Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Last pre-baby post

Probably the last blog post for a while. Two days from now I'll be having child #2 and, if the past is any indication, will be unable to string together complete sentences due to lack of sleep. "Me, Tina" will probably be the extent of my writing skills. But you never know, it could be just like my happily in denial hubby says and the baby might sleep through the night (depsite having to nurse every two hours), and might not cry all the time like Sam did. In such a case I may be like the women I marvel at. The ones that have a baby, put on makeup, do their hair, and await visitors, making conversation, and even smiling. They even go outside. With the baby. And they don't cry all the time or anything. They don't have that wonderful postpartum depression that makes everything so cloudy and I may be one of them this time. Well, I may skip all the crying but I don't think I'll ever be one of them. I see them, these women. I ask them how old their babies are as they walk along picking up organic bananas while singing to their children who reside in Snugli slings on their chests. "Ten days old"; "five days old" they say, and I wonder what part of the universe they come from. I cannot comprehend managing that with a newborn. I was pretty proud of myself when I took my first post-baby shower. But some women do it. Of course, it's different when you have a c-section but I still think some of them manage being normal fairly soon after the baby.

I remember seeing a mother of an eleven-day-old at a breastfeeding clinic when I had passed the worst of my PPD and Sam was sleeping for most of the night. I saw her and this tiny creature and thought I would give her some encouraging words. "It will get easier," I said. "He'll sleep through the night eventually and everything." She just looked at me calmly and said, "oh, he's been sleeping through the night ever since we brought him home." I walked away, resisting the temptation to smack her, and sat down. I watched a mother who was more like me. I could tell. Her eyes were blank and bleary and she looked at her child like one would look at a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle, as if she didn't know what to do with it and what her next move should be. I knew her by her hair too. It was messy but you could see she had tried to make it look okay. Had probably sprayed it with a little hair spray and ran a brush through it, then gave up, either too tired to know it still didn't look right or, more likely, too tired to care. Funny, that I didn't feel the urge to tell her it would be okay. Because I knew that if someone had told me that (and they did) when I was still feeling like her, I wouldn't have believed them (and I didn't). They would have been empty words to her and she may very well have wanted to smack me. That's the difference with this time. I know. That even if I feel that way again, even if I think I will actually die if I don't get more sleep, even if I sometimes cry more than the baby, I'll know that it will be okay and that I will one day sleep again. And if I somehow forget that, I'll know to ask for help.

Or maybe I'll be out at the store next week buying groceries in full makeup and combed hair. Maybe I'll post on this blog and it will be coherent. But let's not hold our breath.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Oprah Effect

I have been keeping up with American politics, at least until it gets boring. I've even watched parts of a couple of debates. It's the democratic ones I've watched just because they are the only ones where things still seem up in the air. I watch CNN sometimes and listen to the pundits. They give lots of reasons for Obama's recent winning streak in the primaries and caucuses but I have yet to hear anyone, at least on the tube, talk about the one that I think is one of the biggest reasons: the Oprah Factor.

Surely, other people must think this. Others must have thought, when they first heard that Oprah Winfrey was endorsing Obama, that it could mean he would win. Oprah is the person who was sued by the beef industry because she had aired a show about mad cow diseases which she said "just stopped me cold from eating another burger." The industry thought that Oprah's opinions would be so detrimental that they sued her. This is the woman who, with one utterance can send a book to the top of the bestsellers' list. Everything, from books to jeans to bras to pizza to robes to apple pies can go from obscurity to super stardom in a day, based on an Oprah endorsement. Yet, whenever I hear the commentators on TV trying to assess why Obama is doing so well, I never hear Oprah's name.

Oprah said it herself, in her usually modest way, when she told Larry King that "My support of him is probably worth more than any check that I could write.". And people know it. Rachel Ray, Dr. Phil, interior designer Nate Berkus, James Frey, and, most recently Eckhart Tolle, can attest to the influence of Oprah. Tolle's book A New Earth was anointed by Oprah last month for her book club. Originally published in 2005, 3.5 million copies of the book have been shipped in the last four weeks since Oprah announced her new book club selection. That's people who are willing to fork out money to follow her lead and to read a book on spirituality. Then there are the estimated 46 million viewers a week of her television show, the more than 16 million who read her O Magazine every month. Read about the Oprah Effect on businesses here, here, and here, and you'll see people are willing to part with their money and even have cosmetic treatments based on what Oprah says. Surely in something free like casting a vote, her influence can be even more profound.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Obama enjoying Oprah's influence. Sad, yes, if people can decide on who should run the country based on one person's opinions, but it's certainly her right to say who she supports and he'd be crazy not to suck it up with a straw. I just wonder why there's not more talk about it on TV when the only person to ever get on Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World " list five times, picks a president.