Saturday, January 30, 2010

Belly Pic

Belly shot at some amount of weeks greater than 4 and less than 45.

You can also see some stretch marks there. Yep. They are no longer red, but are there and ready to make space for this next one.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fillins + Roundup

1. Wouldn't it be easy if you could just teleport to where you wanted to go?
2. 22 months is better than ever!
3. I love the taste of buttermilk syrup.
4. Margaret was born in the living room.
5. The first thing we're going to do is jump for joy.
6. Always trying to avoid the drip, drip, drip; the knobs on our bathroom sink have to be shut off VERY tightly.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to pizza night again, tomorrow my plans include stake conference and Sunday, I want to sleep in!

What a roller coaster week for me! But I'm back up for today.

Right now we're still trying to narrow down where we'll live in May. I asked on Ravelry about good/bad places, and I got a wonderful array of advice. There was even an offer to let me stay with them so I could look for a place in person! I probably won't take them up on that, but wow, knitters have your back!

We also emailed birth educators out there. I'm looking into taking a Birthing From Within Class. The instructor here in Provo is offering a class that we can take, but I wonder if it would be better for me to take a class in California where I can meet other couples and make friends. Of course, classes are about twice as expensive as they are here. It's actually looking like we will take it here in Provo because of 1) cost, 2) fits in our schedule well, 3) if we sign up with another couple, we'll get a 20% discount (anyone up for that?), and 4) I know people who can watch Margaret during the classes, whereas out there, I'm not sure if I'll know anyone well enough for that. However, the drawbacks to taking the class out here is that 1) the friend aspect I mentioned above, 2) in Provo I might be too displaced from the birth in both time and distance. If I take the class in California, I'll come home to the birth place, and it'll be closer to when we'll birth. Taking it before we move might be too early. Though, taking it after we move might be too late. Ideally, we'd take a class that straddles the moving date, but that's not possible.

Birthing From Within is very middle-of-the-road when it comes to birth outcomes. There's no striving for pain-free or unmedicated birth and such. In fact, one of their premises is that pain is inevitable in childbirth. I'm not sure I agree with that because I know people who have had painfree labors and birth and I don't want to discount their experiences. The emphasis in the classes is on the journey to the birth instead of having a particular kind of birth. They do introduce basic relaxation techniques, though. It's very hippy-ish in that it utilizes aspects of art therapy for the journey to the birth. I really like that. I've always wanted an artistic outlet, but I wasn't encouraged in that direction. I did once sign up for a creative writing class when I was 8 because I thought "creative writing" meant "calligraphy." Haha!

We're also considering a postpartum doula. Since we might not know a lot of people out in California, having some guaranteed help after the birth sounds appealing.

Also, Annie @PhDinParenting had a wonderful post yesterday called, Covering up is a feminist issue, with the powerful statement, "Telling women to cover up and telling women to strip down are frequently used tactics for oppressing women. There are both practical and philosophical reasons why no one other than the woman herself should decide how covered or uncovered to be....It should be up to them to decide how they feel comfortable," (emphasis mine).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Question about Pregnancy Colostrum

I have a friend whose body has a hard time getting to full term. She just had twins at 30 weeks and is breastfeeding them- yay! She even gets to bring them home from the hospital during the day, which is really neat.

Her experiences made me think about breastfeeding premies. At first I thought, "Well, I don't know if I really need to research that; going by my medical history, I don't think I'm particularly prone to preterm labor."

And then I thought, "Well, it's not like anyone plans to go into labor early. Wouldn't it be better to know something ahead of time instead of cramming all that info in once it happens? That would be a stressful time without having to figure out the best way to breastfeed!"

So I looked it up and read what I had on my shelf about breastfeeding premies. I started with The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding because I've found it to be a good starting place on many topics. I found something interesting:

Milk from mothers who deliver prematurely contains greater amounts of antibodies and of some important nutrients than does the milk of mothers delivering at term. It has been found that some of these differences are evident for as long as six months. (page 281 of the 7th edition)

Well, that's curious! Then I wondered, "Does that mean when my body starts making colostrum around 5 or 6 months, Margaret will be getting an extra boost of antibodies she wouldn't normally be getting?"

Anyone know? At the back of the book they give the references for that statement. Maybe I'll have to run down to the University and see if they have those periodicals on hand...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taking it from the Top

Around 10 weeks, I began considering wearing maternity clothes. I didn't need to wear them, but there was one amazing benefit that won out:

Easy breastfeeding access.
I'm guessing when maternity clothes are designed, the thought process is, "Hmm. These women just got an extra oompf to their breasts and probably want to show it off. Let's make these shirts low-necked and loose!" And boy do I love it.

I think I mentioned before that while I've done layers in the past, Margaret is at the point where she refuses to nurse with layers. I either have to pull everything up: shirt, bra, undershirts, etc., or I have to pull everything down. Well, I suppose I could insist on layers, but if the goals are to feed her while trying not to make a big scene, then arguing with a one year old about layers isn't fulfilling that. Also, she's not wrong in wanting no layers. In fact she's right: it's probably not comfortable to have extra fabric near your face when you want to eat, drink or be comforted. And breastfeeding shouldn't be a time for struggles.

So when she became insistent, I started to wonder: Why make it harder on myself? I spent over a year worrying about the layers and whether or not they fell on me in a "modest" way. I would often be more worried about that than nursing her. Then this past summer/fall when she decided that she was done with the layers I agreed with her. I'm done with that. I'm done with making it harder on myself. Breastfeeding is hard enough with my random bouts of mastitis and a wiggly toddler and sensitive pregnancy nipples that I'm not putting more stumbling blocks in my way. And our next child- who knows what challenges there will be: tongue tie? food sensitivities? more engorgement and mastitis? Do I really want to make it harder on us? One friend of mine said, "It took me too many months with too many struggles to even be able to breastfeed. No one is going to tell me how to do it." I agree.

So for the past 5 months or so, I've been just pulling down. It's far easier. There's no fuss with Margaret and it makes nursing quicker, more peaceful, and stress-free. Why didn't I think of this before?!

Margaret noticed the camera and is signing "cheese."

