25 October 2011

Apple Orchards and Craft Excitement

This past weekend, my husband, son, and I spent Sunday with my mother and father in law, where we went to a farm near their home that had apple picking, pick your own pumpkins, and some farm animals. We had a blast.

My son had a great time with the pumpkins and spent a good while crawling around them and checking them out. He probably would have been content among the pumpkins for even longer, but since it was one of the first things we did (after eating), I wanted to make sure he had a chance to look at the animals (and that we had a chance to get some apples!). It was great to see him so excited; at just 15 months old, sometimes it's hard to tell what's going to hold his interest. But the pumpkins and animals certainly did! I did have to work at keeping him from picking the goats' noses, though, since everytime a goat stuck his head through the fence to check us out, my son would go straight for the nostril. Unfortunately, he couldn't really reach the pigs, because they were all piglets and too small to get close enough for us to reach.

My father in law found us a little apple and A wasted no time in digging right into it, managing to polish off a good chunk of the apple by the time we were finished filling our bag. He passed out in the car when we left and slept the whole way home (1 1/2 hours). Of course, this meant at bedtime, mommy was exhausted, but A was not. My wonderful husband gave me a reprieve when it was clear that A wasn't going to bed any time soon - the guys went out to the livingroom to play, read, and have a snack, and mommy passed out until A was ready to nurse and go to sleep for real. We've decided that this is going to be an annual event, and I hope that the rest of the in laws will join in next year.

And along the crafting vein, I'm still on a craft kick, so I think it's really going to stick around. Which I'm glad for, because I just keep finding more and more projects to work on.

My sewing machine came today, so I can start working on the Wipes Container/Toddler Toy project. I figure this will be a GREAT introduction to the sewing machine, as it really won't matter of I don't do perfect stitches on the cloth, since I'll mostly be hemming the squares to keep them from fraying.

Last weekend and the weekend prior, I managed to gather the majority of the materials that I'm going to need to start working on the quiet book.

I also found the perfect present for my mother in law if I can pull off actually making it, and some cool homemade popsicle stick bracelets that I might attach to my nieces' and nephew's gifts. I also found some great directions for homemade bath fizzies, so I am hoping to have some really personalized, heartfelt gifts to give this year. I always try really hard to buy things that people will like, but this just seems so much warmer and meaningful - if I can pull it off!

18 October 2011

Arts, Crafts, and Fun

Lately, I've been getting big into do-it-yourself projects. In the past few weeks, we've found a few simple (and cheap!) ways to have fun with my son, and I've been starting to get revved up about trying to do some homemade crafts, some of which I hope to do for my son for Christmas (either this coming one or in the future) - and maybe even some for my nieces and nephew.

So far, our homemade flour finger paints and dyed ice cubes at bathtime have both gone over very successfully. For the finger paints, I actually doubled the recipe on the website, and have 3 decent-sized containers (red, yellow, and blue) stored in my fridge. They've kept well for several weeks so far, and we've had at least 4-5 fingerpainting sessions with them, where I've filled a 1/2 dozen egg carton with paint. It washes off easily, and flakes off once it's dried.

The dyed ice cubes idea I got from a mom friend. My husband had a brilliant idea, since small ice cubes will melt in the warm tub water quickly; we used a small tupperware (about the size of 1-2 cups of water) and froze it up with some food dye in it. This has now become a weekly tub treat.

I've been adding them to my Pinterest account, so that I have an easy to find place for them. My first three crafts are two small projects and one HUGE project.
Turning a Wipes Container into a Toddler Toy
Felt Envelopes
Quiet Book (aka the "HUGE" Project)

I'm looking at getting a sewing machine, because I want to start making other felt toys as well.

I've been getting into do-it-yourself projects for around the house as well. Recently, I made my own dishwasher detergent, thanks to this recipe. So far, it's done a great job of keeping the dishes clean, and we've done away with the $3-4 bottle of detergent that we need to replace every 2 weeks. It was quick to mix up, and the supplies we got will make many batches (or may even start getting used for other cleaners). This will be a great cost savings for very little effort. The only "inconvenient" part is that the mixed batch sometimes needs a good shaking before spooning some out, since it can clump.

