A Gallon a Day Keeps the Bladder in Play…

Who and What? I thought I’d give the whole “Drink a Gallon of Water a Day” thing a go.

Why? Not because of any particular reason other than boredom. But, I hoped it might help with a bit of weight loss at the very least.

How? I grabbed a pint mason jar with a chalkboard label on it hat was left over from our wedding decorations. I’d fill it up, drink it down, then mark a tick on the label for each pint of water. Eight ticks = one gallon.

And so that’s what I did! After one day, I felt accomplished. I can do this! It was pretty easy actually. I was concerned that I didn’t have to run to the bathroom as much as I thought I would. I thought that perhaps my kidneys were damaged from the HELLP I managed to get during pregnancy. This concern was banished though when I had to get up a few times during the night. Here’s how the rest of my brilliant idea panned out:

Week 1:

I managed to make through an entire week! I didn’t lose any weight, but honestly didn’t expect to. I figured all the extra trips to the loo would burn a few extra calories at the very least! I did learn to get all my drinking in before 6 pm, so that I would have an easier time sleeping. That seemed to work out pretty well.

I can’t say that I truly notice any major changes that I am confident came from the water drinkage, but I do have more energy than usual, and managed to go back to only one cup of coffee each day. (I’d been up to three or four, which I didn’t feel was very healthy for me, or my nursing infant.) Also, my skin seems brighter. I think. It’s hard to say really. I probably should have taken a before picture so I could compare, but hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

Week 2:

So it’s the end of week 2. I’m kind of over it already. The only thing I’ve noticed is an increase of energy, which is great and all, but I spend most of that energy on trips to the loo. I’ll give it more time, just to prove to myself that I can do it, but it’s downright annoying at this point. The constant need to pee and my diminished postpartum ability to hold it don’t always mesh well either. So that’s a reminder to do my diastasis recti exercises at least. (Those have made a drastic improvement in that area BTW.)

Week 3:

I did terribly this week. What I noticed though, after taking a break for a few days, was that I actually started to crave water. I as waking up with headaches, sinus pain, stomach pain… I generally felt like crap. So, I started it up again. Drinking my water as I type this actually. I just need to make sure to pee twice before I go anywhere.

Week 4:

I did better this week, but still didn’t drink a whole gallon any of the days. I’m not mad about it. This challenge just wasn’t for me.

What Happened:

I guess for the most part, I was able to successfully give up pop. (Or soda for all of you who don’t know that pop is the real deal.) Also, I’m busier that I thought I was. Port-a-potties are nasty, so being outside on my hikes meant that I either had to not drink water beforehand, or deal with that disgusting shed full of excrement. Not to mention, the baby can’t go in there, so I was almost desperate enough to leave her under the (hopefully) watchful eye of a passerby. Luckily, that was deemed unnecessary. All in all though, it was a fun challenge, but just not for me. I really didn’t notice many health benefits, and actually gained a few pounds. Also, I think that Googling “water causing heartburn” was a sign that for some reason my body doesn’t respond well to good old fashioned H2O.

Adolescent Happiness

Adolescent Happiness

Everybody wants to be happy. It is especially important for children and adolescents to be happy. By looking at the factors that go into happiness, and learning how to get the maximum happiness, we can ensure that our youth is both happy and successful. Children spend much of their time at school, so it is important for educators to know what makes them happy. It is also important to know if happiness creates success, or if success creates happiness. By knowing this, we can get the most out of educating our youth, and we can create well-adjusted adults in the long run.

What Makes a Person Happy

Studies have repeatedly shown that children get the most happiness from relationships with others. Szwarc noted that regardless of age or gender, the importance of family relations is the crucial contributor to children’s subjective well-being (Szwarc, 2016.) When adolescents aged eight through eighteen were asked about their own happiness, “They reported that they look to material things when they think it will help them build strong relationships with admired individuals.” (Chapin, 2009.) By understanding that children get the most happiness from relationships, especially those between family, we can better understand how to ensure their emotional well-being. Parents who understand that children would rather have a close relationship with them than having material objects, will likely have happier children.

