Sunday, January 20, 2013

Turkey Breasts, Yoga, and Self-Love

This is a 5.8 pound turkey breast from Wegman's.  I plan to make it for dinner on Sunday night, along with gluten-free stuffing and some nice vegetables.  My husband loves turkey dearly and the advent of celiac disease for him meant that his beloved Stovetop Stuffing (blech) had to go.  I'm less of a fan but it does seem to be turkey season, so I can deal with it. 

Our gustatory peculiarities, however, are not the reason that I propped a turkey breast up on my countertop and took a picture to share with you.  Rather, my actions were prompted by a very strong memory that my recent attendance at a yoga class brought forward.  When I was about 8 years old, my mother was teaching me how to prepare a whole chicken for roasting.  As she washed it in cool running water, she casually remarked, "You know, you were smaller than this chicken when you were born."  That roaster was around the same weight as my turkey breast (and poultry is poultry, after all).  The idea was mind-boggling to an eight year old, and it's still pretty scary to a forty-harumph year old. 

I called my mother the other night and asked her again how much I had weighed at birth.  ("Oh, about two pounds, I think.  And, we might as well be honest, you were born in the car on the way to the hospital.  And, oh, you had a blood infection too.")  Some of this information was new to me and I was flabbergasted all over again.  To put it another way, I was about the size of a Chinese cabbage:  a Chinese cabbage with septicemia.

So all of this is pretty dramatic stuff.  It's been the background of my physical life and has informed my passion when it comes to prolife issues -- about 144,000 US children are aborted in the second trimester each year, which is the stage of life at which I was born into the world.  At the same time, it has caused me some other issues which do have a bearing on that yoga class I mentioned.

One of the ways in which premature babies are treated at the present time is with kangaroo care -- mothers are encouraged to touch their babies and to hold them on their chests for as long as possible.  When I was born, not only had this technique not come into vogue, touching premature babies was forbidden.   My father was working to pay for the medical care I was receiving and my mother didn't drive and had an 18 month old toddler to boot.  She was only able to come to the hospital when someone could drive her, and that was mostly on the weekends.  So the upshot of all of this is that I spent the early months of my life in an artificial environment, touched only in a clinical way, and struggling to survive.  Although no one has ever really articulated this to me, I am convinced that these early beginnings have a lot to do with some of my personality "quirks" and, particularly, with the weird way I interact with and perceive my own physical self. 

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