My next do-it-yourself for the home is to set up a family command center that can serve as a memo board, place to keep the shopping list, a calendar, etc. I just have to find a wall in my home that I can hang things on without them falling out that is in a central location. My entryway just doesn't want to hold up the things I try to nail to the wall....

30 September 2011

Sports, Simplification, and other Non-baby Diversions

Red Sox End their Season, Now it's time for Bruins 
Being from the Boston area, I am fairly certain that it's in my rental agreement that if I regularly talk, breathe, or write, that at some point or another, I am required to bring sports into the picture. While I'm not a huge sports fan, I will admit that the team spirit that the city has is infectious (though fairweather fans are still incredibly annoying). It's kind of funny how everyone is pitching fits over this like there wasn't a huge dry spell of championships pre-2004.

So, the Red Sox epically blew it this month and their season is over. My husband, being the Red Sox fan in the house, mentioned that the odds of them doing so terribly were highly unlikely or, as he said "...or 1 in 1 as it turns out."

We are looking forward to being able to take our son to see the Red Sox possibly next season, as this year he was too young to really want to sit still. We'll see how his demeanor is next year and go from there.

But now, with baseball season officially over for our house, it's now time for HOCKEY. My husband is the big baseball fan. I will watch it and I enjoy it well enough (though I really enjoy seeing our son spontaneously clap for the Red Sox and insist on wearing his baseball cap around the house more than anything!), but if I'm into any sport, hockey is it. And with the Bruins as our hometeam, I'm all the more thrilled to be going into hockey season. We used to live in Los Angeles, but I was never much of a Kings fan. I prefer the Ducks. We did go to a Kings/Ducks game one year and my husband was worried we would get jumped in the parking lot of the Staples Center because I spent the game rooting for the Ducks. Loudly. And they won. And my husband was entertained because he's never seen me get so hyped up about sports.

As far as football (American), we're not big football fans around here. We usually watch the Superbowl, and anything outside of that is mostly if there's nothing better on and we want background noise. But, I spent 7 years watching live high school and football games because of marching band, so I've more than had my fill of the sport!

Simplifying my life
I've decided that I want to try to simplify a lot of things in my life that are distractions or redundant.

I started with Facebook. I went through a first round of purging of friends that I don't know very well or don't even interact with on the site and eliminated some of the groups I was in. I will undoubtedly be going back for another round of purging in the coming days when I have a chance to really look at the obscenely long list of friends on my list. I have also been removing games/applications that I don't play. I have vowed not to add any new games.

I've also started looking at things like the cleaning supplies in my house. We have several different types of cleaners that do slightly different things. Turns out that most of these tasks can also be done just as effectively, and more cheaply, by obtaining a few simple household supplies like washing soda, vinegar, and bleach. I now have two spray bottles of solution that I use; one is half & half vinegar/water to use for things like mirrors and on the shower curtain (apparently vinegar is good for eating up soap scum), and the other is half & half bleach/water. My floor cleaner will be a bucket of water with a bit of bleach or vinegar added as needed.

We're in the process of simplifying our debts as well. Currently our debts, with the exception of our student loans, are now consolidated onto one credit card currently at 0% interest. We have a plan in place that should get us paid off by this time next year.

I'm still looking for ideas of other ways to simplify, so I plan on doing some reading. This link on 30 Articles That Will Help You Simplify Your Life looks promising.

Other Time Sinks
After my son goes to bed, I've taken to spending way to much time on Pinterest, and have started playing Civilization IV again. I was on a big FrontierVille kick on Facebook, but I'm tired of all the new quests and buildings that are nothing more than "beg all your friends to send you stuff." As far as Civ IV, Genghis Khan really frustrates me. Coming and beating me up and taking my cities. I love building the cities, but I still so suck at building the necessary defenses or offenses to conquer and defend...

Maybe I should just go back to SimCity, where there are no wars....

22 September 2011

Birth Resources: Home vs. Hospital and Pain Management

Deciding what you want out of your birth experience can be overwhelming. I wish that I had kept a list of the many resources I found while researching and preparing for my son's birth, because I did come across some very helpful sites.

