that no one else could relate to what they were feeling. Given that pregnancy loss is so common (about 1 in 5 pregnancies, or 20%), it is nearly statistically guaranteed that everyone knows multiple people who have lost babies. But as long as those babies and losses are kept secret (outside of the miscarriage community), public awareness and acceptance of the statistics will never occur.

2) A baby’s loss that is never grieved is a baby’s life that was never celebrated. Yes, it is hard to know what to say when someone you know has lost a baby. If you are a relative, you may mourn yourself for the little grandchild/niece/nephew/cousin you never got to know. After my miscarriage, I was sad that during my baby’s 8 weeks of life, no one knew he was there or was happy that he existed. The fact that he lived was only associated with his death. Next time around, I will be shouting my baby’s existence from the rooftops; even if it dies, it won’t have died unnoticed.

3) I understand that while you’re pregnant, the last thing you want to hear about is babies dying. You are completely invested in your baby’s well-being, and even thinking about miscarriage can seem dangerous. But it’s not. Let’s face it: merely hearing stories can not harm a baby in utero. Ignoring pregnancy loss statistics and shunning women who have miscarried doesn’t help the pregnant woman at all, and it can cause significant harm to the woman who has miscarried. Your pregnancy can not be jinxed by sitting near a woman who has recently lost a baby in the doctor’s waiting room. Helping a friend grieve a lost baby will not hurt the one inside of you. And given the numbers, someday you may be grateful for sympathy in your own grief.

Those who are historically minded will recall that up until a few decades ago, breast cancer was an absolutely taboo subject. Women who had breast cancer certainly did not talk about it, and even treatment and surgery were kept secret. That is, until a few well-known women decided to go public with their experiences with breast cancer. Now, while a breast cancer diagnosis is still a scary thing, no woman needs to feel like she has to go through it alone. She understands that she is one of many, and that there is support if she needs it.

The percentage of women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer is about 12%. The percentage of women who will undergo a pregnancy loss is about 30%. I believe that it is time to stop hiding pregnancy loss. It is not shameful; it doesn’t mean that you are not a woman. If you have lost a pregnancy, you have joined an enormous group of women, and their families, who have undergone the same thing, many whom you probably know.

It is not easy to be open about a miscarriage. In addition to having lost a beloved child, you may also be experiencing guilt, depression and hopelessness. You may not want to talk about the baby, but you may be overwhelmed every time you see a pregnant woman or a new baby. Uninformed people may ask you if you did something wrong to cause the miscarriage, or say other hurtful things.

Despite the pain, the only way for the public to become informed is for informed people to spread knowledge. Be open about your pregnancy loss. You do not have to go into medical details, but inform yourself about the reasons (or lack of) for miscarriage. Be able to tell people what the risk factors are, and the statistics. Celebrate your baby’s short life. Help other women grieve.

Because most miscarriages are due to factors beyond our control, awareness can’t lead to reduced incidences of miscarriage. But what it can do is provide support and acceptance for women and families who have lost babies, letting them know that they are not alone, and reducing the stigma attached to pregnancy loss.

I’ve written this about three weeks after we lost our baby. I don’t know when I’ll publish it. But I do want to mention some pregnancy loss resources, as well as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, which occurs in October and specifically on October 15. A website that I found helpful is pregnancyloss.info.

To the mothers and families: You are not alone.

To the babies: You are not forgotten.

Baby Sell, May 2013

baby sell may 2013

Sugar scrub really works!

I don’t even remember how I ended up searching for sugar scrub recipes. You know how you’ll be on one website, and there’ll be links at the bottom that say, ‘You may be interested in…’ or ‘From our partners…’ and stuff like that? I get on those ALL THE TIME and then have no idea how I ended up where I did. That’s probably what happened this time.

