Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why Lansinoh is Heaven-Sent

Let your pregnant/nursing friends know: watch out what they use for nipple soreness.

I personally only used Lansinoh (for the first few days I had some soreness and blistering-- I guess that's a testimony to how well it works b/c I was FINE after a very small bit of soreness--one tube wasn't too pricey and used a minuscule percent of it!). It's very very very careful about the sources of its product, ensuring it is utterly pure. That way you really don't have to worry (while caring for a newborn!) about removing it (what does that mean? scrubbing sore nipples with soap??? That would dry them out and, oh yeah, hurt!) before nursing. It's the only product recommended by La Leche League because of this true promise of purity. I have some stuff from Earth Mama Angel Baby that I would use if I wanted something different and was in a situation where I could be sure to clean it all off, but that company is very careful about using only basic natural ingredients. I can't imagine putting long chemical sounding (probably derived from petrolium--what isn't?) stuff on my baby's food source! So I hope people see this warning (hey, if the FDA is concerned, it must be REALLY bad!) and stick with the stuff that won't risk their tiny new babies.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Back to the Book

I started in again on Book Two of my fantasy trilogy. I've been thinking about it for a few weeks, and finally I decided to see if I can work some writing into my days. Ultimately I figured that Sophie is clearly doing very well, and I might as well assume that I AM the luckiest woman alive and put some of that luck towards my writing.

I'm trying to figure out where to jump in. I usually novel by NaNo, but I find that prep definitely helps (as well as leaving some room for spontaneous movements), so I am going to see if I can work out some broader vision while I have time. I know I need to go back and expand Book One, Demeter's Daughters. I have some ideas for Book Three and I might try to work out more details so I can build up to a big finish... or just leave it up in the air. I know a big cave figures in, at this point. Yeah.

Book Two (right now either Fall or The Bright Fall I think, rather than Brightness Falls which sounds like a NaNoism of the worst sort, looking back, altho that's what on the document title right now!) needs Books One and Three to get their act together before it can sort itself out. But it is something of a lovely mess. And that's really the point; I'm enjoying the mess of it all. I just want to wind up the plot a bit and let the characters go crazy, because the mythology of it all is worked out pretty well at this point. Now it needs some life. But that's what Shitty First Drafts are for (thank you, Anne Lamott, for giving me an excuse to swear when I just promised myself that I would stop 100%... writing doesn't count, right? TF is way too verbal to swear around, but she can't actually read yet so I should be safe.)

I also need to figure out if these are young adult books or not. It seems plenty of edgy topics are fine in YA these days so that's all right. I just need to decide that it's going to be YA and stick with it, because I keep jumping around. But my MC is only 17 when the books start, so I think it should be. Can you tell I am giving myself a talking to about this right now? :P

Okay, so I also need to finish some research/inspirational reading, which means some Women Who Run with the Wolves (which was awesome when I read some last fall) and some At the Root of this Longing (which looks interesting) and some Heroine's Journey (which I got at the library sale for cheap and hopefully won't suck; somebody took my Joseph Campbell from my classroom two years ago so I might go rebuy it... how can you not have Hero with a Thousand Faces in your house, huh? MAN that was a pain to get and pricey, last time... Oh well, you can't live without a lil Campbell on your shelf!)

Right now, tho, I think it's naptime. It was a miserable night with TF. I stayed up way too late (Pride and Prejudice was on twice in a row on cable... now, I own this DVD and watched in a few months ago, but still I kept it on for three hours while I brainstormed my cipher of a male MC into a thin but slightly more than two dimensional existence). And then TF clawed and flopped more than usual. If we do end up hitting the (miserable!) Padres game this afternoon, I want to have rested up. I will probably bring a book there anyway!

Friday, May 23, 2008

World Breastfeeding Week prep is kicking off


La Leche League's World Breastfeeding Week preparations are underway. I don't know what I'm doing for it this year but I thought I'd share the info here so we can all start planning!

I especially like this page: Quotes (altho of course it should say quotations and it should phrase the stats as choosing formula increases risks, not BFing reduces risks, but ah well! I am picky about language on all fronts... except in my very casual blog! I am nursing half the time, remember!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm just saying...

Sophie loves to "read" Hop on Pop-- she'll point to the title of the book and go "Puh! Puh!" I guess because the title and the first two pages have a LOT of the P sound. So I started pointing out to her the letter P and making the sound, and then we started doing that just the past week with a bunch of letters. Mostly if you ask her, "What's that say?" and point to a letter she goes, "Puh! Puh!" but she only does this when she points to letters (not, say, little rows of stars decorating a book) so I figured that was good progress. But today she was looking at Snuggle Puppy and I was reading Kingsolver, all cuddled in the chair together, and I realize she's going "O! Ooo!" in the little voice she uses for "reading"... and she's pointing at the big O on the back cover of the book. Normally she'd say "ball" for a circle, so I am pretty amazed. There was no doubt she remembered from the last two days when I had thought to say "O" a couple times.

