Monday, December 14, 2009

How many hooded towels and washcloths can I possibly need?

My little sister Mary is pregnant and due in January. Being a good big sister, I love giving her advice. Especially when she asks for it!

Mary recently called me to ask: "How many wash cloths and hooded towels do I really need?"

Regarding hooded towels

My response: Four hooded towels are more than enough! Two are plenty.

Here's my thinking. They are adorable, and you might as well make bath time adorable with the cute animal and colors and designs on the thin towel/blanket/hoodies that folks love to get for baby.

But you prob'ly wont always use them.

An example from my personal experience
I am in the tub bathing. I call to Ross: "OK, clean her butt and bring her in," as I'm running cold water into the tub AND soaping up a brightly colored washcloth that I grabbed BEFORE I went into the bathroom.

Ross comes in with a naked, and wide-eyed Ginger.

And a towel.

Yes, it's a clean, brightly colored towel. But it's NOT a hooded towel (which I store in a basket on top of the baby clothes etc. bin/shelf/baskets.) It's also not one of the yellow and white striped, ducky beach towels that Ross's dad and step mom sent us (which came with matching, bright yellow wash cloths. Ross has taken to using the beach towels, which I keep meaning to discourage... but maybe Ginger is OK with sharing already? She IS advanced for her age, after all.)

Now, if I had grabbed a yellow, ducky washcloth and had it soaped up, I would have turned him around and demanded that he return with a yellow and white striped, ducky beach towel.

But I had not.

"Wait, no. You have to get one of the hooded towels."

While holding the now squirming, still naked baby, and wondering just when she's going to pee on him (she pees on him much more than on me, by the way), Daddy Ross needs to be reminded about where the special towels are stored, etc.

The bath is now below the desired "lukewarm" temperature. My freshly shaved legs are covered in goosebumps. I try not to suggest that he hurry it up already.

He comes back with the least cute hooded towel. It says "got milk?" I make a note to donate it to someone who will appreciate it's utilitarian value so that we can focus on using the fish and duck and polka dots -- which are far superior because they are far cuter. (Yes, this is how my brain works when I am sitting in a bath tub full of cooler and cooler water.)

We bathe her. She either smiles or squawks depending on her mood. We wrap her up, likely take photos. We laugh about the hood hiding her face. She squawks some more.

We are only bathing Ginger, for reals about once a week. We do not need more than two hooded towels. Any more than that and Ross is confused and I approach being frustrated. Will I pass on the ones I think are cute? Nope! Silly? YES! The new norm? For a few more weeks at least, yes!

Regarding washcloths
I have a whole bin of brightly colored washcloths. Some match towels for baby. Many are in the pink family (which I love) and lately we only have 10 or less in the laundry at a time.

How we use our cloths

--meconium: for that special three-to-five day period of sticky poop, we used a cut up old towel to clean Ginger's butt. We simply threw away the stained and sticky pieces of cloth.
--burp cloths. Ginger doesn't spit up very much. Much less than once a day. So we don't need a ton of these.
--diaper changing time. We alternate between home made wipes, wet paper towels, wet organic diapers and washcloths. It depends on the temperature, who is changing her, what is handy, the state of Ginger's butt and the mood of the diaper changer.

Folks should know, that right now we do laundry at least once a week, closer to once every five days, because we can. I expect to spread out laundry days (and need more stuff, not to worry we have more stuff)

I told Mary 20 washcloths are PLENTY.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What she's up to now

Holy crap! Ginger Crash Kennedy Loy is 3 months old!

On Aug 26th she came screaming on out of me. And on November 26th she squawked and boob-fed and napped, but not much, through her first Thanksgiving.

Like any advanced, totally adorable, ridiculously long 3-month-old girl, Ginger is:

--Talkative. She's got the coos down. And she has a new noise just about every day. If I leave her happily hanging out somewhere to, say, clean a diaper in the sink, make a cup of coffee, brush my teeth, or use two hands for anything, she lets me know she's DONE by squawking louder and louder and I swear it sounds like "DADDY." Now, we all know that she is NOT saying DADDY. But how rad (for me) would it be if her first demanding scream was for Ross?! 'Cause I'm off to school in January...

-- Grabbing things. More and more she means to. Sometime she is surprised by what she has in her hand. Sometimes she whacks herself on the head. Sometimes she focusses on something and aims and and and grabs it.

-- Turning over, kinda. She rolls from her back to her side and from her side in either direction. She is sometimes surprised by landing on her back. But quickly recovers and pretends that she TOTALLY meant to.

-- Squawking louder and louder, generally to herself. In the past few days, when we put her in the crib (small, European style, in our bedroom) in the morning so we two adults can be in bed a bit longer, she squawks loudly to the mobile jerking and wobbling above her head. (The mobile is on loan. I think we already broke it, hence the wonky movements.) She will squawk louder and louder until we realize she is saying she is done already. This is not a "DADDY" squawk. This is a more general gleeful shout out to the universe. Until it's a "hey you guys I'm done, really" noise.

-- Chewing on her hand/s. She does this for comfort. Out of boredom and to express glee!

-- Flirting. She'll look ya in the eye, smile and turn her head inward toward my chest and away. But she is not avoiding you, oh no! She is simply getting ready to look at you again.

