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Ladies: How to Tell Someone About Your Facial Hair

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For the first, oh, 10-ish years after I started growing a ladybeard, I had no desire for anyone to know about it. In fact, as I’ve talked about in other posts, I did pretty much everything possible to get rid of it. I felt completely disconnected from it and wished so hard that it would go away. “This isn’t me,” I thought. “This isn’t how I see myself, and it’s not really a part of me, and if I act like it’s not there then maybe it will disappear.”

Of course, it never did. And I decided that I didn’t want to be in denial about it anymore. Didn’t want to feel so ashamed of it. I wasn’t ready to grow it out (and am still not… though having an infant has made shaving less convenient!), but I was ready to talk about it.

The problem was that I felt scared to death of what would happen when I did. I imagine some of you might feel the same way? So this is for the folks out there who are thinking about starting to talk about your hair, but aren’t quite sure how or where to begin. Keep in mind that this is based on my experiences and might not work for you in your situation. There are so many cultural/social/personal/etc. factors that could change things.

1. Are you ready?
Are you ready to share this part of your life with others? Are you doing it for yourself and not because you feel like you should or because you think others “deserve” to know? For me, it was about getting to a point where I felt so sick of hiding it that the only logical option was to start telling people. I couldn’t keep it in anymore, and it was a purely selfish decision to talk about it. Being hirsute is such a personal thing, and your feelings about it can be so complex. Be gentle and honest with yourself. If you’re not quite ready, that’s ok!

2. Make sure it’s someone you trust.
Not everyone needs to know your business. Until you feel more comfortable talking about your hair, stick to the people in your life you can count on. Close family members, close friends, trustworthy, open-minded significant others… In other words, stick to talking about it with the people in your life who pose the least amount of risk. The ones who are almost guaranteed to react with love and support. What’s your gut instinct about the person (or people) you want to tell? How have they reacted to things you’ve told them in the past? Are they open to difference?

3. Prepare for possible outcomes.
Whenever I’ve felt afraid to do or say something throughout my life and have talked to my mom about it, she always asks, “What’s the worst possible thing that can happen?” And once I start really thinking about the WORST THING, it’s never as bad as I originally thought. Partly because I can prepare for the worst possibility ahead of time. When you think about telling someone about your hair, think about the worst thing that might happen, and then think about how realistic that is. For example, do you think a friend of yours will start screaming and run away from you, never to call you or hang out with you again? That might be the worst thing, but how realistic is that (especially if you trust that person and know generally how he/she handles things)? What are some other, likelier outcomes? Once you have an idea of how the conversation could go, you can mentally prepare.

4. Approach it in as matter-of-fact a way as possible.
People will react to your news based on how you present it to them. So if you approach with an attitude like, “This is horrible, awful news I have to tell you about myself,” then they will probably react in kind. I totally get that you might feel like it’s horrible and awful – I really do! – but try to remain as calm and matter-of-fact as you can. Give the facts about your situation. It’s completely fine to show emotion, to cry, to say how difficult it is to discuss. And at the same time, it’s not something that is going to kill you. It’s not going to get in the way of your relationships with other people (unless you let it). It is really difficult to deal with, and it’s also ok. You’re still you and will always be you, hair or no hair. Remember that.

4. Do it in a way that feels comfortable.
Can’t quite bring yourself to have a face-to-face conversation about your hair? That’s ok – do it over the phone. Can’t quite say the words out loud? I get that. Write a letter or an email. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes, when I have something sensitive to talk about and want to make sure I say everything I need to say, I will write it down and then refer to my notes while talking. Totally nerdy, but effective. This is your show. There are no rules other than to do it the way you want.

5. Repeat.
Once you talk about it with someone and they react positively, it gets so much easier to tell others. I encourage you to discuss it with as many people as you want. The more practice you have talking about it, the easier it gets. I promise!

I hope that’s helpful! I’d love to hear about your experiences if you’ve told people in your life.

It’s a Girl! And a Thank You.

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I had the baby!!

Her name is Lior, and she was born last week on July 25th at 8:33am. 8 pounds, 19 inches long, and she is perfect.

Craig and I have decided to limit the pictures posted of her (especially in more public places), so I’m sorry I don’t have anything to show you. You’ll just have to trust me that she’s beautiful.

We’re getting used to our new normal, and once things settle down I’ll write more. For now, it’s a whirlwind of feeding, diapers, trying to sleep when we can, and a whole new chapter.