One of the things that helped me realize all the options I had was getting my hands on a birth plan template. From there, I researched some of the things that I hadn't given much thought to, because they weren't things that I'd really thought about or realized I had an option of.

Homebirth vs. Hospital Birth
The first decision, if you're low risk and looking for a natural birth, may be whether to have a homebirth or a hospital birth. There have been several studies in the Netherlands that have attempted to ascertain the safety of a home birth when compared to a hospital birth.
Of the three studies below, the first two found that homebirth had no more or fewer complications than hospital deliveries. The third (and most recent), finds that care under a midwife (low risk pregnancies) had greater birth complications than did high risk pregnancies under the care of an obstetrician. Brittany at Birth Unplugged does a great job discussing study 2 and study 3 on her blog:
If you are giving homebirth some serious consideration, familiarize yourself with the laws in your state that might affect what type of care provider you may be able to hire. The Midwives Alliance of North America also has a state chart breaking down Direct-Entry Midwife Legal status.

If a homebirth isn't right for you, but feel that a hospital birth may provide unnecessary interventions, you might consider a Birth Center.

Whether you opt for homebirth, hospital birth, or a birth center, there are questions you'll want to ask about the place you expect to deliver and the type of care you'll receive. ICAN (the International Cesarean Awareness Network) talks about the different birth options and provides a fantastic list of questions that you may want to consider at the bottom of the page.

Pain Management
Probably one of the biggest decisions most women think about when planning their labor and delivery is what type of pain management they want. There are a number of options for women who want to use natural pain management techniques. Even if you don't plan on using pain medications, I strongly encourage you to research the different pros and cons of each type of pain medication, to ensure that you are as fully informed as possible about the risks and benefits of each prior to going into labor. A starting point for some of the benefits and risks of the different types of medications can be found in the Labor & Birth section of AmericanPregnancy.org, though I strongly encourage comparing information from several different locations (as well as talking to your prenatal care provider about them to determine if there are additional benefits or risks in your particular case).

Pain Medications
Note that this is not necessarily a comprehensive list of the options, but an overview of some of the common options available
  • Epidural
  • Spinal Block (note that this is different from the epidural)
  • Local Anesthetic
  • Narcotics
  • General Anesthesia (may be used in the event of Cesarean)
One thing you will want to consider is what option you may want to use in the event of a Cesarean. While discussing potential complications with my midwife during my own pregnancy, I was surprised to find out that if I opted for general anesthesia over epidural or spinal, that my husband would be unable to accompany me in the surgery, due to the extra space needed for staff and equipment for monitoring and administering the general anesthetic.

Natural Pain Relief
Again, this list is an overview, and not intended to be considered comprehensive
  • Counter Pressure
  • Breathing Techniques (ex: Lamaze)
  • Positioning with Birth Aids (ex: Birthing Ball, Squat Bar)
  • Setting up a calming/relaxing environment (ex: use of music)
  • Water
In addition to the above, there are programs such as Hypnobabies that some women swear by.

09 September 2011

The Birth Experience: Avoiding Disappointment when things don't go as planned

Although I consider myself as having been very well informed of my options when I had my son, I do wish I'd had more time to look into different options. I wish that I had had more friendly connections in the area that could point me to classes or provide me with tips about how to have the birth experience I wanted.

The biggest problem that I encountered was that in going into my pregnancy and labor, I knew I wanted to be as intervention free as possible, but I didn't really know anyone who had had an intervention free birth. The fast majority of the women in my family had epidurals or other medical pain relief. The few friends that I am still in touch with that do have kids had medical interventions (either pain relief or that and a c-section). I researched my options, but had no real life experiences aside from being told by everyone that the "epidural was fantastic".

06 September 2011

The Quest to make Playdates

One of the biggest challenges that I've come across as a new mom is having time for and relating to friends. Most of my most local friends aren't parents, and my friends who are parents live enough of a distance away that coordinating schedules can be difficult.