At some point, I ended up here. It’s a list of links to several separate blogs with different recipes for homemade sugar scrub. I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making my own, at least before I tried it, so I just bought some from Bath & Body Works. Yes, I’m sure I could have made it for a lot cheaper myself, but I’ve already got multiple bottle of homemade stuff brewing, and didn’t feel like hitting the craft store AGAIN for bottles, etc. But now that I’ve tried it, I’ll probably look into making it myself. Why? Because it WORKS.

I read some fairly extravagant claims about the stuff, and I was definitely skeptical. I mean, it’s basically an exfoliant with some oil for moisturizing, right? How much could it actually do?

Some basic knowledge: I have never had a flat stomach, and I will never have a flat stomach. My entire life, whether overweight or not, what fat I do have my body stores on my belly. I have accepted this, and am fine with that particular quirk of my anatomy. However, I noticed that after having my daughter, the actual skin on my abdomen was much looser and prone to drooping. I hadn’t necessarily gained more weight, but what was there wasn’t as (relatively) taut as it used to be.

This is where sugar scrub comes in. Basically, when you use the scrub to roughly scrape off the top later of skin, it requires your body to continually make newer, tighter skin. Because your skin is refreshing more often, it doesn’t have time to get old and saggy. It took longer than some commenters claimed, but after using the scrub for at least a month, my stomach is noticeably tighter and doesn’t droop like it used to. I was amazed! I had no idea that one could actually change one’s body like that.

As an additional benefit, the sugar scrub smells great and feels good. Bath & Body Works offers many great scents, just like they do in everything. I do have to warn you, though: this stuff is MESSY. It’s basically soupy oil with large grains of sugar sitting in the bottom, so you really need to keep it and use it in the shower. It’s not lotion; it’s not gel; it’s liquid with loose particles in it. Do not tip it over, don’t open it unless you’re over something with a drain. You should be able to try it at the store, but I found that the grains in this particular product are so large that they really work best on large areas of your body, not your hands. Plus, the benefits are cumulative, so you’re not going to notice a huge difference after one trial in the mall.

If you like the sensation of having your entire exterior sloughed off, I also recommend Bath & Body Works Foaming Body Buff. It’s a step up from the sugar scrub; this one I use all over my body, but only once a week. It’s harsh enough that all of your skin will be more sensitive after you use it. It’s not as slippery as the scrub, so it’s easier to really scrub your skin. This one I really wish I could make at home, but for now I’ll just keep taking advantage of the sales at B&BW.

Another tip: you don’t need very much. Mainly because they’re so expensive, I use as little as I can, maybe a tablespoon of the sugar scrub (abdomen only) and a quarter cup of the body buff (the latter only once a week, mind).

I am definitely looking forward to making this myself, especially since you can put in any scents you want. And since it’ll be cheaper, I’ll use more on other parts of my body and see how it works. I’ll keep you posted!

The most effective exercise

… is the one that you’ll actually do.

There are all kinds of advice on how to get fit, be it specific techniques, time-management tips, or threats of how you’ll die in misery at an early age if you don’t get your duff off the couch. But all the gym memberships, classes, expensive workout clothes, or cool toys (ahem, yoga/Pilates/tai chi videos) won’t do anything unless you actually use them.

So if you want to start training your body for something other than sloth, the one most important thing to consider is ‘will I really do this?’

I have spent most of my life as a chair-dweller. My pastimes include reading, piano and needlework, so I didn’t accidentally stumble across exercise during the course of my daily life. The first time I ever had to stand up for an extended period was when I got my first job at eighteen. By the way, I highly recommend exercise that you can get as a side benefit of doing other productive things. At my first three jobs, we weren’t allowed to sit down, and that definitely contributed to what level of fitness I had at the time.

When I joined the military, I got in really good shape for the first time in my life. Obviously there was boot camp, where we were physically active at least six days a week, and where the food was good enough that I’d eat it but not so great that I’d overeat. And then when I got to my initial training school, I took part in semi-weekly group physical training, and I’d also run a lot as a way to work out the stress of the school.