I recently read an old post about nursing from the top down and how nursing from the bottom up is a relatively new concept. It's hard to nurse from the top up in a dress, you know? I think the switch to nursing from the bottom happened once women were more comfortable in skirts, pants, and shorts, and the "formula is more scientific, so it's better than using your icky primal breasts" idea entered the 20th century. You're covering/hiding more that way.

Right now, my focus is getting Margaret through the flu and cold season months and maybe through to the end of my pregnancy if my supply doesn't drop too much due to hormones. And if I'm 8 months pregnant and still nursing, there is no way I'm going to be pulling up! My tummy was too itchy and sensitive at that point in my pregnancy for me to want to pull up to breastfeed. Plus, at that point, the difference between pulling up from the bottom versus the top is square feet of skin versus square inches.

Margaret, 16 hours old. And I totally needed a shower.

And with my next babe, I'm not bothering with layer struggles. I'm done with all that. It's not worth it. Breastfeeding, mothering, and life in general is hard enough- why make it harder on myself?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top Ten Cool things about Breastmilk

Here are my "Top 10 coolest things about breastmilk." This stuff is crazy cool.

10. Your breasts don't factor in the "3 ounces of liquid" rule when flying
Last Christmas, while walking through security with Margaret in the Mei Tai one of the TSA agents asked if we had cups or bottles of water for our baby. Nope! She was just waking up from having her boots taken off to go through security, so I was actually getting ready to nurse her some more. Unlimited drinks for my toddler. That's better than what you get from the in-flight drink service!

9. It's Good for the Economy
From the 2001 USDA report, The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis. The 2001 abstract starts with, "A minimum of $3.6 billion would be saved if breastfeeding were increased from current levels (64 percent in-hospital, 29 percent at 6 months) to those recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General (75 and 50 percent). This figure is likely an underestimation of the total savings..." The whole report is found here in PDF form.

8. Environmental Impact: 0
It's renewable and reaches the consumer leaving behind no carbon footprint.

7.Water-soluble poo

As someone who has used cloth diapers, this rocks. You don't have to rinse the diapers off before tossing them in the wash as long as your child is only getting breastmilk! Less work for you!

6. Content changes depending on time of day

"You wouldn't give anyone a coffee at night, and the same is true of milk – it has day-specific ingredients that stimulate activity in the infant, and other night-time components that help the baby to rest," explains S├ínchez.

5. Reduces SIDS

Why? Dr. Sears speculates 8 reasons. Including ideas like Breastfeeding leads to less respiratory infections which leads to your baby having one less thing to struggle with while sleeping.

Anti-bacterial and antiviral and antifungal.
It is so awesome that there are patents out there that describe how to extract things like lactoferrin from human breastmilk for various uses. Don't want E. Coli in your ground beef production? Breastmilk. See Journal of Food Protection, 1999, Volume 62:747-750.
This also means breastmilk is good for cuts and scrapes and goopy eyes and dripping noses. I've even put it on second-degree burns.

3. Custom-made antibodies
From this site: "First, the collection of antibodies transmitted to an infant is highly targeted against pathogens in that child's immediate surroundings. The mother synthesizes antibodies when she ingests, inhales or otherwise comes in contact with a disease-causing agent. Each antibody she makes is specific to that agent; that is, it binds to a single protein, or antigen, on the agent and will not waste time attacking irrelevant substances. Because the mother makes antibodies only to pathogens in her environment, the baby receives the protection it most needs-against the infectious agents it is most likely to encounter in the first weeks of life."
So your body makes antibodies for your baby specifically related to what you have come in contact with!

2. Alpha-lactalbumin
Alpha-lac causes unstable fast-growing cells (such as cancer cells) to self-destruct. That's in your milk! This may be why childhood cancers and leukemia are less common in breastfed children. I would speculate that the presence of it in your milk- and therefore your breast- also contributes to the lower instances of breast cancer in women who breastfeed. But the fact that your breastmilk causes cancer cells to commit suicide? Way cool.

1. Stem Cells
And if that's not cool enough, in November, it was announced that there are 3 different kinds of stem cells in breastmilk. Coolest part, "Dr Cregan said the discovery of immune stem cells was the "most exciting development", adding, "It's quite possible that immune cells in breast milk can survive digestion and end up in the infant's circulation. This has been shown to be occurring in animals, and so it would be unsurprising if this was also occurring in human infants." Extra immune stem cells in your child's body to be used for whatever purpose your child's body needs? That is freakin' cool. And impossible to imitate.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Placentophagy

Mallory asked, "I can't remember if you have said anything about what you plan on doing with your placenta with the new baby or not. Have you thought about getting it encapsulated? Or anything like that? If you do plan on taking placenta, would you rather freeze pill sized pieces to take, or would you dehydrate/encapsulate?"

Our plan for the next placenta is the same as for the last one: save it and bury it with a bush/tree that's special for the child.

Have I thought about getting it encapsulated? Yes and no. I have friends who have encapsulated their placentas (dehydrated, then put in capsules- take 2 a day every day as needed until you run out of placenta). In comparing the postpartum experiences, they've said that the times they've consumed the placenta were the times that they experienced less postpartum depression. The placenta is a wonderful organ and has lots of nutrients in it. Many people use placental encapsulation to replenish some of those nutrients they lost in pregnancy and birth. The idea is very interesting and I've considered it- but I think I'm hooked on my romantic idea of having placental burying ceremonies, so dehydrating a placenta probably won't be in my near future.

Would I consider eating a piece of placenta for immediate postpartum medicinal reasons? Probably. The placenta is a great source for prostaglandins. The uterus is lined with prostaglandin receptors and will contract when prostaglandins are present. Prostaglandins have been used for inductions- and are even considered part of the reason why sex is suggested for inducing labor: semen is also a good source of prostaglandins. This site even mentions that a particular kind of prostaglandin, thromboxane, can contribute to blood clotting. I found this abstract which suggests that not only is thromboxane created in platelets, but it is also created in the uterus of pregnant rats. Having something that would be conducive to clotting sounds like a good idea if there's going to an open wound in your utuerus. I'd be interested in knowing if there have been any studies about the particular prostaglandins present in the human uterus and placenta and how they might affect hemorrhage and postpartum bleeding.