-- Noticing her feet. With or without socks. This is fascinating. Especially if one foot has a sock on it and one does not. Ginger will slowly lift the right foot, gaze at it with a slightly furrowed brow. Lower it. Raise the left foot, gaze. And repeat. Then both feet are up. This can last (which she's in her bouncy chair and I am, maybe bathing with her in the bathroom) for as long as 5 minutes.

-- Kicking her feet which being changed. And smiling. Raising up her feet while being changed and smiling. Kicking her feet and kicking off her socks. Pretty much always.

In developmental terms, she's right on track with head and neck, back and arm strength. Likewise with verbal and eye tracking markers. But she's totally cuter than most babies!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More, more, more advice from moms and dads

Apparently, people are reading this blog. This is a good thing (mostly for my ego, but maybe for entertainment and/or educational value. Maybe.)

As well, people post things in response to my posting things about my blog on Facebook. I shall now attempt combine a few tips below (some of mine are here, and a friend's amazing post about "stuff" you need for baby is here), for you's all to see.

Natasha had this to say:
"I am doing cloth diapers too! And I made my own wipes.. We borrowed everything from the swing to the crib. Btw have you tried bum genius 3.0 AIOs? They are my fave but still like prefolds when home."
That's the All In One diaper for those of you less-schooled in the world of cloth diapers than I (I Googled it. Now I know). Yes, I am using these very items! Er, or Ginger is.

Geoff said:
"One word. Costco."

I said: "What am I missing?" For I no longer have a Costco membership.

Dianna filled me in:
"Costco has a bunch of baby stuff, diapers, formula, wipes, motrin, cought supressent. Clothes are cheap to buy there. Toys, books,v juice.If you have not tried the Crisco, you can buy it there. It sounds nuts but it is the best diaper ointment ever. Ginger will never have diaper rash and you will not go broke!!!! Those are some of the things at Costco. Sometimes you can find baby blankets there."

I have to admit I'm steering clear of the Crisco thing. I do have Coconut Oil that I used for sore nipples (worked!) and would be happy to spread it all over Ginger's nether regions. But any redness she gets has gone away quickly.

I do have a tiny tube of Desitin that I've used a few times. Not exactly natural, but it sure does the job. More recently a friend gave us Bum Bum Balm. We use this as well. Ginger's butt seems to love it.

Kate, mom of Ivy, has found the time (and the use of two hands, it looks like) to share some advice and observations inspired by her four-month old role a mommy. The highlights include but are not limited to:

--the importance of nipple pads
--leaking and spraying breasts (refer to above)
--the importance of a supportive partner
--how you wanna be friends with new parents you'd be friends with anyway, 'cause you can only talk about diapers and nipple pads (BOOBS!) for so long before real life comes screaming back in
--the impossibility of organizing a new-mommy mind
--tips how to organize the new mommy mind (think to-do lists and fancy phones)

Kate's blog is called Experimental Soup Making. It's pretty awesome. Go there.

But come back here sometime soon.

Ginger is due to make a bigger appearance here soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My take on a frugal mom's advice

Go Cloth!
By going with cloth, a family can save thousands of dollars over the un-potty trained year(sss). There's an investment upfront, and you have get into the groove of cleaning diapers regularly (before the new human poop turns into real human poop with the introduction of not-breast milk foods) but it pays off! Also, nice to the environment.

Ross's take: "Screw the environment." Or maybe it was "The environment can wait." Yeah, that was it.
My take: I have been both practical and self-indulgent about the whole diaper deal. I have been obsessed. I have emailed and texted friends (well, mostly Kate) about what kind if cloth insert diapers they are using, I have bought newish and used diapers from new mama friends and strangers on craigslist. Truly, diapering deserves it's own post (there are entire web communities dedicated to cloth diapers, or so I'm told). I'll try to keep this brief

Week 1 to 2: We used Pampers Swaddlers. I thought I'd have a tiny baby, I had heard these were tiny, virtually leak proof. I bought some. I ended up with twice the amount I thought I would because Ginger arrived at hospital and I ransacked the room's contents (I figured I'd be charged for everything in the room, so why not? And I was: board for one night = about $6,000!)

Starting week 2 and now occasionally: Nature's Babycare. They are damn near 100% biodegradable, no icky plastics on Ginger's skin, they are good stuff, really! etc. They only leak after Ginger has pooped for about an hour (really, she does this at 6 am, daily. It's noisy and cute. I'm sure it will be gross someday, but not yet.) Of course, I was informed by well-meaning moms that although they are mostly biodegradable, I am not yet paying for the service that takes them away and decomposes them for me (and I doubt I ever will). Ross prefers them over our other options: it's remove, wipe, drop in our borrowed Diaper Genie and occasionally take out the trash!

But Nature's Babycare diapers are not cheap: $11.99 for 30 to 40, depending on the size -- and that's ordering from which is much cheaper than buying them at a fancy, organic super market.

G-diapers suck, I think. OK, that's not fair. But they didn't work for me.

And now I'm using a mix of Bum Genius, FuzziBunz and pre-folds -- one's that friggin' snap closed. (There are way too many cloth options for me to be an expert. Check out this site for a sense of what is out there.) I need to do diaper-related laundry every three days. But considering that everything Ginger wears and much of what I wear need cleaning immediately, well, yes, I hardly notice the extra load.

And I experience a strange sense of pride every darn time I Velcro or snap Ginger into a cloth or cloth insert diaper. Yup, I do.

