Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Operation Evacuate Baby Rogers

I am SO over being pregnant. My impatience has kicked in and all I can think about is getting this baby out. Granted, I am not "due" for another 9 days, but I'd really like the little guy/gal to come now. Right now.

Everyone tells me that the baby will know when to come out. I know this. I can tell this baby is going to be just as stubborn as hubby and I are. But STILL! Maybe, just maybe poppy will come before the due date.

I've found that there are tons of things you can try to jump-start labor. Below is a list with some comments from moi.

1. Eat spicy food.  The idea is that anything to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract can help start labor.  Well, let me tell you, last night I ate some of the spiciest chicken vindaloo ever--I mean my lips were melting off my face--and it didn't even upset my tummy. No contractions. Nada.

2. Have sex. Sperm is supposed to help "ripen" the cervix. We've tried this once so far but I can't tell you whether or not it worked--its not like i had my midwife check my cervix afterwards.  I didn't have any contractions or anything though.

3. Evening primrose oil capsules: insert two vaginally at night to ripen the cervix. I think this has worked some. I've had sporadic contractions after doing it, so I am going to keep using them every night until the baby comes.  Can't hurt, right?

4. Walking. Lots of walking.  Walking has worked off an on for me.  I've been trying to walk at least one mile a day and it's brought on some crazy contractions, but none consistent enough to put me into full-blown labor.

5. Acupressure. I've put clothespins on my pinky toes, pressed the space between my thumb and forefinger, and a spot above my ankles and got nothing. There are some cool youtube videos of how to use acupressure to start labor.

6. Acupuncture. I haven't tried this yet but plan on scheduling an appointment for the day after i am due.

7. Castor oil, taken orally. This is my last resort. I really don't want to drink that nasty stuff and I am avoiding it at all costs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When Nesting Isn't Enough

Last night I put together the changing table for the nursery. All. By. Myself. It's the little things in life that can bring you such great satisfaction sometimes. BUT--the changing table isn't enough. Just like baking pumpkin apple tarts, apple chips and rolo turtles wasn't enough on Sunday. Nor was putting the cradle together on Friday. On Sunday, after said baking spree, I coaxed the hubby into going to Ikea: "but we NEEEEEEED a storage thingy and we NEEEEED it NOW." The end result was a cute shelving system with fabric cubes that slide in and out like drawers. We put it together and I immediately began to organize the many baby items we've received. Afterwards I was tired but still unsatisfied.

So now the only big thing left for the nursery is to put the crib together.  Will that satisfy my intense need to nest? Who knows.  I feel as though some external force (yes, i know it's actually hormones) has taken over my mind and body and is instructing me to be as productive as possible.  This force often argues with the other part of my pregnant self that wants to sleep constantly.  In the end, nesting wins.

I've heard and read about this desire to nest that happens before the baby comes, but I had no clue how little control I would have over it. I can hardly focus at work because all I can think about is the long list of things we still have to buy, the fact that we haven't found a nanny yet, and that we need to find a pediatrician. 

I know everything will get done by the time poppy arrives, but when will this insane urge end?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I am SO relaxed

"I put all fear aside as I prepare for the birth of my baby."  This is just one of the affirmations I listen to on my way to and from work. These affirmations are a part of hypnobirthing, which my husband and I are actively involved in to prepare us for labor and birth. We've got one more session before we've completed the "course" and so far I have to say that we both really like it.

The gist of hypnobirthing is that women's bodies are made to give birth and that much of western society has taught us that birth is inherently painful and terrifying and that we need drugs and hospitals to better "handle" birth. So, through affirmations, self-hypnosis, and the guidance of a supportive birth partner, hypnobirthing helps women rid themselves of their own birth-related fears and relax the body so that birth is smooth and joyful.

"I fully relax and turn my birth over to nature"
"My baby's birth will be easy because I am so relaxed and confident"
"I am prepared to calmly meet whatever turn my birthing may take"
"I deepen my relaxation as I move further into labor"
"My muscles work in complete harmony to make birthing easier."

I absolutely love the affirmations! Aside from attending the hypnobirthing classes, hubby and I have to make sure we do the homework involved:
-We've watched seven different birthing videos, all of women who used hypnobirthing to birth their babies.
-I listen to my affirmations twice a day.
-We did an exercise where we each wrote down our fears about labor, birth, parenting, etc. and shared them with one another and tried to talk about ways to alleviate those fears and anxieties.
-I'm trying to do a daily self-hypnosis where I am completely relaxed.  Practicing this will help me for the real deal.
-I'm reading the accompanying hypnobirthing book, which is actually very interesting.

We have more homework and techniques that we haven't gotten to yet, but I am feeling very good about using hypnobirthing to guide myself through a calm birth.

I'll post again after a few weeks for an update on how the homework is going, and of course after the baby comes I will do a post-birth piece about how hypnobirthing played a role in labor and birth.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Talking with our Kids about Oppression and Privilege

Sorry I have been m.i.a. for a while. Between traveling and baby showers I've been quite the busy lady! 
I was perusing through one of my fave mommy blogs, Offbeat Mama, and came across this great post today on teaching our kids about privilege.  I strongly suggest you check it out and read through the comments as fellow parents have some great suggestions and offer good resources as well. 

As parents-to-be my husband and I often think about the values we want to instill in our children--especially since we are liberal and atheist but also middle class and white. I believe that talking about white privilege with our children is crucial (I often blame my hubby's impatience/temper/complaining involving trivial things like finding a damn parking space on his white-male privilege.) Also, we are fortunate enough to live in one of the most diverse counties in the country, with 86 languages spoken in the public schools, so I am hoping that having our children exposed to different cultures and ethnicities will allow for an open dialogue surrounding privilege and race.

