Friday, December 31, 2010

Possible Plans for 2011

I've been working on a post of highlights, and low lights, from this year that I have been writing a blog.  Unfortunately, my son stayed up late tonight and I didn't get it done.  Darn it!  Hopefully I get it done at some point this weekend.

I was asked today if I plan to continue blogging every day.  I just don't know.  Sometimes it takes a fair amount of time to research and write these posts, though most days it takes around 30-minutes.  I don't know if I want to continue writing on this blog every day, but I also don't want to set it aside forever.  I guess I won't know until tomorrow if I'll continue this daily writing regimen.

This blog has, at times, been my ultra-cheap therapy.  You've read about my darkest thoughts, my hottest fury, my impossible joys, my crippling heartbreaks, and my steadfast faith.  You've witnessed my lowest lows and highest highs. . .this year has been a kick in the pants.  And sometimes a kick in the teeth.

I think I'd like to focus this blog on something that I'm passionate about, but I'm just not that passionate about anything other than my family.  Don't get me wrong, I have strong feelings about many topics, but they don't light me up like my husband and son.  Besides, I think I'd run out of things to say if I focused on one topic.  There is only so much one can write (or cares to read) about breastfeeding, babywearing, or any other thing that I tend to write a lot about.

I was given a new macro lens for Christmas and I was thinking that I might share photos by making a Wordless Wednesday post each week.  Perhaps share simple & easy recipes once per week?  Or maybe I'll just write one well researched post each week?

I had hoped by writing this post that my 2011 blog plans would somehow come together in my mind, but it didn't work that way.  Eh, whatever.  I'm getting ready to do an East coast toast with my sparkling cider.  Happy New Year!  :-)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where Have All the o.b. Tampons Gone?

For several months I've been hearing snippets about how o.b. tampons have gone missing in many drug stores.  It was only the Ultra size at first, but I've since learned that all o.b. tampons are disappearing off shelves.  I know that I don't use tampons any longer, but I did use the o.b. brand since I was around fourteen and I was having a difficult time finding them as far back as last year so I was curious to find out where o.b. tampons were going.

Not sure what o.b. tampons are?  They were the only mainstream tampon that was applicator-free.  That is, you flared out the bottom of the tampon and inserted it using your finger.  I know, eww, but I'm not squeamish about my vagina (obviously - ha!) and I prefer having a discreet little tampon in my bag instead of a tampon with a ginormous applicator.  Besides, I always found that the applicators were gross - particularly when the blunt edges of a cardboard applicator scraped against my vaginal wall.  Yes, I'm looking at you, Tampax!

I also liked o.b. because they seemed to be the only tampon that didn't grow at all lengthwise when used.  I've tried other brands of tampons and, I swear, sometimes they grew so long that I was sure the tampon would grow right out of my body.  Ugh, gross.  Tampax and Playtex were the worst offenders in that area.  I preferred the widthwise growth of o.b. and I was brand loyal for around twenty years.

So what did I find out about o.b. tampons?  I have some bad news for women who suffer with a heavy flow, really bad freaking news.  The Ultra o.b. tampons are permanently off the market.  I guess it sucks to have a heavy flow in more ways than one.  But what of the Super Plus or Regular o.b. tampons and why are they missing?  The manufacturer claims that they will be back some time next year.  NEXT YEAR! 

I find it hard to believe that a tampon manufacturer doesn't realize that women tend to have periods every 20 to 35 days.  Do they just not care about their customers?  Most women are intensely brand-loyal when it comes to their period protection.  What are o.b. customers supposed to do?  Should they stand on their heads until the manufacturer gets their act together?  Should these women sequester themselves in an isolation hut until o.b. tampons hit the market again?  It's unbelievable that the manufacturer has completely failed so many women.

You'll have to pardon me for suggesting that these women should collectively extend their middle fingers and switch to reusable products.  I'm so thankful that I stopped using tampons earlier this year because this screwing around would have made me see red and shake tiny fists of impotent rage.  The way I see it now, I'll never be at the mercy of another feminine product manufacturer because I can reuse my Diva Cup and my mama cloth for years.  YEARS! 

So screw you, o.b. tampons, this is one woman you will never regain as a customer.

Will You Be My Next Convert???

A friend contacted me today about a very specific topic.  This is the fifth friend who has privately communicated with me about this particular topic.  What is the topic that I apparently know enough about that others seek my advice on the matter?  Menstrual cups and mama cloth. 

Whether I know a lot about menstrual cups and mama cloth is certainly up for debate, but it is well-known that I'm more than willing to talk about it and share whatever information I've learned.  I never thought I'd be this kind of person, but I guess you can say that I'm something of a Period Proselytizer.  Since changing how I manage my period, I feel that it's something to have a little fun with rather than something to be dreaded.  Am I saying that I had a happy period?  Well, I'm saying it's more likely than you may think!

I've shared my menstrual adventures several times in this blog and I guess those posts have hit a nerve with some readers.  Three of the friends who have contacted me privately have taken the information I gave and can now be counted as menstrual cup or mama cloth converts.  I can't claim that I'm the only reason that these women considered reusable menstrual products, but it didn't hurt that I opened my mouth and shared my experiences with the readership. 

Is 2011 the year that you change how you control of your period?  Will you be the next one converted by the Period Proselytizer?  ;-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thanks, Unisom, You're Killing My Blog

I found the energy to take down our Christmas decorations today, but I don't have the energy to research the blog post I had planned to write this evening.  Why can't I take an hour and do a little research to write a blog post?  Because I took my 1/2 tablet of Unisom and I'm getting ready to zonk out for the night.  I know it's hard to believe, but this post alone (weak as it is) has taken over 45-minutes to write.  And it's only a few sentences!

I have three posts that have been rattling around in my head for several days.  I better get cracking since the year is running out, but that cracking won't begin until tomorrow.  Or the next night!

Zzzzzzzz. . .

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'm Obviously Not a Pill Popper

I am a total pillowcase tonight because the do-it-yourself Bendectin is knocking me on my butt!  I've never been the kind of person who takes pills very often, but I've always been particularly conservative when it comes to taking pain pills or sleeping pills.  As a result, I often only need to take the smallest reommended dose in order to get relief.

The Unisom & Vitamin B6 combo that my OB recommended does seem to work and I'm happy that I actually slept through the night last night and didn't have any middle of the night nausea or vomitting.  I did gag a couple of times this morning, but I was actually able to get out of the house late this morning to attend a playdate so I think that's a plus. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to function until around ten this morning because I was soooo tired.  Yes, even 1/2 a Unisom knocks me out for hours on end.  I guess that's pretty strong evidence that I'm not a pill-head. . .as if there was ever a question, right?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Unisom + Vitamin B6 = Morning Sickness Preventative?

*Disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional!  Do not take medical advice from a middle-aged suburban housewife!  See your medical professional for all medical advice!*

I had a routine pre-natal visit with my doctor this afternoon.  As is our custom, my husband attended the appointment with me.  I find that it is helpful to have a second set of ears to hear whatever the doctor says and today it was helpful to have my husband ask questions. 

I've had what I suppose is typical morning sickness for a few weeks, but I've been crippled by it over the last several days.  I can't get out of bed for at least an hour every morning.  I can't sleep between the hours of 11:00 pm and 2:00 am.  I need to lie down for several hours during the day, usually morning or afternoon but sometimes both, because I feel that I might puke if I'm upright.  I have to choose what I'll attempt to eat with the thought that I want to eat what would be the least offensive thing to see flying out my mouth.  I can't even drink water without threat of vomiting it back up.  I've lost weight since I last saw my doctor two weeks ago and, thanks to my dehydration, my urine is concentrated enough that it is a bright yellow hue.

