Thursday, January 31, 2008

Can I have some cheese...

...with that whine? I'm sick. Just a cold, but still... I hate coughing and sniffling and having a sore throat. Yuck. It's also snowing again, we're supposed to get up to a foot. Double yuck. I need to take the kids to gymnastics this afternoon, and am supposed to pick up my produce order tomorrow, so I'm going to have to go out in the snow. Triple yuck.

I'm also starting to get uncomfortable, I swear my belly is beyond stretching capability. How I'm supposed to keep growing for 8 more weeks without just popping like a balloon, I don't know. :p

On a positive note, I found out today that hot vinegar and a toothbrush work amazingly well for taking gum out of clothes. Even clothes that have been through a wash and the dryer. No kidding.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Houston, TX - anyone?

We're going to get a (very competitive) offer for a job in Houston (a bit south, actually). Of course, I know nothing about Houston. Anyone ever live there, any insights, advice, etc.? What did you love, what did you hate? Tell me all about it! :o)

A little plug

A friend of mine just started her own business. She makes some fun little things for little kids. Go check it out!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mom, how is the baby going to come out?

Um, uh, let me think about this for a minute... I just knew that question was going to come up at some point. I tried to come up with a child friendly, fairly accurate explanation on the spot, and the boys seemed satisfied, but I think it's time to look for some sort of child friendly book that explains things... Ideas?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's a party in there

I kid you not. Baby Pea has been moving around like crazy lately. Last night, after the boys got home from basketball, Baby Pea was super active. So I pulled up my shirt and let the boys watch my tummy move around. They thought it was the coolest thing ever. They loved poking and feeling the baby. I think they're really getting excited for her to be born. Bryan actually asked if he could feel my tummy again before he went to bed today, but Baby Pea was sleeping. Too cute. :o)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Our Mutual Fund...

...has lost $650 over this past month. Yikes. I'm wondering, though, if I should put some more money in it. We'd get a lot more "bang for our buck" right now, no? And then we can just let it sit for a while longer, until things look up...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Feeling a little mental

Well there, post #3 for the day. I figured I had some catching up to do. :p So this whole job search thing is really starting to get to me. I'm not so much worried about finding something, I just want to know where we're going already! While there seem to be several options, we haven't actually received an offer yet. Which, in a way, is a good thing, because it's still slightly early. And if the timing works out, we should get the offers we're expecting all around the same time, which is going to make it easier to sit down and figure out where to go. Dave, of course, has been staying in touch with people, and has been getting some details here and there about what would be expected of him, as well as how secure jobs would be, etc. It seems like these past few weeks, we've been spending just about every evening talking about different options. It's a bit difficult when all we can do is speculate about what the offers are going to be (as far as pay and benefits), but at the same time we just can't help it. This is a huge decision. So, we're trying to figure out where to move, and the pros and cons of not only the jobs, but also different locations. What's a good place to raise a family? What about schools? What about climate/weather? What about safety (crime rates etc.)? What about cost of living? It's been a lot of fun for me to look for homes online, just to get an idea of what's all out there. At the same time, it's driving me crazy. But I can't stop doing it. Do you see where this is leading? Yeah, I'm driving myself crazy, just a little bit. It doesn't help that more and more people around us are beginning to ask if we know where we're going yet. I know they mean well, and to a certain extend share our excitement, but it's not helping my mental state. :p Oh well, this too shall pass. I guess we just have a lot of "countdowns" going on right now. 10 more weeks until baby #4 joins our family, two more birthdays around that same time, Dave's dissertation being due, and hopefully defended by the end of March. In a way, I'm anxiously waiting for April, as things will hopefully settle down a bit - at least for a few weeks before we should start getting ready to move. To wherever... :p

Support Waterbirth International

This organization has been working for two decades to help educate parents, care providers and hospitals about the benefits of waterbirth. Go check out their website for more information. :o)

A tag, a tag!