Additionally, I want our children to be aware of the many oppressions that exist in the world and acknowledge the fact that many people face hardships that others do not simply because of their race, sex, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age and so on. Then I think the next best step is to talk about the ways that people push through those societal constraints to achieve equality, covering the victories so far and the work ahead.

I know it sounds like I am putting together a curriculum or something but unfortunately, I think plenty of opportunities will arise organically that will allow us to talk with our children about these things.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mammary Mayhem

I've always thought of boobs as funny, frivolous appendages. Sure, they are sexy when they are pushed up in a bra and nipples can be pretty cool too, but they always seem to get in the way and it costs a lot of money to keep the ta-tas securely fastened to your body.

Throughout my pregnancy my boobs have become a huge pain in the ass. It wasn't long before all of my bras were too small, so I had to venture out an get a few maternity bras. I ended up getting nursing bras to try and save some money since I would need them post-partum. The two bras I got have a little snap so all it takes is one click and voila! you have a boob in your face! In case you didn't know, most boobs do some crazy stuff during pregnancy--they grow in size (which of course my husband thought was awesome), your milk ducts start to form, the areolas grow and the nipples darken.

In my opinion pregnancy boobs look pretty weird, last night I told my hubby I had monkey boobs (he still doesn't understand what that means, but whatever).  Despite my disdain for my prego boobs, it's important to note that pregnancy boobs are preparing for a huge task: feeding your little one. Now, I know that not all women want to or are able to breastfeed and that is totally cool (there is a great piece on Offbeat Mama about one woman's struggle to breastfeed). To me, all things reproductive are about choice and I choose to breastfeed. The more I read about breastfeeding, the more fascinated I become with what I once saw as a silly, mostly sexual part of my body.

Some Super Cool Mammary Milk Facts*:
  • breast milk is tailored to the needs of human infants and contains over 100 ingredients not found in cow's milk and that can't be synthesized in a lab
  • the composition of breast milk changes to meet the baby's needs--it is different in the morning versus the afternoon and is also calorie controlled.  Milk at the beginning of a feeding is less caloric that the milk at the end of the feeding, which signals to the baby when to stop feeding.
  • because of the changing composition, breastfed babies are often less chubby than formula fed babies. (although I love a chubby baby with some cute leg rolls)
  • breastfed babies get a good dose of antibodies that help prevent infections such as urinary tract infections, colds and ear infections.
Again, despite these cool facts, some women choose not to breastfeed or simply are unable to despite their best efforts.  As Trista so eloquently put in her piece about coping with not being able to breastfeed "I had many moments where I felt extreme amounts of guilt, but then I learned that breastfeeding did not equal perfection — nor did it equal motherhood."  Whether or not we can or cannot, or choose or choose not to breastfeed, it is still quite amazing to learn about the ways our bodies almost instinctively do amazing things like produce calorie-controlled milk for our offspring.  Evolution is so cool.

Another reason women don't breastfeed is due to lack of support from their health care provider or the lack of follow-up care once a woman has left the hospital.  Or--women who have to return to work may not have the resources necessary to take breaks to pump, and don't have a private place to do the pumping .
This is where we can step in and advocate for women who choose to breastfeed: ask your Member of Congress to co-sponsor the Breastfeeding Promotion Act today. 

"The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 (HR 2758) would dramatically help expand breastfeeding by giving all mothers who want to breastfeed unpaid time and private, clean spaces to express milk at work.  If passed, the bill would also protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace.[3] As part of the Affordable Care Act, exempt workers (generally those paid hourly) now are provided this support at work but the new rules only cover approximately half of new mothers in the workforce.[4] 
We need uniform workplace policies to support all of the 56% of new mothers who are in the paid labor force.[5]  Without support in workplaces, breastfeeding rates drop significantly during the time when most women return to work.  While 3 out of 4 women in the U.S. breastfeed their infants at birth, only 13% are exclusively breastfeeding at six months as recommended by every major national and international medical authority.[6]  In fact, breastfeeding rates for employed mothers are 15% lower than among non-employed mothers.[7] "

So there's my two-cents on the very divisive issue of breastfeeding.  Like I said, I am all about women choosing to do it or not--and women can of course make better decisions when they are better informed and have little to no barriers.  I just hope that my funny monkey boobs will produce enough milk and that I am barrier free and able to breastfeed poppy when he/she comes into this world.

*breast milk facts taken from "What to Expect the First Year"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thought plastic was harmless? Think again!

I'm sure you've seen "BPA" or "bisphenol A" in the news here and there over the past few years.  Sometime ago scientists found that BPA, which is traditionally used to make plastics, is an endocrine disruptor and linked to problems such as early puberty, hyperactivity, breast and prostate cancer and infertility. Since then, many companies have taken strides to produce BPA-free water bottles, plastic bowls and so on.  In 2010 Cananda became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance and the EU banned BPA from baby bottles. 

Right now, we are awaiting for Caifornia Governor Jerry Brown to sign AB1319 which bans BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups.  An article in the San Francisco Chronicle debates whether this bill goes far enough--some hoped it would ban the use of BPA in infant food containers, but that piece got taken out of the legislation due to fears that it would prevent the bill from being passed.

When selecting bottles for my baby registry, I did have a good amount of luck finding pacifiers and bottles that are BPA-free. Also, the Environmental Working Group has a guide to buying safe bottles and fomula. However, mommy-to-be or not, I think we should all do what we can to limit our exposure to such a toxic chemical. 

Quick Facts on BPA (taken from the awesome Environmental Working Group):
  • An estimated 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced globally annually
  • BPAis fabricated into thousands of products including safety equipment, eyeglasses, computer and cell phone casings, and water and beverage bottles
  • BPA-based plastics break down readily, particularly when heated or washed with strong detergents
  • Trace BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy.
  • You can find more facts here
A few ways to avoid BPA is to try to eat fresh foods and stay away from canned goods since all canned foods sold in the U.S. contain BPA in the can lining. Also, plastics marked with a #7 recycling symbol or that say "PC" for polycarbonate are plastics that you should avoid. If you can't avoid using a #7 plastic, then try not to microwave the plastic as it increases the chances of the bisphenol A leaching into your food.