My husband thoughtfully brought up my horrible morning sickness while we were visiting with my doctor.  I never had a single episode of morning sickness when I was pregnant with my son so I figured that what I'm currently experiencing is normal and it would have never occurred to me to bring it up to the doctor.  Thank goodness my husband opened his mouth!

My doctor recommended that I take a 1/2 tablet (NOT a gel capsule) of plain Unisom and 25 mg of Vitamin B6 to help prevent nausea and, hopefully, stop the vomit.  It is not a cure, but it acts as a preventative so I'll be taking it for a few weeks. 

Doxylamine, the active ingredient in plain tablets of Unisom, and Vitamin B6 were the components of the anti-nausea drug Bendectin.  The manufacturer of Bendectin pulled it from the US market decades ago due to lawsuits alleging that it caused birth defects.  However, the drug was never proven to cause defect or damage and Bendectin never even lost FDA approval.  But the damage was done in the public eye, and to Merrel Dow's balance sheet - to the tune of over $100 million, and the manufacturer pulled it off the market anyway. 

Bendectin was used in an estimated 30 million pregnancies.  Study after study after study, literally more than 25 studies!, have proven that Bendectin is a safe and effective choice for preventing nausea in pregnancy.  The CDC has found no evidence that birth defects have decreased since Bendectin was pulled from the market in 1983.  But, for obvious business reasons - thanks to attorneys, junk science, and a particularly gullible jury, a safe and effective drug was voluntarily removed from the market.

I live a very clean lifestyle when I'm pregnant and I do not take medications unless absolutely necessary.  Based on what I learned while researching Bendectin and from my doctor's advice on the matter, I am perfectly comfortable taking this do-it-yourself Bendectin.  I took my first dose about thirty minutes ago and I don't notice any difference, but I'll see how I feel in a few days.

I specifically did not give dosage times or combinations because I am not a medical professional and no one reading this is my patient.  Contact your obstetrician for advice if you are experiencing abnormally severe morning sickness.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another Day of All-Day-Long Morning Sickness

I've mentioned it a time or two, but this baby continues to kick my butt.  As indicated by the title of this post, I had to spend another day trying desperately to not only eat food, but keep it in my digestive system.  I entered my eight-week of pregnancy late last week and, though I've only been suffering with it for a few weeks, I'm beginning to wonder if morning sickness (a misnomer if there ever was one!) will ever end. 

Actually, it wouldn't be all that bad if it were only morning sickness.  It's fair to describe my illness as all-day-long sickness and it strikes me hardest late at night.  Being ill all night long means that I'm not getting enough rest.  Not getting enough rest seems to exacerbate the nausea which then leads to gagging and dry heaving at best or actual vomiting at worst.

Pregnancy isn't all that bad though.  I mean, after all, you get a baby for your trouble.  As an added bonus, your boobs tend to grow large enough to resemble melons at least until you wean your baby.  Most amazingly, pregnant women are given a super-power.  It's nothing cool like shape shifting or an ability to read minds, but we do tend to lose a defined waistline at around four months gestation and I think I can tell what my husband is thinking whether or not he says a word.  My husband calls this "reading too much" into things, but that's just, like, his opinion, man.  Yes, I just threw a Dude reference in there.

What super-power do pregnant women possess?  It's an extremely heightened sense of smell.  At the moment I think I could be employed by Customs to sniff out drugs or explosives at the airport.  However, I'm far more likely to catch the slightest whiff of something, anything that might turn my stomach enough to send me running for the bathroom to stick my head in the toilet.

Coffee?  Blech.  Hairspray?  Blech.  Pie?  Blech.  Any strong smell, pleasant or unpleasant, is too much for me to bear these days. 

I've had several very difficult days and it's approaching the time of night that leaves me quivering with nausea so I have to cut this post short.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Bittersweetness of Christmas

This was a bittersweet Christmas.  That's not to say that it wasn't a good one because it was lovely to spend the day with family - even though I got incredibly SICK after breakfast.  I would have preferred to be able to spend the entire day feeling good, but I've been okay since around four o'clock this afternoon so I can't really complain.  Besides, it's a sickness for a reason that I'm oh-so-thankful to experience.

My son has been excitedly talking about Christmas for weeks.  He points out every Santa, Snowman, and Baby Jesus that we see - an unusual trinity to be sure, but at least he correctly identified one member.  He absolutely enjoyed himself today and he basked in the loving attention of his grandparents.  Of course, he made out like a bandit and I've never seen such an impressive haul of presents for one child. 

I know it's naive, but I thought that by totally focusing on my son, I wouldn't miss my loved ones who are gone.  My son's joy was almost enough to make me forget my sadness.  Almost.

There's a deep pain that I ignored until I sat down to reflect on my day in this post.  Today was painfully strange because this was my first Christmas without a brother.  I have no brother.  I'm without a sibling who I've had in my life since I was born.  He's been gone for over 3 1/2 months and somehow I still expected to talk with him today. 

The meal was delicious, the dishes are washed, the gifts were opened, and the trash is thrown away.  Life seems normal, but I'm very aware that this new reality feels abnormal.  They say that the first holiday season without a loved one is the hardest.  And I can verify that it is.

I hope that you spent Christmas with your loved ones.  If you're separated from loved ones because of bad feelings, consider extending the olive branch.  You lose nothing by trying to make peace and you may regain a loved one.  Life is too short to squander time, spend it with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas from me and mine to you and yours.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sex, Childbirth, and Tight Vaginas

It's been raining for days on end here and, as a result, I've spent a fair amount of time goofing around on the internet while my son totally destroys my living room.  I came across a thread on a website I frequently check and it left me more than a little disgusted.  The article was about the alarming rise of unnecessary C-sections, unnecesareans if you will, that are being foisted upon American women.  The comments on the article were mainly about whether a woman should always opt for a Cesarean so she can keep a "perfect" and tight vagina.

* * *

Nearly 33% of babies are now born via C-section and that percentage has risen for the last 13-years.  If that doesn't alarm you, then you just don't understand why a Cesarean should only be used in a legitimate emergency situation and you don't realize that 32.9% of births are most certainly not emergency situations.  I wonder why no one brings up the incredibly high C-section rate in this country when discussing maternal mortality because it most certainly has an impact on that number.

I understand why Obstetricians may push for a C-section.  They do have prohibitively expensive malpractice insurance costs because parents want blood, or money, if their child is born with anything that can remotely be considered a "defect."  Doing something, even if it's a major abdominal surgery, is viewed as better than nothing; that is, letting a baby be born the way nature intended - through the vagina. 

A certain John Edwards, yes that John Edwards, and his lawsuits concerning cerebral palsy (basically he blamed vaginal birth and, though there is no real evidence to prove that, juries bought his argument) can certainly be thanked for a sharp rise in C-sections.  Practicing defensive Obstetrics and adopting the line of, "when in doubt, cut it out," absolutely has to do with bloodsucker attorneys.  It is interesting to note that the cerebral palsy rate is roughly the same though Cesareans have increased dramatically in the last several years.  But this really isn't about a womanizing failed political candidate who fathered a child while his wife was dying of cancer.  This is about how the medical & legal system, and society in general, is failing women and failing newborns.

