Archive for October, 2011

This Week In Pregnancy: Not Pregnant Anymore!

Hooray! Our little bundle of lovin’ arrived Tuesday night!

I was getting nervous about possibly risking out of the birth center — 42 weeks is the deadline — so at my weekly appointment Tuesday morning, I had my membranes stripped. It’s not a highly pleasant procedure and it left me quite crampy, much to my midwife’s pleasure.

Sure enough, within an hour or so, cramps turned into irregular contractions which fairly quickly turned into regular contractions. From the time I left the appointment to the time he was born was 13.5 hours. Can’t complain about that 🙂

He joined us at 9:38 Tuesday night, weighing in at 9 pounds, 10 ounces, measuring 21.5 inches long. He has a ridiculous amount of head control and will already turn himself onto his side from his back. It has truly been fabulous having him here with us.

In the theme of this blog, I am hoping that the type of care I received and the type of birth I was able to have continue to become more widely used, accepted, sought after, respected.

As a woman of “advanced maternal age” (35 at conception, 36 at birth), I was treated by doctors as a problem waiting to happen. I didn’t get much information about things that were useful but I heard an awful lot about Down’s Syndrome. (Yes, having that information is good, but surely that’s not all I needed to know about being pregnant?) My appointments were short and many interventions were suggested/recommended. One OB wanted me to have an ultrasound every week starting at 34 weeks — based solely on my age. I was in good shape, my blood pressure was low, my glucose levels were fine, I had no symptoms of anything at all being wrong — why intervene?

I chose to use a birth center for a lot of reasons, and as time went on, I had more reasons why I was glad to be there. My appointments were relaxed — there was time to really discuss anything and eveything I had concerns or questions about, whether they were things happening in my body, things that I wasn’t sure if I should/shouldn’t do, fears I had about the birthing process (or how I would react once The Kid was actually here). I could ask about interventions that were available, why, and when they would be used. We talked in depth about what situations would be cause for transfer to a hospital, what that transfer would look like, and what the typical procedures at the hospital were so I would know some of what to expect if we had to go there. I never asked a question that was dismissed, and I never felt rushed.

The support that I had during the labor and birth was amazing. The resources I had available were great, and I used just about everything they had, I think (shower, tub, birth ball, birth stool, squat bar, bed). I would be the world’s biggest fibber if I were to say that it didn’t hurt like mad (though I didn’t experience the “ring of fire” and the actual birth wasn’t terribly uncomfortable), but it is an amazing process and I am glad I was in a place and with people where I could do it and have what I needed to do it. (If you want more details about the labor and birth, I’m happy to share, but that’s as much detail as I’ll go into publicly here…)

If you’re interested in where I was and what they’re all about, I patronized The Babymoon Inn and am more than happy to give them a little shout-out here, now that it’s all said and done. Highly highly highly recommend.

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Oh. My. Graciousness.

It’s Wednesday! Today’s post is by Nichol.

By the time you read this post, my very first mini-sprint tri will be LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY.

Pretty safe for me to tell you that I am freaked. Swimming is in a pool. Good. Running is only half a mile, which I can run (almost) all the way. Good. Biking is 8 miles. Not so good. And then to (almost) run a half a mile after the biking? Scary as hell.

I am thanking my lucky stars that it’s a Halloween tri and people will be wearing costumes. Not because Halloween costumes make a less serious tri, but because then people won’t be watching me crawl instead of run the last half mile. Just kidding. Sort of.

I have a friend who is doing it with me. And I get to eat pizza afterwards. I will also have beer with the pizza. And no salad. Just pizza and beer. And pasta the night before. I probably don’t really need to carbo load the night before, but it’s one of the 3 things I’m looking forward to. 1. Finishing the tri. 2. Pizza and beer. 3. Pasta

Well maybe it’s more like
1. Beer
2. Pizza and beer
3. Finishing the tri
4. More beer
5. Pasta

Any last minute words of advice?

Hand-Washing

I have a subscription to a little magazine called Nutrition Action, published by The Center for Science in the Public Interest. It consistently has good information, so I maintain my subscription.

I was reading November’s issue and the main article was about bacteria, yeast, mold found in the average American home.

The gist: your kitchen is really dirty.

But what was interesting to me were some tidbits about cleaning your hands.

