Sunday, January 29, 2012

How I fed a family of 6.75 two dinners for $15

Money is scarce around these parts.  We scrimp to get by.  There are a lot of luxuries that we forgo.  We do without cable, internet, and frequent meals out.

The hardest part of our budget to manage is food.  According to the FDA’s Thrifty food plan, it should cost $200 a week to feed a family of our magnitude. 

I currently spend $125 or less each week.  Anymore and we’d be short on the utilities or car insurance or gas. 

It helps that the big kids go to school 5 days a week. That’s 15 breakfasts and lunches I don’t have to fix.  We (well, Side Salad and I do) qualify for WIC so that takes care of cereal and milk. We also get some fruits and veggies, peanut butter, beans, eggs, cheese, a little juice and bread/brown rice/tortillas.  It really does help with dairy being so pricey these days.

So as we were eating dinner tonight, I realized that I had really made out like a bandit on tonight and last night’s dinners.  If I had known how perfectly this would come out, I would have taken pics. I’ll just try to remember.
Last Night:
I made beef stew from a roast that I’d gotten on sale for $5.32. I just threw it in the crockpot with a family size can of cream of mushroom (less than $2 for the store brand on sale).  I made two packs of Idahoan mashed potatoes, the roast garlic kind ($2) and one of those giant cans of green beans (I think it was $2-3).  I served it with toast. The kids loved it and so did Lettuce.
There was a little meat and gravy left. I added 6 cups of water and a veggie bouillon cube and heated it up. Then I put in about a cup and a half of barley. I wish we’d had some carrots but the kids ate ‘em all and the hubs had the car. I made more toast and we had beef and barley soup with whole wheat toast on the side.  I wish I’d had salad fixings; that would have made it a perfect meal! Instead, we had more green beans.

Tonight, I’ll be sitting down to meal plan for this week. Perhaps I’ll start sharing my meal plans.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Help. The baby is eating my brain…(and a contest!)

Any woman who has been infected with pregnancy can tell you that it totally rots your brain. This is partially due to baby’s zombie-like nature.  It is nearly scientifically impossible to discern babies from zombies as illustrated by this handy chart from How To Be a Dad (this is a super funny blog; make sure you check out the sleep positions).

It is a well known fact that during gestation, babies use their little tentacles (they shrivel and shrink before birth and become “fingers”) to suck on their mommies brains. Trust me, I know. I have done this pregnancy thing a few times.  Babies have also been know to roam around their mommies' bodies. My midwives have a difficult time finding Popcorn for this very reason. Usually, the bambino is hiding near my spleen or diddling with my gall bladder, naughty little rascal. I digress.

Lately, Baby Popcorn has been using its tentacles to control my thoughts. All I think about is baby stuff.  Which carseat to buy, should I get a ring sling or a mei tai, whose got cheap OBV prefolds, etc.  Screw cooking dinner; I'm on Hyena Cart all the time.  

My latest conundrum is what to name baby.  Lettuce and I have been tossing a few names back and forth but more input is always good.  This is where you come in, dear reader.  Suggest a few baby names for me, if you don’t mind.
But wait, the rules!  There is a set of guidelines I follow when naming my kids. Wanna hear ‘em? Hear they go.
All Names:
  • First name should be 5 letters.
  • The orgin of the name should be Hebrew.
  • The letter ‘e’ looks weird to me so I try to avoid it. In fact, Astronaut has one ‘e’ in his middle name, Princess has two in her middle name, Squirrel has zero, and Side Salad has one in his middle name.  Yes, it is strange.  No, I don't know why.  I also don’t eat anything blue so live with it.

Boy Names:
  • I prefer Biblical names; Lettuce doesn’t. This is my blog.
  • No ambiguous names! I like very boyish names.
  • I do like common names but the hubs does not. There is a limit to the commonness (see next bullet point).
  • I hate the name Jaden/Jayden/Jaiden/Jaydan/Jadan/Jadon/Jadin/Jaidan/Jaidin/Jaidon/Jayden/Jaydin/Jaydon et cetera, ad nauseum.  It’s just too common.  No alteration to the spelling changes the fact that it’s the same name. The same goes for subbing an ‘l’ for the ‘d’. Just too common. Plus, it reminds me of Jade, which is a girl name.