Also, I wanted to say thank you to two amazing women who recently mentioned this site in blog posts. Britta Gregor wrote about her experience as a bearded lady here, and Jes Baker wrote about hers here. I loved reading both of them, and I highly recommend you check them out!

Hope you’re having a great Thursday. :-)

How I’m Doing

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Thinking about posting in an honest, authentic way has been difficult for me lately, and I think it’s best if I just dive right in and tell you what’s up.

I have Gestational Diabetes (GD).

Lame.

Here is a bit of information about GD. This part was particularly interesting to me:

“Your body digests the food you eat to produce sugar (glucose) that enters your bloodstream. In response, your pancreas — a large gland behind your stomach — produces insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose move from your bloodstream into your body’s cells, where it’s used as energy.

During pregnancy, the placenta that connects your growing baby to your blood supply produces high levels of various other hormones. Almost all of them impair the action of insulin in your cells, raising your blood sugar. Modest elevation of blood sugar after meals is normal during pregnancy.

As your baby grows, the placenta produces more and more insulin-blocking hormones. In gestational diabetes, the placental hormones provoke a rise in blood sugar to a level that can affect the growth and welfare of your baby.”

Before that, they say that researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes it, but I think it’s interesting that it may have something to do with the placenta.

So, backing up a bit, the pregnancy has been an intense, sometimes awful experience for me. I spent the first and most of the second trimesters vomiting and often unable to eat. I was put on Zofran, and it helped stop me from actually throwing up. I still felt nauseated most of the time, but I was able to keep some food down and drink water.

Then, I was tested a little earlier than usual for GD, because I have PCOS (which is associated with insulin resistance) and a strong family history of Diabetes.

About the test: They had me drink a super-sugary solution, then tested my blood sugar one hour later to see how I fared. My sugar level remained higher than they wanted (I have no idea what the values were – everything was kind of a whirlwind), so I had to come back a few days later to take a three-hour test. Again, a super-sugary drink – mine was orange and tasted kind of like Hi-C Orange, but less fun – and they checked my blood sugar after one hour, after two hours, and after three hours. My first level was within normal range, but the last two were elevated.

If you’re interested in more detail about what the testing is like, this gives a good personal account with lots of information.

At first, I found my blood sugar pretty easy to manage. They had me testing my levels four times a day – once fasting in the morning, and then two hours after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m not taking insulin or other medications, just managing with diet and exercise changes. I did have to attend the high-risk clinic for a while, and have been attending appointments every two weeks to monitor my sugar (usually, people only go about once a month until later on in the pregnancy). I no longer need to go to high-risk, because my levels are usually pretty good, and they let me check three times a day instead of four. At the health system I’m attending, it’s standard procedure for women with GD to have weekly non-stress tests starting at 28 weeks, so I’ve been doing that as well. I’m at 34 weeks and change now.

As the pregnancy has progressed, it’s become a little more difficult to keep my blood sugar under control. It’s never wildly high, but it’s definitely been higher in the third trimester than it had been. It seems to go in spurts… My theory is that it coincides with periods of more growth in the baby, but no one really knows. The days when it’s harder to control are tough for me. I try to stay calm about it, and sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes I cry.

I worry that I’m doing something wrong, that I’m hurting the baby, that I’m hurting myself somehow. Making it more likely that I’ll have problems later. Making it more likely that my child will have problems later. It’s terrifying.

Another, less important piece is that I’m pretty committed to having a birth attended by a midwife and without meds. I also want to add that I’ve never done this before and am flexible about using meds. I don’t know what will happen at the time! I’ve been seeing this wonderful group of midwives at the hospital where I’ll deliver. One of them told me that if I end up needing insulin or something else, then they would have to transfer my care to one of the OB/GYNs, and I would no longer be able to have one of the midwives at the birth. Makes sense – midwives usually attend “normal” pregnancies and births (though of course, anything can happen), and mine would be considered higher risk if I needed medication.

So, that’s always in the back of my mind too.

But mostly, guys?

I feel so sad that my body isn’t doing what it’s “supposed” to do. And it hasn’t for as far back as I can remember. I so badly want to be a person who can trust her body to just take care of things and do what it’s “meant” to do. What it “should” do. But my body and I have a long and complicated history, and it’s hard for me to let go and trust.

There are things I can do to heal. Things I can do to help prevent the likelihood of GD in the future, improve my PCOS symptoms, and help with insulin resistance. It’s just that I can’t do any of these things while pregnant, other than manage my blood sugar as best as I can.