Do your own wipes!
Buy some shop rags or used diapers. Again, the savings adds up, and you won't notice the extra laundry.
Awesome idea.

Ross prefers paper towels, wet under the faucet. Biggest problem with this (to me) is that as the weather gets colder, the faucet runs longer. I can't handle the guilt of washing diapers AND running water 'til it's hot.

I prefer a make-my-own wipe recipe, but mostly I use cut-up towels and old washcloths. I don't run the water nearly as long as Ross does. I want Ginger, and her tush, to be tough!

Buy used baby and kid clothes
Leave the fancy new duds to family and friends. Your newbie will grow out of things faster than you can use them. So it makes sense that even already-worn stuff at kids boutiques will be very gentle used.
I have to admit that I did infact buy one pair of new brown pants. But everything else (and there is a lot, plus two large bins of stuff that is too big for Ginger) was gifted or thrifted.

Dress up your lil' one for fancy occasions -- but not for everyday life!
Babies and kids can be grungy and comfortable at home. Clothing can be worn multiple times in a week. But if you and yours are heading out to brunch or want to otherwise show off, break out the fancy party dress/pants that Auntie X FedExed.
So far, we could dress Ginger in two or three adorable onsies a day and not run out. I don't put her in the frilly dresses and such unless we're gonna be surrounded by at least a handful of ladies who can properly "oh" and "aw" about it.

Get a car seat she can grow into
Don't fall for the gimmick of needing a new car seat every time the kid grows. There are safe and legal seats that last for more than a few months. Do your research ahead of time and save money.
We scored a free infant car seat. Yes, it was used. No, I wasn't worried that a friend of a friend had given an unsafe car seat to a new-mom friend. Frankly, I think a lot of the "oh, no, you need this new! To be safe!" campaigns are put out into the new parent ethers to ensure maximum consumption of new items.

Of course, because it was a car seat for a tiny new person, and Ginger is by far not a tiny person, although relatively new, it's already time to move up to another (hand-me-down) car seat.

Be practical when it comes to your stroller
You don't need three different strollers. You need one.
We have four.

I'm not sure how this happened.

We started off with what was a fancy, light weight stroller four years ago (thanks Tracy and Goran!). My mom gave us a simple umbrella style stroller (it's what we four Loys grew up in). Nicole left her umbrella stroller here (that I should sell or donate) and now we get to absorb Nicole and Piper's buggy!

I have a feeling we'll have two strollers again soon. Umbrella for simplicity and buggy for long walks to the Farmer's Market!

OK. Then. What are your frugal new parent tips???

Monday, November 16, 2009

Some advice from a frugal mom

An old friend who's child is in his mid-to-late teens sent me some awesome advice via Facebook. Being a new mom, doing her best to appear (to herself at least) productive, I quickly thanked her for it, asked permission to post it here -- and immediately deleted it.

I not only deleted the message. I deleted the whole thread.

So did she.

Now I will do my best to duplicate it.

Go Cloth!
By going with cloth, a family can save thousands of dollars over the un-potty trained year(sss). There's an investment upfront, and you have get into the gro0ve of cleaning diapers regularly (before the new human poop turns into real human poop with the introduction of non-breast milk foods) but it pays off! Also, nice to the environment.

Do your own wipes!
Buy some shop rags or used diapers. Again, the savings adds up, and you won't notice the extra laundry.

Buy used baby and kid clothes
Leave the fancy new duds to family and friends. Your newbie will grow out of things faster than you can use them. So it makes sense that even already-worn stuff at kids boutiques will be very gentle used.

Dress up your lil' one for fancy occasions -- but not for everyday life!
Babies and kids can be grungy and comfortable at home. Clothing can be worn multiple times in a week. But if you and yours are heading out to brunch or want to otherwise show off, break out the fancy party dress/pants that Auntie X FedExed.

Get a car seat she can grow into
Don't fall for the gimmick of needing a new car seat every time the kid grows. There are safe and legal seats that last for more than a few months. Do your research ahead of time and save money.

Be practical when it comes to your stroller
You don't need three different strollers. You need one.

Thanks, Sarah!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This just in!

And in local news, Ginger has finally has been featured by the local media. (Yes, that's her asleep on Ross's shoulder. She was wearing her Issues magazine store t-shirt!)

New to me Oakland Local ran a great piece about a panel discussion at Berkeley's Moe's bookstore.

We three humans attended. Kaya Oakes, author of Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture was leading a discussion about "indie." The three-woman panel was stacked with friends/colleagues. I'll steal directly from the article here:

Noella Teele, Issues: “When you’re doing something indie-minded of indie spirit, it’s something you feel really true about. It’s what you feel sincere about and something that you do well. I often think of the punk ethos, that if you’re going to do something, do it right. Do it all the way.”

Liz Lisle, Watchword Press: “It’s when you’re not looking for recognition from an external source. You’re just doing it because you love it. You’re working with your friend and that’s the motivation that keeps it going.”

Nicole Neditch, Objet d’Art: “It’s doing something from the heart and taking it all the way. The recognition comes from the people that you’re working with. You’re not going with the traditional box stores. You’re shopping from people who are also doing it from the heart, and making a decision to work with those kinds of people.”