Back to placentophagy:
Ingesting those prostaglandins should signal to your uterus to contract. Contraction of the uterus after birth will help the uterus shrink back down to its original size and prevent hemorrhage. Of course, breastfeeding can do this, too, but if I was worried about hemorrhage, I'd probably cover all my bases and take a piece. I don't see any harm in it.

I've heard some moms say that just putting a piece in the inside of the cheek was enough. I have no experience with tasting placenta, but I've been told it's very iron-y, like the taste in your mouth after you lose a tooth. I've also been told that texture-wise it's like eating liver or other organs. I've seen recipes for placenta smoothies you could try if you wanted to mask the taste and texture of the placenta.

Here's a less-scientific description of how placentophagy works that I've read somewhere:
Your body works to get the baby out. When you start breastfeeding, you are "proving" to your body, "You got the baby out! See: breastfeeding!" and so the oxytocin starts contracting your uterus to help get the placenta out. Then once the placenta is out, putting all those prostaglandins in your body tells your body, "The placenta is out- you can stop bleeding now!" And so the uterus continues shrinking and cuts off the blood flow to where the placenta had been attached and so you don't bleed to death.

Obviously not the most scientific, of course, but it's fascinating that the appropriate hormones and chemicals are all there to help you recover from birth.

If you want your placenta encapsulated, there are people out there who will come and do it for you! In our search for possible postpartum doulas in the Bay Area, we've run across one or two who'll come and take care of that for you.

Oh and the other day Margaret insisted on watching monkey videos on Youtube and we ran across this chimpanzee video from BBC Worldwide. The mother chimp protects both her newborn and her placenta from incoming babboons. Apparently placentas are quite the delicacy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In which I am "The Man"

In yesterday's post, I didn't tell the ending of the Super Metroid meltdown.

Margaret threw herself on the ground, I knelt by her, and McKay paused the game and came over. I offered the breast, but she refused it and finished her meltdown. We really couldn't do much at this point except be near her if she needed us. During this, I turned to McKay and said, "We need to remember that this is a good thing."


I remember once at a playgroup one of the moms mentioned that many times the behaviors and traits that we try to shut down in children are often admired traits in adults. I've thought a lot about that as I have related with Margaret.

First, she wasn't afraid to share her emotions with us. I grew up in a house where emotions were bad. Crying was met with, "Stop crying; it's not that bad," and frustrations were met with, "It's just hormones." We weren't really given any help in how to deal with emotions. I did a lot of bottling. Even good emotions weren't welcome. I was once even reprimanded in front of McKay for acting excited- it apparently demonstrated that I was nervous and not comfortable. As a teenager, school was my place to wear my emotions on my sleeve, but during the walk home, they got bottled up and I would often retreat to my room where I didn't feel as stifled- and then get in trouble for not being "with the family".

I think I mentioned in the comments or post yesterday that I try hard not to shush Margaret when she cries and I don't tell her to stop her tantrums. The only times I've used "Shh shh shh" while she cried was when she was a brand new baby and I thought a rhythmic "Shh" sound would be reminiscent of the placenta and help her calm down. I don't use it anymore because her in utero days are long gone. Because this pregnancy has been very emotional, she's seen me cry a few times. She'll ask me, "Sad?" and I say, "Yes, Mommy's sad. It happens sometimes and it's ok." I want her to know she can express her emotions with me and it's safe and ok.

I've thought about some of the adults I know. How many of us say, "I'm fine," when we really aren't? How many of us are honest with our emotions with the people close to us? Or are we passive aggressive and expect other people to read our minds? So as Margaret has her bad days, I try to remember, "It's good that she trusts us with her emotions. It'll be good for her future relationships that she's honest with the people close to her."

The second point I made to McKay was, "Well, how often do I challenge the 'Man'? It's a good thing that she points out what she feels are injustices and speaks against those. I've done it. The only difference now is that we're the 'Man' in this case."

It's odd to think of myself as the 'Man.' Actually on one level, it's kind of amusing. But I do want her to recognize and question things that are unfair- and at that point, moving her away from the TV was unfair to her, especially because of the language barrier I described yesterday.

So one thing I try to remember in tough situations is that many of the traits that I see as inconvenient to me as a parent, are very good for her to have as a person. As she gets older and our language barrier breaks down, I hope we'll be able to discuss these situations more thoroughly, though I know it'll take many years before that will be very effective. In the meantime, I try to demonstrate that it's ok to have emotions and to speak against injustices and allow her the same freedom.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Parenting Philosophy

I don't normally write big essays to post on Fridays (who wants to read an essay over the weekend?) but I woke up with this in my head and I figure I should get it out now while it's fresh.

The formation of my parenting philosophy really started when I was 16 and received my patriarchal blessing. I was told to remember that my children are not my children, but are God's children and my responsibility is to raise them and to bring them back home to Him. Even more recently in a blessing, I was told that our next child is a special spirit- and to remember that this person is my sibling. There was a slight pause, and "sibling" was followed up by "your equal."

Over and over, I feel that I'm being reminded to humble, to not exert any authority over my children because I don't have that authority. I'm no better than they are. What would give me authority? The fact that McKay and I had sex once and I got pregnant? Does that give me the right to order them around and to punish them and use the explanation "Because I said so?" I know many people will point out, "But God punishes his children." Yes. But there's a difference between me and God: He's God and I'm not. Big difference. It reminds me of "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." I'm supposed to give my children the same respect that I give everyone else.

I've thought about my relationship with McKay- which is much more obviously a relationship of equals. The bane of our (or at least my) existence is the dishes. Often one of us will say, "I'll do some dishes after dinner," but what really happens is I'll go to read, knit or be on the computer and he'll go read, play video games or be on the computer.. How ridiculous would it be for either of us to say, "No knitting/Super Metroid until you do those dishes like you said!" Or even, "No ice cream until you finish those dishes!" Even more ridiculous would it be for us to say, "Now you go sit there and think about the stress you've caused by not following through on your word until I say you can get up!"or for one of us to swat the other with the follow up, "I love you, but your actions made me do this and maybe you'll think about this next time!" Domestic abuse, anyone?

