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Enough Yakking. Let's See Some Pictures Already

The Wednesday Advice Bacon Cheddar Smackdown

Full Disclosure: Do not underestimate the power of the Jingle That Ate Hootie. I am currently eating a Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Raa-aanch, which is indeed as large as Brooke Burke's head, and is also infuriatingly delicious. Oh my God.

Okay, enough about my nightmarish eating habits. Let's talk about your problems.

(Okay, we'll talk about your problems as soon as Gmail stops dicking around with me.)

(We're all WAITING, Gmail. Please stop with the "oops...unable to process your request" errors.)

(In fact, could you not ever say "oops" when giving me an error message? It's really not that clever and always makes me start singing that Britney Spears song.)

(Oh FUCK. Now see what you've done? Quick, somebody start humming "Tiny Dancer.")

dear amalah,

i recently found your website and recently found out i was pregnant - your site came first, so maybe there's causation or perhaps just correlation. but here's my question - since getting pregnant (which was a trial in itself), i feel like i haven't been able to relax and enjoy at all. every twinge, every nebulous colored drop of "fluid" causes me to freak out and completely lose my cookies with fear (not to mention the general impulse to lose my cookies from the nauseous which i am grateful has not yet graduated to full grown yakking, but there's time as i'm only @ 6 weeks). beyond that the sudden reality of pregnancy is SCARY as ALL HECK. what to do?

rock on,
another amy from cyberspace

Last night Jason mentioned that I should really try to talk about non-pregnancy-related things, as amalah.com is in danger of becoming nothing but a pregnancy blog. Not that pregnancy blogs are a bad thing, but...you know, it might help if I got out occasionally. Read a non-pregnancy book or spent time thinking about issues beyond my digestive tract or whether the cashier at CVS recognizes me as the girl who keeps buying all the Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Wait...the hell was I going with this? Oh, right. I told him that hey, I still do my Advice Smackdown, so I still talk about other things. Like hair! I am totally still well-rounded as all get-out.

So now the last non-pregnant frontier has been invaded. My apologies. I will just sit here and incubate, as is my solitary purpose in life, apparently.

Anyway, Amy, your question. Back when we were trying to get pregnant (which was TOTALLY going to happen three months after I stopped the pill) and then TRYING to get pregnant (which was TOTALLY going to happen on our first round of Clomid), I imagined pregnancy to be this lovely, serene time of glowing skin and Jason bringing me ice cream and shopping for twee clothes.

I was going to relish every damn moment of it and walk around with my hands protectively cupping my belly while my baby instinctively moved towards my touch. I'd talk to the baby all the time and my hair would look amazing.

I was clearly on drugs.

Not just because I was unprepared for the physical horribleness of pregnancy, about which I've blathered on at length here in recent weeks, I was completely unprepared for the gripping, all-consuming FEAR that you wrote about in your email.

I've spent the last three months waiting for someone to come rip the rug out from under me.

More accurately, I've been waiting for someone to rip the rug out, causing me to fall down an ornate staircase while dressed in a red velvet dressing gown and then spend weeks moaning "Rhett! I want Rhett!" clear as day and yet the stupid servents are all, "Who? What? You want some toast?" while I lose my baby and my husband descends into bitter alcoholism.

I don't know where the fear comes from. I'm sure every newly-pregnant woman experiences fear to some degree: There's some frightening statistics on the Internet and in those books and in the story that woman at the supermarket told you, because she's an ASSHOLE.

There may also be people you know and love who've suffered loss after loss and you're keenly aware that life and reproduction just ain't fair. There may be the thought that, Jesus GOD, it took you over two years to get here, and if it doesn't work out, will you have to wait another two years? How old will you be? How much worse will it hurt when that coworker has her baby right around your due date?

My fears were compounded in January by the nagging feeling that "hey, I've been here before."

A few years ago, I discovered that the free birth control samples that I'd been using for several months were about six months past their expiration date. Whoops. I still got a period (albeit a very light one) that month, and figured that I'd dodged a bullet. (Although I daydreamed about what a nice accident that would have been.)

A few weeks later I was home alone and was struck with crippling cramps. I stumbled doubled-over to the bathroom and proceeded to bleed like I've never bled before. I won't go into detail here, but damn, there was a suspicious and fleshy-looking clot that haunted me for days. The bleeding stopped, and I never called the doctor.

Last year, after our final round of Clomid, I was so sure we'd succeeded. I had all the pregnancy symptoms and my period was late. Pregnancy sticks ran from very vague positives to emphatic negatives. My period started a week late. The end. Fuck this, let's nosedive into depression instead of an IUI.