Kaya Oakes, Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture (excerpt): “If we understand culture to mean something more than a style of music, a visual aesthetic, or a literary mode and try to define it from its Latin root, cultura—‘to cultivate’— then we can see how indie artists have traditionally worked together to cultivate many things: credibility, freedom, the ability to promote their own work and to control how it’s promoted, self-reliance, open-mindedness, and the freedom to take creative risks.”

In case you were wondering, yes my body is ready for another one

Back in week six or so after Ginger's birth, I noticed that something more than spotting was darkening my, um, door. (After a vaginal birth women "bleed" heavily and then spot for weeks if not months. There's a whole range of amounts and colors and in what order, etc. You can learn more here.)

Yeah, this was less like spotting and more like, wait, what were they called, um, something about a towel? Oh, no, I remember now. It was my period. I was on the freakin' rag!

See, but, as a breast feeding mama, I should not have had a period for months, if not a year or so. But there it was, a nice, healthy flow. Not too different that the predictable periods I have had since my late teens (early teenage periods were not so predictable. Nor were they nice.) And yes, I did remember what to expect, even though it had been nearly a year since my last one (We conceived after a period in November, peed on a stick in December. That was 2008!) and it came and went with me hoping that I would be one of those breast feeding mamas who get one soon after a birth but then don't see more evidence of a reinstated menstrual cycle for many a moon.

Not so for me.

Just said goodbye to Auntie. She stuck around for her usual length of stay. Had no cramping, no mood swings, nothing out of the ordinary. Didn't even have to buy a new box tampons this time.

The downside: REALLY have to lock down birth control that is baby safe and baby proof. Also, I'll be buying tampons, or maybe those weird cloth pads that my hippie friends use, I mean they can't be any harder to deal with than breast pads and cloth diapers!

The upside: Thanks to the whole getting pregnant/having a child/breast feeding thing, I have boobs all month long! Not just for a few days a month, like B.G (Before Ginger.)

In other news: Ginger melted down in the car today after a wonderful hike with Spider, Ross and myself on which we busted out the awesome Ergo Baby Carrier that my equally awesome sister gave us. So that part was great!

But, being in a small, enclosed space (like my car) with a nearly three month old who is totally not going to be calmed by anything (no me, not my finger, not the pacifier, not a bumpy road, not car lights, not freeway driving) was not at all is not easy.

Ross did a great job driving us home. I did a great job of not jumping out of a moving vehicle.

Good thing she's such a cutie!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vaccines: and then again maybe we will

Well, we did it. We three humans went to the doctor for Ginger's first ever vaccinations.

First, you should know that there are a few family practice doctors left in the country. And one of them is Doctor Jane Himmelvo. She's a mom. She's right here in Point Richmond (OK, so we don't actually live in Point Richmond. We live in the blue collar, affordable, much more diverse and occasionally filled with Mexican accordion music option called Atchison Village. Home of a few of the original Rosie the Riverters for whom the housing here was built.)

The Point Richmond Family Practice has regular office hours, the good Doctor has been Ross's doc since we decided to admit he has inherited dangerously high blood pressure and cholesterol issues. His liver, shockingly, is not too bad. We'll work on that next.

She became Ginger's pediatrician two days after her birth. No, we absolutely didn't need to go to a doctor's office that soon after her birth, but because she was delivered in the hospital and we wanted to get back to our home birth and laying in plan, we made a deal with the hospital Ped. to take her in.

We got to leave seven hours after we said we were ready IF we promised to take Ginger in to her Ped within a few days.

Why the deal? Well: Hospitals want a new mom and baby to stay for at least 24 hours. This allows them to monitor a number of things, including baby's temp, mom's everything, breast feeding and baby's diapers, etc. The "scariest" thing they monitor is the heart murmur that pretty much all babies are born with.

About the murmur: While living in the comfort of mom's placenta, blood is not pumped to the lungs to get oxygenated — things obviously have to adjust in that part of a newborn's body, 'cause she's BREATHING. A duct can remain open and usually closes by the end of 24 to 48 hours. Hospitals can pull this one out to make you stay. The longer you stay, the more they can be sure to catch anything early on, and the less likely they are gonna get sued if they release a baby or mom "early" and complications develop.

Of course, our midwives were providing us with the excellent care that we had come to expect from them, so Ginger received pretty much the same first well baby exam three times in as many days.

Surprise, she was determined to be 100 percent healthy. Three times.

Back to the now:
Dr. Jane (Himmelvo) knows who we are. Calls Ginger by name. And checks in on Ross when we see her. Today was no exception.

We had a 5:30 appointment (childhood vaccines are scheduled late in the day so kids can just go home and maybe get super tired, cranky or feverish.)

Ginger was asleep when we arrived. Once we had her mostly stripped down (to weigh in at 12.5 lbs) she woke up and got all smiley when we had her on the table. I made sure to place her on her blanket and not the loud, crunchy paper that she'd otherwise soon associate with pain/needles. (I've heard stories from parents of 1 year olds who report that baby starts to cry as soon as the paper is rustled.)

Ginger let us weigh her (after they realized the scale was out of batteries and 10 minutes later found the a.c. adapter), measure her skull and her length (22.75 inches baby. She was 21.4 at birth.)

And she took the oral vaccine (Rotovirus) slowly and pensively. She and I talked some baby talk while she tasted it and gummed the applicator, pushed the vaccine out of her mouth and down her chin while I chased it with my finger and pushed it back in her mouth.