Oftentimes we take those breaks because we had hard days. Or because we're human and we simply forgot about the dishes. It happens. A lot of the time (because this has been a particularly emotional pregnancy) the sight of the dishes is just so overwhelming that I shut down. What helps is when McKay notices this and says, "Here, I'll do this and you do that part," or if he has to be on campus, he'll often help me make a list and randomize it. For some reason that makes the task easier. And sometimes it's just nice to hear, "It's not important right now. Let's do something together and do that later," or, "Just worry about nursing Margaret right now and don't worry about the dishes."

I think kids need to hear those things too and be given slack. And just as surely "punishment" wouldn't work between McKay and I, it won't work between Margaret and I.

I've thought about my friend Jenni's review of The Explosive Child and her saying,

Dr Greene's basic premise is that children do well if they can (rather than the more commonly taught children do well if they want to). In other words, if the child knows the rules, and has motivation to follow them, but is consistently misbehaving anyway, then it is because he has "a developmental delay--a learning disability of sorts--in the skills of flexibility and frustration tolerance" (p 15). In other words, they don't misbehave because they want to, they misbehave because they literally don't have the skills to process situations and behave in a more appropriate or adaptive manner. These kids don't need more incentives, punishments, or consequences--they need to be taught the skills that they are lacking.
That totally makes me want to read that book and I think about that a lot. It is a wonderful reminder that discipline is about teaching, not punishment. I would add that another reason kids "misbehave" besides needing to be taught the skills- is that they might be physically unable to "behave." I'll illustrate with an example from last week.

McKay was playing Super Metroid. Margaret was watching- 2 inches from the screen. "Margaret, can you move back a little?" No response. "Margaret do you need help moving back?" No response. So I went over and helped her sit back and she had a tantrum and screamed and cried. Why such a response? Lots of reasons: 1) It was 11 o'clock at night. She was tired and I had failed as her parent to create an environment conducive to sleep. 2) It was 11 o'clock and dinner was hours ago. She was running on low and her blood sugar probably wasn't where it ought to be at. 3) Language barrier. She's 1 and while she understands a lot of what we are saying, she doesn't understand 100% of it. 4) Lack of motive. Why should she move back when she felt she was perfectly fine where she was? While I could explain, "Well, Margaret all that bright shiny chaos isn't good for your brain..." we're back to the language barrier.

In general she wants to do what's right, but I think physically in her brain- because I hadn't watched her hunger and tired signs, she physically couldn't do what I asked. The neurons in her brain were hindered by the stress of lack of sleep and she acted exactly how she was supposed to act in the situation: she had a tantrum which helped release some of those stress hormones and let me know she wasn't feeling well and I needed to step up in my parental responsibilities and be more on top of things and pay attention to her signals. There was no misbehavior on her part. She did nothing wrong.

Yesterday she was playing with my scissors because I was using them for knitting and failed to keep them out of her reach. "Margaret, please hand me the scissors." She didn't. "Margaret, I know it's hard to give up something that's so interesting. Do you need me to help you?" She's 1, she's curious and the curiosity innate to 1 year-olds is sometimes going to trump what I ask. Right now her brain is meant to explore the world around her and I was asking her to not follow her instincts. It's hard for her to do that and while I know she wants to do well, I think such a request sometimes puts a struggle in her brain. It puts her in a brainlock and so she does nothing. I could interpret that brainlock as her "disobeying" me, or I could interpret that brainlock as her having a hard time ignoring her natural instincts to explore her world. Again, there was no misbehavior on her part. She was doing the best she could in that situation.

I think in the end, I would like to work towards consensual living in our family. It means I have to step up with myself- if I want my children to form certain habits such as valuing work before play, I have to demonstrate that, and I still struggle with that even now. I also want my children to know that I care about their view of things. I try very hard not to "shush" Margaret when she cries or say, "You're fine," when she falls and gets hurt. I want her to know I'm willing to listen to her emotions and that I'll trust her. If she's screaming from a fall- apparently, she's not fine and me saying "You're fine" is saying, "I think you're lying to me about how bad it is."

Maybe I'll have children like myself who'll shut down if they're overwhelmed. Sure, I could punish them for not following directions, but it would completely ignore the root cause, fix nothing, and cause resentment. Just as I want people to be understanding with me, I need to be understanding with other people- including my children. More and more I'm learning patience and that things aren't always how they appear on the outside. Sometimes life, and parenting, is about giving the benefit of the doubt over and over.

ETA: About balance in needs, PhDinParenting recently posted about balance when parental needs and childrens' needs intersect. Obviously needs change over time. There are times when I would be nursing Margaret when I needed to use the restroom, but I know if I can keep nursing her, she'll fall asleep within 5-10 minutes. Can I wait 5-10 minutes to pee? Yes. I'm an adult and I can do that. But there are times when I know it won't hurt her to ask her to unlatch so I can use the restroom. Sometimes her needs will trump mine and sometimes mine will trump hers. Ideally, we'd be able to figure out which needs are most important for each individual and for the family as a whole and be able to work with those consensually.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sharing the Internet

I haven't done a "Here are some posts that I like" post lately. So I'll do one.

My friend Alisa just weaned her 4 year old and wrote her breastfeeding story. Starting with getting no useful help from hospital lactation consultants and depending on a nipple shield for months and even weaning him at one point, he continued to breastfeed until he was four. I know moms who have struggled with bad hospital advice and particularly nipple shields, but just don't know how to wean their babies from the nipple shield. There's hope- a nipple shield doesn't have to end your breastfeeding relationship!

News stories that made me angry:
Rixa posted about a woman who didn't show up for an induction and then the police showed up at her door. Arg.
And another mother refused bedrest and then was court-ordered to stay at the hospital and ended up with an emergency c-section after which the baby was still born. Very sad.
Apparently when you decide to continue a pregnancy past 20 weeks, you give up the rights to your uterus and you are no longer a person, but a walking womb owned by society and doctors.

A friend of mine
gchatted me Sunday with a story. She was reading the Book of Mormon Stories Reader (found at Church Distribution Centers) to her 2 year old, when they turned a page and her 2 year old immediately recognized one of her favorite things: breastfeeding. At the top of page 31, you can see a child (toddler?) breastfeeding. And that's no small amount of breast.