Girl Names:
  • I like names that have meanings that have to do with water.  (Princess’s name means “dew from heaven” and Squirrel’s name means “autumn rain.”)
  • No boys names used for girl names. I like feminine names.
  • I don’t like very common names.
  • I hate the name Neveah. It’s really silly.  I’ll illustrate with an analogy: Neveah is to heaven as dog is to God.

Parts of this may seem harsh, but apparently, everybody hates Jayden and Neveah. Besides, this is my wee bairn.

Let me add that I have broken a few rules in the past.  The Princess’s middle name is not Hebrew. It is the same as my mother and my middle name. Or should that be "my mother’s and my’s middle name"? Maybe I should just say "the same middle name as my mother and I do."  Which ever is right, it’s not Hebrew.  Also, Side Salad has Lettuce’s name as his middle name and his first name is Welsh. And it’s more than 5 letters.  Side Salad was clearly a rebel from the start.  Little vigilante.  So if there is a name you truly love and think would be perfect, try me.

Alrighty, so now you know the rules. Make with the baby names.  And include the meanings, if you know them.

While you're at it, enter your guess on There's a prize for the winner!

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hush-A-Bye, Baby...

I was on The Stir the other day and read an article called the “The 7 People Who Hate Your Kid” by Sascha Brown-Worscham. Let me state for the record that anytime I read a blog on here, I can tell when she wrote it. I can tell because we never, ever agree. Ever. It’s amazing to see the words of someone whose ideals run exactly counter to your own.  But that is a different blog for a different day.
Anyways, she wrote about the seven people who “hate” your kid. Among them are:
  • The Childless Facebook Friend
  • The Stroller Eye Roller
  • Old Ladies in Public

And my favorite: The “Adults Only” Bridezilla.

I find that last one particularly hilarious because I guess that’s me. I was 28 when Lettuce and I tied the knot, and the kids were 9, 7, 4 and 2. Had I not birthed them, they would not have been invited.

Honestly, they still barely made the guest list.  My MIL was instructed to take my kids out immediately if they became disruptive.  

We paid for our own wedding, no money from the families and it cost us a pretty penny (I still wish we’d eloped!).  But honestly, I don’t care how much it cost. Weddings are not kid friendly events. They are serious, one-time formal events. That being said, there were exactly 7 kids at our wedding, my four and my niece (she was 11) and nephews (ages 9 and 8). That’s it. And they all had a job to justify their attendance. The girls were my flower girls, the boys ring bearers, and my niece and nephews handed out programs. I let people know in advance and I was not offended if people couldn’t make it. 

 The Princess and the Squirrel
And the Astronaut.
Notice how Side Salad isn't in the pics? Yeah, he went to sleep. Because he was two.

>There were more kids at the reception, which was far less formal  and I was fine with that, though it meant I had to feed the little urchins.< 

I’m getting away from my point a bit. There are places kids belong, and places kids don’t belong. I avoid taking my kids, especially the littles, to doctor appointments and parent-teacher conferences unless they are the subject of the appointment. I don’t take my kids to funerals at all. I wouldn’t unless it was immediate family. I don’t mind taking them shopping, but if I am seriously shopping to restock the house, I don’t take them. I also don’t take them to classes, conferences, or meetings. I don’t take them to speeches.  If I do take them, I try to bring things to keep them amused and sit near an exit, JIC. I also feed them and take them to the bathroom beforehand. I do these things so that I can enjoy/participate and so that my children do not disturb others.  

The Precipitating Event (PE):  Earlier this week, I attended a workshop for pregnant women. I go monthly and, while I don’t take my children, I understand why others might bring theirs.  At this particular workshop, the topic was domestic violence. The speaker was a survivor of DV who is also the sister of a local woman killed by her boyfriend (he also shot their child prior to killing himself) 6 months ago.  All the while, there was a child shrieking at the top of its lungs. The woman was moved to tears, of course, but I could barely hear her because of the shrieking minion. And I was about 5 or 6 feet away from her.  I thought it was very disrespectful to the speaker and the memory of her sister and her 2 year old niece that she is now raising.