While family relationships are repeatedly noted to be the most significant factor contributing to happiness, other positive factors are friends, school, exercise and meals with family (Lambert, Fleming, Ameratunga, Robinson, Crengle, Sheridan, & Merry, 2014). According to Lambert et al. (2014) the negative factors associated with happiness are “witnessing yelling and hitting of children and adults at home, ethnic discrimination, frequent marijuana use, sexual abuse, frequent alcohol use and having a long-term health condition that interfered with the participant’s life,” (Lambert et al., 2014). When we understand what makes children and adolescents not only happy, but unhappy, we can help them to achieve a more positive outlook on life. This should result in greater happiness not only as children, but as adults.

Genetics

While happiness is often thought of as something a person has control over, there is evidence to suggest that genetics play a part in it as well. According to Hoy, Suldo, and Mendez, parents with high life satisfaction tend to have children with high life satisfaction. “The consistency of results is in line with Lyubomirsky et al.’s (2005) notion that subjective well-being is in part heritable” (Hoy, Suldo, & Mendez, n.d.) If parents have no other contributing factors to their own unhappiness, it is possible that they pass down temperament traits that would contribute to their children’s unhappiness.

Socio-economic Factor

Another factor contributing to happiness is the socio-economic factor. There is a modest correlation between affluent nations and happier citizens. This limited association could be due to the differing perceptions of wealth (Kassin, Fein, & Markus, 2013.) According to “Well-rounded children set for happiest futures” developing social and emotional, as well as cognitive skills “was vital in helping children break inter-generational cycles of disadvantage”. (Well-rounded children set for happiest futures, 2015). By breaking this cycle, children will have improved social mobility, and unlock high-status and well-paid jobs, contributing to better future happiness.

It has been shown that adolescents from “poorer households tended to exhibit worse self-control and emotional health than wealthier households on average,” (Well-rounded children set for happiest futures, 2015). In Great Britain, the Early Intervention Foundation set guidelines for ensuring that parents and teachers learn to help develop the social and emotional skills necessary for children to achieve better health and well-being, ultimately increasing happiness.

Happiness in School

Children spend much of their time in school, so it is important to look at their attitudes towards school to see if it contributes to their happiness, or is a detriment. “A good family connection was strongly associated with reports of being happy, followed by connection to school, even when all other factors thought to be related to wellbeing were included,” (Lambert, et al., 2014). Because school is so important to a child’s happiness and well-being, we need to be sure that their experience is beneficial. On international academic school assessments, Finnish students have performed remarkably well (Uusitalo-Malmivaara, n.d.). When the Finnish students were given surveys to understand their overall happiness, “Most of the respondents of the present study felt happy both globally and in school, and the boys and the girls were equally happy in both measures,” (Uusitalo-Malmivaara, n.d.).

Adolescents are most satisfied with the domain of family life. They give much worse marks to school life, especially among twelve-year-old children (Szwarc, 2016). “Knowing that children and adolescents recognize that people and pets contribute to their happiness to a significant degree, educators may want to develop programs to help children build healthy relationships with various admired others,” (Chaplin, 2009).

Accomplishments

Research has shown that when adolescents accomplish and achieve things, they are happier. According to Uusitalo-Malmivaara, Finnish students have an achievement-focused attitude, which is likely a key contributing factor in their measurement of happiness (Uusitalo-Malmivaara, n.d.). A study by Harter in 1974 showed that children smiled more when they solved difficult problems “indicating that the greatest gratification is derived from the solution of the most challenging problems,” (Harter, 1974). Since the study showed that children derived greater satisfaction when solving more difficult anagrams, as opposed to easier ones, the success of achievement is indicated as a factor in happiness among adolescents.

Sports and Physical Activities

In a study by Holder and Klassen, it was determined that having children engaged in sports and other physical activities increased their general happiness. “Perhaps the relation between activity and happiness in children is attributable to the established benefits of physical activity,” (Holder & Klassen, n.d.). They go on to point out that physical activity reduces tiredness and increases energy. It also lowers anxiety levels and symptoms of depression. Holder noted that “anxiety and neuroticism were negatively related to life satisfaction in children,” (Holder & Klassen, n.d.).  It was also noted that activity is positively correlated with extraversion and that extraversion was positively related to life satisfaction.