Last month Elita at Blacktating posted a striking example of how Nestle violates the WHO Code and confuses families about what is appropriate for children to eat and what is not. This results in under-nourished children and ultimately deaths. All for a profit. And that is why we've given up Butterfingers and Crunch bars.

A nice outline explaining how medications are rated in safety for breastfeeding mothers. You can usually still breastfeed while taking medications and you don't have to "pump and dump" or wean.

A couple new blogs that are getting a lot of attention: Woman Uncensored and Peaceful Parenting.

ETA: I forgot about this story. A baby was born a couple weeks ago (unassisted) in the Tonga temple. Very cool. I told McKay we should totally do that. He can wait outside with Margaret. Unfortunately, he wasn't on board with that plan. I did entertain the idea of going to landmarks and having babies at famous places (like each of the 7 wonders of the ancient world). I don't think that's in our budget, though.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Inquisition Monday

Lisa of Edenwild asked, "So do you find that there are any benefits to nursing while pregnant (for you) or are you just doing it for Margaret's sake?"

Let me share an actual dream I had last Friday night, for which it's completely McKay's fault for wanting to watch Stargate: SG-1 before bed.

In my dream an alien race gave the planet Earth a new kind of antibiotic that was stronger than anything we had used and even our super bacteria could not resist it. People started using it everywhere and it was really popular. But of course there was a side-effect. People started turning into bugs. The alien race was basically turning people into bug soldiers. It was very Kafka-esque. Large beetles everywhere.

The scary part was that Margaret was there, and as people were realizing what the antibiotic had done, they were panicking and screaming and running around like crazy. Margaret was scared and started crying. I went to nurse her when someone stopped me and said the antibiotic is everywhere and nursing her would turn her into one of those bugs. I replied, "So you're telling me I can't suckle my child?!" And I nursed her anyway. And I woke up before she turned into a bug because it was scary.

When I woke up I turned over to my non-bug child and nursed her. She didn't need nursing because she was solidly asleep, but I needed to nurse her for my peace of mind.

Apparently, my subconscious is afraid of not being able to nurse her when she's scared or needs me. I was seriously panicking because I couldn't nurse her. The peace of mind that comes from knowing I can nurse her when she needs it is priceless to me. Of course, there's also all of the benefits that come with of breastfeeding in general. I'm still lowering my risk of many female-related cancers (uterine, breast, ovarian). I'm still getting the benefit of oxytocin in my system which has great benefits such as lowering your blood pressure. But the fact that I have another parenting tool up my sleeve (or really in my shirt) is the most important to me.

Should have mentioned last week: Kellymom has a great FAQ for nursing while pregnant and tandem nursing.

austins asked, "What are you planning on doing with the placenta? Why are you keeping it? To me it is kind of like the 2lbs. of powdered sugar...'What the heck do we need that for?' "

Ultimately we hope to bury it. At this point in time, since we rent, we really can't bury it here and you're not supposed to throw away human waste in the dumpsters because it's a biohazard for the sanitation workers. So in the meantime, it's traveling with us until we find a more permanent residence and can bury it properly with a new bush or tree for Margaret.

Seth and Brittney asked, "Hey I have a question for you, since I noticed your cute new haircut... How does no 'poo work with dying hair? Does it throw things off for awhile or do you just try and avoid doing it?"

The place I got my No Poo information
from speculates that, "If you colour your hair, you may notice it dulls when you use a baking soda wash very frequently. However, if you've been using no-poo for a while before you start colouring you'll be at a point where you rarely need to wash your hair - at which time your colour may last longer since you need to wash so infrequently." Because I now have VERY short hair, it's easier to care for and I don't feel like I need to deep clean it as much anymore, so I go fairly long without washing. I also go in between "I never want to dye my hair again" and "If I'm going to go this short, it needs to have some depth of color." This is the first time I've had it all dyed (I did some light highlights last fall) since going No Poo so it's an experiment in itself. I figure it's so short that if the color doesn't work with No Poo, after a couple of haircuts it'll be gone anyway.

My hair Saturday night with a spaghetti-faced Margaret:

Friday, January 15, 2010

15 weeks

until we move! No, I'm not going to give away my "due date."

This morning when I woke up and cuddled with McKay I told him, "15 weeks until we move!"

"That makes it feel like it's a lot sooner."

"Yeah. We'll move to California and be able to recycle!"


Environmental pillow talk. Hot stuff, I tell you.

I do recycle here in Provo, but we're very limited on what we can recycle. In California, we can recycle pretty much everything- even glass and get money back for it! In fact, we've been saving our glass jars for the past year so we can take them out to California with us. Happy day!

Other moving thoughts:

  • I need to start deep cleaning the house now so it'll be easier come April.
  • I need to continue going through our stuff and getting rid of it. I've already whittled Margaret's bath toys down to 2- mostly for health reasons, but also so we have less to move. Yesterday I got rid of some old lotions, body sprays, etc. that have chemicals I don't want in the house.
  • How much dry ice will we need to transport the placenta?
  • I'd like to make McKay a T-shirt quilt before the move because I am not bringing all those shirts with us. Need to learn how to do that.
  • I need to plan meals to use up some of our less-used non-food storage food products. Like 2 pounds of powdered sugar. What the heck do we need that for?
  • I wish it were possible to find an apartment out there before April. Unfortunately the listings are all "Move in today!" instead of "We need someone for May 1." It would be nice to know we have a place to live.
And Friday Fill-ins!

1. The lesson I learned yesterday was I'm psychic, apparently.
2. Weddings are where friends and family meet.
3. All these years and I still haven't broken my nail biting habit.
4. I was carrying Margaret on my hip when I arrived.
5. The truth is I want to be left alone sometimes.
6. The impatience is what I remember most from that day.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to pizza night, tomorrow my plans include a haircut by my newly engaged cousin-in-law, Tash (congrats!) and Sunday, I want to bake bread!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Breastfeeding and Pregnancy

One of my earliest symptoms was sore nipples. I don't remember that from Margaret's pregnancy, but I wasn't nursing anyone during that pregnancy.

There are two things that make the soreness worse: not breastfeeding enough and breastfeeding too much. What a catch-22!