We are at an interesting point politically with Republicans wanting to take away EPA authority on regulating our air and water to keep it clean and safe (among other things).  I worry that politicizing an issue like this will endanger ours and our childrens' livelihood. Obviously I am a die-hard liberal, but I honestly don't understand the reasoning behind conservatives wanting the government to halt environmental regulations that ultimately protect us.  I wish the federal government would take a stance similar to that of the EU and the state of California and ban BPA in infant products.  Obviously, our exposure to the toxic substance wouldn't go away completely but banning it from baby products is a great first step.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Domestic Project-An idea for wine corks

Drinking all that wine has finally paid off!  I had originally planned to collect enough wine corks to cover a wall in a room in the basement that will eventually be a wine cellar.  BUT, this week I was in a pinch.  I realized that the curtain hold backs I had bought just weren't looking the way I had envisioned.

I started walking around the house looking for something to tie the curtains in the center rather than hook them onto the holdbacks.  Then, I had a total Martha Stewart moment. Ok, maybe it wasn't that brilliant but this idea was FREE!

Anyways, like I said I was walking around the house when I looked at our dining room shelf and saw our big vases of wine corks. Bingo!

Here's what you need:
-10 to 12 wine corks per hold back
-a shoe lace or ribbon
-power drill
-drill-safe surface

It was really quite simple.  I just drilled a hold in each wine cork and strung them along a shoe lace and tied it around the curtain. Like this:

It's amazing how I can be so satisfied from such a simple little crafty project.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Car Safety

Before you read this post, I must warn that this is a sad topic. One of my worst fears is leaving my (future) baby in the car during the hot summer months--probably because it can happen to anyone, especially busy parents (and what parent isn't busy?) You see it on the news quite a bit, but each time it doesn't get any less unnerving to hear about.  Recently, the Washington Post had an article about a woman who unknowingly left her son in a hot car for seven hours.  To complicate things, the woman had left her son in a car before but was saved by a call from the daycare.  The prosecutor is charging her with child neglect AND felony murder, to make a case out of her to other parents.

I can only imagine how such a tragedy rips a family apart.  If I were to answer the article titled "A baby is dead. Was it a crime?", I would say absolutely. But when it comes time to offer judgement and punishment, I am lost.  In my mind, the sheer loss of your own child due to your own absent-minded neglect is punishment enough and so is the grief and ostracism your family will face.

Rather than prosecute a parent on felony murder charges in order to make an example out of him/her, perhaps we can strive to find other ways to prevent another tragedy from happening.

According to Kids and Cars, on average 38 children die each year due to heat-related deaths from being left in hot vehicles. Kids and Cars also has some good safety tips to help avoid leaving a infant or child unattended in a car:

  • Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. We call this the "Look Before You Lock" campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
In addition to these tips that basically modify our own behaviors, I've heard rumblings about car and car seat companies trying to develop alarms to alert you to a child left behind in a car.

A few items like the Halo Baby Seat Safety System and Baby Alert-Child Minder Smart Clip System popped up in my research but the Halo item doesn't appear to be on the market yet and I can't find many reliable reviews for the Baby Alert item.  Does anyone have resources or suggestions for other places to look for infant seat safety product such as these?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Stubborn Feminist Relinquishes Control-The FLOOD

Growing up, I was told I could do anything a boy could do.  I was also told that I will go to college, and have my own career so that I would never have to rely on a man. Done. Even though they didn't realize it, my family raised me to be a strong feminist woman, and I am so thankful for that.

I like to think that I've lived my life like the independent woman my mom and grandmother wanted me to be.  And what's better is that even though I am now married, my spouse has never been threatened by my independence and always encourages me to do what I want.  He knows I can use a hammer or drill and that I can lift heavy objects, etc. He never talks down to me or minimizes my activist causes or professional decisions. Hell, I shoot guns and go fishing and he doesn't and is in no way emasculated by it. He was raised by a feminist woman--and it shows.

Unfortunately, this week I had to ignore my own desire to be independent and had to rely heavily on my hubby.

Hubby and I have been homeowners for a month and 9 days, but it feels like a lifetime--and not in a good way.  Two days ago, while the painters were at our home painting the house interior on the first level, our plumbing backed up.  This resulted in blueish-green water (from the painters rinsing their brushes in the kitchen sink) coming up through the basement showers and flooding over half of the basement.

Our basement is not a scary and dark place. It is open and bright and has had two carpeted guest rooms each with their own bathroom, an office with wood flooring, a tiled laundry room and a storage room.  The two bedrooms and the office were soaked with sewer water and we found out that the flooring and baseboards in those rooms had to be completely ripped out. Fun. So we had restoration people come in and do the dirty work of ripping out the flooring and they placed those huge industrial fans everywhere to help dry up the water. Oh--did I mention the bonus?! Our insurance doesn't cover flooding due to a sewer backup. We still had to wait on the plumbers but the good news was that the flooding had stopped and everything was getting dried up.

The next day while we were waiting for the plumbers to arrive to hydrojet the pipes, i noticed water near the steps leading to the basement.  I went down to investigate but the bathrooms were not the source this time.  We've had a ton of rain this past week, and water was coming into the storage room through the back basement door. Then the plumbers showed up. After doing some investigating, the found that our second sump pump was never connected to outside of the house SO it was pumping water back INTO OUR HOUSE! Total nightmare. Plus, the rain water was triple what the sewer water was.  Anyways, after hours with the plumbers and two days of stress our problems are now mostly fixed.