Sports also give children a sense of community and teamwork. Since sports require that children work together, they build positive relationships with other children and adults.  “children and adolescents ages eight to eighteen consistently reported that they look to their family, friends, coaches and teachers to find happiness, not necessarily to material possessions,” (Chaplin, 2009). In order to ensure children’s happiness, it is important to foster healthy and safe relationships with them. “Overall, the present results confirm safe social relations as a primary factor underlying children’s happiness,” (Uusitalo-Malmivaara, n.d).

Conclusion

Since it has been shown that the most important factor that contributes to happiness in children are relationships, especially those with family, we have a better chance of ensuring children’s happiness in general. While we don’t have much control in genetics, we can reduce some of the negative temperament traits of anxiety by having children engage in physical activities and sports. We can also improve the negative effects of a poorer economic condition by improving emotional growth among those children that need it.

Educators and parents should learn to recognize when children need help in developing social and emotional skills so that they can be happier not only as children, but as they grow into adulthood. This gives them the best chance at being happy and successful throughout their life.

 

 

References

Chaplin, L. (2009). Please May I Have a Bike? Better Yet, May I Have a Hug? An Examination of Children’s and Adolescents’ Happiness. Journal Of Happiness Studies, 10(5), 541-562. doi:10.1007/s10902-008-9108-3

Harter, S. (1974). Pleasure derived by children from cognitive challenge and mastery. Child Development, 45(3), 661-669.

Holder, M., & Klassen, A. (n.d). Temperament and Happiness in Children. Journal Of Happiness Studies, 11(4), 419-439.

Hoy, B., Suldo, S., & Mendez, L. (n.d). Links Between Parents’ and Children’s Levels of Gratitude, Life Satisfaction, and Hope. Journal Of Happiness Studies, 14(4), 1343-1361.

Kassin, S., Fein, S., & Markus, H.R., (2013). Hague, J.D. (Ed.),  Social Psychology (pp.22-51).    Retrieved from http://gcumedia.com/digital       resources/cengage/2013/social-           psychology_ebook_9e.php

Lambert, M., Fleming, T., Ameratunga, S., Robinson, E., Crengle, S., Sheridan, J., & … Merry,    S. (2014). Looking on the bright side: An assessment of factors associated with adolescents’ happiness. Advances In Mental Health, 12(2), 101-109.       doi:10.5172/jamh.2014.12.2.101

Szwarc, K. (2016). WHERE DO THE HAPPIEST CHILDREN LIVE? THE SWB OF               SCHOOL CHILDREN IN EUROPE. Research Papers Of The Wroclaw                                   University Of Economics / Prace Naukowe Uniwersytetu Ekonomicznego We                          Wroclawiu, (435), 112-124. doi:10.15611/pn.2016.435.07

Uusitalo-Malmivaara, L. (n.d). Global and School-Related Happiness in Finnish Children. Journal Of Happiness Studies, 13(4), 601-619.

Well-rounded children set for happiest futures. (2015). Education Journal, (228), 10.

Portion Control

via Daily Prompt: Portion

This daily prompt really got me thinking. While I initially thought about food, I realized that it’s actually a metaphor for my time. Similar to how a dieter has to split out her calories through the day, I have to split out my minutes. So many minutes for the baby.  Another allotment for household duties. Homework gets a chunk. By this point, I’m struggling to find more minutes. Sacrificing some household duty minutes for walking outside. Sacrificing some homework minutes to take a shower. Husband rarely ever gets any minutes by the time all is said and done. In fact, he often donates some of his minutes to the cause so that I don’t fall apart.

It’s definitely gotten easier. Luckily, I’m learning that things can be multi-tasked better than others.  It’s like learning how to like vegetables I guess. More veggies is like a dieters equivalent to more minutes to a new mom. For example, the baby is a little more independent, so I can give her food while I cook dinner. I’m looking into learning how to meal plan and prep a lot of things at once, making dinner run more smoothly. That’s always been the worst time for me.