The (DtaP: Diphtheria immunization, Tetanus immunization, Pertussis immunization, Tdap vaccine)
shot, well, she screamed a bit, with her face VERY QUICKLY turning bright red with an infant's confusion and anger. And by the time I had picked her back up off the table (as the nurse was trying to wipe off the two drops of blood and affix the bandage) she was quieting down. She didn't need the boob. She did need to be held. But she was cheerful and once again checking out the lights and other new visual pleasures that only a baby can find in a doctor's exam room.

In short, Ginger is a trooper.

Also in short: yes, (obviously) we decided to get her vaccinated. We are doing the trendy, spaced out, alternative plan. For now, we're going with Dr. Sear's Alternative Vaccination Schedule. You can read more about the schedule here, on a mom's website. She's done some research, reports it and lists the schedule.

Vaccinations = lots of conflicting research.

FYI: I don't believe that vaccines cause autism, but I do marvel at the fact that mercury is present in many of them. Yes, mercury. Which is bad, 'cause, um, it causes neurotoxicity in humans.

Small amounts are present as a preservative, I heard on NPR. Also on NPR, the H1N1 contains less mercury than in a can of tuna. Yeah, but, Ginger is not gonna eat a can of tuna anytime soon. She's also too young for that particular vaccine.

Also, spreading out the vaccines seems like a damn good idea. I know I want her to benefit from the advances in medicine. But I also know that Big Pharm plays a big part in determining just how many vaccines are available and how many we "need."

In short: vaccinations = whole other posts.

Photos are of wonderful friends. Love you long time Debbie-Deborah! Also, Art is one handsome experienced daddy type!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sexy dreams and the benefits of oral sex during pregnancy, (tmi ahead, duh!)

Below is my favorite email of late.

It comes from a friend who is pregnant. But she shall remain nameless. Because we won't want anyone to know she is orgasming in her sleep! I mean, what would the neighbors think?

Also, what kind of pervert searches for things like "oral sex" or "sperm" while pregnant?

I'll tell you: MY kind of pervert!

Here's the email:
"Because I can ask you things like this, but I am not as bold as you with putting up things on my blog when my grandma is reading it faithfully:

1) Did you have a lot of sleep orgasms while pregnant?
2) Have you read about the Dutch study that shows that oral sex can help prevent preeclampsia? Fascinating!"

The answers are as follows.

1. Sleep orgasms
Why yes! I did have lots of sexy fun dreams that ended in sexy fun times while sleeping.

But that is fairly normal for me. (TMI ahead, in case you couldn't figure out I was gonna go there.) Most of my sex dreams over the last, say 15 years, have happily ended in orgasms — granted, these kinds of dreams have always been few and far between for me. In fact, my remembering ANY dream at all that wasn't mundane, business meeting, day-to-day boring stuff was rare. 'Til baby. Now I remember my dreams, and they are wacky. It's likely because I am up every few hours, thanks to baby.

Here's the promised TMI:
My sex dreams that end in a big ol' O always include me taking care of my own business. Nope, I'm not actually having sex in my sex dreams. Ever. Not once that I remember.

It's always masturbation, and it's usually in some kinda public place. This is the setting for my sex dreams. (Yeah, I know, says some obvious things about me.)

OH: and anytime I'm about to hook up with someone in my dreams, be it a boy or a girl, I use what little lucid dreaming power I have to slowly transform them into Ross. OR, I make an excuse in the dream about how it's OK and I'm not actually cheating on Ross. In a dream.

And then I wake up. Super wound up and wondering why I can't get it on with someone else in a friggin' dream.

Anytmigirl, loving this website I just found when I searched for "orgasms in sleep while pregnant."

Here's the resident expert's take on they why behind the sleepytime fun times.

"During pregnancy, elevated hormones can make orgasms much more abundant and easier to have. Pregnancy hormones can also induce vivid dreaming. The combination of the two will result in frequent "wet dreams," which are very normal during pregnancy. And, don't worry, uterine cramping immediately following an orgasm in completely normal too."

On to question number two.

2. Have you read about the Dutch study that shows that oral sex can help prevent preeclampsia?

Holy crap! No. I had not heard this.

And when I first read the above note I assumed that the "oral sex" referred to cunnilingus, because I am apparently a self-absorbed, sexist kinda gal.

But after a quick click, I realized that no, it's more about the mom's body putting semen to good use and therefore not reacting in a negative way to the fetus. If you think of pregnancy in terms of its similarities to a transplant, well, you can imagine that sometimes a woman's body freaks out and rejects what's happening in her uterus. The study suggests that oral exposure to the sperm donor's semen can help her body maintain the necessary "tolerance." It's a quick read. Check it out.

But what, you wonder, trying to change the subject of the images in your head, is preeclampsia? The term refers to a set of symptoms: high blood pressure and high amounts of protein in the urine. My midwives did a urine dip at each home visit. Also, we watched for sudden leg or ankle swelling, which can also be a sign. It can develop up to six weeks after delivery as well.

Needless to say, for anyone who kept up with this blog during my pregnancy, I did not develop preeclamsia. (It's hard for me not to make some crack about why, but look, I'm not gonna do it!)

Babycenter has some preggo-friendly info if you'd like to learn more. Here's their quick definition:
"Preeclampsia is a complex disorder that affects 3 to 8 percent of pregnant women.