{So of course I make a little Facebook status about it and one of my friends starts saying how she didn’t care if her baby cried uncontrollably-she didn’t feel obligated to remove him.  Mind you, this is the same friend that said she is offended when people NIP.  Iiiiiiirrrrrooonnnnnnyyyyyyyy!  You can look away and not see a mother breastfeed.  You can’t ignore someone’s crying child. But that’s not the point.}

My stance on children is this: your child is your responsibility. Take care of them.  Yes, kids cry. It is their form of communication. But parental responsibility is more than just making sure you meet your child(ren)’s needs and comforting them. You also prepare them to function in society, with other people.  And while they are the center of your world, that is only true for you and no one else.  Part of good citizenship is respect for others. Allowing your kiddo(s) to inconvenience others is not a part of that. It is not what is best for your kid.   If your baby is crying or your kid is fussing, just take them out. 

What’s your stance on kid-free weddings?  What about crying babies?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Wearing: The Next Frontier (giveaway alert!)

I’ve flirted with baby wearing over the past 11 ½ years of mommying. I had a Snuggli with the Astronaut, but he was a bit of a chunky dunk and grew quickly. It was heck on my back and I gave it up. I used a Snuggli with the Squirrel, too. It lasted a little longer because she was a lot smaller than he was. I wasn’t truly crunchy IMO until Side Salad arrived. I wore him in a Hot Slings pocket sling (the old fashioned sized one, not the new fancy adjustable). It was great. I pulled it out today and he wanted to get it. (of course I let him!)

Now that Popcorn is due in 10 weeks, I am trying to start to consider thinking about getting things together. We’ve had several kids so we have a lot of stuff. The only things we need are an infant car seat, a few newborn dipes (bamboo prefolds preferably), a couple of new snappis, and carriers.
Baby wearing is great because it keeps your LO close and comforted while also allowing you to have your hands free. This is a plus when you already have your hands full with 4 other kids. They are convenient because you can just tuck them in your purse or diaper bag. It’s also far less bulky than toting an infant seat around. Plus many carriers are just plain pretty.   For a breastfeeding mama like me, they also let you nurse your bambino.  They give you some coverage to abate those who are aroused by babies eating, too.

I know that I definitely want to gett two carriers for this LO, maybe three. I know I want a stretch wrap and a ring sling and it might be nice to have a SSC/buckle, too.   I’ve been researching carriers for the past couple of weeks. I think that Comfy Joey has the prettiest ring slings I’ve ever seen and I’m am hearting one in the Seville linen. It’s an olive green, and green is my fave color. The Cleopatra silk and Terra Cotta linen are gorgeous, too.  I think a Moby wrap in a nice olive or a brown would be pretty fancy, too, but my heart belongs to ring slings. They just fit my style and my lifestyle. I still have my camo pocket sling.  I haven’t picked the SSC I want but I’m going to a playdate with a local babywearing groups so I’ll try a few there and see what flies.

Anywho, I said there’d be a giveaway alert. Renewable Mommy blog is giving away a Comfy Joey sling (or a $75 credit for a custom sling).  Mosey on over there and see if you win.

And if you do, get the Seville and send it to me!

Do you baby wear?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Easy Part

This evening I stumbled upon the blog made by James Camden Sikes’ parents. In case you didn’t know (‘cause I didn’t), this little boy passed away at 8 months old from a type of brain cancer called a rhabdoid tumor. I don’t know much about it but I know that his parents are devastated.  They were just regular people, a little younger than me, who had their first child and loved him so much. I know he was a regular baby, albeit extraordinarily adorable, who had cancer. He was a busy baby, a wiggly little guy with crazy hair.

And he lived for a little over 37 weeks.  He lived longer in his mama’s womb than he did in this world. 

And then I thought about a friend of mine, the girlfriend of my ex-boyfriend from high school.  I know it sounds weird but we broke up nearly 10 years ago. He was my first love and our families are close so it’s fine.  Anywho, last year, they had a baby, a beautiful little girl who was perfect in every way. Tragically, she developed without kidneys.  They chose to carry her to term [I think I would have done the same].