And so I have decided to embark on a quest to try to find some local "mommy friends" with whom I can get together with on the weekends sometimes (or maybe in the evenings during the week occasionally). Friends that I can talk about "mommy things" with without worrying about boring them, while also giving my son the opportunity to be social with other babies.

02 September 2011

What a year it's been

It's been a long week.

Honestly, it's been a long year. Not to say that it hasn't been a wonderful year, and I certainly wouldn't change it for the world. But it certainly has been a long year.

My son is 13 months old today. And when I think about how much he has grown and changed in those short 13 months, I am amazed. I mean, that's what babies do, of course, but seeing him day to day, the changes are so fluid that they're practically unnoticable until I think back on where he was at 3 months ago, 6 months ago, 1 year ago...

And things certainly haven't always gone as my husband and I had expected them to go. Last August, we had prepared to take home a little boy who would be exclusively breastfed until solids were introduced, who would sleep in a bassinet in our room, and who peed on us at least several times a week.

In actuality, none of those things happened, I'm afraid to say.

Since day one, my son has greatly preferred bedsharing/co-sleeping, and refused to sleep in his bassinet. My husband had some hit or miss luck in getting him to nap in his crib during the day after I had returned to work two months post partum, but even that luck quickly faded. Today, we have his convertible crib serving as a sidecar to our queen-sized bed. Once he's asleep, he'll often roll himself into the crib space, but he still refused to nap in the playpen or any sort of fully enclosed space that would make it possible for me or my husband to feel comfortable leaving him sleeping in the room alone, since the bed is still a bit too high and he isn't consitently climbing down off it feet first. Which is fine. This makes him happy and comfortable, and honestly, the fact that we need to be in the room right now until we get him consistently climbing off the bed feet first encourages us to have enforced downtime, when I would usually be trying to clean, or be mindlessly waiting time playing Civilization on the computer, or FrontierVille on Facebook.

We also have rarely gotten peed on. In 13 months, he's got a great track record for peeing through his cloth diapers as soon as I've finished pinning them and just before I've gotten the waterproof liner on, so no one gets soaked, but I can see that he's wet, and so I sigh and start over again while he wiggles in about 20 directions, tired of lying still. He did manage to pee on my husband immedately after being born (I'll share that one later), but I think I've only been on the wrong end twice.

And, I'm sad to say, that we didn't get to exclusively breastfeed until solids were introduced. This story will probably get a post all on its own, but needless to say, it was discovered that my son had an infection, Serratia, which was most likely acquired during our post-partum stay in the hospital. His health had an impact on my milk production, since he wasn't feeding as actively as he should have been. Fortunately, my son suffered no long term effects from the infection, and only had to receive antibiotics orally for 14 days. My milk supply, on the other hand, had suffered tremendously. I had been advised not to do any pumping for the first few weeks, and since my son was underfeeding, I wound up with an undersupply. Unfortunately, this was before I'd really heard of the concept of milk-sharing, such as Human Milk for Human Babies. All I knew about getting human milk for my son aside from what I could produce was that there were milk banks, but that these could be expensive, and generally required a prescription. And so, with a heavy heart and feeling that I had failed my son, we started to supplement with formula (my feelings on this particular decision is something else that could probably take up an entirely separate entry, so I will save that for later).

I think of all the stresses I have gone through this past year, between my son's weight gain and health to the medical follow ups he's needed as a result,  from the feelings of failure that I've had, to the fact that my husband and I hardly see each other during the week because we have rotating schedules to avoid the need for daycare. When I focus on those, there are very brief moments that I want to sob and wonder why anyone would decide to put themselves through so much stress.

And there are moments like this morning, when my son starts climbing all over me 30-60 minutes before the alarm goes off (these days I wonder why I keep it set at all aside from sparing me from checking the clock), and I roll over and just see that grin. Just this absolutely amazing "I'm so impressed with myself, didn't you hear me turn the mobile on? Didn't you see me giving my stuffed dog kisses? Did you notice that I was able to vault over you, mommy???" grin.

And then everything is okay with the world and I realize that I would take all those stressors and more, just so long as I can keep seeing that face every morning when I wake up, and every evening when we go to bed.