I'm not usually very good at doing these, because I have to think about what I should write/how to answer the questions, and I don't like to use my brain that way. Or maybe I'm just lazy... :p But since it was my cute sister in law Nicci who tagged me (thanks Nicci), I thought I had better do this one, you know, to keep the family peace. LOL So, here are 6 things you may not know about me. And I'm going to tag Erin, DJ, and Chalice, just because I can. :D

1. I'm not good at answering tags. Oh wait, I already mentioned that earlier. It's actually fun to GET tagged, I just have a hard time passing it on...
2. I don't like to receive forwards in my email. Especially when they turn out to be fakes. Check Snopes.com before passing stuff on, people! And only forward if you absolutely have to. :p
3. I don't like to write. A teacher once told me (indirectly, through terrible grades) that I'm not a good writer, so I don't like doing it. Why do I blog, you may ask. Because I'm also very opinionated, and I can voice my opinions here without being interrupted halfway through my discourse.
4. Hm, let me think of something positive to say. Oh, yeah, I've been playing a lot of "guess that body part" lately. I love this stage of pregnancy, and feeling the baby move around virtually all day long. While I have a general idea of what body part is sticking out, though, I'm afraid I'm not very good at being certain just what it is that's moving around under my skin. Well, other than some part of a baby. :p
5. I'm hopelessly addicted to gymboree. Well, I may have mentioned this one before, but there you have it again. I can't pass up a sale, or gymbucks promotions. It's terrible, really. I figured that with having a second girl, at least I can re-use all the cute things I got for Kaylee. Instead, I find myself looking at all the cute little ways I could match the two. And I just know I'm going to end up buying lots of new stuff for this little girl. Because, you know, sisters just have to match. Maybe I should list some of the other stuff on ebay, to recover at least some of the money. Oy...
6. I'm passionate about childbirth and breastfeeding. Oh wait, that's right, I'm supposed to list things you DON'T already know about me. Oh well, told you I wasn't good at doing tags. :p

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Comfort measures for labor and birth

I've had a lot of people ask me about this topic lately, so I thought I'd put it in a blog post. I think that when preparing for the birth of a child, it's really important to learn about comfort measures, regardless of the kind of birth you're planning. While there are many ways to support a woman physically, emotional support is important, as well. I'm going to try to address both topics.

Emotional: Emotional well being is very important. Attitude towards birth can pave the way for the type of experience a woman is going to have. Are you scared? Do you view birth as a necessary evil to be endured on the way to motherhood? Do you view it as a bodily process you'd rather avoid if you could? Or are you excited? Do you look forward to birthing a new little human being? Are you looking forward to getting the whole experience? Do you view birth as a positive event? It's very important to figure out what your feelings are towards birth. It's also important to really look inside of you, and figure out if you have any fears associated with birth. The more these negative feelings can be resolved before the birth, the more positive the birth experience is going to be. Welcoming contractions, working with your body instead of fighting it, and feeling excited about birth all help a woman stay relaxed, and the more relaxed you are, the more comfortable you are going to feel. Don't be afraid of what's going to happen, don't feel embarrassed by this process that can, admittedly, leave you rather exposed. Find someone you can trust to be your birth partner. Having someone there who fully supports you emotionally is going to be a great assett. Some husbands will fill this role wonderfully, but more often than not, they feel insecure and overwhelmed witnessing the miracle of birth. If your husband/partner falls into the second category, seriously consider getting a doula. Doulas are great cheerleaders, and they can actually help the father understand what's happening, and can find ways for him to be more involved and feel less helpless. Lastly, choosing a care provider who shares your philosophy of birth is crucial. You will get all the support you need if you have a birth attendant who's "on the same page". So when planning for the birth of your child, don't neglect the emotional aspect. :o)