* * *

A Cesarean isn't something to be chosen lightly.  It is a major abdominal surgery.  Major!  Understand that a mother who has experienced (in my opinion, suffered is the better word) a C-section will have to recover from a major abdominal surgery while caring for a newborn and any other children at home.  She is more likely to struggle while establishing a breastfeeding relationship because she probably didn't get to nurse her child for an hour or more after delivery and a six-inch scar across her lower abdomen doesn't particularly make it comfortable to have an 8-pound bundle of joy resting on the incision to nurse.  She is more likely to have complications while recovering from childbirth because, in addition to delivering a baby, she experienced a major abdominal surgery.  She is also more likely to die from childbirth (during and after) than a mother who delivers vaginally.  And that's just negative impact on the mom! 

The baby is more likely to have breathing difficulties because they didn't get the benefit of having their chest squeezed through the birth canal, thus helping to clear their lungs.  The baby doesn't get the benefit of the exposure to bacteria present in normal vaginal flora, which is thought to help reduce asthma, allergies, and various infections.  The benefits of breastfeeding for infants is well-documented and babies born via C-section are less likely than their vaginally delivered counterparts to enjoy these benefits for any length of time.  The baby, a newborn, is exposed to the analgesics and anesthesia required to perform a major abdominal surgery.  This one really gripes me because I lived a very clean life when I was pregnant and I believed that a spinal would not reach my son. . .guess what?  Regional anaesthesia does reach the baby.

Before I get a bunch of breastfeeding Cesarean survivors all up in my grill, let me be clear that I'm living proof that it's possible to establish a good nursing relationship - even if you had what is called an "elective" c-section, but it will be a more difficult endeavour than if you'd had a vaginal birth or at least experienced some labor.

I'm not against necessary Cesareans; they do absolutely have their place in Obstetrics.  They absolutely can save the lives of mothers and children.  But they are performed far too frequently in America and hopefully everyone understands why a vaginal birth is preferable to a Cesarean (in the absence of a true emergency) in terms of maternal and infant health.  Even the word "emergency" might be confusing because many women have been lied to about what is a true emergency.  For the record, "failure to progress" does not usually signify an emergency; it signifies that the OB wants to go home for the day.

I might add that the true disservice being done to the unnecesarean victim isn't even apparent until the woman wants another child.  In some areas and with some doctors, a woman who had one C-section will deliver all future children in the same fashion.  Kinda makes you question the motivation behind the actions of some "cutters, " doesn't it?  After all, Cesarean deliveries are billable for far larger amounts than a routine vaginal birth.

* * *

It's hard to argue with what I've written thus far because I haven't just been spouting my opinions today.  Note though that my position about Cesareans, vaginal births, and vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) have only been strengthened by the facts that I've learned about childbirth in America while I researched this post.  Needless to say, I will absolutely prepare myself as much as possible to have a VBAC when it's time for this baby to be born and I'm thankful that our HMO does encourage women to have a VBAC if possible and if the woman so desires.

I've written how the medical and legal system fail women and now I want to focus on how society fails women on this issue.  The myth of the "perfect" vagina is just that - a myth.  The "perfect" vagina does not exist.  Unfortunately, a lot of women do strive to achieve vaginal perfection and they are disappointed when they realize that it is not realistic.

Outside of mainstream porn with their proliferation of vaginas that have clearly had vaginoplasty and labiaplasty, most vaginas are pretty damn weird looking.  It's a dark and mysterious place that looks funny inside and out.  But guess what?  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'm willing to bet that the individual you have sex with thinks your vagina is freaking spectacular and they probably would love to get in it every single day.

Does vaginal birth "wreck" or "blow out" your vagina?  I don't know because I've never experienced a vaginal birth, but I'm inclined to say that it does not get ruined by childbirth.  If it did, no one would have more than one child.  Seriously, think about it.  If vaginas are left permanently floppy and sloppy after childbirth, why would it get penised enough to get the woman pregnant again?  The man would have a really difficult time ejaculating if his penis didn't get any friction from the vaginal walls and no ejaculation equals very slim chance of pregnancy.

I'd imagine that the first few times having sex after a vaginal birth aren't really all that great.  Perhaps it might still feel a little slack weeks later or maybe stitches (if she was cut or tore) are still irritating.  Well, women who have vaginal births aren't the lone rangers when it comes to awkward post-childbirth sex.  In my typical way of sharing way too much information, sex after a Cesarean isn't exactly awesome and it very nearly brought me to tears (and they weren't tears of joy) because my incision site was so damned painful more than six-weeks later.  And that's not even the entire story.  I know it makes no sense, but things somehow felt different on the inside to me too and not in a good way.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I figure that post-childbirth sex isn't going to be the most mind-blowing sex ever experienced so get back in the habit and eventually it will be great again.

Have you (or your partner) experienced vaginal birth?  Were Kegels practiced prior to birth and afterward?  Long clenches, short & rapid clenches, or a mix of both?  What was the end result of the vagina?  Did it feel any different?  Was sex better, worse or about the same?  Am I crazy for throwing caution to the wind and risking the size of my tiny vaginey by deciding to have a VBAC?

* * *

I know that I've touched on some fairly controversial issues in this post today.  I hope that any comments can be respectful and that we can express ourselves without belittling or attacking each other.  Remember to fight the position, not the person.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Weird and Not So Weird Pregnancy Symptoms

I'm rolling into my eighth-week of pregnancy and I'm a little surprised by the symptoms I already have.

Dry eyes - I haven't been able to wear my contact lenses in weeks because my eyes are impossibly dry.  I find it strange that it's a pregnancy thing, but these hormones do some crazy things.
Dry skin - I haven't gained any weight yet, but the skin on my abdomen and my thighs already feels unbearably itchy.  I sometimes wake up scratching at myself.  I didn't get any stretch marks with my son (except on what became my ginormous boobs), but I'm pretty sure that I won't be so lucky this time.
Growing boobs - I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have gone up a full cup size in a little less than two weeks.  That might be awesome if it weren't for the symptom below.
Breast pain - It's nowhere near as painful as it was when I was pregnant with my son, but my breasts are so sensitive that I've been wearing a sports bra 24/7 to keep the twins from moving around too much.  I had forgotten just how heavy boobs feel hanging off your chest.
Leukorrhea - After my spotting scares, I find myself running to the restroom on a regular basis to make sure the squishy feeling down below isn't blood.  Nope, it's just good ol' pregnancy-induced leukorrhea.  Ordinarily I wouldn't complain about being wet downstairs and I'd take advantage of the natural lube, but I'm not exactly interested in hitting the sheets at the moment. . .unless it's quite literally to go to bed.
Food aversions & nausea - Turkey, coffee, and a certain type of coffee creamer leave me with my head in a toilet.  Even something as innocent as milk is creeping me out; I can't help it, I keep thinking that there might be pus in the milk.  Ewww!  Other strong smells (hairspray and the dog's food in particular) are equally difficult for me to handle.  I also find that my morning sickness hits me hardest in the middle of the night, which leads to the next symptom.
Exhaustion - I go back and forth on this one.  Sometimes I'm a whirlwind of frenzied activity and others I'm practically passing out on the couch.  Naturally, it's far worse the day after a long night of nausea.