01 September 2011

Circumcision: Law and Ethics

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win.
(Quote often attributed to Gandhi, but believed to be a rephrasing of a quote from 1914 in an address by unionist Nicholas Klein to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America in Baltimore.)

It's not really the source of the quote that's so important as the sentiment behind it. This quote is quite pertinent to the "Intactivist movement" (people who are standing up against circumcision to protect infant boys), as parents, doctors, and even lawmakers try to give pushback in response to attempts of getting baby boys the same rights to bodily integrity that our baby girls in the U.S. have.

There are a number of bills that have been put before Congress and State legislatures to try to make routine infant circumcision (RIC) of males (also referred to as Male Genital Mutilation) illegal, just as it is for females. Specifics on these bills, their texts, and which states have submitted such bills can be found at MGMbill.org.

Recently, San Francisco and Santa Monica made the news as cities trying to pass a local MGM bill. The San Francisco bill was stricken from the November ballot by Superior Court Judge, citing that it "violates a California law that makes regulating medical procedures a function of the state, not cities." And the Santa Monica bill was dropped, due to the bill being misrepresented as Anti-Semitic.

And now, Assemblyman Mike Gatto has put forth a bill (AB768) that was approved unanimously by the California State senate yesterday. This bill will essentially require that any anti-circumcision law make it through state legislation, and prohibits the smaller scale bills such as those that were attempted in San Francisco and Santa Monica. The bill goes into effect immediately.

Seems a bit of an extreme reaction to bills that were, according to online pollings, not favored by the majority, doesn't it? Especially when there is supposedly already existing law that states that cities can't regulate medical procedures. So why the need for an additional law that singles out circumcision to say that THAT specifically can't be regulated by city, county, municipality, etc?

Everything in the news has, if anything, just brought circumcision more to the forefront. And hopefully has gotten many thinking about the motivations behind circumcision, as well as what a double standard we hold in protecting our daughters while handing our sons over to have them permanantly altered just days after they make the harsh transition from womb to the outside world.

Female circumcision (also referred to as Female Genital Mutilation or FGM) was outlawed in 1996. The FGM law (see Sec. 645 for Criminalization of Female Genital Mutliation) notes (emphasis mine):
(a) <<NOTE: 18 USC 116 note.>>  Findings.--The Congress finds that--
            (1) the practice of female genital mutilation is carried out by members of certain cultural
 and religious groups within the United States;
The law does also go on to make exceptions in the case of medical necessity, such as an episiotomy during childbirth.

However, the recognition by Congress that FGM is carried out for cultural and religious reasons is significant, as despite this, they find that:
(5) the practice of female genital mutilation can be prohibited without abridging the exercise of any rights guaranteed
Which is to say the find that there is no compelling religious or cultural reason that female circumcision should be legally permitted. So why are we allowing this on our baby boys?

In 2015, we may be seeing some of the first lawsuits from men who were circumcised as infants after the FGM law was passed, citing the fact that, under the 14th Amendment, they should be afforded the same legal protection that our girls current received (again, emphasis below is mine):
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
And I haven't even touched the issues surrounding the medical practices of circumcision such as informed consent, the Hippocratic Oath, and rates of complications from circumcision. And okay, so I didn't delve too deeply into the ethics of it, aside from the inequal treatment that boys and girls get, mostly because a lot of the ethics are more deeply tied to the medical practices than these laws.

But now that I have gotten to let off a bit of steam about the recent passing of a ridiculous bill and touched on why, legally, boys should be getting the same protections that girls have had since 1996, maybe I can blog about other things for a few posts before returning to circumcision.

Related Reading:
Circumcision is immoral, should be banned

31 August 2011

Circumcision: A few facts

Since finding out I was having a boy, one of the things that my husband and I thoroughly researched was the topic of circumcision. Was there really any reason to do it? Would there be any benefit to him going through that pain? What exactly does a circumcision remove? If we don't circumcise, how do we keep him clean?

For starters, I will point out, for those just learning about circumcision, throughout my blog, I will be using "intact" and "whole" to refer to a boy who is not circumcised. The term "uncircumcised" implies that circumcision is what is normal. An intact boy is no more uncircumcised than someone with all of their limbs is unamputated.