What I didn't realize was how labor-intensive this disaster would be. Trekking up and down the stairs, moving boxes, shelves, furniture, etc.  I realized early into the ordeal that because of my belly I just can't do what I used to physically.  Bending over to get something off the floor is hard, not to mention painful because of my back. I also get tired a lot quicker than I used to. This realization sucked.  It's not fair that my hubby has to do all of the back-breaking work to get this mess cleaned up!  Just because I have a vagina doesn't mean I am disabled! I can do anything he can do!

Well--I had to step over my pride and relinquish control.  I did as much as I could of the "small" things and hubby did the heavy lifting and took care of everything else. I made him a list of the things that needed to be done (his parents get in town today, so I wanted our main floor to at least look presentable) since I was too exhausted to do them. And you know what? It'll all be ok.  Yes, we are exhausted and yes, my pride is a little wounded but we are alive and well.

I guess the moral to the story is that even though I am physically limited right now because I am pregnant, it doesn't mean I am any less feminist.  I can STILL do anything a man can do and more--I get to bring a little person into this world! I just need to realize that it's ok to take it easy and focus on my own health. Thank goodness I've got an amazing feminist husband to back me up when I need him.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Second Trimester Reflections

Wow, people weren't joking when they told me the second trimester would be a thousand times better! Around week 14 I finally started to eat again and the nausea finally left.

Other awesome things about the second trimester:
  • I got my energy back! I still take naps here and there, but my sleepiness is nothing like it was week 5 through 13. During those weeks I felt like a zombie--it's amazing what exhaustion will do to your brain and your social life.
  • Food is my friend again. I'm eating, finally!  And I don't mean just saltines and gingerale. I am eating real, adult-sized meals complete with an iced tea.
  • I no longer detest chocolate.  This miracle happend around week 18 and I couldn't be happier.  Although the break-up was hard, and feelings got hurt, Godiva and I are back together!
  • No more vomitting!
  • I feel productive.  I'm actually getting things done at work and at home and don't have to worry about hubby doing all the cooking, cleaning, dog walking, etc.  I am once again an active participant in my house and office.
  • Movement down below.  Feeling little Poppy move has got to be the coolest thing. Ever. At first the movements were sporadic but now he/she moves constantly!  Another cool thing is feeling when Poppy has hiccups, it's really quite amazing.
  • Getting more maternity clothes.  I finally found some cute maternity dresses and shirts to wear that don't cost a trillion dollars like the garments at Pea in the Pod.  $30 maternity jeans--score!
And, although the list is small, I need to list the not-so-awesome things about the second trimester:
  • Indigestion.  I've never really had indigestion before but, wow, talk about miserable! I now keep a bottle of Tums on my nightstand and in my desk drawer.
  • Less sleep. I get up to pee about 5 times a night now. Between that and the baby kicking me constantly sleep kinda sucks right now.  But I try to think that this is just to prepare for life with a newborn.
  • I'm always hungry. Seriously, I never feel satisfied. I just had a garden burger, an apple, and a plum  and I am still starving.  It's ridiculous.
So that about sums up trimester number two! Now I'm in the home stretch :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Domestic Project-Old Desk Face Lift

So this post isn't feminist in nature or about being pregnant, BUT I feel its post-worthy. Who doesn't like a good household project?!

Ever since we bought our house a month ago I've had lots of projects to keep me busy.  Several weeks ago my husband and I spotted a desk at Pottery Barn that we both REALLY wanted to get but it costs $900, naturally.  A few weeks later I saw that someone put a post up on FreeCycle giving away an old wooden desk.  I checked out the picture and decided that with a little hard work and some paint that I could transform it into a desk that both my husband and I love.

So, here's the dream desk:

Here's the desk we got for FREE on FreeCycle:
Here's the free desk, transformed:
Pretty cool, huh! Obviously, it's not as pretty as the Pottery Barn one but in the end it only cost us about $100 bucks.  Here's what I did:

1. 4 large sheets of sand paper, fine
2. 1 pint of Behr low-VOC paint and primer in one in white
3. 2 paint brushes--one about 2 inches wide and the other an inch wide for the smaller areas
4. 6 new drawer handles
5. 1 large drop cloth to protect the floors
6. 1 to 2 safety masks to protect yourself from inhaling the dust and paint particles from sanding as well as the paint fumes.

Free desk, as we will call it, is in pretty good condition. It is made of solid wood and is the perfect size for our study.  The downside of course is that it was sponge-painted a gross grey color and the top of the desk had at one point been painted black and where the grey paint was chipping there were huge areas of this black paint coming through.

Before I started sanding my hubby took the old handles off of the desk.  Unfortunately, one of the rusty old screws cut his finger so in the midst of the desk project he had to go get a tetanus shot.  Poor guy. Anyways, back to the sanding.  My goal wasn't to strip the old paint completely off the desk--that would have taken days--but instead I wanted to make sure that the loose paint was sanded off and that the surfaces of the desk were smooth.  Total sanding time: around 4 hours.  I sanded it all by hand and in hindsight wish I would have gotten an electric sander.  My hands, wrists and forearms are still sore from all of the sanding and I've had 48 hours to recover!

Before I began to paint, I vacuumed up the piles of paint/sanding dust that surrounded the desk on the drop cloth.  Then I took a damp cloth and wiped down every inch of the desk to capture any remaining dust.  This is a very important step because the last thing you want is the gross dust to start sticking to your freshly applied wet paint. It is important to have a very clean surface before painting.