"A woman is diagnosed with preeclampsia if she has high blood pressure and protein in her urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

"(It's possible to have preeclampsia before 20 weeks, but only in rare cases, such as with a molar pregnancy.)

"Preeclampsia most commonly shows up after 37 weeks, but it can develop at any time during the second half of pregnancy, including during labor or even after delivery — usually within the first 48 hours.

"Preeclampsia can range from mild to severe, and it can progress slowly or rapidly. The only way to get better is to deliver the baby."

Or, maybe to give daddy a few blow jobs!

Sorry, I had to.

(Photos in this post are from the camera I took last year at this time when I hiked up Half Dome in Yosemite.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lady Bug Ginger Crash Kennedy Loy meets Bruce Lee. And a bee, priate and jack-o-lantern

Today we celebrated the season with a Baby Zombie party. It was awesome. (In this photo are Kate and Ivy Cat)

Last night when Ross came home from work I hit the road and arrived at the fabric store 'round 8pm. Thanks to the 30 minute line, it was nearly 9 before I made my purchase.

I remembered how to sew. Stayed up 'til about 1am and finished off Ginger's first ever Halloween costume this morning.

Which is ridiculous. Because I drove to the fabric store the night before a costume party for a two month old! I happily spent hours on a costume she'll have no memory of, and quite possibly could hate. First I fixed a pair of Ross's pants (belt loop blowouts on a defective pair of work pants -- that have been blownout since I met him. Ross did not make any snide comments about "hey, wow, you have had this sewing machine since you were 18 and NOW I finally get to see you use it!" Ross is a nice guy. And a smart one at that.)

I was totally a mom last night! Look what I made!

And, I don't think she hated it.

At least not too much.

Did you get a good look at Bruce and the pirate? Here:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

So not true

All that stuff (see previous post) about the changing table quieting Ginger magically? No longer true.

As soon as I hit publish and that post went live I got into "get outta the house within the hour" mode. At, say, the 45 minute mark, Ginger got changed. On the changing table. Which should have calmed her and entertained her so that I could put on clothes for the outside world.

She wriggled and screamed (yes, screamed) and made things difficult. I dressed quickly but without any embarrassing mom-isms (clothes inside out, not fastened, boobs out, boobs leaking due to forgotten boob shield.) Only the shoulder perch position saved the day.

The umbrella stroller was not a winner either, but if I jiggled it and pushed it quickly over rocks she would fall back/stay asleep.

I wonder what new Ginger-isms week eight will bring.

(As I type this, Ross is on the kitchen floor, Ginger is in her bouncy chair and it's total call and response in there, with lots of giggles and happy grunts. Ginger is making cute noises as well.)

Just why is that changing table so magic, anyway?

I have shared with you all a few of Ginger's needs. (See post below). As well as her newly vocal personality (I'm calling it squawking, but please know that there are many new sounds beyond the squawk. Some might say she cries. Or screams. Sometimes she even hyperventilates, but those times usually involve the car set. Let's avoid talking about that for now, shall we? Yes.)

For some reason, the changing table is this magic place of quiet, smiles, coos, laughter and even napping.


Well, she likes to have her diaper changed.

I know (and sorry to other moms and dads and nannies out there). But it's true. She likes the attention and the procedure as soon as we start removing the diaper. (By the way, I'm still mostly using Nature's Baby Care because they are disposable AND biodegradable and have the fewest blowouts of anything I've used.) From there, if the paper towels we wet are warm, she practically gurgles in enjoyment.

If I'm being lazy or it's the middle of the night and the warm water just won't come (I am still in drought mode, so it's hard for me to wait) the "wipes" are a bit cold. So she does her "throw off the scorpion" move (really called the Moro reflex) and then settles into the fun wiping part.

Until recently, Ginger enjoyed the changings more when they were done by Daddy Ross. I believe this is because he has a gentler hand and far more patience than I. He noticed before I did that any good wiping around her tiny bung hole not only would get Ginger's attention, but would coax a smile or a laugh out of her.

Not to be outdone by Ross, I have taken to blowing on her bottom.

Yup, in between commenting on how cute and strong and smart and pretty she is, and predicting what kind of a student (excellent) and artist (talented/famous) and soccer player (professional) she'll be, I blow her stuff dry.

She LOVES this.

And it saves on the paper towels, which are Seventh Generation or some other expensive and green option.

The changing table is also pressed up against the window (in what WAS my room or my office), so she gets a bit of sun warmth. As well, we've surrounded her with stuffed animals, and warm, colorful, soft blankets. A number of strange but colorful items are also above her within her range of site.

And of course, there is the ceiling fan.

A changing might start with squawking and squirming, but as long as we don't change her clothes, it includes smiles and wriggling in happiness and ends in five to 20 minutes of "activity time" during which Ginger stares at various cool things and makes lots of pre-language noises. Often it ends in a nap.

She's waking up early from a nap right now (in her bassinet) so it's time to move her to the changing table. That way, I can get more computer time. I wonder how long the changing table will continue to be magic?

the most magic place of all

Ginger is almost eight weeks old. Born at 2:07 am on Wednesday the 26th, she is not quite two months old, but is finishing off her seventh week on the outside.

She woke the-f-up at about week six.