Almost eight-weeks down and thirty-two to go!  I hope I'm getting all my pregnancy related discomfort out of the way early, but I realize the discomforts will only increase as I approach the end of my final pregnancy.  Since this will be our last baby and we tried so long to get it, I'm really trying hard not to complain.  But, come on, nothing makes a woman bitch and moan more than discussing pregnancy and childbirth!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tomorrow - It's a Trap!

I don't care for much television programming, but I love most of the animated shows.  South Park, Robot Chicken, and Family Guy are my favorite things to watch once the little one goes to bed for the evening.  I don't find everything about those shows hilarious and sometimes find that my beliefs are mocked, but I have a good sense of humor so I'm still a viewer.

I'm not just an uber-cool adult cartoon viewer, I'm also a sci-fi nerd.  I know a lot about Star Trek (but, no, I do not speak Klingon), the many spin-offs, and all the movies.  Cementing my reputation as a virgin-living-in-mother's-basement (okay, but I'm not really - suck it nerds!) is the fact that I love Star Wars. 

My geekiness knows no bounds when it comes to Star Wars.  I really love Star Wars.  I don't love it so much that I dress up as Leia and attend conventions or anything (but I might, if I were encouraged enough), but I know quite a bit about even secondary characters.  I still own several of my Star Wars books that I had as a kid; I know, I've always been a dork.

The marriage of animated programming with Star Wars is an epic win in my book.  I had a total geek-out late last night and enjoyed watching Robot Chicken's treatment of Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI.  Yes, I was up far too late so I could watch a program that is probably targeted toward someone half my age.

I'm super-excited to see the Family Guy treatment of Episode VI.  It's a Trap! comes out tomorrow and I've been eagerly anticipating it for months!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ho Ho Ho

My son is so darned cute!  If I didn't give birth to the child, I'd wonder if he's my son. 

A few weeks ago, I detailed my feelings about dressing him as Santa.  Though he initially protested the garb, he's been perfectly happy to wear the Santa suit.  Sometimes he specifically asks for the Santa hat and I've even caught him putting the hat on his favorite stuffed squirrel. 

I had him wear his Santa suit to church today.  His cuteness is off the charts now that he has also learned to say, "Ho, ho, ho!"  My Santa Baby is a complete and total joy; I love him so much!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

General George S. Patton Museum at Chiriaco Summit

I don't visit museums often.  It isn't that I dislike them, I like a few very much, it's just that I don't usually think of visiting one if I have free time.  I had free time today and my hubby was uncharacteristically home on a Saturday (again - yay!) so the family took a day trip to visit the General George S. Patton Museum at Chiriaco Summit.

I realize that WWII happened a long time ago and most people in my generation probably don't know diddly squat about General Patton, but he was a fantastically fascinating and ballsy character in American history.  He was direct and had little tolerance for fear and cowardice.  He may have pushed his men and held them to high standards, but they appear to have respected him for it. 

If you can't bring yourself to read any of his writings or anything written about him, at least take a few hours to watch the 1970 film Patton.  Understand, however, that the film is partially based on Omar Bradley's biography and the Patton family refused to help flesh out the title character for the filmmakers.

Over a year ago, I actually suggested the name Patton to my husband should we have another boy child.  Of course, now our next child is already named. . .and God didn't give this child the name Patton.

The museum is located near the former entrance of Camp Young, Patton's headquarters for the Desert Training Center.  It's a small museum, but there are a lot of display cases exhibiting everything from uniforms, mess kits, rations, sabers, knives, firearms, shells & casings, and many more items.  The highlight, I think, is found outside:  TANKS.  Lots and lots of tanks.  Even my little one liked the tanks.

The museum also has "The Big Map."  Yes, that's the name and, yes, it is.  It is an impossibly large relief map of the entire area.  Let me say that the Desert Training Center was HUGE.  How huge was it?  It stretched from Pomona nearly to Phoenix and from Yuma to the tip of Nevada.  Why was it so ginormous?  Because twenty divisions utilized the DTC to conduct war maneuvers and 1,000,000 soldiers were training there to prepare to fight in the North African theater.

I don't know that I'd recommend such a long drive for such a small venue for most people.  Unless you're a WWII buff or a Patton fan, don't go too far out of your way.  But if you're on Interstate 10, somewhere between Palm Springs and Indio, do stop by for a quick visit. 

PS  Based on how lousy I've felt lately, I'm thankful that I didn't lose my guts at the museum for Old Blood & Guts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Avatar - FINALLY!!!11!

I planned on seeing Avatar in the theater.  Nearly everyone I know who saw it recommended that I see it in 3-D.  I not only did not see it in 3-D, but I did not see it at all. 

Going to the movies isn't something that we do much of these days, not that we ever really did anyway, and we certainly weren't going to hire a sitter for four hours so we could sit quietly and ignore each other in a movie theater.  But, oh how I wanted to watch this darn movie!

Well, Avatar finally hit cable.  The hubby and I are watching it right now so I'm cutting this post short tonight.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Nice Beaver" and Other Compliments

I spent extra time on personal landscaping earlier this week because I knew that my OB was going to paw around between my legs.  My husband thinks it's funny that I prep my privates before these types of appointments, but surely I'm not the only woman who does so.  Am I?

Though I made sure that everything looked neat & tidy down there, my doctor didn't make a single comment.  Is it bizarre that I'm a little miffed that he didn't mention how nice I looked in that area?  True, I'd feel somewhat uncomfortable if he had looked up there and declared, "Nice beaver," but I am a bit bothered that he didn't even seem to notice my efforts.  Of course, I probably wouldn't notice an exceptional vagina either if I spent my days with my hands up in the Y.

My husband already felt awkward watching another man get to third base with me so I can't imagine what he'd say or do if the doctor gave compliments on my downstairs.  Knowing my husband, he'd probably nod and say, "Yeah, I'm tapping that."

This train of thought got me wondering if anyone has ever received an inappropriate compliment or heard an inappropriate comment from a doctor.  Have you?  If so, please share below.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Favorite Religious Christmas Carols

As is typical on days that my energy is drained, here's a list of favorites.  This time it's my favorite religious Christmas Carols.  Did your favorite make my list?

O Holy Night - This might sound pretentious, but I like Luciano Pavarotti's rendition above all others.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen -I'm partial to Nat King Cole's version.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - I really like the way my church's praise band does this song; it actually gives me chills.
What Child Is This? - The melody is "Greensleeves" and it's very recognizable.
Angels We Have Heard On High - Don't think you know this song?  Here, let me refresh your memory with the most well-known part of the song:  Glororororororororororororia In excelsis Deo (repeat)
Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing! - What Christian can possibly argue with this part:  "Born that man no more may die.  Born to raise the sons of earth; Born to give them second birth."
Go Tell It On the Mountain - Every gospel choir I've ever heard just knocks this one out of the park.
O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) - Yes, I like it in either English or Latin.
Do You Hear What I Hear - At the risk of sounding like a total puss, I usually tear up at not one, but two parts of this song.
Joy to the World - An unabashedly upbeat and happy song proclaiming the Savior's birth.
Silent Night - The peaceful image of a mother snuggling with her tiny infant. . .every mother can relate to this touching thought.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby in the Sac!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you to God and thank you to all of my friends and family who have been praying and hoping for a good outcome at my doctor's appointment today.  I am so pleased to say that the outcome was truly everything I had wanted.

My doctor not only found a baby, but also a heartbeat.  A teeny, tiny heart is already beating in my beautiful little babe!  I would have burst into tears had my husband not grounded me by grabbing my hand and giving it a squeeze. 