Painting was a piece of cake! To get this antiqued look I did the following:
I applied a layer of paint and moved on to another section.  Once section two was done with a layer of paint, I went back to the first section and took a large sponge and drug it across the surface in a straight line, applying medium pressure to the sponge. Be sure to pay attention to the direction you are dragging the sponge. For the top of the desk, I followed the pattern of the wood and went horizontal.  For the drawers I went horizontal and the legs I went vertical.  Once the painted and sponged section was 80% dry, I went back over and dry-brushed the surfaces to add a little more character. Total painting time: 2 hours.

Next, I had hubby install the new handles and voila!  Our desk is complete :)
I had a very hard time picking out the handles.  I originally thought I wanted to go for something ornate and feminine but ended up going with a more utilitarian piece of hardware.  The good news is that if I change my mind in a few years, it's easy to grab new handles and install them!
More domestic projects to come!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DIY Green Products

As I mentioned back in May in my post "Naked Toes" I'm passionate about doing everything I can to try to limit the chemicals my family and I are exposed to. Over the past 8 months I have worked hard to find products that do not contain pthalates, carcinogens, parabens, and other harsh chemicals.  Finding some things was easier than others.  Mascara: piece of cake. Antiperspirant: still searching.  Sure, I have found plenty of products that are made of safe chemicals but it's been hard to find ones that are comparable to the products that do not even come close to being made of safe chemicals.  I've gone through lots, and I mean LOTS of different brands of safe shampoo and conditioner and I am still searching for the perfect one. Changing my entire personal care collection is a work in progress.

Something that I have started to really enjoy is making my own products.  It's pretty funny--when it comes to cooking and baking I have zero patience.  I'm the type of gal that likes to ignore recipes (i never follow exact measurements, to my own demise of course) and just throw random things in a skillet and see what happens.  But for some reason, I'm really getting into making my own personal care items as well as home-cleaning solutions. 

My latest ventures:

Body Scrub: This one is a piece of cake (and if you want it can smell like one too!) What you'll need:
1) A Container--I save jars from jams, sauces, etc. and reuse them for my products
2) Oil--preferably olive oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil but you can use a mixture instead of just sticking to one. Fill your jar about 70% full of the oil.
3) Sugar--add sugar to the oil until the sugar is saturated in the oil, but with no oil sitting on top of the sugar. It should blend nicely.
4) Essential oil (if you prefer a scented scrub)--lavender is nice and calming, peppermint is nice and revitalizing and vanilla just smells good. Add 3 to 6 drops of your preferred essential oil into the base oil before you add the sugar. Voila! You have your very own body scrub!  AND, it's cheaper than any sugar scrub you will find in a store.

Face Wash: I made my very own face wash the other night and it was so easy. I got the recipe off of Whole Living -the magazine, not sure if it is their website though. What you'll need:
1) a container, preferably something with a pump.
2) Castor oil.  fill your container with about 75% Castor oil.
3) the remaining 25% can be either olive oil, jojoba oil, grape seed oil or almond oil.  Since the weather is warm, i skipped the olive oil since it is heavier and did 20% grape seed oil and 5% jojoba oil.
4) peppermint essential oil--about 3 to 5 drops to add an invigorating scent!

Here's the gist behind facial cleansing oils: many face washes on the market strip our skin of its natural sebum which causes our skin to produce even more oil and can cause acne.  Oil attracts oil, and cleansing oils attract oil, dirt and makeup but maintains a healthy skin balance--not to mention its a great moisturizer!  There are many cleansing oils on the market but I didn't feel like gallivanting through the mall to track them down so I decided to make my own.  Many of the in-store cleansing oils are made to be rinsed off with water.  This particular recipe works a little differently.  First, you massage the oil, about 2 pumps worth, onto your skin. Then take a hot wash cloth and lay it on your face until it cools, then wipe off the excess oil.  The heat from the wash cloth helps to open your pores and you'll feel like you got a mini-facial when you are done!

All-Purpose Household Cleaner: Vinegar is an amazing disinfectant and is the primary ingredient in this easy cleaner. What you'll need:
1) a container, preferably with a spray nozzle.
2) distilled white vinegar.  fill your container about 50% full
3) lemon juice, fill about 10%
4) water, fill up to the rim
5) lavender essential oil, a few drops to help with the smell.
This easy-to-make concoction kills germs, is great on glass surfaces and the vinegar smell lasts for just a minute or so.  Lavender helps with the smell of course but it is not necessary.
This cleaner is particularly great because it is ridiculously safe to use around your house and doesn't come with any harsh fumes.

I haven't finished reading it yet, but The Green Beauty Guide has been a great resource for greening my cosmetics and personal care products. It also has great do-it-yourself recipes for cleansers, etc.

There are also plenty of green-cleaning books on the market and I encourage you to browse through one to get some ideas on diy household cleaners.

Any suggestions for what I should make next?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Letting Go of My Ideal Pregnancy

I'm a planner. For as long as I can remember I have mentally planned the details of my pregnancy and birth. I've known for a very long time--maybe over 10 years now--that I wanted a water birth.  During the past two years when I knew that I would be trying to conceive soon, I had been reading books and constantly imagining what my ideal pregnancy would be like.

Now that I'm five months in, I know it's just not gonna happen. I need to face reality. So here it is. My ideal pregnancy torn to shreds:

1. I wanted to do prenatal yoga throughout my whole pregnancy.
Reality--Until about week 16 I was too dizzy and off-balanced to do any sort of yoga.  Even    
standing for long periods of time was a challenge. My goal is to start to practice in my house to
avoid the embarrassment if I fall over in warrior one (which, BTW totally happened to me in actual   
yoga class during week 7)

2. I planned on eating completely healthy, almost all organic and local foods, with a few
exceptions for the occasional ice cream craving.
Reality--I could barely eat the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, and when I did eat it was usually something grotesquely processed like a McDonald's happy meal hamburger. Due to my lack of
appetite and extreme nausea I lost over ten pounds and was instructed by my doc to eat more.  So, now I am eating more--and I am in fact eating a LOT of healthy fruits and veggies (organic and
local as much as possible) but I still regularly give in for a cookie, french fries, etc.