Our perfect, easy, mellow baby is, well, she's still perfect (c'mon, you know I'm gonna say that) but she is not the easy, blobby mess who had learned to smile and would fall asleep mid squawk. That squawk, the one that demanded boob, or being picked up, or a diaper change, was the only squawk it took to get action from us. And once their was action, she'd silently accept our response.

If it was the wrong response, she'd make some noise again. We'd eventually get it. But there were only a handful of reasons she'd squawk (true, she doesn't like sleeves and has a problem with clothes in general when they get stuck on her head or nose or ears, and who can blame her?).

So, until recently; perfect, easy, mellow baby.

But nowadays, Ginger has needs!

We are still trying to figure out what these needs are and which new (louder) noises are attached to which need. These needs (desires? wants?) seem to include include:
--Bouncing harder
--Bouncing harder and swaying
--Bouncing harder and swaying on the yoga ball
--Bouncing harder and swaying and in a different location every 1.5 minutes
--Bouncing so hard in her "bouncy-vibrate-y chair" that we recall the "don't shake the baby billboard" campaign and fear the authorities
--The football hold
--The football hold with any combination of the above
--The over the shoulder perch (add above combinations , but include bright lights
--Bright lights
--Ceiling fans, off and then on, mostly on (Ginger may believe that a certain pitch of squawk actually turns on the ceiling fans, we have yet to fully test this theory)
--Dude/Dad, I sad BOOB!
--Boob while bouncing
--Boob while bouncing, swaying and walking around the house, pacing around someone else's house, marching down San Pablo Avenue while our dinner party eats
--Put down the book, lady! And pay attention to me, now!
--Lady, put down the book, OR the beer. I'll give you one, just one. And pay attention to me, now!

Thankfully, we have found a magic spot in the house for her.

It is her changing table. Observe the photos.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

That was easy, wait, I think my left nipple is sore




OK, you've been warned. Read and view away.

The pump I'm using right now is an Ameda Hospital Grade Breast Pump. An elite.

This is not something I'll take with me when I go back to school or to work. This is something that I can use at home. Pumping after the second feeding each morning is usually a good idea (we make more milk in the am, so they say). And ladies who want to protect their milk supply need to pump while they are away from their breast feeding babes. It will vary for most women. But I might need to pump (or self express and just dump) as frequently as every 90 minutes.

Eep! I can just see myself now, waiting in the bathroom line with a bunch of college girls, and rather than peeing and primping and leaving, I'll be setting up shop. In a bathroom stall. To pump.

Pumping it up, right now

Thanks to Nicole, who had an adorable small human named Piper last year, I have a crazy, teal-colored, impressively effective breast pump.

It is hospital grade.

It is easy to use.

It has dials on it for "cycles" and "vacuum."

And it is quite comfortable to use!

Ross is helping by... playing w/ a zombie ball. And making me dinner (as usual!)

My first ever pumping.We used the pump back in week 42 when we tried to induce labor. And by "we" I mean Ross set it up and told me how to use it. I sat in bed, read a horrible novel and occasionally looked down to watch my nipple expand and elongate as the pump pumped. Colostrum came out.

(Um, wow, you can buy bovine colostrum here.)

At seven weeks (tonight, at 2:07 am) we are more than ready to pump and bottle feed so I can do things like leave the house for more than 30 minutes. And Ross can share that amazing eye contact with Ginger that happens when she is happily gulping down boob juice. (I think Ross calls it boob juice. Gross?)

More on colostrum, (not of the bovine kind, though) in case you wanna know, from La Leche League, which rocks:

"Your breasts produce colostrum beginning during pregnancy and continuing through the early days of breastfeeding. This special milk is yellow to orange in color and thick and sticky. It is low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep your baby healthy. Colostrum is extremely easy to digest, and is therefore the perfect first food for your baby. It is low in volume (measurable in teaspoons rather than ounces), but high in concentrated nutrition for the newborn. Colostrum has a laxative effect on the baby, helping him pass his early stools, which aids in the excretion of excess bilirubin and helps prevent jaundice."

Yes, that was my period

It's official. Or at least it is for me.

That five days of bright red blood and pads and icked-up undies was my first period after baby.

I've lamented to friends. I've bitched to Ross. I've whined to my midwife. But really, it's all an act. I don't really mind that I bled. My periods have never been terrible, or hard, or painful. They have been a bit of a nuisance at times, and downright frustrating: if I go camping, fly to a tropical paradise, head to Burning Man or will otherwise be in a bikini or hot pants for days on end, far from my usual bathing access and routine I am GUARANTEED to be on the rag. It's just the way it has always been. I can plan a trip in the middle of my cycle, I swear, and it's drip, drip, drip, tampon, tampon, tampon.

So, really, it's not surprising that now, when I assumed that boob feeding Ginger would guarantee more months, if not years, of a period-free life, that drip, drip, drip, it's back.

Our midwife (at our last ever official visit, boo!) basically said: "Well, if you think this is a period, then it is." I have no warning signs of anything BAD that it could be. I am healthy, happy, reasonably energetic, healed, well-fed and well-watered. And darnit, I know a period when I have one.

She did prescribe one-to-two droppers full of my placenta tincture each am during and for five days after the flow.

Placenta tincture, you wonder? (See photo above.)

