Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week in Review: Sept. 23-29, 2012

San Diego continues to be gross and hot, weather-wise, although it's getting cooler at night; I actually had to pull a second blanket up the last few nights to keep me warm!  Now if only Little Bug would consent to keeping a blanket tucked around him too, then perhaps he wouldn't wake up as often.  Ah well.  Fall will come for real one of these days.  I'll just keep telling myself that.

At Cabrillo National Monument

What I'm Reading

Should parents be disappointed when they want a girl and get a boy?

The Globe and Mail

"Many mothers and fathers hardly realize that they have gender hopes – until the sex of their child is revealed and they learn that they were harbouring expectations all along. While not an official diagnosis, “gender disappointment,” a private feeling of shock and dejection, washes over some parents when they envision life with a boy or a girl, only to birth a child of the opposite sex."

Hey, Stay Home Moms (and Dads) - What Have You Been Doing All Day?

"Considered dinner choices. Decided to use up the leftover roast in a potpie rather than open the just-bought ingredients. Elbow deep in piecrust prep, I realized the baby was too quiet. Looked around the corner to find her eating a stick of butter. Washed my hands, scooped her up and got smeared by butter and her leaking diaper."

12 Reasons Why the AAP is Right and You Should Circumcise Your Infant Son

Jennifer Margulis: Sticking My Neck Out

"8. You plan to dye his hair black and buy him green contact lenses to match Daddy’s so you want his penis to match Daddy’s too."

The Booger

Conscience Parenting

"But as soon as I swoop in he freaks out like I am about to murder a kitten. If I am in public, people look at me. And then I’m all…
I don’t need to get it. It is just a booger."

What I've Been Eating

Barley and Pepper Chili (The Everything Vegan Cookbook by Jolinda Hackett)
Good Whisk Bread (Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson)
Cantaloupe Jam (Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan)
Fragrant Eggplant (
Shortbread Cookies (Betty Crocker Cookbook)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dealing with the First Deployment

We're coming up on a month now since D left on his first deployment; we were told it would be an eight-month deployment, but there's always the chance that it might get extended.  (I hope not!)  Little Bug and I are adapting well enough, although for whatever reason his daddy's departure messed his sleep "schedule" up.  Has *not* wanted to go to bed for the past few weeks, but that's slowly getting better.

Anyway.  Thought I'd pontificate on some of the methods we're using to deal with the separation.

Phone calls.  These don't happen very often, and are completely unpredictable when they do.  Still, hearing D's voice always brightens my day, and when I put him on speakerphone, Little Bug's face inevitably lights up in a big ol' smile.

Email.  These help me more than they help Bug, but they are invaluable to me; they are my primary form of communication with my husband while he's on deployment.  I email almost every day, although he's so busy that he doesn't always get to respond in kind; I also know there will be periods when I may go days or maybe even weeks without hearing from him.  That's going to suck.

Care packages.  How else is a good wife to show her love for her man except by sending him goodies, specifically food?  And anything else he specifically requests too, of course!  I know D doesn't have much space for personal belongings on the ship, so it's actually best (in my opinion) to send mostly consumables.  The postal service's flat rate boxes are definitely the best way to go.  These are always free at the nearest post office; you only pay for shipping, and sending the largest to a military address is less than $15.  It's worth noting that if you call USPS to order supplies, you can request a special kit for military families, which comes with boxes and tape and labels and such and is completely FREE, delivered to your door.  You have to call in for this kit though; the number is 1-800-610-8734.  It's also worth noting that when you send packages to deployed service members, you have to fill out a customs form.  They're a bit of a pain, but between the person I talked to at the post office and this website with a picture tutorial, I managed okay.

Videos.  Before D left, he recorded a bunch of pictures of himself reading poems for me to show Little Bug. The original idea was for them to be a bedtime thing, but Bug isn't always interested in sitting still and watching a video when he's tired, so I often just show them whenever I have my computer on and he's willing to sit (relatively) still for a few minutes.  He loves these!  There's also a program called United Through Reading which allows sailors to record videos of themselves reading stories while on deployment, which then get mailed back to the families at home as a DVD.  I learned about this through my FRG and promptly told D, who is (hopefully) trying to find out how he can get involved!

Photo book.  I ordered a photo book from Shutterfly that is filled with pictures of Little Bug and D together. We look through it almost every day, although some days Bug's hands are just too grabby and I don't want him to rip the pages.  There is a program through the USO that allows you to send free photo books (from a different company) to any military address too; perfect to send a little something to someone stationed abroad or on a ship somewhere!

Daddy Doll.  I also ordered a Daddy Doll for Little Bug to cuddle, since he can't cuddle with his daddy for real.  It's basically a good quality stuffed doll featuring a full-length photo of his daddy.  There are a wide variety of options as far as size and customization go, and you can even get a voice recorder to put in it.  Little Bug loves his!