I did exhaustive research. I pulled studies and articles regarding urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases and hygiene. I looked up rates of circumcision in our area, in our country, and around the world. I even asked my husband his feelings and thoughts regarding the old "locker room argument" (that an intact boy is highly likely to get relentlessly teased for being different), and my question essentially got laughed at and I was told that a guy who admitted to "noticing another guy's junk" was likely to get ridiculed. Also, we discussed that kids will be cruel, and if they want to pick on someone, they will find SOMETHING to pick on them about, regardless.
What I found out surprised me. And the more I researched it, the more strongly I have become opposed to Routine Infant Circumcision (RIC).

As I'm posting from work, I can't link gather to share many of the most informative posts that I have found from the Peaceful Parenting Blog, as some of them have some pictures that rather explicitly show the difference between an intact and circumcised penis, as well as showing what actually occurs during a circumcision.

  • Cleaning an intact boy is easier than cleaning a circumcised boy. You don't have to care for a healing wound that is sitting in a diaper, and you do not retract an intact infant, whereas with a circumcised infant, you often have to retract the remainder of the prepuce (foreskin) regularly to prevent adhesions.
  • Up to 96% of infant circumcisions in the United States and Canada no anesthetic is given. And often, when anesthetic is used, it is often only minimally effective, or is specifically contraindicated for use on infants and/or for circumcisions. Infant Circumcision with Anesthesia Article on TheWholeNetworkCircumcision Study Halted Due to Trauma 
  • The circumcision procedure is especially violent on an infant or child. At birth, the prepuce is not retractable, but is fused to the head of the glans. The age at which a child can retract varies widely, and may not happen until puberty. Prior to this, a circumcision requires not only the excision of the prepuce, but also requires ripping the prepuce away from the glans.
  • Studies on UTI rates fail to specify whether the intact infants were being retracted. In a culture where doctors will try to retract an intact infant and will tell parents that they should be doing this regularly to clean out things that "get caught" in the prepuce, chances are good that at least some of these infants were not being properly cleaned (again, "proper cleaning" means leave it alone; "only clean what is seen", "When intact, do not retract").
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that "Some forms of [Female Genital Cutting] are less extensive than the newborn male circumcision commonly performed in the West.", but they still waver over taking a stand against male circumcision, taking an on the fence stance, stating "Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision." as of their official statement in 1999, which was reaffirmed in 2005. It's significant to note that despite it being an exceedingly common practice, the AAP doesn't even outright endorse the procedure.
  • 20 out of of 100,157 (0.02%) circumcised boys got UTIs, compared with 88 out of 35,929 (0.244%) intact boys. If circumcising the 35,929 boys would have reduced the incidence from 0.244% to 0.02% (7 boys), the Number Needed to Treat is 35,929/(88-7) = 444 circumcisions to prevent one UTI. Circumcision and Urinary Tract Infections, Circumstitions.com
  • 100-200 baby boys die annually from circumcision and this practice continues. Yet, when 30 infants die over the span of 10 years, all drop-side cribs are recalled. The Guggie Daily: How many Babies Must Die from Circumcision?
  • Is Religion a reason? There is an increasing Jewish movement against circumcision, replacing the ceremony with the naming ceremony used for infant girls (Beyond the Bris). As for Christians, the New Testament actually has several passages that indicate that the circumcision covenant is no longer required (Circumcision and the Christian Parent; NOHARMM).
  • Female Circumcision (FC) was outlawed in the U.S. in 1996. Prior to this, it was legal for infant girls to be circumcised, even if it wasn't commonplace. People would balk at the idea of allowing FC to be a routine practice, even though, as already mentioned above, even the AAP recognizes that there are forms of FC that are less severe than the Male Circumcision that we practice here in the U.S. The law doesn't give religous or cultural exemption. In fact, in 2010, the AAP recommended allowing a "ritual pinprick" in lieu of FC in an attempt to prevent families from taking their daughters overseas to be circumcised, and there was an outcry that caused them to quickly backpedal on this suggestion.
This is just a start of some of the double standards and misinformation that I uncovered regarding circumcision.