If Margaret decides that she only want to nurse on one side during a 4 hour period, the side that didn't get attention will hurt when she does go back to it.

But if she's constantly nursing or twiddling or otherwise messing with one side a lot, it hurts. That happened when she had colds: constant night nursing. And since she had a stuffy nose, she'd have to reposition herself so she could breathe, and that meant she'd pull my nipple this way and that and the next morning I'd be sore. Luckily she hasn't had a cold since I started taking cod liver oil. Hooray for vitamin D.

Another high soreness time was on the airplane at Christmas time. She had a hard time sleeping on the airplane, so in her half-awake state, she'd nurse and nurse and nurse, but never relax, so by the end of the 3 hour flight, I was sore.

The nipple soreness is really sporadic, though. I'll nurse her down for her nap and I won't feel a thing, but later that night when I nurse her down to sleep, it'll hurt like no other- or vice versa. It's kind of the luck of the draw. And since it's sporadic and there are many times when I think, "This isn't bad. Let's keep going." So I haven't done much to dissuade her.

How's my supply? I think it's gone down, but only recently. During the past couple of weeks, Margaret has suddenly started eating whole meals. And unfortunately, sometimes when she pees, it's pretty concentrated and so I know she's not staying as hydrated as she ought to be. In fact, just two nights ago, she was nursing to sleep, she unlatched, and then called out for "Water." Knowing the other breast had some milk, I offered her that one. But it was sad.

On the other hand, I know I'm still making something. Often when she's done nursing, she'll unlatch and I'll notice that there's milk on the end of my nipple. Also, I can still hear her swallowing. Last night when I woke up to switch sides with her, I latched her on and immediately I heard huge gulps. So I'm making something, I don't know how much, though.

Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do about supply. Sometimes hormones just trump all. In fact, I try to remind myself that it's a good thing my pregnancy hormones are still good and strong: it means my body is building and not rejecting the new baby and that person is getting everything they need. While the pregnancy hormones sometimes feel like they're out to get me, they really are on my side.

When I was pregnant with Margaret, I noticed that when I slept on my breasts funny, sometimes colostrum would leak out. That started happening after Halloween and definitely by Thanksgiving. Margaret was born in March... so that makes it around... 5 months? So if I hold out until 5 months, my body will start revving up its milk production and I know there will be at least something in there Margaret. I wonder what she'll think of colostrum.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I've been reflecting on Margaret's birth. I've been reflecting on Rixa's post from last fall, Thinking, No Conclusions Yet where she poses the question of how important is birth in the life of a mother- and "how would I say that my children's birth ranks in importance in my life?"

Does the birth of your child affect the way you'll parent them 10 years later? Does it affect the person you are 10 years later?

Pregnancy and birth is obviously an emotional time- important even. Elsewise would women be able to recall the "little" things said to them during it? I once listened to a woman, well into her 80s, recount her memories of the birth of her children. It may not have been in the forefront of her mind when they were growing up, but even as she now has great-grandchildren, she remembered those specific days. On some level, it was important.

For me, Margaret's birth was the highlight of a pivotal time for me. The years leading up to Margaret's birth and the months surrounding it helped me become the person I am now. Does that affect me on a day to day basis? I think it does. The thoughts, ideas, and emotions that came from that journey remind me daily what my relationship with Margaret is.

But that was Margaret's birth. I'll have another baby this summer. Will this birth have the same power? I don't know. I don't feel my life is at a point so pivotal. Yes, we are moving and making a big life change, but yet... I don't think it'll be life-changing in the way Margaret's was. Maybe it'll just be one of those silent, every day births. And that'll be ok, too. It'll be life-changing, no doubt, but in a different way. And chances are, 50 years from now, I'll be able to recount the details of this birth just like Margaret's.

What I'm trying to say is that birth does matter. Each birth may matter to the mother in different ways, but to play down the importance of the journey is to deny the importance of the mother. It is a journey and each journey is different, but very very important.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Diapers and Sleep

Last week, Meg asked, "How do you store your diaper stash? With limited space, I'm looking for effective ways to store mine! "

Here's a picture of our current set up.

The top shelf holds our pocket diapers and covers. The second shelf is the prefolds, flats, and the blue fabric on the right is something... I forget, but it wicks moisture away from Margaret so I put it in between her and the flats/prefolds when I use them. The bottom shelf is knitting books and library books. We also have a few prefolds/flats in the dresser. Of the five dresser drawers, one is for me, one for McKay, one for Margaret's clothes, one for Margaret's diapers, and one for blankets.

We have a cloth bag full of cloth wipes (aka washcloths) that is kept by the dresser. Because Margaret's not really using diapers any more, they are just used as washcloths now.

We also have lots of fitted diapers, covers, soakers, longies, and newborn-sized prefolds that are too small for Margaret. Those are in the closet packed away for mystery child #2.

So that's it. It's probably not the most space-efficient, but it works. I think I'll get a bigger basket from a thrift store or freecycle when we move to California to prepare for that mystery child.

Mallory asked, "I'm assuming you still co-sleep with Margaret and nurse at night. How are you planning on handling it when the new baby comes? I have no idea what to do in my own family. My son is still nursing frequently at night and sleeps with us, but that will have to change when I have a newborn nursling in the bed!"

Yes, Margaret is still sleeping with us. She's actually going through a stage right now where she insists on starting the night in between us. This can be really frustrating because sometimes I'd like to fall asleep on a different side, especially since pregnancy is making my right hip hurt. But if I move her over and switch sides, she'll just climb over me until she's back in the middle. If I can wait it out until she's 100% asleep, I can switch sides without her noticing, but I'm usually asleep by that point, too.

Anyway, McKay and I actually discussed getting rid of out bed frame when we move. I was surprised he brought it up today because I thought the reason we had it was because he wanted to keep it. At minimum, he wants to get rid of the box springs so the mattress is closer to the ground. But at that point, the bed will look really funny without the box springs, so we should just get rid of the whole set up and go with the mattress on the floor. It means our bedroom won't look like those pictures in magazines. Sigh.