She lived about an hour and passed while lying in her mama’s arms. One hour, compared to 9 months. 
**SN: they are pregnant again and she is due 3 weeks before I am**

I was thinking about numbers and statistics that state that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, how I have friends who have had multiple miscarriages or struggled with getting pregnant.
On my end, I have been exceptionally blessed. I have had 4 full term babies with no major health issues (outside of the Squirrel’s eczema and allergies).  I have another healthy, kicky kids in my belly now. I’ve never miscarried. I have never experienced fertility issues [probably because I’ve never gotten pregnant on purpose. I’ve never had a still born or a baby who died or a child with a birth defect.

But over my 11 years of parenting-no, make that 39 years because 11+9+6+3-my babies have gotten sick, gotten hurt, had tonsils removed, had ear tubes put in, one had an arm in a cast for an injured growth plate, another spent 3 days in the hospital for reactive airway disorder. Things I couldn’t prevent from happening. Things I couldn’t protect them from.  Then you consider the non-physical stuff like being picked on or left out by other kids, having their feelings hurt-more things I can’ t protect them from.

The whole time they are in my womb, they are warm and comfortable and always full. And then they are born. And they get hungry and they get cold and they have wet diapers.  Stuff I can fix but that makes them cry.
I was thinking about how being pregnant is the easy part.
Pregnancy is hard on mommies, no doubt. It’s hard on me but it’s so easy for my babies. I think that’s why I love being pregnant so much.  When I am pregnant, I am the best mother possible for my children. I provide everything.  When I give birth, I am so happy to see my baby but I am so sad for them because I know that it can never be as perfect as it was before they were born. I remember when the Astronaut was born, hearing him cry and thinking how many tears he’d shed in his lifetime. 

So now I’m online with my spotty internet reading about babies who are very sick or who died. Parents who didn’t get to struggle with separation anxiety or potty training or girl cliques or bullying or insolent tweens.  My heart hurts for them and for my four perfect babies who have to suffer through this tough world.

I think I’m having a pregnancy moment because I am totally crying while I’m writing this.  *sigh* Hormones.

I hope the hubby brings me some cheese fries.

Wednesday’s Child [Side Salad’s birth story]