I  have to learn how to portion my minutes better not only for my own sanity, but for my baby and my marriage. By the end of the day, I’m wiped out. By the end of the week, I’m beyond frustrated. The weekend is catch-up time, and then it begins all over. I’m constantly in a situation where there’s a minute deficit. I’ll get there though.

 

It’s All the Rage!

Let’s talk about postpartum depression. Fun times right? If you didn’t catch my sarcasm on that one, then I can’t help you…

So, like 70-ish% of new mothers, I got it. Except I didn’t know I had it. I didn’t get what I thought were typical symptoms. I filled out that questionnaire at every one of my post-op visits as well as all of the pediatrician visits for my precious little pumpkin. Those things don’t ask about rage. They don’t ask if you’re about to rip your husband’s head off on a near daily basis. Or if you throw things just to relieve some of the pent up frustration building up inside.

I was like a boiling pot of water. Always boiling. On occasion, I would boil over. On an even more rare occasion, I would simmer. But I was typically always boiling. I seriously thought I was just tired. If I could just get a little more sleep, I would be okay. Since we were going on months and months and months, of nights and nights and nights where I would get less than a three hour of stretch of sleep. Ever.

Finally, around seven months of this ridiculous pattern, the clouds started to part. They parted enough to where I could see that this wasn’t just sleep deprivation. (Although, that was a huge factor in it.) I think that if I had realized sooner, that this was part of PPD, I might have sought help for it. I had never been told about the rage factor. I had just envisioned PPD as sadness, crying, lack of motivation, not being able to laugh… you know, the things they ask about on that questionnaire. Maybe, if they asked if was was angry all the time…

So, if you’re reading this because you are suffering from the rage of postpartum depression, just know that you’re not alone. It’s real. Get help if it’s not already passed. Unfortunately for me, I suffered with it until I could look back and say “Oh! That’s what all that as about!” Seriously, now that my days are mostly sunny, instead of mostly shitty, I’m enjoying my baby instead of resenting her every whimper or dirty diaper. We have fun now!

And so it Begins

It was a year ago today. A year ago, I found out that I was pregnant. It was something we had been trying for. We had been trying for what seemed like forever to me. I know that seven months isn’t exactly a long time in the grand scheme of things, but when you are walking in those shoes, and getting disappointed month after month, for six months in a row, it feels like years. From ovulation strips, to taking temperatures, to watching a really weird, yet informative movie called “The Great Sperm Race”… I know that I was one of the lucky ones to even get a positive test. I knew that a positive pregnancy test did not mean that I would get to experience motherhood. I knew that even if I managed to give birth, that my baby wasn’t guaranteed to be healthy. I knew that even if my baby was healthy, I wasn’t guaranteed to watch my child grow into an adult. Suddenly, that positive test represented a whole new level of anxiety.

My husband and I decided not to go public with our news. We told family and close friends. We told people we work with. We did not put it out there on social media though. We had our own individual reasons for this, and I won’t speak for him as to why he felt it was important, but I had so many reasons to keep it off of Facebook, and Instagram, and Snapchat, and Twitter… Mostly, I like surprises. I didn’t even want to know the sex of the baby for the simple reason that I wanted to be surprised. Another reason was because I wanted to keep something for myself. So many things get posted all over the place for all to see. I wanted this tremendous time of my life to be more intimate. And another reason, was the unsolicited advice. I was getting enough “words of wisdom” from people that knew. I certainly didn’t need to hear it from a couple hundred more of my lovely, well-meaning Facebook friends. Everything from what exercises I should be doing, to telling me to stop eating chocolate, and salt, and peanuts, and coffee, and it was okay to drink wine, and it’s okay to eat anything I want, and I need to watch my weight gain, and I’m not gaining enough, and… My doctor wasn’t concerned with anything I was or wasn’t doing, so neither was I (thankyouverymuch.)