Anyway. We've talked about getting a twin mattress and setting it up next to our big mattress. If we can transition Margaret to that after the move, we'll have more room and she'll still get breast access if she wants. We do have a Cal-King bed, so we have some room that many people don't have. If we were to sleep sideways on the mattress, I think we'd actually have more width than a King. While Cal-King beds are thinner than Kings, they are longer for taller people. We'd probably be able to do four across without an extra twin, at least for a while.

So in all: we'll probably get rid of the bedframe and box springs and put the bed on the floor with an extra mattress on the side for more space. That's the plan for now.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Need some Input

Ok. So my brain is apparently not working. Maybe some of yours are.

I need to exercise. Unfortunately, it's really difficult right now. Options:

Go outside to walk
It sounds nice: just put Margaret in the Mei Tai and go for a walk. It's actually not that nice. It's cold out there, which means extra bundling of Margaret and me. She'd have to go on my front so that I can wrap my coat around her. I have to manually hold my coat around her, so my fingers get some freezing time. Another issue with the cold is that it's icy. Not everyone shovels and salts their sidewalks. Ideally I'd get a power walk in, but it's hard to power walk when you're trying not to slip.

Also, right now, wearing Margaret on my front isn't a big deal. But what do I do in March when my belly gets bigger and it's still too cold to not wear a coat? If it were warmer, I'd put her on my back, but Utah winters usually require a coat all the way through March (it snowed the day after Margaret was born).

Go walk at the mall
Ok. It's warmer there. No ice. No extra bundling. Problem is that mall walking happens early in the morning... before Margaret wakes up. And I've tried waking her up early for things; it's not pretty. It's better if I let her sleep. Actually my biggest issue with the mall is the advertisements. The last time we ate out there, I sat by a window where just outside was a diet ad with a lovely airbrushed impossibly proportioned woman in a bikini. In the mall, you walk in circles, which means that Margaret would get to see that ad over and over and over again. She's only 1, but I still feel it wouldn't be good for her. I know she'll be exposed to all that body image crap in the future, but I really don't want to expose her to more than she needs to be- and I definitely don't want to be the one to do the exposing, you know? It might be a mountain out of a molehill for some people, but I take body image messages very seriously and I really don't want to do that.

Exercise videos at home
Well, I've tried this in the past. We don't have a lot of room so doing it when Margaret's awake could end up with Margaret getting whacked in the head. Not good. And when I've tried doing them when she's asleep... well, you try sleeping with someone exercising in the same room. Even if I turn the volume down, I'm clumsy and hitting things accidently and waking her up. I actually can't even get chores done when she naps because I'm too loud at washing dishes. Another issue is that when she stirs, I have to stop my exercise video to nurse her back down, so I get interrupted.

Go to the gym
I suppose I could do this, but it just doesn't jive with me to buy a membership when I should be able to work out for free. We're trying to budget so we can move. Also we'll be moving in 4 months. Getting into a contract for 4 months sounds ridiculous.

The other day I did do some yoga while she was asleep and then some handheld free weights. That seemed to be ok, but I really would like to do something more cardiovascular like walking.

Ideas? Anyone know of a place I can walk that's not icy and doesn't yell, "You must buy this to be happy!" into her little brain every 2 seconds?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Oh pregnancy dreams...

Both Margaret's and my current pregnancy heralded in the first trimester with dreams of the more sexy variety. Hormones, I suppose. Or maybe unconsciousness is the only time I don't feel too nauseas to feel sexy.

At this point, though, I've started having birth/baby dreams. My first one was last week. It had the usual craziness my dreams have: there was this lady who had a broken down red bus in her yard that she let her kids play in and Margaret fell asleep there... yadda yadda yadda. The birth/baby part was less of a birth part and more of an ECing dream. The labor was about an hour and I had a little boy. When the little boy was about an hour old, I thought, "Hmm. I should put him over the potty. So I took him to the bathroom, held him over the toilet, made the"psss" sound, and then suddenly he went! It was cool.

Last night's was more birthy. I was 6 months along and we lived in a bigger house. Apparently there was a CPM who had 4 clients that were nearing or past their "due" dates that needed inducing "or else." For some reason they decided to do this in my house. So 4 women were all having babies in my house, one after another. Inductions were either cohosh or castor oil. I think everything went well for them. Then suddenly I went into labor. I was only 6 months along, but the logic in my dream was that the house was so filled with birthing vibes/hormones that it caused me to go into labor too. I'm not sure why- maybe because I was preterm, but I had the CPM assist me in delivery. Afterwards, while holding my 6 pound 7 oz. baby I thought over that birth. We were shocked that the baby was so close to term in development and concluded that my dates must have been wrong. I do remember thinking, "If I had to do that over, I would have done it unassisted. I shouldn't have used the CPM." I think at one point she had tugged on the baby to "help" it out. Anyway, I knew that's not what I wanted. Then I woke up.

Not sure if these dreams really "mean" anything. Sure, I suppose our little one could be a boy, but the first pregnancy dream I had with Margaret was of a boy, so I don't think it's particularly telling. As for the premature birth one, I don't know. I never had preterm labor with Margaret or high blood pressure (ever) or any other indicators that I'm at risk for it, so I'm not too worried. Maybe it was just a dream to reaffirm my decision to UC this time. Or it was just a weird dream.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Prenatal Care

So far my prenatal care has been getting all the basics I think might be important.

The day after I ovulated, I gave blood. When they take your blood they always check your blood pressure and iron levels and such. I've never been turned away, so at least on some level, my iron levels are "good/acceptable". Every time they take my blood pressure, I ask what it is; it doesn't hurt to know. This last time, my BP was nice and low like normal and I'm using that level as my baseline for my blood pressure for the pregnancy.

I got my starting weight from somewhere... don't remember. We don't have a scale, but if I'm visiting your house and you have a scale in the bathroom, I'll use it. This means monitoring my weight gain is sporadic, but I don't put a lot of stock in weight gain meaning much as far as whether or not you're healthy in or out of pregnancy. Of course, if I think I'm gaining too much for a reason like gestational diabetes, I'll check on that. I started this pregnancy at the same pre-pregnancy weight as I started with Margaret and I've currently gained... 2 pounds. With Margaret, I had gained 7 pounds by now. It probably has something to do with me breastfeeding. My caloric intake has to spread itself out thinner this time around. This means I get to eat more.