Although I had intended on writing about birth resources and my own birth experience after my pregnancy post, the news about the circumcision debate/law in California has got this at the forefront of my mind. When I have a bit more time, I'll write more about San Francisco, the State of California, and circumcision law.

25 August 2011

Pregnancy Resources - Preparing for Birth

Finding out you're pregnant can be tremendously overwhelming; whether that pregnancy was planned or not. Trying to navigate the sea of information once you're pregnant is a daunting task. What books should you read? What things do you need to buy in preparation of the baby? The many choices and decisions you have to make over those 9 months can sometimes feel like a huge weight.

No matter who you ask, everyone will have a different opinion about what sources and information you should surround yourself with as you journey into parenthood. The easiest way to start figuring out what will work for you is by thinking through what type of birth you want to experience and what your parenting style will be. (Ah, but then there's the catch 22: how can you possibly decide if you don't know what your options are?)

Let me share a secret with you: I have yet to spend money on any pregnancy, birth, and/or parenting books. And I have no intention of doing so. Every piece of research I did, I did through the internet (thanks, Google!). I checked out one solitary book from the public library. Every piece of medical information I wanted verification or futher information on, I discussed with my midwife. I do wish that I'd taken the time to learn more about a few things, but overall, I felt ready when my labor started, and because I knew and understood my options, I felt empowered and in control of my birth experience. And those few things that I wished I'd know more about I will look into and be ready for if and when we ddecide to add to our family. Because I took the time to educate myself well before birth, I know absolutely what I could and will try differently next time around.

When you first start meeting with your healthcare provider(s), whether it will be an Ob/Gyn, a midwife, a doula, and/or your family doctor, the best first step you can take is to discuss expectations. What are your expectations for the pregnancy and birth? What sort of testing and prenatal appointment expectations does your healthcare provider have? If you will be declining any of the recommended testing, will this affect whether or not this provider will keep you as a patient? In some cases, health care providers may refuse to continue to provide care if you decline some tests. If this will be the case, it's good to know this ahead of time so that you can find a provider who will be a good fit to your prenatal care preferences and expectations. A sample prenatal testing schedule can be found here. Not all of these tests apply to everyone, but it gives a fairly good overview of what standard tests are done and during what stage of pregnancy.

One of the things that got me thinking about my birth options was making a birth plan. I found a fairly comprehensive one at http://www.birthplan.com/ that got me thinking about things that I hadn't even considered, like episiotomies, delayed cord cutting, and pitocin use. It also helped give my midwife a good idea of what my husband and I expected of birth and delivery and for us to discuss our preferences, her recommendations, and where the two may not have coincided and why.

Another important resource is having others you can talk to about your experiences. I found the forums at BabyCenter extremely helpful in finding women that I could share my experiences with. They automatically add you to a forum for women who share your same expected due month. Granted, as you progress in your pregnancy, there will be wide variation between the women at the beginning of the month and those at the end, but it's a good way to meet other women who are experiencing pregnancy at roughly the same stage you are. A year later, I still stay connected to a small group of these women (about 50ish or so of them), although we were all due in July, our babies range from being born in May to Mid-August. There are other sites with discussion forums for expectant mothers, but most of my baby-related forum time was spent on BabyCenter, so I can't personally name or recommend any of them.

What books, websites, and/or other miscellaneous resources did you find helpful in knowing what to expect during pregnancy? What tips can you offer others?

19 August 2011

My Pregnancy Experience

It seems most appropriate that I start my parenting blogging experience talking about my pregnancy and birth experience with my son. I wish that I'd decided to be an active blogger during my pregnancy so that I could have accurately captured the many emotions and experiences throughout the pregnancy, but alas, I did not. Perhaps when my husband and I are ready to add to our family, I will be better about that aspect.

The first part of the story is sort of funny. My husband and I decided to start trying to conceive. So I made a doctor's appointment with my new doctor (we had just moved) for my annual check up and for pre-conception information. The most important preconception information that my doctor gave me was to start taking folic acid before I got pregnant.