At the ripe old age of 25, I was pregnant again.  Lettuce & I and the kids had just moved to our new place (we’ve been here nearly 5 years now).  I discovered I was pregnant 3 days after being laid off from my corporate job. This was in the early days of the recession, before we knew how bad it would get.  Though he was unplanned (like all the rest) it wasn’t such a dire financial situation. Lettuce was making a lot more money. I had a lot of money saved because I knew I was going to be laid off about 4 or 5 months before it happened. We’d cancelled our cable and become far more frugal. We saved from our pay checks and tax returns, I cashed in my 401(k), I was basically guaranteed unemployment and I was back in school pursuing my BA in education and maxing out my loans. We actually doing financially better and I was able to spend more time with the kids.  I volunteered in the classrooms and attended school full time. We immediately budgeted for baby. We bought a pack of diapers every month so we’d be prepared. We had also decided that I would EBF as long as possible.  We were ready!
I only gained 18 pounds during this pregnancy. Since this baby was Squirrel’s full sibling and she was 6 lb 13 oz (Lettuce was 6 lbs 13 or 14 oz and I was 7 lbs 1 oz), we estimated that our little boy would be around 7 ½ pounds or so. Late in my pregnancy, I noticed that he seemed more squirmy than kicky so I suspected he might actually be closer to 8 pounds.
My friends and I had a calling circle to ensure that everyone’s kids made it to the bus on time. At 6 am, we all called each other. I woke up at 5:55 am on a Wednesday morning in the middle of a contraction. I wasn’t worried; I’d been contracting for several days.  My friend Tonya called me but I didn’t answer immediately. After the contraction passed, I called her back and she joked that I might have my little one that day. I laughed with her. I got Astronaut and Princess (they were in preschool and 1st grade by then) ready for school and Lettuce took them to the bus stop. I had been having contractions all morning, and they’d been fairly regular so I decided to dress Squirrel just in case. I took a shower. They got stronger, so strong in fact, that I just had to stand still for a while.  I called my mother who said it was time to go to the hospital and that she’d meet us there.  After searching futilely for my purse for a while, we left. Lettuce suggested that we stop for gas but I was really feeling the contractions by the so we went straight to the hospital. On the way, I received another call from another friend who wanted to make sure that the kids made it to the bus. I couldn’t speak during the contractions so it went to voicemail.
I was completely silent by the time we got to the hospital 7 minutes later at 7:22 am.  An employee brought a wheelchair out for me. Since my water hadn’t broken (notice how my water has never broken outside of the hospital?) and I was quiet, they assumed that I wasn’t in active labor. The porter was instructed to take me to maternal assessment. Lettuce parked. My mom arrived and went to L&D to wait for me. She ran into my doc and told him I was on my way in. As it turned out, he’d been on call all night. The porter wheeled me to the elevator and my water broke before we got in. He told me he was taking me straight to L&D-smart guy!  However, once we got there, we were turned around because he had been instructed to take me to labor and deliver. He tried to explain that my water had broken but the nurses just turned him around. My OB apologized for not being able to deliver me but assured me that the on call OB was a great and would be in soon.  After we left, they noticed the huge wet spot on the floor.  By that time, we were back on the elevator.
When we got to maternal assessment, they noticed immediately there was fluid pouring off the seat of the chair. They told the porter to take me back to L&D while they called to advise them that I was on the way.  We got off the elevator again and was guided to a room. I was hustled into a bed and checked.  I was a 9-with that persistent lip-and baby’s head was visible. The nurses paged my OB-he was in the garage –and he came back. The next doc wasn’t there yet. They tried to get a monitor on the baby but couldn’t as he was on the move. My doc came in, booted my mom and Squirrel from the room. He told Lettuce and me that our baby  could die if he wasn’t born immediately and tried to use the vacuum extractor. My little guy was on the move so he couldn’t get any suction.
As he crowned I told myself that once the head was out, I’d be done. I pushed his little noggin on out.  They told me to push again, that I had to push his shoulders.  I pushed again and delivered his shoulder.  “That’s it,” I thought.  “Now, he’ll slide on out.  They told me to push again to get his body out. I was a bit confused but pushed again to get his lower body out. Finally, my little guy was born. My hubby stood to the side crying. He was afraid we were going to lose our son. I hadn’t taken the doctor so literally. I was confident in his health and my ability to birth him. He as born with his eyes wide open and APGARs of 8/10.
Side Salad was extremely alert, looking around. His time of birth was 7:53 am. I had not been up for two hours. When I called my friend whose call I missed, she thought I was joking.  I called my daughter’s school to tell her teachers. I did most of my volunteering with them. They said that I didn’t sound like a woman who’d just given birth!  As I nursed my baby for the first time, I signed the consent for an emergency c-section and other paperwork they give you in the hospital. I had him early enough to eat breakfast while he nursed for the first time, so I didn’t even miss a meal!
The biggest surprise was his weight. He was over 9 pounds. I actually thought the nurses were kidding but it was true. My little chunky had arrived.
GA: 39 weeks 4 days
Weight: 9 lbs 1 oz
Length: 21 ¼  in
Length of labor: Approximately 2 hours
Interventions: none

A Romp in the Forest [the Squirrel’s labor story]

My 3rd pregnancy was a bit of a shock. I was 23 years old, and Lettuce and I had been together for a short time and had recently moved in together.  I discovered I was pregnant fairly quickly. 
Constipation is a big problem for me in my pregnancies and I tend to develop heinous hemorrhoids.  They were especially horrible during this pregnancy and I ended up having minor surgery to remove them completely.  I actually lost my job but was able to find another, better one that offered great benefits. I went from fast food to the corporate world.
As I had just gotten this job that raised our standard of living (I was making nearly twice as much money), I was concerned about how my pregnancy and labor would affect it.  I decided to be induced on my due date.  I had packed on over 40 pounds during this pregnancy. My OB estimated my little one would be around 8 pounds or so. I didn’t agree.  She seemed to move too much.  The other kids were merely squirming by the end of my pregnancies. She was still kicking. 
I went to the hospital about 6 or 7 am on a Monday morning. They started my induction around 10-ish with Pitocin. I figured this one would progress quickly as the last two had gone fairly fast.  I was wrong. I labored all day, though it wasn’t uncomfortable. I was given an epidural early on, around 4 or 5 cm.  My water broke around 6 cm. Meanwhile, we all watched Dave Chappelle with my nurse on the room’s DVD player. I brought The Simpsons Movie with me, too, but my doc decided it was push time.  It was about 6 pm. Around 20 minutes later, I had a 6 lb 13 oz little girl.  She was half an inch longer than her big sister, measuring 18 ½ inches long but she was absolutely a tiny little fairy. My husband’s great aunt referred to her as a 5 lb bag of sugar. She was a fussy little thing and we had a bit of difficulty nursing, mostly due to her smaller mouth but we made it.
GA: 40 weeks 
Weight: 6 lbs 13 oz
Length: 18 ½ in
Length of labor: Approximately 8-9 hours
Interventions: induction/epidural

Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace [the Princess’ birth story]

I breastfed the Astronaut until he was 13 months old. Within four months of him weaning, I was pregnant again.  I was 20 years old and in the second semester of my first year of college.  I went to school out of state so I decided to return home at the end of the semester and transfer to a local school.
This pregnancy was very different from the Astronaut. For one, there was no mistaking that I was pregnancy.  I was extremely sick and lost around 20 pounds during the first 6 months.  Emotionally, I was a wreck.
>I don’t want to go into graphic detail, but I want you to know that depression during a pregnancy is a very serious thing.  I try to offer words of encouragement to every pregnant mother I know because it is such a difficult time, especially if you are young.   Regardless of your personal opinion of a person’s situation, it is never appropriate to berate a pregnant woman for her situation.  We live in a time where stories of matricide are becoming terrifyingly common.  Mental state plays a huge role in this.  Internalize your negativity because it won’t do anyone any good, especially the innocent baby.  If you suspect a pregnant woman of depression, please support her and try to get her some help.<
By the end, I managed to gain 17 pounds.  At 38 weeks, I stopped working.  I spent the next two weeks folding baby clothes and resting. My little girl was due 3 days before my 21st birthday.  Her due date passed. My birthday passed. I went to my 41 ½ week appointment.  When my OB told me she’d see me next week, my jaw hit the floor. She was just kidding. She told me to eat and head to L&D for an induction.  I knew from experience that I wouldn’t eat again until my baby was born so I headed straight to Sonic for a last meal. Sonic was on the same street as the hospital so it was a 5 minute trip. I ate and immediately vomited in the hospital parking lot. In hindsight, I was probably in early labor. I had been contracting lightly for a few days and was at about 3 cm.
My induction began around 1 pm and my “discomfort” level escalated fairly quickly. At 4 cm, I asked for an epidural but was told I need to be at least 5 cm.  The anesthesiologist had left his cart in the room. The nurse checked me around 5 pm and I was at 5 cm and my water broke in a big warm rush. She went to get the anesthesiologist  but he was in another room. About 6:00 pm, I became extremely agitated. I felt the urge to get up out of the bed. I had IVs and monitors on me but I still tried to get myself upright. The nurse who was in my room told me that I couldn’t get up and a little yelling match ensued. My mother stood in the corner crying. However, she had her mouth covered and her shoulders shaking so I thought she was laughing. I told her if she thought it was funny she could get out. I’ll admit; I was a bit hysterical. The nurse took that opportunity to push me down and slap an oxygen mask on me. She checked me and I was at 6 cm. She said it was too late for the epi which just made me extremely angry.  20 minutes later, I was as close to 10 as I could get-a bit past 9 with that same little bit of cervical lip. Someone called the doc and she dashed in just in time to catch the little girl that was exiting my birth canal. The princess was 7 lbs 9 oz and 18 inches long.   She was perfect and gorgeous.  There was no fainting but I was famished. We both had a meal; I had a tuna sub and she had colostrum.
GA: 41 weeks 3 days
Weight: 7 lbs 9 oz
Length: 18 in
Length of labor: Approximately 6 hours
Interventions: induction

“Houston, we have lift off” [the Astronaut’s birth story]