I found my fundus a few weeks ago! That was exciting. I'd been feeling around for it off and on, but I couldn't really pinpoint it: "I know my uterus is there.... and it's not up here... so somewhere between those points it ends, but I can't figure out where exactly!" But then one night I found it. Very distinct. It's still rather low, so I think I can rule out twins. Also strange: for a while, I could find my fundus on the left side of my abdomen, but not the right. Maybe my uterus is off-centered? Or maybe that's the side the egg implanted in so it's growing slightly faster? I'll get to find out where the placenta is when I start looking for the heartbeat. It's still too early to hear that with a fetoscope.

Unassisted pregnancy is an interesting concept. On one level, it's easy and laid back. I just keep on keepin' on. Eating food, drinking water, exercising. There are no appointments to break up my weeks. I just need to make sure I'm eating good foods and getting lots of nutrients. I'm focusing my diet on DHA and other omega-3s, protein, and vitamins C and D. I'm focusing on those because that's what I feel I need right now.

On another level, it's a little lonely. I didn't get to hear the baby's heartbeat at 8 weeks and by the time I do get to hear it, people are past that, "Isn't it cool to hear the heartbeat?" stage and are in the "Are you finding out the sex?" stage.

This time around, not being in school or working, I thought I'd be able to have more "bonding" time with the baby. So far I haven't, and it's not because of Margaret; Margaret takes 3 hour naps every afternoon- I have plenty of time to just sit and think about the baby. To be honest, I don't think the spirit was in there until around 12 weeks. I don't know when the spirit enters the body; I think it's probably different for each person. I think some are there very early and some are later. And I think this person is a later person. Of course, I don't blame her/him. Who wants to come down early just to be surrounded by the noises of my digestion? That can't be fun.

So that's it so far. As we get closer to the summer I may start testing my urine for protein and glucose and such, but that this point, I don't think it's necessary. I'll just keep on keepin' on.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Nursery

Sorry about this being 2 weeks after the fact. Holidays happened. Inquisition Monday will return from here on out.

K La asked, Do you go with Margaret to nursery? If not, how does Margaret go diaper-free during nursery? Or anytime you are not there? Do you explain to the leader/sitter her signals and hope they watch for them?

Margaret is surprisingly close to graduating into potty independence. Over the holidays, McKay and I went gift shopping with her and then we went out to lunch. We weren't sure how long the trip would be, so we put a diaper on her... that she never used. On our trip, she only used her diaper two nights. All the other nights she stayed dry until the morning. Last week, she and I went to playgroup and then to the store with no misses at all. It was probably a 3.5 hour outing, but what makes it amazing was that she fell asleep on the way home and I transferred her to the bed and she took a 3 hour naps and still stayed dry through the whole thing on top of the errands!

So what I'm saying is that I'd be 100% fine with her using panties at church. McKay, however, isn't as confident about it. I think if we made sure she used the potty right after sacrament and then maybe halfway through nursery, she'd be fine. Usually either McKay or I will go in and peek at her after Sunday School just to check in on her. If we took 2 minutes and turned that into a small potty break, she'd be able to be dry all through church, no problem.

I don't think I could depend on the nursery leaders. They aren't allowed to take a child to the bathroom- and by the time they hear "potty!" and then come find me and then we get to the bathroom... well, it's a little late. I know some nurseries have child-sized bathrooms attached to them, but ours doesn't. Our child-sized bathroom is next to the mother's lounge- and has a stall. Margaret hates stalls. She gets very panicky and claustrophobic in bathroom stalls.

I remember taking Margaret with me to the bathroom at the airport a week ago. She was in a diaper because I knew a 3 hour plane trip would be too much to expect out of her, but we went to the restroom because I needed to go and McKay was getting the car seat and had all the luggage, so watching Margaret wasn't very feasible for him. Even though we weren't going into the stall for her, as soon as we were in there and I shut the door, she started crying and knocking on the door trying to get out. The small spaces are just so scary for her- I don't know why. This will probably be the biggest obstacle for her.

Luckily, right outside the nursery at church is the large bathroom for people with disabilities. Because of its larger size, Margaret isn't as nervous there. We also need to make sure we bring her potty seat reducer or teach her how to hold herself up. Unfortunately, she's usually in such a panic over using a public restroom that trying to show her how to brace herself up isn't very productive, so the seat reducer is probably our best option. I was able to use it successfully at the library. Unfortunately, it's kind of bulky to carry around. I've considered looking into the fold-up travel kind, but they don't look very sturdy and the reviews seem to reflect that.

I'm not sure when Margaret will get past the fear of public restrooms. It might take a year, it might take two, it might take even more. We'll just wait it out for now. I suppose she won't be 100% potty independent until that day, but that's ok. Sometimes it just takes longer.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

1. Last night I was close to falling asleep at a quarter 'til, but I managed to stay awake. Margaret fell asleep at 11:30.
2. I'm very excited to see how everything turns out this year.
3. The funniest thing is whatever Margaret did 2 minutes ago.
4. where do we go from here?
5. He said "I want to see your temps. Hand me the newspaper"; she said "No No No!" (actual conversation between Margaret and McKay in their sleep last night. I'm dead serious).
6. Our diplomas are lost somewhere in the house and it's up to us to find them.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having a clean house by the end of the day, tomorrow my plans include getting our mail from the post office (I forgot they had holiday hours yesterday) and Sunday, I want to go to church at 9 and actually get a nap later!

You know when you think to yourself, "Some day we'll ____?"

Well, it's 2010, and I think that year is this year for us. This will be a year for many new beginnings.

McKay will be done with college. This means moving away. And we might be able to fill that blank in with "have a garden," "buy a house," "live in more than 1 room," or even, "live in a ward where I've never been blackmailed before!" by the end of this year. Yes, we are setting the bar high.

I'll have another baby. Now the blank can be filled in with, "have a labor less than 24 hours long (I'm aiming for 12)," "tandem nurse," "file for a birth certificate outside of Utah," or even "babywear two kids at once." I've heard it's possible with one on back and one on front. We'll see.

So I'm off to get my day done today. I love this three day weekend. It's like a second vacation.