I definitely enjoyed being in shape. I liked that I was the smallest clothing size I’d ever been, but the best part was having a body that was capable of handling whatever surprises were thrown at it. When I travelled overseas, I was able to hike long distances at a quick pace, not because I had trained to do that specifically, but because I was generally in good condition.

Two things conspired to sabotage my physical fitness: upheaval in my personal and work life, and injuries related to training too much, too fast, with poor technique. Shin splints are the pits, I’ll tell you that. Those things don’t EVER heal.

Due to the combination of lack of motivation and pain in several areas of my body, I gradually returned to a sedentary existence, and went back up to my ‘normal’ weight of many pounds over the recommended limit. Then I had a baby, which, in addition to the physical issues, adds a whole new challenge in scheduling exercise. I tried using a jogging stroller, but ended up hating having to strap my baby into a confined position so that I could get exercise. Plus, since my muscles were still weak and I was trying to fix my technique, pushing the thing often led to more old-injury pain.

As hard as it is to get in shape, it’s harder to get BACK in shape once you have been and lost it. My brain keeps remembering all those 10-minute miles I used to do as a warmup to group PT, and when my legs can barely carry me along for a few yards, it gets very discouraged. I kept telling myself, ‘You know you can run; you used to do it all the time! Just adjust your technique, and you’ll be fine!’ But when it came down to it, on the rare occasions that I actually had everything else done and my husband was available to watch the baby, the last thing I felt like doing was putting on all my running gear and suffering for an hour.

And that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? When exercise is viewed as nothing more that ‘suffering’ that we do just because we’re told to, no wonder it’s hard to get up and go. That is where finding out what you really LIKE to do comes in.

Back when I was in good shape and was master of my own time, I would often take long, LONG walks in the late evenings and into the night. I loved heading out around seven p.m. and walking through the surrounding towns and along the beach paths, listening to the waves and enjoying the solitude. I was getting exercise, but that wasn’t why I took those walks. I walked because I enjoyed being outside, in the dark, with the rhythm of my own two feet transporting me for miles. It felt like I could do anything, if all I had was my feet. It was an amazingly empowering feeling. And that’s how I finally started exercising again.

I realized while taking the trash out at night how much I missed being outside, after dark, by myself. So I started putting on my exercise shoes when I took out the trash, and now I go straight from the dumpster to the sidewalk, and just walk through my neighborhood for thirty minutes. Walking is great exercise, especially if you throw in some hills, and it’s a great way to start re-building a body that has overuse injuries. And I don’t have to get dressed up in full running kit, either; I just grab a jacket and wear whatever jeans and t-shirt I have on during the day.

Eventually I hope I can improve my physical condition enough that I can start throwing in some runs. But it will have to be when running is enjoyable, not misery that I’m doing because I feel like I should. Until then, I will continue enjoying my nocturnal walks, realizing that the best exercise will end up doing both my body and my mind good.

 

Makeup for a late bloomer

After going almost thirty years never giving makeup a thought (except for a little concealer; I have a lot of breakouts), I have recently started using some basic products: foundation, blush, eye shadow, eye liner, a little mascara.  For someone who’s newly initiated, this is a whole new, big, confusing world, and that’s before you even get to moisturizers, toners, anti-aging products, brushes, storage… Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it looks. And since there doesn’t appear to be a place where you can take a class to learn to do this, I turned to the next best thing: YouTube.

There are millions of videos dedicated to cosmetics tips, but I have become attached to a channel called typeF Signature Series. They mainly feature products from several of the big cosmetics brands, but they are demonstrated by professional makeup artists, and there are enough videos to show a variety of techniques so you can see the best way to do things. For example, each artist might place the eye shadow in a slightly different place, but they all use the same brushing and blending techniques to make it look good. So I just see what they all have in common and figure they’re the professionals.