Looking back, I wasn't imagining things. I felt EXACTLY like I did in the early weeks of this pregnancy. So while people tried to comfort my hysteria with the fact that my "problems" were related to getting pregnant, not staying pregnant, a little voice in the back of my head would go, "well, MAYBE."

So what do you do about it? First, admit that you just aren't ready to think long-term about the pregnancy. You just aren't ready to start painting the nursery or buying booties. People are going to repeatedly ask about names or where you're registered and you can just tell them you aren't at that point yet. And that's okay. (Me? I priced up diapers in the grocery store once. I think that'll do for a few more months.)

Start looking at the pregnancy in terms of milestones. The next beta. The heartbeat ultrasound. The doppler. The second trimester. The 18-week ultrasound. Look ahead only as far as the next milestone or your next OB appointment.

Before you know it, a slew of these milestones will be behind you, and you'll still be pregnant. (Hopefully, I mean, GAH, it happens.)

(See how well my advice works? I'm still a wreck.)

(Also? I am still totally carrying tampons around in my purse. Again, wreck.)

But most importantly, just try to get excited in your own way. The wisest and most non-assvicey thing anyone has said to me in the past three months was this: Keeping yourself from "getting excited" will not make the hurt any less if something happens, I promise you.

And on that note, get yourself a pregnancy buddy who is as totally awesome, bitchy and insanely paranoid as Zoot. That'll help TONS.

(Well, wasn't THAT an upbeat opening number? Christ. Can we talk about your hair now?)

Hi Amalah!

I need your superior knowledge on beauty products. My problem: I am white. Reference Mrsatroxi’s Wednesday Advice Smackdown question and comparisons to Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger. Recently my husband has taken to calling me Casper the Ghost. (Don't get me wrong - Casper was cute, but this is not meant as a compliment.) He sighs wistfully about the days before the Oil of Olay commercials scared me into wearing SPF 30 beauty products. When I was a bronzed, tanned, and a skin cancer candidate. (Remember those commercials? The opening shot was a clean, white, unlined piece of paper with a voice over saying "this is your skin." The second shot featured a crumpled piece of paper -- showing what happens when you don't use high a high SPF. Needless to say, I am now slightly neurotic about wearing sunscreen and am, consequently, very white.)

So how do I get the bronzed goddess look without killing my skin? I look wistfully at the self-tanners I see in the store, but I fear turning orange. Do I live with my whiteness? Or is there a product that I can use to get a natural looking tan?

Melissa

Oh my God, I swear to you, I had the following conversation TWICE today.

Scene #1, Doctor's Office, 9:30 a.m.

Doctor: Well, you certainly LOOK like you're feeling better!

Amy: Meh. Hate. Die.

Doctor: You've been looking SO PALE lately. But today you have some color! That's good!

Amy: It's bronzing powder. I'm still death on toast underneath.

Doctor: Oh! Well...it looks lovely on you.

Scene #2, Amalah's Office, let's say around 11-ish a.m.

Fellow Blogger Semi-Coworker Ubik: How are you feeling?

Amy: (shrugs shoulders in universal "Meh, Hate, Die" gesture) I won't puke on your shoes, or anything, but ehhhh.

Fellow Blogger Semi-Coworker Ubik: Well, you certainly don't look sick.

Amy: Behold, the power of bronzing powder. You're the second person to be fooled today.

Fellow Blogger Semi-Coworker Ubik: (polite noises, masterfully hiding the fact that he could not give less of a shit about the powah of my makeup)

Amy: Perhaps I shall reveal my secret on a Wednesday Advice Smackdown!

Fellow Blogger Semi-Coworker Ubik: (suddenly remembers something really important that he needed to do like, yesterday)

ANYWAY. Guess what my advice to you is, Melissa. Go on, GUESS.

That's right, BRONZING POWDER.

I too, am very white. I am so white I give off a radioactive glow in most photos. While I can tan, it's usually only possible after I've thoroughly charred myself, turned lobster red, peeled, molted, and grown new skin. Then I have about a 24-hour window in which I can tan naturally.

I will SOMETIMES use self-tanners (I'm partial to Clarins), but never, ever on my face. It's just too difficult to make it look natural around your hairline and neck. Which brings us to the bronzing powders.

I use this one.  It's cheap, it's available at Target and CVS (so I can buy it along with my Creme Eggs), and it's fairly idiot-proof (read: non-shimmery, which can go so wrong, so fast). (Trust me on that last one.)

First, moisturize yo' damn face. Dry skin looks paler than moisturized skin. Second, dab on your concealer (if you use any). Third, brush a translucent powder all over your face to eliminate shine and even out your skin tone. 