I’ve been so hesitant to write about this because I fear that people will think I resent the baby or am upset with the baby or something. But the baby is the one awesome part of all of this. When I get to hear the baby’s heartbeat or feel him/her moving around, it’s incredible. Actually, as I type, the baby has the hiccups and is making my belly jump around all over the place. That’s the stuff that makes me smile. That’s the stuff I’m loving. And I’m very lucky to have a supportive, calm, understanding, and very caring husband in Craig. He has been there to comfort me when I’m freaking out, and always has something reassuring to say.

He also sings to the baby at night before bed, which is, like, the sweetest thing ever. (Baby kicks around in response!)

So that’s what’s been going on around here. Thanks for this space to write about this kind of stuff – if you weren’t as fantastic as you are, it wouldn’t be possible :-)

A couple of pictures:

28.5 weeks:
picture001

34 weeks:
34 weeks

Manly Razor!

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How come no one told me that men’s razors do a better job on the face than women’s?

Now that I’ve typed that question, it seems pretty obvious. I mean, of course they do a better job. That’s what they’re made for!

So. I’m here to tell any of you out there using “women’s” razors (really, just razors that tend to be pink and are designed to shave legs) that the “men’s” ones (really, just razors that tend to be blue/grey/orange and are designed for faces) do a MUCH better job.

I figured this out by accident one day, when I was in the shower and realized that my Quattro was pretty dull. I didn’t have more blades, and Craig’s razor happened to be right there, so one thing led to another…

I used my regular routine.

The difference was pretty dramatic, in my opinion. First, I didn’t have to go over the same spot several times as I had been, which naturally cut down on razor burn. I got a much smoother shave much faster, and on more sensitive areas (my neck, for example), the razor was like, “I got this.”

I’ve decided to ditch the Schick Quattro that I’ve been using for YEARS in favor of the Gillette Fusion Proglide, and will definitely use face razors from now on. Why use leg razors for the face? Doesn’t make sense.

Gillette-Fusion-ProGlide-Power-Beauty
Source

Check out all those blades!

This whole lady-product vs. MANLY product debate makes me think of this from Hyperbole and a Half. Read more stuff on that site if you haven’t already. You won’t be sorry! You’ll be laughing too hard!

Unexpectedly, I found myself nervous to buy the new razor for the first time. I’m so used to hiding my hair and am so sensitive to anyone finding out… So I’m walking around in Target, sneaking into the “men’s” section of the shaving aisle, terrified that someone will think, “OMG. That lady is totally buying a guy’s razor for her face. She totally has a beard. She is going to take that razor home and shave her face with it. I’m going to take pictures of her on my phone and send them to all my friends and find out who she is and tell EVERYONE!!!”

Ridiculous, right?

But if you’ve spent years hiding, as I have, then you can probably relate. In reality, there was another woman in that aisle. She glanced at me as anyone else would glance at another human in Target: quickly. She had her own errands to run, for godsake.

No one cared that I was buying a face razor.

And now I’m reaping the benefits.

Have a good Monday!

The Scared is Scared

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This whole pregnancy business?

Terrifying. Wonderful. Emotional. Nauseating.

A friend, who is much further along in her pregnancy than I am, and I had coffee the other day. We agreed that neither of us understand other women who say that being pregnant is the best thing in the world. “I wish I could be pregnant all the time! It’s amazing!” I mean, yes, it is amazing.

But, what about all the throwing up? What about the constant fear of harming your unborn child? What about the constant fear that something out of your control will happen to the baby? Or to you? Could happen at any time, really? What about the round ligament pain? The bizarre changes to your body that you didn’t even know to expect?

Please don’t misunderstand; I’m thrilled about the pregnancy. Heck, I’m thrilled I could get pregnant at all, and I’m absolutely ecstatic about the kid who’s on his/her way here. I can’t wait to meet him or her! We’re not finding out the sex, but I have a strong sense that it’s going to be a boy, and I’ve been having dreams about him like crazy.

Speaking of which…

One terrifying thing that happened was about a month ago. I woke up in the morning with bleeding, said a lot of swear words, did some crying, and called the nurse line. There was no pain, no clotting or tissue, but blood. The nurse said that it didn’t sound like I was having a miscarriage, but that the bleeding was concerning, and I would need to go to the ER.

A long wait and a few tests later, we found out that the baby was just fine and so was I.