A friend’s recent blog entry inspired me to post my own birth stories.  I’ll start with the Astronaut, as he is my first born.  I’ll make this as complete as accurate and complete as possible J
In the fall of 2000, I was an 18 year old recent high school grad.  During that summer, I began to experience strange symptoms.  I kept having leg cramps at night.  During the day, my nose would bleed randomly.  I thought that I might have some sort of brain tumor.  I googled my symptoms and guess what came up as a possible cause? Pregnancy.  I had not considered that I might be pregnant.  I realized I hadn’t had a period since February and that one had been unusually short and light.  I know this seems strange but I was a late bloomer; I hadn’t even had my period four years yet and it had never been regular. I did some math and realized I was about 24 weeks pregnant. I was barely showing, but had attributed my weight gain to the end of band season.  At 27 weeks, I’d only gained 10 pounds.  I made up for it quickly; I gained 26 ½ pounds by 28 weeks.  . 
I went to my 39 week appointment. My baby was sitting cross legged on top of my uterus which had dilated about 1 cm and wasn’t effaced at all.  I’d lost about 2 pounds. My OB told me that she would try to manipulate the baby at my next appointment.  She estimated that he’d be around 6 ½ to 7 pounds.  Since I’d discovered my pregnancy so late, I hadn’t been on vitamins or seen a doc until I was nearly 7 months.  All signs indicated that I’d definitely be having another appointment. It didn’t concern me because I fully expected my first baby to be late. That’s what “What to Expect” said.  I went home to spend some time with my grandma.
The Astronaut had different plans.
Being so pregnant and tired, I nodded off on the couch in the living room. At around 4 in the morning I woke up to the most gut wrenching pain. It felt like a donkey was roundhouse kicking my midsection. I’d had contractions that’d gotten strong, then stopped so I waited about 30 minutes before calling my mom. She had to work that day and I didn’t want to bother her needlessly.  She answered sleepily.
“I’m sorry to call you, Mommy, but it huuuuuuuuuurrrrrttttssssss!” I wailed.
She said she was on the way and arrived in less than 10 minutes.   I was still on the couch when she got there, whimpering.  When I got up, there was a huge mess on the couch. Common sense, books, the OB, websites all told me this was my bloody show.  Labor brain didn’t comprehend and I keeled like a banshee.    
>Now let me take a moment to tell you that my mother and I have very different styles. I don’t know where she got the volumous brown gingham check monstrosity she put on me, but I think she brought it with her. It was hideous.<
There was no counting of contractions, by the way. Bummer. I’d looked forward to keeping a little record so reflect on.  The contractions seemed to be back to back, but my water had not yet broken. On some level, I wondered if I was really in labor. 
We dashed to the truck between contractions and drove to the hospital.  It was only like 5 minutes away but I swear it seemed like a 90 minute trip on a bumpy country side road in a go kart with no shocks. I felt every little bump in the road. I don’t remember if my mom went in or if an employee came out but somebody put me in a wheel chair and in I went, straight to labor and delivery.
I was panicky and noisy. Every one kept trying to get me to calm down but I was a bit out of control. They gave me Demerol or Nubaine or both. I don’t remember.  It did nothing for my pain, but it did dull my brain a bit so I was quiet. And puke-y.  Those nurses are amazing. They know just whip out a container for you to hurl into. I felt a pop and a whoosh. My water had broken. I was a whopping 4 cm and thinning. And my little guy had flipped over and was head down.  The OB told me that I would probably deliver before lunch time. I progressed quickly, but the pain felt overwhelming so I got an epidural.  In hindsight, I wish I’d toughed it out.  
They gave me the epi shortly after the Demerol.  It came with this fantastic button that allowed me to give myself a little boost if I felt any “discomfort.” I expended 2 full bags of epi while my labor grinded to a halt. At lunch time, I’d only gotten to 7 cm. 2 hours later, I was at 8 cm. An hour later I was just past 9 and fully effaced.  At that point, the on-call OB starting throwing around the C word.  Luckily, I had a fantastic nurse who advocated for me and convinced the doc to let me push past the little bit of cervical lip that was left. 
I started pushing around 3:30 pm.  I’d been in labor nearly 12 hours, in the hospital for almost 11. I was hungry and tired. I hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before and what little bit of food l had left, I’d thrown up hours before.  I pushed but I was so numb I made very little progress. The C word came up again. The OB suggested pushing my baby back up in to my uterus and sending me to the OR. My nurse told him to let me try one more. With her on one side and my mother on the other, I focused and pushed out a bouncing baby boy at 4:11 pm on a Wednesday.  He was 8 lbs, 2 oz and 19 ½ in long.  He had a head full of hair and strong lungs.  He nursed like a champ.  I had torn a bit, enough to necessitate 2 stitches but I was horrendously sore and swollen.  Additionally, the epi caused my blood pressure to drop. I couldn’t get warm no matter how many warm blankets they put on me. The nurses wanted me to use the restroom and assisted me in getting up.  I made my way to the bathroom.  All of a sudden, all I hear was OutKast’s “Bombs over Bagdad.” I looked around with the vague sense that something was wrong.   I looked around and everyone was staring at me. As it turns out, I’d fainted from my low blood pressure.
All in all, it was a positive labor experience. I’d avoided an unnecessary c-section and had a healthy baby who is now a fantastic 11 year old.
GA: 39 weeks 4 days
Weight: 8 lbs 2 oz
Length: 19 ½ in
Length of labor: Approximately 11 hours
Interventions: epidural