The article suggested washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds – two choruses of Happy Birthday – which is advice I have seen in many places. The rubbing action removes not only what is on the skin but also removes dead skin cells – and whatever is living on them. Drying them on a towel adds to this positive effect.

What was new to me about hand-washing is that the temperature of the water doesn’t matter. “…washing your hands with water that’s at 40°F removes the same amount of germs as washing with water that’s at 120°F.”

Of course, there was also information about antibacterial soaps. I already knew that antibacterial cleaners of any kind (including but not limited to hand and dish soap) contribute to the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and they also contribute to a lack of good bacteria in our guts (which are, ironically, ultimately responsible for our immune systems).

Several new pieces of information that were of interest:

Studies that show effectiveness of these soaps have people scrub for 60 to 90 seconds. Do you scrub for that long?

These soaps also aren’t antibacterial on first contact. They build up an “antibacterial surface” over time with repeated usage and need to be used more than once or twice per day.

Only one good published study has compared soaps with and without triclosan at a concentration similar to what’s in popular soaps. After volunteers washed for 30 seconds at a time (think three verses of ‘Happy Birthday’), six times a day for five days, bacterial counts on the hands of the triclosan-soap users were no lower than counts on the hands of the ordinary-soap users.

What’s more, people in households that use triclosan-containing products are no less likely to get sick than people in households that don’t use them.

Moral of the story? Wash your hands with regular soap when you want them to be clean. Dry them with a towel if available. Skip the antibacterial soaps.

Does any of this information affect your habits?

This Week In Pregnancy: Week 40

The “magical day” has come and gone – The Kid was due October 15.

What is interesting to me is how many people believe it is a firm date. Several have asked me what my “new due date” is. Others have asked other versions of the same thing, such as, “So when are they expecting him to come?”

I’ve heard an incredible number of stories of “My/her doctor said I/she had to be induced three days after my/her due date.” Had to? What if the date was wrong? What if the kid wasn’t really ready? Due dates are estimates… One poor woman was induced three days after her due date and was in labor (from the time they started to induce) for 27 hours. 27 hours on a Pitocin drip? And the epidural didn’t work. I am a fan of natural child birth (so far, in theory), but if you’re expecting to have chemical pain management and then don’t – especially for that long – that would be awful.

Of course, there are circumstances when inducing is the right thing to do, but I don’t think it’s because of the date.

Anyway … I have another 8 days before that becomes an issue. In my mind, as long as everything looks healthy (fluid, placenta, baby), it doesn’t matter if I’m 38 weeks or 44 weeks … but The Medical Establishment disagrees, and I “risk out” of the birthing center at 42 weeks. I would be very, very sad not to at least attempt to birth the child at the birthing center, and that “deadline” coming up is giving me a bit of anxiety.

To deal with the anxiety, I have started using some affirmations again. I love affirmations and visualizations, and I had gotten stuck on “I don’t know what this is going to be like, so I don’t even know what to picture.” I don’t need a picture for an affirmation or a mantra. So I’ve been reassuring my mind that my body instinctively knows what it’s doing (my brain just needs to stay out of the way). It has helped quite a bit with regards to birthing “on time” and also the process going smoothly.

In the mean time, my belly is big. The longer the day goes on, the more I waddle, especially at work where I am on my feet a lot. (I have to laugh when people ask me if I’m walking.)

I had a fabulous massage over the weekend, compliments of my birthing center, and the pain and cramping in my leg/butt went away! Hooray! Yesterday, it came back. If this kid is still not born by Monday, I may see about another massage.

I was hoping/planning to go for acupuncture this afternoon, seeing as labor still isn’t happening, but the place that was recommended hasn’t returned my call or my e-mail. He has pretty limited hours. Hopefully by the time you read this, there will be some resolution to that.

Otherwise … things are still the same, really. I’m a bit less patient about my limited mobility and am very much looking forward to being able to sit up without needing to roll over and push up with my arms.

That’s the story. I am very much hoping that there is not another installment of “This Week In Pregnancy”!!

What is too thin? What is too big?

It’s Wednesday! Today’s post is by Nichol.

I know a lot of you out there don’t really follow celebrity culture. The problem is that they are everywhere. I was in line at the grocery store the other day and they had a picture of Christina Aguilera. I don’t really know the rules of posting pictures found on the internet and/or magazines, so there will be no photo accompanyment, unfortunatley.