Yup. Mine. I got it done up 50/50: half of that temporary organ got turned into powered capsules (good for about six months) to help regulate my postpartum
moods/hormones; and half is now in tincture form (good for darn near ever and made with berry vodka so it tastes kinda awesome). If we had succeeded in the homebirth, I would have had the midwives cook me up a placenta taco, but no, I did not get to eat it.

If I am a bit hormonally outta wack, my own hormones, distilled in vodka, should set me right.

I don't feel outta wack... so, yes, first period at week 6. I don't necessarily expect to settle into a predictable menstrual cycle yet. According to blogs and websites I've perused, many a lady who bleeds so soon WHILE breastfeeding doesn't see another visit from Aunt Flo for five or six months.

Regardless... I'm kindof in awe of my body lately. And therefore, I'm interested and not peeved or concerned: I wonder what my girlie parts are up to?

On a related topic: whatthehell kindof birth control will be be using here soon?

Pull and pray just doesn't seem like a good idea. Ginger is cute and all (see photos), but I have no intention of peeing on a stick any time soon.

Time to do some research. Cool!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Midwives last visit

Kinda sad and rad at the same time.

Ross and I first welcomed the lovely ladies of Awakenings Birth Services into our home at about 12 weeks. Which was back in February.

After our initial interview (two of the three midwives came to our home, we interviewed them, they checked us out, took in our home, our relationship with our dog, how clean of a house we keep, prob'ly checked out how physically fit/not crazy I was/am) and we all agreed to work together.

Every three weeks we were visited by a midwife. The three ladies rotated so that we could all get to know one another. (At a home birth, I would be attended by one midwife for the majority of active labor, and then a second midwife would be called in to attend the delivery. They have their schedule set up so that each lady gets a good chunk of time off the clock. The same schedule allows families to get to know all three, thereby insuring close and comfortable relationships with both of the midwives who eventually attend the birth.)

At each visit, they would take my blood pressure (always perfect, lowish) test my pee (for proteins and other not so good things: always perfect), go over reading that had been assigned to me (I love me some reading assignments, I'd take notes, highlight, gather questions and make Ross read the good/bad/interesting stuff) and direct me towards any testing, screening etc. that I was interested in at the proper time.

These visits lasted for 90 minutes! My one OB visit lasted five minutes -- I was in the waiting room for 45 minutes and saw a nurse or two, but the OB spent maybe five whole minutes with me. I don't think I got to ask more than two questions... I like to ask questions. I like to talk. I like to learn. I did not like the visit with the OB. I did not necessarily dislike it. I learned nothing.

At each visit with a midwife I talked, listened and learned. Not just from the reading material or from what the midwife had to say. But I learned a little about myself or Ross, maybe how we were dealing with a new stage in pregnancy, maybe what we needed to work on to prepare for the next stages in pregnancy.

The midwife visits quickly became something I looked forward to.

After 37 weeks, when the pregnancy is considered full term, the visits were weekly. They began to include vaginal exams (which I loved, really, cause I learned about how dilated my cervix was and how effaced etc.) and eventually talk of what to do if we got to post-term dates.

We did. Get to post dates. Rather than have an early baby, (which I had planned on) or a 40 week baby (due date was August 10) or a regular baby for a first time mom like me (41 weeks and 1 day) we got well into 42 weeks.

The visits amped up in regularity. One of the midwives made herself available to me daily basis, (on the weekend!) when I wanted her to monitor Ginger's heart beat (perfect!) or to otherwise attend to my increasingly neediness.

The labor and birth were amazing (someday, more on these).

And the follow-up visits were fantastic. We had midwives here on day 2, day 3 and, and and, many times in the first days and weeks.

Now, at week six, we are done.

While these ladies remain our midwives and will happily answer any questions we have, offer us guidance, referrals, and in many ways continue to support our little family, there are no more scheduled visits.

It's kinda sad, like I said.

These women have been such an important part of my pregnancy and of course, of my labor. They have also each been here since Ginger was born. Each was informative and supportive. None was ever judgmental or bossy, even when I asked ridiculous questions, the kind that she must have heard from each new mom. (Me: So, it's OK when she does the whole REM sleep thing with her eyes open? 'Cause she kinda looks like a demon when she does that. Midwife (silence) "Yes, newborns sleep can look and sound strange."

In no way do Ross and I feel set adrift or otherwise unprepared for our midwives to say goodbye... I believe that thanks to working with midwives in general and Awakenings in particular, we are better prepared than most new families for the delightful and daunting, messy and difficult, magic and silly days/weeks/months ahead with Ginger.

It's wonderful that we manage our daily lives with a few weeks-old human. We have not only kept her alive, but her weight is great, she is alert and smiley and doesn't torture us any more than we torture her (midnight feedings and 5 am alert/hangout times are trade offs, I think, for bathing her or putting her in a car seat when she REALLY doesn't want to be in a car seat). So it's freaking radical to know that we're doing it!

But, yes, sad to say goodbye to our relationship with the midwives. I'll never be pregnant again for the first time. I'll never ask someone if it's OK to sleep on my back or drink a beer; and be reminded that I live in my body, and if I listen to it, I'll know what is right for me -- and my baby.

I'll never be scared of labor again; and gently guided to the knowledge that not only am I capable of a beautiful labor, but that I was born to experience a beautiful labor.

So, yeah, I could go on... but you get the idea. It's a bittersweet goodbye. I'm gonna go with a ta-ta-for-now, actually, because I'm not done knowing these amazing ladies.