3. I thought I could completely give up caffeine.
Reality--Giving up my morning coffee and/or espresso was a piece of cake. However, I underestimated my distinct desire to have iced tea in the summer time. So yes, I drink iced tea 
 probably once a day and I also occasionally have a soda a few times a week. However, just to be clear I did read that it's OK to have up to 200 mg of caffeine per day, so I should be safe with my
tea and soda splurges.

4. I was really hoping I'd have that pregnant-lady glow.Reality--pregnancy hormones made my skin freak out. I have no glow, unless you count the sweaty
look my face got when I felt nauseated beyond belief. My skin is still dry, so I pile up on the lotion. I
guess I had always assumed that the pregnancy hormones + prenatal vitamins would make my skin
look goddess-like but the only noticeable difference the hormones and vitamins has made is on my
hair and nails which are growing like crazy.

5. I didn't anticipate my brain being in the clouds all the time.
Reality--My productivity both at work and at home has severely suffered. In the beginning it was because I was so nauseated that I could hardly stand.  Now I am pretty sure I have a certified case
of pregnancy brain. I can't focus, my memory fails me on a daily basis, and my mouth doesn't quite
connect with my brain all of the time and I end up trying to say two words at once which ends up
coming out sounding like I have marbles in my mouth.

6. I didn't think my sex life would change.
Reality--I was so very wrong on this one. The nausea totally sucked away my sex drive, and when I wasn't nauseous I was too weak to even think about sex because I was barely eating. Now that I
have a baby-bump, sex is just weird. And funny.  I can feel the baby kicking while my husband and I are having sex.  A few of our key positions are out the window because it feels weird and somewhat
hurts to have any pressure on my belly whatsoever. My sex drive has definitely increased the second
trimester--don't even get me started on the raunchy dreams I have--but the belly and baby's constant movement just makes bonin' a lot more difficult than I had anticipated.

So as you can see, my notions about pregnancy were definitely proven wrong. But it's OK. As long as me and the baby are healthy and happy, there's not much more I can ask for. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week!

MomsRising is doing an awesome blog-a-thon to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. I highly recommend you check it out.There are lots to choose from, and I am particularly interested in reading:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rockabye Belly

Yesterday we finally got our Belly Buds in the mail! These things are awesome.

They are normal headphones with a safe adhesive that makes them stick to your belly. This way, you can play the baby music in utero :)  Another cool thing is that it comes with a splitter so that you too, can listen to your ipod while your baby does as well.

I made a little play list to play to Poppy and right when i put the headphones on my tummy Poppy started to kick and move a lot.  It was bananas. I have 42 songs on the play list but here are some highlights:

  • Neon Bible, Arcade Fire
  • Codex, Radiohead
  • Fade Into You, Mazzy Star
  • Hoppipolla, Sigur Ros
  • How Soon is Now?, the Smiths
  • Ocean of Noise, Arcade Fire
  • Pink Moon, Nick Drake
  • Saeglopur, Sigur Ros
  • Wild Horses, The Sundays
  • Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd
Any recommendations for additions to Poppy's play list??  We are trying to stay away from anything too fast-paced or heavy.

*photo courtesy of bellybuds.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boob Tales

The topic of breastfeeding has become quite politicized over the years.  There's the camp of folks who view breastfeeding in public as a lewd act, and then there are the lactivists who fight for a woman's right to feed/pump in public as well as in the work place.  In the 2010 health reform bill, section 4207 requires employers to allow break time for an employee to express milk for up to one year after the birth of a child--it's my understanding that this was a big deal.

As recently as this past February the news was buzzing over a store in London that started selling breast milk ice cream. There are also breast milk banks for women to donate their excess milk to with the milk serving various malnourished infants or infants with mothers who are unable to breastfeed. 

I've always been interested in breastfeeding.  I remember sitting in my Global Feminism class and listening to my professor talk about how in the 70's Nestle went into Harlem and other poor urban areas mostly occupied by African Americans and convinced them that breastfeeding was bad and that they should use their food stamps for the Nestle infant formula.  Apparently Nestle has done the same in parts of Africa. Now, there are efforts to get black women and other minority women to embrace breastfeeding, trying to pose a counter to the uber-aggressive marketing by the billion dollar infant formula industry, which apparently has also convinced hospitals to hand out its samples for free. It always comes down to money doesn't it?  "Screw what is best for mom and baby! We've got to increase our profits!"

Looking back, it seems as though we have come a long way.  Breastfeeding is more common and less demonized or shunned by society, and there are laws in place that allow women to breastfeed in public and laws that require employers to be flexible.  But something is still missing.  All of a sudden (and maybe this coincides with the big organic and local foods movement?) women are demonized for choosing NOT to breastfeed or for being unable to breastfeed after a gallant.

And I will be the first to admit that for a while I resented my mom for choosing not to breastfeed my brother and I.  But as I grow as a person and have read more and had friends with babies, I've come to realize that it's not always possible for women to breast feed. 

Recently, there was a great article on Jezebel about the realities many breastfeeding women face. It's a good article. you should check it out.

Any thoughts to share on the subject?  I plan to try to breastfeed and I know I will be very disappointed if for some reason I can't.  I wonder what the judgy lactivist people will think....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Women's Bodies are SO COOL.

So, I open an email from the bump that describes what is happening with little poppy at 5 weeks. I then decide to share this crazy-sauce information with my co-worker, Eazy-E (not the rapper).

me: "right now, as we speak, I am making a heart, liver, circulatory system and digestive system."
Eazy-E: "ew! you don't know how to make a heart!"
me: "I know! It's bananas!"