If you think about it, we're already almost 1/8 of the way through this deployment and managing just fine.  Yes, it sucks, but we'll be okay.  D and I have been together for nearly eight years; we're strong enough to last for an eight-month separation.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week in Review: Sept 16-22, 2012

Perhaps the reason why I don't post on here very often is because I spend what little "free" time I do have reading.  I do read a lot of review books for San Francisco Book Review, and I read the reviews of others as I copy edit them.  I read the stories of others as I edit them for freelance projects.

And I read articles online.  Lots of articles online.

In my defense, reading stuff on the computer is one of the ways I get my sanity back after Little Bug is asleep at night, as I lie in bed next to him, as he sometimes remains attached to me because he fell asleep while nursing.

And, of course, there are some nights when I don't read at all, because it took hours for the little guy to fall asleep.  (Had one of those last weekend.  I blame a combination of teething and still adjusting to his daddy's deployment.)

When I'm not reading, I'm probably cooking.  Or trying to, anyway.  I don't want to start living on processed foods while D is gone, but it is pretty difficult to cook with a seven-and-a-half-month-old who would much rather play with (and on) mommy than with his toys.

Anyway.  In an effort to actually post things more often, here are some of the things I've been up to this week.

What I'm Reading

It Takes a Village

"Some days are harder than others. Some days all I have accomplished is my children being fed and watered and diapers are changed. And, some days, that is a feat in itself. Those days are hard, because you feel like you are the only one who is struggling…you are the only one who sometimes feels that you signed up for way too much and you just aren’t cut out for this job. You wonder if you will ever get a peaceful shower again, or a full nights sleep, and you find yourself daydreaming about the days before these little beauties were in your life. You kick yourself for ever taking for granted sleeping in until 8, or being able to sit down for dinner, or watch whatever the hell you want to on TV."

Eight Months Old: Sleepless in Columbus 

Birthing Beautiful Ideas

"You nurse a lot and you eat some solid foods (Baby Mum Mums and avocado and pumpkin are you favorites) and you don’t seem sick and your teeth might be coming in and you are certainly going through some growth and development spurts and you seem generally happy but I’m so worn out. Sometimes you seem worn out too."

Vaccine Exemptions Under Attack

"The US has a century old tradition of accepting conscientious objection to medical procedures and all medical associations support, in principle, the doctrine of informed consent. Informed consent specifically states that one must not be coerced into making a decision and that one may decline a treatment or procedure. Further, the right to decline a treatment is not contingent on the effectiveness of that treatment. Does our tradition of informed consent not apply to vaccines?"

As plans to cut down on epidurals cause a furore, JENNI MURRAY says... Get real, girls! Pain is part of childbirth 

Daily Mail

"We’ve learned to feel shame about our bodies and about sex — and nothing requires a woman to open up the part of her that is meant to be so private like delivering a baby. We’ve learned to hand responsibility for our health to doctors, rather than trust our instincts."

Harvard Study Confirms Lower IQ in Children Exposed to Flouride 

the Healthy Home Economist

"The strong evidence that fluoride negatively impacts children’s neurological development and actually lowers their IQ just keeps growing and growing."

What I'm Eating

Skillet Green Bean Casserole (from
Tofu Ratatouille (from 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes)
Savory Black-Eyed Peas (from The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Endless snuggles

Having a baby has taught me that there is no end to the amount of times I can fall in love.  Seriously.  I know it sounds corny, but every time I think I can't possibly love my son more than I already do, he does something that just makes my heart swell up a little more.

There are times, many times, every day, that I just want to cuddle him close and snuggle him endlessly.

Like when he's fallen asleep while nursing, and I shift positions slightly and he raises one little hand as if to say, "Whoa, hold up there."

Or when he wakes up first thing in the morning, and upon making eye contact with me his face brightens up with one of his bright sunshine smiles.

When he's asleep in one of my baby carriers, strapped to my chest, and leans his head back as if he were looking at me even though he's still asleep.

When he wakes up and, after that smile, proceeds to roll over onto his tummy, crawl furiously towards me, and then try to dive into my rib cage.

When I go to give him a kiss and am greeted not by his cheek, as I was expecting, but instead by his tongue.

When I'm lying on the floor and he crawls over and props himself up on my chest so that he can try to nom my nose.

When we're in the car and he's gently talking to whichever toy I've given him to entertain himself with, and over the faint sounds of NPR I can hear him saying "Oh... ah... eh... ah."

When I offer him a bite of whatever I'm eating, and he rolls it around his mouth before pronouncing it good by saying "ahhm... ahhm..." and reaching out for more.

When he's unhappy and fussing but quiets down immediately as soon as I start singing.

When he's taking a bath and delighting in the way the water splashes as he kicks his little feet.

When I offer him a new or different toy, and he takes it, examines it for a moment, and then slowly brings it up to his expectantly open mouth.

When I get something cold to drink, and he greedily licks the condensation off the side of the glass.

When I kiss the side of his neck or the bottoms of his feet and am rewarded with a giggle.

When he falls asleep clutching my arm as though it were the softest stuffed animal in the world.