(POINTLESS TANGENT: Usually, I opt to put concealer on last...after my blush and everything. But I usually use foundation. When using a bronzer, I go for an all-powder look, and concealer on top of powder tends to not blend as well, in my useless opinion. Carry on with your lives.)

Finally, using a powder brush (about one size bigger than a blush brush, and less densely-bristled), apply the bronzer. LIGHTLY. GINGERLY. Start with just your cheekbones, but come closer to your nose than you would with blush. Think about where you would naturally tan and try to mimic that.

After I do my cheeks, I tap the end of my nose with the brush to be all sun-kissed and adorable. If you have a prominent forehead, feel free to apply a little powder there too, but be careful to blend really well (a flat surface tends to give you those ugly MY MAKEUP ENDS HERE lines more than the contour of your cheekbones and chin).

And ta-da! Now you too can be told that you no longer look like you are about to puke your guts out! By members of the medical community, even! Miraculous.

Dear Amalah:

Although I am still fairly youthful in appearance (hell, I'm 36), over the last few years I have noticed the size of the pores on my face is increasing rather rapidly. In fact, at the rate I'm going, my pores will soon expand and devour my entire head, body, pets and house. The solar system may be in danger. I am quite disturbed about this. I have spent a quantity of money equivalent to a car payment on fancy-ass creams, to no avail.

At one point should I accept the "new me" and move on? Should I simply try to find a good use for said mammoth pores, like 'pen holder' or 'nacho dip dispenser', or continue to fight the good fight?

Sincerely,
Stacy

Bah. Giant-ass pores. I'm sorry.

The problem with skin care is that skin is like snowflakes. Every epidermis is unique. The cleanser that works for me makes Jason break out like a pizza and the last masque someone recommended to me freaking burned my skin off.

But since wussing out and telling you to talk to a dermatologist means I don't get to talk about fun products, I'm going to talk about what I use anyway. And if any of it turns your pores into potholes, well, you should have talked to your dermatologist instead of listening to the Internet.

I have fairly oily skin, but more than "oily" I'd describe it as "tempermental." And "bitchy." It likes to reject products after a month of use and do this thing where one part of my cheek is breaking out while less than a centimeter away the skin is cracking and peeling like the Sahara Desert.

So the only success I've had lately has been from going with completely natural products. Things with fruits and vegetables in their name. And since most of the time large pores are a symptom of skin irritation, your skin might be trying to tell you that it's simply more sensitive than it used to be. So let's try to put together something super-gentle for you instead of blasting it with salicylic acid and rubbing alcohol and bleach or whatever.

Three brands in particular have my undying love (for now, stupid bitch skin): Burt's Bees, Ahava and MyChelle.

I use the Burt's Bees Garden Tomato soap and toner when my skin is being difficult in a zitty, angry pore kind of way. Then I follow up with Ahava's moisturizer for oily skin and eye contour cream.

If my skin is being difficult in a dry, flaky kind of way, I swap the Burt's toner for Ahava's gentler toner and add MyChelle's Pumpkin Renew Cream to the lineup.

Once a week, every week, I use Mychelle's Incredible Pumpkin Peel and spot-treat with the Clear Skin Serum.

But since, as I've already said, your skin is likely to be completely different than mine, it's probably not going to help anything if you rush out and buy everything on this list. The Burt's stuff is relatively cheap, the Ahava stuff is not, but it's the MyChelle product line that offers the best solution.

Trial. Sizes. Of everything they offer.

My mother-in-law sent me the most glorious box of tiny samples of pretty much the entire product line. Each trial size gives you about three to five uses (which, in my experience, is more than enough time to start seeing the results of this fabulous stuff). I played around, found what worked the best, and ordered my favorites.

(Also: Boys! Who are not reading this far anymore! They have men's products too. So...um...I'm still totally keeping you involved and in mind and shit.)

So anyone out there who doesn't like their current skin care products, is bored of their current skin care products, or who simply likes to hoarde and steal mini-shampoos from hotels should TOTALLY go order themselves a bag full of mini-cleansers and creams.

(Just don't do what I did and try to taste the Pumpkin Peel. Yes, it smells like pumpkin pie. No, it does not taste like pumpkin pie, you big stupid moron.)

Got a question? About anything? The meaning of life, perhaps? Send it to advice@amalah.com and check back next week where I will tell you the meaning of life and more importantly, where it can be purchased. (Although when in doubt, just check Sephora. It's probably available there.)

Comments

Heather

I am so very glad that you posted a bronzing question. I am self tanning these days, as I'll be in a strapless pink thing next week for my best friend's wedding, and I just don't know what to do about my face. I'm off to Target tonight to try the Physician's Formula. Thanks ever so much, kind Amalah.