Um, I'm just saying... my baby can read!

Or at least is starting to get the idea of letters.

Of course, if I point and ask, she still goes, "Puh! Puh!" because that's the habit I guess, but on her own she can point out at least one letter and say the name/sound!

ETA: She did it again looking at the Boyton books at Barnes and Noble... she was saying O for the P, then when I showed her the book with the big O, and asked "What does that say?" she started to say P, but stopped, looked back at it, and said O before getting up to RUN around like crazy for two hours! My friend confirmed she totally read it. Or at least is familiar with those books, I admitted. But STILL!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Buon Compleanno, Nonna!

Here it is, rather late in the day, but that's the interwebs for ya...

It's just a slice of life, so you can see what she's up to now. Watch the end for the best part! We took lots of videos today but the last one was best. Te amo e mi manchi! We (and your real giftie) will be there before you know it...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Encinitas Environment Day


Get ready for our very own local festival!

Encinitas Environment Day

There's even an accompanying film festival:

Cottonwood Creak Environmental Film Fest

Assuming the girl is up for it, we'll be attending! Hope to see the local kindred spirits there as well. I am mostly posting this so I don't forget about it. Or lose the website link and then go on the wrong day. Not that I would EVER do anything like that. I certainly didn't go to the Earth Day fair on the wrong day. (To be fair, it wasn't even on Earth Day, so it's not like I forgot which day THAT was).

Thanks for Nothing, Big Brother

See, this kind of thing is why I don't inherently trust government safety/regulatory/health agencies:

FDA defends BPA

Why is the burden to prove the substance is NOT safe, instead of the other way around? These things are leaching into our kids. Many studies show they, at very low level exposure to tiny people, are disrupting hormones, affecting development, fertility, etc, and then there's just the chemical poison side of things. And yet the FDA comes out with a statement at this time of media coverage of BPA specifically to defend BPA... yeah, poor lil BPA.

What about the BABIES? ("Please, won't someone think of the children!?!") But seriously, shouldn't that be our first priority? Why is it still safe until proven guilty, while babies (small and therefore more easily affected, and still developing) are left to bear the burden?

We stayed away from BPA for a long time already but I know a lot of people just learned about it recently... well, see how the FDA reacted to the news? Yeah, there ya go.

Friday, May 16, 2008


So what was my big Mother's Day present?


Yeah, TF had a fever Sunday (starting all night-- what a gift, eh?) so I got to stay home and tend to her. Monday and Tuesday, too. We figured chicken pox, as her lil friend had it start and she was exposed at the right time, but by Tuesday afternoon with fever and no spots, I decided it was time to take her to the doc, who announced it was an infection and she needed antibiotics (that would turn her poo red, no less!). Before we could fill the script, her fever broke and she was back to normal in terms of playing, sleeping (transferring, too). Wednesday I discovered she was still out of sorts and tired, and the rash started. Finally I figured it out, after a night of superstress and walking her and watching her sleep. My expert Mommy friend confirmed it and then I FINALLY learned two neighbors' kids also had it recently! So there you go. I was turning into a nonstop jabbering wreck worrying about her and trying to get us back into balance, but once we knew what it was, I began to dial it back a bit. Well, after I processed it for a lil bit.

So that's the planet I've been living on the past week. And I have one thing to say: UGH! Very little showering, less hair washing (I am detoxing my hair from overwashing, moving towards no-poo or at least a more balance routine), zero exercise , lots of eating whatever random food I can grab with one hand, with little regard for balance... it's like having a newborn again in a way. But she sleeps less peacefully! Yesterday when TF was crying at the park for Signing Time (what she's been doing when she's just wiped and feeling icky) I decided that was it, we would stay in our stagnant state and eat cereal and watch PBS all day. We are just trying to wait this out, and only AFTER I see she is 100% will we attempt to get back to our routine.

Altho the lack of routine or exercise or industrious activity is dragging me down. But everytime I break the rule I get smacked back down (three scrubbed red potatoes out of the half dozen I needed were sacrificed last night in an aborted attempt to use up the extra slowcooker chicken broth in a new Italian soup). Gotta be patient.