I am simply over the moon with joy at the memory of that flickering little heart on the screen.  I was so concerned, terrified really, and I feel like I can finally give a sigh of relief and relax.  Oh, how I've wanted this moment!

Now the not-so-good news:  I flunked my 1-hour glucose test so I have to do the 3-hour test next week.  A lack of activity often leads to insulin resistance so I'm nearly 100% certain that I didn't pass because I've been on this semi-bedrest.  My doctor gave me the go-ahead to resume normal activity (he says the baby isn't a piece of fruit on a tree; you can't just shake it loose) so I'll be performing some form of exercise every day.  I know that's a Bradley thing also so I might as well make it a habit now. 

As far as diet is concerned, well, that's going to be tricky.  I know that I should watch my carb intake, but that's a little difficult when carbs are about the only thing that is soothing to my queasy stomach.  I'm planning to do a lot of stir-fry (veggie & protein) meals this week (the ginger should help my tender tummy) and I'll hope for the best.

* * *

My husband often attends doctor's appointments with me because he insists that I hear something other than what the doctor says.  He says my OB was very clear that I would get a c/s when I went to the hospital so he could attempt to flip my son.  I heard that there was a chance that I would not be getting cut and I held out hope that I'd enjoy a natural delivery.  He says that our son's pediatrician never had anything negative to say about me breastfeeding our son.  I heard that he was critical over my son being so slim and he questioned just how many ounces of breastmilk our son was receiving in each feeding.  Today, we both heard the same thing. . .I think.

Anyway, he mentioned that he finds it awkward to not only watch another man use a dildo-shaped instrument on me, but then the same man sticks his fingers up my hoo-haw.  Yeah, put that way, I guess it is kinda awkward!  haha

Christmas Menu

I hosted family at my house for Thanksgiving and I'm doing it again for Christmas.  This wouldn't be a problem most years, but it does feel slightly overwhelming this year.  My house is a complete and total disaster after spending this last week on semi-bedrest.  Not a single decoration decks my halls.  Gifts, while thankfully purchased, have yet to be wrapped.  All these things can be remedied in a long afternoon of cleaning, decorating, and wrapping.  My problem is the menu.

I love turkey; after salmon it's my favorite meat.  I generally serve the same meal for Christmas and Thanksgiving:  turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, corn, green salad, and a relish tray.  I like turkey so much that I always stock up for the year when they are on sale and I currently have four turkeys in my chest freezer. 

Sounds great, right?  Wrong.  The problem this year is that I'm pregnant.  I'm not just pregnant, I'm pregnant with weird food aversions and queasiness.  Turkey is the one food that has consistently made me sick each time I try to eat it.  At this point, just thinking about the smell of turkey is enough to turn my stomach.

So turkey is out for the centerpiece of my Christmas dinner, what else can I make?  Chicken isn't fancy enough, duck and goose are fatty and will most definitely make me vomit, fish doesn't seem "Christmas-y," and I don't care for pork.  What does that leave?  Beef, I guess.

Steaks on the grill don't seem all that festive and a pot roast is something I'd make any ol' night.  I thought about doing a prime rib roast, but I don't care for the cut.  Then it hit me:  beef Wellington.  Of course!  It's fancy enough for Christmas and I'm pretty sure that everyone will like it. 

Unfortunately, pink meat, usually so appealing to me, is yet another thing that makes me ill these days.  That makes it tough to serve up a medium rare supper and it would be just wrong to overcook the meal for everyone just because I can't handle the look of it.  After thinking about it a little longer, I think I'll make individual servings instead of one big filet roast.

The only problem I can see with this plan is that beef Wellington, while easy enough to make, does require a lot of work and I just don't think I'll be up for it after getting the house put together.  Frankly, it's exhausting just to think about all the work that's ahead of me.  I may just end up serving a pot roast.

What does your family serve for Christmas dinner?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Long Day, Early Bedtime

My son and I went out this morning for the first time in over a week.  Being cooped up for such a long time left me feeling dry and tired, but the companionship of great friends refreshed my spirit.  My son had a wonderful time and even said that he had a good time with his friends ("good time friends") as we were driving home.

And then the day fell apart.

I was exhausted after my first excursion out of the house and, of all days to have this happen, my son would not nap.  WOULD NOT NAP.  None of my standard get-the-boy-to-go-to-sleep tricks didn't work.  Returning him to bed didn't work.  Taking away toys didn't work.  Begging him to go to sleep didn't work.  Nothing worked and I finally just gave up after an hour of attempting to get a nap for myself and we sat in the living room.

That's when I started feeling ill.  I don't mean that I was catching a cold.  No, I'm talking about the so-called morning sickness that apparently can strike at any moment during the day.  I curled up on the couch, willing myself not to vomit, and my son decided that he wanted to nap.  Against my throat.  Have I ever mentioned that excess pressure against my throat often triggers my gag reflex?  Yeah, that's just one reason why turtlenecks aren't my favorite type of clothing.

I pushed him away as gently as I could and then he started bouncing on the couch.  Bouncing!  Bouncing!  Bouncing!  He knows he's not allowed to bounce and flop on furniture so naturally he does it when I'm about to toss my cookies.  Imagine feeling sick to your stomach and then sitting in a bounce house that's filled with people jumping around.  That's pretty much what this felt like. 

I calmly exited the living room and decided to lie down on his bed.  He followed me.  You can imagine how this tale ends, right?

After a couple of rough hours, my queasiness eased up enough that I was able to make dinner for the two of us.  Thankfully, he ate it without complaint.  He did, however, smear mashed potatoes in his hair.  I stared at his hair treatment and considered letting the dog lick it out, but ultimately decided that a bath was in order.  He went right to bed tonight and I think I need to follow suit!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Christmas Letter

As I have done for the last several years, I'd like to send a Christmas letter to friends and family.  Most years, I have no problem writing a fun and upbeat (I think) letter to let our loved ones know what's going on in our lives.  I'm having an impossibly difficult time writing the Christmas letter this year.

We attended eight funerals; including close friends, my husband's last grandparent and, most painfully, my own brother.  One of my loved ones has had six surgeries this year and very nearly died on two different occasions.  I have never mentioned it in this blog, but there has been a particular type of turmoil on two fronts that has been ongoing since fairly early this year and I don't see the situation ever improving very much - if at all.  After a tenancy of more than three years, I lost my condo's tenants and have yet to find new tenants to rent out my condo.  For the first time in our entire married life, my husband and I slept apart. . .this probably doesn't mean anything to anyone else, but it is a huge deal to me.

I am finally pregnant after 19-months of trying to conceive and, quite honestly, that has been the one bright spot this year.  After a solid year of sadness, sorrow, and frustration, God has blessed my husband and me with another child.  And, yet, there have been challenges even in this joyous blessing that still aren't completely resolved at this time.

I've been mentally writing this Christmas letter for weeks, but I just don't know what to write about this year because what I have so far reads like the world's biggest pity party.  I'm seriously considering just sending out a generic note saying, "Merry Christmas" with our latest family pictures because I can't seem to write anything that would be uplifting to anyone. 

Do you write a Christmas letter?  What do you write about in years that are remarkably challenging?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Unsettling Dream

My husband kindly took our son to a birthday party this morning and our little one took a 3-hour nap as soon as they arrived back home.  That means that I also was able to take a 3-hour nap.  I'd ordinarily be happy to get such a great nap, but I had an unsettling dream that I've been pondering since I woke up.