Dr. Johnny Fever

I'm so white that my friends call me "Powder." My skin isn't exactly translucent, but on a sunny day you can see my kidneys through my skin. Think I'll try the bronzing shit. My goal is to have skin the color of a Pee-Chee Folder.

smartjuice

I feel very included after that special paragraph to keep us boys in the loop. Although none of the advice applies to me, it is still humourous to read.

bmh

I am so glad I don't know the Hootie jingle because I would have been humming it the entire smackdown long, but damn if I'm not craving a a Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch. Thanks!

kathy

As always, fabulous advice Amalah. But today is made even MORE precious by the nod to 'Gone With the Wind'. You are truly a girl in my tribe.

kentucky_kitty

Truly fabulous smackdown, Amalah, as always. Fab-u-lous! I was a featured playa in last weeks' Smackdown, and tonight, armed with a fistful of hair pictures I tore out of magazines, I went to a new hairdresser and threw down that familiar gauntlet: "make me look like this!" I'm happy to report that she DID! Her name was Amy, so the karma was there and all the planets were aligned. I love my new 'do, it is very current (remember my old style was adopted in 1981) and unstructured but still flattering.

* big happy sigh * Once again, Queen of Everything and Boss of Me, I am eternally grateful!!! :) (no pic's yet, I have to clear out the digital camera this weekend and will then will pose prettily for you!)

Mir

I totally want to make fun of you for tasting the pumpkin peel, but once upon a time I had a very barky and untrainable dog. So we bought him a collar that would administer an electric shock when he barked. I wanted to know how strong the shock was, but since it was administered upon the vibration of vocal cords, I couldn't think of any way to test it out other than to put it on my throat and say something.

Oh yeah... I was pregnant, too.

So you see, I don't really have room to point and laugh.

Chris

Bronzer or no, you looked lovely as always, dah-ling. Of course from the sound of things I was TOTALLY expecting Linda Blair from The Exorcist, spinning head and all, so escaping without being barfed on may be coloring my recollections a bit.

And no, don't change the content. We come for the Advice Smackdown, but we stay for the puke.

Wait...that didn't sound right...

callistawolf

The part where you said:

"But most importantly, just try to get excited in your own way. The wisest and most non-assvicey thing anyone has said to me in the past three months was this: Keeping yourself from "getting excited" will not make the hurt any less if something happens, I promise you."

Is, I *swear*, something I could have typed. I told a very dear friend this very thing recently (coincidentally, she's just about as far along in her pregnancy as you are). Anyhow, I learned this valuable nugget of truth after losing a baby last year, after a struggle with infertility. It's very true. Regardless of whether you allow yourself to get excited about the pregnancy, you will still be just as devastated if there is no healthy baby at the end of it. And better to have those happy memories of baby anticipation to look back on in the dreary months ahead.

Wow... that was pretty melodramatic and depressing for an Advice Smackdown. :) I promise I won't do it again!

lakeline

I totally just ordered the MyChelle trial package. Luckily, my husband is in China still so he won't look askance at my um... self-control issues.

Also -- I thought your answer to the first question was really beautiful. Funny, but very moving also. Thanks.

Zoot

Dude. I can't check my gmail but I just FELT you had updated and I come by and I see you've referenced having me as a bitchy paranoid pregnant friend which is FUCKING FREAKY because I just emailed my husband an entry about how bad it sucks not to have gmail today because I cant send YOU bitchy paranoid emails about my fear of dead embryos.

I'm obviously in the PREGNANCY part of your brain. Not necessarily the "pricing diapers" part because I'd much rather price fun things like cute onesies as opposed to velcro poop-holders.

Amy

Love your beauty advice Amy! Every time you link to a favorite product I bookmark it to check it out later.

And also? I love Ahava moisturizers. A little pricey, but they work and smell yummy.

Kitty

Thanks for the advice about the bronzer! I'm like Amy, I used to be tan and now I'm terrified of the sun so therefore I'm blinding people with my whiteness. (I don't like to wear skirts to work for this very reason.)

Oh, and thanks to the Advice Smackdown I now have a mix of Brittney's "Oops" and the Bacon Cheddar Ranch jingle in my head. Which I will probably sing all day. Thank you!

"Oops, I did it again I ate a Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Raa-aaanch!"
Yes, the melody changes in the middle from one song to the other song. ;)

type a

wait - so i won't enjoy every moment and talk to fetus all the time and glow, glow, glow?

Lisa

Nars Multiple in South Beach is also a God-send. You can do the whole dewy-skin I-just-got-back-from-Miami thing, and it's pretty hard to mess up.

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