Underneath this picture was the caption “Christina’s Weight Gain!” Why is this a headline? Or even newsworthy? I started to look this up on the trusty internet. To see the pictures I’m referring to, google “christina aguilera michael jackson tribute”.

I get that there is a line between too fat and too thin. Me? Fat. Christina Aguilera? In that picture? She’s definitely bigger than I’ve seen her before, yes, but is she unhealthy? She looks pretty damn good to me. And the girl can SING!

This also reminds me of a number of years ago when Lionel Richie’s daughter was doing some TV show with a hotel-owning lady (who I won’t even name) and she was getting killed constantly by the press for her body. No one ever seemed to mention that this girl had just finished rehab for a heroin addiction. She was thick! She didn’t look like a heroin addict, which I consider a plus. Six months later, she was bones. LITERALLY. It was disgusting. I know becuase I watched that stupid show and I read those stupid magazines. She looked sick. They all start to look like that. All those girls began to look like skeletons. With giant bobble heads. Then all of a sudden, the press says they are “Too Thin” or “Starving to Death”. They sure looked like it, but weren’t these the same magazines that just talked about how disgustingly fat they were?

I am not ashamed to admit that I love Britney Spears. Bubblegum pop Britney, bald Britney. I don’t care. I love that girl. I understand the position that these people put this on themselves, and that there is pressure to look good, but there is a point that it’s going to make you mental. She went mental. I get it! She has a song from her “crazy” days (it was off the Blackout (terrible, but I bought it)) and she says “I’m Mrs. she’s too big, now she’s too thin.”
That’s exactly what you see in these magazines every week in line at Fry’s.
She’s too big, she’s too thin.

I’m not going to lie. I have looked at the Lindsay Lohans of the celebrity world and envied their bodies (not to mention clothes, shoes, bank accounts) but I don’t want to look like Skeletor (google him if you weren’t a He-man watcher).

Does anyone watch Mad Men? There is a woman on that show who I am currently enamored with. She’s not fat, but she is curvy. I like that girl!

I’m no longer so delusional to believe that I should ever weigh 115 pounds (I’m 5’7) and that I know once I get to my goal weight I won’t wear a size 4. I’m ok with this. I’m more okay with the fact that I know better than to read those magazines and that I can develop a healthy body image without US Magazine or Vogue ads making me question how I look, or engage in some drastically serious means to an end.

I’ve successfully left most of those magazines behind. Well, I do read Cosmo and Vogue on occasion and I picked up the new People but that was only for the Steve Jobs article (sob).

My whole point (I have a lot of tangents going here) is how can we constantly be putting these girls on the covers of these magazines and berating them for their weight? It really makes me nauseous to think about all the time I’ve spent looking at these pictures of these supposedly fat women and wondering where that left me.

I’ve worked myself all up now. How am I ever going to sleep? Next time I see one of those “she’s too fat” covers and it’s not a picture of a 1200 pound woman, but of some 140 singer who has thighs as thick as my former arms, I’m going to turn that magazine around. Civil disobedience at its finest, if that really counts as civil disobedience.

Breast Cancer Awareness?

October used to be my favorite month … until it turned pink.

We’re half way through Breast Cancer Awareness Month — probably the only cancer awareness month that you’re actually aware of unless you were directly affected by one of the others. (In case you’re curious about all of the awareness you’ve missed, here’s the list: January: cervical; March: colorectal; April: National Cancer Control Month; May: skin; June: Mens Health and Cancer Month; July: sarcoma; September: ovarian, childhood, gynelogical, prostate, leukemia/lymphoma; November: pancreatic and lung.)

It seems that Pinktober isn’t as bad this year. Maybe I’ve just been more reclusive.

Despite my extreme dislike for all things Komen, that’s all I’m going to say about that organization in this post, except that if you do some reading about what they’ve turned into and some of the things they spend a lot of money on, you might stop supporting them as well.

Pinkwashing is no different than any other kind of marketing. They slap the ribbon, the color, and/or the name on anything just to get you to buy it. Typically, they will tell you that “a portion of the proceeds benefits breast cancer research.”

Before you do your good deed and buy a pink bucket of fried chicken, find out where the money is going and how much of the money is going there. Most of the time, the percentages are small. Instead of buying a $10 something you don’t need (whether it’s a taking-up-space something or a taking-up-calories something) so that 20 cents can be donated to cancer research, why not donate $1 yourself? Or even the whole $10?