If only typing didn't wake the restless babe! I can stop and come back to the blog, but I wish wish wish I could work on my novel more consistently. That would be an activity I could do while she naps/nurses. I might try a system where I bounce between writing and researching, see if I can get a rhythm with her sleep cycles going....

It's almost the weekend! Mama bear wants some rest.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Scary, scary, scary!

Um... one more reason to eat whole foods:

Major food companies are adding chemicals to their processed foods that actually turn your taste buds off, and they don't have to tell you on the label, just list "artificial flavors."

I've gotten to the point where even the vague "natural flavors" scares me, because it's more likely than not to be heavily processed corn or soy, produced by synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and extracted by industrial procedures. And I don't need much corn in my diet, and I think soy is starting to creep in too much, too (it IS an endocrine disrupter, afterall-- too much of certain soy can be bad, but someone forgot to tell the processed food companies... or rather, they DID try to tell them but they aren't listening).

Anyway, just one more kick in the pants to reach our goal of eating only "upfront" foods-- mostly whole foods and only processed foods that are upfront about what's in the packaging. Because like Kingsolver says, hard cheeses are hard :) And like I say, ice cream is necessary! And usually when you don't have time to make it yourself! And parents of toddlers sometimes just need convenience foods, admittedly. But it's becoming more and more evident that the slightly higher prices over at the health food store (where I still read labels carefully and leave plenty of the shelves with a laugh) are worth it, more than the hidden price of processed foods.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Belated Birthday Babblings

Well, I had SO much fun celebrating Sophie's birthday that I had no time to post on the actual day... then I was gearing up for having my family in town and a party the weekend following, and so I still was too busy... and then it had been so long I insisted I not post a thing til I had time to get a good birthday post in for my girl!

We had a beautiful day; Dashing Daddy stayed home from work. We all got up together (not even too early) and went downstairs to discover Sophie's new bike! And we went out to breakfast, then all went to playgroup at the park. Sophie had lots of fun running around with Daddy, playing in the sand, and splashing in the fountain. After that it was time for a long nap, and later that day we went out to the toy store to get some birthday presents from far flung family who had sent checks, and new shoes. Then we went to another toy store to wait until it was time to meet up for dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, and then back home for some cupcakes and singing Happy Birthday.

It was an amazingly sweet day.

Sophie really enjoyed the weekend, too, because there were lots of people over at the house the whole time, and Nonna took her for walks a million times a day and let her play in the "soil" and taught her about birds. Everyone decorated party cups and hung crepe paper streamers and hauled out the alcohol, and viola, a birthday bash! Sophie loved spinning around hugging all her presents! My family had a yummy brunch on the gorgeous beach the next day, too. The only downside to the whole thing was when Sophie kept asking for Nonna for the next several days!

Well, that's a very abbreviated account of all the fun. Here's a much longer story: Sophie's birth story. I have been wanting to share this and I thought her birthday would be a good time. This is just the unedited ramblings of a sleep deprived new mom, so bare with me. I also used word's find-and-replace to change out people's names so that's why it says "OurDoula" for instance, lol.

So without further ado... The fully natural birth of Sophia Ann:

Daddy holding minutes-old Sophie

So I FINALLY just finished typing out Sophia's birth story. I sort of just typed out all I could remember (writing at intervals a week and more after her birth...) and it's sort of for my memory years from now as well as sharing online. So here it is!

Sophia Ann’s Birth Story

Around 3am (was it 2:30? Did I nod back off for a while? Let’s say around 3am), Monday morning I got up. Not unusual at this point in the pregnancy. But after using the rest room, I found myself unable to get comfortable and go back to sleep. I started chastising myself for keeping myself awake with the excitement that it could be birthing beginning, thinking it’d be nothing and I’d just end up having to nap all morning while I had errands to get done. I felt sort of crampy like a period or like an upset stomach, but multiple trips to the bathroom didn’t yield any improvement. I tried going online but could not get comfy in bed. I tried sitting on my birth ball, leaning onto the bed. I probably dozed a short time before 6am when DH’s alarm was set to go off. By this time I had started checking my toilet paper and there were streaks of pink showing. That was what assured me this was not just an upset stomach. I still felt unsure about how “real” this was going to be, as I had never felt any Braxton Hicks or anything. But when DH woke up at 6, I was beside him in bed, and pulled him over to me. He was a bit surprised at my pushiness but nuzzled up behind me, and I told him I didn’t think he could go to work that day. He had pleaded the previous Friday for the birth to come so he wouldn’t have to return the next week, and he got his wish just in time! I wondered if he should go off anyway, but we decided even if the birthing petered out for the time being, he wasn’t going anywhere!