So, obviously, Eazy-E makes a good point. I am not a biologist, chemist, or doctor. I'm not even a trained mechanic and yet my body is assembling all of these vital organs and systems necessary to support a future person. Think about it. It's bananas.

While I am: typing an email to our consultants. My body is: creating a heart.
While I am: editing a report. My body is: working on the embryo's liver.

No wonder mysoginist men hate women--our bodies are AWESOME!  It's actually quite baffling that we didn't turn out to be the dominate sex (wink.)

Women can make a person--assembly included: heart, hands, feet, brain, liver, lungs, hair, eyes, etc.
We can also feed said person with our boobs (really hilarious when you consider this).

Ok, obviously I am not actually promoting female domination--I'm  a feminist afterall, not a man-hater. But it really makes ya wonder....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

crazy shit your body does while making a human

This weekend I got to spend two wonderful days with my amazing DC feminist ladies.  Every year we spend a weekend in super neato cabins along the Shenandoah River.  First of all, I just want to point out how important it is for women to have a support network of awesome, like-minded friends. I couldn't get through life without them.

On these trips we talk about various feminist issues, share feelings and update eachother on recent happenings in our lives.  Of this group of friends I am the first one stepping into motherhood, so naturally they had a lot of questions.  Talking about the ups and downs of pregnancy made me realize that unless you talk to your doc/midwife every day or read a lot of pregnancy-related books, there are a lot of things that happen during pregnancy that you just don't know about.

So, here is my list of "crazy shit your body does while making a human":
1. your tail-bone curves out to balance the weight of your belly as it grows
2. you breathe up to 40% more oxygen than non-pregnant folks
3. morning sickness is a myth--it can last all damn day and start at any point in the day
4. the bones in your feet lengthen and spread out to balance your weight
5. around the second trimester your digestion slows down to allow the baby to get more nutrients from your food. this means you can get constipated, resulting in feelings of utter joy when you finally do poop.
6. your nipples get bigger and darker
7. your blood vessels wide and thicken to bring blood away from your brain and down toward your uterus resulting in light-headedness and dizziness
8. you produce 3 to 4 extra pounds of blood
9. because of the extra blood production, your kidneys work harder and you pee a lot more (you also pee even more as the baby gets bigger because they put pressure on your bladder)
10. you produce more mucus--everywhere from your nose to your vagina. fun.
11. the circumference of your rib cage expands by 2 to 4 inches to accomodate your lung expansion.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Not fooled by the garden burger

For lunch today all I wanted was some meat covered in grease with more meat and maybe some potatoes. My bizarre pregnancy cravings are in full swing so I've been chowing down on ice cream, bbq, and other no-so-healthy food items.

BUT, today I decided to try and resist the prego tummy and be healthy.  I went next door to Java Green where the food is organic, vegetarian/vegan, local and sustainable.  Right up my ally!

I was wrong.  I got a garden burger--probably one of the best I've ever had, but Poppy wasn't fooled.  So now I am sitting here still hungry and craving real meat.

I totally identify with a recent story posted on Jezebel .  As I have mentioned, in my first trimester I lost weight and my doctors told me I need to start trying to eat to gain weight.  Now that my appetite has come back and the nausea is gone, I'm on my way to getting some resemblance of a baby bump, even though I haven't gained back all of what I had lost.

The other part of this story is that because of my build I am most certainly going to go past the 200lbs mark, which in the article is referred to as "pulling a deuce".  This totally freaked me out when I realized it, but I can't just not eat. At 19 weeks I don't think I look like a heifer but maybe I am wrong.  But then again, who cares?

Although I know that the "healthy" weight gain for pregnancy is 25-35lbs, it's hard to tell myself that when I'm in the middle of my passionate love affair with my bowl of ice cream. As the author of the article says

"Nowhere did it report, for instance, the truth — that I'd been taken hostage by a food beast. That my hunger would, at times, make me cartoonishly ravenous."

I figure as long as I keep taking long walks for exercise and semi-limit my sugar intake, I should be ok and will hopefully and most likely steer clear of gestational diabetes and other weight-related complications.

But I will be "dropping a deuce" I'm tall and a large woman....what's a gal to do?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Women + Less Education = More Children?

We've known for a while that women with more education have less children.  However, a recent article in Time magazine online puts a new spin on the fact based on a recent study: having children can affect a woman's access to education in the first place.

I often think about the South and how many of my friends began popping kids out in their late teens and early twenties--either before even going to college at all or right smack in the middle of their college years.  At first it really bothered me since I was on a set track to avoid childbearing until I had an established career.  Now I understand that for various reasons some women just want to get their childbearing over with at an earlier age. And they should have the right to do so without critique or ridicule. 

Unfortunately, we live in a society where the education track of young fathers isn't nearly as effected by children as that of young mothers.  Just watch an episode of Teen Mom for a nice pop-culture reference.

What would remedy this situation? Quality, affordable childcare for one, and access to affordable education as well. One day I hope this country will shift towards actually putting our money towards our touted "family values" and build and expand programs to allow women and children to thrive.

My partner and I are well-educated and have good paying jobs and I am still freaking out about the cost and availability (hello, wait-lists) of childcare. It's absolutely insane--yet we live in an economy that makes it almost impossible for a parent to stay home full-time to rear children. Also--my husband is working on his third degree (law school at night) and I have to say that I am wondering how having a new baby will affect his academic performance.  I know for sure that there is no way that I will be going back to school for a Master's Degree anytime soon. No way.  There are many moms out there that would love to go back to school but can't due to the financial burden (tuition and daycare) it would impose on their families.  It would be interesting to see a study that compares the level of education of young fathers--especially those that are able to continue going to school or even go back to school for higher degrees. I bet the data would be astonishing.