At that appointment, my doctor also recommended that since I hadn't had a Tetanus/Pertussis booster in the past 10 years, that I should get that. However, there was the most minute chance that I could have been pregnant, so they wanted to wait until I had cycled, or to come back in a few weeks for a pregnancy test before they gave me the booster. As it turned out, that "minute" chance was actually a pregnancy, which was quite a surprise to my husband and I, because it was less than a month since we'd decided to try conceiving. Good thing I went right out and started folic acid right after my appointment with the doctor!

My pregnancy itself was about as "textbook" as you could get, really. I had morning sickness from about 1 month in until nearly 4 months. It wasn't until I was nearing the end of that phase that I finally found the best ways to alleviate the sickness; keeping freshly cut lemons next to the bedstand at night, and constantly wearing Sea-Bands. When I was feeling particularly nauseated in the middle of the night, I would bite into a lemon, but for the most part, the scent of the lemons kept the sickness at bay. I don't even know how many lemons I went through keeping away the morning sickness, since we cut up about half of a lemon every night so that the smell would be strong enough. I slept for at least 12-14 hours a night, and even then, I would sometimes need to fight falling asleep at the desk at work.

Once the morning sickness abated, I spent much of the 2nd trimester with evening heartburn. The only cure for this was lots and lots of milk, ice cream, and late in the evening, sometimes Tums.

We had our anatomy scan at 18 weeks, and at that point found out that we were having a boy. Prior to this, we had already discussed circumcision, and were in absolute agreement that we were going to leave any sons intact and that that was their choice to make.

I felt at my best during the 3rd trimester. Aside from slightly swollen ankles, which I made sure to keep propped up as much as possible, I was energetic - despite not always getting great sleep.

Throughout my pregnancy, I had a midwife from the hospital that I was going to be delivering at. This hospital uses a team of midwives; each midwife works at different health centers in the area for prenatal and postnatal appointments, so I had a set midwife for that care (my midwife did change once during this time, but that was because the midwife I started with had a shift in her responsibilities - I could have opted to keep her, but would have had to go to another location). However, in the hospital, the midwife who would be at the delivery depended on who was on call at the hospital.

My birth preferences were that I would do a vaginal delivery with no medical interventions. However, I did realize that in the moment, I may want pain management alternatives, and so I did my research about the different types of medications. We discussed my desire to not have an induction and to carry as long as possible until natural labor set in, since due dates can be wrong, and generally babies will come when they are fully ready to handle life outside the womb. We wanted to delay cord cutting, and I absolutely wanted to avoid both a c-section and an episiotomy.

My prenatal appointments were super easy. I went in, peed in a cup, they took my blood pressure and weight, my midwife would do my fundal height and we'd listen to the heartbeat, and then we'd do questions and answers. In the later stages, my midwife would feel for my son's positioning, but this was always done externally. At no point did we do any cervical checks -  you know why? Because they aren't necessary, and aren't reliable predictors of when you're going to go into labor.

What I learned from my pregnancy:
  • Decide on your birth preferences
  • Educate yourself about the alternatives
  • Lemons & Sea-Bands are fantastic
  • The drink you have to drink for the gestational diabetes test is not gross like most people say it is; it tastes like Orange Crush
  • I am no longer afraid of needles (amazing how a prenatal panel of bloodwork will do that for you)
I may have to add another post to discuss the pregnancy experience in a bith more depth and provide more resources, but at the moment, I am short on time.

Hello!

I decided that I wanted to start a blog that would be primarily dedicated to parenting and those aspects of parenting that I feel most passionately about. I'm sure that as life interferes, there will probably be a few asides, but I am hoping to keep this blog mostly on topic.

I am hoping that as I add to this blog, I will find people who are both like-minded, and of different opinions. Perhaps we can educate one another.

By way of introduction, I am a mother of one son who just turned a year old. I am married, and both my husband and I have full time jobs with alternating hours (I work days, he works nights). I breastfeed, babywear, and co-sleep. I am anti-circumcision and spanking. We live in the Boston area.