I dreamed that my best friend and I were drinking and she uncharacteristically got overserved.  I offered to give her a ride and she declined.  I also suggested an alternate transportation arrangement which was also declined.  We were both parked in opposite directions so we turned from each other and began walking toward our vehicles.  I turned to watch her leave and, as she walked away from me, I was painfully aware that it would be the last time I would see her alive.  At that point, I woke up.

This dream was odd for a few reasons.  My best friend died in 2006 so it's been many years since I've had the joy of seeing her.  The last time I saw her wasn't after a pleasant time hanging out; it was after cancer had wasted her away and left her in a coma on life support.  And, while we enjoyed cocktails plenty of times, I never once saw her even remotely drunk. 

My husband analyzed this dream and he feels that it highlights the guilt I feel for not seeing more of her when she was still here.  I think that's a fair assessment, but I don't know - it could just be some stupid dream.  For reasons I can't understand, she didn't want visitors when she was fighting cancer the hardest.  I sent cards and letters, but I didn't visit and I do regret that I respected her wishes because it isn't something a good friend would have done so I do have a lot of guilt.

* * *

I had another hCG test this morning and my levels are now at 19,678.  On Sunday they were at 4,000, I was at 13,000 by Thursday and today it's at 19,678.  I'm reassured that it's obviously rising, but it has slowed and isn't doubling every 48 hours.  I have read that this isn't terribly uncommon at this point and plenty of pregnancies progress with slow growing HCG levels so I'm trying not to make too much over the numbers.  Besides, ultrasound becomes a better diagnostic tool than hCG levels by around 6-weeks gestation.  My doctor still wants to see me Tuesday and, hopefully, we'll at least see a fetal pole in my gestational sac by now.  I'm also hopeful that I'll be released to enjoy normal activities.  Please keep your prayers coming, we're not totally out of the woods yet.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Really Starting to Hate Cats

I'm really starting to hate cats.  Before you crazed cat-lovers start freaking out over how I feel about felines, let me explain.

I have a German Shepherd Dog (GSD) who hates nearly every other animal on the planet.  His lethal jaws have snuffed the life out of a variety of animals who have had the poor sense to hang out in our yard.  Fruit rats, opossums, and birds really stand no chance when he's going for the kill.  And if you're an animal in his yard, you are considered fair game.

Neighborhood cats have been pushing their luck lately by testing this dog's speed and agility.  For months, a black cat has been hanging out in the empty lot on the other side of our back fence.  This absolutely torments our dog.  The fence is plenty short enough for the dog to jump, but I'm thankful that he doesn't realize this fact or I'm pretty sure that this particular cat would have been dead meat a long time ago.  Since the dog doesn't pop over into the empty lot, he makes sure that the cat understands the way things are in the only way he can:  he barks at the cat.  It appears that this cat doesn't speak Canine and it still hasn't got the message to beat it. 

I can understand the appeal of this empty lot to a cat.  It's a wide open space and there are tons of fruit trees around so that means there are plenty of hunting opportunities - as my dog's victims could attest.  But I freaking hate this cat.  I don't care that it hangs out behind my backyard, I hate that it's very presence sets my dog off on a barking fit.  Considering that this cat is obviously an outdoor cat (possibly an indoor/outdoor), I'm counting down the days until a car or coyote makes it disappear for good. . .good riddance.

The boldness of a cat never fails to surprise and this morning there were two cats not only near our house, but in our yard.  In our yard.  The yard that we put the dog in every morning.  Can you see where this is going?

Well, those rotten little pussies owe their very lives to my husband's quick reflexes and strong arms.  Yes, he somehow grabbed the dog and held him back.  I should mention that the cats didn't even bail right away; what freaking defiance!  I'd have let the dog enjoy a well-earned trophy and send a message to all other feline interlopers. 

Is that wrong?  You know what?  Screw 'em!  They shouldn't be in my yard and they wouldn't be running loose in the neighborhood if they were a truly loved pet.  It's just asking for a car to hurt or kill your cat, let alone the risk of injury or death from coyotes or domestic dogs.

Okay, so local cats love to give my GSD a hard time.  That's not reason to detest them, not much of a reason anyway.  No, I'm really starting to hate cats because each and every time my dog starts talking trash to cats, it freaks out my son.  The ruckus this morning not only woke the poor lil' guy out of a sound sleep, but it left him hysterically crying.  I don't blame my dog for barking, I blame the cats for teasing him.

I did find it interesting that my son was crying about ghosts when I tried to soothe him back to sleep.  Ghosts?  How in the world does he even know what that means and why in the world would he be afraid of something that doesn't exist?  Weird.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Somewhat Good News?

I began spotting again late last night and I e-mailed my OB to inquire about getting an appointment earlier than 12/27 or at least getting some follow up testing to gauge how this pregnancy is progressing.  He ordered urinalysis as well as several blood tests, most notably another HCG count.  I visited the lab first thing this morning and this is what I know: 

My hCG level was at 4,000 late last Sunday evening in the ER.  I am considered 6-weeks pregnant today and my HCG level is at 13,000.  According to everything I've read on-line, I'm reassured that my numbers are steadily increasing and within a "normal" range for this point of a pregnancy.

However, my OB sent me an e-mail message expressing mild concern at the number and indicated that he will fit me in for an appointment next Tuesday if I'd like one.  I'm not sure it's necessary, but I figure that he wouldn't offer to screw up his appointment schedule for no reason so I agreed to come in next Tuesday.

My husband thinks that my doctor is perfectly happy with the test results, but that my doctor has to do and say certain things in order to work within our insurance company's guidelines.  Apparently our insurance doesn't schedule a first OB appointment until 8-weeks gestation - unless there is a problem.  My husband feels that my OB knows that I'm worried and he wants to get me in to set my mind at ease, but the only way he can get me in is to report that he's concerned about the numbers.  Ordinarily, I'd say that there is no merit to this assertion, but this same OB did a similar rule-bending when it came time to deliver my son so there is a possibility that my husband is correct.

I don't know exactly what to think about the situation at this point, but I'm feeling a little better because I think it's somewhat good news from the lab.  If you know anything about hCG levels and pregnancy, what do you think?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Short Pity Party

This is a short post because I'm feeling pretty rocky today and I haven't really improved as the day has progressed.  I feel exhausted physically and wiped out emotionally.

I did speak with an OB nurse/midwife today and, as is typical for the health professionals that I've been dealing with lately, she wasn't all that concerned about my spotting or the fact that the two ultrasounds I had performed on Sunday evening couldn't find a baby in the gestational sac.  I was told, again, that both of these things aren't all that uncommon this early in pregnancy.  Pardon me if I find it something to be concerned about; it is my baby (or lack of baby) after all.  She did, however, indicate that my hCG levels from Sunday night's testing are right where they would expect them to be at this point.

I guess the fact that I had been trying to conceive for 19-months and that I'm over 35 years of age doesn't warrant an immediate appointment with the doctor.  My first appointment with an obstetrician is still scheduled for 12/27 (that's 19 days from today!) because apparently my concerns aren't a concern for anyone else who might move my appointment up a week or more.

I should mention that, based on their practice of dating pregnancy by date of last menstrual period, I will be considered 6-weeks pregnant tomorrow.  I should also mention that I not only could see my son via ultrasound at that point, but we also heard his heartbeat.  To say that I'm nervous about this pregnancy would be an understatement.  I'm terrified. 