When will we live in a society that supports women to be able to attain an education while also mothering?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Moms Take Action

I'm on the list-serve for MomsRising, and got an alarming email today:

"6 months ago, a dangerous ingredient got added to the production chain of this previously nutritious and delicious warm weather snack: Methyl iodide. 
Methyl iodide is a cancer causing chemical that was approved for use in California agriculture. Already banned in New York and Washington, this chemical is linked to cancer, thyroid toxicity, and miscarriages. It’s time to take methyl iodide out of CA farms, before any more of this  dangerous chemical is used. Tell Governor Brown that we want safer strawberries for our families!"

Please take a moment and go here to tell the California Governor that we want safer produce!

Conversations with Poppy

Last night hubby and I settled into bed and I asked him to talk to Poppy.  Hubby leans over to my belly and says

"Poppy, I wish you weren't so close to mommy's yummy parts because when I come down here to talk to you I get distracted."

This wass of course followed by me laughing heartily for the next minute. :)  Hubby then proceeded to talk to Poppy about the events of the day and how we are so excited to move into our new home.

I love that man.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Housing Discrimination and Moms

For a country that seems to constantly tout "family values" including valuing life and children, our society sure does a crappy job at ensuring caregivers and children are actually protected and given the basic opportunities to thrive.

Even simple things like making sure that changing tables are in public restrooms, for women and men, isn't widely enforced. Also, in some states (Texas is one of them last I checked) it is ILLEGAL for a woman to breastfeed in a public place.

Don't even get me started on the Republican stance on Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program, SCHIP.   Programs like these provide a safety net for those who are most vulnerable in our society, but they've become political issues to be used as bargaining chips in Congress.

Earlier I was browsing the MomsRising website and saw a post on Housing Discrimination against moms. This just blew me away, especially since we are house shopping right now: “My husband and I were denied a home loan last year due to my being on maternity leave. It was a tremendously frustrating experience, as I was employed and on a federally protected leave; though was told that in the eyes of the lender, I was unemployed.”  

Although such discrimination is illegal under the Fair Housing Act, landlords and lenders still get away with denying housing to moms and pregnant women.  

To help guide moms, moms-to-be, and caregivers through the laws in place, MomsRising worked with HUD to develop an overview on our rights:

It’s illegal for a bank or mortgage company to deny a mother a home loan, to delay her loan, or to require a co-signer for the following reasons:
  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • You are a single mom
  • You are on maternity leave or are on short-term disability leave
  • You or a family member is a person of color

It’s illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a mother for the following reasons: 
  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • You are a single mom
  • You have a baby, child or teenagers (Or you have “too many children.”)
  • You have a disabled or special needs child
  • You or a family member is a person of color
  • The apartment has lead-based paint (Landlords are responsible for lead abatement before an apartment is put up for rent.)

If you feel you have been discriminated against in anything related to housing, you can contact HUD for assistance: call 800-669-9777 or go to their web site.   

I'm so glad that there are organizations like MomsRising that work to make sure women and children are protected--and they raise awareness about important issues that are so often pushed aside.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Baby-Industrial Complex....or something like that

Walking into a Babies R' Us or Buy Buy Baby can be extremely overwhelming. There are companies out there that have people sitting in a room constantly coming up with crazy shit they think they can get parents and parents-to-be to buy.  Usually they use safety and health as their number one marketing tool, but as we all know, many of the products out there get recalled for one reason or another. It also seems to me that they try to make things have an educational purpose, but is my kid really going to get smarter by using a bouncy seat? I doubt it. Will getting my kid a walker help them walk faster? Not likely.

It's easy to spend thousands of dollars on all of the things baby registries throw at you as "necessary", but let's face it, babies grow fast and in just a few months those Baby Einstein videos will be laying on top of your dvd player gathering dust.  What's a parent to do? 

Hubby and I have already gone into a few of those big baby depot stores a few times.  We walked around, checked out basics like strollers, car seats and cribs and also took note of all the crazy stuff that is completely unnecessary. We've never stayed more than 45 minutes due to the danger of sensory overload and heart attack (when you look at the price tags, it's gut wrenching.)

Today on Off Beat Mama, I read a post about BabyList which sounds like a great alternative to the traditional baby registry.  So now I am considering using them--that way I can register for things from Target, Etsy, Land of Nod, etc. and have it all in one spot. 

Some products that while entertaining, aren't necessary (from my point of view):
1. The baby bouncer. It may make your baby giggle or keep him/her occupied for a while, but at an average of $200 a piece, this just isn't necessary.

2. Cradle swings.  These contraptions are automatic swingers meant to soothe baby and get him/her to sleep.  These average about $150 a piece and aren't necessary. They may make  life easier, but to me its something that I can live without. (also, on things like this we've decided to forgo swings and bouncers and if a few weeks or months down the line we realize we do "need" it, to get it then,)

3. Walkers.  I personally don't think a walker will help a baby walk quicker.  I also have to note that I am rather biased on walkers. When my brother was a baby he would run in his little walker all over the damn house and run into my shins, into furniture, etc.  It was a nightmare.  Also--if the kid can move around quickly in a walker with toys in front of him (they can be attached) and a little tray for snacks, why the hell would they want to walk on their own without these cool things?  At $70 a piece, the walker won't be in my house--and my shins are already thanking me.

4. The digital video baby monitor.  This one is just bananas.  They start at $250 a piece and creep me out a little. I suppose for anyone that has a special needs child this would be good, but to me, just hearing the cry through the monitor would be enough.  I don't need to hear the cry and SEE the baby crying on some screen next to my bed--we all know I am going to go in there anyways and feed/rock/change to make it stop

So that's my view on those four things--obviously we need a crib (though when my mom was born they kept her in a box), car seat, stroller, bottles, and other necessities.  In the meantime I am sure I will find more crap that is utterly frivolous (which I may give in and buy for the cuteness factor.)