We both took showers and shaved, preparing for perhaps a long day and lots of pictures soon! Around 8am we called our doula, (OurDoula), to let her know that things were getting started. She suggested we take a walk, so we did, just around our block. It was a beautiful day; it had rained in the night, and now the sun was out. Everything was glistening and fresh. Back at home, I did some Hypnobabies CDs and we even watched a DVR’d episode of House. DH got me the muffins out of the freezer and helped me drink lots of water. I was going to the bathroom to pee pretty nonstop, and I found that sitting on the toilet was my favorite place, whereas I was surprisingly uncomfortable sitting on the birth ball. I liked leaning/hanging on DH, too, so we sort of hugged/danced frequently. We went for another walk around 10. Things continued like this until around noon (DH was keeping track of my waves and even checked my cervix a few times, and he reported that things were getting more regular and frequent and moving along by around noon). Indeed, it was around this time that things got more intense. DH called OurDoula again at some point, I suppose, to let her know we were really doing this, and she suggested a bath to help me relax. DH drew my bath and it was very nice (funny, as that is very similar to how this whole pregnancy started…). At a certain point, DH suggested I really try to do my light switch (from HypnoBabies) so I sat in the green comfy chair and sort of managed to sleep and use my light switch to relax a while. Things were getting more and more intense, so I had DH call OurDoula and soon she was coming over. When she got to the house, I was kneeling in the nursery, leaning over the birth ball. She did some massaging and checked me out, and she said she thought I was at transition because the waves seemed to be getting erratic. I decided I wanted to go to the hospital at this time. DH got everything ready and OurDoula and I hung out upstairs, doing the same. He must have called Dr. B’s office to let them know the baby was coming at some point, too. Then DH drove me to the hospital, as I did my CD. It was nice to see the ocean as we came over the hill on Rancho Santa Fe, as waves were a major image for me in birthing, for birthing waves (contractions), waves of relaxation, visualizing waves on the beach relaxing me, the ocean and a forest on the shore as my safe special birthing place….

When we got there, it was so cute how he pushed the button and told them we were there to have a baby. We got in, had to do some paperwork at the counter (yikes! Glad we preregistered to avoid even more!) and then went to my room. I went to the bathroom and got into just my nighshirt and I could hear DH and OurDoula moving about the room setting it up, drawing the curtains, etc. DH went to park the car. I moved around the room, trying to decide where I was going to get comfy. I got on the bed and hung over the birth ball, and they ran a strip monitoring the baby’s heartbeat for about 20-30 minutes. It was only towards the end of this that I wanted to move, as I was tired. OurDoula was massaging me. So they said I was done and I lay down on the bed, on my side. I figured I’d rest a moment, but OurDoula would make me move around before too long. But in fact, I ended up staying right there for about two hours, and I basically slept my way to full dilation and effacement! The birthing waves were very intense at this point, and I had been vocalizing pretty loudly since before leaving home. So while I lay there, I would be fine through two or three waves, just going with them, and then there would be a big one and I’d vocalize, and even hang on to the bed handle, and OurDoula would massage my feet, which helped a lot. She also did this thing where she’s press in on my hips, which helped a lot at first, and later I’m sure it was still taking the edge off. But the feet being touched was a huge help for focusing down and out past my belly. I remember getting very cold and not being able to say I needed a blanket, worried I was tensing up from the cold. I finally got out “cold” and they got me one. DH was sitting at the side of the bed facing me. He and OurDoula told me later, since I didn’t know really what was going on, that I had pretty much been asleep for those two hours. Thank you, Hypnobabies! Also, OurDoula noted later that the nurses were using the handheld Doppler, not insisting that I move so they could use the belly belt to check on the baby, something she says she’s never seen them do before.