What if I miscarried with all that spotting and I just don't realize it yet?  What if a baby never does form in the gestational sac?  What if the baby is there by now and there is a major problem that will result in a loss?  I feel like I'm in constant prayer and I'm begging for this baby and pleading for it to be perfectly healthy.

I miss my husband.  I want him here with me right now.  I need him here.  Tomorrow afternoon can't come soon enough.  I hate that he had to leave me in this situation.  Naturally, my son has been extra-clingy because he misses his father and the poor little guy is definitely picking up on my nervousness.  You parents out there can probably figure out just how much rest I've been able to have in my husband's absence.

So that's it.  There's my pity party post for the evening.  Have any of you had a similar situation (empty gestational sac prior to 6-weeks gestation) that you're comfortable sharing?  If so, please share the outcome. . .I just feel like I'm afraid to get too attached (tough to do when I already refer to the child by name) if a baby doesn't/hasn't formed and I'm looking for a little reassurance.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Suggestions for Passing the Time

I already hate lying down and I'm counting down the days until I can get the heck out of my house.  At this rate, I'll just be happy to be up and resume normal activities.  Yes, I know that it hasn't even been two days.  What can I say?  I hate sitting on my butt (or, more accurately, lying down on it) and I am going freaking insane! 

Adding to my frustration is that my husband went out of town this morning and he won't be home until Thursday.  I guess he felt comfortable leaving me in this situation because he left his mother here to help me out.  I can't wait for him to come home and I already miss him so much.  He knows me so well that he intuitively knows what to do when I can't be on the ball.

Have you ever had a similar experience?  How did you pass the time?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why I (Heart) Facebook

I am not exactly on bed rest, but I'm not supposed to lift.  Or bend.  Or be on my feet too much.  The ER doctor asked me if I needed a note for school or work.  Considering that I'm a SAHM and the restrictions won't really mean much to my son and his demands, I declined the note.  Here's a quick post before I go lie down again. 

I was pondering the reasons why I love Facebook.  I resisted it for a long time, insisting that I'm not some dork on a computer (yes, I know I am), but I'm sure glad that I finally broke down and joined.

For starters, I love FB because it makes it easier to get back in touch with old friends who I've lost contact with for various reasons.  Thanks to FB, I've reconnected with several old friends who I missed and hadn't spoke with in many years.

Facebook also allows me to stay in touch with friends and family.  I wouldn't pick up the phone and tell loved ones about my son's latest shenanigans, but I will post it on FB and that status usually yields a volley of comments.  I'm particularly thankful that my brother and I were able to enjoy plenty of conversations thanks to FB.

The Facebook pages that I like often yield information about giveaways.  Sure, I follow most of these blogs anyway, but sometimes I do not.  FB helps me find some giveaways that I'd like to enter and wouldn't have known about otherwise.

Are you on FB?  Why do you <3 it?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Wild & Wooly Night in the ER

I spent several hours in the ER this evening and I am beat.  Everything is okay, I think, but I am exhausted and I'll be turning in early.  I ask that you remember to keep me and my baby in your prayers.

I noted a few things that I noted while I was there that I'll quickly share: 
~ In this ER, male nurses outnumbered female nurses 2 to 1. 
~ The doctors refer to each other by first name, but everyone else in the ER addresses them as "Doctor whatever-their-last-name-is." 
~ Patients who were in the ER because they are relapsed drug addicts who OD on "some pills (a) friend had" are belligerent rather than contrite.
~ As always, hospital gowns never cover your backside. 
~ And, apparently, the opening of the gown is supposed to be in the back instead of the front. 
~ A trans-vaginal ultrasound might sound sexy, but I can assure you that it is not. 
~ It is almost guaranteed that you'll need a full pelvic exam if you haven't, um, trimmed the hedges in a few days.  Okay, okay, a few weeks.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

My hubby is home today!  I think this is only the sixth Saturday that he didn't work this year and I intend to take full advantage of his time and attention.  I woke up early this morning with heartburn (how is that even possible?), but once I feel better I want to go on some fun adventures with my man.

Side note about the heartburn & therapeutic necklace update:  I've been wearing a hazelwood necklace 24/7 and, well, I think it's a sham so I'll be sticking with Tums whenever necessary.  The amber necklace, however. . .hm, I don't know if the succinic acid makes any difference in my body at all, but I have noted that I got pregnant after wearing it 24/7 (except at bathtime) for about a month.  Perhaps my body had an acid/alkaline imbalance?  Perhaps it's just a strange coincidence?  I'm still wearing the amber necklace, just in case it actually matters.  I guess I'm more stupid-stitious than I thought!

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's Never Too Early To Start Training

I took a Lamaze class when I was pregnant with my son, but I never used the techniques even once because I never experienced labor.  I don't think that I have expressed in this blog just how disappointed I was in my son's birth via cesarean.  No, I wasn't just disappointed that I didn't experience a completely drug-free  vaginal birth.  I felt like I was less of a mother than other mothers who did have what I consider to be my ideal birth experience.  Those feelings of inadequacy were terribly difficult to overcome and it took months before I stopped feeling like a birth failure.

I knew as soon as my son was born that I would be seeking a drug-free vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) should I get another birthing opportunity and I had decided many months ago that I'd like to try a different approach than Lamaze.  I obviously never used the method so I can't speak about it's effectiveness, but the patterned breathing of Lamaze felt unnatural and I suspect that it would not help me labor or deliver any easier.  I'm also not thrilled with anecdotal evidence about what I would call the Lamaze success rate.  That is, the percentage of women who experience non-medicated births by utilizing Lamaze.

A fellow mama who I instantly clicked with months ago became a Bradley instructor.  The Bradley method has an outstanding success rate for non-medicated births.  Even better, this mama used the Bradley method to experience her own all-natural VBAC.  Do you sometimes feel like an invisible wave is pushing you toward a making a particular decision?  I feel that way here.  She knows what it's like to feel cheated out of the birth you wanted and her passion is to help other women experience the birth that they want to have.  Add in that she's a fantastically funny woman and I'm really looking forward to taking her Bradley classes sometime next year.  Here's a linky to her site if you are pregnant and interested in Bradley or if you know someone who might be interested.

It's clearly too soon for me to participate in any childbirth classes, but I've already been scouring the internet for information because I'm an overachiever in that way.  The Bradley method, from what I've gathered, places strong emphasis on health during pregnancy to help facilitate an easier birth process.  Part of that healthy pregnant lifestyle includes regular exercise and some specific exercises to help condition the muscles that you'll be working during labor and birth. 

Why, yes, I have been doing prenatal exercises this afternoon.  Squats are fine, pelvic tilts seem useless, and I don't see the point in sitting Indian-style.  In my opinion, the Kegels are the worst!  I mean, I can do them just fine, but they make me, uh, hot.  That's great if I'm doing them before bedtime and my husband & I have the energy to get busy, but not so great if I'm doing them throughout the day.  I can't be the only woman who feels this way about Kegels, can I?

Did you attend any childbirth classes to prepare for labor & delivery?  Which classes did you take?  Do you feel the class was worthwhile?  What do you regret about your birth experience?  What memory do you still cherish from your birth experience?  Did you experience a drug-free vaginal birth?  Do you have any advice to help a mama looking to have the same experience?  Please share below!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Santa Suits

I have bought my son a Santa Suit every December that he has been on this planet.  I think it's terribly adorable to see my darling boy wearing the cheery fellow's signature garb of red pants and shirt with white furry trim.  Topping his blond locks with a Santa's cap is like the icing on my Christmas cake.  I dress him as Santa to visit with Santa and I dress him as Santa as many other times as I can during the Christmas season.