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Modesty, part 1

Today’s topic is again nursing in public.  If you read my blog you already know how I feel about it.  I don’t think nursing in public is an issue that deserves any attention at all.  It should be normal and boring, but for some reason it isn’t.
I was reading comments on various news stories related to the Hickman/Target incident and the ensuing Nurse ins.  Facebook, too, has been a hotbed of discussion on the matter.  I discovered an interesting trend to many “supporters” of breastfeeding.  It seems that many people say they don’t have a problem with nursing in public as long as the woman is modest. I find this statement to be fascinating, contradictory, and very telling.
I decided to look up the actual definition of modest so that I could articulate my own thoughts and be as concise as possible.
mod·est adj.1. Having or showing a moderate estimation of one's own talents, abilities, and value.
2. Having or proceeding from a disinclination to call attention to oneself; retiring or diffident. See Synonyms at shy1.
3. Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress.
4. Free from showiness or ostentation; unpretentious.
5. Moderate or limited in size, quantity, or range; not extreme: a modest price; a newspaper with a modest circulation.

 In reference to breastfeeding in public, modesty means not drawing attention to one’s self.  I have breastfed 4 children for a total of 45 months, so I have done quite a bit of public breastfeeding.   I use my own experience, as well as that of women I know, to draw my conclusion.  I had the Astronaut when I was 18 years old and breastfed him for 13 months.  I was nervous about breastfeeding in public so initially, I used a receiving blanket to cover him.  Let me tell you, covering your child’s face with blanket in the muggy Carolina summer is the opposite of modest.
  • ·        First of all, everyone knows what you are doing.  Why else would there be a blanket on your child?
  • ·        Second, in case anyone wasn’t looking, your baby will draw attention by thrashing around wildly and making distressful noises. Hell, the heat index is over 100 degrees down here every single year.  This draws everyone’s attention to you. They all know what you are doing. 

Yet for some reason, drawing massive amounts of attention to yourself is considered modest.  Compare that to simply putting baby to boob.  Chances are, you’re wearing a shirt. If you aren’t NIP is the least of your concerns. I digress, back to blanket-less nursing.
  • ·        There’s very little prep time. You put your hand under your shirt, pop a boob out, hold the edge of the shirt up, and VOILA! 
  • ·  Unless they are staring right at you, no one knows what you are doing.  I have had people hold entire conversations with me without realizing that I am nursing.  It just looks like you are holding your precious babe.

·      That is the very epitome of modest-you are not drawing attention to yourself.  This is how it works for the vast majority of mamas. There are a few that are less modest, lowering or unbuttoning their shirts. These women are generally not from the US.  Few people seem to realize that this whole breastfeeding brouhaha is a purely American situation.  In the rest of the world, no one bats an eye.  So when people visit or move to our country, which is supposedly so progressive and advanced, they assume that we have a normal view of breastfeeding and do it the way it’s done in their own countries.  Poor ladies, no one warns them.  I’ll pause here so this doesn’t get too ramble-y.

What are your views on nursing in public? Do you have a modesty clause?