So OurDoula suggested at some point that I could push if I felt like it, and I tried it out, even though I didn’t feel an urge and wasn’t sure what I was doing. But I discovered that it could help take the edge off of the birthing waves, so I kept at it when I felt like it, and gradually I think I did feel an urge. They checked me to be sure it was okay to push, and I forget if Dr. B came in at some point… anyway, at some point he came in and checked me (again, not asking me to move but going with the position I was in, which OurDoula was impressed with) and told me the baby was right there and I could go ahead and push. I remember asking how long this part normally takes, just to get my head in the game for what was next (and OurDoula said while it varied, normally 1-3 hours). So I started pushing with each wave, and gradually the waves changes so that it was more an urge to push, not discomfort in the belly anymore. So I focused more and more on pushing. And the nurses gathered around—there was a shift change so I got two new ones but Julia stayed as well, so nice of her! (And the new nurse, Jaley --don’t know how to spell, it-- was SO nice and the next night mentioned how much she loved how we were trying different things….) And everyone was saying how strong I was and relaxed, and OurDoula was saying how I was trusting my body to do what it knew to do, and it got very dark and there was a spotlight just waiting for the baby’s entrance into the world, and it was very tribal and cavelike and magical, and I would open my eyes and see DH smiling at me, so happy. And also if I looked at Dr. B’s face I would be reassured that he was tuned in and all was well. Soon everyone was saying how much hair the baby had. So that gave me a sense of where we were—I had no idea the whole time if the baby was about to slide out or if I had a long way to go. It felt funny when Dr. B massaged me, I think, but hooray for no tearing! And everyone said I’d feel a lot of pressure and stretching, but really I just remember this tremendous overwhelming sense of the urge to push, and it was more like having to take a flying leap into a chasm, not pain or worry about stretching like I had imagined. I did feel at times I would turn inside out, though. And everyone encouraged me to breath, deep long breaths, since I guess I was not doing that too well, and to push longer and harder, but it was just encouragement, no counting. And the nurses and OurDoula held my left leg up to one side, and I even rested my foot on Dr. B’s shoulder, and it went on and on and at one point they told me to feel the baby’s head, and I have a vague impression of seeing curly wet hair, and later finally Dr. B told me not to push but just breath, and then the head came out, and the whole body, and they made me help pull her up on to me, and told me to do skin to skin, so I threw up my nightie, so now all my pictures have my boobs showing in them, and the baby was on my chest, and it was amazing, and then someone asked what it was, but I couldn’t tell as it was face down, and we wanted someone to really look and tell us so we didn’t get it wrong, and they checked and it was a girl! I said, “Sophie!” or Sophia or the like. And DH and I just looked at the sweet baby girl we had made.

I hung on to her, and I birthed the placenta in one push. Dr. B had me feel the cord to see it had stopped pulsing, and DH ended up cutting it. And before long I sat up with some help (maneuvering with Sophie on me) and we had our first nursing, with help from OurDoula especially. Dr. Biter had noted that we should have a Shakespeare quotation for the birth announcement, since it was Shakespeare’s birthday (and he knew that was totally awesome to us), but all I had was an e e cumming quotation from a poem, “I love you much most beautiful darling” that goes “sunlight and singing welcome your coming” but then I did say how about “like spring to the earth you are welcome hither” and we all just enjoyed how Sophie had come on the perfect day. Julia the nurse and Dr. B and then OurDoula took their leave. DH stayed close with Sophie as she was bathed and checked over. The nurses exclaimed that she basically stood up on her legs as they held her up, I remember. And then I heard that DH’s family was outside and so we should see them before moving rooms. It turned out they had been there for hours. So they came in and had two gift bags with balloons, one for a girl and one for a boy, and they asked which we wanted! It turned out Dr. B had seen them in the hall but he was careful to wait to tell them what it was, although he told them all was well with us. So we told them it was a girl and they looked at her, and DH called my mom to tell her the news, and I talked with her, and it’s true what I told her, that I couldn’t have done it without her example she had set for me; I trusted that it could and should be done this way because she had done so before me. Then I rested, and DH’s family held Sophie. Then they left to get us some food and get DH’s things that he had forgotten at home, and I got up and got cleaned up a bit and then sat in a wheel chair while the nurses finished some more things with Sophie, while DH stuck close to her still, and then we all went down the hall to our room, which thankfully was ours alone (no roommate!). So I settled into my bed, and DH brought everything of ours into our room, and we just enjoyed Sophie in her little bed.

The happy family-- In our room after the birth

And there begins a much longer story of our beginning times with Sophie… suffice it to say here that some of the details above may be a bit mixed up after such amazing experiences, and that we just love our little girl so much our hearts are bursting. Right afterwards, I was relieved that birthing was over, and elated at the accomplishment at the same time. Seriously, it was an empowering, awesome experience I am so grateful for, and looking back, I cherish it (it’s not nearly as scary as people say it will be or show it on TV! It is SO very much something different…qualitatively different). And it’s amazing to be on the other side of that experience, to own it, because a woman can’t really get it until she had lived it. Ultimately, I’m both grateful and feeling sort of “of course” that the whole thing went as smoothly as it did; I stopped to be grateful afterwards, but in the moment, it seemed natural that I was deemed ready to push when I felt ready, and that things progressed well, and that Sophie emerged just fine. It was a both a sublime (as in overwhelming, tremendous, awesome) and a wholesome experience, like I was just walking a path that was strangely familiar, that all the women before me have walked.