I’ve had fairly good results, so far. My goal has been a natural look; i.e. the one where people don’t even realize I’m wearing makeup. My primary points of interest were my oily, breakout-prone skin, and my eyes; since I’m very fair my blonde eyelashes don’t show up at all, and wearing mascara tends to make me look like I have spiders on my eyes. I was able to choose appropriate colors for my skin type (far different from what I used to think: although I have cool undertones, I learned that browns and pinks will look the most natural).

I learned that even thought my skin is very oily, I can still use an oil-free moisturizer to even out the texture of my skin and make it softer; as a bonus it comes with sunscreen, which I ought to use all the time. I read that it was good to use moisturizer all over the body, but after a couple days I decided that my skin is plenty moisturized, at least during the summer. I’ll try again in the winter when the air is drier, but for now all it did was make my skin greasy. I am still using some of the SPF body lotion, at least on my arms and neck for normal days. Can never be too careful about skin cancer…

My mom actually hooked me up with a foundation a couple years ago, and then I saw the same one featured in a video specifically about oily skin. The one I have now is darker than I normally would wear, but my skin gets two or three shades darker in the summer, so this one works for now. I had some foundation experience in the past, but my recent revelation, thanks to Signature Series, is brushes. I used to use my fingers, but it never smoothed well and went on very unevenly. Since the professionals seem dedicated to brushes, I went out and got one, and it is the best thing for foundation I’ve ever seen. Brushes are also recommended for oily skin so that oil and dirt isn’t transferred from the fingers, but I’ve learned that they need to be washed fairly often due to that very oil. Nevertheless, I got the smoothest, most natural finish ever with a matte mousse foundation and an inexpensive brush from Target.

The next revelation was blush. My skin naturally has a lot of color (blotchy, uneven color, but color nonetheless), so whenever I used to try foundation, it made me look dead. I watched several videos, and finally figured out how to make myself look not dead with a proper application of blush. I found a couple little compacts which each have multiple colors, so I could find one that looked natural. The basic apple-of-the-cheek application works well for my face, so I don’t get creative. Weird blush placement is one of the things that instantly makes makeup look unnatural.

I’m still not completely satisfied with my eyes. I have some pale, natural shades of eyeshadow; I use a pale pink and a white on my lids and arch, and a tiny bit of brown in the crease for definition. It’s not ridiculous looking, as some of my past attempts at eye makeup have been, but I feel like it could be better.

Everything says that blondes should use brown liner and mascara, since black is too harsh except for nighttime, so I got the lightest browns I could find. They still look pretty black to me, but whatever. I initially put some liner on the top and bottom lids, and a little mascara ditto, but I thought it still gave me spider eyes. Since then I’ve just been doing liner and mascara on the top lid and leaving the bottom bare, which probably looks weird to everybody else, but I don’t look so strange to myself. I would love for someone who knows what they’re doing to show me how to do good mascara on blonde lashes so it doesn’t look crazy. I can’t tell if it objectively looks strange, or if it’s just because I’m so used to naked eyes. Oh, well. I’ll keep experimenting and looking for more videos, and maybe eventually it will start looking normal to me.

My next product is going to be an eye cream. I found out that I have some crow’s feet, but only when I’m wearing makeup. When I put too much foundation on beside my eyes, or when I put brightener beneath my eyes, it shows up all kinds of tiny creases when I smile. I’ll use products much more sparingly in those places, but I figure some eye cream can’t hurt, as a preventative measure. Hopefully I’ll be able to find an oil-free cream that doesn’t break the bank.

This is a big deal for me; I went my whole life with a bare face, and have to admit it’s easier to just get up in the morning, wash, and go. But as I read more and more about French culture and the importance of aesthetics, I find myself wanting to make myself and my home look better. Like the French, my goal isn’t to completely overcome my natural look, or achieve perfection, but to make things more pleasing to look at just for the joy of life it brings. It doesn’t have to be much, but I’m starting to realize that pretty things can be some of the small pleasures of life, whether it’s smoothing my complexion or setting the table with matching silverware and plates.

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