Although he loudly complained that he didn't want one, I bought him a Santa Suit this evening.  My son is developing very definite opinions on everything from the food he eats to the clothes that he wears and those opinions will only grow more forceful as he continues to grow and mature.  That's life, I suppose.  He is his own person and I don't have any problem with him voicing his thoughts and opinions.  After all, I'm raising a little boy who will become a man, not my robot.  However, I am sad to consider that this might be the last year that he wants to wear, or that I can make him wear, a Santa Suit.

After Christmas, I will clean and carefully pack up this Santa Suit - just as I have with the others that he wore the last two years.  I don't know why I've kept these sweet suits other than they are tender reminders of some of the most joyful times I've ever experienced.  Seeing the wonder of Christmas through my son's eyes. . .words simply are inadequate to express such joy.  Perhaps it's just that the holidays are hardest during the year that you've lost a loved one, maybe it's just my hormones, or I could just be feeling exhausted, but I'm very near to tears. 

I didn't realize until I began to write this post that those Santa Suits are so much more than just clothing.  Time relentlessly marches on and my little boy is already growing up so fast.  Even though I'm a SAHM and I never missed a single milestone, I feel like I've missed his babyhood because it happened so fast.  I can't help but feel that my son will be grown and have a family of his own in what I'll no doubt feel is the blink of an eye.  Time flies far too fast; embrace today because tomorrow will be here before you know it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Society's Cowardice Plays Out in a McDonald's

The alternate title to this post could be It's McDonald's, Dude, It Won't Be a 5-Star Dining Experience.

I felt well enough today to bring my son to play with some friends at a new bounce-house place.  After playtime was over, we decided to go out for lunch.  A Playland McDonald's (the kind with a playground)  is nearby and we headed there so that the kids could continue having fun together.  Most of our pals ended up having to bug out to go to other things and it was just two of us who went out to eat.  My son hit the sack for a nice & long nap as soon as I hit the house this afternoon.

Sounds like a great day, right?  It was, but there was a dark moment.

A kid, a toddler to be specific, grabbed an ice cube and threw it while we were waiting for our orders.  I saw this happen and I kicked the cube to the baseboard so it wasn't in the middle of the floor.  No big deal, right?  WRONG!

A big-mouthed, middle-aged, @sshole used this non-event to act like an ignored attention whore.  He somehow thought he should also take it upon himself to educate others on how to be effective parents.  And by "others" I mean the entire restaurant because he was as loud as he was foul.

Interestingly enough, it didn't start off all that bad.  I didn't catch the entire exchange, but I did hear that he mentioned the ice on the floor.  The mother thanked him for pointing it out and apologized while picking up the ice. . .the ice that nobody was in any danger of slipping on because I had kicked it against a wall.

This was a block of ice that would eventually melt into a gigantic puddle of slipperiness, right?  WRONG!  It was an ice cube.  Note that I used the singular, not the plural.  One ice cube.  One! 

So he commented about the ice, she took care of it, and it was over, right?  WRONG!  Apparently emboldened, he started to harangue this young woman.  He even went there.  All mothers reading this probably know what there means, but I'll spell it out.  He spouted off with a why don't you watch your kids comment.  Really?  REALLY?!  Now it's on like Donkey Kong, motherf-----!  This woman had been perfectly polite and he had to go and say what he said.

For the record, no one can reasonably expect a parent to be happy with a criticism of their parenting skills.  Particularly a criticism that is stated loudly enough that everyone in a crowded McDonald's can hear.  And especially a criticism that is unwarranted and completely unnecessary. 

Did the kid throw a piece of ice?  Yes.  Was that wrong?  Yes.  Was it a safety hazard?  Not when he mentioned it and certainly not after she picked it up.  Was the mother being negligent?  No.  Was he out of line.  Yes.

Naturally, his comment escalated the situation; the situation that should have been over.  I know that she said something and I said, "She's doing the best she can.  Stop it."  He kept mouthing off and she kept giving as good as she got. 

I was hustling the kids out to the Playzone so that they didn't have to hear the scene because I figured that f-bombs would start flying at any moment.  I'll give this other mother some mad props because she really did a great job keeping her cool.  Had she lost it, the kids would have probably freaked out and I appreciate that she didn't let this bully provoke her into a major fight.  Goodness knows how she managed to hold her tongue because I don't think it was easy.

The entrance to the Playzone was clear on the opposite end of the McDonald's.  As I'm herding cats, I mean hustling 2 1/2-year old children out the door, this guy is still popping off from across the restaurant.  She was still giving it right back and I told him again that was enough and to stop it.  Once more, he mouthed off about watching our kids.  I finally said in a loud and indignant voice, "You are being very rude, sir!"  I honestly expected that the entire McDonald's would applaud at the bold truth, but is was as quiet as a church on Superbowl Sunday. 

Once our kids were playing outside and we were eating our lunches, we had a laugh over the whole scene.  We speculated about his masculinity, his need to get in the last word, and basically ripped him to shreds as only women can do.  But now I'm really bothered by the entire exchange for a couple of reasons.

One, no one else said a word.  Not even a peep.  The room was full of people, men and women, and not one person said a word when a man verbally harassed a young woman for several minutes.  However, everyone was abuzz about the scene when I returned to the restaurant a few minutes later and, yet, no one could be bothered to say a thing about it as the drama was unfolding. 

It strikes me that this societal cowardice is what allows tragedies to happen right before our eyes.  It's what allowed Kitty Genovese to be violently attacked, raped, and murdered within earshot of 38 of her neighbors in 1964.  It's what allowed countless people to ignore the 76-year old Norman Hemminger as he was dying in the middle of a street in 2009.  And it's also what allowed a group of people to ignore a man berating a woman in a McDonald's this afternoon.  Understand that I'm not comparing today's incident to a murder, but the same factors were playing out in the "audience" and I'd wager a guess to say that no one would have done anything had he pulled a weapon and assaulted her either.

Everyone is too apathetic or too frightened to get involved.  The real tragedy is that usually this type of bully will back right down when they realize that no one else is on their side.  The customers and employees in McDonald's today gave silent approval to his abhorrent actions.

I'm also disturbed that someone would walk into a Playland McDonald's at high noon and not expect to see children behaving like children.  I'll add that this bully took his food to go.  McDonald's has some of the fastest drive-thru lanes in the fast food industry and he chose to walk in to place his to-go order. 

He wasn't even planning to dine in so why didn't he just STFU and GTFO?  I'll tell you why.  It's because he's a sad and pathetic individual.  He needs to be in charge.  He needs to feel tough and manly.  It makes him feel better about himself when he tries to make others feel worse about themselves.  He takes pride in degrading women and humiliating them in front of others.  I'm going to suggest that this is related to some form of sexual dysfunction.  He's a loser and he will always be a jerk.  He will die, bitter and alone, wondering why no one cares about his passing.  And, he fact is, no one cares about him because he never cared about anyone else except himself.  He's a typical cowardly bully and I really wish now that I had told him all the things that I just wrote above because I don't think anyone has ever had the courage to break it all down for him.

So how was your lunch today?  Was it more exciting than mine?  Did it involve more armchair psychology than what I just tossed out?  If so, please share!