Before I woke up that morning, I had a dream about the baby. He was probably about 6 or 7. We were in a big building or house with lots of hallways. We were together in the beginning, but then were separated. I knew he was safe – he was with family members – but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I walked all over, looking for him, calling his name.

When I was approaching the area where he was, I heard him say, “I know she’s looking for me. Tell mama I’m right here.”

And he was.

The video below was posted on Mommy Shorts yesterday, and it’s pretty great. The advice in it is universal, but I think those of you reading (and I!) have some extra fears/worries that others probably don’t have. Like, talking about facial hair. Revealing facial hair. Dealing with chronic health stuff. Things that add a little pressure to your daily life.

The filmmaker asked a 6-year-old what her movie should be about, and this was the result.

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did!

Also, a big congratulations to Deb, who did a photo project on bearded ladies that was PUBLISHED in the Lesbian Connection! She is awesome and so is her work. Yay Deb!!

This.

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I’ve fallen down a http://gokaleo.com hole tonight. I don’t want to admit to you all how much time I’ve spent perusing her site/blog. It’s a little embarrassing.

How is this woman not more well-known? It seems like she’s getting more so, though, which is well-deserved and fantastic.

I wanted to specifically share her post about her PCOS struggle with you: http://gokaleo.com/?p=800. It resonated with me in so many ways. As an aside, I can’t believe she wasn’t diagnosed until she was in her 30′s. WTF, doctors?

Her site is inspirational, pro-healthy body image, pro-woman, pro-eating real food (and enough of it!), backed up with actual science, and just overall refreshing. I highly recommend looking around over there a bit.

Why I’ve Been MIA

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You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been MIA for a while…

Hopefully you’ll think my reason is pretty solid and forgive me…

I’m pregnant! AND Craig and I got married on December 29!!

Craig and Carly

It was a very small ceremony (only 12 people aside from the two of us) at my parent’s house. We went out to dinner after that, and then my brother and his girlfriend had everyone over for cake and lots of drinks :-)

The pregnancy was a total shock and completely unexpected in the best way! I’m in my 13th week (each Saturday marks the beginning of a new week), and due on July 27th.

Toward the end of November, I just felt off. Craig and I were talking on the phone while he was out of town for work, and I said something like, “My stomach hurts… like, hurts, hurts. But, I also want to eat a lot of cocktail wieners. Weird.”

When I got home, I let Porter out and ran into our upstairs neighbor. I told her how I was feeling, and she said, “I don’t want to get all in your business, but is there any way you could be pregnant?”

Of course, I said, “Absolutely not.”

I mean, I was told I wasn’t ovulating. By the way, my new theory is that no doctor anywhere, other than the possible exception of the group of midwives I’ve been seeing, really knows what they’re talking about. At least, not when it comes to PCOS. But that’s a much more bitter post for another time.

Something about her suggestion stuck in my head, so the next morning, I decided to go to Target and get a pregnancy test. I figured I would just rule it out, and it would be a funny story to tell Craig later that day.

So, I took it when I got home. And it came up positive.

I took another one. That was positive too.

I started looking up false positives online, just to see. Apparently, that’s a pretty rare thing. I called Craig.

Me: Um… ok……. so, remember last night when I said I was feeling kind of bad and weird? [Upstairs neighbor] asked if I could be pregnant, and uh….. I told her no, but then I was thinking about it………………….. (lots of silence and choking up)

Craig: Are you saying you took a pregnancy test?

Me: Yeah, and uh……… it was positive? But ummm, I don’t know, and I want to go to the doctor? Just to make sure? I’m going to try to make an appointment.

Craig: Ok. Ok!…. Ok! Well, ok. Call me back.

Because I am without insurance right now, I went to Planned Parenthood and took an official pregnancy test. The lady called me into a little room and said, “You are indeed pregnant.” I started weeping immediately. She looked worried and asked, “Is this a good thing?”

I said, “Oh yes. Very.”

I called Craig back to tell him the official news, and we both cried. Our families are thrilled, too!

We had been talking for a while about getting married in the Fall. Like I said, I don’t have insurance right now, so something needed to change. We decided to move the marriage up quite a bit. Number one, of course, because we love each other and wanted to get married. But also, there was/is the huge practical matter of financial coverage during pregnancy. Kind of a big deal!

I have so much to tell you guys about this journey so far! But for now, I’ll leave you with this photo of me trying on maternity clothes with the “9-month belly” strapped on. A glimpse of what’s to come…

IMG_0092

Sorry about the blurriness! Have a great Monday!

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