And so the pregnancy continued. And I was sick. Not so sick that I had to be prescribed medication, and bedrest and could keep nothing down, but sick enough that I puked almost daily well into my fifth month, and even after I stopped he daily puking, it randomly happened here and there after that. Sick enough that I had very little appetite, and was often nauseated. Sick enough, that even now, looking at my healthy almost-5-month old, I remember how sick I was, and I’m not ready to walk down that road again anytime in the near future. When people ask how my pregnancy went, my standard response is generally “I know it could have been worse, but it definitely could have been better too.”

So, not only was I just feeling unwell for the majority of the time, I also didn’t enjoy being pregnant. I’d hear people saying how much they loved it. How awesome every kick felt. How they felt so attached to their growing baby. I don’t know. Maybe it was because I was sick and uncomfortable, but I didn’t love it. The kicks felt weird and foreign. My growing bump itched. My pants kept falling down. My boobs didn’t look like my boobs. I remember looking in the mirror before a shower and almost crying because it seriously looked to me, like someone else’s boobs were on my chest. Who was this naked lady in my bathroom? The one thing I can say that I actually liked, was that for the most part, my hormones were tame. I didn’t get all moody and cry-y like many women. (That I know of anyways.) So there was that at least.

And then, one day, seven and a half months after I peed on that stick, I felt really, really sick. My head was about to explode. I couldn’t get comfortable. My chest felt heavy. Something wasn’t right. I called the doctor and was instructed to get my blood pressure checked. This landed me in the hospital for observation at 36 weeks and 5 days. After a couple tests, I was told I was going home, so I got dressed, and sat on the hospital bed waiting for discharge paperwork. The nurse came in and said to get undressed again, because I had to stay the night. My lab results showed I had a rare and potentially fatal (to me and my baby) condition called HELLP. The doctor came in and said I’d most likely be induced in the morning, and to seriously consider giving up my original birthing plan of no drugs. I’d be hooked up to machines and IV’s, so I wouldn’t be able to walk off the pain, or bounce on the ball, or sit in the tub… all things that I really was hoping to do.

So, birthing plan thrown out, induced, epidural, 14 hours of labor, and now, at 10:30 at night, I decided that I couldn’t keep going. The labor was barely progressing, every contraction caused my baby’s oxygen levels to go down, I was exhausted from no sleep the night before due to constant monitoring… I chose to have a c-section. I chose it. I told the doctor that I was too tired to keep going. I spoke up for myself, and chose what was right for me and my baby. And it was terrifying. And the medicine made me puke. More than once. They prepped me, and cut me open. They pulled my little baby out at 11:18 and told my husband to announce what it was. It was a girl! (As we had pretty much guessed and counted on.) And I started to shake violently, and it was terrifying. And I could hear them talking about trying to get her to breathe. And I could tell my husband was scared for her, and I was scared for her. And I was shaking. And I puked again. And I could hear her crying, and I was crying. And shaking. The shaking was awful.

They kept me on the magnesium for another 24 hours. That awful magnesium. The stuff nightmares are made of. I was poked by needles a hundred times. The swelling in my arms made it difficult to get blood from my veins, so they had to try over and over. I just wanted to go home, but I was hooked up to IV’s and monitors and a urinary catheter. Hospital food was gross, but if I didn’t eat it, I got a bad mark on my chart. Lactation consultants and nurses were giving conflicting information. I was so very tired. My baby kept going in and out of the room for this test, or that test. I was okay with this. I wanted to sleep. It’s so hard to sleep when you have IV’s and a urinary catheter, and you’ve just been slit open, and there’s dings and bells, and nurses every hour, and feedings every two hours, and then pumping after the feeding, and then another failed attempt at a blood draw, just to do it all over again because by the time all is said and done, the baby is hungry again.

I did get to go home. And I got to take my baby home. And four and a half months later, she’s still here and healthy. I know that every day with her is a blessing. It obviously hasn’t been easy. I can’t imagine that it’s easy for anyone. I know I actually have it easier than many people. I look around my messy house and get anxiety over how I’ve let things just go around here. Then I look at my little girl, and tell myself that it’s such an easy choice to either spend time playing with her, or reading to her, or even just staring at her while she sleeps instead of doing the dishes, or the laundry, or sweeping the floor. Because that’s just it… There’s a lot of crappy things about being a mom, but it’s all so very worth it.