Physical: I really believe that it's beneficial for all women to take a good childbirth preparation course. Even when you plan on just getting an epidural, there's always a chance you may not be able to get one, or it won't work properly. If that's the case, being well prepared will make the experience a lot less stressful, and less traumatizing. What makes a good childbirth preparation course? Generally, one that's taught outside the hospital setting. You'll learn a lot more than when to ask for the epidural. :p There are lots of different "methods" to choose from. Some teach specific ways to help you relax, others are more general. Whatever you choose, the more you learn about the birth process and your choices when it comes to birth, the better. Being informed about your choices is very important. After all, it's YOUR birth, YOUR body, and YOUR baby. In a hospital setting, you'll be confronted with lots of "protocol". It's routine practice to make the woman lay in bed, hooked up to continuous monitoring, and an IV "just in case". That's the minimum. Often, if labor doesn't progress quickly enough, pitocin will be added to the IV to speed things up. Once a woman is dilated to a certain degree (generally 3-5 cm), it's routine practice to break the amniotic sac (artificial rupture of membranes, or AROM). Once again, this is done in hopes of speeding up labor. When full dilation is reached, it's not uncommon for the woman to be reclined, and her feet to be put in stirrups (lithotomy). She is then instructed to push, while holding her breath for 10 counts. If the doctor feels the pushing stage is taking too long, or there's a risk for tears, an episiotomy is performed. Reading through all of this, it comes as no surprise that many women find the labor and birth experience to be excruciatingly painful, scary, and they opt for an epidural. You can see where the horror stories are coming from, and you may have one of your own to tell. What women need to realize is that they have a choice. They don't have to consent to any of the above treatment. None of these procedures, which are used routinely, have been shown to improve outcome when used for low-risk women. Meaning, you're no more likely to end up with a healthy baby if you have all of these interventions than if you don't. Mostly, these protocols have been set up for the doctor's convenience, as well as for (perceived) liability protection. Not to mention the money that's involved for manufacturers of fancy machines and drugs, but I won't even get into that. :p Often, the more interventions are used, the more likely problems are going to develop. AROM removes the protective cushion around the baby, pitocin makes contractions stronger and closer together. Both of these make labor more painful for the mom, and make it more stressful for the baby. Lithotomy position for pushing generally prolongs the pushing stage, and is more likely to lead to severe tears or episiotomy (which, in turn, can result in more severe tears extending from the incision). So what is woman to do? For one, be informed. Read as much as you can. I'm going to work on a book list for recommended reading, so check back every so often to see which books I feel are really beneficial. Decide how you want your birth to go. Write up a birth plan. Some doctors are not very welcoming towards parents voicing their birth preferences. In fact, some go as far as to say when you see someone come in with a birth plan, get the OR ready for a c-section. If your care provider isn't willing to work with you, or starts telling you stories of everything that can go wrong, and/or the woman/baby who died, seriously consider switching. A birth plan, of course, is not a binding contract by any means. What it does is help you figure out what kind of a birth you'd like to have. Talking about your preferences with your care provider will help him/her know how to help you, and it's always beneficial to have your care provider back you up in your choices should the nurses at the hospital give you a hard time. So what is it that you can do to have a better, easier birth? For one, labor at home as long as possible. Being in a familiar environment will make you feel more comfortable. You'll be able to move around as you choose, without having machines hooked up to you. You can eat and drink as you wish. Once you get to the hospital and get checked in, get out of that bed! Walk around, or get a birthing ball to sit on. For monitoring, ask to be monitored only intermittendly. I was actually able to stay on the birthing ball while hooked up to the monitor, which was way more comfortable than being on the bed. Some hospitals also have telemetry units, which allow you to move around freely. Ask not to have an IV. There is no evidence that shows routine IV fluids to be beneficial, unless the woman is vomiting severely. Genereally, it's perfectly acceptable to stay hydrated by drinking clear liquids, and you'll be more comfortable not having to drag around an IV pole. Refuse AROM. The only indication for AROM is if the baby is in serious distress, and internal monitoring is indicated. Keeping your membranes intact will make labor much more comfortable, and less stressful for both you and your baby. It'll also help the baby rotate into optimal positioning for birth, again making things more comfortable for you. Change positions. Moving around throughout labor will help you find positions that are most comfortable for you. Keep your bladder empty. A full bladder can slow contractions, which you don't want to happen. Refuse pitocin augmentation to "speed things up". Artificial oxytocin can not only interfere with your body's natural production of oxytocin, but can also lead to hyperstimulation of the uterus, which is bad news for both mom and baby. In general, the rule before consenting to any intervention is asking "Is mom okay? Is baby okay?" If the answer to both of those questions is "YES", refuse the intervention. Throughout your labor, try to stay relaxed. The more relaxed you are, the more comfortable you are going to feel. Take deep, slow breaths. When breathing in, visualize your body relaxing from top to bottom. When breathing out, visualize a wave washing away your discomfort. Or use whatever other visualization may be helpful to you. Don't be afraid to vocalize. Let the sounds come out as they do, but do make sure to keep your voice in a low pitch range. It'll help you stay relaxed. Make sure your birth partner knows to redirect you if you go into high pitch, as a high pitch usually indicates that you're tensing up, which makes you more uncomfortable. Don't be afraid of noise. You know that saying, "I am woman, hear me roar"? Don't be afraid to roar. :p Of course, there's nothing wrong with being quiet. Just do whatever feels natural to you, and don't worry about what others may think. It's YOUR birth, you do what you need to. :o) Try water. If a tub is available, give it a try. Even a shower can do wonders for relaxation. Some call water "nature's epidural", it can really help you relax and ease your discomfort. Once it comes time for you to push, ask not to be flat on your back with legs in stirrups. Being in a more upright positions, hands and knees, or even lying on your side, are all much more conducive to productive pushing. Ask that nobody count to ten, and don't hold your breath. Instead, take a deep breath in, and slowly breathe out as you bear down. You'll keep up a good blood oxygenation that way, which is important for you and your baby. Ask that your birth attendant not give an episiotomy. Yes, there is always a chance of tearing, but with an episiotomy, you'll have a 100% chance of injury. And an episiotomy is much more likely to extend into a 3rd or 4th degree tear, both of which rarely occur naturally. An episiotomy can also result in severe bleeding, much more so than a natural tear. Once you've given birth, try to breastfeed as soon as possible. It'll help your body release more oxytocin, which will help your uterus contract, expel the placenta, and control bleeding. Last, but not least, enjoy your baby! :o)