When I show him a video of his daddy reading to him, and his face absolutely lights up.

Endless snuggles.  *sigh*

Friday, September 14, 2012

Getting over my own birth fears

If you know me know, if you've heard me ramble excitedly about how positive and empowering my experience was in giving birth to my son, you might find this next statement surprising.

The idea of having a baby used to scare me.

And not just the part about raising the baby either. Nope, the idea of growing said baby in my belly was pretty scary too. What if I screwed it up somehow? And actually giving birth? Completely terrifying.

For many years, I told people I didn't want kids. At the time, I actually believed it, hiding fervently behind my rebellious teen bravado. Who wants kids? I want to stay young forever!

And for awhile, after admitting that raising children wouldn't necessarily be all bad, I would say that I wanted to adopt someday. There are so many unwanted children in the world; why have my own when I could love one of them?

And then I got married. And while we didn't actively discuss having children for the first few years of our relationship, the topic inevitably came up. And guess what? He wanted kids of his own. And guess what else? Somehow, the idea of having babies, my own babies, with this man, the love of my live, was acceptable.

That doesn't mean it wasn't scary. The worst part was the idea of labor and childbirth. And having grown up with glossy media images of women screaming in pain, endless complications, and “typical” hospital births effectively managed by detached unfeeling doctors, the fact that I was scared isn't really surprising.

In all honesty, I didn't really allow myself to think about it much until I was actually pregnant myself. I quit taking my birth control pills at the end of 2010 and, not surprisingly, I discovered I was pregnant in the summer of 2011. As the reality set in, my mind wanted to panic, but I wouldn't let it. Pregnancy itself, I could handle. I've never smoked cigarettes, I immediately stopped my sporadic alcohol consumption, and I was already the picture of health due to a whole-foods (and vegetarian) diet and love of personal fitness.

And labor and birth? The first step in overcoming an irrational fear like mine was education. So I started reading.

And you know what? The more I read, the more comfortable I got with the idea. I read about pain, about natural (non-drug) methods of handling it, of the effects of an epidural on both mama and baby. I read about my options of where to birth: hospital, home, birth center. I read about differences in care between midwives and OBGYNs. I read about potential complications. I read about the “cascade” of interventions so commonly experienced in hospital settings. I read about prenatal nutrition and the benefits of continued exercise. I read about delayed cord clamping versus cord blood banking. I read about the potential risks of ultrasounds that nobody tells you about, and I read that even the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists only recommends them if medically indicated, and not as a routine procedure. I read about gestational diabetes. I read about circumcision. I read about being Rh negative and the use of Rhogam. I read about all of this and much, much, much more.

I read books; among others, Ina May'sGuide to Childbirth and Birthing a Better Way were indescribably helpful to me. I read blogs; Birth Without Fear and Mama Birth helped me to believe that my body could do this. I watched movies; there's a reason that anybody and everybody who is interested in natural childbirth has seen The Business of Being Born. I talked to people: my mama, my sister, my midwife, my friends.

And honestly, all of the reading I did was much more educational than the birth class I took, the one that was offered for free on the military base at Great Lakes. In that class, D and I were the only couple that had hired a midwife, the only couple that didn't plan on birthing in a hospital. I think one other woman said she didn't want pain medication (I think there were six or seven other couples taking the class with us), and one said she'd “see how long she could handle it.” One was planning a c-section (for a good reason; I think she had placenta previa). We were the only vegetarians, the only ones who knew what a doula was, the only ones who knew the names of the most commonly-used drugs for induction, the only ones who knew that a cesarean section necessitated cutting through seven layers of tissue, the only ones who knew that getting an epidural required getting a catheter too. I think we were the only ones made uncomfortable by the idea of continuous fetal monitoring requiring an electrode screwed into the scalp of my baby. We were definitely the only ones who realized that the care of a midwife is actually substantially less expensive than the traditional hospital birth route; the teacher was rather condescending when she implied that we hadn't thought through the financial ramifications of our decision, and D and I definitely did not appreciate that.

And in the end, here is what I realized.

Labor and birth are different for every woman. They are not something to be feared.

Be comfortable in your environment. If you are scared or uncomfortable, if you can't relax, your body will know it and labor will likely take longer.

You will feel contractions. They will likely be uncomfortable at the least, painful at the worst. Remember, though, that unless your contractions are artificially augmented with Pitocin or another induction drug, these contractions are caused by your body. They have a purpose, and you can handle them. Your body won't throw anything at you that you aren't capable of handling.

Your cervix will efface (thin out) and dilate (open up). This may take hours or it may take days. It will take however long your body needs it to take.

Your body will tell you when to push. When you feel that urge, follow it. Don't try to hold back, and likewise don't try to push if your body isn't telling you to.

Don't over-think the process of birth. Let the rational part of your mind step back. Your body knows what it's doing; let it happen!

Above all, believe in your own ability to birth. Your body was made to do this! Birth is normal. Birth is natural.