On some promotions, the company manufacturing the item will donate a portion of the proceeds up to a certain amount. So if they’ve sold half of their pink inventory and have already met their maximum donation, the other half of their pink inventory contributes to nothing but sales.

Of course, if you really want to make a difference in the world of breast cancer, there are a few other things you can do that don’t involve pink anything:

  • eat well, exercise, maintain a healthy weight — obesity is a risk factor
  • avoid food and drinks sold, stored, or cooked in plastics, as well as canned goods — BPA and other hormone disruptors are risk factors
  • donate time to a local infusion room or radiation center — there are many people in treatment who don’t have transportation and/or don’t have folks to keep them company (a single chemo infusion can take half a day)
  • donate your hair, or wigs, or hats, or scarves for people who lose their hair through treatment

Everything that I’ve seen that talks about reducing your risk includes breast exams. I’m not going to tell you that breast exams aren’t important, because they are — but they are not prevention. I can’t stress that enough. Early detection is not prevention.

Would you rather have Stage 1 cancer or not have cancer at all? That is the difference between early detection and prevention.

Unrelated to all of this … there are millions of people affected by cancer, either because they have/had it, they are/were caring for someone with it, or they lost someone to it. During October, there is no way to get away from it, short of being a hermit. Breast cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers have their disease in their face at every turn. Those mourning a loss are reminded everywhere they go. Patients, survivors, and caregivers of other cancers have a month of being reminded that if only their cancer was sexy, people might want to support research for it, too. (You can’t tell me that the sexualization of women’s breasts has nothing to do with the popularity of support for breast cancer. Save the ta-tas?) Not to mention my own personal pet peeve — that countless people who learn I’ve had cancer assume I had breast cancer because I’m female. When I was in treatment, people would approach me in public places and ask me about my breast cancer.

I digress.

Really — what does all of the “awareness” do? A friend’s mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She didn’t know anything about diagnoses, about treatment (even that there is a difference between chemo and radiation). She didn’t know anything about what caused it and was surprised that her mom had it because she thought it was always genetic and no one else in their family had had it. (Depending on where you get your numbers, between 10 and 40 percent of breast cancer is genetic.)

Sounds to me like the “awareness” portion is failing. Certainly everyone by now is aware that breast cancer exists…?

The best we can do is not to go out and buy pink. It’s to take care of our bodies, help those around us take care of their bodies, and give time and energy to those who are already fighting the fight.

Mainstream news pieces regarding “Pinktober” can be found here, and here.

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

It has been a long time since I posted a recipe here. Truth be told, that is because we have been completely slacking off on trying new recipes … and sometimes on making old recipes …

As part of taking care of The Kid (-to be), I have gone dairy-free for a while. In an effort to make post-child-bearing meal planning a bit simpler, I decided to go through recipes that we already know and love and pick out the ones that don’t have dairy in them. And then I thought hey, I could share that list with you, in case you need it for some occasion.

One disclaimer: these recipes are not necessarily vegan. A person who eats vegan will not eat animal products of any kind. Meat/fish and dairy are on that list, but so are eggs and honey. Some of these recipes are vegan, but I wouldn’t want you to choose one blindly when your new vegan friend is coming over for dinner, only to choose one with eggs in it. They are all vegetarian.

Last few thoughts: While there are dairy-free alternatives to various cheeses and butters, I’m not going there in this post. So if cheese is an essential ingredient in a recipe, it’s not on this list. However, since we don’t drink cow’s milk ’round here, if non-dairy milk can be used in place of cow’s milk, the recipe did make the cut. Obviously, if something calls for “olive oil or butter” for example, olive oil would be the non-dairy choice.

That said, these meals that have been featured so far do not contain dairy:

Cannellini Beans with Cabbage and Pasta

White Bean, Butternut Squash, Kale, and Olive Stew

Homemade Popsicles

Mom’s Crockpot Chickpeas

Bratwurst Dinner

Couscous Surprise Salad

Chana Masala (Spicy Chickpeas) with Spinach

Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers

Moroccan Roasted Vegetables

Fragrant Chickpea Stew

Green Beans Tossed With Walnut Miso Sauce

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

super simple broccoli with chickpeas & tahini sauce

Spicy Black Bean Chili

Minestrone/Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Empty-the-Pantry Bean Burritos

Black Bean and Barley Burritos

Bean and Vegetable Burritos


Lots of options! We’re not going to be hungry after all 😉
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