Now that I've written a novel, I do want to mention one last thing. I firmly believe everyone should think about the type of birth experience they'd like to have. Everyone should be well informed about all of the options available to them. Everyone should communicate with their care provider, to make sure philosophies of birth match up. Regardless of what kind of birth you envision for yourself, be prepared that things may go differently than planned. Someone may plan on a natural birth at home, and end up with a c-section. Someone may plan on having an epidural, and not get one. Someone may even be planning a c-section, and be surprised by a precipitous labor and birth. Birth, even though generally a normal physiological process, does not come with any guarantees. Anyone who'd like to make you believe it does, is wrong. Nobody can promise a healthy baby, or a healthy mom, and we need to realize this. So do your homework. Prepare yourself the best you can, even for the possiblity of deviation from your birth preferences. And don't be afraid to mourn if your experience is not what you envisioned. While it's true that the goal is a healthy mom and baby, it's okay to evaluate your birth experience, and to take time to heal if it's not what you were hoping it would be. Physical health is important, but so is emotional health. And so we come full circle. Hopefully some of the information here is going to be helpful, and I hope those of you who are expecting are going to have a happy Birth Day, whenever that time comes. :o)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Look at what I found!

Told you all I had an excuse! :p

To color or not to color...

I'm kind of getting the itch to change my hair color again. What do you think? Here's a couple pictures for comparison.

Natural

Dyed
So what do you think? Please go vote in the poll! :o)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Another last place

Looks like the US isn't just behind in maternal and neonatal death rates, but healthcare as a whole is in a real crisis here.

Just read this article this morning.

Which makes me wonder, where does the money go? What happenes with the outrageous insurance premiums we pay? This illustrates, more than ever, that we need some serious change in this country. Rather than playing global police, maybe we should first focus on taking care of the people right here. What really struck me was that other countries manage to spend less and still come out ahead. So maybe it's not all about money. Actually, I personally believe that if everyone was provided with adequate preventive care, these statistics could be greatly improved at a very low cost. Thoughts? Opinions?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More snow, and my 29 week prenatal visit

Whee! Like we haven't had enough already. Chris came by for a visit today. She attended a birth last night, so once again she came to my house after a night without sleep. I asked her if most of the births she attends happen at night, and she said it sure seems like it. And now she's going to have to drive back home in the middle of a snow storm. Yeah, I'm pretty sure midwives don't choose their profession for fame or money. :p They certainly hold a job that takes some serious dedication. As for the baby, all seems to be going well. Heartrate was just fine, and the little booger is breech right now. Not like that means anything, since she seems to do somersaults nightly. :p

Monday, January 07, 2008

Here's my excuse...

...for gaining weight this holiday season. What's yours? :p This is the bump at 28 weeks.